Warning: spoiler below.
As promised, here is my diaper cult story. As you can tell, I ran out of steam on it toward the ending (my problem with most of the stories I write). In addition, the murder mystery part turned to just a murder, its not much of a mystery.
Thanks for your feedback. Hopefully I’ll get better with each story!
Lindsay Jacobs excused herself from dinner and headed up to her room. She couldn’t take it anymore. She had to leave. It had all made sense at first, at least after a while with the group. The sisters were lovely and none of the men were the kind that she was used to – they watched out for her and treated her right. It definitely made sense at the beginning. But that had gone away a long time ago. Matthias was genuinely caring, but his rules didn’t work, didn’t make sense. She had to leave. She got up, about to move from her bed to her desk and begin to plan.
But something stopped her. She would only have one chance at this – if she got caught she didn’t think she could go through with a second attempt. What if it failed? Lindsay had never heard of anyone leaving, except for those who were permitted to retire. She wondered what the rules were, what the punishment would be for trying. It was almost enough to stop her.
She fell back onto her bed and sighed. Could she really do this? What would the real world be like if she succeeded? How much could change in four years? There would be a new president, sure, and probably a bunch of new electronics, but shouldn’t the world basically be the same?
Finally, she stood back up and walked the length of her room to her closet. She didn’t have many good escape outfits. The modest dresses Matthias asked the women in the community to wear were actually fairly fashionable, but not designed for the running and hiding she would have to do. She didn’t even know where was going to go anyway.
But she wasn’t looking for clothes at the moment. She would plan that later, if she got up the nerve to go. She was searching for her coin. Members of the community weren’t supposed to hoard money, but this coin wasn’t money. It was a unit coin, from her father, from the Marines. Before the accident. And before her life had been turned upside down.
“Heads, I’ll go,” she said out loud, hoping no one heard her.
The coin spun in the air, slower than regular pennies or quarters, but a clean spin. It hit the floor with a thud, rolled under her desk chair, then flopped to the ground.
It took Lindsay a moment before she was able to go look. When she did, she heard a knock at her door. “Is everything all right?” It was Thomas.
“Yes, Tommy,” she said, “Thanks for asking.”
Thomas, was one of her better friends in the community, otherwise she wouldn’t dare call him Tommy. He wasn’t that much older than her, but the community valued respect and order, and informality could be seen as disrespectful. Tommy had come a year before her, and she felt she could trust him. She wondered if he would understand. What would he think if she told him she was leaving?
She felt saddened by the thought of leaving him, but realized he had bought into the community, he would never leave.
And so, she got up and slowly walked to her desk chair. She reached for the coin, picked it up, and only then did she look. Heads. She was going to leave.
At first, Mary Carendor had thought of crossing the border and getting into Mexico, as far away from home as she could. So she had headed south, down I-55, away from Poplar Bluff and her family. About the time she hit I-40 going west, she realized she didn’t have a passport. She thought about trying to cross anyway, but decided she may change her mind and want to come back at some point. So now, her hammy-down 2000 Honda Accord was running along I-10 as Mary just watched the miles go by. She had been so excited when her dad handed her the keys the day she got her learner’s permit. Now its age and mileage were catching up to it. Still, it seemed her dad had been right, calling it “made in America, reliable.” So the odometer counted up, almost at 200,000 and she just hoped she could get out of Texas soon. She had no hopes of making it on Hollywood, but figured SoCal had to be better than southeastern Missouri.
She had gotten pulled over in Sutton County. The signs said 85 was the limit, which she had never heard of before, and ended up going 95. The older male cop decided to let the nineteen year old off with a warning. That had been almost six hours ago.
Finally, she crossed the state line into New Mexico, and pulled into the welcome center. There was no line, thank goodness, and it looked like it was cleaned regularly. After washing her hands and stretching for a few minutes, she checked the posted wall map and grabbed one for herself. She could get through New Mexico in about three hours, it looked like. She checked her watch – well maybe four if she stopped for dinner.
Agent Jacqueline Harper, who no one ever called Jackie, sighed and sat at her desk, reading up on her latest assignment. When she had been promoted to the field office, she had envisioned exciting cases, hard to catch bad guys and the limelight. And she had seen her share of those kinds of assignments, but most of her work seemed mundane. She knew she was blessed not to be just a paperwork person or a number cruncher, but it was days like these when she wondered if she should have left the police force for the FBI to begin with.
She opened up the manila folder. It had about twenty-five pages of photographs and details. Her task: another cult leader. He hadn’t done anything illegal yet, just fishy. And like all cult leaders, the power eventually rushed to their heads and they messed up. And any new religion popping up caught the FBI’s eyes. This particular cult seemed mild to her, not overly religious at all. Still, her job was to keep an eye on him. It looked like she would be headed to New Mexico.
Matthias Bishop stood on his porch, watching his small community hustle about their business in their own special ways. Hustle was a relative term here, he noted. The pace was slower and people, while driven to accomplish their task, seemed more at ease and at peace. Yes, he thought, this community was working. And so he felt comfortable headed north into town to buy groceries and other supplies for the week. His order would not delve into chaos without him for a few hours.
Matthias called Kaityln over to him and invited her to join him. Kaityln was in her early thirties, and had been in the community for ten years. He enjoyed her company very much, and knew she already had her chores for the day accomplished. She usually liked to the spend the evening studying or meditating in her own private room, but she wouldn’t turn him down.
So the two of them climbed into his pick-up truck and headed for Lordsburg.
Mary pulled off the interstate when she saw a sign for a few different fast food places. She didn’t know what she wanted, but options would be good and she could decide as she filled up on gas. She sighed as she pulled off the road and saw the price. As she removed the nozzle and put it in her tank she surveyed the scene. McDonald’s, Burger King, Arby’s, Wendy’s. She chose the Burger King.
Pulling out of the station, she got in the left lane and did a quick u-turn then peeled off into the Burger King parking lot. She would take the time to sit and eat inside, look at her maps and figure out if she could get through Arizona or would need to stop for the night.
Jacqueline’s flight landed and she pulled out her phone. She typed in the number for her boss and as soon as she had left the secure area she pressed “call.”
“Status?” the voice on the other end asked. Her boss was a man of few words.
“Just landed. Renting a car.”
“We’ll do the usual. No one will know it was a rented.”
“How should I play this? He hasn’t done anything yet.”
“Most of our intelligence says just be up front. Tell him who you are, ask to be part of the community to keep an eye on him.”
“And if he says no?”
“Get a makeover, call me back, we get you a fake ID.”
“Seems simple. He’s not violent, not committing fraud. Why send me, sir?”
“All cult leaders become crooks at some point.”
Lindsay called to Tommy as she saw him walking across the common ground. She had decided to talk to him, see if he would understand. Just hints. Nothing firm. She called to him and he changed his direction in order to move toward her.
“Hey, what’s up?” Tommy asked.
Lindsay was glad to see Tommy being causal. The formality got her at times.
Tommy glanced down, “Need a change?”
“I think so,” she said, “But not that kind,”
“What do you mean? Do you want a new job assignment?”
Lindsay paused for a moment, “I mean, I think I’d like to be able to visit the outside world,”
Tommy’s eyes grew wide, and he wisked her into a common room in one of the communal buildings, “You know Matthias’ rules. Why even bring it up?”
“Come on, don’t you ever get tired of waiting for that call? I’ve heard some of the older women talking. They haven’t been outside of Animas for a decade. You know Matthias calls the guys more often.”
Tommy seemed to hesitate and then said, “Is everything okay?”
Lindsay nodded. She had her answer, “Yeah. Just been bugging me lately. It’s been four years. I kinda wonder what has changed, you know?”
Tommy spoke quicker this time, “Put a notice in the box. Matthias will understand. You’ve been here four years, maybe it is time. I’m not guaranteeing anything though.”
Lindsay was about to say, “Thanks,” but Tommy kissed her on the cheek and started to walk out.
It looked like she was on her own. Maybe a meeting with Matthias might not be a bad thing though.
Matthias and Kaityln had completed their shopping and were back on the interstate when Matthias turned to her and said, “Well, would you like a treat?”
Kaityln laughed, “I know what you mean, Matthias, but I’m not a dog.”
Matthias grinned, “I was thinking ice cream,”
Kaityln beamed, “That sounds lovely,”
Matthias took the exit and pulled into a Burger King. “Why don’t you come in with me? I think the groceries will be safe,”
They walked in together and got in line. Matthias ordered for them and they looked for a place to sit. It was dinner time, so the place was crowded. Kaityln suggested just eating in the car. Matthias replied, “No, let’s take out time. Look, see that young girl over there, maybe we could join her. Why don’t you go ask?”
Kaityln nodded and headed over to the table Matthias had pointed out.
“Excuse me?” Kaityln said, “We’re looking for a place to sit, do you mind if we join you?”
Mary looked up. The woman talking to her seemed to be in her thirties, with an older man standing a little further back. Well, that was polite, don’t have the man talk to a strange girl, send the wife, she thought. She nodded and motioned for the man, then said, “I’m Mary.”
“Kaityln,” said the woman as she took her seat, then motioned to the man, “Matthias.”
Matthias sat down next to Kaityln and simply said, “Hi. Sorry to intrude, just don’t want back in the car yet,”
Mary nodded, “Yeah, I get that.”
A few awkward silent moments passed by, then Matthias asked, “So, you a native of Lordsburg? I don’t think I’ve seen you around,”
“No, I’m just passing through. On my way to California,”
“Oh? Business or pleasure?”
Mary took a few seconds, then said, “Whichever one starting a new life is,”
Matthias grinned, “Always a little of both. Why California, if you don’t mind me being nosy?”
Mary thought about saying “Yeah, that’s nosy,” but realized these may be the only people who she could actually have a conversation with for a while, and said, “Don’t have a passport to get to Mexico.”
Matthias and Kaityln looked at each other, then Matthias spoke again, “Well, if you aren’t dead set on California, why not join us for a little while? We own a ranch a little south of here on Animas Peak,”
Kaityln jumped in, knowing the routine, “Matthias, you’re being to forward,”
Matthias looked embarrassed, but said, “Well, how about just coming down for the night. It takes a crowd to run the ranch, there are plenty of ladies who would love to spend time with you. We’ll run you right back up tomorrow,”
Mary asked, “Free?”
“Free,” Matthias replied, “You’ll have to spend the night in a hotel anyway, right?”
Mary said, “Yeah. But I would feel strange riding with you guys, could I just follow you in my car?”
Matthias said, “Sure thing,”
Jacqueline’s rented car barely made it up the peak but she finally pulled into the ranch. There were some people wandering around, but most had stopped as her car pulled in. Obviously they weren’t used to outsiders.
She got out of the car and walked past the gate into the ranch, but no one approached her. She waited a few moments, but still no one said anything, so she shouted out, “Excuse me?”
It took a few more moments but finally Thomas approached her, “Good evening ma’am. How can I help you?”
“I’m looking for a Matthias Bishop?”
“And who are you? We weren’t expecting any outsiders- sorry, I mean visitors today,”
“I’m Jacqueline Harper. I’d really like to speak with Matt personally if I may,”
“He prefers Matthias, if you don’t mind. But he’s out of town right now. Just running a few errands, though, should be back soon,”
“Do you mind to call him?”
“I’m afraid we don’t have cell phones here. And those few who do show up with them find there is very little signal. You’re welcome to wait a while though. Most people are finishing up with chores and with dinner, so you’re welcome to enter a common area and play checkers or something,”
Jacqueline laughed in her head. This place was very odd already, and she hadn’t met their leader yet. “Yeah, that’ll work,” she said, “Lead on,”
Thomas led her to a building and into the front room where several people were already playing cards or chess or checkers or other board games. Thomas looked around, then said, “Lindsay – you wanted to find out about life outside of the ranch? Meet Jacqueline, she’s here to meet Matthias,”
Lindsay stood up, said, “Thanks Tommy,” then turned to her and said, “Hi Jacqueline, I’m Lindsay. I guess you already knew that though. What are you doing on Animas Peak?”
She was being blunt, which Jacqueline appreciated, “I’m here to see Matthias.”
Lindsay kept on her, “You’re thinking about joining the ranch?”
Jacqueline said, “In a way, yeah,”
“How’d you find out about us? Not many people know,”
Jacqueline had never been a good liar, “I’m an FBI agent. I’m supposed to stay a while make sure things here are on the up and up,”
Lindsay was stunned. Maybe this was her way out. She looked around, then said, “I’m sorry, I don’t really feel like playing a game right now. Do you mind going on a walk with me?”
Jacqueline replied, “Tommy-”
Lindsay interrupted, “Thomas.”
“Sorry, he didn’t introduce himself and I heard you-”
“No problem. Just a thing around here – most people are very formal. And if you’re really an FBI agent, really formal is the way to go,”
“Noted,” Jacqueline said, “Thomas told me to stay here to wait for Matthias,”
“He’ll be able to find you,”
They got up and started walking.
Mary hopped into her car and was about to pull out and follow Matthias. She paused for a second as she thought about it, though. It would save her around a hundred dollars to stay with them, but they were strangers. She sighed. She needed every penny. She twisted the keys. The engine revved.
It didn’t start. She stopped. Tried again.
Kaityln walked over, “You okay?”
Mary tried again, “Car needs jumping.”
“Matthias doesn’t have cables on him. We probably have some back at the ranch if you’re willing to ride with us tonight,”
Kaityln sighed, “Okay,” as she locked all her doors and climbed into the back seat of Matthias’ truck. She watched as they got back on the interstate and then turned off again. The conversation was going well but she noticed that they were getting further and further off the beaten path.
“Are you really an FBI agent?” Lindsay asked.
“Yup,” Jacqueline said as she pulled out her badge.
“Is Matthias in trouble?”
“So why are you here then?”
“The FBI has a rule. Cult leaders always get in trouble. It’s just a matter of time.”
“But this isn’t a cult,”
“No. I mean –” Lindsay paused, and that was all Jacqueline needed, “Cult it is.”
Lindsay seemed quiet, and Jacqueline asked, “If something is wrong, you need to let me know,”
“I’ve been thinking about leaving. No one has ever hurt me here, and I think I’m just bored. But there are some weird rules too,”
“I mean, the men all act like older brothers or fathers to the girls. It was nice at first, but now, I don’t know, I don’t want to be treated like a little girl all the time. You know?”
“That doesn’t sound so bad though,” Jacqueline tried to get more information.
But at that moment, they heard another car pull in. Both walk around and saw it was Matthias and Kaityln. And a girl was with them.
Matthias took the girl by the hand and brought her to the “town square,” and several people gathered, “Everyone, this is Mary. She is going to be staying with us for just the night. I ask that everyone make her feel at home. Kaityln, if you would show her to her room,”
The two ladies walked off and Matthias directed his attention to Lindsay.
“Lindsay, who is this?”
Before Lindsay could answer, Jacqueline spoke up, “Matthias Bishop. I’m Jacqueline Harper, and we need to talk – in private,”
Matthias spoke loud enough for everyone to here, “I’m sorry, Jacqueline, but you’ll have to talk to be in public, I have no secrets from these people,” and started walking toward her.
She nodded and remembered to be direct, “I’m with the FBI,” she said and flashed her badge again, “I’ve been sent her to monitor your ranch and be sure nothing criminal is going on,”
Matthias said, “Of course. You’re welcome to stay as long as you like. When Kaityln is done with Mary I am sure she will show you a room. I have a roster of everybody here and their signature proving that they decided to come on their own free will if you would like,”
Jacqueline was blunt, “Coming is one thing. Being able to leave is another, but yes, I would love to have Kaityln show me a place to stay.”
“Good morning,” Kaityln said.
Mary was still half-asleep and she groaned, “Morning.”
“Sorry to wake you, but breakfast time is here,”
Mary looked at her watch, “That’s early.”
“The way Matthias likes it. You get used to it after a while. Or you would if we could convince you to stay around,”
“The only way I’d stick around is if my car won’t start,” Mary said, but then saw Kaityln looked upset, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it that way.”
Kaityln took a breath, “No, it’s okay. But if you’re looking for a new life, you’re welcome here,”
By now Mary had rolled out of bed and got up.
Kaityln was quick to change the subject, “Do you need any new clothes? We have plenty of spare dresses we could give you.”
This time Mary was much kinder, “No thank you, Kaityln. Once I get back out, I have some comfortable driving clothes. Do you have any spare toothpaste and brushes though?”
Kaityln nodded and led Mary to a room down the hall. There were a couple of shower areas and multiple sinks. Kaityln pointed to a cabinet, “Everything you need should be in there,”
“What about a toilet?” Mary asked.
“Different room. I can show you at breakfast. Once you’re finished, it’s the second building on the right outside of this dorm.”
Mary hopped in the shower. It was nice to have hot water and to be clean again after so many hours in the car. She thought it was weird that there was no toilet in this room, but didn’t think much about it.
Lindsay was excited and sat by Jacqueline at breakfast. Jacqueline had been telling her all about the new technology – cell phones could do even more and now the craze was “tablets.” Jacqueline told her about the election. A third party had gotten 23% of the vote, won three states and sent the whole thing to the House of Representatives.
Before they really got talking, though, Matthias came up to them and said, “Excuse me, Lindsay, but I need to speak with Jacqueline for a moment. I’ll allow you two to talk after you complete your chores.”
Lindsay got up and left, planning on doing everything as quick as possible in order to get more time with Jacqueline.
Jacqueline saw others start to leave and asked, “So no public talk this time, Matthias?”
Matthias looked her and frowned, “This isn’t a cult, you know. I’ve done nothing illegal, and no one is here by force,”
Jacqueline responded, “No cult thinks they are a cult,”
“We’re not. I assure you. Some here choose to have services on Sundays, others on Saturdays and others on Fridays. No one is forced to go to any of them. I myself prefer the Sunday services, but no one is discriminated against for any belief they hold.”
“So you’re not a religious cult, but you are still a cult.”
“We prefer community. As I said, you are welcome to view all our files. You were concerned about people being able to leave. While we don’t encourage it, anyone who wants may do so. Members of the community who wish to stay do have to request to go off site, but those who do not wish to be members may leave.”
“So Lindsay can just go?”
“She wants to leave, you know.”
“I had no idea. Maybe she would like to leave with you?”
“I’m not leaving.”
“We will see. Now if you will excuse me,”
“No, I won’t,” Jacqueline demanded.
Matthias side, “I’m not sure how I can help you more. I’m opening this place up to you and trying to show you how its not anything the FBI needs to be worrying about,”
“First, show me around the place, every room in every building. Next, let Lindsay know she is free to go,”
“Sorry, Mary,” Kaityln explained, “Breakfast kind of ended early. We can get your something on our way out,”
“Thanks,” Mary said, “Um, do you mind showing me a bathroom now?”
The two walked towards the kitchen, then Kaityln changed directions. She opened up another door and Mary walked inside. All she saw were changing tables.
“This isn’t a bathroom,” she stated.
“For us it is.”
Mary didn’t say anything, trying to put it all together.
“All the women here wear diapers,”
Lindsay couldn’t believe it. Matthias had told her to pack, that she was free to go. Thomas would help her pack and drive her to Albuquerque. Normal life.
Diapers. Jacqueline knew all cults were crazy, but this was one of the most bizarre. She couldn’t understand why any of the women would submit to something like that. Matthias had tried explaining, “Most of the people who end up here have never known what it meant to be cared about. Or they knew at one time and lost that memory. The men here really care for the women. The women feel safe and protected. The men feel strong and competent.”
“I know it sounds weird. Strong independent women and strong independent men shouldn’t naturally fall into something like this, right? Kaityln and I –”
“You two are a couple?”
“No, just really close friends. Before we started Animas-”
“I thought you started it alone,”
“No, it was both of us. Before we started it, Kaityln was in a wreck. She had to relearn a lot of things, like walking –”
“And using the bathroom, I take it?” Jacqueline was starting to put the pieces together.
“Right. After a while of wearing diapers and me taking care of her, she realized she actually enjoyed it.”
“Hard to believe,”
“She enjoyed it. She was recovering in every other way, but she kept telling me she felt loved and cared for when I took care of her in this particular way. She really did become a younger sister to me. When we moved out here, we discovered a couple others who had found the same thing. Eventually, we had ourselves this community. When people stumbled on it, we took care of them and if they wanted to stay, we introduced them to our ideas. No one has ever chosen to leave before,”
She had asked a few more questions. Did they have to use the diaper to pee and poop? Matthias had assured her that when the women needed to poop they could do so. He wanted to keep them healthy.
Jacqueline had reported it all back to her boss. Her boss had laughed. But since all the people on site were over eighteen and did in fact seem to be there willingly, there seemed to be no cause for alarm. Still, rule 56 meant she needed to stay a little while longer. If Lindsay was actually able to leave, she might could leave as well.
But if she were staying, she would have to figure out a way to use the bathroom on her own.
Mary sat in the back of Matthias’ truck, stunned. Matthias and Kaityln were having a conversation but Mary didn’t quite hear. Not that she was trying to. Diapers? Kaityln had tried to explain, but Mary was glad she was leaving.
Matthias had insisted that as long as Mary or Jacqueline were only guests, they wouldn’t be required to follow the dress code. Still it would have been awkward having to work around the men’s dorm schedule in order to use their bathroom. Why they got to use the toilet and not the women still didn’t make sense to her.
But she saw a sign for Lordsburg and breathed a sigh of relief. She would be back on her way to California soon enough. She had expressed many thank you’s and Matthias had assured her it was no trouble. Finally, the got off the exit.
Lindsay was in the passenger seat of a car she didn’t know the community had. Thomas was driving and they seemed to be having a civilized conversation. Matthias had generously purchased her a few newspapers to help her catch up on current events to get reacclaimated to the real world. The most recent election had gone to the House of Representatives for the first time since 1824 after a third party Libertarian candidate had won 24% of the popular vote, including three states. Gas prices were up, but she had expected that. And cell phones could now do what the most powerful computers of four years ago did. The most powerful computers now were “pads,” of some kind.
“Um, Thomas,” she said, “Can we stop so I can use the bathroom?”
Thomas thought for a moment, then said, “Matthias told me to take you directly to Albuquerque,”
“Come on, I really need to go,”
“I can change you once we get there,”
“Come on, I’m not going to wear diapers in the real world,”
“No way! Why would I do that?”
Thomas was quiet, then finally said, “It’ll take some time for you to adjust,”
“I know that’s why I got these newspapers,”
“No I mean –”
“You haven’t used a toilet in a while,”
Jacqueline wandered around the community. Things did seem to be running smoothly. The diapers were certainly weird, but Matthias was right, these people were strong independent men and women. The “real world,” – no, she thought, the world itself, this was the strange place, was full of weak men who didn’t know how to care for a family or be men and full of women who in their quest to be respected ended up being feminazi’s, belittling men into staying weak, and so the process continued.
A couple of the women had offered her the chance to try on a diaper if she wanted. No one would make her, and she could change herself if she felt more comfortable. She wasn’t quite ready for that yet, but it was intriguing, after all.
“Come on, Thomas,” Lindsay was squirming now.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “I’m under orders from Matthias,”
“He won’t know,” she challenged.
“I won’t lie to him,” Thomas said flatly, “It’s only an hour further,”
Matthias pulled the truck into the Burger King. Two things could happen today. His community could come together in a brand new way, or it could fall apart. Would his plan come together?
Mary said thanks once more and hopped out of the truck. She opened the trunk to her Accord and tossed everything inside. She gave a hug to Kaityln, realizing that now that she knew, if she paid close enough attention, she could tell she was wearing a diaper. She would have never guessed otherwise.
Matthias spoke up as he set up the two cars to give hers a jump, “Why don’t I give you the ranches landline in case you ever need anything. If nothing else, you can call us when you get to California and let us know how you are doing,”
Mary accepted the paper Matthias wrote the number on and said, “I really do appreciate it all.”
“Not a problem. Don’t forget about us. Again, if you need anything at all, just let us know,” Matthias expressed.
Mary nodded, unsure that she would want to ever go back to Animas knowing what she knew now.
“We’ve got to run some errands, so we’ll head off. We gave you enough for breakfast?”
And with that the truck pulled out and headed off down the road. Mary walked inside and ordered a sausage and egg biscuit and some orange juice. It had been a crazy couple of days.
Lindsay couldn’t hold it in any longer. She didn’t know why it was such a big deal, she had used her diaper hundreds of times in the past four years. But now it seemed odd. She pleaded with Thomas one more time, even calling him Tommy, but he was unrelenting. Finally, she released.
The ladies of Animas were usually changed as quickly as possible when they needed it. They just had to ask one of the men. Most of them found that they preferred two or three of the men to others and sought them out. Thomas had always been one of her go-to guys. But now it was different, and she was ashamed to tell him, “Thomas, I need to be changed,”
“No problem,” he said, “Twenty minutes to Albuquerque,”
Twenty minutes was unheard of, “Come on, Thomas,”
He didn’t say anything, just ignored her.
Matthias and Kaityln didn’t really need to run any errands. They had simply driven down the road and parked in the K-mart lot.
“How long do you think it will take?” Kaityln asked.
“I don’t know. Depends on the car. She might be able to get on the interstate. It might not start to begin with.”
“She’s safe though, right?”
“Perfectly safe. If she gets to the interstate, she’ll just have to pull to the side of the road,”
“And she won’t get suspicious?”
“She won’t get suspicious. Neither will Jacqueline,”
Thomas pulled into the hotel parking lot, “Okay. I can change you now,”
Lindsay decided to take a stand, “I don’t need a change now. I can just get this thing off once I get into my room,”
“But I have the card,”
Matthias had graciously purchased a Visa prepaid card to start Lindsay off. It would buy her about a week at the hotel, some clothes and other necessities as she figured out what she was going to do next.
“Fine,” Lindsay said.
“Okay then, go ahead and lie down in the back seat,”
She unbuckled, thinking if she thought she could get away without the money, she would. But she really needed something, so she got out of the car before reentering in the back seat.
Since she had been leaving, she had permitted to wear a more “causal” outfit than the standard dress of the community, she was in jeans and a collared shirt. Thomas undid the buttons on her jeans and slid them off. That was a bit unusual, but some guys regularly changed the girls that way, so she didn’t think much of it.
He undid the tapes of her diaper and carefully took it off of her before rolling it up and putting it in a plastic shopping bag that he tied up. She was used to being naked in front Thomas, so she just said, "Hurry up!
He set the bag aside and pulled out another diaper from the backpack Lindsay had been allowed to bring. It had a couple of her possessions – a few books, her coin and few pieces of jewelry as well as some gifts from Matthias: a city map, a few tokens of the community and of course, extra diapers.
Thomas carefully placed the new diaper on her and taped her up, “There,” he said, “Last time ever,”
She sat up and he sat down in the beside her, “I’m gonna miss you, Lindsay. You were always one of my favorites.”
The community wasn’t supposed to have favorites among themselves, but Lindsay accepted the compliment. Everyone had favorites, “You’re one of mine too.”
Mary tossed her breakfast trash away, used the restroom and stretched for a moment. Then she headed back to her car and pulled out the New Mexico map, planning the rest of her route.
Finally, she was ready. She buckled up and put the key in the ignition. She started the car, but it only revved. She sighed. Stopped, then tried again. Same thing. Again. Nothing.
Fortunately there was a guy coming over to her, he looked about 30. She got out of the car and he said, “Need some help?”
“Tried jumping it, didn’t get enough juice I guess,”
“No prob, let me pull my car over,”
He pulled his car over and pulled out his cables, “I’m Jeffery, by the way,”
“Mary,” she said.
After a few minutes, she tried to start it again, but it still wouldn’t budge.
Jeffery announced, “Must be your starter’s shot. There’s a mechanic down the road, but it’ll take a while to get the part. Do you have a place to stay?”
“Yeah,” Mary said, sighing at the thought but realizing Animas was the best place to be.
“Alright, need to call anyone?”
“I have a phone, thanks,”
“Alright, have a good day,”
Mary sat down behind the steering wheel. She really didn’t want to do what she was about to do.
Matthias and Kaityln waited. According to their clocks, things should be in motion soon. Thomas and Lindsay would be in Albuquerque by now, and Mary would be finding out about her car soon.
Lindsay really was going to miss Thomas, but it was time to go.
“Can I have the card now?”
Thomas handed it over, “Here you go,”
“What about my pants, can I have them? I guess its time to go in,”
“What do you mean, no?” Lindsay asked, confused.
“I’m not giving you the jeans back.”
“But they’re mine,”
“Actually, they are the community’s.”
“This is what Matthias asked me to do, Lindsay,”
“I can’t walk into the hotel without pants!”
Thomas was silent.
Lindsay realized what was going on, “This was the plan the whole time, huh? Make me have to embarrass myself if I want to get out? And maybe the hotel won’t accept me?”
Thomas didn’t say anything.
Lindsay was almost in tears. She didn’t know what to do.
She punched Thomas. Then she remembered the FBI agent. It was a wasted day, but she could get the FBI agent to take her back away.
“Fine. Let’s go back.”
“You want to go back?” Thomas asked.
“No, but I guess I have to.”
“No, its your choice. You have to want to come back.”
“Fine, I want to come back,”
“Great, I’ll call Matthias,”
Matthias got the call and smiled. Of course, she would try to get Jacqueline to help her out as soon as she got back. But there already was a plan in place. Already things were in motion to change that.
Mary typed in the number and Matthias picked up, “Hey Mary! We didn’t expect to hear from you so soon!”
“My car still won’t start. I was hoping I could get you guys to pay for it to be towed? Maybe I could stay with you until it was fixed? It might be a couple days,”
“That’s great. We can certainly do that. You back at the Burger King?”
“Alright. We’re still in town too, we can pick you up in ten minutes,”
Jacqueline was surprised to see Mary back. The explanation made sense though. She was more surprised when later that evening, Lindsay came back. She immediately went to Matthias.
Matthias replied, “Thomas said Lindsay changed her mind. That she wanted to come back,”
“I highly doubt that. What really happened?”
“You can talk to her, if you’d like,”
“I’ll do that,” Jacqueline said, “Why don’t you bring her to me?”
Lindsay was in her dorm when Matthias knocked.
“What do you want?” she spat.
“You know, it didn’t have to go down like that,”
“Yeah. When I said you were free to go, I assumed you knew what that would entail,”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s just that, we care about you. If you hadn’t had that accident, we would know you were strong enough to leave us. We just want you to be safe,”
“But I wouldn’t have had the accident if Thomas had-”
“Now you can’t blame anything on Thomas,”
“No buts,” Matthias said. “Now, Jacqueline wants to talk with you. I know she can get you away from her, but if you want, we’ll help you get better ready to leave,”
“You can leave right now if you want,” Jacqueline explained.
“But what if Matthias is right?” Lindsay asked, “What if I’m not ready for the real world?”
“It will definitely take some reacclaimation, but who is ready for the real world?”
“And you could take me away?”
“Yup. I would have to come back here, but you can leave whenever you want.”
But just then, Matthias walked in, “Jacqueline. I’ve been cooperating with you for a while now. But you are technically on private property. If you would like to stay here, Lindsay needs to stay as well. Otherwise, we call the sheriff and he can escort you –”
Jacqueline didn’t budge, “I’m federal, and I can call your bluff,”
Matthias was fast to respond, “Do you have a warrant?”
Jacqueline replied, “No,” and sounded defeated, but then said, “But if you are keeping Lindsay against her will, that gives me the right to get one.”
Lindsay was stunned, “So I’m just a pawn in all this?”
Matthias said, “No, of course not, Lindsay,”
Jacqueline said, “He’s using you, Lindsay,”
And then silence.
Finally, “Why don’t you let us talk in private, Lindsay. I’m sorry that we’re fighting over you,”
At the same time, Mary was trying on her first diaper. Since she was going to be here a few days, the ladies had convinced her. And to her surprise, it wasn’t as bad as she thought. It felt weird, for sure. But there was some sort of comfortability in them.
Then she thought about it. She had left home to find some independence, and now here she was, in diapers. They weren’t Depends, but the irony wasn’t lost on her. She tried to not to think about it as she was introduced to the rest of the community schedule and given some chores.
Matthias spoke first as Lindsay left, “Seems we are in a catch 22.”
Jacqueline summarized, “She leaves, I have no reason to be here, she stays, I have my reason.”
Matthias spoke, “Right,” he paused, “Unless…”
Jacqueline said, 'Unless what?"
“Unless you become a member, wear the diapers for a while,”
“How does that solve… oh,”
She struggled with it, but it made sense, “And Lindsay?”
“If you come back and become a member, she can go. You can take her.”
“I could come back anyway… but then you could get the sheriff and since Lindsay was free… fine,”
Lindsay was in her room when Thomas came knocking, “They’re ready for you,”
“I’m not ready for them. I’m not some pawn.”
“They didn’t ask. Come on,”
Thomas barged in and grabbed Lindsay’s arm, “Hey,” she shrieked.
“Come on,” Thomas said and Lindsay resisted.
Thomas was strong but was trying to be gentle. Lindsay broke free and grabbed the lamp in her room, holding it like a bat.
Thomas held up his arms, “Okay, I’m not going to grab you anymore. But you need to come on!”
“I said no,”
Thomas took one step forward and Lindsay broke – she threw the lamp.
He ducked, but to late. It hit him in the head. She lunged forward to grab it before he could get a hold of it again. But it was too late. He was dazed, but able to find it and grab it. So instead of the lamp, she changed directions and used her whole body to ram him. He fell over, stumbling backwards, and she went down with him.
And Thomas’ head hit the floor first. Lindsay heard a crack and started to see blood.
“Thomas!” she yelled. She picked up a arm and put her fingers on his wrist. No pulse. “Thomas!” she yelled again, trying to wake him. But it was no use. She fled to her bed. Now what?
Mary realized the community was actually really nice. Most of the women admitted that the diaper thing was odd at first, but they had gotten used to it. It had only been a couple of hours and she had almost forgotten she was wearing it.
Then she heard the alarm.
Lindsay grabbed her things as fast as she could. Everyone would know it was her. But it was an accident. But would that matter? She could claim it was self defense. She feared Matthias more than the police. She just had to run.
And so run she did.
Jacqueline drew her gun and ran too, following Matthias, who seemed to have guessed what she guessed. They reached Lindsay’s room and saw Thomas lying there. Matthias cursed and Jacqueline said, “Call 911, I’ll chase after Lindsay,” and sprinted off.
Jacqueline ran down the hallway, then searched for footprints. She saw some go off to the left, and started following them until she realized that Lindsay had gotten to Matthias’ truck. She ran after it at full sprint, not knowing if Lindsay would be able to jack it or not.
Matthias dialed 911, realizing as he did that Animas was done for.
Mary was so confused. The other ladies seemed disturbed, but stayed calm. She looked to them for guidance and it seemed they thought the best thing to do was to stay were they were.
But suddenly, she needed to pee. And trying on the diaper was one thing, but using it was another.
Lindsay had run around the truck, checking to see if the key was in the ignition. There was no way she was going to be able to jack it. The key wasn’t there, so she started running towards the road, hoping maybe someone would give her a lift.
Jacqueline did jack the car, and was quick to pull onto the road.
Lindsay heard the car behind her, and realized it was hopeless. So she stopped. Jacqueline pulled up to her, and said, “Hop in!”
Lindsay looked confused, so Jacqueline said, “I’m on your side!”
Lindsay jumped onto the truck and was able to pull the door open, sit in the passenger seat and close the door as it kept going down the road. She buckled and said, “It was self defense, he was grabbing me. It was an accident, I just meant to-”
“I know, come on,”
Matthias ran to gather his members together. If there was any hope of the ranch being saved, it was in the members standing together.
Mary sighed. She hadn’t been able to hold it. And now she was wet. And with Matthias gathering everybody, she might not get changed for a few minutes. That was going to be quite the experience.
Jacqueline and Lindsay had gotten back to Lordsburg. Lindsay was in tears, continuing to say “I didn’t mean to, I didn’t mean to,”
Jacqueline knew that the trial would be difficult. The cult hadn’t done anything wrong. But people would sympathize with Lindsay. She would probably be acquitted, but it wasn’t a foregone conclusion.
But something else was wrong too.
“Whats wrong Lindsay?”
Oh. Reacclaimation would be hard for her after all. Maybe Matthias had been right – no, that was not the right line of thinking.
“We can go buy you some new clothes if you want,”
“That sounds good,”
“Do you have something to wear while we go out? You probably don’t want a wet diaper on,”
“No. I don’t have anything else though,”
Jacqueline sighed, “Okay. Would you be willing to wear one last diaper?”
“I guess so,”
“Why don’t I wear one too, would that make you feel better?”
Mary couldn’t believe what was going on. The police were talking to people about the murder, but weren’t asking about the cult at all. Surely it would be shut down now. Sheriff Jones was talking to Matthias. Maybe he could save the community after all. In the meantime, one of the ladies had helped her find a new diaper and put it on. She felt much better about that, but much more tense about the situation.
Finally, Matthias and the sheriff came out. Matthias announced, “For the good of the community, I am resigning as the leader of Animas. Kaityln will be put in charge in my absence. Any members wishing to leave may do so at this time. Anyone on Animas property not a member will be asked to leave,”
It made sense, but Mary was sad to go. She got in a police cruiser after saying goodbye to Kaityln and to the other ladies, and soon was headed back to Lordsburg. It had been quite the couple of days.
Lindsay had finally been put up at a hotel in Lordsburg. She was free. Well, sort of. She was under orders not to leave the state, and had a restraining order from Animas. Retraining herself had been harder than she thought. She had gone a couple of days without the diapers, and ended up wearing them again. She was once again wet.
Mary had been offered a hotel, but the mechanic had just happened to have a part in stock, and her car was fixed and ready to go. The cost was covered, and she was on the road. She was in Arizona, continuing on her trip. The diapers were actually really comfortable and she had decided to wear them a while longer. She saw a sign, “next rest area 54 miles,” and smiled. She focused on the road and let herself go. She was wet.
Matthias didn’t know what to do. Separate from all he grown to love. It was time to start over. He just didn’t know where. He had money set aside, so he would be alright for a while. Finally, he had an idea. He went to the store he had gone to for so many years and bought the diapers he had bought for so many years. But this time, once he got to his new home, he tried one on. Soon, he was wet.
Jacqueline hadn’t enjoyed the idea of supporting Lindsay by wearing one of the diapers. But she had put it on and it seemed comfortable. After taking her out to shop, and making sure she would be okay, she reported back to her boss. The assignment was over. The community would last. The FBI could keep an eye on it, but for now it was deemed safe. And so she returned home. And there, she had bought a new package of diapers. She was wet.
Kaityln smiled. Animas was finally hers. She was going to make some changes. Oh, she still liked the diapers and still enjoyed being taken care of. But years of Animas made her realize – she wanted the men in them too. Order was one thing. But the next step was equality. And so, she began her plan. She was dry.