by Dave Potter
This story is set in our world but it is our world with an alternative history. In the 16th century the Ottomans were not stopped at the gates of Vienna but instead swept through a Europe weakened from the Hundred Years War, conquering all before them including the Kingdom of Denmark. Many of the Europeans converted to Islam in order to retain their privileges although significant numbers continued to adhere to the old faith.
Denmark, as in our world, also owned Norway and Iceland. Unlike in our time though, these two are still provinces of the Danish Crown, ruled by King Tariq IV. The local Muslims, who number around 30-40% of the population including all the upper classes, have developed their own take on Islamic clothing which was found to be profoundly unsuitable for the cold, rainy and windy days and nights of the far north. Women still cover, but they use rubber which keeps them both dry and warm. In conservative households, further restrictions than mere veiling have become common. Total coverage (i.e. including hands and eyes, no skin at all exposed to the elements) is de rigueur amongst Nordic Musilmahs and many further express their piety through gagging and arm bondage.
The ship that this story is set on is the MS Norröna which sails in our own reality every other week from Hirtshals in Denmark, via the Faroe Isles to Seyðisfjörður in Iceland, before returning the following week. We pick up the action in the evening after the ship has just left Tórshavn in the Faroes. It then has a full day’s sailing the following day, arriving in Hirtshals mid-morning on the day after that.
Sigurhildur walked out onto the deck and felt the salt spray sting her cheeks. She loved it! Nothing was greater than being out here, endless ocean all around her. This was the life and even though her hiking holiday in the Faroe Isles was now over, with a voyage like this to enjoy, she could not feel sad about returning home. What never ceased to surprise her, however, was how few of her fellow travellers ventured out on deck. It was true that the weather was cold and the sea a little choppy, but even so, this was the best bit! Why stay in your cabins or the stuffy café or restaurant? No, they must be mad. She scanned the deck. There was only one other person out there today, one of the heavily-covered purdah women of whom there were several parties on the ship. This one surprised her as she was alone; they were normally accompanied by their maid or companion. She nodded at the girl who nodded back. Sigurhildur wondered what it must be like to live like that, covered so completely, kept apart from society in such a fashion. It was amazing to think that they, whose lifestyles were so different to her own, were of the same blood and heritage as her. The only thing that had meant that her life was so different was that, five hundred years ago, some unknown ancestor of hers had decided to rebel against the king and keep the old faith rather than changing to the new. And so she lived in one way and they lived in another. She went up to the railing and looked out to sea. It was glorious and humbling. Then, out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a movement. It was the purdah girl rising and slowly making her way over to the door. She walked unsteadily and slowly as they always do and Sigurhildur wondered what restrictions her rubber burqa might be concealing that caused such movements. Then, all of a sudden, she saw her waver and fall. Immediately, she ran over to her. “Are you alight?” she asked. There was no response from the girl. She picked her up and carried her to the seat. Are you ok?” she asked again. Still no response. Worried, she ran across the deck and opened the door, looking for a member of the crew. She found one and told them and immediately someone was dispatched. At this point a similarly burqa-clad woman got up from the chair where she was sitting, came over to Sigurhildur and whispered to her from behind her layers, “The girl that fell? Is she the purdah girl on the deck there?”
“Yes, that is her.”
“She is my charge, I must go to her!”
They went together and Sigurhildur helped the companion through the door. When she found her charge, she spoke to her, tapped her face but there was still no response. “Misstress Aysha! Please, Mistress Aysha! Wake up!” By then the crew had come with a stretcher and they loaded the girl onto it and took her away. The companion turned to Sigurhildur. “Will she be ok?” asked the Danish girl.
“We don’t know but if you let me know your cabin number, I can inform you of the progress.”
“I’m in 214.”
“Excellent, I shall let you know but now I must go…”
It was several hours later, when Sigurhildur was lying on her bed reading a book when there came a knock on her door. It was one of the Faroese crew members. “Miss, the ladies in Room 512 whom you helped earlier today have requested that you visit their cabin at 20:00.”
“Is the poor girl who fell alright?”
“Yes, she is quite fine now but they wish to thank you for your intervention.”
At eight she went up to the cabin and knocked on the door. It was opened by a figure clad in a black rubber burqa and a similarly-dressed figure was sitting on the bed.
“Thank you for coming Miss Thordardottir, my mistress here, Miss Abduldottir wishes to express her gratitude for your assistance this afternoon. However, at the time and, indeed, now, she was unable to do so because of her purdah clothing. However, as we are in the privacy of her own cabin, I have agreed that she may undress to a level whereby you two shall be able to communicate.”
At these words, the figure on the bed nodded and then stood up. Sigurhildur was intrigued as to what she would witness now as she had read much about the extreme restrictions that purdah girls live in and had always wanted to meet one first hand.
The companion went over and removed the thick rubber burqa that engulfed her charge. What was revealed underneath was a figure still entirely hidden and encased in rubber and latex. The head was covered by a black hood, on the front of which was some kind of gas mask. This was then removed to reveal two mirrored lenses where the girl’s eyes should be, holes at the nostrils and a hole at the mouth out of which protruded a short tube. The entire body below the head was covered by a cape.
This cape was then unfastened and what was revealed almost took Sigurhildur’s breath away, for what it concealed was an extreme feminine silhouette clad in black latex. Around the middle a corset constricted the waist into a minute hourglass whilst on the legs were thigh-high boots with heels of around ten centimetres. What was most astonishing though, were the arms. These were bent behind the girl’s back, palm to palm, elbow to elbow, with the fingertips touching her neck, the upper part of the assembly forced together by a laced glove of black rubber. It looked impossibly elegant yet also excruciating.
The companion now unlaced this single glove and removed it, taking her charges arms and flexing them so as the blood could return to them. Then, when she had done so, the girl walked over to the table, picked up a notepad and pencil and wrote in Icelandic, I will do the rest myself and wish to speak to my rescuer in private. Please return here in an hour’s time.
“Yes, mistress,” replied the companion who then left, leaving the two girls alone together.
The rubber-clad girl then sat on the bed, fiddled with something at her mouth area and then removed a circular section, behind which was a deflated bulb and a long tube. “That’s better,” she said, flexing her jaws. “Now the gag is out we may talk woman to woman.”
“My name is Aysha Abduldottir and I am an Icelander which, I suspect from your name, you are also. Am I right?”
“Yes and no,” replied Sigurhildur. “My family and background are Icelandic but I was adopted when a baby after my parents were killed in an accident. My new family were Danish and so I have always lived in Aalborg in Jylland although I chose to keep my Icelandic name as a tribute to my parents and I have visited the town that they came from, although this time I am sailing on the Norröna because I have been on a hiking holiday in the Faroe Isles.”
“That sounds exciting; I have always loved to be around nature although, of course, living as I do, hiking is not possible. But that is why I like to sit on the deck here: to be alone with the sea that our ancestors sailed across in small wooden ships. But pray, tell me, what is the town that your parents came from?”
“It is Egilsstaðir, not so far from where this ship docks.”
“I know it well and in fact I passed through it on the way to catching the Norröna. My town though is Höfn on the south coast.”
“I visited it when I travelled around the ring road several years ago.”
“Then we have more in common than you might initially think. However, we also have our differences, like our costumes and modes of life for starters.”
“Yes, your clothing really is quite something and it appears to me to be very restrictive. I wonder how you cope and why you wear it.”
“Well, to be honest, my purdah wear is stricter than most. Islam of course orders that we dress modestly which, in Scandinavia has traditionally meant covering the entire body including the face and hands, but I take it further as my family is very conservative as too is my future husband whom I shall meet when we arrive in Denmark for I am on this boat because I am about to get married to Adam Larsen, the imam at the Jumaiya Mosque in your city, Aalborg. But some of it is my own choice as well. For example, the arm restriction is something that my father encourages but I like to go further with the extreme reverse prayer bondage which you just saw as I think it looks elegant and is a further reminder to me of the importance of being modest. But I realise that it is rude for me to be talking to you like this without you seeing my face for in your culture not showing even the eyes is considered rude. Of course, amongst my fellow Muslims, conversing as we are now is normally or even more immodest than usual where we still wear burqas and converse using notes. Indeed, my maid, Safiya, has never even seen my face; I only ever show that to close family.”
“Well then, you don’t need to reveal it to me, I…”
“But I do, Sigurhildur, I do, for that is the reason I have called you here now, the same reason why I tried to walk over to you on the deck to get a closer look at you which caused me to fall and faint clean away, is my face. Look!”
And with that the purdah girl put her rubber-gloved hands to her head and peeled off the hood that encased it, revealing underneath the sweat-streamed visage of a blonde beauty in her early twenties.
A face that, aside from the sweat, was virtually identical to Sigurhildur’s own!
“I too was adopted as a baby,” said Aysha, “and my parents were also from Egilsstaðir and were killed in an accident. Abdul Hassanson adopted me and I was brought up along with his other children as one of his own blood. He was a good man in every respect except that he forgot to tell me that I’d had a twin sister who was also adopted. I only learnt that when, before getting on the boat, we revisited Egilsstaðir and one of the old ladies remembered the accident and that twin baby girls had survived. And then, when I saw you on the deck, I knew that Allah must have intervened in our lives.”
Stunned, Sigurhildur went over to the sister that she’d never known she had and together they hugged each other tightly.
It took around ten minutes before the tears had ceased and the two girls had recovered from the marvellous discovery. Then though, their minds turned to more serious matters.
“If God has brought us together as you say, then we should not lose touch, but how can we have a relationship when our modes of life are so different? I am Christian and you are Muslim. I live in a very free and open way, you live in the strictest of purdah. What can we do?”
“Well, a lot depends on my husband I suppose, but I have no doubt that, when I tell him that I have found my long-lost sister, he will welcome you into our house and we can meet regularly in that way. Of course, you may have to wear a burqa when in his presence but I hope that this is not a problem for you.”
“To be honest, I have always wondered what it would be like to wear one anyway. To be so covered in rubber, maybe because it is so different from my own mode of dressing.”
“We always crave for what we don’t have. I too have often wondered what it must be like to dress in trousers and a top with my hair free like you are…”
The two girls looked at one another and in a way in which only twins can, they read each other’s minds.
“We could you know!”
“You said that Safiya doesn’t know your face.”
“No, she has never seen it. No one on the ship has, or in Denmark. The only people who know my face are my mother and sisters in Höfn.”
“Then no one would ever know!”
“Can you come round tomorrow morning after breakfast? I’ll tell Safiya that we have become friends… which is true… and that we wish to spend the day together. We’ll get her to leave us alone in here and then I’ll dress you as me and then I’ll put on your clothes and I can then guide you around the ship pretending that you are me and vice versa. How does that sound?”
“It sounds amazing, like a real adventure!”
“It’s a deal then!”
The following morning at nine sharp, Sigurhildur again knocked on the door of room 512. Once again, upon opening it, she was confronted by two figures clad in black rubber burqas, one standing and the other seated on the bed.
“My mistress says that she wishes that you two are to be left alone the entire day and that, if she wishes for a walk, you will look after her. Are you alright with that?”
“Of course I am. We got on really well yesterday and I shall make sure she is safe on deck if we choose to leave the cabin.”
“Well, thank you kindly Miss Thordardottir. I must admit, I shall appreciate the rest day. It is so kind of you both!”
“Think nothing of it.”
Safiya left and then, as soon as the door was locked behind them, Aysha removed her burqa. Underneath she was only wearing the catsuit, corset and hood, minus the cape and gas mask.
“Shall we get changed immediately?” asked Sigurhildur.
“No, first we’ll have a drink. You get thirsty in all that rubber and besides, it’s nice to be able to talk freely.”
So they had a relaxed coffee and then, on Aysha’s advice, Sigurhildur drank a bottle of mineral water. Then both girls stripped naked and took a quick shower together which was rather fun, before emerging from the water and beginning the process of dressing.
Aysha dressed first. It didn’t take her long to put on her sister’s bra and pants and then her figure-hugging Nike yoga pants and sports top before then puling on her oscks and trainers and finally crowing it all with a sweatshirt.
“I feel so naked still,” said Aysha. “I cannot believe that you go around in public like this. I don’t know how I shall dare…”
“I will be by your side, sister.”
The two nodded and kissed and then it was time for Sigurhildur to dress as Aysha.
Firstly she put on the underwear which consisted only of a pair of latex pants. Then came the full rubber catsuit which was zipped up at the back. After this was the corset which was fastened around her middle and then laced. “I usually lace to 40cm but this has taken training,” said Aysha, “so we’ll just lace you down to around 45cm.”
Because of all her hiking and other fitness activities, Sigurhildur was in good shape but even so, Aysha struggled to lace her down and below 50cm her breaths were really shallow and she began to get scared. “Don’t worry,” her twin reassured her, “although it feels like you will suffocate, this is quite safe.”
After this, and whilst her body adjusted, Aysha turned her attention to her sister’s hair. She gathered up the long, golden mane, put it in a tight ponytail which she then bunched up behind her head and fitted a rubber swimming cap over the top.
Then she bent down and started fitting the boots. These had incredible heels of around 8cm yet were the lowest that Aysha possessed and when her sister questioned this, she showed her several pairs in her wardrobe that were so high they required her feet to be en pointe like those of a ballet dancer. Sigurhildur has worn heels before, for parties and the like, but nothing like these and she felt quite unsteady when she stood up on them.
Next, however, came the bit that she feared most: the arm bondage. “You won’t be able to manage the reverse prayer,” said Aysha, much to Sigurhildur’s relief, “since that takes months of training to achieve, but I often use the far less strenuous monoglove instead.” This monoglove turned out to be a single glove that held both arms together behind her back, palm-to-palm, the elbows touching. I t may have been less strenuous than the reverse prayer arrangement but as her twin laced the glove tight, it was painful and put her arms under so much stress that she cried out.
“Why on earth do you wear this thing? It has no effect on modesty surely?!”
“There you are wrong. Wearing the monoglove or other arm bondage, I cannot pick things up by myself and thus inadvertently sin. For example, if I am feeling hot, or see a handsome man whom I should like to see more closely, if my arms were not restrained then I would be tempted to life my burqa, loosen my corset or something. What if I was tempted to smoke or eat food that would make me fat? This arm bondage is both necessary and healthy although the type of arm bondage is my own choice. To me, I choose reverse prayer because of how elegant it is and it causes my peers – and my husband-to-be – to admire me. But the monoglove is also elegant. Of course, I could wear just a single sleeve, hand to elbow, which is far easier but also very inelegant and if Safiya saw me wearing that today – and an experienced purdah lady can tell, even with the other garments on top – then she would suspect something. Come on dear sister, now the hood!”
The hood was another item that Sigurhildur both feared but was excited by. Wearing it she would be completely covered but also silenced and thus incommunicado. Aysha fitted it over her head and then laced it at the back, the rubber pressing close to her face. Her view of the world was now through two mirrored lenses that were slightly smoked making everything that little bit darker. She now felt covered and hot and very restricted. Her hearing was also slightly accentuated.
She saw Aysha approach with the gag apparatus and smiled and said, “Goodbye sis!” Aysha smiled back, leant over and kissed her on the lips before inserting the gag which clicked into place with the circle around her mouth on the hood. She was still able to speak but in a slurred way and she was away of the tube running to the back of her throat. Then Aysha pressed a button on the front and the gag started to expand until it filled her entire mouth, causing her cheeks to bulge and press against the thick leather of the hood. Now her silence was ensured and she was entirely covered.
But covered did not mean modest for the form of her figure showed clearly and so her sister fitted the cape around her neck which she called an abayah and which reached to the floor and then came the gas mask although that wasn’t exactly what it was as there was no gas involved. “Being so covered, we have little contact with the outside air and so are not as germ-resistant as you so I wear this mask which filters all the air that I breath,” explained Aysha. When the mask was strapped to her face, there was no an extra layer of glass to look through but also the air became warmer and staler. Sigurhildur wondered how such a measure could be healthy. Then came the final item, the black outer burqa itself. Immediately as it was fitted over her head, she felt its weight and her body heat increased. Most of all though was the difference in her sight for she now had to peer through a number of pinholes like those in a pepper pot. Her peripheral vision was gone and all she could see was directly in front of her.
Her sister stood back and smiled. “You could be me,” she said, before adding, “and are you ok in there?”
Sigurhildur nodded and Aysha threw her arms around her.
Restrained as she was, the embrace could not be returned.
Living as a purdah girl was a surreal and trying experience for Sigurhildur. They didn’t go out immediately because Aysha thought it best that her sister get used to the restrictive outfit. She paced around the cabin feeling unsteady and claustrophobic and Sigurhildur wondered how her sister coped being confined so all the time.
Then it was time to leave. From being an independent woman, Sigurhildur was transformed into a being as dependent as a baby. Her sister had to open doors for her and steady her as they walked. And every movement was a trial. Her tight corset dug into her and caused every breath to be short; the air that she got was stale because of the gas mask; her heels made her steps short and tottering and the lack of any use whatsoever of her arms made her unsteady and nervous. And on top of all that, she was getting very hot under all those layers!
Most of all though, was the weird feeling that this wasn’t all real, that, because of the rubber that separated her from the world, she was there at all, merely viewing it as if on TV. And for some reason, this excited her and she longed to rub herself down below but, of course, she could not. However, in that way that only twins know, Aysha read her mind, leant over to her ear and whispered, “Now you understand why I put up with it, eh? Exciting, isn’t it?”
They minced down the corridors and then into the lift where Aysha selected the deck. Then they went out into the open. It was strange because a stiff wind was blowing and there was rain falling yet Sigurhildur felt nothing. Others pulled their coats around them and hats over their ears yet she felt nothing. They sat and gazed out to sea for a long time and then Aysha said, “I’m freezing now, let’s go indoors!” Sigurhildur was quite content to stay out and didn’t want to move but, trammelled and silenced as she was, she had no choice and was led out by her sister.
They went to a café where Aysha ordered a coffee which she drank alone whilst Sigurhildur could only sit and watch. After that they went onto the deck again before Aysha got cold once more and they returned to the cabin. Once in there the burqa, gas mask, abayah and monoglove were removed but the rest stayed on. Aysha fed her sister a bottle of mineral water which she sucked up through the tube in her gag and then, to her surprise, Aysha said, “With all the exercise, you must need a rest. I always have a nap at this time of day and so you shall too. And the way that I sleep you may find interesting as well…”
Intrigued, she walked over to the bed and then lay on it. Then her sister produced cuffs which she fastened around each ankle and wrist and then attached to the four bedposts. Then a blindfold was produced and placed over her eyes. Blinded and immobilised, she could just lie there spread-eagled like a starfish until sleep came which, surprisingly, was not that long.
Sigurhildur was awoken by her sister stroking her rubberised face and removing the blindfold. “I’ll run you a shower as we’d better change back. It’s now three in the afternoon,” said Aysha to her shock. As she waited passively for her sister to return and free her, she reflected on the experience. Her dreams during the nap had been vivid and highly-charged in an erotic manner. The rubber clothing and total restriction was certainly having an effect on her though she didn’t know why. Her whole body was overheating too. She had never experienced anything like it.
When Aysha returned, she was naked and she carefully freed her sister and then helped her peel out of her rubber prison. When free, her body was soaked with sweat and her face red. Aysha led her over to the water and together they soaped and rinsed one another whilst also exchanging kisses that weren’t exactly sisterly. Then, all done and dried off, they lay on the bed to recover.
“So how was it?” asked Aysha.
“Incredible, unreal, I cannot put it into words. I don’t think I would like to live like that 24/7 but in a strange way, I am already missing it.”
“And that is how I feel about being you. At first being semi-naked and totally free to speak and move in public was frightening and strange, and I couldn’t live in such an immodest way all the time, but now and then, yes, it would be good.”
“I know this sounds strange but I was so turned on in that outfit. I felt horny all the time. That is why we kissed so passionately in the shower. I know we should not as we are sisters but I would have kissed anyone, I was so fired up…”
“Shh… I know what you mean. We musilmahs all know it… and we have ways to enjoy ourselves, but that is for later, you have only had the first lesson!”
“The first lesson, what do you mean?”
“Like I said, Allah intended for us to meet. Today will not be the last time. We will both be in the same city and will have the opportunity to deepen our relationship further. And perhaps that could extend to more trips for you as me and vice versa. It will be fun.”
“Yes, fun indeed. Sisters should never be parted and from now on, we won’t be.”
“Our destinies are entwined, my darling sister,” said Aysha as she rolled on top of her twin and their bodies entwined as well.
Copyright © 2016 Dave Potter