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Apr 23, 2023

The university was quiet over the summer, which meant Laura was dangerously bored. Interning at the local museum in her small college town had been interesting at first, but once she'd been taught the basics it increasingly meant long, lonely weeks in dusty backrooms and basement. Her boyfriend and the friends she had made on her course were all home for the summer rather than sticking around on campus, leaving her alone.

At the cafeteria early for another lonely dinner, she was idly browsing the college noticeboard to see if anything at all exciting would happen before the end of summer. Almost nothing had changed since she'd read over it last a couple of days ago, but one small new flyer did catch her eye. "Volunteers wanted – science of tickling" was all it said, along with an email address and a link for more details.

Tickling, huh. She hadn't been tickled for a long time. She vaguely remembered being somewhat ticklish in the distant past of early childhood, but it had never bothered her that much, and she hadn't been tickled in years. She did like to laugh, though, and it was too long since she'd been in stitches from her boyfriend's dumb jokes or her friends goofing about. Besides, she had nothing else to do at all, so on a whim she pulled out her phone, sent a quick message to the researcher and joined the short queue for dinner.

Minutes later, her phone pinged with a reply. He was free now, he said, and quickly arranged to come by the cafeteria to meet her and give her more details about the research. Before she finished her solo dinner he hurried in. He was tall and handsome, if a little unkempt with messy hair, several days stubble on his chin and the deep, dark bags under his eyes that marked out the struggles of a PhD student. She had told him where she was sitting, and the cafeteria was empty enough that he didn't have any difficulty finding her. He waved at her from across the room before grabbing a coffee, depsite the late hour, and sat down across the table from her.

"Hi Laura, I'm Tom."

"Hi Tom."

"Wow, campus really is dead over the summer! I don't get down to the cafeteria much, I normally just eat in the lab. What's keeping you around outside term?"

"I'm doing an internship at the museum." she said.

"Cool! Doing anything interesting here? he asked, flashing an infectious smile.

"Not really. Well, it isn't all bad. The work I've been doing this last week is so dull, though. It's all paperwork and filing, which isn't really what I expected when I signed up."

"Tell me about it, that sucks! It's the same for my work, more paperwork than science! What were you hoping for when you signed up?"

"I don't know, discovering some long-lost treasure deep in the basement!" she said with a laugh. "Seriously, though, I guess I was hoping to spend more time with the visitors and less by myself in the basement. With my housemates gone spending all day down there means I hardly ever talk to anyone. I miss having a good laugh – although I understand you can help me with that?"

"I think I can," he said with a smile. "My PhD is in the neurological responses to knismesis and gargalesis – tickling, in laymans terms," he clarified as he saw her eyes glazing over.

"We're using an MRI machine to see which areas of the brain are activated when certain stimuli are applied. It's a tricky experiment to run, as for the MRI to work you need to keep the head very, very still – and that's obviously a challenge while we apply the stimuli. We have designed some medical stabilisers and restraints to keep the body still, but, I'll be open with you, they're not for everyone. It is very restrictive and can be very claustrophobic for people who struggle with that."

"That should be OK, I'm not claustrophobic," Laura replied. "You should see how small some of the basement rooms at the museum are!"

"And then, of course, there's the tickling part. If you're interested, we can do a quick test now. You need to be at least a bit ticklish for this experiment to work, and we need to make sure you're OK with what we're doing. Can you take your sandal off and put your foot up here?" he said, pointing to a spot on the bench beside him. She looked around, slightly embarassed to be doing this in a public space.

"I mean, if that's OK with you?" he said, and gave her a smile.

"No, that's fine," she said, unbuckling her right sandal and putting her bare foot up on the bench. He pulled out a pencil from his bag, and she gasped and flinched as he quickly swept the point from heel to toe up her the center of her foot, rapidly pulling her foot away. A couple of people looked up from their meals at the commotion, but quickly lost interest and turned back when the tickling show didn't continue.

"Well, you're certainly ticklish enough! Are you sure you're happy to do this? When we get you in the machine you won't be able to back out, and you're enough of a flailer you'd need to be pretty securely restrained, for my safety as much as the quality of the data!" he said with a laugh.

Even if her first reflex was to kick away from the tickling, it wasn't too unpleasant, at least not only for a second. Even if the real experiment involved stronger stimuli, how bad could it be? It's only a bit of tickling, after all, a silly, childish thing. And after the longest conversation she'd had in days, craving more human connection, she found herself wanting to help the rather handsome researcher.

"Are you free this evening? You could come straight down to the lab and we'll get you measured. The kit will take a few weeks to make, as it's all custom, and then we can get you booked in for the experiment proper."

The lab was a short drive away, across the other side of campus. Tom led Laura up a couple of flights of stairs and through a warren of featureless corridors before pushing through a door into a small room crammed full of too much furniture. Four large, somewhat beaten-up desks were pushed against the walls, most piled high with stacks of paper and notebooks. A pair of comfortable chairs, patched up multiple times, were arranged around a low table with a coffee machine sitting on it.

A woman, sat at the only clean desk and working on the computer, looked up as Tom and Laura endered.

"This is Chloe, my supervisor," Tom said. "Chloe, this is Laura. She's willing to volunteer for the MRI experiment."

"Nice to meet you, Laura," Chloe said, standing up and extending a manicured hand. Perhaps in her early 40s, she was tall, with her hair pulled back into a strict ponytail. She was dressed very neatly, if plainly, and looked as tired as Tom.

"That's great, we've been really short of volunteers for this one." Chloe said "You've talked her through what it involves?"

"I've given a quick outline. I'll take her through the details after I've got her scanned in."

"OK – make sure she knows what she's getting herself in for, I do not want another fight with the ethics board." she said, shaking her head as she remembered the last frustrating experience.

"So, Laura, first thing is to take a detailed scan of your head," Tom said, walking her into a side room and sitting her down by a piece of equipment. Resting her chin and forehead on a light frame, she sat very still for a few minutes while the machine buzzed and whirred around her head, cameras and scanners working from different angles. When it finished, Tom popped his head back into the side room.

"The next thing we need is a detailed scan of your feet – a bit unusual, I know, but we need to hold them still for the experiement so we can apply the stimuli in a consistent manner."

She took off her sandals and rolled up her jeans before propping her feet up inside a similar looking machine. "It will take a few minutes, so you can look over all the paperwork at the same time," Tom said, passing her a thin stack of papers.

"It's a full experiment plan, risk assessment, disclaimer and consent form. Please, make sure you read it carefully and ask me if you've got any questions," he said, going back into the main room.

She started reading the papers

"Experiment plan.

Application of knismetic and gargaletic stimulus to the Somatosensory Nervous System (SNS) to determine ... "

Her eyes glazed over. It was late, and she'd already spent the day reading through boring paperwork for the museum. She skipped ahead a couple of pages.

"... restricted through apparatus 3-7 (Figs D-J in Appendix 2) to limit flexural range of motion to within minimal tolerances defined previously in paragraph ... "

She had zoned out completely again. There was a reason she was a history major, not a scientist. She looked ahead another couple of pages

"Mechanical gargaletic stimulus will be applied through repeated transverse motion at a constant frequency across the medial and lateral plantar regions ... "

This time she didn't realise she had lost focus until the machine circling her feet stopped it's regular whirring and beeped. Tom popped his head back in the room.

"How's it going? Any questions?"

Laura looked down guiltily at the stack of papers. "No, it's all fine."

"You sure? You've read everything and you're OK with it all? We've had quite a few people back out here," he said seriously.

"Yeah, sure," she lied.

"Well, if you're sure you don't have any questions then if you can just sign the disclaimer and consent form at the end." he said, giving her a pen.

She took it and hesitated. But to speak up now she'd have to admit to her lie and to not reading the paper, which would be pretty embarassing. And it was getting late. After just a moment, she decisively put her signature on the two documents.

"Fantastic. It'll take a few weeks to get the custom equipment made for you, but we can schedule the experiment now."

Term was just getting started by the time all the equipment was ready, but Laura was soon back at the lab and ready to go, sitting on the scanner table of the big machine. She had been advised to come in comfortable clothes that she wouldn't mind working up a sweat in, so had come in the sports bra and leggings she wore to the gym. Her bare feet were fidgeting apprehensively on the cold tiled floor. The MRI machine's stretcher table had some custom attachments at the head and foot, and Tom and Chloe were wheeling in a trolley full of accessories.

Two blocks, made from a firm but comfortable rubbery foam were already attached to the board on the scanner table, forming a contoured cradle for her to rest her head and neck, with her hair, loosely tied into a pony-tail, sitting in a gap between the two. She swung her legs up onto the table and lay her head back, settling down into the cushioned headrest. As she got comfortable, she breathed out deeply, relaxing, feeling as if she was sinking into a deep nest of pillows up past her ears.

Lying down, next she was handed a horseshoe-shaped soft rubber bite guard. She slipped it between her teeth, biting down gently and running her tongue around the smooth inside.

Next her world went dark as Tom carefully placed another block over the top half over her head. The inside of this was contoured to her forehead and cheeks and it completely covered her eyes. She felt a slight increase in pressure as she heard straps being ratcheted tight around the outside of the blocks, holding her head utterly immobile. Her breath quickened slightly at first, but she quickly relaxed again, enjoying the feeling of being held still and safe,

"How are you feeling?" Tom asked.

"Good," she replied, slightly more confidently than she felt. "It's snug and cozy in here."

She felt another firm block, this time contoured perfectly to her chin and mouth, gently slip into place from below, feeling her teeth bite into the bite guard as the carefully designed and measured restraints completely removed her ability to move her jaw, dampening any laughing vibrations that might ruin the data. Above her neck, her only mobility was to blink her eyes or wrinkle her nose, and only her nose stuck out in a gap between the blocks that otherwise completely encased her head. Her brain was perfectly stabilised for the upcoming oberservations.

"Everything still good?" Tom asked.

She tried to speak, forgetting about the muzzling block covering her mouth, then gave hesitant a thumbs up. She had been told the equipment would be restrictive, but hadn't looked at the diagrams, and this was significantly more than she was expecting. Still, plunging on, she lay her arms down by her sides for wide cuffs to go around her wrists and attach to the board. Three straps went across her upper body and arms and three more went across her legs, pinning her down to the board. These had a little more slack than her head, but the still only had at best an inch of wiggle room.

Her ankles were last. At the foot of the stretcher was another custom device to immobilise her feet and allow the application of precise, accurate, repeatable stimuli. The lower half of these stocks was attached to the stretcher itself, running across the full width. Her ankles were resting comfortably in two half-moon openings perhaps a foot apart.

The top half was more elaborate. She expected the gentle increase in pressure around her ankles as the top half of the stocks was placed over the lower half, the same comfortable rubber foam holding her ankles tightly in place. She was however surprised when the two researchers took her two big toes, guided each into a contour on the front of the stocks and fastened rubber straps across the tips and upper pads, immobilisng the toe completely. She gave a "mmph" of shock and objection to no avail as she felt the reserchers systematically moving on to her second toes. She started to struggle instinctively, wiggling and flapping her remaining free toes in vain as one by one they were hopelessly overpowered, gently separated and individually strapped in.

Once her feet were secure a final adjustment was made and the whole stretcher extended slightly, removing any slack between her head and ankles and pulling her feet gently but completely securely back into the perfectly-fitting impressions on the front of the stocks, splayed slightly apart from each other, toes spread and pulled back, the balls of her feet pushed slightly forwards and the heels pulled back leaving the soles taut, exposed and very, very thoroughly immobile.

Laura found her nervous anticipation growing as she realised quite how vulnerable she was. She attempted to flex each toe in turn but only felt each corresponding tendon stand out on her sole. She attempted to move her feet from side to side and back and forth but couldn't move even a millimeter. As she heard the machine spin up with a whirring noise and felt herself sliding backwards into it, she realised she had signed herself up for much more than she was anticipating.

"Is she ready?" Laura heard Chloe ask.

"Yes, all strapped in," Tom replied as he and his supervisor stood side-by-side at Laura's feet, which were sticking out of the machine. The rest of her was lost in the cavernous magnet, not easily visible from where the two were working. From their perspective, she had been reduced to two small, pale, bare soles isolated against the black backdrop of their carefully designed experimental restraints.

"OK, let's just check everything is wired up properly before we get started properly," Chloe said as reached out and lightly scribbled her manicured nails over Laura's taut sole. A jolt of lightning ran up Laura's leg and she tried to kick away as hard as she could, tried to scrunch and flail her toes, but in vain. Her knee maybe jerked back and forth by an inch but her feet and soles were totally, completely helpless and immobile without the slightest trace of movement. A sound that was half laughter, half involutary yelp was born in her chest and was smothered by her clenched, muzzled jaw.

"Data is coming back properly," Tom said, looking at the machine console. "I'm seeing several areas light up. Heart rate is spiking up as expected."

"Good," Chloe said as she dug her nails slightly harder into Laura's helpless soles. "How does she compare against the baseline?"

"Overall strength of response is pretty high. Heart rate is already up to 140. We'll need to be careful to pace her OK."

Laura thrashed in her bonds in complete panic, eyes blinking, fast breaths puffing in and our of her nose. With her ability to jerk away from the sensations removed, she realised to her horror that she was far, far more ticklish than she had assumed, that she had absolutely no protection against that weakness and no way of stopping the experiment she had signed up to.

"OK, let's get started properly," Chloe said, stopping her idle assault on Laura's helpless foot. "First step is to measure the reactions to knismetic stimuli," she said, as Tom pickied up a feather. Laura, unable to see this and not understanding his terminology, cringed in uncertain anticipation. When the feather first swiped up her sole she flinched in shock, but to her surprise and relief it barely tickled. Instead, the sensation was at worst midly annoying as the fluffy tip glided all around her feet, up and down and across her soles and along and between her toes.

She relaxed a little as this went on. Perhaps her first reaction to Chloe's nails was more nervousness and unfamiliarity to the new situation and her helplessness, and as she got used to it then the whole experiment wouldn't be too bad. And hopefully not for too long. However desperately she tried to convince herself, the thoroughness of Tom's exploration increasingly worried her as every single part of her feet was swept over multiple methodical times by the feather.

"She shows very mild reactions to pure knismetic stimulus," she heard Tom say, with a disapointed tone in his voice.

"No, that's interesting," Chloe responded. "There will be more valuable analysis to get a range of different neurological reactions to different stimuli. Let's try someting from the other extreme next, a blunt gargeletic stimulus"

Tom obliged silently, picking up a hairbrush with round bristles and, with no warning for the trapped subject, started scrubbing it lightly but methodically across Laura's trapped sole. She immediately went ballistic as she felt ticklish wildfire sweep up her leg to scorch her brain. She would have thrashed and would have screamed and would have bitten like a wild animal if she was able, but such capabilities had been carefully denied to her by the clinical experimental setup. Tom continued to brush across with steady, measured strokes, and light but constant pressure, following the contour of her arches round and working slowly from heel to toe and back and again and again and again. Sweat broke out across her body and tears ran from her eyes, but no laughter was able to escape her trapped jaw. Even the slightest movement of her sole to give her the faintest hope of the briefest respite was impossible as her mind burnt under the continued, relentless intensity stretched to what felt like timeless, hopeless infinity. Finally, after ten slow, thorough, excruciating passes up and down the entire length of her foot, Tom stopped and Laura started to pull together the shattered pieces of her mind.

As conscious thought slowly returned she felt a surge of anger at her sitation. She was in way over her head and couldn't take it and needed to stop it and couldn't stop it. She had never been so helpless and trapped and at the mercy of those who saw her only as the subject of their experiment. She thrashed her fists uselessly against her thighs and screamed and sobbed and swore silently into her sealed mouth, unseen and unheard by the scientists as she lay in the belly of the machine.

"She is showing very strong reactions to knismatic stimulus. It's good to have an outlier like this in our data set." Chloe commented dispassionately, looking over at a screen summarising the information coming back, and the connected heart rate monitor peaking near 160.

Laura raged at the way they talked about her, as if she wasn't in the room. She raged at Tom for designing this cruel experiment and tricking her into it, and at herself for signing up and for not reading the experiment and getting herself trapped here. She raged at the universe for creating her with such a humiliating weakness as she strained every muscle against her bonds in desperation.

"Next let's try a sharper gargeletic stimulus," Chloe said, barely giving Laura any rest. "I'll do this one, I can do it most repeatably."

Terror poured over Laura's anger like ice water at these words. Chloe stepped forwards towards Laura's other foot and started dancing her nails over the taut sole. Unlike before there was nothing idle about her method, she remained intensely focused and precise, sending Laura thrashing and flailing chaotically within her limited bonds once more as all thought was swept away by the torrent of sensation flowing up from her foot. Chloe was using just one hand, but playing Laura's taut soles with talented fingers that moved smoothly but unpredictably around, scribbling zig-zags up the the arch then around the toes then with a smooth gesture dragging her nails down to the heel, then a slight pause to keep Laura off guard and then sweeping onwards again and again with a relentless momentum.

Chloe carefully performed her experimental technique for long minutes as Laura's struggling flagged, the straining of her arms and legs starting to weaken as exhaustion made her limbs heavy. Eventually Tom, who had been keeping the timer, interrupted her. "OK, that's long enough."

Laura re-stoked the embers of her anger as she lay panting, deep breaths steaming in and out of her nose. She didn't have the energy to scream and struggle but smouldered darkly, wishing ill on her tormenters to distract from the phantom tingling sensations that remained on her two soles that had been individually subject to such different tortures.

"Now we try some instruments that deliver mixed stimuli," Chloe said. Both scientists picked up wooden bristle brushes. These brushes were made from a range of different bristles, from the soft and fluffy to the stiff and scratchy. Each scientist took up position by one of Laura's feet and started swiftly and lightly dusting their brush back and forth over her helpless soles. The sensation was maddening but not overwhelming like before and almost worse for it. The soft, light touches itched and tingled like the feather but worse, and sensitised her skin for the immediate follow-up from their scratchy cousins, just barely heavy enough to tickle infuriatingly. Instead of being swept helplessly away by overwhelming intensity she kept enough of her faculties to fully experience the sensations, laughing but not screaming, forced to lay in the moment and soak helplessly in her torment and focus all her senses, her entire being, in the tingling, itching, immobile, ticklish soles of her feet. As light stroke followed light stroke and time dragged out into minutes she became a connoiseur of sensation, intimately familiar with each square millimeter of her sole, with a heightened awareness to the finest variation in sensation from ball to arch to heel to each individual toe as she had no option but to focus exclusively on every detail of her exquisite torment.

She was barely even aware when the dusting stopped, phantom tingles continuing to spark haphazardly to fill her emptiness even as she heard voices from what felt like an enormous distance.

"OK, that's enough" Chloe's voice said. "She's getting tired, and we have plenty more work to do. We can give her a break if you prepare the soles for the next stage while I'll get the toe apparatus set up".

Laura was too tired to flinch when two cold thumbs made contact with her foot, but immediately sank in to the deepest relaxation as Tom started to massage lotion into her poor, abused sole, rubbing away the phantom tingles. As her entire universe, her entire existence, had been reduced to her two soles it was an almost spiritual experience to lose herself in pleasure as the two strong thumbs were gently releasing and erasing the torments she had passed through. He moved across to repeat his absolution on her other foot, leaving Laura deeply at peace and well with the world.

She rested with empty mind for long minutes as her breathing slowly returned to normal and her body slowly restored strength.

Unfortunately for Laura, the experiment was not over. Chloe had been threading specially designed floss through carefully designed holes in the stocks between each toe and attaching it to a curious machine. The floss was relatively thick, with a soft fluffy exterior and a firmer felt middle.

"OK, I'm ready when you are," said Chloe

"I'm ready," said Tom, and Chloe started the machine. It lowered the floss slightly, until the soft fringes just made the lightest contact with the softest skin between Laura's toes, and then started slowly pulling the floss back and forwards.

The tingling sensation itched gently and slowly lifted Laura out of her trace-like emptiness. Half-aware, she tried wiggling her toes to dislodge or trap her tormenter before half-realising, half-remembering her toes were completely immobile. The tingling, though mild, was building maddeningly as she was unable to give the slightest relief to the most sensitive skin between her toes, normally so safe and protected and so unprepared for such treatment.

Building along with the infuriating tingle was a rising sense of panic and realisation that her experiment wasn't over. Chloe's words - that there was plenty more work to do - had once washed over Laura's exhausted mind, but now bubbled up from the deep. Laura attempted to plead and beg, but her imploring eyes were hidden from the scientists and her words were lost beyond her trapped mouth.

As the continued teasing of her most vulnerable toes continued to build and become more and more unbearable, she begged for release – any release.

In a twisted way, her wish was granted, as before long Chloe said "OK, we've established a baseline. Now we randomly apply varying stimuli". She changed a setting on the machine and it dipped one of the strands of floss until it made firm contact between her big toe and second toe on her right foot for a few seconds before lifting back to it's previous position.

A short jolt of extreme ticklishness released the tension that had been building in Laura as the floss made firm contact and was drawn along the most sensitive skin between her toes. She instinctively tried to clench her toes but had no success, but the flinching jolt still travelled the entire length of her body and an involuntary gasp tried to escape her lungs before the floss lifted back to it's previous light tingling, building tension slowly, gradually, inevitably before another sudden release, this time a one-two sweep first between the third and fourth toes on her right foot and the second toe and big toe on the left.

This continued with no discernable pattern. Sometimes a long build before the briefest of touches, sometimes one, two, three touches in quick succession, sometimes almost a morse-code dot-dash-dot pattern of long and short touches, ocassionally multiple touches at once, each releasing a sudden jolt of ticklish torment before the constant, light tingling charged her nerves again, each repetition ratcheting her tighter and tighter.

She bargained with the universe for release. She'd work harder, be better, be kinder, call her family more, give up all she had for an end to the experiment that she had almost forgotten was finite. She'd trade any sensation, even the hairbrush or Chloe's nails, for a change to this constant uncertainty. Each fleeting touch, each tingling tease of rising anxiety wound her tighter like a fiddle tuned higher and higher until it creaks under the strain.

Finally, Chloe said "And now constant stimuli". She pushed another button and all the flossing threads dipped in unison until they were making firm contact, speeeding up their backwards and forwards motion. Laura let out a smothered animal howl, back arched as far as possible while strapped to the table, and fully surrendered. The release of tension swept her away entirely and she was lost to the intensity of the flossing on her most sensitive skin. The part of her that was left behind thrashed and screamed in vain, desperately trying to squeeze her toes together, but the rest of her, her consciousness, made peace. She learned to ride the torrent, to allow herself to be swept away even as the relentless machine maintained it's constant intensity.

"Now finally we apply maximum gargaletic stimulus," she distantly heared Chloe's voice say. She was beyond the terror that once that might have induced.

"Are you sure?" Tom asked "I don't know if she can take any more". He made a significant glance at the heart rate monitor, which was already reading over 180.

"It's in the experiment plan, Tom. If we don't follow the same steps then the data will be useless."

Tom felt a little guilty as he picked up the hairbrush, but complied with his supervisor. He stepped over to one foot and started methodically scrubbing back and forth, this time on soles still slick with lotion, while Chloe stepped over to the other and scribbled her nails rapidly, focusing on the arch and heels as the toes were still being flossed by the machine.

If the hairbrush had been like being immersed in the loudest one-note foghorn, and Chloe's nails were like an operatic soloist screaming in your ear, the combination with the toe flossers was like being caught between warring symphony orchestras. The conscious part of Laura's mind idly watched from afar while her subconscious was flayed raw by the intensity of sensation. In her perception of herself her trapped body, useless arms and torso and legs shrank while her overstimulated soles and toes grew in her mind until they dwarfed the rest of her and became her entire world. If she dipped her conscious mind into that raging torrent of sensation it was like plunging in to the coldest mountain stream, painful and refreshing, cleansing and tormenting, diabolical and sublime. If she fought it, she knew she would be swept to her demise, the torment would win, so she surrended and floated away.

She barely noticed when the experiment stopped and the sensations ended. The stretcher slid out of the machine and she lay there in a pool of sweat, sports bra and leggings soaked through. Tom rushed over and, concerned, took her hand, finally remembering the person connected to the feet of the experiment. She felt the stretching tension in her legs and spine ease, and suddenly her toes were free. She wiggled her toes one by one, hesitantly, like a newborn animal first learning to stand, and slowly, unbelievingly, moved her feet from side to side. The pressure on her ankles released, but she still lay in the lower half of the stocks, the idea she could move her ankles not yet forming in her mind.

Straps were loosened along her legs, body, arms, then Tom gently broke her out of her chrysalis, bright light streaming in, as she slowly, confusedly pushed out the bite guard with her tongue. Her awareness flowed slowly up her body back from her feet as other senses woke as if from hibernation, but the feeling of intense peace remained.

"Wow, we really put you through the wringer," Tom said, apologetically. "I didn't realise you were that ticklish. You did really well."

Warmth spread through Laura at his affirmation. She tried to respond but words were still floating beyond her reach like soft clouds on a summer's day. She lifted her legs from the bottom of the stocks and sat up, blinking slowly, before carefully inspecting each of her soles. To her surprise they still small, delicate and unchanged from before, despite minutes early being the overwhelming entirity of her world. She stood up and immediately half-fell into Tom, who supported her.

"Come on, let's get you some water," he said.

Back in Tom's office, she sat cross legged on a comfy chair and drank greedily as she spent long minutes putting her mind back together.

"I don't normally do this" he said, later, driving her home "but the other volunteers haven't had anywhere near as strong a reaction and I'm worried about you."

She smiled hazily, and spoke slowly as if still from a long way away. "That was wild. I had no idea I was that ticklish."

"Are you OK? We pushed you hard – I think too hard."

"I went all the way through. It was the worst thing and the best thing I've done. I feel – I don't know – just - " she waved her arms vaguely "peaceful, I guess."

He walked her to her dorm room, where her roommate and a couple of her girlfriends were hanging out. "You'll be OK from here?"

"I'll be OK," she said with a smile.

"OK, well, you've got my number – you can call me if you need anything. And thank you for today, that will be really good for the project. Sorry we had to push you so hard to get it."

"That's OK. Thank you for giving me the experience."

She turned and floated over to her roommate, who she gave the biggest, sweatiest hug. As her roommate pushed her away, she saw her relaxed, peaceful expression, stripped free of all cares and worries.

"Yeuch, you stink! Are you OK? What have you just done?"

"I've just had the weirdest, wildest, most amazing experience." She smiled and looked around at her girlfriends "You all have to try it!"
That was a great story..
I felt bad for her, but oddly turned on also!
Hoping for a part 2
Didn't know if all that torture would turn into a sexual moment where she got pushed over the edge and no one knew so they kept tickling. Well maybe in part 2
This story, as well as the two others from you it led me to find and check out, is wonderfully done. I already like themes of consentual lees and/or lees who get themselves in over their head and you manage to pull it off very well across all three stories thus far.

I will say that, to me, the set-up phase in this one feels just a touch long but the section about applying the restraints is thrilling and the rollercoaster of emotions Laura goes through in the following gives the story an interesting dynamic. For all that this outing is, sadly for me, restricting itself to just the feet it does work very well in the given scenario.

One could nitpick at minor bits like Laura failing to realise the severity of the restrains when they clearly had to have gotten a cast of her head done to make the piece fit so snugly, never mind the sheer amount of funding the research team appears to have if they can afford to have this kind of custom gear produced at all but they quite frankly do not detract from the enjoyment of the piece in any way.

Thank you very much for the hard work you put into this, I will certainly keep an eye out for more of your works.
This story is AMAZING!! Well done, InkQuillWrites, well done.
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