Have you ever been tied and stretched on a medieval torture rack?
It is one of the most painfully intense tortures you can experience.
The further you are stretched, the more painful it becomes. It can also be extremely dangerous, too. Shoulders can be dislocated, lungs can collapse, muscles and tendons can be sprained and snapped. You would definitely want to avoid being stretched out too far.
This type of torture was standard in interrogations. The victim was usually stretched painfully and then asked questions, or made to confess to heinous crimes against the church or state. With every wrong answer or refusal to talk, the cylindrical drum at the top of the rack was turned another notch, and the body was stretched more and more, inch by inch. Even after obtaining a confession, often the stretching continued until the victim passed out. Or worse. The victim usually had no control over how far his body was stretched.
But what if you found yourself tied to such a device?
What if a playfully sadistic buddy of yours had you stretched out on a torture rack? And what if he gave you the option of determining how much your body would be stretched? What if YOU could control the wheel at the head of the rack, by exercising your self-control and willpower?
And what if your buddy knew how ticklish your bare feet were?
Have you ever played “Don’t Laugh”?
It’s a great game.
What if your buddy knew of the existence of such a torture rack, in the basement dungeon of a friend in New Jersey? Yup, it does exist. You should have thought twice before making that stupid bet on our card game: loser of the poker game gets tied and tickled for one hour. I can just guess what you had in mind for me, but you lost, you cocky bastard, and now you got to pay the penalty. One hour on the rack.
You are forcibly stripped naked and marched down the cold concrete stairs to the basement dungeon. Your eyes widen as you see the rack for the first time. It looks like a long table, about waist-high, made of solid, rough-hewn wood. There is a large circular drum at one end, with a system of gears connected to a wheel that has four spokes, like handles. Iron manacles, padded with leather, are attached at the foot of the rack and also to chains which are wrapped around the drum.
You are roughly forced to lie on your back on the rack, and your bare ankles are tightly locked into the manacles at the foot of the rack. The manacles are firmly attached to the rack, spread apart about one foot, and there is absolutely no “give” to them. The leather padding presses tightly against your ankles, but protects them somewhat from the hard iron circles. Your wrists are stretched up over your head and the manacles from the chains are locked tightly around your wrists. The wheel is turned several notches, and you feel your arms being stretched tightly over your head. You test your muscles against the pull, and find that you are helpless against it. You already feel a slight strain in your arms and shoulders, but it is nothing you can’t handle. Yet.
At the foot of the rack, your bare feet feel extremely vulnerable. You try to twist and turn your ankles, but the iron manacles are locked so tightly around your ankles, that there is virtually no movement possible. You can flex your feet and wiggle your toes, but that’s it. And in a moment, even that amount of movement is taken away from you.
Two long lengths of rope are wound around the drum at the head of the rack and brought down the sides of your prone body. The ends of the ropes are brought to your bare feet, which are forced to flex back as the ends of the ropes are tightly wrapped around the base of each big toe, and tied off. The wheel is cranked another notch. You feel the ropes pull your big toes back into an even tighter flexed position. Now you realize that with each turn of the drum, not only will your body be stretched unmercifully, but your big toes will be pulled back farther and farther, with your ankles trapped in those ungiving manacles.
The “rules” of your punishment are now explained to you. Your bare feet will be tickled for one hour. Every time you laugh or make a sound, the wheel will be turned one notch tighter. If you can go for three minutes without making a sound, the wheel will be loosened one notch. Your punishment ends in one hour, or when you pass out. If you pass out, you will be removed from the rack, locked into a set of stocks, and your feet will be tickled and tortured for six hours, starting from the time you revive.
An hourglass is upended and set on a table at the foot of the rack, where you can lift up your head and watch the sand slowly trickle to the bottom. The table also contains various brushes, feathers, and other objects which you cannot quite make out.
Two soft feathers are slowly brought to the soles of your feet. they are placed laterally right across the base of your toes, and gently sawed back and forth. Your hour of tickling has begun.
With all or your might, you try to hold back the loud gasp that wants to escape from your throat, as you feel the feathers gently tickling the very sensitive bases of your toes. That’s it, buddy, hold it in. You don’t want to have that wheel turned THIS early on, do you? Man, you would be in deep shit if you started being stretched this early, wouldn’t you? Don’t laugh, man.
As the feathers continue their ticklish sawing motion back and forth across the base of your toes, you press your lips together in an attempt not to laugh out loud. Your belly begins to heave, and your breath gets shorter from your supreme effort to stifle a laugh. But the feathers don’t stop, and the base of your toes are feeling more and more ticklish by the second. You know that you are not going to be able to last much longer. Picking up your head to look at the hourglass, you are shocked to discover that hardly any sand has fallen yet. Your head hits the rack with a frustrated, dejected thump. Man, this is gonna be the longest hour of your life!
Your entire body is tense, not only from the extreme bondage and stretching, but from your drastic efforts not to laugh out loud. A glance at the clock (which is out of your sightline) shows me that three minutes have passed, so you are due for a relaxing of the stretch. Walking up to the head of the rack, the lever which holds the wheel gear in place is opened, and the wheel is turned back one notch. You immediately feel the slack of about a half an inch more freedom in your arms, and you sigh with relief as you try to move and flex your arm muscles, glad for the temporary relief. The operative word here is “temporary.” We both know where this game is heading.
Your relief is momentary, for as soon as the sigh of relief escapes from your lips, I am back at your bare feet, same soft feathers in hand, with a new tickling tactic. The feathers are placed between your big and second toes, and gently sawed back and forth. With your big toes tied and stretched back, even a little, all of your toes are separated a bit, but the space between your big and second toes is the widest, and most vulnerable. Watching your straining ab muscles as I gently move the feathers back and forth between your toes, I notice a sharp intake of breath every time the feathers rub against that web of skin at the base of your toes, where they connect to the balls of your feet. I concentrate the feathers there, swirling them around, as I enjoy your gasping and panting, still holding in your laughter with all of your might.
I decide to continue the journey down the soles of your stretched-out feet, so beginning at that very ticklish spot between your big and second toes, I lightly trace a pattern with the tips of the feathers down across the balls of your feet, right through the arches. As the soft feathers trail across your sensitive arches, you nearly lose it. I hear you gasping and panting like a dog, trying desperately not to engage your vocal chords. Your body is shaking, your abs are heaving, and your face is disfigured into a silent scream of agony. On the second trip down your arches with the feathers, an audible gasp escapes your lips. On the third trip, you are whimpering like a baby.
On the fourth trip, you lose the battle. As you exhale, a cross between a scream and a laugh uncontrollably escapes from your gaping mouth.
Too bad, buddy. You blew it. And with only 10 seconds to go before you made your three minutes. What a shame.
Hating every minute of it, I walk to the wheel and give it a crank. Your body is immediately stretched out again, back to where you started. Your big toes are also stretched back, making your bare feet feel even more vulnerable.
And now that the floodgates have opened, you will find it impossible to stifle your laughter from here on in. I know this, and will take full advantage.
Back at your feet, feathers in hand, I poise them at your toes, waiting, letting you think about it for a minute. Then, you feel the feathers gently brush across the very tips of your toes. Another gasp from you, trying desperately to hold it in. I take a minute to very gently tease the tips of your toes with the feathers, giving you hope that you will be able to last the three minutes with just this very light tickling. But just as the three minutes are about to end, I bring the feathers down and scrape them across the base of your toes again, in a lateral motion, and you gasp and laugh out loud. Man, this gentle tickling of your toes really gets to you, doesn’t it, buddy? What’s the matter, can’t you even stand it for three little minutes?
Another crank of the wheel, and you begin to feel the stretch in your arms, shoulders and chest, let alone your big toes, which those ropes pull back another half an inch or so. I hope you realize that the more you are stretched, the more vulnerable the soles of your feet are going to get. And the more pain you are going to feel in your big toes. You want to avoid that if possible, buddy. Could get pretty tough on you.
Geez, man, all you got to do is not to laugh for three minutes, and you get a break from the stretching. That’s not too hard, is it, buddy?
Back down to your helpless feet, the same soft feathers are used to really explore your helpless arches. This time, you last for about a minute of that frustratingly light tickling of your arches, huffing and puffing, snorting through your nose, trying desperately not to laugh. But the ticklish sensations to your tender arches get to you, and you once again burst out with another uncontrolled laugh. You immediately groan in frustration, knowing that you lost another round.
Another crank of the wheel, another notch tighter, slightly more pain in your arms, shoulders, chest, and toes.
The soft feathers are now replaced with stiffer feathers. These are white swan feathers, with a sharper point at the tip, but rather soft sides. The combination of the two can be brutal.
I toy with you for a few minutes, placing the tips of the feathers against the balls of your feet and gently twirling the feathers in small circles. You are heaving and whimpering like a baby again, trying not to make a sound, for as long as you can. Damn, isn’t it three minutes yet? Just before you make your time, I drag the stiff tips of the feathers quickly down the centers of your feet, from the balls to the heels, several times very quickly. Your laugh explodes from your throat. Gotcha again, buddy.
Crank. Stretch. Owwww.
These feathers are working real well, so I will stick with them for a while. Tracing random patterns across your stretched out soles has you howling in no time.
Geez, your self-control is slipping away, huh, buddy?
Sorry, dude. Another turn of the wheel, stretching you out even further. You really begin to feel the pain, now throughout your entire body. A glance at the hourglass puts you about one quarter of the way through your ordeal.
And now you begin to notice something else. The further you are stretched, the more pressure it puts on your chest, abs and ribcage. It is becoming harder and harder for you to catch a full breath, especially with the strain of trying not to laugh. You are getting more and more exhausted just by trying to breathe normally. And the more exhausted you get, the more vulnerable you become. And the more vulnerable you become,…well, you get the idea.
Don’t laugh, buddy.
Stiff-bristled shaving brushes are now applied to your ticklish soles. Softly and slowly, so you can hardly feel them at first, gradually building in intensity, until they are dancing madly all across your soles, the unbearable sensations make you blurt out more loud gasps and laughs. Man, you can never seem to last your whole three minutes anymore. Another crank, and now you gasp with the pain in your arms and shoulders. The smooth surface of the rack allows your body to slide up very easily, distributing the stretch throughout your body. Your groin, your legs, and your ankles are now feeling the pressure of the painful stretch.
Since you are naked, it’s obvious that your penis has been hard throughout most of your session. Of course, it is completely ignored, leaving you wanting to shoot a load, but not being able to. And now, with your body suffering more and more pain, your penis begins to shrivel up. Too bad.
And with your body experiencing more and more pain, the gentle tickling is becoming more and more unbearable. The contrast between the painful stretching and the light tickling or your helpless feet is getting to you. Through your moans of pain and bursts of laughter, you unconsciously begin to beg and plead to be released, as the brushes resume their exploration of your ticklish soles. Sorry, buddy, release is not “in the cards.”
You are now getting scared, and frustrated, because you have virtually no control anymore as to when you laugh. And of course, every time you laugh, the wheel gets turned another notch. The pain in your racked-out body is starting to be more than you can stand. And still the devilishly light tickling of your feet continues. The only “break” you get from the tickling is the time it takes to walk up to the wheel and turn it, and walk back down to your feet. Some “break”, huh?
By the time the brushes are retired and I crack my knuckles, preparing to attack your soles with my fingers and fingernails, you are sweating, gasping for breath, and moaning from the pain. So, when you feel my fingertips begin to gently tease and stroke your soles, you are ready to crawl out of your skin. I keep up the tickling for the solid three minutes this time, even though you are laughing and gasping after ten seconds. Your body is stretched so tightly, and your big toes feel like they are being pulled off, that you can’t even squirm around. You just have to lie there and take the merciless tickling of your feet. Your soles are stretched out real nicely now, making the surfaces a terrific playing area for my dancing fingers. You are howling and gasping for air, your belly, now concave, heaving up and down.
Another crank. And the first genuine scream erupts from your lips.
Back down to your feet, to counteract your painful stretch, maybe I can take your mind off it by just gently running my fingernails across your arches. Feel that, buddy? Yup, I guess you do, since you are again laughing and giggling through your now constant grunts and moans of pain. Your face is turning a nice shade of red, as you struggle for each precious breath of air. Three more minutes of constant foot tickling, and you earn another crank of the wheel. Dude, you are losing it fast, now.
Your armpits are so stretched out by now, and looking so vulnerable, that on my way back down to your feet, I can’t help but trail my fingernail right through your left armpit. You shriek and try to move away, but you feel the painful stretch in your shoulder, and you gasp in pain, through the laughter. Man, your armpits are real ticklish, too, aren’t they? Well, we will be playing cards again soon…
Not satisfied with your screams of pain from the painful stretching and your bursts of laughter from the tickling, I need to see if I can confuse your senses even more. Let’s see if we can turn those into screams into screams of laughter.
A bottle of cooking oil is produced, dripped onto your bare soles, and rubbed in thoroughly, making your soles nice and slick. Two sharp nails are brought to your feet. The tips are pressed in, just below your big toes, and sharply dragged down your soles, right through the arches, down to the heels. Again and again you feel the sharp points roughly poking and tickling your arches, gliding smoothly through the oil. Your shrieks of…what are they, buddy, laughter or pain?…fill the basement dungeon. Man. you would think somebody was really TORTURING you, not just playfully tickling your feet. Geez, buddy, show some backbone.
After three minutes, I have no choice but to crank you out another notch. Man, I hate to do it, buddy, but rules are rules. Can’t you hold out for even three minutes so you can catch a break? C’mon, man, don’t laugh!
Let’s try real hard, because I’m really worried about you, man. Don’t want those shoulders to get separated or nothin’, huh?
Let’s do a test:
Here, I just place my fingertips right in the middle of your bare soles. See? Just like this. And now, I will not move them at all, just keep them resting there for three minutes. See? You can take that without laughing, can’t you, buddy? I will really try hard not to move them at all, but please forgive me if I involuntarily wiggle them a little. I’ll try not to.
You are moaning and grunting in pain, your breath coming shorter and shorter, but this time, you are not laughing. My fingertips are resting on your soles, hardly moving at all. The three minutes are up, and you have caught a break. I move up to the head of the rack and release the lever, cranking the wheel back one notch. You immediately feel some slack and relief in your body, and a big groan escapes from your throat. Enjoy it while you can, bud.
Back down to your feet, I now start wiggling my fingertips and fingernails across your well-oiled soles, slowly and gently at first, gradually increasing the speed and pressure. Now that you have earned one break, you desperately try for another, by straining with all your might to stifle any laughter. But as I dig in, you are helpless, and the laughter erupts again. Too bad, sport. But I will keep up the tickling for the full three minutes before cranking you tighter again.
This next crank, after the small bit of relief, is the worst. Your body had gotten used to some small measure of relief, but now, being stretched even tighter, is more than you can bear. The pain in your entire body is too much, and you are just about over the edge. What would happen if your bare feet were tickled now, huh, buddy? Might be more than you can stand, right?
You are panting, moaning, yelling, and begging for mercy as I return to your ticklish feet for the “coup de grace.”
A frantic, scrambling tickle attack with my fingertips on your painfully stretched-out soles finally ends your misery. You quickly begin to hyperventilate, and your body suddenly goes limp, your eyeballs rolling back into their sockets, your yells and moans ceasing, and your breath becoming more regular. With fifteen minutes left to go in your ordeal, you have mercifully passed out from the exertion. I knew that before you were in any danger of any joints or tendons being separated, forcing you to laugh uncontrollably in this position would make you pass out. And it worked.
When you awake, you are seated in a sturdy wooden chair, your hands tied behind the chair, your feet straight out in front of you, your ankles locked into a sturdy set of stocks. You are given some bread and water, revived sufficiently, and the clock is turned so you can see its face. Your bare feet are trapped in the stocks, with each toe individually tied and stretched. Hey, man, six hours of foot torture and tickling will pass real quickly, after that ordeal you just went through. No sweat, right? Man, this is gonna be fun. Sit back, relax, and enjoy paying your debt. Maybe next time you will be tough enough to last the full hour on the rack. And who knows, maybe next time you won’t make such a stupid bet on a card game!
NOTE: This story was written by Jack, who passed away a number of years ago. It originally appeared on his popular website, www.ropejock.com, which has long since vanished. Metalbond reader Chris recently reached out with a copy of this story, and many others, which he retrieved by using the wayback machine. I hope that Jack would have been pleased that this story is being shared here and enjoyed again after all these years.