Playing Cowboys and Indians Involuntarily

by PH

It was mid-July and we were at the height of a beautiful Scandinavian summer. Summer vacations go from the early June to late August in Sweden, and when you’re fourteen that seems like an eternity. I spent all my time with my best friend Joe and his cousins Sarah and Jenny. Our summer house was right beside theirs, and most of the time was spent at their beach or in the boat house down at the beach, where we had our "headquarters". We had many sleepovers in the boat house and their parents let us do pretty much what we wanted. We played many tie-up games that summer, and tried to invent new and exciting themes and different ways of tying each other up.

At a beach party where many of our friends had showed up, the girls had tied Joe and me to posts on the beach in retaliation for us kidnapping them earlier. One of their friends, a girl named Alex, had enjoyed herself by tickling us and in general having fun as we stood tied and helpless. Later, at a sleep over, we had tied Alex and tickled her silly. She had enjoyed the experience, but wanted to get us back, and at Sarah and Jenny too, since they had tricked Alex into being tied up. Alex parents managed the local camping site and she usually helped out there during the days. She had started to hang out with us a lot during the evenings, and her brother Mike also joined us on occasion.

The weekend after we had tied Alex up we planned to go camping in the woods, a couple of miles up the lake. This was a vast forest and totally free of houses where we would go. Alex told us that she couldn´t come, because she had to help at the camping site. She said with a laugh, that we should be ware of Indians, though. Her younger cousins and their friends usually played their cowboys and Indians wars in that particular part of the forest. The younger kids had also built a small Indian camp there with huts made of fir branches and discarded planks. We promised to take care and watch out for these savages.
We started from Joe, Sarah and Jenny´s house on Friday afternoon. We would go by boat at first and had borrowed Joe’s Father’s boat that had a small engine. It would be too tiresome to row all the way up. It was a bright and warm summer´s day and we were all dressed in shorts and t-shirts. It could get chilly at night, so we had brought sweaters and jeans as well. We had two small tents and a back-pack full of supplies and four sleeping bags. We entered the boat from the jetty and started out with Joe steering the boat. The girls lay up front at the stem with their legs dangling over the sides and I sat on the middle thwart.

When we arrived at our intended place up the coast, Joe steered the boat into a small bay surrounded by high rocky cliffs. We had to jump into the shallow water and drag the boat to a nearby tree and tie it there. We put our equipment ashore and prepared for the walk into the deep forest. Although we preferred to spend our days barefoot, this terrain called for shoes, and we all put on sneakers for the walk up through the forest. With our backpacks loaded with tents and sleeping bags we started out along a small path that winded up the steep lake-shore. We walked for about half an hour and arrived at a very nice little clearing just by a small creek. This was our spot.

The clearing was covered with soft grass, and in the pine- and fir-forest around us the ground was covered with blueberry-sprigs and soft moss. We all kicked off our shoes and enjoyed the feeling of the soft grass. Quickly we set the tents up and started to make our little camp inhabitable. After having dinner – hot dogs and cokes – we set out to do a little exploring. We followed some of the winding paths in the forest and checked out an old mill that hadn´t been used for decades. It was situated about a mile up the creek where it ran very swiftly.

As we stood there, admiring the old building, we heard some shouting. Suddenly a group of kids, about twelve or thirteen came rushing out from the forest. They were all dressed in Indian outfits and carried home made bows and arrows and spears. The kid that looked like their leader asked us if we had seen some palefaces around, and explained that their enemies had fled this way. We answered that no palefaces had been seen, and the kids continued up a path shouting and yelling. We concluded that this must be the cousins that Alex had talked about. As we trailed back to our camp we talked about the cowboys and Indians games we had played just a couple of years ago.

When we were back at the camp the Indians came by again. This time they had two prisoners with them. Two kids, a boy and a girl, had their hands tied behind them and were dragged along by ropes fastened around their arms. The Indians proudly announced that the prisoners would be taken back to their camp and subjected to Indian torture. The two bound prisoners didn´t look too scared though. When the sun set at around nine in the evening we made a little fire and sat around it talking until late. We slept very well in the small tents and awoke to a new beautiful day.

Saturday was mostly spent by the creek up by the old mill. We took nice but cold swims in the pond beneath the small waterfall that once had powered the big wheel of the mill. After a relaxing day, we went back to our camp. We changed from swimsuits to jeans and t-shirts and began to prepare a meal at about five o´clock. When we had eaten, Joe brought the subject of cowboys and Indians up again. He had brought some rope from the boat and challenged us to an escape game. We all agreed and Joe tied our hands behind us, using some new knot he had invented. He then tied our bare feet together and dared us to get free as fast as possible. To his very disappointment, Sarah managed to get her hands under her bum quickly and get them in front of her. After that, she could easily untie the knots with her teeth. Joe had forgotten to secure the hands with a rope around her waist, being so sure his knots would hold. Sarah freed me and Jenny and we all looked at Joe grinning viciously. According to our rules we now could tie him up. Sarah, who had freed herself, got to do the honors, and soon Joe lay on the ground tied hand and foot and Sarah hogshead him to make sure he would stay that way. Just for fun she and Jenny tickled Joe until he begged for mercy.

Just as Joe was screaming for help, there was a noise of breaking twigs nearby. Suddenly the kids we had met before came out of the forest. There were at least ten of them, dressed as Indians with war paint, bows and arrows. All kids pointed their arrows at us and the one playing the role of chief explained that our camp was being raided and we were to be prisoners. I looked at Sarah and Jenny and looks of surprise in their faces soon changed into playful excitement.

 "Why not," I thought. "This could be fun, to see what the little brats were up to."

The "Indians" surrounded us and ordered us to put our hands behind us. They tied our hands, not being too good at it, but the knots were at least out of reach. Joe, who lay hogtied on the ground, had his feet untied and we were all placed under guard. The kids rummaged through our things and happily took some cans of coke and some candy bars.

"You will be taken to our Indian camp and interrogated under torture," explained the little "Indian chief" proudly.

We looked at each other and shrugged. It seemed OK. These little kids could not be that much of a problem to us. It could be fun.

"Could we have our sneakers on please,” asked Jenny, but the Indians said we wouldn´t need any shoes.
We were marched away in a row towards a horrible fate by our captors. When we arrived at the Indian camp the kids shouted and made "Indian sounds" and several other kids came running. They all gathered around us and tried to look scary and wild. Sarah and Jane played along and pretended to be really scared.

The kids had made a fantastic camp out there in the woods. They had built huts using long straight branches and covered them with fir-branches to make walls and roofs. They even had an Indian tent made of old blankets. The camp was in a clearing much like the one we had our camp in. The surrounding forest made this place very isolated and the kids probably thought no one knew about their camp. At one end of the clearing stood some pines, about ten inches thick. They brought us there and I saw that the lower branches had been cut off and that the ground around the tree-trunk was well treaded down. I could guess what these trees were used for, and I was right.

The Indians proceeded to tie us to the trees. They untied our hands and retied them behind the trunks of the trees. We didn´t put up any resistance, but played along as the captured palefaces. They rolled up our trouser-legs a bit and tied thick rope around our ankles and looped it around the trees. They worked slowly and were very concentrated. It must have taken them about half an hour to get us all thoroughly tied to the trees, and when they were finished they must have used hundreds of feet of rope, because loop after loop bound our legs, waists and upper bodies. When they were done I could only turn my head, flex my hands and wiggle my toes. I was totally immobile, and by the look of it, so were Joe, Sarah and Jenny too!

The kid who was acting as the Indian´s chief spoke up again as we were now completely at their mercy.

"Now palefaces, you are our prisoners and you will be held captive until you tell us where the map of the goldmine is! You will suffer the terrible Indian torture and then we will sacrifice you to the Gods!"

"Please great chief," said Jenny and looked terrified. "Spare us the Indian torture! We don´t know any map or any gold mine!"

The chief was not at all happy with this answer, and ordered his braves to get some bandanas. When they returned they had brought four bandanas with big knots tied in the middle and they started to gag us.

"You will stay here for one hour and perhaps you will talk later,” said the bratty little chief.

All the kids went away to the huts and left us standing there. I looked at my friends and could see some amusement in their eyes. Here we were, captured, bound and gagged by a bunch of kids! I could see that they immediately started to test their bonds, turning their hands and trying to get at the knots, but neither of us succeeded. We just had to stand there and wait for what would come.

The hour passed slowly. All we could do was stand there and look around, trying to ignore any irritating insects that happened to land on our noses or walk merrily over our bare feet. There is nothing more irritating when you are all tied up, than to get a feeling that you have to scratch yourself somewhere. I could see Sarah wrinkle her nose as a small fly landed on her face. She tried to shake it off, but with no luck. She was grunting behind her gag and shaking her head violently. Once a small ant decided to take a walk on my foot, giving me the most terrible tickle.

When the hour was up the little Indians returned. We had now been their prisoners for about two hours, and soon the sun would set. I guessed as they were only twelve or thirteen, they would have to go home by now. I hoped they wouldn´t think of leaving us tied up all night. The Indians started to dance around us and shout and scream. They had feathers that they used to tickle our faces with and pretended to shoot at us with their bows. Suddenly a familiar voice was heard.

"Are you in trouble guys?"

Alex had arrived. She smiled and walked up to us, checking the ropes and mocking us. Apparently she had put the kids up to capturing us, and now she had the best chance in the world to take revenge for when we had tied her up. Alex ordered the kids to prepare for some real Indian torture.

They removed our gags and untied me and Sarah from the trees. Our hands were immediately retied behind us. They had put two logs on the ground with two heavy planks between them. We were tied on our backs lying on the planks and our feet, legs and upper bodies were securely tied so we were immobile. Then the Indians, supervised by Alex started to tickle us. They concentrated on tickling our feet and faces, but also tickled us in the ribs and waist. Alex really enjoyed hearing us roar with laughter. The Indian torture continued for an eternity, but I suppose it was only about ten or fifteen minutes. When they were done they untied us and we were left sitting on the ground. Two of the kids even gave us some coke to drink. We sat there and watched Jenny and Joe suffer the same fate. When the torture was finished, we asked Alex to untie us. The sun had set and it was beginning to get dark. We had been prisoners for nearly three hours and my arms had started to ache after being tied up for so long.

Alex had no intention of letting us go, though. She ordered the Indians to bring us back to our own camp. We were marched away tied together with a long rope. At our own camp Alex reminded us of how she had been left tied together with Jenny at the boat house. She explained that our fate was to be the same. Jenny protested that she had been tied up as well that time, but Alex just laughed and said.

"You seem to like these games so much, so you´ll have to join your friends for the night!"

With some help from the Indians Alex started to tie us up for the night. Our arms were secured to our bodies with several loops of thick rope. Sitting on the ground, our feet and legs were tied and then we were dragged inside a tent. They placed us face down, all four of us together. The tent was made for two people, so we were rather short for space. Alex tied us together by connecting our upper arms and then our feet. Finally she gagged us all and happily announced she would be back in the morning around eight. We had to spend nearly eleven more hours tied up and gagged. Naturally we all hoped this was just a joke on her part, as we had freed her after only half an hour. There were some struggles to get free, but tied the way we were, we couldn´t reach each other´s hands. I was positioned between Sarah and Joe and looked at them as they chewed on their gags and tried to make conversation.

"Mgwh, gwgah," was all that came out.

As it happened, Alex had sent the smaller kids home and remained outside the tent herself. She had enjoyed listening to our struggles and muffled grunts, but after half an hour she unzipped the tent and looked in.

"Are you still here," she asked and started to undo the ropes.

She had many knots to untie, and after working hard for some time we were free. We massaged our wrists and ankles and stretched our legs and arms. None of us had been tied up that long before, but after a while we were OK. The experience had been both fun and exciting and Alex had gotten her revenge.

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