Claire paced back and forth in the confines of the dimly lit, small lobby of the theater. Turning toward Jake, she continued her plea.
“You won’t have to do anything except stand on stage in a costume. At most, you’ll have to take a few steps,” Claire paused, then added, “Please! It would really help me out. I was short two extras this morning, but with Adam now sick, I’m dead if I can’t find at least one more horse.”
“I don’t know,” said Jake, “I get nervous in front of crowds. Isn’t there anyone else who can do it?”
“With only an hour notice? No way.” Claire’s face went from pleading to gloomy as though speaking this fact aloud made it immutable.
Her sudden despondency caused Jake to cave, “Okay. I’ll do it, but you owe me.”
“Big time! Thank you!” Claire said, her enthusiasm returning as quickly as it had evaporated, “Come on, let’s see what we have in your size.”
Claire led Jake through the lobby, down one of the aisles and through a discreet side door next to the stage. The frenetic activity backstage was in stark contrast to the rows of empty seats of the auditorium they just left behind.
The pair snaked their way through a maze of racks filled with hanging costumes and columns of footwear.
Stopping so abruptly that Jake had to dodge to the side to avoid running into her, Claire pulled an item off its hanger and shoved it at Jake, “Here, first, you need to put this on.”
It was a full bodysuit.
“I thought you said it was a horse costume?” Jake queried not seeing the slightest resemblance to a horse in the proffered shiny, skin-tight, garment.
“It is. This is part of it. It will give you a more equine looking coat,” Claire said as she lightly ran her open palm down the length of the dark grey material, “and see here and here,” Claire pointed to several clusters of lighter silver spots networked within the darker grey of the suit, “these are dapples. Some horses have these. This is our first dapple grey costume. Actually, we only got the complete costume a few days ago. Anyway, it’s the only color we have in your size.”
“Fine,” Jake interrupted her, grabbing the bodysuit.
“You can change in there,” Claire said pointing to a dressing room in the corner, “I’ll be right back with the rest of your costume.”
Jake walked over to the dressing room. He went to lock the door then noticed there was no lock. Sighing, he turned around and undressed, hoping no one would walk in on him.
He examined the suit he was about to put on. It was latex, and it had a zipper that ran from high up on the neck all the way down to the crotch. Turning it over, Jake saw that the zipper didn’t stop at the crotch, but actually went from the neck, through the crotch, all the way up to the lower back.
There were four zipper heads, so small sections of the zip closure could be opened without needing to unzip the entire length of the suit.
Curious thought Jake, but then he realized that this design allowed the wearer to use the toilet without taking off the suit.
He sincerely hoped he wouldn’t be wearing it that long.
Jake spent several minutes working his body into the skin-tight latex. The smell of it was strong. It wasn’t overpowering though. Jake found he enjoyed the smell as it wafted off the new latex with each contortion of his body.
After several minutes of slowing working the material over his body, Jake had his legs and upper body in the suit. However, when he tried to push his arms into the sleeves of the latex, he found his hands were caught. Jake pushed harder, but the latex didn’t give.
Silently cursing, he called to Claire, “Hey, can you help me?”
Claire knocked gently on the door before entering.
“Everything okay?” Claire asked as she dumped an armful of what Jake presumed was the rest of his costume on the floor of the dressing room.
“Yeah, my hands are caught in the arms of this thing,” Jake replied, lifting his latex clad arms to illustrate the point.
“It’s supposed to be like that,” Claire said, “Like I said, this suit is brand new; we only received it a few days ago. It’s the only one we have with hooves built in at the moment, but they’re all going to be like this soon. It’s a much more natural look.”
“Here, let me help you,” Claire took a step closer to Jake and pulled the latex in various spots, straightening and flattening the thin material against Jake’s skin.
Jake saw that Claire was right; the suit didn’t have openings for hands. The long sleeves of the suit terminated in the shape of a horse’s hoof.
The size of the hoof was misleading. Most of it was thick padding to give form to the hoof shape. The space for the wearer’s hands was only a very small pouch inside the hoof.
As Claire pulled each sleeve up his arm, Jake felt his hands being compressed into the small pouch inside each hoof. The thick latex pouch enclosed Jake’s hands, forcing them to bend double such that his fingers were forced flat against his palms, effectively preventing him from opening his hand or using his fingers.
Claire took a short step back and zipped the latex suit all the way up to Jake’s neck. The neck of the suit was high, and the zipper stopped only an inch below his chin.
Jake reached up to adjust the zipper’s position slightly downward, since it was poking into his neck, but he found he couldn’t grasp it with his hands trapped in the latex. His hands were completely useless.
It dawned on Jake that with the suit zipped up, he couldn’t pull his arms out of the sleeves. And since he couldn’t unzip the suit, there was no way he could get out of the latex suit without help.
In fact, without the use of his fingers, he couldn’t even turn a doorknob by himself.
Still, Jake mused, the latex wasn’t uncomfortable. It was actually a pretty nice sensation to have the material rub against his skin with his every movement. He twisted his body and felt the latex as a second skin, admiring the way the light reflected off the shiny surface in waves of brilliant whites and greys.
Claire smiled, and said, “Just a couple more things and your costume will be complete.”
Claire picked up what Jake immediately recognized as a horse’s tail that was attached to a thin belt. The belt was dappled like the catsuit he was wearing, and it seemed to disappear when Claire buckled the belt around Jake’s waist, blending in with latex.
The next item was a small saddle, complete with a set of stirrups. The saddle was made from blue leather, but the blue was nearly a turquoise hue. The tree of the saddle was wide enough to comfortably accommodate a human’s back. It fit Jake perfectly as Claire attached it with a short girth around his chest.
Jake winced as Claire pulled the girth the girth tight.
“Sorry,” Claire explained, “but it has to be quite tight to prevent it slipping. You’ll be standing normally, so it’s easy for it fall down if it’s too loose.”
Claire paused briefly to give Jake a moment to acclimatize himself to pressure on his chest and the weight of the saddle.
“You should probably sit down for this next piece,” Claire said as she adjusted his tail, trying to keep it perfectly centered and arched.
Jake dutifully sat on a nearby stool. Absently, he brought his hand up to itch his face. As he did so, Jake flinched back as a huge hoof approached his eyes. He quickly recovered and remembered that it was his hoof. He was again reminded of the fact that he no longer had the precision and dexterity of fingers.
Awkwardly, Jake brushed the rubber hoof against his face to relieve the itch.
Jake felt his feet being extended as they were pushed into a piece of footwear. Looking down, Jake watched as Claire pulled knee high leather boots up his calves. He saw they terminated in the shape of a horse’s hoof. The hooves each had a metal horseshoe attached. They looked surprisingly realistic.
“They’re not the easiest to walk in,” Claire conceded as she laced up the boots, “but many of us girls have walked in worse.” After she said it, Jake looked more closely at the boots, and saw that there was no heel, but if there were, he estimated the boots would be at least 6-inch heels.
After she finished tying the laces of the boots, Claire pulled a discreet zipper up each boot, which hid the laces of the boots, giving them a streamlined look.
“Okay, time to stand up again,” Claire said as she zipped up the second boot.
Jake stood up but immediately stumbled and fell back down onto the stool.
“Wow, you weren’t kidding,” Jake said, “I’m not sure I can wear these.”
“Don’t be silly. You’ll be fine. Here,” Claire gripped Jake’s arm and helped him to his feet.
Jake stumbled again, but Claire held onto his arm, helping him find his balance.
Jake found that if he put all his weight onto the balls of his feet and shifted his center of mass slightly forward, he could stand in the boots.
“See, it’s not that bad,” Claire smiled.
“I guess,“ Jake was unconvinced. He could barely stand in one place, and his feet were already beginning to ache.
“Okay, last item,” said Claire.
The final piece turned out to be a leather mask. The mask was shaped uncannily like a horse's head, complete with soft brown eyes and attentive equine ears. The mask was a dapple-grey that perfectly matched the bodysuit Jake was wearing. As a finishing touch, the mask was adorned with a small bit and bridle. The leather of the bridle was the same brilliant bluish turquoise color as the saddle and girth Jake was already wearing.
“Wow, it’s really detailed,” Jake couldn’t help but be amazed at the craftsmanship of the mask. It was so life like that he expected the eyes to blink and swivel in his direction.
“I was stunned the first time I saw one in person,” Claire agreed, “But this one is breathtaking. It’s the first dapple grey, fresh from the artist.“ Claire chuckled at that.
“You wouldn’t believe where we get these. They’re actually made by a fetish shop. In fact, they come built with some sort of gag, which we have to remove. Not because horses have lines in the play,” Claire smiled at that, “but for the actors’ comfort.”
“Anyway,” Claire continued, “we’re running late. Come on.”
She lifted the mask up to Jake’s face, spreading apart the back of the mask to accommodate Jake’s head.
As the mask closed over his face, Jake felt a large leather plug, attached to the inside of the mask, being pushed into his mouth. He was too startled to react, so the plug soon found its way deep into his mouth, filling it completely as the mask tightened around his head.
The mask enveloped him, and all he could sense was leather. It pressed against the skin of his face, and the smell of it filled his nostrils. The gag pressed his tongue down and all he could taste was the firm leather gag.
Claire pulled the three leather adjustment straps snug before lacing and zipping up the hood. This welded the gag in place. One of the adjustment straps went under Jake’s chin, forcing his jaw tightly closed around the enormous leather plug. The wide rectangle of leather to which the gag was attached inside the hood was pressed firmly over Jake’s mouth. It not only held the gag in place, but also prevented air from entering or escaping his mouth.
“There, all done!” Claire said to Jake, but Jake didn’t hear her. He was having a moment of panic inside the horse head. He could barely see out of the tinted brown eyes, and he was getting claustrophobic. He couldn’t get enough air in the close confines of the mask. To make matters worse, he couldn’t object with the leather gag held firmly in his mouth.
Jake tried speak, “Uuggh mmmpfff”
Claire gave a short laugh as she adjusted the mask’s mane to cover the line of the zipper, “See, you’re already getting into character? I told you this wouldn’t be so bad.”
Jake realized that she must not know he was gagged. She did say the mask and the suit were new. Clearly they hadn’t had a chance to remove the gag as yet, and in the haste of getting him in costume Claire forgot to check before putting it on him.
Still, the fact that it was an honest oversight didn’t help him. He needed to communicate to Claire that he was gagged. Then she could take the mask off and remove the plug.
Jake clumsily pawed at the mask with his hooves, but Claire quickly grabbed them.
“Calm down, I just finished adjusting everything,” Claire said. “It’s a little disorienting at first, but don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”
“Gggmmph mmmppph,” Jake said more calmly, try to annunciate and gesture at the mask. Claire let go of Jake’s arms, but didn’t show any hint of understanding.
“We have to go,” Claire picked up the reins to the mask and started walking out of the dressing room.
“Mmmmmggmmm uggmpph ggggmphhh” Jake tried again. He flicked his head to indicate to Claire to take off the mask.
Jake saw the slack disappearing from the reins and then felt his head being pulled in Claire’s direction. He stayed put even as his head was pulled more strongly toward Claire.
Claire stopped and turned around, “Please Jake, we need to go now. It’s about to start.”
Having calmed down a lot from his earlier panic, Jake quietly followed her, walking carefully in his hooves. He wasn’t happy about the gag, but it wasn’t that bad. He could wear until he got someone’s attention later. He didn’t want to ruin Claire’s play.
As they approached the edge of the stage, Jake saw four other human horses. All were dressed similarly to him in shiny skintight bodysuits of varying color.
Jake was the only dapple grey, but he spotted two bays, a chestnut, and a male in all black.
All were wearing hoof boots and horse masks like Jake, but Jake noticed that the hooves on the others’ hands were different than his. Not only were they not integrated with their suits, their hooves were only hoof-shaped at the top of the hands but they were completely open at the bottom.
In spite of himself, Jake felt proud that his costume was more realistic. The downside was that Jake couldn’t get out of his costume by himself while the other horses could.
Claire’s voice cut though Jake’s musings, “I’m going to hand you off to Sarah now. She’ll show you where to stand and tell you what you need to do. I’ll see you later.”
“You make a magnificent horse,” Sarah smiled at Jake. She grabbed Jake’s reins and led him over to a metal pole made to look like a hitching post. A few moments later Sarah tied one of bays next to Jake on the hitching pole.
As the play started, Jake followed the lead of the other horses. It really didn’t require much acting at all as Claire promised. He mostly stood at the pole that Sarah had tied his reins too and tried to watch the action out of the limited vision afforded him by the mask.
However, unable to hear much, he soon gave up on following the plot and zoned out, waiting to for the play to be over so he could get out of the costume.
Finally the curtain came down and a cheerful, less frenetic bustle resumed as the stress of preparation and performance evaporated. After a few moments, the bay horse next to Jake untied her own reins and walked off back stage.
Jake waited for someone to come and help him, but as the minutes ticked by, he became restless. He tried to get someone’s attention, but no one seemed to notice him.
Tired of waiting, Jake tried to untie his reins from the post, but he wasn’t surprised when he didn’t have much luck at first. However, his aching calves and feet served as motivation to keep trying.
Even though he couldn’t use his fingers, the reins weren’t tied tightly. After a few minutes of maneuvering and poking about with his clumsy hooves, Jake eventually got his reins untied.
He wandered off the now near-deserted stage in search of Claire to help him change out of the costume. He found Sarah instead.
“You’re still in costume? Oh, that’s right, you’ve never done this before.” Sarah said. “I’ll take you to one of the dressing rooms. Do you remember which one you left your clothes in?”
Jake nodded as best he could and started walking back to where Claire helped him into the costume. Sarah followed behind as Jake navigated the labyrinthine racks of costumes back to the far dressing room. Jake moved slowly to avoid running into anything with his limited vision. He was worried about falling over in the hoof boots and breaking his leg or worse.
When they reached the small corner dressing room, Sarah opened the door for him.
Jake entered and immediately made a beeline to the stool. He was desperate to get off his feet. The hooves were killing him. Jake bent over and began massaging his left calf clumsily with his hooves. It helped, but he wouldn’t get relief until the boots were off. Even without his weight on them, they forced his foot into an unnatural position.
“Come upstairs when you’re done changing. Claire’s busy with the manager, but I know she’d love to thank you again before you go,” Sarah said before shutting the door.
Jake’s head bolted up in time to see the door close.
He struggled back onto his hooves and over to the door as quickly as he could manage. He tried to turn the knob, but his hooves got no traction. He pounded on the door, but the padded hooves sounded like a soft knock.
Surely Sarah knew that he couldn’t get of this costume by himself. As he thought about it, he realized that Claire didn’t mention anything to Sarah before the play. Claire was too preoccupied and had rushed away to make sure the play started on time.
Fuck thought Jake. I don’t want to spend any more time in this costume. It might be an hour before someone comes to check on me. I’ve got to at least try and get this thing off. At least the boots.
Jake went back to the chair and tried to pull the boots off his feet. He saw the zipper and remembered they were laced up and zipped closed to hide the laces. Unfortunately, there was no way he could work a zipper with the padded hooves on his hands.
He tried anyway, again and again, but the zipper didn’t budge.
Temporarily giving up on the hooves, Jake pushed at the mask on his head with his hooves. He tried pushing the mask from the front, back, and sides.
All to no avail.
The mask was firmly strapped, laced and zipped around his head even more securely than the hooves on his feet. The mask didn’t budge at all no matter what he did.
Jake tried to use his hooves to feel around at the back of the mask, but it was no use. He couldn’t feel anything through the thick padded latex, and he knew he would never be able to unzip or unbuckle anything. He pawed at the back of the mask anyway in frustration.
If only he could get his hands out of these hooves, he could undo everything else. Jake reached up and felt around for zipper to the latex catsuit. He knew he wouldn’t be able to unzip it, but he had to try.
Just as with the mask, Jake couldn’t feel anything through the padding. He walked over to the mirror and was shocked. There was a horse staring back at him. He was taken aback at how well the costume transformed him into a horse. The coloration was perfect, the head so real, and the saddle and girth fit perfectly; his tail was slightly arched and swished against his legs, and the hooves on his hands and feet were perfectly shaped. He had to admire the outfit even if he desperately wanted out. In fact, Jake through, if I got down on my hands and knees, the look would be complete.
When the shock wore off, Jake looked hard for the top of the zipper to the latex catsuit. Eventually he saw that the mask was covering it. His hopes fell. There was no way out. Without fingers to reach in between the thin gap between his neck and the leather mask, he would need to get the mask off to even reach the zipper of the suit with his hooves. Even then he probably wouldn’t be able to unzip it, just clumsily bat at it. He recalled how he wasn’t able to even get into the suit himself.
“Fffgmh,” Jake swore aloud, but the sound was muffled.
“Fmmgmph!” He swore again as he realized he was gagged on top of everything else. He run his tongue around the long, thick leather plug invading his mouth. Jake couldn’t even get his tongue in a position to try and push it out.
Filled with frustration Jake shook his head wildly trying to dislodge the gag, pawing at the mask as he did so. When that did nothing, Jake went back to the door and pounded on it with his hooves and started calling for help, trying to get somebody’s attention.
“Hhmph hhhmph hhhhhlpmhh,” but the sounds he made were incoherent and pathetically muffled by the huge gag that he wasn’t even supposed to be wearing.
“Smmmgh mmmph mmmmmmhp,” Jake’s frustration boiled over, ”mmmmmp sssssmgrrrrp mmmph Mmmpgggh”
Jake had never felt so powerless. Only one zipper stood between him and freedom.
Jake couldn’t believe it. He was completely trapped in this stupid horse costume. His hands were useless inside the integrated latex hooves of his suit. Without his fingers, he was helpless to take off the uncomfortable hoof boots or the claustrophobic mask and gigantic gag.
He collapsed to the floor with his back against the door. The saddle on his back made the position awkward and uncomfortable, but it was better than standing longer in the hoof boots.
Jake was exhausted from his efforts, and his calves were cramping badly, but there was nothing he could do. The boots forced his feet into a painful extension, and there was no way he was getting the boots off by himself.
Jake did the only thing he could do, he sat on the floor and endured the pain as the cramp spread, biting down on gag even harder than the strap around his chin and head forced him to.
The clock on the wall said 10:56PM.
Assuming the play finished on time, he’d been in this room for well over 2 hours. He began to wonder if Claire forgot about him or assumed he’d gone home.
There was no way he could stay like this until tomorrow. The costume was too uncomfortable, the mask and latex suit too hot, the tight girth made it so he could barely breathe, the saddle prevented him from lying on his back while the irons poked into him when he tried to lie on his side, and the boots were sending waves of pain through his feet and legs.
Jake knew he wouldn’t be able to take it.
Then he realized he had no choice. He wasn’t getting out of any of this without help.
Was there even a performance tomorrow? What if they didn’t discover him tomorrow?
Just as the clock ticked over to 11:00PM, the lights went off leaving Jake in the dark, fighting off panic.