Jason was still trying to figure out what was going on, but the tall woman who has just bought him was, comments about babies or not, still better than the work camps, as far as he could tell, and he didn’t want to give her any reason to change her mind, so he didn’t ask any questions, or give her any trouble, as she steered him by the back of his collar out of the auction hall.
He hadn’t been outside, except in the back of a van, since he’d been taken; the sun was bright and the air chill on his skin. He tried to keep walking anyway, relying on his Mistress’s hand to direct him. Mistress. She might not be a work camp, but she’d still bought him, like a piece of property. He struggled against the uncomfortable gratitude that someone, anyone, had turned out to want him and the unhappy feeling that he was letting this place get to him.
“Here,” she murmured, and, like putting a prisoner in the back of a cop car, pressed down on the back of his head until he bowed and folded into the back of a car. “Try to get comfortable,” she suggested, as she belted him in. “It’s a long drive.”
And, it seemed, she was driving it herself. Jason let his eyes adjust to the sun as she maneuvered the big, expensive-looking car onto the road; by the time she was in traffic, he could study his surroundings.
The city buildings looked, more or less, like a city – a little brighter, a little taller, a little less square than he was used to, but still city-shaped. The roads had less cars than he’d expect, but maybe it wasn’t a high-traffic time? And the people…
He stared at the people going by in awe. He wasn’t even the least-dressed person around, although the lady with the feathers at least had paint. And most of them weren’t wearing slave collars, although he saw one lovely redheaded girl in an expensive-looking gold collar, wearing a high, gold crown to match her collar and an elaborate kimono and geisha face paint.
It wasn’t until he passed three people in a dragon costume, dancing around a man dressed like Uncle Sam, that Jason found his voice. “It looks like Mardi Gras,” he marveled. Mardi Gras with no morals; there were three people having a very fun naked time on the base of a statute while a fourth took pictures. “It looks like…” Like the things in the anti-California pamphlets that made the country seem so interesting.
His Mistress chuckled, looking back at him in the rear-view mirror. “It’s Samhain,” she told him. “I think it’s called Hallowe’en in your country? And, lucky you, I even have a costume for you.”
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