They said the words. If they had a choice, it wasn’t a good one.
Then to add insult to insult, their captor – Segenam, she supposed – spit on their faces. Somehow, this dissolved the sticky webs, and left them sitting on the floor, rubbing their eyes.
Then he explained what they’d just agreed to. How they Belonged to him. He gave a couple demonstrations. Roanna only needed one.
“So now what?” She was trying to gain some equilibrium. She wasn’t sure, given the situation, that that was possible. But she’d adjusted to everything else so far. She could adjust to this.
“First, the four of you get in my room and clean it.”
Roanna sighed. Of course. Kidnapped by a spider-man and she ended up doing housework.
Tamberlain, she discovered, was a whiner. Zuleyma turned out to have never cleaned anything in her life, but Merton surprised Roanna by being better with a scrub brush than she was.
Cleaning was the start. Then laundry. Then cooking dinner. Zuleyma was better cooking than she was cleaning, but Tamberlain was hopeless.
“It’s a pity.” Segenam shook his head. “You’re the prettiest of the lot.” He was pointing at Tamberlain. He’d already established that he wasn’t going to bother learning their names. “But you’re useless.”
“Are you going to just let me go, then?”
Roanna thought that was decidedly unfair – if it were true. But that seemed unlike their… guy-who-controlled them, there had to be a better word than that.
“Of course not.” Roanna wasn’t sure she wanted to be validated on that one. “I’m going to sell you to the highest bidder. I can’t really Keep all four of your all yeah.”
“Sell… um. I am good at some things.”
Roanna snuck a glance at Tamerlain. He was blushing. “Are you really…”
“Shush, you.” Tamerlain’s blush only got redder, but he still managed to defend himself. “You’re good at this stuff. I’m good at… other stuff.”
Roanna let it drop. She didn’t want to know, didn’t want to be involved, but if it made him happy and made there… ugh… Owner happy, well, good for him.
She’d thought “and by the way, we have an Owner now” would be weird, when they got to class, but it turned out a large portion of their Cohort was in the same situation. The weird part turned out to be Segenam’s “hoarding.”
“People keep yelling at me for what you did.” She had managed to corner her Owner in the hall between classes.
He frowned. “I hate yelling. Tell them … tell them something about fair and square, I guess. And, I mean, if they want to talk about buying from me…”
With a sinking feeling, Roanna realized where he was going with that. “If they’re thinking about purchase, I’ll take down their name and credentials, and what they want to offer, how’s that? Then we can see how people’s offers add up.”
Segenam smiled. He didn’t do that often, and Roanna was a little creeped out at how good that made her feel. “Smart girl. I like that idea.”
“Thanks, sir.” She was not certain how many of the other Kept Segenam was sleeping with, but he wasn’t sleeping with her yet. She didn’t like how that made her feel yet, either.
“You’re a good Kept.” He patted her shoulder. “Go ahead and get that all together. All four of you are open for sale, so take any offers and don’t commit to anything.”
“Yes, sir.” She found herself squirming again, but she wasn’t give into the feeling and actually ask, even me? when he’d already answered it.
Notebook in hand, she went out to go about the process of auctioning herself off.
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