Archive | February 26, 2015

Silenced, a ficlet for #3ww

Written to the Three-Word Wednesday Prompt: Docile, Inflict, Whimper.

Includes unkind acts being done to someone apparently willing.

Sparked in part by this post in little-details

He was docile when they put the device on him: he stood still in the harness they’d built for him and did not complain nor struggle.

It looked like the unholy cousin of a neck brace, a muzzle, and a slave collar, and it was built to inflict pain and to silence him. It encased his neck down to his shoulders and his face up to his eyes, and it was not removable without three keys. It looked supremely uncomfortable; it was even less pleasant than that to wear.

And yet he allowed it without fighting. He could have killed them all before they got the first chain on him; he could have stopped them long before they locked the contraption around him, but he stood still, passive. Docile.

It struck in Padma’s craw, watching him. Watching them. Part of her, the animal part, was screaming Trap, trap. Run away! The tiger allowed you that close only because he was getting ready to pounce.

The human part of her was cringing at the cruelty. They could have built the device to be kind, and they had not. They could have attempted surgical means of silencing. Those had not even been brought up as options. They could have – perhaps – asked him to not speak. Padma was uncertain anyone but her had even thought of that.

When the last technician fastened the last lock, only then did their prisoner whimper. It was a tiny sound – small enough that it would not have been audible in Padma’s observation chamber if it hadn’t been for the high-sensitivity mics situated around the subject.

But it was enough to send the technicians running, and, more importantly, it was enough to set off the devices fail-safes. Their prisoner fell to his knees, sweat beading on his forehead.

She should have them turn down the feedback. But Padma pushed the intercom button. “That’s good,” she told the technicians. They had done what they were told. They had risked the prisoner’s killing voice. “Leave him be, now.”

It wasn’t what you’d call living, the existence he’d succumbed to. Why had he done it?

Perhaps, Padma thought, in time she’d be brave enough to ask. For now, she turned off the lights in the observation chamber and walked away.

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Rescue and Shelter, a ficlet of Tír na Cali

The below story is Tír na Cali and includes slavery, previous abuse, and people who believe in the system as it stands.

It came from a comment by Sky:”What if the Californians have things similar to animal shelters for lost and abandoned slaves?,” and was prompted also in part by a ficlet cluudle wrote about the same idea.

Shauna had been running.

She hadn’t been running away, no. She’d been moving past her owner’s fields and into the suburbs, staying out of sight, staying quiet and low and unimportant. She’d managed to disable the tracker on her collar and the identity chip but not the latch itself, and that was all right. Because if the collar had come off, she’d be a runaway. And runaway slaves did not get sold to nice places and they did not have nice prospects.

No, she was just running, just moving away from her master’s property at a quick pace. Too quick: she slipped on a culvert and fell, skidding down the concrete edge and hitting her head on the curb.

She woke in a bed, in a place with no traffic sounds and the smells of the forest wafting in. She opened her eyes slowly, feeling for pain and finding none. Her master owned no place that smelled like this. Had his son found her? Had…

A woman smiled at her. She was dressed in soft colors and soft fabrics; her eyes were blue and her hair was brown, and she was not wearing a collar. She was holding a tablet, and sitting comfortably near Shauna’s bedside. “Welcome.” Even her voice was soft. “You are in the Rescue Shelter.”

“Thank-” she swallowed to wet her throat, and tried again. “Thank you, ma’am.” The room she was in was not large – big enough for the bed and the chair, a small dresser and a big window. But they were the only ones in it. “What-“

“The Rescue Shelter is a recovery facility for abused slaves.” Even though the woman’s voice was still gentle, there was an edge to the words. “When you were brought in, you had quite a bit of damage, and most of it could not be explained away by the culvert in which you were found.”

Shauna winced. There had been “damage,” yes. She had done her best to hide it, for as long as she could. Her owner loved his son.

“We’ve documented all of it. A tenth of it would be enough to have you removed from the home, you know.”

Shauna had not known. She looked away from the earnest, soft woman. “Slaves that get removed, they don’t get sold to nice places, do they? They don’t get to be Chatelaines or Head Cooks or, or Companions.”

The woman smiled again, gently but proudly. “When you are recuperated, I can introduce you to several people who have gone through either this Rescue Shelter or another like it and gone on to hold very esteemed positions indeed. The people who tell you otherwise are those who don’t want you to complain, even when your treatment is illegal and immoral.”

“You’re… you’re not an abolitionist, are you?”

“Oh, no. I’m not one of those sad people who wants to do away with the whole system, no. I just want the system to work the way it’s supposed to. Now…” She looked at her tablet and smiled, before meeting Shauna’s eyes again. “Your collar data chips were damaged, I imagine in the fall. Would you like to tell us your former owner’s name?”

Former. Shauna swallowed. “No, ma’am, please. It wasn’t his fault.”

“Very well. Would you like to tell us your name?”

Shauna shook her head and pressed her lips together. Her name was on record. There were only so many slave-Shaunas in the country.

“All right.” The woman moved things around on her tablet for a moment. “We could call you… ah, that’s a good one. How does Hope sound?”

Unbelievable. But… nice. “I like it,” Shauna – Hope – offered.

“Then that’s what we’ll call you. Nice to meet you, Hope.” The woman half-bowed from her chair. “I’m Cariadad ni Rougan, but you can call me Carrie.”

Tír na Cali has a landing page here.

Setting notes: grey eyes & red hair indicate being a part of the ruling class, thus Cariadad’s blue eyes are comforting because she is probably not high-class.

ni Rougan is interesting because only bastards take “daughter of their father” such (and the ap Gwydion, but they’re another story); a bastard is someone whose mother has no name (i.e., a slave) or would not claim her.

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