This is a work of fiction; the State portrayed here does not exist, fortunately, though there are still places as bad or nearly so. Some of the dialogue is in the local dialect or Patois, but for simplicity it's just in English here.
I can't think of words bad enough to describe the place I was living. Oh, not the apartment; that was almost luxurious. No. The state wasn't good enough to rate the term 'third world shithole.'
So why, I hear you ask, was I living there? Well, in short, I was running away. What from? There was nothing left for me, I thought, in England where I was born. None of those I considered 'friends' had thought to tell me of my wife's (now 'ex') extra-marital behaviour. Being, like many cuckolds, entirely oblivious, I might never have known what was going on had she not brought home a present in the form of a particularly unpleasant and resistant gonorrhoea. The resultant divorce was acrimonious, but I had a very good lawyer and ended up with a settlement that would keep me adequately, if not comfortably, for the rest of my life.
What to do? I looked around for somewhere to live. It had to be cheap, and preferably somewhere it would be hard to find me. The place I found ... and, no, I'm not going to tell you where: do your own research ... had everything I wanted and more. At least, as long as I wasn't too worried about minor details like human rights. The regime brought corruption to remarkable heights. The hereditary 'President' was the great-grandson of the man who'd assassinated the Grand Duke (not Ferdinand, the local one) some hundred years earlier. Justice was for sale and the police were a sort of paramilitary Stasi. Any hint of protest was crushed and woe betide anyone who said anything 'in vino veritas'. I would not wish their penal system on anyone, particularly a woman; there is a story 'New World Order' that might give you a hint of the fate of any woman caught up in the system. Oh, one exception; I could live with my ex-wife enjoying the hospitality of the state.
You might wonder why I was there. Fair enough. As a foreigner, an apparently wealthy foreigner, as long as I toed the line and paid the requisite bribes – and let me tell you, that is an art – I was relatively safe. The food was uniformly excellent and sex readily and cheaply available ... don't forget the condoms, though, and try to forget the feelings of the girl.
It was a ground-floor apartment, two bedrooms, quite well appointed. The only problem with it was the occasional power outages. What the hell, though, I had a laptop with a decent battery and a spare, a truck battery and AC converter for emergencies. I had a large TV though I mainly watched DVDs ... I could understand, even speak, the local patois but the available subject matter broadcast by the regime did not appeal.
For the rest, I had privacy and time to write; I even made a little money doing it. The nice part was I didn't need to see my editor, an irascible old sod, but eagle-eyed for typos and grammatical errors, I could do everything online.
And that is where the story begins, with me typing away in my little study, with just a small table-lamp to lighten the gloom. I'd been working non-stop for several hours and it had got dark without my realising. I have to do that, actually; to work and keep working as long as the words flow. If I take a break, I tend to find it hard to get back in the groove and I never was one for working hard.
My concentration was broken by the sound of breaking glass. It wasn't the first time a kid had expressed his or her resentment at my apparent wealth and status by heaving a brick through my kitchen window; perhaps I ought to have had an upstairs apartment ... but if I had, well, my life would have been the poorer.
I went to investigate, trying to remember where I'd stashed the pieces of plywood I kept for just this eventuality. I didn't turn lights on, which might have invited another brick or worse.
As I say, I'd had the odd brick through my window before, but never an intruder. She was – obviously – young and very grubby. In fact I caught a whiff of her as I entered the room. Carefully picking her way over the broken glass, she was just lowering her feet to the floor when she noticed me – I walk very quietly – and turned to climb out again with a squeak. She had no chance though, as I caught her wrist. It was very thin, and she was trembling. I stepped back and lifted the phone.
"Please don't ... please don't call the police. Please don't hand me over..." she begged in Patois.
I looked at her, put the phone down and turned the kitchen light on; we both blinked in the sudden blaze of light after the little that had filtered in from outside.
"Please ... I'll cook for you, clean for you, wash your clothes ... I'll be good, honest..."
Knowing what I knew about the society we both lived in, I could understand her terror, but even so it took some time to get my head round what I was hearing; I just stared at her.
She unzipped the very dirty jacket she was wearing with her free hand and started unbuttoning her equally grubby blouse. "I'll do anything. I'm a virgin, but I'll do anything. Just don't hand me over, pleeeaase."
"Stand there," I said in English, pointing to the spot; she nodded frantically and I released her wrist, crossed the room and drew the curtains. The room was getting cold quickly; it was winter and the draught from the broken window was fierce.
"Come with me," I told her, moving toward the door. She didn't move. I opened the door and stepped through, "Come," I said in Patois. She followed then, and I took her to my lounge, shutting the kitchen door to limit the heat loss. In the lounge, I drew the curtains before turning on the standard-lamp next to my favourite chair. She stood, shivering, in the middle of the room. "Undress," I said, and when she didn't move, "Take off those clothes," in Patois. As she obeyed me, I watched, though I felt guilty for the erection I could feel developing rapidly. She was slim; in fact she was very thin and her bones showed very clearly, but she was clearly a young woman, not a child, with swelling hips and pretty, perfectly proportioned breasts. Dark, matted hair of indeterminate colour straggled over her shoulders. She sank to her knees and gazed up at me with wide, dark eyes, which flicked between my face and the bulge in my trousers.
"I don't think I want to touch you just now," I said, "come with me." I led her to the bathroom and handed her a large towel. I waved at my limited selection of toilette articles, "Have a bath," I said, "wash your hair. Then come to the kitchen," I pointed to my dressing-gown hanging behind the door, "Use my dressing-gown. It will be much too big, so be careful not to trip over it."
She looked at me, eyes wide, as I left.
I cleared up the broken glass; I might have made her do it, but I needed it out of the way, and taped plywood over the broken window, then fetched a tub of soup out of the fridge. I like to cook and apart from writing, don't have much else to do; the soup was my own, thick and spicy, and I set it to heat on the stove thinking I was hungry too. It would have made three meals for me, normally, but I dumped the lot in the saucepan.
I suppose that took me about half an hour; I'd just tossed her clothes in the machine for a pre-wash and boiled the kettle for tea when she returned to the kitchen. She was holding the skirts of the dressing-gown up and the front together, just her fingers showing from the sleeves, just her head visible above. Dark red, tangled hair tumbled to her shoulders. The soup was not ready, but the scent of it was beginning to fill the room. Her nose twitched and I could see the look in her face; fear, hunger and, maybe, hope.
I pulled out a chair and pointed to it. "Sit at the table." I checked the soup and gave it stir, zapped bread rolls in the microwave and put them in a basket on the table. She looked at them longingly. "Help yourself," I said. She looked disbelievingly at me. I took her hand – she flinched when I touched her – and placed it on a roll. "Take it. Eat it now, or wait for the soup, I don't mind." Her little hand closed over the roll and lifted it to her lips. I swear, it just disappeared. I gasped and she flinched again, trembling. "I guess you're hungry," I remarked redundantly. "There will be soup in a minute. Don't take any more bread for a minute or so." She snatched back the hand that had tentatively reached the basket again, "it's okay, you haven't done anything wrong. I just don't want you eating too quickly and making yourself sick." I checked the soup again; almost ready. "What is your name?"
"Tiarna." Then after a pause, "You are not going to report me?"
"No, I'm going to make you earn your keep and the cost of the window."
"Oh." She looked a little frightened again, but then smiled at me. "How will you make me earn my keep?"
"You said you would cook for me, clean, wash my clothes."
"Is that all?"
"I said I would do anything. Don't you want to sleep with me? I will ... I would..." she trailed off.
"Would you have sex with other men for money?"
"If you told me to. But I'd rather it was you."
I shook my head. "I will not make you have sex with anyone. How well do you cook?"
"I don't know how to cook much, but I can read a recipe book. My mother did most of the cooking."
"How old are you, Tiarna?"
"I am sixteen," she paused, "seventeen in February," another pause, "Master."
"Call me Art," I said.
"Yes, Mast ... er ... Art."
The 'flupping' sound of thick soup coming to the simmer got me to my feet. I turned it out and filled two bowls. I put one in front of her. "Sorry, it's very hot. Don't burn your tongue."
"Thank you, Master Art. I will be careful."
"Just 'Art', Tiarna."
Her only response was to cast her eyes down at her plate and lift a spoonful, blowing on it to cool it before sipping. I think it was only the heat that stopped the soup from disappearing as fast as the bread roll; I was only half-way down my own bowl when she finished. At that she must have had asbestos tongue and lips.
"This is very good. Who cooked it ... Art?"
I stood and fetched the pan from the stove. "I did. I'm glad you like it. Would you like some more?" I didn't wait for an answer, but filled her bowl again. She looked up at me and her eyes were glistening with tears. As I watched, they overflowed and twin trickles flowed down her cheeks.
I could hardly hear the words.
We finished the soup between us and she made a couple more rolls disappear. I was going to try to get some more of her story, but I could see her eyelids drooping as she sat at the table.
"You need to sleep," I said.
"I should clear up."
"Not tonight. I want you to sleep now." I didn't have any clothes suitable for her – I was about six or seven inches taller, though I suppose my hips were about the same size. I dug out a t-shirt that would do for a nightie, draw-string trousers and a hoodie – she could roll the legs and sleeves up and at least be covered. I led her to the second bedroom and she watched as I put sheet, duvet and pillow on the single bed.
"I am to sleep here?" I could not interpret her tone.
"I want you to sleep here tonight. Talk tomorrow." As I watched, she shrugged off the gown and handed it to me, took the t-shirt and slipped it over her head. It reached almost to her mid-thigh, but her nipples showed as small bumps. "Just a moment, though," I said, "Sit in the chair a moment, will you?" I fetched a brush from the bathroom. Some long auburn hairs caught in it showed that she'd tried to brush out her hair. Perhaps she hadn't wanted to take the time to do it properly.
Once upon a time, when I was still married, I had enjoyed brushing my wife's long hair and I had thought she enjoyed it too; she certainly made appreciative noises. So did Tiarna as I brushed out the tangles with long, gentle strokes. It took some time and she was almost asleep by the time I finished, so I picked her up in my arms, laid her in the bed and covered her over with the duvet. I could not resist kissing her on the forehead as her eyes shut.
I lay awake for a long time and I don't know what time it was that I woke to realise I had company. Her slim body felt good against me and I lost the argument I had with myself, wrapped my arms round her and went back to sleep. When I woke again, it was getting light, so it was obviously getting late. I had – as usual – a solid erection, but, not as usual, there was a small, soft hand wrapped round it.
It was fairly obvious she was not experienced, but put yourself in my position and ask how long you'd last? I grabbed a handful of tissues from the box beside my bed just in time.
"Was that okay?"
"It was perfect." I rolled towards her so she was on her back and lowered my lips to hers, intending to just brush them, but her tongue darted out and nature, morning breath notwithstanding, took over. It was a very nice kiss. "Time for breakfast," I said.
"I am hungry again," she replied, "I hadn't eaten much for ... four days."
I don't normally eat a heavy breakfast, but had eggs and bread, so gave her scrambled eggs on toast. "Try to eat slowly," I told her.
"Art," I reminded her.
The scrambled eggs, the toast, and a couple more slices, disappeared a little slower than before, washed down with a glass of milk and one of juice. I waited until I thought she'd finished, then took my cereal bowl and mug to the sink. She followed, and once I'd put my pots in the sink pushed between me and the sink and pushed me away.
"I must start my duties," she told me.
I nodded, "Very well, carry on, but I want to talk to you when you've washed up. Don't start anything else."
I fired up the laptop, and was oblivious to everything else until I was disturbed by small hands on my shoulders, kneading them. I turned my head and came face to face with a very pretty pair of titties.
"Art, you have been working for two hours solid without looking round. You said you wanted to talk to me. I have made coffee. Please drink it."
I looked at my watch. She was right; in fact it was nearer two and a half hours I'd been at it. I looked her up and down; she was quite naked. It wasn't only her breasts that were pretty, despite her thin-ness. I spun the office chair round to face her.
"Why are you undressed, Tiarna?"
"I want to please you. Don't you like looking at me?"
"Yes, I do. But when I do, I want to do other things."
"Yes. I told you you could. I said I would do anything."
I sighed. I confess, I didn't want her to cover up. "Are you comfortable like that? Are you warm enough? Do you like me looking at you?"
"Yes, yes and yes. What did you want to talk about?"
I stood, desperately wanting to reach out and palm her breasts, but instead took her hand. "Let's go to the lounge." There was a two-seat sofa in there and she went straight to it and refused to let go of my hand, so I sat next to her. She took my arm, draped it round her shoulders and snuggled under my arm. "I want you to tell me why you were on the streets."
"I was on my way home from school. When I got to the end of our road, I could see two PBSK men," (Secret Police) "they were in ordinary clothes, but I could tell. They were right by our gate. So I kept walking past the road. I called home from a call-box. My mother sounded very strange. She said, 'no, Tia isn't home yet. No, I don't know when she will be back.' I said, 'is there trouble, mother?' and she said, 'yes, I'll tell her you called'. So I knew. I never went home and I've been sleeping under a bridge, but I was cold, so cold, and hungry. I thought, 'I'll go to one of those rich places, and try to steal some food, or money'. I thought, because I couldn't see any light, that you weren't in. Then you caught me and I was terrified you'd hand me over, but you didn't."
It was about what I'd thought. She obviously knew there was danger and equally obviously didn't want to fall into the 'care' of the state. "You go to school?"
"Yes, Sacre Coeur Convent School. It's a private school, very expensive, but very good. The Sisters are lovely."
"They might be able to tell me more about your parents."
"Yes, but you mustn't say you know where I am."
"I'll say I'm asking about a place for my niece who is coming to visit..."
"Yes. Ask for Mother Maria Thomas. She is Irish, you know. Perhaps you can say things in English that the PBSK won't understand."
I knew that human rights there were almost non-existent, but it hadn't occurred to me they'd 'bug' the office of a Convent School Mother Superior.
I went out after lunch and bought clothes. I dislike shopping for myself anyway; buying smalls for a teenage girl was cringe-inducing. But I did it; packets of panties, bras, jeans, tops; simple stuff rather than the up-market gear she was probably used to, but stuff that wouldn't attract attention. As an afterthought, I bought hair-dye. I hated the thought of colouring her gorgeous hair, but it was a little distinctive. I found a long terry house-coat that might let me have my dressing-gown back, and slippers. Trainers, hoping they'd fit well enough.
The flat was spotless, with a hint of air-freshener. The best part was the naked nymph who greeted me on my return with a full-frontal hug ... I swear I could feel her nipples through my outdoor clothes ... and a kiss.
"Clothes," I said, handing over the bags.
"Why do you buy me clothes? I am happy to stay like this."
"I might want to take you somewhere and I think you might get a little cold without clothes. In fact, I will want to take you somewhere. I don't think it's going to be safe for you here forever."
She looked at me seriously before giving me another, even better, hug.
The bathroom had a whiff of chlorine bleach. The kitchen smelt of savoury casserole. It was pretty good, too.
"You had a phone call; some woman called Ane, asking if you'd forgotten her."
Ane was one of the women who met my needs from time to time; she was an attractive, dark-haired student who was financing her education on her back.
"You don't need other women. I told you, I will do anything you want."
"But is that what you want?"
"I just want to please you, Art."
I shelved that argument for another time. "Excellent dinner, Tiarna."
She beamed and ducked her head, blushing slightly; it was interesting – read erotic – to watch the blush spread from her face to her breasts. It was about then I realised taking Tia's virginity (and I never doubted her word that she was one) was inevitable. In fact, it had been almost from the beginning, but I like to kid myself.
She ignored the nightie I bought; I suppose there was a message in there somewhere. I played with those perfect little breasts as she stroked me until she took my hand and placed it between her legs. She was wet and slippery and more responsive than any previous partner. Happily, when she came on my fingers, though she thrashed about, she restricted her vocalisation to a guttural groan. It would not have been good to attract attention to the fact I had a young woman living with me.
Next morning I called the school and was invited to visit that morning. Mother Superior was ... remarkable. Irish, indeed, with a smiling face and a twinkle in her eyes. The old-fashioned coif and habit concealed anything else. I gave her my spiel with a straight face.
"Ah ... as it happens, we have a vacancy. One of our girls – the same age as your niece, in fact – seems to have disappeared. Her father was arrested as a traitor (her head was shaking and her hand waved round the room; I assumed she was indicating that the room was bugged) given a fair trial (the frown on her face truly communicated her opinion of the local justice system) and executed the following morning. Her mother, as guilty by association, is now a 'Servant of the State', of course. She is indentured for five years, I believe"
I winced, knowing exactly what that could entail. She was unlikely to live through five years of the sort of abuse implied.
"The daughter," Mother went on, "a bright girl, has run away, silly thing. She's a ward of the State now, of course. If I were to hear of her whereabouts, I would hand her over to our benevolent Leader." She was shaking her head emphatically. "Perhaps you'd like to look round our school? We are very proud of our facilities."
She had every right to be proud; I don't think any English school could have been much better. She took care to point out that their students could access their courses on line. "Sometimes, for illness, perhaps, or family reasons, a student may be unable to attend for a few days. They can keep up from their home or anywhere with internet access."
I thanked the lady and left to go home, where I reminded Tia she could keep up with her studies using my laptop. She pointed out, though, the danger involved in accessing her lessons online. "They might not notice, but then they might. It would be dangerous." She gave me a very nice kiss, though.
I made a few phone calls and after lunch, armed with the information I'd gathered, made my way to the Palace of Justice. (What an oxymoron.)
"I am looking for a servant," I said, "I understand I can purchase an indenture here and relieve the State of a burden." They passed me over to an older man, very well dressed. I can only describe his expression as 'cruel'.
"Mister Braithwaite," he said in clear, if accented English, "perhaps you'd like to describe what you're after so I can find your ideal servant?"
"A woman," I said, " preferably reasonably good looking. Compliant."
"All our indentured Servants are compliant," he commented, "it goes with the territory."
"And ... well," I hesitated a little, overdoing the dramatics, I suppose, "I sometimes need someone I can ... relieve my temper with, if you understand?"
It was a little sickening the way his eyes lit up. "I understand perfectly," he said, "off-hand I can think of a half-dozen that might suit, especially if you don't mind undertaking some of the ... training." He fired up a computer and continued to talk as it was responding. "Do you have any physical preferences?"
"Medium height, slim to average build, small to medium breasts," I said. "I also have a thing for dark red hair."
"Excellent," he said, "I have three prospects ... the first is relatively new. Gross control is not a problem, but fine-tuning her responses would be up to you." He swung the screen so I could look. It was Tia to the life, just older.
"Looks good," I agreed, "but what about the other two?" It seemed a good idea to divert attention from the fact I was actually after Tia's mother. We looked at them, and at length I said, "That first one looks exactly what I'm looking for. What do I do now?"
"A small matter of money, first," he said, "it's a five year indenture of a mature woman of early middle-age; five thousand Euros. That includes the collar, remote and maintenance of the collar, also she has not yet had her medical; you may want to take care of that yourself. You understand in view of her background we cannot guarantee her free of disease."
No. of course he couldn't. But she probably was previous to her arrest. I was happier to trust my own doctor than theirs, though, anyway.
"Not a problem," I said. "As it happens I took the precaution of obtaining funds before coming here." I counted out five thousand in large denomination notes, then added a hundred. "I hope you won't be offended if I offer you a small token of appreciation for your help?" It seemed he wasn't, as the note disappeared before my very eyes.
"A small matter of paper-work," he said, handing over a form. I completed it, not entirely honestly; I was pretty sure they didn't expect accuracy anyway. "And come with me," he finished. I followed him out to the main foyer.