“Shush little one. They will hear.” She whispered to the boy. There were three of them surrounding her, holding onto her in the shadows of the room hoping praying they wouldn’t be found.
The boy sniffled trying to stop crying. She understood. She was terrified too. She wasn’t sure yet why she’d taken them with her. She’d be far away already if she hadn’t. But shame would haunt her if she had. Shame because she knew what happened to children when they were captured. Shame because she was the reason for the hunt tonight. She had escaped and they wouldn’t allow one of their slaves to. The shackles remaining at her feet would make noise if she moved.
So like the kids she sat unmoving ensuring the metal slave anklets didn’t rattle against each other. A part of her wanted to shout, bring the guards to her and kill them. But i was a shallow dream. They would subdue her in a matter of minutes. And within a few more moments she’d only be an empty shell: a soulless body doing exactly what its masters required. Ultimately, it was the Leader’s will that they all answered to.
She’d escaped from this fate: at least she was trying to. She’d seen other women and men go through it. She remembered their empty eyes and their single-mindedness when it came to obeying. They would even help with the brainwashing of others, some they might have called friends. She called it brainwashing but she wasn’t sure that’s what it was. After all, there was no brain left to wash. It really was a soul sucking process. Once in that state, the bodies had no needs, no wants: they were merely the receptacle of the masters’ will. They didn’t care for food or drink: they only nourished themselves if ordered to. Many of them died within weeks of being turned into zombies. Yes zombies.
She’d never seen kids going through the process: children could be trained. The strongest became soldiers and the weakest died fast. Those in between might be turned into slaves, gardeners, servants or anything that would serve society best. Family no longer meant anything: children who once loved their parents found becoming soldiers meant a better life and they turned against adults who would prevent them from reaching that goal. It wasn’t rare to see a teenager whip their mother or sister into fulfilling their tasks. She’d seen worse but she couldn’t linger on the horror. Still she knew that if they found them, the kids had a better chance of surviving than she did.
“If they find us,” she whispered. “You must hit me.” One of the girls’ eyes widened: she didn’t understand. “They have to believe you captured me and stopped me to flee.”
She knew she was risking her freedom: they could turn against her right now. But she must give them a chance if they could. She would be a shell if they captured her: better try and help them.
Luckily, the guards moved away. When she thought them far enough, they moved. She tried to spread her legs wide enough that the shackles didn’t rattle. It proved awkward but what other choice did she have? She guided the children through the house to the street, the one she knew would lead her to the port. She’d planned it all sneaking around stealing maps to figure it out. Three weeks to prepare; and it was messed up because stupid Sandy had spoken out of turn. She’d asked about the maps she’d found at lunch. It was a miracle she could dash fast as she did. It would take some time before people realized she actually had left just after lunch instead of returning to her duties. She was usually good about doing what she was told: the only way to lure her jailers into thinking she was a good subject. Still, instead of having a day on her pursuers she had a mere hour. And she’d lost that by helping the kids.
“Stay behind. If one of them catches me, don’t get close. Stay hidden and don’t get out until we’re gone.”
For almost half an hour they slowly, carefully made their way to the river. If they could reach it, they would be able to take a row boat and cross. On the other side, was another country. They would have to find a way through the fences but it was feasible. She hoped. Then her luck – if she dared call it that – ran out. She gasped when someone seized her arm. She whimpered when the hold tightened. She looked up. Fuck!
“Is that a way to speak to your brother?”
“How else am I supposed to talk to you?”
“Well, like the good slave you are to its master.”
“I’m not your slave fucker.”
“I’d say the shackles at your feet and the collar at your neck makes you my slave Tess.”
She shivered in his hold. Her brother was a monster: he’d been playing God or rather Satan and now he’d turned this place into his own Pandemonium.
“Oh you’re afraid of me. That’s good. You never were when we were kids.”
“You always scared the shit out of me you creep.”
That was true: his tendency to enjoy hurting animals or people had frightened her.
“You must be very afraid of what I’ll do to you now.”
“I’m not scared. I know what’ll happen.”
“Oh no. You don’t. You have no idea how happy I was when they told me you escaped. I’ve been wanting you to for years. I knew you would try some day.”
He made her turn and she whimpered. No. They’d found the kids.
“That’s going to be so good Tess. I’m going to make these three my favourites. They’ll grow up to worship me and treat you like a useless animal. Not even human. And you’ll know it’s your fault that they’ve relinquished their will and freedom to me.”
“Just turn me into a zombie already. I don’t care. Just let them go. It’s not their fault.”
She knew it was useless. Her brother had as much empathy as a snake. And he was as poisonous.
“Oh I won’t Tess. I’ll use the machine. But unlike the others you’ll realize exactly what happened, what’s happening and what you are.”
“And what is that.”
“My personal slave. Your mind will fight it every single day but it’ll be in vain. Until you accept it and embrace it. I look forward to it.”
Terrified and knowing her brother would do exactly what he’d said, she shuddered.
In response to Linda G Hill’s stream of consciousness prompt Sh