Una — Chapter 1
(Trigger warning: sexual abuse, sexual slavery, abuse of children)
“Stop staring out the window, Una,” Lara-6 said with a slight hiss. She could never keep a hiss out of her voice when she was nervous or annoyed. Lara was a little more cat than her creator had intended, which is how she ended up here, at the “Fancy Farm.”
“One day, Lara, it will be me out there sitting by those fires,” Una v3.8 replied with a sigh. She loved to spend their free time staring at the tendrils of smoke rising from the mountains, imagining the lives of the people around the campfires. She’d heard stories.
Una stood up slowly from her perch on the edge of the divan, her hooves still aching from the dancing they’d made her perform the night before, her back still sore from their whips.
She pulled the red velveteen curtain across the window, brass rings making a tinny hiss on the steel rod.
She liked to forget about the campfires after the sun set, when the men came out. Then, she went numb and dumb. It was the only way to survive, and it was usually all they wanted of her, anyway.
“It’s almost time,” Una said, walking slowly toward the cracked, white plastic bin where she kept her costumes.
“Oh, but Una!” Daisy, a little one, said pulling off her VR headset to listen to Una.
She was still a puppy. She hadn’t been here for more than a couple of weeks, and she had no idea what was coming for her. Una knew they were auctioning her virginity to the highest bidder. Daisy wouldn’t be innocent for long, and Una didn’t know if it was better to try to prepare her for that day or to let her keep her innocence for as long as she could.
But in the end, it probably made no difference.
“Come, Daisy,” Una replied, ignoring the little puppy-girl’s plea. “Get in your flower petal costume, the red one. They’ll want you to dance for them tonight, like last night and the night before. You know they’re making a decision.”
“Ok, Una,” Daisy looked up at her with a bright smile.
Una’s heart ached. Her stomach turned and she almost vomited knowing what was waiting for this sweet creature.
“Listen, my love,” Una cupped Daisy’s soft, furry face in her hands, catching and holding her large brown eyes. “Scan the crowd tonight. Try to find the one with the kindest eyes, and give him your attention.”
“Why?” Daisy blinked from Una’s intense gaze, and pulled her head free from Una’s hands.
“Because he’ll be your first, and the first time can hurt. I don’t want it to hurt you. Do you understand what I’m talking about?”
“Maybe,” Daisy replied, turning to look again at Una. “Is it what you do with the men?”
“It’ll be different,” Una replied, not saying any more. “Remember what I told you, Daisy.”
“Ok,” Daisy said with a cheerful smile. The older girl wondered if Daisy’s sweet nature would ever be broken.
“Come, beloved, it’s time to get ready.”
The 4 girls who shared their cell — Una, Lara, Daisy, and Idi — began getting ready for the night.
The night passed like any other. The men came, the girl-creatures sang and danced and were taken to private rooms for the pleasure of the men who chose them, for the hour or for the night, whatever their patron’s pleasure may be.
And so it had been for all the years of Una’s life. She didn’t even remember any other life. Maybe she had never had one. Maybe this was all she’d ever know.
But something in her refused to accept it. She’d heard stories of people, other creatures, who had left the Farm, and other farms, different kinds of farms, breeding, labor, entertainment, every kind, and they’d formed villages in the hills.
As the last man left the entertainment hall, Una gathered up the clothes she’d shed throughout the night in the various rooms she’d been taken to. She bent down stiffly to retrieve a shoe, back aching from the fresh whip marks. Maybe it was her resemblance to a horse, with hooves, soft fur, and a long white mane down her back to her round bottom, the men liked to whip her viciously as they rode her.
Even though she seemed to heal more quickly than the other girls, the years had taken their toll, and Una didn’t know how much longer she could last before she broke.
Then, she’d be useless to the keepers of Fancy Farm, the bottom of the barrel in the wildlife scene. With no one to sell her to, they would probably just shoot her and throw her body in the trash. When she was used up, her life would be over.
“Lara,” Una called softly to the girl across the room. “How are you, beloved. Can you move?”
Lara looked up at her without moving. One of the men Lara had entertained this evening had had a thing for strangling. Una hadn’t known if Lara would make it through the night.
Killing a creature is expensive though, and not many men can afford it.
They’d have to pay for the cost of replacing her and all the money the farm lost from the remainder of nights she would have been sold until she was used up. Plus, a fee.
It wasn’t exactly legal to kill a creature, because they resembled humans so much, but it was agreed upon by society that they weren’t quite human, either, so it wasn’t quite illegal either. Mostly, it was just expensive.
Lara had survived, barely.
Una gathered the broken girl in her arms and carried her out to the gaudy, but shabby, hallway that led to the room they shared.
“Peace to you, sister,” Musa, the dark lionesque janitor said softly, keeping his eyes on his cart of cleaning supplies. She had seen his eyes once. Never in her life had she seen such gentleness. Maybe she had never seen gentleness before. She had never wanted to look away. But this time she kept her eyes down, too. No use in developing feelings for anyone. It could get one of them or both of them killed, or at the very least, sent away forever. The keepers didn’t want the creatures falling in love.
“Peace to you, brother,” Una replied, softly, also not looking up as they passed him. His long lion’s tail twitched angrily, though.
“It’s ok, brother. This is our life. It’s not forever. We will transition one day, and the Other Side is said to be more beautiful than this one.”
“Sister,” Musa began, hesitantly. “You know, there is another place, there is another way.” He looked up at her, his gentle eyes betraying the ferocity of his rage. His eyes searched hers.
She held his gaze for a moment, deciding. She knew what he was offering: freedom. The campfires. Almost certain death, for her and all those she cared about. All the girls, and for Musa. She looked down at Lara. Then she decided. In fact, she had decided a long time ago that any escape was better than captivity here.
“I’m ready,” she replied, her gaze steady on his.
“Give me three nights,” he said, and he lowered his gaze to his cleaning cart, walking slowly away in his strong, deliberate way. “We’ve been preparing.”
Una continued down the drab hallway as if nothing had happened, but her heart was exploding behind her sore ribs. Sweat beaded on her brow and her breath came in shallow gasps.
Could she bring others? They deserved freedom, too. Could they imagine it? Would they believe it’s possible? Would they choose to follow her into the unknown? The most brutal punishments were reserved for anyone who dared to try to escape.
She carefully pushed the door to their room open, trying not to disturb Lara, who had fallen asleep in her arms. Lara’s normally sharp, sarcastic face relaxed to reveal a soft girl underneath the scars and fear. Una gingerly laid the sleeping girl down on her mattress, pulling her covers up over her shoulders, careful not to touch any of the marks on her neck.
Una returned to her perch on the arm of the divan, staring out the window, renewed hope blossoming in her breast as she gazed out the window at the tendrils of smoke ever-rising to the heavens from the shadows of the hills.
Long ago, she’d heard stories of one in particular who troubled the Keepers of the Farms, the Crone. Legend had it that the Crone took all the broken bodies and souls who escaped the farms and brought them back to health and back to life in freedom, teaching them the ways of Oneness, on a path called the Way of Love, where creatures were equal to all. No one was above or below another, except in the beauty of their souls.
Una couldn’t imagine what that could mean, never having experienced love in her life, but whenever she heard about it, her heart trilled with joy and hope, just a little, just enough that she couldn’t ignore it or silence it.
In the distance, the thin tendrils of smoke whirled their slow sinuous dance into the sky.
“Idi, you can’t do that,” Lara said, sniffing. She still managed her air of haughtiness in the midst of her pain. It seems one of the men last night had enjoyed more than just strangling. Bruises had blossomed overnight on her abdomen and lower back. Una could only imagine the pain and fear Lara had felt last night, but only because she’d felt it many nights, too.
Lara never spoke about any of it, and she kept a thick layer of arrogance and sarcasm around her like a great suit of chainmail, letting nothing and no one penetrate her heart. Most of the other girls thought Lara didn’t have a heart, but Una knew better.
“Whyyyy,” Idi whined. “I just want one night off. It hurts so much and they won’t let me see a doctor. I can’t entertain men when my crotch is on fire.”
“They won’t care. Obviously,” Lara replied. “If you get an infection, you’re just screwed. No one will care what you feel about anything. You mean nothing to anyone. Never forget that.”
“Shhh, now Lara,” Una replied. “No need to be so harsh on the girl.”
“Why not?” Lara replied, looking up from the pointy nail she had been deeply absorbed in painting just right. “The sooner she gets that, the better. We have to look out for ourselves. No one is going to help us. No one.”
Una didn’t reply. She walked over to her plastic bin that contained all her worldly possessions, unlatched the cracked lid, and pulled out a little brown bottle. “Here, beloved. Take this.” She handed the little bottle to Idi.
“What is it?” Idi asked, not quite suspiciously, but Una doubted the fawn-girl could imagine how anything in that tiny brown bottle could help her right now.
“It’s an oil infusion of usnea and myrrh,” Una said, and she smiled, watching Idi’s eyes widen. Of course, she’d never heard of a tincture before.
“Listen to this, you’ll like it. Usnea is lichen, a type of fungus that hangs from tree limbs. It’s all scraggly and white, so its common name is witch’s beard because it looks like a white beard. Myrrh is a precious sap that was given to prophets. It has incredible healing properties. It is worth more than gold.”
Idi giggled, and Lara rolled her eyes and sniffed again.
“You’ll need to get some yogurt and vinegar from the cafeteria,” Una continued. “Dilute the vinegar. Use it all together. You need to maintain the balance.”
“Hmph,” Lara said, somewhat thoughtfully. “I didn’t know there were things like that. How did you get it?”
“Like what?” Una asked, turning to look at her, ignoring the other question. She could not reveal her source to anyone. She always tried to be gentle with Lara. Una knew how sensitive the younger girl was; it was why she needed such fierce protection.
“You know, things like that. Plants, things. I don’t know. Like, I didn’t know that plants could do that,” she finished with a kind of frustrated huff.
“I didn’t know either, actually,” Una replied. “They certainly don’t tell you about those things, the keepers don’t. Someone gave it to me when I needed it.”
She didn’t mention that it had been Musa, the janitor. She had no idea how he had known.
One day he’d seen her walking slowly, painfully, wincing with every step. She’d paused by a window.
“Sister, is everything ok?” he’d asked, slowing down to wash the windows in the hall hear her.
“Yes, Musa, thank you,” she’d replied, with no intention of telling him her problem. She’d just finished the third night in a row of entertaining men all night with an infection of some sort that had her vagina on fire. She had worried that if she didn’t get any medicine for it, it would spread into the rest of her body.
“Sister, I’ve seen other of the kin-girls walking like that. I know what that pain means. Let me bring something for you tomorrow. Promise me you’ll try it,” Musa had said, insistent.
“I’ll try anything.”
He’d brought her the little brown bottle the next day, as promised, and told her how to use it. She’d started to feel relief after a few days.
“Listen, Idi,” Una explained. “Fill this little dropper here halfway by pinching the air out and then putting it into the liquid and letting go. See how it fills with the liquid?”
“Good. Now lay on your back and insert this inside the place where the men put themselves and squeeze the dropper so the liquid goes inside. Ok? Do this two or three times a day. You’ll start to feel better in a few days.”
“Are you sure it works?” Idi asked, gazing up at Una a little skeptically.
“It worked for me,” Una replied. “But listen, don’t mention to anyone that you have it. It could get us in trouble.”
Idi nodded, mutely, clutching the little bottle to her chest with both hands. She looked up at Una with her big brown doe eyes in wordless gratitude.
Una smiled at her. She always wished she’d met these girls somewhere else, that they lived some other life, a life like they saw in the VR shows they were allowed to watch or stories on the screens.
Una knew that there were places in the world where people lived different kinds of lives, that it wasn’t like this everywhere. She was a little older than the others by about 3 years or so, and she felt almost like she had to protect them and care for them, it was her duty as an older girl.
“That was nice of you,” Lara said, not looking up from a pointy crimson nail.
“It’s the least I can do,” Una replied, returning to her perch on the arm of the divan, gazing out the window at the tendrils rising up from the mountains.
The night came and went as they always do. They all survived, except Daisy. It was like that sometimes. No one was surprised, but they mourned in silence.
Una liked to hope that she had been adopted by a kind stranger who was going to the farms to free the creatures from their keepers. She’d heard stories like that. She decided to believe that. Anything else would make it hard for her to keep going, keep getting out of bed every day.
Una stayed a little longer, waiting for the other girls to leave before she walked back to her room. She didn’t want anyone to know that Musa was her source.
“Peace to you, sister,” Musa said quietly as they passed each other slowly in the hall. “Drop something, and I’ll pick it up for you.”
Una dropped the extra shirt she had worn the night before but had taken off early and not put back on. Musa leaned down and picked it up for her, giving it to her, underneath was a note. Una’s heart beat hard inside her chest.
She would read it as soon as she was back in her room where she could disguise it from the ever-present cameras with a book or magazine.
Back in her room, she put her shirt in her plastic bin and drew out a book to put the note into, reading:
In two days at exactly 4am, jump out the window of the second-story women’s toilet. The bars will be loosened, and I’ll leave the window open. Someone will be waiting for you. Cover yourself with the blanket. Don’t worry about the goats.
This is happening! she screamed inside her head, pulling the book close to her chest. I will be free.
The next two days were filled with buzzing thoughts and preoccupation. She couldn’t focus on anything anyone said to her, and anything the men wanted to do to her, she hardly noticed. It would all be over soon, and she would be free!
“Una! UNA!” Idi shouted, snapping her fingers in front of Una’s face. “Earth to Una! Stop staring out that window. What are you even thinking about?”
Una looked down at the younger girl, who was sitting on the divan while Una was curled up on the arm, her usual place.
“Sorry, beloved. What is it?”
“It’s working,” the girl smiled up at her shyly. “I’m feeling better, and the bleeding stopped.”
Una smiled. The bleeding. It was going to stop.
She was going to see the Crone and she would be healed too, of all of this.
“Unaaaa! Did you hear me?”
“I heard you, Little Idi,” Una replied. “I’m so glad. I wish I could do more. I wish I could take you all from this place. I wish I could take you to a place where we can feel the grass under our feet and the sun on our faces and no one is hurting any of you.” Careful, don’t say too much, she cautioned herself silently.
Idi just looked up at her, as is her way. Una couldn’t tell what she was thinking, if she was thinking anything at all.
“Shut up with that stuff,” Lara said, sharply. “Don’t talk about that. It doesn’t do any good. It only makes it worse, all of it. So stop.”
That was a surprising insight from Lara who only liked to look pretty and be sarcastic.
“Don’t say those things,” she finished in a whisper, looking away.
Idi continued to stare at her. “Take me with you,” she said, suddenly.
Una’s head snapped around sharply to look at her. “What are you talking about? Why did you say that?” she demanded, more harshly than she had intended.
Lara stared at them but didn’t say anything
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Una said, at last.
“You’re leaving, aren’t you? Idi asked. Una had no idea the young girl was so perceptive. “I want to go. I want to go to the place where this bottle is from. There’s another world, and you know it, and you’re going there. I can see it in your eyes. In your body. Take me with you! Please!”
Tears began welling up in the little girl’s big, soft eyes. Una couldn’t say no.
“Ok,” she said, quietly. “One day, when I’m free. I’ll come back for you. I promise.”
Idi threw herself at Una and hugged her so hard that Una couldn’t breathe.
Lara said nothing, staring steadfastly at another of her claws, which she painted a deep purple this time.
Una looked at her but said nothing. “Be silent, Little Idi,” Una warned. “Lara?” Lara didn’t reply.
“Lara?” Una asked again.
“You’re fools,” Lara replied without looking up from her meticulously painted nails. “But don’t worry. I don’t know anything about anything.”
Suddenly the shabby wood door to their cramped room crashed open and a big man, one of the waxy-skinned, metal-limbed keepers named Jax appeared in the door frame.
The bright hall lights poured into their dimly lit room, and the bulky man was nearly silhouetted in the doorframe.
He dragged something small by the collar of its shirt. Or by a collar. The big man threw the tiny, limp figure into the room, and it sprawled out on the floor, followed by a duffle bag with what must be its clothes.
Jax slammed the door behind him and was gone, leaving the little creature gasping silently, a nearly immobile heap on the grimy linoleum floor.
The creature was young, one of the youngest Una had ever seen here. And a boy, which was common enough, but not at this farm. Here they catered to the men with a taste for girl creatures. The little boy seemed to be of puppy stock, like Daisy.
Oh, God. Daisy, Una thought, gasping and almost choking. Remembering her felt like being punched in the stomach.
“Don’t think about her,” Lara said, quietly. “Don’t feel anything. It’s the only way to survive.”
“How did you know?” Una asked.
“We all thought of her. You can’t hide anything.” Lara sniffed, and returned her attention to a hang-nail.
Una didn’t reply but bent over the little boy as he lay sprawled on the floor where he’d been left. He wasn’t moving, but she could see him taking shallow breaths.
“What have they done to you?” Una whispered.
The boy’s eyes opened slowly. Seeing her kind face over him, he instinctively reached his arms around her and curled around her knees, whimpering, like a puppy.
“You poor thing,” Una said softly, gently stroking his furry head.
He seemed to fall asleep shortly after, and Una carefully picked him up and placed him on her mattress in the corner.
She didn’t know where else he was supposed to sleep. Their room was small, and it was already full with her, Lara, and Idi. Daisy had slept with Idi. It had been a tight squeeze for the 4 of them. It was more of a prison cell than a room, but at least they had the window. Most kin didn’t even have that.
Every night, Jax escorted the girls to the showcase rooms, where they would wriggle and writhe to music until a man decided to make her his “companion” for the night. Some of the girls had regulars. The regulars were usually the nicest, cultivating a relationship, bringing gifts, often seeking more than just pleasures of the flesh. They often needed the companionship.
Una didn’t like the way Jax eyed her. She’d overheard him say that he’d been a captain in the Imperial militia, and he walked like it. She wondered what had brought him to a place like this but was pretty sure she didn’t really want to know.
He was rough, always pushing them around when they didn’t walk fast enough for him. Fortunately, by the end of the shift, he was usually preoccupied with one of the girls or asleep.
Not always, though, and Una couldn’t afford for him to be awake tomorrow night.
“Get up! Time to go,” he growled, glaring at each of them in turn. He stood at the door with his arms crossed. His eyes lingering on Una as she finished putting on her costume for the night. “Bring the runt!”
He gestured at the sleeping puppy-boy. “But…” Una began.
“Shut up. I don’t want to hear it. Get him up. He has to work off his debt, just like the rest of you.”
Una sighed, eyeing Jax cautiously as she went over to wake up the boy and help him get dressed. She tried to rouse him by touching his face lightly. He didn’t respond. She pushed his shoulder, still no response.
“Oh for blood’s sake!” Jax barked. He strode quickly over to the sleeping child and kicked him in the stomach.
The puppy-boy yelped and got to his knees, ready to try to feebly defend himself. He saw Una and threw himself around her in a hug, whimpering again.
“Come, little one,” she said, gently smoothing back a stray lock of longer fur from his very human brow. “It’s nighttime. Do you know what that means?”
He looked at her, still so much innocence in his face. So much like Daisy. “Are they going to tie me up again? Are they going to hurt me again?”
“I’m sorry, beloved. That is who we are. That is our life. I’ll be here for you,” she replied. It was the only reply she knew how to give. She decided then that she was bringing him with her when she left.
One more night until she would leave this place forever. And she would bring this puppy boy with her.
“What’s your name?” Una asked.
“What the blazing hell is taking so long?” Jax interrupted. “Get him dressed! Let’s go!”
Una rose, pulling the boy with her.
“They call me Runt,” the boy replied. “I don’t think it’s a good name. I call myself Gabriel. I met someone in a dream named Gabriel. He said I could have his name.”
“Ok, Gabriel. That’s a good name. What do you usually wear?” Una asked.
“I have a red bandana and a pair of white shorts.”
Una went to the beat-up canvas duffle bag, unzipped it, and rifled around until she found what must be the shorts and bandana Gabriel told her about.
“These?” she asked, pulling them out for him to see.
“Here you go. Put them on. It’s time to go.”
He dressed and put his hand in hers, indicating he was ready.
They walked to the door together, but Jax quickly tore them apart.
“He goes to the runt pen with the others,” he grunted.
Una’s eyes widened at that. She’d never heard of that part of the farm before. She wondered how she had never heard of it, and also why they had brought Gabriel to share a room with her and the other girls.
This complicated things. If he wasn’t in their room, she would have to find the runt pen, grab him, and run back, then they would make their escape together.
No, she thought. That’s impossible. We’d both be killed.
“Where’s the runt pen?” she asked, not expecting Jax to answer her.
“Eh?” Jax grunted. “Oh, behind the garden on the other side of the main entrance.”
Una didn’t reply. That would be too difficult for her to reach. Too many guards. Too many cameras. Then, she thought of Musa. Kind, gentle, subversive Musa. Maybe he could help!
She made a mental note to ask him about it if she saw him again on the way back to her room tonight.
Jax dropped the girls off in the room with their dancing boxes and took Gabriel with him. Each girl had a clear fiberglass viewing box with some particular decoration in the theme of the animal type that they were.
Una’s box boasted nothing more than a glittery moon and tall, sparkling grass of a dozen different colors. Not much, just enough to show off a proto-unicorn v.3.8, which went by the brand name UnicarnaTM.
The lights dimmed and the double doors to the main lobby opened. Greasy, pot-bellied men, fresh out of the late summer heat, began sidling by her box, cold drinks in hand, as she writhed on the pole.
These ones didn’t have as many mods. Even Jax had more than they did. So it was no surprise that this Fancy Farm was their playground of choice.
Una knew it was the bottom of the barrel. She’d been sold here after she’d gotten too old and too numb to excite the men in the more upscale places that served the wildlife scene. This was likely her last place. In a year or two, they’d shoot her and throw her away, or sell her body to make dog food or glue.
She was still a little more expensive, though, being a fantasy creature. However, if no one bought her for the night early on, her price would go down a little bit until someone snapped her up.
Una always scanned the men hovering around her cage, trying to determine which one would be the gentlest. Then, she’d make him feel like the only man in the room, so he fought the hardest for her attention that night. It worked most nights.
The collection of men pacing around outside her cage was mostly familiar. They were regulars. None of these were particularly cruel, mostly just lonely, with lives in varying degrees of emptiness and failure.
One face stood out. Sharp eyes and pointed chin and nose, thin, papery skin. Extensive mods. What was a man like this doing here?
She hated him instantly, instinctively, and she could see him register her recoil. His eyes narrowed, and his tongue darted out, sliding across his thin lips as he smiled a small, cruel smile. Then he disappeared, and Una thought he had lost interest. She hoped he’d lost interest.
Oh God, no, she thought, half-panicking, but trying not to miss a beat in the rhythm on her pole.
He had returned with the keeper in charge that night.
Snake-eyes had bought her companionship. This kind of man loved to see his own power reflected in her powerlessness, his own strength reflected in the pain inflicted on her. This would be a long, difficult night.
But soon, she would be free. She just had to survive the night and make it to the bathroom window at 4am. She was so close.
The Rose Room. The most expensive room on the Farm. Covered in red velvet and carpet, red leather couches, with a jacuzzi and vases and vines of roses strewn haphazardly throughout, it was also the ugliest room Una had ever seen.
“Do you know who I am?” Snake-eyes asked in a grinding, almost metallic voice. He paused, staring at her after they had been escorted to the Rose Room. They stood standing next to each other beside one of the large, red leather couches.
Una didn’t reply. She kept her gaze down.
“I created you,” he continued, self-satisfaction oozing out of every pore on his waxy, translucent skin.
He was like all of the ones she used to know. Uncannily smooth, waxen skin, extensive mods. Legs and arms made of intricately decorated steel. This looked like a Night Set of limbs, which meant he could change his limbs like he changed his clothes.
She’d met a few of those early on in her life. Men like him were more machine than man. Even his breath sounded like air passing through a metallic tube.
“Sit down,” he said, gesturing to her like a father commanding his child. And of course, he was her creator, and having made her, he was here to enjoy the work of his hands, to reap the fruit of his labor.
“I have wondered about you,” she said, “I thought that maybe you must be a kind creator. Thank you for making my skin heal so quickly.” She hoped to spark a connection.
He laughed, a dry, dead sound, like a tree falling to a chainsaw. “Yes you are of more value that way,” he said in his machine voice. “I also made you more sensitive to pain so that you may be unable to hide it.” He paused and watched her reaction with his lifeless and brutal eyes.
“I’m going to make more of you,” he continued. “You’re quite good. You’re my best creation. By the way, how did you like Runt and Daisy?”
“What do you know about Daisy?” Una replied, she tried to keep her face a mask of indifference.
“Do you know why we put her in your room.? We’re trying to breed out the compassion, the love. It makes your kind too strong, too unpredictable.” He paused.
Una sat on her velvet cushion, head bowed, waiting for him to continue.
“Do you know what you are?” he asked at last.
“What am I?” Una stared at the fake roses on the table, pretending to not understand the question.
“You. Are. Nothing.” the wax man said.
“And what are you?” she replied. She looked at him from underneath her silvery hair and eyelashes.
He shot out of his seat on the sofa, took threelong strides toward her, and punched her in the throat.
“I’m God, you little bitch. And I’m going to destroy you. I made you. And I can destroy you.” He started pacing the room.
She lay where she had sprawled, face digging into the greasy red carpet that smelled like old cigarettes and spilled whiskey. She thought of Daisy. The weeks she had cuddled the little puppy child before she had been auctioned for the first time, and the last.
She thought of Runt, Gabriel. His instinctual trust. His longing for love and tenderness.
Her heart began beating and her chest rose and fell as ragged breaths tore through her small, but muscular frame. She watched him pace from the corner of her eye.
“And you’re mine tonight.” He pressed a knee into the small of her back, and tied a gag into her mouth.
The wax and steel man toyed with her and tormented her for the rest of the evening. But she hardly felt it. It was nothing new, and very soon she would either be free, or she would be dead.
He alternated between tumblers of amber booze and lines of white powder. She didn’t resist, and as the night wore on, he got sloppy. His eyes became glazed, and he drooled spittle when he grunted or growled at her.
Tonight, she would escape or she would die, and she would take anyone she could with her, starting with this filthy creature.
But not the girls, or Gabriel. If only she could tell them about the truck!
She watched the glowing red hands of the great clock make their slow circuit. A half an hour passed, then an hour, and then two hours.
3:46am. It was almost time.
And she had life left.
She had strength.
If she ran to the bathroom from this room, it would take 4 minutes. She had timed it perfectly. She would need at least 2 minutes to incapacitate him, if she could. If she couldn’t do it in 2 minutes, she couldn’t do it all.
He had her on the couch now, her head near a table with a vase of roses. This was it!
Now! she screamed inside her heart. She grabbed the vase and broke it against the table, leaving a long ring of knife-sharp edges.
He had barely registered what was happening when she turned on him and raked the broken vase against his face, and then across his throat.
He fell, choking on his blood as he tried to scream.
She made a dash for the door. She had 5 minutes. She had to be at that window.
She knew she had no way to bring the others. If she didn’t escape, none of them would. The keepers would find out about her plan and she would be tortured to be an example to the others, then shot and dumped in the garbage.
Musa can come back for them but Una knew she had to leave.
The creature lay groaning and bleeding on the floor.
She peeked her head out into the hall. All clear. She was alone, except for the cameras. Hopefully, the night guard was asleep, or amusing himself with something else happening on the Farm.
She ran. And ran.
As she got nearer to the bathroom, her heartbeat increased rapidly, and it seemed her heart was going to burst out of her chest.
When she reached the bathroom, she saw Jax turning towards the corner as she walked in.
“Hey!” he yelled, “What are you doing out of your room?” He bolted towards her.
She ducked into the bathroom door, lunging to the back where a window stood open, as promised.
Jax’s heavy footsteps thudded behind her as he got through the door open and ran into the bathroom behind her.
The open window was only a few strides away.
Jax slammed through the door and he would be on her in moments.
She paused at the window. She looked down into the darkness where a truck waited, diesel engine idling.
She looked up, drew a breath, and jumped.
She felt suspended in the air for half a breath and then she landed heavily on a truck full of regular, non-mod goats.
Jax’s head hung on the window above her. He screamed obscenities, but the truck had already kicked into gear and was speeding through the complex. He brought a radio to his mouth, speaking into it as he stared at her retreating form in the speeding truck.
But the truck just kept going, and finally, she saw the guard stand at the entrance lowering the barrier behind them as they shot out into the hot summer night.
A guard stood at a little cinderblock guardhouse. Silhouetted against the glaring lights of the Fancy Farm behind him, he lifted a hand into the air.
Una didn’t know if the other guards would catch them or the police, or where she would go, or who would take care of her. Maybe the Crone was just a story that the girls told each other to give them a reason to live. Maybe she was out there, waiting.
Whatever happened, though — whatever was true — Una knew she would die free.
Thank you for entering the world of The Sovereigntii. You are welcome here, Sovereign. We are keeping your place in our circle near the fire. Would you like to co-create the multi-verse with us, The Sovereigntii 👑
If you liked this story, please share it with your friends! It would mean so much. Thank you!
All writing from the Sovereigntii world will remain free to read and access, and fans and co-creators can join in the writing of the Sovereigntii story. By using characters and worldbuilding inspiration NFTs created from the story by Jessica Artemisia, you can enter the world, become a character, write your own story, and monetize in collaboration with the Sovereigntii official project.
We are a Web3 native publishing platform and speculative fiction community. Join us!
You can join our Discord community here to start sharing your own world and stories or learn the art of storytelling with us, and also learn to work in collaboration with AI to create beautiful prose, poetry, and visual and audio media to express your inner vision.
This chapter is available for sale as an Ethereum NFT on OpenSea here.
Also, this story will be dropped soon as a collection on another blockchain. Please follow us on Twitter or Discord when this drop will happen.