After a one week breather, I’m back with a new series of weekly flash fiction for the Wednesday Briefs. This time I used one of the week’s photo prompts because it, well, prompted this story to mind…
Let’s see where the journey goes. I welcome comments.
Useful Things #1
Rasvim focused on a floor smooth as water, gray as Aeth skin. He crouched and kept his arms folded over his thighs, head tipped in submission. He studied the floor because it represented safety. Beheading was the usual punishment for looking without permission upon one of the conquerors. The creature soon to enter the room would not be a thief and smuggler, as his master had been. Neither would it be a soldier such as those standing in darkly armored ranks along the walls of the warehouse that had served as the smuggler’s base, or lined the corridor to this room in the sumptuous living quarters from which Osvith had ruled his clandestine empire of rebels, criminals, and mercenaries.
Osvith had thought the Aeth would have trouble tracing his operation to this filthy hole on a planet as corrupt and post-colonially messy as Earth.
Footsteps echoed through the warehouse now, still distant, heard through the hidden, slitted windows from which his master had kept paranoid watch on the comings and goings of his operation. Rasvim studied the floor, his ears tracking the progress of the Aeth entourage. They would surely end up here. His hearing was just sharp enough to pick up a light drone of Aeth voices, but not yet the words. Because words were not for him in any case, he abandoned the effort, wishing his mouth were not so dry and hoping that when the time came he would be able to speak.
Don’t croak! His master had delighted in perfecting his speech. Slowly! Prettily!
He had been groomed to be pleasing to a monster.
A blast of spice-laden air preceded the Aeth commander into the room. Rasvim shivered and reminded himself to show no fear. The Aeth considered fear to be a sign of weakness. Weak things were sport, or food. Rasvim had watched many feral humans eaten post-hunt. He’d seen Osvith serve up human meat at his table, tender pink meat purchased on the black market. He’d eaten it himself, chewing while gazing into his master’s gloating red eyes.
Rasvim had hated his master. He had lost count of the days of his slavery, but vaguely knew not quite five years had passed since he had fallen to a poacher’s dart. That Osvith liked younger meat except to screw was the only reason he still lived. He had shown plenty of fear.
The spice of an Aeth of high rank assaulted his nostrils and he quivered to know they flared to gather the scent. Osvith had been of low rank and had smelled nearly putrid, as if corruption had permeated even his stench. This scent… enthralled Rasvim. Now, at last, he had lost his mind. He must be suffering the effects of two days of hunger and deprivation. The soldiers who’d slain Osvith had spilled water on the floor and allowed him to lap it. Other than that, he’d had nothing to drink or eat. By comparison, Osvith’s daily rations had been generous.
The Aeth leaders entered the room to the regimented stamp of shod feet. Aeth feet more resembled hooves than paws. Cloven, elegant. They were shod for utility or according to rank. Rasvim wore shoes modeled after traditional human garb. Sports shoes and pants and a shirt bearing Osvith’s mark. His hair rose stiffly above his head in a crest that marked him as a pleasure thing. The Aeth were attracted to color and displays. Rasvim kept his eyes open to demonstrate his alertness, though he did not break his concentration on the floor.
Two Aeth stood before him. He recognized the captain by the martial plate nailed to the underside of his foot and extending in front to encase his hoof with a display of martial rank. The other hooves were sheathed even more elegantly; the plate tooled with gold and displaying two brilliantly cut gems on each hoof. Not a commander… an aristocrat. Osvith had held such as captives, though Rasvim had seldom been allowed to see them.
“What is this, Ulhar? A human?” The Aeth sounded surprised, and male. It was hard to tell by hooves alone, but male Aeth voices were deeper.
“Osvith the criminal kept it as a pet,” said the captain. Ulhar, then, was the captain’s name.
“A sexual indulgence, I assume. It’s pretty enough, but too thin.”
“Yes, Ver Majak.”
Rasvim hoped the Aeth would find him attractive. Osvith had taunted him often that pretty humans were desirable as servants… or for sex. Either was better than being food.
“It looks well-trained.” With even steps, the Aeth circled him.
“It isn’t feral,” Ulhar said, “and it’s given no trouble. Absolutely biddable. Seems clean and the physician has pronounced it free of diseases. Osvith took some care with it, but abused it for his pleasure. It had whip and bite marks when we found it, but the marks have faded. It was wearing these when we found it.”
Jeweled feet appeared in front of him again. Rasvim hoped this Aeth would think him nothing, just a pleasure thing. A pleasure thing, or a human who could be salvaged as a servant. He would make a fine servant. Osvith had taught him to be unobtrusive, perfection. He could kneel for hours without moving a single muscle.
“They were in his nipples,” Ulhar explained about his findings. “They contain video and audio transmitters.”
“Clever Osvith. His visitors were unwary and let him look down their throats.” The throaty chuckle deepened to a growl. “But I think he might have been cleverer still. Did you question this creature?”
“A human? There was no—” Ulhar for once sounded unsure.
A staff of what looked like yellowed bone—not human, but longer and thinner—pounded down right in front of Rasvim. He flinched and immediately regretted it. The bone lifted, knocking him lightly under the chin.
“Look at me, human!” The Aeth employed words soaked in command, such that Rasvim could not disobey even by accident.
He looked up.
And look at this list of Briefers for this week… so many fun free stories to be sampled.
Cia Nordwell m/m
Sara York m/m
LM Brown m/m
MA Church m/m
Michael Mandrake m/m
Lily Sawyer m/m
Julie Lynn Hayes m/m