Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, 1000 words of free flash—or in my case, another episode of my serial m/m science fiction story, which is threatening to run away with me and turn into a novel.
This week's prompts included a visual prompt that spoke to Rasvim's situation, even if that isn't immediately clear. It got me to thinking...
Useful Things #5
Rasvim started at the sound, twisting so he could spring to his feet. Water flew as Enir yelped. Alaksu and two unfamiliar, silent creatures stood at poolside. Fixed by three sets of eyes, Rasvim froze.
“He is clean?” Alaksu continued to peer at him intently.
“Yes, ahgli,” said Enir.
Ahgli. It meant ‘keeper.’ Alaksu was the keeper of Ver Majak’s pets, or maybe his household. The word sounded very like an Old Human word for something repulsive. Rasvim fought a smile at the prospect of using the word often, even if the slight mispronunciation irritated her.
“And the jack ring deprogramming?”
“Successful. And Rasvim is fluent in the Aeth language, as Ver Majak said. You can instruct him.”
Alaksu grunted. She flicked her hand at one of the walls, which dissolved to reveal an alcove with a table. “This way,” she ordered. The two creatures with her followed.
Rasvim obeyed, though he turned to Enir. “You were testing the ring?” He couldn’t decide if he felt humiliated, disappointed, or angry. All three emotions warred within him… and he couldn’t afford even one. Emotions were weakness. Emotions led to mistakes. Mistakes got humans killed.
“I thought you would prefer my way to having Alaksu masturbate you.”
He swallowed and tightened his jaw, not quite sure he might not have preferred that. Having his body perform tricks for alien amusement was ordinary for him now. But he had thought… was he really naïve enough to believe a human slave to the Aeth would be any different?
“Rasvim… Jesse, stop.” Enir said, grabbing him by the wrist. The small human spoke softly. “I like you.” Large blue eyes lifted to his, pleading. “I can feel your anger. Don’t be angry. I get to play sometimes with humans who belong to other Aeth who come to visit, but you are the first human Ver Majak has brought into our household. I… thought you would like it. The others did.”
“I’m not angry,” he answered, “not really, I’m just—I can’t be touched like that.”
“But why not?”
Because it confuses me.
“Enir! Keep your hands to yourself. Rasvim is not some new toy for you to play with. He belongs to Ver Majak.” Alaksu turned her wrinkled gray head toward Rasvim, nostrils flaring. “Stop smelling afraid, human. You are here for healing. I will not hurt you. I need you on this table. You speak Aeth? Understand?”
“Yes, Ugly,” he said in what he hoped was a sufficient demonstration. Enir went to a nearby bench while Rasvim obeyed.
He lay upon the table and found it warm. Alaksu’s hands were efficient, checking his skin and determining whatever knowledge of him she needed. She spoke crisply to her creatures, using a language other than Aeth. Pink alien bodies balanced on four squat legs from which a bony torso rose, topped by a flat head and sprouting four arms, each terminating in four twig-like fingers. Those fingers held grooming instruments: combs, blades, needles. Rasvim tensed. At Osvith’s, he’d been groomed by a single, scarred Aeth.
When Alaksu was satisfied as to what she wanted to be done with him, she snapped orders to the groomers. One went to work on Rasvim’s hair and head. The other began trimming around his groin and defoliating his knees. He was being made pretty.
Relief washed through him and he arranged his limbs or presented his body in whatever way they indicated. Aeth did not prettify their food. They prettified humans for display, or before using them sexually. Either suited. Majak would use him no worse than Osvith had. Humans who weren’t useful to the Aeth were dead meat. It was something humans said about people who made mistakes. ‘The minute he does that, he’s dead meat.’ Some mistakes rendered a person already dead in the future, because the mistakes were irrevocable.
The idiom wasn’t completely transferable, however. Osvith had preferred live meat.
When the grooming was done, Rasvim stood for Alaksu’s inspection. Every inch of his skin glowed from vigorous scrubbing followed by lotions. His groin hair had been shaved and trimmed to a neat shield with a spike of black hair pointing up to his navel. He had no hair at all left in his butt crack, and his sac and cock were completely hairless. When Alaksu—who looked pleased—had one of the creatures hold up a mirror so he could see himself, Rasvim noticed that his hair had been cut, feathered and fashioned through grooming into a glossy black crest complete with blood red tips. His eyebrows had been plucked to remove hair near his nose and create a sweep to the outside curve that emphasized his eyes. His lips had been tinted lightly also, to a natural rosy hue.
“You’re so beautiful!” Enir said. No one had asked his opinion, but he stood beside Alaksu with his jaw hanging open.
“Ver Majak is seldom incorrect about potential.” Alaksu looked down at Enir and her eyes softened as she ran gray fingers through Enir’s pale, feathered crest. She lifted her chin imperiously. “Rasvim, do you know how to kneel to the Aeth? Yes? Show me. How do you kneel to your master to await his bidding?”
He knelt as he had upon first meeting Ver Majak. Osvith had taught him well. There were seven postures of submission, and he performed each for Alaksu as she presented the situation. His master’s bidding. In attendance while seated. For punishment. To respect an Aeth not his master. To demonstrate submission. To appeal to an Aeth for mercy or consideration. For awaiting judgment.
When he was finished, his body stretched out on the floor and helpless in full abject awaiting judgment, Alaksu harrumphed again.
“You move gracefully. I believe you will do. Rise again.”
“Thank you, Ugly,” he said, hiding a smile.
“Go with Enir. He will show you your room. Eat and sleep. Tomorrow you both will attend Ver Majak at a reception for the Holders.”
Please take a moment to stop by the other Wednesday Briefers and check out their wonderful stories.
Lily Sawyer m/m
Cia Nordwell m/m
Julie Lynn Hayes m/m