Coming Soon? A Perfect Slave

Posting bits of the novel I’m currently editing will supposedly help keep my nose to the grindstone until it’s done and published. We’ll see how well that works.

A Perfect Slave is a side story to the Hand Slaves novels. It’s a stand alone novel that brings in the two major Boundaries novels’ characters for a brief cameo, but the reader doesn’t need to be familiar with them. The book expands on Carhagen’s system of slavery, and also examines the impact of a severe and rigid training system on a developing mind.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My name is Shand. Just Shand. I had another name, too, a long time ago, when I was very young. For 22 years, I was a slave in Carhagen, where I was born. Then I was stolen from my master by abolitionists and taken to Trusland, where slavery is illegal. That is where I live now.

I’m writing about my life because Mistress Rima believes it will help expose the evils of slavery, and destroy it. I don’t understand how a book published in Trusland can change anything in Carhagen, but it isn’t my place to question her. She must know how that could happen. It was only a suggestion — about writing a book — but how could I refuse? She is my mistress, even if she doesn’t really own me, and in my heart, I’m still a slave. She also believes that writing about my experiences will help me understand what was done to me, and how it shaped me. I wonder what difference that would make, because it won’t change anything, but I can’t question her about that, either. There are so many things that puzzle me that it’s best for me to just trust Mistress Rima to decide what I should know and what should happen to me.

The first part of this account is about my life before I came to Trusland. The next part is about my life here, and it includes Mistress Rima’s thoughts and the thoughts of Mistress Lilian, another person who is very important to me. Please accept the humble words of this slave, along with the words of the two women I owe a debt of gratitude to for their kindness to me.

I had just turned 12 years old when I was taken from my parents and became the property of the state. For three years I was trained for personal service in one of Carhagen’s slave-training centers, and was then sold to the Special Services Agency. My training was designed to guarantee that I would never imagine or desire any other kind of life. The people who shaped me would be proud if they could see me now. I’m a free man in a country that forbids slavery, but in my heart I am still what they made me.

As I said, I don’t remember my family name, but I worked hard to remember my given name through three long years of never hearing it spoken. I don’t know why it was so important to me. Maybe it was just because it was mine, the one thing that I could hold on to and wouldn’t allow them to take away from me. I also remember that my teachers had considered me an exceptionally intelligent child. I know that they talked to my parents about my school work. They and my parents expected me to have a brilliant career of some kind when I graduated from school, and then college. Looking back, I believe it was my intelligence, and my excellent memory, that helped me preserve the tiny scrap of my identity.

I had been vaguely aware that my parents were having financial problems. I didn’t know the details, and probably wouldn’t have understood them, anyway. But my enslavement was the outcome of their indebtedness. Some people would have considered me lucky to become the property of the state, and I have to agree. If my parents had sold me to a slave dealer in order to meet their debts, my life might have been much harder than it has been.

Like every child in Carhagen, I’d seen labor slaves working on the streets, sweeping up trash, washing windows, and doing the other jobs that kept my city clean and beautiful. They seemed to be everywhere, in their grey tunics and heavy collars, their manacles and chains. No one watched over them that I ever saw, but they were chained to the carts that carried their cleaning tools, and their hobbled legs would have kept them from getting far, in any case. The chains were long enough for them to do their jobs, but also got in their way, sometimes tripping them and making them fall down. I felt sorry for them, and so did a few of my friends. But the others said that anyone who was enslaved deserved their miserable lives. It was an unspoken rule that everyone seemed to understand, that we were to stay away from them. As far as we knew they were all criminals, so maybe the rule was to protect us from being attacked. But I thought that maybe it was really to protect the slaves from us. The way some of the boys talked, I knew they would have liked to tease them or play tricks on them.

Slaves also worked in the mines and forests, and on farms. That was something we learned in school, when we were studying Carhagen’s laws and customs. But we were city children, so we had no idea what their lives were like. I thought that it must be very hard, and I was sure that I would never do anything that could condemn me to slavery.

There were other slaves, too—the hand slaves. We rarely saw them, though. They were always with their owners, and if they did any work, it wasn’t where the public would see them. They were nicely dressed, and their only restraint was the light chain that joined their hands, and the collar that allowed their owners to lead them on a leash.

School didn’t teach us why people became slaves, or that you could be innocent of any crime and still be enslaved. We didn’t learn that they were a vital part of Carhagen’s economy. For us children, they were just part of the scenery. When two uniformed men came to my school one day and took me away with them, I didn’t make the connection between what was happening to me, and those collared and chained men and women. It wasn’t until I had graduated from the Center and had been sold and returned to the Agency several times that I had the knowledge and maturity to think about it.

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4 thoughts on “Coming Soon? A Perfect Slave

    1. Scary? That’s good to know. I was afraid it might just be boring. And I need to check immediately how a post actually appears on the page. Apparently, WP doesn’t recognize paragraph indents.

  1. Had problems like that when posting the scenes of Pride’s Children as I polished them. You can use a double space between paragraphs instead, if you like. Only on wordpress; not in your original. Huge blocks of text are hard to read.

    Boring is when people tell you things you already know, or can guess at. Scary is when the narrator tells you things you didn’t know or were trying NOT to know (think about). The only problem I can see is that the whole might be too depressing. There are depressing books – that do very well. Black Beauty would be one I can think of; even To Kill a Mockingbird. There the attraction is the personal and the intensity, but I think you have to also show the small joys. Anyway, a thought. And they show the contrast. I think you already have a bunch of those: the slave realizes people are being kind, may or may not be able to make the transition to completely free.

    1. Some people will consider it quite depressing, but anyone who’s interested in psychology will probably be interested in the conflicting realizations and choices he has to deal with over the years.

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