Slowly, she rolled over onto her back. Loath was she to leave her bed. It's fluffy softness cradled her, beaconing her back to the careless land of Nod. Reluctantly, she opened her eyes, blinked, then opened them again. They didn't seem to want to focus.
Sitting up, she rubbed them again, and found herself looking at a stark, silvery wall.
"What...?" She muttered sleepily, Something wasn't quite right. The walls of her room were a powdery blue, not this silvery grey...
She blinked again, but the walls didn't change. They remained silver. As she stared at them, disbelievingly, she noticed they were also patterned. A sort of random, crystalline design. It reminded her of the flagstones in the downtown courtyard. Slowly she directed her gaze upward, back up at the ceiling.
It, too was wrong. Like the walls, it was a silvery grey, and it bore the same crystalline pattern. But it was twice as high as any ceiling should be! Outside of a church or cathedral, that is. Where was she?
Clara tried to think back to the previous night, re-establish her steps, but found she couldn't. In fact, the last thing she could remember was leaving the church, and that was last Sunday after service. She felt that a good amount of time must have passed since then, but try as she might, she couldn't fill the gap.
Turning, Clara got an even bigger shock. The two other "walls" weren't walls at all! Steel bars stretched from the floor to the unaturally high ceiling. Beyond the first wall of bars was a vast, white expanse. She couldn't tell how far it extended, for there was nothing out there to indicate exactly where, or even if, it ended. Nothing by which to judge scale. It was just - white.
Behind the other set of bars was a cell just like her's. Wood chips on the floor, nothing on the walls and only two pieces of "furniture". A pillowy "bed", and something that looked like an oversized bedpan. Beyond it, there was another, then another, then another. Four cells in all, and all identical.
Was she in jail? Clara could think of nothing she had done, nothing she would do, that could possibly get her arrested. Then she noticed she had been undressed. She never slept in the nude, even in her own bed. The only times she was naked, in fact was when she bathed. Yet now she was wearing nothing but what God had given her! Less in fact, as she noticed that she had also been shaven. Cautiously, she looked at her young, newly pubescent body. absently running her fingers over her smooth pubis. It looked and felt like it belonged to a Clara of eleven or twelve, not the almost woman of nearly sixteen! she found herself wondering, fearfully, if she had been violated, but she had no way of knowing. Tampon use had taken care of that almost a year ago.
She forced her mind to return to the situation at hand. Obviously this wasn't a jail. After all, jails never kept their inmates nude and shaven, did they? But where, then, was she? Who had done this? Why was she here?
There was a moaning from the adjacent cell. Clara looked up quickly, watching in silence. She saw two obviously female arms stretch upwards, then thrust forewards as the woman used their momentum to bring herself upright.
She was gorgeous, Clara thought, delicately figured with an innocent, vunerable looking face, like the fine porcelain figurines in the county museum she used to covet as a child.
Clara remained silent, deciding it best that this woman assess her situation before introducing herself, in case she, too, was waking here for the first time. But she seemed to take no notice of her surroundings, or else she accepted them. Obviously, she hade arrived here before Clara.
The other's were awakening as well. They, too, seemed not to care about where they were. Clearly she was the only newcomer. She decided it prudent to let them discover her on their own, and continued to watch.
The woman in the second cage over seemed diametrically opposite the one next to hers. There was no doubting her ethnicity. Her muscles rippled under her almost ink black skin. Tall, she was, and extremely well fit. Yet she still retained all her femininity. Like an olympic gymnast, or track star. Her hair, a sort of coppery black, was fluffed around her head like a giant dandelion, flattened slightly where she had been sleeping on it. Clara couldn't see her face, as she was turned from her.
Nor could she clearly see the woman in the last cage, as the colored woman's bulk hid her from view. Clara considered moving to the side to see around her, but was still unwilling to draw any attention to herself.
"Oh, hello." A tender voice chimed. Clara looked towards the source to see the Oriental smiling sweetly at her, Her face almost child like.
The colored woman turned at the greeting. "Ohh-Hoo!" she laughed greedily "A new one! Goodie!" She was almost a stereotypical Negro. Large, voluptuous lips, a flattened nose, high cheek bones and wide eyes, starkly white against her black skin. Her face, not the least bit un-beautiful, also seemed to carry with it a slightly cruel sense of humor, An Amazon version of the Norse god Loki.
"What's your name, Sweets?" A third voice chimed in.
For the first time, Clara saw the occupant of the last cell. Her reddish brown skin pegged her as a Native American. Cherokee, Clara surmised, or perhaps Catawba. Her accent hinted she was from one of the Carolinas. She had a rugged, natural beauty. Yet she exuded warmth.
In fact, all the women were beautiful. And each of them in the way that was considered typical of their respective race. She, too, Clara realized, fit that profile. Of Norse/Irish mix, she was fair skinned, with flaming red hair and a graceful figure that was definately that of a woman, yet at the same time retained the softness of childhood. Her fac, too was caught between innocence and lustfulness.
But why such stereotypical women? and for what purpose? Who brought them?
"Clara." She answered the woman's question politely, trying to sound neither submissive nor aggressive, She didn't trust that black woman, her sly attitude unnerved Clara. She didn't want to appear as either intimidated or a threat. Not until she knew more.
"I'm Arin, that's with an 'A'." The indian reciprocated, "This is Tia," indicating the colored woman, who's eyes still bore upon her with a wicked grin, "And that's Chi" The Oriental smiled, sweetly.
"I know this is going to sound stupid," Clara asked, "But do either of you know where we are?"
"Oh, Damn! Another lost soul!" Tia cursed, plopping down on her pillow-bed. Holding her hands towards Clara, palms forwards, she asked sardonically "Let me guess, the last thing you remember was a few days ago? Right? Or at least you think it was a few days ago, but you can't be sure because you can't remember anything in betwixt then and now," her voice held a hint of bitterness "Am I getting warm?"
"Don't mind her." Chi spoke gently. "The truth is, none of us know where this is, or how we got here." Her voice held neither bitterness nor regret, only acceptance.
Arin continued for her. "Whenever a new girl shows up, she always hopes that they can shed some light on our location. The rest of the time she could care less."
"Do you at least know who's keeping us here, or why?" Clara asked hopeful for some clue to her situation.
"Bubala's our keeper, or caretaker, if you prefer." Arin answered. "as to why were here..."
"We are his 'pets', his harem," Tia interrupted, her bitterness masked by - pride? "and so are you." Again, the wickedness returned to her face.
His harem? Clara's heart froze. His harem?
Where was she?
How had she gotten here?
Why was this happening?
Clara fell back into the soft pillow that had seemed so comfortable such a short while ago. She felt that she had been displaced in time somehow, transported for some reason to the wickedness of Sodom or Gomorrah.
People didn't keep concubines anymore! Did they? Clara found herself wishing, for the first time in her life, that her parents hadn't protected her so well. Maybe it would have been better for her to know what true evils existed out in the world. Despite her wish not to appear weak, she buried her tender young face in her hands and wept.
What had she done to deserve this? what God awful sin could she have committed... Clara immediately cut off that thought. God did not punish sinners by forcing more sin upon them!
"Ahh, C'mon, ya crybaby,' Tia said, "It's not all that bad! You'll get used to it, Hell, soon y'all even learn to like it! You'll see, Buba may seem a little strange, even perverted at first, but he's a real hunk, and if you learn to go with the flow, it's really a lot of fun!"
A little perverted, at first. But it's a lot of fun. Yeah, The Bible tells exactly where fun like that gets you!
"Tia's right, in her somewhat careless way." Chi's tender voice felt strangely calming as she spoke gently, trying to sooth Clara. "Bubala can seem daunting, especially to the newcomer, But he does take care of us."
Takes care of you!" Clara exploded "Takes care of you? You're slaves! don't you realize that? I would think at least Tia would, considering what her people have endured" But Tia, she realized, seemed to be enjoying her situation most of all. Or maybe it was just the way she was teasing her, Clara, that made it seem this way?
Was it nothing more than a mask? some sort of defence mechanism?
"Are we?" Chi continued. "Well, maybe it is, I guess if you take the legal definition. But he does care for us. He gives us shelter and keeps us warm. We eat good (he's quite a good cook), we're healthy, he aids us when we get ill. All that's required of us are our periodic 'services'. And even they can be quite enjoyable! Once you learn to let yourself go and enjoy it Is that all really so bad?"
"And after he's through with us," Clara inquired, her guts twisting with the expectancy of what she already guessed, "what then? does he put us back? I assume with our memories once again erased? So we can't use them against him?"
"Don't no one 'go back', sugar." Tia shook her head. "When Bubula chooses you, that's it. This is your home now, I suggest you learn to love it." Her voice took on a tone of warning. "You'll find things'll go a lot easier that way, believe me!"
Clara's sorrow was cut short, as the sound of a door opening galvanized the women. As one, they all rushed to the bars, eagerness in their eyes.
"Well, good morning, ladies, did we sleep well?"
Clara turned in time to see who she assumed to be Buba come into view.
When she saw him, She lost all control. Screaming in abject terror, she scrambled back, falling off the end of the pillow. Into the corner of the cage. but there was no place to hide, the sparcity of her chamber offered no quarter, no nook or cranny to hide in.
Buba was indeed extremely handsome, of that there was no doubt. Under other circumstances, Clara would have even vied for his fancy. But to expect to give "service" to him like this?! Not in her wildest imagination could she conceive of how, she didn't even know how with a regular man, she never had a chanch to learn, not yet.
"Bubula" stood in front of the cage, grinning at her display of fear. Grinning hungrily. The others were stretching their arms out between the bars, reaching for him, while Clara tried to make herself invisible. wishing her nordic white skin and flaming red hair didn't stand out so against the plain, silver grey of the metal wall.
She couldn't see all of him, of course. The panel at the bottom of her cage hid his entire body below the waist. But from what she could see, she judged he must be about about 40 feet high!