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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Crashed and Confused - Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Come on Alyda!You only have a few days before you return to the country. If you wait until you come back, you'll have turned 25!”
So? What does it matter if I turn 25?” Alyda asked defensively.
Don't you want a daughter? I clearly remember you mentioning how much you'd like to have a daughter before you turn 25,” Cheela stated.
Well yes...” Alyda answered hesitantly.
And it's not like you haven't done it before,” Hannah added.
Exactly! I have done it before – too many times – and I just don't see the point in trying anymore. Neither the visits to the Manhouse nor the Fertility Clinic have made the slightest bit of difference. The doctors, healers, and specialists all say that there isn't a reason I'm not conceiving and that I should just keep trying, but I just...” Alyda shrugged, shook her head slightly, and then sighed.
Do you find the visits to the Manhouse unpleasant?” Cheela wondered.
It's not that,” Alyda assured her friend with a grin. “I... I think... I want... to...”
Yes?” Hannah prompted impatiently.
Get married?” Alyda whispered uncertainly and fiddled her fingers nervously as she stared at her hands. She was afraid that her friends would think she was crazy!
Married?!” Her two best friends asked incredulously, and then squealed happily for their friend. “Married!!!”
Due to the purposely low population of men, there was not enough men to go around. Therefore, most women chose to remain single or enter into lesbian relationships. However, their society was founded on the principles of tolerance and acceptance for all, so Alyda's decision to get married was a cause for celebration.
Quick Hannah!” Cheela cried out.
Right! Before she wavers!” Hannah agreed and they each grabbed one of Alyda's hands and dragged her with them.
Where are you taking me?” Alyda demanded in amusement.
The afternoon session of the Market is due to begin soon!” They exclaimed.
The Market?!” Alyda gasped nervously.

*****

Inside the Market, Alyda had a front row seat, thanks to her overly enthusiastic friends. The session was about to start, but there weren't many women here today. This meant that Alyda might actually get to choose from a good selection. Normally, there were only three or four men to choose from and maybe about 12 women looking for a husband.
Today, there seemed to be only two other women interested and – fortuitously – the manager said they had a half dozen men available. Each man was brought out dressed in a plain white tee shirt and sturdy brown work pants. The manager gave a brief description of each, ending with:
As for this man, not much is known about him. The woman that brought him to the Market claims that he fell from the sky! It is true that he does not speak our language.
He has been at market for an unprecedented five days now, and if no one will take him today, we must decide whether to send him to a different Market... or kill him... Chances are good that it will be the latter. Does anybody care to save his life?”
I will!” Alyda volunteered before she realized what she was doing. She blushed, embarrassed by her outburst, but even so, firmly repeated. “I will.”
Very well,” the Manager said with a smile. “Please come forward and claim him.”
Cheela grabbed Alyda's sleeve and hissed: “Alyda! What are you doing? If no one else wants him, there must be something wrong with him!”
I don't think so. Plus, I can't just let him die!” Alyda shook Cheela off, and then walked up to the manager. Her feet managed to travel the entire distance despite her inner turmoil. Even though she had decided to get married, and even though she truly did want to save this man's life, this was all happening so very quickly!
I'm happy you chose him,” the manager smiled. “Other than not speaking our language and a few minor outbursts due to miscommunication, he has been really pleasant and friendly. We think his name is Randy.”
The manager scanned Alyda's ID chip and updated Randy's record to reflect that he belonged to her now. She gestured for Alyda to escort her new husband into the ceremony hall.
Alyda took hold of Randy's hand and gently pulled him in the direction indicated. The ceremony was simple and merely symbolic as the marriage was official the moment the manager had updated his records.
Randy had spent the last week trying to communicate that he merely needed fuel to be on his way. He had been frustrated and angry to find that not only did they largely ignore him, but that they seemed to be auctioning him off as a slave.
Every now and then, an odd computerized voice would sound in his head. It seemed to be trying to speak his language, and the word repeated most often was Market – which rather confirmed his theory that he was going to be sold into slavery.
Their auctions were unlike any he had ever been to. He was introduced with the other slaves – all men, for some reason – and rather than bidding, the women in the audience would simply indicate which slave they wanted. If there was more than one woman interested in a man, they each put their name in a box and the man drew a name at random, as far as he could tell.
The people who worked at the Market all treated him kindly and fed him well... Unless he acted against their wishes; in which case, they would isolate him and limit his food for a few hours.
The rest of the men all seemed happy and excited about their impending slavehood, and Randy couldn't figure out why. He also wasn't sure why no one had bought him yet as apparently no other man lasted longer than three sessions. Not having anything to do but listen to the other men talk in their unknown language was downright frustrating!
Randy had decided to play along for now. After all, his “owner” might try to understand him, and anything had to be better than staying in this prison-like place! He followed his new “owner” curiously. She was trembling slightly, and seemed to be extremely nervous about this new slave of hers. Yet, she held his hand firmly, as if she knew she had no reason to be afraid of him.
She stopped them in front of a man who was dressed elaborately and spoke to her with the tone of a wise counselor.
This is a blessèd occasion. I sincerely wish for happiness in your union, and hope you may be blessed with as many daughters as you desire. Have you brought some rings with you, or would you like to choose from our small selection?”
I... I rather jumped into this quite suddenly,” Alyda murmured, glancing at her two friends that were standing witness. “So, I did not have time to select rings. Please, feel free to choose whatever you think would suit us the best.”
Of course,” the man smiled and mentally pondered the selection of rings. He turned and pulled out a small drawer from a small cabinet full of small drawers behind him. “I think these will suit you well.”
Alyda watched as he placed the rings on her palm. One was a thick gold band carved with a manly design, and the other was a breathtaking opal set in a dainty yet sturdy gold band. Alyda smiled, nodded, and then turned to face her new husband. She handed her to him and placed his on his left ring finger as the priest recited blessings.
Randy's jaw nearly dropped as he watched her slide the ring on his finger. This ceremony of slavehood was eerily similar to marriage ceremonies on most planets; an echo from a long ago common ancestry.
Randy noticed his new “owner” wiggle her left ring finger expectantly. Taking a deep breath, he took a moment to steady his hands, and then carefully slipped the ring onto her finger.
Alyda blushed as the ceremonial wise man bade her to kiss her groom. She placed one hand on the back of his neck and stepped closer to him. Raising up on tiptoes, she pressed her lips to his for three heartbeats, and then stepped back.
Randy was pale from shock. What kind of Master kisses her slave? This now felt even more like a wedding ceremony, and Randy had never been interested in getting married.
The hall was actually full of people – most of whom worked at the Market. They all clapped and cheered, and then a woman showed them to a dining area featuring six or so tables, each laden with a banquet and a small but unmistakeable wedding cake. Randy was more confused than ever!
He followed the pretty and petite woman who held his left hand, sat at a table next to her, and then tried to figure out how a man could get married without saying anything or signing any documents.
He briefly studied the two women sitting at the table with them as they filled plates for the newlyweds. Mostly, his eyes kept returning to his “owner” or “wife” or whatever she was supposed to be. She continued to hold his left hand with her right, which meant that she was eating with her left hand, which seemed a bit awkward for her.
Gradually, the dining room filled up with people, and the computerized voice in his head would utter one word fairly frequently: Market. Slowly, it learned another often repeated word: Marriage. And worse! The two went together: Marriage Market!
The two other women set the small wedding cake in front of them and there was no denying it any longer. I'm married!!!

Go To Chapter 4 

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