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Pen Your Pride

Chapter 3

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This was not a job assignment, this was not to pay back her debt to society, this was an auction. She was being sold into slavery. Had history not been wiped, something easy to do when you controlled every major broadcasting channel in the world, Kira would have seen the parallels to her ancestors in the 1600s for she lived in sector 45, previously known as South Africa. Now it was not her race, creed or religion that put shackles on her, it was her poverty. Across the globe the same thing happened in every continent. Across Europe, Asia, America, Australasia and here in Africa the rich lived in luxury whilst the poor scrabbled a living or were taken to be slaves to those they used to call friends. And all this was the doing of Princips Ltd, they had usurped Governments, crushed competitors and bought the world.

Kira closed her eyes as the press of the other soon to be slaves became too much. She tried to block out the smell of sweat and dirt, despite being washed during processing the inmates felt somehow unclean. Kira tried to imagine any other scenario, one where she was not held in a cage with a hundred other bodies. Her brain would not comply. She screwed her eyes tighter, in this situation you are supposed to think of a beach, bright sunshine, waves lapping at the shore. Kira had seen nothing like this, her life had been surrounded by dirt, ramshackle buildings and haggling to survive. Even though her grey jumpsuit itched, it was the only brand new clothing she had ever owned. The itch came again, on her shoulders, around her neck. If she kept her eyes closed, focused on her home, she could convince herself this was not happening. The need to scratch grew, it overtook her thoughts. Maybe if she relieved it, she could get back to visions of her mother. She slid her arm to her shoulder blade, pushing others out the way within the press of the cage. Her eyes still shut, her nails dug into the jumpsuit and tried to rid her of this itch. She wriggled and writhed as best as possible, using other people if necessary, to end the infernal distraction. No matter how hard she tried, the itching would not go.

A gasp, her eyes shot open. "He's here," someone within the cage shouted. Clang! The cage rattled as one of the Justice Guards struck it with a baton.

"Keep it down."

Kira waited a few seconds then whisper to the person next to her, "who's here."

"Him," they replied, fear oozing from the hoarse reply, "the white man."

Kira looked toward a group of men and women gathered at the other end of the room, it was a sea of dark-skinned people but one stood out. Like a homing beacon there was one man with pale skin. He looked older than the rest, sporting wrinkles and a well maintained white beard with flecks of grey. On top of his head sat a cream trilby which matched his lightweight hessian suit. Round his neck a deep blue cravat. If his skin did not say it, his outfit screamed rich tourist. Little did Kira know this was one of the most famous men in the world. "Who's he?" she asked.

"What?" her neighbour gasped.

Clang! "Don't make me say it again."

Back in a whisper he replied, "Lord De Puteron. How have you never heard of him? He is like the worst slave owner ever. Apparently he beats his slaves, makes you work twenty-hour shifts, barely feeds you. You'd be better off dead than with him. Whatever happens, you don't want him to buy you."

"Buy me," Kira shouted, "I don't belong to anyone!"

The clang was more intense this time, followed by the clattering of the cage door. Shoving bodies aside the guard pushed his way through. Stopping at Kira, he grabbed her roughly by the arm and dragged her through the throng. Her ankle twisted and scraped across the floor whilst her head bounced off elbows and shoulders. She winced in pain, letting out groans to alert her captor to the pain he was inflicting. But the guard did not notice, or rather seemed not to care. Once clear of the cage, Kira was thrown to the floor. "I didn't..." was all she managed before a truncheon smashed into her face. She tasted blood whilst staring at a splatter on the stone floor. Sometimes we run on instinct, Kira's instinct told her to lash out, fight back. She knew she could not win in a fist fight so she showed defiance instead. The globule of blood flew from her mouth before she knew what she was doing. She watched with both terror and joy as it arched over the short gap and exploded onto the guard's bulletproof vest. She winced as the truncheon raised once more, turning and closing her eyes.

The next sound she heard was the raised voice of an old man. "Wait," it said. "I like the look of this one, she has spirit. How much is she?"

Kira risked opening her eyes, there stood Lord De Puteron.

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