As the sun rose over the horizon of the city, thousands of Delphorian workers crept out of their district housing towers and trudged down to the train station. They trudged down the shadow clad streets in pairs; for gathering in the streets in numbers greater than two were forbidden. They all wore the same style of blue working overalls. About half of them wore clothing that was worn and tattered from excessive wear and tear, while the other half were wearing fresh clean pairs of overalls. There was however no pair of Delphorians with one person neatly attired, and the other raggedly so. It was as though Delphorian society were divided into two different sub-species. Along the roads patrolled Groods brandishing wooden maces ready to pounce on any Delphorians wandering too closely to another pair.
Normally, Elwin would travel down to the station with Erian, but this morning, Elwin was traveling alone. The Groods eyed the one lone Delphorian suspiciously, as though at any second he would join up with a pair of Delphorian commuters and commit a public offence: One that the Groods openly relished correcting by pouncing on all three or four offending Delphorians and beating them with their maces. The other Delphorians nearby detected the anomaly and the increased danger the non-conformer presented to them and consciously made an effort to maximise their distance from Elwin. Thus an invisible circle of exclusion surrounded Elwin as he made his way down to the station. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 16”
Elwin stopped writing and took out a fresh sheet of paper. He started writing out the calculations for how much social debt a wife could pay off if she didn’t work during the pregnancy. He looked at his results. Blinked firmly. Checked his calculations. The thorn in the side of his head throbbed. He stared at the results. His vision grew blurry. He turned the page aside with confusion. He must have made a mistake, he thought, and dismissed the calculations. It was a good offer the Kelites had, they are after all the savours of the world he recalled. It wouldn’t make sense for them to push a debt system that couldn’t be paid back. It was only a matter of time before the Delphorians atoned themselves into salvation. “I need to have more faith,” he told himself and resumed his writing.
While the $20,000 pay out for me was tempting, I just didn’t want to live alone. I remembered the nursemaids from the nursery and I wanted to live with a woman because I imagined they would be just like Agatha. When I arrived here at the apartment complex I was informed that a new wife would be allocated to me in the following month. For my first month as a freeman I explored every nook and cranny of my new apartment and apartment complex. I found that my dorm mate Erian from school whom I hadn’t seen in seven years also lived here. But what fascinated me the most was the women. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 15”
He tried thinking about Kylie at first, but the truth was he did not find her attractive at all. He didn’t like that way she slept with so many different men so often. He liked how Edith had kept to herself and hadn’t shown any sign of wantonness. However, he couldn’t put the idea out of his mind that Edith was actually bald and her glorious blonde hair was actually fake. Why should it matter? He chided himself. It shouldn’t actually matter, she still looks the same! Why am I so shallow? He berated himself. He felt Holda’s slimy lips slide onto his shoulder, then the sharp prick of her yellow teeth as they drew his blood.
At that moment he wanted to scream and punch her in the head. Grab a chair and start beating her with it. How dare she do this to me? He went to speak out, but the thorn in his cheek stifled his words. He went to push her away, but the thorn in his knee made him too weak. He tried to tell himself that he mattered, but the thorn in his heart whispered that he didn’t actually matter at all. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 14”
Holda glared at her husband with her dark little eyes. Elwin wanted to run away, but he was stuck to the floor. Thanks to the generous allocation of food available only for breeding couples, Holda had managed the achievement of being fat in a society where the expense of food meant most people were on rations. She pulled herself up from the chair, the ring of flesh about her middle wobbled as she did this. She moved menacingly closer to Elwin. Her voice was uncharacteristically quiet but every question she asked sounded like an order.
“Where have you been?”
“Just out with Erian.”
“Where were you?”
“At Erian’s apartment,” lied Elwin. He stuttered as he said this, the area around the thorn in near his cheek always hurt when he lied.
“You’re lying, Elwin, now tell me the truth.”
“I was with Erian.”
“I went to Erian’s apartment to look for you. I searched every room, you weren’t there. Now where were you?”
Elwin felt his throat tighten and close over. He gasped several times before he could finally croak the answer out, “I was in the complex next door, in Kylie’s apartment.”
Holda’s fat cheeks flushed red and Elwin knew she was about to start shouting. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 13”
Then the black thread of poison morphed into a trail of crimson blood. Kylie’s body jolted back into life and all her limbs flayed about spasmodically in the water. She gasped hungrily for breath and with the rapid violent movements she brought the warmth back to her body. Elwin helped her out of the water and she shivered uncontrollably. Without knowing why he wrapped his arm about her and cradled her close to his chest as she sobbed.
Elwin was holding onto Kylie protectively for several minutes when they heard the sound of approaching boot steps. Erian was running towards them from the pillar he had been hiding behind. Kylie seemed jolted into wakefulness. She hastily put her clothes on. Erian stopped a short distance off and watched her putting her clothes back on hurriedly, while Elwin was looking away from her.
“What is it Erian?” asked Elwin.
“Groods! At least two dozen of them, they’re marching through the canal.”
The trio quickly moved up the edge of the canal and concealed themselves in the brush. Elwin pointed out the wet marks Kylie had left behind while climbing up the slope. Erian dismissed his concern stating that the Groods were too stupid to notice details like that. Kylie was unusually silent she hadn’t yet spoken a word since waking up. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 12”
Erian cursed, “You’re a disgusting pig of a woman, Kylie. You’ve got no standards.”
Kylie unwrapped herself from Elwin and turned to face Erian, “You’re such a cranky loser Erian. Why don’t you have a wife, eh? You’ve got a cranky face only a nursemaid could love.”
Erian responded in kind and the two started escalating their argument further when Elwin signalled for them to be quiet. The last stray dog had wondered out of sight. Now was their opportunity to go down to the water. They trio clambered down to the water. Kylie looked around at the dirt, mud, and junk strewn around the canal: her face beaming with excitement at seeing such a novel environment. Erian watched her coldly from atop a pile of gravel.
“Well now what? Where’s this thing that allows you to remove thorns safely?”
Erian pointed to a pool of flowing canal water that was deep enough to submerge a human body, “that’s it there.”
“A pool of water?”
“The water cleanses the wound so the loss of a thorn won’t kill you and you won’t get the plague either,” said Erian flatly.
Elwin looked at him from the corner of his eye, but didn’t protest.
“So do I just put my hand in and then you pull it out?” she asked presenting her right arm in the air which was thorned at the wrist.
Erian shook his head, “If we took out that thorn other people would notice, we’re going to take up the thorn that no one can see.”
Kylie’s gaze narrowed, “You mean the thorn ten centimetres below my belly button?”
“Yes,” said Erian coldly. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 11”
Elwin put away his pen and paper, and carefully stashed his work and tools in the various secret nooks on his bookshelf. He checked the time on his wrist watch and carefully slipped out of his apartment. Holda glared at him as he slipped out the door, she demanded to know what he was doing. He hesitated, and calculating that she was not in a sufficiently foul mood to make a scene then and there, he just ignored her and crossed the threshold of the door closing it behind him. He could tell Holda was fuming, but as he had surmised she was not prepared to make a scene just now.
Elwin made his way up several flights to the balcony of the seventh floor and looked down the gloomy funnel of the atrium. Far below was Edith sitting at her usual table sorting through piles of papers. Feeling safely obscured from her sight while up there he allowed himself to lean forward over the rail enough so as to make his voyeurism obvious should she looked up. He admired her long blonde hair and face that was perfectly white like polished porcelain. Her clothes were still made from the same coarse fabric as all the other Delforians’ clothes were made from, yet hers actually fitted her body snuggly. Her clothes had seams in different places and it looked as though her clothes had actually been custom made for her. He started to imagine what it would be like to run his fingers around the orbit of her waist when at that moment her head tilted upwards and her gaze fixated on him. The thorn in his knee burst into a spasm of pain. His knee extended involuntarily and he felt his centre of gravity over reach the balcony railing. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 10”