Thorns – Part 13

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”

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Thorns – Part 5

At first the Kelite woman glanced over the top of her book when Elwin entered. Then she resumed reading her book without further acknowledgement of his presence. Elwin crept towards a rusty chair, but his thorned knee buckled slightly again and he skidded onto the chair scraping it on the concrete loudly. The woman scowled him silently before resuming her reading. Elwin waited patiently as she completed the page she was on and continued to read the next. While she was distracted with the book he surreptitiously ran his eyes over her. She had dark brown eyes and her hair was an immaculately tidy mass of tangles and curls. Her top half was covered in a thick turtle neck jumper while a knee length brown skirt protruded from underneath it. The fabric of the skirt was of a much finer quality than anything a Delphorian woman might have worn. Elwin tried to imagine what it would be like to wear clothing so soft, as everything he had worn in his life had been coarse or threadbare.

Elwin’s eyes were drawn to her legs. What was peculiar about them was that they were tanned. No Delphorian ever had a tan, at least not on their legs. On their arms and head from working out in the sun if their duties required it. However, to have tanned legs only happened occasionally to a Delphorian should they win the monthly prize for most efficient worker; the prize being a weekend at the Gladsdale Beach resort. Elwin was so distracted with her legs that he hadn’t noticed that the woman had finally folded her book and placed it down on the table. A mischievous smile lingered below her intense gaze. A gaze Elwin was too afraid to meet. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 5”

Thorns – Part 4

Elwin stepped into the multipurpose room of the flat. There were only three rooms in his flat: the aforementioned study room, the bedroom, and the multipurpose room. It was a square shaped room; on one side was a kitchen bench, cooker, and sink, on another wall the television, the next wall the door leading out of the apartment, and on the final side the two doors leading to the study and bedroom. The space in the centre of the room was greedily consumed by a wooden table with two padded chairs. The apartment was identical to all the others in this condominium that Elwin had seen. It had not occurred to him that it might be absurd for there to be no toilet located inside the apartment. Instead, all the toilets were located outside the apartment. While the only shower was located in a corner of the bedroom.

Elwin listened to the sound of the shower at the door of the bedroom. When he was satisfied his wife was indeed in the middle of one of her marathon showers he crept over to the small rectangular window near entrance. He checked that no one was there then quickly slipped through the door. Like all the other doors inside the condominium it had no lock on it. The walkway outside was made of metal, and would make a loud pounding sound normally. However, Elwin had learned to strike the walkway so carefully that he didn’t make a sound. Thus he started making his way to the farthest staircase in the back corner of the building. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 4”

Thorns – Part 3

Elwin set down his pen. He looked over the ten or so pages he had just written about his time in the nursery. He took half a dozen slow deep breathes and rubbed his eyes. The room he was in looked different to him now. It was a small room. It wasn’t much more than a meter across and two metres deep. It had a single bookcase, a small writing desk, a small window, and a wooden chair slightly too low for Elwin to sit on comfortably. The bookcase had only about two dozen books on it, but the spare space was filled with various pieces of junk. The kinds of spare parts one might find in a mechanic’s workshop.

Elwin felt the thorn on his left cheek itch. It itched all the time. The itching of the thorns was like tinnitus: it never ceased but often one stopped noticing it was there. He continued reading over his account of living in the nursery when he reached the part about Agatha the thorn over his heart started to twitch and his hands started shivering slightly. He stopped and focused again on his breathing. Long slow deep breaths. It would pass soon, he told himself. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 3”

Thorns – Part 2

There are few other memories of note that I have of the nursery. Certainly few that are particularly distinct. But in the days leading up to my seventh birthday there was one memory that stayed with me indelibly. I recall feeling terrified and sad for my leaving the state nursery soon. One of the nursemaids noticed and she asked me what was wrong. I told her than I didn’t want to leave, that I was afraid of being thorned. This nursemaid was called Agatha and she had been thorned in her right cheek. The thorn was not a small spot or blemish on the skin. Where the thorn was inserted into the flesh a large black welt appeared. From this black protrusion of the flesh emanated a network of black veins so that Agatha’s entire right cheek was covered in black lines. If I had only had the experience of the other children who were free from such blemishes, I would have thought the sight of a thorn to be disturbing, however, as all the adults had at least one thorn somewhere on their head and so I was accustomed to the sight of them.

Agatha looked anxious for a moment, looking over her shoulder before smiling kindly at me. “This place has become your home hasn’t it?”

“What’s a home?” I asked innocently.

“It’s an old word, long ago people used to live in just one place to grow up in. It was a really small place, nowhere near as big as this nursery. But children would stay with their parents.”

“What are parents?” Continue reading “Thorns – Part 2”

Thorns – Part 1

My earliest memories were from the nursery. I might have been four or five years old at the time. Guards had come into the building. They were men, big tall men, I don’t remember ever seeing a man before in my life. They came for Mariam, one of the nursemaids. I remember them dragging her kicking and screaming out of the building. Then one of the guards punched her in the face. Her slender frame crumpled to the floor started jerking convulsively. She was silent from that point one. They just dragged her out. I wouldn’t see her again until my first thorning years later.

The other nursemaids gathered us together in the main play room. They gave us children a lecture about the dangers of favouritism. Mariam had been guilty of treating some children better than others. I don’t remember feeling any guilt at the time. Years later though I felt horribly guilty when I realised that I was definitely one of Mariam’s favourites. She used to sneak me in extra biscuits and cuddles at night through the bars of my crib. I would eventually conclude that I was the reason why the guard had punched her. That it was my fault she was gone. Continue reading “Thorns – Part 1”