It was a better meal than he’d had on a long time, though eating too fast gave him indigestion. After the second course he’d tucked away a large bunch of grapes, three strawberries and an apple, the latter of which Annette neatly segmented for him with a little knife. Finally there was the breakfast liquor, a thick and pungent beverage quaffed from tiny glasses, fermented with the after taste of metals. Most women drank it for their health, more men abstained, but under Annette’s watchful eye he took it down with one swallow.
Phillip shifted in his chair, belly distended with all the food he’d gobbled. The maid was clearing up the dishes from the table. All this time the ever present body guards had lingered in the background, one of them holding the threatening alarm-orange picana.
Neither mercy nor imagination defined the next week. He saw Annette once a day for about three hours, when she would painfully and painstakingly go over his behavior. She described it as ‘pulling teeth’, because every bit of obedience she beat into him was hard won.
She kept her instructions clear and simple, training Phillip to eat from a bowl on the floor, face down with his mouth in the bland mush she served up and licking the bottom of the bowl like an animal, to keep his defiance bottled up, and to wait as he listened to her, sitting on his heels with his hands on the back of his head. Despite the simplicity he would lose control and back slide, shouting out his real name and his hatred for her and everything she represented, and then she would punish him again, with more pain and hooding, and denial of his one meal a day to soften him further.
Now food was a few feet away from him, chunks of beige and red just out of reach. His arms were tied behind his back, winched so they were pulled up uncomfortably behind him. He’d missed yesterday’s dinner for his defiance, getting nothing but water. His weight was still dropping, though he figured out the daily orange pill was a multivitamin. Phillip looked at the meal in front of him. He was hungry and even with the limited flavour he was drooling at the thought of pressing his face into the bowl. But the restraints were holding him back and Annette held him in place, her hand on the release for the rope.