The dormitory reminded him of something between his childhood and his days at university. There was the same jocular brotherhood of close quarters that he remembered from his early school years, but although he guessed most of the men he shared the space with to be a few years younger than himself, they were definitely adults.
They were housed comfortably at four men to a room, each with his own bed and trunk at the foot. The other men were friendly, although he felt like perhaps he got a bit more space than they gave each other, marking him an outsider but not unwanted. When he first arrived at the facility, Annette had been greeted by Chloe, and then left him in the custody of her servants with no indication of what his purpose for being there was.
Chloe was a Foreigner, whose presence only emphasized the educational atmosphere. Like most of his teachers and caretakers at his childhood school, she had skin the colour of molasses and wore her hair in an un-restructured halo, cloud like curls coiled about by a single braid that went around the crown of her head. She was dressed as a lady, trim and tight waisted in a suit of grey charcoal wool, a bit boxier in the shoulder than the current fashion, but giving an affect of gravitas that extended into her obvious leadership of the place that now housed him. He guessed, by her face, she might be in comfortable middle age, but then again it was hard to tell with Foreigners, who lived as they pleased. Unlike the rest of her kind, she affected not specialness from the social protocol, even going as far as wearing the gold band of a marriage on her hand and none of the other symbols they used to indicate the complicated interpersonal relationships of Foreigner culture, although Annette and the Foreign woman’s staff addressed her as Dr. and not Mrs. Dr.
When she had departed, Annette had taken a moment to put her hands up on his shoulders and remind him to mind himself and look to how he was taught. Then, one of Chloe’s servants led him to the dormitory, and there he’d been housed for the last 36 hours. His box of things was delivered, and he discovered, packed in it, someone had put the book of photographs from the colony in with the paper and pencil box that Annette let him have.
Walks without Annette turned into jogging sessions, followed by running broken with intervals of hard exercise: push ups, stretches and crunches to keep him limber, made harder by the dark hood. Every time he adjusted to the new routine, he would hear Annette order something new to the guard that only spoke to give him an order. First there were weights on his ankles and wrists, and then one day she joined him for his daily walk with an enormous wooden yoke, with swinging buckets attached by metal chains.
One length of rope looped around his arms and wrists bound him to the yoke firmly, and held his arms out in cruciform position. Even before he saw the rocks piled up in the buckets he knew it was heavy. Two servants had brought it to Annette and dipped their heads politely before gratefully grunting the yoke to the ground and taking their leave.
Standing, Adam could walk forward at a snail’s pace, the buckets swaying slightly. Annette had the picana in her hand, its orange plastic bright, but not out of place among the countless, vibrant layers of gaudy flowers that were in bloom for late summer.
The hood was padded cloth, and went over his head, lacing up tight so that light was blocked out and he was warmed by his own breath. Muffled claustrophobia made him struggle.
“Why are you doing this!?” Masculine panic, with the tinge of a whine , tainted his voice as the ropes bit into his wrists. “My lady, what did I do?”
There was a steaming bath tub, almost large enough to swim in, flanked by decorative marble swans and an enormous urn holding an overflowing bunch of lilies. He slowly eased into the water, his first bath in a month, nervous even to be hesitating at one of Annette’s orders, though she seemed unruffled. She was rolling up the sleeves of her navy blouse, up to her forearms, smiling her small smile. He saw that as she periodically did her hair colour had changed, though this time only a few tendrils of green and chocolate brown escaped the neat confines of a charcoal grey and black scarf.
Hot water soaking in, he didn’t resist as she took his head in her hands, gently sloshing water over his scalp. He felt her palm laden with something cool and viscous, a shampoo that she worked into the short regrowth of his hair. She soaped and rinsed him, using a rough white wash cloth to scrub his shoulders and down his back and belly, massaging and rubbing.
At her instruction he stood up, and she did the same to his buttocks and legs, turning him so she could reach. Splashes of water stained the front of her dress, turning the indigo darker in splotch patterns over her breasts. She left his crotch alone, but the washcloth found its way into the split between his buttocks before Annette told him to sit down again.
Groin tingling and oddly insensitive from the pain killers, but still distantly aware of the wrongness, Phillip knelt with his forehead pressed to the cool, rough but clean cement floor wearing nothing but a medical scrotal support. The doctor had long since left, leaving pills and instructions for Annette and not even a backwards glance for his patient.
He would have rather defied his captor, and the weight of Annette’s foot on the back of his neck was light enough he could have shrugged her off, but she was backed up by her ever present bodyguards, and a long prod she held in her right hand. She’d shown him how it worked once, on a lower setting, pain of the shock still leaving a hard cramp in his calf.
Maybe if he could catch her off guard, he thought, he could take the prod from her and hold it to her neck, or maybe find some weapon and force her guards to back down. So he listened, quietly as she spoke, hating and waiting, listening more for the pauses not the meaning of her words.