Author: AxeMurderingAxolotl PM
Set in a futuristic world, emotions are held in shackles around your wrist. The story follows Ame, a prostitute selling not her body but her happiness. With the government chasing her kind down, Ame must take drastic measures and explore a morally grey area to save herself... and ones close to her.Rated: Fiction T - English - Chapters: 6 - Words: 12,778 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 12-11-12 - Published: 10-12-12 - id: 3065007
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Feedback appreciated. Enjoy, more coming soon :).
Chapter One- Purgatory
Even though the alley is dark, the Customer's eyes seem to glow. Or maybe I've just been watching them for so long. Well, not all that long- but to me it seems like an eternity. He stares down on me. All the Customers seem to. They seem to think they are better than I am, worth more, but they aren't. I'm the one making them happy. And, in return, I am left with nothing but money in my hand and emptiness in my heart. The man gives one final sigh, and is finished. He thanks me happily, hands me the money and walks off, leaving me alone in the darkness. His happiness annoys me. Does he not feel wrong doing this? Of course he doesn't. He and all the others leave their guilt with me.
I feel I should leave, go home, but why? I feel no better there than here. So instead I sink to the ground, getting my dress dirty. But, as usual, I don't care. Maybe another Customer will come. Every Customer is different. Some take a little, some take a lot. Some of them pay extra to have me take some of theirs. It never seems to make a difference how much they give or take. You never really feel different after all this. As I sit on the stinking floor I fiddle with the metal band around my wrist. I call it the shackle. I'm not really sure what it is. All I got told when I got it ten years ago is that it holds every emotion we have ever felt, from love to anger to jealousy to happiness. Everyone over the age of ten has one. On your tenth birthday you go to the government building in the middle of town and they put it on. You can't take it off. Ever.
I hear the wail of a cop siren, and hide behind a couple of trash cans in the corner of the alley. They circle the block a few times, then the siren slowly fades to nothing. I tentatively come out, and decide to walk home. I stuff the wad of cash in my dress and try to walk off. I stumble a few times. A couple of notes fall out and I pick them up off the ground. Uh. Sometimes I wish could work in a slightly classier area, but considering what I do is illegal, classy isn't really practical. I start heading home after picking up my money off the sidewalk, I see a man across the street.
I try to meet his eye. Maybe I can make a few extra bucks before I get home. Then I see it.
I guess technically not seeing it is the problem. The man doesn't have a shackle. That means he works for the government. The government tells us the shackles are for our own good, help us, but they never say why. The catch is, no government official has a shackle. They live shackle-free lives and although they are bastards I can't help but wonder if the shackle makes you less happy, makes you think less of yourself, or possibly more obedient. I can't really remember not having my shackle, but I do think I was happier. Of course, back then I wasn't selling all my emotions, but even so it seems like my head is emptier of happy thoughts. As if they go straight to the shackle and never to my head. The man without a shackle looks at me, then checks my wrist.
He sees my shackle, my dirty low-cut dress, and the money poking out over my dress and assumes correctly that I'm a prostitute. At least, I think he does. Why else would he be walking over to me? I try to run, but trip on my heels. He catches me in no time and grabs my hair, his face inches from mine.
"You're in trouble, girl. What've you been doing? You don't look very… happy." He smirks. I know what he's implying, and I know he's right, but I defend myself anyway.
"I can see you're not. You been whorin' yourself out? I see so many o' 'em, and you all look the same. Dirty whores."
"I don't… I mean I'm not…"
"I know you are. Don't lie to me." I can smell the liquor on his breath. I've only ever been in this situation once, and I was able to talk myself out. I try the same thing.
"What if I'm not? Then you'd be lockin' me up for nothing. Plus I'm sure you got better things to do than waste your time on me."
He seems to consider this for a second, staring into my eyes. I'm sure all he sees is emptiness. I stare back. I honestly don't really care if he locks me up, but I still have enough hope left to wonder if I'll ever get out of this one day. My face is inches from his. His eyes are a shade of grey, almost blue but not quite. They seem to soften and he lets me go. I think he's going to let me go when I see him raise his clenched fist.
"NO! Please-" I can't finish my plea. The impact of his fist on my jaw knocks me to the ground.
"You whores think you can get away with anything." I just stare at him and hold my jaw as he backs away from me. "Next time I catch you, girl, you're dead." And with that he walks off, leaving me bleeding in the street, my head empty and my wrist full of pain.
I'm not sure how long I lie there. I honestly don't care. But eventually I hear a gang of oddly cheerful prostitutes drinking on the roof above me.
"You shoulda seen his face, Lori. He was fuckin' livid!" I turn my head slowly, getting a better look at them.
"Fucking hell, Jane. You're gonna get yourself killed on day. You gotta be more careful." "You know I don't give two shi- what's that?" The girl apparently called Jane has her eyes on mine.
"You alright down there?" she calls. I don't answer. Why should I? "Alright, whatever you say, sweetheart." They all climb down the fire escapes and leave me. I'm not surprised- I figure with the empty eyes, injuries and the fact I'm lying on the sidewalk they reckon I'm dead. Maybe I am. I probably wouldn't know.
I slowly lift my hand to my breast, checking for my money. Thankfully it's still there. I smile, a tiny bit, and feel better. I can feel the happiness dance through my head before going into the shackle. I smile because even thought the people in this city are awful cheating liars, we found a way to make use of the shackles. Well, some of us did.
We are known as prostitutes, selling not our bodies but our emotions. Emotions can be transferred through shackles. When you've committed a crime the government uses this to take away all your happiness and give you pain. Then they lock you up in a cell and leave you to rot. However, I make money out of it. I sell my happiness. Anyone takes it, men, women, the young, the elderly, and I make decent money, but it comes at a high price.
I started when I was twelve, when my dad was gone and my mother drunker than… well, a really drunk person. She died a few years back. Instead of wallowing in my grief I managed to give it all to someone passed out at a bar. A grief-stricken heart, the touch of two shackles, nothing more. I was fine after that. Though I'm sure as hell he wasn't.
After awhile just lying, staring at the sky, I figure it's probably time to make a move on. If one government worker- my kind call them Sobs- was here, there's bound to be others just waiting for a prostitute or a dealer to turn up.
Dealers are also illegal, as they use prostitutes and take everything. I mean everything. I always keep a little happiness in reserve, even the tiniest bit, or I'd probably go jump off a bridge. But dealers take everything. You never know who a dealer is. But you do when they refuse to pay. One of my… acquaintances had a run in with a dealer. He seemed like a normal customer, she said, but then he knocked her unconscious and when she woke up, she felt nothing but pain. He had taken everything. After they've taken everything (I've heard some kill you afterwards) they leave and sell everything. Some even take sadness and depression. Some people pay a pretty high price for that shit, and god knows why. I don't really care, as when I come across them I give them as much as they want for next to nothing. I have enough sadness for a lifetime.
I sit up, and this simple motion leaves my head swimming and the pain is so intense I have to lie down again. Damn Sobs. They're so strong- so they can punish us better, I guess.
I hear another gang, or maybe the same one, and I know I have to move. For all I know it's a dealer gang. Seen one of them, once. Carrying a prostitute's body. Poor kid, she was only about fifteen. You can rarely escape a gang of dealers, even someone like me, who's careful. They don't usually ask and you don't get paid. You get killed.
I sit up yet again, and the pain is a little worse but not much. I know I have to move though, and I force myself to stand and begin walking. As the sounds of the gang come closer, I realise it's almost all men. Men can be prostitutes too, but more likely they are dealers. I've seen some female dealers, and they're tricky. Easier to spot, too, so not as much work for them. I wouldn't know all that much, though. I try and keep as far away from dealers as I can. I break into a run now, and I hear the gang coming closer. I also hear a female voice among all the shouts- what?- and begin to run like hell. They must hear my heels though, because they too break into a run. I bend down for two seconds to take off my shoes, and in that second they are upon me.
"Looks like we gotcha, girlie." I look up to see five men and a woman staring down at me. Well, staring at my shackle.
"Huh. Damn. She's fresh out." The woman says after attempting to take some happiness.
"Fuck! Should we leave her?" The woman examines her shackle for a minute.
"Probably not. Someone else'll get it." She pauses. "What's your name?"
"What's it to you?" I try and kick out. However, the four men pinning me down are making escape hard. The woman gets angry, real fast, and she grabs my hair just like the Sob did.
"Well, it's nothing to me if you don't tell me, 'cause if you don't cooperate, you're dead. So, I'll give you one more chance." The enraged look leaves her face, and she looks at me and repeats herself. "What's your name? I have no intention of telling her, but I want to live, so I'll grasp at any little chance.
"My name is Ame." The woman lets me go, but the men hold on.
"Fuck it, wrong one. Let's clear out. Don't want Sobs catchin' us before we've got the one we want." I am still pinned down, and the woman looks at me with disgust. "All that for nothin'." She raises her hand, presumably to hit me, but instead presses her shackle to mine. Then it begins.
I have no idea what this woman has been through, but the pain coursing through me is enough to tell that it's a lot. I am writhing in agony, and I think I scream once or twice, but in the haze that is in this hell makes it hard to tell. When I think it's over, they'll let me go, and find who they need. But my hope is crushed to dust, as the men each take their turn emptying their heartache, pain, depression, worry and anger onto me. There is so much I can't handle it. The mix of emotions is torturous as well as the physical pain they are transferring. It happens again, and again, and again. Finally the physical pain fades to nothing and I am left shaking on the street, alone again, with all their emotions.
Time loses meaning as I attempt to deal with and organise the emotions crushing me. Never have I felt this much, and of such a variation, and with not even a glimmer of hope to hang on to. I start to get angry, so angry, but then a bout of depression pushes it down, only to resurface minutes later. It's a vicious cycle, and I don't know if I'll be able to live like this. Either I have to give it to someone else or find enough happiness to overcome it. At this point in time, the latter is not particularly likely.
The only pieces of reality I can hold onto are the constant noises. Any noises. The peaceful breeze, honking of car horns, screech of tyres on asphalt and even the sound of shouts then a blow help me cope. Eventually, though, the noise of a car and its rumbling of tyres get closer. Much too close.
I know I'm probably going to get hit, and I am suddenly infuriated those bastards in the dealer gang have given me a death sentence by putting me on this road as well as torture. At least it will end it, but through everything I feel I still want to live. I don't feel like I want to live, but I know, under everything, that I do. So when the car gets closer and I can see the light of the headlamps shining through my closed eyes, I jump up, and run to the side.
I just saved my own life, and the elation I feel at dodging death crushes some of the hatred and pain. For now. I don't notice the car stopping, the door opening and the driver getting out until he is at my side. Nice looking guy. Tall, sandy blonde hair, and blue eyes. Looks pretty well off- he's no prostitute. I just hope to god he's not a dealer.
"You okay?" He asks. I don't answer, fearful that I will scream every profanity I know at him. Damn, those dealers had a lot of rage. "I'm gonna take that as a no. Need a ride?" I look at him sceptically. I still don't want to open my mouth, and to be honest as handsome as this guy is, I never trust strangers. Especially good looking ones. A thought hits me, and I panic for a moment as I check his wrist. I'm still not completely in control of my thoughts/emotions, instead of thinking it I say,
"Fuck!" and he looks at me like I'm insane. Well, if the dealers were, I am now. I can't see a shackle on the man's wrist, because for some reason he's wearing a long sleeved shirt. It's summer, for god's sake. He seems to pick up on this, though, as I stare at his left arm until he pushes up his shirt and shows me his shackle.
"Not a Sob." he says. I decide I can speak now.
"Good. What are you?" I ask. He chuckles.
"I'm a guy who wants to know why you were lying in the middle of the road at twelve in the morning." I consider this.
"That sucks." He picks up my wrist, and I automatically try and stop him. But this guy's strong, and he grabs the fist going to his face.
"Trust me." And for some stupid reason, I do. He puts his wrist to mine, and I feel some of the pain being sucked away before he jerks away.
"That's some… bad stuff you got there." He shakes his wrist. For some reason, his comment fills me with anger. The fact that while I did this, and others lived a life of comfort was a huge source of anger for me. However the anger from the dealers just bought it on even more.
"Well you don't have to take it! I do!" His blue eyes bore into mine. His expression shifts from pained to pitiful.
"You're a prostitute, aren't you?" when I don't reply, he repeats, "Aren't you?!"
"Well. I guess you could use some help."
"I don't need your help." I lie.
"Yes you do. Let me take it." He lifts his wrist to mine.
"Fine. But don't pity me. I don't need pity." He doesn't bother answering, but instead begins to suck out some of the emotions I hold. His face contorts slightly, but he never stops, and surprisingly quickly I am rid of some of the rage, depression and hatred.
"Thanks." I say.
"No problem." He pauses. "Can I have your name?" I decide, after all this man has done for me, he may as well have it.
"Ame." Without me asking, he gives me his.
"You okay, Liam?" he chuckles.
"I'm fine." He thinks for a second, then asks, "Need a ride?" he nods to his car. At this point, the emotions are still slightly clouding my judgement, and this guy seems so nice. So, stupidly, I say, "Sure." He grabs my hand, and although I jerk away a bit he doesn't let go. He opens the door for me, and I get in. After all he has done for me, taking all that dealer crap, I trust him. Not a lot, but enough. He slides in the driver's seat and smiles at me. And, for the first time in years, I return a smile.