A/N: No, this isn't about the slave trade or slaves that have existed any time in the past. This is all made up. The muse of this story happened to be the children's story The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss :)
The ship swayed back and forth with the tide. The room we were crammed into was filled with about one hundred Casakets, and believe me, that wasn't nearly enough space. I sat myself on the floor against a wall and studied the people. There was barely a foot of space for each person. All the males were bare chested and all the women were almost so, with nothing but small scraps of clothing to keep them warm. Moments later, Razi, my sister wandered over to me.
"Braeden, I want to go home," she whimpered.
I nodded. "I know. We all do," was the only response I had.
My sister and I are orphans, and the worst kind of orphans. We belonged to the race on this planet known as the Casakets. We look and act as human as any member of the Despotan race. We have the same amber skin, the same structure, almost the same species. The difference?
Our race sports a bright silvery-blue birthmark on the palm of our right hand. Because of this, we are treated as slaves. The ignorant Despotans don't know what it is or what it's for. For all they know, it could be a disease. But if they knew what it was, they would wish they had one.
Of course, after this adventure, I wished I didn't.
I was pulled out of my brooding thoughts when Razi slipped her cold fingers into my hand. I tightened my grip.
"We will survive this," I whispered. "I promise."
Finally, after months of traveling from my home land, the boat stopped moving. There were footsteps up on deck of about two dozen people scattering about. We all knew what would happen now.
First, we would be numbered, and of course, branded as a slave. Next, we would be weighed. Then, we would be measured for height and muscle mass, and then we would be tested for our health.
We were all filing out the small door in the ceiling, a Despotan hand reaching down and assisting the Casakets out. I found a place in line, and felt a hand on my shoulder from behind me. I turned to find Razi. Her grip tightened as we neared the small hole. Finally I was at the door myself.
I looked up to find a girl, almost a year younger than I was, maybe 17, but probably living alone. She was peering down at me, an impressed look on her face. But as soon as she realized she was making it, it dissapeared. She had the same flawless dark skin as all of our people, but she wore the same clothes as the Despotans. And when she extended a single, slender right hand out to me, I saw it was flawless and unburdened with the mark of our people. I felt immediate hatred toward her.
"Come on, Kesak," she ordered. Kesak was the term my people were given. I couldn't help but wince.
When she saw me do it, I thought, maybe for a second, I saw something… human in her eyes, but it was soon gone when I answered:
"And if I don't?"
She let out a dry laugh which immediately sobered and her face became serious. "You're lucky I'm feeling generous today," she sneered, extending her hand again.
I narrowed my eyes at her, but took her hand. Strangely, as I did, something like… electricity rush through me. It was clear on her puzzled face she felt it too, but she didn't react. Instead, she simply pulled me up like the dozens of others she had just helped.
Once I was up, I was sent to another station on the deck that gave me a number. The Despotan man was already heating the iron stamp. I heard Razi's voice behind me, but I couldn't take my eyes off the metal. It quickly made contact on the small of my bare back. I grimaced in pain, but made no sound.
Through the searing heat, I heard Razi's voice rise in pitch. I snapped out of my trance to see her being held by two guards, and the girl who was helping us out taking her whip out of her belt.
"No!" I cried. I started to run over there, but the man at my station held me. I struggled, but he didn't let go. "Please, don't!"
The girl seemed to hear me. She started to turn when another soldier rolled his eyes in frustration and stepped closer to her. "Do it, Amaris," he warned her.
She looked down at the whip, then looked back up at him.
He glared at her, his face a mixture of anger and disgust. "And why not?" he sneered. "Because that
Kesak told you not to?" he spat.
My anger flared inside me. "Let her go you bastard!" I shouted, struggling harder against the man holding me.
He stopped and turned to look at me, his dark hair whipped back in a Despotan fashion. His eyes were angry. "Bring him over here," he snarled to the man.
I let myself be dragged toward the man who was still glaring at me. The man holding me shoved me at the floor. I fell, my body too weak to resist.
He looked over at the girl, Amaris, I think, and spat, "Whip him then."
She looked at me, then down at the whip in her hand.
"I said whip him!" the man shouted.
I looked up at her, daring her to do it. Do it, Amaris the almighty Despotan, and be just like the rest of your selfish race, I thought bitterly, wishing she could hear me.
I looked down at the boy sitting on the ground in front of me. His eyes were angry, glaring up at me, daring me to do it.
This was wrong.
Do it, Amaris the almighty Despotan, and be just like the rest of your selfish race, I heard the boy's voice snap bitterly in my head. Brushing aside the momentary confusion, I let the whip fall to the floor.
I watched with wide eyes as the vile weapon fell to the floor.
"Do it, Amaris!" the man ordered.
"No. No, I won't do it," she stated, keeping her voice level, "I will not whip him."
The man stared at her until his dark face turned just about purple, when he finally seethed, "Fine. Then I'll do it."
And with that, he snatched the whip up and within seconds it was headed towards my bare back.
"Braeden!" Razi's scream echoed across the silent ship as the whip was brought down across my back. I cried out in pain, my spine arching inward.
And it sent me floating. The world seemed to slow down on a pulse, my heartbeat pumping in my ear. I turned to see Amaris grabbing at his elbow in an attempt to make him stop, but he was far too strong for her, and almost immediately flung her to the floor. And suddenly, something inside me snapped.
Without making a conscious decision to, I rolled over the deck, barely missing the whip as it lashed down at me. Without missing a beat, the man turned and lashed the whip out again. Running on instinct and desperation, I grabbed the whip, letting it coil around my hand and yanked it. It fell from his hands.
I took a step towards him, but as I did, so did all of the other guards on the ship. I stopped, feeling somewhat like a caged animal. But the man held up his hand, making them stop. "No," he growled at them, "This bitch is mine."
And with that, he hurtled himself at me, but I already had a plan. Grabbing his shoulders, I vaulted myself over him and landed just in front of Amaris. Many of the guards by this time had started to shout in protest. But after managing a quick, "Forgive me," I pulled the rope around her neck, spinning her in front of me.
The ship fell silent.
"Come towards me and she dies!" I shouted to anyone who could hear me.
"You bastard," she spat at me, struggling to get away, gasping for breath.
"Whoa, am I actually choking you?" I whispered earnestly. I immediately loosened my hold on her. "Sorry about that," I continued in a whisper. I began making my way to the edge of the boat, and her struggles lessened.
"What do you want?" she demanded.
"I want to be free as any other man," I answered, my tone level.
"Then I don't think I can let that happen," she whispered, and reached her fingers up to try and pry me away from her. Upon making contact, I felt the same sensation of electricity, except this time, it was stronger. And this time, I found where it started from. The palm of my right hand.
We both gasped simultaneously.
"Who the hell are you?" I asked her, bitterness sharpening my words.
She breathed in slowly. "Someone who really should never have met you."
And then she grabbed my hand, dragging it from her neck, but I didn't resist. She then turned and kicked me solidly in the stomach. I lurched forward and fell to the ground, but I didn't struggle as at least five guards jumped on me. I only continued to glare up at her. She continued looking down, her expression guilty and almost… sorry. I heard her breathe, "It isn't possible," so quietly I barely heard it.
And the last thing I saw was her shaking her head and backing away before I felt a sharp prick in my side, and my vision went black...