[begin blog post #14]
Chapter 8 – Questions Without Answers
“The correct way is to always tell the truth – unless it be inconvenient to one’s higher purpose. Thus we learn to lie, using the truth for a shield against contempt that we may indeed lie while holding on to truth. The correct way is to be ever prepared to accept and suffer the consequences of being discovered in such truthful lies.” [Antierra’s Contradictions – Malefactus report]
To my surprise the doctor shows up again. He has me brought to his “office” – a space that is more like a small private apartment replete with all the conveniences taken for granted by the rich and powerful and I gasp at what I see here when I compare it to the cages where naked women lean against steel bars to sit or lay in straw for bedding and cover. I remember a time when that room would not have seemed ostentatious to me, but rather ordinary. My perspective has been greatly altered by the conditions I, as just another of thousands of female gladiators, have to exist in.
The doctor looks over my battered body and says, “The handlers tell me they noticed you have difficulties with your balance when entering the arena for a fight. They say that they thought you were going to faint today. What is going on with you there?”
I reply candidly, “Doctor, I don’t know. When I walk into the ring I do feel as if I’m going to pass out. For a few moments I cannot hear anything and everything seems to spin. It isn’t that I am afraid. There is a sickness in my stomach that makes me feel as if I were experiencing morning sickness during pregnancy.” I describe my feelings in detail for him.
He stares at me, uncomprehending. ‘How could you know about being pregnant?’ his look queries. I say nothing. How could I explain that one?
He continues, “Every fighter is given a measured dose of powdered chakr in her last meal before the fight. It gives a sense of heightened awareness and has been found helpful in saving fighters from early demise. Perhaps it has a negative effect on you. Would you rather go in without it this next time, then? I don’t recommend it but if it should make you sick, perhaps it would be best if you tried fighting without the help of this drug?
“Also understand I’m giving you a choice here – you must never, ever, repeat this to anyone. I may survive sex with you – enforcement of that rule would mean the death of everyone in this compound – but not if they discover I’m actually giving you a choice in something. To them it could only mean that I’ve fallen in love with you. That is our death sentence, you realize? They will certainly kill you and me if I demonstrate I consider you able to understand choice. Must I kill you now in order to save my own life or will you obey me?”
To make his point, he holds a syringe filled with a green liquid close to my heart. Whatever it is, I assume it’s deadly.
“Sir, I understand.” I do not feign my humility. I need this man. I need the information I am certain he possesses which will help me assess my changing position among the women. Maybe even allow me a certain freedom not allowed women in general. And now I find myself falling into the deadliest trap of all: the utterly unreliable feeling of hope.
He undresses himself by pulling off his white smock, carefully puts it down on a stool and he makes love to me, directly, violently. I try to slow him down, to move with him, to play him a bit. He shows surprise and what I take to be some delight in the experimentation. He comes and so do I! Whether from the release of pent-up sexual need or the effect of the drug, I don’t know. I suddenly feel wonderful even though I should have been fed and should be sleeping upon fresh straw in my cage by now, trying to forget the totality of my pain from my battered body.
‘Do it again, I think, please do it again. Hold me, come inside me again and take me with you away from here.’ But of course he does no such thing. He puts his smock back on and looks me over, then just sits on his desk, while I stand next to him. He puts his hand on my thigh, slowly moves it up to my vagina. He stops there, thoughtfully playing his fingers through my pubic hair.
Something troubles him. Were it not for the speaking taboo, I would ask him what is bothering him. But no woman is permitted to speak first. She cannot initiate a conversation and can only respond when questioned.
“Who are you?” He asks suddenly, looking up at my face. His tone says he expects an answer – a truthful answer.
If there is one thing you learn quickly in a situation like mine, as anyone who has ever been a prisoner, captive or slave of another, will tell you, it is to lie with the conviction that your lies are “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” So I tell the truth by lying, and lie by telling the truth until even I am confused about what I am saying.
“I don’t know what you mean sir.” I state simply. It’s true, isn’t it? How can I tell him who I am? I don’t even know for sure anymore. Just another slave slated to die sooner or later, likely sooner. Who am I? Why am I? I don’t even remember what I think I am! I am so tired and I don’t want to have to think about what I should be revealing to him.
He presses on: “I think you know what I mean. You are not like the others. You were found in the desert. I have all the reports filed on you. No one had seen you before. How did you happen to be there, among that group of rebels particularly, with nothing and no one with you? They searched that area for days after you were found. They probed the sands for hidden caches; looked for tracks or signs but nothing was found. You can’t be from the deep south beyond the desert. There are no known tribes that resemble you in size or shape or skin tone anywhere on that part of the world, perhaps nowhere. I’ve never seen a man or woman of T’Sing Tarleyn who has your physical nature or body character. Where are you from? Were you dropped here?“
He emphasizes this point.
“Dropped sir?” I’m practically holding my breath, so close he is to the truth, yet so far from ever discovering it unless I tell him, in which case he will have no choice but to disbelieve me – unless my intuition is correct – he’s not from T’Sing Tarleyn but from another world and would be able to accept such an explanation.
“What do you mean?” I ask with as much candour as I can manage.
He changes his approach.
“Do you have a name, a real name, among your people?”
Before I can think about my reply, I blurt it out:
“Yes sir, that I remember. My real name was Antierra, which means “of Earth.”
“Earth? I have never heard of that place. What is that. Is it a kingdom on this planet or are you from an Outer World?”
“If you mean from a world other than T’Sing Tarleyn, then yes to you it is probably an Outer World sir. Please accept my saying so, though now you must suspect I could be lying – but I know I am not. Earth is a planet not of this dimension – it’s what you would call an alien world.”
[end blog post #14]