Category Archives: Relationships

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #71

Thus I close my thoughts and slip into gentle, dreamless sleep.  I have finally found a moment of peace on Malefactus, thanks to these two extremes: the Warmo on one end of the see-saw, I on the other end, and Tiki and all the women of Malefactus as fulcrum in the middle. 

End blog post #70
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Begin blog post #71

Chapter 31 – The Forever Change

It’s the last week before the great fight of the century as it is being billed and advertised.  The fight of the Beasts.  There is excitement in the air of Hyrete and it trickles into our compound.  I can’t help but notice a change of attitude toward me by most of the men.  I am being treated as a human being.  The trainers, usually the slobs, the lowliest of male types in the compounds, are asking me questions about my strategy; what I know of Warmo; and about my preference for weapons.

I’m no fool.  I know that many of those questions are motivated by greed.  They are paid informants for Warmo’s spies.  So I spend a great deal of time giving them elaborate dis-information on just about everything.  All they can know for sure is what they observe and even in that I have fun playing with their limited understanding.  I extol the virtues of this or that weapon, this or that move and demonstrate impossible moves.  I tell them, confidentially that I intend to attack Warmo right from the start of the fight to kill him instantly.  I hint I may have access to poison for my sole blades.  I brag that Warmo is a slug and won’t use the two-handed sword or battle axe because he thinks a woman can’t handle it properly and would make him look weak. 

I throw in some tall tales to confuse and amuse them so they lose their concentration.  I tell them I have a secret word that I am going to curse him with and he will go blind from light that I will make come out of my green eyes.  I watch them look at one-another and frown at my words.  This one to one exchange with a female is unexplored domain for them.  They simply don’t know how to talk to a female.  They only know to give orders and enforce absolute obedience and silence with curses and vicious punishment.

I carry on with my tale.  “I will re-grow my scales the night before the fight.  I will be twice as tall as I am now and I will make fire come out of my mouth.  I will fry Warmo in his armour and eat him.  When in the arena my people in the sky boat will fly over and drop poison on him and it will destroy his armour and his weapons.  I will make the evil in his heart turn to molten lava and he will burn and scream like a young girl being flogged.  I will re-awaken the ghosts of all the people he has tortured in his dungeons and they will come by and each take a piece of his poisonous flesh and eat it in front of his eyes…”

They laugh but it isn’t heartfelt.  There is a hollowness to their merriment.  I think they suspect that in part I have certain powers they have yet to see.  And they fear I may know about their prying into my secrets to sell to Warmo.  They fear that if I defeat him I may come after them.  This is a new and terrifying concept for these men.  Never before have they considered the possibility that a woman would not automatically fear men or be subservient.  Well, in a very real sense, I do have ‘powers’ they know nothing about.  I have bionic parts and I intend to make full and free use of them in this encounter.

I have been offered a second and newly arrived trainee if I want one.  I accept the gift and give her to an older woman who has been alone for two months since her mate was killed.  I am being given better food and beginning to put a little fat on my rib cage.  My hair has been attended to by one of the sex-slave trainee who, according to her story, is not here for any punishment incurred but simply because she brought her owners a higher price as a fighter than a sex-slave.  My hair looks passably good.  Not the girl’s fault, she is an impeccable hairdresser, but my hair is long past hope.  It is stiff and greying.  So she cut it quite short and I’ve adjusted my various helmets to match.  I leave nothing to chance or to the last day. 

I’ve been down to the forge many times, discussing weapons with the old pirate.  I’ve openly made love to him too, offering myself to him freely just to prove to them that an older woman can be very erotic and desirable.  He was convinced and I know he has done everything in his power to provide me with the best grade of steel for my blades.  All the blades have been re-forged and extensively tested.  There won’t be any flaws in my weapons. 

They have improved the sandals and as a precaution have designed a sand-proof mechanism that not only pushes the blade out and locks it, but that allows me to manually remove the blade from the sandal and use it as a knife in close combat.  They have also added another blade at the back of the sole, shorter but broader and deadly.  That one could be my last resort weapon.  I won’t use it in training but already I know exactly what use I’ll make of it, if given the chance.       

When I mention the name of Warmo in the forge, most of the men spit on the floor.  And they have put all the money they could muster on me to win.  Well, I take that as being at least as good as a dozen roses and a “good luck” card!  I don’t feel like a fighter going into the arena to fight to the death.  Rather I feel like an actress going to receive an award for best role.  I’m careful to keep my mind in that light and shallow place until this fight is over.  I’m a fighter!  I’m not a spiritual being, not a philosopher, not a logician, not an avatar.  I’m a fighting machine with a purpose: to kill its opponent.  I’m riding high, higher than at any other time in my years on Malefactus.  And I intend to remain in this space, whatever happens in the meantime.

Since I received my implants I haven’t used the stim but I know it’s still available.  I use Tiki to speak to the Cydroid in the kitchens and between them they manage to smuggle some to me.  Tiki has never heard of this concoction but the sex-slave who did my hair somehow finds out I have some.  She begs and begs me to share it with her.  An addict!  So she lied about the reason she was demoted to fighter.  Instead of killing her outright they sold her for what money the now worthless creature could bring them.   

I warn her this is a fighter training place and I can have her flogged to death if she importunes me this way.  I lie to her and explain it’s false stim.  Just an energy cube that looks like stim but is made from fruit gel.  She lifts her nose and smells in an animal sort of way and I almost expect her to snort loudly.  Matter-of-fact and coarsely she says in an ugly low voice full of hate, “Fuck you lying bitch.  You have stim, you share.”

Well, that cannot be allowed to pass, nor can I report her to the handlers or she will spill the beans, start an all-out investigation and search for other possible illegal substances in our sleeping compounds.  The results could be disastrous for our simple lifestyle and our shaky but deep relationships.  Plus the extra work of forking all the straw out of the cages for inspection or burning in the yard, then the possibility for all of us to being left to sleep naked on the paving stones without straw for who knows how long until the point is made.

I make Tiki return the stim cube I’d hidden in my hair to the Cydroid and silently enroll some fighters to deal with the new slave.  She is taken to the wash troughs and I call to the overseer that I suspect she has lice and must be given a thorough washing.  He laughs and says, “Give it to her before we deal with her ourselves, that krosspeeg.”

She gets a thorough washing, complete with soap in the mouth and other very unpleasant treatments involving bodily cavities.  Then a quiet but deadly talking-to that sobers her up.  When she realizes no one in the compound will side with her and all agree she is a liar and trouble maker, she remains silent and paler even than her normally white skin would show.  She is taken to the flogging pole and a full description of our last witnessed death flogging is given to her by some of the fighters.  That brings her down a few more notches. 

Finally the meanest looking, most scarred fighter in the compound takes her by the neck and shaking her says, “Me they call Girl-Flesh Eater.  Hate sex-slave pampered little fucking teela krosspeeg like you.  Soon day come I permitted to eat one again.  I eat you, yessss!  Two, maybe three day from today.  Tender, juicy.  I like.  I make kitchen prepare you good, medium rare, make me strong to fight.  Maybe you good for something then, uh-uh!”  She extends her hand and squeezes the girl’s face until her eyes are almost popping out, probably more from raw fear than the squeeze.  I swear that grip would have frightened even me, if temporarily. 

That was the first and last addict I encountered in the compounds.  She lost her appetite for stim, at least around me.  I could have left my cube lying in her cage and she would not have touched it.  Maybe it was cruel; maybe it wasn’t funny but Tiki and I and a few other women laughed much over this unusual episode.  That it should happen at a time when I was flying so high was also of note.  The air of celebration continued until the day of the fight. 

End blog post #71

 

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #69

Tiki brushes my back with a free hand as she walks by, still sulking from thinking of herself as condemned to gorok work.  I smile, but not so she can see.  The rain begins to pelt down but warm now in this world’s summer season.  I want to stand in it and dance just as total darkness falls in the courtyard.  That would be a sight indeed.  The oldest crone in the compound dancing wildly in the rain.  I know I could get away with it just this one time, but I cannot take the chance another woman would be punished for my actions.  They do have a sense of justice here, however twisted!  Somebody always has to pay or make up the difference.

End blog post #68

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Begin blog post #69

Chapter 30 – The Gift – Doing ‘Right by Wrong’ (Compromised Morality)

Tiki finds me in the dark as we crowd inside the stone vault where the cages are mounted. She hugs me quietly and unerringly leads us to our cage. I can smell the fresh straw that she helped put in earlier in the day. I can immediately tell she managed to put extra layers in our section. It feels good to lay in it full length, let her lay on top of me as the young ones like to do and feel her warmth and slow movements. Dangerously arousing.

Tiki, how you find me so quick in the dark?”

I follow scent of you. I know it you. My nose, it knows.” She laughs low to hear herself say something funny. I laugh also.

Thank you for the fresh straw, Tiki. You are very good, very strong worker. Now I know. Now I ask for you to train as fighter. Soon, no more gorok work for Tiki.” We both laugh as she throws herself into me and wraps her short arms around my skinny, bony torso.

You say ‘thank you’ to me? To woman? Why it feel so good to hear, huh?” and before I can think of an answer she continues breathlessly, “I train for fighter now? Is true?”

Yes is true. You begin training now. Hard, tough training. You swear you be best fighter, best ever fighter, Tiki? Better than me?”

I have awakened a deeper part of her. She weighs my words carefully.

Tiki cannot say she better than you. Only when Tiki dying from blows in arena, when old, then she know if better. I say I swear to be best fighter. Then I work and I do my promise to you.”

Listen Tiki. I teach you new words. You swear means you make ‘a vow’.”

“… a vow.”

Yes. Now say this: I make a vow to fulfill my promise to you Anti.”

I make a vow to fulfill my promise to you Anti.”

Tiki, good words be power words. Speak new words and always you find new power in them. Power of expression. Expression is word that means how you talk, how you speak to me, how you communicate. Strong words – you know deep meaning, they make people listen. Even challenger listen, even enemy must listen to power word.”

I make a vow to fulfill my promise to you Anti. I learn expre-shon to communicate.” She twists her lips with the sounds. She laughs quietly.

One small step for me, one giant step for the women of Malefactus, no, I must learn to use my new name for this world: T’Sing Tallala – Land of Freedom and Hope.

That is the happy part of our life here. I don’t carry the burden of ‘inloveness’ as I did with Deirdre, so have much more freedom to express myself and my compassionate heart constriction to suffering is easier to bear as it is now properly spread over the entire compound, to include all the women. In time I expect to be able to ‘push’ my compassion to include the planet and all the people on it, men, women, children. For now, that is not possible.

The thunder rumbles outside and lightning still flashes and lights the dark stones in our vault. It gives me a lightness of heart I enjoy. From somewhere an opening allows a draft to blow over us, giving us goose pimples. We bury deeper in the straw and giggle.

It is time to continue another line of teaching.

Tiki, do you remember the other day when we spoke of love and I said I would teach you of a love that does not cause pain or hurt?”

Huhmmm…” She had placed her hand under my right armpit and is twirling the hair growing profusely there. Long ago I learned that when any of these young ones share space with me, my body belongs to them. It is the body of the mother they never had. They can use it or explore it as they wish. There is so much freedom in just allowing the flesh to move with the surface feelings. I enjoy her physical company. Her silent way of seeking comfort and exploring all the feelings her body can give her by contact with mine.

It called selfless love Tiki. It means you love to make other feel good, not you. Always you love for other, not for you.”

I not Cholradil. I love if choose to love. If I not like, I not love. How can I be best fighter if love in my heart? It would hurt, make no sense.”

I do not mean as a Cholradil. What they have be not love. Is called natural empathy. Is feeling. True love not feeling. As you say, you choose to love. But true love choose to love all people same. No one special in heart. All same.”

Stupid Anti. You love Warmo? What happen if you do? He live, he go back to torture us. So, how you love us if no kill him. How you love him if kill him?”

Tiki, you be sharp, girl. You win this round hands down.” She taps my arm to indicate she doesn’t understand me. “Is OK. This what I mean. I think about what you say. Is true what you say. I not know how I love Warmo, even if possible. Have to kill Warmo? Yes, have to. Have to hurt him very, very bad, long time before I kill. Hurt him much and men watching must see hurt. Maybe even feel hurt I give Warmo. Have to give him what he give us to teach him how we feel.”

Yes indeed, if I would not become a useless sacrificial victim to Warmo I must remain of a divided personality. I must exist this portion of my time within a compromised morality context. I must continue to do ‘right by wrong.’ Some choices are not in our hands, that is, we make certain choices not by our nature or personal code of conduct but of necessity when the ‘greater good’ is at stake. And what is the ‘greater good’ that forces me to compromise my own nature?

I have resolved this moral question in my mind thus. If I perform an evil act against another to prevent a greater evil, that is acceptable providing such an act, if successful, does not in any way benefit me personally. Ideally such an act would bring about the desired effect while I, like the Phoenix, would be sacrificed in its fiery wake. It is important to understand this when faced with all such moral dilemmas. If I survive the ‘doing right by wrong’ act, I must atone for my part in it. If it benefits me, I must divest myself entirely of any and all such gain.

Having reminded myself of this process in my mind, I continue explaining these difficult concepts.

End blog post #69

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #68

I know you are all busy, and many may not have noticed even, but for those who have been waiting for more of the Manifesto, finally and finally… with one computer back on line, here’s the next instalment. Enjoy!

As I explain to them the rudiments of worship and its real purpose which at its core is always self-empowerment, I ask myself how much of what I teach I believe.  But then, if you already know something to be true and real, you don’t have to believe in it.   You never have to fear that you could be wrong about such a teaching.  I have the experience of it and experience is the greatest of all teachers.

End blog post #67
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Begin blog post #68

I know in my heart there are high-level entities who care about such as these oppressed people and will help them when they die if the connections have been made.  I’ve been there too, a helpless mendicant, lost and afraid.  I was taken care of then and that changed me forever.

I know we can “fly” without a body, go wherever our state of mind allows, I’ve done it.  I remember Altaria now without even trancing.  I remember how I manifested here in my pre-chosen form.  It’s in the remembering that one can choose the direction of one’s empowerment.

As for the prayer, well I know it is a communal exercise that brings the powerless together and in it they find a power they otherwise cannot have.  So it is good.  I am not lying and I am not making false promises or giving them false hope.  There is an immediate mutual benefit in this sharing of belief: they will be drawn closer to one-another and not see themselves so much as competitors.

The lesson is over for today and I motion to them to change places and resume exercising and practising the moves.  There is a new spring in their step which I immediately notice.  Is it the work of the Teaching?  Well, hope does powerful things, especially to people who have absolutely nothing and face death every day of their short lives; people who know with certainty they will die young and in violence.  People who know they will lose their friends and lovers to that self-same violence and, at least until now, know they are powerless to prevent it.

I move fast, push them hard to test them and release the tension I’ve created with such bold ideas.  They seem to enjoy the challenge and respond in kind.  I do not wish to hurt any of them and I parry their thrusts with blurring motions that remind me of Deirdre’s performance.  At the thought of her I feel a sudden pang of the heart.  I hold it and explore it.

‘Yes Deirdre, I remember you and I still love the memory of you.  But I know now that if you came back here I would not “fall in love” with you, nor would I take our relationship back to where it was.  I would set you free and you would have to set me free.  I think that you know this by now, wherever you are.  I thank you for the joy you gave me, but mostly for what you taught me.  I grew up with you in my life.  I became a better person because I’ve known you.  May you have the same effect on everyone you meet and may you know the bliss you were made to live in.  I release you – I release us from our bond of love.  Be forever free.’

As the training session ends for the day, the weather changes.  Dark clouds roll in and we hear distant thunder.  The air is charged with electricity, thick with ozone.  There is a flash and a discharge, followed by a deafening crash of thunder.  Lightning strikes one of the tallest eastern towers and a stone is dislodged, tumbling down the wall and through a roof.  We hear the distant yells of men.

The women look up and exchange startled glances.  I know what they are thinking, hoping.  They imagine it’s the work of their goddess beginning the destruction of the keep to set them free.  If they were allowed to cheer, what a din there would be!  I feel vindicated, somehow.  That was a timely portent.  A coincidence?  If I have learned anything from my endless wanderings it’s that there are no coincidences.  “Who” was behind that lightning bolt?

Let us just say it is the power of ‘the Teaching.’

We go to the water troughs, wash using the coarse home-made soap that feels more like the surface of a sharpening stone than a bar of soar, to scour the dust, sand and grime from ourselves.  I use the soapy water to wash my hair, now in need of cutting again.  It is matted and stiff.  As usual, we sit at the long, dark tables and wait for our evening meal.  Young trainees bring the food bowls and we eat hungrily.

Tiki brushes my back with a free hand as she walks by, still sulking from thinking of herself as condemned to gorok work.  I smile, but not so she can see.  The rain begins to pelt down but warm now in this world’s summer season.  I want to stand in it and dance just as total darkness falls in the courtyard.  That would be a sight indeed.  The oldest crone in the compound dancing wildly in the rain.  I know I could get away with it just this one time, but I cannot take the chance another woman would be punished for my actions.  They do have a sense of justice here, however twisted!  Somebody always has to pay or make up the difference.

End blog post #68
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Antierra Manifesto – blog post #62

(Something a bit different, a break in the story that explains a bit more about the politics of T’Sing Tarleyn. Thankfully short!)

For more information on the early life of Chang-X, see Rise of the Supremacy – Its Military Strategy – Melkiar Invasions and Aftermath by Michele Dellman, freelance journalist and Supremacy chronicler with contributing annotations by Deles Kotmallo of Parnako. The following report is intended to help the reader understand how Elbre was ruled and what that meant for the women of that land, in case there are still doubts.

End blog post #61
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Begin blog post #62

 As found in earlier writings by chronicler of T’Sing Tarleyn history, Michele Dellman

 re: King Jestor Tassard of Elbre by Michele Dellman.

 King Jestor (Yes, it is  pronounced ‘jester’) Tassard the One Thousandth Three Hundred and Three was the king of Elbre until the hundredth day before the arrival of An’Tierra on T’Sing Tarleyn {ref: Avatari and WindWalkers – the tales of Al’Tara by Deles Kotmalo}  At that time he was deposed through the simple but expedient and definitive process we call murder, by his own son who became king Jestor Tassard the One Thousandth Three Hundred and Twenty Eight.  It must be noted that the son only followed his father’s example.  Jestor the “OTTHT” (not to be confused with his son, Jestor the “OTTHTE) had also murdered his own father to gain access to the throne.  It’s a little family tradition that has served them well, so why should we question it?

The number, by the way,  does not refer to how many “Jestors” have ridden the throne of Elbre to ignominy and infamy, but to the year of investiture of power of that particular Jestor. 

 “Old” king Jestor Tassard (Jestor the “OTTHT’) is an avid spectator and promoter of organized sports – of one organized sport, actually.  On the day of his bloody climb aboard the throne of Elbre – a kind of coronation à la Napoleon that included the sudden, inexplicable but timely death of his father–(the inexplicability of it already explained) he held the most lavish of feasts.  It became known in the Annals of the King Elbre as the greatest display of state sanctioned pleasure-killings ever organized in the kingdom city.

 As per the records kept by the Arena Council of Hyrete, three hundred and eight female fighters, concubines as well as hapless birth mothers, female sex slaves and worker drones, were officially butchered in the Hyrete arena, most of them under the approving eyes of the new king, his jealous uncle and heir apparent and their respective retinues.

The event lasted from sunrise to sunset over a period of exactly six days.  It is assumed by this researcher that on the seventh day, the poor king desperately needed an extended rest period.  The very last victim to grace the arena and titillate the entirely male spectator crowd was the king’s own beautiful young concubine whom he personally escorted, with a complement of twelve aides, down unto the bloody sands of the arena floor where she was stripped and handed a weapon – a staff actually – with which to defend herself from, and attack to kill, her challenger whom as you have likely deduced, was none other than king Jestor himself.

The petrified trembling girl dropped her staff in utter terror of striking the king and for that little mistake was promptly decapitated by her reproving lover.  In a final tribute to the supremacy of malehood, the king then proceeded to have sex with the decapitated body.  A fitting end to a perfect week to commemorate the enthroning of Clown Prince Jestor to king of the fair land of Elbre.

(Note: my use of the word Clown rather than Crown is deliberate)

“M. D.”

End blog post #62

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #59

“You woman now.  What you want be?  I not understand you.”

“I want be more than what I be, Tiki.  Better.  In good ways, not evil ways.  I tired of killing.  Tired of blood and screams.  Tired all over.  Old now Tiki, very, very old.  But cannot go yet, cannot leave, cannot die.  I first find me, better me.  Good woman me.  I first do something good for another person.  If you not understand, no matter.  You remember I say this and put my words in your head.  They grow there.  Ideas.  You say to me woman thinks is stupid.  Is not stupid Tiki.  I think always.  Think, think.  I watch men, learn.  Design new weapons, train in new way for women to fight so live longer; so you live longer.  I stay here, not die because I want help women be stronger, live longer.  Is nothing else for me.”  

[end blog post #58]
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[begin blog post #59]

“You do this for me, not you????”  She shakes her head from the novelty of the idea, that someone would deliberately sacrifice herself to help others when there is possibly an easier way out.  This is a thoroughly alien concept.  I must proceed carefully.

“You know love?”  I ask for a reaction.

“Love!” she snorts and looks at me.  “I know love.  Bad thing.  Men, they love me many times.  They love girls, hurt them, kill them.  They say it making love, it good for us.  They lie.  It no good.  Only with you it good.  Different love with you; nice, warm, good.  I like love with you.” 

I am thankful for the darkness and that she isn’t Cholradil because my tears are flowing freely and I cannot speak for some time.  I wipe my face with the back of my arm.  These little characters are so simple, remain so candid even through their nightmare lives.  It’s like living in a black and white cartoon world trying to hold the little creatures together and reshaping them with a pencil and an eraser.  Matter of fact; good or bad.  No shades in-between.   I want to drop into her space, hug her… fall in love with her… and give her my heart. 

Put a check on that right now, woman.  Remember she is one of millions, perhaps billions.  You cannot help her unless you help all of them with equal power and abandon.  Can you do that?

“Love with friend is good, yes.  But when friend gone, what you do Tiki?”

“I know.  I have friend before here.  She good with me.  She have accident, die.  I know love then.  It mean very sad.  Much pain here.”  She puts my hand to her heart.

“So even with friend, lover, love still mean pain?”

“Yes.  Sometime lover taken away, or leave to go with other woman.  Then you all alone and very sad.  Hurt much.  Angry too.  Want to kill other woman.  I see this here.  Love, even good love, big trouble.  If you go now, I hurt much.  I sad and angry, I know.”

“Listen Tiki.  There is love that give no hurt, no pain.  Even if all gone, all lost, still no pain.  Just good love.  Always good love.”

She sits up then and looks into my face, notices the remaining traces of tears.  Touches them and licks the salty liquid.  “You hurt?  I hurt you?”  She is incredulous and afraid.

“No, not you.  I hurt me.  Inside, I be many people, in my heart, in my head.  Many people from many places, stars, times.  Now and long ago.  I different.  Not from this world Tiki.  We feel things.  Know things.  Often cry great sadness for what hurt people everywhere.”

“Other places?  Other worlds?  Many people inside you? Women they say you Desert Beast.  Is true this?”

“What do you know of this Desert Beast, Tiki?”

“Only what guardians say when I little.  They sing sad song in my ear.  Song of long ago before Man take this place.  Woman free then.  Have place to live, children have mother.  Run free outside, run in rain, in grass, swim in river and big water.  The man, he my handler when I be little.  He say there be bird in sky, many many, beautiful white bird.  Bird, it laugh, it very happy, like children, girls, they happy then too and laugh.  He say in song this place protected by Great Desert Beast, she mother of all children of world.

“He say Desert Beast, she very tall and she have green scales over body.  Green hair, green eyes.  Like you have green eyes too.  She fly in sky boat that make thunder and it have fire like sun to push.  Very strong boat that fly even in night sky.  See everything.  He say other Beasts like her come with her in other boats.  Talk to the people and give gifts, beautiful things, make things grow and build houses and make life happy.  It is good, he say, but one day another very dark, very big sky boat come.  It kill the people, take girls away.  In sky there is terrible battle and Great Desert Beast boat go down into ground, into desert sand with big ball of fire.  He say no one see again.  Only big black boat sail off, go away far. 

“The man he say the black sky boat have home like this one and all females put in cages there.  Much sorrow on world after.  Nothing same.  No one free.  Men crazy with anger and rage, kill women until black metal demons come out of sky boat to stop killing.  They have fire weapons, kill many men.  New law they give.  Women now slaves of men.  Woman speak, die.  Woman hit man, die.  Woman do anything displease man, die.  No more children for women.  Now we born from female, but not have mother, just strange people to care, teach, train.    

She stops as if to ponder what she just told me.  I can see her mind working, the deep frown on the pale skin of her forehead.  She blurts out angrily: “It just stupid sad story, mean nothing.  Old men talk, sad old cut men (she means eunuchs) telling stories.  I listen then, young and stupid, think maybe I believe.  Now no longer.  I strong.  This real.  I learn, I fight, I live.  I from this world. If other worlds like you say they not for me.” 

She continues with the same angry, disillusioned tone:  “Why you want to hear stupid story?  They call you Desert Beast for green eyes.  You come from desert, yes?  This they say.  But you no beast, just bigger woman, longer arm, legs, stronger.  You die too, like us, like all woman.  No different.  Same.  All same, always same.  I know.  It the way of it.”

[end blog post #59]

Antierra Manifesto -blog post #58

Thus do I begin the training of a slave girl to come to a place of self-awareness and understanding.  Small steps, all to be taken within the system.  Step outside, even once and your chances of being flogged to death are almost one hundred percent sure.  You can bend rules as long as you are willing and able to unbend them immediately, but woe to you if you break them.

[end blog post #57]
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[begin blog post #58]

That night Tiki is angry.  Not at me, she knows nothing of my intercession to get her to work kitchen duty, but at the men. 

“Damn them, damn them, damn them!” she mutters in that hoarse whisper all females learn to speak in from the time they utter their first words.  “I be fighter, not gorok!  I train with weapon, not clean dirty bowl and sweep floor for dirty cooks.  Damn them!”  

A ‘gorok’ is a particular class of female worker slave who does the most menial type of kitchen work.  She doesn’t cook, or even serve.  She peels, grinds, husks and cleans, cleans, cleans, endlessly.  Her “shifts” have no set times.  She is up hours before anyone else, warming up ovens, washing utensils and cleaning counters and floors.  She sleeps, when permitted, during the middle hours of the day and of the night.  She is up late into the night cleaning, locked inside the kitchens with sensors ready to set off alarms if she walks outside her perimeter.  A slave of slaves.  There is usually a round the clock complement of eight of these goroks in our kitchens.

Because Tiki is my slave, she is allowed out of the kitchens at nightfall to spend the night with me.  I had hoped otherwise, but I can redeem this time, I think.  I fully enjoy her outburst.  There is fire in this one.  Not hate, not pride, just pure fire.  She has a dream, a vision, however short: to be the best fighter ever to grace the arena.  To beat my record.  I can tell.  Now to blend patience and humility into that fire so it can never be doused, whatever happens to the body of this woman. This one is going to develop into a true mind being, I can sense that already.  I have three years to prepare her to become a hero to the women of her world.  That’s sufficient when one has good material to work with.  It is my turn to do my hoarse communication.

“Come Tiki,”  she rolls between my legs and cuddles against my body.  “You be fine.  You no gorok.  You be fine fighter, best fighter.  Say you this every day.  Pick up broom, it ‘staff’ for you.  Sweep husks and peelings from floor like opponents in arena – just dust to Tiki.  Strong is Tiki.  Mongoose shaking cobra to death.”  She nudges deeper into me, her hair tickling my throat and begins unselfconsciously sucking her thumb.  I take her hand gently and pull the thumb out of her mouth and offer her my nipple instead.  She takes it greedily and smiles at me.  Haven’t I been here before?  Beware Antierra, the snakes aren’t all outside in the coarse grasses at the edge of the desert!  They be hissing from the very walls that contain you.

Wars aren’t won in a day.  They take planning, patience, courage and finally just the sheer gut of the fighters to win them.  Tiki does not take kindly to her new life.  From kitchen duty she is shifted to cleaning the straw in the cages and then to sweeping the yards and washing the blood on the flagstones where some of the women have been “punished” for certain infractions.  In this past week we were made to witness two “punishments” to the death, one of an older fighter whose owner cancelled his contract and condemned her to the next killing orgy.  She was put into a private killing orgy for the trainers, a bit of fun approved by the overseer.  She was led to the centre of the yard and  armed with nothing but a standard training staff, was viciously set upon by six trainers until they had managed to break several ribs and one arm.  When she could no longer defend herself they crushed her skull.  When she died they cheered and toasted their victory.  Old king Jestor would have been truly proud of these men.

The other, a trainee who had a nightmare and did not shut up in time when one of the women tried to awaken her, was flogged to death for breaking the rule of silence.  We watched, listened to her screams and pleas for mercy, her dying moans.  We heard the standard warning, returned to life as usual.  What I would give, had I anything to give, to enter the auto-medic and be given the heart of an android, or better, a heart of stone.  To not feel.  To not have to endure this suffering planet.

It is the way of it… and I cannot help feeling.  To cry?  To curse?  I glance at the bloody, pulpy mess hanging from that steel torture pole I know intimately.  I wonder why it is not I who is hanging there.  I imagine the life that was there, that is no more.  I sat next to her yesterday at morning meal and she smiled sadly at me under her eyelashes.  Well, maybe it is me there because I realize I cannot curse.  If I cannot curse, then I have incarnated all of it.  Each time another dies, I die two deaths: hers and mine.  Malefactus is a neuro-inductor and I am attached to its probes all the time.  

Under the wan light of Albaral coming through the openings in the high black stone walls Tiki and I talk in our cage as we nestle against each other enjoying the mutual warmth of our bodies.  Menial labour brings anger and shame from Tiki.  She is afraid they want to demote her to the rank of goronda, the general purpose female worker drone.  “Damn them!” – her favourite expression towards men in general.  That fire is burning dangerously bright.  The wick needs trimming or the flame will smoke up the glass and obscure the vision. 

I study my feelings for her as a hawk watches his prey moving unawares, feeding peacefully in the grasses below his perch.  I must let her take all of me she needs yet refuse to ever let her possess any of me.  I know how to do this, I know I can do it, but do I have the willpower?  How does an older woman not lose herself in those black pools of sadness that pass for eyes in such children who have never experienced childhood?  Creatures destined to die before they experience adulthood?  What does that make them?

I try my best logic on her.  “Tiki, listen me.  I good fighter, yes?”

“Yes sir, you best fighter.  All women say you best.”

“You trust me, Tiki?”

She replies with a hoarse grunt.  “Huh?”

“Trust.  Believe me.  You think me true to you?”

“Oh yes!  You say, I believe.”

This is extremely dangerous ground.  Who in their right mind wants to be believed by someone who will put her life at stake for what you tell her?  I speak slowly, pitching my voice so she can get every word, every inflection – the tone of voice to them being much more meaningful than the words used to convey it. 

“Good you believe.  But careful you be not believe everything I say.”  She tries to speak and I put my hand on her mouth.  “Wait, I finish, I explain.  I know things you not know.  Things good for me.  Maybe not good for you.  You, me, different.  You listen – I say – you try.  If work for you, is good for you, yes?  If not work for you, is not good for you.  I not know if good for you.  I guess.  I have vision.  Like you but is my vision.  You have vision to be best fighter.  Good vision.  I have different vision.  To be best woman; to be good woman.  I not good woman Tiki.  Good fighter only.  But man can be good fighter too, better than best woman.  But man cannot be good woman.  I have what called “exclusive” vision – be special. 

“You woman now.  What you want be?  I not understand you.”

“I want be more than what I be, Tiki.  Better.  In good ways, not evil ways.  I tired of killing.  Tired of blood and screams.  Tired all over.  Old now Tiki, very, very old.  But cannot go yet, cannot leave, cannot die.  I first find me, better me.  Good woman me.  I first do something good for another person.  If you not understand, no matter.  You remember I say this and put my words in your head.  They grow there.  Ideas.  You say to me woman thinks is stupid.  Is not stupid Tiki.  I think always.  Think, think.  I watch men, learn.  Design new weapons, train in new way for women to fight so live longer; so you live longer.  I stay here, not die because I want help women be stronger, live longer.  Is nothing else for me.”  

[end blog post #58]

Gimpy

(A short story, by Sha’Tara)

I was starting my third grade year when I got to know a scrawny first grade little kid with large beautiful brown eyes everyone called “Gimp” or “Gimpy.” I just want to quickly write up how it was we actually met, I mean to talk to each other.

It was lunch time and most of the kids who didn’t go home for lunch gathered in one large room of multi-purpose usage. There were tables and benches and the odd older desk too for those who liked to sit alone and perhaps read, or draw. Remember that was a while ago, even transistor radios didn’t exist then!

I had picked one of the old desks because I wanted to continue reading a book I’d just got my hands on: Treasure Island. It promised well right from the beginning and I was eager to find out if Jim would get to go sailing.

I had opened my lunch kit and was inspecting my food when there was a bit of a commotion. A scrawny kid was being called names and laughed at. One of those at the ‘bully’ table called the kid over, dangled a chocolate bar in a wrapper in front of him, then threw it down the aisle. The kid raced after it, got it, tore open the wrapper to find that it had been stuffed with dirt.

Amidst the jeers and laughter, I looked at that kid’s sad, confused and disappointed face. He saw me looking at him and realized I wasn’t of those making fun of him. He carefully put the chocolate wrapper still filled with dirt into the garbage can and limped over to my desk. He stood there and I saw his eyes grow even bigger as he eyed my lunch.

I may have been only eight years old but I came from a large family and I knew a hungry look on a kid’s face when I saw one. I asked him to come over and sit beside me, then I offered him half of everything I had packed for myself. The kid ate every crumb and I realized that he was starving. So I gave him more and kept less. I felt, I dunno, something warm and good and powerful rising inside me as I watched him devour my lunch. I didn’t even feel hungry anymore.

We became friends, and I think he sort of adopted me as a big sister. So I decided to help him with his school work as well. He was, from my point of view, terribly slow. Obviously he’d never been shown how to read, write or even do simple arithmetic at home before coming to school. In fact, when I asked him his age, he reluctantly admitted he was also eight years old. He looked no more than five.

“How come you didn’t come to school when you were six like the rest of us then?”

“My mom said it was too much bother and she couldn’t afford to buy me new clothes, that school was useless anyway. So I stayed home and on the street until a lady called a social worker came to see my mom and after she got some clothes for me, I came to school. Is school really useless, Deena?”

“No it isn’t, Gimpy. School is like being on a holiday where you get to practice your imagination, you get to learn things only adults would normally know, and when you know how to read, oh boy, all those books, all those amazing stories you can make your own, like you can accompany those people in the stories, become one of them, play along, have endless adventures.”

“Why doesn’t my mom know this?”

I had no answer but to admit I didn’t know. My own parents loved reading all sorts of stuff and they made sure we would not be kept in the dark. I had learned about measurements from reading labels on cans and bottles. I had already tried some recipes printed on the back of cereal boxes. I knew how to tell the difference between several ‘medicines’ stored in the bathroom medicine cabinet, as well as those stored in the milk house to be used for the cows, pigs or chickens.

A couple of weeks after I had gotten to know Gimpy I had to miss a day of school. After school Gimpy came to my house crying, his jacket torn and with a terrible black eye and split lip. My heart raced when I saw that. Even more so when he told me that the bullies had assaulted him at afternoon recess and beaten him severely.

“What about Sister Blanche? Didn’t she see what was going on, or heard anything?”

“I dunno. She watched, didn’t do nothin’.”

“Did nothing… Oh, never mind, let me fix you up as best we can and we’ll deal with this tomorrow.”

As I remember that day, so many years ago now, it wasn’t one of my best days. I wanted to be a truly good person. I never wanted to get into any kind of trouble and certainly did not want to get involved in a fight with other kids, particularly bullies. But I knew I still had to confront them. After all they had assaulted my ‘little brother’ and this was a blood thing from my point of view.

I kind of started it wrong the next morning when I waylaid the chief trouble maker who had assaulted Gimpy with, “Hey chicken shit, are you so scared to take on someone your own size you gotta beat up a little kid?” And I walked right up to him, sticking my face practically in his. “That’s unfinished business you left yesterday and I’m here to make sure it is finished so you’ll know not to mess with us.”

That was the trigger. He threw down his books and came at me. Now I may have been a girl but my dad had taught me a few fighting tricks of his own, some of which he had warned me never to talk about or brag about. He taught me about men’s particular weakness down there between their legs and I saw my chance to test that particular move. Needless to say it worked like a charm. When the others saw their leader down on the ground moaning and crying, they not only backed off, they ran.

I suppose that would have been that except a sister of those bullies went to tattle to Sister Blanche who immediately stepped over to us, grabbed me by the arm, pinching as hard as she could and made me stand by the blackboard in front of the whole class. When all were settled she ordered me to bend over her desk and she certainly didn’t hold back on the strap. When I yelled that “they” had started it, I got more, so much I couldn’t sit straight the rest of that day.

I didn’t cry and swore I’d get even, not on the bullies, I knew they’d stay away from me and Gimpy from now on, oh no, my aim was Sister Blanche. Whatever was her problem I’d make her pay. And I did, though not in any way I had thought possible if quite impractical. What I needed was something practical, and that’s what I got, from a very practical source: my mother.

After school (and after I managed to give the evil eye to Sister Blanche) I took Gimpy home so I could do a bit of sewing on his clothes, and put more salve on his shiner – that left eye was almost shut by then. It happened that mom had come in from the fields and of course wanted to know the story behind the black eye. So I told her, and Gimpy haltingly told his own version, without embellishments, including my punishment at school.

I should tell you, my mom has a fiery temper. She doesn’t “take any shit” as dad would often, and proudly say and she’d tell him to “shush George.” She didn’t say anything but I knew that she was brewing something up; I heard her and dad talking later that night.

Chores done, lunches made and time to head for school and here’s mom, in her Sunday best outfit, holding the door open, then walking with me to school.

“What’s going on, mom?” I asked and got the predictable answer,

“You’ll see.” And that was it. She went in with me and stood at the back of the room until the kids were settled at their desks then walked up to Sister Blanche and stated, loudly and clearly, “I want to have a talk with you, Sister. Now, and no excuses. Either right here in front of your class, or find us an office to talk in. Just know that I’m in no mood for games, savvy?”

I liked that “savvy” the way she said it. It was like reading a novel. I was so proud of her at that moment I swore to myself that I would become just like that some day. Anyway, Sister gave the class a reading assignment, put an older girl in charge and she and my mom left the room.

Sister Blanche came back a while later and let me tell you that if looks could kill, I’d have been six feet under and Sister Blanche in prison for life! I didn’t feel uncomfortable though. I gave her the same look right back, you know the kind when you feel that palpitation in your eyelids? The danger look full of hate and anger? It was at that moment that I realized Sister Blanche was just as much of a bully as those who had beaten up Gimpy. I grew up a lot that day!

That had been a Thursday and when Saturday morning was well engaged mom told me to get dressed, that we were going to see Gimpy’s mom. I was surprised but not terribly. Mom did things like that. If she had her mind on doing something it got done, (case closed as I liked to add for myself). That was mom.

When we got there, we had to bang heavily on the door to get an answer. Gimpy’s mom (who seemed too young to be a mom by my standards) stood there, holding on to the door, bleary eyed and her hair a total mess. She didn’t smell clean either.

“Where’s Gimpy?” asked mom.

“I dunno. It’s Saturday, innit? He’s probably roaming the streets looking for stuff.”

“You mean looking for something to eat, don’t you Violet?”

“I feed him. I got food here.”

“Yeah? Let’s see what you have that your kid could eat and live off of then.”

“Not today, I just cleaned out the fridge yesterday. I was going to go shopping today.”

“But you spent the money on booze, didn’t you, Violet? Look Vi, it’s none of my business what you do with your own life, OK? But the whole village is talking – not that those hypocrites are any better – but you’re going to lose your boy sooner than later. My daughter here has been seeing to getting Gimpy food at school, but that’s not enough. We could do more, but where would be your responsibility? By the way, I need to know your kid’s real name, Vi. What is it?”

“It’s Vidal. Don’t say I told you, and please, oh please, don’t call him that, he just hates it.”

“I don’t blame him. OK, at least I know. Now is not the time but later this afternoon I want you to come over to our house for tea, and I want for you and me to have a very, very serious talk, OK? You were a good girl not so long ago Vi. You babysat my kids and did a great job. It’s never too late to get back on track. If you don’t, Gimpy will be taken away from you and there won’t be anything any of us can do. Deena and Gimpy are very good friends and I’d hate to see them separated. Promise you’ll come?”

“I promise I’ll come Mrs. Bennett, I promise.”

“Good. I have a few dollars here for you to buy some decent groceries. Do something good for your boy, it’s high time to make him proud of you just as my kids are proud of me, if that makes any sense. Go shopping, hold your head high and ignore the snotty noses. Right now you have one thing in your favour as far as I’m concerned: you’re not a pew warming hypocrite. Not much but it’s something to go on. See you later.”

We walked home together, mom and I, and I held her hand as if she’d been royalty and I’d just been adopted. That kind of pride. And she taught me a new word. She said, “there’s a name for people like Sister Blanche and that’s a bigot. She thinks Gimpy’s mom is a bad sinner because she doesn’t go to church and she ‘entertains’ on her own. That’s why she didn’t help Gimp. You don’t ever want to be like that Sister Blanche.”

That was my mom. That was the shining light of humanity I swore to myself I would learn from, and I did. My mom didn’t actually die, she just moved inside me where I had left a big part of my heart for her to live in. She is there still.

I need to finish this, so here goes. Violet, that is, Mrs. Atkinson did choose to become responsible and raised her boy properly from there on. Gimpy became Doctor Vidal Atkinson, now retired. Sister Blanche was transferred halfway through that school year – she was not regretted by anyone, and isn’t it sad to not realize when one’s character is faulty and needs changing? The ‘bullies’ grew up and did change their characters… I even dated a couple of them and we had some pretty wild times. When my dad was dying, his last words were, “Don’t take any shit, Jane” as mom sat by his bedside crying and saying, “It’s so hard all of a sudden Todd. You were my life, my whole life. What will I do now?” But he passed on without an answer for her, or me.

And me? Well I’m still Deena Bennett and I’ve been sort of a writer of stories and tales and of the stuff that any observing person can see. Some of us just know how to put it in words so that others can also remember. Have I been successful? That depends. I was there for Gimpy and how many lives did he save as a good doctor? I grew a heart big enough to accommodate my mom and I and quite a few Violet type strays over the years. I never had to beg for anything.