Standing on the jetty I watch the boat chug closer. We walk the horses on and are stopped by security I stand quietly as Rita shows our papers. I push my sleeve up and they run the scanner over the number tattoo on my wrist. I hold my breath, but they appear satisfied and we board the boat.
‘How did that happen,’
‘I have movement papers for you,’ Rita explains.
‘Naomi gave them to me she got them for you she was going to move you. When she realised, she couldn’t she gave them to me,’ Rita grins and sometimes I think she thinks this is a game. In a way it is the question is who will win. She would have got on ever so well with Adam I decide as I follow behind her.
We take the horses to their designated stables as the crossing is going to take a couple of days. We are landing in what was once Norway but from what Rita says it all belongs to Tribe. I watch Rita as she argues with the stable girl.
‘Oh, aren’t you cute,’ a woman walks over to me her eyes sliding over my body. Turning my attention to her I smile as I take in her smart dress and perfect make up, she looks a bit like a Mother.
‘Hello young man aren’t you lovely,’ she smiles back and pulls me forward lifting my arms she runs her hands over me as I stand, terrified.
‘Please don’t touch me,’ I garble out stepping back from her. She ignores me as she contemplates me. Her eyes travel my body and then rest on my face. The heat of her gaze causes me to blush.
‘A bit small but a lovely specimen. My daughter would adore you,’ she smiles as she stands back one arm crossed as her hand supports her chin as if in thought. Rita comes over and frowns at the woman.
‘I will give you fifteen thousand for him,’ the woman says turning to Rita.
‘Sorry he isn’t for sale,’ Rita answers her voice showing her annoyance.
‘Of course, he is, name your price,’ the woman looks Rita over. I swallow as I realise, she wants to buy me like a house or a pet. This realisation makes me feel sick to the stomach. She is still talking to Rita. Would Rita sell me? I glance at her as I chew the inside of my cheek. How has this never occurred to me before. I never considered I would be sold I had always assumed I would be euthanised. I remember the women in the bar and the conversation they had. Making it sound like they are acquiring a pet.
‘Is he good has he been proven?’ She asks, and I take a minute before I realise what she means, and nothing stops my blush.
‘Oh, look isn’t he cute,’ she gushes. ‘I will give you twenty-five thousand if he is a virgin and you can prove he is clean and fertile,’ she says, and I open my mouth to object, but Rita catches my eye and shakes her head, so I close it.‘Look I am sorry, but he really isn’t for sale I am presently taking him to his new owner,’ Rita explains patiently although I get the impression, she is anything but patient. She pulls out some paperwork and a small wallet that she opens and shows the woman.
‘Oh, what a shame you know they don’t make them as good as this anymore,’ the woman says with one last glance at me. Rita takes my arm and steers me away from the stables.
‘You know they charged me extra for the horses when I booked, they said it was included in the price this cabin better be good,’ she looks at me waiting for a comment I suppose but in all honesty I didn’t hear a word.
‘Sorry,’ I manage.
‘Are you okay Aaron. Oh, don’t mind her she was just pushing her luck she knew you weren’t really for sale,’ Rita peers at me with a smile.
‘Erm who is my owner what were those papers?’ I ask instead.
‘What oh me of course and those are your movement papers no big deal really,’ Ria answers and it all feels a bit flippant like she is trying to distract me from something important.
‘She was serious about buying me,’ I stammer out still in total shock from the events a moment ago and Rita is bothered about stabling fees.
‘What?’ Rita stops and looks at me.
‘Who are you taking me too,’ I say slowly looking her in the eye so she can see my displeasure. ‘Who owns me, when did you sell me and for how much?’ I bark out.
‘I am not taking you to anyone, I am taking you to Tribe,’ she says. ‘Those papers are your movement papers I need them just to move you around,’ she is annoyed I can tell by her posture she has let go of my arm and her hands are shoved in her pockets. Turning she starts walking again. I stand for a moment before catching up with her. She stops again and slides a card into the handle of a door and pushes it open. Stepping in she reaches for me and pulls me in slamming the door.
‘What do you want me to say you are male you are an Echo those two facts make you valuable and very desirable,’ she glares at me while holding me quite forcefully against the wall.
‘Why, what is special about me?’ Yes, I have realised I am not a normal Adam.
‘You can breed and make boys,’ she says her grip on me loosening.
‘There is more though isn’t there. The reason they all thought I was going to die,’ I say quietly and yeah the dying thing is still bothering me, obviously.
‘The risk is you are going to get sick and I need somewhere safe for you to be when that happens. Because it will happen. You have to trust me Aaron,’ she sits down on the bed and seems to slump a bit. ‘That woman frightened me,’ she fiddles with her shirt hem.
‘Why, she was just rude she didn’t hurt me,’ I stay by the wall letting the space between us linger giving us both space.
‘Today it was civilised next time and there will be a next time it might not be, and I will be dead, and you will be taken and abused in the most awful ways okay. That is the world I am trying to protect you from,’ she didn’t shout she said it all matter of fatly and it made it all the more chilling.
‘I just want you to tell me these things. I was sick at the château,’ I answer and sit down next to her taking her hand. ‘Sorry about earlier it’s just that isn’t the first time that has happened. When I was with Andrea two women in the bar had a similar discussion how we are bought and sold,’ I try to smile. ‘But I can’t protect myself if I don’t understand the danger,’
‘No, that was different and even there Naomi was screening your food. I can’t do that out here. You won’t be properly safe until I get you to my home. We will find the gypsie’s and then we will be safer I promise,’
‘Friends,’ I say with a smirk.
‘Friends,’ Rita says, as we both lay back tired from the emotion. Well I am all this fighting is exhausting frankly.