She’d grown up in the camps. She’d seen things a normal human shouldn’t see. The pets were put in two different houses, the males and the females. The training for both of them was exactly the same, know your place in this world and you’ll survive.
She’d been with the girls, sent to school to understand things that made her desirable to the vampires that would eventually buy her. She learned domestic duties just in case, was made to endure pain so she’d be used to a vampire feeding from her. What was different now was when she was growing up, she was in long barracks with other pets. They wore the same thing, did the same thing. One whispered one dark night, “It’s their way to break us so we’ll be pliable to our new masters.”
She was different from the others. When the age of 18 rolled around and they went to the stores, to the auctions, she was held behind. “No one will want someone as strange looking as you.” She was petite, she had olive skin, dark black curly hair and ink eyes. The teachers at the breeding farms said they’d let her slip through the cracks. She’d probably end up as a slave somewhere, why would someone want someone like her?
She tried to be better than the other pets. She learned her languages better than others. She made sure she was strong while others languished. Her body was small but it was tight and strong. She pulled a small part of her humanity into herself as she lived in the camps. She was a pet, but she still existed, she told herself and took care of herself.
She watched the different pets hit the magic age of 18 and leave her home. She never saw one come back. She heard about the pet shops, the auctions and but was never loaded into the van to go and find a new master.
“You’re too strange for a vampire master,” one pet master told her, “Who would want someone as small as you?”
She still went to every lesson. She made sure her body was fit. She accepted like everyone else in the barracks that she didn’t have a name. When she was born, vampires never gave names because they wanted to see if she even survived. Pets were named by their masters, she was taught. She lived the first 20 years of her life accustomed to the name “pet.”
She had nothing except her cot, her blanket, her arm as a pillow. She made a few friends with the different pets, but the masters made sure there was no bonding, that they were chattel just waiting for the auction.
She went several years after becoming of age that she could go to the auctions. She had no taste of the outside world and wondered if being sold was better than stuck in the camp. She’d been moved to kitchen notice, more chores because she was older and they didn’t care as much to keep her skin soft as no one would buy her.
The call came in on the spur of the moment. The pet masters started scrambling. One looked to the other with a frown, “He’s asking for ten. Shit. Who do we have that’s clean and ready to go now?”
The other pet master looked at the different pets milling around. Some were eating and lounging, other’s were reading. She was busy cleaning the different toilets of the barracks, then preparing the evening meal. One looked over to her, he strolled over and grabbed her hands.
“Shit, a few callouses, but she’s of age,” he said and held her hands up to another.
The other guard walked through a few different girls, “We can say that they are over age for the moment. We know that Douglas always pays top dollar.” He started signaling out a few pets and pulling them toward the common house. “Shower, clean clothes,” he shouted as he looked at his phone. “He’s asking for five more. Can’t he use what is in the shop?”
They counted the ones they sent to clean up. One looked her way, “We’ll just add you to the mix. You’ll probably come back anyway.” He shoved her to the showers, “Clean up pet. At least look half way decent.”
She rushed to the showers, pulled off the shorts, the dirty shirt. She couldn’t remember when she’d had a shower, just jumping into the lake at the end of the day to get something off of her body. She was shocked when she saw a bar of soap in the corner of the shower. It didn’t matter that they water was cold, the soap smelled wonderful as she watched the other pets lather it over their body. She took the soap into her thick black hair, down her body then with a sigh of relief let everything wash down the drain.
Her relief was short lived as the the pet master stormed into the showers, yelling. “The van comes in ten minutes. Your clothes are on the benches. Get your asses moving.”
She looked around at the other pets, following them to the benches. She didn’t look at bodies, her eyes ran over the clothes on the bench. They looked at each other and ran for the clothes. She was the strongest of the lot and surprisingly went for the linen tunic. She wasn’t showing up at an auction in a gown. And all of them obviously looked too big for her. She threw the tunic over her head and glared at the boy staring at her, “It’s the survival of the fittest,” she hissed at him. The tunic came down past her knees. Her darker skin stood out from the translucent skin of the other girls. He turned and put on pants but the shirts were gone.
She ran her fingers through her thick black curls. She wasn’t going to get bought, so what the hell? She braided her thick hair back and looked in the mirror. If anyone was interested, she had good teeth, strong muscles, was smart. And, if she came back, she’d just go back to where she was, helping in the community, helping other pets.
He came in with a prod, looked at her, taking in the tunic. “Well, you’re not going to sell any way,” he muttered. He moved them out of the barracks and over to a white van. She could smell his sweat, the greasy hair plastered to his face. He wore a black knit sweat that was too small for his large body, khaki slacks that almost fell off of him.
God, she thought. She knew this man.
Douglas. She’d spent several months in his pet shop. He’d complained about her, that no one would buy her. Then she remembered him licking his lips and saying, “She’ll keep my pet company. Provide an alternative feeding source.”
She remembered shivering as he pulled her through the shop and threw her into the back room. A young girl looked out of her cage at her, terrified.
“Hey,” She said looking at the girl, “Who are you?”
The girl looked at the dried blood on the floor of her cage, “I don’t know.”
She looked around at the storage room, “OK, then let’s look at getting sold.” The girl disappeared from the shop while she sat in the cage in the back. Douglas finally got disgusted with her and returned her to the camp requesting credit.
She moved to the white van. Here we go again, she thought and didn’t hold any hope. Why submit her to this again when no one wants someone like her? Douglas looked down at her, “Not you again. You don’t even taste good.”
She shrugged and went into the van, the leather collar around her neck, the pets tethered by silver chains. She stood and braced herself as the rest of the group was gathered from the camp. She looked back and laughed.
A young man next to her said, “What are you laughing at?”
She looked over to him, “Oh, I keep thinking this is the last time I see this place but something keeps bringing me back.”
He held onto the cable as the van shot to life and went into the road onto the Alwyn manor. She didn’t have any expectations that she’d be bought but getting out of the camps was a luxury she’d take. She’d see something different, she smell something different, she get away even if it was for an afternoon. Something to break up the monotony.
Her breath caught as she saw the manor. So beautiful and so massive, she thought as the van stopped in front of a large fountain in front of the main house. She bent to see the garden to the side of the manor, the different cars in the entryway, the tall stone building with slate tiles. She took a deep breath then almost laughed again. Who would want someone different like her?
Douglas came and opened the back of the van. He stopped and fixed gowns on the pets, pants and tunics on others. He stopped with her looking at the tunic, “What the hell is this?”
She shot her chin up, “It’s called making sure I’m dressed for the auctions. Didn’t want to take something that someone else could use.”
He grabbed the front of the tunic, brought her to his face, she almost gagged at his scent. “You better behave bitch. You’ll not be wanted so that means you’re all mine after the auction.”
She hid the tremble and stared into his eyes, “Then why bring me?”
He laughed, “We always need a sideshow to make the vampire feel like they are purchasing the pure.”
She looked away from him, anger building in her. She pulled back on her training then smiled at Douglas, “Glad I can be of service.
He slapped at her, she fell to her knees in the van. He yanked at the chair that held half of the van together. She fell again as he pulled them out of the van. He looked each pet up and down, his gaze fell to her again, “You’ll be back at the shop. And I’ll show you what happens to those that no one wants.”
She kept herself upright, held her pride. That small part of herself that belonged only to her. She’d been taught to handle anything that came her way in the form of masters. She knew why she was at the manor. She also heard Douglas’s words in her head, “Who would want you?”
She looked at the servants bringing her into the manor. How much better would it be if she were a servant, or just lived her life in the village. But her fate was sealed when she was born in the breeding camps. She didn’t know her mother or her father but knew that she was different. So be it, she thought as she followed the chain into the manor.
She stood at the end of the dining room of the guest house. She was supposed to put her eyes on the floor but she’d couldn’t help but steal a glance around the room. Her eyes narrowed on Sophia, she remembered her from the shop. Bruises were gone, her smile was easy, she sat in the lap of a vampire. Her master was gentle with her, another sat next to him another genuine smile on his face. Her eyes went back to the floor.
A blonde vampire walked in, power emanated from her. She walked past the pets, her claw out as she touched them. Some flinched, she stopped at her and her mouth turned. “Douglas, why would you bring such foul goods to an auction at Lord Alwyn’s estate?”
She didn’t move, all she had to do was survive the auction then Douglas would send her back and she’d be free to live in peace. To her surprised, Douglas walked up and grabbed her chin, “You want champagne, others want Long Island Iced Teas.”