Chapter 1 - Hidden
I let out a silent yawn as I flip mindlessly through the pages of my book. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to focus on anything other than the stomping feet of my parent’s guests.
Uncertainty and fear fills me as they move around above my head, their footsteps quick and assured as they drink and have fun. My father explained that these men work with him and have been wanting to meet my mother for a while now. It’s not often these days that common men get to lay eyes on a female and it’s considered rude of my father to keep her hidden.
He’s not expected to share her or anything of the sort since he bought her fair and square, but to keep her locked away from the prying eyes of others is frowned upon.
She was lucky to have been purchased by my father back when women were scarce but relatively attainable. Nowadays a female born is almost nonexistent, and when they are they are almost always taken immediately from the hospital and raised in the facilities.
I assume that the law that prevents doctors from informing women of their child’s gender before birth has limited the number of escapees like me. Still, mom is adamant that there are many children hidden and born without the seekers’ knowledge.
Things have gotten especially bad since I was born, the price of women so high that oftentimes men are forced to group up and pool together their money so they can afford one. Just the other day news came out that one woman was sold to a group of twenty-seven men.
The thought of such a thing is unimaginable, and makes me wish that my parents would have just handed me over when I was born and things were a bit better. I would likely only have been purchased by one husband if that was the case, but now I risk being sold to many.
A particularly large bang has me jumping in my chair, my blood running cold until I hear the unmistakable sound of my father’s laughter filtering down through the floorboards.
It’s not often that they invite others over, but in an attempt to remain inconspicuous they do so once and a while. I suppose I’m lucky, though, that they had enough space to create me a lovely little hideaway. Large enough for me to stand at full height and move around comfortably.
Thankfully I don’t usually have to stay in here for long, but I’ve decked out the place with a nice reading corner and small pantry for nights like these where I’m forced to hide out for a couple of hours.
Turning my head to the left, I deflate into my chair as I peer at the time on the small digital clock. It’s still early and I’ll have to wait a while longer before the guests leave.
I glance down at the book in my hand, my eyes darting over the steamy words as I contemplate masturbating to pass the time. It’s not something that I have the pleasure of doing often, but does help pass the time when I’m stuck in here.
I just about died of embarrassment when I came down right after my twentieth birthday to see the romance novels lining my shelf, a handwritten note from my mother telling me that just because I may not be able to experience it firsthand doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be aware of and enjoy sex.
She’s never asked me about them or brought it up, but I’m sure that both she and my father have noticed how weathered the pages have become over the years.
I decide against touching myself and set down the book with a huff as I’m startled by another loud bang. What the fuck are they doing up there? If I didn’t know any better I would say they are working out, constantly running back and forth across the room and dropping things every ten seconds.
A small smile spreads across my face as I realize that this must mean that my parents are drunk. They seldom drink nowadays, but I enjoy it when they let themselves have a good time.
Constantly being worried and stressed about me is aging them quickly. My father rapidly balding and my mother sprouting a new gray what feels like every day. They don’t seem to be at all appreciative of my jokes regarding it, their concern of what will happen to me when they die almost always ruining the fun.
I’ve long come to accept that I will live out most of my adult life in their house, and when the time comes that they die I will be forced to expose myself and be moved into a facility. Alternatively, I could just stay here and starve to death.
Not like either option is better than the other.
My parents only really need to last until I am no longer fertile. No man will want me when my body is no longer able to produce and please him, and I’ll likely just spend the rest of my days in the facility with the other older adults.
Standing with a quiet groan, I approach my shelf and slot my book back in its spot. I’ve read this particular one dozens of times at this point and, despite it being one of my favorites, it’s getting a bit stale. There are only so many times I can get off to the same thing before it loses its attraction.
My eyes squint slightly as I search over the dark shelves until I find my headphones. It’s too risky to watch TV with any volume on, but if I wear my headphones and keep them on low volume I should be relatively safe.
Dad assured me that the men coming over tonight are humans like us, so their hearing isn’t strong enough to pick up on any light noises that happen down here. It’s only when he invites over other breeds that the risk increases. Their senses far outweighing ours and forcing me to remain still in one spot all night long, fear pulsing through me at the knowledge that even the beating of my heart could give me away if they listened too closely.
Heading back over to my chair, I plop down in it before grabbing my mother’s phone and plugging in the headphones. I keep them out of my ears and turn down the volume as I navigate my way to the news and click on the live feed.
I hold my breath as I carefully slide the volume up a couple of notches, making sure that the sound is coming out through the headphones and not blaring out of the phone. Once I’m sure that the sound is coming out correctly, I carefully pick up the buds and slide the right one in my ear, purposefully keeping the left one out in case the phone becomes disconnected and the audio source switches.
The men on the screen chat mindlessly about the disputes between the demon and ogre realms, laughing as they place bets on who will come out victorious. I’m unsure the specifics of what the fight is about, but from what I gather the ogres are mad that the demons have turned their back on the ogre women.
There have been quiet rumblings and rumors that the demons have began to produce more females than the other breeds, allowing them to be more selective over who they choose. I’m not sure if I believe it, though.
I can’t let myself believe it.
To get my hopes up that women are being born again and that I might be able to live a normal life someday will only end in pain and disappointment. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that this is the life that I am destined to live, and I cannot let myself believe otherwise for even a moment.
I bend down to grab a granola bar as the conversation between the men switches to the human realm. We’ve been relatively good about staying out of the public eye recently, the other breeds losing interest in us after our last female was born ten or so years ago.
It’s disappointing that everything nowadays is about the capture and cost of women. According to my readings we used to care about arts and culture and passions, but that’s all fallen to the backburner.
Now you are either male or female, purchaser or purchasee. Nothing else matters.
At least for the humans, I suppose. I don’t know much about the other breeds.
The men on the screen excitedly chat amongst themselves as they disclose the capture of over fifty human women. My jaw goes slack as they speak the haunting words, my food long forgotten as it drops down in my lap.
Over fifty women? Tears fill my eyes as they show footage of the humans being dragged and pulled from a giant underground hideaway, the women crying and pleading for help as the seekers pull them into large, armored vans. The men explain that they are being taken to the human facility to be sold in a month.
They make jokes about traveling here to buy one themselves, claiming that this is the biggest find in over forty years.
The seekers rarely come to the human realm anymore as they seldom find anybody, leading the women to having felt a foolish sense of security and traveling out of their hideaway. The men state that the women only ever wandered to the front gardens and immediate surrounding land, laughing as they praise the seekers for being able to catch them with just that.
My blood runs cold as I listen to them, fearful that I too will be caught like the rest of these women. I’m more careful on a bad day than they appeared to be on a good one, but occasionally I have ventured close to an open window and one time even took a step outside into the sun.
The seekers don’t share the technology surrounding their captures, but I know enough to be rightfully fearful of ever stepping out onto open land. They know everything that happens outside.
My stomach rolls over on itself as I close the video and turn off the phone. I’ll speak to my parents about this tomorrow, but as of right now I can’t bring myself to watch any more.
After such a significant capture I just know that it’s going to put the seekers’ attention on us even more than it already was. If I had to guess, I would say the next five or so years are going to be spent under careful watch. I’ll need to be extra cautious with my actions.
Despite the loud noises still happening upstairs, I force myself to close my eyes as I cry silently to myself, wishing I was one of the happy women in the books I read about.
Wishing I was like my mother.
Married to a good man who loves me and treats me like an equal. Not like some sought-after prize to be purchased and paraded around. My father would rather die than ever share my mother, and I can only hope that if I am captured that I will meet a similar fate.
If I’m lucky I’ll be purchased by a man wealthy enough that the offers of his peers will not tempt him. That I will not be passed around by hundreds of grabby, desperate men.
Men like those upstairs who forced my father’s hand and invited themselves to our house so they could leer at my mother.
Disgusting, dirty men.