So I was firmly stuck in the middle of the latest chapter of Panda, and all of a sudden I was approached with a commissioned project. I tell you, there is something worthwhile in putting one thing down and picking something else up to get one’s creative juices flowing. Yeah, this is a big time humiliation bit, and it’s a pretty familiar trope, but I’d like to think that the concept and the way it’s presented will make it interesting for you. Enjoy!
It wasn’t quite terror I felt as I stood there, being examined by greedy-looking eyes and scowls and sneers, but it was close. Certainly the confidence that carried me into this room with head held high was long gone, and now, standing here in this lineup, I suddenly felt very self-conscious about my choice of outfit for the occasion. My tight skinny jeans were getting tighter as I perspired under the withering glares, and the denim shirt tied under my bra line felt far, far too revealing suddenly, though it bared only the same tight abs it always had before, the ones I was so proud of, the ones I’d done millions of sit-ups to earn.
“Let the auction begin!” shouted the tall, auburn-haired tyrant in the corner. In her hand was a gavel, and she stood before a white podium that appeared as though it had been swiped from a local church, complete with a cross emblazoned on the front. She slammed the wooden hammer down, making me and the rest of the girls lined up with me jump a bit, eliciting a few scattered squeaks and gasps. Those who had been examining us all grinned evilly, and a few of them laughed in derision at our collective nervousness. I counted off the gawkers as they took their seats facing the podium. Roughly fifteen of them, and only eight total here in the line. There was going to be a fight over who got who, for sure.
“First in line, step up to the block!” the redhead snapped. The girl with the jet black straight cut closest to the podium began to step forward, but was stopped cold. “Not you!” came the admonishment. “Other side!”
I cringed. There was only one girl between me and the tall, athletically-built woman who now crept toward the front, blushing bright red and visibly trembling. I would have actually felt pity on her were I not already preoccupied with how close that put me to the front of the line.
“Now here’s a fine-looking pack animal!” the redhead boomed. “Ready for some good heavy yard work, isn’t she?!” She glared expectantly at the girl.
“Yes, Ma’am,” the curly-haired blonde replied, her hands folded in front of her.
“What’s your name, slave?!” the auctioneer shouted.
“It’s… Josephine, Ma’am,” she replied.
“WRONG!” came the retort. “You don’t HAVE a name, unless your new mistress decides to GIVE you one, got it?!”
“I… I’m sorry,” she stuttered.
“You’re damned RIGHT you’re sorry!” the redhead screamed. I winced, though inside I was happy I’d have a couple of turns to observe and learn, to at least minimize the amount of verbal abuse I’d have to take during the process. As I watched the bidding go on, resigned to my impending fate, I silently began to scan the “audience”, looking for a compassionate eye, someone who might treat me gently. I’d heard the horror stories of what slaves were forced to endure, but Mom assured her before I left home that most of them were grossly exaggerated. Home seemed like such a long, long way from here at this moment.
The gavel dropped, snapping me out of my thoughts with a gasp. The big girl at the front was led away to great applause by the gallery of bidders, and the redhead demanded another come forward. The girl next to me, a chubby little thing named Lucy, stepped toward the podium with a shudder, but held her head up. Lucy and I had spoken briefly on the way in to the hall, sharing similar experiences both in the stories we’d heard and the reassurances we got from family, assurance I’m sure she viewed just as skeptically now as I did. The auctioneer was brutal in her assessment of the poor girl, describing her as a potential house wench, good for cleaning floors and doing laundry. Her bidding was, by contrast, relatively brief compared to the big girl at the end of the line; only two women had showed interest, and one dropped out fairly quickly, seemingly content to pursue other choices. Time flashed by, and soon Lucy was being led away by her new owner to another great round of applause. All eyes now fixed on me, and I started to step forward.
“GET BACK IN LINE!” the redhead screamed. I jumped backward, startled. “I didn’t tell you to move, slave!”
“I’m sorry, Ma’am,” I stuttered.
“I didn’t tell you to speak either!” she snapped back. I started to apologize again, almost automatically, but caught myself before I earned more berating.
“I’m really sorry, ladies,” the auctioneer spat derisively, “I had a feeling this little blondie was pretty stupid, but I didn’t know she’d be completely retarded!” Snickers from the gallery. “Maybe she’ll be useful as a hood ornament or something, if you can teach her to keep her mouth shut!” More laughter. “Get up here, idiot!” she hissed.
I wasted no time in complying with that order, my face beet red, suddenly feeling very, very self-conscious about my diminutive stature and hereditary good looks. After some back and forth between several women, a tall, very heavy-set woman with waist-length straight brown hair in an ornate, gothic-looking black dress stood up and announced, “Seventy five!” Even I went wide-eyed; it was more than double the current high bid, and nearly four times what Lucy went for.
The audience went silent, and it wasn’t a few seconds later that the gavel crashed down next to my ear. “SOLD!” yelled the redhead, and the goth girl’s face opened up into a wicked grin. My heart jumped up into my throat as my arm was seized and I was led up the staircase, trembling.
“Oh, don’t worry, little bimbo,” the girl who stood what had to be at least seven inches taller than me whispered, “I’ve no intention of getting those pretty little hands dirty with chores. There are bigger plans in store for you. But I promise you, if you don’t obey me, you’re going to be one miserable little creature. Understand?”
I swallowed breathlessly and squeaked, “Yes Ma’am.” Dread crept over me as it started to sink in; the stories weren’t as exaggerated as Mom made them out to be. The look on her face told me that this was going to be miserable whether I obeyed her or not…