Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fiction Friday, Now on Thursday

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I marched ever westward after... No more stomach for war or soldiers or whatever may have crawled out of that shallow grave. I followed a trail of displaced peasants for a league or so, picking at their elderly and infirm in the night. Helped to disguise my predations but Coña Maria - how thin and oily their blood tasted! How relieved I was upon waking one night to smell that thick odor of civilization on the breeze!

Besancon wouldn't have the peasants - at least I assume so, as so many remained outside the walls. But walls, dear Doctor, are but an inconvenience for me - I bounded over them that first night! Had to cross some water first, leading to the happy discovery that I can't drown. After thrashing around for a bit...

Ah! A French city! But still an Imperial city - un Ville Libre d'Imperial, as they were so proud of declaring, even to each other. Frequently. Though quite different from all those other imperial cities I'd known before, both day and night. Much cleaner for one, much more varied peoples - more flavorful, if you will permit me Doctor. I took a room on the Rue de Savoie, overlooking Batten Bridge to the east and the Citadel with its gleaming white walls - gleaming even in blackest night! - visible from the roof.

I am rather fond of clambering over rooftops, I must admit...

A good house with a good proprietress. She left me to a small room near the top and even supplied me with heavy curtains upon request. She never asked why I should need them, nor why I never appeared downstairs until after dark and returned just before dawn. A rarity - an old woman who does not go about sticking her nose into the business of others!

I shared the house with some other drifters and vagabonds. Madame Boulin, the proprietress, held no prejudice against race or creed so long as there was hard coin in the bargain. A delightfully mercenary old woman - she also offered hot food and mending and the services of her sickly daughter Amanda. All for a price!

She needed to be so enterprising. Counting myself, only half a dozen boarders ever called that heap of a house a home. Always felt like more though, what with Amanda's own children getting underfoot. Three of the buggers with a fourth that thankfully ran away. All from different fathers too, their mother being such a loyal and hard worker...

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"We've got another group meeting in fifteen," Stephen said, stretching out on the cot. He muttered something.

"Hmm?" David asked. His vision was starting to focus more easily now.

"I said I'm fucking sick of this!" Stephen snapped. "Jesus, I shouldn't be here at all, I -" He saw David's bleary eyes. "How much of that shit did they give you this time?"

"Mmm," David held up first three, then two, then corrected himself again and held out three fingers. "Think it's wearing off now."

"You know those are fucking horse tranquilizers, right?" Stephen dropped his voice, "I started palming them just last week. You should too, makes everything clear up." He added, with a vicious look to his eyes, "Makes it harder for those bastards to mess with your head too."

David shook his head. "Don't want to get in trouble."

Stephen laughed. "Dude, you're in fag rehab! You're in enough trouble already! Little more won't hurt you. Besides," he sat up, leaning closer to David so he could whisper, "They don't check to make sure you take 'em, y'know?"

David shook his head again. He'd promised his mom he'd try. He didn't really want to be gay - he thought. He liked Brad but didn't want it to go beyond that - even though it had already. "Gotta stop while I'm ahead," he completed the thought out loud, then laughed like a hyena. "I said head!"

"Jesus, you're high," muttered Stephen. "Can't say I blame you..."

They sat in silence - except for David's snickering - until the booming voice announced the next group session. David and Stephen shuffled down the hall along with the others, most of whom were still a little groggy from the medicine. It was a necessity, they were told. Their urges had to be suppressed somehow until they could purge them. Otherwise, who knows what they would get up to with each other when the lights went out?

David and Stephen were in the same group, along with some six other boys. They took their seats at one of the dozens of round tables in the main hall - which also doubled as the cafeteria, which doubled as a clinic when the councilors wheeled in privacy screens. Their councilor - in group and individually - was Robert, an orange-tanned and upbeat character with the habit of calling everyone "brother." Like all the other councilors, he was a graduate of the program.

"Grace and peace, brothers!" Robert said once they were all seated, smiling with those perfectly white teeth. "Everyone have a good visit? Brandon, what about you?"

He always did that, singling one of them out to guarantee someone would answer. "M'okay," Brandon said. As Robert kept looking at him, he hastily added, "My mom, uh, said there was this girl asking for me and, um, everyone at home's praying for me?"

That was a popular answer. Robert liked it so much he would leave whoever said it alone for the rest of the session. "Well amen to that! The support and prayers of your family are always needed in these difficult times. But it always comes down to you to get yourself right with the Lord!"

It always came back to the Lord with Robert. Same with all the other councilors but Robert liked to be very loud about it. "- Because only through the Lord and the sacred blood of his only Son, Jesus Christ can you be purged of your wickedness... Along with the Exodus Inc. program."

The program actually came first in Robert’s formula. First, they all had to admit they had a problem. Next, they all had to identify their “wound” – some moment from childhood that turned them from the straight and narrow, as it were. David had never really believed that psychobabble crap, but at Exodus he’d soon found himself blaming his own quiet, agreeable mother for being the emasculating force behind his own turn to wickedness. The things he’d said about her...

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