Welcome to the Stud
Ten regained some degree of consciousness as she was unhooked from the whipping post, and I pitied her for that. The lashed girl was shaking violently, shivering as if exposed to freezing cold – although she seemed to burn up at the same time. The guards dragged her naked form down the platform and away, leaving the whip and the Ten’s clothing behind. The lady doc followed without too much of a haste.
If Warden Navier addressed some final words of righteous anger to us, I did not process them. I couldn’t clear my mind from the images of the blood whipping I had just witnessed. This quality of cruelty, this wilful physical and mental destruction of a human being would never fail to make me sick to my stomach.
Only by Sixteen pulling me with her I noticed that we were dismissed. It took my own righteousness to power up, but then I tore myself loose from her soft grip.
“Proud of yourself?” I hissed at the fake blonde and delivered a hostile push to her sternum.
“What?” She looked at me wide-eyed. “I’ve told her they would notice that somebody had meddled with the locks!”
I pushed her again.
“You did more than just that, you―”
“Seventeen! See to it that your BFF’s clothes find their way to the barrack.”
Sixteen used Miss Cuntling’s intervention to establish a generous safety clearance between herself and me. I threw a last venomous glance at my fellow inmate and forced out a “Yes, ma’am!”.
Ten’s outfit lay neatly folded on the small table atop the platform, just next to the coiled-up single-tail whip. The flagellation tool still bore the horrid traces of its last use. The last thirty or so centimetres displayed a bloody coating, and with horror I discovered small particles of human tissue stuck to the leather. I grabbed the clothes and prayed to all Gods old and new that I would not be the one to clean and re-oil this instrument of torture.
After supper my mood remained gloomy. I didn’t want to read in Eleven’s book, and I had no wish to talk to any of the girls, either. If I tried to find some early rest on my bunk, memories of Ten’s body at the post and of the whip on the table flooded my mind. Around me the normal background noise of low voices and rummaging around in chests filled the barrack. I was still tending to my dark thoughts when I became aware that, quite of a sudden, all the sounds had ceased. A dead silence had befallen the other inmates, who were without exception staring at the door.
A new girl stood in the entrance. I recognised her as the one having arrived with the transport gag installed.
“Just wanted to say hello,” she informed, then raised her hand to a greeting gesture: “Hello.”
“You can’t be here!” Zero-One scolded at once. Our self-proclaimed group representative closed in on her with the ferocity of a dwarf rabbit.
That shut the ginger up. And indeed nobody had ever stated that we weren’t allowed out before lights out. I still wouldn’t recommend leisurely evening walks, though.
“Your friend with the tattoos…” muzzle-girl continued, “Is she alright?”
All my group members turned their heads to me, as if I were the inked girl’s spokeswoman. Why not asking Fifteen or Eleven? No judgement, but it had been the petite lass’ breakdown and the wanna-be wood elf’s bleeding heart that led to the latest events. Why not asking Sixteen, giving her fondness for discussing this matter with various parties?
“Did she look alright to you when they dragged her away?” I asked.
“How often does this happen?”
“It’s the second public flogging within a little over two weeks. Standard whippings are pervasive. You can look forward to them on a daily basis.”
It was consensus that every ponygirl had to taste the whip eventually. Not amongst ponygirls, of course – but no handler would see anything wrong in the use of reins and lash as such. And the generous allowance of both was a young yet vivid DACC tradition.
I was uncomfortable with the topic and with the way we talked about it; across the room and with audience. The new girl seemed to feel likewise. With the restrained demeanour of a guest, yet still utterly uninvited, she headed towards my bed. Climbing down, I met her eye to eye – and quite literally so: We were nearly the same height. For just saying hello she was exceptionally determined to start a deep conversation. We sat on the lower bunk. Three more girls joined us, Eleven amongst them. A couple of investigative questions from her quarried some interesting elaborations. Now I found myself eager to chat with our new friend, too.
1414 was her number according to her shirt, and she was oddly calm in spite of the savage display earlier on and my recent summary. If somebody had told me on my first evening that I was to be beaten every day for the next couple of months, my reaction would have been a bit more dramatic. Not once she mentioned our nose rings, either. I quickly was under the impression that we were only confirming a long-accepted knowledge to her.
“Did they make you choose in court?”
“I asked for alternatives to my sentence, and was offered corrective behaviour training.”
I didn’t know what to make of her choice of words.
“That sounds rather… proactive on your side.”
“I’m not cut out for prison. I was never afraid of unorthodox stuff, though. The DACC has a certain reputation of doing things differently.”
Okaaay. Two explanations:
1.) She was a pervert who would get off on this, big time.
2.) She was stuck in some kind of denial, of which her first lashing would cure her.
The juicier variant would be more consistent with her lack of dismay. Even a lost touch with reality wouldn’t prevent one from feeling the impact of the last hour. A girl screaming in agony. Leather wet with blood. I was on the verge of asking whether masochistic or sadistic inclinations had brought her here, but prioritised another question.
“When exactly has the DACC achieved a reputation of any kind? When I was tried, nobody seemed to have heard anything of it.”
“That may very likely be so. But since last week’s riots all the fancy buzzwords are flying around. ‘New Discipline Movement’, ‘Sub-zero Tolerance’, ‘Blueprint Law’. You have heard of the riots, haven’t you? The Red Thursday?”
The other girls denied. I, too, thought it wise not to mention the treasure hidden beneath my mattress. The newspaper I had liberated from the guards’ recreation room dated last Wednesday. In seldom-found pan-European concord the day after that had been baptised Jeudi Rouge, Giovedì Rosso, Jueves Rojo – or, if you’re more feeling at home in the Germanic languages than in the Romanic ones: Rød Torsdag, Rode Donderdag, Roter Donnerstag. No matter the tongue, the term was most fitting. As the day had gone on, more and more protesters had gathered in several major cities to voice their – far from unjustified – concerns over restricted freedom of speech, social dividing and police brutality. As darkness fell, quite a different lot showed up to the nightshift. First skirmishes with the deployed urban pacification units quickly escalated into the longed-for street battles, turning whole quarters into war zones. Way before midnight there was something for everybody: burning barricades, ambulances hit by Molotov cocktails, and – to rekindle nostalgic feelings – parked cars set ablaze. The clash between rioters and UPUs, lit crimson by the fires, lasted till the small hours of Friday. And even at noon sky-high smoke columns were hovering over the cities like hellish landmarks.
“Did you have a part in it?” Eleven asked with the moralising overtone somewhat scrambled by her sore lips.
“Why would I care about crap like that?” 1414 dismissed her question quite briskly. “Thursday evening I was already in the slammer. Which didn’t prevent the appropriate authorities to ‘blueprint’ me.”
Those amongst the readers not too familiar with legal terms may not fully understand Double-Fourteen’s reference. Neither did we. For one simple and unsettling reason: the Blueprint Law had been wilfully held under the public radar, only to allowed to surface just in time for retaliating the Red Thursday, and then some.
In a working jurisdiction every person, regardless of wealth, sex, social standing and so on, shall receive the same penalty for the same offence. The finer points to this principle are that all facets of each offence are considered and therefore emitted into each penalty. The Blueprint Law, on the other hand, takes a shortcut to dangerous simplicity. Its many but unheard critics employ the picture of a binary process: A formalised accusation is put in, a guilty-switch puts out either a 0 or a 1, and in the latter case the verdict is computed. Judges in Blueprint cases are bound to employ a fixed catalogue of punishments. Effectively a civil martial law, it was praised by its creators as a powerful tool to ensure speedy trials in states of emergencies, thus providing a higher deterrence value.
Double-Fourteen was a traceuse, a parkour runner. You know, jumping over all kinds off walls and stuff – in her case wall and stuff she had to trespass for to jump over. More than once police had chased her across shipyards or abandoned steel mills, a spectacle always ending with her barely breaking a sweat and the city’s Fittest arriving gasping and coughing as second winners. Well, obviously always ending like this but once. Being quick as fuck doesn’t help when the fuzz are waiting for you at the end of your escape route. After stopping her with a smooth sucker punch to the solar plexus, they nicked her for trespassing, alleged damage of property and resistance to law enforcement officials.
“Why resistance to law enforcement officials?” I asked. The way she had just told it, she had neither time nor air to resist her arrest.
The new girl looked at me genuinely puzzled before reminding herself that I had been off the grid for quite some time.
“Everybody gets that on top of their charges now, even before the Red Thursday. As a little bonus. Even if all other charges have to be dropped, this one always pays off. The officer’s statement, a second copper as witness, shaky body cam footage…”
“So when you get arrested, you are guilty.”
She blew an unruly strand of amber hair out of her face.
“A self-fulfilling prophecy, exactly. Once that technicality has been dealt with, you are fed whole to the machinery for processing.”
A fitting metaphor, indeed. By Blueprint Law the strictly defined penalties for each offence are to be added together, and the result weighted with a factor. This factor is determined by the number of offences, certain constellations between them, and priors – a reverse discount, if you will. Double-Fourteen’s trail had taken fifteen minutes, and that had included her mysterious haggle over altering her sentence. Again I could not help but wonder about her detached way of describing the events which had resulted in her sporting that fetching number. One could mistake it as fatalism, however there was a calculating element to it. Not quite a plan, but a general concept of causations and outcomes. 1414 was far from being the damsel-in-distress type, and I certainly wasn’t the first one to slap the labels “independent” and “strong-willed” on her tight bum. Yet the allure of her spirit was diminished by the fact that the next time I would see her, she would be wearing a steel rod between her teeth and a pony plug up her arse.
For the better part of an hour Double-Fourteen had patiently answered our questions, whereas her own enquiries had been few in numbers and quite specific in nature. Whatever her game was, the girl seemed eager to establish some basic trust first. With lights out ahead, her first visit was about to end. But I reckoned more to follow, and not only to our barrack.