After a forever that threatened my sanity, I felt my box being moved. My box was carried and then loaded in some sort of vehicle. Unless the ship had been diverted to some other landing, we were at our planned destination, the baronial planet of Cambay. The place might be considered my parents’ home since they were both born here, but they had cut any physical ties with the place when they left for Earth where they got their education in planetary sociology at the university in Huston Texas. I was born, and had spent most of my life, on Earth.
The ride took hours and I could tell that it was long past my daily ‘fix’ so I knew that when they opened my box again, I could be awake. What I didn’t realize was that after nearly two weeks of complete immobility, being awake wasn’t going to be good enough.
My tedious ride ended when my box was dropped rather unceremoniously on the floor and someone flung open the lid. Then, regardless of the fact that I tried to sit up and claw the mask off my face, I found a big hand pinning me down and another one doing it for me. First, the mask was ripped from my face and then the tube was pulled from my throat. I curled up, gagging and coughing and teaching my ribs how to breathe again. I was barely aware that someone was crying.
When I finally stopped gagging, rough hands pulled me from the box. I felt like a puppet on a string.
“Oh man, he stinks,” said my puppet master.
“Clean him up. We’ll talk to him when he’s more presentable,” said someone else I couldn’t focus on. The room was too bright; my magic had made it possible for me to see very well in places others might consider pitch black. I had been in the dark for too long, and unfortunately, my eyes had never adjusted quickly under such extremes.
I was drug off down several flights of stairs while I struggled with my weak body enough to at least support my own weight and see where I was going. My throat felt like it had been ripped out of my body; I couldn’t even swallow enough saliva to ask for some water.
I got my wish for water though, as apparently, we had reached our destination. I was propped up against a wall and hosed down with what felt like a large garden hose. I could see by now, but I was forced to keep my eyes closed anyway or have them filled with water under pressure. The water felt so good though, and I opened my mouth to it. He obligingly squirted some there, likely thinking that he might be causing me some discomfort.
“Strip,” said a voice on the other side of the hose.
I struggled with the buttons on my shirt, but had to turn my back to the water in order to accomplish their undoing.
“Turn around,” he said.
I did and let the force of the water wash my clothes away with only a little more help from me.
“Come on, turn around again.”
I did. I could have lessened the pressure that was beating on my body but it felt good; it was beating my stiff muscles back to life and I stretched and preened under its pressure, and then it went away, too soon if you ask me.
I shook the water from my hair and squeegeed it out of my eyes.
He threw me a towel. “Dry off.”
“Where’s my servant?” I asked, now that I could make my throat work. “Where am I?”
“You’ll have all of your questions answered in a little while. Come over here out of that water and get dressed.”
I could have drowned him in that water. He didn’t know how armed he had made me, by letting me near so much water. I looked around as I slowly did as I was told. We were in some sort of basement. I almost smiled. I put on the blue jeans that were a little bit too big. “Do you have a belt?” I didn’t get an answer.
After I pulled on the t-shirt and made the pants fit a little better (he didn’t notice that part), my escort took me by the arm and propelled me back upstairs.
“Don’t I get any shoes?” I asked.
“You don’t need shoes,” he replied. “You smell a lot better.”
“Why didn’t you just let me take a shower?”
“You really don’t think the baron would want your filth to soil one of his showers do you.”
The baron. This was the baron’s palace. Incredible.