Fiends ssc, p.24
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       Fiends SSC, p.24
 

           Richard Laymon
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  ‘What that means,' Jim went on, ‘is that we’ll be seeing each other every day. At least during your fertile times. Every day until you conceive. Do you understand?’

  ‘Why do they want me pregnant?’ she asked.

  ‘They need more humans. For guards and staff and things. As it is, there aren’t enough of us.’

  She gazed into his eyes. He couldn’t tell whether or not she believed the lie.

  ‘If you don’t become pregnant, they’ll put you in with the Donors. It’s much better for you here. The Donors… all the Guardians can have them whenever they want.’

  ‘So, it’s either you or the whole gang, huh?’

  ‘That’s right.’

  ‘Okay.’

  ‘Okay?’

  She nodded.

  Jim began taking off his clothes, excited but uncomfortably aware of the scorn in her eyes.

  ‘You must be a terrible coward,’ she said.

  He felt heat spread over his skin.

  ‘You don’t seem evil. So you must be a coward. To serve such beasts.’

  ‘Roger treats us very well,’ he said.

  ‘If you were a man, you’d kill him and all his kind. Or die trying.’

  ‘I have a good life here.’

  ‘The life of a dog.’

  Naked, he crouched in front of Diane. His face was inches from her tuft of golden down. Aching with a hot confusion of lust and shame, he lowered his eyes to the short length of chain stretched taut between her feet. ‘I’m no coward,’ he said, and removed the steel cuffs.

  As the shackles fell to the carpet, she pumped a knee into his forehead. Not a powerful blow, but enough to knock him off balance. His rump hit the floor. He caught himself with both hands while Diane dropped backward, curling, jamming her thighs tight against her chest. Feet in the air, she slipped the hand shackles and trapped robe under her buttocks and up the backs of her legs. They cleared her feet. Her hands were suddenly in front of her, cuffs and chain hidden under the draping robe.

  As her heels thudded the floor, Jim rushed her. She spread her legs wide, raised her knees, and stretched her arms out straight overhead. The robe was a glossy curtain molded to her face and breasts.

  Jim dived, slamming down on her. She grunted. Clamped her legs around him. He reached for her arms. They were too quick for him. The covered chain swept past his eyes. Went tight around his throat. Squeezed.

  Choking, he found her wrists. They were crossed behind his head. He tugged at them. Parted them. Felt the chain loosen. Forced them down until the chain pressed into Diane’s throat.

  Her face had come uncovered. Her eyes bulged. Her lips peeled back. She twisted and bucked and squirmed.

  When he entered her, tears shimmered in her eyes.

  6

  The next day, Jim let Morgan and Donner chain her to the bedframe before leaving.

  She didn’t say a word. She didn’t struggle. She lay motionless and glared at Jim as he took her.

  When he was done but still buried in her tight heat, he whispered, ‘I’m sorry.’ He hoped the microphone didn’t pick it up.

  For an instant, the look of hatred in her eyes changed to something else. Curiosity? Hope?

  7

  ‘What are you sorry about, Jim?’

  ‘Sorry?’

  ‘You apologized. What did you apologize for?’

  ‘To who?’

  ‘You’ve gone soft on her,’ Roger said. ‘Can’t say I blame you. She’s quite a looker. Feisty, too. But she’s obviously messing you up. I’m afraid someone else’ll have to take over doing the Honors. We’ll work a trade with Phil. You can do his gal, and he’ll do yours. It’ll be better for everyone.’

  ‘Yes, sir.’

  8

  Phil’s gal was named Betsy. She was a brunette. She was pretty. She was stacked. She was not just compliant, but enthusiastic. She said that she’d hated being an outlaw, living in the wilds, often hungry and always afraid. This, she said, was like paradise.

  Jim had her once a day.

  Each time, he closed his eyes and made believe she was Diane.

  9

  He longed for her. He dreamed about her. But she was confined to the Specialty Suite, available only to Phil, so he would probably never have a chance to see her again. It ate at him. He began to hope she would fail to conceive. In that case, she would eventually be sent to the Donor Ward.

  A terrible fate for someone with her spirit.

  But at least Jim would be able to see her, go to her, touch her, have her.

  And she would be spared the final horror which awaited the Specials.

  Doc had judged her to be fertile, however, so Jim knew there was little chance of ever seeing her again.

  He was in the Mess Hall a week after being reassigned to Betsy, trying to eat lunch though he had no appetite, when the alarm suddenly blared. The PA boomed, ‘Guardian down, Honors Room One! Make it snappy, men!’

  Jim and six others ran from the Mess Hall. Sprinting across the courtyard, he took over the lead. He found Donner waiting in the corridor. The man, gray and shaky, pointed at the closed door of Honors Room One.

  Jim threw the door open.

  Instead of a bed, this room was equipped with a network of steel bars from which the Special could be suspended, stretched and spread in a variety of positions.

  Diane hung by her wrists from a high bar. There were no restraints on her feet. She was swinging and twisting at the ends of her chains as she kicked at Morgan. Her face wore a fierce grimace. Her hair clung to her face. Her skin, apparently oiled by Phil, gleamed and poured sweat. The shackles had cut into her wrists, and blood streamed down her arms and sides.

  Phil lay motionless on the floor beneath her wild, kicking body. His head was turned. Too much.

  She’d broken his neck?

  How could she?

  Even as Jim wondered, he saw Morgan lurch forward and grab one of her darting ankles. Diane shot her other leg high. With a cry of pain, she twisted her body and hooked her foot behind Morgan’s head. The big man stumbled toward her, gasping with alarm. He lost his hold on her ankle. That leg flew up. In an instant, he was on his knees, his head trapped between her thighs.

  Morgan’s dilemma seemed to snap the audience of Guardians out of their stunned fascination.

  Jim joined the others in their rush to the rescue.

  He grabbed one leg. Bart grabbed the other. They forced her thighs apart, freeing Morgan. The man slumped on top of Phil’s body, made a quick little whimpery sound, and scurried backward.

  ‘Take Phil out of here,’ said Rooney, the head Guardian.

  The body was dragged from under Diane and taken from the room.

  ‘What’ll we do with her?’ Jim asked.

  ‘Let her hang,’ Rooney said. ‘We’ll wait for tonight and let Roger take care of her.’

  They released her legs and backed up quickly.

  She dangled, swaying back and forth, her eyes fixed on Jim.

  He paused in the doorway. He knew he would never see her again.

  10

  He was wrong.

  He saw her a month later when he relieved Biff and began his new duty of monitoring video screens in the Security Center. Diane was on one of the dozen small screens. Alone. In the Punishment Room.

  Jim couldn’t believe his eyes. He’d been certain that Roger had killed her - probably torturing her, allowing the other vampires small samples of her blood before draining her himself. Jim had seen that done, once, to a Donor who tried to escape. Diane’s crime had been much worse. She’d murdered a Guardian.

  Instead of taking her life, however, Roger had merely sent her to the Punishment Room. Which amounted to little more than solitary confinement.

  Incredible. Wonderful.

  11

  Night after night, alone in the Security Center, Jim watched her.

  He watched her sleep on the concrete floor, a sheet wrapped around her naked body. He watched her sit motionless, c
ross-legged, gazing at the walls. He watched her squat on a metal bucket to relieve herself. Sometimes, she gave herself sponge baths.

  Frequently, she exercised. For hours at a time, she would stretch, run in place, kick and leap, do sit-up and push-up and handstands. Jim loved to watch her quick, graceful motions, the flow of her sleek muscles, the way her hair danced and how her breasts jiggled and swayed. He loved the sheen of sweat that made her body glisten.

  He could never see enough of her.

  Every day, he waited eagerly for the hour when he could relieve Biff and be alone with Diane.

  When he had to go on night raids, he was miserable. But he did his duty. He rounded up outlaw women. Some became Specials, and he visited them in Honors Rooms, but when he was with them he always tried to pretend they were Diane.

  Then one night, watching her exercise, he noticed that her belly didn’t look quite flat.

  ‘No,’ he murmured.

  12

  Throughout the winter, he watched her grow. Every night, she seemed larger. Her breasts swelled and her belly became a bulging mound.

  He often wondered whose child she was bearing. It might be his. It might be Phil’s.

  He worried, always, about Delivery Day.

  13

  During his free time, he began making solitary treks into the wood surrounding the estate.

  He took his sub-machine-gun and machete.

  He often came back with game, which he delivered afterwards to Jones in the kitchen. The grinning chef was always delighted to receive the fresh meat. He was glad to have Jim’s company while he prepared it for the Guardians’ evening meal.

  14

  Spring came. One morning at six, just as Bart entered the Security Center to relieve Jim of his watch, Diane flinched awake, grimacing. She drew her knees up. She clutched her huge belly through the sheet.

  ‘What gives?’ Bart asked.

  Jim shook his head.

  Bart studied the monitor. ‘She’s starting contractions. I’d better ring up Doc.’

  Bart made the call. Then he took over Jim’s seat in front of the video screens.

  ‘I think I’ll stick around,’ Jim said.

  Bart chuckled. ‘Help yourself.’

  He stayed. He watched the monitor. Soon, Doc and Morgan and Donner entered the cell. They slung the sheet aside. Morgan and Donner forced Diane’s legs apart. Doc inspected her. Then they lifted her onto a gurney and strapped her down. They rolled the gurney out of the cell.

  ‘I’ll pick ’em up in the Prep Room,’ Bart muttered. ‘That’s what you want to see, right?’ He leered over his shoulder.

  Jim forced a smile. ‘You got it.’

  Bart fingered some buttons. The deserted Punishment Room vanished from the screen, and the Prep Room appeared.

  Doc and his assistants rolled the gurney in.

  He soaked a pad with chloroform, and pressed it against Diane’s nose and mouth until she passed out. Then the straps were unfastened. After being sprayed with water, she was rubbed with white foam. All three men went at her with razors.

  ‘Wouldn’t mind that job,’ Bart said.

  Jim watched the razors sweep paths through the foam, cutting away not only Diane’s thick golden hair, but also the fine down. The passage of the blades left her skin shiny and pink. After a while, she was turned over so the rest of her body could be lathered and shaved.

  Then the men rinsed her and dried her with towels.

  They carried her from the gurney to the wheeled, oak serving-table. The table, a rectangle large enough to seat only six, was bordered by brass gutters for catching the run-off. At the corners of one end - Roger’s end - were brass stirrups.

  Feeling sick, Jim watched the men lift Diane’s limp body onto the table. They bent her legs. They strapped her feet into the stirrups. They slid her forward to put her within easy reach of Roger. Then they cinched a belt across her chest, just beneath her breasts. They stretched her arms overhead and strapped her wrists to the table.

  ‘That’s about it for now,’ Bart said. ‘If you drop by around seven tonight, that’s when they’ll be basting her. She’ll be awake then, too. That’s when the panic really hits them. It’s usually quite a sight to behold.’

  ‘I’ve seen,’ Jim muttered, and left the room.

  15

  He returned to the barracks and tried to sleep. It was no use. Finally, he got up and armed himself. Steve let him out the front gate. He wandered the woods for hours. With his sub-machine-gun, he bagged three squirrels.

  In the late afternoon, he ducked into the hiding place he’d found in a clump of bushes. He lashed together the twenty wooden spears which he’d fashioned during the past weeks. He pocketed the small pouch containing the nightcap mushrooms which he had gathered and ground to fine powder.

  He carried the spears to the edge of the forest. Leaving them propped against a tree, he stepped into the open. He smiled and waved his squirrels at the north tower. The gate opened, and he entered the estate.

  He took the squirrels to Jones in the kitchen. And helped the cheerful chef prepare stew for the Guardians’ supper.

  16

  Just after sunset, Jim went to the Security Center and knocked.

  ‘Yo.’ Biff’s voice.

  ‘It’s Jim. I want to see the basting.’

  ‘You’re a little early,’ Biff said. Moments later, he opened the door. His mouth made a tight little O and he folded as Jim rammed a knife into his stomach.

  17

  Diane was awake, sweaty and grunting, struggling against the restraints, gritting her teeth and flinching rigid each time a contraction hit her.

  Jim stared at the screen. Without hair and eyebrows, she looked so odd. Freakish. Even her figure, misshapen by the distended belly and swollen breasts, seemed alien. But her eyes were pure Diane. In spite of her pain and terror, they were proud, unyielding.

  Doc entered the Prep Room, examined her for a few moments, then went away.

  Jim checked the other screens.

  In the Donor Ward, the women had been locked down for the Guardians’ evening mealtime. Some slept. Others chatted with friends in neighboring beds. Jim made a quick count.

  In the Specialty Suite, Morgan and Donner were just returning a woman from an Honors Room. They led her to one of the ten

  empty beds, shoved her down on it, and shackled her feet to the metal frame. Jim counted heads.

  Thirty-two Donors. Only sixteen Specials. Generally, however, the Donors were older women who’d been weakened by the daily loss of blood and by regular mistreatment at the hands of the Guardians. The Specials were fewer in number, but younger and stronger. Though some appeared to be in late stages of their pregnancies, most were not very far along, and many of the newer ones had probably not even conceived yet.

  It’ll be the Specials, Jim decided.

  He watched Morgan and Donner leave the Suite.

  In the Mess Hall, Guardians began to eat their stew.

  In the floodlit courtyard, Steve and Bennington climbed stairs to the north and west towers, carrying pots of dinner to the men on watch duty. When they finished there, they should be heading for the other two towers.

  Morgan and Donner entered the Mess Hall. They sat down, and Jones brought them pots of stew.

  Doc entered the Prep Room. He set a bowl of shimmering red fluid onto the table beside Diane’s hip. He dipped in a brush. He began to paint her body. The blood coated her like paint.

  In the Mess Hall, Baxter groaned and staggered away from the table, clutching his belly.

  In the Banquet Room, there was no camera. But Jim knew that Roger and his pals would be there, waiting and eager. The absence of the usual table would’ve already tipped them off that tonight would be Special. Even now, Roger was probably picking five to sit with him at the serving table. The unfortunate four would only get to watch and dine on their usual fare of Donor blood.

  In the Mess Hall, Guardians were stumbling about, falling dow
n, rolling on the floor.

  In the Prep Room, Doc set aside the brush and bowl. He rolled the serving table toward the door. Diane shook her crimson, hairless head from side to side and writhed against the restraints.

  Jim rushed out of the Security Center.

  18

  ‘All hell’s broken loose!’ he shouted as he raced up the stairs to the

  north tower. ‘Don’t touch your food! Jones poisoned it!’

  ‘Oh shit!’ Harris blurted, and spat out a mouthful.

  ‘Did you swallow any?’ Jim asked, rushing toward him.

  ‘Not much, but…’

  Jim jerked the knife from the back of his belt and slashed Harris’s throat. He punched a button on the control panel.

  By the time he reached the front gate, it was open. He ran out, dashed across the clear area beyond the wall, and grabbed the bundle of spears.

  The gate remained open for him. Apparently, the poison had taken care of the Guardian on the west tower.

  Rushing across the courtyard, he saw two Guardians squirming on the ground.

  At the outer door of the Specialty Suite, he snatched the master key off its nail. He threw the door open and rushed in.

  ‘All right, ladies! Listen up! We’re gonna kill some vampires!’

  19

  Blasts pounding his ears, Jim blew apart the lock. He threw his gun aside, kicked the door, and charged into the Banquet Room.

  Followed by sixteen naked Specials yelling and brandishing spears.

  For just an instant, the vampires around the serving table continued to go about their business - greedily lapping the brown, dry blood from Diane’s face and breasts and legs as Roger groped between her thighs. The four who watched, goblets in hand, were the first to respond.

 
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