Some monsters are born; others are made.
Mutter was sure that his pending execution at the Guards’ Shelter was the worst thing that could happen to him, but that was before he met Professor Conguise.
Now, he’s living in a laboratory and the Almightys are giving him shots. He fears that they are attempting to mutate him into some kind of monster like those in the other cages. The creatures in the other cages are unnatural. Things that he can’t believe exist. Things that shouldn’t exist and if he doesn’t escape, soon he will become one of them.
Introduction to the world of the Lake of Sins
This story takes place hundreds of years after the Great Death visited the earth, killing most humans, all domestic animals and all wild animals larger than a turkey. Those who survived were left with the task of rebuilding society.
The new social structure is based on a class system. The classes important to this story are the Almightys, Guards and House Servants.
Almightys, the only direct descendants of the human race, rule the other classes. They are generally between five and six feet tall with pale, alabaster skin.
Guards belong to the Almightys and are used for hunting or protection. They are between four and six feet tall and their hair color varies. Their eyes are usually brown and they have a light coating of hair on their bodies. Most males wear facial hair. They have large canine teeth used for biting and tearing. They are strong, fast and heal quickly. Their senses of hearing, smell and night vision are superior to Almightys.
House Servants also belong to the Almightys but their role in this society is to manage the households and businesses of the Almightys. They are slender in build and between four and five feet tall. They have a light coating of hair covering their bodies. The males are usually clean shaven. They are born with fangs and claws, although their claws are often removed by their masters. Their eyes are usually a vibrant hue and their senses of night vision, hearing and smell are superior to the Guards’.
Unwanted Guards and House Servants are taken to the local shelters and executed if not purchased.
Mutter is a Guard who is no longer wanted. This is his story.
MUTTER WAS IN TROUBLE. No one wanted a Guard like him. He was too big, too strong and too ugly. He stretched out on the concrete floor and winced. His ribs were definitely broken, but he’d fought and won with broken bones in the past. He started coughing. It was this sickness that had cost him the match. He sat up; the coughing subsided. He’d pleaded with Vickers, his Almighty master, not to make him fight but the money had already switched hands. He leaned his head against the bars of the cage. He’d lost the fight and now he’d lose his life.
The door opened and a male Almighty around thirty years old with blond hair entered the room followed by Satcha, the House Servant who ran this establishment. The Guards’ Shelter didn’t allow visiting at this hour but Almightys did whatever they wanted. Mutter didn’t bother to stand up. He’d learned his lesson. Right after he’d arrived, he’d trimmed his beard and had tried to look pleasant, but it had done no good. Every time that he’d run to the front of the cage and had smiled at the Almightys, he’d smelled the fear on them. Most had tried not to look at him, but he was big and scarred and hard to ignore.
They stopped in front of his cage.
“Ableson, this is the one I told you about,” said Satcha. “Looks like he was a fighter. So, he should be used to obeying. I thought he might work for you, but he does have a bad cough.”
“Just a little tickle in my throat from this damp, rotten place.” He hated Servants. They didn’t know when to keep their big mouths shut.
The Almighty remained quiet, his blue eyes never leaving Mutter.
“Come here,” said Satcha.
Mutter wanted to stay where he was to annoy the Servant but Guards like him didn’t get many chances for a home. He stood slowly, letting the Almighty get used to his size and appearance.
“How old are you?” asked Ableson.
“Not sure. Been around for a while but not too old.” That was the safe answer. He had counted nineteen winters but that might be too old or too young. He never could tell what an Almighty wanted.
“By his teeth and body we estimate around twenty-five to thirty years,” said Satcha.
Ableson twirled his finger. Mutter understood that signal. Before the fights had started, when the betting happened, he was often sized up by the gamblers. He turned in a circle, giving the Almighty time to study him.
“I’m strong and healthy.” That was a lie but he would be healthy again. He just needed a little time and some food.
“I need an obedient Guard.” The Almighty’s eyes roamed up and down his frame.
“Won’t find one more obedient than me.”
“Let’s see if that’s true.” Ableson walked down the aisle. “Is there another Guard who he’s close to?”
“Him?” Satcha laughed, following the Almighty. “He’s so big and ugly even the other Guards stay away from him.”
Ableson stopped in the hallway. “Take this one out.”
The Servant opened the cage and slipped a rope over a young Guard’s neck. Mutter’s chest pinched. Typical. The Almighty’s always chose the young ones. His only chance was gone. They would walk out and soon he’d be executed. He started to sit back down, when the three of them stopped in front of his cage.
“Put her in with him,” said Ableson.
“Ah, we keep the younger ones separated from the older ones, especially the older males,” said Satcha.
The Almighty didn’t say a word, but his look was enough. The Servant muttered an apology and opened the door, shoving the young Guard into Mutter’s cage.
He glanced at the little Guard who stood as far away from him as possible. She couldn’t have been older than nine. She had russet hair and large, frightened, brown eyes.
“Hit her,” said Ableson, his tone conversational.
“Wait,” said Satcha. “That one’s young and attractive. I can find a home for her. Let me get—”
“I’ll pay for both.” The Almighty’s eyes never left Mutter.
Mutter kept his face a mask but his stomach clenched. He didn’t want to do this. He’d fought females before but they’d all been experienced fighters.
“I need an obedient Guard,” repeated Ableson.
The girl trembled in the corner, tears running down her soft, round cheeks. “Please, don’t hurt me.”
Pleading never changed anyone’s mind. He knew the game and it would be her or him. He stared into the girl’s scared brown eyes. “Bruised, broken or dead?”
“Just hit her. I’ll tell you when to stop.”
Mutter stepped forward. The girl curled in a ball on the floor, pleading and crying. He grabbed her by the shirt. She weighed next to nothing, all skin and bones. He punched her in the gut, making the blow look harder than it was, but the girl was so small she gasped and coughed. He hesitated, waiting for the Almighty to stop this, but no words came. He hit her again. She yelped in pain. He shifted his stance, stalling and praying for the words that would allow him to quit, but the only sounds were the yells of the Guards in the nearby cages. Most screamed for him to stop but some cheered him on. If the Almighty wouldn’t end this, he would. His next punch caught her upside the head, knocking her out. He let her slide to the floor.
He walked toward the Almighty.
“I didn’t say stop.” Ableson’s blue eyes challenged him.
He stared at the girl on the floor. Only in the roughest fights, those to the end, did they hit opponents when they were down.
“Forget it. He won’t work.” Ableson turned and headed for the door.
He’d be dead tomorrow if that Almighty left. The girl’s tiny frame was about the size of his arm. She was still breathing. “Wait.”
Ableson walked back to the cage. “Obey or I leave. This is your one warning.”
His heart thudded as each footstep moved him closer to the little female. The other Guards had fallen silent. He grasped her by the back of the shirt. Her head lolled to the side, eyes closed. He stared at the tears on her cheeks as he punched her over and over, trying to hit non-vital parts but it was difficult. She was tiny and his fists were big.
“Enough,” said the Almighty.
He lowered her to the floor. Her breath was ragged and blood trickled from her lips. His eyes burned, but no wetness came. He hadn’t cried since he’d lost his mother. It didn’t do any good. He wiped the girl’s blood on his shirt as he faced the Almighty.
Ableson smiled at him and handed an envelope to the Servant. “I’ll take him.”
Satcha looked in the envelope. “Ah, the price for the girl…”
Ableson frowned but handed the Servant a few more bills. Satcha stuck them in his pocket and opened the cage door, putting a rope around Mutter’s neck.
“Come.” Ableson yanked on the rope.
Mutter fisted his hands, fighting the urge to kill both of them as he stepped out of his cage.
“What about her?” asked Satcha.
“Do what you want with her,” said Ableson.
“But…you already paid.”
“If she lives, sell her again, or kill her. I don’t care.” Ableson walked toward the door.
Mutter refused to look back at the girl, the sacrifice for his freedom.