This is a “missing scene” from The Inheritor.
The bulk of it was cut for length. (And because it did not advance the story, include a sex scene, or really show off anything important you didn’t know about the main character involved.) It will be included in a collection of other excerpts, notes, cuts, and other extras to be distributed to Kickstarter backers who opted for the Deluxe E-book reward levels. No, I don’t know when, I have to assemble all those bits and get them into some sort of order so people know what they’re reading.
Anyhoo! On Election Day 2014 (USA version), I somewhat naively offered to post an excerpt from The Inheritor containing as many lines as people who posted pictures of their “I voted” stickers and tagged me that day. And, uh, that got out of hand real fast. By the end of the day, we had more than 140, plus an assortment of “and my partner!” comments and “they had no stickers!” woes. I decided 160 was a nice round number.
So here are about 160 lines from a scene *not in the actual book.* It’s a BONUS scene, which no one but the Deluxe e-book backers would have seen, except I am a big civic duty fan and y’all really touched me with all that voting stuff.
There are no big spoilers. There are characters mentioned who don’t even appear in the rest of the book, LOL. If you did back the Kickstarter and have the book, then you know when and where this takes place and who the Greycoats are. If you have not read it and are waiting until February, maybe you can ask a friend.
“Heads up, slavemeat, and give Harris your attention for a minute,” the Greycoat said, giving the slave in front of her a slight shove.
There were isolated groans and a few giggles. Robin put the sketch book down and glanced around in curiosity.
Harris was a clean-shaven man with what she supposed was regularly fair skin. Right now, though, his face was downright florid, all the way to the roots of his buzzcut hair. He ran a hand over that brush of hair self-consciously and took a deep breath.
“Save me, Harris!” pleaded a woman across the room, waving her hands in the air. Laughs rippled through the room.
“Knock it off, chuckleheads,” warned the Greycoat. “Get on with it, Harris, we don’t have all night.”
“I’d like to share with you the good news about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” Harris said. Although his coloring didn’t change, his voice was firm and earnest. “Accepting Christ into your heart is the one sure path to eternal salvation in His Glorious service. If any—”
“That’s a long contract, dude,” interjected one of the card players. “I gotta talk to my agent about that!”
“Don’t make me come over there,” the Greycoat growled.
Harris sighed. “If anyone would like to know more,please feel free to see me or leave a message in room six. Prayer meetings will be held in the staff chapel…”
“Every hour,” muttered an older woman, who had also been looking through the library shelves. “And that doesn’t count the candle lighting, the drumming circle, the meditation periods, and the sacred chocolate debauchery at two in the morning.”
“This is a regular thing?” Robin asked, watching Harris doggedly finish his speech. Several slaves applauded; one stood up and solemnly blessed the room with exaggerated gestures.
“Oh, yes. He belongs to the Jarrett family. Do you know them?” At Robin’s head shake,the woman glanced around and then edged closer. “Have you heard of the Full Faith Church? It’s one of those outsized cathedrals to Moloch masquerading as a house of prayer. The Jarretts have a substantial financial interest in it.”
“But you have to admit,” came a voice from the other side of the shelf, “they are genuine in their faith!”
The woman shrugged. “I wouldn’t know. They certainly would fail the eye of the needle test by virtue of their sheer wealth. What I object to is making their slaves proselytize. I’d refuse, and I’d have my trainer lodge a complaint.”
“Really? It’s only a speech. That’s in no way beyond any reasonable limit.” The man walked around the shelf to their side; he was slightly paunchy and rounded in his black bathrobe, dark eyes behind thick glasses. “Notice he didn’t have to make a personal affirmation of faith.”
“It doesn’t matter. No owner should have the right to make a slave practice a religion, and proselytizing is a practice of faith.It’s a matter of conscience.”
Robin nodded. “I’d hate having to do something like that. I mean, it’s no big deal to go to church every once in a while, but I’dfeel so…fake… trying to tell people to follow one religion or another when I’m kind of nothing myself.”
More slaves looked up from their games; one of the card players folded and pointed his finger at Robin. “I’m with you. No fucking gods,no religion for me, and my owner is the same. I’m a sex slave, for crying out loud! Are we supposed to go to church and pretend we’re going to fucking heaven when we’re a bunch of freaky perverts?”
“So, you’d disobey an order just to recite a speech?” asked the man in his robe.
“I would! I’m a slave, not a fucking priest.”
“The hell you would!” scoffed another card player.
“Father Pippen’s a priest and a slave, dumbass…”
The room erupted in crosstalk and arm waving as almost everyone in the rec room got involved in the points of contention. That lasted for about five minutes or so, until a Greycoat slammed the door open.
Almost instantly, the decibel level dropped. The monitor scanned the room and eyed them all, making Robin feel like a naughty child on a playground. “I surely did not hear raised voices in here, now, did I?” the Greycoat drawled, tapping her baton against the palm of her hand.”Because y’all are brothers and sisters, a’right? So, y’all might behaving a spirited discussion, but there’s no need to be rude or unkind. Or was I mistaken?”
Murmured apologies and ducked heads were her answers. She nodded briskly and exited.
“They run a tight ship,” Robin marveled.
“They have to,” grinned the man in his robe. He chuckled warmly and inclined his head to the woman he’d been arguing with. She nodded back with an ironic shrug. “Otherwise, we’d be arguing about everything.But I still contend a request to merely say something is not a stringent test of conscience. And my name is Josiah.”
Robin got introductions around and revealed herself to be a Playhouse virgin. The welcoming smiles she got from everyone made her feel warm down to her sheepskin wrapped toes. This was the feeling she missed so much from Kaleigh, the company of other slaves, the feeling of camaraderie and family.
Even when they did have passionate disagreements.
“Look at it this way. If they’re vegetarians and say you have to be too, that’s allowed. And diet is far more important than saying something you don’t necessarily believe in,” Josiah said, passing a tray of warm cookies.
Hiu chuckled and quoted, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.”
“Master cometh-ing in my mouth is plenty defiling,” Kira interjected, leaning over the back of the couch to grab a cookie. “I tell him I love it, but actually,it’s kinda gross. Still, he loves to think I’m some jizz-swilling slut crazy for it, so…”
Josiah smiled and waved a hand triumphantly in her direction. “And there we have it. We lie all the time. Oh, forgive me, please, we stretch the truth, we embroider and exaggerate. If the mistress wants me to join the campus crusade for Aphrodite, it’s no different. My private beliefs remain my own. And of course,if they are so important to me I could not forsake them, I would say so in my contracts.”
“But you don’t know what’s important sometimes, until you get that command,” Robin interjected. “Or, you’re faced with a choice you never thought you had to make.” Like pregnancy, she thought with a wry touch against her belly. She had met a slave who left her collar after whatever safer sex precautions her master had been using failed. Or, were forgotten.
“Uh-huh, like when my owner told me I had to vote for this summabitch I wouldn’t spit on if he was afire,” offered another listener.
“Oh, no he didn’t!”
“Oh, yes!” The woman nodded with a raised eyebrow and smirk. “I said, yes, sir and voted for my boy, and no one ever knew the difference.”
At once, laughter mingled with shocked cries of “You lied?”
She shrugged. “Voting’s my right. People died so I could vote. I’m not throwing that away. Anyone ordering you who to vote for,that’s just like ordering what god you got to believe in. No way, no how. I’ll let ’em think whatever they like, but I own my self first, and no one’s gonna take that away.”
“I don’t follow politics,” said the young woman who didn’t care for her master’s jizz. “Puh-leaze, so boring. Blah, blah,blah, vote for me. And I heard that’s how they find you for jury duty, when you register to vote. So, no registration, no problem! Even if they did want me to vote for one guy over another.”
Hiu nodded and pointed at her. “Yeah, me too. I don’t care. What does it matter to me? I’m property. I don’t vote anyway. Nothing ever changes, they’re all wealthy criminals and lawyers who talk, talk, and do whatever they can get to steal more money from idiots who believe them.” He shrugged. “If a mistress ordered me to vote for one over another…and I was registered to vote…I’d do it faster than doing some religious thing I didn’t believe in.”
“So you contend slaves like us shouldn’t vote because we’re property?” Josiah asked, cocking his head to one side. “Or perhaps because we are merely three-fifths of a person?”
“That isn’t what I said!” Hiu insisted, waving half a cookie around. “This isn’t about race!”
“It is when you say property shouldn’t vote!”
“But it’s true, nothing ever changes, so why bother?”
“Because it’s not only a privilege and a right, it’s our duty!”
Robin tried to remember her instructions about issues like voting. Chris had told her the right fell under behaviors of conscience, and refusal to obey an order she felt morally or ethically opposed to was subject to various forms of arbitration. “No one, not even your owner, may accompany you to witness your vote, or compel you to show them an absentee ballot,” he told her. “But if you have no opinion either way, or if you are fortunate enough to feel informed and guided by your owners, of course you may heed their values…”
“My only duty is to my owner.”
“Aw, fuck that, you’re a citizen and a human!”
Voice raised and cookie crumbs scattered while arms waved,and some slaves stood to further gesticulate and others rolled their eyes in dismissal. Then, a sharp crack resounded through the room, and everyone quieted and turned back toward the origin of the sound.
The Greycoat had smacked her baton against the card table.
“I’m seeing some property needing to exercise their right and privilege to shut their holes and behave like brothers and sisters at a polite family reunion! So I suggest you settle the fuck down or I start hauling you down to the recycling plant to spend the rest of your time here sorting garbage! You—git!You —find somewhere else to be!” She pointed and people moved, muttering an assortment of apologies, to her and their fellows.
None of her owners had ever asked her opinion on politics or religion, Robin reflected, realizing she was possibly lucky that way. In fact, Monica had been the only one to even ask her if she’d registered for the local elections. Seeing it was important to her, Robin did, but she never got around to doing the same in Chicago.
Maybe I should, she thought, feeling a little guilty. I guess I am sort of cynical about it. But am I using my slavery as an excuse to not know, care about, or interact with the rest of the world the way a good person does?
Aiden wouldn’t like it if he knew that about me, she suddenly realized. He probably assumes I’m at least aware, I mean I read his papers,I know his values are right there in the editorial pages.
I’ll register as soon as I get home, she promised herself.I don’t need to let him know I waited so long. I suppose that’s not much of a lie.