Chapter 6: Julia’s Arrival
About two years before
John walked into one of his supplier’s warehouses and found a slave, naked and bleeding, lying on the floor. The manager said “Don’t mind her, they’ll pick her up shortly.”
“Who’ll pick her up?”
“The disposal crew. She hurt herself and we’re disposing of her.”
“Isn’t this Julia, the inventory girl?”
“Yes, but we’ve got a replacement.”
“If you don’t want her, I’ll take her.”
“She’s yours, but she’ll cost a lot to fix.”
John picked her up, put her in the back of the truck, and drove to a doctor that he knew worked on slaves. The injuries weren’t all that serious, and he took Julia back to his business, Thompson Connectors, a dealer in electrical parts. There was an old apartment on the top floor that he had never bothered to remodel or use, so he took her up there.
As she recovered, he kept her comfortable, and she finally asked, “Did you get my pictures?”
He replied that he only got her, and she looked disappointed. “I still had a few things from my days as a free woman at the warehouse.”
A few days later, he was back at the warehouse, so he asked about her stuff. They brought out a box with some pictures and odds and ends, and a suitcase. “The suitcase showed up here with her name on it a while after we got her, but we didn’t give it to her.” John thanked them, finished his business, and drove back to his store. On the way, he stopped at a discount store and bought a nightgown and some clothes that he guessed were the right size, along with some toiletries.
“Here’s your stuff from the warehouse.” He handed her the box and set the suitcase on the floor. She looked through the pictures wistfully, then set them on her table. He handed her the bag. She saw the clothing, and gasped.
“I haven’t worn clothes in years. I’m surprised you got me some.”
“You’d be too big a distraction around here without them. When you’ve recovered, I want you to take care of the inventory here. By the way, they told me this suitcase came for you at the warehouse.”
She looked puzzled, and opened the suitcase. There were some clothes, some photo albums, and a few old books, along with some computer DVDs. “I think my son must have put this together for me. The dvd labels say that they are scans of my important papers. I haven’t seen him since my husband sold me out.”
“You husband sold you out?”
“Yes,” she said. “I think he got tired of me.”
“How long have you been a slave? And how did you get hurt at the warehouse? That place was pretty safe.”
“Three years. I got hurt when a box fell off a high shelf on me. I’d arranged for it to fall, hoping it would kill me or get them to dispose of me. It didn’t work; you got me before the Hill’s people got me.”
“Hill’s people?”, John asked.
“Hill’s Fine Meats, an alternate meat source firm. It’s the way a lot of slaves get freed from slavery.”
“The warehouse was so bad that you wanted to die?”
“No, just being a slave was. I knew thay had a policy of not spending money on slave health care.”
“I’m sorry, I thought I was helping.”
“You did. A little kindness helps a lot. What about my duties here? Inventory, and what kind of sex do you like?”
John was taken aback; he actually hadn’t thought about it while she was recuperating, but it occurred to him that she was available to him. He felt a desire, but felt uncomfortable. “None for now, thanks. I had the kitchen down the hall stocked with food, and left some expense money. If you need to go out, use the back stairs; the key to the apartment entrance is with the cash. Tomorrow, we’ll get you transferred.”
He paused before leaving and looked her over. Black hair, white skin, well-proportioned, with slightly drooping breasts — she looked a little like Ashley Rene. It was hard for him to believe that he actually owned her. He was a child of the sixties, indoctrinated in equality. But here he was, with a woman he owned and a paper that had assigned her to the bearer, intended for people who were going to cut her up for meat. He was both repulsed and excited, and unsure how long he could wait before using her. Maybe his wife would have something to say about that.
She asked, “You left me money, clothes, and a key to the building? Aren’t you going to chain me for the night? Before you got me, I had an explosive collar that kept me close to the building and they chained us to beds overnight. Why do you think I won’t run?”
“I don’t have any chains or fancy collars, I don’t have the time or staff to watch you round the clock, and I don’t know whether you’ll run or not. It’s better for you here than where you were before, you don’t have anywhere to go, the authorities are think it’s fun to catch runaway slaves, and I haven’t put all that much money into you. Do what you like.”