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            I stared at the coin for quite some time. Should I really do what it tells me? Am I obligated to trust a coin, even if I said I would?

            And almost immediately I started back into the arguing in my head, but stopped myself, knowing that if I continued with those thought cycles, I would probably forget I had ever flipped the coin.

            I crawled back into bed, the coin still lying on the floor. It has been decided. And I fell asleep easily.

______      ______      ______

            I woke up early, after less than four hours sleep, and left the house, without waking Leanna. It took me almost eight hours of phone calls and showing up at the doors of known slave traders, but I finally found a reasonable looking man who would give me 75 dollars for her. I told him I would return in a few hours.

            I returned home to find Leanna, still lying on the couch, though awake now. She waited for me to wander into the living room, then asked, “May I use the restroom?”

            “Of course,” I replied. “Have you even moved from that spot today?”

            “No,” she said, as she rose. “I didn’t know if…” but she trailed off.

            “I should have told you that you were free to roam around the house and use the facilities. My apologies.”

            She went to the bathroom leaving the door standing wide open, and the sound of her peeing seemed to echo through the house, though in reality it was barely audible. It was the most noise I’d heard her make since I had purchased her.

            “Would you like to go to the park today?” I asked, once she had exited the bathroom.

            “Okay,” she replied indifferently.

            And a few minutes later we hopped back into my automobile and drove the few blocks to Central Park. We stared for a moment at the tower marking north,then exited the vehicle. My heart beat harder with every moment that passed. We would hang out in this park for an hour or so, during which time I would tell her that I needed to sell her.

            I started climbing the structures as Leanna sat by herself, off to the side. After several minutes I realized she did not have the desire to play on this thing. I crawled back down and sat beside her, already panting from the heat. “Do you feel like talking much today?”

            “Sorry,” she replied. “I’m quiet.”

            “I thought you might like to know a little bit about yourself. I can tell you all sorts of stories about your past.”

            And she did not reply.

            “Now’s the time to find out,” I told her. I paused but she remained silent. “I don’t know how much longer—“

            And I stopped, seeing a ridiculously fat man in very strange clothes walking with an attractive female slave. They walked toward us and I noticed the two were holding hands. Leanna looked up and stared at them, before drooping her head again to its normal position.

            The fat man sat beside me, and the woman sat next to Leanna, surrounding us. “Hello, sir. My name is Tim.” And the fat man held out his hand. I shook it reluctantly. “Would you like a piece of nutrient bar?” he asked.

            “Excuse me?” I asked. “How much are you asking?”

            He held out a small piece. “Just a bit of conversation.” And he dropped it into my hand.

I swallowed it in one gulp. “Ask away,” I said.

“How long have you lived in the northern province?”

“All my life.”

“Do you like it here?”

The conversation started off small, but after about half an hour, we were discussing the possible futures of the planet Sorn, what could be done to save our world, whether or not people would have the faith and courage necessary to make real change. After a time we delved into the future of the human race in general and found ourselves writing scenarios that would take place ten thousand years in the future.

And in the midst of this conversation, I forgot about my problems. It probably had something to do with the surprise food in my stomach, but my mood picked up, and I found myself unable to break concentration until we had been talking for almost an hour, when I looked up to see Leanna was gone.

“She’s smoking pot with Lisa,” Tim told me.

“Pot?” I asked.

“It’s like hash. Upper class slaves sometimes smoke it.”

“Lisa is your slave?”

And he nodded.

They returned only a few minutes later, Leanna wearing the first true smile I’d seen on her.

“Well, we should be moving on,” Tim said. And they politely departed.

“Nice to meet you,” said Leanna, as they turned their backs.

And several moments later I realized that I needed to get back to the trader’s house in order to make this deal. We got back into my car and I started heading that way.

I have something to tell you. I tried to force my mouth to speak, but could not make the words come out. I need to sell you. I can’t afford feed us both. If I don’t do this we’ll both starve…I have something to tell you…I must hand you over to a trader who is going to take care of you…

And she spoke: “I’m sorry I’m quiet.”

“It’s okay,” I replied. “You can only be yourself.”

A long moment of silence before she said, “Lisa said same thing. ‘Only be yourself.’” And she stared out the window for another long period. “Lisa likes to talk… She talked to me… a lot.” And she went back to staring.

“What kind of stuff did you talk about?” I asked.

Leanna did not answer, but after several minutes, she said, “I want to be a part of the solution.”

“What do you mean?” I said. “A part of the planetary solution? You want to help to end the starving, the heat, the slavery?”

And she did not reply, until we were less than two blocks from the dealer’s house. “She made me think… I like to think… it’s what I do… but Lisa made me think…” And she paused. “about soup…”

“Soup?” I asked.

“Human soup,” she replied almost immediately. “We eat our own kind to survive, and I remember soup. Lot’s of tasty, tasty human soup… and… someone… sitting next to me… talking.”

I parked in front of the house. “Oh shit,” I said. “You remember me.”

“I remember soup,” she replied.

But you will. And I turned the car around.

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KalinBooks.com is the ramblings of Kalin Ringkvist, a science fiction author with a passion for peace and freedom.