FFF 18: Slave auction

Daria stood silent but defiant to the auctioneer’s prodding and poking as all the slaves were shuffled off of the tiny ship. The boy next to her in line cowered at a mere glance. It was obvious he was already broken, as it had been to Daria during the entire trip, but no one ever said anything. Most of the other slaves pitied him, or less. They were all still in the dirty, lice-ridden rags in which they had begun the voyage. They stood in rows of twenty or so and waited to be bought by a nice man with a pretty penny to spare. That was the collective dream, anyway.

Daria’s hair, once a straight shiny auburn, was ratted and tangled — not to mention filthy.

Potential buyers, all men, walked up and down the rows checking teeth and pulling hair to make sure slaves were healthy. The boy standing next to her was bought almost immediately, but it didn’t look like his new owner was going to be any better than her last one. Abusive, to say the least. He was slowly led away, but he never looked up to see who had bought him.

A woman was strolling along the aisles — a rare sight at a slave auction such as this one. And she was even unescorted, which was unheard of. However, Daria noticed she looked just as keen and knowledgeable as the men in the area, if not more so. She was fair-haired and bold, for she left her hair down in unconscious rebelliousness and spoke men’s dialect well. Many of the other potential buyers might’ve “mistaken” her for merchandise had she not been wearing such finery, for blondness and such brazenness in women was rare in the Greek world, and certainly something to be coveted. She hadn’t come down the aisle in which Daria was standing yet, but she apparently hadn’t found what she was looking for yet, either.

A man stopped in front of Daria; she hadn’t noticed him heading her way until he was directly in front of her. She lifted her chin noncompliantly in his direction. He raised a jeweled hand to check her teeth, but when he forced her mouth open, she bit down hard on his index finger.

“Aahh!” The man pulled back. “Auctioneer! This slave bit me!” he bellowed. Daria didn’t dodge the auctioneer’s whip across her face, and she forced herself not to cry out. Her eyes glittered dangerously.

“Behave yourself, slave, or I’ll have to feed you to the dogs.” Daria said nothing, but she stared him straight in the eyes, and she knew that if their positions were ever reversed, he would tremble in fear before her. He turned to the man. “Are you all right, sir? This girl’s a nasty one, but she’ll be a gem once she’s been broken. Perfect for breeding; look at her smooth skin and soft hands. And her figure is young, but it will develop to beauty if you treat it well.”

The man nodded, staring at Daria up and down in a way that made her want to go take a long hot bath to rid herself of all the filth he was laying upon her with his gaze. “I’ve been needing a girl for some… special… labour. Turn around, girl, I want to look at you.”

Daria didn’t move. The glint in her eyes grew. “What? She doesn’t know Greek?” the man asked.

“Yes, she does. She spoke it fluently on the ship.” The auctioneer raised his thrash in warning, but Daria turned her face away and did not move. Without time for her preperation, the whip crashed down on her head hard enough to make her swoon. She bit her lip and tasted blood, but she refused to budge. Again and again, she felt the lash on her head and back, and when even she couldn’t stand for all the spots in her vision, she collapsed to one knee, coughing blood.


This post is part of Flash Fiction February.

Viannah E. Duncan

Viannah E. Duncan is a writer and activist hailing originally from Los Angeles. She lives outside of Baltimore, Maryland, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She has a cat, Cleo.

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