not see Moiku the next day, either as boy or girl, for preparations had
started for one of Lord Savark’s famous parties and neither
Roquana nor Tommuz had leisure for their accustomed walks in the
gardens. Roquana was busy in the house: the whole place was
cleaned from top to bottom and everything that could be washed was
washed and everything that could be polished was polished. Beds
were made up, tables laid, and every room decorated with flowers,
except for one whose occupant suffered from hay fever.
To Roquana’s surprise there were also four
dormitories, which turned out to be for younger and older girls and
boys from an orphanage in New Jackrusselham.
“How kind of Lord Savark to entertain these
orphans,” said Roquana. “They must be really thrilled
to meet the lords and ladies who govern Sunday, though I suppose
they’re even more excited to meet the entertainers. When I
was little I really, really wanted to meet Jamal Fittlutt.”
“Don’t you like Jamal Fittlutt?”
“I met him when I was an orphan,” said
Franette. “He’s not really very nice.”
“He seems so nice on telly”
“Yeah, well …”
“I didn’t know you were an orphan,
“Most of us are orphans here. They bring
us for the parties and, if we fit in, we get brought back again, and
some of us get chosen to work here. There’s not many that
aren’t orphans, just a few, like you and Tommuz.
You’ve been specially chosen. I expect you’ll be
picked out for personal services to one of the bigwigs.”
“What sort of personal services”
“What do you think?” said
Franette. “The sort of thing you get up to with
“What do you mean get up to? All we do is walk
in the gardens and talk to the gardeners sometimes.”
“Next,” said Franette, “
you’ll be telling me you’re a virgin.”
“Of course I’m a virgin.” Roquana
Franette laughed derisively. “We all
know you had Tommuz in your room for hours the first night you were
here,” she said.
“He was running away from bullies,” said
Roquana. “I let him stay till things got quiet.”
“You don’t fool anybody,” said
Franette. “The Chatelaine saw him go in – without his
trousers I may add – and she knows just how long he was
there. She was very impressed. She said you were the most
accomplished little liar we’ve ever had here. If she
hadn’t known Tommuz was there she might even have believed
“Course she knew,” said Franette.
“That’s how it works. The lads debag the new boy and
chase him till he escapes through the door into the girls’
wing. The new girl’s room is the only one not locked, so
when he hears the lads come roaring up, he dives through her door and
locks it. The lads muck about a bit, then go back – and
Madame LaTower is watching all the time. She knows if the girl
sends the boy away or not, and just how long he stays, and the next day
she questions the girl, and – like I said – she thinks
you’re the best liar we’ve ever had. Just the sort we
need here – as you’ll find out. There’s things
go on here that would ruin a few reputations if they got out.”
Roquana was curious, but before she could ask
anything more the Housekeeper appeared and sent the two girls off on
Later that day Roquana met Tommuz briefly as they
went about their separate duties. She wasted no time: she quickly
summarised what Franette had told her and said that, if she were to be
sexually assaulted during the party, she would run away, get out of the
grounds of Savark Court and make her way back to her mother’s
house in Beddleham.
Tommuz objected that it was dangerous. There
might not be Tohu in the immediate area of Savark Court, but they would
certainly be about in the forests, and they might kill her.
Roquana said she’d rather be dead than raped, that she was
beginning to believe that the stories people told of the savage Tohu
and their desire for human flesh were just made up to prevent ordinary
people escaping from the places to which their rulers wanted to confine
them. Anyway, she said, if he was so concerned, why didn’t
he come with her?
“I will if I can,” he said, but they
keep sending me on all sorts of errands so I might not know. But
anyway, if I find you’ve gone, I’ll follow you. Stick
close to the road, but not on it, or, if you have to be on it, get off
if you hear any carriages.”
“Tommuz! Tommuz! Where are you,
you lazy sod?” came a call.
“I’ll have to go.”
Roquana hurried in too. The Housekeeper had
work for her, putting favourite books by guests’ bedsides, and
Roquana was greatly reassured by the guest list: all the members
of the Council of the League of Purity, several High Court judges,
leading industrialists and bankers, including the 84-year-old Lord
President of the Bank of Sunday. There were members of the
SundaySenate and of the Monopolies Control Commission, and even a
couple of Members of the Holy Synod itself. There were also
famous entertainers of unimpeachable reputation, including Jamal
Fittlutt, beloved of everyone from old ladies to toddlers for his zany
humour, and respected throughout the world for his charitable work with
young people and his visits to orphanages and young offenders’
prisons. Franette’s hints of undesirable behaviour were
obviously just intended to scare her.
She was even more reassured by her next task, which
was to meet a group of young orphans in the front hall and take them to
the dormitories she had helped to prepare. She had been allocated
a group of young girls, while her colleagues were looking after the
older girls and the two groups of boys.
Her group seemed unhappy and apprehensive, but that,
she thought, was only natural. They had been taken away from
their accustomed surroundings and brought to a strange place, a great
house, obviously the home of someone very important. Even though
they were being given a treat, they were obviously out of their depths
and nervous in the company of their betters. She did her best to
cheer them up, but they remained closed-in, uncommunicative and even
fearful. Even when she told them that the famous Jamal Fittlutt
was in the house, they seemed no better, and one little girl started
crying. Roquana did her best to comfort her, but soon she was
called away by the Housekeeper. The little girls stayed huddled
together in the corner furthest from the door.
The guests had arrived while she was busy with the
children and the party was beginning. Roquana was given a tray of
sandwiches and sent to a room where a number of elderly men were
relaxing in easy chairs. There was a peculiar, rather sickly
smell in the room. Roquana, I knew, could not imagine what it
might be, but my work had taken me into enough different milieux for me
not to mistake the smell of mind-altering drugs.
As she bent to offer a sandwich to an elderly man,
whom I recognised as the Lord President of the Bank of Sunday, he gave
an enthusiastic whoop and gestured towards the wall behind her.
Lights had come on in another room beyond a wall of glass, and young
man and a girl had entered. Roquana recognised the girl at
once. It was Franette, and she was not wearing many
clothes. She did not recognise the young man at first, till one
of the old men said, “It’s Muckswill.” then she saw
that it was Sir Muckswill Savark, His Lordship’s eldest son.
Sir Muckswill was wearing a dressing gown, which he
slipped off to reveal that he was not only nude but fully
aroused. Then he went to work on Franette, stroking and kissing
her, and sliding off her scanty garments one by one. Franette
seemed unaware of her audience, but Sir Muckswill obviously knew he was
being watched, for he often looked towards the screen and smirked, and
he kept the girl turned towards the watchers so that they got a clear
view of all her feminine charms as his eager hands revealed them.
Roquana stood frozen in horror as Sir Muckswill drew
Franette onto the bed in the centre of the room.
“Go it, Mucky!” yelled the old banker.
“Fucky Mucky! Fucky Mucky!”
chanted a High Court Judge well-known for the severity of the sentences
he passed on anyone caught in a sexual misdemeanour of any sort.
“Fucky Mucky! Fucky Mucky!”
chanted the old men, like filthy fourteen-year-olds, getting more and
more excited as Sir Muckswill and Franette approached their climax.
Sir Muckswill looked at the viewers and grinned as
he led Franette out of the room, and then Jamal Fittlutt appeared
wearing a brightly coloured shirt and obscenely short shorts.
“How about that then?” he crowed, then
gave vent to his trademark whoop, a sort of strangled pseudo-yodel.
“Well now, guys and gals,” he laughed,
“it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for –
specially those of you who le-ove children, and we all le-ove the
kiddies, don’t we? Course we do, even if we can’t eat
a whole one.” Another strangled pseudo-yodel, then he
cackled, “Bring on the little darlings!” – and two of
Roquana’s little charges were lifted into the room by a couple of
Jamal Fittlutt stalked around them, sizing them up
and stroking them as he passed, while the little girls clung to each
other and sobbed. Eventually he chose one and told her she had to
take off his shorts – with her teeth – and he leered at the
audience as she began.
An old man, I thought I had seen him somewhere,
perhaps he was a Senator, suddenly grabbed Roquana’s hand and
pulled it into his groin. She screamed and pulled away, and the
old Senator was so drug-befuddled that he couldn’t snatch her
back. His groping hand just knocked over his whisky.
Roquana fled from the room. There was loud,
thumping music in the ballroom. Several of the maids and footmen
were performing a striptease dance for the guests, and quite a number
of guests were cavorting in states of partial or complete nudity.
Roquana stumbled over an overweight couple making love, cannoned into a
pair of excited elderly ladies apparently trying to strip a young man
of his trousers, crashed into an ancient homosexual embracing one of
the footmen and tripped over another pair of lovers, landing in the
midst of a group of middle-aged gamblers. One grabbed her and
embraced her with enthusiasm. Another pulled him off, while a
third ripped at her dress. She hurled herself away, leaving part
of it in his hands, and fled up the stairs.
On the balcony, looking down on the
mêlée, she found Lord Savark.
“Oh, Your Lordship,” she cried.
“Save them! Please save them!”
“To whom do you refer, my dear?” said he.
“The girls! The little girls!
“I am sure dear Jamal is in no need of being
saved,” said Lord Savark, “especially if there are little
girls in the case.”
“He’s … he’s doing things
to them …”
“If course he is,” said Lord
Savark. “That’s what dear Jamal does, and it amuses
the oldies, those who are too old to act out their fantasies
themselves. As for saving girls – well I prefer them a
little older myself, but I’m always ready to save a pretty young
thing like you – for MYSELF!”
Savark grabbed at Roquana and propelled her
backwards into a corner. His hands tore at her clothes. His
lurid purple robe fell open. A strong animal smell rose from his
body, making her gasp, and she felt the throbbing eagerness of his
erection press against her.
She struggled in vain to turn and twist away.
He was too strong. She was trapped.
“Knee to the groin!” I shouted in her
mind. “Hard as you can! Hard!”
Roquana’s knee came up hard. Lord Savark
gasped and sank to the floor, moaning.”
“Run!” I shouted, but she was already
running. Down the stairs, across the ballroom she fled, out of
the main house, back towards the servants’ wing.
Wullum was sweeping the yard.
“Have you seen Tommuz,” she cried.
“Ah, Tommuz,” said he. “You
won’t find him today. They’ll have sent him off to
Beddleham to help one o’ the under-butlers buy in more
drink. They always send a lad away the first time his girl is
used. Lads get too possessive, you see, and they make
trouble. Well, you can’t have trouble when the guests are
here, can you? You won’t see him before tomorrow.”
Roquana ran to her room, pulled on some better
clothes and fled again across the gardens to one of the places Moiku
had shown her and Tommuz where it was possible to get out. She
fled across the mown meadows and into the trees.