By Wren Phoenix/R.Allen Zinn

The massive navy blue semi pulled into the parking lot with surprising ease, considering its size. The driver found an open area to park near the building and the truck settled to the ground silently, its wheels almost disappearing into the body. Panels slid down to cover the windows. The mirrors and other small external parts retracted until it seemed to be a solid blue, almost wedge-shaped sculpture. On the driver’s side of the truck, a few seconds later, a door popped outward from the lower rear corner of the body. There was a loud hiss as it opened and slid to the side. The driver stepped out and into the warm Ohio sun.

He was not a particularly imposing man, but he carried himself with confidence, and as he walked across the lot, the door returned to its closed position without a sound. His name was Jake Michaels, and he did not seem very happy. In fact, Jake was angry. He hated stupidity, and this whole thing reeked of it.  Still, it seemed that this had to be done, and he was using time he needed to use for travel. With a dark mumble, he stepped to the front door of the building.
Life after the Second Civil War was different for many people.  Scientists working for Payne Medical Technologies had accidentally stumbled into history when they had discovered the Payne chip. This tiny piece of technology could be inserted into the brain with minimal effort, and could activate neural impulses. It had been intended as a treatment for Epileptic seizures, but someone had noticed that as a side effect, it could induce pain. The pain was controllable and adjustable. It could be intensified to a level that normally would cause the body to retreat into unconsciousness, but unlike normal pain, this did not allow that blessed relief.
The Second Civil War had been initiated by overcrowded inmates at prisons all over the country. A massive riot in a California Prison had grown into a nationwide war. Militias battled gangs, and even the military had been splintered. The toll on the population had been enormous, both in cost and in casualties.
A Payne technician soon realized that they had created the solution to the problem.  Quietly at first, Payne chips had been put into prisoners as they were brought under control. Gradually, Payne controlled soldiers had begun to take control of the battles, and the influence spread. With a Payne chip, allies and co-conspirators could be turned against each other, and it became dangerous for the fugitives to operate in groups. Organized resistance became impossible, and soon there was a large population of Payne controlled inmates, but still no prisons that could hold all of them. Even the prisons that had existed were severely damaged, and there was a shortage of monies to have them rebuilt.
It is not recorded who it was that suggested the reinstitution of slavery. There was wide spread resistance at first, but gradually it became accepted that it was just too commercially viable. Rather than spending money to repair, replace and expand the prison system, Payne controlled subjects could be placed securely in ordinary homes or factories. When it was realized that those same subjects could provide income rather than be an expense, many previously taboos were suddenly out dated. No one called them slaves. They were “service contractors”.
Jake had come to a Payne Service Broker to retrieve his wife, Dena. Her severely spoiled nephew had committed several racially based crimes, and when he was finally apprehended, his wife’s sister had begged her to purchase Tim’s Payne Service Contract. Jacob had not had any knowledge of this at the time. Dena had simply turned Tim over to his mother, and when the stupid kid had taken his late Father’s service revolver and set off on a shooting spree, the consequences had been severe.
Most Service Contracts were purchased by the government, either for Military service or for hazardous jobs in extreme climates. This helped to protect basic wage jobs in the private sector. Tim had now been re-contracted to a Trans-Arctic Road building crew, building a new super highway that would run from Eastern Alaska to Europe. Dena, on the other hand, was the spouse of a high-level extreme security courier, and Jake had been offered a special deal to purchase her contract. It was his misfortune that she was an attractive blonde, the highest priced contact in existence. It wasn’t that he couldn’t afford it. Agents like him were few and far between, and there were none that had his security clearance. He had brokered multibillion dollar deals, and his fees were far above normal. He was angry that this was going to cost him his carefully negotiated retirement hideaway, and angry at several of Dena’s actions. Well, there was nothing for it now. He entered the beige building and checked in with the receptionist.
His card attracted the attention of the managing broker, who arranged to meet him in a private lounge to finalize his contract payment. It wasn’t often that a customer paid his bill in one quick transfer, but it was certainly acceptable. Perhaps they could provide more services for him? No, he wasn’t interested; the pending transaction was more than enough, thank you.
Most customers arranged credit terms, and Payne was more than willing to oblige them. After all, if payments weren’t made, then not only did Payne retrieve their product, but the customer could become product also. It was quite profitable, and people had learned quickly. Most people made special efforts to pay their bill.
“Your order is in final processing, sir. The modifications and preparations you ordered are all completed, per your order. We provide a full warranty on all of our sales for the full term of the contract, and you can rest assured, we are fully prepared to stand behind that warranty. Should there be an issue with any part of your order, please check into one of our nationally available service centers.” The man handed Jake a pamphlet with the PSB logo on the front.
When he opened it, Jake saw that there was a superthin video screen inside. He scrolled through the services available. A few of them were interesting, but as the services became more extreme, he found himself disgusted. It seemed that depravity was no problem for Payne, especially when dealing with those who had committed more serious crimes. He saw men that had been forcibly feminized to serve their masters or Mistresses. There was a group of women who were being trained as a team, to work as horses for the term of their contract. Their arms had been bound, and they had tails grafted to their rears. He put the pamphlet down, without comment.
The broker led him to the primary delivery area. He found Dena mildly sedated, wearing a short white Tunic. Her ears had been pierced, which she had never previously allowed, and other than that wore nothing but a thin metal collar and white slippers. Her wrists were secured with plastic binders and Jacob signed to accept her. She was beginning to regain full consciousness, and he wanted her to be in the truck when she did so. He was offered assistance, but he refused. He carried her over his shoulder, which wasn’t difficult, even for him.
As he walked to his truck, the helpful broker warned him of dangerous gangs which still roamed the area. Jacob laughed and keyed his card. The door hissed open and as soon as they had entered the vehicle, the door closed and the truck rose to its full 15 foot height while its turbines screamed to life and the full complement of lights came on. It was truly a fearsome sight, as if some kind of modern dragon had awoken, and the broker ran quickly back into his building. Inside the truck, Jacob led Dena into the access room.
As soon as the door closed, the sound became much more muted. Jacob led Dena to his personal compartment and removed her wrist bindings. To tell the truth, they had not been on the best of terms for some time, and Jacob knew that her mood was probably not going to be very accommodating. He went up to the Driver seat and got to the highway. He programmed his destination and received confirmation, then headed back to see how she was doing.
As he expected, she was not in a good mood. She looked gorgeous, which she probably did not appreciate, either. If he liked something, she seemed determined to deny him any enjoyment. Well, that would end, now.
“I want to go home,” she said. “I want out of these ridiculous clothes and I mean immediately.”
“We won’t be going home for some time.” He said, calmly. “I have a high security package for Sacramento, California, and I need to be there tomorrow morning. As it is, I will only have a 4 hour delivery window, and the earlier I make my delivery, the sooner I can log into my next transfer.”
“I want to go Home,” she insisted, stamping her foot, but he put up his hand.
“You need to understand that what you want is not a priority for me, now.” He gave her a small bottle of water. “Before you throw that, I need to show you something.”
He pulled out his card, and pushed a corner of it. The pain began in her temples, and rapidly began to climb until she was wincing in pain. He tapped the card and the pain was gone.
“That was not even the first setting, and there are 30 more levels. Would you like to see the next level?”
“No, please!” She could not believe the pain-and that was only a sample?
“What did you do to me?”
“Probably saved you,” He said, quietly. “You made a huge mistake and almost cost several people their lives. Now you are under a 25 year minimum service contract. If the Payne chip in your head is activated past a certain number of times, then that contract time will increase. You are going to have to learn to behave for me, or face a great deal of pain.”
She looked at him in horror as he began to undress.
“Get used to what you are wearing, because you will wear that or something similar for a very long time. You cost me a great deal of money, Dena. No, it is no longer our money, it is all mine. You own nothing, not even your own body.  Yes, I have received your divorce papers, but those are trash now. You cannot divorce, cannot marry, and cannot even legally purchase a pack of gum. Your legal status is somewhat less than that of a pet. Now come over here, I would like a blow job.”
She glared at him, and he reached for his card. 
“This will be the last time I warn you. From now on, slow response will bring immediate punishment. You may not be very bright, but you will learn.”
She hated it, but there was nothing she could do to resist him. She had to obey. She took his penis into her mouth. At least he was clean, she thought, as she began to suck on it, moving up and down along its length. Occasionally, she would tickle the tip with her tongue, just like she knew he liked it. Maybe if she did as he liked, she would be treated well. Her life was apparently in his hands, now.
She had loved him so much at first. They had been very happy, but slowly he had drifted away, making more and more money, but rarely coming home. She had never wanted for anything-except him. Gradually, she had come to resent it. She spent her time in the house, until finally, bored with sitting around, hoping he would call, she had begun helping out at a charity store. Her friends there had seen how unhappy she was. They envied her the fancy car and beautiful clothes, the amazing house. In contrast she loved holding their babies, playing with their pets. Many times she had volunteered to cover for them when someone had a sick baby, or when there was an emergency in the family. His family was gone, and her mother had moved to Europe during the war. Father had died fighting the Alabama militia, and only her sister was left, and she was in North Carolina. They had not spoken to each other in years. Dena had been so lonely!
When her sister had called, begging for her help, it was such a relief to have family to talk to. They had talked for what seemed like hours at a time, while they waited for word that Tim’s contract had been taken care of. Strangely, as soon as she had paid for Tim’s contract and sent him to his Mother, it seemed that Dena no longer existed to them. She had not heard from them until the officers showed up at her door. She had felt so foolish and angry.
Now here she was, performing like a common whore for Jake. She knew he was right, that it could have been so much worse. She had heard of some of the strange things that happened to girls. Used as furniture, hooked on drugs and used up as a prostitute in some dirty city, even put to work as an animal-or worse! It galled her that she finally was spending time with Jake in this way, but at least he might treat her well, if only for the love they had once had.
He grunted, and she knew he was about to come. She was ready when he did, and she was able to swallow it without gagging. She licked him clean, and continued to suck on him until he told her to stop. He let her drink the small bottle of water he had given her, so she finished it and waited on her knees for his command. She was not stupid. Resistance would be senseless, and absolute obedience was the only way she could expect any relief at all. He told her that she had done well, and suggested that she go and brush her teeth and relax for a while. She did as he had commanded and curled up in his bed. In her wildest fantasy, she hoped that he would discover that he still loved her. Being his servant would be wonderful if that happened, but she knew he was very angry. She should never have listened to her sister when she had urged Dena to get a divorce! It was so painful to see how much of a fool she had been.
Jake sat in the Captain’s chair. It had all been so useless. Hadn’t he given her everything? He couldn’t even sleep sometimes, in order to give her the life she had deserved. He had missed her so much, but he had believed that his life was too dangerous for her. She was so delicate, so girly. She could never have dealt with some of the things he faced. He had felt if they could build up enough money to retire to the little cabin in Northern Michigan, they could spend the rest of their lives together. She probably didn’t even know that he had discovered that he was sterile. It was probably caused by one of the crazy diseases that had swept through the city in his childhood. He had avoided telling her, knowing how hurt she would be. Three years later, and he still didn’t know how to tell her.
He had known that they were growing apart, but he didn’t know a good way to fix it, and then he had received the divorce papers from her lawyer. He was heartbroken, and angry. What did she want from him, anyway? Money, of course. He was worried that she had cheated on him. Perhaps a younger man had come between them. He imagined all sorts of scenarios. Obviously, he should have gone home a little more often. Well, if she was going to whore around, it would be for him, he decided. The message from his dispatch office had seemed almost too good to be true. He had deliberately chosen his first sex with his new slave to be the thing she hated most. He had expected more of a fight from her, but she had complied with his order. Hell, she had been great! Even after she had finished, she had made not a word of complaint, just followed his suggestions and gone to sleep. No tears, no comments.
He actually felt bad that he might have hurt her, and he regretted it. Damn it, why had they come to this? He fell asleep, thinking about it. His truck would let him know when it was time to take over. He slept, as he often did, behind the steering wheel.
Dena woke the next morning after a very comfortable night’s sleep. She had never imagined that the truck would ride so well. She saw that he kept everything very clean. She didn’t know what to do. She was afraid that she might make Jake even more angry, and that frightened her. She got up and went to the front of the truck. The truck was driving through the mountains, and she was enchanted. It was so spectacular! Dena felt that she had never seen anything so beautiful. Jake slept on, and she smiled as she looked at him. If her life was going to be like this from now on, she could be happy.
She decided to kneel next to his seat and wait for him. She had a great view of the passing mountains, and she felt that Jake would not be upset with her if she remained where she was.As they dropped out of the mountains, an alarm began to go off. She saw that he had been drooling so she grabbed a napkin and held it up to him as he woke, but did not speak. He woke, stretched and saw her, offering him a napkin.
“I’m sorry, Jake. I didn’t know what to do when I woke up, and I didn’t want to make you angry.”
“That’s okay, sweetheart. Thank you.” He took the napkin and wiped his mouth. It took a minute before he realized what he had said. For her part, Dena’s heart had leapt when he had called her sweetheart, but she was afraid to take advantage of it. Just how angry at her was he?
“Is it okay to call you Jake? Please don’t be angry with me, I’ll do anything you ask.” She closed her eyes and put her head down so he would not see the tears.  She wanted so much just to talk to him, to apologize. If only…
“Dena? “ He asked gently.” I-I’m sorry. I was so hurt that you would leave me…I wanted to hurt you, to show you how I felt. I don’t know what happened to us, but I really never wanted this.”
Careful, Dena thought to herself. This was not the time to mess this up with angry words.
“Jake, I was stupid, and foolish. I was manipulated by my sister, but I accept my responsibility. I was so lonely, and when she called, it was like all my loneliness and resentment came through, and I did something I so wish I hadn’t.”
So, he thought. Maybe it isn’t as bad as I thought it was.”But Dena, I tried to give you everything you could ever want! I sacrificed so much…“
“Jake, all I wanted was you! I had so much, and everyone thought it was great, but you were always gone. I felt like I had been left behind. The car, the house, all of it…compared to you, it was all nothing.”
Jake realized what he had done. By putting his whole focus on the future, he had given up what was most important to him now. He felt like such an idiot.
“Jake, let’s just take what we have, and keep living like this. I will do whatever you wish, anytime and anywhere. I’m yours, forever and ever. Let me stay with you, and take care of you, please? I can do it Jake, really I can.” She smiled at him, a mischievous, sexy smile that sent thrills up his spine. “I think I might even like being yours!”
Could this really be happening? But then he remembered some of the things he had seen, and he worried that it might be too much for her.
“Sweet heart, some of the things I do really aren’t very pleasant. I go to dirty, dangerous places and sometimes deal with people you wouldn’t even want to know.” Now was the time to tell her. “I have a confession to make, too. I found out that I’m sterile, honey. I can never have kids, and I knew how much it would hurt you. I couldn’t tell you before, and I’m sorry.”
“Really, Jake! We almost lost each other because you did not want to hurt me? It’s sweet, but soooo male.” She laughed. “I can handle what I have to handle. If I have some problems, I’ll have you to help me, but don’t ever leave me like that again, please? I love you so much!”
“I love you, Dena.”
The truck hummed into town, and he took over the controls. His smile would have outshone his headlights. She was right, together, they could handle anything. He vowed to never fall into the same stupid trap again. His only regret was the time he had wasted. They drove on, happy in the fact that they had each other again.



Different, initially hard to follow the action
and what was taking place but I believe that
is my shortcoming. If I read more stories like
this I would catch on to what is taking place a
lot faster.

Comic Sans makes a story easier to read. It makes
the print darker and bolder and thus easier to
read. Just my opinion.

Good Story

Not Quite Sure...

...what to think here. The plot's straightforward enough -- I think I see why the other commenter got impatient with the info dump, but I didn't have a problem there.

Just one background point: when you said that Dena turned Tim over to his mother, I assumed that Dena had signed over the contract to her. Obviously that wasn't the case, since Dena got convicted for the murders that "her slave" Tim committed. Perhaps that could have been made more clear, along with what happened to Tim's pain controller.

Anyway, we have a society where failure to communicate can have exceptionally grave consequences. Fair enough, and nice work setting it up. But from my own standpoint, I felt vaguely annoyed with the two characters more than sympathetic toward them. (And I'm not sure I buy the ending, as long as Jake still has the pain inducer.)


(More trivially, the pun on "Payne chip" seems a bit cute for the tone of this story. It took a re-read for me to pick up on it, but I think that's because I'm falling asleep as I write this.)

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