James looked out at the crowd of fellow prisoners in the kitchen. He was looking past the prisoners, past the vast ovens, past the written lessons and at the glass walls that held back the ocean. An eel the length of a bus uncoiled before him. Powerful lights created the illusion that the sun was nearby but he knew it was a lie. They were at least a mile under the water, if not more.
“How long has it been since I’ve seen sunlight?” he asked out loud.
The eel stared at him but it had no answer. Neither did any of the prisoners around him. Lunch time was soon and those who did poorly in the kitchen would join the slaves that dug the tunnels or worked the oxygen pumps. The kitchen was a paradise compared to those hells.
“Man, how long has it been since I had real food to eat,” James asked out loud.
“Questions lead us to pain,” Bonnie said beside him. She took a tray of kelp out of the oven. “Pain is the reward of those who question.”
“I know what pain is,” James said. He held up his right arm so she could see the stump of where his hand used to be. He used his left hand to get the kelp off the tray and into the stew. Only half of the kelp went into the stew, the rest he collected into a separate tray.
Bonnie looked at his hand and her eye twitched. “Those who know pain will know better in the future.”
“Do you ever say anything other than the lessons?” James asked. He pointed with his stump towards the bright red writing on the walls. Of course, he could have pointed anywhere for the lessons were written on the floors, the ceilings and the walls. If you got close enough to the glass walls, you could even see the lessons etched into the glass.
Bonnie looked up at the camera that was above their cooking station. The camera zoomed in on her face. “The lessons are the only reason to learn to read,” Bonnie recited. The camera didn’t answer her but they knew they were always being watched.
James sighed. It was hard to believe that Bonnie was once a phone sex operator. He knew it was true because her former life was written on her white jumpsuit. Maybe she was one of those who read from a script. Or shit, maybe she was just a broken shell of a human being after being locked away here for ten years.
That wasn’t going to happen to James. He was going to leave this damn place one day. When that blessed day happens, he sure as fuck isn’t going to be a fucked up drone like Bonnie.
He stirred the pot in front of him. He stirred it with his left hand; his right hand having been removed some time ago for the crime of masturbating. He had been told the rules but he didn’t quite understand how complete the security was here. He knew better now. There were cameras everywhere.
Especially in the goddamn mother-fucking toilet stalls.
“Lunch time is soon!” a Master declared. The Master walked down the kitchen, his thin white frame casting shadows on all of them. He was at least ten feet tall and his arms reached all the way down to his feet. Prisoners shuffled out of his way and continued their chores.
James studied the Master as he got closer. Once again, he looked for a weakness. The Master had shiny white skin but no hair. A scar at his crotch was the only sign of where genitals once hung. The Master’s head was pointed with a single eye. There was no mouth; the sound of its voice coming from deep within its chest. All of his kind looked thin and frail but James knew from experience that it wasn’t true. The fuckers could hold you down with one hand and castrate you with the other.
The Master stopped at James’ station. “How is the stew?” it asked.
“Bland and without flavor,” James said.
“Good,” the Master said. “And why is that?”
Bonnie tried to answer but the Master raised his hand threateningly. Fingernails as sharp as blades twinkled in the light. It wanted James to answer.
“Taste is the path to sensation, sensation is the path to sin,” James recited.
“Good,” the Master said. He poked James in the chest, right where James’ crime was listed. “Maybe one day you will write some rules for your fellow sinners.”
James glanced down at his crime: Sex Writer. “If you let me, I will gladly write some rules for you.”
The Master stared at James. James wondered if he had severely underestimated the creature’s understanding of sarcasm.
The Master blinked its single eye. It turned away and shouted at the serving prisoners. “Bring the lunch to the workers! Cooks! Take a ten minute break! Reflect on your lessons and learn purity”
James let out the breath he was holding. He looked across the kitchen to another cook. Out of a sea of white, brown and Asian faces, he picked her out easily. She was bald like all of the prisoners here but he knew her. He knew the angle of her face. He worshipped the Korean tilt of her eyes. He had memorized the way she stood and he sure as fuck knew that ass. He knew Mi-Yeon.
Mi-Yeon wasn’t looking at him because she respected the cameras more than he did at this moment. He knew he shouldn’t even be looking in her direction but fuck, he just needed to see someone beautiful. He needed to be reminded of why he kept fighting.
He also needed to see if she was still willing to go with their plan. His eyes scanned her workstation. He stretched his arms so the cameras would think he was just trying to work a kink out.
There! She had stacked two cups on top of one another.
James felt his cock go hard. He bit his lip to keep from smiling. Flirty winks had led to written notes on soap suds to whispered agreements inside broken ovens. For two months they had planned this and now they were finally going to try it.
He stepped out of the way as servers came to take his pot of stew. The pot was pretty large so it wasn’t suspicious that James had to go all the way towards the sinks. He grabbed Bonnie’s arm so she would follow him.
“Forgiveness comes from the Masters,” Bonnie said.
“But who exactly says we did wrong in the first place,” James said. “I mean, all I did was write some dirty stories on freaking Usenet and for all I know, no one even read it. One day I go to check out the smell of seaweed in my bedroom and the next thing I know, I’m waking up in this prison. I mean, no one ever said that if you write dirty stories you end up in a prison under the sea, you know? It just isn’t fair.”
Bonnie shook her head and pointed to the rule on the floor. She read it out loud, “Imprisonment is mercy. Death is the only true punishment.”
James lifted his stump. “Not being able to scratch my balls is pretty punishing if you ask me.”
Bonnie’s eyes narrowed. “Say not the parts of the body for they befoul your tongue.”
James glanced down the aisle. Mi-Yeon was coming closer. She was carrying some dirty trays. It made perfect sense for her to be bringing them to the sinks. She was carrying too many so she set one down on top of an open pot.
“Tell me Bonnie, do you really think being locked away at the bottom of the ocean by some weird things we don’t understand is some sort of good development? Don’t you miss your family and friends?”
“A life in filth is no life at all,” Bonnie said firmly. Color was rising to her cheek.
“Really? You were a phone sex operator. You got to listen to people’s fantasies all day long. You must have liked it.”
“No!” Bonnie snapped. Realizing she had said something that wasn’t a lesson, she quickly recited, “Joy that comes from evil is not joy at all.”
“Hmm,” James said. Mi-Yeon was so close he could read the crime of “Naked Self Pictures” on her clothes.
He turned to look at where he had set some of the baked kelp. A crowd of cooks had gathered around it, idly munching on the tasteless crispy food. The food was so bad here that people couldn’t resist something with a little crunch. It was a large enough crowd to block the view of the camera by the oven.
He looked back towards the tray that Mi-Yeon had set down the tray on the open pot. Steam had built up and was venting out the side of the tray. The steam shot right into the camera stationed above the stove.
James turned back to look at Bonnie. He purposely didn’t look at the camera directly behind her.
“You know what I think, Bonnie?” he said. “I think the reason you know all the lessons and recite all the rules is because you’re the filthiest of us all. I think you got off on being a phone sex operator. I think you listened to all those dirty men and you stroked yourself raw listening to their dirty stories. I think you miss being back home with your fingers crammed into your wet hole having one orgasm after another. That’s what I think and I bet that is what the Masters think too.”
Bonnie’s face turned completely white. “Masters, no!” she shouted.
James watched her spin around and face the camera. Bonnie grabbed the camera with both hands and whispered her devotion to the Masters.
“My only joy is in obedience! The Masters burn the dirty words from our minds with their rules! Freedom is the purity killer!”
James knelt to the ground and pulled at his pants. Mi-Yeon knelt down beside him, her pants pulled down to her ankles. They kissed. It was only for a second but after so long without sensation, it still took James breathe away.
Mi-Yeon turned and put her head to the ground. James crawled on top of her. He guided his cock into her forbidden sex. Perfect wet heat gripped him.
“Pornography was created to destroy obedience!” Bonnie told the camera. “Censorship is the only route to salvation! Sex defiles the soul!”
James reached around the grabbed Mi-Yeon’s breast through her jumpsuit. The bulky material prevented him from feeling her softness but it didn’t matter. He knew that he was squeezing a breast. Mi-Yeon’s clenching around his cock proved it.
“Fuck me,” Mi-Yeon whispered. It was hard to hear her over Bonnie’s chanting of lessons but he did.
One thrust of his hips and he fought back a moan.
A second thrust and he felt like a man again.
A third thrust and Mi-Yeon started to shake.
A fourth thrust and his hand squeezed harder around her breast.
A fifth thrust and he felt her climax.
A six thrust and it was his turn.
He pulled out. Six thrusts were all that they could risk. It was lucky for them that after years of being imprisoned and denied, six thrusts were all they needed.
Mi-Yeon had her pants back on before him but she didn’t have an erection to get around. James bit back a groan as his pants pressed in around his sensitive cock. He relished the sensation, for even an uncomfortable one was welcome in this place.
“Phone Sex Operator Bonnie Parks!” a voice boomed from the camera. “Stop blocking the camera!”
Bonnie stepped away. She assumed the position of obedience by covering her eyes and mouth.
The camera turned towards James and Mi-Yeon, sitting on the floor. Mi-Yeon picked at some flour on her hands while James tried to look bored and tired.
“Sex Writer James Harrison!” the voice commanded from the camera. “Why are you smiling?”
James felt his erection disappear in an instant. Fuck, planning a tryst was one thing but he didn’t prepare for the afterglow. Mi-Yeon looked at him with a blank face. She was so much better at this than he was. Luckily, he was a writer.
“Service has brought me bliss!” he replied.
He could hear the camera zooming as it focused on him. James had a bad feeling that they wouldn’t cut off his hand this time.
“Your statement as been entered into the record, Sex Writer James Harrison,” the camera replied. “Upon review it may be added to the lessons.”
Bonnie began to cry. No one knew if it was for joy or sadness. The camera left her alone. Crying for one’s sins was expected.
James smiled. He had gotten laid right under the watchful eyes of their captors. Escape didn’t seem too impossible now.