Author: Suzanne Borchers
I’m one of three applying for the position of Assistant to the Chairman. Why me? My parents placed my application to the Great One.
Mother’s favorite story is about my birth. Daddy laughed, hugged me close to his chest, and called me his little lamb.
I grew up in Cumulous City, high above the drudges mining minerals and gems for our Chairman’s government. Daddy made sacrifices so my wardrobe was the finest in the city. He told me stories about our Chairman–his strength, his wealth, his love for his people.
And here I am awaiting his arrival. My parents told me not to worry, that I would be chosen. I am quiet, unrivaled in beauty, and mature for my thirteen years. Yet I shiver, knowing that if I’m not chosen, I could die.
We applicants stand before the throne and await the Great One. The Chairman’s Board circles us. The Followers stand off to the side, my parents in front.
On my left is Jax. My face heats at his beauty–his black curly hair and graceful curve of aquiline nose. He wears his planet’s tunic of silver. On my right is Aal. His appendages are placed without direction or order. Before I can lower my gaze, he smiles at me. My stomach heaves and I turn away.
With the sound of a gong, the Chairman enters. His unlined, clean-shaven face beams goodness. His large hands clasp together in our universal sign of peace. He radiates youth although he is old.
The Chairman sits and motions Jax forward. Jax’s fluid steps are confident. His tunic shimmers. He kneels. Of course, Jax will be chosen. Shaking, I glance at my parents. They smile at me.
A bolt of energy surges from the Great One’s hand.
“No!” I gasp.
Jax collapses and is dragged away by the Chairman’s guards.
The Chairman announces, “I knew Jax to be prideful and I felt his need to be purged of it.”
His Followers chant, “Our hearts and minds are yours!”
The Great One smiles and motions Aal forward. Aal’s eyes moisten and his appendages churn until he’s before the Chairman. His body shakes. His red tunic drips sweat.
He’s afraid like me! Tears fill my eyes.
A bolt of energy surges into Aal’s body, twisting him around before he falls.
My eyes hold his until his eyes see nothing.
I breathe out a sob.
Aal is kicked from the room.
The Followers cheer.
The Chairman giggles. “I knew Aal’s embarrassment at ugliness and his need to be purged of it.”
I brush away a tear.
The Followers’ chants ring throughout the room until the Great One raises his impressive hand.
He crooks his finger at me. I turn toward my father, who motions me forward to the Great One.
I force my legs to move. My knees tremble as I stumble to the Chairman.
I bow my head and kneel, waiting for the arc of pain. It seems hours as I focus on his giant feet. His shoes glow black.
One hand caresses my scrubbed face before he lifts my chin, forcing me to face him.
His other hand cups one of my heavy breasts and squeezes it, hard. He whispers, “There is no need for an Assistant. I have just one need.” My breast throbs with pain. “You’ll learn.”
My father joins the Board Members’ circle. He doesn’t look back at me.
Moaning, I remember his words, “My little lamb.”