364 Days by Eric Del Carlo
erotic science fiction short story
Release Date 12/6/2012
Once a year slaves are allowed to have “faces”–that is, the very muscular mechanisms which let them have facial expressions are released to their own control. On One Day the slaves are let loose to wear makeup and fancy clothes and frolic in the ruins of an ancient abandoned city. Will the actions of one day carry them through the rest of the year?
364 days a year, we crack no smiles, we shed no tears
364 days a year, we laugh no laughs, we show no fear
But on that One Day, oh my dear,
Our stony faces shall be so fair
It was, Tinkhama had always been told, a nursery rhyme. Not that she recognized the word “nursery,” but it didn’t matter, not with all the hard labor of those many other days of her nineteen years of life. She never had time during those three hundred sixty-four days to dwell on stupid details about words.
All that mattered was the One Day. The One Day out of all those others. The laborers, literally, lived for it. It gave them a reason to go on, to do the endless work, the lifting and loading, the farming and mining.
Only now, this sorry group here wasn’t going to see One Day. A minute ago Tinkhama had heard the machinery going wild. Now eight dismembered bodies lay scattered across the ground, blood darkening the pale dust. Carelessness had caused it. The taskmasters in their red armor flogged every survivor on that crew. The workers didn’t seem to much care. One Day would still come for them.
Tinkhama kept an eye on the crew around her, leery of anybody whose attention might wander. The taskmasters’ faces showed their emotions as a display of power, Tinkhama had long ago figured out. They were allowed mobile faces, and they saw it as sadistic fun to flaunt that. Grin at the slaves. Frown at the slaves. Laugh at the slaves. Or, maybe worst of all, cry for them.
Tinkhama felt almost immune to these cruelties. Almost. If not for the One Day, if not for the yearly chance to wear a face, she didn’t know if she would have survived this long.