I had to make a choice. I didn’t feel like it was much of a choice, though. I had my drink, but I had no more chance to escape. I didn’t think I could overpower, Erick, and if I tried anything, Innu would know where to start finding me.
“Well, what do you think?”
“Show me something fun,” I said.
# # #
I followed Erick downstairs to the commons, using the elevator, and he took me to the fitness center. There was a latex-bound female there, who showed us to the locker room and said that they had a few spare fitness outfits I could use.
I was surprised when Erick started undressing in front of me. “Isn’t there a men’s locker room?”
“No,” he said. “The fitness center is still under construction, and right now we only have one locker room and one set of showers. It’s not really a big deal, though. I’ve seen plenty of other women naked.”
That wasn’t the most reassuring thing, and I kept my eyes on him while I changed. I noticed he was borrowing one of their outfits, too. “I thought you worked in the clothing store, Erick. Don’t have a workout suit of your own?”
“I didn’t want to make you wait,” he said. “Changing in my room would be about as private as this. My bedroom door is jammed and the maintenance team has it flagged as low priority at the moment.”
I shrugged a bit and slipped on my workout suit. The shirt was a gray wool t-shirt, it hung comfortably loose, and had knee-length shorts that matched. “So what did you plan to do?”
“I usually do a three kay run in the morning, after I finish my work on alpha shift,” he said. “In the evening, whether I’ve been working or training, I prefer to play squash, though we do have a basketball court open if you’d prefer that. Other than that, we have exercise bikes, treadmills, and a room for weight and resistance training.”
“Um, what about karate? I used to study it when I was younger,” I explained.
“Morning sessions twice a week over there,” he said, pointing to a room with a glass wall and door. “They do yoga three times a week during gamma shift.”
“I’ll explain once we get going,” he said. “Pick something. Basketball? Squash? Use some of the machines?”
I thought about it for a minute or so. “I guess one of the bikes,” I said.
He smiled and took me into the room with treadmills and bikes. There was a pair of headphones at the bike, and a TV screen in front of it. “It has a virtual course program. Go ahead, select a course. We’ll both go on the same one today.”
I found one that looked good. It had a long hill with a gradual slope, and a few dips. As we went on the virtual course, we talked.
“So the shifts are alpha, beta, gamma, and delta,” he said. “Three hours on the watch, usually with about half an hour at each end for prep and closing and whatnot. Alpha runs from zero to three o’clock, beta until six, gamma until nine, and delta is our overnight shift, until the new day starts.”
“Okay,” I said, starting to push myself a bit. The slope had seemed gentler than this. “So I have lessons during alpha and beta shifts right now.”
“That’s because you’re in training. Once you get assigned, you’ll have one big lesson each day, with the rest as free time until you start working.”
“I see,” I said. “From what I’ve heard, I’m going to start with sex training so I can work up there, right?”
“I expect so,” he said. “Mistress will probably want you up there in about two weeks, just considering how business gets this time of year. How were your lessons today?”
So we talked for about a half hour, as I judged it in my head. After that we went for a walk around the commons, which were quite a bit busier now. The food court area Innu had showed me smelled nice, and when we reached the park, I realized that the sky above was showing night time. I took a glance at my bracelet to check the time, it was 7:90. Looking at the sky, I guessed it was still fairly early in the night.
“We have a frisbee golf meeting about once a month,” Erick said, breaking me out of my thoughts. “We use the grass down here. I haven’t missed a meeting yet.”
I smiled a bit. It seemed like there was a lot of freedom for us being slaves. “I see,” I said. “Maybe I’ll watch next time you play.”
We found a bench and sat there for a while. We talked about, as best I recall, just random stuff. Whatever we thought of. “You’ll probably want to be in bed before too long,” Erick said “You have an early start around 1:00, right?”
I nodded. “Yeah. And Innu had to drag me out of bed today,” I said. “I guess I barely made it to my science class on time.”
“Well, our clocks use double-hours. Every hour here is two hours compared to what you’re used to,” he said. “So three-zero and nine-zero are half past a normal hour, and six-zero is a normal hour. If you can remember that, you should be able to get the hang of the clocks and your watch before too long.”
I nodded. Three and nine. . . I’d definitely need to practice. “The sun is scheduled. It’s usually sunrise around 0:00, with sunset around 6:00. It shifts a bit by season, but we’re getting close to autumn, so the days are very close to even right now.”
He stood up and offered me his hand. “Now then, why don’t I escort you home so you can get your sleep?”
I smiled and nodded. “Wait,” I said. “When does Innu’s shift end?”
# # #
Innu’s shift was scheduled to end at 9:00. A little basic math had told me that this would probably be around 1 AM outside. Erick showed me the commissary and exchange, and helped me pick out a few essentials. I got some groceries for the kitchenette (I hadn’t even seen if Innu had any supplies there already), like some bread and eggs and cheese, so I could fix a snack or meal for myself. Not that I was much of a cook, but I could manage fried eggs and sausage, or packaged meals, and the commissary had plenty of those.
In the exchange, I picked up a toothbrush and toothpaste and something called “DRI-WASH Fur Shampoo.” I also got some casual clothes.
“Careful about your tab,” Erick said. “Half of your pay will be withheld until your tab gets paid off.”
I nodded and looked over the prices on the outfits I had been looking at. I picked out one black evening dress that looked like it was on the lower end of their prices. “How much is this?”
“Let’s see, it says six thousand niemens,” he said. He closed his eyes and fiddled with his fingers. “It depends a bit. Each assignment earns us a different amount of niemens based on difficulty, time reserved, and the nature of the request. I get about a three thousand per shift working in the outfitter, plus two hundred for every outfit I process.
“When I work upstairs, though, I can make ten thousand in a shift if I get the right jobs. I’d say an average night is around forty thousand niemens, though. This is pretty affordable. Just watch how much you spend, though.”
I nodded. There was another outfit I picked up too, a blue dress with white diamonds around the waist. It was about the same price. After that, we headed up to my room and I invited Erick in.
The kitchenette was almost bare. We had some hard plastic glasses and flatware, but there was just one can of corned beef hash and two of various beef soups in the cupboards. The refrigerator was empty except for a bottle of water. It seemed Innu wasn’t much more of a cook than I was.
“My room is just down the hall,” Erick said. “And we have about half an hour before Innu gets back. Care to visit?”
I thought about it. Of course, I am an adult, free to visit whomever I want. I also reasoned that, being a slave, my family would never have a chance to think about this. “Sure,” I said, grinning. I left the things I had just bought on the counter and followed Erick to his room.
It was only about five doors from our, but it was very different. “This is a single suite,” he explained as I looked around. There was no kitchenette, just a small refrigerator and a cupboard. He had a table, though, and he had set up a small electric grill on it. On the back wall, there were paintings and what appeared to be windows, windows looking out over the city. It was definitely Cologne.
“How are we seeing the city? I thought we were underground.”
“Computer screens,” he said. “Your windows haven’t been set up with a program yet, I suppose. You can probably get one. Or ask Innu to get you one.”
I nodded. “Can you play games on them?”
“Nope. These are decorative only. You can get a TV and a game system once you earn enough, though.” He shrugged a bit. “Not that I’m into computer games. Would you like some water?”
I nodded and looked at the pictures. They were nice paintings, a few showing various locations in and around Cologne. One was a panoramic view of the Alps. As he handed me a glass of water I took a sip. “So you bought all of these here?”
“I bought most of them back in Berlin,” he said, smiling. “I have a few packed up because this room is too small for all of my pictures. But I’d be happy to give you any picture I have that you like, on the condition that you’ll hang it in your bedroom.”
I smiled a bit. Maybe it was a bit creepy he wanted it in my bedroom, but. . . “Thank you,” I said. “Can I see the others?”
I spent a while looking over his pictures. There were a few paintings of people, but I finally settled on a framed painting of an elf with a harp in his hands, singing what must be some lovely song. “Nice choice. I painted that one myself during my fantasy phase,” he said. “I’ll carry it for you.”
When we got back to my apartment, we found Innu inside, sitting on the sofa. “Hi roomie!”
Erick smiled and handed me the painting. “I’ll leave you two to get your sleep,” he said. “Good night, Innu. Good night, Hannah.”
I smiled and nodded, waving as he left.
“Oooh, you got a painting!” Innu giggled. “But I got you something better than a dry old painting. I got you a vibrator, Hannah.”
I nodded, not really embarrassed about it. “Thank you, Innu. I’m pretty tired, but thank you so much.” She followed me into my room, and looked at the picture as I put it on my desk. After a moment, she turned to me and held out a black box with a label on it. The label said, “To Hannah.”
“I was thinking about leaving it on your bed if you stayed out much longer,” she said. “It’s almost 9:30, you know, and you need to be at class in just under four hours. Sleep well, Hannah.”
I smiled and closed the door as she left my room. “I will, and you sleep well too, Innu.” As the door closed I let out a heavy sigh. Four hours. That’s right, double-hours or not, they still called them hours.
I opened the box and found exactly the vibrator I had asked for. It had a wire with a control attached to it. The control had a knob with 4 settings, presumably the speed control, and a button set in the middle of it.
I would get my sleep, sure, but I was going to enjoy my toy for a while first.