When she closed her eyes and thought real hard she could almost recapture the image of the dream that was fading. The bright yellow sun, a golden flash of light, a sense of power. She missed those things. Here in the lower jungles where the lowest slaves resided the only light that came through was a hazy, filtered green color. The upper canopy, where the higher slaves resided, was where all of the golden light shone through. She envied those on the higher levels, free from many of the dangers that inhabited the lower levels.
Speaking of danger, it was only the hiss of something moving through air that prompted Iria to move in time, barely dodging the shoe that landed where her head had been only moments before. She opened her eyes just in time to see thick, heavy leather splatter mud on the blanket that had been wadded up into a makeshift pillow, and angrily the young girl turned to face her attacker. Attacker? Maybe not. A chattering monkey laughed from where it perched on the top of the tent’s rafters, gazing down at the slave girl with a permanent grin. Damn pests.
With a sigh, Iria relaxed her stance. It would do no good to get angry at a monkey. They were just stupid animals in a form with thumbs. Once, when she had been only around eight summers, she had believed them cunning, far smarter than the other beasts that stalked the forests. Eighteen years of living with them had quickly changed her mind, turning their intelligent form into that of a dung-slinging trouble maker, no different from the young boys who stalked the camp. Good for nothing but headaches. Boys were an oddity around the camp, and men even more so. For the most part there were no men on this plantation, not even the overseers of the slaves. If they were not women then they were eunuchs or children, no threat to the maidenheads of the girls grown here. Once or twice a particularly vicious attack would leave a woman sullied, but the attackers were quickly put down to use as examples against what happens to those who rob the owners of their goods. The women are usually put down as well, told that its easier to die than to live as a sullied whore.
Every moon a group of men would be brought in and given to the ‘breeders’ of the plantation, women who remained in the tents 24/7, giving birth to the next generation of laborers. Slaves. The older children would be taken away to be divvied up between the plantations. The more agile went above, to the tree canopy, while the stronger went below, to where the beasts dwelled. The physically weak and mentally rebellious were sent to the fields, where they could be watched at all times just in case. Deaths happened often there, far more often than in the trees. Here a jaguar might steal you from your bed or a viper bite you and end your life, but rarely did the overseers simply cull you to preserve the mentality of the others, to discourage fleeing and rebellion. Here was where the good girls were. She didn’t know where the men went. Maybe they were simply culled, as the women were less likely to cause problems. She didn’t care. She had been born a woman, and that was that.