United Kingdom, 2012 AD
Steven ran through the last part of the field and nimbly dived into the water. As a skilled swimmer, the lake was easy for him to cross and he gained a bigger lead on the first of his chasers. A steep uphill run followed, then he lowered himself down through a rope and he lost a little ground in the final muddy section, but he could still cross the finish line in first position with a good margin.
That had been good practice. The military life suited him in many aspects: he was athletic and he loved to work hard, plus the camaraderie with his fellow soldiers was always a plus. There was one aspect he dearly missed though: women. It’s not that it wasn’t easy for an attractive soldier to find female company in the town where his military base was located, in rural Kent. Quite the opposite. But throughout his life he had always preferred the company of women not only in bed, and found their brain and personality way more interesting than men’s.
He literally adored women and he always chose girlfriends who were spoiled and demanding. However, sooner or later they all seemed to surrender that spirit and to conform to the European non-written rules of a patriarchal society, for his deep frustration. He wanted a woman whom he could love and worship to the point of becoming her slave every time she wished. He wanted to be loved, but also to always put her needs first. Why was that so difficult to find? All of his friends were getting married and having children. Most of them had a quiet and predictable life at home, and missed no opportunity for adventures with other girls, especially when abroad on a mission.
At 32 years old, simply incapable of settling for anything less than his dreams, Steven sometimes thought that he would never find his better half.
The communication he received on the following day seemed to confirm his fears: the battalion he belonged to was expected to depart for a long mission in the Middle East two weeks later. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” He started picturing himself in a place where the only women with uncovered face were his few female fellow soldiers.
The first couple of months were pretty boring. The whole mission was essentially about guarding an oilfield. The ideals for which Steven had joined the Army had long been replaced by the awareness that their role was simply to protect the interests of powerful people and corporations.
Unfortunately it wasn’t safe to go out without weapons, so he dearly missed his long runs and cycle rides in the outdoors. At least they had an indoor swimming pool, where he started to train almost daily.
An interesting thing happened when he visited the library and found a beautifully bound book about an ancient Persian religion that, among the other things, promoted matriarchy as the best way to organize societies. He had always been an avid reader – and even dreamed of becoming one day a writer – but this particular book kept him glued like never before: for an entire evening and until about four in the morning. Once he finished the last page, he closed the book and left it right there on his bed, falling into the deepest sleep.
He was in the desert at dawn, losing sight of the military base as he wandered deeper through the dunes. A sudden sand storm forced him to a stop. He could hardly see anything for hours. He slept again.
He was woken up by the worst smell ever. He opened his eyes and the first thing he saw was the mouth of a camel, sniffing him! “What the hell…” He couldn’t finish his sentence when the camel’s rider, an old woman whose face was partially covered to protect her from the sun, harshly pulled the rope that she must have tied around his neck while he was asleep.
Was this a dream or what?? Oh my God… he must have wandered away from the base as a sleep-walker overnight! And his shorts and shirt didn’t really make him easy to recognize as a British soldier. He tried to run, but his legs were incredibly weak and he felt badly dehydrated. He managed a few steps though, only to feel the rope close down on his neck and start suffocating him.
The woman said something in her own language. He didn’t understand a word, but the tone was clearly authoritarian and he soon understood that she wanted him to get closer. She gave him some water from a dirty bottle and she slightly loosened the knot behind his head, then she whipped the camel twice and they started moving. Steven had to follow her through the dunes. He didn’t really have any choice, with his hands tied up behind his back and a tight rope around his neck. The other end of the rope was connected to the saddle of the camel, so he’d better keep the pace if he didn’t want to be dragged and suffocated! They kept going for at least two days, but at one point Steven started to have hallucinations, so he wasn’t really sure of how long he walked. The woman gave him just enough water to survive through the trip, and she always used a harsh tone when speaking to him. But the way she treated her poor camel was a thousand times worse: he had never heard of such merciless methods in modern times.
They eventually reached a small city. The woman stopped her camel while riding next to a small lake, so Steven plunged his head right into it to drink and get refreshed. Then he started looking around, and nothing he could see had one single aspect of modernity. He knew that some nomad tribes were still devoted to an ancient lifestyle, but also that they had satellite phones and other technology at their camps. Not even an old car? Some sort of radio?
The woman completely ignored him: she dismounted and was soon out of sight. It’s like she assumed that he couldn’t go anywhere, still tethered to the camel saddle.
Steven kept looking around and noticed women’s eyes everywhere. There were many men around too, but all of them kept their head low and were fully absorbed by some manual activity. The last doubt on the fact that women were in charge was canceled when he saw one woman riding a small carriage full of fruit… pulled by two men whose back she kept whipping with no mercy!
Carriages and other means of transportation on wheels seemed quite common in the town. He also saw some palanquins, probably for the wealthiest. But no man or animal was ever mounted. He had the impression that it was forbidden, because he saw a girl climb on the back of her brother to play – boys were kept submissive to their sisters, although not to the point of being slaves yet – and their mother immediately telling her to stop with an alarmed behavior, before looking around to check if anybody had noticed. Very strange. He couldn’t know that mounting any living being within metropolitan areas was a prerogative of the royal family.
Soon the old woman who had captured him came back. She took the other end of the rope and she said something, with a tone slightly nicer than usual. He was too tired to fight and he first wanted to understand where – and possibly when – he had been brought, so he followed her lead without creating any trouble.
He spent the following days in a cage, next to other captured men. He was clearly the only caucasian person in the whole town, but it didn’t seem to matter. All he could see was the most extreme application of the matriarchal principles he had read about in that book. It soon became clear that they wanted to sell him as a slave, because they started taking relative good care of him to make the product look at its best.
At that point it was evident that he wasn’t just dreaming. Yet he never panicked or felt sorry for himself. Perhaps he was under the influence of some drug – that could easily have been placed in the disgusting food he was fed with – or maybe some mysterious force was telling him that the answer he had been looking for was somehow getting closer. One way or another, he found himself accepting his new life with a mix of marvel and resignation, once he was sold. His days in the fields were boring: he started as a fruit picker, but soon a supervisor noticed his strength and willingness to work hard and she assigned him to a transportation role. Sometimes he had to simply carry heavy bags of grain and cereals one by one on his own back, then transport them into a barn or load them onto a wagon. On other occasions he was harnessed to one of those fully loaded wagons, so he could pull them like a horse, harshly controlled by a woman through whip and bridles. It was harder than he could have imagined. And he would have liked a lot more to be actually ridden, to feel the weight of his tormentor on himself.
At least he could observe more interesting scenes of domination – including human horses ridden on their shoulders – on the days when he had to transport supplies from the fields into a warehouse, because it was located on a busy road that people used to travel into the city. On one of these occasions, he was unloading the usual heavy bags from his wagon, while his handler – who had steered and whipped him with no mercy – sat on the carriage and kept giving him orders. With every bag, he had to cross a road where the traffic of pedestrians, camels and different types of carriage was out of control. He only had three bags to go, then he would be able to stretch his back and legs pulling the unloaded wagon on the way back to the farm. He heard the harsh flick of a whip against someone’s back, too late to notice something launched at full speed in his direction: a mother with her two daughters was about to get even more late for school, when one of the two boys who were pulling her carriage at full speed bumped right into Steven. The bag of grain literally exploded in the impact and the three males found themselves on the ground. The carriage was four-wheeled and therefore stable enough to protect its passengers, but the women on board looked pretty scared and the Mom was furious. She started an intense argument with one of the supervisors and a small crowd quickly formed around them. Of course Steven could not understand a word, but he realized that the carriage was damaged. When the woman stopped yelling at the supervisor and harshly led him towards her daughters, he understood that she wanted him to carry one of them: she only had two slaves, and the carriage was useless, so she needed a third slave for them to proceed on shoulders. If they had told him that one day he would be used as a human horse by a woman, it would have been an immediate turn on for him. But something was wrong: he could feel an unbelievable rage brewing inside his chest, and he soon found himself fighting fiercely against the woman and many other people who immediately rushed to help her. Punches and whiplashes hit him. He tried to defend himself but he didn’t fight back: he would never have hit a woman, yet now he would have let them kill him rather than being used as a human horse. Why in the world? He felt like possessed.
He seriously thought that he was about to be lynched, when a sudden scream froze everybody. Steven identified its source in an attractive woman in her low 40s sitting on a palanquin carried by two huge slaves, who were immediately ordered to kneel down and let her dismount. She must have said “Stop!” and she was now looking at Steven with a puzzled expression, only to cause everybody else in the area to look at him in an almost incredulous way. What was going on? Finally she approached him very slowly with a friendly expression, showing that she meant no harm. Then she touched the back of his head, delicately… and she smiled…
Ashmeera, 324 BC
The Queen had opened the largest quest ever witnessed for the last of the human horses. She promised a lifelong income and great honors to whoever would find him, mentioning the appearance in her dreams of a Goddess who had revealed the existence of only one left in the world. “He must be out there, I can feel it!”
Six years of unfruitful research had not demotivated her yet. Then one day a messenger rushed into her throne room unannounced… struggling to breathe and trying to say “Th.. f…. h… They fou…. hi… Oh, my Queen… They found him!!”