A generation ago America passed a law allowing a bankrupt person’s debts to be bought by rich Masters. The debt slaves then belonged to their Masters for the duration of the debt. If they failed to pay back their debts then they clearly weren’t worthy of normal human rights. They became nothing more than property, sold off as true slaves to cover to cost of their debts.
Dustin had done his best in the debt slavery system but he’d failed. It seemed as though no matter what he tried it always ended in failure. He’d tried to be a good son, a good debt slave and then a good true slave, but at every turn he was shown in the most painful ways possible that he hadn’t succeeded.
Being sold to his new Master Augustin should have been a relief. Unlike Master Reyes, his previous master, Master Augustin was calm and controlled. But Dustin knew better than to trust the calm before the inevitable storm. Sometime soon his Master would snap and then Dustin would be the first thing to feel his Master’s rage.
All he could hope to do was stay quiet and be careful not to set his Master off. Unfortunately that was a doomed hope when his Master gave him impossible tasks to complete with incomplete information. Dustin tried his best only to fail for trying too hard. What Master Augustin told him after his fall changed everything that Dustin had ever thought and believed in ways he would never have thought possible.
Please note that this story includes themes of child abuse, children coping with adult caregiver mental illnesses and alcoholism, past persistent physical, sexual and mental abuse leading to PTSD and recovery from abuse. If those are issues for you then please read carefully.
By Meyari McFarland
The rustle of the newspaper being pulled open, folded back and then folded again made a shiver of apprehension skitter up Dustin’s spine. His heart beat harder, anticipating a shout, an angry comment on the next news article, Master Augustin’s coffee mug flying across the room to crash into the far wall. Dustin bit down on his lip, the pain helping control his rapid breathing.
Breathing too fast and too hard might draw attention. Dustin didn’t want attention. Attention was bad. Breathing slowly and evenly was good. Being calm was good. The most important thing he had to do was be calm, quiet and unobserved. It was just so hard to stay calm during Master Augustin’s unfailing morning ritual of coffee (two sugars, no cream), newspaper and toast with jam.
He’d been Master Augustin’s slave for almost two months now. Even with all that time Dustin had no idea what to make of the man. Certainly, physically Master Augustin was exactly what a Master was supposed to be. He was tall, powerfully built with a carefully maintained physique. His graying hair was kept so closely cropped that Dustin wasn’t sure if it had originally been sandy blond or ginger red. Every suit that Dustin had seen Master Augustin wear had been perfectly tailored down to exquisite hand top stitching and a little pleat in the back that let him move more freely.
But he didn’t act like the Masters Dustin had known and it confused Dustin terribly. There were no beatings that he didn’t deserve and couldn’t easily bear. Dustin had his own bed, granted a small slave bed with a thin pad and minimal blankets, but it was his and his alone. Master Augustin made sure that Dustin had so much food that he was gaining weight for the first time since he went into the debt slavery program to save his parents from their debts six years ago, not that he’d been very stocky before that.
Most worryingly, his responsibilities were so clearly defined that Dustin didn’t need to fear being trapped in mistakes that would lead to punishments.
It confused Dustin. Where were the shouts? The sudden blows? Master Augustin never laughed until he cried. He didn’t sing when he was happy. There hadn’t been one black mood yet, which was utterly bizarre. His master never even raised his voice to Dustin or anyone else.
He was so calm and reasonable that Dustin lived in dread of the inevitable explosion. If it had been building this long then it would be absolutely horrific when it finally happened. Dustin wasn’t sure that he would survive whatever Master Augustin did when his temper finally broke. He’d barely survived some of Master Reyes’ punishments when he exploded.
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