“Visiting hours are from nine to six, Monday through Friday. Have your identification papers ready. Did you bring a change of clothes today? If not, check out our new mall with designs inspired by…”
The voice droned on, but all Ian could think about was Kelly’s beauty. She stood in startling contrast to the dingy confines of the Visitor Center. The oldest histories told of a very different meaning for the word “visitor.” Those same histories claimed that Cyprus had once been a country, not a prison and stud farm, and that was even harder for him to believe. But the ancient historians generally knew what they were talking about.
“Step forward, troglodyte.” A female voice ordered sternly. The last word was a common enough curse. Most men in Cyprus had been there since childhood, identified as violent offenders before adulthood and marooned on the island. His advanced command of language marked him instead as one of the more rare troglodytes, treacherous men who had committed gross infractions against a woman after Graduation. He was innocent as many such men were, but appearances mattered more than substance, and so he had found himself among the savages.
A machine scanned him for weapons, which were common enough in the prison. Another machine scanned him for sexual disease, which had been all but eradicated some time before he was born. Still, the guards were fastidious in their duty.
“He’s clear.” The other woman reported. “All yours, Kelly.” Ian heard the chuckling between the guards as they left the room. This was familiar business to them.
Kelly sauntered in, her hips swaying delightfully. There was lust in her eyes, a fire he had wished for a thousand times in the days before his incarceration. A shock of realization suddenly crossed her delicate features.
“Ian? Is that you?” She said in wonder.
“Yeah.” Ian answered, sitting down on the bed, the only piece of furniture in the dreary room. “Saw your name on the visitor list.”
Lust faded from her eyes and she sat beside him, a painful expression finding its way onto her face. “I’m… I’m sorry. I didn’t think it would be you.”
“It’s okay.” Ian faced her. “I belong here.” And he did, it had taken him a long time and a lot of effort to get to this room.
Tears began to form in her deep blue eyes. “No you don’t! You were always so nice. I tried to get you out after the trial. I’m so sorry, I didn’t know!” Kelly protested.
“You were here, getting fucked.” His tone was carefully measured, devoid of emotion, as if he were simply commenting on the weather. The anger had come and gone a decade before. Only the strongest in the prison ever clawed their way into the Visitor Center, everything else was distraction.
Out in the world he had been an accountant. In those days, Kelly had been the object of his desire, the woman he had done everything for, from fixing her air car to getting her a new job with the Orbital Authority. Once, he had thought it cruel that the one time he needed her help, she had been at the Visitor Center, sharing with some nameless inmate what he dreamed of having with her. He had been innocent once, but he would never leave Cyprus now, and part of him found that he did not want to.
“I thought you had more character witnesses, and I got my dates mixed up. Are you mad? Do you want me to leave?” Kelly wiped a tear from her cheek. “I didn’t mean for this to happen to you!”
His hand waved in the air, as if the thing were a mere trifle. “If we’re going to fuck, you should take off your clothes.” His loins stirred with need.
“You’ve changed.” She pointed out, her eyes tracing along the misshapen scar carved permanently into his cheek. Ian reflected on that for a moment and decided she was wrong. He hadn’t changed, at least no more than a baby changed by being born. A part of him had always belonged here, it had merely been a matter of time before he had arrived at his destination.
Reflexively, he touched the scar, nodding slightly. “Change? No. But a lot of pain. Seems like that should be obvious.”
Chatting was more tiresome than he had remembered. Such idle conversation was unknown on Cyprus outside of the Visitor Center. Placing a finger to his lips to silence her protests before they could begin, he stood and began to strip off his clothing. The guards had given him a shower before and washed his clothes, but they could not entirely remove the stains of sweat, blood and grime. That was probably good for business here, since women could have all the clean men they wanted out in the world. Enough still came here despite all that.
Kelly gasped, and a hint of interest crossed her features. Many women had availed themselves of the Visitor Center over the years, and now Ian understood why. Tanned skin covered painstakingly toned muscles. A myriad of scars could be found on his skin, a testament to his slow, long fight to the top of his gang, and from there to this very room. His body was a far cry from the shrub of a human he had once been. Still, those things were worthless next to what the prison had done to his mind. That primal power was what brought women back to this room over the centuries the system had been in place.
“Ian, I… don’t know.” Kelly hesitated.
“Anyone who made it in here this week belongs to my gang. Either you fuck me, or one of my men.” His hand made its way to the back of her dress, untying it and letting it fall to the bed, caught around her waist. Her bare breasts were a welcome sight, and he felt the softness of them, ignoring her faint protests. There was a noise from the guard shack, but no one moved to stop him. They could kill him if she cried out for help, it was rare but it was known to happen. Kelly would not cry out though, he knew.
“Stand up.” He ordered.
“Is this.. right? I mean…” Her protests droned on, and Ian stopped listening. She stood up, and soon her dress was on the floor. There was nothing on underneath, something which did not come as a surprise. Women who came to the Visitor Center had a singular purpose.
Adoration was in her eyes finally. It was a look that he would have died a thousand times to see before. He had dreamed of her in his arms, just like this, even for a time after her betrayal. The thing was hollow now, nothing like his adolescent fantasy.
“Ask me to take you.” Ian held her firmly, his hands slipping down her buttocks and pulling her close. “Tell me you want it.”
“I want it.” A sigh escaped her trembling lips. “Please…”
A moment passed, and his lips pursed slightly. Something changed in him then, and a feeling coursed through him. It was the same feeling he felt watching his enemies fall in prison, the same emotion that had pounded in his brain as he stepped onto the nearly-holy site on Cyprus, the bloodied winner of a gross Darwinian affair. Ian decided Kelly was not what he wanted, and he relished that moment.
“No.” A cruel smile crossed his features and he let her go. “Guards, I am done with this woman.”
“What?” The shock was total, and Kelly folded onto the bed, unable to grasp the rejection. Soon she realized her nakedness and struggled to salvage her pride.
Right of refusal was still allowed to an inmate, no matter how seldom it was invoked. There would be other women, perhaps even more beautiful. No one would challenge his gang for some time. The warlords had been thoroughly crushed. Weeks of pleasure lay before him.
“Inmate! On the wall!” A guard screamed, trying to project authority. To Ian’s battle-hardened ears, it sounded like little more than a shrill. But he obeyed, leaning up against the wall as Kelly’s sobs echoed across the room. The cries of anguish were music to his ears. The other guard escorted the distraught woman out of the visiting room.
“Real piece of work, aren’t you?” The guard whispered in his ear, but he could detect the undertone of surprise in her voice, too.
“You know it.” He smiled, and the guard let him up. Ian looked up to see Kelly just before she disappeared from his life forever, going back to a world he wanted no part of anymore. Adoration was in her eyes as she looked back one last time, just like in his youthful dreams. But no where in his dreams had he seen tears of sorrow mixed with that desire, nor had his dreams contained the hollow sadism burning in his heart. There was something curious about that, as if there were some great secret contained within the contradictory nature of the Visitor Center. It was the closest thing to truth he had ever known.
Aching in his loins interrupted his introspection, and he smiled with delight as the next woman on the list was led in by a pair of brawny guardswomen. The room was still his, after all, for as long as he and his gang could keep it. That, too, was his right.
The mechanical voice droned again. Anticipation flooded his awareness.
Visiting hours are from nine to six….