Japanese History 101
by Dizog Anders
Chapter One - A History of Slavery
The bell rang. The class silenced.
"Today's lesson," Mr. Okabe said from his seat at his desk, "is about the worldwide plague of slavery in Japan from the third to the sixteenth century. As residents of a modern world, many of you may not know this, but Japan had an official system of slavery from the Yamato period until emperor Toyotomi Hideyoshi abolished it in 1590."
Haruhi raised her hand. "Is this going to be on the test?"
"Whatever I cover in class may be on the test, so pay attention."
"But slavery is so boring. Nobody does it anymore. Why are we even studying this? Can't we go back to talking about current events?"
"Did you get up on the wrong side of bed this morning, young lady?"
"The fact is, even today experts estimate that there are between twelve and thirty million slaves in the world, even though every country has officially outlawed the practice. In a way, this is a current event."
"Why don't those people run away? If it's illegal everywhere, can't they call the police?"
"I suppose some could, but others have no choice."
"Everyone's got a choice, Mr. O."
Haruhi shook her head. "That's bullshit." The class gasped. "This is a waste of time." She slammed her textbook shut and lay her head on her desk. "Wake me when class gets interesting."
Mr. Okabe opened his notebook and scribbled as he spoke. "You've shown a great deal of disrespect for me, Miss Suzumiya. You referred to me as 'Mr. O.', you belittled today's topic, and you used profanity. I'm giving you a grade of 'F.'"
Haruhi's head snapped up. "You can't do that. I need my 'A' in this class. If you fail me, I won't be able to get into Tokyo U."
"You should have thought of that before your outbursts."
"Please don't do this, Mr. Okabe. I promise I won't disrespect you anymore. I promise I'll pay attention."
"Improving your behavior to what's expected doesn't wipe away the past."
"I'll make up for it. Anything. Tell me what you want me to do."
Our teacher considered Haruhi's offer for a moment. "If you agree to be my slave for the remainder of this class, I will reconsider your 'F' grade."
Haruhi looked around wide-eyed. "You've got to be kidding."
"The type of slavery you'll be agreeing to is called debt bondage. You are pledging your labor or services in return for a forgiveness of your debt. In this case, for the forgiveness of your failing grade."
"That's wrong." Haruhi slammed her fist on her desk. "And like you said, slavery is against the law in Japan. You can't do that."
Okabe addressed the class. "Will anybody tell on me?"
Every student, including me, shook their head No.
Haruhi turned to me. "Kyon. Whose side are you on? The teacher's or your brigade leader's?"
"Don't take this so seriously, Haruhi. Sensei is trying to make a point. Relax and go along with it."
Her alarmed expression softened. "Oh. I see." She smiled and whispered, "Duh. I can be such a dunce." She stood and turned toward the teacher. "Okay, Mr. Okabe, I agree to your terms. I'll be your slave for the rest of this class if you agree not to fail me." Her face formed a devious grin. "In addition, I insist that you give me an 'A' in this class, no matter what."
"No matter what?"
"That's right. If I choose to blow it off for the rest of the semester, I still get the 'A.'"
Mr. Okabe considered her offer. "I'll agree, but only under the condition that you serve out the full time. This class is an hour long. Fifteen minutes have already elapsed. I will agree to your terms if you agree to be my slave for the next forty-five minutes non-stop. If you violate the terms of our contract before the bell rings, none of the time already served counts and your grade returns to failing."
"I'm fine with that."
"Class?" Okabe addressed the students. "I need you to swear on your honor that nothing that happens here goes past this classroom's four walls. Raise your right hands."
My classmates raised their right hands. Most immediately, but some after giving it some thought. A few stragglers kept their hands down.
"Come on, guys." Haruhi raised her arm. "Please raise your hands and give your word. I can't afford to fail this class. I need to get into Tokyo U."
I raised my hand and the straggling students followed.
"Thank you, everyone," Okabe said. "You may lower your hands. Miss Suzumiya, please come to the front of the class."
Haruhi walked to the front desk and bowed. "Sensei."
"Are you ready to help?"
"In any way I can."
"And you agree to the terms?"
"I'm going to be your slave until the end of this class period. In return, you'll give me my 'A.'"
"Do you understand that slavery implies total obedience and that failing to obey a command — any command — violates the terms of our agreement?"
"I know what it means to be a slave. I'm not stupid."
"Excellent." He opened his desk drawer. "Let's get started. Slave..." He pulled out a leather collar and handed it to her. "Please put this on."
Haruhi stared at the collar in disbelief. "You can't be serious."
"Do you refuse?"
"Well… I…" She sighed. "No, that's fine." Haruhi took the collar and fastened it around her neck. "There... but this is so wrong on so many levels."
"Tell your slave to stop complaining, Sensei," Taniguchi shouted. Haruhi shot him the evil eye.
"No, her commentary is fine. I want this to be a learning experience for all of us."
Okabe clipped a six-foot-long chain leash to his slave's collar. "Get on your knees."
Though Haruhi didn't look pleased, she got on her knees, rested her bottom on her ankles, and laid her hands in her lap. Her skirt covered her legs and fell to the ground.
She looked up at the man holding her tether. "If my clothes get dirty, I'm sending you the bill."
"We can't have that, can we?"
"Damn right we can't have that."
"Didn't I tell you not to use profanity in my classroom?"
"Technically, you have not directed me to abstain from swearing since I've become your slave."
"I see. Well, I'm nothing if not considerate. If the condition of your clothes is a concern, please stand."
Haruhi rose to her feet and brushed off her skirt. "And I was just getting comfortable."
The blood drained from Haruhi's face. "What?"
"You heard me."
"No, I don't think I did."
"Remove all your clothing and leave it neatly folded on my desk."
"You're kidding, aren't you?"
"You have the option to disobey."
Haruhi clenched her fists. "You mean I have the option to take an 'F.'"
"Miss Suzumiya, the life of a slave isn't an easy one. A slave doesn't get to pick and choose which commands she's going to obey."
"But... you'll get in trouble."
"Nobody's going to snitch. Everyone gave their word of honor, right?" All my classmates nodded.
"Fine." Haruhi took a deep breath and unbuttoned the top three buttons of her blouse. "Can I keep my undergarments on?"
"How about my socks and shoes?"
"Please remove every stitch of clothing."
"My hair ribbon, too?"
Okabe crossed his arms. "You may keep that on for now. Please stop stalling."
A/N: Where do we go from here? If Haruhi follows through, Okabe could end up in a lot of trouble. Question is, will she do it? Maybe she'll be rescued by a fire alarm or an active shooter.