Welcome to Aurora Borealis. This story is not about Rhine and her quest home, but about another girl who was kidnapped from her home and her three sister wives. Deceived by the person she once trusted, Charlotte is kidnapped from her home, taken by the Gatherers, and sold into a polygamous marriage with three other sister wives. But just when she tries to wriggle out of her new husband's sincere grip, Charlotte only finds herself falling deeper in love with the man she despises most. And yet the Northern Lights ripple on...
I don't want to give much away. I hope you, fellow reader and writer of the small Chemical Garden Trilology archive, can spare a review.
The Beginnings of Spite
An act of this sort was bound to get me killed. I never took risks, never placed a toe out of line. Ventures like this always ended up disastrous and someone would get hurt. Always. This time it would be me.
I had trusted him. My time with Bishop had been something special. He had been something special.
"Meet me at the Skyline tomorrow at moonhigh." The plead in his dark amber eyes had been what caused me to succumb.
"But what if we get caught?" I whispered, barely daring to breathe.
A small smirk spread across his face. "Then it would have been worth it."
How could I have been so foolish? Of course, I had gone back to the abandoned five-star hotel the next night, and after one time I was hooked.
"Will you be back tomorrow?" Bishop asked carefully, his hands slowly traveling down my spine, causing my limbs tingle.
"I'll try. Bishop…are we meant to be together? Are you ever afraid you'll get caught?" I questioned softly. Something flickered in Bishop's eyes, changing the warm pools of amber into two blazing fires.
"I can do what I want, Charlotte. What has your father ever done for us? He only set us apart."
The intensity of his gaze would permanently be burned into my thoughts. It still frightens me to this day.
"I'm sorry." Bishop finally continued, his voice quiet and his eyes pained. "W-Will you be back tomorrow? For me?"
"Of course." That was always my answer, confirming that I would continue to go against my father's wishes just for him and him only.
How could I have been so wrong?
The music played, resounding around the grove. I marched behind the younger girls, the oldest ones lingering after me. My heart hammered in my ears, pounding against my throat, beating in my chest, and striking against my ribs. It was a continuous cycle of drumming heartbeats thrashing my anxious body senseless.
I kept my eyes locked on the shorter dirty blonde before me, her up-do bobbing with every step she took. I was unable to understand why she could walk with such a bounce in her step. As an orphan she had been trained every waking second for this moment. Her goal in life was about to be accomplished.
I, on the other hand, was not looking forward to this polygamous marriage. I was not looking forward to coming in contact with the man at the head of the half circle the girls and I made. I was especially not looking forward to marrying the man who had ordered my kidnapping.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Maybe I should back up a bit. Rewind to where my journey truly began.
My head lifted drowsily, my eyes fluttering open. I was sprawled out across a satin bed, the sheets damp and my body dripping with sweat. I was nauseous beyond reason and I gripped the mattress groaning as I fought the urge to vomit, to keep what little food that was stored inside my body inside my body.
The bile was rising fast. I swallowed it back down with a shudder, refusing to even think about upchucking.
"Hmm. I'm surprised she hasn't vomited," a curious voice says.
"Everyone reacts to the sleep gas differently,"
"Well let's get her into the tub,"
Before I know it I'm dragged off my bed, across an emerald green carpet that feels softer than velvet as it runs across the back of my calves. The three women stand me up and I take notice of their gray hair, their soft wrinkles.
'First generations,' I thought. In this world the first generations consist of people who are literally immune to all sickness-cancer, the common cold, STD's, you name it, they're unable to catch it. The scientists had come up with the ingenious plan so the human race would be untouchable after the third world war that blew up all of the continents but America. What they didn't predict was that when the first generation had children, the next would be ticking time bombs with immunity to all sickness but the one that waits inside of them. For girls, when they turn twenty they die. Just like that, they're dead, no if, ands, or buts about it. The same happens to boys when they turn twenty-five.
The babbling women strip me of clothing, submerging me into a bathtub full of hot water and solvents. They push my body down into the water that is causing my skin to tingle and vibrate. My lips quiver as my tongue moves in odd ways inside my mouth, curving and swerving around the words I'm trying to form.
"Sleep gas?" I finally managed to get out. I slowly sat up, my body swiveling to the side of the bathroom where three women stood. They squeal at the sound of my voice, their eyes glittering.
"I came out of the vents in the limo!" They beam, not finishing the sentence. They don't need to. I already know what they mean to say but cannot. I know that I was knocked out so I didn't know where I was being taken. So I wouldn't be able to find my way back.
My mind whirled as I was shoved down into the water once again. I remembered being betrayed by Bishop who was actually a Gatherer. I remembered the truck ride to the empty lot. I remembered the darkness and the girls whimpering and screaming.
Due to the virus, the human population was slowly beginning to die out like the ruins of other countries below the ocean water. Polygamy then came into effect, another ingenious plan by the scientists who were fighting to find a cure. People called Gatherers kidnapped young girls who were old enough to bare children and then were sold to rich House Governors. Some orphanages trained young girls on how to be great wives while others simply sold them to the Housemasters and let them be kidnapped. The girls and boys without the best genes were taught how to cook, clean, and sew so they could be sold to rich owners.
I was kidnapped one night I spent outside talking to Bishop. Bishop had gagged me with a rag and pulled me into a waiting truck and threw me inside with other girls. The doors closed, sending us into perpetual darkness.
I remembered when the truck came to a stop and we were unloaded into an empty lot. There was a faint click as the truck doors slid open. A shaft of light glittered pale gold in the darkness of the room, illuminating a slot across the faces of the girls who were concealed in the murky gloom. We looked bedraggled, wounded, and filthy.
Five men strode around us as the Gatherers measured the width of our hips, our breasts, our waists, and our legs. The Gatherers took the girls who didn't meet their requirements back into the trucks. The rest of the others waited.
I remained in the line, my body deemed worthy to bare healthy children. The thought made me gag, but I remained stoic, looking down at my feet. The eyes of the first few men who approached me only stared at my body before they passed. One of the men actually rapped my hind with the back of his hand.
I could hear his feet approaching before I felt his finger gently tap my shoulder. The man was waiting for me to look up as if he craved my attention. He grinned when I gazed up, his eyes hungrily running over each feature of my face, not wandering down to my boobs once. Plus one respect point for him. At least he wasn't a horny animal.
"I want this one," he said to the Gatherers.
"That one is a bit more expensive than your others, Mr. Grayson,"
"I don't care," he responded, his eyes still boring into mine. I held his gaze, wondering what he saw in me that was so important.
I was yanked back to reality by the older ladies drying me off and yanking me into clothing. I stared down at the simple lace shirt and black pants they had put me in as I was shoved down into a chair.
"Your domestic is going to take care of you now!" One of the called as they began to exit the room.
"I can see why the House Governor chose her!" Another cooed as they left, the door slamming with a click.
I got up from my seat, wandering around the bedroom, my toes grazing the lenient carpeting. There was a dresser, a red velvet ottoman, a bedside table, the bed, and two chairs placed against the wall. My first destination was the window. I shook the handle as I tried to force it open but the locked window wouldn't budge. I pressed my weight against it but the glass didn't even tremble. The tried the door but it refused to open. I pressed my hands against it, trying to force it to open.
Not a thing. I pounded against the hard wood angrily, furious that I was held here. I glanced up; an air vent was there but it was much too small to fit me. There was a flap in the wall, a laundry chute which was only able to fit small loads of laundry. I couldn't even fit both of my legs inside. My skin was still prickling from the bath and on close examination I found my legs hairless. I stared at the smooth, glowing skin, running my fingers up and down my legs before I pulled my pant legs back down. While I was daydreaming the ladies had manicured and pedicured me to perfection and even gotten both sets of nails painted red. One of the sentences from the first generation women that had managed to wriggle into my daydreaming was 'doesn't red look absolutely fantastic against her skin tone?'
I gagged, pressing my face against my legs as I pulled them to my chest. A strangled sob escaped my throat as I realized the reality of my situation. I would not be going back to my father. I would never ever see them or my siblings again. I was trapped in this prison until the day I died.
I loved my family for they were the one thing I could be proud of. My mother died giving birth to my little brother and my father worked in nearby factories taking jobs when he could find them. My little sister and brother looked up to me for everything, always asking for my advice or to play with them. We lived relatively well for we had food to eat and a warm place to live. We boarded up the windows so orphans and robbers wouldn't be able to break in. My father would sleep with a gun by his side. No one ever dared to force their way into our home.
Home. I felt hot tears begin to roll down my cheeks just as the door flew open. My head shot up, not knowing who or what my eyes would lay upon.
A small girl with blonde hair and green eyes closed the door behind her. She was dressed in a white dress, her hair held in low pigtails by white ribbons. She set down the box she was carrying on my bed and kneeled down by me. This tiny girl couldn't even come up to my chest, but then again I was 5'8".
"It's okay, my lady," her soft voice assured me. "There's no need to cry,"
I sniffled, my eyes finding hers. Yes, I wanted to tell her. Yes, there is need to cry.
"You're taking this much better than some of the other to-be wives," she stroked my hair with her fingers.
"Yes. Lady Bay was so disoriented she tried to spear herself with the tip of an umbrella! And Lady Hannah kept throwing herself against the door and walls, screaming." She explained. "It took all of us domestics to calm her down,"
"Yes, domestics. Each to-be wife has a domestic, and I'm yours. Domestics are caregivers."
What a strange world I was trapped in. It was a world of luxury yet all I wanted to do was leave and run as fast as I could till wherever I was was only a speck on the horizon.
"Why are you here?" I was full of questions that day.
The tiny blonde smiled. "I have to get you ready to see Governor Jeremy. He wants to meet you and take you for a walk."
She took my hands in hers and pulled me to my feet. Unlike the first generations, the little girl was gentle. She sat me down on the ottoman and her in one of the chairs.
"I don't know your name," I uttered as she told me to close her eyes.
"I'm Marie," the tiny girl beamed. She didn't look older than ten years old. "What about you? None of us know your name yet."
"Charlotte," I uttered my eyes downcast. "Charlotte Attridge. But you can call me Charlie."
"It's nice to meet you, Lady Charlotte. Now if you could please close your eyes and relax your lips, I can do your makeup."
"You don't have to call-"
"Please close your eyes, my lady," Marie responded. I did as I was told as she began to paint my face. I could only hope that I wasn't going to be drastically dyed different colors or have my lips puckered with a dark red to match my nails. I didn't care for make-up much and it wasn't because I never wore it. I had seen all the wives on TV with dramatic lips and eyes with false lashes and dyes and I had promised myself never to ware that sort of stuff.
There was a dab here and a brush there. Marie worked so lightly that I could barely tell that she was there. I could feel her presence around me, brushing my eyelids and dotting my lips. She moved onto my hair, her fingers running through it with some kind of gel that smelled like vanilla. A mint was slipped into my mouth and I sucked on the candy.
"So your breath will smell nice," Marie commented. "There. I'm done."
Marie took my hand and walked me over to the dresser where the large mirror was installed on the headboard. I took in my appearance, shocked by what I saw.
The girl in the reflection had eyelids that glimmered softly with every blink-nothing overpowering but pretty. The neutral eyeliner brought out her deep blue eyes so they seemed even darker and more mysterious. Her face seemed to radiate with a healthy, clean glow. Her lips were glossed with a pale pink so it enhanced the color of her lips and whitened her straight teeth even more so. This gorgeous girl's brown hair waved gently to her mid chest and was parted off to the right. The job was simple but stunning.
"Marie," I watched as the girl in the reflection's eyes went wide.
"You don't like it?"
"Of course I do," I grinned. My first smile in this hellhole. I felt the grin slowly slide off my face, but I kept a small smile for Marie. I hated this place with such a burning intensity and I was starting to become part of it. I couldn't. I wouldn't. I refused I managed a small smile for the tiny domestic who had already touched my heart.
"I'm glad," Marie giggled. Her chime-like laughter was halted when her watch beeped. She frowned, tapping a few buttons on it before she took my hand again.
"Governor Jeremy is waiting for you outside. He's getting anxious," Marie pulled me into the hallway and down the long Persian-rugged corridor to an elevator. As we walked I searched the area for any way to escape but I found none. Once inside the elevator Marie swiped a card around her neck through a slot and with a jolt the elevator began to descend.
Being claustrophobic is not one of the great perks in my life. When I thought about it, there was no great perks to my life. I immediately broke out in a cold sweat. Marie seemed to notice that something was wrong a squeezed my clammy hand.
"There's no need to be nervous," Marie whispered.
"I've never been in an elevator," I said. "And I'm not a big fan,"
Marie nodded sympathetically as the walls began to close in around us. There was a ding and the deathtrap burst open.
Now that I was out my mind went back to its main objective: escape. I was going outside. I could run for the hills. Marie led me out two golden doors and I was greeted by a gust of wind.
It was miles upon miles of endlessness. The first few I could see were green lawns, a pool, tennis and basketball court, a soccer field, a trampoline, and a huge garden with a glass greenhouse in the center. Beyond that was forest. Pine trees, cedars, and hardwoods as far as the eye could see.
Marie was no longer by my side. I stood rooted to the spot, watching as a man looped towards me.
It was the man from before: the same chocolate brown eyes, light brown hair, and tall figure. He towered over me by several inches as he gazed down at me.
"Hello," a smile lit up his whole face. I remained paralyzed. I could run. I could faster than him if I tried. But another thought hit me. If I could become his first wife and gain his trust, I would have all the opportunity in the world to run.
It wasn't only that thought that kept me rooted in one place. It was the look of sincerity that glimmered in his eyes, the way he made my heart race when my eyes met his.
"What? No reply?" His voice was teasing now. "I'm Jeremy."
His smile transformed into a grin at the sound of my voice. "Do I get the privilege of knowing your name?"
I was quiet for a moment, not ready to respond.
"There's no need to be scared or shy," Jeremy raised his hand as if he was going to take mine, but he hesitated.
"I'm Charlotte," I said. "You can call me Charlie."
"Charlie," he nodded. "I like that."
And as he looped his arm through mine and we walked out towards the greenhouse, I wasn't sure if I could entirely hate Governor Jeremy. But then I remembered my kidnapping, my family wondering if I was dead in a ditch somewhere, and my malice was renewed. But it wasn't the fact that my spite wasn't completely filled that frightened me.
I was frightened that a tiny part of me was looking forward to calling him my husband.