Tomoko and the Goren
by Doc Sawzall
In the time before and in the time after does the following take place on a planet with two suns and three moons. The time is one of change as the inhabitants are moving from the nomadic to an agrarian lifestyle where trade is conducted between remote villages and the first use of metals has started. Technology has advanced to the levels to support a merchant class coexisting with the farmers, hunter/gatherers and the religious order. Their culture has developed rules of conduct based on the Chronicles and the protocols. They have a written language which was a gift of the chronicles.
Standing before the closed lid Tomoko took a series of deep breaths in an effort to find his center, focusing his mind on the course of action that would mark his last breathing moments. Soon, very soon as the Head Priest confirmed his sentence and punishment, would the lid be opened and he would pass through the opening to meet his unjust fate.
Once through the opening the order to close the lid would be given and the Goran released. While he would find a stave that he could use to defend himself, Tomoko knew it would be of little use. Each of the condemned were brought out the day prior to witness that unfortunate soul who preceded their own meeting with the Goren.
Yesterday it was Maged who faced the Goren whose keepers kept them beaten, underfed and hungry. Doing so ensured the outcome determined by the tribunal. That the condemned were given a weapon and the admonishment that defeating the Goren would spare their life gave false hope. That no one in distant memory had been successful only spurred the condemned to fight for his life.
Maged's crime was impregnating the daughter of the local brewer. After finding out she was pregnant he tried to end her life in a drunken rage. The volume of their shrill and boisterous tussle woke the father who rendered Maged unconscious and shortly after, before the Head Priest. The child was lost and the outcome of the sentence was never in doubt. In the arena, the betting was heavy on just how long Maged would last.
Tomoko had first met Maged before sentencing as both were not considered adult when convicted. They were sentenced to serve the remainder of their youth at hard labor until they reached the day they became men at the birth luni of their eighteenth summer. Every luni, those who reached the age of majority were segregated and placed in holding cells to await confirmation of sentencing before the tribunal.
Both were tried and convicted on the same day and shared the journey to the mines together. On arrival, they were processed and given the basics. A crude metal dish that served as plate, cup and bowl. Assigned to different work crews Tomoko would not see Maged again until his date with the Goren.
Tomoko followed the guard to where his work crew was located. A mere child of thirteenth summers Tomoko was terrified. With trembling, halting steps and a rough callused hand cuffing him forward, Tomoko entered the world that would be his life for the next five summers.
To satisfy the Chronicles, those who were under the age of majority was kept separate from the adult population of the mines. It didn't prevent the abuses, it simply confined the abused and abuser together.
Objid at sixteen summers was the de facto leader of Tomiko's work crew. A tall muscular lad, a result of four summers in the mines, had his own date with the Goren in the not too distant future. The consequence of relieving a priest of his money and as such Tomoko became his boy. The current facts of life were explicitly laid out. After his beating and the withholding of food Tomoko clearly understood what was expected and what his role would be.
Facing the priest Maged's sentence was confirmed, he was to face the Goren, defeat the Goren and he would be a free man or die a horrible death as the Goren feasted on his flesh. There was no turning back or escaping his immediate fate, he had been justly condemned, his guilt uncontested. He had faced the Stigel, his herka removed and a bloody ring left near the end of his fali. In his death, his body was dishonored and tainted, he would not dwell with the gods.
Standing the observation box Tomoko watched as the lid was opened and Maged walked into the arena. As the order to close the lid was given a stave was thrown to him. Turning and facing towards the other end of the arena where the Goren would appear.
The Goren were for the lack of better words, were a hybrid cross evolved between a humanoid and eusocial insect in mostly a humanoid form. About three quarters in height to the average man, they were fiercely protective and loyal to their colony. Their exoskeleton was similar to the toughest leather and they maneuvered on two legs. Their arms had pincers that were used to rip and sunder food which was then fed to the mandibles where a humanoids jaws would be. The Goren survived in every ecosystem on the planet. Their colonies were adaptable to every environmental condition and formed mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationships with other species. While not as intelligent as a humanoid and only having rudimentary emotions, they were extremely strong, with an amazing ability to read or understand human emotions much like the canine species. This ability allowed them to differentiate between those who wished to harm them from those who posed no threat. Having the ability to lift and carry up to five times their body weight, they were invaluable as trained workers. When attacked, their strength combined with stinger allowed them to inject a paralyzing compound into their opponent. While not fatal to a humanoid the resulting injection was a painful incapacitant.
If left to their own devices the Goren were an asset to the humanoid community. If treated humanely the Goren and humanoids worked well and co-existed together. Like any lifeform, if mistreated the Goren instinctively reacted to the situation and defend itself.
The Goren that Maged would face today was one of half a dozen that had been captured and sold to the priests. Through mistreatment and starvation, they had become thoroughly nasty creatures. There was no chance of either the Goren or Maged escaping the arena. The old wire cage covering the fighting pit prevented any sort of eventuality. The colony, if you could call it that, lived in a warren of hidey holes in the rock foundations of the arena. Each hidey hole was enclosed with an iron bar door which would be opened when it was that Goren's turn to feed.
The brave countenance that Maged tried to convey was belied by the fear he felt deep in his belly and groin. As the iron bar door was slowly raised he lost control of his bladder Tomoko saw this as he observed the beginning of today's bout. He knew with certainty this is what he would face on the morrow. All around the arena the crowd quieted, the bets had been placed and the action was to begin.
On entering the arena, the Goren sized up the humanoid at the other end. It felt no fear, only hunger and it would act on that hunger not knowing the next time it would feed. It could detect the fear and smell the result. There was fresh blood sent in the air fueling its hunger.
Tomoko watched as the Goren moved towards Maged with a morbid sense of apprehension, tomorrow this would be him in the arena. He watched as Maged deftly side stepped the Goren on its first approach. As the Goren spun to begin its second approach Maged used the stave as a fulcrum and levered himself away. As the Goren approached for a third time Maged used the stave as a bat as he aimed for the Goren's knee. Unfortunately for Maged the Goren's reflexes were quicker. With one of its pincers it was able to grab on to the stave and with its greater strength it soon had Maged within its clutches.
The Goren, Tomoko noticed was economical with its movements. Within a matter of seconds Maged felt the effects of its stinger. While conscious, Maged could no longer move and his eyes wide with fear and a silent scream frozen in his throat as a result of the toxin coursing through his body.
Watching as the Goren hovered over the prostrate body of Maged, Tomoko was astounded as the Goren's fali began to appear from the carefully concealed opening between its legs. The fali extended to a thick length of two hands wide as the scrotal sack distended as well. Lifting Maged by his ankles the Goren inserted himself none to gently into Maged's kunna.
The assault on Maged's body continued unabated for some time, it was clearly obvious that the Goren was close to finishing as its thrusting was more and more urgent in nature, culminating in one last deep thrust as it emptied its seed deep in Maged's bowels.
Finished with its sexual assault the Goren's fali and scrotal sack withdrew back into its body and it began to toss Maged around. Tomoko could hear bones snapping as Maged was slammed into the dirt of the arena floor, Maged looked more like a rag doll his sister used to pay with.
The Goren picked up the nearly lifeless body of Maged and lowered its head towards his mid-section. With its mandibles opened wide the Goren lowered its head and bit into Maged's crotch ripping his genitals clearly off. Swallowing, the Goren proceeded to feast on Maged's midsection as his life finally drained away in darkening pools of blood coagulating in the dirt beneath his body. The Goren made short work of the rest of Maged, separating the arms and legs and discarding the bones once they had been stripped clean.
Tomoko's guard clasped him by the elbow and motioned for him to head back to his holding cell. There was no doubt that this would be his last full day, he saw quite plainly his future, however disquieting and repulsive it would be. A part of Tomoko died that afternoon with Maged, his soul filled with dread and hopelessness. As much as anything else the utter unfairness of his situation meant those who were actually guilty would go unpunished. There's no escape Tomoko reminded himself, no appeal and no help to spare him from the fate he had just witnessed. He could only hope that he would meet his end quickly and he resolved to do what it would take to make it so.
It was the summer of Tomoko's tenth year when he found the nearly helpless juvenile Goren clinging to its dead mother's body. The mother had been dead for some time judging by the smell and condition of the body. There were those who illegally hunted the Goren for sport and likely this was the situation here. It wasn't unusual for Tomoko to go exploring the lands of his father's farm and the wilderness beyond those borders.
Plainly the smaller Goren was in dire straits, dehydrated and obviously very hungry. Careful in his approach to the distressed Goren Tomoko offered water from his water skin and the best portion of the lunch his mother had prepared for him. With some food in the Goren and gentle coaxing Tomoko was able to gain the Goren's hesitant trust.
From observing the Goren who worked his father's farm, Tomoko had an understanding of their diets, confident he could find food that would satisfy the Goren as they traveled back to the farm. With his sling, it was easy enough to stun a few small animals and while the Goran fed on those Tomoko found some wild potatoes and tubers as well. For the hungry Goren who was reluctant at first to trust the boy who fed him saw his fear fade as the boy obviously posed no threat.
Back at the farm the Goren fit in with the others who worked the farm. They had no issue incorporating him into their colony, while he was too small to do the work of the adult Goren there were plenty of lighter tasks he could do with Tomoko. The two became inseparable, where you saw one the other was bound to follow. When not doing chores, they were out and about exploring the further reaches of the farm and beyond. Many a time they would go for an overnight or two, fearless adventures conquering the world beyond their doorsteps. The two roamed everywhere their feet could take them, often with as little to no clothing at all. As Tomoko's body developed his only consideration for clothing was for the times he was home with his parents and younger sister and brother where he would reluctantly wear his jerkin.
By the summer of Tomoko's thirteenth year both he and the Goren were considered old enough to do some of the heaver labor around the farm and helping to bring the harvest. These were busy, heady days. Up with the suns and with only short breaks for meals the long days ended in the first hours of sunset. Young bodies grew firm and stronger sense of camaraderie developed between Tomoko and the Goren. Together they did as much if not more work during the harvest as any other teams.
Crops harvested and sent to market consumed the latter days of summer as the weather cooperated. Soon the last of the harvest would make its journey to market and the halcyon days of the quickly fading summer would draw on to a close. As a reward for their summer of hard work Tomoko and the Goren were rewarded with a trip to market. It was an exciting time exploring the sights and sounds and the new exotic foods of the marketplace. Neither Tomoko or the Goren had ever seen so many people from so many different backgrounds. At times the noise, hustle and bustle were too much and they head back to the wagons and play boy games they had recently discovered.
Standing in his cell Tomoko couldn't help but think back to that night his life irrevocably changed. Not only had he lost his father and facing the Goren tomorrow, he would lose his, breathe his last as his body was violated, sundered and consumed. He'd spent five years in this stinking, wretched hole they called a Gaol. He'd worked every miserable day at hard labor in the mines where there was no night or day. Eighteen hour days weren't uncommon, food had to be fought for and as those who reached their age of majority left for their date with the Goren the pecking order imperceptibly changed.
For the first two years Tomoko was Objid's boy. The only positive benefit was that he ate regularly. At the beginning the lack of food and a beating or two soon convinced Tomoko to submit to Objid's needs. As humiliating as it was, taking Objid's fali in his mouth while the others looked on the degradation was compounded when Objid violated his kunna. Tomoko was convinced he would die the first time, it felt as if he was being split apart. No matter how much he begged, Objid kept up his assault. It seemed to go on forever when Objid finally collapsed pumping his seed deep inside of him. Wiping the tears from his eyes Tomoko wanted to crawl into a hole and die. His kunna was on fire and everyone saw what had happened, his shame was complete and total.
As the luni of Objid's summer of reckoning drew near his needs weren't as great and became infrequent at best. For this Tomoko was grateful but there was still an underlying tension permeating Objid's crew. Some of the boys of Tomoko's summers were jockeying for position within the crew. Among those boys, Patag was the loudest and the most demonstrative. Unlike Tomoko, he was in his sixteenth summer. He had raped a boy of eight summers and hurt him badly and once he was taken to the gaolers, he was never seen again.
Patag now had is eyes on Jabril, a boy of thirteen summers who had been accused and convicted of robbing the priest's warehouse for food to feed his family. During his attempt to escape he managed to poke one of the priest's eyes out. Patag wasted little time telling Jabril what the fates awaited him. Fearing for his safety Jabril did his best to align himself with Tomoko and whatever he could do to avoid Patag. Tomoko knew there could be one leader of the work crew. Patag was worrying him with his overt actions, he had no desire to submit to him or any other. Patag may have still have been considered a boy but he carried the fali of an adult.
It was just after the last luni for Objid when Patag made his move to assert his ascendancy. While Tomoko was loading chunks of ore into a cart, Patag came up behind him with a cudgel. Seeing this Jabril cried out a warning, alerting Tomoko to the danger behind him. Spinning around to face this challenge and with little time to react, Tomoko took the chunk of ore he was holding and threw it down forcefully on Patag's forward foot crushing the small bones.
Dropping his cudgel Patag fell to the ground writhing in agony as Jabril ran over picking up the cudgel and connected solidly with Patag's head. The threat dealt with the work crew went back to work as the ore laden cart left for processing with the injured and unconscious Patag. It was unspoken but everyone knew Tomoko now led them.
When Tomoko arrived at his sleeping area there was no sign of Objid, instead Jabril was there with his sleeping pallet. Moreover, in his place was a bucket of water for washing, Tomoko was instructed to clean himself while Jabril went for their meals.
Upon returning Jabril noticed Tomoko had not moved. Setting the food down Jabril went over to Tomoko and removed his small jerkin and proceeded to wash him. Whether it was he hadn't spilled seed in some time or it was the fondling of his eggs, his fali soon began to lengthen.
Drawing Tomoko's herka back Jabril took him into his mouth. All to soon it was over and everyone knew Jabril was Tomoko's boy. Not much longer afterwards it was confirmed once again when Jabril straddled a reluctant Tomoko and impaled himself, much to the amusement of the work crew.
Their last day at the market place were upon them. Tomoko's father had done well, crops were sold, supplies and other sundries purchased. Blessed be the gods, they had done well and life would not be so difficult over the next year. To celebrate, Tomoko was instructed to head into the market place and pick out some delicacies and food for a celebratory supper. The Goren would help his father load the last of the purchased goods into the wagons ensuring an early start in the morning.
Winding his way back to his father's wagon with supper and nearing his destination Tomoko was run into by an older boy. They fell to the ground in a tangled mess, as they disengaged it was clear the older boy was nervous and eager to be away. Shoving a bundle of rags at Tomoko he exclaimed that his father had been hurt and he needed him. As he ran off saying he was going for help. Food forgotten and grasping at the bundle of rags that was shoved at him noticing he wore a necklace that looked like his father's wedding promise.
Running as fast as he could he raced to his father's side. He found him lying on the ground and clearly dead, of the Goren there was no sight. Everything else was a blur of indistinct images, the bundle of rags held the murder weapon, Tomoko stood accused. No one believed him or searched for the boy with his father's wedding promise. He was beaten and brought before the High Priest, while there were no witnesses, the bloody bundle and the blood on his dijib were all the evidence the High Priest needed. He was tried, found guilty and sentenced to hard labor in the mines until luni of his eighteenth summer, at which time he would face the Goren.
The gaolers came for Tomoko shortly after sunrise binding his hands and feet to prevent any incidents. Jabril stood by helplessly, disconsolate. This last night together, so fraught with promise of a future that would never be, was over. All of the recriminations, tears and tenderness would never be repeated. That he loved Tomoko was without question, that he knew Tomoko loved him was never in doubt. That it was over was the sad bitter finality. His new boy, Naiab was chosen by Tomoko for him, it was a small embittered consolation.
Led from the mine Tomoko was brought before the High Priest to have his sentence confirmed. The final indignity would be the removal of his herka. Thus disfigured, he would be forever marked as unfit and unworthy to dwell with the gods. His keepers forced him on to the platform, legs locked into place with his arms tightly bound. His fali was roughly grabbed and the Stigel placed inside his herka, the bell-shaped end forced the end of his fali back and the herka drawn forward. Once everything was in position a thin piece of twine secured the herka to the rod. The High Priest drew a small curved knife from within his robe and with one swift practiced movement, Tomoko was brutally separated from his herka. Released from the platform and his bindings Tomoko was brought to the lid that covered the entranceway to the arena.
Standing before the closed lid Tomoko took a series of deep breaths in an effort to find his center, focusing his mind on the course of action that would mark his last breathing moments. Soon, very soon as the High Priest confirmed his sentence and punishment, would the lid be opened and he would pass through the opening to meet his unjust fate.
As he stared at High Priest who was intoning the final disposition of Tomoko's fate he noticed his father's wedding promise necklace, hanging from his neck. Pain from his fali momentarily forgotten as he managed to shout out that today an innocent man was condemned. As he finished the lid opened and he was shoved thru the opening to face the Goren. The order to close the lid was given dooming Tomoko to his fate.
Standing and looking about the arena Tomoko couldn't help but notice how packed the place was, the old arena was filled to the brim and the crowd was loud and boisterous. They were there for the show however long it would take. He was not the only one to face the Goren today, there were several dark shadows on the arena floor.
Grabbing the stave that was tossed to the ground beside him Tomoko walked to the center of the arena. Upon reaching the spot he'd picked he turned and faced the door the Goren would appear from. Despite the pain radiating from his fali, Tomoko again forced himself to again find his center. He knew that the Goren would scent his blood from forced removal of his Herka. To the Goren he would appear as wounded prey, and to a beaten, starved and abused Goren that was all it would take to inflame and arouse its senses.
The chanting from the crowd grew louder and faster, they wanted the door opened and the Goren released. From somewhere in the arena a horn signaled the end of the betting. The High Priest stood and faced Tomoko he raised his arms and then quickly lowered them. The signal to open the door separating him from the maltreated Goren that he would face.
His time Tomoko thought, now came to but less than a few breaths. Breathing deeply, he closed his eyes and forced himself to relive his happiest moments, the love of his parents, his mother's gentle voice, his father's pride in his accomplishments. The times spent exploring the farm and the wilderness beyond so many summers ago, he could hear the Goren approaching, his life was now measured in the blinks of an eye. The crowd grew silent, stunned as Tomoko went down on his knees, dropping the stave and letting his arms fall to his sides.
He thought of dear, sweet Jabril. The boy who not only saved his life but taught him to love and share lips. Who gave himself so willingly and brought him to the pinnacle of their couplings time and time again. Tomoko asked the gods to hear his plea, of a boy wrongly convicted for a crime he did not commit, he begged their forgiveness and asked that he be allowed to dwell amongst them this day.
The Goren was now within striking distance, leaning back Tomoko exposed his vulnerable midsection and threw his head back fully exposing his throat. He had no wish to prolong his death, he would not fight but surrender to the inevitable.
Shoulders back and chin up, his knuckles grazing the soiled dirt of the arena floor Tomoko could smell the fetid malodourous Goren, he could clearly hear each breath of anticipation as it circled around him, obviously, his time was up… now!
When the tale of Tomoko was told to the grandchildren of the young so many summers distant, they spoke of how quiet the arena was as Tomoko faced his death. That the cry of a small child was plainly heard across the arena. They spoke of the bravery and the sheer utter courage the innocent boy displayed. Of the respect for self, despite overwhelming odds. They spoke of the freedom he had on his farm, of his kindness to the orphaned Goren. Of his times in the mines, how he strove to better the lives of the condemned.
That young men of age, demanded their Herka's be removed as a sign of the ultimate reverence and respect for the simple honesty and decency that characterized Tomoko. Of how he was the last to face the Goren. How parents would threaten whining children at bedtime by saying we'll "just close the fucking lid and go to sleep"!
This story is part of the 2016 story challenge "Inspired by a Phrase - Close the Lid". The other stories may be found at the challenge home page. Please read them, too. The voting period of 4 to 25 January 2016 is when the voting is open. This story may be rated, below, against a set of criteria, and may be rated against other stories on the competition home page.
This challenge was to write a story based on the phrase below.
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