Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
This is an essay from a uni subject I did, just an interesting topic.
In humans, a monogamous relationship is the pairing of two humans who will frequently mate exclusively with one another. However, the human idea of monogamy is that they should only mate with one another. In regards to this paper, the definition of monogamy as exclusively mating with one partner will be taken. Polygamy will be defined as taking multiple partners, though these partners are not always aware that they are sharing their mate. There are evolutionary, biological, genetic and social aspects to consider when dealing with the subject of human interaction and mating.
There is a strong argument in favour of monogamy in humans from both biological and social perspectives. There is a key factor that most scientists in the field agree upon, paternal investment that ensures survival of the offspring. Biparental care appears to be the driving factor of monogamy in humans. By pooling resources, the parents can best provide for their offspring. Simply not having enough land/property to spread between offspring from multiple females can result in a preference to monogamy. As Marlowe (2000) mentions, for every one offspring resources must be delegated. For every other offspring the resources must be portioned out, lessening the amount for each. This is also inclusive of potential offspring, causing costs of parental care to outweigh benefits of mating polygamously. There is also the possibility that the more exclusive the care/provisioning for the female’s offspring, the greater the degree of fidelity the females award males (Marlowe 2000, Fortunato & Archetti 2009).
Ownership of various material objects can relate to the modern idea of fitness. Infidelity in most western cultures is considered grounds for divorce in married couples and the perpetrator tends to be worse off in legal terms. In such an instance there could be, given that resources are an all important factor in mate attraction, that once the cheating mate has been stripped of most of his/her resources that they will no longer be as desirable to other potential mates (Drigotas & Barta, 2001). This is particularly true for females who are divorced and retain children from their previous partner (Marlowe 2000,).
Parental care from males can be delivered both directly and indirectly. The male can care directly for the offspring or he can aid the mother which allows her to care for the child (Quinlan, 2008). Fortunato & Archetti (2009) postulate that the evolution of monogamous relationships was a result of the insufficient skill of males to mate polygamously. The fittest males may have monopolised the females, preventing the lesser specimens from attaining a mate. Therefore, it is entirely possible that when the less fit males were able to mate, this resulted in mate guarding against the fitter males (Fortunato & Archetti 2009, Marlowe 2000).
There are many theories surrounding monogamy and pair-bonding. Pair-bonding is when a couple form an essentially monogamous relationship and prefer the company of one another to that of strangers (Curtis et al, 2006). There are many theories as to how monogamy evolved. Pair-bond formation between humans may be a result of several factors. A possible reason for pair-bond formation is provisioning for offspring and in particular, of females during the breast feeding stage of child rearing. It is during this period that the mother required sustenance with which to feed and care for the child. Due to the intense degree of time and care required for the child, the mother cannot provision for herself let along for the child (Quinlan, 2008).
A pertinent question may be, when the offspring are weaned and are not constantly reliant on the mother, what use is there for the male to remain? In humans, child rearing is a long and expensive endeavour which is why both parents are required to remain and contribute resources to the offspring until it is able to acquire resources itself. However, frequently these long term pair-bonds tend to be formed out of willingness and happiness as opposed to obligation or necessity. If/when we as humans are not able to forge such bonds it is often seen as a sign of mental perturbation or psychoses (Curtis et al, 2006). Why do we form deep emotional bonds to people if the monogamy is based purely on provision for offspring? How, if at all, are pair-bonds dependant on these emotions? There is evidence to suggest that pair-bonding is neurologically based.
There has been strong evidence from recent studies to suggest that neurochemicals play a central role in forming pair-bonds. Referring to a study done on mice by Ribble (1992), it showed that remaining with the same partner leads to greater reproductive success in their lifetime. This may have been a contributing factor to the evolution of monogamy and the related theory of pair-bonding. These animals naturally form pair-bonds and exhibit a preference to associate with their partner than a stranger. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that has been shown to affect social interactions in these voles but also in humans. A particular species of vole tends to display a similar behaviour to human pair-bonding which makes them ideal for an experiment to test dopamine’s effect on said behaviour. The study showed that when a dopamine antagonist, haloperidol, was administered, pair-bonding in the voles was impaired (Curtis et al 2006). A separate study, again using voles, by Young and Wang (2004) showed that when the females were treated with oxytocin, a neuropeptide, the exhibited accelerated the pair-bonding behaviour, that is they formed a partner preference in a short time of cohabitation without mating. This study also tested the effect of arginine vassopressin, another neuropeptide, in males showed a similar response as oxytocin did in females. These studies have very strong implications that monogamy in humans, as we too have these neuropeptides, may be largely a result of neurological programming.
Mate guarding is an example of where the line between the social and the biological reasons for monogamy blurs. Mate guarding by males, usually construed as jealousy in humans, is a method of ensuring his partner only mates with him, therefore reduces extra-pair paternity. Thus any resulting offspring have a larger probability of being his (Shackelford et al, 2006). If we consider the social reasons for the evolution of human monogamy we find that they are slightly incongruent with the more biologically based reasoning. Mate guarding, generally considered a useful tool in preventing extra-pair copulation in partners has a social downside. Due to the severity of mate guarding there would be a large degree of hostility toward other males in social groups. Humans have learned that cooperation is most often times better than constant competition, this same principle may also be applied to mating. There is a definite advantage for groups that strengthen via cooperation. If there is a reduction of in-group competition, cooperation would increase, forming a stronger community. Thus giving those groups a survival advantage over those that struggle through in-fighting (Fortunato & Archetti, 2009). The human “wing-man” is a possible example of this. In contemporary society in western culture the “wing-man” is the male companion of another male who aids in mate attraction. It is the cooperation between males wherein one, the wing-man, will sabotage his own chances of mating while simultaneously making his companion appear more appealing to the female (Grazian, 2007). This is an excellent example of human altruism.
Of course one of the largest social promoters for monogamy lies in religion, most notably Christianity. Christianity is a religion that socially imposed monogamy on the medieval societies of 11th century Western Europe that has carried well into the 21st century and farther reaching corners of the globe (MacDonald, 1995). In large societies where Christianity is the dominant religion and is actively being practiced monogamy would be the prevailing form of mating behaviour.
There are myriad reasons why monogamy is not a favourable practice for humans to adopt. In the first instance, it is more beneficial for males to be polygamous. As they invest little in gamete production and are not obligated to the females after fertilization, they ought to spread their genes as much as possible. If females are to invest in reproduction, it would be prudent to mate with the fittest male to ensure healthy offspring. The most desirable polygamous situation for females is that they ought to mate with the male with the best genes and to form a pair-bond with the male who will be the best provider for the offspring as paternity is often uncertain where males are concerned (Seki et al, 2007).
Another reason that polygamy may be preferred amongst humans is that they experience mate dissatisfaction or what is sometimes deemed boredom. They may therefore will seek out another mate, be it for a long or short term pairing. The most likely cause for women to perform extra pair copulation is because they are unhappy with the choice of partner. Whereas males may be perfectly happy with their choice of partner but will still mate with other females. This behaviour is usually based largely on sexual attraction of a third party and is not commonly for long term pairing (Drigotas & Barta, 2001). However, in this era where sex is no longer purely about reproduction, why shouldn’t we reproduce with those that we form pair-bonds with so as to ensure against extra-pair paternity, but continue with extra-pair copulation? Surely if there is no threat of non-paternity there should be no requirement for mate-guarding and therefore no jealousy.
It is theorised by Fortunato & Archetti (2009) that socially imposed monogamy removes male breeding success. By not allowing a genetically superior male or one that will best provide for offspring to proliferate with several females it does not allow females to select a premium mate. Only a single female is socially permitted access to that male for breeding purposes once they have entered a relationship. Those that missed out on this specimen are forced to choose amongst those males that are left, despite their perceived lack of relative fitness. This creates a disadvantage to those females in terms of genetically ideal offspring as well as more competition among them for an adequate mate (Fortunato & Archetti, 2009).
There is a form of polygamy that is more socially acceptable in society serial monogamy. This is a practice wherein the male in the relationship would be most interested in moving from one partner to another and fathering as many children as possible until the female has declined in residual reproductive value. So long as the pair-bond has been broken between the two, the male is free to pursue a younger, more fertile female and repeat the cycle (Marlowe 2000,).
In Scheidel’s (2009) work, sited by Fortunato & Archetti (2009), it brings to light that, though strict monogamous marriages existed in early Rome, there were many males of high status that fathered many children with slave girls, thus compounding the idea that males who tend to view themselves as more resource-rich than or physically superior to other males may have a sense of self entitlement (Drigotas 7 Barta, 2001). A societal development in the mid 20th century, women entering the workforce, has lead to another evolutionary shift away from this paradigm so to speak. The more women could contribute to the resources for child rearing, the less inclined the male was to maintain monogamy. The benefit of monogamy gradually decreases as the female becomes more adept at provisioning (Fortunato & Archetti, 2009). It would seem that there is little point of forming pair-bonds in order to care for the offspring in contemporary society when the females may invest less time and energy into parental care with the aid of day care centres and nannies.
As the Christian faith defends monogamy, Muslims and Mormons are encouraged for males to take multiple wives. Mormons actually do follow the general principal of Marlowe’s (2000) theory of serial monogamy, however they retain the wives that are no longer reproductively valuable.
Despite the genetic and biological benefits of polygamy Humans are essentially monogamous, essentially being the operative word. There is the concept of serial monogamy that it still looked upon as a version of monogamy. This allows for the biological theories of the benefits of polygamy to be maintained as well as the social theories regarding the benefits of monogamy and pair-bonding (Marlowe 2000,). The female who is no longer able to reproduce has already done so and her offspring have been provided for.
The benefits of monogamy and polygamy are contradictory at best. It is better to be polygamous and mate with several partners than it is to be monogamous and limit your genes to the one partner (Fortunato & Archetti, 2009). However, it is better to be monogamous to ensure the survival of these potential offspring. Though there is evidence of pair-bonding and increased lifetime reproductive success eventually the female will reach menopause and this will decrease the male’s lifetime reproductive success as he will not be permitted to access a younger, fertile female with which to mate without incurring possible divorce, however much that is unfavourable to the older female (Marlowe 2000, Ribble 1992). Religious faiths even diverge drastically on this seemingly universal issue.
From a purely biological perspective, it is easy to understand why humans might be predisposed to infidelity. The male with the most reproductive prowess mates with multiple females so his DNA may carry on via several offspring. The females in turn will have mated with the fittest male, ensuring their offspring’s fitness for further proliferation of their DNA. There is an interesting theory that can be gleaned thus far as to why humans may prefer to be polygamous but have those they mate with remain monogamous. Females for instance would like to have both the male that is the best provider and the male with the most beneficial genes, therefore will pair with the caring male and mate with the genetically superior male. Monogamy in males is desired by females so that they know the male is not dividing his resources between other offspring and only providing for her offspring. Males will try to mate with as many females as they can to further their genes. However, as paternity is easily hidden from males, he will be unwilling to provide for his partner’s offspring he isn’t certain are his own (Fortunato & Archetti, 2009). Schuiling
Thursday, October 22, 2009
"I'll never say that I won't ever make you cry." - Liam Gallagher
I get up and figure noon is as good a time as any to run a check on this plate. I get the address and head over there. The place is huge! Who ever tis girl is, she must have cash coming out her ears. Two massive guys guard the entrance. She must have more clout that I thought. Nothing ventured nothing gained. “Excuse me gentlemen I- ”
“Please come in”. A creepy foreign voice beckons me into the shadows, I gotta follow it.
“Excuse me? Ma’am?”
“No need for formality here leibchen, though I do appreciate a gentleman vhenever there is vun to be found. Vhat can I for you you?”
“Um, I’m looking for a woman.”
“Everyone who comes in here is looking for a voman. Vhat kind of voman?”
I’m in a brothel!?! “Um, a specific one, with dark hair and very pale skin. Iridescent blue eyes. Delicate.”
“Ah! You must have seen Stoya! She is only just returning from an appointment. Another girl perhaps?”
“I’d like her please Ma’am.”
“Then vould Herr..?
“Vould Herr Matthews care to vait vhile she freshens up? I can send her to you if you like?”
“I’ll just take a room here if that’s alright.”
“Very vell. I trust you are familiar vith the rather steep fees vee have at our establishment?”
“I am. Is credit card ok?”
“Ya, that is just fine. But you pay after. That is company policy vith first-timers. Vee must make sure you are enjoying yourself no? Haha! A drink for you first Herr Matthews?”
“Please. Whiskey, on the rocks. I didn’t get your name by the way ma’am.”
“You can call me Frau Berhardt, leibchen.”
“Ok. Thanks for the drink.” I wonder if the cost of this ‘visit’ is gonna be worth the info. I might be a lawyer but I haven’t got that kinda cash.
“She’ll be ready for you in half an hour.”
HALF AN HOUR LATER
I’m waiting in one of their standard suites. She walks in timidly
“Good evening Mr. Matthews.”
“So you’re the lawyer?”
“Please help me?!”
“I can’t keep doing this! I saw my sister hang herself. I’m so scared I won’t survive this. I don’t know how much longer I can keep it up. You must have some way to help me out of this horrible place?”
She burries hers face in my chest and sobs quietly for a minute. Poor dame. “I’ll do my best to get you out of here. Come on.” I use my cellular phone to call a taxi and we make our escape out the window. We stay in the shadows and make it to the taxi.
“Do you have anywhere you can go?”
“Not yet, but I’ll figure it out.”
“You can stay at mine tonight, I know some people, they can get you out of the area and to a safe place.”
“Thank you, you don’t know what this means to me.”
“Just relax. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
We get to my apartment and Dinah isn’t happy to see she has competition. The girl collapses into my arms, shaking.
“How about a drink?”
“I’d love one. Scotch if you have any?”
“Here.” She gulps it down and stares at the glass. The ice clinks in the glass from her trembling.
“Thank you, you’ve been so good to me.”
“I can’t stand to see a dame cry and not do anything about it.”
“You’re still very sweet.”
“You can take my bed tonight. I’ll bunk on the couch.”
“No, please, you’ve done enough already. You know if she finds you you’ll wind up a trophy on her wall. She collects human skins…” She begins to sob again and I put my arms around her. She finally raises her head and looks at me. I can’t stand those eyes. They break me in a million places and I have to look away. She takes my head in her hands and kisses me. Shyly, like a nervous, adolescent first kiss. I kiss her back, almost as shy.
The sunlight through the drapes blinds me as I attempt to open my eyes. “Stoya?” She is no where to be found. The only thing I can find of hers is the lipstick she left on the glass… There! On the bathroom mirror. A little pink note.
I hope you had as much fun as I did last night. Your cat is very cute but she doesn’t seem to like me too much. I hope we will meet each other again soon. If you need to find me, you know where I am. Come up and see me some time.
It was all an act. She played me like a chump and I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. Those eyes will haunt me forever! I didn’t even ask her what I came to find out. “Well Dinah, that’s what I get for trying to be a hero. I’ll stick to the law.”
“Right, breakfast. How do you want your eggs?”
Saturday, October 17, 2009
(This is a conversation between Stoya and a lawyer that follows her after one of her meetings with Marshal Carver. They enter a relationship and things go sour. This conversation occurs many months later after their initial meeting.)
"There's no aphrodisiac like loneliness." - Tim Freidman.
The city is freezing in July. Standing on the roof together we look at it's cold, bleak streets, I put my arm around her to stop the shivering.
S: “Some times I think you’re the only one who really knows me.”
C: “Maybe I am. All I know is that I’ve loved you since that night and I haven’t stopped. I won’t stop.”
S: “You will if you ever end up with me.”
C: “No I won’t. Think of the men that have been with you. How many loved you? How many
wanted to share their lives with you?”
S: “Five out of six…but only three out of the five wanted to share their lives with me.”
C: “What does that say about you?”
S: “I hurt the people that give me their hearts.”
C: “You inspire people to give you their hearts in the first place.”
S: “I shouldn’t be allowed to date.”
C: “If anything, there should be more women like you. There aren’t many people that are as understanding as you of so much. That is the common ground that all humans stand on. The desire to just be understood for who they are. That is the battle. You’re the only one that seems to diminish the need to fight.”
S: “What good is it if they all want to be with you when you’re bound to one person. It just hurts them more. You more than anyone should know that. God how I reproach myself for letting you get close to me. I’m like a viper disguised as a kitten.”
C: “You’re being a little harsh.”
S: “I’m being accurate.” I pull her close, so that we’re almost touching.
C: “Being in love is one of the most painful feelings in the world.”
S: “I’m sorry.”
C: “You didn’t let me finish. Being in love is one of the most painful things in the world. But at the same time it’s great to have something in your life that makes you feel so much at once you feel like you’re the luckiest person.”
S: “That’s such a load of shit.”
C: “It’s not. You know it. You know how much love hurts. I’ve seen it hurt you. Do you wish it were different?”
S: “No. I told you: it is futile to regret.”
C: “You have to take steps. Little ones.”
S: “Why won’t anyone just let me sit alone in myself, why do you all need me so much? Why do you need me at all? You and everyone else tells me, till you’re blue in the face that I’m special. How? Where? Show me?! You give me all these reasons as to why but they’re tired and they’re crap! Why honestly?! What’s the real reason you need me?”
C: “I’ve told you already. What do you want to hear?”
S: “Shut up. All I want to hear is “I don’t love you” and “you’re not special”.”
C: “I’m not going to lie to you.”
S: “Isn’t that what people do when they’re in love?”
C: “Stop mocking love.”
S: “Why? It makes a mockery of us, of our rationality. Why not mock it?”
C: “Because it’s the only reason everyone isn’t killing everyone else.”
S: “Bollocks. The only reason we don’t kill one another is because of dependence and you know it.”
C: “I thought I was meant to be the pessimist.”
S: “You are. I’m a realist.”
C: “I thought you were the optimist?”
S: “Only on the outside.”
C: “So you’re faking it?”
S: “Not at all. I really do believe the world isn’t so fucking horrid.”
C: “When there are people like you in it I’m sure it can’t be all horrible.”
S: “But you see, that’s just bias. I should think that I make the world that much worse.”
S: “Indeed. Like T.H White said “Life is such unutterable hell, solely because it is sometimes beautiful. if we could only be miserable all the time, if there could be no such things as love or beauty or faith or hope, if I could be absolutely certain that my love would never been returned: how much more simple life would be”.”
C: “I told you that quote when we first met.”
S: “And it has stayed with me since.”
C: “I want you.”
S: “So do they.”
C: “Not as much as I do. I’ve stuck by you through whatever.”
S: “And I’ve abandoned you.”
C: “But you came back.”
S: “And left again.”
C: “Stop this!”
S: “You stop it. We’re so estranged. I don’t know how we can even stay friends.”
C: “What’s left of Europe…the dream.”
S: “You abandoned it!”
C: “Because I thought I’d lost you.”
S: “You could never lose me Christopher. I’ll always be here.”
C: “Always and never.”
S: “No. Always. I promise.”
C: “You keep making the same promise and breaking it.”
S: “So does that not prove my case?”
S: “Why the hell not?”
C: “Because even though not being with you is the cause of my misery, not having you in my life at all would be complete devastation.”
S: “I promise I’ll always be a part of your life Christopher. But could you really stand it?”
C: “I’m sure I’ll get past it eventually, but for now, let’s just stare at the city.”
S: “Like we used to.”
C: “Like we always will.”
I look her directly in those beautiful, glassy eyes. “Yes.”
Friday, August 7, 2009
"You bleed just to know you're alive" - John Rzeznik
Oh Clarisse… we came to this place together. I’d always hoped we’d leave together. Earn our freedom from this hole. But when I think about it, we’ve earned our freedom ten times over at least. It isn’t about freedom anymore. It’s about survival. I knew she wasn’t strong enough. I’m sure there was something I could have done. But I will kill that pig for tormenting her. After every appointment she would come home shivering like a raped child… but she never cried. I can only see blurry wisps of her blonde curls as the coroner moves her into the black bag. Human trash bags. My make up is all smeared and I know I will be late for my appointment with Marshal. He will forgive me. He always does.
“Does she have any family?” The coroner is annoyed at having to repeat himself. Dick.
“Yes. She’s my sister.”
“I doubt that. You look nothing alike.” Dick.
“She is my sister. We have no remaining relatives. We are alone.” Dick.
“Very well. What is her surname?”
“We don’t have one. We can’t remember it.”
“Very well. Birth date?”
“We can’t really remember that either.”
“Did you two get simultaneous amnesia?” Dick.
“No! We never really knew any exact details about our lives! Our parents died before we knew how to walk. Dick…”
“Very well. That’s all.” Dick.
“Stoya!” I hear her screeching from below me. I know I’m very late. I get Suzanna to fix my face and I tear down the steps and into the limousine. “Step on it Gustav. To the usual place.”
“Yes.” After a very long time he mutters “We’re all gonna really miss Clarisse.” Gotta love Gustav. He always knows just what to say. We pull up to the gates of my weekly hell and I am ushered through by his private Spӧken to my personal torture chamber. It’s been decorated like a child’s playroom. I’m given a few minutes alone to prepare for the onslaught. He enters. I call him late and spank him with a wooden ruler. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Prime Minister!
We light our post coital cigarettes and I talk to him like an adult for the first time all evening. “I’m sorry I was late Marshal. My sister died this evening.”
“That’s quite alright dear. You performed excellently under the circumstances.”
“Thank you.” I can’t hate the man, not while there are worse out there… “so tell me. What has been going on in the State? You now it interests me so.” For a hooker I’m pretty up on my politics. “Have you met with the Tribunal yet on the Casper issue?”
“I meet with them Tuesday as a matter of fact.”
“How exciting! Have you actually seen their faces?!”
“Silly girl, no one sees their faces. Safety reasons you see.”
“Of course. Still, talking with them must be thrilling. Changing the State one day at a time.”
“Indeed. I’m going to propose they give us complete power to kill Caspers on sight and have Spӧken on the streets 24 hours of every day. Safety reasons you see.”
“What have the Caspers done that makes them shoot-on-sight targets?”
“It will keep our citizens safer to have them dealt with.”
“I see…” Typical politician, never answers the question.
“Ssshhh now kitten. You’d best be off. The sun is rising.”
“It’s been a pleasure Prime Minister.” Til next week Lucifer… the rising sun is the same colour as Clarisse’s lips were while she hung there. I fall onto the back seat and cry the whole way home. Now I’m alone. In all the world. I’m alone.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
"Willst du bis der Tod euch scheidettreu ihr sein für alle Tage" - Rammstein
Stupid whores. “Can’t you do anything right?!” It is no vonder these girls become prostitutes. “Schnell! If you don’t vant me to put you in the pit again you stop whining und get on vis it!”
“Please, I’m sorry… I just can’t stand him anymore… his hands…”
“You poor child, come here. Come on, get up. Come here to Mutter.”
“Listen carefully to me child. You have no more free vill. You are not even your own person. You have been bought and you vill be sold. You are nossink more to those people than a packet of cigarettes! They are filthy human beings and you are no better. You vill do vhatever he desires and pretend to like it. Go now! Get clean and ask Suzanna to paint you.” Garbage… I am slipping. My girls never used to be so weak, now they all seem to be falling. At first I thought it was the drugs. But it’s not that. Then I thought it the clients, but it could not be all of them. It must be me. My training is not difficult enough any longer. It must be fixed. This is how I serve My Lord, I shall not fail him. They think me antiquated for my devotion to Mein Führer, so do I. But I believe he wanted a world free from discrimination. With only one race there is no racism, no fear of those who are different. United under one religion for the good of all those of true blood. The phone!
“Hello? Herr Rosen, how lovely it is to hear from you. Of course Clarisse is available tonight! For you alvays my dear friend. How vill you have her tonight? I see, very good. She will be there at midnight, sharp. Adieu Herr Rosen.” Dog. The man is an unbearable bore und the vorst degenerate pig I have known of my time in this city, not somessing easily achieved. “Clarisse!!! Get down here now! Schnell! Herr Rosen vants you as a school girl again!” She’d better not fall down the stairs. I hear screaming. I svear, just once if they could deal vith rodent themselves. Oh…fik… vell I’d better call that pig and tell him she’s not coming any longer. “Hello, Herr Rosen? Yes, it’s Diana. Ve have a small problem. Yes. Vell she has come down with a case of…severe rigor mortis. I may send a replacement if you vish? Free of charge of course, for the inconvenience. Yes, same uniform. Brilliant! I vill send her over soon. Adeiu!”
“Justine! Take her place! Sarah! Take down her body and call the coroner. If I have not made it clear a thousand times, the bondage rope is NOT a toy! Sohn eines weibchens! Get her down!” It is a miracle I house the girls here and have the brothel next door. This is extremely bad for business…
“I can’t do it Frau Berhardt! She’s too heavy.”
“She’s lighter than you Sarah! Ask one of the others to help you!”
“Dunke Stoya. Don’t forget, you have an appointment with Herr Carver in two hours.”
“I know Frau Berhardt. Almost ready.” Stoya, she is my golden child. Well behaved and well trained. I vish they vere all like her. Mein leibchen.
 Mother in German
Saturday, July 18, 2009
"Run run run as fast as you can but you can't run run from the Childcatcher's hands." - Patric Wolf
It’s always so dark in this house. Mum told me when she was a little girl, kids used to be afraid of the dark. Now, she says, it’s all we have to keep us safe. I slide up to the window and peek through the wooden slats. Past midnight and the street is brighter than this place. The red light hanging over the door across the road flickers and starts to fade. I think it looks a lot like the way my father’s eyes looked when he was shot. I can only remember his eyes now.
It’s Thursday, it’s my night out. Mum is sleeping so I grab Kimby and wander out of the darkness. Kimby is a stuffed bear my father gave me before he died. He told me it would protect me when he couldn’t, and it has. I wander the streets freely at this time. There is no one around. There was never an official curfew, but the beatings make people stay home. Not many people know who administers these beatings. Conspiracy theorists say it’s The Tribunal’s Spöken that do it. Others think it’s the Caspers, the roaming gangs. But I know who it is. The man who can’t be seen.
I feel someone behind me. He’s not trying to sneak up on me, he won’t die yet. “Hello little girl, what are you doing out so late? Does your mummy know?”
“She does. I forgot my teddy outside.” He’s not one of them. Usually you can smell it on their breath. That disgusting hungry stink coming from the back of their throats.
“Ok, well make sure you run back inside.”
“Thank you.” As he walks away I make to run for the alley. There has to be some of them waiting in there. Nothing! Where is everyone tonight?
“You won’t find anyone.” I know the voice is coming from my left but there’s nothing there. I realise with terror it can only be him. The one who can’t be seen.
“I’m not going to hurt you little girl. I’ve seen the work you do and I’m impressed.” It’s a trick. “That is a very handy little bear you’re clutching. I can tell you didn’t win it at the fair.”
“What’s a fair?” I need to leave. He knows too much.
“Tsk. I’m showing my age. It was something fun. They call them distractivs now.” “Yeah…” he’s blocked me in!
“I want you to come with me for tonight.” I can’t smell him, I can’t even see him. Maybe I’ve finally gone mad like all those other children. “But where are my manners.” This ghost white human shape appears in the entrance to the alley. I can’t help but let out a squeak that might have been a scream if I weren’t scared of both him and the Spӧken. All I could see of him are his eyes. They are the most amazing shade of green. I agree. “I will come with you, but promise to return me to this spot.”
“Cross your heart and hope to die?”
“Ok. Let’s go.” His eyes don’t burn like theirs. I almost feel safe, like I don’t need Kimby.