Farewell from the Bookshelf!
Please note that GLBT Bookshelf -- the community wiki which was the parent to this fiction blog -- went offline on May 31, 2016, after seven years' service to members.
All Gay Romance will remain online till the end of 2016 in order to give contributors every opportunity to recover materials uploaded here.
Many thanks to all who contributed over the years, and good luck to everyone in your future works!
"'You've been very well-behaved here. You deserve a better assignment than Milord as your guard.'"
He was the model prisoner, respectful to his guards and loyal to his fellow prisoners. What no one knew was that he held the key to destruction.
Having pledged himself to assist in a popular movement by prisoners and guards to reform Mercy Life Prison, Llewellyn fears the future, when it is likely that the reform movement will face stiffer opposition from Mercy's Keeper. But Llewellyn's fear of the future is overwhelmed by the present knowledge that he is not what he appears to be. Until now, he has managed to hide his secret and to sway his guards to follow his chosen path.
Now he has been placed under the power of a guard who cannot be swayed and who is intent on bringing Llewellyn under his control. Can Llewellyn escape from his new guard's control? Will he really want to, once he has seen the door open to a world filled with true respect, loyalty, and love?
This novelette can be read on its own or as the third story in the "Mercy's Prisoner" volume of Life Prison. Friendship, desire between men, and the costs of corruption and integrity are examined in this multicultural historical fantasy series, which is based on late Victorian prison life.
The fingernails of his left hand scraped at the harsh stone of his bed-shelf as he opened and closed his fists repeatedly. Until now, he had been able to fool himself into thinking he was helping his guards. All of them, even the ones who stammered, were men who had broken the Boundaries of Behavior, and who would do so over and over again, regardless as to how well Llewellyn behaved. They were abusers, rapists, men who used their prisoners for their own pleasure.
This being the case, wasn't it better for their souls if Llewellyn consented to their beatings, turning their abuse into something better? Wasn't he benefitting his guards if he did this? Wasn't that more important than the fact that his own needs were thereby being met?
"Maybe that's why I always felt sick afterwards," he murmured. "Not because I despised them, but because I despised me."
He was faintly aware of hot tears running down his face. Tears of contrition? Or of self-centered pity that he would no longer receive what he wanted? That he could no longer corrupt his guards, turning them into worse men than they had been before?
"Oh, Hell," he murmured. "I have always been your servant, haven't I?"
The Vovimian god did not reply; nor did his sister Mercy. Llewellyn could not even remember when he had begun to pray to the gods. His mother's family was of Yclau descent; Llewellyn had been taught to believe in rebirth, not in an afterworld filled with Hell and Mercy and the lesser gods. But there had been no one else he could speak to – no one to whom he could voice his shame and his pleas for help.
"Oh, Mercy," he whispered fruitlessly. "Help me. Send me your Grace."
The goddess Mercy was silent too. Outside the cell, a guard paused to speak low-toned to another guard. It was Sedgewick's voice. Llewellyn had often dreamed of having Sedgewick as his guard, and had dreaded the thought of having him. What would it be like to receive that much pain, and to despise his guard that thoroughly? More and more, as the months drew on, he had felt sick from the awareness that he allowed vile men the means by which to fulfill their base desires. For a few hours – just a few hours, after Merrick's description of Lord Vere – Llewellyn had thought he had found an alternative: a man of honor who would beat his prisoner for just reasons.
Groping for his blankets with his left hand, Llewellyn shuddered at the thought of his self-deception. Would he add much to his sentence of punishment in Hell's domain if he became of the few prisoners at Mercy Prison to succeed in killing himself? Perhaps he should be seeking the longest sentence possible, as compensation for what he had done. He shuddered again as he groped further. The blankets were beyond his reach. His right forearm remained over his eyes, shutting out the light.
Gradually, he became aware that he was not alone.
¶ Available as an e-book (HTML, PDF, Kindle, ePub): Milord.