Diane came home two hours later, Patrick, still engrossed in his book, barely heard her. “Hey, I’m back.” “Oh hey, everything ok?” “Yeah fine, I’ve talked to her and she calmed down, they’ll probably be back together by tomorrow afternoon.” “Oh?” “Yeah, it was something stupid, she was drunk and upset about something or other, that part was slurred, but she sobered up and seems fine now. Although I think she feels like a bit of an idiot.” “Why?” “She kicked him out, his choice was sleep in his car or get a hotel room for the night, he chose the latter, she talked to him and said she’d pay for it.” Diane flopped down onto the couch. “How was your day? I hope it was far more boring than mine. One of us needs a calm day to even it out.” “My day was fine, was trying to decide if I was taking a case, took a drive out to a cult’s compound, got threatened. The usual.” “Seriously?” He nodded “You’re gonna have to start telling me your doing these things.” He opened his mouth to object, “before you do them, or else bump up your life insurance.” “It wasn’t dangerous.” “No, you didn’t expect it to be dangerous. What if they attacked you or tried to brainwash you or something?” “It didn’t seem likely, besides brainwashing can’t be done instantaneously.” “That’s what you say if you were brainwashed, how do I know your not all culty now? Worshipping aliens or invisible cats?” “I’m not.” “Ah, but then you would say that if you were.” “What can I do to prove to you I’m not brainwashed?” Diane paused and tilted her head “hmm, get me a bowl of ice cream?” “What would that prove?” “Nothing, I just want ice-cream.” “I’ll be back in a minute, do you want anything else while I’m in there?” “Not that I can think of, ask me again when you come back.” She smiled at him mischievously, leaving his book face down, he got up and shuffled into the kitchen. As he got out a bowl, he realised that ice cream did sound good and he got another bowl for himself. When he came back, Diane smiled, “see, you’re so suggestible, first you get ice cream for me, then for yourself.” While he was gone she had turned the television on and was channel hopping. “What do you want to watch?” “Something mindless, I’m pretty tired, I don’t think I could keep up with complex plot.” Finding something, they settled in together and ate their ice-cream. After the show had ended they both agreed they were going to bed. Patrick took the bowls and just left them both in the sink.
They lay in bed reading for an hour before turning off the lights, Patrick fell asleep instantly but Diane lay in the darkness. she felt bad about lying to Patrick but she needed time to think. She had gone for a drive, she didn’t go anywhere in particular, taking random lefts and rights. She did this without thinking, only returning home after seeing the time. She had taken a pregnancy test earlier and it had been positive. While she was waiting, she had tried to stop herself feeling nervous. They hadn’t planned on having a child soon, but then, they didn’t plan on not having any either. She had missed her period and had been feeling nauseas. Really, she was probably only coming down with the flu. After waiting the agonising two minutes, she checked and found herself relieved as she knew for sure, the worry was gone, now she could do something. The only problem was how to tell Patrick. She didn’t know how he would react to the news, she thought favourably but it was hard to tell, he saw such awful things in work, the destruction of relationships and families breaking up. She had taken the drive in order to clear her head and decide what to do. she was going to keep the baby, even if she didn’t really want to she would have to discuss it with Patrick first. It wouldn’t be fair to have an abortion without knowing how he felt about it. It was his child too even if she would have to carry it. She knew that even if Patrick didn’t want a child he would support her decision and, who knew, if he didn’t want a child, he might after the baby was born. She wished that they had a proper discussion about having children but there had always seemed to be loads of time, it didn’t really seem that important. But then, maybe it was a good thing, maybe if they did discuss it, it wouldn’t have happened, or maybe the stress of trying to have a baby would make it harder to conceive. She had already booked an appointment with her gynaecologist to confirm it, though she doubted the test was wrong it was best to be sure and it would let her know how the baby was developing. She still had time before she had to tell him, the appointment was booked a week away, it gave her time to broach the subject with him. Although she had decided what to do while driving, Diane still found it difficult to sleep, she imagined she wouldn’t be able to sleep properly until Patrick knew.
Mary wasn’t worried about the Patrick Jones, she had expected someone to come out to the compound, though she thought it would have been a lot sooner. He wouldn’t find anything about them, he couldn’t. They weren’t doing anything illegal and if they were, she would have made sure it couldn’t be traced back to her. Joe was more worried that she was. The Prestons might try to take Ariadne away, but that was unlikely, even if they did she signed everything she owned over to The Lambs, she had no legal recourse. Ariadne had not done anything under duress. That part only came after, even if they did get her back, she wouldn’t try to take them on, she had already seen what happened to those who tried. Ariadne, like everyone in the compound, took part in punishing offenders, if anyone was investigating they would surely tell her it wasn’t her fault, that she wasn’t guilty. That by telling what had happened she wouldn’t be punished, but that was a lie. She would punish herself. Perhaps not intentionally, but she would create her own prison. She wouldn’t be able to convince herself that she had been made to take part it in. she would believe she had gone along with it voluntarily because she had. Mary knew she needed to send Joe out again, it would be easier if she was here the entire time. People always saw them together, when she was there they assumed he was close by. Soon their last deserter would be killed, another tragedy that occurred in the outside world, a sign that god was not pleased as he condemns them to hell.
She looked at the dress on the bed, though comfortable, she much preferred to wear jeans, soon it wouldn’t matter, she had almost reached her goal.
Mary wore a long dress, light grey in colour. It was expertly crafted to fit her contours. Tight enough to be revealing, but loose and long enough to be modest. Should anyone pass comment on her clothing, she could turn it against them. They perceived it as revealing because they themselves were perverse and sinful. It was styled while still looking simple. The thin slit, allowing her free movement was just a little high, though the fabric would never part to reveal skin underneath, a small strip prevented it from parting too far and covered the gap the was created. She was able to inspire envy while no one could give a solid reason. She gave off a slight aura of sensuality. Enough to entice men and still be able to claim innocence. She was pure, above reproach. All her clothing was designed in such a way so that no comment could be made against her, merely, it was the persons own prejudices coming to the fore. Her skin was clear and her lips full and dark, enabling her to go without make up. She exuded confidence, but demurely. She was not overly boastful, nor unnecessarily modest. The compound was growing steadily larger as new people came in, bringing friends or family. They would have to begin construction on new houses, already three were being built, but they would not be enough. She loved the children most of all, they were the easiest to indoctrinate and those most likely to spy on their parents, giving them a thrill of knowing and the self satisfaction of helping.
She encouraged all her followers to tell her things that they had seen others do, it worked out perfectly, she had a steady stream of knowledge that made her appear omnipotent. She had been careful in her building of the compound, lower buildings at the edges made it easier to see who was coming and to prevent an attack from high ground. She did not expect such a thing but it was always best to be prepared. Soon they would begin construction on the wall, it looked better than a chain link fence and was sturdier, it was harder to break down. There would be wires laced along the outside of the brickwork, should anyone try to scale the wall they would be shocked, not enough to be killed, but enough to make them reconsider trying to get in, or out. There was a separate enclosure for the animals, away from the people. Though people can get used to anything, she didn’t want any prospective followers put off by the smell of shit and animals. They had everything they needed, cows for milk and meat, chickens for eggs, pigs for meat and each provided fertiliser for their crops. Though they have not started planting yet, she had made sure that they had enough stored for when they moved. She did not want to have to buy food if it was not necessary. The rations kept the food in supply, but it also kept the followers weakened. They were not constantly hungry, but the food was not enough to provide them with everything they needed. Nothing was wasted. Any scraps were composted or fed to the animals, anything that broke was given a new purpose. They were almost completely self sufficient. Everyone worked, from the children to the adults. The children were given schooling everyday, however their curriculum was shifted to suit the world views of The Lambs. Once they were done they would change and be given a task to do. there was always something to be done, something to be built, something to be fixed. Anything to keep them busy. Idle hands were the devils playthings and idle thoughts would be her undoing.
With everyone feeding her information, it created a slight atmosphere of paranoia, it made people less likely to express doubts as they could be exposed and punished. Punishment for expressed doubts ranged depending on the age and severity of the doubt. The worst offenders were ejected from the compound so as not to infect the others. Once ejected their lifespan became drastically shorter. There were elaborate rituals used to worship God, these could go on for hours, everyone got up at 7AM sharp, the time could change depending on what was needed to be done but never later than seven. The rituals could and had gone on until three, sometimes four in the morning. Though people were tired they continued on. Occasionally there would be a drill, where everyone was called to the church in the middle of the night in order to pray as Mary had seen some divine vision. These were rare but useful in breaking up the sleeping patterns of her followers.
The houses themselves were small and sparsely furnished. It had everything it needed and nothing more. A single bathroom with a sink, toilet and bath, a kitchen with a fridge, pantry, stove and table. Bedrooms had a nightstand, a bed and a small wardrobe. The higher in rank you were, the better your accommodation, new comers lived in the small houses at the edge, slowly working their way inwards towards a better life. The houses were all similarly furnished, the only difference was it was larger, they may get more rations, or a larger allocation of water, but they never really knew what they were working for or what they would achieve with their long hours of labour and constant praying.
People were upgraded strategically, sometimes randomly. Someone who had been in the compound a week might get moved up, while another might have to wait for three months. Other times it was done when Mary saw something in them that she saw in herself, something that told her they didn’t really believe but would still continue to work until they got to the top and got something better. Most of the time she was right, on the rare occasion she was wrong the heathen was cast out so he could not sully them. when this happened Mary went into seclusion for a week in order to pray for forgiveness for failing to pass the test that god had sent them. During this week of seclusion she moved out of the compound, unbeknownst to the followers and into a hotel or apartment where she lived lavishly. She occasionally went on week long pilgrimages or fasts, in the beginning she was looking for new followers but now she mostly went somewhere to pamper herself. She could of course do that in the compound, but the followers seemed to respond better if they believed that she was living in the same way as them.
The houses that were further in had electricity, those at the edges had to make do with candles. None of the houses had heating, instead the fireplace was placed strategically so the stone in the chimney would heat up and release the heat through the rest of the house.
Mary breathed deeply, preparing herself, soon it would be time for mass and she would have to go preaching. Though she had begun to find this tiring, she just reminded herself that it was almost over, soon she would be free.