Title: Off World
Author: Jonah Bergan
Publisher: Booktrope Publishing
Cover Artist: Michelle Fairbanks
Length: 240 Pages
Release Date: August 22, 2015
Blurb: What really brought Taine to that backwater little world? Taine’s a hunter. He’s a red-skinned, black-eyed Lowman by nature, and a hunter by trade. Some hunters work in flesh, others in secrets, and some few work to set right what’s been set wrong. It’s a big galaxy and there’s always plenty of work for a hunter like Taine, so you got to wonder, what with all that at his feet, what really brought Taine to that backwater little world?
Off-World is a M/M science fiction action/adventure set in F/M dominated space. The story takes place in an arm of the galaxy where slavery (sexual and otherwise) is legal and commonplace. Strictly speaking, it is not a BDSM novel in that consent is not a matter of concern for the characters, but those with an interest in BDSM should enjoy the story. Due to explicit content, Off-World is not recommended to readers under eighteen years of age.
From Chapter Fourteen: Left in the Dust
Set-up: Taine has left the boys by the side of the road. He rode off to retrieve something he’d left behind at their last camp. Tanner has been uncomfortable with the way things were among them, so he takes this opportunity to set things right.
The man was gone, nothing left behind but the dust of his passage, so Tanner tugged on Sunshine’s leash, bringing the slave a step closer to him. “Time for us to set some things right,” Tanner said. “I don’t want no trouble from you, cause I’m not one for beatings, but if you make me, you’ll wish you hadn’t.”
Tanner set about untying the knots at Sunshine’s wrists, and Sunshine lowered his head. “Now quit that,” Tanner said, working at the knot. “I heard what you said before, about liking your leash, though only the Goddess knows what you like about it.”
“It makes me feel safe,” Sunshine said, his voice so low it was almost a whisper.
Tanner stopped working the knot and glared at Sunshine. “How the fuck does it make you feel safe?” he snapped. The boy cringed, but answered up quickly.
“Nobody can snatch me away,” he said in that same sad, soft voice.
Tanner shrugged, and resumed working at the knots. Given what had happened with Harlan and Johnny showing up to haul the flit back, that made some sense. “Don’t worry,” he said while he worked. “I’ll have you leashed up again in no time, but I’ll do it proper. I seen enough of slavers and their ways to know this here leash is for traveling. We ain’t traveling, so I’ll fix you up.”
The rope fell away, and Tanner let it fall to the ground. He stepped around, hefting his pack and had Sunshine slip his arms through the straps. He reached around the boy from the front, and pulled the thongs loosely around Sunshine’s chest and adjusted the clasps. He made sure the pack was properly secured—good and snug, so’s-not to slide and rub, as the horsemen say.
“There now,” Tanner said, patting the boy’s chest. “That’s more like it. Now we’ll just get that leash put right, and we can get to work.”
Tanner ran the rope around Sunshine’s neck, and knotted it so it wouldn’t slip and choke the boy. “This here’s a good leash for working,” Tanner said, testing that knot. “I seen men working their slaves in the orchards with leashes like this. Mostly, I expect, so they can carry, and haul, and so on.” He tested the knot again and nodded. He’d have rather been a horseman, he had a talent for it and a love of the beasts, but that profession was on the wane. No future in that, he remembered his mother saying. “Slaver is up-and-coming,” she’d said. “Given the witches and their ways, best we find you a place nearer the top of things, else you might land nearer the bottom.” She was right about that, of course.
The knot was good and sound, so Tanner set about wrapping and tying off the loose end. “Mother says there was a time when men didn’t enslave men,” he said as he worked, “but it’s been a fact for as long as I can remember. Now I guess them witches have a mind to change things, mostly since they don’t want men ownin’ nothin’ at all, but we’ll be off, and between the stars before all that comes to pass.”
Tanner took a step back and had a look at his handiwork. He nodded once, pleased with how Sunshine looked the part of a proper slave. He noted too, how by reference, with the boy all geared up correctly, it made him look and feel the part of a proper handler too. Now should anyone come along that road, witch or no witch, there’d be no question who was who, and what was what, in the camp they’d make.
“So,” Tanner said, “we’ll need kindling, and firewood, and I guess you know whose job it is to do all that, right?”
Jonah Bergan is a freelance writer living in New England. His publishing credits include a ten part serial, multiple short stories, and a collection of anecdotal humor. He has also published MMORPG game reviews and content, hypnosis scripts, online user manuals, and advertising texts. Please visit jonahbergan.com to learn more about him.
Winner’s Prize: A Paperback copy of “Off-World”.
Runner-up’s Prize: An e-copy of “Off-World”.