There wasn’t ever a choice, it had to have been fated that I’d be forced to follow this authoritarian plant lady right at her heel all the way to the grocery store. Not a store any more. No more capitalism. Capitalism is super authoritarian, but one authoritarian force destroying another authoritarian force is still auth-
“Enya. You wore those clothes last time you shopped. Have you washed them?”
I don’t remember walking here at all, the stupid politics of this entire situation distracted me again. I begin nodding with my truth face that I make when I’m telling the truth, but the alien frowns again! I masked it perfectly!
“There’s a stain on your jeans, cutie. You aren’t keeping those dirty things on.”
Twelfth Bloom lady’s massive hand presses on my back and I’m lead to some sort of clothes place against my will. I almost miss the Accord already. The lights are too bright, there’s too many colourful clothes, and the affini stealing my freedom is playing music with her body again.
There’s a clumsy blonde haired lady approaching us through the aisle of clothes in a really pretty floral print dress, with a collar around her neck. She almost tumbles in front of us, but my evil overlord catches her and pats her on the head.
“Careful, Betty! How are your class E’s working?”
The girl giggles and stabilizes herself, and when she looks at me, I look to the floor, her glossy eyed smile burning into my brain. Affini don’t have slaves. They haven’t enslaved me. I know this much. But the doubt doesn’t like to listen to reason. It never does.
“They’re great! I’ve been able to take shifts every day while my master is at work! Did you get a floret, Amaryllis??”
I try not to visibly react, last time I tried explaining hierarchies being unjust to a floret, they cried. I’ll just become a statue, nice and still. Oh, good! Amaryllis is her name! I tap my cube’s biggest button while I try to commit the name to memory, wondering about the kind of floret Amaryllis must have.
“That’s great, little one! You’re very brave! But no, Enya here is an independent sophont. She hasn’t been washing her clothes, so we’re here to get her a change.”
Oh, fuck they were talking about me. I look back up to Amaryllis and try to vocalize a noise, but it comes out as some sort of whine. Both the floret and the affini laugh at me until I start flapping my hands and pressing the clacky button on my cube, then catch those mysterious patterns in her eyes again. Just one of them has so many secrets, I follow the black specs sinking into the gold. My breathing relaxes, and my body loosens up. The perfect amount of stimulation finds me, trapping me in a soft headspace with nature noises -
Amaryllis says, getting my attention back. I’m in a changing stall, my backpack and mask are gone and I’m in some kind of red dress with white flowers on it. It’s really light and soft – Wait, This is real life, why am I in a dress? I start turning around to look at my surroundings and find the floret on the other side of the store folding clothes, and Amaryllis looming over me with a predatory grin. My body feels like it’s shrinking under her. In a mirror behind her, I recognize the vague human-shaped person in the dress I’m wearing blushing way too much! I manage to squeeze out a few words, using up one of my spoons for the day.
“W-What did you do??”
The alien patiently explains while I catch her tucking my backpack into her body and all I can do is reach out and make more pathetic sounding whines.
“Your adorable little brain got distracted by my eyes, dear. You looked so overwhelmed, so I took care of changing your clothes.”
She says as if that was the most obvious answer in the world, bringing my mind back to the Anarchist forums. One of the threads was talking about actual mind control powers. There’s no way it was true, that stuff is only possible in smut or movies. Ohhh, I should have studied the aliens. My voice is coming back though.
“What?? Like brainwashing??”
I try to keep my tone calm, but it comes out like a shout.
“No, Enya, you were only entranced. I didn’t bathe you in any mind cleansing shampoo.”
Mind cleansing shampoo?? Did she take something more literally than me, Wait, Mind Cleansing shampoo?? That has to be evil stuff!
Amaryllis didn’t explain anything else and lead me to the grocery section of the place that I can’t figure out what to call without capitalism. Do stores just store stuff for taking now? Is that still a store or- I drift back into attention to see the affini pushing a floating cart, with a few things already in it. Some shampoos, laundry detergent, a collar. I keep close to her leg as she looks over the aisle, keeping distracted by more fancy floor designs and my fidget toy. I think I’m supposed to keep myself busy until it’s my turn to shop.
As we make it to the actual food aisle, I spot a box of cookies on one of the lower shelves and nab it for myself. Since I didn’t bring a cart, I’ll just carry it. I don’t pay any mind when Amaryllis laughs, but I know how things work here. The evil space plants brought some kind of almost communism here, and I know that money’s gone!
Once Amaryllis’ cart is full, we go to the bagging station and her hands unfold into these horrific vine tentacles, loading her groceries into bags that look like they’re made out of leaves in less than a minute. We’re already walking out of the store and pass the last cart storage station – I watch her unload her cart of what has to be at least twenty bags of stuff, but she keeps going back in the way of the tram! She forgot about my groceries entirely!! As she sits, I begin to pace and twist one of the knobs on my cube before finally speaking up. Only my cookies were clenched in my arms.
“Hey – Hey, so wait! What about my stuff? I never got to grab one of those baskets.”
Amaryllis raises a fake viney eyebrow at me before taking a look down the tram line – She’s way taller and can probably actually see it coming which is really handy, if I brought my corporate tracking device/phone, I’d probably be able to find a schedule, but-
“These are your groceries, silly Enya. I’m just making sure you have a varied and nutritious diet.”
The plant says so gently, like I’m missing some sort of important detail. I know she’s bullying me, but before I can protest, those golden eyes catch mine and I feel myself begin to drop.