Cool it, Ka-Lan told himself. How many times had he told himself that? Look at yourself. Up to your neck in the deepest shit. Think about the mess you’ve got yourself in. Calm down!
He looked up. Peering into the holes in the roof above him. The only source of light since they’d stuck him in this box. Only source of air too. Sweltering hot. Struggling to breath, not much air in here. And what little existed was overheated. Ka-Lan was stinking of his own sweat. His arms pinned above his head, his armpits were rank.
Insubordination. Gross misconduct. Words like that .. they still didn’t mean much to him. He’d barely had time to draw breath since arriving. He certainly hadn’t had the time to learn what weight those terms carried for the cadets at this School. “Behaviour unbecoming a cadet”. “Heinous misdemeanour”. All words that had been thrown at him.
He’d hardly been here a few hours. Hadn’t even found his room yet. Still a novice at this game. But from the looks on their faces .. judging by their reaction to his act .. this School deemed he had committed the worst possible crime. That attack on the prick Johns .. totally justified .. if a bit extreme. But for these others .. for the cadets and these Seniors who were on his back …. That act had made him some unimaginable wild beast. Ka-Lan had committed some really serious shit. And universally this School all thought he should get the worst possible punishment. And deservedly.
And if forty strokes on his bare arse were what you got for turning up late to Rollcall looking dishevelled …. What did you get for “attempted murder”?
Ka-Lan cringed. That was how the Cadet Commander had put it. Attempted murder. Still that phrase sent a shiver down his spine. That was overdoing it, wasn’t it? Calling it that? Despite sweating cobblers .. stuck in this sweat box .. to “cool-off” as that minder Fox had sardonically sneered .. still Ka-Lan could not suppress the shiver at hearing it called that. Accused of attempted murder? How had it come to this?
He had no idea how long he’d been in here, stuck in a sweat box while the Seniors deliberated what punishment his attack deserved. It seemed like forever. His head was on fire .. his balls ached .. he was running with sweat .. struggling to breathe, parched dry. Questioning his actions. Wondering nervously how he’d managed to get himself here. Scared if he was honest with himself. That he’d let himself get driven to this. And what was more than forty-plus lashes on his bare arse.
He’d hardly had time to think. And since they’d had him sweating his guts out in this sweltering box, his head couldn’t think straight anyway. But that was the point, wasn’t it? Fox and his cronies had no intention of giving Ka-Lan any breathing space. Stuck in a sweat-box .. left to sweat it out .. increasingly nervous. Sweating the strength out of him. Sweating any rational thought out of him.
Till he got summoned .. for “due punishment” .. after supper, in the gym. An invitation for the whole school to attend. What worse thing could they do to him? Worse than those lashes his bare arse had been promised? With his nervousness .. trapped in this box … Ka-Lan was feeling like he needed to piss. Shit! That humiliation on top of everything else. Looking like he couldn’t hold himself in. Giving them a laugh .. pissing himself with fear.
SHIT! When would they come for him? How long had he still to go? What would they do?