A hot Mediterranean day in a ruined Roman city and I've got the place to myself. I slip off my sandals and walk barefoot over the warm, worn flagstones of the main street. I mop the sweat from my eyes. It's easy to imagine myself two thousand years in the past. I'm a slave on an errand for my mistress... a luscious black-haired Roman girl with olive skin and a fiery temper.
White flashes off to my left.
I blink. It could have been the swirl of a flowing gown. It could have been her.
I turn off the main street down an ally between the foundations of ancient shops and houses. Ahead, there's a high wall of crumbling brick. A sign in Turkish and English says "SLAVE MARKET ->".
My groin gives a lurch. I turn to hurry in the direction of the arrow and the grit punishes the soles of my feet.
I stop to put on my sandals and notice a hole in the wall. I peer through.
It leads into small room that must be a slave cell. The Department of Antiquities has been at work - a gate of wooden bars is bolted shut across the doorway. Beyond the bars something moves.
I push my head through the hole, into the cool of the brick chamber and hear voices calling out like Turkish street vendors, but in Latin - "Serva pulchra! Ecce! Serva pulchra!" Through the gaps in the wood, I glimpse naked flesh - a breast or buttock, a furry pussy or flaccid penis and balls, in skin tones from white to ebony - and swathes of fabric catching the sun as Roman men and women peruse the human merchandise.
Somebody's making a movie!
The place must be closed. I start to withdraw, but then I see it; a bronze slave collar just lying on the straw on the floor of the cell.
What if I slipped in and took it? It's just a prop, they'll have hundreds of them.
I shuck off my rucksack and wriggle through the hole. I have to walk my hands through the straw before I can get my legs down.
The collar is icy cool to the touch. Erection growing, I lift it to my throat and close it. There's a "snick!" and it's clamped around my neck.
My heart leaps into my throat. Gasping for breath, I fumble around the metal band, feeling for the catch. But there is no catch. The panic subsides and I realise that it's not designed to open. Perhaps at the hostel, with a safety pin...
A naked girl passes the gate. The wood only lets me glimpse slices of blond hair and honey skin. Now I want to press up close and see the scene - be part of the scene.
Crap! I'm wearing camo-pattern cargo pants and a "I love Ali's Kebabs" T-shirt. They'll notice me in seconds. I strip off down to my briefs--damn! Red Y-fronts with black trimmings. Hell, half the actors are naked anyway...
I bundle my clothes into the corner. Naked now except for the bronze collar, I crawl up to the gate and press my face to the rough wooden bars.
Butterflies gather in the pit of my stomach. It looks real!
They've restored the front of the buildings. It's just a big open courtyard, no columns, no shady little roofs like you expect from the books. Instead, naked slaves stand outside their cells in the sweltering heat while men and women in togas - though I'm sure that's not the right name - inspect their teeth, squeeze their biceps, breasts or buttocks.
There's a sob from nearby. The blond girl is off to the side, standing in front of the next door cell. Her skin is stretched over powerful muscles - she has the body of an athlete - but she slouches, shoulders hunched away from me. She sobs again.
She can't be doing it for effect, because I can't see any cameras. "Cheer up," I say.
She half turns her head, and a yellow braid swishes over her bare shoulder. "I'm just not used to this," she says in what sounds like a German accent. "I'm not a slave."
"Well, it's who you're being right now," I say as brightly as I can. "If you're going to be a naked slave, be a proud one. You don't want to look as if you're destined to dig turnips."
"Whats a turnip?" She shrugs her shoulders. "But you are right." She draws herself up and stands there like an amazon.
A man barks, "Right then! Right then! Out with you!" My gate swings open. A burly man with a stick towers over me. "On your feet boy!"
"S...sorry," I stammer.
He taps my flanks with the stick. "Just get up and stand next to the girl." He coughs then calls out, "Handsome male Celt, luscious female German. Buy both for a good deal!" He must think I'm one of the actors.
Relieved but nervous, I stumble into the sunlight and force myself not to turn and stare at the blond. I can feel the reflected heat from her skin, smell her animal scent. Instead, I play my part and try to keep my eyes front.
We're near corner of the courtyard. Just across from me, to my left, is another actor. He's not entirely naked - he's wearing a silver hip belt and some sort of cage over his groin.
He meets my gaze with hopeless eyes. I blush and slowly look away, pretending I'm just glancing around the slave market.
There's still no sign of the cameras and the rest of the city rises up behind the courtyard - towering temples, six-storey apartment blocks - must be some sort of collapsible set mounted on the roof-
-except that I can see people moving on the apartment balconies.
I twist around to look behind me. The clothes are still bundled in the back of the cell. The jagged hole frames the ruined foundations of the city. But when I look up, over the roof of the slave market, there's another apparent block, with an old man leaning over the balcony watching the market.
This is real!
I caught in a time slip and I'm a slave. Anything could happen to me. Anything...
There's a sharp thwack and my left buttock seems to explode in pain. "Eyes front, boy!"
I turn obediently. There's still time to make a break for that hole in the wall. To hell with my clothes. If I'm quick--
--it's Her. My fantasy Roman mistress, strolling under the shade of parasol. She has a train of slaves, but I barely see them.
She's as I imagined; petite with a mountain of jet black hair piled onto her head, wide dark eyes lined with kohl. Her white gown flows as she walks, the swishing hem giving me glimpses of elegant feet wrapped in the leather straps of sandals.
My penis rears up in greeting.
She doesn't seem to notice, but her taller friend - an older looking woman with hennaed red hair - giggles. "Cordelia, I believe this one has the required virility."
Cordelia's dark eyebrows lower. "I'm still not sure, Livia."
"Just you wait until he has a seadpod fitted!" With a giggle, Livia releases her arm and steps up to me. "Boy?"
"Yes..." Yes what? Mistress sounds corny. "...lady."
"Can you read and write?"
"Are you a virgin?"
I blush and my erection shrivels. I want to make an excuse, explain about the years studying but...
"Can you give a massage?"
I nod again. I got quite good at that with Mary - not that it got her knickers off.
"See?" says Livia. She moves to the blond girl. "What about you?"
"I can read and write, do accounts, I know how a dinner should be served and hair dressed..."
The pulse in my ears drowns her words. The German is built like a cat, all sinew and muscle, with pert conical breasts almost as an afterthought. Livia is chattering away to her, unaware of the danger.
I glance around.
Cordelia is in conversation with the slaver. She nods and an older male slave hands over three silver coins - is that all I'm worth. "Come on Livia, I want to go to the baths."
Livia giggles. The pair of them link arms and sweep off across the courtyard. A couple of the slaves follow with parasols.
The older slave just grunts. "You two, come with me." He leers. "We're stopping by the jewellers on the way home."
Still naked, the German blond and I set off after him and into the streets of the living Roman city.
Though I don't look back, I'm aware of that hole into the 21st Century getting further and further away. The bronze collar warms in the sun, until it feels like it belongs.