The buyers were all bored, or perhaps they simply didn't like the opening bid. More interesting purchases had gone first, prettier people, stronger people. No it was down to this boy in chains, trying not to panic.
The auction ended with no bids, not even a desultory bargain-basement sort of suggestion, below his asking price, below what any well-behaved slave should ever sell for. The boy in chains raised his chin and stared out at the thinning crowd. He was not going to cry, not for them. He was to good for that.
He was too good for the work camps, too, but that's where he'd end up. The auctioneer was making the final call for bids. The woman's voice was trailing off as she looked over at the boy. She caught his eye, somehow. He noticed the way that her teeth caught her lip.
"Ladies and gentleman," she called, as she picked her cell phone up as if reading a message. From where he stood, the boy could see her screen: no message. Nothing but a picture of lavender fields. "Ladies, gentleman and sundry, this is most unusual."
The discussion in the room stopped.
The auctioneer cleared her throat. "I appear to have gotten a bid by text. While this is unprecedented, it is not, technically, disallowed by the rules of the auction hall. The buyer wishes to be anonymous, of course, but her La - that is, the opening bid is ten thousand dollars."
A card went up in the back of the room immediately. "Eleven thousand!"
And the bidding was off. The boy posed, his false smile becoming a real smile, as the numbers rose and rose and rose.