The rest of the week went by pretty quickly. I remained at home. I decided not to pay too much attention to the news based on advice from Rose. From what I understood, things the media were saying were not particularly nice. My incident with being found out was exposed to the media, and now there were talks about the implications of men dressing as women. There was quite a lot of rage and heated debates on both sides. It wasn’t all WRAs blindly attacking me. There were also fervent defenders, some of them bordering on cult-like in their desperate desires to protect me.
Suffice it to say, the entire city of Amaryllis was boiling, and I was the focal point. Rather than fret over it, I instead focused on my family. I left only once to visit my Mother and let her know how things were going. Our visit didn’t end with a visit to a certain room, but given my reputation in the city, even the guards were giving me complicated looks. You could tell which side every woman was on by how she looked at me. Some held disdain and hatred, while others held pity and concern.
I spent time with my daughters, Madison, and Rose. If things went badly, this might be the last time I had a chance to spend with them for a long time. Lyra managed to send me a single message during that time letting me know that things were getting quite dangerous on campus too. Even Rigor, Trey, and Ashton left the college for a while. Amaryllis Academy had become a no-male zone ruled by WRATH. To my understanding, many of the boys held me in contempt, feeling like if I hadn’t gone to that party, then none of this would be happening to them.
This information came from Ash who was still pretending to be a boy. Mako had informed me that Ash told her mother that she wanted to start therapy. Mako thanked me profusely for that, but other than a couple of letters, after leaving my mansion, she remained at the school. If she had visited my home too often, she would be suspected of being a sympathizer and it wouldn’t do her any favors. Thus, I hadn’t seen her again over that week. The same could be said about Lyra. Rebecca… I didn’t even know if she’d be willing to see me.
“It’s time.” Brooke’s voice broke me out of my pensiveness, and I finished with my tie.
My trial awaits. I stood up, and Brooke pushed open the door, letting in more light from the hallway. After a moment, I followed after her. Brooke and I took a different car from Rose and Madison. Of course, they wanted to come and support me, but I didn’t want them to be pulled into any issues as I arrived at the courthouse.
At the entrance to the mansion, five policewomen met up with Brooke. After a brief moment, they got in their cars and turned on the lights, surrounding our vehicle in a protective barrier as we headed to the courthouse. Whether this was something the courts felt they had to do or something Brooke had arranged, I didn’t know.
I was shaking slightly, but not as much as I would have thought. I had my other memories to fall back on. I wasn’t just some fifteen-year-old child. I had been in court before, albeit that was specifically for my divorce. At the very least, I didn’t think I would choke. I tried to wear a placid and repentant face that wouldn’t provoke any woman to lash out at me. I wanted to look as sympathetic as possible, so on the car ride over, I opened a mirror and practiced my facial expressions. Seeing me making faces at a mirror, Brooke could only roll her eyes and give incredulous looks.
Before I realized it, our hover car was surrounded by people. There were shouting and signs everywhere. My eyes widened as we rolled into a world of complete anarchy. I tried to hide my face, but only a few moments later I heard words that made me go cold.
“It’s Clyburn, he’s in there!”
Several people surged forward, but the police blared their sirens amd gave warnings to keep them at bay. I stared out in surprise. I had known the city was boiling, but hearing about something and seeing it were two completely different things. There were at least a few hundred people outside the courthouse. They were all women. Many had angry looks on their faces, although a couple just looked curious.
They held signs like ‘Down With Men’ and the ever popular ‘Burn Cly-burn’. A few of them tried to throw things, but the cops were quick to step up and force them back. Even then, a few spots looked quite dangerous, with women screaming at the top of their lungs hate and vitriol. For the first time in my entire life, I truly felt what it was like to be despised.
“I never thought I was so hated,” I mumbled.
“It’s not you.” Brooke sighed, glaring out into the public. “It’s what you represent.”
I glanced over at Brooke. “Men? How can the world turn it’s back so thoroughly on an entire sex? We’re necessary for the population to exist. Even if we weren’t, we’re still human beings!”
Brooke’s softened her expression, putting out a hand and gently patting my shoulder. “People… hate what they don’t understand. To many women, men are an anomaly. Few women have had a chance to get to truly know a guy like I have.”
I peeked over at her. “And what do you think of men?”
“Gross. Disgusting. Hairy.” Brooke snorted.
I chuckled. “And what do you think of me?”
Brooke smiled silently, then opened the car door with a click. “We’ve arrived.”
Before I could leave the car, the police detail had to create a perimeter around the car up to the courthouse. Brooke helped with that, working her was to my side of the car and finally opening my door for me. I covered my head with my coat as I finally stepped out into the crowd. The roaring increased several times, but I followed Brooke all the way in. I was glad that no one started throwing things. If I started being pelted by rocks, I might have ended up losing it.
Brooke led the way, so I simply kept my head down and watched her feet as we walked through the marble courthouse. The building was actually quite impressive and showed that Amaryllis was a somewhat large and rich city. It had several pillars as was made of polished white stone. There were various statues lining the walls and the hallways were large and grand. We made our way to a side room, and I finally sighed, dropping my coat as the door shut behind us. In front of me was a familiar face, Oswald. I had never thought in my entire life that I would actually be happy to see him, but I supposed situations made strange friends.
“Clyburn, you made it one piece, that’s a start.” Oswald said frankly.
I nodded, patting myself clean and straightening my hair so that I looked properly presentable for the trial. “What can we expect?”
Oswald pulled out a folder, but he didn’t look at it as he peered up at me. “The DA will almost certainly demand a quicktrial.”
“What’s a quicktrial?”
“A right the DA holds. They can only request a few of them a year, but basically, in a non-murder trial, they can demand that the trial be truncated to only one day. The judge must reach a decision before the end of the day.”
“Sounds kind of unjust, doesn’t it?” I frowned, not liking the idea of a decision that will last the rest of my life being decided so quickly.
“In the past, a lot of lawyers would use various tactics to stretch out their case. They would bribe people with semen and generally use shotty techniques to delay sentencing until public opinion improved. I would know… I’ve used some of those tactics.”
“What?” I groaned.
“Hey, I stuck within the law. Thus, the law changed.” Oswald un-apologetically shrugged. “It’s not a bad law when arresting someone who has too much money or someone who could potentially be dangerous. However, the prosecutors plan to use it, in this case, to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. They wish to get you sentenced while emotions are at their peak. A prolonged trial will poke too many holes in their arguments. Thus, they want to dump all the guilt on you and not give people enough time to reason things out for themselves.”
“Is the prosecution under the WRA thumb?” I asked.
Oswald made a noise of approval, clearly surprised that I had thought of a question like this, which only bothered me a little. “Not exactly. The WRA has pull on the public. They know how to generate outrage and make the voices of a few sound like the only voices out there. The city has been heavily pressured by public outcries induced by them. That’s the gist of it.”
“Alright, is there anything I can do?”
“Shut up, look innocent.” Oswald shrugged.
I furrowed my brow and added another wrinkle after I realized he was being serious and didn’t intend to say anymore. Brooke remained standing nearby, and I flipped through the folder that consisted of the case files. It looked like gobbledygook to me. Even if I understood the laws of my world, which I didn’t, this world was completely different and didn’t apply the same way. There seemed to be no jury, for starters, depending entirely on a single judge to ensure my innocence. If she was a WRA supporter, wouldn’t I be screwed before I could even think?
There was a knock on the door, and someone stopped by to tell Oswald it was time. He nodded and gestured for me to follow. Brooke stood by me, and I gave her an appreciative nod. At the moment, she was the only reason I hadn’t run for the hills. The rest of this was entirely too much for me to handle. Nervousness couldn’t even begin to describe how I felt at the moment. Even with my memories, I was just some businessman who lived a mundane life. How could I handle being some kind of symbol of the male lifestyle? I was being accused of rape and arson and probably more crimes.
I was stuck in a daze of lights and sounds. I could see pictures flashing and noises of people calling out. As I focused, I found that this courtroom wasn’t that much different than the ones I’d seen before in my previous world. The most notable difference was that the judge wasn’t as high up. The seats kept the judge at the same level as everyone else. Perhaps there was something symbolic about this choice, but I didn’t really care about the reason.
My face landed on someone sitting in the seating. It was Rebecca. She had her head down, her face had a complicated expression on it. Before I could stop myself, I called out to her. She glanced up at me, but when she saw me, her eyes furrowed and her expression turned angry. She looked away again.
I lowered my arm. Right, she was sitting on the prosecutor’s side of the court surrounded by WRAs. Some of them were shouting quite rude things in my direction. As for Rebecca, it wasn’t like we had resolved anything. This wasn’t the kind of situation solved just because we had sex one time. Rebecca was still a lesbian, and a WRA supporter, and probably a male hater to boot.
There was a sound of a gavel being struck and only then did the court finally settle down. I sat in my seat, feeling the gaze of hundreds of people. Many of these people I had never met before, but they all knew me. Behind me were a few people I recognized. Lyra and Mako both sat behind me. There were also a couple of freshmen and teachers. Madison was there as well as Rose. There were absolutely no other men besides Oswald though. The decision today would affect all of them, yet not a one had the balls to be here.
Actually, my eyes widened when I saw exactly one man in the audience. He sat alone, with women keeping their distance. Other than me, he drew the most eyes in the room. Of course, he wasn’t a man at all. It was Ashton, still dressed as a man. The only man with the balls to show up to this trial wasn’t a man at all. I’d have laughed at the humor of it if the atmosphere wasn‘t so stifling.
Despite not even being at the Precipice that night, the WRA shot Ashton just as many glares as they shot me. When our eyes met, she smiled at me. Even though she wasn’t much different than Lyra and Mako, she walked the path of a guy. She had an idea of how it felt to be chased, idolized, and hated by women simply for being able to produce seed. She mouthed the words good luck, and I nodded.
Meanwhile, the judge called the court into session and read off a list of pre-court procedure, including the names of the prosecution and the defendant, as well as the details of the case.
“I am an impartial judge flown in from the other side of the country. Judge Saba at your service.”
“She’s female, how impartial can she be.” I murmured under my breath.
Oswald rolled his eyes but otherwise ignored me. I concentrated on keeping a straight face and looking attentive while mostly not hearing half of what the judge said. It wasn’t that I didn’t think it was important to listen. It was more than my mind was on a hundred things or more and I just couldn’t focus. At the very least, I didn’t want to look inattentive or yawn at my trial, let alone suddenly do something inappropriate. My life continued or ended based on this woman’s inclinations, and to me that was terrifying.
At this point, the lawyer on the prosecutions side lifted a wooden dowel, which seemed to be a sign for the judge to acknowledge her. “Prosecution?”
“Your honor, we would like to request a quicktrial.” She spoke sharply, lowering her dowel.
“Under what grounds?”
“If this man is found guilty of rape, we do not want him to have any further chance to perpetuate his rape over the course of a potentially lengthy trial, especially given the known temperament of his male… lawyer.” The woman put on a disgusted face when she glared at Oswald.
Clearly, she didn’t think much of male lawyers. Already, the lawyer was a prejudice bitch in my mind. I wondered exactly how much more incentive she had to get from the WRA before she decided to go after me. I couldn’t imagine it was much at all.
“Defense?” The judge raised an eyebrow as Oswald signaled her with his dowel.
“Let it be known that there has been no additional charges of rape over the last two months since the incident. Clyburn has shown no disposition for rape, and thus this implicates there is no reason for a quicktrial.”
“Your honor, the defense appears to be in error. Just this morning, a new report was filed.”
“What?” Oswald appeared taken aback, and the grin on this lawyer’s face made me want to punch her teeth out as I sat up, equally confused.
“A week ago, Clyburn dressed as a woman and snuck onto campus, where he continued to stalk one of his previous rape victims, Miss Rebecca Piers.” The woman casually brought up a folder and put it in front of the judge. “His stalking culminated in him raping Miss Piers again.”
“That’s bullshit.” I stood up and yelled before I could stop myself. “She raped me!”
The courtroom burst into talking, and I shot Rebecca a glare. She glanced down refusing to meet my gaze. With a look from Oswald, Brooke moved up and grabbed my shoulders, forcing me to sit back down. It was only when I hit the chair that I realized I hadn’t helped my case at all with my outburst.
The lawyer’s shit-eating grin grew even bigger at my outburst. “She raped you? How I wonder? A man must be hard to be raped? Why would you be hard if you were being raped. Clearly, an erection would be consent.”
I wanted to shout back, ‘And a woman has to be wet to be fucked, so she gave consent’, but I bit my tongue and kept silent. This world had some backward thinking. How would I be able to explain to them that being erect did not imply consent? That was something this world likely had never once considered! I could only keep quiet so that Oswald stopped glaring at me. He looked embarrassed too. It wasn’t simply my outburst that upset him, it was how easily his words had been twisted in a lie to serve the WRA’s goals. He had said that they didn’t care about the facts, just their endgame. I was starting to understand what that meant.
After flipping through the file, the judge nodded. Oswald signaled her again, but she made a gesture that seemed to tell him off. He sat, putting the dowel down, and crossing his arms while looking generally unhappy. That wasn’t a good sign for me.
“I will be permitting a quicktrial. Although the evidence provided is… possibly spurious, especially given its last-minute submission and the defense not being given this information, I choose to err on the side of caution. Quicktrial approved! As pertaining to the rules of a quicktrial, you will each be provided an opening statement. The prosecution will call two witnesses, the defense will call two witnesses. You will have your closing statements, and then we’ll all be home in time for supper.”
There was a bit of laughing, but I wasn’t feeling particularly humorous at the moment. This was a trial that would essentially decide my entire life. How could I make light of it? More than that, I was deeply hurt by Rebecca. Although, now that I remembered it, I had told her to see it as me raping her. Had I brought this on myself? In the heat of the moment, I had said those words to calm her down. I couldn’t help but grimace at my own misguided stupidity.
“Prosecution, begin your opening statement.”
“Your honor, Clyburn Bornholt is a menace to society. At age twelve, when most boys were just learning what sex was, Clyburn was engaging in acts of extreme depravity. It is known that he himself was raped at the age of twelve by his own maid. Had someone gotten to him or properly talked to him at that time, perhaps he would have turned out better. Instead, that event implanted in him a strong sense that rape was okay, and that women wanted his seed.
“He began to chase after every woman his age he could get at. The help and the help’s children, his own mother, his sisters, and more. By fourteen he had already impregnated his own mother and half-aunt. This act drove his mother insane, as she later was arrested for murder.”
“Objection!” Oswald called out, “Morgan is hardly insane. There has been no evidence of an unstable mental state. She is currently serving her time in prison. Her crime involved trying to protect her son.”
“Her son…” The lawyer smirked. “From his crazy sister?”
“…” Oswald didn’t respond.
This only seemed to encourage the lawyer more. “Your honor, I retract my comment about the mother. It was his sister who went crazy. After all, she did spend time in a mental institution. This is the facts. It was wrong of me to assume it runs in the family. His sister attempted to kidnap and murder Clyburn. His mother only tried to kill her, and murdered an innocent bystander in the process.”
“Objection. This is irrelevant. Morgan had her trial and got her sentence. Clyburn cannot be judged by the actions of his mother.”
“Hmph… you know all about the actions of his mother, don’t you?” She fired back.
“You…” Oswald stopped himself after taking one step forward, but the female lawyer let out a little scream and stumbled back, nearly tripping as if he had actually taken a swing at her.
“This, your honor, male rage, is exactly the point of this trial. Let us not fool ourselves into assuming Clyburn is the only culprit. On September 15th, Clyburn and a group of hidden males sexually assaulted nearly thirty students. The punch was drugged with a chakra-enhanced drug which resulted in incapacitating the girls before they were systematically raped by Clyburn and his friends. They then attempted to burn the place down. Maybe he set the fire too fast and had second thoughts, I don’t know. What we do know is he was found with two naked women, one of them who had freshly been raped and even had semen inside her!
“That teacher, Mako, follows his type perfectly. His mother, his aunt, his older sisters, his maid… Clyburn enjoys targeting the power figures in his life. Like all men, he wants to exude his power over women to inflate his own pride. This is what he did that night when he raped Mako. He wanted to show a teacher that he was in control, so he took her, and he raped her. Although his seed is undeniably useful, the only proper course of action is to imprison him for life and extract his seed from his body in an environment where he can no longer hurt any more women.”
Glancing back, I could see Mako, Rose, and Madison looking particularly unhappy. All three of their names had been dragged through the mud thanks to this female lawyer’s claims.
“Something is wrong here…” Oswald muttered quietly.
“What’s that?” I whispered to him.
“They’re way too informed.” Oswald sighed. “Half this information I only know because you told me yourself. As for public records, this information isn’t there!”
“Defense, your opening statement.”
“Oswald?” I looked over at him, my eyes creased.
Oswald stood up and shot me a reassuring look. “Don’t worry, I got this.”
He walked to the center of the courtroom and began speaking. “Your honor. My client is innocent. First off, there is no direct evidence that he raped anyone. The story he provided is not only consistent with his character but also consistent with the facts. He was witnessed as dressing as this Clarice character. The police reports go on record claiming that Clarice also collapsed as a result of being drugged. What rapist would drug himself?
“The prosecution’s background information on the defendant is thorough, and there was one thing that it shows about Clyburn that our prosecution here failed to mention.” The lawyer gave Oswald a glare as he passed by her. “Clyburn’s history has shown his love and devotion to his family. His mother and his sisters meant everything to him. Thus, he went to that party in disguise to save her. He was drugged, just like the other women. He woke up just in time, the Precipice likely already on fire. He found and saved his sister, and couldn’t allow a teacher to perish in the flames either.“
“Clyburn isn’t a rapist. He’s a hero. He saved two people’s lives that night. Not only should the court not find him guilty, but you should also thank him for his services. Because, let’s face it, what man in this world doesn’t provide a service to all women. He had his mother’s baby. He had his aunt’s baby. What do you want to fault him for, being too fertile? Don’t make me laugh! Clyburn is a good man. A good brother… who went out of his way to protect the ones he cares about!”
I couldn’t help but feel a little happy over Oswald’s praising words. Is that really how he thought of me? I shook my head, of course not! He was a lawyer and he was being paid to say these kinds of things! I grew a bit annoyed at myself. When did I start caring what he said anyway? He wasn’t my father or anything. He was also a legitimate rapist himself, even if it didn’t count by this world’s laws.
“In conclusion, Clyburn is not guilty. He is a fertile, capable young man, and if he had wanted to make those women pregnant, he could have done so with ease.” Oswald sat back down on those words, straightening his coat.
A few people clapped, but it was clear that her side had gotten a lot more vocal support. Well, this wasn’t a popularity contest, right?
“This isn’t good,” Oswald whispered over to me.
“Huh? What do you mean this isn’t good?” I demanded.
“They seem to have this all worked out. I wouldn’t be surprised if the judge has been propositioned with a bribe, although I personally know she’s not dirty. I’m good at feeling out a room, and this is going south real quick.”
“You’re seriously giving up?”
“No, I plan to play things out as I prepared, but I can already see every argument and every counterargument. They’re too well prepared for this. They know too much about you, and me for that matter. I’d swear this was a team of crackpot… that’s it…
“What’s it?” I asked.
“The WRA… I thought I recognized that woman. She’s a famous lawyer, Miss Xandar. Never seen her in person, just on TV. She works for big businesses. She’s expensive as hell and not big on the morals. Either the WRA paid her a lot of money to be here, or she’s secretly a man-hater. Maybe both.”
“What are you saying?” I demanded.
“I’m sorry kid, I’ll give it the best fight I got, but little short of a miracle, this woman is going to steamroll us. Her team is the best in the country.”
“S-seriously?” I sat back, shaking my head in disbelief. “You’re giving up?”
What were the chances that when the lawyers showed up, they’d be this worlds equivalent of Johnnie Cochran?
“No, kid, do you even listen? I’ll fight this out to the bloody end. I’m just trying to prepare you mentally.” Oswald sighed. “They spared no expense. Pray for an intervention, because I have nothing else for you.”