In case you’re wondering if the harem continues to exist at the Shushan Citadel, it is. In fact, it has evolved and even expanded since the young Hadassah first ventured there. Read about it in the following excerpt from this suspenseful speculative story.
An Excerpt from THE DÚNS
The harem had begun innocently enough when, after the Desolation, Ahasuerus invited the orphaned young women of Shushan College to relocate to his immense pueblo-style residence. Hegai, a brilliant sculptor, became their mentor and tutor. After the Citadel was erected and General Haz moved to the castle keep with his striking young bride, Lady Vashti, young people of both sexes stayed in the pueblo as career performers who played for the Court.
As soon as they were sixteen years old, they were paired by the psychological panel according to the dictates of the Expansion philosophy created to speedily populate the new kingdom. The few deemed unsuitable for marriage and parenthood were still expected to contribute offspring to the Expansion program.
Married women were rewarded with homes of their own as soon as they produced a viable infant. Single women remained in the pueblo to become surrogate mothers and to care for children from the Fortress Villages during the months of planting and harvest.
The pueblo was a beautiful multi-level facility encircling the mountaintop of the Mountain Cavern, its fluid lines blending into the rock. Within the pueblo existed four harems, the domain of Shaashgaz, custodian of all women and children living there. Entertainers lived in the first harem, single women with infants under age two dwelt in the third harem, and female nannies and instructors stayed in the fourth harem to care for the boarding children.
“What’s become of Harem Two?” asked Zara.
“You probably know from your sources that the second harem occupied the uppermost three floors of the pueblo when I first went there as a candidate for the position of Lady of the Citadel,” said Hadassah. “After I won the title, as it were, the selection committee determined that the nineteen other finalists remain as perfect specimens for the Expansion program. At that time, the second harem was downsized to a single level.”
“You mean the finalist candidates became baby makers?” asked Zara, horrified.
“Partly. The General wouldn’t want their bodies deformed by the pregnancy process, so their eggs are regularly harvested, fertilized artificially, and implanted in the women of Harem Three. The resulting infants are cared for by the women who give birth to them until age two. Then they’re adopted by other families.”
“How can you stand knowing these things?”
“It’s the way it is here.”
“Will you have more children?”
“I hope so. My children give my life meaning and joy.”
“No doubt it would make the General happy.”
“Of course,” said Esther. “He expects us to be the supreme model for the Expansion philosophy.”