P Is for Prisoner

by: Reva | Complete Story | Last updated Jan 24, 2009

Chapter 4

Chapter Four

The little girl in the blue dress had only recently celebrated an eighth birthday, but she was still a big girl by her uncle’s easy standards. The old man wasn’t her real uncle, to tell you the truth, but he was a good friend of the girl’s mother, and it was just easier on Jenny to call him Uncle Mel.

“Jen-Jen,” he’d say in his deep, rough voice, “what is it you want to be when you grow up? If you could be anything at all, anything in the whole world, what would it be?”

The girl looks around the room, trying to think about the question. An answer comes easily enough. “I wanna be a doctor,” she says.

Uncle Mel shook his head. “Maybe you do, but maybe you’re just trying to follow your dad’s example. C’mon, think harder. The world has got enough of those overpaid little shits running around as it is.”

Uncle Mel has lost his leg in a medical fiasco. It had been a simple routine procedure, they had said. Forty years in the Corps, twenty-three tours of duty, and he ends up losing his leg to a routine procedure.

“Ummm...” Jen thinks harder. Not like daddy...”What about a horse trainer?” Mommy owned a few horses up north that Jen liked to ride when she went to visit. She could see herself doing that for the rest of her life.

“There is only one thing to be said about horses and their trainers,” Mel said, taking another long pull on his beer, “and that is they are both useless in our modern society.” He reddened, and stifled a blech. Well, almost stiflied it.

“Well, what should I be, Uncle Mel?” Jen inquired, a little grumpily. She liked horses.

“There t’aint anything more important then the answer to that question, Jen-Jen.” He paused for dramatic effect and another swig of alcohol. “What should you be? Are you ready for it?”

Jenny nodded, and wisps of blonde hair fell down into her face. With a red, meaty hand, her uncle brushed them away.

“Be yourself.”

As the Hover-Go pulled up to the gates outside Tiera Raev, Jennifer found her little black nose pressed against glass. Well, metaphorically, because the restraint on the car seat prevented her from getting that close.

It was a castle, just like it came out of one of those old fairy tales her father used to read to her when she was a child. Suddenly, she was a majestic princess, being escorted to her castle by pumpkin carriage. Flashes of that little blonde child came back to her, but as she stared through the window at the Academy, her own image came back, distorted and faint. She was no princess. She was a human woman trapped in a baby animal’s body.

With that mindset, the castle changed in her view, from whimsical fantasy to a sort of dark reality. Black wrought-iron made up the front gate, and though it was inlaid with inspiring and cute imagery, it still churned up memories of being in lockdown. Carol County’s maximum security prison for women was just like any other jail, male or female. Two to a very small room, and in place of doors or windows, you had bars to stare at all day.

Slowing the vehicle to a stop, Theresa rolled down her window and waved at the brightly clothed guard who stood at parade rest near an office or station of some sort that rested just besides the gate. He set down the long pole he was holding and made his way over.

“Hail and Salutations, Theresiani,” the feline guard called warmly, his spotted face creased into a wide smile. “I’m supposing you are here to collect your ?nephew’?”

Theresa smiled at him, sharing the inside joke. “I am. Do you know how he’s feeling?”

Mr. Lirith nodded towards the station. “Well, in a moment, you can ask him yourself. As far as I could tell, it’s just a bad headache, and a bit ah dizziness. I wouldn’t concern yourself too horribly...the bug is going around.” His eyes lit upon Jennifer, who was watching him with an unblinking stare. “Ah! Is this our latest little dreamer?”

The vixen nodded, casting a quick look back. “Yes, she is. You got the note about...?”

“Right. No fancy Issuer tricks.” He jerked his thumb back. “Wait here a moment, and I call Dr. Solonis, and send Addison out. He seems to be doing fine now.” He smiled, as he looked back towards the station, where a pair of black triangle ears could be faintly seen peeking out from the bottom of the window. He saluted Theresa, then turned and made his way to open the door. Theresa spoke up, her soft words now aimed at the child restrained in the car seat behind her.

“I am overjoyed that it was Dr. Solonis that was chosen to helm your case, Jennifer. He is a wonderful man, a joy to talk to, and a very compassionate soul. Though we all have your future and well-being in mind, some of us can relate to you humans better then others.”

Jennifer sniffed and gave the rear-view window her best, most watery gaze. “I don’t want you to leave me...Theresa right? I’m so scared...”

“There’s no reason to be. Everything will be alright.“

Jennifer thought back to something she had said. “You said...you said your son attended this...this is a school?” She looked back up at the gates and shuddered. Who would send their kids to a place like this? “Was he...was he...changed, like...me?”

“My son...used to be my very best friend. A bit awkward and shy, but he was truly special to me.” Theresa’s voice warmed as she recalled the first time she and the young teacher had met. “He was an artist back on earth, but he also had the noble goal of becoming a teacher in the local school system.” Her tone darkened. “Through no fault of his own, it was rough going for him. He could not seem to make it work, and his applications were denied time after time. He sank into a deep depression. Thera was his love, but with the immigration laws, this was the only way...” She turned away, missing Jennifer’s horrified expression. She couldn’t be serious. “He is being given a second chance, with a new lease on life.”

“Does he remember who he was?”

“Those memories were nothing but pain and loss, humiliation and rejection,” she said, a little sharply. “He still loves me, and I love him. Someday, he will grow up and become a famous educator here on Thera, and that is the whole point of the-“


The high-pitched shout nearly scared the piss out of Jennifer, who wasn’t expecting the child to come running out of the station and plant his face against the glass of the backseat’s window, looking in. Wearing an excited smile on his round face, the little todd grinned at her, then moved along the Hover-Go’s side railing to stand next to his mother, who leaned over and kissed his forehead. She brushed aside some of his unruly brown hair, worn in the style of young children everywhere, and smiled warmly at him.

“Hello, Addy. Why don’t you get into the back seat for mother, and we will go home as soon as I drop little Jenny off.”

“Ok,” he said, hopping off to go over to the door. There was no curiousity in his voice, no wonderment as to why his mother would have another child in her car. These things just didn’t concern children.

Holding her breath, Jennifer saw her chance. As the fox started tugging the door open, the captive jerked against her seat belt, and with a snap, it popped out of it’s lock. All the stray bits of fur she had stuffed in there had kept it unlocked. In one motion, she twisted in the seat, and putting all her will and strength into it, she shoved her big feet-paws against the door, flinging it open and into Addison’s face.

Falling down with a startled cry, the boy was forgotten as Jennifer hastily climbed down off the seat, and out of the car. Once her paws touched the warm earth, she was off at a dash, escape the only thing on her mind.

How dare these people, this race, think themselves to be Gods, trying to decide her fate when they had no right! The sob story from the vixen, if it was true at all, was very horrible, but growing up on the streets had taught Jennifer a lot of things, chief among these never to trust anyone, and that no one had a good life. Pity was just emotion wasted.

She didn’t know where she was going, only knew that escape was the only option she’d allow herself. Maybe she could make it to a Slider Station, make her way home and go to the press with this. Even though she had no idea how sliding worked, maybe she could have figured it out and made it home. Or given her current form, maybe she could fool a Theran not associated with their damned Project to help her out, hide her until she figured out what to do. These were the plans running through her head, but sadly, neither of them would come to fruition.

The numbing shock coursed through her small body, dropping her to her knees in an instant. As she rolled along the rock-strewn grown, she felt numerous cuts along her arms and legs, but there was nothing she could do at the moment, her limbs unresponsive to her mental commands. In a panic, she tried to will everything she had into her feet, but it was to no avail. She thought she had grabbed the collar’s remote, though!

“Ah ah ah, little one!” A cheery voice called from above her. With a slight jerk, Jennifer felt herself lifted from the dirty ground, and held close, as a baby would. Her weak struggles had no effect on the firm embrace. Her eyes worked perfectly fine, though, and as they walked, she saw freedom, salvation, the road leading away from the Academy, dwindle as they strode away from it, heading for the school.

Turning her head slowly, feeling as though her body weighed a thousand pounds, Jennifer tried to get a glimpse of her despair. The man (she could tell from his voice) was a rabbit, brown furred with specks of white peeking out here and there on his face. His long ears bobbed in the wind, and long whiskers trailed from his pink nose. Looking down, Jennifer realized in horror that this man wore a white lab coat, similar to Dr. Cade’s.

Coming to a halt in front of Theresa, who was kneeling by Addison, trying to consol the child, the man laughed a short note, and turned to focus his brown eyes on her. “My, you are a naughty little thing. Why don’t you say you’re sorry to little Addy there. You really hurt him there.”

Theresa looked up, and breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank the Watchers you were there, Dr. Solonis. She must have grabbed my Steader...and with Addy...I...”

“No need for that, Theresiani. Just count us lucky that I had mine in my coat pocket. These old legs of mine...I did not know whether I could have caught her or not,” Solonis said, chuckling a bit. He gently jiggled the girl on his hip. “Come on now, say sorry to him.”

Jennifer looked down, and she could feel her strength slowly returning to her limp body. Below her, the little boy sniffled and whimpered, a small stream of blood running from his nose. Instead of an apology, however, she drew in a deep breath and shouted down to him. “Hey! Hey! Try to remember! You are not a little kid, you’re a human, Addison! A human man! Fight their brainwashing, and remember!”

Addison’s only response was to cry harder, holding his bleeding nose in his black paws. Theresa shot her a nasty look, the expression hard on her gentle face. “Hey now, stop that! Be quiet!”

“You’re an artist, right! You wanted to be a teacher. Look at you! Crying over a little boo-boo!” Jennifer tried to twist out of the doctor’s grasp, but he tightened his grip, his hands digging into her sides. It was painful, but not terribly so, but she the warning was clear. Still, she opened her mouth to say one more thing, but Solonis suddenly surged forward, moving through an opening in the gate that she hadn’t noticed before. Shifting his hold on the little skunk, he began to hum to himself, as he made his way back to his lab. As they walked away, Jennifer caught sight of Theresa one last time. There was a cold anger in those green eyes that made her feel sorry for what she had done to her child. Theresa seemed like she might have sincerely cared, but that bridge was now burnt rubble on the ground. However, as she looked down at the little todd, she noticed his eyes meeting and holding hers, and there was a trace of something within them, something no child had in their eyes. In an instant, though, the moment was gone, and the child’s hands moved from his nose to his head, and a wail sounded over the still warm air.

Then they were turned a corner, following a dark cobblestone pathway, and Jennifer saw no more of the two, a cold feeling welling up in her stomach once more.



End Chapter 4

P Is for Prisoner

by: Reva | Complete Story | Last updated Jan 24, 2009


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