Chapter Description: Clark attends what is supposed to be a routine Individual Education Plan Meeting. Then...
“Is everyone here?”
“I think so.”
“Then let’s begin with proper introductions.”
“Hello I’m Tamara Bankhead, and I’m the Resource Compliance Specialist.”
“Hi, I’m Chandra Skinner: Speech and Language Pathologist.”
“Hello, I’m Maxine Winters: Physical Therapist.”
“Hello, I’m Jasmine Sosa: Occupational Therapist.”
“And I’m Clark Gibson: Pre-Kindergarten Teacher.”
There was no friendly smile. No nervous chuckle. “Hello everyone.” The Amazon across the table made a point to turn her head and make contact with everyone sitting around the table; everybody except me. “I’m Martha Dunwhich; Emily’s mother.”
An overlapping wave of “Hello” and “Nice to meet you” followed. Everybody is always friendly to the parent at an I.E.P. meeting, even when the parent has a stick up her you-know-where. Education is just as much a service industry as it is a profession, if not moreso.
“We are gathered here today,” Bankhead all but read from a pre-approved script, “to review Emily’s academic and developmental goals for this calendar year and to ensure and clarify understanding among all members of her Individualized Education Plan Team.”
Translation: “Emily’s mother is terrified that a Little will be educating her daughter and wants to be reassured that he knows what he’s doing and that there will be enough Amazons and even Tweeners so that Emily’s education won’t be ruined by a baby teaching her baby.” This kind of thing happened at least once at the beginning of every year. I knew it was going to happen, less than a week ago, when parents and students were allowed to walk campus and find their children’s classrooms.
After ten years I’d gotten good at recognizing that politely outraged look in an Amazon’s eyes.
To be fair, by the end of the year, if not sooner, this woman would see how good of a job I was doing, and be singing my praises by this time next year. To be fair, she was an Amazon and thus possessed of a nearly overpowering maternal instinct and was likely taught her entire life that the only school someone my size belonged in was a daycare. To be fair, Emily was her only child and according to her file and my experience over the last three days was nowhere near potty trained and lacked a whole bunch of basic pre-academic skills; and so her own guilt and anxiety was likely causing her to project a lot of things.
But I didn’t feel like being fair just then. It was a crap day so far. I was going to have to pay a good chunk of change to get my washing machine fixed. I was on my last pair of clean and neatly pressed slacks and was going commando because said machine was on the fritz. My shaving razor was getting dull, so I’d had to practically scrape the stubble off my cheeks; my beard trimmer wasn’t much better.
And to top everything off, I was missing my lunch again, so I was getting hungry. These things always seemed to be scheduled right when I was supposed to have lunch.
So yeah, I was in no mood to be fair just then. Life wasn’t fair. So why should I have to be?
My face was a placid mask of calm as I quietly thought bad things about Bankhead. Bankhead was a Resource Compliance Specialist: Essentially, a glorified secretary whose sole job was to keep minutes for and run these types of meetings, as well as make sure everyone else had their paperwork properly filled out. It was a thankless job, but she made more money than me, so she didn’t need thanks. “For this meeting-”
“Excuse me,” Emily’s mother cut Bankhead off. “I don’t want to waste everyone’s time and would like to skip past the red tape. Can we please just get to discussing my concerns?”
Bankhead stopped, and my coworkers and I exchanged quiet but anxious looks. I might be the only one standing on my chair, but we were all on our toes. Yup, this was going to be one of those mothers. Even the way Martha Dunwhich was dressed-high end navy blue skirt suit with bleached blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail and sunglasses resting on her head- just screamed “I want to speak to your manager” levels of entitlement.
Bankhead was shaken a bit. “Oh um...of course.”
“I’m sure that Mr...Mr…” Mrs. Dunwhich paused as if looking for the right words. She looked at me. “What was your name again, honey?”
I smiled back politely. “Gibson.” I said. “Clark Gibson.” Typical Amazon. Couldn’t even be bothered to remember my name ten seconds after I’d said it, never mind all of the times she’d already seen it in meeting invitations and classroom announcements.
“While I’m sure that Clark is very good with children, I’m not sure if the classroom he’s in is the best possible setting for my daughter.” Wow. That was a new one. Not only could she not bring herself to call me by my last name, but she couldn’t even verbally confirm that it was my classroom; just the classroom that I happened to be in.
Bankhead adjusted her glasses. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Dunwhich, but Oakshire Elementary has only the one Pre-Kindergarten classroom.” Bankhead was opening with the old ‘you-don’t-have-a-choice’ gambit.
“Mr. Gibson is an exceptional teacher,” Miss Sosa, the O.T. chimed in. “He’s very good at implementing therapies into his everyday curriculum so that students make gains throughout the year.” Nods all around the table. Inwardly I smiled a bit. Acknowledgement felt good. Had I been a bit bigger, I might’ve sat down and leaned back in my chair a bit.
“Plus, all of his students end up potty trained by the time they get to Kindergarten.” Thank you Mrs. Skinner. Not quite the endorsement I was hoping for, but I’d take it.
“What are his qualifications?” Again, she was talking about me, but not to me. Typical.
Times like this are always rough for me: Do I speak up for myself, thus asserting my professional authority, or do I rely on the so-called benevolence of Amazonian professionals to continue to speak for me?
The women sitting around the table had done enough I’d decided. Time to sell her on my own merits. “I’ve got a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with up to date certification on Early Childhood education as well as ten years of experience teaching.” I was tempted to go into professional speak and add in more technical education terms than were necessary, but decided to go with my gut and speak plainly. “I’ve got former students walking all over campus and they’re all doing quite well.”
Her nose wrinkled a bit in disgust. “And when were you potty trained?” Boom. Point Blank calling my adulthood into question.
This was a trap. I knew it was a trap. It wasn’t Raine Forrest levels of obvious, but it was still pretty blatant. If I told her that I’d been potty trained at two, she might accuse me of having a superiority complex or being uppity. If I lied and said around three or four, that could be ammo, too. Emily wasn’t even in Pull-Ups yet. Even asking about that bit of information was calling my competence into question.
I knew how to dodge this attack. “Like most skills, potty training is more about having it than when you got it.”
The mother repeated the question. “When were you potty trained?”
I shrugged nonchalantly. “Oh, just like most people,” I told her, “it was so long ago that I don’t remember.”
Slowly, decisively, the woman asked. “Then why are you pooping your pants?”
“Excuse me?!” I felt my blood boiling.
“Why are you pooping your pants?” She said it even slower that time. Everybody, myself included, scowled.
Ms. Winters spoke up for me. “Ma’am, that is highly inappropriate!”
“Check him,” the parent of my newest student said. “After three years of changing diapers, I’d know that smell anywhere. Check him.”
The thing about skin is that it tends to tune things out. Unless things are too tight or too bulky we don’t tend to notice that we’re wearing clothes. Bugs can land on our arms and unless they skitter too much or sting or bite, we might not know that they’re there. Nobody feels how cold the water is once they’ve been in the pool long enough.
And me? I didn’t realize that I’d shit myself until the first semi-solid clump started dripping down the near back of my inner left thigh.
The world stopped. It froze. Sound didn’t register in my ears. Light and shapes and colors and the people in the room stopped registering my eyes. My jaw hung open stupidly and my eyes went wide and unblinking. My lungs didn’t contract as much as they shivered. And my heartbeat thundered through my entire body.
I had shit my pants. In public. In front of no less than five Amazons, and I hadn’t even realized it was happening until just after.
I was doomed.
No amount of quick thinking or careful word play or exploiting social moores or technicalities was going to save me.
Bankhead was behind me. I only knew it was her by her voice and her absence from behind her laptop at the head of the table. “Excuse me, Mr. Gibson.” Two fingers hooked into the waistband of my pants. Not even with my belt cinching everything around my waist to the point of leaving marks would those two fingers be stopped.
“No…” I whispered. Not like this. Not like this.
“Let me just che-...” the Amazon stopped mid sentence. “Whoah!” I didn’t see the look on Bankhead’s face. But I did see the look of surprise in the various therapists eyes and the smug knowing look in Mrs. Dunwhich’s.
I felt the cooling, greasy feel of brown stained shirttails being pulled out of my pants and streaking them against my backside. I felt more juicy, warm, disgusting shit streaking down my legs as my colon ejected a second shot into my slacks. Most of all, I felt the raging pain of a massive cramp welling up inside me like a balloon that was filling up far too fast.
My body was betraying me; verbally signalling to the entire room what it was doing. I opened my mouth to scream, nothing more than a pathetic, high pitched wail came out as the back of my pants became stained and my own feces started coating my legs. Overtaxed with shock and surprise, my bladder gave out too. If the smell and the sound didn’t give it away, the growing wet patch on my crotch sealed the deal.
Amazonian hands scooped me up under the armpits and placed me on the meeting table. Just as quickly, all the others scooped up their papers and backed away from me as if I was a leper. I heard Bankhead say, “We can wipe down the table later. Easier than cleaning carpet.”
“Why don’t we get him out of here?” Skinner asked. “Clean up the walkway instead?” I knew why. They didn’t want to chance for even an instant that I might escape.
I could see it in their eyes. I was a Little who’d just had an accident. I needed to be punished. I needed to be diapered. I needed to be coddled and primped and conditioned. There was also a look of pity in their eyes.
But not empathy.
I wasn’t an adult any longer. Not to them. I wasn’t even a person. Just a doll.
My knees buckled as my body let loose one last report. I bent over and buried my hands in my face, even as a putrid puddle formed beneath me; tears and pee and diarrhea all mixing together.
Kill me. Kill me. I just wanted to die right then; but I lacked whatever manic and cruel cunning that some people become possessed of to self-harm.
“I’m afraid we’re going to have to reschedule,” Sosa said. I could hear the door opening and footsteps getting farther away as people exited the meeting room.
“Hello? Front office?” It was Bankhead on the phone. “We have an emergency! It’s Gibson! Get the nurse!”
I just started wailing. No more words. Not just then. No more sight either. I closed my eyes and let my body be wracked with sobs.
I don’t know how much time passed between that phone call, and when the door next opened. I don’t even remember if Bankhead stayed in the room with me or if she just leaned against the door in case I got any ideas of escape.
Time had lost meaning for me. No more time. Out of time. Game over.
Hope you had a nice life, Clark. Hoped all that flirting with disaster and high minded ideals of teaching Amazons a better way was worth it. Because it’s over now.
I heard the slight squeal and whine of hinges in need of oiling as the door to the meeting room opened back up. I didn’t bother to unbury my face. Fuck the nurse. Fuck that bitch. I might’ve been crying just then but I wouldn’t let her see it. I’d stay in my tight little ball, lying in my pool of piss and shit and spit and tears. I’d make her pry me open from my little self created cocoon. I wouldn’t give her the satisfaction.
Even if she spanked me I wouldn’t give in. I’d cry and scream, sure. But I’d be cursing with every breath as long as I was coherent enough to actually make words.
I felt her hand on my back. It was gentler than I imagined it would be. She didn’t rip at my clothes. She didn’t try and manhandle me or pick me up just then. The nurse just rubbed my back as I shuddered.
“Oh, Clark.” She sounded sad. Very sad. “I’m so sorry, baby.” She also didn’t sound anything like the school nurse.
Snot dripping onto my mustache, I unburied my face, sat up on my knees, and looked over at my shoulder. “Beouf?”
Even through her glasses I could see her eyes starting to shimmer. She was wearing rubber gloves and a matching apron. Slung over her shoulder was a plain khaki colored satchel bag. I could see the changing pad poking out of it. “Hey, hon.”
Time stopped again. I started bawling again. I re-buried my face and was shrieking and crying and making so much noise; none of it actually words in any known language. Beouf, damn her, just stood there and gently patted me on the back. “It’s okay. It’s okay. Everything’s gonna be okay, sugar.”
It wasn’t. Nothing was going to be okay ever again. I kept crying. I don’t know if her being there made things worse or whether I kept bawling in some sort of infantile attempt to delay the inevitable. Both maybe?
“Clark?” she said. She was still rubbing my back. “Clark? Can you hear me?”
I didn’t respond. But in all of my screaming and self-pity I had already exhausted myself. Beouf didn’t have to talk over me. She just had to wait me out.
“I know you’re having a bad day, sweetie,” she said. “But Mrs. B. has to clean you up.” Fuck. She was referring to herself in the third person, now. Et-tu Beouf? I remained silent. “I’m gonna clean you up, okay?”
I could feel her jostling my loafers off my heels. “Tracy!” I yelped.
My shoes were off my feet. I heard the rustle of a garbage bag as they went in. “What about Tracy?”
I got back on my knees as my socks were stripped off my feet. “I want Tracy!” I said. “Please! Let me talk to Tracy!”
“Turn around, first.” For the second time that day, two Amazonian hands manhandled me. This time I was spun around and sat on my feet, just to the right of the murky puddle I’d been sitting in. “Now what about Tracy?”
“Tracy,” I said. “I need to talk to Tracy. Now.”
Beouf shook her head. “Sorry, Clark. Tracy’s busy right now. Maybe after school.”
My hands shot down to block hers going for my belt buckle. I looked at her. That misty eyed sadness was gone. Beouf was all business now, and she was in the business of regressing Littles.
“No,” I said. “Don’t. Please, Melony. Please. Just don’t.” I almost never called her by her first name. Foolishly, I thought it might strike a chord in her.
“Do you want to take your pants off yourself?” Her voice was even and patient, and even a little less deep than how she normally talked. Like she was a calm and rational adult trying to calm a child.
It had the opposite effect on me. “No!” I said. “No, I don’t!”
“Then I’m going to have to take them off.”
“No!” I repeated myself. “No! No! No!” I suppose I could have made a more articulate argument, but it’s very hard to be well spoken on the worst day of your life; especially when you feel that any argument you make will fall on deaf ears. I folded my hands over my belt buckle, imagining that it would make some kind of impenetrable shield; an unlockable gate. A lie, to be sure, but a lie that made me feel better.
Lightning quick, Beouf’s hands went for my collar, ripping open and popping off the buttons of my good shirt.
“NO!” I screamed. Reflexively my hands bolted upward in some vain attempt to slap at her wrists.
I”d fallen for it. As soon as my hands were above my waist, Beouf lowered hers, unbuckled my belt and unceremoniously yanked my pants down to my ankles. “There,” she said. “Now step out.”
I stood there gawking, using my hands to try and mask my manhood. My whole skin turned pink.
Beouf wasted no time, forcing me to step out of my own pants. With rubber gloves on, she forced one foot out, then the other. I almost fell over trying to keep my balance. The pants, along with my wallet, phone, and keys inside them went into the thin clear garbage bag provided by the custodians. “You don’t need to be embarrassed, Clark,” she said. “You don’t have anything I haven’t seen before.”
For those of you who are reading this in the comfort of your own homes; I know that there will be more than a fair share of armchair quarterbacks talking on MistuhGwiffin.web on what I could have or should have done. I should have played it safer. I should have fought harder. I should have kicked Beouf in the teeth. That I must be a Little Helper or have gone full native by this point and wanted to have my clothes and my very essence literally stripped away from me.
To those brave Littles reading this, I say: Talk and action are two very different things. And it’s a lot harder kicking an Amazon in the face when you’ve shared coffee with that face for over a decade.
That’s the thing they never tell you on MistuhGwiffin.web. It’s always some random Amazon that ends up diapering and adopting you. Never anyone you know. There’s no emotion besides terror in those encounters. Maybe that’s why so many Littles distance themselves from anyone but other Littles and maybe a few Tweeners. Because Beouf treating me this way hurt me more and felt like a greater betrayal than any of the other close calls I’ve ever had.
It felt like there was a great weight on my face, like there were fish hooks tied to anvils at the corners of my mouth just dragging them down. “I guess you haven’t…” I relaxed my shoulders and forsook my modesty long enough to slip off the remnants of my shirt. There was a weight pulling down on that shirt too. A weight that was pulling down on all of me; on my everything.
I knew in that moment that I would never smile again. My life would be one long, exhausted, empty frown.
“Good boy.” She maneuvered the changing mat behind me and laid me down. “This will make it easier to clean you up.”
I didn’t reply. There was nothing I could say. ‘Lawyer’, wouldn’t work. ‘Tracy’ wasn’t getting me what I wanted. What else was I supposed to say? ‘Union’? Beouf was my representative! She was the Union at Oakshire Elementary!
She started at my legs and ankles. “You didn’t do anything wrong, Clark. You’re not in trouble, hon.” Had I the energy I would have rolled my eyes. Beouf was half right. I hadn’t done anything wrong. I was in the greatest trouble in my life.
Beouf had just started wiping my cheeks when the door opened again. Mrs. Brollish came in. “I just heard,” she said. “How are we doing?” She definitely wasn’t talking to me.
“Just cleaning him up.” My old mentor didn’t take her eyes off me. “Done in a couple minutes.”
I saw Brollish sniff and make a face. Most of my leavings were still on the table. Good. At least it was making that old hag’s life a little less pleasant. “I’ll make sure to have the custodians clean this place as soon as you’re done.”
“Yes ma’am,” Beouf dragged yet another wipe over me. “Thank you.”
Brollish looked down at me. “Clark,” she said. “Mr. Gibson.” She at least had the decency to talk to me like an adult one last time. “Due to the evidence I see here before me and witness testimony from multiple members of our staff as well as a parent, I am invoking the maturity clause in your contract.” She turned toward the door and walked out.
I shuddered, and not just because that was the exact moment when Beouf chose to scrub between my cheeks. Bitch didn’t even wait for me to have all the shit off of me before she fired me. I might’ve cried, just then, but I was too shellshocked to react much more strongly.
Life wasn’t fair. What did I expect?
The nurse was coming in just as Brollish was leaving, wheeling in something heavy on a dolley. It was something like a big glass tube that was almost as big as a Tweener and framed with steel. Near the top end was a latch and a panel with different knobs. The inside of the glass had wired bulbs, like heat lamps at a fast food joint all up and down it. All told, it looked like something of a cross between a bug zapper, a tanning bed, and a cheap air conditioner. And it looked vaguely, hauntingly familiar.
“Still have it from last year,” the nurse said to no one in particular. “Lucky thing the high school hasn’t asked for it back.”
My voice came surging back. “NOOOOOOO!” I started thrashing, even as Mrs. Beouf had my ankles in her hand. “NOOOOOOO! NO! NO! NO! NO! FUCK THAT! FUUUUUCK THAT! FUUUUUUUUCK!”
I was twisting and clawing at the wood, my teeth gnashing and my mouth foaming as I tried to shake loose. I bent my knees and I kicked out. I would kick Melony Beouf’s teeth in and get away. I would run naked through the streets all the way back home and ride buck naked all the way to Misty Brook if it meant staying out of THAT hell hole contraption.
What I got instead was another pair of Amazonian hands pinning me back down on my back.
“Was it something I said?” the nurse asked.
Neither of us answered her. Beouf finished wiping me down like I was a rowdy two-year-old, and I shouted with unfathomable rage? Beouf was hard to be angry at, deep down. Too much experiences, too much surprise, and shock. But I’d just been fired from a decade long career and this idiot was talking about me like I couldn’t understand basic speech.
The school nurse kept holding me down, while Beouf went and retrieved the shiny silver shower cap and goggles dangling from the tube. My screaming somehow found a way to intensify.
“Clark,” she said when I was finally out of breath. “Mrs. B. is going to put these on your head and over your eyes. You need to do your best to keep them on. Don’t struggle with them and don’t fidget. If you try and take them off, you could end up bald and with no eyebrows.” She shoved the cap over my hair, satisfied with her own explanation.
My beautiful red hair, flecked with bits of gray and white. Soon it would be the only hair I had left. “Why?” I asked. “Why are you doing this to me?
“Because this will make it easier to keep you clean and take care of you.” Instead of answering my question, Beouf just sidestepped and purposefully misunderstood my question. I didn’t care much about the reasoning behind zapping every hair I’d gotten post puberty, saving that it made it easier to pretend that I’d ever gone through it.
The goggles came next. I was forced back up into a sitting position so they could be locked into place, and the world went as dark as my emotions in that moment. They weren’t goggles. They were a blindfold.
Fitting. I was about to be executed.
I’d like to think it was Beouf who picked me up and started to slide me down into that horrendous contraption. A final gentle mercy. The burning slap on my bottom as I tried to spread myself out and wedge myself from being shoved down makes me think it wasn’t.
The inside was slick. I must’ve looked like some kind of slug sliding down a windshield as my head was pushed down. Going under for the final time. Drowning. Dying.
“Wait! Wait! Wait!” I heard Beouf call out. “Clark! Stick out your left hand!”
Whether or not I would have complied became moot. A hand plunged down and yanked it out for me. “Almost forgot the ring!”
“Oh good catch!” I heard the nurse say, “That could have been dangerous!”
My wedding ring. My symbol of commitment and devotion to my wife: Cassie. My partner. My equal opposite who balanced my ideals with her pragmatism. The only woman I had ever loved...
With a quick twist, that symbol was taken from me, my hand shoved back down into the pit of despair with the rest of me, and the lid was closed.
“Give me back my ring!” I cried out! As big as the contraption was compared to me, I could still barely stand in the innermost layer. I was practically forced into the fetal position. I jutted the flats of my palms upward, trying. “Give me back my ring! Please!”
The lid wouldn’t budge. I was trapped. I didn’t care. “GIVE ME BACK MY RING!” I heard no reply, just the low buzzing of coils heating up. With the goggled blindfold on, it was dark and warm in this place, and getting warmer by the second. “GIVE ME BACK MY RING!”
I needed that ring! I needed it. It was my connection to Cassie and so much more.
The Little girl at the barbecue joint. The one screaming as she was being taken to the restroom to get her diaper changed. The one who’d been a wife and mother and screamed so. She hadn’t had a wedding ring either.
Even through the black out tint of the goggles, I saw the light surrounding me; Felt the heat starting to envelop me. Inside the tube, the light was bright. Bright light. Like the light at the end of the tunnel.
The light of death.
“GIVE! ME! BACK! MY!”
I woke up in a cold sweat, practically rolling out of bed, screaming my lungs out. “GIVE ME BACK MY RING! GIVE ME BACK MY RING!”
Cassie was on her feet and running around the bed to meet me not three seconds later. We were both naked in the dark. She held me while I came down from my panic attack; while the world of that all too real nightmare faded back into my subconscious.
“It’s okay,” she told me. “It’s just a dream. It’s just a dream. Whatever it is, it’s just a dream.”
I didn’t dare speak above a whisper now that I was fully awake. “I know,” I told her. “I know.” I wouldn’t be going back to sleep that night. That was something else I knew.
Walking over to the computer, I logged onto the school’s website and started filling out forms for time off and requesting a substitute.
“What are you doing?” Cassie called over to me.
“Calling out sick,” I said. “Taking some time off.”
“It’s only the first week of school,” Cassie said.
“Don’t care,” I hissed back, my voice barely audible over the hum of the computer. “I need it.”
Cassie and I teased. Cassie and I fought. But when we could tell that one of us was at our wits end, we backed off each other. “How much time?”
“About a month,” I said. “That’s how much time off I have stored up anyways.”
“Why that long? What are you going to do?”
I didn’t answer her until I’d finished clicking all the right links and making sure no one from school was going to come looking for me. “First?” I said. “We’re going to get out of Oakshire. I’m quitting my job. This will make them think that I’m not and get me a couple more paychecks.”
“What then?” That’s what I loved most about Cassie. She wasn’t talking me out of this. She just wanted to know what I was thinking.
“I think I’ll become a writer,” I told her. “Write on the go. Publish online.”
“Oooooh,” Cassie said. “An artist and writer, team? I like. Maybe I could do illustrations.”
I smiled at her and gave her a kiss right on the lips. “Maybe. But first I’ve got to write a novel. Memoirs. Non-fiction.”
If only that had been the end. If only I had listened to Cassie; listened to my common sense. Seen the signs for what they were.
That wasn’t the end.
That was just a fleeting last minute fantasy that my brain concocted right as every skin cell in my body was lit on fire.
My face, armpits, genitals, chest, all of it. Everything hurt. Everything. But the physical pain felt directly proportional to how much hair got zapped away down to the root.
So much pain.
The kind that makes you beg for death. The kind that stretches out and just as you think you’re developing something of a tolerance for, either it waxes or you wane. I don’t think I screamed. But not for lack of trying. A proper scream would have required the strength to draw air into my lungs. Any sweat or tears that may have resulted from the heat and the stress would have evaporated instantly. If I had had an open cut it would have been cauterized on the spot.
It was as if every follicle, every cell in my skin was being stabbed to death by a thousand needles made of light. It wasn’t a quick death, either.
I lost consciousness. That’s when I had that last fleeting glimpse of a future that might have been had I not been so stupid.
I woke up on the floor. Tired. So tired. I was still naked. Beouf had moved the changing mat over to the floor. I couldn’t move. Everything hurt. So tired. So tired.
She was rubbing ointment on my skin. My flesh looked raw; close to bleeding. I couldn’t feel it, but it looked ghastly. Almost like the model of a person where the muscles remain, but the epidermis has been peeled back. The goggles had been taken off me and I could feel the air conditioner blowing in my hair.
Good. At least I still had hair somewhere.
“Shhhhh,” my old mentor hushed and cooed at me while she coated my tummy. “The nanites in this lotion will help your skin feel better.” It was true. The balm had a cooling effect. It was like slipping into a nice cold tub of goo after a really nasty sunburn at the beach.
I tried to open my mouth, but my throat was too dry to speak. She lathered it on my face. My nose. My ears.
“You’ve been through a lot.” She kept going. My legs. My toes. The soles of my feet. “Mrs. B. is gonna take care of you, though. You can rest.” My pubic area. My penis. My testicles. My taint. “Go to sleep, baby. You’re safe.” The backs of my legs. My butt. My asshole. “We’ll talk after you wake up.”
Before I closed my eyes, the last thing I saw was Beouf unfolding a fresh diaper. The last thing I felt was my rump hitting the soft padding.