User:Jetfire/Doing Hard Time
|Paradise story universe|
|Works by Jetfire on Shifti|
Doing Hard Time
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Justin walked back to his cell and faced the back wall. The officers came down the hall, closing and locking the doors to each cell by hand. "Another day, another session closer to the min-security wing," he mumbled to himself, waiting while his door was locked.
Justin flopped down on his bed and stretched out, rubbing his stomach. Dinner wasn't sitting right with him, but that wasn't surprising. If he never had another tourtière in this damned place, it would be too soon. He sighed and closed his eyes, trying to get some rest.
Something clanging on metal woke him from his uneasy sleep. "Ahm up," he groaned, waving at the air.
The clanging stopped, but the pounding in his skull continued. "Last call for breakfast," the guard said, waiting to open the door.
Justin started to roll over and stopped himself, feeling his stomach threaten to rebel. "Nah feeling well," he groaned, trying to pull the pillow around his head to stop the pounding. He heard the guard back away a few steps and the radio crackled, sending a shiver down his aching spine. A quick discussion in French took place and the guard returned. "Can you get to your feet? I'll take you to the infirmary."
The prisoner considered his options, then tried to stand. His stomach nearly rebelled again, but he kept it down. His body was shaking with shivers, while his forehead felt like it was burning up. He shuffled to the door and the guard opened it up. "You know the way. I'll be right behind you."
Together they walked out of the cell areas and through a few halls, these with double air-lock style electronic doors triggered by someone watching from the control room, and into the prison's infirmary. Justin gratefully laid down on the bed, lifting a wrist to be strapped in. The guard strapped his arm in and stepped back, signaling for the medic on duty to come in and start the examination.
Justin tuned out the stream of French, mixed in with an occasional English command to him, and let himself drift away into the hot haze of his headache. Whatever he had, it seemed to convince the doctor that he really was sick. There was another discussion, this one bringing in someone on the phone to the control room, and a decision was made. The guard strapped his legs down, and shoved his bed into a lockable side room meant for long term prisoner care, and left him to sleep it off.
Friday, August 17, 2007
He woke up, surprisingly clear headed. The flu had disappeared as fast as it arrived. Feeling good for the first time in days, he took a deep breath and gagged; the infirmary stunk worst than he remembered it. He lifted one hand to cover his nose from the scent, only to find it still restrained.
He tried his other hand, finding it was loose, touched his nose and got his first shock of the morning. His nose was cold, wet, and his nostrils were pointed outwards, instead of downwards.
His eyes popped open, blinking away the blinding bright lights of the room. Gradually a large mass came into focus in his lower field of vision. He felt around a bit, and discovered his jaw and lower face had changed somehow, swollen out into a muzzle. His probing brought his hand into view and stared again.
His hand was changing in front of his eyes. The nails were swelling out longer, growing points on their tips, and turning black., The skin on his palms was thickening and turning rougher. Brown hair grew on his fingers and over the back of his hands and up his arms.
His pulse quickened and he looked around, looking for help or any sort of explanation. The room was deserted though, not even a camera pointed his way.
He squirmed more, tugging at his feet restraints and knocking the thin sheet off of him. Looking down, he saw his feet changing, upper legs shrinking while his feet swelled larger. He wiggled his toes, nails grew into claws like his hands, thick brown fur growing up over his legs. The only advantage the change gave him, was that he was able to pull his feet out of the restraints without undoing them.
He winced in pain and rolled onto his side. Reaching back, he felt a stub on his spine growing longer and longer, muscles aching as they grew to control the new appendage. He twisted his head around and saw the skin of the long tail quickly being covered in bushy black fur.
The next changes froze him into motionless. He felt a sensitiveness on his chest, centered on four points. The hospital smock they'd dressed him in was tenting in ways it should never have tented. He whimpered, surprised at how animal it sounded, and touched the firm mounds of flesh tentatively, and shuddered again. He didn't dare feel lower, but the looseness of his underwear he felt was all the telling he needed.
Trying to take his mind off that disturbing element, he looked around a bit more, his mind sorting out all the scents. He couldn't identify most of them, but he would recognize them if he smelled them again. The room was mostly deserted, intended to hold prisoners who couldn't go far from medical attention. Still, there was a first aid kit on the wall.
He frowned, bringing the kit into focus. "Was there a red cross on that or a green cross?" he mumbled to himself, trying to remember what colour the kit had originally. It seemed a safer challenge than dealing with his body. He was briefly thrilled he could still talk, despite what happened to him, but the olive greenish cross on the kit was disturbing.
His exploring eyes sought out other things in the room and he soon confirmed his initial suspicions; he was red-green colour blind.
His ears swiveled to the door, hearing footsteps outside followed by the sound of a key turning in the lock. A guard walked in first, watching him carefully, followed by the medic. He recognized the medic as a nurse who usually covered the evening shifts. His nose and ears couldn't pick up anyone else in the rooms, making him conclude it was still very early in the morning.
Justin was shocked by their complete lack of reaction to the dog-woman on the gurney. The guard approached her and seemed puzzled that her legs were free. Before she could react, he patted her down, not even reacting when his hands touched her breasts. She couldn't resist her own reaction, a shudder of fear and, surprisingly, a shot of pleasure. The guard checked the restraint on her other wrist, and then checked around the gurney, lifting the thin mattress and her and peeking under it. "All clear," he announced, backing up to the door.
"Well, you're looking much better. How are you feeling Justin?" the nurse asked, beginning his examination.
Justin gulped and shuddered, feeling the nurse touch him, listening to his heart and taking his temperature. "Not quite myself," he stammered out.
"Well, it looks like the flu has run its course at least. Your heart rate's a bit fast, and your temperature is still a bit high, but nothing seems wrong with you."
'Except for the fact that I'm a girl-dog! Why aren't they reacting to this?!?' Justin's mind screamed, but he didn't voice his confusion.
"I don't see any reason why you can't be returned to your cell," the nurse concluded. That managed to cut through the haze of fear and confusion in Justin's mind.
"NO!" Justin jerked back and fell off the side of the gurney, pulling it over in the process. The nurse quickly stepped back, hand going to an emergency call button on his belt. The guard moved forward, reaching for his taser.
"Why can't you see this! Why aren't you reacting? I can't go back out there looking like this! What did you do to me?" Justin shouted, curling into a tight ball on the floor.
The guard and the nurse exchanged glances and shrugged. The button had been pushed, so they both knew reinforcements were on the way. The guard stayed close, but didn't fire. Whatever Justin was, a threat definitely wasn't one of them.
"What do you mean, Justin? We didn't do anything to you," the nurse said, taking a step closer and crouching down.
"Sure you didn't... I thought experiments on prisoners went out with the Nazi's and the Commies," Justin shuddered and rocked himself gently.
A couple more guards rushed into the room and looked around for the threat, tasers and batons drawn. The nurse waved his hand, "Stand down, he's no threat."
The four workers backed up the door, keeping an eye on the figure curled up next to the gurney. They switched to French to talk amongst themselves.
"Any idea what's wrong with him?" one of the new guards asked.
The nurse shook his head, "Physically, as far as I can tell, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with him. He had a slight fever still but nothing to be concerned about. Mentally, something seems to have happened. He just, I dunno, snapped."
"So what do we do with him?" the first guard asked.
"I have no idea," the nurse sighed. "He won't go back to his cell, and we can't keep him here... are any of the isolation cells free? We can put him in there and bounce his case up higher up. Hopefully someone will know what to do with him."
"Sounds like a plan. Louis, can you stay here and keep an eye on the prisoner until the cell's ready? We'll go get things ready and come for him."
The first guard nodded and the group broke up. The nurse and the guard managed to coax Justin to his feet and get the gurney set up again. They tried to talk to him, but he only babbled incoherently from his seat. The cell was prepared quickly, and soon he was escorted to it, and locked in.
Out of necessity, over the next few weeks, Justin got to know her new body well. She discovered whatever had done this to her had given her a well toned body, with a lot of strength hidden in its sleek form. The breasts were large, but not too large. Definitely large enough to be noticeable though, which constantly confused her. In isolation, she saw a very limited number of people, but none of them gave a second glance to her appearance. If they were behind what had been done to her, they were doing a damn good job at hiding it.
Meanwhile, her case file moved at the speed of bureaucracy through the offices of Correction Services of Canada, passing from desk to desk. No one seemed to want to pick up the case of the prisoner who went nuts in Quebec.
September arrived and Justin woke from a deep sleep, panting hard. Echoes of the dreams faded away in the back of her mind, erotic dreams, but erotic in a bad way. Her body still tingled with the thoughts. In the dim light, she looked down and saw where her paws had drifted during the sleep and pulled them away quickly. She rolled over onto her belly and tried to ignore the feelings from her nipples. She jammed her hands under the mattress and tried to get back to sleep. She eventually dozed off again, never realizing how her tail lifted into the air while she slept.
A few days later, she woke up and smelled blood in the air. She sniffed around and discovered it was coming from her. Pulling the cover sheet off the bed, she found her underwear and the bottom sheet had thick blood spots on them. She was still staring at them when the guard brought in her breakfast.
Nurse Kilpatrick, the same one who had examined her before, was called directly to her cell. He gave her an examination then and there. Justin was sure he would discover her true nature then, but somehow he didn't. She was given a pad, ordered onto a liquid diet for the next little while, and put on suicide watch.
Additions were made to her case file and it was tossed back into the system. More flags were raised, and this time knowing people in the right places redirected it to an office in Ottawa it would not normally get to; one that didn't officially exist. Gossip around the water cooler later would say the bellow of rage shook the entire building when Officer Wallace Ramsey finally saw the file.
"Justin, you have a visitor," Louis told her from the other side of the door.
"I don't want to see anyone," she growled back, the remains of her lunch on the floor near the door.
Louis opened the hatch in the door and pulled the tray clear. "That was not a request. He is quite insistent that you see him."
She briefly considered resisting, but she knew there would be no use. She turned around and pushed her hands out through the door and felt the handcuffs go around her furry wrists. Through the door, she mentally sorted through the scents coming off the guard; tobacco smoke from walking through the public smoking area, deodorant of an unknown brand, shampoo of another unknown brand, Tide laundry detergent, fresh air breeze scent, and vanilla Bounce dryer sheets. By the lack of food scents, she knew he had skipped breakfast again.
Paws cuffed behind her back, she stepped back and waited. The door opened and the guard motioned with his baton for her to walk ahead. Outside, in the hall, she picked up a variety of familiar scents. She was lead through the prison and a new scent came to her. It was muskier than the human scents she was used to. Louis guided her to a room that seemed to contain the source of the musky scent. "He's waiting for you in there. Go in and sit down."
The door opened into the room that reeked of the musk, but the source itself was still hidden. She took a few steps in and froze. The room was sparse, containing just two chairs and a table. Sitting at the table was a large, black furred creature with the widest set of antlers she had ever seen. He didn't even look up at her. "Have a seat," he ordered, Louis closing the door behind her.
"You're... You're like me..." she stammered, taking a few more steps. He refused tn answer until she sat down, lifting her arms over the back of the chair.
He looked up from the folder he was examining. "Yes, I am like you. Good afternoon, Justin. I apologize for not coming to you sooner, but your particular case only reached my attention recently. I am Officer Wallace Ramsey, and basically I am in charge of Changed Prisoners like yourself."
"There are more like me?" she asked. "Like us?" she corrected herself.
He nodded. "I believe we're up to eighteen Changed under the supervision of the CSC, six of which are actually in prisons. You make seven, and the first TG."
The moose studied the German Shepard for a moment, then closed the folder and clasped his thick hands together. He leaned forward. "Last August, you and five hundred thousand other people became the latest to be changed by unknown means into morphic animals. It's a process that, as far as we know, started twenty years ago, and as far as we can guess, will continue until everyone has changed."
He continued on, going through a routine he clearly knew by heart. He even anticipated most of her questions before she could ask them. "... And like it, or lump it. You are literally a bitch now," he finished, watching her reaction.
She growled and leaned forward a bit, but stopped herself. Rising the the moose's insult seemed to be just what he was looking for, and a sure way to keep her from her goal of early parole, already at risk due to her change. She took a few deep breaths and calmed down. "So what happens to me now?"
"That is up to you. From your records, you've been on your best behavior, clearly gunning for early parole. Keep up what you've been doing, and it will probably be obtainable.
"But being a TG, your situation is rather messy. We can't put you in a woman's prison because they'd see you as a guy. So for now, you'll stay here. There aren't any Changed in here and my people will try and keep them out, so your true nature is safe at least. We'll play it by ear and if you're lucky, you'll be out on Parole by the time too many people Change to keep you hidden."
The moose pulled out a strip of leather and tossed it over to the table in front of her. "You'll want to wear this all the time. It can't be metal like the rest of ours, but that bracelet is a red flag in the medical community. If you are injured, it will tell the medics to contact our people ASAP."
She looked down at the leather bracelet on the table, then shrugged her shoulders, shaking the chains of her handcuffs.
"We're almost done, you can pick it up afterwards," the officer explained. "Finally, there's what to do about your changed nature in general. For the most part, you will be treated just like any other prisoner here. But we recognize that you will have different requirements, not just due to your sex, but due to your species. So towards that end, we are providing you a contact here, someone who will know what you really are, though he won't exactly be able to see you yet.
"Nurse Jordan Kilpatrick will be that contact. We're telling him about the Changed now, and especially about your Changed nature. He will be the ONLY one here who will know what you really are, so he will be your source for your special needs. He'll also ensure you follow the restrictions you will be under, in particular, a weekly claw clipping, both hands and feet. If you have any requests particular to your nature, make them through him. Do you understand?"
Justin sighed and nodded her head. "I suppose so."
"Good, then unless you have any more questions?" She shook her head. "Then you are to go to the infirmary, get your nails cut, and returned to your cell. Your rehabilitation sessions will restart on Monday."
The moose picked up the folder, stood up and Justin realized how big he really was. The moose walked over to the door and rapped on it, never taking his eyes off of the dog morph. Locks clicked open, and the door swung open, letting in Louis's scent.
"Take the prisoner to the infirmary and wait there. The nurse needs to do another checkup for the paperwork, but afterwards he'll be returning to his usual cell. There is a leather bracelet on the table; make sure he is wearing it by the end of the day."
"Certainly, officer," Louis said, stepping into the room and grabbing the bracelet.
Justin watched as the moose-man used Louis's distraction to duck and twist his head to get his rack through the doorway. The moose disappeared out of sight.
Louis lead her back to the infirmary, to the presence of a clearly shell shocked nurse. Jordan kept staring at Justin and shaking his head, as if he couldn't believe what he had been told. He was standing by a counter, one hand holding something in the pocket of his white coat, the other hand on the emergency call button.
"Take him to the back room, remove his cuffs and wait here please," the man said, glancing towards the second door off the room. Justin could smell the scent of another man in there, the daytime doctor.
"That is against procedure. The prisoner is supposed to be watched at all times when they are not in their cells or otherwise restrained," Louis protested.
"Screw the procedure!" the nurse shouted, then caught himself, glancing to the door of the office. "I have medical issues to discuss with Prisoner LeBlanc here, and you are not included in any patient/doctor confidentiality agreements. If it makes it any easier, tie him to the chair in there or something. I only need one of his arms free anyways."
Louis grumbled and escorted Justin into the room and found a chair. The guard undid one of the cuffs and pushed her into the chair. He caught the loose cuff and tightened it around the arm.. He then all but stamped out of the room.
Jordan sighed and pulled a pair of nail clippers from the pocket. "Honestly, I'm still not entirely convinced about what they say happened to you, but I'm willing to play along. Besides, it does make that strange bleeding you had make more sense. Here." He put the clippers and a styptic pencil on an otherwise empty rolling cart and kicked the cart over to Justin's chair. "Start clipping. I'm to verify 18 claw tips before I can let you leave here. Along with sending pictures of your hands and feet to Officer Ramsey. If you refuse, it will reflect badly on you, and I'll be forced to have Officer Thebideau more fully restrain you, and do the clipping myself. Since I can't see your paws, that is almost guaranteed to be bad for you."
It took a bit of practice before Justin managed to figure out how best to use the nail clippers, but she managed in the end. Her toes stung where she'd cut too close, but her fingers felt fine. When she was done, Jordan used a camera phone to send pictures of her hands and feet to someone else to verify she'd done it properly.
While waiting for the results, he started doing another exam of her. "Incroyable ," he mumbled, blinding her a moment as he flashed a light into her eyes. "I know you aren't human any more, hell I saw a flash of your paws each time you clipped a nail... but everything my eyes are telling me now is that you're a healthy man.... Juste incroyable!"
Before the exam could get more personal than Justin felt comfortable with, the doctor's phone dinged. He checked his messages and sighed a little in disappointment. "You're cleared. You can go back to your cell. I'll see you next week. LOUIS!"
Louis entered the room in a rush, then relaxed. The nurse drew him to one side and had a quick conversation in French. Justin twitched her ears and tried to listen in, but though she could hear the conversation clearly, her Cereal-box French was insufficient to keep up with two natives.
"Come on Justin, time to go home," Louis said brusquely. He motioned for her to lean forward and to put her free hand behind her back. He released her other hand and pulled it back, cuffing her again.
He didn't give her much time to reflect on where she was going. With a prod of his baton, he set her walking, heading back to the cell block. It finally hit her when they were stepping through the second set of doors, into the cell block proper, and the scents and sounds of caged men hit her. She was going to be a woman, a hidden woman but a woman, among some of the worst men Canadian society had generated. Her realization earned her a few more pokes from Louis's baton to get her moving again.
She trudged down the hall, past the rows of cell doors. Her ears and nose were working overtime, twitching towards every sound and smell coming from those cells. She expected wolf whistles and taunts, but they didn't come. At least, not in the way she feared the most.
"Welcome back to the lab Justin!"
"So you're no longer nuts? Or did they just decide you were a hopeless cause?"
"Hey Justin! Ready for more experiments?"
She ignored the taunts and stepped into her cell, the door clunking shut behind her. She sniffed the air and frowned in confusion; there was a scent there, one that was alien to her, but vaguely familiar.
"Prisoner! Your hands!" Louis shouted.
She stepped back and put her hands through the slot in the door, her eyes looking around her cell. It had been searched multiple times while she was gone, but all of her stuff was still there, and mostly in its right place. There was nothing extra to indicate who the stranger had been. The cuffs came off and she brought her hands back around. She rubbed her wrists and began to prowl the tiny room.
The strongest scent came from the bed itself. The sheets were clean, but the mattress carried the former occupant's scent strongly. "Mon Dieu!" she mumbled to herself. "It's me.... It's my smell."
She collapsed on the bed and began to sob, inhaling and memorizing the scents of her life now lost. She drifted off into an uneasy sleep, not even getting up when the call for dinner was made.
In the middle of the night, she woke up from an uneasy sleep. Her ears told her most of the block was asleep, but a few people were only faking sleep, or were up doing whatever they were up to. Hissed conversations were going on, too far away for even her hearing to pick up. She looked up from her bed and her mind sleepily tried to put a claw on what was wrong. Her body, working with a lower level set of instincts stood up and stripped her clothes off, tossing them in a pile in the corner.
She walked to the middle of the small cell, put her hands on her breasts to keep them still and shook. Short fur flew everywhere, but when she was done, she felt relaxed. The strange scent was still in the room, but it was buried under her own familiar scent now. Dressed only in her underwear, she collapsed back on the bed and fell into a deeper, more satisfying sleep.
The months that followed fell into a routine. The first few times out in the general population, she was constantly freezing up in fright over discovery, but it quickly became obvious how strong the distortion field was around her. The fear quickly turned into a thrill as she played it like a con. By the end of the first month, she even found herself on the verge of flirting with some of the gang alphas. She restrained herself from doing so, but it was a close call; her dreams that night proved to be particularly erotic. Prisoners in the cells around her complained they weren't able to get any sleep due to the whining coming from somewhere, not that the guards cared. A few days after that, she awoke to the smell of blood again, and grudgingly used the supplies Nurse Kilpatrick had obtained for her.
She started working around the prison again, and doing her rehabilitation courses. Both gave her the chance to see most of the prisoner area in her new form. Her nose quickly identified various contraband stashes, ranging from garbage can stills to drug caches to even a few hidden weapons (the hardest thing to find). She found she was even able to identify who most likely left those stashes.
Her old con-man ways woke up again and started planning. The majority of the stashes, she stayed silent about, but there were a few gangs in the prison who hadn't been very nice to her. To the guards, she pointed out some of those gang's worst items and hinted at who owned them. To the gangs she liked, she dropped word of the location of some of the juicier stash items. By mid November, she was effectively controlling the prison's black market, though few suspected it. She was still in prison, but she was having the time of her life.
By Christmas, her life had crashed into flaming ruins.
It had started normally enough. She was sitting at a table in the cafeteria, eating dinner and chatting with a few of the other prisoners, the ones who came closest to being 'friends' to her in there. Her nose picked up an unfamiliar scent walking near her, but that wasn't unusual; there was a steady stream of old prisoners leaving and new ones arriving to the facility.
"Hey! No one said this place was a mixed prison!" a new voice said, the unfamiliar scent stopping behind her. Before her mind could finish processing the comment, a pair of hands reached around her from behind and squeezed her breasts. The voice whispered in her ear. "Hey baby, do you make cell calls?"
She reacted instinctively, grabbing the edge of her tray and swinging it back against the stranger. It proved to be the spark in a fireworks factory. The entire room erupted into a brawl; food, trays, plates and plastic silverware flying everywhere as the prisoners took advantage of the chance to repay old grudges. She barely noticed what she had triggered, anger and frustrations flowing out of her against the man who had touched her. She punched and slashed with her dulled claws, her growls lost in the bedlam surrounding her.
Alarms sounded and the on duty guards backed out behind secured doors, quickly replaced by guards in riot gear. Her eyes and nose began to burn as she caught a whiff of tear gas released at the far end of the cafeteria.
"Back off prisoner! Don't make me tase you!" Louis shouted, standing on the table she'd been at. She ignored him, getting a good grip on her target's upper arm with her muzzle.
"I said back down Justin! I WILL tase you!" She tossed her head and heard a satisfying scream of pain. She faintly heard something hiss, and two thumps on her shoulder. Then her own world erupted in pain.
She woke up and found herself strapped to a gurney, her tail painfully pinched underneath her. Her nose was clogged and her eyes still burned from the tear gas, but she felt like she was in one piece at least. Her ears told her she was in the prison infirmary, with a dozen other people, some medical, most prisoners and guards. She turned her head slowly and spat, trying to clear the bad taste from her mouth.
There was a prisoner in the gurney next to her. Blinking away the tears from her burning eyes she managed to focus enough to identify the other guy. His chest was covered in scratches and his arm was bandaged up. She realized he was staring at her, his own eyes reddened.
"What the fuck are you?" he asked, glaring at her as best he could.
She spit again and grinned, showing her fangs. "Your worst nightmare," she replied.
His face went pale, fear flashing in his eyes. He turned his head away from her and started struggling on the gurney. "DOC! DOC!" he started shouting. "Get me away from here!"
Nurse Kilpatrick rushed over and looked the pair over. He threw his own glare towards Justin. "You and I have got to talk, as soon as I finish cleaning up the mess you caused," he said, pushing the other prisoner's bed away.
Justin lay her head back, letting her eyes tear naturally to wash away the gas. She snorted a few times, trying to clear her nose as well. In her mind, she ran over the events that he could remember, trying to figure out what happened. Clearly the prisoner, somehow, had seen her as a woman, a human woman from his reaction. But he obviously wasn't Changed, and he didn't see her as a dog, at least not at first. His reaction in the infirmary hinted that he may have seen more later on. She sighed and tried to relax her tensed muscles. None of this made sense, not based on what she'd been told about the Field.
It took a few days for the prison to calm down enough for the investigations to start. Jordan managed to question and get Justin's real side of the story first, and sent the word direct to Ramsey's offices. Both Justin and Trevor, the prisoner who had seen her, were put into isolation cells pending the end of the investigations. It didn't stop the rumours from flying though. Soon the entire prison was laughing about the "Werewolf bitch" attack that had launched the cafeteria riot.
Justin was pacing her cell, trying to calm down. Trevor had been taken for an interview earlier, so she knew her time was coming soon. She worried about what the interviewer would see.
"Prisoner, turn around and present hands," the guard announced, stopping at her door and opening the slot. It wasn't Louis, but another regular guard. The rumour mill that reached her had said Louis was on paid suspension pending the examination into his taser firing. It seemed the entire country was wired up over cops using tasers lately, and he was just the next victim. She put her hands behind her back and stepped back, feeling the cuffs click around her wrists.
"Prisoner, step to the back wall." She stepped forward a couple steps until her muzzle almost touched the back wall. The lock on the door clicked and the door squealed as it swung open. A guard looked inside, checking all sides and the ceiling of the cell before stepping back out.
"Prisoner, come with us." She trudged through the halls, escorted by three guards around her, until she reached a familiar interview room. Her nose picked up a musk, and her heart leaped a little hopefully. It wasn't the moose smell from last time, but it was vaguely familiar, the scents tugging at pre-Change memories of a childhood in Alberta.
She stepped into the room and the chestnut horse morph dressed in a Mounty uniform came into view. He was standing behind a table, hands clasped behind his back, and clearly not looking happy to be there. He studied her for a moment, then flicked his eyes to the chair. The only chair in the room she noted. "Sit!" he ordered.
She sat down without a word and watched as he began to pace on the other side of the table. "This is quite the mess you've caused all of us. If I didn't know better, I'd assume you timed this to go along with that mess in Kingston. That's where Officer Ramsey is right now, and why I'm dealing with you now."
"What mess in King... I didn't do anything! It's not my fault!" she protested.
He waved his hand to silent her. "I know it's not your fault. It's the field. The damn fools managed to break it a few months ago. Or maybe it was always intended to be this way. Who knows? In any case, it's been a nightmare for the TG'ed ever since, and it's been spreading to all of them we know of."
"What do you mean? What happened?"
He stopped and leaned on the table, looking down at her. "Last October, there was a convention. It had a cover story, but it was for us, billed as the biggest gathering of Changed yet. It started out fine enough, but things quickly went downhill. It seems the Field can't handle gatherings that large. We had failures left, right and center. Most were just temporary failures, but one thing proved to be permanent.
"The TG's at that con; they discovered the field working differently for them now. Old friends and family still saw them as their old sex, but new people will usually see them as their new sex. Still human, but the opposite sex of what they had before."
He sighed and resumed pacing. "At first, it only seemed to affect the Con's TGs, but soon it started spreading to other TG'ed." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a passport. He opened it to the ID page, folding the book to make sure it stayed open, and tossed it onto the table.
The book looked like her old one, and the stamps on the facing page matched what she remembered should be there. Including the cursed stamp from London. Memories surfaced at the sight of the stamp.
She'd... no HE'd just gotten through customs at Heathrow, only to find Scotland Yard and the Mounties waiting for her-him. The extradition hearing passed so quickly, she found herself on the plane back to Montreal before she could get over the jet lag.
She shook her head, disturbed by her memories. She pictured her old body during her arrest, but she couldn't help thinking of herself as a female even in memory. She dropped the thought and looked at the ID page.
The ID page was wrong, it had to have been altered. It showed a human female head that looked vaguely like she used to. The Sex field showed 'F' instead of 'M'. And the name was 'Justine LeBlanc', not 'Justin LeBlanc'. Justin leaned forward and stared, not believing her eyes. "This is a trick right? You faked up a new passport or something?"
"It's no trick. The field's messing with active records now too. Historical ones will still match; your high school records, yearbooks, that sort of thing, still show Justin LeBlanc. But anything in active use now, they all reflect your new identity."
"So where does that leave me?"
"It leaves you in the middle of an Excedrin-level headache. You clearly can't stay here. Even if we had the resources to replace the guards and admin here with Changed and Knowing workers, there's still the matter of the prisoners themselves. As more and more new ones arrived, you'll have more and more trouble with them seeing you as a woman."
"You could always put me out on parole," she said hopefully.
The Mounty horse laughed. "Get that thought out of your head. With the very public fraud investigations going on around Schreiber and Mulroney, the Parole Board doesn't want to even hint that they're considering going light on people who did similar crimes. No you're stuck with us for the duration of your sentence. The question is where will you be stuck with us?
"In the short term, you and your co-rioter are getting a month in Solitary for instigating the riot. If we need more time, we'll cook up some other reasons to keep you in isolation. But effective now, your interactions with the prison population here have ended.
"In the long term, Justine, we are looking at the woman's prisons, trying to find one where We have enough presence to keep an eye on you, and one where you won't know anyone. You need a clean break to get used to your new identity."
"how... How long do you think it'll take?" she asked, stunned at the idea of having to go to a woman's prison.
The horse shrugged. "That's Officer Ramsey's department. On top of finding a place to send you, he and his team need to figure out how to obfuscate the transfer records so no one really notices a prisoner transferring from a Men's prison to a Women's Facility. He's estimating a month or so."
The room fell silent for a moment. The horse reached out and took the passport back, slipping it into his pocket. "Well then, if you have no more questions, it's time for you to head back to your cell. Officer Ramsey will send word when the transfer is ready."
He rapped on the door, and the guards let him out. Soon after, she was escorted back to her new cell, lost in thought. She tried not to think of her upcoming transfer, and the necessity of living as a woman from now on. Instead, she retreated into her memories, but found little solace there. Her pre-Change memories still showed her as the man she'd been, but increasingly her remembered references to herself were annoyingly female. She shuddered and drifted off to sleep.
Jordan leaned back in his seat, a medical text book opened on the desk. He had the night shift as usual, and everything was quiet after Justin's riot. He knew the prisoners were all licking their wounds and planning their revenge, but until the next spark set them off, he didn't have much to do. He glanced back to the text book and wondered how much of it would have to be thrown out in the years to come.
Justin had been by for her clipping during dinner that day, but there was a new guard, well a new old guard who still saw her as male. The guard hadn't granted them the privacy that Louis usually gave them; forcing them to use a privacy curtain while the guard stayed in the room. The guard's presence put a damper on their conversation, on a day when something was clearly bothering her. He toyed with the idea of cooking up an excuse to visit her directly.
A buzzer interrupted his woolgathering. Out of habit, he glanced up to the emergency lights, but they weren't flashing. For once, there wasn't an incident coming in.
He stood up and grabbed his keys, unlocking the private office's door and stepping into the main infirmary. He locked it behind him and went to the main entrance, seeing a guard waiting patiently there with an envelope under his arm. He didn't recognize the guard's face.
"Can I help you?" he called through the door.
"Nurse Kilpatrick? I am Officer Collins, from Kingston. I would like to talk to you in particular about a prisoner being transferred to your facility."
"I'm just the night medic. Why do you need to brief me?"
"This prisoner has special needs which you may be familiar with. Ramsey's office told me to contact you."
Jordan blinked in surprise, then hit the button to unlock the door. Collins pushed his way in and made sure the door latched behind him. He then scanned the infirmary, nodding to the other doors. "Are we alone here?"
"We are, it's been quiet. Have a seat," Jordan offered, watching the man carefully. The officer sat down and set the envelop on the table. "Are you...?"
Collins shook his head. "No, I'm as human as you are. Just two Known passing in the night."
He opened the folder and showed it to the nurse. "This guy however, is Changed."
The picture showed a large muscular man in a t-shirt. His arms and face showed various scars and bruises, evidence of someone who had been in many fights. His most noticeable feature though was his hair. He had short, black hair streaked with white stripes. The hair in the middle seemed to be slightly longer than the rest of his hair, and stiffer so it stood up straighter.
"This is Boris Some Russian Name I can't pronounce. Don't let the name fool you, he's fourth generation Canadian and probably speaks English as well as you do, along with a half dozen other languages. He likes to keep up a dumb tough guy appearance, but don't be fooled by it.
The officer slid the picture to one side, revealing a drawn morphic zebra, the expression on its striped muzzle eerily similar to the photograph. "Just so you know it, this is an artists rendering we had made of what he really looks like. His official record, without that rendition of course, should be here already. This is for your own personal use in case you need it.
"Anyways, he's the muscle for the mob in Niagara Falls. We don't know when exactly he changed, but we figure it was in '04 or '05; long enough to get used to it and use it to his advantage.
"He was caught during some missing person cases. Though it wasn't known at the time, the missing girls were all Changed. He was trying to make his own herd of hoofers in a safe house he'd set up in the country. He kidnapped a changed Mare and Sheep and was gunning for a Doe when we finally got him.
"He was convicted and put in Kingston and things were going fine. Then the riots happened. He was in the thick of them and got a broken arm for his efforts.
"To try and defuse that particular powder keg, CSC's trying to separate the ones they feel were the ringleaders of that riot, including Boris here, and spread them to other facilities. Yours drew the short straw to get him."
"Lucky us. So what do I need to do for him? Justin's already challenging enough," Jordan grumbled.
"You shouldn't have to do much. No need to do claw clippings for example. Mainly you just need to be aware of him in case of any medical incidents. Everything else, he has to go through the usual channels like everyone else. Still, in consideration for Justin's particular case, they've arranged for me to work from here until Justin's transfer happens. With any luck, you won't see him until she's gone."
Jordan moved the pictures to the side and skimmed over some of the standard paperwork and health records of Boris. He held the x-ray of the broken forearm up to a light, wondering a bit what it really looked like. The next sheet told him that; another artist's rendition of the broken arm, looking mostly normal, but the hand and wrist seemed misshapen to his eyes.
Officer Collins leaned back a bit. "If you want some freaky reading, take a look at the trial transcript. It's on the thumb drive there. From what I heard, the mob had a Changed lawyer on the defense team, the Crown had a Changed lawyer, and they made damn sure the Judge was Known, like us, before it started. Lots of weird comments in the transcript that don't make sense unless you know about it."
"Ugh... Times like this, I really wish I'd taken the blue pill," Jordan said, shaking his head. He closed the folder up. "Thanks for the heads up at least."
They stood up and shook hands. "No problem. Have a good evening; I've gotta get back to my hotel and get ready for his arrival tomorrow.
Jordan buzzed the officer out, and carried the folder back into the office and started reading.
Louis escorted her to the infirmary the second week after the riot. He was in good spirits from his break, the committee having decided his actions were proper and justified. He stepped out of the door after restraining her in her usual seat.
Justine sniffed the air of the infirmary, puzzled by a new scent in the air. It smelled like the other furs she had met, but it was staler, like the figure hadn't been in recently. The rumor mill had said some of the Kingston trouble makers had been shipped up here, but Ramsey had said they'd keep any Changed away. She shook her head and looked over at Jordan.
He shoved the tray with the clippers over to her and returned her attention to a book. Justine waited, not picking up the clippers, until she had the man's attention.
"Something wrong?" he asked, closing the book. It appeared to be a book on horses from what Justine could see.
"You could say that. I'm having weird thoughts all the time now," she started. She saw the nurse open his mouth and cut off his question. "No not like before I have my period, different types of thoughts."
She picked up the clippers and leaned forward to start on her toes. "My memories are changing and I can't figure out why. I'm still seeing myself, my male self when I think back to school and stuff. But I'm thinking of myself as a girl. Like a Parent Teacher meeting from High School. I remember the teacher lauding to my parents about 'How well Justine is doing in classes' and similar memories about me."
She started clipping. "It's like my memories are being chipped away," *click* "little" *click* "by little." *click*
Jordan frowned and rubbed his chin. "Nothing I've read about your kind has ever mentioned anything about memory changes...."
She finished her other foot and picked up the clippings, setting them on the tray. She looked at the nurse hopefully. "Could you do me a favor? Could you ask around, see if this is normal? Or maybe I'm going nuts now." She laughed nervously and winced, cutting one claw too close. "Maybe I have been crazy all along."
The nurse offered her a pencil for her claw. "I'll make some inquiries and see what others say. Anything else you want me to ask about?"
She shook her head and put the clippers on the tray. Jordan felt her finger tips and toe tips carefully and declared her claws appropriately dulled. He still couldn't see her true form clearly, but over the weeks he had managed to feel through the veil to her real fingers.
"I'll call you in as soon as I have news," he said sympathetically, before signaling Louis to fetch her.
Jordan called her in a few days later in the mid afternoon. He was on the day shift that day. That shift usually had two medical staff on at once, but the doctor was taking his lunch. Jordan had just gotten a response from the networks, and he didn't want to sit on it for long.
"I've been talking with some of the head docs who are specializing in Change-related issues. Well, more like they've been talking to me," Jordan explained as soon as the door clicked shut behind Louis.
"And?" Justine asked hopefully.
"And as far as they can guess, your... mental symptoms are not directly related to the Field. They said they don't know much about the Field, but one thing that most agree is that it generally doesn't mess with memories and history. They point to how the Field is NOT changing old records of the TG'ed as an example of that."
"Then why can't I stop remembering myself as a girl!?"
Jordan shrugged. "They have some theories. Their main one is that it is self inflicted. You are doing it to yourself, as a coping mechanism perhaps. Most TG's they know of are out in the world, living their new lives one way or another. But you, you are stuck in a small room most hours of the day, with only your mind to keep yourself company and yet another major life transition on the horizon. It's not surprising that your subconscious is trying to prepare you."
Justine clenched her fingers and closed her eyes for a moment. "So what do they think I should do?"
The nurse sighed. "You? Nothing. But they advised us to get you back out among people as soon as possible, which frankly isn't possible right now. There are too many new guards now, and too many new prisoners scattered among the old. Even worst, there's a changed Zebra with a broken arm here now. Just my luck, he was transferred in from Kingston after those riots last month.. Means I've had to study up on horses now too," the nurse grumbled, waving a hand at a book on horse anatomy.
"So how long before I'm out of this shithole then?" she growled.
"Wal- Officer Ramsey updated me on that. It's looking like the opening will be around the end of February, start of March. There are some warden retirements going on around then, and he's going to slip your paperwork changes in during the chaos of the Changing of the Guards. You'll be going to beautiful Nova Scotia for the remainder of your sentence."
He looked over at Justine and forced a smile. "Hey chinup! The end is in sight after all. Just a few more weeks and you'll be on your way to your new home and you'll be able to get back on with your rehab." Justine's ears twitched and caught the sub-vocalized 'and finally out of my hair'. She didn't react to it.
In the distance alarms began to ring. Both looked up as Louis stepped in, listening to the radio.
"What's going on?" Jordan asked during a lull in the radio chatter.
Louis shrugged. "Not sure, sounds like another fight in the printing area. A fight between the Kingston transfers and some local boys." He paused and listened carefully. "We've got wounded incoming."
As Louis spoke, the phone rang. Jordan pressed the speaker phone button and a flood of French came out. "Juste un moment!" he shouted to the phone and looked at the other two, switching back to English for Justine. "You've got to get Justin back to his cell. He can't stay here." Jordan realized it wasn't clear why Justine had to leave. "He'll be in the way of the wounded," he added quickly.
Louis shook his head. "There's no time to get him back. He'll have to stay in the back room. You heard them, they're almost here now." The guard undid Justine's handcuff from the chair and lead her into the back room where she had first changed so long ago. He cuffed her to a gurney there and left alone.
The door had barely shut when her ears picked up the sound of people entering the infirmary. She pulled the gurney a bit and managed to look out the door's window to watch.
First, two guards carried a man in on a stretcher. He was doubled over in pain, hands pressed against his groin. Jordan took a really quick look, pulling the prisoner's hands away, then ordered a guard to get an ice pack from the freezer while the prisoner was transferred to a bed.
The second into the room was barely walking on his feet, supported by a guard. He had a bloody towel pressed against his face. His nose clearly wasn't supposed to bend the way it was bending, and he held a few white and red objects in his hand. The senior doctor arrived right behind the man, calling for something. Jordan fetched a needle from a cupboard and handed it to the senior doc. The wounded man was settled on another bed while the doctor examined him closer.
Jordan waited by the door for the third wounded. The third victim arrived surrounded with guards on all sides, but under his own power. Justine's eyes widened, watching the zebra stallion stride into the room a bloody towel pressed against his side, more cuts, some deep, bleeding on his chest and the arm holding the towel. His other arm was in a plaster cast that looked more than a little banged up. The side of his forehead was cut open and bleeding, with a lump forming under the striped fur. Despite his injuries, there was no hesitation in his steps. He was clearly someone who was used to fighting; used to fighting and winning.
"Speak English yah damn-" he started to bellow before his flaring nostrils picked up something. He sniffed the air again and looked directly at the window to the back room. Justine's blood ran cold and she ducked down out of sight, trying to shake the memory of the lustful grin that appeared on the zebra's muzzle.
The next half hour was chaotic. The two injured humans were sent out to a pair of waiting ambulances within a phalanx of guards and cops. The two doctors seemed to disagree at first on if the first one should go, but Jordan somehow convinced them to send the guy off. The senior doctor left with the ambulances, carrying the prisoner's records.
The zebra, on the other hand, had a lot of bloody cuts, but none serious enough to get him out of the prison. Jordan got most of the wounds stitched and covered up, then started checking closer. Three of the guards, including Louis, remained, hovering near the stallion in case he tried anything funny.
"So, when are yah gonna introduce us, Doc?" the zebra asked, his speech slightly slurred.
"I don't know what you are talking about. Now hold still," Jordan growled through clenched teeth, trying to finish examining the zebra's eyes.
The zebra grinned and flicked his ears, his voice easily reaching Justine's ears. "Sure you know what I mean. Yah got the Werebitch of Drummond in the room over there. I smelled her as soon as I came in. I even saw her in the window over there."
Jordan growled and slammed the light on the tray. He took a moment to recompose himself and looked at the guards. "He's probably got a mild concussion. I hate to do it, but he'll need to be observed for a day or two," he explained in French.
"Well put him in the back room there. That's what it's for after all," the senior guard said.
"HEY! Stop speaking in that fruity language and speak in something I understand!" the zebra shouted tugging hard on his restraint with his good arm.
"Sorry, I don't speak Cro-Magnon," Jordan mumbled, staying in his main language. The guards chuckled quietly.
"It's not quite that simple. We've got another prisoner in there. He can be moved, but he's a special case, not to be seen by the rest of the population," Jordan continued and thought a bit more. "Louis, come with me," he ordered, heading to the back room.
"Woohoo! You're bringing her out to play! Yah know you want it baby!" the Zebra shouted, watching Louis unlock the door.
"What the hell is he talking about?" Louis grumbled glancing back then walking into the room.
"I can't explain, but we need to get this settled fast," Jordan said and looked at Justine. She stood there, fingers digging into the foam of the mattress, growls that sounded very animalistic coming from her.
"Justin, calm down! He's a bastard I know, but he can't do anything to you," Jordan said, shifting his attention to the prisoner. He yanked the door closed behind him.
"Justin, we need to get you out of here, but we aren't going anywhere with your hackles raised like that. Just ignore him. He's all bluff and no substance."
Justine glanced out the window. "Oh he's got a lot of substance. I can smell it from here," she growled, flexing her fingers.
Jordan shook his head. "It. Doesn't. Matter. We're getting you out of here and you'll never meet again." He pulled a sheet off a second gurney. "The biggest challenge is getting past the other two. They're both new arrivals."
Louis took the sheet Jordan passed to him and looked confused. "New arrivals? Why does that matter?"
"It just matters. Trust me on this. Now get her-HIM! Ready to go back to his cell You'll need to put the sheet over his head and body, to mask him."
Louis looked puzzled but released Justine from the gurney and recuffed her hands. He then draped the sheet over her like a ghost. "Is this really necessary?" Louis asked again.
"It is. Slouch forward a bit Justin so your... not as noticeable. I hope. Keep your head down and when you go out just keep walking. Do NOT stop for anything."
Justine nodded and slouched forward as best she could. Jordan double checked her, and opened the door.
"Oh yeah! Here she comes! Gonna give me a show? Never had a real bitch before," Boris shouted, his head watching the door. The remaining guards glanced at him and back at the door as the shrouded figure was lead out.
Jordan moved to try to put himself between Boris and Justine as she walked through the room. "Aw, come on! Give us a show! Just a peak!" the man called out, leering at the figure. The chair rattled as he tried to thrust a little with his hips.
Louis tapped the door release with his baton, and the pair rushed out of the infirmary. Jordan relaxed, watching them go.
"What was that about? What's with the secrecy?" one of the guards asked in French.
"If I told you, it wouldn't be a secret any more," Jordan replied and switched to English. "Now, lets get Boris settled. Some cold water should do I suspect... or maybe castration is in order," he said, thankful he wasn't on the night shift that night.
February 27, 2008
Jordan paced the infirmary, waiting for Louis to bring Justin to him. He tossed a worried eye to the locked side room, then tried to put it out of his mind. Since the encounter between the two Changed, he made sure to only bring Justin in for their weekly sessions during the evenings, after everyone was locked down. Still, it wasn't easy. Boris hadn't kept quiet about Justine's presence, and now most of the prison was buzzing about a woman amongst them. Questions were being asked and even the old guards were wondering what was up; some said they had even seen the woman in the isolation cell.
The door buzzer sounded, and he looked up. He saw Louis and a woman with her hands cuffed behind her back. Jordan shook his head and saw Justin there instead. He buzzed them in.
Louis guided Justine to her usual seat and recuffed her. He then backed away to the door and turned to face them.
"I need you to leave the room please, Louis," Jordan said, noting how Justine sniffed the air and looked to the other room.
Louis crossed his arms and shook his head. "Not this time. I'm tired of being in the dark. We both know he's being transferred in a couple days, so this is the last time for you guys to come clean. What the fuck is going on around here?"
Justine gasped at the news of the transfer and looked towards Jordan. He ignored her and watched the guard. The guard who had been their best unKnowing ally through the difficult months. The three weren't exactly friends; few people were in this place; but he deserved to be told something. "Fine, you can stay. You'll hear and see weird things, but I can't explain them right now. Meet me at Morty's on Saturday, we'll have some drinks, and I'll tell all. By then, I'm gonna need it."
Louis nodded, indicating the conditions were acceptable. He never took his gaze from them as Jordan got out the claw clippers and passed them over to Justine.
"So it's true? My transfer is finally happening?" she asked hopefully.
Jordan nodded. "They let me know today, you'll be flying to Halifax on Saturday, and be in Truro in time for dinner."
"Thank goodness," she mumbled, bending forward to take her slippers off and start on her toes. Jordan glanced back and saw Louis's eyes widen in surprise.
"It's not all good I'm afraid. There's been another incident. With Boris. As I'm sure you smelled, we've got him sedated in the other room there, but it's only for tonight. As soon as the Doc signs off on him, which will probably be tomorrow, he's being moved to the iso-wing with you. I'm pretty sure that's what he's been trying to do since he saw you, but this is the first time he's gone far enough that we weren't able to squash his plans."
She paused and shuddered. He nodded in sympathy. "I know it'll be rough, but it'll only be for a couple of days right?"
"Right... I can handle it."
"He'll be in the cell furthest from you, but that doesn't really mean much. With your ears and nose, you can probably smell him anywhere in that wing."
She nodded and finished her feet, sitting up again.
Jordan coughed, reddening with embarrassment. He picked up a sheath of papers and a tape measure. "They asked me to get something from you before you leave too. They err-they want your measurements, so they can have clothes waiting for you. In case you don't know, they included instructions on what to measure and how to measure and guess your sizes." He quickly set the papers and tape measure on the table next to her.
Inwardly, Justine was in turmoil. Being fitted for new clothes would be the last step for her she knew; but it would be nice to have stuff that didn't fit so awkwardly. She finished her claw tips and reached over to read the instructions. Jordan rolled a privacy screen away from the wall.
"Louis, could you please release her? I'm sure Justine won't do anything, not right now. I'm sure it'll be easiest for all of us if we gave her some privacy for this," Jordan asked.
The guard looked puzzled but grudgingly moved up and released her other wrist.
"Thank you, Louis. I'm sorry for any trouble I may have caused you," she said, trying to focus on the end of her stay here and not completely burn her bridges, as tempting as it may have been. Burned bridges had a habit of catching up with you in the prison system.
He grunted and stepped back, watching her gather the papers, a pencil and the measuring tape. Jordan stood beside the guard and the two watched her disappear behind the curtain.
A few minutes later, she stepped back out and handed the paperwork to Jordan.
"That's all I had to do... unless there's anything else you need?... No? Well, this is probably the last time we'll see each other. So good luck out there, keep your muzzle clean and stay out of trouble," he said.
She glanced at the door hiding the sedated zebra and nodded. "Thanks Jordan. You've been a huge help. I'm ready to head back, Louis."
As Jordan had warned her, Boris was transferred to her wing the next day. Whatever had happened to him, it had clearly knocked him for a loop. So for Thursday, all she could hear from him was some unintelligible babbling. Despite her fears, the evening passed uneventfully.
The next day, she woke with mixed feelings. She was elated to finally be leaving, but scared of where she was going to. Adding to her turmoil, was the zebra. The disorientation he had been under faded, leaving a very alert zebra to taunt her from down the hall. The day passed agonizingly slow; the guards kept Boris's taunts somewhat quiet, but he kept promising a show for her after lights out. She tried to exercise in her cell, to wear herself out before lights out, but it wasn't enough.
She lay on her bed as the lights clicked off in the hall, trying to will herself to sleep, but unable to drop off.
Boris waited half an hour after the lights went out before he started again. "I know you're awake, Bitch. Why don't you play along? It'll be more fun for both of us," he called out.
She whimpered and tried to cover her ears with the thin pillow, but it wasn't enough. "So be it. I like the silent ones better anyways."
She started humming to herself, trying to drown out the lewd monologue and other sounds coming from down the hall. The scents proved especially hard to ignore. She buried her muzzle into the mattress and hummed louder, until she drifted off into an uneasy sleep, dreaming of a striped muzzle leering down at her and thick semi-hooflike fingers groping her.
With a loud clunk, the lights turned on again, and Justine woke with a start, panting hard. Her entire body was shaking. She looked around wearily, realizing it was morning, but her body didn't feel like it had slept at all. She padded over to the sink in her cell and started splashing the trickle of water over her muzzle, listening for the zebra. He was either still asleep, or just being silent; she couldn't tell which.
Breakfast was delivered, but she found she had little appetite. She moved it around on the plate and eventually left it for pickup later.
Half an hour after that, Louis arrived. "They're here for you, Justin," he said, waiting for her to offer her hands. "Is there anything you want to take with you?"
"No, nothing. I don't want anything from here," she spat out.
"Fine enough. I'm afraid I'll have to shackle you once we get to the release rooms."
She nodded, and twitched her ears, hearing a big figure moving as her door was opened.
"Farewell, Bitch. I hope you had fun last night. I know I certainly did. You'll make a fine addition to my herd someday," the zebra's voice taunted her from down the hall.
"Get me out of here," she growled, trying to sound more sure of herself than she felt. Louis quickly lead her out of the isolation wing for the final time.
March, 2008. Nova Institution For Women, Truro, Nova Scotia
Officer Tanya McMaster paced the side walk in front of the admissions building, waiting for the van to arrive. Normally she had nothing to do with arrivals, but strings had been pulled, both by her and by the somewhat cryptic Officer Ramsey and his Network. And so, here she was, walking on the slushy side walk, waiting for the arrival of a very special prisoner.
She heard the gate rattle open at the base of the driveway, and a van with Corrections Canada markings drove up. It was a panel van, doors in the back and the rear passenger side, but no windows. Through the windshield she could see a metal grill separating the driver compartment from the rear seating.
The van parked in front of the door and the front passenger door opened out. A short man climbed out with some apparent difficulty, somehow causing the van to rock heavily when he was clear. He seemed to have a presence about him disproportionate to his size. She remembered the tips Joe had told her and looked behind the man, to the tracks he left in the slush. The large, rounded markings definitely could not be made by the small boots he wore.
"Officer Tanya McMaster? I am Officer Wallace Ramsey. We've spoken before. As previously arranged, I'm here to transfer prisoner Justine LeBlanc to this facility. I understand you have been briefed about her special situation?" The officer had a clipboard with information in hand and he was looking up at her.
Tanya blinked a bit and tried to shake the funny vibe she was getting from him. She was over six feet tall, and well used to people looking up at her, but she couldn't shake the feeling that this man was looking at her straight on as well. "Yeah... Yes, I have been briefed. Not sure I believe it all, but I've been briefed."
"Believe me, Ma'am. It's all real. Could you sign here please?"
She took the clipboard and added her signature to the scrawl already on it. She looked back at the short officer and lowered her voice, "What are you really?"
Wallace grinned and winked at her, lowering his own voice. "I am really a moose, ma'am, and as tall as you are."
She wowed to herself and made a show of reading through the paperwork. "I guess people really underestimate you then," she whispered back.
"That they do, ma'am. It really came in handy last December during that incident in Kingston. I'm just glad it happened in the Winter though; the corridors in that old place would be a pain to get a full rack through."
Tanya flipped back to the first page and pulled the forms free. She handed the clipboard back and folded the papers into a pocket of her jacket. "Right then, lets get Justine inside so we can all get out of this cold wind."
He took the board and walked back to the van. "Cold? It feels quite nice actually."
He tossed the clipboard on his seat and opened the sliding door. His body somehow hid the inside of the van in darkness while he bent in to undo some restraints. He stepped back and held an arm in the van, helping the figure step down to the ground.
Tanya couldn't help herself; she stared as the woman with shoulder length brown hair stepped out. She fought down a surge of jealousy at the woman's figure. Even when dressed in a plain t-shirt, slacks and sneakers, it was a head turner if she'd ever seen one. Her special briefing package had included pre-Change pictures of Justin, along with sketches of what she really looked like, but watching the woman, it was hard to believe she could ever have been a man.
Wallace lead Justine to her. "Justine, this is Officer McMaster. She is your contact here for any special needs you may have."
Tanya noticed how Justine flinched at her 'new' name. She looked up at Tanya, but didn't say a word. She kept her cuffed hands close to her belly.
"Please walk to the door. You'll be buzzed in. The receiving room is on your right, the second door," Tanya said, motioning for the two to lead her.
While they walked up the pathway, Tanya watched Justine closely. Her initial jealousy turned to pity. Beyond the obvious depression the woman had, it was clear she didn't know how to move or react. Her gait was awkward, a strange mix of a female hip sway and a male stride. Every so often, her movements would brush her arm against a breast and she would jump again, as if she had forgotten they were there. The trio were quickly buzzed into the main building.
Tanya pointed out the room to head to. It was a plain room, with a table and a few chairs. She motioned for Justine to take a seat. The prisoner sat on the edge of the chair, compensating for her unseen tail. What Tanya especially noticed was how her feet kept moving; Justine was unsure whether to cross them or not. It was obvious that seven months, spent mostly in solitary, hadn't filled in what a life time of experience taught.
The woman stared at a spot on the table, not looking at either of them.
"Can I get you anything? Water? An Apple? Choco-" she stopped herself and looked at Wallace.
"Chocolate is a no-no. She picked up the canine intolerance. All of her allergies, known and anticipated, are in her records," he explained.
"Right, no chocolate then. Is there anything you want? It's been a long trip, do you need to use the washroom?"
She barely heard the whispered response. "Washroom please."
"You haven't been processed yet, so you will have to be watched, the door left open. Do you understand and still want to go?"
The woman nodded her head slowly. "Yes."
Tanya reached out a hand to the woman, but was surprised when Wallace stopped her.
"Is there someone else who can take her? I need to go over a few more things with you."
She nodded. "Just a moment." Poking her head out of the room, she saw another guard and waved her over. "Cindy, do you have a minute? Justine here hasn't been processed yet, but she needs to use the washroom. Could you take her?"
"Sure Tan. Come along, Justine was it?" the other guard lightly took the prisoner by the arm and escorted her out of the room.
Wallace waited for the door to close, and motioned for Tanya to sit down. He sat down across from her, the chair creaking ominously under his tiny frame.
"Has she always been so depressed?" Tanya asked.
The officer shook his head. "She was at first, but she seemed to be doing fine. Hell, she was running the black market in the prison before Christmas. But then her Field reoriented itself, forcing us to keep her in iso, and she's started having some mental issues. And the last couple of days she's had another Changed in the same wing with her. Nothing physical, but a lot of verbal assaulting," he shuddered. "If I'd known that bastard was gunning for her, I'd've put her in a van and started driving her here last Thursday."
Tanya nodded. "Fine. In the mean time, we'll keep a close eye on her and try to help her out. We've got a few groups that might work, though I'm not sure how we'll explain her situation."
"Okay. Then all that's left is to go through the rest of the details. I've gone through it with her, so she knows what to do. And I understand that you were sent the list as well? I'll cover the highlights." Wallace took a sheet from the inside pocket of his jacket and read through a list.
"Let's see, You know the food limitations and allergies. She's short furred, so matting and washing won't be a big problem but shedding will be. Try to give her some privacy away from the rest of the inmates to do brushing and to clean up her shed fur."
He tapped another point. "She is to clip her own claws, both feet and hands, every week in your presence. If for whatever reason you doubt she is properly cutting her claws, take pictures of her hands and feet and send them to us. Any Changed, like your cousin, can easily tell if they are getting too sharp or are improperly clipped."
"If there's a medical emergency, call this number immediately and we'll try to find someone to send in." He sighed sadly. "I just wish our medical resources in this region weren't still virtually non-existent. One nurse in a seniors home in Cornerbrook isn't enough....
"Anyways. For immediate emergencies, do basic first aid and use your judgment until a Changed can get here to be your eyes. We've determined that her ghost and her real form and build are very similar, so the basic things like her heart would be where you would expect it. Just remember her muzzle and tail."
"She knows she's to go through you for any requests specific to her needs. Other than some flea powder and brushes, I don't think there's anything particularly strange she needs. Trust your own judgment, and call us if you doubt the real necessity of what she's asking for."
He hummed and scanned the rest of the sheet. "I think that is everything for now. We'll try to send someone around every month or so to see how you and she are doing. Be aware, there's a slight chance that she'll change again this August, maybe even going male again. Hopefully not, but we'll be ready this time if it does.
"Do you have any questions?"
Tanya leaned back in her chair and groaned. "Tons, but I don't know even where to start."
"Well, treat her normally as much as you can. That's the best thing anyone can do for any of us. We're still human, we just look differently, sort've. We just want to live our lives as normally as we can. In any case, she'll probably be the only Change you'll have to deal with, until August at least. This particular situation was just so extraordinary, even for us, that it called for extraordinary measures.
"Anyways, I'll stay here... well in the waiting room or an office or somewhere, but on site at least, until you are done processing and get her settled. And my driver and I will be staying tonight in Truro, before we leave tomorrow. If you manage to isolate any questions until then, I'll be available."
The small guard stood up again. "We were extremely lucky our first TG was Justin. We both know how many bad eggs we've got in the system. It could have gone a LOT worst."
"You mean it's going to get a lot worst, if what Joe's told me is true." Tanya sighed and stood as well. "Well, let's get started."
Morty's was crowded that evening, most of the people focused on the hockey game on TV. Jordan and Louis were huddled in a booth in a corner, well onto their fourth round while Jordan explained what had really happened over the past few months.
"I dunno," Louis was saying, his voice slurring already from the drinks. "People turnin' ta animals, men turning to women. Fields hiding it all. It all sounds so wonky, so impossible. It can't be true."
"Oh believe me, fellahs, it's all real," a new voice cut into their conversation.
Both men looked up and had the same quick flash of long brown ears, buck teeth and a black nose, before it resolved back to their waitress. She set a plate of nachos down between them. "Can I get ya guys anything else?"
Jordan shook his head and tipped his bottle back, finding it empty again. "Sure, another round please?"
"Coming right up." The waitress turned and walked away, with a bounce in her step.
The men shook their heads and picked up their bottles. "To the normal world. May she rest in peace," Louis toasted, clicking his bottle to Jordan's.