Excerpt for Incarceration by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Incarceration


Edited by

Carol Hightshoe

WolfSinger Publications Security, Colorado


Acknowledgements


Research Project © 2017 by Rebecca McFarland Kyle

A Taste of Freedom © 2017 by David Boop

Green Matter © 2017 by Melodie Bolt

The San Francisco Fun House © 2017 by Dean Anthony Brink

The Black Hole © 2017 by Dawn Sooy

As Bad as it Gets © 1998 by A. L. Sirois

First Published in Deep Outside SFFH

Reprinted with permission of author

The Silo © 2017 by David B. Riley

The Dim Rank Dark © 2017 by Lauren C. Teffeau

Malicide © 2017 by Andrew M. Seddon

The Sponsor Trials © 2017 by Cheryl Toner

The Auditor © 2009 by S. D. Matley

First Published in Absent Willow Review

Reprinted with permission of author

Viral Entrapment © 2017 by Catrin Sian Rutland

The Last Horn © 2017 by Frank Montellano

The Workout © 2017 by Gerry Griffiths

Criminal Class © 2017 by Liam Hogan

Here Lies Hope © 2017 by Lyn Godfrey

The Truth © 2017 by R Joseph Maas


Copyright © 2015 by WolfSinger Publications

All stories copyrighted to their individual authors

Smashwords Edition

Published by WolfSinger Publications

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should visit your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy.

Thank you for respecting the rights of these authors.

For permission requests, please contact

WolfSinger Publications at editor@wolfsingerpubs.com

All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.


Cover Art copyright 2017 © Lee Ann Barlow


Digital ISBN 978-1-942450-62-7

Print ISBN 978-1-942450-61-0



TABLE OF CONTENTS

Research Project – Rebecca McFarland Kyle

A Taste of Freedom – David Boop

Green Matter – Melodie Bolt

The San Francisco Fun House – Dean Anthony Brink

The Black Hole – Dawn M. Sooy

As Bad as it Gets – A. L. Sirois

The Silo – David B. Riley

The Dim Rank Dark – Lauren C. Teffeau

Malicide – Andrew M. Seddon

The Sponsor Trials – Cheryl Toner

The Auditor – S. D. Matley

Viral Entrapment – Catrin Sian Rutland

The Last Horn – Frank Montellano

The Workout – Gerry Griffiths

Criminal Class – Liam Hogan

Here Lies Hope – Lyn Godfrey

The Truth – R. Joseph Maas


INTRODUCTION

Incarceration came about as an idea from the wonderful David Boop at CoSine in Colorado Springs in 2015. David told me I should do an anthology about future prison systems and have my hubby, Tim, do introductions for the stories based on both his and my experiences working as Deputy Sheriffs in the county jail.

Unfortunately, hubby isn’t a big reader and really not a fan of Science Fiction so I had to really prod him to try and read the stories and give me some comments on them. Despite having to ‘harass’ him it has been fun to include him in the project.

While most of the stories come across as indictments of the prison system, they do have some interesting things to say and do so in typical Science Fiction fashion by telling an entertaining story in the process.

Considering some of the punishments these authors came up with, I’m glad I was on the ‘correct’ side of the bars when I was in the jail and not incarcerated in some of these prisons


Carol Hightshoe


Research Project

Rebecca McFarland Kyle

In Research Project Rebecca McFarland Kyle takes a hard look at privatization and the abuses that can occur there-in. Blend a little genetic engineering and the drive to save money wherever possible and this prison finds experimenting with guards might not be as good an idea in practice as it looked in theory.

“Stick with us, we’ll take care of you.”

Probably should have taken that offer, Guy mused as the heavily-barred gates closed behind him and he came face to face with the Corporate Shill who’d initially made the offer. I just don’t like shafting men and women I’ve worked and bled with for years.

“Guy Henley,” Curt Osborne said in an unctuous voice. “Illegal union organization. Ten years. This can be easy or this can be hard.”

Guy heard those words often enough. He’d said them every time he’d introduced incarceration to new prisoners. His meaning was simple: keep out of trouble and you’ll live longer. Considering his history with Osborne, he knew the deal was going to be a lot more complex. Osborne used to be his second-in-command until Guy went with the union and Osborne with the corporation. Guy believed he’d been a fair boss, but he realized from Day One Osborne was a senior member of the Society for the Perpetually Dissatisfied. Wouldn’t matter if Osborne was the Warden, he’d still feel put-upon.

“I can put you in general population….” Osborne began, a smirk appearing at the corner of his mouth.

Cold sweat poured down Guy’s back. He was a fighter, in excellent shape, had to be in his former line of work. He’d still only last about five minutes.

“Or, I can use your talents to keep a special inmate safe.”

“Who?” Guy tried to keep his tone nonchalant. Special inmate could mean just about anything from a politician who’d gotten so out of favor he’d ended up here instead of the cushy minimum security golf course prison or some pederast friend of the corporation.

“One of our most valuable employees,” Osborne replied. “I’ll even let you meet Dr. Spencer Keel before you decide.”

“Yeah, I’ll meet him,” Guy said. Our most valuable employees referred to the corporation that’d taken over the prison from the state. He and many of the other guards fought privatization. First of all, they were giving away a multimillion-dollar facility to some politician’s friend and the taxpayers would have no say in how their former facility was run. Second, they’d done away with every program that’d worked getting the least habituated of the crooks back to society and preventing recidivism. Finally, they wanted the guards to work for a fraction of their former wages and give up the state retirement and health plans, which were the best reason to have the job.

Guy ignored the jeers and catcalls as they took the catwalk to one of the most secure cells the prison had to offer. Osborne ordered the guard accompanying them, another of Guy’s former men who’d signed on instead of joining the Union, to the farthest end.

Guy’s eyes widened when he realized the prison took valuable two cells, chiseled out the thick cement walls between them, and made them into an apartment. The first was the usual affair with two bunks, a sink/latrine combo. The second held a computer desk, chair, and a fresh-faced young be-spectacled man with a jailhouse tan Guy suspected he’d arrived with to the big house.

“Dr. Spencer Keel,” Osborne said. “This is Guy Henley, he’s the former guard I spoke to you about. Henley, Dr. Kirk is the lead scientist for our latest project. Should you choose to become his roommate, your job is to keep him safe.”

“Job?” Guy inquired, since generally prisoners got compensation for work. He’d miss out on those perks if he was stuck with the nerd.

Osborne’s brow raised and he smirked. “Very well. You’ll receive pay and time off for good behavior. And you’ll be on the cutting edge of new corrections technology.”

Guy nodded, extended his hand, which Osborne declined to shake. The man gestured for the guards accompanying them to open the cell. Guy and his belongings went in—and the door clanged shut.

He never hated that sound until this very moment.

Guy stared after them for several heavy heartbeats his eyes on the backs of the guard’s uniform, which he’d up until recently wore with pride, took a long breath, and turned to his new best friend.

“What are you in for, kid?” he asked.

“Car theft,” his youthful cell-mate responded. “And to keep my job.”

~ * ~

#13’s gaze rose upward to her controller. Today they would be doing a test to see if she was ready to do her job. Her job was important. That was how she would stay alive and her hatchlings would keep fed and safe.

Instill fear. Keep order.

The controller taught her using the fire-sticks to guide her where he wanted her to go when his loud growls, which she later learned were words, would not. She followed the human into a room where others of the man’s kind watched. She could see them, but not smell them. Something clear like water blocked her from them. She knew to not try to break through those clear barriers. They often hurt worse than the shocking pain from the fire-sticks.

Her trainer stepped back and commenced to speak.

“Welcome stockholders to today’s demonstration. This is the result of your investments. I am sure you will be amazed and awed.”

#13 posed as the controller trained her, roaring at the assembled through the clear barrier with her wings unfurled. Their mouths opened and several backed away from her, then made a peculiar high-pitched sound that made her want to chase them.

“She and her brood of hatchlings will manage our prison population at a fraction of the cost. Number Thirteen is the most advanced of her kind so far. She has received stem cell transplants from notable corrections authorities, which have granted her near human ability to complete simple tasks on her own and indeed to think through more difficult situations in the future. We believe she can handle all the rudimentary tasks former employees performed that we’ve paid a good deal more in salary and benefits for. Allow me to demonstrate.”

#13 watched, poised as the controller released an orange suited man. The man came for her.

#13 growled, then mantled her wings, approaching the orange-suited human.

“Keep back prisoner!” #13 bellowed using the amplified human voice they’d given her.

The man squealed and bolted. The smell of fear filled #13’s nose, invigorating her. Her kind fed on smaller prey, but she still had the urge to chase.

#13 expertly cornered the human. She continued, herding the orange-suit back through the door humans were supposed to use. The man smelled of fear. She wanted nothing more than to chase him, but she did not. #13 returned to the controller, having learned her job was done simply getting the man under control.

“Very good,” the controller’s lips spread and he bared his teeth.

#13 learned not to display her wings at the sight. The controller taught her this facial expression was a smile. It meant approval. She’d done well. Her hatchlings would eat tonight.

The other humans, behind the clear space, made sounds she took for approval.

“We’ll let you loose on the men tomorrow.”

#13 imitated the human movement of her head, which signaled understanding to the controller. Once dismissed, she hastened to the rookery where the rest of her kind nested. The door clanged behind her once she’d arrived. She greeted her mate and their flock and went for her rations.

Rats. The controllers called the fur-bearing long-tailed creatures they set loose in their pens to catch and devour. She would be able to hunt them when she was set loose to herd the orange-suits. The place where they all were had plenty of rats for them to eat. The controller said she could have all she wanted if she did her job well.

She’d only recently gained the awareness that their pens were very much like the two-legged orange suited charges.

~ * ~

“So, your job is here–in this prison?” Guy asked his cell-mate.

“Yeah,” he said. “The corporation’s in-sourcing much of the work.”

“In-sourcing?” Guy stared at the man who typed away on his computer. “You mean, like the labor force is now working inside. So…you’re here, getting prisoner’s wages instead of what you made before?” Clearly, the man was smart if he’d managed to earn a PhD, but what was he thinking? If the prison actually posted a masthead of the employers who had in-sourced prison labor with them, it’d look like a NASCAR vehicle. Everything from toothbrushes to motherboards were manufactured using pennies a day prison laborers. They didn’t need to send projects overseas, they had workers a-plenty available for twenty-four hour shifts right here in country.

“And, insurance for my wife and kids,” Keel said. “And time off for good behavior, which I may have to find some way to circumvent until my kids turn eighteen.”

Guy’s head shook from side to side. Just a few hours with the man and he knew he was Dudley Do-right walking. Of course, a few months in the stir and he’d be as bad as any of the hard-timers. His family might not even recognize him when he was finally released.

“You stole a car?”

“Well, I hacked into the car and sat down in the driver’s seat until the police came to arrest me,” Keel said. “I really didn’t want to inconvenience the driver by leaving him afoot.”

Guy rolled his eyes heavenward, not bothering to tell Keel precisely how inconvenienced the driver would probably be since the car was evidence in a criminal case. Law enforcement officers would at least have to summon him to testify in court at what passed for a trial these days and before the parole board in a few years. If that entity existed–who knows what laws would pass when there was money involved in retaining skilled workers like Keel in prison?

“My kid has cerebral palsy and he needs healthcare. My work’s specific enough I can only find employment with a handful of companies. I want to finish what we’ve started here…It’s revolutionary and maybe it’ll even save lives.” Keel had that sparkle in his eyes of inspiration and hope. Guy’d seen it before. He was a man on a mission and he’d do anything, risk about anything, to see that mission through.

“What is your job?” Guy leaned against the wall in the office area where the man still worked, his pallid face tinted an almost corpse-like white by the computer screen’s glow.

“Hit the rack, Henley,” Manning came by and banged the bars with a billy club. Guy hastened back toward the bedroom side of the cell and racked out on the top bunk since Keel expressed a preference for the bottom one and he certainly did not want to lose his job if the awkward academic fell off his bed in the night and hit the floor. He noted Manning said not a word to his cell-mate. Lights in the office area remained lit while the rest of the cell lights around them extinguished. Clearly, since Keel was safe, they expected him to go to bed. And Keel could work on through the night. No labor laws in prison.

Get your rest so you can watch the man, Guy told himself. Keel has zero self-preservations instincts.

“I’m a neuro-paleontologist,” Keel called softly from the other room. “You’ll see my work tomorrow.”

“Time for nighty-night.” Another of the guards, who Guy did not know personally, yelled. “No bedtime stories for you.”

What the hell’s a neuro-paleontologist? He got the nerve part, but fossils weren’t living anymore? And what in the world would a guy like that be doing working for a company that handled prisons?

~ * ~

“Good morning, Sunshine!” Osborne bellowed as the lights in their block came on.

Guy rubbed his forehead and rolled out of his rack, after carefully making sure Dr. Keel wasn’t in the way. The nerdy academician was his combined safety net and meal ticket. Like it or not, he’d nursemaid the man.

Keel was already up, dressed in a fresh-looking orange suit, and working on the computer again. Or maybe he hadn’t gone to bed at all. Despite his concerns he wouldn’t sleep, he’d somehow managed to do just that on a rock-hard prison mattress.

Of course, that’d taken him putting the pillow over his head to ignore the pecking of Morse-code threats from his fellow inmates on the block who’d seen him do the Perp Walk and knew he was now one of them.

He wasn’t sure what the execs were thinking assigning him to keep Dr. Keel safe. Okay, they were thinking at least they were pretty sure he wasn’t gay and he wasn’t going to beat the nerdy academic up, but how was he supposed to protect someone else when most of the guys on the block wanted to kill him?

Out of self-preservation he and most of the guards had learned Morse Code. Hadn’t bothered him to hear the threats tapped out on the walls and bars when he was packing with a cadre of his men watching his back. Most of the time it prevented unfortunate accidents which were messy and required lots of paperwork to clean up. But now he was on the opposite side of those bars and a former colleague with a beef had just to leave him in the wrong area for a few minutes or send him to the shower with the right combination of guys…

“Stand up, Keel,” Guy said. “They’re going to do the prisoner count. This is mandatory. Front and center.”

Dr. Keel rose from the computer, stretched and yawned, and came into the sleeping area to stand beside him. He hadn’t been here long, Guy guessed, because the morning routine bewildered him. He may not have understood rules well before this or he just wasn’t one of those guys who woke up awake in the morning. Good to know, but not a particularly safe thing in this environment. A man needed eyes in the back of his head. One never knew when one of your friendly psychopathic neighbors managed to carve a handmade shiv out of a plastic spoon, a piece of broken-off food tray, of the bones or some other enemy.

“Pleased to introduce my new assistant,” Osborne continued in the kind of voice that sounded like a broken squeaky fan belt. One of the inmates had gotten him with just such a home-made shiv and he’d lost most of his ability to speak. “She’s Number Thirteen and she’ll be making sure you all stay in line.”

Oaths rolled down the line toward them. Guy craned to see what the men were on about. Osborne didn’t even stop them from swearing. He wondered if the man felt the same or if he was getting some kind of sadistic pleasure out of seeing the men lose it over whatever it was. Guy shook his head. He wasn’t planning on saying a word. After his fellows’ reactions, anything he said would be anti-climactic.

His eyes widened when a waist-high, six-foot-long reptile with the body of a turkey and a long vicious-looking beak made its way down the line, its reptilian eyes focusing on the two of them. Hadn’t he seen something that looked vaguely like that in a dinosaur movie?

“It’s a velociraptor!” Guy managed to come up with the name as the creature, ironically enough, labeled #13, strode to the front of their cell and counted the two of them speaking with a computerized voice, which sounded vaguely female.

“Number Thirteen represents my life’s work,” Dr. Keel said, with the same kind of look folks had when they’d just found Jesus.

“You brought back dinosaurs…” Guy heard his voice squeaky and high-pitched with incredulity. Of all the stupid, capricious, damn crazy things he’d heard this one might be the topper on the Crazy Cake. That had not been a real good idea in the movies and he could just imagine what would happen here. Least it wasn’t man-sized and running in a pack like the ones in the films were. “To be prison guards?”

“No,” Dr. Keel turned to him, his glasses reflecting a weird alien purple color and his smile broad and boyish. “I brought them back because the world shouldn’t be without wonder…. Unfortunately, Aberdeen University ran out of funds and the Criterion Corrections Corporation was the highest bidder to claim my work.”

“You think they’re going to do good with them?” Guy asked.

“They believe the raptors will have less injuries and be more able to control the men than human guards can,” the brilliant smile was still on Keel’s face. “And just the name velociraptor instills fear in the general population because of the mythos the movies created. Thus, having raptor guards frees up the human guards for other more important work that will fulfill them and help mankind.”

“You mean, like being in-sourced in prison to guard your butt? If you believe that, I’ve got some prime beachfront property I can sell you in Nebraska.” Guy replied.

“Now, Henley,” Osborne gestured the raptor forward. The creature showed off implanted titanium teeth, which looked like they’d macerate him quicker than a Cuisinart on nuke.

“Thirteen,” Dr. Keel cooed. The raptor recognized his voice and turned her head toward him. Guy couldn’t tell for sure, but he thought the creature recognized its maker. “Why did they take off her feathers?”

“You think she’d scare the prisoners with feathers?” Osborne said. “Besides, they’d probably jerk them out…”

Keel paled. “And the teeth?”

“What better to bite someone with.”

Clearly, Dr. Keel had not thought this thing through. Had he believed the mere sight of the bird-like creatures would scare the prisoners into blind submission? Guy suspected the men were already figuring out ways to kill the raptor.

“Neutered her, too,” Osborne said, the tiniest smile on his lips at the man’s discomfiture. This was his chance to show one of the former big wigs just how far down the totem pole he’d fallen—and if he could get by with it, he’d probably step on the academic too just for the fun of it. “She had one clutch of eggs and that’s all they’ll allow. Maybe some of her hatchlings will breed…depending on how this experiment works out…”

Keel hung his head once Osborne departed their company. They could hear the reactions all along the cellblock as the velociraptor made her way through the prison ward.

Sure enough, Guy heard the Morse Code start up.

“What are they saying?” Dr. Keel turned to him. He’d removed his glasses and Guy could see he had that unlined boyish face of an innocent. Wasn’t going to last long in this place. “Can you interpret the Morse Code?”

“You don’t want to know,” Guy told him and hit the floor starting his morning push-up routine. Outside, he normally did about a hundred. In here, he was going to double the number.

“Yes, I do.”

“They’re wondering how to cook her up once they’ve killed her.”

~ * ~

#13 led her companions through the noisy gates. They knew their job. Herd the orange suits to food. Keep them in line.

They fanned out, ordering the orange suits to fall in line.

The orange suits broke out of their order. They formed a solid block with their bodies between #13 and her children.

#13 tried to break through, but one of the men shoved her back and shut a gate between her and the others.

#19 screamed.

Orange suits caught others of her hatchlings and dragged them away, screaming.

Only fire-sticks in the hands of the controllers beat the men back.

~ * ~

“They ate them.” Dr. Keel rocked in his computer chair, his head in his hands, sobbing.

Guy stared down at the man unsure what to do. Keel laughed, thinking he’d been joking when he read the Morse Code for him. He wasn’t prepared for this.

“Keel,” Guy shook the man’s slender shoulder roughly. “Snap out of it. We’ve got to figure a way to salvage this program.”

Keel shook his head, sobbing.

“Listen to me, kid,” Guy knelt down on the man’s level and managed to get him to look him in the eyes. “If the company scraps this program, they’re going to put you in General Population. You’re going to last a lot less time than a turkey with titanium teeth there—and what good will that do your family? Your kid needs you.”

Keel visibly swallowed and bobbed his head up and down. He straightened his glasses, his expression thoughtful.

“We’ve got to smarten and strengthen the raptors,” he said. “That means, a different set of stem cell transplants. Are you willing to help?”

Guy shrugged. He had no idea what Keel was asking. Considering he had no other good options, he figured he might as well sign up.

“You’re healthy and have an above-average muscle mass,” Keel continued. “I want you to be an induced pluripotent stem cell donor with me.”

“What?” Guy stared at Keel, who’d busied himself typing on the computer, obviously setting his new master plan in motion.

“You can get stem cells either through embryonic cells or induced ploripotent stem cells, which can come from your skin rather than an embryo.” Keel had a window up and was chatting with another staffer regarding the suggestion.

“Just how are they going to get these cells?” Guy swiveled the monitor around so Keel would have to look at him.

“From your skin and they’ll program them to act like embryonic cells,” Keel responded. “They both act mostly the same. We need my brain and your muscle.”

“Finally,” Guy muttered. “That makes sense. Except we may well need my sense of self-preservation, too.”

Keel nodded grimly. “I don’t seem to have one…and perhaps my idea of prisons has been gleaned from reading Les Miserables and The Count of Monte Cristo.

Guy shook his head.

Keel typed in a message on his screen. “You probably should get ready to leave…”

Guy set to pushups. He figured Keel was smoking something if he thought they’d let him out of there.

He was wrong. Half an hour later, guards arrived with a couple of corporate types who instructed him to face the wall and put his hands up so they could search him. Guy did as they asked. At least the guard was quick and thorough.

“Come with us,” Corporate said.

Guy didn’t hesitate. If they were willing to let him out of that cell even for a day, he was going to go and enjoy every second. They strolled down the catwalk with the inmates cat-calling all the way.

Their next stop was top-side where a helicopter wafted them above the poor sods on the polluted and pockmarked roadways to the rooftop of a massive tower downtown. Guy got out and followed Keel and his keepers to a lab, which was ironically located in the basement. Techs swabbed skin cells from both of them.

Another tech added cells from a mouse to their cells and set them to incubating.

“In two to three weeks, we’ll have induced pluripotent stem cells to inject in the raptors,” Keel said.

“The company’s pulling them off the most dangerous areas of the prison for now,” one of the techs said. “Several were killed, but the others are…mourning.”

Guy stared at the tech. “There’s a ten-dollar word for it, but aren’t you guys projecting human feelings onto those birds?”

Keel looked up from the computer he’d attached himself to. “Anthropomorphizing is word you’re looking for and many animals do display mourning behavior at the loss of a member. Understand, too, they have been given human stem cells in order to aid them with their performance so they may well be experiencing true human emotions.”

Guy scratched his head and contemplated that possibility. If he was one of those creatures, he’d probably be experiencing fury at this moment and wondering just what human stupidity got them into this mess and how they could get themselves out. He opted not to share that thought with the nerds, figuring they would probably mock him again. He sat back and drank decent coffee watching a lovely female lab tech work on her computer with hopes the Corporation would just forget someone let them out.

He couldn’t get so lucky. The guards arrived to collect them. This time, they got the van ride back to the slammer. Guy watched his former home slide past along a similar path he’d taken to work for literally years.

He caught a glimpse of his reflection in the window: a sad man who’d aged about ten years in so many months shaking his head at the irony. He honestly had no idea when he signed up to fight the corporation that the budding union would be illegal in literally days. Donate to the right politicians and your amendment gets quietly tacked onto a popular bill and sent through the new fast-track legislative process before anyone can notice and mount a counter-protest. Once a law’s been made, it’s a whole lot harder to rescind. More and more crimes were punishable by imprisonment as the corporation needed workers and the taxpayers still on the outside didn’t want to pay penalties for not having enough prisoners.

Three weeks later, the birds returned. #13 looked like someone fattened her up for holiday dinner. Human guards were still plentiful and made their presence known whenever possible. Guy wasn’t sure whether their instructions were to make as much noise as they could or they were simply doing one last hurrah before the jail replaced them with a prehistoric version of a featherless Thanksgiving turkey with an even louder voicebox and longer titanium claws and teeth which got no pay or benefits and rid the jails of vermin.

~ * ~

“You are the creator.”

#13 stared at the orange suit and scanned the number when the human did not answer, #37919.

“Spencer Keel, PhD,” #13 said. “You are the creator.”

The creator rose and came forward, his gait awkward and expression consistent with what her programming told her was shock.

“Are you ill, number Three Seven Nine One Nine?”

“I am surprised you came to find me,” the creator answered.

#13 looked at the orange suit rising tall above him between the bars. He didn’t appear different from the others in cages except for the odd coverings over his eyes. She reasoned with part of the Creator’s own thinking the creator was smarter than most orange suits.

“Why did you put me here?”

The creator’s mouth opened and closed. “I did not intend for you to be here. I had another place in mind, a museum at the University of Aberdeen…The project got canceled. The people here had money to make you.”

#13 noted the man’s voice shaking with strong emotion. “What is money?”

The creator turned and walked away from the bars. He huddled on his sleeping place like one injured.

“Should I call a medic?” she asked of the other orange suit. She was instructed to do so if orange suits showed signs of severe illness. According to the records she had accessed, this one gave his muscles and cleverness to her and her hatchlings.

“No,” the other orange suit said. He approached the bars. “He’s surprised to meet you, Number Thirteen. Money is what humans use to pay each other for work or property.”

“What do you do with money?”

“Buy things,” he said, then mimicked eating. “Food.” Pointed to the orange suit. “Clothing, different from this.”

#13 bobbed her head. “I have a job to do.”

She returned often to talk to the one who’d given her muscles because he answered questions the Controllers would not. She visited him every day. He told her she could talk to a computer and learn things. He even used the creator’s computer to show her how. From there, she commenced to speak to a computer whenever she was alone in an office.


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