Challenge #01026-B294: Before She Met Hwell

Person #1: They just have to deal with it. Life isn't fair.

Person #2 (softly, sadly): No, it isn't. But that doesn't mean we should be making it less so. -- RecklessPrudence

[AN: Wholeheartedly agreed]

Two guards watched the product file from the conditioning yards and into the truck. Ready for processing. The newbie stared with an open mouth.

"Hey, if you want one, you could snag it after the buyers have picked the best ones. Bawdy factory don't mind."

"Just... take one? Just like that? They're worth a fortune, aren't they?"

Garith looked over at the newbie. Was he ever that young and green? Probably. He remembered being more eager to get a free sample, though. "What's your name, kid?"

"D-Donald," he stuttered. As if he had initially tried saying something else.

"Well, Donald. It's like this. You don't take one, nobody cares. After the buyers have been through for the top models, the rest just go to a Bawdy factory. Never been to a hole shop, kid?"

The kid blushed vividly. "Sometimes...?"

"The factory cuts 'em up for transport and use. Nobody else wants one after the buyers are done. Best get a whole one or you'll be sticking your prick in factory meat the rest of your life. Better the diseases you got, right?" Garith laughed. "Or two or three. They can do more'n just be a hole, ya know."

The kid went so red that they nearly fainted.

Garith laughed again and clapped him on the shoulder. "Come on. This lot's off for auction. Another lot's due back at the gate. I'll help you pick a trainer model."

The kid flinched at the cries from within the truck as it took off. Jeez, he was new.

"What's the matter?"

"They sound like... kids."

"It's what they get for not having a prick, Donald. They're less than us and they know it. It's the way things are and always will be. What? Did you come out of a rotten whore-hole or something?"

Donald blushed and shrugged. "Grew up in a hostel," he said in tones of please-stop-talking.

"Ain't your fault. Let's get you a nice free cut before they slice off the good bits."


This was her first day, and already Doe had decided she was going to quit. She had been a loner out of self-defence, back in the children's hostel. In a complex full of unwanted boys, she was the most bullied for being Other enough.

She spent too much time in the old books. Reading about impossible things. From tomes that had yet to be purged because budget cuts meant that only one official gave a cursory glimpse at the front shelves.

Doe learned banned things. Things she could never share. There, coming out of the van and leaking tears, were young women. Teenagers. None of them a day over fourteen. One or two had blood leaking down their legs.

There, but for a quirk of flesh, go I...

She'd never told anyone that she was a girl in disguise. She didn't dare. Not now. Not when she knew what happened to the girls, now. Sold to richer men than herself. Or mutilated for ready use at the hole-houses.

Or given away as treats to the guards.

One was screaming and fighting while the others marched docilely towards their impending demise.

"Her," Doe picked her out. "I'll take her home."

Garith grinned. "Into the old taming routine, eh? They don't come with a collar, but I can get you some tranq's. Should keep her under until she knows she ain't got nowhere."

Not if I can help it, thought Doe.

She didn't have clothes. None of them had clothes. The buyers liked an even tan and the conditioning complex made sure their product - the women - all had an even dose of ultra-violet light. Clothes for women were beyond Doe's budget. Even with Garith helping.

One of Doe's shirts was huge on her. A small pair of briefs had to suffice for underwear. She locked the doors anyway, because explaining things to her might take some time. Doe was already practising lines as she woke up. She made sure she was far away and not threatening.

She struggled out of her clothes. Of course. They were unfamiliar. Tucked herself into the corner furthest from Doe. She was almost blinded by her long hair.

"You're okay," Doe soothed. "I'm not going to hurt you, I promise."

She screamed. Doe let her scream until she had no scream left. None of the other men in this complex would stir themselves for her. Doe quietly got up and fetched a glass of water. They weren't used to anything else.

When she was done screaming, Doe put the water near to her hand. "It's going to be okay."

She didn't believe her. There was panic in her eyes and curses in her mouth. She had found out what happened to her people, too.

"I know," said Doe. "I'm sorry. I can't do anything for them..."

It took days before they had a conversation. Days before Seven Twenty-One realised that Doe's kindness was not about to ebb. Days before Seven caught Doe crying when she had to pee.

It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair on anyone. And getting used to it was too painful. Doe wound up crying in her arms. Telling Seven all about who she really was and why she would never, ever harm a fellow girl. About her plans to get them both the hell off of Greater Deregulation.

She remembered Seven reaching for the towel rod, and the look of panicked anger in her face. When Doe woke up, beaten and bruised, Seven was gone. Escaped.

She would be running to the authorities.

Doe left her uniform behind. It would only be an impediment, anyway. She needed to run. Now.

Straight for the spaceport. As fast as she could run.

Because no matter what she said, no matter what Seven reported... they were now coming to kill her.

(Muse food remaining: 18. Submit a Prompt! Ask a question! Buy my stories! Or comment below!)