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LittleFenny

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About LittleFenny

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  1. Bad Moon Rising

    Aww, Pru has a fan. I wouldn't want to be Rosie if Pru spots her being mean to Lucas. Lucas would be a good woof-pup name. I don't think I can picture Prudence as a mommy. But maybe as the tough big sister, trade up Lucas, trade up!
  2. Bad Moon Rising

    I'm hooked too. Wondering if it's perhaps the same world as Tricky Treats.
  3. Idea Adoption Thread

    The idea stork brought me an idea today. While making rounds from house to house the Tooth Fairy finds someone who has both left a tooth under their pillow and wet the bed. So after trading the tooth for a handful of coins a call for an additional delivery is made to the Diaper Fairy.
  4. Exchanged - Chapter 26 - 1-19-2018

    Spies? No, she's not a spy she's far worse. A geek with fully triggered maternal instincts. Hopefully they won't have too much Littlenapper trouble. But imagine that if Amanda finds out who those people are and they keep annoying them after going home she could likely cause them a good degree of trouble. If the gloves come off, simply being arrested is probably the safest outcome for the kidnappers.
  5. Exchanged - Chapter 26 - 1-19-2018

    Yay! More Exchanged! I read the whole thing over the weekend! YAY! Boo work, boo boo! Wait. Work let's you have food and a bed and leccy so your compy works. Okay, I guess work can stay around. I suppose what happens depends partly on just how badly the lady wants Isabela. Was there a real client and the lady on the plane was just being opportunist? Or was the lady the stewardess was talking to arrange for her to be on the plane where she was supposed to be alone and cut off from support. I'm kind of guessing the first but until we get Chapter 22 I guess we won't know. Stacie could share the underground contact number she was provided. But would those folks trust a little forwarded to them by a little who wants to stay with her Amazonian Mommy?
  6. Dropped in a new world. ch 26

    I think it may be up to twice now. But at chapter 5 (I think) where I was when I said that he'd still managed to keep them dry. I'll have to take a closer look at the other city names.
  7. Dropped in a new world. ch 26

    Omorashi City? Will that turn out to be Bab's ancestral home? She seems better prepared for life there than Alex, he hasn't wet his pants even once up to that chapter.
  8. Chapter Eight: Believing? James I only managed to stop laughing when I started crying instead. It was too much. Everything that had already happened and now I might have to talk about the two things I'd never, ever, talked about in person? With someone who wasn't part of either scene? People kept getting weird ideas about furries, thank you so very much CSI and Springer, and that wasn't even a quarter as unusual as being ABDL was. Thank you again CSI and Springer. Even just deciding to go to that new club had been an agonizing decision. Never mind the language issue. I'd been studying non-stop and we seemed to be doing pretty good understanding each other talking about easy stuff. But this? I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand and looked up at her again. "You will think I'm crazy, broken in my head. I'm telling the truth. I'll try to explain?" She was staring at me and didn't look like she believed me but wasn't interrupting. "How to start? Until I woke up here I never saw anyone like you. Only humans like me. Mostly like me? Only humans but we're not all the same. Darker skin and lighter skin and different hair colors and we like different things. But no one who looked like you. "Okay, okay, so I'm Jayne Felton Ridgell, I'm twenty-two years old and I'm sort of temporarily out of school. I moved to go to college but I was running out of money and getting kind of scared how much it was going to cost so I got a job to save more money but that's not really what you wanted to know is it?" I don't think I'd ever caught myself just babbling like this before. It almost didn't feel like I was the one talking. Maybe because I was mostly talking that almost-sort-of-English and only dropping back to English for words I hadn't learned yet. "You wanted to know who James Fenton Redtail is? James is a ten year old red fox. Not a run around on four legs fox but a stands on two legs fox. Like you guys but foxish instead of wolfish." "You said there were only humans, now there are fox people?" She was shaking her head, clearly not believing it. "Only humans, but some of us like to pretend there are others. Kind of like,"I had to think a bit for the words but I knew it had come up in one of the tutor program's stories, "like imaginary friends. Fox people and rabbit people and bird people. All kinds of different animals as people and even made up animal people like cabbits which are kind of half rabbit-half cats. We even have games on our computers where we get together and tell stories about these people we make up. I had a few characters I made up, but my favorite was the fox boy James Fenton Redtail, I even gave him a name almost like mine and he liked the same things I liked. Accept for his age and that he's a fox-person I'm James and James is me. Lot's of people who come up with these characters do that. You invent a bunch but one of them is special. One of them is the person you imagine you could be. "I didn't really talk about it much with anyone except on computer because people who weren't into it could get kind of weird about it. They had kind of crazy ideas about what we did. There's a television over in the corner, you have to have trash shows. Shows where they act all serious or even like they're helping people but they really just want attention and a bigger audience and if making up things about people will do that then they do it. There were shows that tried to say we did all kinds of irresponsible things or couldn't handle reality or even that we wanted to do naughty things with animals. Not animal people but animals. Bastards don't care whose reputation they're ruining or who they might be hurting as long as their show gets better ratings. But people see it and believe it even if they were yelling at the television the day before for getting things wrong about them. I realized my voice had been getting louder as I talked and finally just shook my head. "Sorry. It's an old argument and I guess I'm still kind of sensitive about it." "You are James Fenton Redtail?" "Yeah." "And James is ten year old Fox person?" "Yeah. Guess he ought to be older, came up with him years ago, but that's how I picture him and he's an imaginary person so it isn't like he has to get a year older every year. I think he was eight when I first came up with him. But that was almost ten years ago." I shrugged. "It just feels like the right age for him. So yeah. I found out there was a new club in town and some of the people who went there were into the same things so I was going there when. Well when whatever happened to me happened. I hadn't met anyone else around here, there, around back home who was into the same thing" "So you were going to meet others who pretended to be imaginary people and pretend to be a ten year old fox slave?" "What?" I finally put some of the things she'd said together with things that had been in the language tutorial and it was like suddenly realizing one plus one equals two. A very, very, scary two. "Y-you think I'm somebody's slave or pet or something like that? Not a just play around in the bedroom one but really, truly, someone owning another person kind of slave?" Andria's ears were canted off at an angle, "Few people who are not would agree to put a collar on." "Slavery hasn't been legal for over a hundred years! And I'm pretty sure they didn't put collars on them. Of course that's probably because it was based on skin color so they didn't really need to use collars to figure out who was and wasn't in charge." "Slaves because of skin color? Now I know you are making up stories." "It's true. Not saying it wasn't stupid but that's how it worked. These days, collars and chains and stuff like that are just a kinky fetish thing," I tried for a moment to figure out the right word but for some strange reason this wasn't a subject that came up in tutorials that were clearly intended for kids. "A silly game adults sometimes play in bed? Pirate and captive, police officer and prisoner, master and slave, those kinds of bedroom games." I looked up and I think she was blushing. I know I was. But she's the one brought it up. I shrugged again, "After five weeks of washing dishes and cleaning tables with only a couple of weekends off I was ready for some fun. Not that kind. Just get together with people who liked the same things kind of fun. Share some drinks, tell stories, hopefully make some new friends. I'd heard that a new place that opened was popular with people who were into things that were less common... Then like I said, something happened. The last thing I remember was leaving work and riding for the club and I think maybe I remember crashing my bike, then I woke up here." "Yes. When you were found you were on your bike." She held up her tablet and I found myself unable to look away from the photo. There I was next to a broken bit of concrete with a busted bike and far too much femur showing to be at all good. I looked over at my cast covered leg and wondered how good the painkillers were if it wasn't throbbing and keeping me awake even after two weeks. That was disturbing enough that I didn't even notice until the third time that I looked at the photo the tear in my pants that was exposing a single teddy bear from my plastic pants. Maybe she hadn't noticed? Sure she'd seen me getting changed here but she might think that was just cute underwear. Maybe guys here weren't as uptight about anything that looked cute? "So, you are saying you are not a slave. You are a twenty year old human from a town called Prado Fesko where are only farms on our maps. In a country called California that no one in Anhera Province has heard of. Who is also an imaginary ten year old fox person who also is not a slave even if his name is one a collar you wear. That is what you are saying?" "Um. Yeah." I pointed at the orange plastic band I'd discovered around my neck the other day. "This means someone thinks I am? But it will come off when they understand I'm not, right? I mean I don't mind wearing my own for fun but that's just for fun. But um, maybe not if people are going to think that. But I'll get it back? I've had it for while and even if I don't dare wear it here..." I couldn't really figure out the look she was giving me. I'm not sure she really believed me. I was getting rather nervous when she finally answered. "I fear that is not my decision. But I will tell them what you told me." While we'd been talking nature had taken its course. I'd already been wet even before dinner arrived and now lunch or maybe it was breakfast was insisting it wanted out and I wasn't going to hold it in much longer. I yanked on the cable that was draped over one end of the bed squeezing the call button the very moment I lost control. Andria looked confused for a moment and then I could tell the moment she figured out what happened. I definitely saw a blush on the inside of her ears before they flattened against her head. "Well, at least there is something you were wearing I won't have to explain was just for fun." If I hadn't already been blushing so much that would have done it. But she must have seen something because her eyes opened wide and those ears lifted up and forward. "You... I need to go now." "Wait!" But she was already at the door, out moments before the nurse came in. "Wait! I can, it's not like... damn it!" I think the nurse could tell I'd said a bad word. Or maybe it was just the yelling. She was the one who always felt motherly and even if we couldn't talk she seemed to be giving off an air of maternal disappointment. I think I just lost the only friend and ally I might have had in this crazy dreamland. Andrea She was certain she hadn't run. She didn't feel out of breath. But she didn't really consciously notice where she was until she arrived in front of the university's main library building. Other than her apartment and the lab that was now locked away from her the library was the only other place that felt like home. She hadn't been certain she believed the boy's story until right at the end. She really didn't think that embarrassment was faked. Had he really been talking about people not understanding the animal fantasy stories the whole time or was he talking about, about that. How could that possibly be something people would do for fun and not because they had no choice? Barely thinking about it she walked through the library's front doors and found herself before one the catalog stations. But what to search for? Animal fantasies? That brought far too many results, even limited to the library's physical resources. Animal people returned fewer results, but still far more than she wanted to skim through. Animal people and costumes returned a surprising number of results but results which were starting to seem relevant. Even results in proper scholarly journals which the library subscribed to. A few hours later Andrea knew far more about people who pretended to be other species than she ever would have guessed she'd want to know. The effectiveness of a little make up and even simple costuming skills could be far more convincing that she would have guessed as well. How that one man lengthened his ears to pretend to be a rabbit person was shockingly effective for how simple the techniques were. Much as Jayne had described there were gatherings. There was even one that took place at the local convention center that she had somehow never noticed. A little honest reflection made her accept that it was not in fact surprising given how little time she had given to anything that was not a scholarly pursuit ever since leaving home. If that had been truthful then could that other thing be real as well? She looked around and found a secondary catalog station which did not have anyone else nearby. Staring at the screen her fingers rested on the keyboard but did not type for several minutes. Finally she tried entering, adult diapers, restricting the results to the journals the library subscribed to. Nearly every result came back from medical journals. When she removed the medical journals and skimmed through the remaining entries she couldn't believe what she was seeing on the screen. Grabbing a piece of scrap paper she noted down some of the results with a pen rather than copy them onto her tablet. Collecting an armful of printed journals she found a private study room to read them in without risk of anyone else looking over her shoulder. "Stars above, people are weird." After reading through half the stack and skimming the rest Andrea wasn't certain if she wanted to bump the psychology degree higher on her plans to learn as much as she could or to drop it from the list entirely. "Not that I don't have some weird issues but glasses and– right anyway they aren't so, so... Well, as long as no one's hurt." Setting the last journal aside she looked at the list of notes she'd made. The researchers all seemed to agree that autonepiophilia was simply rarer than many other fetishes but not dangerous or problematic in and of itself. Her stomach grumbled and she soon realized it was a good five or six hours later than she expected. Placing the journals into one of the many scattered baskets for re-shelving Andrea headed for the exit while calling Sergeant Jaffrey. When she didn't pick up the call Andrea left a voice message. "Sergeant, would it be possible to meet today? It has occurred to me that there's something related to the project that still needs handling." She didn't manage twenty steps before getting a return call. "Miss Simmens, I was hoping to go home. What did you forget to turn in." "It's not actually mine to turn in, it's a little complicated, can we meet to talk in person?" A quarter hour later they met in one of Campus Safety's meeting rooms. Not wanting to go any longer without food Andrea had picked up some skewers from a food cart on the way to the office. The sergeant had apparently had similar thoughts and brought a sandwich and tea with her. "Now then, what is this about something being forgotten?" "The boy, Janie, Jayne. That still sounds wrong but that's how he says it. The boy, Jayne Ridgell, almost certainly was brought here by the experiment. I don't think the doctors will want to tie up one of the clinic's beds longer than necessary but at the same time we can't just toss him in the lab's storeroom and lock the door." Andrea pushed roast chicken and vegetables off one skewer onto a piece of flatbread while the sergeant considered her words and sipped tea. "Given the evidence I have to agree the boy isn't from around here. His identification card is still confounding everyone who looks at it. The doctor I spoke to seems professionally offended by chemical exposure and prior medical care the boy received. We've run him through every missing persons database we can find, far beyond what we would normally check. Without receiving even a decent partial match." "When we went out to check the path and I saw the bloodstain I had one thought. This was my project and my responsibility. Professor Gaulle is our faculty advisor, but I was in charge. I submitted the proposal. I made the decision to go forward. If the project is my responsibility then so are the consequences. I don't have a roommate this year which means I have a room to spare." "Looking for a free live in maid?" The sergeant paused and then nodded at Andrea's narrowed eyes. "It would seem not. Good. While I applaud your sense of responsibility this would be highly unusual." "There hasn't been anything usual about this project since the moment we ran the experiment. I do have reasons other than responsibility. For one, even if you go off campus there are very few speakers of Old Northern available to work with him. Even with the help of translation software anyone who doesn't speak it will have trouble communicating until he learns Avranitka or another more common language." "Even if his native language was related, surely you could have started him on something more common?" "It was half excitement realizing he was speaking something so similar and half that I expected we'd be finding an owner or family by now. If I'd started him on Avranitka we'd still be waiting for him to say anything more complicated than, 'I'm hungry' or 'leg hurts, pill please.' "If I take him in we'll also avoid the need to bring anyone else in on this. Or needing to find anyone senior enough, responsible enough, and who is both willing and has room available." "I will admit there aren't many I can think of off hand. That said, we could hold him here." "You'll still have the language issue, I would be willing to assist but unless you want me moving in here... I thought not. Do you even routinely hold anyone longer than it takes for them to sober up or hand off to the municipal police? Which brings up another question we haven't touched on yet." "And just what would that be?" "We've assumed he's a slave. But as you told me neither he nor his collar were chipped which would be standard practice anywhere I know of. Even an indenture contract would normally include chipping. He claims not to be and was shocked when he realized we suspected that. From what he claims this California he is from banned slavery a century ago and the collar was simply jewelry, something he wore because he liked it." "A convenient claim when there's no such country where you say he pointed on the map nor anywhere else so far as we can tell." Andrea frowned at that but the only idea that seemed to make sense was too far-fetched to be believed by anyone even given the unusual results of the experiment. "That is troubling of course. If we cannot track down where he's from what's likely to be done?" "All I can say for certain is that no one is likely to accept his story. He certainly isn't from here, from everything the doctors have said not even one of the isolationist luddite communities is likely to have been so polluted. If we could at least find this country of his we could hand him over and that would be it. I really cannot predict what will be done." An hour later Andrea stopped Jayne's room. When he noticed her his eyes opened wide and he started to say something only close both his mouth and eyes. He was red around his eyes and she could just make out the trails tears had made rolling down his cheeks. "Open your eyes and sit up." He did so. Eyes going wide again when he saw Sergeant Jaffrey standing beside her. He quickly found the bed's controls and raised the head so he was doing something approaching sitting properly. "This is Sergeant Jaffrey. One of the senior members of the Campus Safety office. I recommend being polite." "You just introduced me, correct? The boy understands this?" Jayne blinked at them a few times then cleared his throat. "Hello Miss Simmens. Sergeant. I'll be polite." Miss Jaffrey took a tablet and held it out to the boy, "Ask him to show where he's from again." After a quick translation he pointed to about the same place Andrea could remember from before. "Prado Fresco, California." A moment later he circled a large swath of the continent with his fingertip. "United States." Then pointed back to the first place repeating himself. "Ask him if he is certain or just guessing or trying to remember." That got a determined jab at the map, and when Jayne saw the map zoom in some more jabs as brought it from showing much of the continent to just that coastal region. Picking two of the major cities he seemed to be trying to sketch out a path and frowned. "L.A., San Diego... Salton... huh? There should be big lake, Salton Sea, and road north, and Prado Fresco here, around here..." Sergeant Jaffrey listened to the explanation of what he'd said and shook her head. "We can try searching for places with those names. But we haven't found the others." He must have been able to understand enough just from her tone because he slumped back against his pillows. The sergeant retrieved her tablet, setting it aside before reaching into a jacket pocket. "Have him sit up again." "Sit up. I have some good news. You wanted to know if you would get your collar back, the sergeant has it now." While she was speaking Sergeant Jaffrey used a small tool to undo the orange temporary collar then held it up with the one Andrea had seen in the photos. Both were slipped through a slender loop on a small box and then both were buckled around the boy's neck. "You will most likely be released tomorrow. The box will allow Campus Safety, the local police, and other authorized people to find you. You will not attempt to damage it or to remove it or either collar. Is there anything I've said that you don't understand?" He thought a moment. "I'm going somewhere tomorrow? And don't touch collars or box?" "He knows not to try and take that off." "Miss Simmens? I will see you again? Scary not being able to talk." "You have two choices. If you believe you can behave I have a free room. If you misbehave there are also rooms at Campus Safety. Rooms with just a bed and bath and doors that only open from outside. Understand?" They didn't need a language in common for her to see his relief. "I'll behave. I'll be a good boy, I promise."
  9. Chapter Seven: Responsible Irresponsibility James I made pretty good progress on the language tutorial over the next week. Enough that I was now absolutely certain that what Andria had me learning was not what was being spoken around me. The same alphabet as near as I could tell but not the same language. Which sucked because I hadn't seen her even once since she ran off and left me even more confused than I'd been before I could talk to anyone. My best guess was that I'd been hit by a car while I was on my bike and this was all a crazy dream. About the only other possibility was being kidnapped by aliens and that map just didn't work for that. I may not have made it into college yet but even I knew an alien world wasn't going to have the same map as Earth. That and the food wasn't killing me. I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to eat alien food. So it had to be a crazy coma dream. But if I was in a coma surely I'd be having lots of different dreams not one big long dream. The doctor came by each day and we managed to get at least a little communication through pantomime. I think he was saying it was a good thing my leg was itching like crazy. They'd taken off most of the bandages but my right leg was still stuck in that plasticky cast which meant I couldn't even try and scratch it. I'd hoped that meant I'd get at least a little time out of bed but no such luck. I hadn't become any more of a fan of doing number twos in my diapers. I was quite certain by this point that I would only ever enjoy number ones. Wet and warm was comfy. The other, not so much. Well, the sponge baths were nice too when it meant attention from one of the nice nurses. That surprised me too. Not that I liked getting some attention from one of the cuter nurses or one rather motherly nurse. It was one of the older male nurses that had me puzzling over my feelings. There wasn't anything sexual. Just comforting. Even without understanding what he was saying I could hear the care in his voice. He was actually the one who'd helped me learn a few words so I'd understand when they wanted me to sit up or to carefully roll over. None of which helped much when I got another visit from a friendly miss police officer. I was pretty sure that a uniform plus badge would still equal a police officer. I mean even if this was all I dream it would still have to make at least a little sense. "Good afternoon Officer ma'am." My new language skills didn't appear to work any better with her than they had with anyone but Andria. After a while I showed her the tutorials I'd been working on which at least had her making some notes. She returned the tablet and checked her own for a few minutes before speaking with an accent as horrible as I expected mine was. "I will be back." Then she just turned and left. It was slightly better than what I kind of remembered from the first day. Or the second day. The days I'd spent here in the hospital were starting to blend together. I just wished Andria would return or send someone else who could talk with me. When she finally showed up while I was nibbling on my dinner salad she looked horrible. Her clothes were wrinkled like she'd worn them overnight. The way her fur was matted just looked wrong and I don't think she had slept for days. Not that I doubted something was wrong but if I had any doubts the way she fell into my room's chair would have removed it. She stared at me for a few minutes and every time I thought of saying something the words died at my lips. She leaned forward dropping her head in her hands and groaned before shaking her head. She started to stand then dropped back into the chair and stared at me. Maybe even was glaring at me. "I have many questions. Where are you from? Where is California? Prado Fresco? Who is James Redtail and how do we contact him? Who are you, Jayne?" She muttered something in that language I kept hearing everyone else else before adding. "Tell me, not going to believe, tell me still." Andrea She didn't bother looking up from the computer as she wrote. She simply waved at the one almost bare spot on her desk. "Go ahead and leave it there. I'll eat later." "Sorry, but we're not here for a delivery." "Sergeant? Professor, what brings the two of you over here this late?" Andrea found sergeant Jaffrey and professor Gualle standing just inside the door and looking even grimmer than usual for the past few days. "I fear the sergeant and I have unpleasant news for your team. We'll need to gather everyone for an announcement but we felt you should know first." While the professor spoke Jaffrey passed over an envelope with a fine print covered seal glued across the flap. "It seems word of our experiment reached the Council of Research Safety and Ethics. There's always a report anytime something goes wrong, usually just a formality, but whoever received this one seems to be convinced we nearly burned down the campus and were experimenting on people. Worse it seems the military and national police think we were possibly engaging in unauthorized weapons research." "What? What do they think, that we're idiots who would build some sort of mad science weapon and set it off a few meters away from ourselves?" "It's surely the old Rumor Game. A bland report goes in one door and by the time it reached anyone senior the school was a smoking crater. Just checking the media should make it clear that hasn't happened but government bureaucracies don't move any faster than academic bureaucracies. It should clear up easily once they get their review teams here but I'm afraid until then the lab will be locked down. We call the others in for a meeting and then we leave and Campus Safety padlocks the doors. I'm afraid that also means no publication until the authorities finish their investigations, or possibly ever if it gets classified." Andrea stared at the two women then carefully broke the seal and found within much the same only said in far more and more complicated words. Along with forms for herself and the rest of the team to acknowledge that anything relating to the experiment was sealed until they were told otherwise." "Once the others have been told we'll need to lock down the building and you'll need to prepare a briefing for whoever is sent to follow up." Nearly everyone had been in the building so it didn't take long to gather them and deliver the news. Looking around the table the rest seemed just as stunned. In the silence that followed she came to a decision and checked the team calendar. "Right. I haven't been drunk once this year but for this I'm making an exception and I doubt I'm the only one thinking the same. That said just because we are going to be irresponsible doesn't mean we have to be irresponsible about it." No one laughed at her attempted humor but she did catch the barest hints of some smiles. "Since none of us have classes after lunch I'll reserve us a private room at the Golden Terns for noon. Ogden, since you can't have alcohol yet I'll pay for your meal. The rest of you I'll cover the first round of drinks but after that we pay our own." The next morning she spent a few minutes with her eyes closed wondering just when she changed her alarm from a chime to an avalanche. Listening to the rumble she realized the rumbling was covering the chimes which were much quieter than usual. Cracking her eyes open she found herself not in bed but slumped on her couch in her living room with Kelsey draped across the beanbag chair snoring loudly. A softer snore came from Gwyn on the other side of the couch, whose feet she had to climb over to reach her room and shut off the alarm. By the time they'd finished breakfast and she chased them out to their own homes she almost felt ready to face her only class of the day. Lunch found her reviewing her notes from the class while she finished off her last bottle of wine. With no classes over the coming weekend and no research to work on she was willing to risk losing the next morning to another hangover. The next day there still wasn't any word from any of the authorities that had screwed up more than a year's worth of plans. She could believe that with the academic authorities but she'd always pictured the military and police being ready to rush anywhere on a moments notice. If they thought she had a team of terrorists shouldn't there be crack police and commando units crawling through her air ducts, sometime yesterday or the week before? In reality they must be as overworked as every other government agency. "Nothing but homework for the first time in how long? No helping it when there's nothing left that isn't locked up." She looked back at her notes but couldn't seem to get any further with them even if there wasn't anything else for her to do. Or was there? "No. That's not right. There's still one piece of the puzzle that isn't locked up in the lab." Everything directly tagged as part of the experiment was locked up. Even her email had been given a pass with several keyword filters and all the matches transferred to the lab's servers. But when she checked most of the emails about Jayne had not been caught in the filtering. "Technically I probably ought to inform the sergeant about that. I suppose I will, just as soon as I get some answers." The medical center was near the center of campus and only took a few minutes to reach even on foot. Pausing at the door she looked in with part of her almost expecting to see someone else in the room and the boy stuffed into some corner of the lab's supply room. When she did see him she walked in and closed the door before sitting and facing him. It had seemed so easy when she was back home. Come over and finally get some real answers out of the mystery boy. Now that she was here she couldn't figure out where to start. Looking at him it seemed he was having the same problem. Just pick a question and start. "I have many questions. Where are you from? Where is California? Prado Fresco? Who is James Redtail and how do we contact him? Who are you, Jayne?" He stared again then came the last reaction she'd expected. He laughed. "I am James." "No. You said your name was Janey Ridge..." Or did he? Was the file still there? She checked her tablet's recordings and found one from that day. The sound was off coming from the tablet's tiny speakers but still clear as the boy in the recording said, "I am Jayne Ridgell. Jayne Felton Ridgell." "Janey Felton Ridgel. James Fenton Redtail." It could be coincidence that both names sounded almost the same. No. No coincidence. But not likely he'd just told the truth either. "First on card with your picture. The second on your collar. First we know is you. You are Janey Felton Ridgel. What goes on a collar? James is your owner. So who is James Fenton Redtail, and how do we find them?" He laughed again, this time a desperate laugh, the kind she'd heard herself make more than once since her project crashed around her.
  10. Chapter Six James After Andria ran off I spent the rest of the night poking at the screen of the tablet she'd left me. I figured out two things right away. The language tutor program she'd left me was aimed at little kids and even if I was old enough for college it was still going to take all night just to get this almost the same alphabet stuck in my head. I can't really remember how long it took when I learned to read English, but a full evening was probably a lot faster. At the same time I was learning such useful words as apple, cat, and pie. The next morning I woke up and started in on the tutorial again while waiting for Andria to show up. I'd tried finding a browser or email the night before but the only apps the tablet would let me start were the language tutorials. Once again my fantasies were running face first into reality. I'd already discovered that getting stuck in a diaper without a choice was not the same as wearing one for a little private playtime. Half the fun the day before I landed in the hospital had been knowing I had a secret but I'm not sure if anyone who'd been in my room left without finding out what I was wearing. I'd heard about other cities where there were enough diaper lovers and age players to have our own places to meet and enjoy some time with our little side. I'd always though it would be fun to just relax and have fun while an auntie or uncle or babysitter took care of everyone. Watching cartoons, making a masterpiece in a coloring book, maybe even help watch the littler ones. Laying in a hospital bed with a tablet that had all the parental controls turned on wasn't anything like that. Well, I did find a coloring book in the language tutor app. Learn your words and get new pages to color in. I bet whoever programmed it would be surprised how effective a bribe college age me was finding it. With something to do the time passed quickly, before I knew it I was finishing off dinner quick as I could so I could get back to learning the words for all the things one might find in a park. Birds that chirp, flowers to smell, and balls to kick about were waiting for me to remember their names. I'd passed some tests and leveled up a few times and had to fight off an attack of the yawns before I realized I hadn't seen Andria. I don't think I'd ever been as desperate to see someone again. Even if we barely understood each other at least we could talk. Someone plugged the tablet in while I slept and slept deeper than I had for days. I didn't wake up until the morning nurse was fixing the last tape on a dry diaper. I tried giving him what I was pretty sure was supposed to be the local way of saying, good morning, but just got a blank look. Grabbing the tablet I skimmed through the lessons until I found the words and tried showing it to him while speaking again. "Good morning." Pointing to the words after speaking didn't seem to help. All I could do was go back to studying and look up occasionally to see if Andria was back again. I didn't see her again until the next day. Partway through lunch there was a knock on my door frame and I looked over to find her leaning against it. I gave a wave and tried giving another greeting. "Hello. Good afternoon." She gave me a tired wave of her own that made me wonder when she'd last had any sleep. But that concern went away when she spoke and I actually understood what she said. "Good boy! Good afternoon." She looked at my tray and added a little more, "Yummy lunch?" "Good lunch." There wasn't any bland gritty oatmeal with lunch. Nope, today I actually got a pretty tasty chicken soup. I wasn't sure about dessert. It was some kind of fruit cup and those could be really good or really bad. But even if dessert was bad the soup made it a good lunch. While I went back to finishing off that soup she picked up the tablet and tapped away at it. When I looked over she gave me a smile, "You … learning lots. Good boy!" I didn't catch every word but I could still tell what she was saying. Andria was officially my best friend in all of wherever we were. That was the next thing I wanted to find out. "Where here?" "…" The words weren't anything I'd learned yet. But she must have seen my confusion because after a pause she said, "School hospital. Big school." "Where school?" She pulled out her own tablet and after a moment showed me a map with several buildings and a little flag that I'm guessing showed where we were. Tapping at an icon the map zoomed out to show most of a city, out a few more times and some mountains and neighboring cities, a few more taps and there were a couple of lakes and some coastline. They seemed a little familiar but I just couldn't place it. After staring at it a while I reached out and when Andria didn't object I gave the zoom icon two more taps. Now I could see much more of the coastline and the region we were in was just a tiny part of the map. I just kept staring and it was like trying to talk with her, just like the words the map was so crazy familiar and totally different at the same time. "I know that. Where did I see those lakes before. It's almost... It couldn't be..." I tried turning the map over but the tablet just reset so it was the same way up as before. After a few times Andria took the tablet back tapped something and gave it back to me. This time when I flipped it around the map remained flipped over. Or right side up as far as I was concerned. Zooming out again the huge lakes and coastline became even more familiar even if none of the borders were right. Zoom out, zoom out again, and there was no mistaking it. It wasn't a perfect match. The borders weren't at all what I expected. Both too many and not enough. But there was where Florida should be, sort of, California on the opposite coast, Alaska up above. And right near the flag showing where we were? I'm pretty sure I learned in school that there were five Great Lakes. I think. I never lived near them so I never really thought they were all that important. On this map it looked kind of like there were three but maybe if there was less water in that spot they'd split up. Maybe a fourth off a little ways. But I was sure it still looked really close to what I'd always seen on maps before. I pointed where we were on the map, "New England." Then moved across to the tip of California down probably into Mexico, it had been years since my last geography class, then kept tracing along where I thought the border around the state should be, "California," then I pointed a ways San Diego and LA, deeper into the state where you'd find my slice of nowheresville, California, better known as, "Prado Fresco." I looked up to find a gleam in Andria's eyes. A moment later she had a stylus out and had me repeating the names while she scribbled notes on the map with a stylus. I'm not sure how long we spent doing that. I'd just finished trying to scribble in as many state borders as I could remember when I heard a brief ring before Andria took a call. She went from distracted to startled in no time. Suddenly she was retrieving her tablet and placing the other one back in my hands. "Good boy, keep learning." And with that she was gone again. Andrea "Kelsey, what did you do to make Gwyn start cursing?" "This." He hesitated then handed over a tablet. Being the most junior member of the team, not even a graduate student yet, had made him the team's chore boy. But he was usually more excited when he actually got to crunch numbers and show off the math skills that got him that place on the team. Instead he sounded tired and barely seemed to have the strength to lift that tablet. "Nothing but dumb, blind luck. I showed it to Ms. Rasner because I hoped I was wrong." Andrea skimmed through the pages of math. The year before Gwyn had expanded on Tokomatsu and Zinke's theories allowing Andrea to work out how to actually put it to the test. Now Kelsey had taken the pattern Gwyn spotted in the transference locations and figured out how to link that back into her expansion on Tokomatsu and Zinke. Reading through the initial pages she couldn't tell just what had upset the team's two math geniuses. Then she reached the part where Kelsey began drawing conclusions from his work. She had to read it three times before accepting it. "That, that's less than the diameter of a hydrogen atom. That's less than the diameter of a proton or neutron, isn't it? Maybe an electron." "It's pure dumb luck we got anything. We should have been playing the lottery because we burned through a lifetimes worth of luck getting anything whatsoever to happen." Reading the rest of his conclusions made her want to scream. Instead she simply returned the tablet and gave him a shrug. "When Gwyn stops cursing sit with her and go over this again and get it written up proper." She started to walk out then turned around, "You'd better grab some of the chicken and creamed rice from the place on seventh street. She won't throw anything at you if you've got that. I'll put someone else on maintenance, getting that ready to publish is your job now." And now about all she had left was making sure Kelsey got his fair share of credit for whatever they could salvage. No, there was still the rest of the team. "Let's see, what was Donnelson planning to write up..." It was the scent of coffee that woke her. Sitting up she found someone had draped a blanket over her after she'd fallen asleep at her desk. A plate with a lemon pastry sat next to the still steaming mug convincing her to stay awake at least long enough to finish them. "Morning boss." "Ogden? Never mind kid, you brought the sacred chemical of wakefulness, all is forgiven." Ogden just gave a shrug, "You weren't the only one who slept over. I'll just set about waking the others now." One coffee, pastry, and a dozen emails later Professor Gualle and Sergeant Jaffrey showed up. The sergeant spoke up first. "I would like an agreement that my office will be notified before you do whatever it was you did again." "That won't be necessary." Andrea kept going when the sergeant looked like she was about to complain, "It won't be necessary because we won't be making any more attempts. We've learned enough in the last few days to realize we'd have better chances of flying to the moon by flapping our arms than successfully repeating this experiment." She turned to Professor Gualle and gestured over her shoulder at a very busy white board. "The part marked off in red is the deal breaker. Kelsey worked it out and Gwyn agrees with him. If we can't build within that precision the math goes chaotic. And not even the kind of chaotic that gives you a nice screen saver." Sergeant Jaffrey looked at the board for a few seconds. "So there won't be any more surprise renovations to our walking paths?" "Not by my team. All we can do now is write up the results and hope we can salvage something from an unrepeatable experiment that never should have worked in the first place."
  11. Chapter Five James I woke up from my nap to the sound of typing and looked over to find another of the wolf persons hard at work in my room's chair. A slender laptop computer I could only dream of affording was in her lap with the colors of it's bright screen reflecting off her glasses. Her glasses were nothing but oval lenses that rested on her nose with no earpieces. Prince somethings I think I remember them being called. I saw them on TV once. I guess that made sense, her golden brown canine ears weren't going to work with regular glasses. Which was interesting, but didn't explain why she was in my room. "Hey there. I don't suppose you're here to invite me to a LAN party?" Huh. I guess whatever she was working on must be really important and awesome and all that because she didn't so much as flick an ear towards me. Wow, not even however long I've actually been here and I'm making comments like that. I guess I'd worked all the panicking out of my system with that good cry I had earlier. Or maybe that drip line was giving me some really fantastic drugs. Looking over at the drip I saw that sometime during my nap the call button for the nurse had gone back over the side of the bed. "Could you do me a favor and... right, you don't have any idea what I'm saying. Hey, can you get me that button I'm pointing at?" Her ear twitched that time but her eyes still didn't leave the screen. "It only seems fair, it's my room you're in. Fetching a button doesn't seem like much to ask for. Button please? I might want to call later for, you know, nurse patient stuff I shouldn't say because it would be totally T.M.I." That finally seemed to get her attention. She stared at me with bloodshot emerald eyes and uttered a few words. She stood, slapping the laptop closed and tossed it into her chair. Next thing I knew she was right by my bed looking down at me ears perked up and her eyes wide. Given the tone those words had either been excited or angry. Given she wasn't trying to hit me I was guessing it was the first. "Did, did you understand what I just said? About picking up the button? Or heck, any of it? Please say you do." She kept staring at me then seeming to pick each word carefully she spoke. "Meen namane test ahndrayh." She pointed to herself, "Ahn drayh." Me name is Ann Dray? That wasn't English, well not American English, but maybe... She pointed at me, "Whon test thake namane?" I'm not too embarrassed to say I might not have figured that out without her pointing. So I pointed to her, "Well Miss Dray, I," and I pointed to myself, "am Jayne Ridgell. Jayne Fenton Ridgell." She pointed at me, "Janie." "Almost. 'Nnnn', Jay-nnn, Jayne. Janie is a girls name." And from the look she was giving me we were back to not understanding. So I pointed to myself again. "Jayne." She repeated it correctly this time or close enough not to matter. So I pointed to her, "Ann." Then pointed to myself, "Jayne." She waved a hand and pointed to herself once more. "Ann Dray-ah." "Okay, you, Ann Drayh." Then I pointed to myself, "Jayne Ridgell." She waved her palm at me even faster. "Nayah, nayah Ahn, Drayah, test Ahndrayah." That I was a little embarrassed to have missed. "Oh! Andria!" I pointed at the two of us again, "You're Andria, and I'm Jayne." She gave a little shrug, I guess she felt my accent was as horrible as I was finding hers. Or maybe we weren't really both speaking English. I tried to think of something other than our names to try saying. Then after waving to get her attention I tried pointing to my fingers in turn, saying the words one through five. After five I held up all the fingers of one hand and started adding the fingers of the other hand until I got to ten. She stared at me and for a moment I thought perhaps she hadn't understood me. Then she started putting up a finger at a time, "Ahn, twah, thee-eh, three-ower, feef," she paused and seemed less certain about the rest, "say-ox, say-often, eat-ah, knee-gone, tee-on." That... was not English. Maybe something close. Like German close? Maybe? I don't know how to count in German but it's supposed to be related to English, right? Her words were close enough for hope, but it wasn't English. I was also starting to think she wasn't fluent in whatever she was speaking to me in. What adult has trouble remembering how to count to ten? "Can you understand enough to tell me where I am?" I pointed around the room, "Where is here?" "Ah! …" She said something that I'm pretty sure just answered that, but we were back to square one and no understanding. Andrea She had been right. She'd also been wrong as well. She'd been reminded of Old Northern but that wasn't what the boy spoke. As far as she knew there weren't supposed to be any living languages closely related to Old Northern. But that was a problem for the linguistics department. There was perhaps something she could still do. Tapping her headset she switched to the lab's private channel. "Kelsey, are you still in?" The boy in bed gave her an odd look so she pointed to the earpiece and held a finger up for him to wait. When Kelsey answered she continued. "Did you take that box of junk to the surplus center yet or do we still have it? Great! Fish that old tablet out, make sure it's wiped and reset, then bring it over to the medical center, North Tower, room 1138." Another tap switched it off again and it seemed the boy understood the phone conversation was over because he started pointing to the edge of the bed again. He pantomimed something and pointed again and she noticed the call button hanging over the railing. He seemed pretty desperate so she gave it a push before setting it next to him. After considering what else she could try she opened her tablet and pulled up the picture of his collar and thought back to when her grandfather would teach her things. "Good girl." She frowned and started over. "Good boy, watch," she showed him the picture and pointed to the words. "What's this, boy?" She could pick out words that sounded close to how she would have guessed it was pronounced, and he said much more but the few bits she thought she might understand weren't enough to understand what he was saying. He kept pointing to the picture and then himself, probably asking to be reunited. "You miss James? You good boy for James? Don't worry, we're trying to find him." She swiped across to the picture of the boy's identity card, pointing to the part she thought was his name, "Jayne?" He nodded quickly and read back his name and she recorded his answers as she pointed to the remaining fields on the card. Once they finished the card she saved the audio clip to send to the linguistics department later. "That should help. Good boy." Someone cleared their throat behind her and she turned to find a student nurse. "You can talk his language? Can you tell me why he called?" "Not exactly. Imagine you were traveling overseas and encountered someone who spoke Aragonese while you spoke Aostanese." The nurse raised a brow and started to speak but Andrea kept talking, "The communities that speak those languages are about oh three countries apart. But they are both part of the same language family, descending from the same source if you go back far enough. Needless to say they have many similarities, but the two of you would find that even though what you spoke sounded quite similar you would barely understand each other. That's essentially what is happening here." "That's still better than anyone else has managed." The nurse turned to boy and started checking the most obvious potential problems. Starting with his IV and water glass, adding a little more water to the glass, before a minute later pulling back his sheets. Andrea couldn't help watching as the nurse checked on the boy's diaper, blushing and looking up to find a blush spreading on his face as well. "Oh! Not good boy, a good baby. Wanted baby pants..." she trailed off trying to remember the word for changed only to blush even more when she realized what she was doing. It was hardly proper behavior to tease him like that and it was probably his owner's decision not his. It wasn't as if it was unheard of even if it was usually reserved for those whose duties would keep them stuck in one place which didn't describe a slave found on a bike. "All good?" After a moment he gave a nod and a quiet echoing of the word good. "Is there anything you'd like me to try to tell him?" "If you could tell him it's important he eat what he's being served. It isn't an exciting menu but it has been picked to help his body fix that leg and make up for some nutritional deficiencies we found." It took almost half an hour, but by trying different words and pictures on her pad she was able to communicate that the food was part of his treatment, that it was important he take the medicine he was given, and that his leg would heal faster if he was careful with it. Kelsey arrived with the old surplus tablet about the time she was finishing up. It took longer to track down the applications she wanted than to download and install them. Starting up the first she passed the tablet over to the boy and showed him how to use the language tutor that had been written for families trying to preserve her home's old language. Once he was engrossed in the tutorial she thought to check her schedule and sighed. If she ran she just might make it to her next meeting on time.
  12. Chapter Four James I'm not sure how long I laid there and cried. Long enough that when I was done my right leg was being warmed by the light coming in through the window. The glass of water I'd been left helped with the sore throat I'd given myself. I was so tired that I didn't even worry about where that water would end up until a voice at the door heralded a man bringing my breakfast. Or maybe lunch, I really wasn't sure what time it was. The man at the door looked old enough to be my grandfather and thankfully was another human. I wanted to eat before dealing with the wonderland I'd fallen into. The man said something I still wasn't understanding. I tried sitting up only to be reminded by a twinge that something was wrong with my leg. He spoke quickly, setting the tray down on a table and rolling it over next to the bed. He reminded me of the man in the old Karate Kid movies so I gave him a smile before speaking. "Thanks Mister Miyogi." He then grabbed a control pad hanging from the side of the bed and pressed a button raising my upper body enough to make eating more comfortable. "Oh! Thank you very much." The meaning must have made it across even if the words didn't because me smiled back before swinging the tray table over the bed and lifting the cover. I stared hungrily at a jelly covered piece of toast next to a bowl of something unrecognizable while he dunked one of those pyramid shaped tea bags into a steaming cup of water. I think maybe he tried telling me what was on the tray but gave up after a moment when I didn't understand. "Thank you again!" The toast had a thin smear of what tasted like peanut butter under the jelly and my only regret was that I finished it off before the bowl which somehow managed to be both a thin and gritty oatmeal. Unless this was grits. If this is what grits are I have no idea why the south would love them. I drank some milk with it just to get the grit out of my mouth. I'd left the tea for last simply because I'd never been a tea drinker. After the worst bowl of oatmeal ever I wasn't expecting much but this stuff was actually pretty good. It was a little flowery smelling and tasted a little like cherries. It was almost like getting a glass of hot fruit juice which was not something I ever would have thought sounded like a good idea. But I was a fan long before the glass was empty and wished I had more. It was while I was eating that I got my next surprise. I'm not sure why anything was surprising me anymore and maybe it's because I was hungry that I didn't think about it much until after I'd finished. I'd finished off a spoonful of the atrocious oatmeal when I noticed something funny about my reflection in it. I'd ignored the feeling of something on my neck because I'd remembered putting my James Redtail collar on and hadn't really thought about whether or not a hospital was likely to mess with that. But if they took off everything else I was wearing why wouldn't they have removed that to? Looking at my reflection in the spoon there was still something there but it was orange rather than black nylon. They'd taken my custom collar off and replaced it with a strip of plastic and feeling around I couldn't find way to take it off. I was still trying to decide just what I should feel about that when two more visitors showed up, both of them were more wolves. One whose scrubs and stethoscope said doctor to me and the other in a police officer or security guard's uniform. That is when it occurred to me that I might be in more trouble than I'd realized. The two held a brief conversation before the doctor turned and gave me what I think was supposed to be a friendly smile. The doctor spoke but once again I couldn't understand a word of what was said. "Um. English?" His ears lifted and turned to face me. He spoke slowly and carefully but I still couldn't pick out anything but that it sounded like a question. "Sorry. Neither of you speaks English? Um. Habla Español? I don't actually habla it but if you know anyone who does maybe they habla English? Speck-en-zee Dutch? Esperanto? Klingon?" The doctor didn't look like he understood any more of what I said than I did what he said. After a moment he gave another smile and checked the displays and the tablet computer he was carrying before looking back to me and pantomiming following his finger-tip with his eyes and then put it in front of mine and moved it back and forth. "Yeah, I've done that before." Giving him a smile of my own while I followed it. Then of course out came a pen-light which he pointed at both my eyes. It carried on from there with more that I recognized from doctor's visits. About the only part that didn't seem familiar was when he held out a board with the smiley faces, I looked at the board and thought about things. After a moment I pointed to a face about halfway along with drooping ears and flat lips. Then a little lower to one with a bit of a frown. I wasn't hurting much at the moment but every time I accidentally moved my left aches came out all over. Not to mention falling into wonderland even if it hadn't gone too insane yet. While the doctor made notes Officer Friendly came and looked over me. "Hi." I gave a little wave with the hand that didn't have a needle in it. "I come in peace, take me to your leader? Or I'll settle for being taken for burgers. Tacos? You don't know English either, do you?" Shaking his head he said something to the doctor before he turned and walked out of the room. Andrea "That would be perfect, please do that." A knock on her office door frame make her look up from her video chat, "Sorry Quinn, I have to go. But if you find out anything call me right away, no matter how late or early." "Miss Simmens, the Chancellor's Office seems to believe we're trying to burn down the campus." Professor Gaulle was leaning on the doorframe, her bloodshot eyes and gravelly voice making it clear she was still sick. "We aren't trying to burn down everything are we?" "No ma'am, please sit down. Can I get you some tea, coffee?" "Answers please." She sat and leaned forward. "My lab is still standing so why are they talking like we're arsonists?" "Last night we attempted the Field Effect Transfer experiment. It was mostly a failure." Andrea started a fresh pot of water heating while she answered. Even if the professor hadn't asked for it. "The test target is gone. Along with most of the stand. That's the good news. There were a few dozen other transfers, most of them within the lab and some outside. There was in fact a minor fire put out almost immediately by the fire suppression system. The almost good news is that there was only one person injured. One bicyclist who I believe may have been transferred onto campus by the experiment." The professor stared at her for several seconds before closing her eyes. "How seriously injured, why do you believe that, and how much damage to the lab?" After nearly an hour reviewing what had happened and several mugs of tea consumed between the two of them Professor Gualle settled back in her chair with her eyes closed. Andrea watched quietly while her mentor considered what she'd heard, a single finger held up to ask for quiet. A few minutes later the finger came down to point at a picture of the boy in the hospital. "You said something about him was tickling at your mind?" "Yes, it isn't a perfect match but feels similar," Professor Gualle gave her a tired glare when she stopped with that. If the familiar feeling was what she was expecting then it wasn't something from her linguistics classes but from years before and not something she was looking forward to bringing up. But if Professor Gualle could come to the lab in her condition then she could risk bringing more attention to that part of her life. "Yes. I have a suspicion, which I'd rather not bring up publicly unless it's correct." Professor Gualle gave her a continuing long look and then a sighed before nodding. "You said campus safety's office would pass our health concerns along but these things are best handled directly." She paused to pour more hot water over her tea leaves, "I am here now so I may as well stay and keep an eye on things. Go and pass on our concerns directly to the doctors and see if you can't get some answers. To those as well as your suspicion." The University Medical Center was as busy as she remembered from the last time she'd visited. This time she was at least able to walk in without assistance and wouldn't be stuck staying overnight. No she'd just be shuffled off to the side to wait for someone to find the time to speak with her. But one didn't become a doctoral candidate without learning to put time waiting on others to good use. With a network connection the combination of her tablet and it's keyboard cover she was almost as good as at her main workstation. Even better when you considered that the junior team members would be back at the lab bothering the professor instead of her. "So," came a voice that pulled her away from her work almost an hour later, "the sergeant says you might know who our mystery patient is?" Andrea saved her report and looked up to find a doctor whose sagging ears and wrinkled scrubs that suggested he'd had as little sleep as her. Checking his name badge before answering she shook her head. "No, I have no thoughts as to who his is, Doctor Semling, but I have a theory as to how he got here. I fear this theory has given me some concerns. Has he had nausea and suffered from vomiting, or shown any signs of aplastic anemia, gastrointestinal or neurovascular problems?" She'd glanced at her tablet to review the terms for the symptoms and looked back up to find the doctor no longer quite so sleepy. "You believe he was exposed to a strong radiation source?" Doctor Semling pulled out a small hand sized tablet and hmmed while looking up records. "If so the exposure was limited, he has a number of health issues but none that suggest radiation poisoning. I haven't seen any reports of an accident involving radioactive materials, should I expect to?" "If you haven't seen anything yet..." She thought back to the brief lapse in the recordings. "I don't expect so. I'll check to see who besides your mystery boy was closest to the results of the experiment and suggest that they come in. There's a possibility of a strong magnetic pulse, some of our models suggested it could happen and it might explain the failure to read any identity chips." "Oh, there's a much simpler explanation. He's not chipped. Whatever backwater he's from still uses silver dental fillings and those are the only permanent implants he has. Under ideal circumstances the mercury in those is only a minimal concern but he's also been exposed to an atrocious number of pollutents. Dioxides, heavy metals, frankly there's no excuse to find so much lead in him." "Why would they put mercury in..." Andrea shook her head, "doesn't matter, first we figure out who he is. I do have another question which the sergeant may have passed along." It took nearly another hour before she found herself in the mystery patient's room. She wanted to speak with him so of course he was asleep. At least one of them was getting some and it gave her an excuse for more uninterrupted work time. Settling into the room's one comfortable chair she pulled out her tablet and went back to work reviewing the latest reports from her team. She'd become so engrossed in crafting a script to perform a statistical analysis on some of the data that she didn't realize he was awake until he spoke a second time. She started to reply, then nearly dropped her tablet when she realized what language she was about to speak. "Holy Star, I was right!" Standing up she moved closer to his bed. "Say that again!" The mystery boy blinked up at her and she started to worry she'd frightened him into silence but he spoke again. There was no possible way. It had to be coincidence. It wasn't exactly the same but all the same had never heard anything so similar in the last six years. Not since the last time she'd traveled home. She opened her mouth to reply only to find herself silent. Her family wasn't one as concerned with language preservation so however much she'd heard growing up she'd rarely spoken more than isolated phrases and single words. It was maddeningly harder to figure the words to say than to try and understand them. He spoke again and that only made her all the more certain she was on the right course. Finally she spoke and the boy's eyes grew wide before he spoke quickly in reply.
  13. Chapter Three James I woke the next time not nearly as groggy as before. I tried holding onto the dream I'd been having but the beeps and footsteps were too distracting. There was someone, no several someones in my room talking softly. Suddenly I realized what had been on the edge of my mind when I was falling asleep. The voices I heard, both in my room and outside, none of them were speaking English. Had I somehow ended up in a hospital in a hispanic neighborhood? But surely it wouldn't all be in Spanish even then. And even if I didn't speak Spanish I didn't think what they were saying sounded Spanish. I actually got so caught up trying to figure out what it did sound like that I didn't even open my eyes until I felt some touch my arm. Startled I looked around the room, grabbing at my sheet but was so shocked at what I saw that I didn't do any more than press my hands down on it. An older woman, and two guys and a gal closer to my age. What had me shocked was that only one of them was human. A blond haired guy in the same cream colored scrubs that the other two younger ones were wearing. Since they were all holding tablets and seemed to be taking notes I guessed they were medical students. The blond guy didn't seem to find anything unusual about sharing the room with three wolf people. Not like vicious werewolves, well the older one seemed kind of parentally strict, they were more like something from an anime. The guy was black and gray furred and the younger lady brown furred. The one I guessed was their teacher was all gray furred. Whether that was age or not I couldn't tell. The gray lady gave my hand a pat while saying something to me that I still couldn't understand. All I caught was something that after several seconds I realized was probably an attempt to say James Fenton Redtail that sounded more or less like Yay-mess Veent-own Reed-tail. "James. It's actually James. Well, really it's Jayne Ridgell not James. And. And you're not understanding a word of this are you?" She spoke again and this time I couldn't understand any of it. After another pause she said a few more words and then a few more. I wasn't sure but I think she was trying different languages but none of it made any sense. After giving my hand another patting she spoke to the students a little more before picking up my hand to check my pulse. Then out came one of those ear-probe thermometers and a few minutes of all the basic checks a nurse could do when they couldn't speak with their patient. Then because my guard down I didn't try to stop her when she pulled the sheet down all of the way. I wanted to hide but there wasn't a chance stuck in bad as I like I was. What with a leg in a cast and a tube stuck in an arm that was still reluctant to move. But there wasn't any laughter when my diaper was exposed. Instead there was just a back and forth conversation between the older nurse and the younger ones. The head nurse opened a cabinet pulling out what was from the illustration on the package a bag of diapers, a smaller package of wipes, and a box of gloves. Even if I couldn't catch a single word of it I could tell she was starting in on another lecture with myself taking the role of educational model. Really, even if I didn't know the words I could guess from watching what she did with each item. The only puzzling moment was when she folded the diaper lengthwise for some reason. But when she stopped speaking blond hair and the brown furred lady came over and pulled on gloves. "I'm sure I could make it to the bathroom with a little help." Gray fur gave my shoulder a pat this time and said something that might have been reassuring if I knew what she was saying. For the first time since I was maybe five and my older sister was having a sleepover I was being changed with an audience. The nurses were completely professional the whole time but all I could think of were my sister's friends deciding that her bedwetting little brother should be put in a fresh diaper that morning and made to play the baby when they played house. At least that embarrassing memory kept me from having any embarrassing reactions while I was cleaned up and placed into a new diaper. After that my sheet was pulled up again and a cup of water placed in reach. I'd been so busy trying not to react that it wasn't until they left that I realized I was stuck in bed with nothing to do. Looking around I spotted what looked like a television in one corner but no remote. At least I could reach what looked like the call button not that it was going to do me any good if no one spoke English. That's when it finally, really, truly hit me. I wasn't just stuck in bed I was stuck in some anime fantasy world where wolves are nurses and I couldn't even barely guess what was going to happen next. My stupid leg wouldn't let me curl up but I still managed to get started on a good cry. Andrea "Late last night we utilized the Tokomatsu-Zinke Effect in an effort to," which was as far as Andrea got before Sergeant Jaffrey interrupted her. "Miss Simmens, will this be a physics lecture or an explanation for you and your fellow students crossing security rope and tampering with an accident site?" "As you wish ma'am. Have you heard of wormholes?" "Since you are from the physics lab I assume you are talking about the science fiction ones and not something the groundskeeping office should deal with?" "The Tokomatsu-Zinke Effect doesn't create wormholes but to save time explaining you can pretend that they do. We were attempting to utilize the Tokomatsu-Zinke Effect to transfer a small object from one test area to another. We were partially successful." The slender black furred sergeant focused fully on her. "I would not call that section of concrete small and yet it sounds like you are suggesting this experiment was connected to the accident on the path last night." "I fear that's so." She quickly described the unexpected complication that left a number of holes in the lab and triggered the fire alarm. "One of these spaces was filled with snow suggesting that unplanned transfers occurred. Miss Rasner identified a pattern, which placed one of these transfers just above the path at the location in question." "Should I be expecting more mystery patients to drop off at the University Medical Center?" "The path was only the second time there was any sign of solid matter. My suspicion is that nothing will be found at the remaining locations. The map I showed you has every point we could predict, if nothing more is found on those spots we should be safe. Given the damaged equipment and unexpected results I can guarantee we won't be repeating the experiment any time soon. And not without more planning and an isolated facility." Sergeant Jaffrey shook her head. "I thought hiring on here would let me stick to simple problems. I thought I'd have to break up a few fights or keep you kids from drinking too much after finals. Not deal with whatever sort of mess you've created here. However, since you're stepping up to take responsibility for it perhaps you can try solving more of the mystery you caused." The sergeant handed her a tablet and Andrea found herself sliding through a set of pictures. Staff from the medical center working on a young man laid out next to a bike. Or more precisely most of a bicycle, one with half of the rear wheel missing just after the axle. When the next picture included the man's legs she almost dropped the tablet. A shard of his lower leg bone was visible where it had torn through flesh and cloth which explained the blood stains they'd seen. After a deep calming breath she tried to be as analytical as possible. Male, human, late teens or maybe early twenties, not that it was easy to tell just how old they were if they shaved and hadn't wrinkled yet. He was short which made it harder to guess his age but his clothes almost looked like a uniform of some kind which suggested the older end of her estimate. Then again he was collared. A slave might never have worn anything but a uniform and might be a bit younger. Uncommon as it was in the region if he was a slave that would make identifying him easier. There shouldn't be any mystery since collar and slave would both be chipped. Unless the transfer damaged the chips. A magnetic pulse would be consistent with the scrambled recording at the exact moment of the transfer experiment. "Did you check if he was chipped?" "Yes, but nothing showed up. The collar itself only has what we assume is a name and an unknown style of barcode. What we believe is an identity card is in an unknown language and doesn't appear to be chipped either." Sliding through the pictures eventually found a front and back image of the card. Photo, text, a 2D barcode and a solid dark strip across the back perhaps a primitive magnetic recording material. Shrinking the image she pulled a picture of the collar next to it. "The card has a picture of him, so this is probably his name and the collar probably has the owner's name. I'd say this part is height, weight, possibly a date here but I don't recognize the calendar but someone in history or the social sciences should be able to tell us who has a calendar with the year in the 2000s. Present the bar codes and magnetic strip on the card as a puzzle and some of the computer science students will obsess over them until they can find those numbers in them. But until we find out who to talk to we won't know whether or not it's a false positive. Not that I'm telling you how to do your job but it occurs to me that this bit across the top is probably a national or provincial name and this part a symbol for whichever of those it is. Has nothing shown up on a search for them?" "Trust me Miss Simmens, if anything had come back on the searches this meeting would involve fewer requests for assistance and more lecturing on respecting instructions to not trespass on active investigation sites." Andrea stared at the pair of pictures and couldn't help but feel like she'd seen similar text before. "If it's permissible I'd like a copy of these. I think I'm almost remembering something from the linguistics classes I took while working on my first degree. I would also like to speak with the Medical Center. If he was in fact transported by our experiment we have no idea what health effects there could be. I would like to try and speak with him as well. Perhaps then I'll remember what that card is trying to remind me of." "I'll pass along your request but that will be a decision for the doctors." Sergeant Jaffrey took back the tablet operating it for a moment. "I've sent you the pair of images. If you have anyone in mind to look at them copy me on the messages and make certain to update me with any results. If you can get started on that I have some calls of my own to make."
  14. Chapter Two James I had this crazy dream about sleepily wandering the hallways of a hospital dodging security while trying to find a hidden night club I was certain was somewhere within it. As I woke up my grogginess and the hospital sounds didn't go away. Somewhere to my right something was beeping with an almost steady rhythm. A different chirping beep came much more slowly, each one arriving just as I was certain it had stopped. Wishing hard as I could before opening my eyes didn't do any good, I wasn't imagining it I really was in a hospital room. A blanket covered most of my chest and left leg, but my right leg was exposed and lifted in the air by a pair of straps. A plain white cast stretched most of the length of my leg and I could feel bandages scattered about the rest of my body. It took a little longer before I noticed the tube and needle taped to my right arm. Maybe that's why it didn't want to move. I could feel something on my face and managed to get my left hand up to find a tube looped around with bits poking in my nose. After a bit I sighed and relaxed when I couldn't find any bandages on my head. "Guess the helmet worked." It barely came out as a whisper and I coughed after saying it but I still felt better. Even if the thought of hospital bills had me terrified at least I ought to be okay. When I looked around the room I felt the worries return. The walls of the room were the pristine white I expected of a hospital but after that things became confusing. I expected the beeping to be coming from the bulky almost retro medical devices that were in all the TV shows but these boxes seemed barely more than flat panel displays. Flat panel displays with a cycling series of charts in high definition and multiple colors. Above the beeping equipment a bag was suspended, dripping clear liquid into the tube attached to my arm, it was the most normal thing I was seeing except I couldn't make out what was written on the bag. I thought at first it was just upside down or maybe I was seeing a label on the other side in reverse. But looking back at the displays I realized there wasn't a single word on them that made sense. The numbers looked normal, but then I realized they were written in the European style with groups of digits separated by periods and a comma between the whole numbers and the decimals. Across the room I saw a white board that earlier I'd assumed said who my doctor and nurse were. I could understand if I merely saw foreign names that I wasn't sure how to pronounce but I couldn't make out what I was certain were labels for either spot. What I was certain was the visual pain scale I'd seen when visiting people in the hospital was on the other side of the board. It was the only thing I was sure I recognized yet it had me wondering if I'd been put in the pediatric ward for some reason. I'm certain I blushed more than I ever have before when I remembered what I'd been wearing and hastily looked around the room again. The bed seemed full sized any there weren't any other juvenile decorations but when I looked back that pain scale was still made up of cartoon dog faces. From perky ears and a big exaggerated smile at the top to drooping ears and a frown at the bottom. Speaking of bottoms I realized two things. I really needed to get to the toilet and I was already in a wet diaper. Humiliation vied with confusion and tiredness while I looked for the button to call the nurse with. Of course it was on the bed railing near my right arm which was still not willing to move. With some effort I tried reaching across my body but found my fingers inches short from touching the railing. Trying to lean over on my side brought a sharp stabbing pain and a quickening of the beep I expected was from a heart monitor. Giving up I stared at the ceiling and began arguing with myself about trying to hold it until someone came in or giving in and messing a diaper I'd already wet while I was unconscious. That was one thing I hadn't done before or at least not since back when I was too young to remember it. I'd just about decided to give in when the door to my room opened. Looking over I lifted my left hand and found myself trying to wave for attention to a guy pushing a janitor's cart. I opened my mouth anyway to ask him to call the nurse for me but all I managed was a long yawn. As I faded out again he mumbled and started emptying the trash. Watching as I slipped off into sleep again I felt like I was still missing something. Andrea "That was our problem." Kelsey pointed to a section of scorched wiring by the capacitor bank. Andrea wasn't sure why Kelsey wanted her to look until she noticed the curve cut into the thick cable. Just behind the cable there was a smooth divot gouged out of the concrete wall. Put together the missing section of cable and wall suggested a sphere about four centimeters across. "You're absolutely certain this wasn't here before the experiment?" "Not a chance. Maybe if it had been buried somewhere inside the racks but not out in the open like this." Andrea gave her reply a moments thought and agreed. Giving her headset a tap to switch the microphone on she called out. "Gwyn, Donnelson, still awake?" Both replied and she continued, "Get over to the secondary capacitor bank you need to see this." "Kelsey, have you seen anything else like this?" "No ma'am, but I'll keep looking." At seven in the morning, running on little more than coffee and several poor choices from the snack machine she looked up to find Gwyn sliding a tablet across her desk. One showing a map of their lab with a scattering of red and blue dots. Gwyn tapped one of the red dots with a claw. "This one's the secondary bank. The dot here is a hole in the conference room desk. Tiny but no one remembers seeing it before. With those I got a theory but not enough to predict anything. The next three were enough." The younger woman pointed to a blue dot for the first time. "This was the first one I predicted. It's in the middle of the wall but Kelsey was able to drill in and expose it. The next two were in mid air. Four more that were probably above the roof and three more below us. Two we'll have to trust are there unless we want to go digging but the other, we've got a hole now in the storeroom floor. A hole almost a meter across and full of melting snow." "Snow? Then the good news is we really did get at least one successful transfer even if not as planned." Andrea looked at the map again, "Is it too much to hope it was contained to these?" "Most seem to be clustered within twenty meters of the test chamber." Gwyn increased the scaling on the map to show the entire campus. "But beyond that? Almost all the remaining ones I could predict were on campus but high or low enough they're probably safe. Of the three remaining this one was just above one of the main paths." "Oh effing stars and garters..." Tapping at her earpiece she called out, "Ogden, you still here boy? Good. Get me appointments with Campus Safety, Maintenance, and Professor Gaulle. If anyone comes by I'm going to be out of the building." When they reached the site they found it roped off with day-glow orange and black caution tape. A disk of concrete almost three meters across sat half on the path. A metal railing rose from the disk and crouching down they could see the sliced off end near the edge of the curved underside of the disk. On the other side of the path the base of a light pole protruded from the ground with most of the remaining length laying next to it. A half meter bite had been removed and was nowhere to be seen. "Andrea!" When she looked where Gwyn was pointing a chill ran down her spine. A pair of smeared blood stains marred the path. Momentary hope that there was another explanation died when she saw a discarded plastic glove and a stray bandage that must have been dropped by the medics. Ducking under the tape she could smell the truth of the matter. This is my experiment. My responsibility. "Ignore that for now. I'll ask about it when I meet with Campus Safety. Gwyn, get a sample of that concrete. If we're lucky someone will be able to trace it. Or there will be a news report about someone's path sprouting a hole. There's some soil under there, sample that as well. Bertram, find someone on campus who can analyze the metal of that railing. Then check on," they all turned at a shout. "I'll handle this." "Hey! What are you doing? Get out from there, who are you?" The campus safety officer jogged up to them with his gaze darting uncertainly between them. She supposed a human officer would feel that way outnumbered three to one even if he was catching them on the wrong side of the tape. With a momentary apology to her parents for what she was about to do she gave him the same condescending tone she used to keep freshmen in line. "Andrea Simmens with the High Energy Physics Lab." A glance at his ID badge gave her his name. "Now you tell me Mister Plummer just who is in charge of this site?" "That would be Sergeant Jaffrey. What are they doing, hey I said--" "They're doing their jobs. Now why don't you call Sergeant Jaffrey for me. We need to talk." When he didn't call right away she lowered her ears and added a little growl to her voice. "Would you rather call now or explain why you made her wait?" "I'll call now. You'll wait here? Right, calling." A quarter hour later she was trying to hold onto that outward confidence as she walked into her first meeting.
  15. Finding New Things was one of the victims of the trouble that hit the forums. I'm only reposting now because I decided to go through and do a little editing. Now to see if the formatting will behave or if I'll have to send it to the corner (how's it look to you? It looks a little off to me like the lines are squishing together). I'm going to repost a chapter at a time until I have the seven that were previously posted and the just completed chapter eight. Finding New Things by LittleFenny Chapter One James I finally finished my late shift at the cafeteria and made my escape on my bike. It had been dish room duty again but at least this time I was stationed on the catcher's end of the dish machine which meant I only had to deal with stacking dishes and baskets of silverware while bathed in steam. With tomorrow off I'd finally get some time in at the nightclub I'd been reading about. City life had one big advantage over the old small town. With so many people around there was a good chance you could find a place out there for you. Most of the fetish friendly nightclubs I'd heard about were really only friendly to a limited crowd. But if what I'd read was true then the Neon Emerald was trying to be welcoming to everyone. And since I'd been reading those reviews on one of my favorite forums I was feeling hopeful that this time I wouldn't be disappointed. I'd even made a post of my own that I'd be showing up tonight and was interested in finally meeting local members face to face. Which was why I was wearing a few extra things tonight as I took my bike across town. The most obvious was the black nylon collar complete with a pair of brass tags. One had my name on it or at least the name of the RP character I liked to use on-line. James Fenton Redtail was actually pretty close to my real name, Jayne Felton Ridgell. The other was a paw print shaped tag with a QR code in the middle. I'd had to special order that on-line but I thought it was worth it. When scanned the code would point to a web page I'd set up so people could contact me without having to give them my regular email address. I'd actually worn that at work a few times when I was in the right mood so it hadn't even attracted much attention today. Which was good, because with the last two items I really hadn't wanted to get any extra attention. They were two items I'd been nervous buying let alone wearing. The first was a generic adult diaper that had a pale orange plastic backing, because there seems to be a law that any halfway decent adult diaper shouldn't ever come in a color that regular underwear would come in. Then for a little fun and to cut down on the crinkling noise I'd put a pair of plastic pants with a teddy bear print on over those. I'd been nervous all shift. Every spare moment I had I'd check to make sure my shirt was still tucked in. Fortunately our plain white uniform shirts were long and a belt for the black pants was mandatory. Even if I was no longer neatly tucked in after the first hour I never came close to having my shirt come completely untucked. Still it was the most nerve wracking and the most exciting shift I'd had in a long time. Something about knowing I could be caught at any time was as exciting as it was terrifying. Turning at the corner I cut through the park next to the library. At night there weren't many lights in the park as there were on the main street's sidewalks but the paths were wide and mostly clear of people. This was one of my regular shortcuts so when I reached the straight section I stood and started peddling hard. There were steps at the end and in the late evening you could get away with catching some air without anyone yelling at you. I have to say it really felt strange peddling and riding with that extra padding and the little bit of slickness my teddy bear-pants were giving. Riding in to work had been one thing but going all out like this I could feel things shifting and sliding over and over. I was just starting to have second thoughts about jumping down the steps when the choice was pulled away from me. Coming back down on the seat I felt myself slip a little and in a panic jerked the handlebars. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion as the back wheel of my bike fishtailed into a skid on a smooth patch of sidewalk and then with a dizzying flash of light I went weightless and tumbled through the air. Staring up at the stars I just couldn't bring myself to move. I think I must have faded out for a while because the next thing I knew I heard the strange warbling of a siren while lights flashed on the edge of my vision. I heard voices and tried calling out to them only to find my throat raw like I'd been screaming. With what I could remember I probably had been. But my whimpers must have been loud enough because I soon had a flashlight shining at me and then a second and yet another as the voices grew closer. That's when I finally felt the pain stabbing up from my right leg and along my back. I must have been a miserable sight whimpering on the ground in the beams of the flashlights as I finally passed out a second time. Andrea "Chamber vacuum, confirmed." "Primary capacitor bank, full charge confirmed." "Tuning field stability, confirmed." "Secondary capacitor bank, full charge confirmed." Andrea watched each item on the checklist flickered from red to green on her monitor while she did her best not to sneeze from the heavy scent of ozone filling the room. Ten minutes earlier it had merely smelled like the air after a heavy thunderstorm. Now it was well past annoying and had her fur standing on end as if from static electricity. Concentrating on the experiment she checked the screen on her left which showed a chromed ball resting on a simple three pronged stand. At the touch of a button the screen on her right changed to show the telemetry readings for the target zone. Across the room one of the guys gave in and sneezed twice as the ozone scent grew stronger. "Maybe citing health concerns will get a little boost to the budget to fix that." "Tokomatsu-Zinke Field Effect, confirmed. Disruptions are forming. Field strength is dropping. Triggering capacitor banks in 3... 2... 1..." The screens flickered. Failing just as the fire alarms began to blare and strobe lights flashed. She couldn't see just what happened, but when her screens came back up there was no longer a chromed sphere resting on its stand in the primary chamber. Indeed there no longer seemed to be a stand in the chamber for the ball to rest on. While the others called back and forth tracking down the alarm Andrea checked the target zone. "Yes!" She saw a spike of electromagnetic energy recorded in the target zone at effectively the same instant the the capacitor banks were fired. But her ears flicked back in dismay when she checked the rest of the readings. No matter how many times she read the charts there were no more signs of a success. Switching to cameras didn't show light reflecting off the sphere or anything else for that matter. "It has to have gone somewhere. The source chamber is empty." Changing windows she rewound the recorded video from the test chamber and snarled when the recording proved to be just as scrambled as the live feed had been. Feeling a headache coming on she turned and growled at the safety station, "Ogden! Is there actually a fire anywhere?" "There was a minor one in the secondary capacitor bank. The suppressant has it out now." "Then shut that alarm off! I'm trying to find our test target and I can't hear myself think!" "Yes ma'am. I'll need to call the Campus Safety office." "Then call them!" Taking a deep breath she switched on her microphone. "Cicely, get someone in the source chamber and confirm whether the test sphere is gone or if it didn't just fall in the corner." "Ogden, why is that alarm still going!" "Soon as I told them our fire was out they said they had an injured person to help and they'd get to it when they got to it." He shrugged, "Consider it a test of the fire department's response time? They can shut it off too." "Don't you know how?" "Know how? Sure. Have permission? No. Would you like to sign off on ordering me to do it?" Sign off on violating Campus Safety's procedures? She'd get in less trouble vandalizing the chancellor's office. "Fine, let me know when they get here." Turning back to her screens she slipped on her earphones and pulled up some music. The sound canceling couldn't do anything for the strobe lights but at least it deadened the horn.