Sample – Carver House 1: Lonnie’s Tale



“How have you found your accommodations?” Adler asked, looking from one boy to the other.  Her hair was coiled into a tight bun, deepening the natural red of her hair until it appeared almost crimson.

When it looked as if David would continue his silence, Lonnie offered, “It’s nice.  Very nice, actually.  Thank you, Miss Adler.”

“So polite,” the headmistress mused again.  “That will carry you far.  And you, David?”

“Yeah,” he agreed, quiet as whisper.  “Fine.”

“Good, then.  I trust Tomoko and Helen have been friendly?”

“Yes,” Lonnie jumped in, “very.”

“Excellent.  Now, to the terms of your incarceration.  As you have noticed, there are no bars on the windows, no guards patrolling the grounds.  But that does not imply the freedom of a normal life.  All the girls here came to me because they were troubled.  They needed molding into respectable young ladies.  If not respectable, at least civilized, capable of interacting with the world around them in a manner that wasn’t criminal in nature.  And, now, the two of you are here.  You will be treated as well as you behave.  If you misbehave, you will be punished.  Is that clear?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Lonnie said, and noted David’s nod beside him.

“Good.  First things first.  You will be given a small injection, which will insert a small chip into your arm.  This chip is used to monitor your location and report back, among other things.  If you try to slip out into the night for some rowdy behavior, it will know and if it knows, I will know.  You do not want me to be angry with you, I assure you.  For proof of that, ask the girls about aa previous resident named Sandy.  I’m sure the story will be more gruesome from their mouths than mine.”

Again, that roiling feeling in Lonnie’s belly, the one that said there was far more to Carver House and Miss Adler than was let on at first impression.

“Here,” Adler continued, a curl of a smile at the corners of her mouth, “you will find the true self.  You will be taught, encouraged, and, yes, punished, in order to achieve the self that you must become if you wish to have any sort of a happy life.  The length of your incarceration will depend on your willingness to embrace this new you.  Some of our girls stay only a few weeks, some for months, and a few for years.  I emphasize again that this choice is yours.”

Lonnie felt foolish, but found himself raising his hand anyway, as if he were addressing a teacher instead of his own personal warden.

“Yes, Lonnie?”

“You keep saying ‘our girls’ and I guess I’m confused.  Obviously David and I aren’t girls.  Are you sure we’re in the right place?”

Adler did smile now, an open and genuinely amused expression.

“Ah, yes, Lonnie, I am sorry.  I’ve left out the most critical part of this.  When you leave Carver House, one way or another, you will be female inside and out.”

Lonnie laughed.  “That’s not possible.  I mean, even if it were, you can’t do that.”

“I most certainly can.  You and your friend here have signed documents to that effect.  I can do anything I like with either of you.”

“Wait a second,” David said, breaking his silence.  “Are you trying to say that Tomoko and Helen…?”

“Arrived here as boys, just as you have.  I think you can now appreciate the results we are able to achieve.  I don’t want there to be any mystery.  You have given your minds and bodies to me.  According to my agreement with the state, it is to keep the general public safe from you and your actions.  But Carver House is much more than a halfway house for thieves and miscreants.  Carver House will always be with you and you will always be a part of it.  Now, shall we begin?”

David was first out of his chair, making for the door they had entered through, but found himself striking the chest of one of a pair of attendants who had come in behind them, as quiet as a creeping fog.  The attendant, the bald one closest to David, grabbed him by his forearms and lifted him until his feet were kicking in the air.  Lonnie felt a thick hand settle on his shoulder and the other of the two goons leaned into his ear.  Lonnie could smell his cloyingly strong aftershave.

“You gonna be good, or do we have to handle you, too?”

Lonnie stared into Adler’s eyes, sparkling with delight.  This was something she enjoyed, clearly, seeing the two of them trapped and helpless.

“I’ll be good,” Lonnie said, never breaking his eye contact with the headmistress.

“Good boy.  Stand up and come with us.”

Lonnie obeyed, watching as the bald man’s grip on David turned into a bear hug, carrying him like an overstuffed sack of groceries toward a door behind Adler’s desk.  Lonnie followed behind him and ahead of the other attendant.  As he passed Adler’s desk, he saw the file opened with his and David’s pictures clipped to the cover.  The note on each was the same: “Perfect candidate,” written in a long and elegant script.

He heard the click of her heels on the floor of the room beyond, walking steadily behind them, unafraid of their escape.  Lonnie imagined a series of young men in her grasp, all the variations of escape that she had seen, all the preparations she had made for such an eventuality.  Within the grasp of the bald attendant, David continued to struggle, kept quiet by the meaty hand clasped over his mouth.  Lonnie made no noise, taking in everything he could as quietly as he could manage, his wrist rotating wildly as his heart jackhammered in his chest.

It looked like a surgical facility, the walls tiled white, the floor industrial gray and smooth.  In the center of the room was a drain, and Lonnie thought he saw hair clinging to it.  There were four beds, the kind with the butcher paper you could pull down for sterility.  David was placed on the furthest from the door, and Lonnie saw that there were restraints, which the attendant affixed to his ankles and wrists, then tightened harshly to prevent him from moving, though his hips still bucked.

“I’m going to get out of this, you bitch!  When I do, you’ll-!”

His words were cut short as a gag was forced into his mouth and buckled behind his head.  Adler passed by Lonnie on his right, taking a place at the foot of the bed where David was restrained.

“Now, now, David, don’t make this any harder than it has to be.  All we’re going to do is give you a shot.  After that, you are free to go, so long as you stay on the grounds, of course.”

The muffled sound of David’s voice did not suggest consent to Lonnie, who was lost in fixing the room to his memory.  Maybe later there would be something there he could use.  He had learned long ago that struggle in the face of overwhelming odds was a lost cause.  He’d survived by being smarter, not by being bigger.

That thought fixed in his mind for a moment, where he turned it over, as well as the phrase written on the photographs: “Perfect candidate.”  It made so much sense, now.  He and David were both of short stature, lean of frame, the kind of men who weren’t brutish and thick.  The kind of men, he realized, that could pass as female more easily.  They had the physical characteristics of masculinity, certainly, but he could see where a few changes could shift that perception dramatically.  They were, he realized, perfect candidates indeed, if Adler’s assertions were true.  He looked harder at David, trying to see the feminine beneath the writhing captive.  His hair was short and light brown, where Lonnie’s was dark, but he had bright green eyes that betrayed a great deal of intelligence, unlike the dull brown of Lonnie’s, a feature that had served him well in disguising his intelligence.

He watched in silence while Adler opened a drawer filled with tiny, clinking bottles without labels, then removed a syringe from its wrapper.  She shook the bottle, holding it up to the light.

“There it is, a tiny little bit of metal.  You won’t feel it, I assure you, but it is capable of so, so much.”

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