Sitting cross-legged on the end of her bunk, Dawn watched as the noisy crowd of young women pushed and shoved their way into the barracks. Several of the inmates appeared to have some sort of bet running on how many new prisoners there’d be. There were several exchanges about who owed what to whom as they went over to the washroom and washed their hands and faces under the taps. One girl asked Dawn if she was from Connecticut, shaking her head Dawn climbed slowly down from her bunk and walked towards the door. Still chattering loudly the young women rushed outside and started to head for the other hut Dawn had seen earlier.
“What are you waiting for?” Carla turned towards Dawn and the other new girls, “Hit them beans.”
Realising this was an invitation to go and eat the three young women headed for the door. Being last in line Dawn received a swift kick on the butt as she passed Carla. Glancing over her shoulder Dawn saw the woman smiling (not in a nasty way) there’d been no real force behind the kick so Dawn assumed it was not meant maliciously, it was better than being whacked by one of the canes all the guards seemed to carry.
Supper consisted of some fatty pork, beans and corn bread, boring and not exactly healthy but the cook gave you plenty of it so Dawn didn’t think she was going to starve. As a concession to healthy living each prisoner was allowed one piece of fruit, either an apple or an orange, Dawn chose an orange after she’d finished her meal and washed off her plate. Thrusting her spoon into the pocket of her jeans she walked outside and sat off to one side of the main crowd of prisoners as she peeled and ate her orange.
The inmates looked healthy and well fed, not like when she was in jail up in New York. There most of the inmates looked pale from being inside all the time and thin because you never seemed to get quite enough to eat. No one looked abused; again unlike New York where the guards would only supply you with extra food or drugs in return for ‘favours’. But still Dawn felt uneasy about the place, it took her a little time before the penny dropped and she kicked herself for not seeing it sooner.
Every single girl in the prison yard was white. Okay, she’d heard rumours about some of the more backward areas of the southern states only paying lip-service to integration, but this was ridiculous; there wasn’t even a single Latino girl or oriental. Once she’d noticed this something else struck her as odd; none of the women apart from Carla and the woman who looked after those hounds she’d seen earlier, looked older than their mid twenties. In fact one or two of the inmates looked too young for an adult facility.
As the sun dropped rapidly towards the horizon, Dawn followed the other prisoners back towards the barracks. Entering the hut she saw the other two new arrivals trying to integrate themselves into the group. Preferring to remain aloof and project an air of mystery, Dawn passed by the main group and headed for her bunk. Climbing back up onto her bed she continued to watch the interplay between the inmates without looking as if she was taking too much notice of what was going on around her.
Very quickly Dawn picked out who was in charge of the prisoners; Carla might be in charge of the hut and the Captain and the bosses might think they were in charge of camp, but one particular woman was in charge of the prisoners. No one seemed to do or say anything without her approval; she was the centre of everything going on in the hut.
“Who’s the Queen Bitch?” Dawn asked the girl who was sitting on the bunk next to hers.
“Say what?” The girl looked up from her game of solitaire and turned to look at Dawn; she was about the same age as Dawn with dark brown hair and hazel eyes.
“Her,” Dawn nodded towards the heavily built young woman at the centre of the game of cards.
“Oh her,” the brunette laughed quietly, “Dragline, she’s top girl ‘round here.”
“Right,” Dawn breathed quietly, it was always good to know the pecking order in any society. “I’m Dawn Summers by the way.”
“Becky Kartalian,” replied the other girl, “I’m know as ‘Ace’, you ain’t got a name ‘til Dragline gives you one, so until then you’re New-Meat.”
“Great,” Dawn sighed, this was nothing unusual she’d experienced the same sort of thing up in New York. “So,” Dawn smiled pleasantly, “if you’re called ‘Ace’ you must be good at cards so why aren’t you playing?”
“Ah,” Ace nodded wisely as she laid down a card, “that would be because I’m too good at playin’ cards; that’s why I’m here y’see?”
“Since when has being too good at cards been a jailing offence?” Dawn wanted to know.
“Since it caused a riot when the locals found out I was cheating,” Ace laughed lightly. “Got two years for cheating,” she shrugged, “better than being lynched, them good ol’ boys were real mad about being taken by itty-bitty me.”
“Yeah,” Dawn agreed, “I could see how they could be…so what’s it like here? Like, what are the guards like?”
“You done time before?” Ace collected up her cards and shuffled them.
“Yeah,” Dawn nodded, “I did some time up in New York a couple of years ago.”
“Well,” Ace started to deal out her cards again, “this ain’t New York.”
“Totally,” Dawn agreed.
“You worried the guards might get to wantin’ to screw your pretty white ass?” Ace asked.
“Uh-huh,” Dawn agreed, “something like that.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Ace looked up at Dawn and smiled reassuringly, “Captain doesn’t approve of ‘relations’ between prisoners and guards.”
“Yeah,” Dawn gave her new found friend a disbelieving look, “I’ve heard that one before.”
“No!” Ace looked up from her cards, “Its true…look; a couple of months ago one of the bosses was caught with his dick in a girl’s mouth.”
“So what happened,” Dawn expected to hear that the girl had been punished and the guard let off with a warning.
“The girl,” Ace started to explain, “she got transferred to the farm and the boss got fired, like I say the Captain don’t like anyone messing about with his girls.”
“What about girls messing around with girls?” Dawn wanted to know.
“Well,” Ace shrugged, “if’n you’re that way inclined, as long as you’re discreet no one minds too much.”
“No kissing or holding hands in public,” Ace laid down several cards one after the other, “an’ go somewhere private when you want to get down and dirty, its okay. Just don’t rub anyone’s face in it…” Ace laughed quietly when she realized what she’d just said, “Get it,” she smiled, “rub y’face in it?”
“Yeah,” Dawn agreed with a wry smile, “you’re a comic genius…”
“You, that way inclined’?” Ace wanted to know with just a hint of hope in her voice.
“No,” Dawn shook her head, “don’t worry I won’t be trying to climb into your bunk in the wee small hours.”
Having tried a little girl on girl action when she’d been inside up in New York, Dawn hadn’t enjoyed it much and didn’t try it again. If she hadn’t got a guy to push all her buttons in the right way she much preferred to deal with it herself.
“…so what happened to the last thirty-seven?” Dawn referred to the number on all her gear.
“You really want to know everything don’t you?” Ace started to clear away her cards again.
“Sure,” Dawn agreed, “knowledge girl, that’s me.”
“Okay,” Ace put her cards to one side and sat with her legs hanging over the side of her bunk facing Dawn, “let’s see. Titty, that was the old thirty-seven, an’ Blue, their time was up an’ they got released. Snake and Runner got transferred to The Farm.”
“The Farm?” Dawn asked, “What’s the farm?”
“Don’t rightly know,” Ace admitted, “another prison I ‘spose. Anyway every few months usually just before new-meat turns up a few girls get transferred to The Farm.”
“Why?” Dawn was curious, “Like, had they done something bad? Was it a punishment?”
“No,” Ace frowned, “y’know I’d not thought about if before but now you mention it…”
“Like?” Dawn prompted.
“Well,” Ace sighed, “some of the girls who get sent to the farm are, y’know model prisoners, others go because they try to run or sass the bosses, don’t seem much reason behind it other than the number that go is exactly the same as the number of new-meat arriving.”
“Right,” Dawn breathed as memories of Sunnydale came back to haunt her once more.
“So, what you in for?” Ace wanted to know.
“Cutting the heads off parking meters,” Dawn admitted.
“Y’what?” Ace stared at her in astonishment, “Why f’christ’s sake?”
“Ooh,” Dawn sighed tiredly, “I thought they were watching me and I totally didn’t like it…I was wicked drunk too, like totally!”
“Well, I gotta say that’s a new one on me,” Ace jumped down from her bunk and started to head for the washroom, “come on,” she called to Dawn, “its almost time for ‘First Bell’, you might wanna take a pee before the rush.”
“Yeah,” Dawn jumped down from her bunk and followed Ace, “totally.”
“So,” Ace went into one of the stalls and pushed the door closed behind her, “what happened to the new thirty-six?”
“In the box,” Dawn called from her own stall.
“Already?” Ace called back, “What she do? Try to screw one of the hounds?”
“No,” Dawn laughed as she pulled up her jeans and flushed, “she just asked a stupid question.”
“Oh,” Ace reappeared and went to wash her hands, “one of those…hey kid.”
“What?” Dawn frowned; she hated being called ‘kid’.
“Watch out for that box,” Ace said quietly, “you’ll end up in there sometime, you won’t be able to avoid it, just don’t make it a habit.”
“Don’t worry I won’t,” Dawn agreed.
“An’ those canes the bosses carry?” Ace looked left and right making sure they weren’t being over heard, “sometimes if the bosses get real pissed at you they take you behind a hut and beat the crap outta you.”
“Okay, I see,” Dawn nodded her head slowly, “I’ll bear that in mind, thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” Ace nodded and started back towards her bunk.
Moments later a loud electric bell rang, first bell.0=0=0=0
“First bell!” Carla shouted from the far end of the hut just in case anyone hadn’t noticed the deafening noise of a minute ago. Immediately prisoners started to clear up what they’d been doing or headed off to the washroom. Walking towards her bed, Dawn drifted between the bustling bodies until she was standing by her bunk. Kicking off her boots and pulling off her socks, she glanced around to see what was normal for sleeping.
Most of the women were stripping down to their panties before climbing into their bunks, with a shrug Dawn followed suit. Climbing up onto her bed she pulled the sheet and blanket back and lay down. Being used to the colder north, Dawn had worried that the single blanket she’d been given wouldn’t be warm enough. Now as she lay there sweating slightly she doubted that she’d want to pull the sheet over herself let alone the blanket.
The second bell rang and Carla shouted out just to confirm what everyone had just heard, moments later the electric lights went out and Dawn was left in darkness with her own thoughts. Lying there listening to the sounds made by her fellow inmates, she wondered what Buffy was doing right about now. Turning on to her side she speculated on whether her sister was even still alive, what about Giles, Xander, Willow? Had Willow and Tara ever got back together? As her eyelids got heavier and sleep started to claim her, Dawn thought about going back and trying to find her old friends when she finally got out of this joint. Perhaps she could even try to make things up with her sister.0=0=0=0
The bell rang waking Dawn out of a deep sleep, it was still dark outside and she felt like she’d only been asleep for a couple of hours. Rolling out of her bunk she dropped to the floor and looked around to see what everyone else was doing.
“Come on, New-Meat,” Ace called from the other side of the bunk as she pulled on her jeans, “get dressed quick y’don’t wanna spend a night in the box do ya?”
Quickly, pulling a t-shirt over her head Dawn got dressed and had just enough time to take a pee before Carla hustled every one outside. The morning air was cool against her skin after the humid heat of the barracks. The sky was a clear, dark blue as the eastern horizon started to lighten, the sun wouldn’t be up for a while yet, but when it did, Dawn bet herself it would shine down on them without mercy. The prisoners started to line up over by the gate in numerical order. Taking her place behind thirty-five, thirty-six-Gibson still being in the box, Dawn watched as a couple of bosses worked their way along the line of prisoners putting leg-irons on some of the women.
“They tried to run,” Ace explained in a whisper before crying out in surprise, “OWWW!”
“No talking!” ordered the boss as he slid his cane back into his belt and walked away.
“No Boss!” Ace rubbed her butt where she’d been hit, “Thank-you, Boss.”
Another rule to remember, Dawn told herself, no talking. Everything appeared to be ready for the prisoners to march out of the gate and go wherever they were going; looking around, Dawn saw what the hold up was. Over by the box two guards were unlocking the door, after pulling it open the bosses stood back and one of them pointed her shot gun casually at the dimly seen figure curled up on the floor of the box.
“Out!” Ordered the boss with the shotgun, the figure didn’t move.
“I said OUT!” The boss reached in and dragged Gibson out into the early morning light.
Now Gibson was fully out of the box, Dawn saw her lying naked at the boss’s feet her legs curled up underneath her body. Dawn suspected she’d suffered agonies of cramp during the night.
“Get up bitch,” said the female boss levelly, “an’ get y’self dressed.”
When Gibson didn’t move fast enough, the male boss hit her across the butt with his cane leaving a bright red welt across her lily white skin. Screaming in pain, Gibson held her butt for a moment before pushing herself slowly to her feet. Sobbing quietly, she pulled on her clothes while the bosses stood over her waiting impatiently for her to get dressed.
“Move yourself,” the male boss swatted Gibson with his cane again and she stumbled off towards the barracks.
“Where the hell do y’think you’re goin’?” The female boss grabbed hold of Gibson’s arm as she staggered towards the barracks.
“But…” Gibson pointed weakly towards the barrack hut, “…I’ve got to…”
“You think you’re gonna take it easy all day?” Asked the male boss, “While everyone else is workin’ out in the hot sun?”
“But…” Gibson sobbed as the tears fell from her reddened eyes, “…I-I haven’t eaten since yesterday, I can’t…”
“Tough!” The male boss pushed her towards the waiting prisoners and then forced her into line in front of Dawn.
“But…” Gibson started to try and explain that she couldn’t possibly work today; this time both of the bosses hit her, she fell to the ground at Dawn’s feet.
“You,” the female boss pointed her cane at Dawn who flinched away from the woman without thinking. “get her on her feet and make sure she stays there.”
“Yes Boss,” Dawn bent to pull Gibson to her feet as the boss walked away. “Keep your freaking mouth shut,” Dawn whispered as she pulled Gibson to her feet and pushed her into line.
“B-but…I can’t,” cried Gibson as she tried to hold on to Dawn’s shoulders.
“You freakin’ can and you freakin’ will!” Dawn snarled under her breath just before she felt something like a line of fire slash across her shoulders, “AAAGH!”
Turning she saw a boss, middle aged but still looking lean and fit. He wore the normal prison boss’s uniform with an old style cowboy gun-belt around his waist. In one hand he held a cane in the other he held a rifle. But what scared Dawn more than either the cane or the rifle were the mirror shades he wore under his wide brimmed hat; she had the distinct feeling that if he took those glasses off there’d be no eyes underneath, just deep black holes.
“Yes Boss,” Dawn muttered as she looked at her feet to avoided looking at those scary mirror shades, “thank-you Boss.”
The boss walked slowly away heading towards the front of the line.
“Who’s that?” Dawn whispered as she struggled to hold up the weeping Gibson.
“Boss Godfrey,” Ace replied quietly, “he’s the Walking Boss. He’s in charge when we’re out on the road; they call him ‘The Man With No Eyes’ ‘cause no one’s seen him with those glasses off.”
“Great,” Dawn replied with no great enthusiasm as the line started to move forward and she steered Gibson towards the gate.
Walking in single file towards the gate, the prisoners shouted out their numbers as they passed out into the world outside the wire. Of course Gibson didn’t call out her number and got hit again; Dawn got hit again because the boss on the gate thought she should have reminded Gibson. Rubbing her stinging butt cheeks, Dawn lined up behind one of two old army trucks that stood waiting for the prisoners in the parking lot. The trucks had had their canvas covers removed and replaced by metal shelters with wire mesh over their doors and windows.
Pushing Gibson towards the back of the truck, Dawn saw that you had to climb up into the truck using a few hand and foot holds, she knew Gibson would never make it in the state she was in at the moment. Turning she pleaded silently for help from Ace. The young woman shrugged and nodded her head. When it came time for Gibson to climb into the back of the truck, Dawn and Ace took her by the arms and legs and more or less threw her into the back of the truck. Scrambling up behind the blonde, Dawn dragged her the length of the truck and then sat down in a corner but left Gibson on the floor where she’d already fallen asleep. Moments later the truck’s engine started and they drove away from the camp.0=0=0=0