Timely Incarcerations: Chapter One
Kyra was aware that she was considered nothing more than a pet for the humans back on Earth, but she had never imagined that she would be sent away from Earth for a year.
Her owner was sick and tired of her behavior and said that that would be sent to spend some time on asteroid for an entire year. It seemed like a punishment but Jason had explained that another 'convict' would be there and that hopefully he would 'knock some sense into her' because apparently she was in desperate need of discipline.
"You don't appreciate how good you have it," Jason had said to her, snapping her collar around her tiny neck. "I think that this will be a good thing for you," he tried with her, keeping his voice surprisingly soft. It was only hours ago that this same voice was screaming at her so loudly that she had to cover her ears. "I'm sending you here not only as a punishment, but as an opportunity. You are going to realize how well I treat you. I give you a warm bed to sleep in, plenty of food, and plenty of respect."
"You don't actually resp-" Kyra had tried to say to him, but a sharp pang rang against her. She looked up at Jason with horror.
"Ahhh, so it is working," he said, dropping a finger on the Elfite's tiny head, ruffling her black hair.
"What the heck is this?" Kyra had asked him, going to touch the collar, but frightened of that terrible shock again.
"It's just a little insurance that you won't give Vance a hard time," Jason said. "As long as you behavior yourself like you used to, then can just think of it as a necklace."
Kyra frowned but didn't give Jason any more trouble about it. At the end of the day, Jason was her owner and though he wasn't perfect, he was good enough. Still, she couldn't believe that he was sending her away to live on an asteroid. She didn't want to go. There were so many things that needed taken care of back on Earth and she was one of the few Elfites that could do anything. Since her race was only five inches high in the eyes of humans
she frowned up at Jason. "What's going to happen to me?" She had asked him, already resigned to the idea.
He explained that she would be staying with someone else for a year and she would probably do more good with him than on Earth. The trip was a scary one and Jason explained the situation. She was being sent to live with a man who was sentenced to a crime that he did not commit. Kyra was frightened but she wanted to trust him. Still, she had remembered that Jason said that he might 'knock some much needed sense into her' so she wasn't exactly thrilled.
She listened as Jason landed the ship and walked towards something.
From inside her box, Kyra listened.
"Are you in here?" Jason asked, pounding on the door.
"Ugh, one second." Both Jason and Kyra could hear shuffling from behind the door, followed by footsteps. The door opened after a few moments and Jason was met with Vance looking rather deadpan. "What?"
Kyra couldn't see anything from inside her box.
Jason stepped through the door, with a large clipboard tucked under his arm and a large box in his hands. "I see you're taking great care of the place," Jason grunted as he gently set the box down, patting it gently. "So how are things going for you so far? You only have about a year left of your sentence, correct?"
Vance grimaced. "Yup, only a year left to serve out some other jack ass's mistake," he said, leaning against the wall. He nodded towards the box. "So what'd you bring with you? Looks a bit too small to be a new TV."
Jason shrugged. "Vance. You know I have always been pretty sympathetic you about your case. I've gone out of my way to sneak you things out here to this blasted asteroid, but I have to say, this will be the last time I will be checking in with you until your sentence is served." He rested his hand on top of the box. "For the remainder of your sentence, I'm letting you take care of one of my pets. I thought that it might be good that I give you some company"
He rolled his eyes, staring at the box. "Look, I appreciate all the stuff you've brought me. The booze, the games, the books. It's all great. But a pet? Really? Jason I don't think that I want the responsibility of dealing with another living creature. This isn't exactly the best place for anyone to live, human or animal."
Jason gripped the box a bit tighter, trying to keep his anger in check. Vance was a friend, not another belonging of his. "She's not an animal
" he started to blurt out but he cleared his throat. "Look, I'm not even going to be around my house much the next few months, I'm kind of knocking two birds out with one stone. Despite you being up here serving this sentence...I do trust you. I trust you with her more than anyone." He smiled at Vance, and though he couldn't tell what the smile meant, it didn't seem kind.
Jason stepped away from the box and motioned for him to follow. "Walk me out will you?"
Vance looked at him seriously for a moment, his expression softening. "Alright. I'll take good care of it for you, bro," he said, moving off the wall and walking with him.
The land was dry and the wind was beginning to pick up. "Not too many good hours here," Jason grunted as he made his way back the ship. "I can't believe that they're still sending people out here to live like this. Personally, I'd rather be in one of those overcrowded prisons at this point. It's too lonely out here."
"Damn right," Vance said, agreeing with him. "A man has entirely too much time to think and reflect out here."
"Agreed, well hopefully with Kyra you can get some of your sanity back."
"K-Kyra?" Vance repeated. "That's its name?"
"HER name," Jason said.
"Her's then," Vance said back to him, still not quite understanding what Jason was giving him.
Before climbing back onto the ship, Jason clapped a hand on Vance's shoulder. "I hope you can take care of her. I really don't trust too many people. But I think that you will be able to give her the special care that she is needing," he said, his face surprisingly serious.
Jason nodded again. "Yeah. Just remember that if she gives you a hard time, not to tolerate it. She can be difficult at times, but I think that I've done pretty well with her. Sometimes she can be difficult with new people, but I think she knows how to behave. Just promise me that if she gives you a hard time that you won't be afraid to show her who's boss."
"... Her? Are... are you sure this is just a pet I'm watching?" He looked surprised, looking between him and his 'home.'
Jason nodded. "Did I stutter, Vance? She's a pet...and..." he reached out again grabbing Vance's collar, pulling him close. "And she's mine. No matter what happens, so matter what you think or do with her...but remember that at the end of the day she's mine. Got it?"
"Fine! Fine!" He said, concerned now. "Dude, you know I owe you a lot. You just have to ask or say so, and we're set." He pulled away from Jason's grip, adjusting his shirt. "Are you ok?"
Jason's eyes wandered back to Vance's shack and then back to him and he looked for a moment as though he was having second thoughts. "Heh...yeah. I'm okay. Sorry about that. Kyra means a lot to me. I just figured she'd be safer here to spend some time away from me than with some damn idiots back home. I'm trusting you kid," he said before stepping into the ship and shutting the door.
After Vance stepped back, Jason took off, quickly disappearing into space leaving Vance to stand there, staring at the dusty sky.
Vance watched the ship go, rubbing the back of his neck. "... Weird."
He walked back to his shack that had been his jail cell for the past four years and stared at the box on the counter. Just what exactly was Jason giving him? The box was too small to hold a dog, or even a cat unless it was incredibly tiny and he certainly was hoping that it wasn't a hamster or mouse.
"Ugh," he muttered. "Better not be a damn snake. I'm not feeding it mice for a year!" He said to himself, still staring at the box.
"I don't eat mice!" a voice came from inside of the box, causing Vance to jump back. Did
did someone just say something to him?
I'm so lonely that I'm going crazy," Vance muttered, approaching the box again.
"You're not going crazy!" The voice came again. "Now if you don't mind, I'd like to be out of this box."
Tilting his head to the side in confusion, Vance lifted up the box, making his way over to his chair. Setting the box in his lap, he tried to calm himself down. "It's alright, I'm just going crazy. I've wanted to have someone to talk to for so long that I am imagining friends."
"Will you just open the box?" The voice came again, sounding a bit more insistent.
"Alright!" Vance blurted out to the box, setting it steady so whatever crazy animal was about to burst out, couldn't easily attack him. "Let's see what you look like little fella," He opened the top of the box, gasping at the tiny humanoid creature inside. "... Or, little lady I suppose."
Kyra's head darted up once the darkness opened up.
So this was Vance. Kyra felt a little scared about meeting a new human but she tried to put on her bravest face. Jason said that he could be trusted and she really wanted to believe that. "Uh...hi," she said and waved stupidly, hoping to start off on good terms with this stranger.
His eyes widen. "I-I... you can talk?" He leaned back in his chair, running his fingers through his hair.
"Last time I checked I could," Kyra said with a small smile. "I thought that Jason told you about me."
"He said that I would be taking care of one of his pets," he said, still shocked by the tiny girl's presence. "He didn't say that I'd be rooming with a tiny person."
"Well...I am a pet. I'm Jason's pet," Kyra calmly explained, remembering the collar that Jason had secured on her neck. After a moment she started walking towards the edge of the box, smirking as Vance pulled away from her like he expected her to jump out and start scratching his eyes out.
Didn't he have any idea of whom and what she was?
"You mind taking me out of here or something? I've been sitting in this box all day."
"Huh?" Vance blurted out, seemingly lost. "Oh, sure." He set his hand beside her in the box, hoping that this was the right move. Nothing had prepared him for living with a five inch tall woman for the next year.
"Thanks there...uh...Vance right?" She stepped into his hand without a second thought and looked up at him. "So you're the guy who was sentenced to a crime that he didn't commit?"
He smiled, relieved that she at least had her story straight. "Yeah. Some asshole decided robbing a bank was a fun idea." He lifted her up, tossing the box aside and setting her on the armrest of his chair. "So here I am walking down the street, when I hear sirens from a couple blocks away. Next thing I know this dude shoves these heaping bags of cash into my arms and ducks around into an alley." He rested his head in his hand, leaning on the arm rest, hoping not to get too much in her personal space. "Bibbity boppity boo, here I am 4 years later."
"Jason says that the government on earth is not that good right now," Kyra mused. "I'm sorry to hear about it. I have to say that I was a bit surprised that he was sending me here to live with a felon...I mean...I know you're innocent. But you know what I mean."
"Heh, yeah. I can understand the unease." He looks down at her for a moment, thinking. "Hey... are you really a pet? You two aren't just yanking my chain here?"
Kyra looked surprised. "Wait, so you really don't know what I am?"
"Not a clue," Vance said, seriously.
"For real?" Kyra said, almost smirking at the human. "Do I look like another human to you?"
He shrugged. "Yeah, just smaller. Why?" He was honestly perplexed by this whole thing.
Kyra laughed. "Well I'm not a human. I'm an Elfite." She brought a hand up to her face, palming it. "Geezus, have you really not seen one of us before?" She tilted her head to the side. Jason had not explained this to her.
"Elfite... Elfite... Sorry. Not ringing any bells." He chuckled. "Probably what happens when you drop out though, just don't learn certain things."
"So you don't come from money?" Kyra guessed.
He blinks. "Come from...?" Vance started to say, bursting in light laughter. "Listen, Elfy. I'm one of the brokest people you're ever gonna meet. Even more so after all this, gonna be hell getting another job now that I can add 'convicted felon' to my resume."
Kyra lowered her head. "Well yeah. I guess that's true." She looked a little down for a moment before trying to return to her cheery self, she couldn't afford to make any mistakes. "The reason I ask is, Jason said that only the rich people can bid or buy on Elfites. We're kind of a high end deal. Jason's dad bought me as a graduation gift for him."
"So... what do you do then?" He asks, still perplexed.
"What do I do?" Kyra repeated. "Well I can't do tricks like a dog or cat if that's what you're asking there."
"I mean, how'd you Elfites get to be pets? Don't you have your own homes? Towns? Families?"
"I did," Kyra said, choosing her words carefully.
"Why is it only the richest folks get you guys?"
Kyra looked relieved. This was a question that she could probably answer safely. With a smirk, she looked at Vance. "Uh...do you have $10,000?"
He puts his head back like he'd been shot between the eyes, before recovering. "Geezus! Why does it cost that much?!"
"Hey jack ass! I'm worth a lot more than that!" Kyra huffed in annoyance.
"I-... You're not answering my question." He said, pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration. "Why does it cost so much to buy an Elfite?"
"There weren't a lot of us to start," she said, still a little ticked off about Vance's misunderstanding of the situation. "The whole thing's been kept pretty hush hush...if you know what I'm saying. Elfites...our race would be the find of the century, but rather...the higher ups are keeping us a secret so they can laugh at the 'poor people' below them for not having them. I honestly don't really know much about where I came from. I grew up around humans in various homes and then Jason's dad bought me. Lived with him for a few years, and now...here I am. I think that I might have had a sister at one point..." she trailed off for a moment. "But most of my memories are pretty messed up. I sometimes can't remember the difference between dreams and reality anymore."
He grimaced, thinking over her story. "So let me get this straight. A bunch of ritzy fat cats went and found a RACE of people, turned em into pets, and ripped them away from their homes and family?"
Kyra's face changed a bit before she attempted to shrug it off. "I mean it could be a lot worse. Jason treats me well. There are others, that def don't have it like I do." With a sigh of relief she noticed that the collar hadn't reacted to her words. She was saying the right things.
He thinks it over for a moment more before sighing, followed by a smile. "Well, anyway. You said you were in that box all day, so you must be hungry."
Kyra nodded. "Jason left me some stuff to eat. He said he wants me to try really hard not to eat too much of your stuff"
"Oh, what'd he leave you?" He asked, setting his hand beside her.
"Just some supplies," she noted quietly. "Cereal and what have you. Everything's in the box."
"Oh... oops." He picked up the discarded box, seeing indeed there were supplies inside. "Sorry about that, you guys actually woke me up so I didn't notice before." He looked at the supplies for a moment. "Do you want cereal, or would you like something a bit more substantial? I doubt you'd eat very much anyway."
"Gotta do what Jason said. Cereal is fine. At least to start." She looked over at the tattered table in what must have been passing for a kitchen. "You can just set me there with one of the bags," she instructed.
"To put it simply, Jason's not here. And I don't care if you eat my food, I have plenty," He said, setting her on the table. He moves over to a shawdy looking fridge, pulling out a plate with leftover microwavable pizza. He hadn't microwaved it, but it was warm enough on this asteroid that anything Jason brought to him, only needed to sit in the sun for a few hours before it tasted cooked.
Kyra looked a little uneasy but played it off. "I have to do what Jason said," she said, keeping her voice as firm as she dared.
"Why?" He asked simply, setting the plate down in front of him. "What's so special about Jason's words when I'm the one you're staying with right now?"
"B-because. He said so." Kyra said. "Look, can you just give me my cereal? I'm not here to cause any...or to get into any trouble okay?"
He stopped, catching the last part. "What makes you think that you'll get in trouble for eating pizza? I'm offering it to you."
Kyra looked away, for the first time visibly upset. "Look, will you please just shut up and give me my cereal? Stop trying to trick me."
"Does he do that often? Try to trick you?" He looked taken aback by the idea of it.
"What? No!" Kyra blurted out still keeping her back to him. "It seems like YOU are trying to trick me into getting in trouble with him. Why do you humans think it's so funny?"
"I'm not trying to trick you, I'm trying to be nice," He said sternly. "And answer me this, if you don't tell him about the pizza, and I don't tell him about the pizza, how would you get in trouble for it?"
Kyra reached up and instinctively touched her collar lightly. "He'll just know okay? He...he always knows when I'm not being a good girl or not listening to him."
He sat at the table, leaning in and looking at the collar around her neck. "That's not a necklace, is it?" He asked, his face growing more serious. "That's not actually a-"
"That's really none of your business."
Kyra felt him leaning towards her and took a step away from him.
"Answer me," Vance said.
She took a deep breath. "Can you please just let this go?"
He sighed, backing away. "For now, sure." He walked over and grabbed the cereal, setting it beside her. He took his seat again and started in on his pizza.
"Thank you," Kyra said, finally turning back to face him. Picking up a piece of cereal, she sat next to the bag on the table. "So I have to ask..." she went on, trying to sound in a better mood. "How is it really living out here?"
"It's dusty, boring, and you tend to have trouble telling when it was day or night." He pointed over at a large digital clock looking device on the wall, the only high tech looking thing in the house. "That's the only reason I know that I'm almost done here."
She looked over her shoulder. "Yeah...well. I know it's not much, but I really will try to be good while I'm here. And you can tell Jason about it." She took another thoughtful bite of her cereal, hoping that this stranger would give her a good report.
"Be good?" Vance repeated. "Oh, right. I keep forgetting that you're calling yourself a pet," he said, taking a thoughtful bite of pizza. "Well, in this house... and I use that term loosely... being good is subjective. You wanna do something, it's probably fine."
Kyra shook her head. "I know what I can and that I can't do," she said in a quiet voice, taking a bite of her own food.
Vance seems to think for a moment. "Alright... tell me some of the things you can and can't do. I... want to make sure I can give Jason an accurate report." He was lying of course, he couldn't care less what she did. He was really irked by the idea that this girl, this tiny person, was a pet to anyone, especially Jason, who he thought that he knew really well. All this time he was calling a tiny girl his pet?
"I really don't think I should talk about it." Her eye twitched for a moment and she hid her face from him. "I just need you to trust me when I say that I'll know when I'm misbehaving, okay?"
He looked her over for a second before leaning in. "I'm going to ask you a question, alright? Now since you're living here with me, you're going to answer that question. Alright?"
"Uh...sure," she said, losing her smile again.
He nodded, backing away. "Does he hurt you? I want a yes or a no, nothing more."
"I-I can't answer that question," she said, lowering her head.
"Why not?" He asked, his voice remaining calm.
Well...what would it matter if he did? I'm just his pe..." her voice cut off as her body jerked forward, as if shocked by something. Her eyes widened in surprise but she managed to keep her composure.
She looked up at Vance. He gasped, visibly disturbed when he realized what had just happened.
"C-can you p-please just s-top talking about t-this?" She said in a scared voice.
"Yes, you don't have to say another word if you don't want to."
Kyra looked up at him, her eyes wild and frightened for a moment before she smoothed down her nearly black hair and calmly started eating her cereal again as though this were a normal thing. "I hope," she said in a slow voice. "I hope that you didn't find amusement in that," she said quietly, pulling on her collar with her free hand.
"D-Don't touch it!" He said, seeing her tug at it. He was so afraid even the slightest thing would set it off again now.
"It's fine," she muttered. "It's just programed to shock me when I'm being bad. Me tugging on it won't do anything." She thought for a moment. "At least I don't think it will. I don't think Jason programed it that way"
He stared at the collar with hatred for a moment before standing up, heading into the only other room in the little shack. He started digging around for something.
Upon his leaving, Kyra stood up. "Uh...hey? Whatcha doing in there?" She asked in a confused voice. She didn't mind being alone but he didn't give her much indication of what he was doing. Suddenly she had a worried thought and hid behind a discarded box on the table.
"Ah hah!" Vance pulled out a small pair of wire cutters, snipping them a couple times. He walked back over to her with a smile. "Alright, come here."
She peeked over the top of the box, just her eyes and nose showing before shaking her head. "No! You can't take this off!"
"Why? It won't shock you again, will it?" He asked, concerned again.
"Well...honestly I don't know." Kyra reasoned, refusing to come out from behind the box. "But it's my collar. You can't just take it off. Jason will know that you did it."
"How will he know? Answer me that," he said, sitting at the table again.
"Uh when he comes back in a year...he'll see me without it." She kept a wary eye on him as he sat down. "He'll assume that I told you to do it and then..." she ducked down a bit behind the box, thinking about her punishment.
"Unless I tell him the truth," he reasoned. "Jason's an ass sometimes, but he's logical. If I tell him the truth, that's me telling him the truth, he'll believe me and I'll probably get decked," he said, shrugging. "Don't really care if I get punched, but I can't stand that thing on you."
"He wouldn't deck you," Kyra answered. "What would be the point to hit you when he has me?" She winced a bit at the small shock that went through her spine but remained standing.
He resisted the urge to grab her. He wanted to just pin her and snip the damn things off. Knowing his luck though she'd struggle and he'd most likely just wind up hurting her.
"Ok, listen carefully. While you're living under my roof, you listen to me. He can buy another damn collar if he wants to, but for your time here you will not wear one. Understood?"
Kyra narrowed her eyes from behind the box at him. "No, not really," she snapped back.
Vance sighed, wishing it wouldn't come to this. He placed an arm behind her, cutting off the possibility of escape. "Alright, let's try this then. Either you hold still and let me cut it off, or I pin you and snip it off myself."
Her eyes widened with surprise. "You wouldn't," she hissed between her teeth. "You would go through all of this just to see me get in trouble?" She still didn't understand his intentions, but she was beginning to become a bit scared at this point.
"I'm not trying to get you in trouble; I'm trying to keep you from being hurt!" He said firmly. "Are you trying to tell me that you like being shocked or something?"
"I rather be shocked than..." she covered her mouth, starting to back into his arm. "It's just a damn collar! Cats and dogs wear them all the time! Why does it have to bother you so much?" She shouted angrily and started trying to climb over his arm to get away from him.
He shot his arm back, gripping her lightly. "Yes, cats and dogs do! You're not a cat or a dog though, you're a damned person! People don't wear collars!"
"I'm not a person. I'm an Elfite! And you don't know what you're doing...you damn...you damn criminal!" She screamed out, starting to struggle in his hand, trying to escape his grasp.
He froze up at her words, his expression darkening. He slowly set her back on the table, leaving the kitchen and taking a seat in the chair.