Saturday, August 5, 2017

When Worlds Collide - Chapter Eleven

“Good morning. I hope you slept well,” Nat said as he entered the room with Riley.

Ky started to rub his neck as he rose from sitting on the edge of the bed, but the collar got in the way.

As promised, Riley had a platter with two large steaks, a baked potato and broccoli on it. He slipped it in through the slot at the side of the cell and onto the table sitting on the other side.

Ky practically fell on the feast. He was tempted to just pick up the steaks with his bare hands and rip at them - he was that hungry - but he kept control and went at them with the knife and fork the Professor provided. He didn’t want them to think he was uncivilized and treat him more like an animal and less like a mere prisoner.

They let him eat in silence for several minutes before Riley spoke up. He had a slight frown of displeasure on his face, where he sat on one of the chairs outside the cell. “We saw you test the collar. I’m glad we are clear on what happens and you won’t give me any trouble. All you have to do is answer the Professor’s questions.”

Ky paused a moment in his feeding. He was still stuck on the handler’s first sentence. He gulped down the bite he had been chewing. “You saw? You weren’t here.”

“Surveillance cameras.” Riley waved his hand toward the ceiling and some metal hooded boxes that hung in the corners. “The place is full of them. You can’t do anything we don’t see.”

“Cameras?” Riley thought Ky tipped his head in question the same way one of his K-9s would have.

“You don’t know what a camera is?” he asked.

“Here…” Nat said, “let us show you.” He turned to Riley. This was an opportunity to build some rapport as well as reinforce their control over the situation. “Riley?” He smiled and indicated the officer should open the cell door.

Riley put his thumb to the entry pad on the door and it slide open. He poised his finger over a device on his wrist and fixed Ky with a steady gaze. “Remember I have the manual activation of your collar. You make one move to shift without the Professor’s permission and I push the button.”

Ky nodded his understanding. He shoved the last of the second steak in his mouth, rose and moved slowly past the bars. The collar didn’t even tingle and he breathed a deep sigh of relief.

Nat motioned toward the door. “This way. It’s just down the hall, past the lab.”

The professor led the way with Riley bringing up the rear. When they reached the lab, Nat stopped and pointed in. “You remember the lab… You did a bit of damage last time you were here. We cleaned it up and rearranged it to suit our current study better.”

Ky looked in and there was a clear path to the gate of The Realms. In fact, that whole part of the lab was clear of any obstruction. Ky saw his chance. He could turn into a ferret and easily evade the two men by dodging around, under and thought the stools, tables and chairs sitting about the room. He could be through the gate and home in a matter of minutes.

He started to fall forward with the intention of being a ferret by the time his hands hit the floor, but instead he experienced the same excruciating pain throughout his body that he had when he approached the bars of his cell. The professor stepped away from him as he hit the floor in his human form and writhing in agony.

Riley fell to his knees beside him. “Stop trying to shift,” the man ordered.

Ky settled into his human form and took a shuttering gasp of air.

“We didn’t know what you were capable of changing into,” Riley explained. “I told you the collar had sensors. We made the inside of the collar pressure sensitive. You try to turn into something smaller than you actually are, in order to slip out of it, it will deliver a shock.”

“Thanks for the heads-up,” Ky said sarcastically.

“I never would have guessed you could change into something not equal to your own body mass,” Nat said with wonder. “What were you going to morph into?”

He didn’t care that Ky’s legs felt like jelly and he was almost ready to puke up those nice steaks all over the Professor’s shoes.

“A ferret,” he answered simply.

“My God! Something that small?” Nat was so excited he took his glasses off, ran the tail of his lab coat over them and replaced them on his nose. It was as if the cleaning would allow him to see Ky in a clearer light.


Riley rose, and offering Ky his hand, pulled him to his feet. The young man was shaking. “Let’s sit down for a minute.” He led Ky into the lab and the chair behind the desk at the rear – furthest from the gate. “I’m sorry about not telling you.” He honestly did sound sorry. “This is all new to us.”

“And of course, I’m used to being tranquilized, collared, caged, and tortured.” Ky couldn’t keep the bitterness out of his voice.

“There will be no torture,” Nat said defensively.

Ky rubbed his aching arms and glared at the man. “And what do you call this?”

“Control,” he responded. “You do as you are told and there will be no repercussions.”

“Yeah… Thanks… This is what I get for saving you from being mauled by a bear.”

Riley's head snapped around on his shoulders to scrutinize the Professor. “What?”

“Oh, the good Professor didn’t tell you about that part of his adventure?” Ky went on in a sarcastic tone. “He came in where he was not wanted and stumbled upon a she-bear with cubs. She chased him up a tree and would have got him if it was not for me chasing her off.”

“You were the wolf?” It was like Nat had not made the connection in his mind until that moment.

“Of course, I was the wolf.” Ky was disgusted with the man. “No sane wolf would have tackled a bear that size.”

Nat turned toward a questioning Riley to explain.

“The bear was going to push down the tree. This wolf came out of nowhere and chased her and her cubs away. But when I first saw you, you were in this form.” Nat waved his hand at Ky.

“Jeez, you are dense for such a learned man.” Riley looked to Ky with a note of camaraderie.

“Yeah, he catches on really quick.” Both Nat and Riley marveled as Ky, without letting his neck leave-off touching his collar, he changed his appearance from Native Indian to his normal dress of the day with jeans, t-shirt, sweatshirt and boots. “Let’s go see these ‘cameras.’”

Nat led off and the other two trailed behind him further down the hall where they reached a formidable steel door equipped with another thumb pat. The Professor thumbed it open and Ky was presented a room filled with moving pictures.

Nat could see the wonder in Ky’s eyes as he placed his hand tentatively on a screen which presented a view of the base’s cafeteria. The camera was right behind and above the cashier’s station and gave a full view of the room. Ky touched the line of moving people and jumped when one raised his hand to give the cashier change. It was like watching a kitten play with a mirror.

“I take it you don’t have T.V.s where you come from,” Riley said with a smile.

“I’ve heard of them,” Ky said, “but never seen one.”

Ky noted the other screens, two of his cell, several of the lab, hallways, and other rooms he had not seen yet.

Nat pushed the record button on his wrist phone. He didn’t want to miss anything Ky said about his world.

Riley saw the action out of the corner of his eye and he pulled his phone out of his pocket, but for a different reason. “Ever seen one of these?” He hit his music app and the room was filled with the soulful voice of Bob Marley. Ky looked at the phone and cocked his head in the inquisitive way that was quickly becoming familiar to the K-9 expert. “It’s called a phone, but it’s really so much more these days.” He stopped the music app and hit the voice activated app. “Call home!” he said. The phone rang and his wife picked it up. He had it on speaker mode.

“Hi, Hon… What’s up?” Mary asked.

“Nothing really,” he said, as he watched Ky’s eyes. “Just thought I would check in and see how you are doing.”

“That’s sweet. I’m fine. He’s still kicking up a storm this morning. Hope he settles down soon so we can both take a nap.” Riley could hear her smile on the other end of the line.

“Well, you two take care,” he said. “Love ya.”

“Love you too, Hon.”

The line went dead and Riley, who had not taken his eyes off Ky during the whole conversation said, “That was my wife. She’s pregnant with our first. A boy, showing a lot of spunk already.”

Ky leaned a little closer, his interest in the screens of the surveillance room taking a backseat to the tiny box of wonder in Riley’s hand. “You keep her in that little box?” He looked doubtful, but who knew about these humans of the mundane world. “If she is a shifter, why do you want me?”

The kid was so confused it brought a grin to both Nat and Riley’s face.

“She is not in the phone,” Nat explained. “The phone is a communication device. She is somewhere else talking into a similar phone to Riley.”

Ky got a puzzled look on his face.

“I’ll pick you up one and we can call each other,” Riley said. “If that’s alright with the Professor.”

“Of course,” Nat said. “We will exchange our information for yours.” He pushed his glasses back up with a knuckle and smiled at Ky.

Yeah, Ky thought. That’s not going to happen no matter how interesting your stuff is.

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