“What’s your name, sweetheart?” Matron Silver asked. The officer that dropped off the scrawny, pink-haired 8-year-old girl left in a hurry. The older woman closed the door and leaned against the edge of her desk to address her new arrival. The girl looked up to meet the woman’s brown eyes.
“Justice,” she said. The woman placed a hand on the girl’s shoulder and leaned forward with a polite, sad smile.
“What a beautiful name they left you with.” Justice was one of the rare kids that ended up at the orphanage by accident. Her parent’s car accident would have left all three of them dead if Justice’s lycanthropy didn’t save her life. “How bad are your changes?” Matron Silver asked. The girl shook her head.
“I can control it already.”
“Really?” Matron Silver raised a grey eyebrow. Justice bit her lower lip.
“Almost,” she admitted. The Matron nodded, smiled, then walked around the desk to sit down across from Justice. She pulled open a drawer and grabbed a folder from inside.
“We’ll find out tonight.” Matron Silver dropped the folder on the desk and gave Justice a somber, sympathetic look. “When I was your age, I hated when people didn’t explain things to me. I’m sorry about your parents, Justice. The accident only happened a couple of hours ago,” the Matron sighed. “…and here you are. I’m sure you feel that things are happening too fast. I want you to know you can slow down and ask any question you want okay?”
“Okay,” Justice nodded. The woman gave her almost half a minute to ask a question, but the girl seemed impatient to keep things moving.
“You don’t have any questions then?” Justice shook her head.
“I know why I’m here,” she tilted her head at the sunset outside the window. “I’d rather be here than a jail cell anyway.”
“Smart girl,” the Matron smiled. “So, when you say, ‘almost’ what does that mean? How much can you control it?” The woman opened the folder and readied a pen.
“If I’m alone and it’s quiet, I can stay in control. My wolf doesn’t like noise though,” Justice said. Matron Silver filled in the top sheet of Justice’s file while she nodded at the girl to keep her talking. “If I lose control my wolf likes to go to the park. I’ve never killed anyone and my parents said that my wolf will anything for cheese.”
“Your wolf sounds easy to manage,” the Matron smiled. “Of course this is your first change here….” she pressed a red button on one corner of her desk. “…you’ll understand that we need to see how well you do for ourselves.” The door opened. A tall, pale teenager with a widow’s peak walked into the room through a sunbeam. “This is Oren, he’ll help you to your room, and stand guard for the night.” Justice nodded and smiled politely at the matron, then stood up. Oren walked out the door first and Justice followed.
“You’re not a vampire,” Justice said the moment they were in the narrow hall. “Sorry, that’s a question. What are you?” Oren stopped walking, then turned to size Justice up. He looked her up and down.
“What?” he asked. Justice stared into his translucent grey eyes.
“You look like a vampire, but you’re not one,” she said. “You’re not a werewolf, fairy, or human either. You’re something I’ve never smelled. Oren’s lips stretched into a small grin.
“You’re interesting too. I’ll explain in your room,” he said, then walked forward again. After navigating the maze of halls Oren stopped in front of one of the steel reinforced doors.
“This is your changing room,” he opened the door. “You’ll get your living room tomorrow,” he said almost apologetically. Justice could see why the changing room was slightly less than a prison cell. Bare floor, bare walls and a set of filled food and water bowls.
“So what are you?” She asked. Oren stepped into the room and closed the door.
“I’m bored,” Oren said. He smiled and made a sweeping gesture at the air with his hand. A black hole, darker than anything Justice had ever seen, opened in the middle of the room. She noted it was tall enough for Oren to step through. “I know where we can play an awesome game though. Wanna come?” Justice did not waste time nodding; she bolted through the hole without a second thought.
The over-enthusiastic young girl was surprised when she saw light on the other side of the hole. It surprised her, even more, when she ran headfirst into a woman. Justice barely had time to register the woman’s white suit before they collided.
“So-” Justice tried apologizing as she collected herself, but a hand around her throat interrupted the word.
“Who are you!?” A shorter woman in a dark suit lifted Justice off the ground by her neck.
“Chill Melody!” Oren shouted behind Justice. “She’s from the orphanage.” Justice was able to breathe again, and she felt the ground under her feet again.
“I’m sorry,” Melody apologized to Justice, then she stood and glared at Oren. Justice did not see the woman she ran into anywhere. “Normally our visitors don’t come down here.” Oren put a hand on Justice’s shoulder.
“She said I was something that she’d never smelled before,” Oren said. “I thought I’d introduce her to the AlterNet.” Melody looked down at Justice and smiled.
“What’s your name, Sweetheart?”
“Justice,” she replied.