Rogue's Weyr : "the Weyr is where the dragon is" -Brekke Rider of Gold Wirenth, Southern Weyr

Background: This story is set in the 28th century. Rejuvenation is common, and is used not only to extend life but as a punishment for criminal behavior. Melody is a fifty year old woman who was convicted of embezzlement last October. She was sentenced to three cycles from 6 to 12 years old. Like all convicted criminals, she is spending her first cycle(s) in the custody of 'spanko' parents, who are authorized, even encouraged to spank her as often as possible, AS WELL AS often as she deserves...
   — Lurking Dragon

Hell on Earth

Feb-Mar, 2749

Part 48 of Melody's Stories

Melody had known it would be bad.

She never would have dreamed how bad it would get.

Her old life was forgotten. For a while, Melody had continued at school, continued her life, being flown over to the Miller's after school each day, for the week-ends. The new hover-car had appeared mysteriously the day after they told Ellen about her problems.

Melody had wondered why — until the vehicle broke 1000KPH on the next trip to visit the Millers.

It seemed they'd been given a permanent waiver on the normal speed limits...

The new car helped, but Ellen kept getting worse, and as her friend became less and less rational, and the pain and sickness got to the little girl more and more, Melody soon became utterly necessary to helping her. She was the only person Ellen trusted completely, the only person who could calm the little girl down, could get her to cooperate with the doctors.

Soon school was forgotten. Mary and Josh moved into a nearby hotel in Marietta, while Melody was put into the Miller's guest room, close to Ellen.

At first Melody was roomed with Ellen, until it became clear she'd need SOME time away from her friend to recover. Because it quickly became very bad indeed.

One evening, as Melody stumbled into her bed, exhausted from coaxing and cuddling and cleaning and cussing her friend, she realized that she hadn't had a spanking in days — maybe weeks. She'd helped GIVE Ellen a couple of spankings, when that was the only way to enforce her cooperation. She'd even given Ellen a couple of swats herself, when desperately needed. But her own fanny hadn't been paddled, not since... since...

Melody fell asleep before she realized she couldn't REMEMBER when.

* * *

Melody remembered holding Ellen's hand as they rolled her into the surgery to amputate the tail that had sprung out from the base of her spine.

* * *

Ellen couldn't stop throwing up all over Melody. But Melody just kept on spooning up the soft mush, and encouraging the little girl to try just once more, that maybe this time she'd be able to keep it down. And eventually, Ellen would open her mouth, even as tears crept down her cheeks...

* * *

Melody slept with Ellen almost every night, now. Her comforting presence was the only thing that would cut through the pain and sickness enough to let the child rest naturally. Her poor little body alternated burning hot with fever and chilling Melody with its icy cold flesh.

Melody got less sleep than Ellen.

* * *

Sometimes it got to Melody. She would slip back into her own room and start to cry. It ripped her soul out to see her friend being tortured like this — her head bald from the radiation and chemo treatments, her little body convulsed with nausea and pain. And Melody felt like she just couldn't go on, couldn't do it any more. She loved Ellie, but she was just a little girl herself, and she was so TIRED...

And then a vision would appear in Melody's head. A vision of a slim, blond-headed boy, a boy with gleaming blue eyes, an impish little smile, and a will of pure titanium.

Johnny wouldn't give up. Not on a friend. And neither would Melody. She'd go on.

She HAD to.

And she'd stop crying, dry her tears, wash her face, plaster on a smile (albeit a sickly one) and go back into Ellie's room to help her friend deal with the lastest bouts of nausea and pain, the side effects of the latest treatments, or the latest horrifying aberration the hideous radiation had inflicted on her tiny body.

* * *

And it got worse. And worse. They tried to move Ellie to the hospital several times, but she simply became totally hysterical each time, so that not even Melody could keep her quiet and under control. Even a good spanking had little effect — probably because of all the pain killers, and pain, Ellen was under already.

So they took her back home and moved the hospital equipment into the Miller's house, until it resembled the set of 'ER' more than a home.

* * *

A month of pure hell passed. And another.

At the end of March, Easter Sunday came and went. Melody never even realized that her 'Special Punishment Day' had come and gone without a sign. Much less a spanking.

She'd missed Jane's fifth birthday party, too. Well, she wasn't there.

She didn't realize she'd missed it for days.

Ellen's life was much more important, and the Medical Board had made the point clear to the Board of Corrections (as it had to the School Board earlier). Melody was NECESSARY.

Melody was doing yeoman's service, her efforts were about the only thing holding Ellie'e mind and body together, and the others could just keep their big noses OUT until the job was done.

* * *

Finally, a few days after Easter, the time had come. Even the best efforts of the physicians and nurses were of no more use. Ellen's mutated cells had become immune to radiation, to chemical poisons. There were no more tricks up the doctor's sleeves.

It was time to rejuvenate the child and pray that she would survive.

Oddly enough, Ellie actually felt better. True, her left arm now ended in something that looked like a lobster claw, and various parts of her body were covered by fur, scales or feathers. But without the poisonous chemicals and radiation treatments, she no longer felt as sick, nor was she in as much pain.

She was merely dying, as all the incompatible mutations fought each other within the slender framework of her body.

It was finally decided. Ellen begged for one last night in her very own bed, without medication or 'lots of people looming over me'.

And her request was granted. Even Melody was to go home for a good night's sleep. Everybody thought that they would need it.

* * *

Melody arrived with her parents at the Miller's house at nine A.M., just before they were supposed to take Ellen to Johns Hopkins for her special rejuvenation.

There were police hovervehicles parked in front of the house. The Johnsons rushed inside to find dozens of adults frantically milling about the house.

Ellen had disappeared during the night!!!

To be continued.