© Copyright 2011

Winter, 1994


Puerto Rico, Ponce City


Sylvia pretended to sleep or lie in a coma while two policemen with medical training looked over her and the four men with whom she had fought. An ambulance had been dispatched with the policemen and arrived a few minutes behind them.

Two medics examined her back and were puzzled. Sylvia had healed her back completely so that there seemed to be only a long scrape along her back that had barely bled at all. Yet there was several ounces of blood on her back and the floor.

"And another thing, look at all these bruises on her. Yet its the men who are all beat the Hell up."

"I don’t like her sleeping while we’ve examined her. But she doesn’t seem to be concussed."

"Which is more than I can say for this guy. Come on. Give me a hand with him."

Eventually two other ambulances showed up to handle the four men. The captain’s nose was cleaned and bandaged and pressure cuffs were put on his broken arm and that of his knife-wielding crewman. Then they were transported out to a hospital. Shortly afterward the werecreature pretended to wake up, was examined again, this time more thoroughly, and checked for a concussion. Then she was taken to jail since she was in good shape.

But not before she had been questioned by a policeman. She said she had reprimanded the men for killing dolphins which were protected by convention though not (yet) by law. They had objected to her strong language and attacked her. She had then defended herself to the best of her ability.

"I’ll say. You must be a Hell of a fighter. If I didn’t have all these witnesses I’d swear that you attacked them, not the other way around."

"All these witnesses" were practically every patron in the entire restaurant/bar. Some of their stories had forced Sylvia to exert extreme self-control to keep from laughing while she was supposedly unconscious. They had her swinging from ropes and chandeliers when there was no sign of a rope in the building nor a chandelier within miles. She had executed back flips and broken tables with karate chops and picked up two men and banged their heads together. And they were adamant that the four men had given long speeches about raping her and slowly grinding her into hamburger.


At the police station Sylvia was allowed to clean up, discard the blanket she had been wearing, and change into the orange jump suit all prisoners wore who were to be jailed overnight. Someone had sent along her purse, glasses and shoes. She rejected their offer to let her wear the glasses, saying they were mostly for reading, and her property was signed into a storeroom.

The young male cop who had been sent from the crime scene as her custodian had not yet developed a world-weary air. He described the happenings at the restaurant to the blasé booking sergeant with an excited air and too much detail. The sergeant looked at her with interest and stemmed the young man’s story with the comment, "Suspicion of assault and battery," and entered that into the arrest log.

Sylvia made her one allowed phone call. This was to Captain Cortez, who had gone straight home from the restaurant to wait for the call.

"I’m fine, Uncle. Just keep going down the list I gave you."

"I was worried a few times there. You were very close to getting badly hurt."

"No, Uncle, everything happened just as I’d hoped."

"Even getting stabbed in the back?"

"Even that."

She could imagine him shaking his head as they said their goodbyes. Then it was time to be locked away.


Up till now she had been treated more like an honored visitor. Now they put around her waist a heavy leather belt and attached chains to it and her elbows and wrists so her arms had very little range of motion. Chains between her ankles kept her walk to a shuffle. A tough-looking matron with the midnight skin of Jamaican ancestry and a tall white male guard accompanied her to the lockup.

It being a Friday night business had been heavy at the station. Instead of a tiny cell all her own, or with three or four other women, she was led to a large holding cell with perhaps three dozen other women.

As the matron removed her restraints the other guard stood back slapping a nightstick into a hand, alert for escape attempts by her or the prisoners.

When the matron shoved her into the cell and closed the self-locking door she spoke up.

"Don’t mess with this one, ladies. She just put four men in the hospital with her bare hands."

The werecreature’s best guess was that the word had gotten around the police station that they had a celebrity on their hands, albeit a minor one, and the visible restraints and the warning were to keep her safe. Though she was not sure. A better way would have been to swap her with an occupant of a small cell.

Inside the large cell, rubbing her wrists to make it appear the wrist cuffs had hurt her unhumanly tough skin, Sylvia viewed her cellmates with a biologist’s interest.

At least half wore the tight, colorful, and revealing clothing of prostitutes, only a couple of them anywhere near as pretty as whores always were in movies. Several more seemed quite ordinary, young and old alike. A few looked like roughnecks of some sort, laborers or brawlers.

The biggest of the latter stepped forward and looked the monster over.

"Well, it’s a princess. You don’t look so tough."

Sylvia grinned. "I’m tougher than you can imagine."

"Wha’d you do?"

"Broke a couple of arms. Bit off the tip of one guy’s nose and ate it." She had been honor-bound to do that so that she could speak truthfully to the dolphin’s about it. They would see this as a great punishment of the men who had hurt one of their own.

The burly woman was edging closer. She obviously thought she was stalking Sylvia and distracting her with talk. The biologist recognized a leader asserting its dominance of the pack in the cell.

The sea creature turned her head and spoke loudly enough for the two escorts to hear her. She had heard them stop out of sight to see if they would have to intervene in a fight.

"Go on! I promise not to hurt anybody!" More quietly she said "Much."

She turned back to her opponent, who had drifted closer when her head was turned.

Sylvia stood perfectly relaxed, slowing time down only a little bit.

The woman was close enough to rush the monster. Sylvia slipped inside the woman’s reaching arms, punched her hard in the belly twice, and slipped behind her, snagging one of her arms and pulling it sharply upward behind the woman’s back, who reacted by going way up on her tip toes and freezing.

"You want to spend your time in here with a broken arm?"

The woman shook her head, teetering a little on her toes.

"Truce till the same time tomorrow?"

The woman nodded her head and spoke in a strained voice. "Truce. Tomorrow night."

Sylvia released her hold and pushed the woman back toward the center of the cell. She stepped back to her old location, near the door with it behind her.

Another woman stepped forward, giving the old leader a withering look, before scorning Sylvia with a look.

"I –"

Sylvia darted forward, bent to pick up the woman as if she were a child, and lifted her over her own head. She held that pose a moment, looking at the other women. Then she dropped the woman and knelt, one knee positioned to break the woman’s back.

At the last instant Sylvia braked the woman before she struck, then stood and set her, shaken, on her feet.

Stepping back to near the cell door she said, "Now are we done with this nonsense? Any more of you want to play games? Because I’m done playing. The next one of you who bothers me is going to the hospital."

One of the prostitutes spoke up. She was filing her nails with an emery board she had sneaked into the jail. She was dressed all in shiny black and looked big and tough. Sylvia wondered what kind of man would want to bed down with her, then decided she did not want to know.

"You sluts are too stupid to live. Yeah, I mean you, Katrina. Don’t you know better than to pick a fight with Jungle Jane?"

"Can’t be!" "That’s a cartoon character." "No, she isn’t. She didn’t even break a sweat did she?" "They didn’t even put chains on Katrina, did they?"

Meanwhile Sylvia had come further into the cell. The other inmates warily avoided her, more curious than scared, as she walked to the bunk beds arranged three high on the far, long wall.

Each was arranged long side against the walls. Five units in all made fifteen bunks. Prisoners without a bunk had to sit or lie on slab benches on the two shorter side walls. The seats and backs were made of tough plastic in red, green, blue, and yellow, a garish contrast against all the other drab steel and grey concrete.

The uproar in the cell was beginning to die down and the women were beginning to sit on the benches. Except one, who lay face away from the room, and might have ignored recent events. She had bedding under her, apparently from one of the bunks.

Was she dead? Unconscious? Sylvia went to see.

Not dead. And not unconscious. The woman cringed away her.

"Hey. I’m not going to hurt you. Here. I’m a doctor. Relax."

Painfully slowly, the woman rolled over and sat up on the bench. She needed help sitting up so badly that she accepted Sylvia’s assistance despite plainly not wanting it.

"I kept everyone off her. She’s been beaten." This was Katrina, the woman Sylvia had first defeated.

Sylvia looked up at her, gave her a considering look. So, more there than met the eye. She nodded at the woman.

"She needs to be in a bunk."

"I’d have given her mine, but it’s up top. She needs a lower bunk and nobody will give up theirs without fighting and it’s not worth it. Anyway, it’s harder to get into and out of even the low-downs than the bench.

"See, I put her right next to the toilet and gave her my pillow and blanket."

"Good job. Katrina, is it? I’m Sylvy to my friends." She put out her hand and, after a pause, Katrina shook it.

The hurt woman sagged sideways and Sylvia sat herself down and let the woman lean into her. She put a hand to the woman’s head as if to check her temperature. Under that cover the werecreature injected a painkiller and a command to the woman’s energy-handling system to burn body fat a bit faster than normal.

After a minute, while Sylvia was holding her wrist and seemingly counting her pulse but actually seeing/feeling inside the woman for injuries, she sat up a bit straighter.

"Who did this to you, dear?"

"My … my husband. Boyfriend. He was just common-law, not really …"

"Then why are you in here instead of him?"

"I killed him. Stabbed him. He …" She began weeping.

Katrina sat on the other side of the woman and added her arms to Sylvia’s. She began to say things like, "Hush, sister. He deserved it. Things will be OK."

After crying for a minute or so the woman sat up.

"No, it won’t. I don’t have money for a lawyer."

"Then they’ll give you one."

The woman laughed, bitterly. "Some beginner. Who doesn’t make any money off me. Who doesn’t care."

Sylvia had intended to inject into the woman commands for her body to heal her injuries quickly. But that would undercut her plea (Sylvia guessed) of self-defense. Instead the monster injected two sets of commands. One to intensify the appearance of the injuries, the other to heal well and completely but slowly

But was her story true?

Sylvia turned to face the woman. "Was he really going to kill you? Did you have to stab him to protect yourself?"

"Oh, yeah. He’d been getting worse and worse all the time. He already put me in the hospital twice. After the second time I moved in with my sister and got a restraining order on him. Then this afternoon he came by and broke in her home while she was gone. He started hitting me and hitting me and he wouldn’t stop, even when I promised I’d move back in with him. He kept yelling at me, saying I was fucking someone. And I wasn’t! It got so bad with him the idea of sex makes me sick!"

She began weeping again. Sylvia injected a command to fall asleep and she quickly quieted, leaning against Katrina and with that woman’s and Sylvia’s arms still around her.

Sylvia had been monitoring the insides of the woman’s body with her esoteric senses and watching her face and body language. She was either telling the truth or deranged, and Sylvia could detect none of the symptoms of schizophrenia or any other disorder, all of which had distinct biochemical markers and which she could "taste" with her esoteric senses.

Sylvia looked up. Maybe a third of the room had been standing around silently watching.

She spoke, quietly but enough to carry.

"Tomorrow I’ll have my attorney put his company’s best criminal defender on her case. She will be taken care of. On my bill."

Then she and Katrina eased the woman down and covered her with a blanket which another woman brought forward.

She addressed the room. "I don’t know about you but I need to sleep. Keep the noise down to a dull roar."

She turned to Katrina, nodded, and lay down on the concrete floor next to the injured woman with an arm under her head. It took her only a few seconds to begin dozing, but she was brought back from sleep when a pillow struck her head and a blanket was dropped beside her. The black-suited prostitute who had dropped them there said, "Here, Honey. You may be tough as Hell but you don’t have to keep proving it."

Sylvia smiled up at the woman, thanked her, and made use of the bedding.


Go to chapter seventeen, Arraignment.

© Copyright 2011


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