MEDIUM SECURITY I

"A Queer As Folk USA Alternate Stream FanFic"

by Gaedhal

Go to all chapters of "Medium Security".

January 1978

Chapter 5

"I think it would be better if the kid didn't hang out in the Rec Room tonight, Beemer," said Brian as they all tossed their trays on the rack.

"Fuck that, Kinney! I told you that I wasn't no wet-nurse," Beemer huffed. "You think I'm going to sit in my cell every night staring at Blondie just to keep him company? Forget that shit!"

"One night, you asshole," said Brian. "Try to think of somebody except yourself for once. You want that kid to walk into the Rec Room and have every moron in this place trying to put their hands on him? Use your head, Beem!"

"Not my problem," said Beemer, turning away. "YOU babysit him -- because I ain't doing it!"

"Sorry, Bri," said Andy, following his pal. Andy was a follower and in a contest between his cellie and his buddy, Andy would always pick Beemer over Brian.

Brian looked at the kid. He was standing close to Brian, practically hiding behind him. Brian had been the only person even halfway nice to him, and Justin wasn't about to let the man out of his sight. They walked slowly back towards their tier from the Chow Hall.

"Beemer doesn't like me, does he?" said Justin, quietly.

"It isn't that he doesn't like you, kid," Brian reassured. "It's just that he's set in his ways. Every night Beemer and Andy play cards in the Rec Room. You'd think that the fucking world will end if they miss a night, so what can I say?"

Justin thought about what Brian had said to the older man. About the other guys trying to put their hands on him. "You don't think it's safe for me to go anywhere, do you?"

Brian hesitated. He didn't want to scare the shit out of the kid, but he also wanted to be honest. "Listen, Justin... it's always a good idea to lay low at first in a place like this. Guys are... interested in you because you're new. They're curious about you. Some of the guys might act kind of... aggressive. That's why you have to be careful."

Brian took out his key and unlocked his cell. That seemed so strange to Justin -- the fact that each inmate had a key to his own cell. Of course, the guards could automatically over-ride any lock, but it still seemed weird.

"You might as well come in," said Brian, pushing open the door.

Justin went inside and looked around.

"It's a bit... minimalist," Brian commented. Which was rather an understatement. The cell was basically bare.

"Beemer has a bunch of photographs on the wall next to his bunk. I guess they're his family," Justin said.

"His ex-wife, actually. And some of the others are Beemer's pen-pals."

Justin frowned. "Pen-pals? Isn't Beemer a little old for pen-pals?"

Brian shrugged. "Some women are prison groupies. They look for cons to write to. And a lot of the guys write to these females and then think they are having 'relationships' with them. It's kind of sad, but at least they get mail. I guess that's the main thing. Beemer has about 5 of them. Even Andy writes to a few of them. Those are their photos." Brian indicated a few snapshots taped to the wall next to the mirror. "Some of the guys have those 'Playboy' centerfold pin-ups all over their walls, but I think Andy is too old for that stuff."

Justin raised his eyebrows. "But you don't do pen-pals? Or naked lady pin-ups?"

Brian snorted. "No, I don't do pen-pals. And I don't do pin-ups of naked females. I don't do much of anything, really. But that's my problem, not yours, kid."

"Is this your bunk?" Justin sat down on the bottom bed.

"No, that's Andy's. I'm upstairs." Brian pointed to the top bunk. "In theory I should get the bottom slot since I've been in here longer. But Andy's got a bad leg and he's an old man, so what the hell?"

"How long have you been in this... room?" Justin had a hard time saying 'cell' -- that really reminded him that he was in prison.

"Too long. Almost 9 years. Since a few months after I got here," said Brian, evenly. He leaned against the wall and looked down at the kid. Seeing Justin made him think about his own early days at Stanton and they weren't pleasant thoughts.

Justin's mouth gaped open. "Oh my God! That's a long time!" Then he paused, noticing a change in Brian's face. "I... I'm sorry. I didn't mean to ask about...how long you've been here. I guess I don't know what the fuck to say to anyone. I'm sorry. I'm always fucking things up," Justin sniffed. He put his hand up to his mouth and bit at his ragged nails.

Brian leaned over. "Listen, kid, it isn't impolite to talk about how long a guy's been in the joint. Everybody talks about their cases and their sentences and how they were fucked over by the system and how long they've been in this shithole and how many years or days or minutes they have until they get out. So don't apologize. I've been in for 9 years already. I'm a veteran and I'm not even 30 years old. And if I get out of here before I'm 40 I'll be fucking amazed. Any other questions you want to ask?"

Justin swallowed. "Only about a million, but I guess there's plenty of time to ask them later."

Brian smiled. "Now you're getting the idea, kid. There's one thing that there's always plenty of inside the joint and that's time. Always lots of time."

Brian sat down on the floor of the cell. He wanted to sit next to the kid, but he knew that would be a bad idea. He tried to stop himself from gazing at Justin. At his blue eyes and his flawless skin and the curve of his determined young jaw. Christ, I'm no better than the wolves, Brian thought. All I'm thinking of is how much I want to touch this boy. And that's fucking wrong.

"You don't have any pictures next to your bed, Brian. I mean, I don't see any," said Justin.

"I don't have pen-pals like Beemer."

"What about your... your family?" Justin was almost afraid to ask. What if Brian had killed his family or something horrible like that?

"They aren't too happy with me, kid. Having an inmate for a son isn't their favorite thing. So looking at their pictures isn't a big priority in my life," Brian answered honestly.

"Do they ever visit you? My mother is going to come and visit me as soon as it's allowed!" Justin blurted out. "She's going to bring me my art supplies. If it's permitted."

"No," said Brian, quietly. "They don't visit me. And I don't see why they wouldn't let you have your art stuff here. Then you can draw a picture for me to put up next to my bed. That would be better than any pin-up girl."

"Sure!" said Justin, brightening. "I'll draw a picture for you! You just tell me what you want a picture of."

"I don't know," Brian mused, staring into space. "Something natural. A tree. Or an animal. Maybe a horse. Or a bird. Something that's free. That would be good."

"Okay," said Justin, suddenly feeling a little ill. Something free. "That will be the first thing I draw. Just for you."

Brian stood up. "You better go back into your cell now. Beemer will be back at 10:00 for evening head count. Try to get some sleep. I'm sure you must be exhausted."

"Yeah, I am a little tired." Justin stood up and stretched. "Thanks for looking out for me. I appreciate it."

"No problem, kid," said Brian. "Lock yourself inside and don't let anyone in. And I mean NOBODY. And promise me that you won't go wandering around this joint on your own. Stick close to Beemer and Andy tomorrow. They're a little gruff, but they are all right. Maybe I'll take you over to the Library. That's where I work. You'll need to talk to a counselor about taking classes. If you can get classified as a full-time student, then you can spend most of your time in the Library. That's the safest place to be in this joint."

"Why is it so safe, Brian?" asked Justin.

"Because that's where I am all day, of course," Brian replied. Justin saw by the expression on his face that Brian wasn't joking. And Justin felt that safety radiating from this man. He knew that as long as he was in Stanton that Brian would take care of him and make certain he really was safe.

***

Chapter 6

Because the inmates all knew that Ron Rosenblum was coming to visit Brian on Thursday, Brian had scheduled meetings for most of the day on Tuesday and Wednesday with men who had cases pending. But Brian's mind wasn't completely on his Prisoners' Legal Defense work. He was thinking about the new kid. Worrying about him. Worrying a lot.

After breakfast Brian shepherded Justin through the showers, where Brian noted a number of men waiting to get a good look at the new fish. The jockers -- men who made a practice of hooking up with young, inexperienced inmates for sex and companionship -- were a mixed bag. Phil and Butchie were older daddies looking to replace their punks, who had either been paroled or transferred. Another, Francisco, was a Mexican pimp who ran a stable of punks who serviced the entire prison population, as well as a number of the C.O.'s. Francisco was always on the prowl for new additions to his organization.

Brian also saw Hoss and three of his road dogs -- his biker buddies -- soaping themselves and gazing at the boy possessively. The low-riders shared their punks with their entire tip, so they all liked to get a taste of the fish before they claimed it for the gang.

Brian wasn't completely certain, but he had a strong feeling that Justin was gay. Of course, that didn't matter one bit to the jockers. To them a punk wasn't straight or gay, wasn't male or female. A punk was a punk. A punk had two holes that were there to be fucked. That was a punk's purpose in life. That and to obey his old man. If the punk understood the rules of the game, then he could survive at Stanton. If he didn't... well, that was a different story.

A punk had no identity of his own. He was a reflection of his old man. If his jocker was strong and influential, then the punk took on his old man's status. But if his jocker was weak and ineffectual, unable to protect his own kid, then the punk was prey to Fate. Some jockers treated their kids pretty well, keeping them in drugs and cigarettes and goodies from the canteen. But other jockers treated their punks like slaves, knocking them around and passing them off to their friends. It wasn't uncommon for a jocker who was short of credit to sell his punk's services to shore up his bankroll. And a few became powerfully attached to their kids, guarding them jealously and never letting them out of sight, let alone allowing another man touch them. It all depended on the guy.

But Justin seemed oblivious to it all as he stood next to Brian, drying himself. Oblivious to the silent, appraising stares. But Brian wasn't oblivious to them. The jockers were staring at the boy's pale body, which looked pure and untouched in this dark and dirty place. Brian knew that the jockers were making their own plans for the new kid.

Brian hustled Justin back to his cell and told him to get dressed. "I'm going to be busy all day in the Library, so you stick close to Andy. Just go wherever he goes. He's on disability, so he doesn't have a job to go to. He'll probably be in the Rec Room or the TV Room most of the day. I'll meet up with you guys at dinner."

"Okay," said Justin. He didn't really want to spend all day with the grouchy Andy, but he didn't know what else to do. "When will I find out about taking my classes?"

"I'll find out for you, kid," said Brian. "I'll get the list of classes offered and we'll get you certified as a student as soon as possible. Your education is important."

"Thanks, Brian." Justin thought about where he'd be if he hadn't been so stupid as to buy all that pot and then get himself arrested. He'd be starting his second semester at the Pittsburgh Institute of Fine Art. But that was all over now.

"No problem, kid."

Brian left Justin with Andy and Beemer and made his way to the Law Library. After a lull over the Holidays, January always brought a flurry of legal activity. There were new appeals to be filed and old cases to be reviewed. The New Year seemed to stir the inmates to action, so Brian had a lot to hand over to Ron on Thursday.

Brian always felt a pang when Ron came for his monthly visit. Ron was so formal and business-like with Brian now that he was on the outside. Only rarely did he have anything personal to say. It was as if Ron was avoiding anything too personal. Sometimes it felt like Ron was afraid to meet Brian's eyes.

That tore at Brian. Here was a man who he'd lived with for 8 years. Ate with. Worked with. Slept with. Maybe that had meant nothing to Ron. Maybe Brian had been just a prison convenience, easily dismissed once Ron was free and back with his wife and family. Or maybe Brian was an embarrassing reminder of something that Ron would rather forget -- his 8 years as a situational faggot.

But their relationship HAD meant something to Brian. It had literally saved his life and that was something Brian couldn't forget. Ron had been more that just his jocker, his old man, his daddy. Ron had been Brian's mentor. His teacher. His companion. His lover. Because for Brian being a queer wasn't situational, it was the way he was. He'd been gay before prison and he'd still be gay when he got out -- whenever that would be. And he'd been in love with Ron. At least he thought he'd been in love. But he'd been in love once before when he was in college -- and that had ended disastrously.

But Brian had truly believed that Ron felt the same way about him. Believed it for all the years they were together. But now the truth was revealed and that truth hurt. Now whenever he saw Brian, Ron treated him like an employee. Nothing more. Occasionally he asked how Brian was, but then Ron plunged straight into business. That made Brian feel worthless. Disposable. Everyone Brian had ever cared about had rejected him eventually. But Brian shoved those thoughts out of his head. At least he was alive. That was something.

Brian worked right through lunch and almost missed afternoon head count at 4:00. He ran up to his tier at the very last minute and one of the C.O.'s threatened to write him up.

"Beemer's steamed, Bri," said Andy while they waited for the end of lockdown to go to dinner. "That kid is driving him nuts asking all those questions."

"Beemer should be flattered by Justin's attention. If Beemer wasn't completely dickless he'd be falling all over the kid."

"Yeah," said Andy. "That's the other thing. Guys kept coming over and trying to talk to the kid, but he wouldn't speak to anybody. Phil was trying to sweet talk him into hooking up, but the kid didn't understand what Phil was yapping about." Phil, an old pal of Beemer and Andy, was an embezzler in his 40's. He was one of the jockers looking for a new punk to replace a slackjawed little mugger who had been paroled a few months before.

"Phil's a creep," muttered Brian.

"Blondie could hook up with worse guys, Bri. Phil will treat him decent. His family sends money to his canteen account so he can afford to keep the punk in goods. Phil always does right by his fuckboys."

"Bullshit!" Brian exclaimed. Picturing the ethereal Justin sucking fat Phil's ugly prick turned Brian's stomach.

Andy frowned. "Better Phil than one of those fucking bikers. Those bastards will pound his little ass into the ground."

"Why don't you just shut the fuck up already, Andy?" Brian snapped.

"Okay, okay! I'm just saying." But Andy backed off. Sometimes Brian got into these pissy moods and then you couldn't say anything to him.

A few minutes later the doors were racked and the men filed out to dinner. Justin immediately trotted over to Brian and followed him down to the Chow Hall.

"I hear you were asking Beemer a lot of questions, kid."

Justin blushed. "I guess I don't know when to shut up."

"No," replied Brian. "That's how you learn. It's good to ask questions so you don't make mistakes. I used to bug Ron constantly with my questions."

"Who's Ron?"

Brian blinked. "He was my cellmate before Andy. He taught me my job in the Law Library. He was an attorney on the outside. Now he works for the Prisoners' Legal Defense. You should have your lawyer contact them. Ron will take a look at your case. I'll tell him to make it a priority." Yeah, getting this boy out of here was the best thing for him. And the sooner the better.

"That would be great! Do you think there's a chance for my case?"

"There's always a chance, Justin. The PLD will work on an appeal. Maybe even try to get you shock probation. They know all the angles."

Justin has a strong urge to take Brian's hand and squeeze it, but he was afraid to reach out. "Thanks, Brian. I mean, for giving a shit."

"That's part of my job, kid. I'm the inside liaison for the PLD, so I know all the guys' cases."

Emmy waved at them from across the Chow Hall. "Yoo hoo! Bri Baby! Sit with us girls, honey!"

"Why do they call you that, Brian?" Justin asked as they moved through the food line. "'Bri Baby'? That guy, Phil, called you that, too."

Brian winced. "It's just an old nickname. Everybody has a nickname in the joint."

"But you don't like that nickname, do you, Brian?" Justin observed. He'd been watching the tall inmate closely and noticed his reaction.

"Not really, kid. It's a punk name. Made to remind you that you're not really a man in here. To remind you that you're a bitch and always will be," said Brian, bitterly.

Justin frowned. "I don't understand what you mean."

"You will -- eventually. Let's sit with Emmy. I'm sick of Beemer and Andy."

Brian set his tray down next to Emmy, who then grinned triumphantly at Michelle. Michelle gazed longingly at Brian -- and glared at the new kid who was dogging his heels. Justin sat down on Brian's other side.

"I talked to Dave today, Michelle. About his case."

"Oh, yeah?" Michelle shrugged. She and Dave got together for sex, but they didn't cell together or even eat together very often. Dave had his own set of buddies that he hung with.

"Dave is meeting the Parole Board next month," Brian continued.

"That's great," Michelle said without enthusiasm. If Dave was paroled then she'd have to find another daddy to provide her with goods and protect her from having to blow any guy in the Quad who wanted it. Emmy didn't mind being a prison slut, but Michelle hated it. Being hooked up with Dave meant that she didn't have to put out for anyone but her old man. Now she'd have to find a new jocker who treated her right.

Michelle really liked Brian. She thought he was the handsomest guy in the entire Quad. All the queens thought so. But Brian wasn't a jocker. That was the problem. He'd been a bitch himself from the time he entered Stanton and was still one when his old man got out of the joint almost a year ago. Once you were a bitch you stayed a bitch. The queens might have sex with Brian when they got the opportunity, but most didn't view him as a possible jocker. The queens wanted a REAL man. Only Emmy seemed to think that Brian had hook up potential. But Michelle knew that would never happen. A bitch was a bitch. Period.

She wondered, though, about this new kid. Michelle had heard a rumor that the bikers were planning a 'turning out party' for him. Once he'd been broken in by a gang of low-riders none of the other jockers would touch him with a ten foot pole! Then the bikers would take him over, lock, stock, and fuckhole.

Michelle shuddered. The queens avoided the bikers. They treated their punks like pieces of meat. Their fuckboys were always bruised and dazed-looking. And doped up. That's how they kept them quiet, with plenty of heroin and Quaaludes.

Michelle saw the kid looking at her curiously across the table. He'd find out the way it was, she thought. He should ask his new pal Brian about THAT! Brian could tell the little fish a few nasty stories about the low-riders. After all, he'd been a biker fuckboy when he first got to Stanton. Michelle's jocker before Dave, Mike, had told her all about it. That was before Bri Baby had been auctioned to that lawyer to pay off a gang debt.

Yeah, Brian could clue the kid in plenty -- if he wanted to. But Michelle figured that the blond brat would find that stuff out soon enough all by himself.

***

Chapter 7

"We're going to the TV Room and watch some tube," said Beemer as the guys left the Chow Hall. "You coming, Bri?"

Brian shook his head. "I have to go back to the Library and straighten up those files before tomorrow, because I have more cases coming in and I have to get this crap ready or Ron'll ream my ass on Thursday."

Andy guffawed. "Yeah, I bet he wishes! Too bad he can't come in for a conjugal visit, huh, Bri Baby?"

But Brian wasn't smiling. "Why don't you just shut your face, Andy?" He glanced at Justin, who was listening to the conversation with interest.

"Aw, get over yourself, Bri," Beemer sniped back.

"Take the kid with you up to the tier, okay?" Brian said.

"I ain't taking him nowhere! If he wants to come with us and watch TV then he can follow along," Beemer answered, narrowing his eyes. "I told you I ain't wet-nursing no punks. Why don't you let Phil babysit him for a while? They could get friendly."

Justin shrank back against Brian. This friend of Beemer and Andy, this Phil, had been trying to talk to him all day. He was an old fat man with bad teeth. He kept grabbing Justin's hand and trying to press it against the front of his stained prison khakis. "I don't really want to," Justin piped up. "I... I don't think I like Phil."

Beemer made a face at Justin. "You know, kid, it don't really matter what you like and don't like in here. You just do what you're told, okay?"

"That's enough, Beem," said Brian, stepping in. "If he doesn't like Phil, then he doesn't have to talk to him." Brian pulled Justin away from the older men. "Maybe you better go and sit with Emmy in her room. You can stay there until head count at 10:00, then you can go back to your own place and go to bed, okay?"

Justin was not certain he wanted to spend a lot of time with Emmy and her friends, either, but it didn't seem like he had much choice. Brian led the kid up the third tier to Emmy's cell and deposited him there.

Emmy's place was like a different universe from Brian's stark cell. It was decorated with colorful posters of movie stars and scarves and feathers were hanging from the pipes and the ceiling. Emmy's hobby was needlepoint and she had large fancy pillows with extravagant designs that she and her girlfriends had made strewn around the cell. Emmy's cellie was another queen named Barbie. Barbie had frizzy blond hair and long red fingernails that she was constantly touching up.

All the queens made a fuss over Justin, petting his golden hair and exclaiming over his porcelain skin.

"I have a blue sweater that would be PERFECT with your eyes!" said Emmy. She brought out the sweater and insisted that Justin try it on. It was made of some fuzzy wool and had sparkles all through the loose knit.

"This is a lady's sweater," maintained Justin. But Emmy stripped off his chambray workshirt shoved the sweater over his head.

"Of course, Babydoll! What else?" said Barbie, looking at Justin like he was incurably dense. "You don't think that anyone who hooks up with you is going to be picking you for your manly qualities? You might as well start growing your hair out nice and long. That's the way most fellas like it."

Justin swallowed. His throat was feeling very dry. "Everybody keeps talking about hooking up. That creepy Phil was talking to me about it. And Beemer, too. What does it mean?" Justin had a feeling that he wasn't going to like the answer.

The queens all burst into laughter and began chattering at once. But Emmy held up her hand. "Hold it, ladies! Our little fish needs to be educated so that he can make an informed decision about this important matter," Emmy said grandly. "Honey, hooking up is what every young lady like yourself must do to survive in this fucking hell-hole. There are scores of eager gentlemen out in the Quad who are anxious to make your acquaintance. We can help advise you who to consider -- and also who to avoid."

"Stay away from the low-riders! That's number one!" said Lou Lou, a chubby queen with reddish curls.

"The Bros might pay you for a quick blowjob, but they'll never hook up with you. Their black queens would have a hissy fit if that happened, so they're out," said another.

"The Mexicans are a bit rough on their ladies, but they're real macho men. Some girls like that. But avoid Francisco. He's a pimp."

"Yeah, and Little John isn't called 'Little' because of the size of his feet, honey! His dick is so small you'll need a microscope to find it!"

"Phil is fat and has bad breath, but he always has a lot of money."

"Butchie is kind of boring, but he's a nice guy. He always treated his last punk, Eric, real swell."

"Keep away from Stan. He's a sex maniac!" Michelle warned.

Emmy giggled. "You say that like it's a bad thing, girl!" And they all began laughing again.

But Justin felt sick. He slowly took off the sparkle sweater and put his workshirt back on. "I don't think I want to hook up with anyone. I think I'd rather not."

All the queens went silent. Emmy reached out and touched Justin's pale cheek. "Honey, I don't think you have much choice. Nobody has much of a choice about that. Especially not someone like you. You're young and you're soft and you're pretty. What are you going to do? Fight off a jocker when he decides to claim you? It's better to pick a man yourself before someone else decides for you. Someone who you don't like at all. It can mean the difference between an easy ride here at Stanton and a fucking nightmare."

"That's true," agreed Barbie. "My old man isn't exactly God's gift, but he's good to me. He almost never beats on me and he buys me stuff from the canteen. There's lots worse jockers around than my Danny."

"Isn't there some guy who you've seen who takes your fancy, honey?" asked Emmy, gently.

Justin's lip trembled. "Brian," he blurted out.

"It figures!" snorted Michelle. "Forget it, kid!"

"He's the only one who's been really nice to me!" Justin continued. "He's been watching out for me. He... he likes me. I know that he does."

Emmy pursed her lips. "Honey, I don't think you understand. Bri Baby isn't a jocker. You can't really hook up with him. You need a man."

Justin stared at the queens. "He seems like more of a man than anyone I've met in this rotten dump! He's smart and he talks to me. He's the only person I feel safe with in this whole joint! And that includes all of you guys!" Justin stood up. "I think I better go now."

"Honey, wait!" said Emmy, holding him back. "We all love Brian, too. He's a beautiful person. But... he's another punk! A punk can't keep another punk."

Justin looked at them all. "Why not? He's not with anybody. He's a man to me. Didn't you blow him, Emmy? that's what Michelle said."

Emmy glanced at her friend. "Big mouth bitch!"

"Like we all don't know you suck him off regularly!" Michelle spat back.

"Jealous?" Emmy retorted.

"See?" said Justin. "You all want Brian! That's why you don't want ME to have him! I'm going to tell the guards about all this stuff that's going on! I'm going to tell my lawyer and he'll tell the warden! It's all disgusting! You can't make me into any fucking GIRL!"

"Justin, listen to me," said Emmy. Her voice had changed all of a sudden. It was harder, more like a man's voice. "Everyone knows what goes on in here. The C.O.'s. The warden. The Commissioner of Prisons. Everyone. It happens at every joint, everywhere. Nobody gives a fuck. You're an inmate and nobody is going to 'save' your ass in here but YOU. And the only way you can do that is by playing the game just like everybody else. I'm serious, honey. Otherwise you might be badly hurt. If the men think you're a snitch who will go off tattling to the guards or the warden, then you are liable to end up dead. That's what happens to snitches. You're a nice little boy and we'd all hate to see anything bad happen to you."

Justin sat down on one of Emmy's big pillows. He was sweating. He didn't know what to think. He didn't know what to do.

"I hate to break up this Tupperware Party, ladies, but it's 8:00 and I'm on the night shift at the Hospital. So I better get my lovely ass over there pronto!" said Emmy. She leaned over to Justin. "You run on home, honey, and lock yourself into your cell. And think about what I told you. Because Bri Baby will tell you the same thing. He survived by playing the game, too. And so will you, hon. So will you."

The queens poured out of Emmy's cell and Justin walked along the tier with them, back in the direction of his room. But then he stopped. He turned around. Brian was working in the Library this evening. That's where he was right this minute. Justin had to talk to him! It was urgent!

Except he didn't know where the Library was.

He walked back to the other end of his tier and climbed down to the next level. The next tier after that was the ground floor where the Chow Hall was located. He knew the Library was also on the ground tier.

Standing on the second landing was a muscular man wearing a tight white tee shirt. He had tattoos all over his arms. He was leaning against the railing of the stairs, but he straightened up when he saw Justin approaching.

"Excuse me, but can you tell me where the Library is?" Justin asked.

The man grinned. "Sure. Follow me. Right this way, little fishy fish."

Posted November 21, 2004.