Rachel Part 2

by Starling

Prequel: To Console

Rachel choked back a snore, snapping her head up again. Her short black snout was crinkled in irritation and stress. The rows of quills on her back sagged with exhaustion.

It's not like she intended to be a 100 pound porcupine. The Martian Flu makes no accomodations for choice. But good lord! She'd welcome this curse if it would help her get a job. "Hold on girl, here comes reality" she told herself. Rachel's spines made any kind of human interaction almost impossible.

A big walking chia pet (not chia-pet, that's hedgehogs) wasn't considered an ideal candidate for information processing. At least that's what they told her--the polite ones. On and on... say nothing of the fear and even hate. People hate anything that reminds them of loss, even when the object of their hatred is suffering the same as them. The way people treated her was less than human. The prospects of getting a job looked bleak.

And Rachel needed a job badly. Three steady meals were starting to get few and far between. Her diet wasn't exactly take-out, had to be special ordered, and sometimes it was just so easy to skip a meal to have enough money for a drink to sooth the nerves.

Rachel fidgeted with the button on her blouse, desperately idle. The man had said 8:00. Eight AM, and it was now an hour past 12. He didn't want to deal with her, didn't even have the guts to refuse her. He was waiting her out, that much was clear. Hiding in his little office waiting for her to give up and go away. Rachel didn't have anything better to do with her day, though. It was sad really.

She would take the clothes, children's clothing mostly, and cut it at the inseam, discarding all but the front half. Rachel sewed buckle straps here and there that she could thread through the quills so that the clothing could cover her belly and more... sensitive parts. The staps fit snugly along her back beneath the multitude of sharp hairs.

It may have seemed ridiculous; she certainly didn't have anything that showed anymore above the fur. But it was her best effort to look less like an animal, and more well... presentable. It made a difference in the way people treated her, and Rachel swore to herself up and down that she was not going to show up naked for a job interview.

Rachel was glad for the security of the clothing in a way. It kept people from noticing. Rachel, when she saw herself every morning in the mirror... she was starting to see her ribs.

The half hour passed again and Rachel sighed. She wanted to stay day and night until that bastard of an employer deigned to see her, but her stomach was aching again and rumbling. No denying she had to find lunch, having not had... time for breakfast today.

As Rachel turned to leave the secretary of that man stood up behind her desk.

"Please," the lady said holding out a hastily scribbled note. "Take this," she urged, clearly not sure how to press it into Rachel's hands without...

"It's okay," Rachel said as she took the note. "I'm soft in front." She looked at the slip of paper. There was a phone number on it.

"Call them," the lady continued. "They'll help you out."

"It's okay," she said as Rachel moved to thank her. "It could have been me walking out that door."

Rachel thanked the lady anyway, clutching the note awkwardly as she dropped down to a walking position. "Don't tell anyone I told you about 'em," the lady whispered. "They're... not Union."

"Okay," Rachel said shambling out the door with much more to think about than when she came in. Once it shut, she secreted the note behind her back. No place more secure than there. Then she gratefully dropped on all fours and padded down along the hallway, ignoring the stares of the people at the reception desk. They'd seen her on two feet coming in, but not even that little courtesy had helped show them she was still human.

"Hello? Busted Bra Nightclub, Arnie speaking."

Rachel hung up. Damn! What did that lady think, she was some kind of prostitute?

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Last Updated: Saturday January 22, 2005 (13:55:48)