“There isn’t any real good reason for fighting except self-defense.”
―S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders
Tracy was beginning to wonder if she and Loyce should have been taken to the hospital before their jail sentence. If, in fact, they should have received medical attention immediately after their arrest, or at least before the trial. Was Loyce, she pondered, asking the same question? Had she felt the same stomach-turning anxiety during the trial, the same compulsion to crawl somewhere dark and silent until everyone forgot she or Tracy Skaid ever existed?
Is this guilt? Tracy thought. It could be: she had pleaded guilty, after all. But so had Loyce, and after three years of delinquent partnership, Tracy could say with certainty that Loyce Flannery was mercifully unburdened by the presence of a conscience. And, while Tracy had never been able to share Loyce’s carefree amorality, she did not feel that bad about any of the petty crimes they had committed together, or their recent attempt at a major robbery. With the looming sense of impending doom which had kept its hold on her since the failed robbery of the chemical plant, the security of a federal correctional facility had seemed comforting.
The comfort proved fleeting. Loyce, she had found out, was to be incarcerated at the same facility, which would not have been so bad under normal circumstances, except that Tracy had gotten her a much, much longer sentence. In exchange for a shortened sentence (three rather than seven years), Tracy had spoken in detail about Loyce’s history of criminal activity, which had proceeded without serious consequence even before Tracy joined up with her, a confused, embittered kid grown into an equally ill-adjusted adult. Considering the gradual escalation of Loyce’s parade of petty criminality and her borderline sociopathy, Tracy had decided that prison was the best place for her partner to be, for everyone’s sake.
Loyce would kill her. Tracy had only had a few fleeting glimpses of her through their first two weeks in South Dakota Women’s Prison, and every time she felt the other woman’s eyes on her when she wasn’t looking, her stomach coiled into a nauseous helix. Loyce would cut her throat with a piece of metal or sharp plastic or a stolen tool at night, or in the cafeteria or some other public place because she would be careless with vengeful anger.
“No chance, honey,” Tracy’s bunkmate had said. “It’s harder to get a shiv in here than you’d think.” The woman had smiled a yellow smile. “I know, I tried.”
“Well, then she’ll use her hands,” Tracy had replied, resolutely unhopeful. Loyce was taller than her by a head, and lean with muscle, and she had spent much of her time on the road compiling a vocabulary of quick, creative ways to hurt people as much as possible with little effort. She had seen it happen. Loyce liked getting her way and punishing people when she didn’t. Tracy brought one trembling hand to the bruise on her neck where her “friend” had struck her during the botched job that landed them in their cells.
“Why the fuck did you do that?” Tracy remembered screaming after Loyce had shot the janitor in the chemical plant. He had been gasping wetly, clutching his chest, writhing and kicking on the ground after the woman picking the lock to the side entrance had been surprised by his presence and reacted with her Browning Hi-Power. “Are you crazy? You could have—” Tracy had been staggered by the force of Loyce’s strike.
“Don’t fucking talk to me like that!” Loyce had cried. “Forget him and help me find the safe before anyone shows up. Chrissake, you never usually overreact like this.”
They had found the safe, and then been found, in turn, by the local police no more than a mile away from the plant. But not before they had found the dark steaming chamber of vats and the pressure failure within, which the janitor had been going to attend to before Loyce had shot him. They had been blown against the wall by the blast of air, of discolored smoke that stained their clothes, of vapor that prickled their skin like a cloud of centipede legs, of overpowering and noxious odors like a pharmacy fire. They had grown dizzier and itchier, and Loyce had crashed their car into a utility pole when the police had come after them after the robbery, unable to stop the road from seemingly flipping underneath her.
And they hadn’t gone to the hospital, and they hadn’t been tested, and now Tracy’s dizziness had returned, making the cell spin even as the anaconda coils of anxiety made it seem as if the world was closing in on her like a trash compactor, shrinking.
Tracy saw her cellmate was now out of bed, and pointing at her, open-mouthed, trembling. Tracy was wondering why, when she at last realized that she was not imagining the tearing noise she had been trying to ignore, and her jumpsuit was bursting open. She pressed her back against the wall, scooted toward the corner of the cell, willing herself to shrink down, waiting to wake up from what had to be some nightmare induced by inhaling the vapors at the plant. But no; her feet felt like they were bound in lotus shoes, her chest and hips were swelling to destroy her clothes, and everything was all wrong.
“H-help,” Tracy gasped as her head smacked the ceiling and the shreds of her orange jumpsuit fluttered to the ground. “Help!” She tore at her untrimmed brunette mane and slid to the floor, fearing that there would soon be no room for her rapidly expanding body in the cell. “Please, for the love of God, somebody help me!”
Her cellmate was doing just that, desperately rattling the bars and shouting for guards, and the women in the neighboring cells were following suit, filling the cellblock with the clamor of trapped animals waiting to be crushed. It was all too much for Tracy. She managed, agonizingly, to tuck her lengthening legs beneath her ballooning rear, get on her knees before rising onto her toes. This was her only chance.
“Out of the way!” she bellowed at her cellmate. The terrified woman flattened herself against the corner of the cell opposite the brunette behemoth, still growing with internal groans and pops and crackles, stomach and breasts swollen free of an undershirt now as thin as an old handkerchief, eyes wild with hysteria and pain Tracy hurled herself at the bars containing her. They may have been sufficient for humans subject to the laws of physics, but not the Unfortunate Growing Tracy Skaid: they bent, then tore out completely. The huge woman was able to stand up outside the cell, eliciting assorted screams, whistles, and exclamations of astonishment from the other prisoners (“Look at the size of that bitch!” “She could crush cars with them thighs, goddamn!” “I like ‘em with meat on their bones, but not big enough to fuckin’ eat me!”).
I need to get outside, Tracy thought. Before I get any—
There were more screams, but now from the neighboring cell block, and they were accompanied by gunshots and the rattle of exploding sting grenades. Some of the screams were men’s. Tracy had wondered, briefly, why no guards were coming to respond to the ruckus in her area. She then heard why: a bass roar that sounded equal parts tiger, bull, and raging mountain gorilla. More specifically, King Kong. Nothing in the aural chemistry of that sound, so loud that it sent the whole of South Dakota Women’s Prison into full screaming-for-mother, bargaining-with-God pandemonium, suggested production by a human, but Tracy knew the only other woman in the prison exposed to the dreadful vapors of that chemical plant was probably undergoing the same impossible transformation as she was, and enjoying it far more. Not wishing to meet her face-to-face, Tracy took advantage of the momentary pause in her growth—she towered almost up to the third level of cells, her clothes obliterated, a Rubens altarpiece in three doughy dimensions—and dropped to the floor with a boom, crawling toward the doors that lead outside, to the yard. With one fist she sent the steel doors sailing into the yard and pulled herself through like a badger invading a molehill, her tremendous thighs beginning once more to expand just as they were being wrenched free of the doorway. Tracy had nothing to measure her size against, but presumed herself to be in the area of four or five stories. The awful, sensuous multiplication of cells had stopped, and Tracy peered through the crumbling doorway to see what was inevitably coming for her, thundering through the building, bringing with it the sounds of tearing metal and crunching bone.
Loyce Flannery had never looked, to Tracy’s eyes, more beautiful or more grotesque. Already grown larger than her brunette ex-cohort, Loyce had long outpaced the capacity of her clothes to stretch about her burgeoning body, and almost had to hunch over in the building. Her unkempt dark hair hung about her face, her ice-chip eyes, her curled lips and half-radiant-half-feral grin; her prominent breasts hung like ripe honeydew melons above her boilerplate belly; her arms, all sinew and strength, her legs, pistons pumping beneath her obscenely swollen sex, hard ivory pillars of muscle swinging blood-stained feet. In her fist she clutched a limp, jointless kewpie doll that dripped red all over her hand, a blue-clad doll that may have been a human not too long ago, a prison guard, but was now broken beyond all recognition by Loyce’s new might. She tossed her hair back, looked down at Tracy peeping into the building like a frightened mouse through a hole.
“Well,” Loyce said in a raspy near-approximation of her original voice, “look who else is enjoying a delayed reaction.” She tossed away the corpse in her fist, casually tore open a cell, and extracted the weeping trio of inmates within, rolling them around in her hands and examining them with fascination. The massive woman squealed and jolted; her growth was resuming. She dropped the women unceremoniously, screaming, to the ground to rub her hands over the ever-larger curves and muscular contours of her growing body. She moaned, an unfeminine noise like a bison’s lowing, and leered at Tracy, who scrambled away into the yard.
“You never did know how to enjoy yourself!” came Loyce’s voice groaning from inside. “I’ll show you what you could be doing with this power if you weren’t such a cowardly little shit!”
She can’t break through, Tracy hoped, she’ll crush herself to death in—
The roof burst open like an eggshell from Loyce’s rising head and the force of her fists thrust skyward. She roared in ecstasy—Tracy clapped her hands over her ears—and vaulted out of the ruined building. Tracy was still growing, but slower, and in a much less pleasurable fashion than the other giant woman in the prison yard.
She had to find a weapon. What could a fifty-foot woman use to hurt an even bigger woman? Prison makes many into masters of vicious improvisation, but Tracy had never picked up on that sort of thing, and her drastic increase in scale had made things that much more difficult.
“I was going to fuck you,” Loyce rumbled, striding across the yard, escaped inmates and frantic guards swarming out of the prison behind her. “I was going to make you squeal like the little piggy you are before I broke your neck and smashed this shithole into dust. But you don’t fuckin’ deserve that.”
Tracy bolted, stumbling under the burden of her increasing weight outpacing her strength, to the edge of the yard, to the high walls that would still be an effort to climb and misery to bring down. Growing hurt. Being big hurt. Why wasn’t it hurting the monster advancing toward her?
“You betrayed me, you little cunt,” Loyce said. She launched herself at the smaller giant, caught her by the hair as she tried to duck away. She yanked Tracy off the ground and relished the sight and sound of another absurdly large human being reduced to tears by her strength. It could only get better. “After everything I did for you, after I helped your fat, worthless ass, you sold me the fuck out! Well, I’m gonna teach you to fuckin’ regret that before you die.”
Tracy lashed out with her right leg and thought her shin must have cracked against the hardness of Loyce’s torso. The dark-haired leviathan released her grip on Tracy’s hair and watched her crawl backward with amusement.
“Where are you gonna go, huh? You’re just big enough that you can’t hide, and just small enough that I can break you.” She pounced on Tracy, whose scream was cut short by the weight of vast mammaries pressing down on her face. Loyce wrapped the smaller woman in a tight embrace, and for an instant Tracy thought of a select few nights spent in motels or parked in the middle of nowhere, stuck in much the same position. Loyce ran her fingers roughly through the hair she had just been pulling and whispered into her old friend’s ear.
“This is great. You’re the perfect size for me. Not bigger than me, not too small to play with. See what kinda fun we could have?” Tracy thought the sniffling she heard was fake, until she pushed her head free of Loyce’s cleavage and saw that she was actually crying. “Why’d you have to tell them so much? This coulda been great. We’d have way more fun than even before we got thrown in here. I could make you feel so good.” She slid Tracy to eye level and kissed her passionately, caressing her face, kneading her breasts and soft belly and plump thighs. There were distant cries of disbelief.
“I changed my mind. I’m gonna fuck you. I need to.” Loyce sat up and panted as she shot up another many feet, perhaps more than ten, then lowered her immense weight back onto the confused, frightened Tracy. Loyce giggled. “I know you want me to forgive you, Little Piggy. You wanna make me feel good sooooo bad, right? You wanna make me forget what you did? Well, I can’t, but I am gonna fuck you before I kill you. What a way to go, right?”
Tracy sank her teeth into Loyce’s left breast and scrambled out from under her as the bigger woman fell back and bellowed that terrible, inhuman sound from when she outgrew her cell. She looked back to the main building, where some of the guards were trying to restore order, corralling and evacuating the inmates, calling for help that still wasn’t arriving. There were, she saw, some guards up in the towers, but they were too terrified to shoot at her or Loyce. Probably for the best, she figured; they’d need some damn high caliber stuff to do any serious damage to either of them.
“You’re dead, bitch!” Loyce said.
The giant charged. Tracy took two steps back before Loyce was upon her, into the basketball court. Tracy barely came up to her chest now. Loyce reached an arm out for her prey’s throat, the other hand clutching her bleeding breast, and Tracy reached down for the nearest object she could use in defense. As the hand fastened about her neck, Tracy grabbed the top of the basketball hoop and swung it at Loyce’s head. The swing was too low; the base snapped off against the side of her neck. Tracy clenched her teeth and squeezed her eyes shut and hoped that God would forgive her and let her into Heaven to see her grandma.
Tracy felt the pressure of fingers disappear from her neck and a hot spray splash her face. She opened her eyes, and they were stung by blood. Blood on the jagged end of the hoop’s metal pole, spraying from Loyce’s carotid artery, from where the rusted metal had slashed the titaness’s throat wide open. The giant dead body’s weight crashed down on Tracy; it dwindled a bit in height as it fell, increasing the blood flow to a gush. Gallons of blood, and that awful metallic smell, coated the woman trapped underneath the slain giant. It pooled out to drench the entire court and stain much of the yard.
There must have been more screaming from the spectators, witnessing the brutal end to Loyce’s rampage. But they were all drowned out, as was the arrival of National Guard helicopters, by Tracy, screaming the loudest of all, at a volume to be heard for miles, by none who could understand who it was or how badly she needed help.