January 1st 2005 (Year One) 12:51 am PST
Southeast Portola California
Main Girl’s dorm hall
Hope was taking up the lead of the trail of adults who were walking the young ones to the dorm halls after the New Years Party. Her parents had already headed home. They had left before the ball even got close to dropping. Some of the adults and children were in bed already. That was mostly those who had to work the kitchen early in the morning, those who had jobs in the nearby towns, and the kids under the age of ten. The option to stay up was there, but some of the kids just were too young to stay up that late. She had already gone and checked the main gate, to make sure it was closed, after her parents had left. While she did that, she made sure the sign for the ranch was still lit. The sign was next to the main road, on the property that she owned. Across the little drive was her parent's property. Many times people had sought her out in the middle of the night. So she determined that the sign would stay light, nightly. It was a beacon for those in need.
As they passed the side of the main building, Hope sighed. This had been another holiday season passed and no word from her elder brother, Larry. Around fifteen years had passed since he had left in a fit of rage. The sound of his truck was the last she had ever heard of him.
Life had been weird for them ever since that fateful day her brother left. From hitting the Lottery, then opening up what would become a school and refuge for transgendered youth, plus pregnant girls on the run. Her life had meaning now. The dorm was part of the old Prison complex she had bought. It had taken some time to renovate it to fit their needs. Plus they had to get rid of the bars and prison feel to it, at least in the parts that were in use. While she still had her ranch house she had bought with her lottery winnings. That place was now used more as an office for her. Plus as a place for the farm hands to rest on their breaks. Though, her parent’s house also was used for the same purpose.
The main building held their mess hall. It also had some of their class rooms, plus the school’s radio station and computer lab. Right behind and to the sides, was a hall that stretched out from the main building and attached to five other buildings, four of these were dorm halls. The hall bent slightly as it went away form the main building, so each of the buildings weren’t too close to the next. The central one was more classrooms, plus an enclosed gym area and their medical center, which really had no one working it, except Hope’s mother. For the dorms, there were two for the girls, two for the boys. Both of the Girl’s dorms were joined in the middle by a smaller hallway that held a communal shower room. Hope had redesigned to make it less like a prison shower. Now each shower was in a small cubicle. With an outer cubicle to get dressed and undressed in. There was also several bathrooms. A large one with ten toilets connected to the shower room, plus five more bathrroms along each dorm hall, with three toilets in each. The two boy’s dorms held the same. Yet there were no hallways connecting the central part of the boy’s dorms to the girls dorms, Other than the main hall that was currently off limits. All of the toilet’s that had been in each cell had been removed, as had the plumbing. Now each room had an actual door that could close and lock, should the occupant want.
All of the dorms had a ground level, then there were partial basement levels, which were currently empty. Hope kept those areas locked off, so no one would get stuck down where the rooms still had prison bars. A separate building lay closer to her ranch. This was the garage. Currently it housed the ranch’s vans. At the gate leading to the main road was a small guard shack. They didn't have a guard anymore, but it held the controls for the gate. On her parent’s property was the garage that they used to work on all the vehicles of the ranch. Along the edge of the properties, the prison had a hedge fence, coupled with an actual fence, that Hope kept, but made sure it was covered in shrubs, so no one thought they were in jail.
Although she couldn’t see them, she knew the boys were on their way across the yard with the last of the boys and transmale teens. Cledus and his two friends from Texas led that motley troupe through the crunchy snow. The male members of her tech mice were taking up the rear. She went to the fancy keypad on the girl’s dorm and punched in the code. After entering the code, the light turned green, and one of the girls with her pulled it open and held it for everyone to walk in. She hated making the children trudge through the cold from the warm dining hall, but since the workers had stopped work on the halls that led to both dorms, they had no choice. Being partly state observed, they had to keep kids safe. She undid her coat. Thankfully the heater in the dorms were all working.
The workers had started the project in July, reworking the wires, but some of them had been hassled by Rufus to stop coming, so Hope had to wait until the proposed finished date passed, so she could start a lawsuit and get someone else to finish. This forced the kids to walk out in the cold. This was being used by the same deputy to try and shut them down, which had been stopped by the people in Sacramento.
Several of the trans-females were shuffling towards their rooms. Bishop turned in the door near the main door to find three of the young ones in her bed, waiting for her. Hope smiled as she passed by and headed for her room, which was in the center of the main dorm. The other dorm was held aside for girls with allergies, namely those who could not be around dogs, as there were several helper dogs on the campus of the school. Across the hall from Bishop’s room, the room that Sylvia Carter had claimed was open and empty. She was sure to be in Texas. Hope knew that without Sylvia and her son, Cledus, the Ranch would have failed years before. Tink and Tech passed her, each of them hugging Hope on their way through. Then came some of the others. One of the last to hug her was Carly, who rarely showed any kind of affection to anyone.
Hope thought back on the first time she had met Bishop and the girls she had rescued from a bad situation. A group of scared young girls who the system had failed. A low point in their lives, where a Young Bishop was forced to take matters into her own hands. Then she thought about how Cledus and his crew came to the Ranch, just a few years back, looking for a new chance, away from Texas. She thought about how Tink, Carley and Tech all had made their way to her school. As the girls and transgendered kids passed her, She nodded to Annie, whom many of the kids called the Reverend. Hope knew that without her, the kids would have run amok ages before.
As strange as it was. With as many problems as they had faced, she knew she wouldn’t trade her life for anything. Not as long as the kids needed her.
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