Written by: SwordnQuill (Susanne Beck)
Disclaimers: The characters in this novel are of my own creation. Thats right, this is an uber story. Some may bear a resemblance to characters we know and love who are owned by PacRen and Universal Studios.
Violence and Naughty Language Disclaimer: Yup, both. And quite a lot of each, to be truthful. This takes place in a prison, and where there are criminals, theres gonna be violence and naughty words.
Subtext Disclaimer: Yup, theres that too. This piece deals, after a fashion, with the love and physical expression of that love, between two adult females. There are some graphic scenes located within this piece, but I have tried to make them as tasteful as possible so as to not avoid anyones sensibilities. Let me know if Ive succeeded.
Serialization Disclaimer: When I first started writing and posting, I made a promise to myself, and to anyone who read me, that I would never post a work that wasnt finished. I detest serialization, normally. But . . .this novel, which is one week from being finished, is becoming very long and Ive had readers write to me stating that they wont read novels because they just dont have time to sit down and read such gargantuan works. So, I compromised. This piece is finished (very nearly) and will go up at regular intervals so that the folks who like to read in small chunks can do that and the ones who like to read the whole thing can do that too.
Dedication: As always, Id like to thank the man who gives up some of his free time every day to read the stuff I send over to him. The best beta-reader on the planet, Mike. Id also like to thank my other betas: Candace (who read the entire novel in IM and showed her support every night), Rachel, and Alex. A special thank-you goes to Sulli, who made a very bad day a wonderful one with her gift of generosity. I would also like to thank Mary D for reading and housing this at her site. But mostly, Id like to thank the readers for reading my stuff and giving me such great feedback. Its what makes sitting in front of this balky computer and tickling the tans so much fun. Feedback, if anyone is so inclined, is always gratefully received and appreciated. I can be reached atSwordnQuil@aol.com .
The next few weeks went by in a blur that was full of disappointing news. Donita called twice to tell me, each time, that the judge she was scheduled to speak with had other cases that had priority over mine. It was difficult, this hurry up and wait roller coaster ride of emotions I was going through. One minute I was up, ready to take on the world. The next, I was swimming in a sea of depression, shunning everyone. Everyone, even Ice, started to treat me with kid gloves.
As if feeding off my swirling emotions, the prison natives also began to get restless. There was a feeling of increasing tension within the Bog; a tension so thick that even I, who was deep in a morass of my very own, could feel it. It was almost like the time before the riots, when the stress was so thick, you could snip at it with dull scissors if you had a mind to.
Ice was putting in inordinately long hours at the auto shop, going down each day after morning head count and not returning to her cell until shortly before lights out. Apparently, Morrison had struck paydirt in his stolen car racket and was using Ices special skills to the limit. What little spare time she had, she seemed to want to spend alone, or, almost grudgingly, it seemed, with me from time to time over those long weeks. There was something deeper going on with her. But, my mind tied up with my own troubles, I didnt take the time to dig deep enough.
Given the events that transpired only a short time later, everything in me wishes that I could just turn back the clock and do it all again, the right way.
One evening, after shutting down the library, I walked down the silent, dim hallway toward the main square, my thoughts awhirl with turbulent emotions. More than anything, though, I wanted to see Ice and resolved to head up to her cell before I did anything else.
As if by magic, an arm captured me and pulled me into yet another of the doorways that stood silently in the long hallway. My hormones surged and a smile split my lips before the chilling feel of metal pressed up against my neck froze my blood in its veins.
"Hello, little whore," a sing-song voice sounded very close to my ear, "didja miss me?"
Psycho!!, my mind screamed as I tried desperately to control my breathing. Keep calm, Angel. You can figure a way out of this. Just keep calm and dont react to anything she says until you can use it to your advantage. The words of Montana and Critter and Ice played through my mind in a soothing mantra, calming my heart-rate slightly. "What do you want, Cassandra."
A tinkling laugh sounded behind me. "And here I thought you had all the brains in the relationship, tramp. Isnt it obvious what I want?"
"Can you just . . .explain it to me? So I know for sure?" I tried to sound as vacant and pitiful as I could, knowing that sometimes that worked on people like Cassandra.
I could feel my plan working when her sigh brushed against the short hair framing my ear. Her grip twisted on the knife just the slightest bit and I readied myself for action. "Oh, alright," she said in a tone reserved for teaching the profoundly mentally disabled. "Its simple, really. You cuckolded Ice away from me, and so you must die. Is that easy enough for you to understand?"
"Yes, I think Ive got it now."
"Do you? Good." I could feel her smile against the skin of my cheek as she brought her head down next to mine. "Any last requests?"
Stamping down on her foot as hard as I could, I brought my hands up hard, fingers stiffened to thrust between her arm and my neck. Prying her away, I brought her arm down with all my strength. "Get your damn knife the hell away from my neck!!"
I could tell she was surprised, because the maneuver, never practiced against a real opponent intent on severing my head from my shoulders, worked perfectly. After a split-second, though, I could feel her start to respond, stabilizing her grip on the knife and turning its lethal edge inward.
There was the muted sound of cloth parting and then I felt a warm trickle run down my left thigh. Though I couldnt feel anything, I knew Id been cut. Looking down, I saw the orange of my jumpsuit quickly darken to a rust as my blood seeped from the slice in my flesh.
Determined not to give her another chance, I brought my other hand down on her wrist, twisting for all I was worth. We both grunted. The knife came free, spinning through the small room where I had been taken.
Her reflexes cat-quick, Cassandra dove for the knife right as it skittered across the cement floor. I was just a half step behind her. As she grabbed the knife, my foot came down once again, this time trapping both weapon and flesh beneath my shoe.
During the rush for the knife, the door slammed close behind us, and so Cassandras scream of frustration, and I hoped, pain, was unheard by the prison in general. Psycho struggled like a fish on a line, trying to pull both the knife and her hand free, but I was having none of it. "Let me go, you bitch!"
"Let go of the knife and Ill raise my foot, Cassandra."
"Like hell I will!" Turning her head, she opened her mouth wide and the next thing I felt was my wounded thigh, the same leg that was trapping Cassandra, being bitten into. Hard.
I opened my mouth wide, but panted through the pain, slapping her head as hard as I could to get her to disengage. She shook her head like a terrier, growling as her jaws spasmed shut. The pain was so intense, I almost fainted.
My leg weakened, then jittered. Shouting in triumph, Cassandra pulled the knife free. Her shout freed her teeth from my thigh and, gritting my own teeth so hard I nearly bit off my own tongue, I jammed my foot back down as hard as I could, the abused muscles literally screaming out their own agony. I could hear the sickening crunch of small bones breaking and my stomach did a lazy flip-flop, making me thank God that Id been too busy to eat dinner. "Let it go, Cassandra!"
She literally howled this time, her voice raising in pitch so high that I was forced to slap my hands over my ears and wonder if any glass that happened to be in this little room would shatter from her voice alone.
"Let . . . it . . .go!" God help me, I actually twisted my foot, grinding her hand further beneath the hard sole of my prison shoe.
She turned to bite me once again and I knew I couldnt stand another one. So, putting all my weight on my injured leg, the one that had Cassandras hand trapped against the rough cement floor, I brought up my free leg and kneed her in the head as hard as I could. My leg screamed out in agony at the same time Cassandra screamed in reality, slumping onto her back, trapped only by my foot still on her hand.
Quickly, I lifted my leg, then bent down and retrieved the knife, holding it almost as one would hold a gun, in a two-handed grip, the tip pointed at her head. "Alright now," I said, trying to keep the waver from my hands as well as my voice. "Youre going to listen to me Cassandra."
Inhaling deeply, she pursed her lips and spat at me. Though I tried to dodge, it landed right on my midsection, causing my stomach to do another slow roll. "Thats what I think of your talking, whore." She wiped her heavily bleeding nose with the back of her hand, her dark eyes glittering with hatred.
"Think whatever you want, Cassandra. But Im the one with the knife here."
"Not for long," she muttered. "You dont even know how to hold it, let alone use it as a weapon."
"I didnt know how to use a baseball bat as a weapon either, but my husbands dead anyway. Check the obituaries. Its in there."
That silenced her for a short period as she thought about what Id said. "So spit it out already," she finally said grudgingly.
"Fine." I knew I had to make this convincing. "I dont really care what you think happened between Ice and me. Fact is, Im getting out soon, on appeal. After that, shes all yours again. So . . . .how about we make a little deal?"
"And what kind of deal would you make, little girl," she said, sarcasm dripping from her words.
"Only this. You walk away like nothing ever happened and I dont rat you out to Ice. Because if she ever finds out what you did to me, you can pretty much rule out living long enough to ever make that dream of yours a reality."
She simply looked up at me from her place on the floor, her chocolate eyes wide. I could have sworn I saw just the tiniest shard of respect there. Still . . . . "You wouldnt rat."
"Wouldnt I? Whats to stop me, hmm?"
"The prison code."
"The prison code," I repeated. "As in, the prison Im leaving soon? That prison code?"
I could tell I had unbalanced her. I decided to move in for the figurative kill. "Besides," I said, smiling, "its not as if I can hide this from Ice, you know. The cut I might be able to explain away, but the bite mark? Thatd be a little difficult, dont you think? And since Ive never lied to her before . . . ." My voice trailed off teasingly, letting her finish the thought herself.
Of course, I was lying, through my proverbial teeth. There wasnt a chance in hell that I would ever let Ice get close enough to my naked thigh to see what Cassandra had done to it. I would never make good on my threat, but Cassandra didnt need to know that. It was my one and only card to play, aside from, of course, the knife I held in my hands. If Ice ever found out what happened, Cassandra would be so much blood on the wall. Of that I was sure.
The tiny room was bathed in silence as Cassandra stared at me, calculating. "Youre a tough little bitch, Ill give you that."
Some type of perverse pleasure filled me at her words, though I struggled not to let it show. I was already enjoying this little dominance/submission act way too much and that was scaring me more than the thought of what Ice would do if she ever found out about this little adventure. "Well?" I asked, prodding her into making some type of decision. "Do we have a deal?"
"And if I refuse to go along with this little delusion of grandeur youre having here?"
"I parade you though the jail at knife point. Right up to Ices cell."
She looked at me, then at the knife. The very tip of her tongue darted out to smooth her lips. She smiled. "Do you really think you could do that? To me?"
I hardened my gaze. "Try me."
I could see the muscles of her throat move as she swallowed, the flickering of light and shadow over the ivory column of her neck. "Alright," she said softly. "Ill go along with your little deal." Her lips curved upward in a faux smile. "For now." She held up a hand. "But when your injuries heal and its your word against mine," her smile broadened, "well . . .dont think this is over."
"Believe me, I dont."
"Good. As long as we understand one another." Her white teeth flashing, Cassandra hopped nimbly to her feet, making a half-hearted grab for the knife, an attempt which I easily avoided, as she did so. Throwing back her head, and cradling her broken hand against her chest, she laughed, long and loud. Then, grasping the doorknob with her good hand, she opened the portal and stepped back out into the hallway, turning her head and giving me a malicious, knowing wink before she disappeared from my sight.
As she left, I stood there, frozen, well aware, suddenly, of the mistake Id just made. It was a sure bet that the guards had discovered her escape by now. They were, no doubt, combing the prison for her. And when they found her, all she had to do was turn the tables on me, stating that Id accosted her and threatened her with a knife, and Id be in the hole for God knew how long. My chances at a new trial would go up like so much smoke from a forest fire. And shed get away with it, too. I was the one with the knife. My fingerprints were all over it. So what if I was the one bleeding? I already had more than enough experience with how being injured defending oneself could lead to all sorts of nasty accusations. After all, I was an inmate, wasnt I?
The knife hanging limply in one hand, I listened carefully through the door, which Id closed after Cassandra left, my ear pressed up against the rough, splintered wood.
After a few moments of silence, I heard the sounds of running feet and shouting that told me that the guards had found Cassandra. I held my breath, my palms sweating, my leg throbbing like a rotted tooth in some ghoulishly grinning deaths head mask. Plainly put, I was scared. My bladder was sending out an urgent summons which I crossed my legs against receiving.
Cassandras high-pitched cackle filled the air and I almost screamed. The knife dropped from my clenched fist, clattering against the cold floor. The rich iron-copper taste of blood filled my mouth as I bit my lips against the noise forming in the back of my throat.
"I was just taking a walk, ladies. Cant a girl have a little freedom around here?" Psychos laugh filled the air once again, getting dimmer to my hearing as she was, no doubt, led back to her cell.
I waited in absolute, terror-filled silence for the footsteps I was sure were coming for me. Minutes went by during which entire worlds were born, thrived, and reduced to their component atoms. My throat clicked as I swallowed. I counted to one thousand in my head several times, slowly, like I used to do when we would play touch football during recess at school. "One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi," I breathed against the door.
Then I counted once more, for good measure.
The expected footsteps never came. Then, my bladder shouted out a warning too harsh to be ignored. If I didnt leave my hiding spot right that second, blood on my uniform wouldnt be the only stain Id have to explain away.
I gripped the knob with a trembling hand and turned it as slowly as it was possible to do so, wincing at the telltale click that disengaged the lock. Opening it the tiniest sliver, I peered down the hallway. Empty silence greeted my gaze.
Taking in a deep breath, I slowly, silently pulled the door open wide enough to slip through, taking one last cautionary look around before exposing myself. The hallway was as empty as it had been a second ago. I slipped out, turning left and making my way, limping, back toward the safe confines of the library. Not surprisingly, the need to empty my bladder disappeared as soon as I was safely inside.
Slipping into and being instantly calmed by the familiar surroundings, I flipped the lights on and made my way to the far corner behind Corinnes always-messy desk. On the shelf behind her hotplate, teakettle, teabags and assorted mugs lay a fairly large box emblazoned with a red cross on its white plastic finish. Shed put it there after the last riot and it was fairly well stocked with the requisite bandages, tape, scissors, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol swabs and quite a few drugs more commonly seen in hospitals, pharmacies and, in some cases, on the mean streets than in a prison library. There were even syringes to inject some of the more potent, and highly illegal, drugs.
Secreting myself in the shadows, I quickly stripped down to my underwear, letting the jumpsuit puddle down around my ankles as I took my first good look at the wound Cassandra had given me.
It was, to be blunt, ugly. The cut itself wasnt that deep. It had already stopped bleeding, for the most part. But the bite mark was a different story altogether. There, on my thigh, outlined in vivid, angry red, was the perfect imprint of Cassandras front teeth, upper and lower. The puncture wounds looked like a dentists mold in reverse.
"Jesus." I whispered the oath as I gingerly fingered the lividity, watching it blanch a sickly yellowed white before turning back to red when the pressure was removed. The punctures bled sluggishly and I supposed that was one of the few good things about this whole experience. I tried to think back to when Id received my last tetanus shot, well knowing that human bites were more dangerous than dog bites could ever be. Then I remembered that Id received one in the Emergency Room after Id been beaten by Peter, which, of course, put it well within the ten year limit of the vaccines protection.
Reaching into the kit, I grabbed the bottle of peroxide, twisted it open, and upended it, allowing the liquid to flow unhindered onto my thigh. The peroxide hissed and bubbled as it seeped into the wounds and I hissed right along with it, wincing against the stinging in my leg.
Then I grabbed a rolled bandage and blotted off the excess liquid, careful not to touch the wound. "Ok, Angel, what next? You cleaned the wound. You probably should bandage it, right?" My whispered words sounded loud in the emptiness of the library.
Agreeing with myself, I opened a sterile gauze pad, placed it on top of the wound, and wrapped a rolled bandage around my thigh several times before grabbing a roll of tape and securing the wrapping.
Then I pulled my jumpsuit back over the whole deal, wincing at the bloodstain which liberally coated one thigh. Id have to figure out a way to disguise that when I walked back to my cell for the night.
Knowing that infection would more than likely set in no matter how well I had cleaned the bite marks, I pawed through Corinnes little pill factory, looking for antibiotics. When I was a young girl, Id stepped on a nail and the doctor had given me Keflex. I figured that would be good for bite punctures as well, and when I saw a bottle labeled with that name, I grabbed it, slipping it into the front of my jumpsuit with another roll of bandages and some sterile gauze pads and zipping back up.
As I was closing up the first-aid kit, the warning buzzer for lights out sounded. Looking around quickly, I picked up the largest book I could find and held it awkwardly against my leg, hoping to cover the blood stain just long enough to get back to my cell. It wasnt great, as disguises go, but it would have to do. Hopefully, I wouldnt pass too many people in the hallways.
I managed to make it back to my cell without passing anyone who thought to give me much more than a quick glance. Once there, I stripped out of my bloodied uniform, tossed it in the laundry bin, and slid in between the cool sheets with a sense of utter relief. Then, remembering, I hobbled over to the sink and swallowed two antibiotic pills before returning to bed.
Sleep came quickly to me that night.
The next day was Saturday, and as soon as the in-cell headcount was completed, the sounds of guards opening the cell doors, keys rattling loudly in ancient locks, woke me from a sleep plagued by nightmares.
The sheets were sweat-soaked and tangled around me, and as I struggled to get them loose, a shadow crossed into the cell. I looked up to see Ice standing there, an almost apologetic half-smile gracing her flawless features.
As much as I wanted to see her last night, thats as much as I didnt want to see her this morning. There was no way I could let her know what had happened to me, and if she got close enough, that was exactly what was going to happen. With, I was quite sure, disastrous results.
Ices piercing eyes narrowed as I reached up to wipe my stringy, damp hair away from my forehead. I could feel the heat gusting off my skin like a furnace and willed myself not to tremble. "Are you alright?" she asked, taking one step into my cell.
"Yes! Yes, Im . . . ."
Her eyes narrowed still further, till they were glittering blue slits, peeking from beneath lowered, elegant brows.
"No. Im not alright. I dont feel too well."
And that was the absolute truth, as far as that went. My leg felt swollen and tight, like an overcooked sausage. Its continual throbbing matched the headache thumping sickly behind my eyes. Id also managed to forget that when I was young, Keflex had made me violently ill, killing all the good bacteria in my digestive tract and giving me a form of colitis that made me beg God to just kill me and end my misery.
The night before, those same prayers winged their way Heavenward.
Ice took another step forward. "Whats wrong?"
Oh boy. She would have to ask me the one question I didnt have the answer to. Well, not the false one I needed to give her. Quick, Angel. Think. Something. Anything. "Cramps," I said finally.
Her eyes widened in understanding, then narrowed again. "Youre a little early, arent you?"
Oh shit. "Um . . .yeah. I am. I think its stress." I attempted a weak smile which I knew fell flat. "You know, with my case and all."
"Are you sure thats all there is? You look pretty feverish to me."
"Sometimes that happens," I responded, trying to get my muddled mind to think quickly. "When theyre really bad like this."
Another step and she was almost at my bedside. "I could give you a massage. Sometimes loosening those muscles helps."
I sat up quickly, stifling a groan and pulling the sheet up to my chin. "No! No, thats ok. See . . .when Im in a lot of pain like this, I dont like to be touched." Cmon, Ice. Get the hint already, please? Lying to you like this is killing me.
Ice pulled back slowly, her face expressionless. "Alright." She crossed her arms over her chest, disbelief showing clearly on her face. "Is there anything I can do?"
"No. Wait . . .yes. There is. Um . . .sometimes milk makes me feel a little better. Is there any way you could go down to the cafeteria or the commissary and pick some up for me?" I was going on the most desperate hope that the milk would help coat my stomach so I could at least somewhat tolerate the antibiotic I needed to have.
She smiled slightly. "Yeah. I can do that."
I contained my sigh of relief. Two birds with one stone. Temporarily at least. "Great. Thank you."
She nodded, that calculating expression still in her eyes, then turned and left the cell. When she was gone, I slumped back against the wall. "Damn you, Psycho. Damn you and damn your crazy obsessions. Damn you for making me lie like this. Why cant you just leave us alone?"
Blinking my tears back, I lifted the sheet and quickly unwrapped the bandage covering my thigh. The area around the bite marks was reddish-purple, swollen, and hot to the touch. The wounds themselves were weeping a cloudy yellow fluid which I took to be infection. At least the knife wound seemed to be healing without problems. So far.
Ice returned just as I was putting the finishing touches on my bandage. Quickly dropping the sheet over my body, I managed a smile as she walked into the cell bearing three half-pint cartons of milk. She handed me one as she set the other two down on the nightstand. Opening the carton, I downed the entire contents in a couple of gulps. It was cold, smooth and refreshing, especially to my dehydrated body. "God, thats good," I said, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand.
Smiling, Ice leaned down slightly and wiped up a trace of milk from my upper lip with her thumb. "Ya look better without the moustache," she pronounced, joking.
I managed a weak laugh that was interrupted by a jaw-popping yawn. "God, I guess Im more tired than I thought."
"You do look pretty wiped out," she agreed, reaching down and brushing the hair from my eyes. "Youre still pretty warm, too. You arent getting sick again, are you?"
Snuggling down under the sheet once again, I gave her my best convincing look, which probably wasnt all that convincing, to tell the truth. "No, I feel fine. Just in pain from these damn cramps. I should be good to go by tomorrow, or at the latest, Monday." Which was, of course, yet another lie in a speech full of them. While I had hopes that the infection would be gone by the new weeks beginning, I would definitely not be good to go. Especially not the type of going that Ices close presence was conjuring visions of deep within the recesses of my muddled brain.
I tensed as she grabbed the sheet, but relaxed when she simply pulled it tighter under my chin before bending down to place a kiss on my forehead. "Alright then. I have to take care of some things with Critter and Pony. Ill try to come back this evening and send someone to check up on you periodically, alright?"
"No. Thats ok. Ill be fine. Really. The way I feel, Ill probably just sleep straight through to tomorrow morning anyway." I yawned again to make my story convincing.
Crooking me a smile as she straightened, she fiddled with my sheet for a brief second more before backing away. "Ill be back here tonight to check in on you. And Ill be sending some of the Amazons up during the day just to make sure you dont need anything."
I gave her an overly-dramatic sigh. "Oh alright, Ms. Warden wannabe."
She threw back her own mock-hurt expression in return. "Fine. Just for that, Ill send Critter up here every hour with a thermometer and some lube to take your temperature . . .the right way." Her eyes were positively sparkling with glee.
I gulped. "Ill be good," I squeaked.
Winking, she gave me one of her full-on smiles, leaving me dazzled. "I know you will be. Sweet dreams, my Angel. Feel better soon."
Pain? What pain?
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