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 .
Miraculously, I suppose, I managed to make it through the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday without any major incidents. The milk did its job, allowing me to keep down the antibiotics which, in turn, did their job in decreasing the swelling, redness and pain in my leg so that, by the time Monday morning rolled around, bite and knife wounds were healing nicely and I was able to once again dress in my uniform without an appreciable bulge showing.
Still, after the cell doors had been opened for the day, I waited an additional few minutes to be sure Ice was safely down at the auto shop before venturing forth to start my Monday. The woman had a sixth sense about things, and I knew this weekend had pushed my credibility to the limit, if she had even bought my act at all, and the jury was still out on that particular count, to use an apt analogy.
After a solitary breakfast, I made my way down to the library. The tension Id missed by playing possum all weekend returned with a vengeance. Im sure it had never really left, but the more or less peaceful island of my solitary cell kept me in calm waters over the weekend.
As I walked, I counted no less than fifteen separate incidents, mostly arguments between guards, inmates and guards, and inmates. Thankfully, none of the ones I saw denigrated into out and out physical confrontations. While I felt much better, I wasnt yet ready to test my bodys healing by trying to get between two angry women with hurting on their mind.
As I slipped into the sanctuary of the library, I did so with a sigh of relief. Corinne greeted me with a smile. She bustled over to the table and sat down next to me, her hands folded on the scarred wood, her expression expectant. "So?"
I looked at her, confused. "So . . .what?"
"How do you feel?"
She smiled. "Good. Thats good."
I narrowed my eyes at her. "Whats going on, Corinne?"
Her own eyes went wide. "Whatever do you mean, Angel?"
"Alright," I spat. "Out with it. Why is everyone in this damn prison acting like theyre in need of some serious laxative therapy and why are you sitting there like you just ate the canary."
"Actually, I noticed that the natives were getting a little restless too, now that you mention it," Corinne commented, adjusting her glasses. "Not sure why, though."
"You?" I asked, shocked at the admission. "The woman who knows when someones gonna sneeze before they do it? The great Corinne, Oracle of the Bog?"
She frowned at me. "Im hardly perfection personified, Angel."
I laughed. "Im going to have to write that one down."
Folding her meaty arms across her abundant chest, Corinne gave me her best affronted glare. "Fine. If you dont want to hear the good news, which, let me tell you, I kept safe from the ravaging hordes of inquisitive little noses just for you, then you can trot your little fanny right out of this little library of mine."
Having, by this time, known Corinne more than four years, I could usually tell when her hurt was real or feigned. By the look in her eye, I knew she was leading me on, as was usually the case with her. Still, I decided to do the honorable thing and give in. Besides, I really wanted to know what the good news was. "Please, Corinne," I began, with as much faux-docility in my voice and manner as I could manage without laughing, "Im very sorry if I offended you with my attitude. Please say you forgive me?"
"Oooo. Youre good, Angel."
I smirked. "Thank you. Now, whats the news? Or do you want me on my knees, begging."
"Dont tempt me, child. Just seeing you in that position would almost make getting torn into five equal pieces by Ice worth the pain." Her dark eyes were filled with mirth.
"Corinne? The news? Please?"
Grinning at me, she reached through her shawl and into the folds of her jumpsuit, returning with a piece of paper in her hand. "Early Saturday morning, Phyllis came looking for you about a phone call. Ice had been up to see you already and told us you were a bit under the weather, so I asked Phyllis if she could take a message. She agreed, and a short time later, came back with this." She held the paper tauntingly, the printed area for her eyes only.
Groaning in frustration, I threw my hands up in the air. "Come on, Corinne!"
She saw my groan and raised me an over-dramatic sigh. "Oh, fine. Be that way. Here." Slamming the note face down, she pushed it across the table to me.
"Thank you," I responded with forced politeness as I picked up the paper and turned it over. Printed across the blank tableau in Corinnes bold, distinctive hand, were three simple words. "We did it!"
Cocking my head in confusion, I looked back up at my friend who was trying unsuccessfully to hold back a grin. "Who did what?" I asked. "Corinne, whos this message from?"
Corinne let her smile show through. "Your lawyer, Angel. It was Donita on the phone. She didnt give out any more information than that, but Phyllis said that she told her to make sure you called her at her office when you were feeling up to it."
"And that would be right now!" Grinning like a madwoman, I jumped to my feet, the printed note crumpled in my hands. With a whooping yell that almost startled Corinne into a heart attack, I left the library at a run.
When I returned, my color was high, my chest was laboring, and my eyes were wet with happy tears. I nearly bowled Corinne over as I wrapped her portly form in a huge bear-hug, sending her glasses skittering off her nose to hang on the silver chain she kept around her neck. I planted a big kiss on her dry, weathered cheek, then released her, stepping away, laughing.
"Well, I can only hope to be the bearer of more good news in the future," she said, bemusedly touching her cheek and smiling dazedly at me.
"I feel great!" Throwing my arms out, I twirled around the library, missing the assembled furniture and patrons only by luck. "She did it!"
My friend gave me an infinitely patient smile usually reserved for two-year-olds who have hidden mommys wallet and dont possess the requisite verbal skills to tell her where it might be. "I think weve all gotten that bit by now, Angel. The question here is, what is it?"
"Donita talked to the judge on Friday evening. After seeing the evidence, hes agreed to overturn the verdict!"
"Heaven bless the persistent," Corinne breathed, clasping her hands over her breast. "Angel, thats wonderful news!"
I was grinning so hard, I thought my face would shatter. "I know. God, Im so excited!"
"So, when ya bein sprung?" one of the inmates asked from her place near the stacks.
"Well, my lawyer and the judge talked to the DA, but he refuses to drop the charges. He thinks that despite everything, he still has a case against me."
"What about bond?" asked a second prisoner.
"Donita and the DA couldnt agree on a figure. I told her it was alright, though. I dont mind being here till a new trial." I shrugged. "I dont have anywhere else to go anyway."
"Have they set a trial date?" Corinne asked.
"Donita says itll probably be in a month or two. Theyve got a pretty heavy caseload over there, but shes throwing around words like deliberate jury tampering, perjurious eye-witnesses, unjust incarceration and lawsuit. Shes pretty sure my turn will come soon."
This time it was Corinne who enveloped me in a full-body hug. Totally giddy, I willingly sunk into the soft roundness of her frame, taking in her scent of ink and paper and tea. "I must be dreaming," I whispered.
"No youre not, sweet Angel." Releasing me, Corinne gently cupped my cheeks, then turned my head, planting on kiss to either side of my face and one full on my lips. Then she smiled and stepped away. "This is real. Enjoy the feeling. God knows, you deserve it."
"I just cant believe its happening. I dont think its really set in yet. God." I looked wildly around. "I need to see Ice. I need to tell her the news."
Corinne stepped forward once again, putting a restraining hand on my arm. "Thats not the best of ideas right now."
A thrill of fear skittered down my spine. "Why not?"
"Digger came looking for you when you were off talking to Donita just now. Apparently, Ice got into another row with the Warden."
"Oh no. What was it about?"
"Digger didnt know. All she said was that there was a whole lot of shouting. She thought it might have had something to do with a job of some sort, but she wasnt sure."
"Did she get sent to the hole?" Even my heart stopped as I waited for the answer.
"No. Back down to the auto-shop, Id expect. Digger said shed never seen Ice as angry as she was when she came out of the office. Said she almost pushed another inmate through the wall on her way out."
"Id better go talk to her."
"Its probably best if you wait, Angel. Give her a chance to cool down."
Before I could argue any further, a scream sounded from outside the library.
Jumping to my feet once again, I dashed out of the library, following the sound of the scream into the prison square. Halfway to the center of the square, I stopped and followed the crowds gaze upwards. "Oh shit," I half-whispered, shouldering my way through the crowd.
There, on the second floor, poised equidistant between Pony to the left and Phyllis on the right, was an inmate Id never seen before straddling the iron railing. Almost directly behind the young woman, her face pressed hard up against the bars of door enclosing the segregation unit, was Psycho, grinning maliciously.
The crowd parted suddenly and I skid to a stop next to Critter, who was standing almost directly beneath the catwalk, her neck craned at a tendon-stretching angle as she looked almost straight up. I took a step back so as to more easily appraise the situation.
The woman looked to be my age or maybe a little younger, with a plump, well-rounded figure, lank blonde hair and thick glasses. Her round face was doughy-white and shiny with sweat. Her gray eyes were magnified behind the lenses of her glasses, giving her an absolutely terrified expression.
I watched as Pony took a careful step forward. The woman flung out an arm, almost toppling over the rail. "Dont move! Ill jump! I swear it! Not one step closer!"
Psychos cackling laugh sounded. "Oh please jump, little fish. Youd absolutely make my day. Why, if you tried hard enough, I bet you could even manage to break an ankle or two on your way down . . .from the second floor."
"Shut up!" the woman screamed, releasing her grip and slamming her hands over her ears. Her body wobbled once again and she skittered quickly for a handhold, still straddling the iron bars. "Just shut up!!"
Cassandra just continued to laugh, rattling the bars of her cage just to frighten the girl some more, which she did.
"Whats her name?" I shouted to Critter to be heard over Psychos howling laughter.
My friend turned to me. "I dont know. Ive never seen her before."
"Shit." I looked up at Pony, who shrugged. Phyllis also looked down at me, her expression fixed, intent. After what seemed like an hour, at least, Cassandras laughter wound down and I saw my opportunity. "Whats your name?" I shouted up to the girl on the rail.
Startled, she looked down at me, and the crowd gathered in the square, as if seeing us all for the first time. She tightened her grip on the railing, her lips clamped into a small line on her face.
I gave her my warmest smile. "Cmon. You can tell me. Whats your name? Mines Angel."
"I . . .my . . .my names Iris," she half-whispered.
"Speak up, dear!" Psychos jeering, insanely gleeful voice echoed through the silent square. "If youre going to put on a show, you need to let all of your audience hear your lines."
"Its alright, Iris," I said, warmly. "I heard you. Can you tell me why youre up there?"
"Yes, tell us all, fishie! Tell us all what your little problem is. Wed so much like to hear it."
Iris turned her head back toward Psycho. "Shut up!" she screamed. "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shutupshutupshutupshutup! SHUT! UP!"
As Cassandra howled in laughter once again, Pony made a move toward her cell. Iris caught the motion and shifted, overcompensating and sliding from the top rail.
The entire crowd sucked in a breath.
The girl managed to catch herself at the last moment and quickly yanked her body back onto the railing, still straddling it with one foot on the lowest rung. "Stay back!" she yelled to Pony.
Pony came to an abrupt stop as Cassandra opened her mouth once again. "Keep it shut, Psycho!"
"Youre gonna meet your maker for that one, Horsey-Girl," Cassandra snarled, rattling her cage once again.
"Remind me to piss my panties later, Psycho. For now, just shut the fuck up why dont you."
"Make me, bitch."
Ponys intent lunge was interrupted by yet another scream from Iris. She froze once again, mere feet from both Cassandra and the girl. Letting out a breath, she backed away slowly, her empty hands raised. "Alright," she murmured soothingly. "Alright. Im not gonna hurt you. See?"
"Iris," I said, directing the terrified womans attention back to me. "Please, why do you want to do this? There must be something we can do."
"Shes the reason!" Iris screamed, pointing a shaking hand toward Psycho. "Its all her fault!"
Cassandra howled again.
"Two weeks trapped inside with that . . .that . . .that monster! She wouldnt let me sleep! She wouldnt let me eat! Threatening me every minute of every day!" Tears streamed down her full face, magnifying her eyes even more. "And every night . . .every night shed send that damned awful disgusting rat of hers into my cell!"
As I listened to the hysterical woman, I could see, from the corner of my eye, the truly evil grin that spread across Psychos face. When I saw her duck away from the door, I reached out and grabbed Critter, yanking her backward against me. "Go get Ice," I hissed into her ear.
"Go get Ice. Now. She should be down in the auto shop. Hurry."
Critter nodded once, then pulled away, sprinting through the square and down the hallway leading to the shops. I turned my head away from her just as another piercing scream rent the air.
I didnt have to be at ground zero to know that Heracles had just put in an appearance.
Iris jumped so that her feet were balanced, almost like a surfers, on the top bar of the railing. Her body swayed violently to the left and right as she tried to keep her balance, all the while staring at the floor to her left and screaming without pause. "Get it away from me! Oh dear God, get it away from me!!!"
Cassandras vibrant voice could easily be heart through the panicked screaming. "Oh yes, little Heracles. Bite her. Thats it. Bite her legs off, Heracles. Suck her eyes out! Attack! Attack!!" The woman was positively braying with insane laughter as Heracles skittered back and forth at the very edge of the catwalk, his long whiskers twitching with animal excitement.
Screaming, Iris lost her balance, her feet slipping off the railing and plunging over the outside. She managed to catch the top rail under her elbows and locked on tight, kicking her how free legs as the inquisitive rat came closer to explore this new prize.
From my vantage point down below, I knew that, in that very instant, was the time to strike. But I could also see that both Pony and Phyllis were frozen to their spots, watching instead of acting. I wanted to scream at them to break their paralysis, but just as I opened my mouth, Iris managed to hook one flailing leg over the lowest rung and pull herself back onto the rail, still screaming in terror.
Phyllis removed her baton and raised it high over her head, her eyes fixed on Heracles. "Call him back, Cassandra!" she shouted. "Ill kill him if you dont!"
That threat cut Psychos laugh off immediately. "You wouldnt dare, piggy," she sneered.
"Just try me, Cassandra. Call him back now!"
There was several moments of a tense standoff before Psycho finally sighed. "Oh alright. This prison is such a bore." She whistled. "Come here, little Heracles. Come back to mommy, wont you?"
Apparently, however, Heracles was too fond of his newfound freedom because he studiously ignored the pleas of his mistress, preferring instead to continue pacing beneath the screaming woman above him, his brown, beady eyes seeming to check her out from every angle.
"Heracles! You naughty boy! Come back in here this instant!"
A flash of orange sparked across the periphery of my vision and, when I turned my head, I saw Ice as she bounded up the stairs four at a time, her hair streaming behind her in an inky cloud.
Everyones focus turned to her. Even Iris stopped her screaming.
Cassandra smiled with what looked to be relief. "Oh, Ice, there you are. Would you be a dear and get my little Heracles back for me? He doesnt seem to want to listen to his mommy today."
Arriving on the catwalk, Ice casually crossed her arms and smirked, eyebrow lifted, in the direction of Cassandra. "Seems like your little pet has developed an attitude problem."
Psychos smile grew larger. "Oh, we have one more thing in common, then, dont we."
Ice simply stared at her. My muscles tightened as a sense of foreboding washed over me.
"It seems that your little pet has developed an attitude problem of her very own. Isnt that right, Angel." Her words echoed, like a death knell, through the square.
Ice looked down at me, her gaze inquisitive. I stood frozen to my spot on the floor.
Cassandra laughed. "You mean you didnt tell her, Angel? You actually kept your word?? Oh, isnt that rich!"
"Spit it out, Cassandra," Ice ordered. "What are you talking about."
I wanted to scream, shout, fall down on my knees in a grand mal seizure . . .anything to stop this topic in its embryonic stage. For a brief second, I even found myself praying that Iris, the person who started this whole thing, would just jump so nothing else could be said.
My prayer went unanswered. Iris seemed as riveted to these new turn of events as everyone else was.
"I cant believe she didnt tell you of our little adventure, Ice!"
"Cassandra . . . ."
"Oh, alright. If itll get my sweet little Heracles back, Ill tell you." She stuck her skinny arms through the bars, linking her hands together casually. "Lets see. Friday, I think it was, I was just sick of this new fish and her incessant whining. So, I decided to take a stroll. Nothing much, really. Just a chance to stretch my legs, see what was happening, that kind of thing."
"I assume theres a point in here somewhere?"
"Oh there is. There is. Never fear. You see, I just happened, for some strange reason, to find myself outside the library very close to lights out. Now, locked in my miserable cell all day like I am, Ive been deprived of the great pleasure of seeing this remarkable bastion of lower learning in the flesh, so to speak. And I did so want the opportunity to meet the great Corinne." She sighed dramatically. "But, alas, it was near closing time and our dear librarian had already made her tottering way back to her cell, Im afraid."
Then she clapped her hands together as an expression of almost beatific joy overspread her fair features. "But I wasnt disappointed. Oh no. Because instead of the great Corinne, I got her wonderful assistant, Angel."
Ices expression became stony. Cassandra laughed. The inmates and guards, Iris included, all turned to stare at me. I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. But I couldnt. My body was refusing my minds commands. I remained frozen, landlocked in a sea of misery.
"So I invited her into one of the paint closets. You know, just to chat." She shrugged.
"What happened." Ices voice was completely devoid of all emotion. I knew right then just how angry she was.
Cassandra scowled. "The little bitch disarmed me!"
Some of the inmates started to laugh. There was a smattering of applause as well. Cassandra snarled, loudly.
Her insane good humor restored, Psycho smiled once again. "Well, I didnt give up without a fight. Managed to slice her leg open before she could take my knife away. But it wasnt over there. Oh goodness, no. I went after my pretty little blade and she actually stepped on my hand!" Scowling, she held up the appendage in question. I noticed with equal parts satisfaction and guilt that her hand was swollen and bruised. "You really should spank her for her impertinence, Ice," she said in a sly undertone which, nevertheless, carried to all ears.
There was some snickering over that particular comment. Ice, however, remained unmoved.
"Anyway, like any good psychotic, I went with my best option."
"I bit her."
"You did what?!"
"I bit her. Right on one of those luscious thighs of hers." She trailed off, opening her eyes wide in a show of mock surprise. "You mean she didnt show you? You didnt see it when the two of you were rutting like a couple of crazed weasels? I know I left a mark. I could even taste the hot tang of her blood through the material of her uniform." Rolling her eyes, she ran a tongue across her front teeth, body writhing as if in ecstasy.
Ices hands clenched slowly. I could easily see the corded muscles and tendons of her neck protrude. I thought for sure she would rush the bars holding Cassandra inside the segregation unit. But she didnt. She just stood there, staring. "What happened next." Her voice was so soft, I had to strain to hear it.
"We made a deal."
"And that was?"
"I wouldnt fight her for the knife she now held at my neck, and in return, she wouldnt tell you about what happened between us."
Oh, please look at me, Ice. Please. Look down here and see how sorry I am. Please.
But she didnt hear me. And even if, by some miracle, she had, I knew right then that she would never have listened. I had never seen her as angry as she was right then. I felt as if I had lost my entire world.
"Why would she make that kind of deal?" Ice asked, almost rhetorically.
But Cassandra, as always, was ready with an answer. "Isnt it obvious, dear Ice? Its because she knows that you and I are two of a kind. The unredeemable. She knew that if she told you what had happened, youd come over here and try to kill me without a second thought! And thats how it should be! Its who we are!"
She cocked her head, a look that frighteningly resembled compassion shining from her eyes. "Oh come now, Ice. You dont think she really believes all that goody-goody tripe she spouts at you every day, do you? About your soul having worth? Of course not! She knows youll never be anything more than you are right now. A cold blooded murderer." She grinned. "Like me! Thats why we belong together, you and I. Because Ill never lie to you, Ice. I know who you are."
I could see Ice shaking her head slowly, though tears had blurred my vision. I wanted to scream out. To negate Cassandras words. But my throat wouldnt open enough to let the words come out.
"That she hid her injuries from you proves my point, Ice. Her words are just lip service. After all, youre a good bodyguard." She leered. "And a wonderful lover." She shrugged. "And if she has to lie to get you to feel good about yourself, well, its not a bad return on her investment."
Through my wavery vision, I could see Ices whole body as it started to shake, as if in the grip of some palsy. It broke me from my terror-induced paralysis. Gathering up my strength, I sprinted for the stairs. Two bodies closed ranks to prohibit my passage. Looking up, I saw Critter and Sonny standing before me, their arms crossed over their chests, their expressions as stony as Ices had been.
"Its not that way!" I screamed. "Thats not why I did it!"
All heads turned to me, but in that moment, I didnt care. In some way, my actions had betrayed the woman I loved more than my own life. I needed to talk to her; needed to explain what was going through my mind when I made the decisions I did to keep what had happened from her. I did believe in the goodness in her heart. It wasnt lip service. None of it was. I spoke from a belief in her that was as deep as the bedrock of the earth.
Or did I? Were Psychos words in some way true? No. No, they couldnt be.
"Ice! Please! Listen to me! Please!!!"
In the split second that my scream diverted all attention, Ice moved quickly, grabbing Iris and tossing her into the arms of a surprised Phyllis. Then I watched as she bent down and retrieved Heracles, likewise tossing him through the bars to an ecstatic Psycho.
Then she bounded across the catwalk and down the stairs, jumping over the railing before she got down to the first riser and running back down the hallway to the auto shop. I turned to run after her, only to be stopped yet again by twin arms to my elbows.
"Let me go!" I shouted, struggling to break free.
"Go back to the library, Angel," Sonny said.
"No! I have to go after her! Psychos lying! Cant you see? I need to explain it to her! Please! Please, Im begging you!"
Critters face softened infinitesimally. "Go back to the library, Angel. Ice is too angry to hear anything youd try to tell her right now. Let her calm down a little."
I looked over at Sonny, who nodded, reluctantly, it seemed.
"Are you sure?" I asked, sniffing back my sobs.
My friend smiled slightly. "Yeah. Im sure. Just let her calm down. I think shell realize who it was who told her these things pretty quick. After all, its obvious Psycho has her own agenda, especially when it comes to Ice. Just give her a little time and Im sure shell be ready to listen to whatever you have to tell her." The expression on Critters face let me know that I had better have a damn good excuse, too.
I looked over their shoulders and down the long, empty hallway, willing with all my being for Ice to appear. When that didnt happen, I finally nodded. "Alright. Ill wait. Though if its all the same to you, Id rather go to my cell. I dont think I can face Corinne right now."
Both women nodded and released their grips on me, parting to allow me to walk up the stairs and into my cell.
I never did see Ice again that day. Nor did anyone else I asked, or even begged. It was as if she had disappeared from the planet.
I spent the evening before lock-down in a total panic, half-expecting the alarms indicating an escape to sound.
But they didnt.
I spent the evening pacing the tiny confines of my cell, wearing down the path from my cell to Ices, scaring the guards as I popped into their spaces to beg for information on Ices whereabouts, and vomiting in the toilet.
I went to my knees, praying to God to let me find her and explain my side of the story.
He didnt listen.
It was well into the darkest part of the morning when my grief-induced
exhaustion finally caught up to me. I fell asleep on a pillow drenched with tears of
sorrow and shame.
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