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 .
I was dreaming.
I knew it. But that knowledge didnt help. The guilt I felt came with me into my subconscious mind, where it settled in to roost.
My dreams were filled with courtroom scenes. In them, I was always in this enormous witness box, sitting in an impossibly huge chair, looking up at a judges bench that seemed to be as tall as a skyscraper. Corinne, for some reason, was always the judge and sported a fancy white wig that I once read English judges still wear. She said only one word, and that oft-repeated.
And in a line that stretched from just in front of my chair to as far as I could see, were my accusers, each clad in fancy dress costumes.
The first to confront me were my parents who were, for whatever convoluted psychological reasons, dressed as King Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette. They carried large gavels which they banged repeatedly on the humongous arms of my chair, doling out my crimes of being a horrible daughter and a heart-wrenching disappointment to the family.
Next came my grade-school classmates, bearing accusations ranging from being the teachers pet (which I was) to being a milk-money thief (which I wasnt).
Then came friends from high school, with their own accusations which ran together like wet paint in the rain.
Peter followed next. Unlike the others, however, he wore no fancy dress. My husband, removed by death, was completely naked. His skin held deaths pallor and lividity. His head was oddly shaped and blood ran from both ears in a sort of beard of gore. He stank of formaldehyde and grain alcohol. He leaned over toward me, his fetid, putrid breath buffeting my face and hair.
When he started to speak, he used the same words he had used on the night he tried to rape me. His voice and body language where overwhelmingly aggressive, and for a moment, I was actually in that position again. I could feel my dream hand reaching down, searching for the weapon that wasnt there anymore.
"This isnt happening!" my dream self screamed.
"Youre not real! You cant hurt me anymore!"
"Youre dead! Dont you understand? Youre dead! I killed you!!"
"Please, Peter! Stop this! I dont want to hurt you! Please, stop! I dont want to hurt you anymore! Please! Just . . .stay . . .dead!!!"
The kind that makes you want to scream just to fill it up with something.
The kind that makes you know exactly how it feels to be buried under six feet of heavy earth.
I closed my eyes tight, rubbing at them and trying to wake myself up. When I opened them back up again, Peter was gone. The line was gone. Corinne was gone. The entire room was an empty morass of white except for myself, my overlarge chair, and . . .
Clad as she was on our anniversary, in blue silks, a rose in her hand.
Unlike the others, however, she didnt accuse. She didnt demean. She didnt demand an accounting of me. She merely looked at me, holding out that one perfect, blood-red bloom.
But her eyes. God, they were so empty. Like dolls eyes, almost. Worse even than when she had come back from her time in isolation.
For the first time during this dream, I cried. I reached out to accept the rose, but it was too far away. "Forgive me, Ice," I sobbed, my fingers straining. "Oh God, please forgive me. I didnt do it to hurt you. Please believe me. I love you, Ice! I love you!"
Finally, stretching as far as I could, the very tips of my fingers brushed against hers as I retrieved the rose from her grasp. The moment our fingers touched, she crumpled to the floor, as silent as the world around me.
I woke up screaming.
When I opened my eyes, the difference between my dream world and my living reality was so great that I felt a brief moment of intense claustrophobia. The chipped and peeling walls seemed to me living things, closing in on me, wanting to crush the life and breath from my body.
I wondered, for a brief moment, if I was still dreaming.
I pinched myself, then winced at the resulting pain. When I looked up again, the walls had regained their normally placid nature. I breathed out a long sigh of relief, wiping the tears mixed with sweat from my face.
Twisting in my bed, I looked at the ever-humming clock. It read nearly eleven in the morning. I was struck with an almost overwhelming urge to get out of bed right now! Listening to my bodys instincts, I jumped from the bed and threw on my uniform, pausing only long enough to run a quick brush through my hair. My nerves were tied in tight knots but I couldnt tell if it was just the aftermath of my nightmare or something more urgent.
I let my feet carry me at their own will as I left my cell behind and descended, once again, into the depths of this Hell called the Bog. At first, I headed in my customary direction, toward the library, when I was overcome with the need to get out into the fresh air.
Running down the hallway now, I slammed open the door to the outside, almost knocking an inmate to the ground in my haste. The sky was the deep gray of an approaching storm and I wrapped my arms around myself as the gusting breeze pricked gooseflesh up on my arms.
The inmates moved sluggishly and without purpose, like a colony of ants benumbed by winters biting chill. Even the Amazons seemed listless at their appointed place. I looked around quickly, then once again, my heart not ceasing in its frenetic pacing.
Something was wrong. I didnt know what, but I knew that the tension in my body continued to build in incremental segments.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw, suddenly, Ice standing by the fence overlooking the parking lot. A strong sense of deja-vu washed over me, edging out the tension. As if still dreaming, I felt myself cross the yard in slow, measured steps, watching as more of the outside world became revealed to my sight.
I walked as quietly as I could, not wanting to alert her to my presence just yet.
A gust of wind whipped past again, musically rattling the chain-link fence and blowing Ices hair wildly around her shoulders and back.
I stopped several feet away from her, peering past the corner of the prison and into the lot beyond. Like last time, the warden stood conversing with Cavallo, the latter all spit-shined and polished and greasy, cap-toothed smiles. The warden returned the grin, smirking in the way of evil men pulling something over on unknowing innocents. They reached out to shake hands.
Only this time, when the gesture was done, Cavallo didnt slip into his car. As if knowing he had an observer, he turned his head slowly, looking directly at Ice, his eyes shining chips of obsidian. The dark smile grew fixed on his boyishly handsome face.
Another squall flattened the grass in the yard, almost pushing me into the fence. Grabbing the billowing edges of his jacket, Cavallo turned his body in the direction of his head and began to walk toward Ice and the fence. After a moment, Morrison followed suit, striding quickly to catch up to his guest.
I shifted my gaze back and forth between the duo and Ice. The long lines of her body fairly radiated a lethal energy and spring-coiled tension. I resisted taking a step closer, instead contenting myself with controlling my breathing so that I might have a chance to hear the words sure to be spoken.
Cavallo came to a stop right in front of the fence. Leaning forward casually, he hooked a hand through the chain links, just inches away from Ices own grip. His oily smile broadened, a look of false camaraderie on his face. "If it isnt the infamous Morgan Steele. How you doin, Morgan? Get fucked by any big bull-dykes lately?" His twinkling eyes fairly radiated good humor.
"Cavallo," she greeted quietly, her voice overly controlled.
"I must say, though, youre looking good. Orange agrees with you." Leering, he raked his eyes over her body, from head to toe and back up again. Then he cocked his head toward the sky. "Kinda sad though. You being all cooped up in this tiny little box while the world just continues to spin out here." A smirk curled his full lips as his eyes met hers once again. "Sorry to hear about Josephinas little accident."
From my position to the side, I could see Ices profile and the way her lips pulled back from her teeth in a feral snarl.
Cavallo laughed. "Dont have to worry about her getting lonely or anything, though. Her dear husbands gonna be joining her in the next couple of days." His chest puffed out like a proud roosters. "Yes, indeed. The old mans gonna be taking a long ride and I . . . well, lets just say Ill be left to pick up the pieces." His smirk became more pronounced. "Its too bad you screwed up, Morgan." He leered at her again. "I just might have had a . . .position . . .for you in my new family."
The mobster pumped his hips twice against the fence, laughing at his obscene parody.
Ices control broke. Quick as a viper, she released her grip on the fence, only to clamp it down over Cavallos own fingers which were threaded through the links. His laugh turned into a screech, which turned into a howl of pain as Ices enormous strength literally cut his fingers into the thin metal bands. His blood began to paint the metal in ribbons of red.
"Release that man, Ms. Steele!" Morrison commanded, stepping up to the fence and trying, fruitlessly, to pry Ices fingers from Cavallo.
"Youve got a big mouth, Joey," Ice snarled. "Somebodys gonna shut it for ya one day. Permanently."
I could see that Cavallo badly wanted to respond. Unfortunately for him, he was too busy screaming.
Morrison took over that particular task. "Its the hole for you, Ms. Steele. Ninety days, this time, for threatening civilians. I suggest you let him go right now before you spend the rest of your miserable life down there."
Ice ignored him. "You made a real big mistake, Joey-boy. Letting Warden Pious over there do your dirty work for ya." She shook her head in condescension. "You know that if you want something done right, youve got to do it yourself, dont ya."
By the look in his eyes, I could tell that Cavallo knew exactly what Ice was referring to. If he didnt before, he knew beyond a doubt that Ice was well aware who had set her up. There was fright in his eyes, shining through the pain like a beacon.
"Step away from the fence, inmate!" came the bullhorn-amplified voice of one of the tower guards.
I looked up and saw four of them, their high powered rifles aimed directly at Ices head.
As if she hadnt heard, Ice increased the pressure of her fingers. "Just remember, Joey. Paybacks are a real bitch."
"Step away from the fence, inmate, or youll be shot! Release the civilian and step away. Now!"
With one last squeeze, and a scream from Cavallo, Ice released her grip and held up her empty hands, grinning. Taking two careful, deliberate steps back from the fence, she winked at the mobster, then turned.
Our gazes locked as she completed her turn and the world began to spin in slow motion. From the corner of my eye, I could see Cavallo reach beneath his coat with his good, right hand.
"Ice!" I launched myself at her, aiming for her legs. "Nooooo!"
Her eyes widened in question.
The sound of a gun firing, oddly flat in the turbulent air.
The question turned to shock as a bloom of red stained the small, burned hole that suddenly appeared in the upper left chest of her jumpsuit. She looked down, then back at me.
Then her eyes went as empty as they were in my dream and she crumpled to the ground silently.
I landed on top of her, screaming.
I pulled myself away quickly, slapping at my tears as I turned her over onto her back. "Oh God, no. Ice, no. Please. Oh God."
Blood pumped out of the exit wound in slow, sluggish bursts. But that meant that she was still alive. Pressing one hand over the hole in her chest, I used my free one to stroke the hair back from her face. "Oh God, please wake up, Ice. Please dont die on me. Please. Dont do this to me. Please. Oh God. Oh God."
I was panicking, and I knew it. But I couldnt seem to stop. Blood welled up in the spaces between my fingers, painting me with its heated vibrancy. "Dont you die on me, Morgan Steele. Dont you dare die on me!"
The sound of running footsteps caused me to look up. The pale, scared faces of Sonny, Pony and Critter stared down at me.
"Oh fuck!" Pony grunted, squatting beside me and pushing her own hand down on top of mine in an attempt to stem the bleeding.
"Get an ambulance!" I screamed, not even feeling the pressure of Ponys hand against my own. "Now!!"
Nodding abruptly, Sonny turned and sped away, running back toward the prison in a furious burst. The shocked crowd parted easily to allow her passage.
"Are they gone?" I asked Pony, my rearward view blocked by her muscled body.
"Who?" Pony asked distractedly, her face grim as she increased the pressure on my hand.
"The warden and . . .the shooter."
My friend looked over her shoulder, still blocking my view of the fence and the area beyond it. "A cars peelin rubber outta the parking lot," she grunted, returning her full attention to her task of slowing the bleeding pumping out of my lover with every beat of her heart.
"What are you thankin God for? That might be Ices killer getting away!"
"She wont die. I know it. She cant."
"I wish I had your faith, Angel."
"You dont need it. I have faith enough for all of us."
More prisoners came up do join us, crowding around and blocking what little light there was. Critter jumped to her feet and pushed the women back as several other Amazons wove their way through the massing women, surrounding us in a protective circle.
Some of the other inmates began to grumble. A clattering sound was heard and I looked up just in time to see a fist-sized rock bounce off the guard tower and land against the fence. Two more rocks flew past me, crashing against the metal frame of the tower.
Grunting, Pony pulled Critter down and slapped her hand against mine. "These idiots were just looking for a reason to riot. Looks like they found one."
"But the guards didnt shoot her!"
"That doesnt matter. Just keep that pressure on. Ill see what I can do."
That wasnt a hard order to follow. If the atom bomb was getting ready to land on me, I wouldnt have moved. Critter looked down at Ices marble-white face. "Is she . . . ."
"For now," I said, trailing my trembling fingers over my lovers still lips. "Please hang on, Ice," I whispered. "Im so sorry. Please hang on. Just a little longer, alright?"
Pony took some of the Amazons guarding us with her and I was now able to see more of the yard. The inmates reminded me of angry wasps, clad in orange. Their faces were angry, their postures tense, ready to explode with the least provocation. Isolated knots of violence flared up, only to die quickly. The crowds mood and actions mirrored the fitful breeze surrounding us perfectly.
The only thing keeping me in once piece was the feel of Ices broad chest moving rhythmically beneath my hand. She looked so peaceful, lying there. If I didnt look down at my gore-coated hands, I could almost believe that shed just fallen asleep in the yard. "Please wake up, Ice," I whispered, brushing back the windblown tendrils of her hair. "Please dont leave me like this, alright? I love you. And I know you love me. So . . .just wake up. Please."
The sound of the door slamming open echoed through the yard, and I watched as very nearly the entire contingent of guards marched into the yard, batons in hand, grim expressions on their faces. Sandra broke from the ranks when she saw Critter, Ice and me, running toward us at a sprint.
"Who did this," she demanded, coming to a full stop and crouching next to me.
I looked at Critter, who looked back at me and shrugged.
"Come on, Angel. Who did this? Was it one of my guards?"
"No. No, it wasnt one of the guards."
"It wasnt an inmate . . . ."
"No, not an inmate either."
Her chest caved with her relieved sigh. "Then who? Who was it, Angel?"
It may have been the dire situation, but this time, I didnt hesitate. Ice had asked to be given the chance to handle Cavallo on her own, and as long as she was alive, I was going to keep my word and give her that chance. I returned Sandras stare directly. "I dont know, Sandra. I wasnt standing close enough to be properly introduced."
Her expression showed her shock at my words. "But . . . ."
I used my free hand to clamp down on her wrist. "Its not important now, Sandra. None of this is important. What is important is keeping her alive. So . . .quit with the questions and find out where the hell that damned ambulance is, alright?"
Her eyes the size of saucers, the head guard jumped to her feet, and turned back toward the building just as the door slammed open once again. Three paramedics ran out into the yard, pushing a stretcher over the broken ground.
Within seconds, they were upon us, with their dented orange boxes and airs of polite, detached, professionalism. Pony and I were pushed out of the way and Ice was quickly loaded aboard the stretcher and buckled in.
When they raised the stretcher to its full height, I jumped to my feet, grabbing one of the rails. "Take me with you."
Sandra grabbed me from behind. "You know they cant do that, Angel."
Pulling away from her grip, I turned on her, holding my wrists up. "Sure they can. Handcuff me. Shackle my legs. Send a couple guards with me to make sure I dont try to jump out of the back of the ambulance. Just please, Sandra, let me go with her. She has no one else."
The head guard turned to one of the paramedics and my heart blazed with hope. "You taking her to County?"
"Yeah. Its got a good trauma team. They should be able to fix her up just fine."
Sandra nodded. "Well be in touch by phone then." Reaching down, she gently released my grip on the stretcher, then tapped the medic on the shoulder to send him on his way.
"Wait!" I yelled, struggling to free myself from Sandras confining grip. "You cant do this! Sandra, please! Let me go with her!"
Pulling me into a strong embrace, Sandra lowered her head to whisper in my ear. "You cant go with her, Angel. You know that. You need to be strong, both for Ice and for the rest of us. These women are about one bad second away from exploding into a full-bore riot. If they see you collapse out here . . . ."
I knew she was right, and in that moment, I felt a red flare of hatred for her because of it. How could she expect me to give one care about the inmates or the guards or the potential for a riot? How dare she expect me to pretend like nothing was wrong while my heart was slowly dismembering itself?
But her embrace was warm and full and tender. And from within it, I was able to find the strength to pull myself back together, if only temporarily, if only to show the false face of confidence to the outside world.
Finally, I nodded and pulled away, wiping the tears from my face with relatively steady hands. "Im alright. Ill be alright."
Sandra smiled. "I know you will be. Ice is a strong woman. Shell pull through fine. Youll see. And when she does," cocking her head, she captured my eyes with her own, "the three of us are going to sit down and have a little talk."
The rest of the day became an eternal sea of wait and worry. I spent most of it near the guards room, jumping in anticipation and terror every time the phone rang. The Amazons came by regularly for updates, but aside from the fact that Ice had been taken in for emergency surgery, there wasnt anything else to tell during those long, frightening, empty hours.
Then came the phone call Id been waiting for. I knew it before Sandra even picked up the receiver. The certainty stole through my guts like a hurricane. I could tell she sensed the same thing because her eyes were deeply concerned, and her hand a little shaky as she picked up the receiver and cradled it against her head, clearing her throat. "Rainwater, Pierce here."
Her face remained carefully neutral as she listened to whatever was being said to her over the phone. This, of course, drove me almost to the breaking point and I actively resisted the urge to tug on her shirtsleeve like some preschooler trying to get her mothers attention.
After several, non-informative minutes, Sandra finally gave her thanks to whomever was on the other end of the line, then hung up the phone.
"Well?" My heart was thundering so quickly in my chest that I could hear it in my ears. I didnt want to hear what she had to say almost as much as I did.
Putting her hand on my shoulder, the head guard smiled. "Shes in recovery."
I almost slid down the wall in relief. "How is she?"
"Resting comfortably at the moment, the doctor said. The surgery went well. The wound wasnt as bad as they had first thought. They had to do a little vascular repair, and she has some muscle damage to her chest which, the surgeon said, might give her some problems with her left arm, but otherwise, she came through it just fine."
"Oh, thank you God." I felt dizzy with relief. "Did she wake up at all?"
"Yeah. She was pretty groggy, but he said that she knew her name and all that stuff. Theyre pretty positive about her full recovery."
"God, this is such great news!" Without thinking, I caught up a very surprised Sandra in an embrace and pressed a kiss to her cheek. "Ive got to go tell the others. Thanks!"
As I darted out of the room, I turned to look over my shoulder, smiling inwardly when I saw the intimidating head of the guards standing there dumbstruck, a finger resting on her cheek where Id placed the kiss.
Continued ... Part 17
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