DISCLAIMER: Bad Girls is the property of Shed Productions.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Response to challenge SFC#8 (although it's hinted that there's something already 'going on')
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Why Bodybag Hates Mondays
By Stone Angel
Part One: Demonstrations of Depravity
Sylvia Hollamby huffed to herself as she tramped heavily up the stairs towards the top landing. She imagined she could feel the possible beginnings of a migraine. This was good. She could cry off sick at lunchtime and get started on her Christmas shopping.
And avoid another of those 'displays,' as she'd taken to calling them in her mind.
It had all started that Monday, when she'd caught Wade and Julie Saunders half-dressed and 'at it' in the potting shed. Since then there had been a series of similar incidents. They were like clockwork, once a week, relentlessly regular. Sylvia had grown to regard Mondays with a certain amount of dread. She had no idea why this was happening to her, a resolutely married woman, and, worse still, she felt powerless to stop it.
That first shocking, unnatural discovery had been followed by Julie Johnson the next Monday in the kitchen. Sylvia had gone in to raid the prisoners' supply of teabags, and had been met by the sight of the ex-prostitute bending provocatively over an open box of battered cod, exposing a deep valley of cleavage, and looking up at Sylvia with a pouty smile on her face.
"Got a good look, Miss?" Johnson had asked, not moving. Sylvia had never seen a porn film, but she imagined that the position, and the sleazy tone of Johnson's voice would fit right in. With her eyes riveted on the vee of Johnson's blouse, Sylvia had briefly wondered if such events were filmed in kitchens, with frozen fish and the like. Johnson had stood slowly and raised her eyebrows, purring, "Yeah, I'm freeeeeezing," glancing down at her chest pointedly, before adding, "Nippy in here, ain't it?"
Shaking her head in disgust, Sylvia had bustled back out into the officers' room, unable to provide Jim with a believable excuse as to why she'd returned empty handed.
After that, it had spread like wildfire. Every single Monday for almost two months. All of them seemed to be part of it. She had seen more female flesh in the last couple of months than any person should have to deal with, and she loathed it. What she hated even more is that the women seemed to have a knack of catching her alone for their filthy displays.
Denny Blood and Shaz Wiley had tag-teamed her in the laundry room with a double moon, before running off back to the wing giggling like children.
Dockley had been the most brazen, and had got her twice once full-frontal in the bath she'd especially requested, bringing Sylvia running with a scream that there was a man in there. Sylvia had barrelled in, to be greeted with a nude Shell, standing proud in the tub, with foam sliding down her body, pretending to be terrified of an intruder who had 'mysteriously' vanished a second before Sylvia had arrived.
The second time, and Sylvia felt herself growing warm with embarrassment as she recalled this particular Monday afternoon, she'd heard strange noises coming from a storage cupboard. She'd thrown the door open to find Dockley and Dawn pressed up against each other amongst the bleaches and buckets. Dawn's cap was perched jauntily on Dockley's head, and the blonde's skirt had been hiked up. Dawn had one hand on a red-lace-clad backside, holding a mop in her other chubby fist, about to do God knows what when Sylvia had interrupted them.
"What, in the name of the Lord himself, do you think you two are doing?" Sylvia had asked in disbelief.
Shell had grinned at her, and grabbed the mop, waving it mockingly in her face and sending the stink of disinfectant right at her.
"Cleaning, Miss," she'd sneered, "What does it look like?"
Sylvia, nostrils curling up in disgust, had been speechless.
The final straw had come with Crystal Gordon, who called herself a good, God-fearing Christian, no less. Gordon had lazily set down her guitar, then laid back on her bunk, grinning salaciously while proceeding to unbutton her shirt right in Sylvia's face. And Sylvia had only gone in there to complain about yet another rendition of that bloody 'Kum-ba-yah.'
That time, Sylvia had marched indignantly over to the Wing Governor's office. But Stewart had sent her away with a flea in her ear, dismissing her harassment complaint as a 'ridiculous conspiracy theory'. Downright cheek.
With the exception of Atkins giving her an eyeful in the shower block one Monday morning, slowly bending down to pick up her towel that had 'accidentally' slipped off, though, all the other times had been in the afternoons or the evenings.
So she'd be safe till lunchtime, Sylvia thought, when she could cry off and escape to the bliss of the luxury biscuit aisle in Marks and Spencer's food hall.
She slid the key into the lock and opened the door. Then froze. There, bold as brass and right in front of her stood Nikki Wade. The tall lifer was at the sink, topless. Sylvia halted in the doorway; from where she was, the brunette was standing side on, but from the movement of her arm, it was evident Wade was playing with herself.
Sylvia's jaw dropped. The woman was clearly pretending she hadn't heard Sylvia enter the cell, feigning intense interest in her chest.
Hearing the sound of a door clanking open amid the background noise of a waking-up wing, Sylvia seized her opportunity.
"Di!" She yelled.
Nikki's head whipped round. Sylvia shot her a self-satisfied grin at seeing the panic in the dark eyes.
"DI!!!!" she shouted again, louder, folding her arms and watching happily as Wade moved swiftly to the bed and grabbed a T-shirt. Sylvia could hear Di Barker's rapidly approaching footsteps.
The timing was perfect. Di entered the cell at speed just as Wade was pulling the light blue shirt over her head, giving Di a clear view of an expanse of bare back. Di narrowly avoided shunting Sylvia in her haste to find the source of the commotion.
"Whatever's the matter? Sylvia?" Di panted, out of breath from her sprint along the landing.
Sylvia smiled in satisfaction. "I think we'll save that for the Wing Governor's office," she answered.
Nikki spun round as she pulled her T-shirt down, looking at them in confused shock, "But "
"Not a word from you," Sylvia stated flatly. "You can save your lies for Miss Stewart. Come on."
Nikki opened her mouth to say something, then, apparently thinking better of it, walked past the two officers without another word. Sylvia followed, with a confused Di Barker trailing in her wake.
Part Two: Exhibitionism and Exasperation
Sylvia grinned smugly as she knocked on the Wing Governor's door.
"Come," was the brusque reply.
Sylvia caught a look of resignation in Helen Stewart's eyes as she scanned the three of them. There was paperwork spread messily across the desk, and it appeared to be migrating across the floor, too. Sylvia had a hard time seeing how someone so obviously disorganised and incompetent could be running a prison wing, when there were officers who had been there for decades who could do the job much more efficiently. Herself, for instance.
She cast a longing look at the chair as Helen motioned for Nikki to sit. Sylvia would never understand why criminals were treated with such courtesy, when her old bones were just aching for a seat. Honestly, she was surprised Stewart didn't offer tea and biscuits to the prisoners in these cosy little chit chats. Speaking of which, Sylvia felt a sudden urge to get back on the wing. It was nearing nine o'clock and time for her break. She was brought out of her reverie by Helen's impatient tone.
"What is it, Mrs. Hollamby?" Helen asked, clearly holding back her irritation.
"This one," Sylvia began, nodding in Nikki's direction, "Exposed herself to me."
Helen threw a disbelieving look at her, before shooting an assessing glance at Nikki.
"Sylvia, we've talked about this."
"Yes. I know," Sylvia stated proudly, "But this time I have a witness."
Helen looked at her uncertainly. She raised her eyebrows at Di Barker. Then sighed, and sat back in her seat, crossing her arms.
"I think you'd better tell me exactly what happened."
Sylvia allowed herself a small smile. She'd rehearsed this on their walk across here.
"I was unlocking the threes. When I entered Wade's cell, she was unclothed," Sylvia flapped her hand in front of her chest before continuing, "and making a show of fondling herself. So I called for Di."
A brief look of shock flitted across Helen's eyes, but it was quickly and deliberately replaced by something much more neutral.
"And you can corroborate this, Miss Barker?"
"Go on, Di. Tell her what you saw," Sylvia urged.
"Uh, well yes?"
"Could you be more specific please?"
Sylvia felt her heart drop. Surely Di wasn't going to let her down.
"Well, I was unlocking Yvonne Atkins' cell, when I heard Sylv Mrs. Hollamby shouting "
"And I ran to the cell and Nikki was putting on her T-shirt."
Di nodded mutely.
Helen stared at the mess on her desk, apparently contemplating something. For a long moment, Sylvia thought her complaint was going to be dismissed as a flight of fancy again, but finally the Wing Governor looked up from her papers and levelled a cool gaze at Nikki.
"What do you have to say about all this?" She asked of the brunette, who, so far, had kept uncharacteristically quiet.
There was no answer, and Sylvia was gratified to see Nikki had turned an interesting shade of red.
Helen sighed. "Did you expose yourself to Mrs. Hollamby?"
Sylvia smiled in self-satisfied relief. There was no way Wade could avoid answering such a direct question.
Sylvia opened her mouth to protest but snapped it shut again on Helen's warning glare.
"Were you undressed, when Mrs. Hollamby entered your cell?"
"Yes. But "
"I'll ask again, Nikki, and think very carefully before you answer. Did you expose yourself to Mrs. Hollamby?"
Nikki's head jerked up then, at Helen's suddenly stern tone.
"Technically, yes. But she didn't knock."
"Poppycock," sneered Sylvia.
Nikki came straight back at her, with an angry, "Why the hell would I flash you? Not a bloody chance. You can get your jollies somewhere else, instead of sneaking up on innocent women for a free show. You screws are all the bloody same. Filthy old perv "
"That's enough!" Snapped Helen. "Nikki, apologise to Mrs. Hollamby."
Silence. Nikki folded her arms defiantly.
Sylvia shook her head in disgust. "You see what we have to deal with? Exhibitionists and insubordination. It's like a zoo. These women are animals, rutting and fighting day and night. Honestly, if my Bobby knew the perversions I have to deal with "
"I'm only speaking the truth," Sylvia shot back.
Helen shook her head. Then took a deep breath.
"Right. I'll try a different approach. Nikki, Mrs. Hollamby says the incident this morning is part of a campaign of victimisation against her that prisoners have been 'showing themselves' to her. What can you tell me about that?"
Sylvia saw a grin flash across Wade's face, but it was quickly masked.
"Nikki," Helen's tone was weary, "Everyone in this prison is aware of the unwritten code that you don't tell tales. But I'd think you, of all people, would own up to something you had done."
Sylvia frowned, and tried to work out what Helen was actually saying. Stewart was clearly referring to something about Nikki that she was unaware of. And she didn't like that she didn't know. But, no matter how hard she tried to decipher the code, she couldn't get her head around it.
"I'd be very disappointed to discover you were part of any kind of organised harassment," Helen added quietly.
Sylvia glared at Nikki, as if she could force the prisoner to admit her involvement by burning holes in the back of her head with the power of staring alone. She noted, with some satisfaction, that for the first time, Nikki's arrogant surliness had been replaced by some kind of uncertainty. But when the lifer spoke, the confident, cocky front was back in place.
"I don't know anything about anything like that. And even if I did, do you think I'd really be interested in 'showing myself' to Bod I mean Mrs. Hollamby "
Sylvia's hand twitched as she fought back an overwhelming urge to cuff the back of the insolent dark head. Wade had all but admitted that she and the other women had been engaged in some sort of organised operation to humiliate her. But the arrogant tone, together with the careful wording, had danced around the truth in a way that was altogether too slippery and tantalising.
If it had been up to Sylvia, she would have marched Wade straight down the block and thrown her in strips until she confessed. It was obvious she was guilty. But Stewart wasn't showing any signs of doing that. In fact, the Wing Governor was giving her one of those patented glares.
Sylvia wondered what she had done to warrant that. Until Helen glanced pointedly at her hands. She'd seen, and understood Sylvia's intention. Sylvia looked at the floor.
"Okay," Helen stated with an air of finality, "We're clearly at an impasse with this. I can see we're not going to get to the bottom of things with this approach. Mrs. Hollamby, Miss Barker, wait outside while I speak to Nikki alone, please."
"Out," stated Helen firmly.
Part Three: Eavesdropping
Sylvia followed Di out of the room, closing the door firmly behind her.
"Fat lot of good you were," she gruffed at Di in irritated dismay.
Di stared at her in amazement. "Sylv, if you'd given me some warning on what this was all about instead of dragging me over here without a word, I'd have been better prepared. I didn't "
"Ssssst," Sylvia hissed, "I'm listening," she added, cocking her head, trying to get the best angle to hear what was transpiring in the office beyond.
"Sylvia " Di whispered, in a warning tone.
Sylvia smiled to herself. Then nodded secretively. Di's curiosity got the better of her.
Moving so she was directly opposite Sylvia, she mouthed "What?"
Sylvia closed her eyes, listening intently.
"Stewart's got on her 'schoolmarm' voice. Saying how Nikki's let her down. How they had some sort of agreement." Sylvia pouted in disgust before continuing in a low voice. "This is what you get for making deals with murderers."
"What's Nikki saying?"
Sylvia screwed up her face in confusion.
"Some cock and bull about rosebushes."
"Sssssshhh," Sylvia whispered, shifting slightly closer to the door, craning her neck, then continuing, "Wade says she fell in the garden and scratched herself."
"But what's that got to do with "
"Di, be quiet," Sylvia hissed.
"Stewart's saying something something about not believing her," Sylvia grinned smugly. "Finally."
Sylvia's eyebrows rose. "I don't believe it. Wade says she was checking herself for cuts. Of all the outrageous lies. I don't know how these women think they can get away with it. She'll be saying monkeys flew down from the skies and into her cell with little knives and attacked, then pounced on her and ripped off her shirt, next. I know Stewart's a soft touch, but really "
Sylvia's eyes flew open.
"What?" Whispered Di.
"Stewart's going on about bullying. Doesn't make sense "
Di was also frowning in confusion.
" Hah. Wade's getting angry now. Hold on "
A sly grin crept over Sylvia's face as she listened hard.
" Stewart's saying it's impossible for her to take the word of a prisoner over that of two seasoned officers "
" Wade's oh! Barefaced cheek of her! Banging on about prisoners' rights. How screws are treated like gods and the women are supposed to hang on their every word blah, blah, blah, blah. That should get madam's back up ."
Sylvia grinned like a Cheshire cat.
" Without proof, Stewart's saying she's got no choice but to dish out punishment "
Sylvia nodded to herself in pleased confirmation.
" That's shut Wade up," she added smugly, noting that the office had fallen silent.
Sylvia could just imagine the tense standoff that was occurring behind the door. Wade could be stubborn, but, Sylvia grudgingly admitted, Stewart had the ability to be stern when she felt like it.
Sylvia had been on the receiving end of Helen's wrath more times than she cared to remember, and she could easily recall the silent, withering stares the Wing Governor was so practised at giving. Sylvia shivered as she remembered the force of that glare, which had always had the effect of making her automatically squirm. She hoped Wade was squirming, too.
They waited, and waited. Sylvia listened intently. Nothing. Long minutes stretched on.
Then quiet, low voices. She stretched her neck, grimacing as she felt it crackle, aching from its strained position. She couldn't make out the words.
She scooted quickly back in surprise as the office door was opened swiftly. Fixing Sylvia with a knowing stare, Helen ushered Nikki out into the hallway. Sylvia waited expectantly. Wade's face was neutral. Almost deliberately so, Sylvia thought.
"I'll see you individually. Miss Barker, you first. Mrs. Hollamby, you wait out here with Nikki."
As Di closed the door behind her, Sylvia wondered if she should listen in. She tried, surreptitiously. But all she could hear was low, tuneless humming. Wade. She turned her face to regard the prisoner, who seemed fixated on a spot on the opposite wall.
Then Sylvia saw it. Right above the collar of Wade's sky-blue T-shirt. A dark crimson, angry mark. She narrowed her eyes, focusing in on the patch. It looked like it it was. Definitely. A set of teeth marks stood out proud against the skin of the tall lifer's neck, enclosed by a sloppy border of red-brown lipstick.
Sylvia felt her mouth pursing up in disgust. These women were just depraved. Always pawing and groping at each other. And so brazen about it too.
Nikki had stopped the quiet humming, apparently aware of the prison officer's silent scrutiny.
Sylvia couldn't help herself. "Rosebush get your neck, Wade?" She sneered.
She watched, gratified, as Nikki thoughtfully hooked a finger into the neck of the T-shirt, reddening slightly as she did so. Then a grin flashed across the brunette's face.
"Rosebush, Miss?" Nikki asked innocently.
Sylvia opened her mouth to respond, then shut it quickly. She wasn't meant to know about that, she remembered, a little too late.
Thankfully, Sylvia was saved by Di exiting the office.
Glancing at Di as she passed, Sylvia was shocked at the cross look the other officer threw her.
Part Four: Incompetent and Unaware
Sylvia stood uncertainly in front of the desk. She looked longingly at the chair once more, and then glanced meaningfully at Helen, but no offer was forthcoming.
Helen paused. Sylvia was momentarily alarmed by the curt tone of the Wing Governor's voice.
But Sylvia Hollamby knew she was in the right.
"Ma'am?" she answered defiantly, with self-assurance.
Helen sighed deeply. "How many times do we have to go through this, Sylvia?"
"I'm not following you, Ma'am," Sylvia responded, wondering if Helen was asking her to document all of the sickening displays she'd been forced to witness. There was something about the resigned tone of Stewart's voice that was off, though, so she wasn't sure.
"I'm very busy and I don't have time to waste on these stories. You come up here, with these tall tales and all sorts of nonsense "
Sylvia cut her off. "Excuse me, Ma'am, but I hardly think the repeated harassment of a prison officer is nonsense."
"Sylvia, will you just listen for once in your life!"
Sylvia's eyes widened in surprise. She was unprepared for the Wing Governor's raised voice.
"Good," stated Helen firmly, before continuing, "You come to me with these unsubstantiated tales of prisoners flashing you, with not a shred of evidence."
"But Di told you what happened "
"And I've had words with Miss Barker about being led on by you."
"I don't understand. Wade was deliberately flaunting herself in front of me. Just like the other women. The way you're going on, anyone would think she was the victim."
Helen glared at her. Sylvia could see the incredulous look in her eyes. And barely suppressed anger. She decided to shut up. For now.
"Yes. Which brings me on to my next point. You clearly have no idea of anything that goes on in this prison. I would have thought after Carol Byatt you would have been more sensitive to inmates who needed medical attention."
Sylvia was lost. "Ma'am, with respect, I don't see what Byatt has to do with any of this."
Stewart looked disbelieving. Her voice was carefully controlled as she spoke.
"Sylvia. How is it that someone who has been doing this job for as long as you have can be so blind to what's going on around them?"
Sylvia felt her hackles rising. Stewart was questioning her professionalism? How dare she? Still wet behind the ears; straight from university, and telling her how to do her job.
"I have had fifteen years experience. Believe me, I know about everything that goes on in here, unlike some." Sylvia stated proudly, injecting a note of superiority into her voice.
Helen raised an eyebrow.
"Then how is it," she stated flatly, "That Nikki Wade sustained a serious injury, and you, with your 'fifteen years' experience' never even noticed??"
Sylvia laughed out loud; the sound was thin and reedy. "Wade's not hurt," she sneered. "She's just spinning you some silly story to get out of being punished. You should ship her out for her nerve. These women, they run rings around you."
"That's ENOUGH!!," shouted Helen, slapping her palm down on a file with a loud smack. Sylvia hopped back in shock, whacking her elbow against the door handle and yelping out in pain. Not-so-funny bone.
But Stewart didn't even look concerned. In a low, deliberate voice, she stated, "Nikki Wade had an accident yesterday afternoon in the garden. She has some nasty cuts up the side of her stomach and ribs. She was checking the damage this morning when you entered her cell."
Rubbing her elbow, Sylvia opened her mouth to protest but was silenced by Helen holding up a finger and glaring at her.
"Before you dare to question me again, I will tell you that I have examined her myself, thoroughly," she paused, "And I am quite satisfied that her injuries are genuine. Sufficient enough to warrant medical attention, in fact."
Sylvia was quiet. She had no answer to that. Not without blatantly accusing the Wing Governor of lying. And she wasn't going to do that.
"So consider yourself officially warned."
"I'll be contacting the Union," Sylvia threatened.
"Fine," stated Helen. "You go ahead and do that after you've escorted Nikki to the medical wing."
Sylvia stared at her for a moment. The cheek of Stewart.
"Off you go then. I'm busy." Helen punctuated this by impatiently waving her hand in the direction of the door, brushing her off like a speck of dirt. "And don't be bothering me again with this paranoid rubbish," she added.
Speechless, Sylvia left, muttering under her breath.
"Move, Wade," she commanded crossly, resisting the urge to give the prisoner a good hard shove down the hallway, before returning to her grumbling.
As they walked away from the office, Sylvia continued her monologue, uninterested in the fact that Di was not responding.
Glancing resentfully at the tall brunette in front of her, she mumbled something about favouritism.
"Sylv," Di warned, but, completely caught up in her self-righteous rant Sylvia was past caring.
Muttering loudly and crossly, Sylvia complained, "And she has the nerve to say I don't know what happens in this prison. I tell you, Di, I know far more about what goes on in here than she ever will."
Silently, Di unlocked the first set of gates.
Once through, Sylvia continued,
"I don't know how Stewart can be left in charge of a wing. She's completely incompetent. If she hasn't got makeup smeared all over her face, she's tipping cups of coffee on people. Did you see the state of her shirt in there? Buttoned up all wrong. How can she be trusted to co-ordinate a prison wing when she can't even get herself dressed in the morning? It's beyond me, I'm telling you."
As she fumbled with her keys to unlock the second gate, Sylvia completely missed the happy, wide smirk that had broken out across Nikki's face, and the way she absentmindedly traced her fingers over the angry red mark on her neck.
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