Helen took in the various women loitering in the communal area; the girl with the spider-tattoo was busy licking her fingers clean, while the two Julies sat plaiting each other's hair, and Dawn carried on an animated conversation with her mop.
With a furtive glance, Helen consulted her notebook, and marked off the items on her list: mop, lick, plaits, they were all there, in black and white, and directly opposite was the answer to the riddle; gymnasium in twenty minutes, bring the handcuffs.
Helen sighed, it would be so much easier if Nikki would just learn how to sign.
That Kind of Day
The clock struck five. I struck Dockley. It was that kind of day. A punch to the ribs, and I was down the block. Cold floor under my feet. Dead things between my toes. It had felt good to hear Shell scream.
The sound of the lock turning. Helen's disaproving face. Harsh words. Cold stares. Visions of the end.
Then a spark of light shattered the darkness. Concrete at my back. Her lips burning. My moans consumed. Fumbles in the shadows. Ragged breath. Cooling sweat. A hasty goodbye. A shy smile, before she disappears. It was that kind of day.
Another easy target.
Bloody dykes. There ain't nothin' they won't do for me. Flash a bit of tit and they're too busy drooling to see the knife in their backs. Bunch of saddos.
Just look at 'er. Thinks she's tough shit but I can see 'er hands shaking from 'ere. Cop killer my arse. I could destroy her in two seconds flat. Have 'er begging to lick my boots quicker than that. Another pathetic little saddo.
A fuck and a slap and she'll do anything I bleeding tell 'er.
It'll be good to 'ave another pet dyke.
"Oi! New girl!"
Earth beneath my fingernails, skin against my lips.
The heat of laboured breathing scorches across my skin as the chill of frigid air fights to eradicate her warmth.
Her eager demands mix with whimpered pleas.
Love and lust and somewhere in-between.
Her fingernails dig into my skin, her hands claw at my back.
My throat aches with suppressed screams. My ears ring to the sound of her strangled sobs.
Moving, always moving, our bodies fighting against time and each other. The outside world our enemy and our prompt; faster, quicker, quieter, now.
Her body loose. Eyes sated. She withdraws.
And I tremble.
Where was she? Helen wondered as she rearranged her office furniture for the third time.
A knock sounded against the door.
"Come in." Helen's stern look grazed Di Barker on its way towards a direct hit between Nikki's eyes. "Thank you, Di, you may go."
As the door closed Helen allowed her anger free range, "Sit in that chair!"
Leaning back against the door jam, Nikki smiled at the seething woman, her tone pleasantly cheerful, "Why, is it electric?"
The corner of Helen's mouth twitch but she refused to give in to the remembrance. "I said sit!"
Within seconds Helen was leaning over her captive audience, a devilish smile on her face. "When I tell you to do something, Wade, you do it. No questions or sarcasm. Do you understand?"
Nikki gritted her teeth. "Yes," she finally managed.
"Good." Helen reversed position and sat in Nikki's lap. "Then shut up and kiss me."
Merry F___ing Christmas
The knife slid easily beneath her skirt, the tight material sheathing the metal in a warm embrace. The blade's destination was unknown, but Natalie was sure of one thing, it would be used to help gut some unlucky bugger tonight. Fuck Christmas, she would make this a Buxton holiday the poor sows in there would never forget.
She watched them, singing their stupid carols, as if all that God bollocks could save them. Sheep, the lot of them, too scared of their own shadow and believing in fairy tales. Pathetic!
Then she spotted her; Kerrigan. Apart but still a part of the group. Her look of resentful indulgence aimed at her redheaded whore. Suddenly finding a home for her blade looked easy, all she had to do was pick; Kerrigan or Kerrigan's whore, whose death would cut the deepest?
"Buxton," Spears' cowardice making him tremble, "we have to do something about her."
It was the wrong her, but that didn't matter. Natalie knew a way, four birds with one blade; the padre, the nutter, Kerrigan and Kerrigan's whore.
Merry fucking Christmas.
Nikki dumped the used nappy onto the middle of the table. "Your nephew is radioactive," she accused, "and demanding his Auntie Helen in ear-splitting indignation."
Helen turned another page in the report she was reading. "Did you give him his bottle?"
Arms crossed and a look of homicidal rage on her face, Nikki waited for Helen to spare her a glance. It didn't happen. "Yes, as a matter of fact we shared a litre of vodka and then I taught him how to roll his own. The kid's a natural. He'll have a forty a day habit by the morning."
"That's nice." Another page was turned.
The time for playing nice had past. "It was your vodka."
Helen's head shot up, her voice a near screech, "What!" A Scottish whirlwind left the kitchen on route for the telephone and nearest off-license, a muttered "I'll call his mother to come pick him up," trailing in her wake.
Liquid glowed neon blue. Fumes rose as if from chimneys of old. Eyes watered and two women named Julie gave an audible gulp.
"You sure about this Ju?"
The shorter woman inhaled, her eyes blinking rapidly in defence of the assault, and a hacking cough doubling her over in pain. "Our best ever."
Two plastic mugs were raised.
"Gor---geous," Julie J wheezed.
Julie S made no sound as she slumped to the floor, a look of stunned delight on her face.
Chateau Larkhall 2005 was well and truly christened.
Chateau Larkhall's Revenge
Sylvia tried desperately to straighten her jumper into its normal pudding shape, but her trembling fingers and pounding heart were making even the easiest of tasks impossible.
"Will you stop wiggling," Yvonne hissed.
The sour faced screw turned an interesting shade of pale as the gangster's moll forced past her and out onto the landing. All of Sylvia's normal scorn and derision had been chased away by the sight of the bruise on Yvonne's neck, a bruise that exactly matched her last dental x-rays. With a prayer of forgiveness working its way towards Bobby, Sylvia shrieked and ran from the wing.
"Friggin' Chateau Larkhall," Yvonne seethed, "I'm gonna bloody kill those Julies!"