DISCLAIMER: I don't own anything to do with Bad Girls.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Helen ran softly across the massive grassy verge that lay strategically in the midst of the 4 stone buildings that sat facing on another in a large square at the top of the hill.
The late night dew moistened the skin of her feet, which were almost bare in her flimsy, worn out shoes.
A few times she almost fell, her feet slipping away from her as she galloped hurriedly, downwards towards her destination. She warily kept her eyes to the ground, watching her feet dance, one in front of the other, rhythmically, getting nearer safety. But as her concentration centred at her feet her balance was left to its own devices. Before she could stop her self, the once parallel feet began to slide away from her and go in opposite directions, leaving her to fall without a second of comprehension, on to the green stalks with a painful and audible thud.
"Owww!" She cursed herself angrily while rubbing the affected area to ease the pain which was ebbing through her lower torso.
After a moment of soothing rubs, which weren't having the desired effect she decided to quit and get back on her feet, away from the damp ground that was seeping through her clothes, causing her skin to freeze and return to her journey, but that was easier said than done. The wet grass underneath her lacked the grip she needed to regain her stance, her legs like jelly collapsing and skidding away from her as she attempted in vain move.
Her temper was wearing thin as each unsuccessful try ended in more pain than the last. Her hands squelched on the ground as she let out a resigning sign and reluctantly rolled herself over onto her belly. Face down she could smell the unpleasant grassy aroma, mixed with the pungent odour of dampness and cold air. She turned her nose up and took a deep breath. Crawling onto her knees, which she knew would be stained green; she pushed with all her might, like she was preparing to do a hundred push-ups.
As she manoeuvred a sudden noise jolted her to a stand still. Her eyes, which were focused on the floor beneath her moved upwards, slowly and surely, until they met a sight only millimetres away, which made her heart lurch and almost stop immediately.
A pair of feet, rested almost directly under her nose, where the once wet grass had been. She let out a sudden sharp gasp and instantly closed her mouth in fear.
Terrified to move her eyes away from the black leather to see who they belonged to she stiffened. But in her heart she already knew just who it was...those highly polished shoes could only belong to one person.
She felt like she had been punched forcefully in the stomach, leaving no air left in her lungs with which to scream. Her nightmare was about to turn to reality.
"Well, well. Look who we have here. Fancy bumping into you like this...it must be fate! It's good to see you again, Blondie." The man grabbed a chunk of her long, straggly hair and hauled her head backwards so he could see her terrified face, which was contorting in panic and fear.
"Didn't your parents teach you that it's only polite to look at someone when they are talking to you? Oh, no wait. You don't have any parents, do you? That must explain your rude behaviour!" His tone was harsh, and condescending.
"Jim, please. Don't hurt me." Her voice, filled with emotion, pleaded with him, but as usual it fell on deaf ears.
"Hurt you? Hurt you! Oh silly Helen, I'm not gonna hurt you love..." He let her hair go and bent down to her level, his face almost touching hers, and his foul breath made her wish for the equally horrible smell of wet grass to return and mask his aroma.
His words were a mere whisper, but they were so potent, and full of putrid venom as they escaped from his mouth and washed over her, the message loud and clear.
"I'm not gonna hurt you...I'm gonna kill you!"
"F*ck it!" Nikki slammed her fist as hard as she possibly could into the antiquated black, plastic telephone which hung on the cream coloured wall in the hospitals corridor.
"Piece of shit!" She ran her frustrated fingers through her gelled hair and rested her back on the notice board that was filled to capacity with flyers promoting various health issues, and most of them highlighting the dangers of smoking, much to Nikki's disgust. A cigarette was the one thing that right now would have settled her nerves and evened her building temper.
"What's up?" Josh appeared through the main entrance, coming back in from a short break outside to get some fresh air, away from the stale hospital environment which caused him unease.
"Bloody stupid phone swallowed my last pound coin and I was trying to call Helen to let her know I was ok and fill her in on what's happening. I promised her I'd be home hours ago, so she's bound to be worried. She's scared being on her own. You don't have any spare change do you?"
"Hmm, I don't think I do I put the last of it in the coffee machine earlier, which incidentally isn't working either. I tried to get Zandra a white coffee with 2 sugars and instead got some yucky watery soup with huge chunks of some green vegetable mush. It looked like road-kill!" Josh screwed his face up at the memory while he continued to rummage through is pockets for the requested coins his friend so badly needed.
"Ahh, road kill, Heinz's best selling soup!" Even in her turmoil Nikki found room to make a sarcastic comment, which Josh ignored.
"You're in luck! My last 50 Pence " he yanked the silver coin out of the deep set Jean's pocket and handed it over to Nikki, who quickly placed it into the allotted slot in the phone.
"Thanks mate, you're a lifesaver!" Her finger frantically punched in her own dorm room number and she patiently waited with baited breath as it began to ring and ring and ring again, with no answer. After the 5th unanswered ring her stomach began to knot in fear. Why wasn't Helen picking up? Surely if she was home she would answer? Nikki looked worriedly over at Joey as she held on in desperation to hear Helen's voice say "hello?" but it never came.
"No answer, huh?" Nikki shook her head and reluctantly hung up the receiver.
"Maybe she's fallen asleep and hasn't heard it? I wouldn't worry about, Nik, I'm sure she's fine."
"Yeah, you're probably right; she has been pretty tired the last few days, with all she's had to go through." Josh nodded in recognition and patted his friends shoulder as they began to descend down the clinically clean hallway towards Thomas' room, where they had already spent the majority of their sleepless night.
As they neared the door, side by side, Nikki stopped in mid-stride and rooted herself to the floor, unprepared to move any further.
"I have to get back to College, I can't rest until I know Helen's ok. Tom's is in safe hands now, and there's nothing more I can do here he has Zan with him if he wakes up you don't think she'll mind do you?"
"Don't cut yourself up, Helen may need you, Zandra will understand. She would do the same if she were in the same position. Get yourself back to campus." Nikki nodded, knowing Josh was right, but it didn't stop her feeling like a horrible person, who was deserting her friend in his hour of need.
"Do you want me to drop you off in Hackney?"
"No, I'll stay here with Zan for a while, and I'll get a cab back later. I'll drop by your room later, to give you an update. I'll need to get Zan some fresh clothes, and if Thomas wakes up he may want some stuff brought to the hospital."
"Ok, well I'll get off then, and if everything's fine back home I'll grab a quick shower and head straight back over here."
"Everything will be fine!"
"I hope you're right Josh, I really hope you're right!"
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Zandra's red, swollen, tear-stained eyes lay unmoving on her sickly brother, who lay equally as still on his hospital bed, strapped to numerous horrific looking machines that monitored his every bodily function.
A small, sturdy, middle-aged nurse hovered around the tiny room, attaching new drips to his arms with one hand, and sorting his bed to maximise comfort with the other.
Monica didn't take any notice of her, and no words or pleasantries were exchanged, but a slight nod of her head from the member of staff before she exited the room was enough acknowledgment for Zandra, who in her sleep deprived state was in no mood for conversation of any kind.
Not long after the door was closed over it reopened and someone else entered the room, but Zandra didn't bother to look up to see who it was taking her eyes off of Thomas was not option. She almost believed that if she stared at him long and hard enough he would open his eyes and speak to her, instead of laying in silence in his drug induced state.
"Hey" Josh rested his gentle hand on her tense shoulder and positioned himself into the plastic seat next to her. The room was deadly silent, apart from the noises made by the various metal contraptions which echoed around the 4 walls, beeping and banging rhythmically every few seconds.
"Did the Doctor tell you anything while I was gone?" Josh broke the silence with a whisper, but till his voice sounded 10 times louder than he intended it to be. He held his breath, waiting to hear the worst.
"He's going to be fine...the Doctor's expect him to make a full recovery." Josh let out his breath in relief. He felt like jumping up and down in joy, but remained composed, considering this wasn't the time and place to be getting over zealous. As the good news and his happiness began to die down he looked over at Zandra, and her sombre face, which showed no signs of relief or contentment. Instead her eyes shone of sadness and regret.
"Why the long face? You should be feeling over the moon that Thomas is gonna pull through this."
"I am " Josh could sense a "but" coming and he wasn't wrong.
"But I don't understand why he would want to kill himself. Doctor Roberts told me he had taken between 75 and 100 pills this wasn't just a cry for help Josh, Thomas truly wanted to die. He didn't want to be in this world any longer. Things must have been so bad for him he was hurting inside and I didn't even notice." She let out a painful sob, unable to carry on speaking, she fought for composure.
"How could he have been so sad, and I didn't pick up on it. I'm his sister he should have been able to come to me and talk it through, but I've been so busy, so selfish "
Her crying finally took over her whole body, blocking anymore words from leaving her mouth. Instead of trying to stop she resigned and rested her head on Josh's chest. She was desperate to be held, by someone who could take away her own pain the pain that burnt away deep inside of her heart.
Josh was more than willing to comply. Whatever she felt, he felt, and right now his heart felt broken. He wrapped his strong arms around her, while planting a kiss on the crown of her head, all the while cradling her like a babe in arms, rocking her back and worth until she had no more tears to cry.
As the last tear trickled down her cheek she pulled herself away and sat upright, feeling more than embarrassed at her sudden emotional outburst in front of her boyfriend. She hated to deviate away from her usual strong, together persona especially in public. She straightened herself out, starting by flattening down her dishevelled hair and clothes, and wiping away the black streaks of her smudged mascara from her flushed face.
Once she was satisfied that she again looked like the Zandra he had fallen in love with she relaxed and turned to him to offer her thanks but another voice interrupted her before she got the chance to speak.
"Trisha ?" A soft, croaky mumble, which was almost pleading, rang out, causing Josh and Zandra to lock eyes in confusion.
"Thomas!" Zandra spun around in her seat, grabbing Thomas' hand, she squeezed it tightly.
"No, honey, its Zandra "
One single teardrop fell from his closed eyes. As his faculties returned so did the memories of the last 24 hours the worst day of his life.
He wanted Trisha, and only Trisha. No one else could make this nightmare go away except her. He pulled his hand away from his sister, and turned onto his right side his back facing his sister and Josh. He curled himself into a ball and began to cry. Without Trisha life wasn't worth living.
Trisha lay back on the bed, a smile spreading across the length of her face the size of the Grand Canyon. 24 hours ago she thought her life was over, but things had taken a 360 degree turn, and the bad had turned to good. Here she was, lying in bed, her boyfriend, whom she though she had lost beside her, and all her dreams and aspirations had come back with him.
As Sean rose from beneath the covers and began to dress, she watched him longingly. She knew there would have been no way he could have resisted her if she swallowed her pride and asked him to come back. So what, he had cheated on her, didn't all men cheat at one point in a relationship? Isn't that what guys did to get their girlfriends attention when they were bored with a stale relationship? This was Sean's way of telling Trisha he loved her and needed her. Wasn't it?
Her deluded mind ran away with her. She desperately tried to convince herself this was a good thing. He had wanted her to find out about his infidelity, and she had. This was a fresh start, they had a second chance together, and this time she would put her heart and soul into it. This time it had to work out, it just had to!
Sean was her college sweetheart. The man with whom she would have a fairytale wedding, 2 or 3 wonderful children who would make them proud, a huge house in the suburbs where they would live happily ever after just like her parents.
But despite all her positive thoughts, a nagging, sinking feeling still lingered in the pit of her stomach.
"A leopard never changes its spots!" The proverb her Dad so often used rang around in her head, but she shook it off. Sean was the exception to the rule. He would prove everyone wrong, she knew he would. This was a one off. He hadn't told her so, but deep down she knew it was true. It had to be.
The more and more she tried to convince herself the more she began to become paranoid. One half of her brain told her she was being crazy; while the other half pictured her fantasy wedding to the man she loved.
She closed over her eyes, and began to picture it.
Standing in the massive church, her father by her side as she walked slowly down the aisle in her perfect, flowing white dress to the sounds of the "Bridal March", nearing her groom her Dad walked to the left, leaving her to the man of hr dreams, the man she would spend the rest of her life with. She turned to look at him .
her eyes suddenly darted open, a look of shock on her face. As much as she tried to shake it off and come back to reality she couldn't help but focus in on the mental picture. Thomas, standing at the altar looking wonderful in a Tuxedo - not Sean.
"It doesn't mean anything." She thought to herself, unconvinced.
"Or does it?" She shook her head.
"No, Thomas was just a fling, to make myself feel good after losing Sean." As much as she tried to lie to herself it just wasn't working. Still that little bit of doubt lay at the back of her mind.
As Sean continued to dress, Trisha cast her mind back, to that 1 amazing hour she had spent with her friend. From the moment he had become her hero, to her leaving so abruptly, she replayed it over and over. As she did, all the feelings came back. Feelings she had never felt before, certainly not with Sean. Maybe they were feelings of deep friendship? Yet more self lies.
Sean flashed her an insincere smile as he yanked on a sock.
"Where are you going?" She watched as he pulled on his Nike trainers and headed for the door without as much as an explanation for his near disappearing act.
He stopped dead in his tracks, turning a pale shade of crimson. Her question had been an innocent inquiry, but it had seemed to hit a sore spot.
"I have stuff to do! Some business to take care of Jeez! Don't smother me Trisha! This is just typical of you! Where are you going, what are you doing? Who are you doing it with?! Christ!" Sean's temper flared into a red rage as his tirade continued.
"I knew sleeping with you would result in this. Sex, that's all it was. SEX! Your not my God damned Mother. We hang out, have sex and hang out some more. That's all it was, and all it ever will be!"
"What? I think our relationship was more deep and meaningful than hanging out and having sex." She was hurt beyond comprehension. How could he say all those things? Surly he didn't mean it?
"Relationship? Trisha, we never had a relationship. We never did and we never will. I need my freedom. I need to have fun. I'm 20 years old; the last thing I want to be is tied down in some "relationship" with some girl I don't love." He sighed and eased his tone.
"I don't love you Trisha, I'm sorry, but the quicker you realise that, the better." Sean knew he had said some terrible things. But they had been bubbling away inside of him for as long as he could remember, and it had just been a matter of time before it had all come spewing out like this. He felt no guilt, for he meant every word of it.
A sob threatened to break out of her throat, but she caught it in time. Nikki had been right all along. Sean was a complete bastard who had been taking her for a ride.
It was too late to save her dignity, but she was damned if she was going to let him revel in seeing her hurting by his comments.
All this time he had been using her, like his own personal sex toy, she hadn't seen it, blinded by the love she thought she felt for him. But as she looked at his shallow, empty shell standing before her in the doorway the fog that once covered her hazy eyes began to drift away, and for the first time in years she was able to see clearly.
How could she have been so dumb
This wasn't a relationship of love; it was a relationship of convenience Sean's convenience.
Suddenly, like a light bulb going on above her head she realised, that warm feeling she had felt fluttering in her heart while she was with Thomas, that was true love
"Hey, where are you going? Trisha stay, lets talk about this, at least let me explain." Sean tried to block the doorway to prohibit her from leaving, but it was no good.
"Not that it's any of your business, but I'm going to see Thomas I need to tell him I've made a huge mistake."
"Thomas?" Sean let out a confused half-laugh.
"Thomas? Geeky, dinosaur loving, Thomas? This time he almost fell to the floor, his laughter becoming more raucous. His mocking giggles made her anger soar. How could she ever have imagined spending her life with this loser?
"Yes, Thomas!. Sweet, caring, wonderful, Thomas. Who loves me unconditionally, despite my flaws, something you would never be capable of. Now get out of my way, I've wasted enough of my life with you already!" Sean, now silent, warily stepped out of the way. He had never seen Trisha be so passionate before she no longer was the spoiled Daddies girl he had once taken for granted and she was walking away from him. He knew she was gone from his life forever a regret he would have to live with until the day he died.
Trisha walked confidently down the long corridor, heading to her future, never once looking back to her past.
The drive from the hospital back to campus on average would have taken anywhere up to an hour in the congested London traffic, but Nikki had broken all records and made it home in 23 minutes precisely
Her heart was racing as quickly as her car was as she brought it to an abrupt stop at the buildings main entrance. She sprinted outside, almost locking her keys inside, much to her annoyance.
Once the keys were retrieved and the doors safely secured she made a mad dash through the swing doors like a woman possessed.
Part of her wanted to get back to her room as quickly as was humanly possible, but another part of her was terrified to find what awaited her there. What if Helen was hurt? Nikki didn't think she could take much more heartache, and this was driving her to the brink of her sanity.
Her breathing became more laboured as she climbed the three flights of stairs to her floor, but she couldn't allow herself to pause for the much needed air her lungs craved. Something wasn't right, she could feel it in her bones, right down to the pit of her stomach, which was churning with anxiety.
As her dorm room door came into sight her worst fears were confirmed. It lay slightly ajar, and Nikki paused for a brief moment before entering, to hear if there was any noise coming from within but all she could hear was her own deep breaths as Oxygen fought its way back into her system.
Upon entering the room she found it empty, and just the way she had left it a few hours before with the exception of Helen, who clearly was no longer there. There was no sign of a scuffle or forced entry, but this didn't make sense. Helen would never have opened the door, unless she had been sure it was Nikki at the other side.
Had she done another runner?
No she couldn't have. Nothing seemed to be missing so Helen hadn't stolen anything. Nikki scolded herself. Helen had explained why she had taken that money the first night they had met, and Nikki had no reason not to believe her. Helen wasn't a thief, she was just a lost soul who needing saving.
Nikki's eyes rapidly darted around the room in search of any kind of note that Helen may have left, but again she found nothing.
"Where the hell is she!" Frustration turned to anger, and quickly diverted back to an overwhelming sense of sheer terror.
Leaving her door open and unlocked she made her way back down the corridor and down the deserted stairwell, retracing her steps exactly until she was back out in the fresh air and running down the grassy verge, towards Thomas block in the hope Helen would be there waiting for her.
"Please, God, let her have followed me earlier! Please tell me she's safe!"
As her sprint quickened she lost her footing and came tumbling down in almost the exact spot Helen had earlier fallen.
As she crashed to her knees violently her eyes fixed on something lying in the grassy stalks that made her want to vomit. She crawled towards it, praying her eyes were deceiving her, and it wasn't what she thought at all. But as the object came within her reach she knew she was right.
A single shoe. Helen's shoe.
She picked it up and cuddled it to her chest, rocking back and forth on her knees, a sob breaking free from her lips, she heard herself scream as the rain began to pour down from the skies above.
"HELENNNNN!" The blood curdling cry echoed over the campus grounds but no one could hear.
"Get in the bloody car! Defiant little bitch!" Jim grabbed furiously at Helen as she wriggled and screamed, desperately trying to break free from the iron grip he held around her waist as he yanked her towards the tiny boot of Simon's car.
"Jim, you're hurting her." Simon watched on in disbelief as his "friend" punched and kicked this poor feeble girl in front of him.
"Good! I'm not hurting her enough by the looks of it, she's still struggling, bitch has got a death wish. Listen darlin', if you don't get in the fucking car I'm going to make you sorry you were born." Jim was clearly running out of stamina and breath as he hauled Helen's now exhausted body to the back of the car.
"Don't just bloody stand there, help me get her in!" Simon grasped hold of Helen's legs reluctantly and aided Jim in getting her into the trunk before it was closed down on top of her.
"Bleedin' 'ell never took her for a fighter." Jim held his sides as he tried to catch his breath. I'm getting too old for this, he thought to himself, but knew deep down he would never "retire", he got too much satisfaction from seeing defenceless women getting their comeuppance.
Simon walked around him and got into the driver's seat. This was too much for him to get his head around. He had helped Jim out before, but always after Jim had already beaten the girl into death and wrapped up her body, ready to be disposed never before while she was still able to scream and plea for mercy. His blood almost ran cold as he thought of his step-daughter what if it was her in the same position, struggling in the hands of a maniac? He couldn't allow himself to think of it. I have to get out of this, he thought, just as Jim joined him in the passenger seat.
"Where too?" Simon stuttered, trying to keep his hands from shaking on the steering wheel. He didn't want Jim to see he had lost his bottle.
"Anywhere, Christ! Just get off this bloody campus before someone sees us!"
Simon turned the ignition and pulled away from his parked position and began to make his way downhill towards the city, keeping a steady 50mph so as not to look suspicious, and it was a good job he did. A car heading in the opposite direction at record speeds turned the corner towards them, causing him to have to swerve.
"Jesus!" Jim gripped onto his seat for dear life until Simon regained control and steered the car back onto the road.
"Bleedin' women driver's! That stupid cow must be another one with a death wish! Trying to do a 100 miles per hour in a friggin' Ford! Didn't look half bad though I'll maybe see if I can come back up here and recruit her. I don't have sexy, exotic, dark haired woman in my little harem yet. " he laughed to himself and shook his head.
They drove along in silence, with the occasional sound of thumping coming from the back, as Helen pounded the metal of the car with her feet. Jim clenched his fists, and tried to ignore it, knowing full well that if she did it one more time he was going to stop the car, get her out and beat the living daylights out of her for annoying him.
The noise stopped, and Jim let his hands de-tense but just as he did the sounds restarted,
"The docks "
"What?" Simon scrunched up his chubby face.
"Drive the car to the docks."
"But why? I was taking you home. I thought you were only going to give this one a beating to teach her a lesson and put her back on the streets."
"Nah, I've changed my mind. This one needs more than a lesson. She's got my back up once too often. I think instead of putting her back on the game I'm going to test her strength as an Olympic swimmer for starters let's see how she tackles doing lengths in the Thames." His laughter made Simon want to vomit. Jim really was going to do away with Helen after all and there would be nothing he could do about it.
The thunder clapped loudly, and the bright blue streak of lightening flashed through the night sky just above where Nikki lay sobbing, still clutching the shoe that once belonged to Helen. She was soaked through to the skin, her clothes drenched, weighing her down. Her tears mingled with the raindrops that travelled down her weary face.
She was crying for her loss, crying for Helen and what she possibly going through, crying in desperation, because she didn't know where to start looking, or how she could save her fallen angel from the fate that life had so cruelly dished out.
Her mind was a blur of a million questions and dark images running together until things were no longer coherent.
She looked down at the shoe and a single teardrop fell inside. It was then something caught her eye. A plain white label, marked in black ink. "Property of Fenner".
It wasn't much to go on, but it was a start, and it allowed Nikki to put a little bit of hope back in her heart as she raced to her car and made her way back to the hospital to ask Josh for his help. She had to get Helen back to her safe and sound...but did she have enough time?
Nikki held onto Helen's shoe for dear life, terrified to peel her eyes away from the "property of Fenner" label that was glued discreetly inside. Her heart raced as her brain tried to figure out what to do next.
"Fenner?" Was that a common name? Would there be many of them in the phone book, in the Larkhall area?
"Fenner?" She her mind whirled frantically. Why did that name sound so familiar?
It was then that it struck her like a bolt of lightening. Josh! Fenner was the surname of his missing sister's boyfriend.
"Damn it!" She threw the shoe, full force onto the gravelled pathway, in sheer frustration. For a split second she had hoped her jolting of memory would lead her to Helen, but this was just a dead end. If Josh had any idea where this "Fenner" guy lived surely he would have been round there like a shot to bring Denny back. This was hopeless, but she had to try. She needed to get back over to the hospital and find out everything Josh knew about this madman even the tiniest of details could possibly help.
She had to get to Helen before it was too late, because from what Josh had already told her, this nutter Fenner was capable of anything and Helen was in grave danger.
Simon tried to drive as steadily as his shaking hands would allow him. His foot gently eased off of the accelerator, his speed dropping to just under 25mph, as they neared the eerily silent docks by the Thames.
He tried to remain looking as outwardly calm as he could. If Jim saw him panicking he was sure to go off on one, and it wouldn't just be this poor defenceless girl who would be going for swim in London's famous river.
The cold stone buildings enveloped them, blocking out the bright sunshine which was melting the remnants of Christmas snow that lay on the deserted road.
The vehicle slowly came to halt and Simon remained seated, while Jim made a sharp exit, walking around to the boot.
Simon could feel the car shake as the trunk door flew open and Helen, kicking and screaming was dragged from inside, landing with an audacious thud on the solid concrete.
The horrendous sounds of her squealing and whimpering from behind duct tape, which was fastened tightly around her mouth, made Simons blood curdle. She sounded like a poor defenceless animal being tortured and killed, and this was just the beginning of Jim's revenge things were bound to get much worse.
His saddened eyes lowered to his feet. Why couldn't he be more of a man and stand up to Jim? This young woman needed his help, and all he could think about was what the consequences would be if he did aide her. The police would be involved, questions would be asked, and his family would surely suffer. He couldn't help, even if he wanted to he was in too deep to back out.
"Simon, get out here and help me stupid bitch has curled herself into a ball and won't move!"
Simon did exactly as he was told.
"Grab her legs, and I'll get her upper half" Jim forcefully held Helen around her waist as the two men hoisted her into the air.
"Where will we put her?" Simon's face flushed a deep shade of red as his blood pressure rose at a rapid rate. Although Helen was emaciated at fewer than 9 stones he struggled with the weight of her in his arms.
"I told you the river!" Jim pushed towards the flimsy steel barricade, which surrounded the vast estuary, causing Simon to lose his footing and in turn his grip on Helen's legs.
Helen's screaming stopped abruptly as her lower body crashed to the floor, quickly followed by the rest of her. Jim's hands were gone from her waist no longer were his thick, chubby fingers poking roughly into her ribcage.
"I have to get away from here!" fear was too tame a word for how Helen felt at that precise moment. Her whole body contracted, screaming from the inside out for help help she knew would never come, and the one person in the world she needed by her side right now was Nikki, but she didn't even know anything was wrong did she?
Death was almost imminent, it was so close she could almost smell its putrid odour. Others would have lain down and given in, but not Helen. She had to fight, for she had Nikki she had everything to live for now, unlike before. Maybe if she hadn't met Nikki she would have surrendered to Jim a long time ago, but now determination burned a fire inside her.
Helen's fingernails dragged along the stone road beneath her, as she attempted to crawl away into the nearest corner and hide before Jim or Simon saw her, but she was getting nowhere fast. Her body didn't feel like her own it was numb, battered and bruised, and incapable of moving on its own.
Tiny tears of frustration ran down her pale cheeks. It was no good.
"Where do you think you're going!" Helen felt her head spring backwards as her hair was yanked almost from the root. She shook her head, sobbing, unable to answer due to the restrictive tape locked over her lips.
"You just don't ever seem to learn, do you!" Jim's tone was venomous and Helen knew this was the final straw the end. The first kick to her torso confirmed what she suspected and she didn't know how much more her body could take. The fire of determination that was minutes ago burning inside her was now quickly dying, as was she. By the fourth kick her mind was starting to lose consciousness. She fought with all her might to stay awake focusing on the wonderful short time she was able to spend in Nikki's arms and that was the last thought she had before her world went black.
The double automatic doors to the hospitals entrance seemed to take forever to slide apart - much to the annoyance of an extremely impatient Nikki. She huffed and puffed, sighing audibly, causing others around her to stare, while she tried in vein to prise open the doors a bit faster with her bare hands. Her hands pushed on the double-glazed glass as she manoeuvred herself through the slow growing gap and made her way past reception and up onto the first floor, where she paused outside of Thomas' room in the intensive care unit.
She could hear the beeping of the various medical support machines echo around her, and it made her think about all the people around her who were close to death...all of their faces looked just like Helens.
Nikis stomach lurched. Was Helen in critical danger and near death? God, how she hoped she was only being pessimistic and this wasnt some strange premonition...she shook the thought away. Helen had to be alive, for she was all Nikki had to live for...she had to remain positive, for if Helen didn't have the energy to fight back, then she would have to do all the fighting for her.
Her hand rested on the cold metal handle, and with the little remaining strengh she had she pushed the door wide open.
"Nikki...why are you back here so soon..." Josh seemed shocked to see his friend back after having been gone less than an hour.
"Josh, I really need to speak to you...alone." Josh didnt hesitate. The panic was etched across Nikki's face. Something ws wrong...very wrong. Nikki never lost her composure...unless..."God, she was right..Helen...something happened to her after all!" Josh felt an uneasy feeling settle upon him. Helen was the missing link between him and his sister, Denny...and if something bad had happened to Helen...he didnt dare think about it.
"Nik, whats wrong, whats happened to Helen?" Josh closed the door over behind him so Zandra couldnt hear.
"It's that bastard, the one who's been prostituting her...he's got her Josh! He's taken her away from me again!" Sobs racked at Nikkis body, the realisation of the severity of the situation hit her head on, like a tonne of bricks dropping from a great height.
"I've only had her in my life for one night, and already I know I want to spend the rest of my life with her. I can't live without her, Josh...what if...what if she's..." More tears fell freely and Josh bundled her up in his arms.
"She was so scared of him...the night we met, she was covered in bruises....she's so fragile, and tiny, if he had to beat her again I dont think she would be able to take."
"Do you know anything about this guy?" Nikki wiped the back of her hand over her eyes to dry them and removed Helen's shoe from the inside pocket of her denim jacket.
"It say's "Property of Fenner" inside...i was hoping you would know more about him than I do?"
"Fenner! That's him Nikki...thats the guy that took Denny away from us! Jim Fenner. I don't know anything other than his name...and his face...that face I would never forget! He worked for my dad's restuarant down by the Thames for a while, managing it..." Josh gave a sarcastic chuckle.
"Although all he was interested in was the penniless waitresses and how best he could exploit them. My dad fired him afer he caught him getting his leg over with one of them in the wine celler one night...Shell Dockley I'm sure her name was. She resigned the same night, no doubt going to work for her new so-called boyfriend, and taking my sister with them" Nikki couldnt help but feel sorry for her friend, his sad eye's telling more of a story than his words ever could. Both of them had lost someone they loved, and all because of one man. She pondered their loses for a second before it finally dawned on her...
"Your Dad would have an address for Fenner, if he worked for him, surely?" Josh though for a moment and shrugged his shoulders.
"There's only one way to find out"
Helen felt the blackness envelope her as she drifted drunkenly in and out of consciousness. She could hear voices in the near distance, and could barely make out what was being said. her limp and lifeless body lay on the rough pebbled concrete, strewn out like a disgarded ragdoll.
"Jim, you've killed her...what the hell are we going to do! We have a dead body on our hands...you can't just chuck her in the Thames, she'll float, someone will find her, see the bruises and know she was beaten to death and that it wasn't a suicide!" Simons words were panicked. His brain was in overdrive. How could he possibly think straight when all he could envision was life-imprisonment in a confined cell.
"Shut it will you! I cant bloody think when you rabbit on like a fucking parrot!" Jim rung his hands nervously, almost wishing he hadn't lost his temper.
"We have to dispose of her somehow! At least in the River it'll be a while before anyone finds her. If we leave her lying here its gonna be worse for us."
"What if someone's saw us!" The sweat dripped down Simon's face fromhis damp forehead, the stress of the situation was getting to him. He felt like he would have a massive coronary at any minute.
"There's only that restuarant on the corner, and it's empty! Anyway, lets just say the owner owes me a favour...he won't be grassing me up in a hurry." Jim couldnt stifle his laughter.
"Jim, this isn't funny! We are looking at 20 years for murder...lets just get the hell out of here. Simon raced to the driver side of the car, desperate to make a quick get away.
"No, wait...look...that skip over there behind the restuarant. Let's just shove her in that, no ones gonna find her there...she'll be incinerated before anyone even realises shes missing." Simon nodded enthusiastically, for the first time feeling like he might just get away with this after all.
Both men took an end of Helen and carried her towards the bright yellow container. The stood back a little and began to swing her, like a bin bag getting thrown out to the garbage. Gaining enough power they let go, and she landed inside with a gut wrenching thud that echoed aroun the stone walls. All in a day's work...Jim wiped his hands down the front of his trousers and didnt bother to look back as he got in the car and drove home without a care in the world. Why worry? He was invinsable after all...wasnt he?
Nikki's car came to a screeching halt directly outside the front doors of Cafe Salsa...a tiny Mexican eatery that was kept going with it's regular diners who frequented the place for its friendly service laid-back atmosphere and most importantly, fabulous food.
"Follow me..." Josh led the way through a back door, into the kitchens, nodding politely as he passed, to a kitchen porter who was emptying the evening's rubbish into a skip in time for the last disposale pick-up of the night.
Hurrying through the sweltering hot kitchens, where chefs toiled over their pots, and into the office, where Josh's Dad sat patiently going over the books in his semi-lit sanctuary. Adam Mitchell looked up over the glasses that rested at the end of his nose as he heard the dor creak open.
"Josh? What are you doing here tonight?" He rested his pen down on the table, giving his full attention to his son.
"Is this Zandra?" A smile crept up on his face.
"No, Dad, this is my friend Nikki...look we need to ask you something. Jim Fenner...do you have an address for him?" Josh prayed his dad would give an affirmative, but instead he watched as he shook his head instead. His heart sank and Nikki dropped into a leather chair in the corner, completely deflated...this was her last hope and it had just been dashed. She would just have to accept that Helen was gone forever, and the chances of her being found alive were slim to say the least. She had lost the other half of her soul and she would never be complete without her.
Christmas Eve 1994
Tiny droplets of snow drifted slowly down from the clouds, taking their time cascading onto the white, crisp London streets below.
Church bells rang out in the background as thousands of late night shoppers ran around, carrying handfuls of bags, making last minute preparations for Christmas. Men dressed as Santa stood in doorways collecting money for charity, ringing bells and singing carols.
There was a festive feeling in the air, mixed with joy, excitement and anxiety. Everyone looked so happy. Couples sauntered past holding hands, mothers dragging their children kicking and screaming away from toy shop windows, families watching the carol singers belt out well known Christmas songs, all huddling closely together to retain the heat that the weather was so quick to take away.
But just a few feet away a teenage girl sat curled underneath a torn and tattered blanket, not fit for an animal. She shivered and wrapped the grey blanket tighter around her body as she watched the crowds amble happily by the alleyway that she called home. No one took notice that she was there, but she liked it that way. No one to take pity on her. She hated people feeling sorry for her, especially at times like this, when everyone was so joyous.
She turned her head away from the street on her right, and rested it on the cold, damp wall behind her. She looked up into the sky and watched the flakes of snowfall onto her face, melting as they touched her skin and running down the sides of her face as they turned to water.
Winter was always hard to cope with. Freezing temperatures, torrents of rain, sleet and snow and no warm place to seek shelter. All she had for comfort was her trusty bed sheet and the clothes she had left home with that day she ran away. Neither had been washed in years, but she didn't notice the dirt and grime after a while. It had become part of her, who she was. Her "friends" didn't care either. They were just as filthy. But the fact they were lovely people made up for their personal hygiene, to her at least.
Other people weren't so forgiving of the unfortunates that lived in the boxes in her alley. She had been spit on, called names, laughed at, ignored and beaten. But worst of all were the people who just starred. She never knew what they were thinking, but she knew it wasn't good. The expressions on their faces said it all. Pity. Shame. Sorrow. If only once in a while someone had smiled. But no one ever did. It was always the same gaunt look of disgrace and embarrassment.
She looked down at her hands, which were now a shade of bluish white, tinged with purple, sadness in her eyes. Every Christmas she prayed to heaven that someone would invite her to join their family for the holidays. She longed to get a present. Not for the gift itself, but for the excitement of unwrapping it and finding out what was underneath all the bright coloured paper, bows and ribbons. But in her 4 years on the streets it had never happened, and wasn't likely to either.
She sighed and slid her body down the wall. Curling herself into a ball, she positioned her body so it was lying on an opened out cardboard box. Her head rested on a little mound of snow that had built up on her usual resting place, over night.
She closed her eyes and thought back to last Christmas Eve. Things had gone down hill from then. If only I hadn't said yes, she sobbed as she played the last 12 months over in her head.
She was disgusted with herself, and only one person made it all better. But she was gone. Or was she?
Holiday time was here again, and with no home to go to, Nikki wandered around the streets of London aimlessly, lost in a trance she was a shadow of her former self. Her weight had dropped dramatically, leaving her with a skeletal-like appearance that shocked people upon sight. Her friends had given up begging her to eat months ago, for it did no good, she simply wouldn't listen. What reason was there to stay healthy for? None whatsoever.
After that fatefully day when Helen had so crudely been taken away from her, life as she had known it had slipped further and further away from her. Her studies had been affected, as were her friendships as she slipped into a hermit-like cocoon, shutting the world away and all the pains that tore her heart in two.
It was almost a year to the day since Nikki had stumbled upon Helen in a back alleyway, tricked by her friends. But the joke had been on them. What they deemed a hilarious prank had turned her life around and had shown her that the shining light of love truly existed in the cold, dark reality she had once locked herself away in. But that reality was back. There was no more Helen, and there was no more love. Only a black, gapping void, that had sucked her in like a wormhole, clutching agonisingly at her heart until it felt like it no longer beat.
The air was bitter against her skin, chilling it to the bone, but she failed to notice as she strode by the black rusted handrail encasing the banks of the Thames.
Her friends had all gone home for the 2 week break from college, back to their families, the warmth, the love, the hugs, the presents. All Nikki had was herself and her own dark thoughts. Just how easy would it be to jump, she wondered as she watched the calm waves of the London river ebb and flow 30ft below her. All her pain and misery would be gone, and Helen would be waiting for her at the proverbial "pearly gates".
After all this time Nikki realised Helen could no longer be alive. Jim would never have allowed it Helen had once told her as much. The fear in her eyes when his name was mentioned was a sight that Nikki had etched forever in her memory. Those eyes, the way they sparkled that mouth, the way it curled into a smile. Never would she see them again, only in her mind and that would never be enough.
Her fingernails dug painfully into the palms of her hands as she gripped onto the screams of sheer heartbreak that threatened to break free from the deepest recesses of her soul. Leaning on the handrail she let her knees buckles and her body sink to the ground, and like she were praying her head tilted to look at the grey sky, her hands clutched to her chest.
"Why?" She asked in a whisper that mixed with her sobs.
"Why?" This time her question was a rhetorical scream. No one was going to answer.
"Why, God, Why? Why do you always take the beautiful ones first? Was it to punish her for what she had done in her life? Or was it because you wanted her for yourself, you selfish bastard. She didn't deserve to die she was loved I loved her and you took her away from me." she stood up slowly, sobs shaking her entire being.
"YOU TOOK HER AWAY FROM ME!" Her screams stopped a few passers-by in their tracks. They stared at her in wonder, before walking on, their heads shaking in pity. She was just another lost soul, knocked down by the horrors that life had dealt, and there was no map to find the correct path back .that road she would have to find alone.
Tearing herself away, Nikki made her way towards the near empty streets of Covent Garden, her head down and her eyes focused on the icy walkways that glistened under the streetlights. Digging in her pockets for change as she approached the underground station she winced as her numb hands rubbed roughly against the hard fabric of her jeans. The coins danced around in her first as she desperately tried to keep them there, but failed miserably.
"Shit!" She cursed audibly as a £1 coin began its descent along the pavement, twisting and turning as it picked up speed on the slight hill the road stood on. Running after it she manoeuvred along until her foot positioned onto of the tiny piece of metal stopping it in its tracks, but not before she lost her footing and slid, landing on her backside with an almighty bump.
The bones in her bottom seemed to take the brunt of the accident followed by a shooting pain in her lower back that almost had her crying out in agony as she rubbed it furiously to try and alleviate the dull ache. But as she did so something caught her eye. A small person, lying sleeping under a shabby blanket, their body shaking from the cold. No longer did she feel the pain that coursed through her, instead all her thoughts turned back to Helen. This is how she had once lived; on the streets with no more than a thin sheet to retain the heat in the winter months.
Looking down at the £2 in her hands, the money for her journey home, she knew what she had to do.
"Here, you get a coffee, and I'll walk home." Resting the money into the dainty hand that lay over the blanket, the only part of the persons body that was visible, Nikki crept away from the alley so as not to wake the sleeping girl. But under the sheet she stirred. Her dreams were fading away, and the bitter reality was again hitting her full force as she abruptly awoke.
Someone had placed something in her hand, but what? Lifting her arm inside the holey blanket she opened her fist and held back tears as she watched the gold coins shimmer .a present from a generous stranger the only present she would receive this Christmas.
Sitting up quickly to thank whoever had left the money she felt her heart leap into her mouth as she caught sight of the woman's retreating back. It couldn't be could it? With a gasp she dropped the coins to the ground and her hand flew to her mouth.
It was Nikki.
Sky is wide; trees are burnt,
Been a while since you stood here,
You feel cold, so alone,
Yet the wind whispers 'hello' and it blows,
When it blows
'Fallen angel, with shattered dreams,
Trying to make some sense of all you've seen,
Let it go, let it go, troubled soul,
Let it go, let it go '
Wounded spirit, troubled soul,
Fallen angel, let it all go,
Just believe and you will see,
All the good things your life can be
"Fallen Angel" - Gabrielle
"Nikki?" Her word was merely a whisper that rode with the wind, but Nikki heard it loud and clear. That sultry voice, with an unmistakable Scottish lilt to it.
Fear prevented her from turning around. If this wasn't Helen she couldn't cope. Her hopes and dreams had been dashed one too many times in the search for the woman she loved with all her heart, and she didn't think she could take any more heartbreak than that that was cruelly dealt to her by the hands of fate.
The tender touch on her arm brought tears to her eyes. This had to be a dream, Helen was dead and buried a distant yet painful memory.
"Nikki?" Helen let her hand glide smoothly across Nikki's as they rested at her side, fists clenched in obvious tension. The olive skin was cold to the touch, but felt exactly like it had done all those months before. The memory of Nikki cupping her cheek gently and with so much love flooded back to Helen in a wave of unrepentant emotion. Nikki was the one thing that had happened in her life that wasn't shameful or wrong how could it be when it felt oh so right.
"Nikki? Look at me." The thought of seeing those chocolate brown eyes boring into her own once again sent shivers down Helen's spine in anticipation. The look of love that Nikki had shown her with a deep stare had once made her feel like the only person in the world who mattered, and how she ached to be loved like that again.
Nikki didn't turn right away. Instead she stood, her eyes focused on a tall Victorian building, and her mind adrift in a whir of emotions. If this really was Helen standing behind her no, it couldn't be. How many times in the last year had her hopes been heightened, only for them to be quickly dashed. Helen had been on every street corner, in every shop, in all her dreams, but never was she really there until now.
Shifting her feet slowly she turned around, to be met with a sight that took her breath away. A smile that would have brightened up the darkest room played on the ever familiar lips that she had once longed to kiss.
"I've missed you, Nikki." the words were merely a whisper, but the power behind them was strong Nikki felt her heart constrict.
Tears rolled the length of her face as her hands lifted towards Helen's face. She had to feel her, touch her, make sure she was real and not just a figment of her imagination like she had been so many times in the past year. Her fingers grazed tenderly across the slightly tainted skin, and it was then she knew this was no ghost conjured by her haunted mind.
"I thought you were dead," Nikki's fingers continued their journey, into Helen's hair and down towards the back of her neck, where she held on for dear life, afraid that Helen would disappear if she didn't.
"I was, Nikki. The day I was torn away from you was the day I stopped living. I never thought I'd see you again. I thought I was being punished for all the terrible things I've done " Helen's voice cracked and tears threatened to fall from her tired eyes, but she found herself hypnotised as the dark haired females face got closer to her own. She could feel the warm breath flow across her cheeks as they stood in silence, their eyes fixed in a look that could never be described solely by words.
"Helen, no one is going to punish you for anything. The things that have happened to you were forced upon you, you didn't choose them and I promise, I will never let anything bad happen to you again." Inching closer she placed her lips tenderly upon Helens mouth, in a kiss that was tender and aching with love. But as Helen hesitantly opened her mouth to respond Nikki pulled back leaving her confused, hurt and somewhat self-conscious. She knew how she looked and smelt. A year living back on the streets had turned her into a shadow of her former self, the Helen that Nikki had once loved was no longer standing here. Instead she was a woman who people turned there noses up at, sneered at and generally ignored, while they tossed a measly 10 pence coin her way. But Nikki was different. She saw the real Helen. Not the Helen who had once had everything and lost it, but the Helen who had so much love inside herself to give the girl who through sheer determination fought to survive.
"I'm not going to push you, not after everything you've been through let's take it slowly." Helen hesitated at Nikki's words, unsure if it was a polite brush off, until the contours of Nikki's mouth began to curl into a genuine smile that she could not doubt.
"Yeah, dead slow." The words seemed to huskily flow from the back of Helen's throat, sultrily luring Nikki into a hypnotic state of carnal desire that made it hard to breathe.
Without hesitation this time both woman locked eyes, quickly followed by their lips. All agreement to take things slowly were conveniently forgotten as their tongues danced together with a passion that could have melted the ice beneath their feet. They needed each other desperately; to touch, taste, smell, feel to merge together as one one heart, one soul.
Aware that time was ticking by and the sun was beginning to set Nikki reluctantly broke the spell both had fallen under. Looking at her watch she realised she had less than 20 minutes to catch the last underground train home, but she couldn't leave not without Helen.
"Come back to Campus with me .please " Nikki freely let the tears fall from her eyes as she pleaded with Helen.
"Nikki, I ." Helen shook her head in protest.
"Please Helen, I can't let us be apart again not like this. This is shit "
"Shit happens, Nikki "
"No, no it doesn't, not if you want something bad enough and believe me Helen, I want you badly."
Helen let her gaze fall away from where it was rooted on Nikki's face. She couldn't look at her, with her face contorted in tears and heartbreak. How could she look into those wet puppy dog eyes and deny Nikki what she was asking. How could she tell the only person she had ever loved that it felt too soon; that living in squalor was all she had ever known and that it terrified her to think of starting afresh in an environment that was alien to her.
What if it all went wrong? What if the love they felt for each other faded and she had got used to home comforts, only to end up back on the streets with no one to take care of her.
"I'm so sorry Nikki " Helen picked up her blanket from the ground and started to walk away, tears streaming her face as she heard Nikki shout in protest behind her.
"I've never believed in destiny Helen, but don't you see something brought us together again today, something stronger than we can fight. Don't run away from it, Helen please don't deny us the future we could have." Out of breath and energy Nikki fell silent and could only watch as Helen moved further away from her into the distance until she could no longer see where she had gone.
She stayed like that, watching the now empty space where Helen had been, for longer than she had anticipated. He body felt numb and it was nothing to do with the freezing temperatures. She had just let her soul mate walk away and hadn't tried to stop her. She knew why, but it didn't make her feel any better. The last thing Helen needed was another person being forceful with her, and trying to make up her mind for her. Helen was an adult big enough and ugly enough to make her own decisions. If walking away was what she wanted then how could Nikki deny her that. Fate had brought them together on more than one occasion, and if they were truly meant to be, it would do so again. At least this time she knew Helen was alive and well.
"Shit " Glancing at her watch for the second time Nikki realised she had less that 2 minutes to catch her train if she wanted to be home on time for Christmas.
Running carefully through the deserted, icy streets of London, she sprinted towards her destination, praying she would make it on time. There was no way she was spending the night out on the streets baring the elements.
Thoroughly ashamed she chastised herself for thinking that way. Helen had had to do it every night for the last year and had never once had she heard her complain about it, or ask for pity. Helen had only shown a courage and determination that had to be admired. Nikki knew she would never have been able to endure what Helen had been through, despite her own personal strength.
Coming within inches of the station door she could only sigh as an older gentleman dressed in the standard London Underground uniform began to close over the solid silver grating that acted as a barrier, preventing anyone from entering or exiting.
Banging her body against it, her hands grabbed at the steel bars and her eyes pleaded with the stranger on the other side.
"Please let me in, I really need to get home tonight."
"Sorry love, the last train's long gone. You'll have to wait and catch the next one in the morning."
"And what time is the first train?" Anger was rapidly rising in her.
"8am I'm afraid darlin' look's like you'll have to get a cab."
"I can't afford a bloody cab! Do you know how much those fucking charlatans charge on Christmas Eve!"
"Maybe Santa will take pity on you and pick you up on his sleigh at Midnight." The man gave a light chuckle, but Nikki didn't join in. Instead she gave him a look that almost sent him running back to the comfort of his office.
"Bastard! You think this is funny a female, stuck in central London, in the middle of bloody winter, with a million drunken louts ready to take advantage! If I don't get raped then I'll freeze to bloody death!" the man scurried off shaking his head at the young lunatic who was having a go at him as though it was his fault she had missed her connection home.
Nikki didn't let his disappearance stop her ranting. Instead she carried on, like a woman possessed .until she felt something slip into her hand and she ended her tirade to look at what it was.
"You can share my blanket I wont let you freeze to death."
"Helen!" Nikki couldn't believe her eyes as she turned to see Helen standing behind her, shivering uncontrollably.
"I love you Nikki, and you're right we should never be apart."
"Oh Helen," Nikki scooped the smaller woman into her arms and hugged her for dear life.
"I want to come back and live with you forever."
Nikki could only nod in response. The lump at the back of her throat was blocking the words she dearly wanted to say but couldn't.
Wrapping the worn out blanket around them both they sat on the pavement with their backs against the wall, huddled together in each others arms watching a new batch of snow drift slowly down around them. The bells of Big Ben chimed signalling midnight. It was Christmas day the day their new life would start and the past could all be forgotten.
Yesterday she had been a fallen angel, but today she had found her wings and was about to take flight with Nikki by her side.
It was the best Christmas present she could ever have wished for.
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