What Goes On Behind Closed Doors
The characters depicted in this story are purely fictional and any resemblance to real-life people, living or otherwise, is purely coincidental... in the majority of cases, anyway.
Regards to all the production companies involved in the making of 'Xena: Warrior Princess'; you're behind a truly ingenious programme and so I'm guessing that giving you any credit for this story would be an insult to your intelligence, right?
I'd just like to say a loud and uninhibited «censored» to the executives at Channel 5, who axed Xena mid-way through season four and in doing so deprived me of the will to live. I just can't understand the mentality of the naïve morons - what on earth could have possessed them to ditch the only show that brought in any ratings for their frankly shitty station? Then again, these are the same people/turkeys who were having serious discussions about editing out subtext... need I say more?! (If you're British, you'll understand my inane ramblings and the necessity for such obscene language, if not, then I apologise profusely; but just be grateful that you weren't there when I heard the announcement.)
Note to any executives at Channel 5 who may, by some cruel twist of fate, be reading this: in the immortal words of Claire Withercross, 'please don't sue me' - I speak only the truth.
I'd like to dedicate this piece to my father for teaching me that his species are definitely not the fairer sex - I guess I'm a sucker for irony.
Warning: This story contains scenes of graphic violence, graphic sex (between two extremely consenting women) and 'scenes that some viewers may find disturbing.' I suppose you could say that there's some hurt/comfort going on and a little angst - oh, and a lot of bad language. But it's all in the name of reality - prisoners lives aren't easy, you know. Hence, if you're under 18 or this stuff is illegal where you live then please refrain from reading this story. I said refrain... I can't actually do anything about it if you decide to disregard my instructions, can I? Not that I'm in any way encouraging people to break the law, but seems as though I've only just turned eighteen myself and I've disregarded a lot of instructions in my lifetime, I feel somewhat hypocritical <g> I guess I'm going to have to work on that conscience of mine. Oh, and for those of you who associate youth with innocence and limited writing capabilities, don't be so quick to judge; you might be pleasantly surprised - or not as the case may be.
This is my first venture in to the world of fan fiction, so feedback is more than welcome. My fragile ego can probably withstand some constructive criticism, too... but I don't tolerate outright nastiness so unless you want to incur my wrath... <g> E-mails to: email@example.com
Members of the prison service - be warned, you may find this story offensive. But hey guys, let's keep things in context. At the end of the day it's not supposed to be an exposé and a few insults in the name of humour never did anyone any harm, right?
"I'm willing to bet that he'll be some snot-nosed university graduate, still fucking wet behind the ears. And we'll be the ones who'll have to pick up the pieces when he goes and gets himself wedged knee deep in shit," Lee Robinson spat out distastefully. The robust and sinisterly unattractive prison officer was the sort of person who was prone to making wild accusations about people whom he hadn't even met; his limited brain capacity leaving him to play mindlessly with stereotypes and hypothetical situations.
"C'mon Lee. Let's not make assumptions about the bloke before he even gets here. I mean, lets face it, he wouldn't have gotten the post if he wasn't qualified," the considerably younger Owen Rassas reasoned. Owen was good at reasoning. At least that's what he figured considering he was always called upon to do the negotiating in hostage situations.
"Qualified?" Lee snorted loudly, drawing the attention of the other officers who had begun to accumulate in the relatively small room. "A degree won't do fuck all for you in here. It's experience that counts. It should've been one of us - " God, he was going to have to watch his mouth, he'd come so close to saying 'me' " - that got that post. We know the girls. We know what makes them tick" - he deliberately neglected to mention the full extent of his findings - " And what's more, we know how the system works. No matter how quick a learner you are, nothing beats experience." The other officers grunted in agreement - uncanny imitations of farm-yard noises being an integral component of their linguistic capabilities.
Owen's brows knitted as he carefully considered his reply. "Yeah Lee, I realise that. But you've got to face up to the fact that at the end of the day, he's going to be your boss - there's nothing you can do about it. So you might as well give the guy a chance," he reasoned. Have I mentioned that Owen was good at reasoning?
At that moment, a petite blonde appeared in the doorway, glancing hesitantly at the ensemble of officers. "Can I help you, love?" Lee inquired politely. She might have been - he struggled to think of that tactful word you were supposed to use when referring to extremely short people - vertically challenged, but he noticed her instantly.... after all, with a pair of tits like that, who wouldn't? The woman paused, desperately trying to avoid the inevitable conclusion that the misogynist pig currently drooling over her like a St. Bernard on heat was a member of her staff. It was the uniform that gave it away. She offered him a tentative smile anyway, wanting to make a lasting impression. "I certainly hope so. I'm Terri Kirkwood - the new Wing Governor," she replied in her soft, dulcet tones. Reminding herself that she was too nice to be smug, Terri somehow managed to stifle a grin as she watched the reaction that ensued.
Lee glanced at her in open-mouthed astonishment. He had expected a man, but no, this wasn't a man. Could it be - no, surely not? He glanced again at the ample swell of her breasts and then allowed his gaze to travel down to the shapely bronzed legs that descended from a simple, but smart black skirt. Woman. Wing governor. For some reason the three simple words refused to attach themselves to one another as they whirled around in the recesses of his mind. He eventually realised that he just couldn't muster the effort required to grasp the concept and so simply spluttered, "But - but - "
Terri smiled at him with feigned sympathy. "I know. Names can be so confusing. I just thought you would have gathered, what with it ending with an 'i' and all."
"You're a woman?" Lee verified uncertainly.
"Uh-huh." She paused as a lengthy silence descended upon the crowded room whereby every officer turned to study her with an intense scrutiny that caused her to inwardly flinch. Even Owen's love of logic couldn't help him fathom this bizarre situation. Taking a moment to listen to the shocked mumbles which all somehow related to her sex, Terri decided she could take no-more. "OK, so we've established that I'm a woman. I must say, it's nice to know that my staff have an iota of perception," she joked weakly. The more intelligent prison officers - sorry, officer - (who by some unintentional coincidence was female) recognised the comment for the insult that it was and frowned. The others thought it was a compliment and smiled inanely at the rare praise.
"Ok. I won't keep you for long because I know how busy you must be," Terri began through a guise of sincerity. She'd never previously had a problem with telling people exactly what she thought of them, but she wasn't sure how much longer she could withstand the stench of stale sweat and tobacco which had infiltrated the room alongside the influx of heavy-set physiques, which had now edged entirely too close for her liking. "I called this meeting just so I could get to know you all a little better and give you some indication of the changes I intend to make on C-Wing whilst I'm here."
"What - so it isn't a permanent posting?" Ben Ridgely asked hopefully.
Terri shrugged, and knowing ambiguity would piss these people off, replied, "That remains to be seen."
"What do you mean, changes?" Lee suddenly demanded, snapping out of his shocked reverie. "You haven't been here for two minutes and you've somehow reached the conclusion that our system is screwed up?"
Terri sighed audibly, earning a snigger from some of the officers. "Mr. Robinson, let me assure you that I have undergone training in several penal establishments and major problems are inherent in all of them. I intend to rectify those problems." Already knowing what was coming next, Terri held up a small hand to halt the objection. "And don't you dare try to tell me that this place is better than anywhere else, because I don't believe in perfection and I don't tolerate liars. You got that?" She was losing her patience, even those who didn't have that iota of perception were able to ascertain that much.
The sound of Lee grinding his stained and crooked teeth could be heard over the shocked silence. "Ma'am," he eventually acknowledged, after managing to prise open his clenched jaw.
"Good. Look guys, I understand that you might be a little wary of me at first, but I assure you that I intend to make Fairsborough a reputable establishment. In my book, that means co-operation between inmates and officers. I want mutual respect, because there is no way that I'm going to endorse that goddamn 'us and them' philosophy. I admit, I don't know the ins and outs of this place like you do. But I intend to change that and so I'll need one of you to escort me around and introduce me to the inmates. Any volunteers?' Terri looked around hopefully, but then realised that she'd probably lost their attention right after the word 'co-operation' came in to play. She should really have been hurt at the lack of support, but instead found herself quite glad that she wouldn't have to spend another minute in the company of these frankly disturbing people. "Fine. I'll escort myself. Any issues you want to take up with me, I'll be in my office this afternoon. Make sure you knock." She then disappeared as suddenly as she had emerged just a few moments earlier.
The officers looked at each other in confusion, not quite sure whether the last few minutes had been real. They were hoping that the arrival of Terri Kirkwood was a cruel stunt simultaneously embarked upon by all of their warped imaginations, but even to them, that seemed unlikely.
Devlin Fielding was nonchalantly leafing through a worn book, her fingers resting right at the very edge of the pages to avoid the ominous stains that obscured the majority of the writing. When a knock sounded at her cell door, she glanced up sharply, simply because this was a prison and common courtesy was about as dormant as her sex life. Speaking of her sex life.... one of Devlin's eyebrows rose in a trademark gesture as Terri tentatively entered her cell, eyeing the dented metal door with uneasiness before allowing it to swing shut behind her.
Devlin, remembering that her reputation revolved around her stoic facade, desperately tried to convince herself that the most stunning woman she had ever encountered was not currently inhabiting her sparsely-furnished cell. Returning her attention to the book, she muttered an utterly unenthusiastic, "Hi."
Terri winced at the open hostility conveyed by the throaty contralto. It was amazing how some people could articulate a range of emotions using a mere word. The girls who she had encountered so far had been sickeningly sycophantic, so she'd naturally ascertained that they were the trouble-makers. She wasn't as competent at dealing with people who refused to open up, mainly because it was so difficult to understand the motives behind their actions. She allowed herself to adjust to the dimness of the cell - it was broad daylight, but the tiny, meshed hole that posed as a window wasn't exactly effective in reflecting that - and then glanced again at the strikingly attractive brunette, noting the chiselled, proud features which enhanced her hardened exterior. For one unnerving moment, their gazes locked, and Terri was left awed by the resentment which radiated from the murky depths of Devlin's captivating blue eyes. Her instinctive reaction to the animosity was that of empathy, accompanied by an urge to unravel the bitterness that had besieged the beautiful woman. "I er - just wanted to introduce myself."
"Yeah, well go on then." Devlin evoked her most menacing glare, for no other reason than to see Terri's reaction to it. She then silently wondered at what point she had begun to seek entertainment via admittedly petty behaviour, and concluded that deprivation can do terrible things to your integrity.
Sensing the object of the game Devlin was playing, namely 'scare the shit out of the nice new governor,' Terri forced herself not to respond to the malignant stare and inwardly smiled when she saw the faint traces of disappointment cross the older woman's face. Maybe Devlin Fielding was not going to be all that hard to analyse after all, she thought, and then chastised herself for ever having taken a darned Psychology degree. "I'm Terri Kirkwood, the new Wing Governor."
"Yeah, well I'd kind of gathered that from that little badge you're wearing. Some of us degenerates are actually literate, would you believe?"
The question was intended to be rhetorical, but Terri wasn't ready to give up on her attempt at instigating a conversation with the enigmatic woman yet. "Well yeah, I guess I would. I mean, it would be pretty pointless for you to be sat there reading a book if you were illiterate."
"Maybe I'm practising my technique," Devlin retorted.
"Well in that case, I'd have thought 'Spot The Dog' would be more appropriate than the 'S.C.U.M. Manifesto.'" Terri couldn't hide a wry smile upon seeing the title of the book Devlin was pretending to consume so avidly and was even more surprised to see a ghost of a grin momentarily tug on the inmate's full lips. It quickly faded though, as Devlin reminded herself that it was severely abnormal to find yourself liking a screw - those that came in the form of prison officers, anyway. There was an awkward silence. "And you are...?" Terri eventually ventured, hoping she didn't sound as though she was desperately clutching at straws. No such luck.
"Oh c'mon. You don't seriously expect me to believe that you haven't spent the last few nights memorising all the inmates' profiles, do you? That's presuming that you actually see us as individuals and not just a collective bunch of social misfits." Devlin's eyes narrowed. "You know damn well who I am, ma'am, so either cut to the chase or piss off and leave me alone."
Terri winced as the tirade subsided. "Yeah, all right," she conceded. "You're right, I do know who you are, Devlin, but unlike some people in here, I have enough lucidity to realise that what's written down on paper is usually a load of subjective crap that doesn't always prove remarkably sound. Or are you quite content to be labelled as a potentially violent, reticent bitch who's beyond all reform?"
Devlin was momentarily taken aback. At first, because Terri had the integrity to admit she had lied, and secondly because the petite blonde was the only person ever to have had enough audacity to challenge her. "Is that what my reports say?" she eventually asked, guardedly.
"Well I'd love to say it was just for shock value, but...." Terri trailed off as Devlin suddenly stood up, advancing towards her. It was funny really; she hadn't realised just quite how tall the woman was until she stood towering several inches above her. "Please tell me you're not going to prove the 'potentially violent' part to be justified," Terri joked weakly, meeting the woman's gaze warily and peripherally assessing her distance from the alarm situated behind Devlin's imposing frame.
Devlin maintained her stance for a moment longer before relaxing and directing a wink in Terri's direction. "Nah. I'm just trying out my intimidation tactics on you."
Terri giggled in nervous relief, pleased to see that she had at least managed to extract a smile from the sullen inmate. "That's not nice," she responded, and then blushed when Devlin feigned appraisal of the tongue she had jokingly extended to emphasise her point. The lapse in professionalism proved worthwhile, though, when the inmate allowed a bark of laughter to escape from her lips for the first time since she could remember. At that point, Terri decided to depart, not wanting to impede any grudging progress she had made with the wary prisoner. "Well, I've got to get going. I'll see you around, OK?"
Devlin treated her to another rare smile and then wondered what the hell had come over her. "OK. It was - " she was almost tempted to say 'a pleasure meeting you,' but formality had always struck her as being unnecessarily pretentious - "nice meeting a screw with a grasp of morality for a change."
"Not as nice as it was to discover that there's actually someone in this prison with that rare combination of integrity and intelligence," Terri retorted sincerely, leaving Devlin watching after her departing form in shock. I have integrity and intelligence? Well that's a goddamn revelation.
Terri had made the dire mistake of assuming that Devlin had been the most difficult prisoner she was likely to encounter that day. She had nearly completed her rounds, and was now confident that her winning smile and powers of persuasion could worm their way through to the hardest of hearts. At least, that was until she met Michelle Darmody, a substantially overweight, ginger-haired girl with a splattering of freckles which served to conceal the majority of her pasty skin from view. Clad in a dress that could quite easily have posed as a four-man tent - complete with an intricate floral pattern so bright that Terri wished she'd entered the repulsive cell armed with sun-glasses - the acne-ridden teenager wasn't exactly a sight for sore eyes. Not to mention the fact that Terri had been able to smell her long before actually seeing her, and the after effects had left her nauseous and fighting the urge to heave.
"Who the fuck are you?" Michelle demanded as Terri's petite form finally emerged two-fold somewhere amid her drug-induced haze.
Trying to fathom which was more repugnant; the woman's chronic case of halitosis or the fact that she spat pure venom upon opening her mouth, Terri worked up the courage to introduce herself, "I'm Terri Kirkwood, the new Wing governor."
"And you're on my fucking case already? For fuck's sake, I've only just come back off the fucking Block. What the fuck is wrong with you?" Michelle screamed, advancing upon what she conceived to be an antagonising apparition. The drugs had rendered her as paranoid as a schizophrenic, only she didn't have any medication to appease her ardent belief that the whole world was against her.
Terri, taking a moment to recover from the tirade, silently marvelled at the woman's ability to make one four-letter word seem so amazingly versatile. Of-course, she hadn't expected Michelle to have the traits of Mother Teresa - after reading the stomach-churning account of how she had tortured a love rival, that would have been bloody naïve of her - but she had encountered women responsible for far more heinous acts who at least had the courtesy to be civil. As Michelle moved closer still, she instinctively backed away, one hand holding the door ajar should she need to make a hasty exit. "Nothing is wrong with me," she eventually countered, "I just wanted to introduce myself, that's all."
Michelle snorted in amusement. "Oh, that's all, is it? Well, Terri, I'm so honoured to meet you." For a moment she almost sounded sincere, but her voice quickly reverted back to its usual multi-decibel alto as she inevitably added, "So you can piss off out of my cell now, right?"
Terri grimaced as she endured yet another shower of saliva, both this and the young woman's temperament leading her to conclude that Michelle must somehow have contracted rabies. "C'mon Michelle, give me a break. I'm not here to argue with you. I just want to get to know you a little better." OK, so that was the biggest lie Terri had ever manufactured, but she figured God would forgive her considering her life appeared to be on the line. Her attempt at courtesy proved miserably futile anyway, as the inmate launched in to another foul-mouthed diatribe.
"You morons spew such a load of bollocks it makes me sick to the fucking stomach. I don't want to talk to you, you goddamn wench, I want you to leave," Michelle enunciated, jabbing Terri firmly in the chest to emphasise her point. Now, Terri prided herself on her seemingly infinite patience, wholly believing that it was indeed a virtue... but there was only so much she could take.
"Take your hands off of me," she warned through clenched teeth, seizing the tobacco-stained finger and bending it back with surprising strength. A shocked Michelle - three times the width of the Governor and considerably taller - whimpered at the unexpected onslaught of pain.
"For fuck's sake, get off of me; you're gonna break it," she pleaded, inwardly incensed at losing what she conceived to be her dignity.
"Don't be so goddamn melodramatic," Terri rolled her eyes, but released the offending finger from her vice-like grip. "OK Michelle, you can have it your way. I'm going to leave you alone now because frankly, I don't think I could stay here any longer without throwing up." Her emerald eyes narrowed, in a direct imitation of Devlin's unnerving glare. "But I'm telling you now, if you don't reign in that attitude of yours quickly, you're going to find yourself disappearing up your own ass faster than a bag of crack, you got that?"
Michelle merely glowered at her, though her complacent stance had faltered slightly.
"And one more thing." The stare intensified. "I don't like drugs and I like the cowards that are dependent on them even less. If I ever find out that you've been taking them in my prison, I'll have you shipped out. No second chances. Is that clear?"
"Yes, Ma'am," Michelle confirmed. She was slightly unnerved, and was already in the process of plotting her revenge on the little blonde spitfire. For now though, she forced herself to appear meek.
"Good. I'm glad to see we're communicating." And with that, Terri departed, heading directly to the bathroom.... to wash her hands, of-course.
She arrived at her office a few moments later with an audible sigh of relief, only to visibly jump when Lee Robinson emerged from around the adjacent corner.
"Given up on us already?" he inquired, not bothering to conceal a smug smile as he watched Terri dextrously unlock the door.
"It wasn't a sigh of defeat Lee, it was more in the region of..." she glanced at him meaningfully, "exasperation." She then proceeded to enter the freshly-painted, spacious room, slamming the door in his face. OK, so maybe she was discovering she didn't have as much patience as she had initially thought, but self-realisation wasn't necessarily a bad thing.
Terri spent the afternoon sifting through a mountain of administrative paperwork and then, after hurriedly consuming a light lunch, decided to re-read the inmate's profiles. She was the first to admit that one brief encounter with a person was not especially enlightening, but she was also an adamant believer that first impressions counted for a lot - especially to those who were as perceptive as herself - and she wanted to make a mental note of any major discrepancies between written reports and her own initial opinions of the prisoners she had met that morning. Starting with... she glanced at the mug-shot of Devlin that was clipped to a dog-eared folder - and then laughed as she imagined how the inmate would react to her vital details being encased in luminous pink. Yet the smile faded as she began to read through the sparse documents concerning the allegedly volatile prisoner. Devlin was serving life for murder. Under any other circumstances, Terri would have found this justified, but the poignant tale that unfolded as she leafed through the material convinced her otherwise. As Terri had gathered, Devlin was an extremely intelligent woman, having obtained 5 A-levels and a MA in Sociology and Women's Studies... that would explain the interest in feminism, she thought wryly. She had trained and worked as a social worker for four years, but was dismissed for becoming 'too emotionally involved' with the people she dealt with; namely via giving a battered husband a taste of his own medicine. From what Terri could ascertain from the overly objective report that followed, Devlin and the battered wife in question had become close and the brunette had persuaded the woman to leave her husband and assume residence with her. Two days later, Sarah Bailey was killed by a hit-and-run driver, who Devlin - in Terri's opinion quite rightly - presumed to be her estranged husband. Subjected to Devlin's grief, Peter Bailey - an esteemed doctor who had lived under the guise of morality for several years - didn't live to see another day. Reading the statement Devlin had made to the police, Terri was shocked by how readily she admitted to 'hacking the bastard to pieces.' He'd been stabbed twenty times, and the enigmatic woman didn't show an iota of remorse for doing it. Terri only hoped that one day she could hear the story from Devlin's point-of-view, sure that the offence was simply a violent reaction that arose from losing someone she cared for too much. Although she wasn't sure if she could ever have the courage - or cowardice - to kill someone as vile as Peter Bailey, Terri could fully understand and even empathise with Devlin's motives for doing so... unlike some of the more vile creatures inhabiting the establishment, she thought, gazing at the distorted picture of Michelle Darmody and concluding that she must have broken the camera lens.
A few minutes later, Terri glanced up at the clock and let out a restrained whoop of delight on seeing that five o'clock had finally arrived. Not that she wasn't dedicated to her job. In fact, for a fleeting moment she wondered whether she should create a good impression by going down to the Prison Officer's mess and attempting to socialise, but then she reasoned that the majority of her staff weren't actually capable of engaging in the interaction process and allowed her thoughts to drift homeward with a vengeance. Locking the simplistic wooden door to her simplistic plastic office, she pocketed the key and set off down the corridor leading to the core area of C-wing.
The inmates were in the middle of their recreation session when she descended down the aluminium stairwell to the ground floor. She nodded politely in response to the few greetings she received, inwardly wondering what sadistic bastard had decided to paint the walls such a ghastly shade of green. It was bad enough being locked up in a dingy cell for hours upon end, but when attempting to guess the origins of various sinister stains was the only form of diversion, Terri could see why so many inmates had lost their grip on sanity. Absorbed in her reverie and moving almost automatically towards the exit, Terri failed to notice the bucket that had pointedly been placed in her path and proceeded to trip over it, thankful for the pair of arms that steadied her in a bid to prevent further mortification. She looked up to see Devlin regarding her with barely concealed amusement and grinned sheepishly, trying to ignore the pleasant sensations evoked by the inmate's gentle grip and the feeling of loss when it was hesitantly removed.
"Ah, the good old bucket: the prisoner's proverbial banana skin." Terri grinned mischievously as her foot, purely of its own accord, accidentally overturned the metal container, spilling soapy water on to the recently washed floor. "Will someone get this mess cleaned up, please?" she hollered, her face an unreadable mask as two women, clad in yellow cleaning attire, emerged from under the stairwell, looking less than amused. "Sorry about that, ladies. But if you will leave your equipment out where someone can so easily trip over it..." she trailed off, her emerald eyes sparkling, as Devlin fought to keep her long-suppressed libido under control. There was just something about the woman that she found so frustratingly endearing. She waited until the cleaners were out of ear shot, and turned to face the petite governor.
"That wasn't nice," she chastised, her expression one of feigned disapproval.
"Oh come on, Devlin. I would have knocked it over anyway - if you hadn't grabbed me."
"True. But it's pretty egotistical for you to assume I was trying to break your fall. Maybe I just wanted to save Sarah and Marie from the extra work," Devlin countered, conveying that she was joking with a dazzling smile.
Terri rolled her eyes. "Whatever." She resumed her advance towards the exit, inwardly pleased when Devlin fell in to step alongside of her.
"So, how was your first day? And I prefer the truth over the customary 'fine thanks.'"
Terri laughed softly, taking all of a second to overcome her wariness of confiding in an inmate. "Well, where do I start? I'm working alongside a bunch of misogynist pigs who're waiting around like vultures in the hope that I'll quit; I met a lot of prisoners who evidently hate my guts but pretend not to because they're naïve enough to think that sycophancy is going to pull the wool over my eyes; I had a close encounter with Michelle Darmody that I'm not going to relive for fear of throwing up; I spent all afternoon progressing from being chin-deep in paper work to just under knee-deep... what can I say, it was just like I expected. Oh, but with one exception - " she paused for a moment to catch her breath, "I got to meet you."
Devlin raised an eyebrow. "Well, God forbid that anyone would see me as normal."
"Devlin." Sparkling emerald eyes attached themselves to pools of blue. "It was a compliment."
"I know. The sarcasm was just a ploy to keep me from blushing," Devlin deadpanned, though inwardly elated at the unexpected (and admittedly rare) acclamation.
Terri laughed warmly, earning her curious looks from the surrounding inmates who had been watching the encounter with open interest. "Anyway, at the moment I've got tunnel vision and it revolves around a nice warm bath and bed, so I'll see you tomorrow, yeah?"
"Yeah." For a moment they simply gazed at each other, but Devlin, feeling a reputation-ruining blush spreading across her features, broke the contact by turning away and feigning interest in the so-called view outside of an adjacent window. Stifling a laugh, Terri turned to unlock the first set of gates that segregated the recreation room from the corridor leading up to the exit area. Upon stepping through the compact bars and turning to re-lock them, she suddenly realised that her crappy day had just improved no end.
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