See chapter one for disclaimers
Devlin's cell door was flung open so violently that it literally rocked on its rusty hinges. The inmate instinctively jumped to her feet in what was initially indignation, but upon coming face-to-face with the stocky DDS Chief - who was flanked by two equally imposing colleagues - her expression rapidly altered to that of utter bewilderment. "What the fuck's going on?"
The Chief's countenance remained sinisterly phlegmatic. "DDS," she said, by way of explanation. "Move to the centre of the room, please."
Devlin frowned. "Excuse me? There must have been a mistake. I don't do drugs."
"Now, where have I heard that before?" It was intended to be a joke, but the woman's deep voice was devoid of humour. "Look. Don't make this any more complicated than it has to be. You either comply with our instructions voluntarily, or we force you to comply with them. Your choice."
Devlin remained rooted to the spot she was currently inhabiting, her streak of defiance rearing its head with a vengeance. "Look, I'm telling you, you've got your sources confused. I've never used drugs, and I never will. You're not going to find anything on me, so doesn't that effectively defeat the object of your search?"
"Look, sweetheart. I'm operating under the governor's orders. She wants you searched, and that's what I'm going to do. Now, I'm not going to ask you again - "
"She told you to search me?" Devlin interjected in open disbelief, her heart momentarily skipping a beat.
The DDS Chief hesitated, briefly wondering whether the unsightly prison officer who had delivered the message was simply nurturing a personal vendetta against the inmate. Playing back their brief exchange, she recalled the gleam in his eyes as he relayed the alleged instructions. Then again, maybe she had just imagined it; he was supposed to be a professional, after all. Surely he wouldn't have stooped so low? She withheld a wry smile. Having an iota of compassion would have rendered her unable to perform her job, so she had to wonder why she was even debating with herself over the matter. "Didn't you hear me the first time?" she eventually replied, reassuring herself that she wasn't sacrificing her integrity in the process.
At that point Devlin became immune to her surroundings, numbness taking over. Somewhere in her subconscious, she was aware of her cell being trashed under the guise of a perfectly legitimate procedure. Yet her thoughts revolved solely around the pain of betrayal. I trusted her. I allowed her to see a side of me that no-one else would have believed existed. How could she do that to me? How could I let her do that to me? She should have been angry at Terri, but reverting to self-depreciation had always been the easiest option for the temperamental prisoner.
"I'll need you to remove your clothing, please." The DDS Chief had been doing this for years and had effectively mastered the art of appearing nonchalant towards nudity. That said, it was an effort for her to stop her eyes widening in anticipation as Devlin robotically set about undressing, no longer ignited with the will to resist the degrading process. Extracting a mini-mirror from her tool kit, the heavy-set woman set it on to the cool concrete floor. "If you could squat down over this...."
Devlin's mordacious eyes flickered in a moment of lucidity and she glared at the woman who was trying desperately hard not to appraise her naked breasts. "You get a kick out of depriving people of their dignity, don't you? I bet you've never stopped to consider that being such a sadistic bitch isn't exactly dignifying, either."
"Just spread 'em, Fielding."
Devlin eventually obliged, noting the woman's inability to retain eye contact. She smiled sardonically. "The truth hurts, doesn't it?"
The Chief purposely ignored her, instead turning to her colleagues. "Did you find anything?"
Two heads shook simultaneously. "Nope, nothing."
"OK, looks like she's clean." She hurriedly retrieved her equipment, unnerved by the intensity of the glare that seemed to penetrate her very being. She was used to adverse reactions, but there was something about Devlin Fielding that had hit home hard, and the after effects were wholly disconcerting. She was almost at the stage of wanting to apologise, but decided doing so would be somewhat hypocritical. Instead, she ushered her colleagues out of the cell, wordlessly closing the door behind them.
Left alone in her demolished surroundings, Devlin let out an uninhibited scream of rage, kicking the mattress that had been thrown to the floor with enough force to split the lining. Her anger eventually subsided, replaced by a feeling of loneliness so profound that it brought tears to her eyes. A heaving sob threatened to choke her and she grudgingly allowed it to escape from her pursed lips. It was quickly followed by another and so she simply gave up, succumbing to self-pity for the first time since she could remember.
Terri was chatting animatedly with an inmate on the third floor landing when she happened to glance down and see the DDS squad emerging grim-faced from Devlin's cell. What the fuck? She turned apologetically to the prisoner. "I'm sorry Linda, we're gonna have to carry on with this conversation another time. I've got to go." Linda nodded in mute understanding, wondering what exactly had spurred the governor in to sprinting down the stairwell three steps at a time.
Terri didn't even bother to offer her customary knock, instead opting to barge straight in to the compact cell. Taking in the random destruction mercilessly inflicted by the so-called professionals, she stifled a gasp of shock. Her eyes, brimming with compassion, rested upon Devlin's rigid form. The inmate was swathed in the thin sheets that had been yanked from her bed, and although she had her back to Terri, her trembling physique indicated her suppressed rage.
"Devlin?" she spoke the name softly, tentatively approaching the prisoner and resting a gentle hand upon her shoulder.
"Don't touch me." The tone was remote, and hoarse from the tears Devlin had shed a few moments earlier. She abruptly moved away from Terri, refusing to make eye contact and hence failing to acknowledge the hurt that registered in expressive emerald eyes.
"You think I'm behind this?" Terri asked, genuinely wounded. When no reply was forthcoming, she hesitantly touched the inmate's elbow. "Devlin, at least look at me. Do you honestly think I'd set you up like that?"
Devlin continued to find a morbid interest in the wall, knowing that if she so much as glanced at the other woman, she was liable to fall under her spell all over again. "I didn't want to, Terri. I mean, I actually trusted you. I should've known you were just like the others, but me being the idiot I am, I let your Little-Miss-Innocence routine fool me. So don't try it again, because it won't work."
"So you seriously believe that I told the DDS to search you when I know damn well that you've never taken drugs in your life? It would've been a little illogical of me, don't you think?"
"So why the hell would they say that you did?"
"I DON'T KNOW!" Terri yelled, biting her lip and trying to hold back the tears of frustration. "But I may as well resign right now if everyone's so goddamn quick to question my integrity. I just can't do anything right around here."
Upon hearing the utter dejection in Terri's choked tone, Devlin finally turned to look at her. Seeing the tears pooling in pained emerald eyes, she concluded that not even the greatest of actors could turn in such an authentic performance, and tentatively reached out to take a trembling hand in to her own. "Hey, I - "
"No, Devlin, it's fine. You've made it perfectly clear what you think of me." Terri extracted her hand from the prisoner's out of sheer stubbornness, though in reality she would've preferred to instigate an embrace whereby they could both seek the sanctuary they so desperately needed. "I'll send an officer to help you clear up this mess."
"Don't bother. I'll do it myself." The reply was unnecessarily scathing, namely because Devlin was stung by Terri's rejection. She'd offered what was left of her dignity as a peace offering, but the governor apparently wasn't interested. Not that I can blame her. God, why am I always so fucking quick to accuse?
"Fine. Whatever." Terri swallowed the lump in her throat, regaining her faltering composure before wordlessly stepping out of the cell and back in to the harshness of reality. She silently marvelled at how only a few hours could alter the course of your life so drastically. After her initial encounter with Devlin this morning, she had been certain that she could handle the pressures of running this cursed establishment. Now, she wasn't sure if she could bear another minute of emotional abuse without cracking under the burden of it all. Her usually strident gait reflected her despondency and she set about traipsing back to her office in a noticeably dilatory manner, unaware of the eyes that followed her every move with amused satisfaction.
"You CAN'T do that." Michelle Darmody enunciated, outrage almost visibly emanating from her rigid form. Her eyes, having long since narrowed in abhorrence, now fixed upon Terri with malicious intent.
"I can, Michelle, and I will. I told you that if you didn't clean up your act, I'd ship you out. You haven't and hey, I'm a woman of my word, so that's what I'm going to do."
"For fuck's sake, are you suicidal? I have contacts, you know. And they're not going to be happy about this, if you get my drift."
"I'm aware of that, Michelle. But if you think that's going to change my mind, think again. I don't respond to intimidation. Now I suggest you go back to your cell and pack your things. They'll be someone down to escort you off the premises in an hour." Terri met the intensifying scowl without flinching, her nonchalant reaction serving to incense the severely disturbed prisoner still further.
"You fucking bitch. You're gonna regret ever being born after I've finished with you."
"Yeah, yeah, Michelle. I've heard it all before. Now, get out of my office." Terri calmly made her way to the plain wooden door, holding it open and inwardly sighing with relief when she saw that the officer stationed there hadn't decided to take a belated lunch break. Shooting him a look of intense gratitude, she gestured towards the seething inmate. "Gareth, can you escort Michelle back to her cell, please.... oh, and make sure she starts packing. She's heading out this afternoon."
Michelle momentarily looked as though she was going to lunge at the petite governor, but Gareth deftly intercepted the attempted attack and literally dragged her out of the door, an impressive feat considering her substantial heftiness. Terri listened to the stream of profanities that ensued, so loud that they were still audible several moments later, and released a shaky breath. Glancing down wryly at her trembling hands, she wondered if her day could get any worse. And then lo and behold, as the cruel twist of fate would have it, Lee Robinson barged unannounced in to her office.
"The prisoners have the courtesy to knock, Lee. You might want to try it sometime." She frowned at him with open hostility. "What do you want?"
Lee was inwardly disappointed that Terri no longer displayed the aura of defeat he had noted on her emergence from Devlin's cell. The fact that he was about to instigate another argument with her served to offer him some consolation, though. "Why are you shipping out Michelle Darmody?"
Terri let out a laugh of sheer amazement. "Excuse me? You actually have to ask? Lee, she's a hopeless drug addict in desperate need of treatment that we can't give her. Do we really need to continue this conversation?"
"Yes, I think we do; because I'm telling you now, if you go through with this, you're gonna have a mini-riot on your hands. Half of the girls on C-wing rely on her for their fix."
Terri rolled her eyes in exasperation. "I know that, Lee. That's precisely the reason why I'm doing it. If we remove their source, then the girls are going to be coerced in to cleaning up their acts."
Lee gazed at her attentively. "Have you stopped to consider what twenty-odd girls suffering from withdrawal are capable of?"
"Lee, if I worked on the premise of hypothetical situations, then I'd keep everyone locked up for twenty four hours a day. Now if you don't mind, I've got work to do."
Lee resisted the urge to begin grinding his teeth as he glanced around the spacious office. The plush leather chairs, the ornate coffee table, the vast desk. They were rightfully his, but that bitch had stolen them from him. His bitter eyes rested upon Terri as she began to sift through some paper work, effectively ignoring his presence. He was sure that she was laughing at him, her emerald eyes crinkling as they acknowledged a private joke. The urge to destroy her composure returned with a vengeance. No longer concerned with retaining his anonymity, he wanted her to know what he was capable of when pushed too far. "Oh, by the way, I was meaning to ask you - did Devlin enjoy her little visit from the DDS?"
Terri froze, glancing at him sharply. "It was you, wasn't it?" she whispered in disbelief. "You set her up and made her think that I..." she trailed off, taking a moment to process it all. "You sadistic piece of shit. Just what is your problem?"
Lee shrugged. "I want you out."
Terri laughed almost hysterically. "Why Lee? I got this job because I was the best candidate for it. I was one of the many people to be subjected to the selection procedure, and I happened to come out on top. Why is that so hard for you to handle? Are you such a pathetic excuse for a man that you have to resort to starting petty little turf wars to appease that god forsaken ego of yours? Well I'm sorry, Lee, but this is my turf now, and you're not getting your corrupt little hands on it as long as I have a breath left in my body. So act like an adult and deal with it."
He didn't even bother to grace her with a reply, whirling around and sauntering out of the office. Terri winced as she waited for the door to slam, the noise no doubt carrying to most of the occupants of C-wing. Well, at least I got that off my chest.
The day seemed to drag on as if to taunt her, and when five o' clock finally arrived, Terri didn't waste any time in making a hasty exit. Michelle, after instigating several wrestling matches with the officers, had eventually been overpowered and heaved in to the proverbial removal van, ready to begin her journey to Stonyhurst Prison - a penal establishment that specialised in the treatment of drug addicts. Terri didn't regret her decision, namely because she was sure it was for the best in the long run, but she also knew that dealing with the dire atmosphere presently inhabiting C-wing was going to stretch her capabilities to the limit . She tried to ignore the blatantly hostile glares directed at her as she manoeuvred across the Wing, summoning her last vestiges of professionalism to appear detached from the scathing remarks muttered whenever she came in to an inmate's vicinity.
"Miss, hang on a minute!" Dawn Alexander, a petite redhead, feigned panic as she moved to intercept the governor.
"What's wrong?" Terri asked sharply, noting the anxious expression etched upon the younger woman's features with concern.
"It's Lucy, she's gone a really dodgy colour and she keeps swaying about like she's gonna pass out or something."
"OK, where is she?"
Dawn gestured towards her cell, "In there."
Succeeding the inmate, Terri jogged towards the cell, pushing open the door and momentarily wondering why it jammed midway. I'm gonna have to get the maintenance guy to oil those damn hinges. Dismissing the incident without further thought, her eyes rested upon Lucy, who was sat upon the lower half of the bunk bed looking visibly dazed. Terri edged closer to the prisoner, resting a hand on her muscular shoulder. "OK, Lucy, what's the problem?"
With in what seemed only to be seconds, the door had slammed shut and Terri found herself pinned up against the wall with such force that for one terrifying moment she actually stopped breathing. Glancing around the cell, her pupils dilated with consternation, she realised that what she had conceived to be rusty hinges had merged in to the imposing form of Jaime Taylor. The inmate was built like a brick shit house, with a pre-disposition to violence to boot and Terri somehow sensed that this encounter was not going to be among the most pleasant she had ever had.
"You are the problem, Miss Kirkwood. And now I'm going to set about dealing with you."
I guess I'm about to understand the definition of an extremely bad day, Terri thought wryly, and then whimpered as a solid fist drove in to her stomach.
To be continued....
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