“Get off me.” I protested, pulling my arm and elbow back sharply so that the metal chains that were shackled against my wrists bit down and nipped against the skin and gnawed against the bone as I cried out in pain. “Let me out of these things.” I said, rattling my chains and pulling back so that the leash that had been fastened against the chain at my wrists snapped tort as though I were a dog being pulled by a spiteful owner. The sound that my sneakers made against the black and white tiled floor as I pulled back. The protesting squeak of rubber. “Get off of me.” I screamed, pulling against my chains and the blood beginning to boil within my veins. “Get off.”
Sister Dixon craned her neck around and peered towards me. A spiteful malice that was set firm against that wax-face of hers. The flawless skin appeared to crease and fold. And I was sure if I were to blink or peer towards her through half closed eyes then she would have been transformed into something monstrous and quite grotesque.
“Naughty girls need to be taught a lesson.” She said, and the tone of her voice, all indignant and righteous. And who was she to be calling me a bad girl? How dare she, I thought, how dare she. And she hadn’t even had the decency of accusing me of killing Bieber and poking his marble eyes out. And so, I pulled back hard against the leash that I was fastened to. The chain that shackled me to Sister Dixon that snapped tight and jarred against Sister Dixons hands.
“I’m not naughty.” I cried in protest, peering to either side of me and the slate grey metal doors that lined the corridor where I had been dragged. “Who are you to say that?” I said.
You tell her Mandy. You didn’t kill any of them kids. And even if you did then they deserved it I reckoned.
The scowl that had creased and set hold against Sister Dixons face as she pulled back against the leash and fixed her cruel gaze upon me. Her lips that were pulled back at the corners and the teeth that were revealed on either side. And the size of her teeth I thought. Like a rottweiler’s canines that had been hidden away beneath black chops. The size of them too large for Sister Dixons delicate features and the teeth thick and pointed and protruding like two sabres from the top of each gum. And I think she must have realised that her freaky teeth had been revealed momentarily. So, she quickly slipped her lips across the tops of them so that they remained hidden from the world once more. But her pupils that had exploded like a dying sun against her eyes so that all that could be seen was the darkness that swirled against the whole of her eyes.
“You are naughty Mandy. And cruel.” She said, and a cruel smile that creased against her lips. A madness to her gaze. A complete and utter madness. “Crueller than you can ever begin to understand.” She said. Her words. Her voice. The stench of something foul upon the air. The two of us that remained standing alone upon the corridor and the leash that separated me from her. The steel grey doors that lined the corridor on either side and appearing like two rows of gravestones.
Every inch of my body that began to itch and scratch as though I had been rolling for half the day against a nest of nettles. The saliva that was beginning to pool against the insides of my mouth and the taste of blood upon my tongue. And Sister Dixon who remained standing so close before me. And just the metal chain that separated her from me. The CCTV cameras that blinked from either end of the corridor and peered on. The flickering red light. The sound of hornet’s wings upon the air. The stench of death.
“Who are you!” I asked. Accused. Leaned in a little closer towards Sister Dixon and the metal chain that separated the two of us that slackened a little. Sister Dixon holding her ground ahead of me and not flinching or stepping back. Her eyes that were completely devoid of colour. Her flawless skin. The copper strands of hair that danced behind her head. And her lips that were painted red and perfectly smooth. The corners of them that were lifted as though pierced by the fisherman’s hook.
Sister Dixson blinked. She shook her head slowly from left to right. The strangest expression that lifted her features. The amusement that danced behind the darkness of her eyes.
“Who do you think I am Mandy?” She said. Asked. The challenge to her voice. The beating of the hornet’s wings against the insides of my ears. I shook my head and the sound away.
“I think you’re not who you pretend to be.” I said, placing a step closer towards her and Sister Dixon not giving an inch. So that the chain that separated the two of us began to sag and settle against the chequered floor tiles. The distance between the two of us that had almost been completely breached.
“Really?” Sister Dixon said, and that dumbass expression against her face that was beginning to get right on my nerves. The distance between the two of us that was almost completely breached now. So that within a moment I reckoned I’d be able to reach out my arms and my hands and extend my fingers towards the woman’s throat and be done with her once and for all. “And who do you think I am then?” She said and I noticed how a red light flashed urgently against the slate grey door beside the two of us.
I shook my head. Peered towards Sister Dixon who remained standing firm before me. Her slight frame. The blue uniform that she wore both day and night. Her delicate legs and calves that protruded from beneath the hem line. The skin that appeared to have been painted a terracotta in colour. The little feet that were hidden beneath steel capped boots. And the strangest sense that hidden away within those shoes that her toes were all buckled and twisted and stunted and curling in.
I shook my head and lifted my face from her feet and across her body and her bosom. My gaze travelling past her delicate neck and her face that was revealed before me. The amusement that hung like ivy across her features. And her eyes that were as black as night. And a flame that appeared to flicker at the centre of Sister Dixon’s eyes somehow.
“Do I know you?” I asked, and it was odd, because I had the strangest sensation at that moment that we had met before. And yet I was sure that the first time I had ever laid eyes upon the woman was the first day they had dragged me in to Deadwood Psychiatric Hospital all those weeks before.
“Why would you think you do?” Sister Dixon asked, turning her face a little to the left so that her nose was revealed in outline. The arch of her nose. Like a hooked beak I thought. She blinked. A grey film that seemed to pass across the surface of her eyes. She peered towards me. The corner of her mouth that was snagged. The cruel smile.
I shook my head. I closed my eyes.
An image revealed to me.
The four of us in the woods on the night of the sleepover. In Deadwood. A fire that was burning before us as we had rested for a while to talk and drink some cider.
“No, I don’t think so.” I said, turning my face from left to right and confusion that seemed a permanent friend of mine in here. I placed another step towards Sister Dixon and the space between us that was almost completely breached now so that I could smell the scent that lifted upon her. The smell that carried up from her clothes and against her blue frock. And the strangest scent. Lavender perfume and something else to. The smell of earth upon her. The smell of decay and rotten vegetation. And something else too. The smell of nicotine. The stench of it that pervaded every fibre of the cloth that Sister Dixon wore.
“I don’t think so. No. I don’t think we have met before.”
And Sister Dixon before me now.
The gap between us that was completely breached.
And she was tall I realised then. Towered over me. I’d never noticed it before until that point. But then I’d spent the whole of my time in here in shackles and always held from her at arm’s length. Her shoulders that were above my head and were broad and wide. The smell of nicotine that overpowered me so that I felt a little dizzy by it. I craned my neck backwards and peered up towards Sister Dixons face as she lowered her face towards mine. And I reckoned I could have jumped up to her there and then and wrapped my chains about her neck and finished her off once and for all. And good riddance to bad rubbish I thought. But I didn’t. And something about the woman her that I couldn’t quite place. Something familiar.
She peered down towards me and smiled.
The canines that were revealed on either side of her lips and her tongue that remained hidden behind her lips. Her tongue that flicked briefly in to view and seemed to twist and coil and turn over inside the darkness of her mouth.
And then the strangest thing.
I watched, frozen to the spot, as Sister Dixon gently bent her spine and leaned in towards me so that her face settled just inches before mine. Her eyes that were level with mine as she studied me, and I studied her right back. She peered in towards the darkness of my soul and I peered in towards the darkness of hers. And I thought that she was going to speak. Those tricky words of hers that were coated with sugar and cinnamon. But she didn’t.
Instead she leaned in a little closer towards me, until before I knew what was happening her lips were pressing against mine and her skin that was as warm as boiling water.
A ringing in my ears and my intestines coiling over.
And that was when I felt her tongue as it gently pushed through her lips and settled for the briefest of moments against my own lips.
And the urge to open my own lips and draw her tongue in to mine. To close my mouth around it and swallow it down and allow it to consume me whole.
But the knowledge that if I did, then my mind would fracture in two and I would never be the same person again. And so instead I pursed my lips together and kissed her gently on the lips as I pulled my head away from hers. Her face that remained briefly hanging before me and her eyes that were as black as night and a flame that flickered behind them.
She laughed a little.
And slowly she pulled back and away from me. I watched as she removed a little plastic card from a pocket in her blue dress and placed it against the side of the steel door where the little light flickered from red to green. The screech of metal against metal as the mechanisms began to unclasp inside the door. The door began to slowly edge to one side and open before the two of us. And before I knew what I might be doing, I could feel the warmth of Sister Dixons hand against my back as she gently led me forwards towards the darkness of the cell. Within just a moment I had passed beneath the threshold of the door and found myself standing within the dark little room.
Sister Dixon standing on the opposite side of the threshold as she unclasped the chain that connected the two of us. The chain that swung in towards her so that I remained standing unclasped on the other side. Sister Dixon peering down upon me still. An inscrutable expression against her features and her eyes that were wide. Some mischief that danced behind them somewhere. She moved her hand towards the scanning device and the sound of the mechanisms within the door whirring once more into life. The steel door began to slowly close once more.
“I’ve enjoyed our time together here.” She said.
And a finality to her words I realised as the door slid to from left to right. The gap between the two of us that had been almost completely breached.
“It was nice getting to know you a little Mandy.” She said. The cruel smile that stretched across her features and the canines that were revealed once more on either side of her mouth.
And that was when the steel door closed completely and a sudden jarring clap of metal.
The darkness washed over me from all sides.