“Sir,” said the man, and Simms noticed the ragged gash down the side of his face. Instantly he was on his feet and heading for the door. “I wasn’t sure if you were still here.” The man said. He saw that the gash was not as deep as he had first thought but it was certainly bad enough, starting at the end of the man’s eyebrow and reaching down to the line of his chin. Simms asked him what had happened but as if, expecting the answer, he was heading down the corridor, the sergeant in tow, towards the holding cells.
The man explained that the woman had started screaming and the two WPCs had gone into the cell to try and settle her down. “She snapped the chain linking the hand cuffs,” said the sergeant, and Simms stopped dead in his tracks and looked at the man.
“Impossible!” Said Simms. The sergeant went on to explain that it had taken the two WPCs, himself and another officer to hold her down while another got a new pair of cuffs on her. Christ, thought Simms to himself. What the hell are we dealing with here? And promptly shook his head. Where this woman was involved any mention of ‘hell’ was better left out of it. Never a religious man, Simms suppressed a superstitious shudder and carried on towards the holding cell.
The scene was still chaotic. Two WPCs were holding the woman face down on the floor where she continued to thrash and kick. They had managed to cuff her hands behind her back but it had obviously been a struggle. The sergeant behind Simms was not the only person to have been injured. Both woman officers were dishevelled and one had the beginnings of a bruise on one cheek. The other had a nose bleed and there was a small cut on the bridge of her nose that had probably been caused by the heavy ring that the woman wore. Suddenly, the woman stopped struggling and Simms was sure that she had begun her attack just as suddenly. Panting for breath, the WPCs picked her up and sat her down on the bench, holding her securely by the arms in case she tried anything else. The cell was silent except for the sound of panting, the prisoner and the officers were all trying to get their breathing back to normal. Simms made a decision. There was no way he could allow this woman to remain here. She was obviously dangerously insane. He told the sergeant to remain with the two WPCs and went back up to his office.
When he got there he told one of the constables to arrange transportation, he was having the woman transferred to a hospital. The sooner they had her heavily sedated the better, he thought to himself. The constable picked up the phone and punched some numbers into the keypad. Then he rattled it and repeated the dialling. Simms watched him silently, listening to the wind howling outside.
“Phones out Sir,” said the man. “I can’t even contact the report room.” Simms took the handset from the man and placed it to his ear. There was nothing. No dialling tone, no hiss of static, just silence, and then Simms heard something which made his blood run cold.
Through the earpiece he heard a short cruel laugh. He pulled the thing away from his ear and looked at it in amazement, then placed it to his ear again, almost frightened of what he might hear, but there was nothing.
He was suddenly aware of the constable watching him and knew that the surprise must have registered on his face. He dropped the phone back onto the set and walked quickly down to the report room. Snatching up the first phone he came to he held it to his ear, it too was dead. He went down to the report room where the short wave radio was located and told the operator to contact the nearest station to report the phones being out of order. The man went through the routine call signals but shook his head.
“Must be the storm, Sir. We can’t get through to anyone.”
Ridiculous, Simms thought. We can’t be cut off completely. He looked at the computer screen in the control console, the system that linked them instantaneously to all of the stations throughout the territory, it showed only snowy static. He went to the door that opened out into the night, it was closed tightly against the storm and he peered out into the rain. He felt a twinge of panic starting and took several deep breaths. Despite his size and manner, Simms was not a brave man and there had been times when he had to make a conscious effort to hide his fear in front of his men. He was being foolish, he told himself. They were not cut off, they were surrounded by housing estates, he thought to himself. A two-minute walk in either direction would bring them to another building. He turned from the door and found the constable standing there.
“Sergeant Wong says the prisoner would like to talk with you.” He said. That was all he needed, Simms thought to himself. He had just started in the direction of the cells when every light in the building went out. There was a commotion and everyone was talking at once. Simms found himself stifling a scream of panic and was grateful for the darkness that hid his fear from the other men. He called for order and reminded them, and himself, that the emergency generator would kick in at any moment. In fact he was wondering why it had not done so already. There was a flicker of light and the hum of machinery as the thing finally started up, then the lights came back on. They were dim and unsteady but at least they could see what was going on. Simms breathed a gentle sigh of relief, conscious that his hands were trembling and went to the holding cells.
The sergeant and the WPCs were obviously glad to see him and he imagined that for the brief minute that the lights were out it must have been terrifying. The woman was behaving now and sitting quietly on the bunk, she looked up as he entered the room and smiled at him.
“He’s coming, you know,” she said.
Simms was quickly losing his patience. “Who’s coming?”
“The master.” Said the woman, simply as if expecting him to know exactly what she was talking about.
“Look.” He said. “We’re arranging to transfer you to a hospital. You’ll be better off there and you’ll get the help you need.”
“It’s not me that needs help. She said. “You need help. And guidance. I can guide you if you’ll let me.”
Simms nodded to the junior officers and they left the cell, one of the WPCs stayed just outside the door. He sat down on the bunk next to the woman and asked her to explain.
“He’s coming soon.” She repeated. “He will be annoyed that you interrupted his ceremony but I can help you if you’ll let me.” He told her to continue.
“I can make it right with the master but you have to trust me. He won’t punish you.”
She sat up straight and smiled at him, taking a deep breath that made her chest rise. She noticed his quick glance at her bosom and believing that she was getting through to him and said.
“All you have to do is release me.” She smiled at him again. “Let me go and I’ll make things right, I promise.”
“I’m sorry.” Said Simms, standing up.
Then she screamed, “Then you’ll all die, you bastard.”
She screamed so suddenly that Simms jumped despite himself, and moved away from the bunk where the woman sat, snarling at him. The WPC that had been standing outside the door looked in to make sure that, everything was all right and Simms felt better immediately. The woman frightened him, the storm frightened him and the lights that were permanently dim now because the generator wasn’t powerful enough, frightened him. Suddenly he wanted out of the place. If the lights failed again and he found himself in the dark alone with this woman he was not sure that he would be able to keep control.
(c) Copyright John Stewart Sloan 2020 – Not for Distribution