2010-07-24: Fences



Date: July 24th, 2010


"The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it."


Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women

A rickety metal folding table with blunt edges. A simple chair. A simple set-up, made for meetings of a high security sort. All around, four sides of a heavy-duty floor-to-ceiling wire fence — and that is all that is meant to separate a brutal serial killer from the outside world.

Outside world relatively speaking, that is. Because, outside of this cage, more walls press in. A veritable maze of concrete walls and corridors from this point outward, there is nary a window to be seen and a prison guard stands at every corner. It's dim, and it's sterile, and it's hardly anyone's idea of a good place to be.

One such prison guard, an appropriately stern-looking woman in her drab uniform, ushers a visitor — a figure slightly taller than her, blonde hair, worn brown leather jacket — toward this meeting place, toward the "safe" side of the wire. The prisoner wasn't told she'd have any sort of official meeting; today isn't a day of questioning by anyone representing the law in any form. Not officially. This guest is here on her own time. Though her credentials may have helped usher her in, there's no gleaming badge in sight when Detective Powers comes into sight next to the prison guard. Her face is already a stoic, a mask of neutrality, but her eyes tell a different story, intensely directed straight ahead.

Being here is no picnic for a woman who's used to freedom. Despite rules and orders of basic human rights that everyone should be afforded, Mandy's rights have been sorely violated… But who cares? She'll kill them all one day. One day soon.

The others fear her.

She walks with a limp, despite the time that's gone by. Her injury was extensive and in some ways, irreparable. Tendons, ligaments, nerves, muscle, even bone have all been destroyed by a knife she earnestly wishes now that she hadn't been carrying.

And yet, they still fear her.

That's what all this is. The high security, the chains that bind her wrists and ankles— The people here are afraid, and they should be. Given the smallest opportunity, she wouldn't hesitate to destroy the facility and everyone inside it for taking her freedom away from her.

Then, led into this special meeting place, she sees Maggie as one of her entourage roughly shoves her into the cage Briefly, she looks behind her as the door is slammed and locked, but her attention is right back on her favourite cop shortly thereafter.

Mandy looks a lot different now. She's… cleaner. More together in a lot of ways, since she hasn't been living on the streets. Her hair is neatly back in a ponytail, and she's wearing the jail's less-than-flattering jumpsuit. It doesn't look like she could possibly be the one who killed dozens of people. "Hello, Maggie. Did you miss me?"

Without a word, Maggie approaches the fence, stopping a hands' breadth from it. directly across from Larson's position at the table. Her jacket and the layers underneath — white blouse, black waistcoat — bear the signs of the outside world, having been weather-beaten by the rain, and her hair holds the same hints, a few strands of the straight blonde dampened. There's a small shift in her body, a rustle of leather, as she looks to the side and murmurs a polite thank-you to the prison guard, who steps back, hands folded, and waits.

After that, Maggie is very still. She doesn't move an inch, only studies Mandy as she continues to look straight ahead, dead center. The only change is that her gaze becomes more abhorrent as the seconds tick by. "I'm not here … to banter, Larson," she says slowly — wholly impassive, unlike her intensifying stare. "I'd like to know … how you feel," she goes on evenly, pausing briefly to study Mandy further, "about a life in prison."

"You don't think you are," Mandy counters, pulling out the chair with her chained foot and sitting down. "I'd offer you a seat, but they only brought one in. Bet I could have them bring you a… glass of water, though." The smile is apparent in her voice just as much as it is on her face. "Did you know a baby can drown in an inch of water, Maggie? Just an inch. I had so much more than that, but you survived. Amazing. Just amazing. Impressive."

When she shifts her position, the pain flashes across her face. It'll never go away. "Do you think that's going to scare me? They think they're keeping me here for a long time, but I can tell you right now, it'll never happen."

A twitch — that's what rewards Mandy for her choice of topics — water, drowning — a tremor of tightening jaw muscle that threatens the detective's neutral face, a twitch of her lips before she presses them together firmly. She's quiet again for a spell, just studying, constantly, through the fence that separates them; as if she'd sit down across from this murderer even if she could?

"No. I don't think I'm going to scare you," Maggie answers honestly. "You just told me what I wanted to know." Another pause; her eyes move only to indicate the prison guard on quiet duty behind her, then resettle purposefully on Mandy. "You're a smart and resourceful sociopath—" and capable of the impossible. The loaded statement is without particular flattery. "How are you still here."

Rubbing in the fact that Mandy is still here and not gone does earn Maggie a frown, but it's only because the murderer realises that she's going to have to stand again. Walking hurts. The first thing she's doing when she gets out of here is finding Claire Bennett - again - and ensuring that this little problem is taken care of.

But Mandy pushes the chair back, hauls herself to her feet, and limps over to the fence with the tiny steps that the shackles around her ankles allow. It takes a minute to get there; when she does, she hooks her fingers into the non-barbed wires that make up her current prison. "We all play our roles. If there were no criminals, then how would lovely people such as yourself have work? Or her." She nods behind her to the prison guard, who's probably more wary now that Mandy's so close to the fence.

"You want to know why I'm still here, I'll tell you." one of her cheeks just touches the fence, dark eyes still on the woman outside of it.

"I know something they don't know," she whispers in a sing-song voice.

Maggie visibly stiffens when Mandy gets closer, but she doesn't step back from the fence — her boots remain firmly planted on the floor. Her statue-like pose does break, however, when she folds her arms snugly against her body — almost around it. Up close, it might be easier to tell that her present neutrality takes a continual effort to keep up; tension exists under every smooth surface of her features, harder pressed now that the prisoner is against the barrier right in front of her. Her light eyes are nothing but focused hard on Mandy's dark ones, however. The detective's only reply comes as a strangled murmur. "What," she demands. Her voice shows the most emotion it has so far. Contempt. Disgust.

The fear is so delicious to Mandy. This is what she prays on - this discomfort. The inability she has to maintain any human contact, physically or emotionally. That when she forcibly pushes people away, they get hurt. "That would spoil the surprise, Detective," she says, winking, and stepping back from the fence.

There's a hiss of pain, a wince, and the barest trace of actual vulnerability in her eyes when she puts her weight down wrong on the injured leg. She can feel it in every darkened corner of her being, from her ego to her spine. It's like the blade is still there. Laurie's hurt her twice now. It won't happen again.

Gripping the fence for support, breathing heavily as the first beads of sweat appear across her forehead, she looks up at Maggie. "His face. How is it?" she asks. "He almost died, you know. He would have, too, if…" The statement cuts off as she decides against revealing the ace she still has squirreled away.

Straightening, putting all her weight on her good leg, she says, "Let's play another game, Maggie. It's called 'Laurie Lives or Dies.' You answer the question honestly, and he lives. If you don't, there's not a force in the world that will stop me from murdering him wherever he's hiding. Do you love him?"

Maggie's study of Mandy has intensified, despite the spike in tension; up close, she willfully observes every detail: every expression of the killer, her pain from injury, that hint of vulnerability. Meanwhile, mention of Laurie at all prompts an almost instant reaction in the detective, the muscles in her neck standing out all of a sudden, her lips distinctly fighting a frown.

It's not until Mandy has laid out all of the rules of her new game that Maggie's darkening gaze breaks with a series of blinks, and she gives the prisoner a strange look that's both fearful and indicates Mandy must be even crazier than she thought.

"There's a flaw in your plan," Maggie manages to state matter-of-factly, as evenly as she can. Half even, half threatening is the result. "He's already bent the rules." Her voice lowers — soft, husky, angry, and surging with an undefined, not-quite-restrained emotion. "Survey says— he's already dead. And it had nothing to do with you."

Mandy didn't get this far by not being observant. In fact, she just considers this whole thing a setback in her grand scheme. Oh, what they don't know. What the Company doesn't know. They think she's a fool, the bully, the stupid one whose only talent was destruction. If she'd finished school, she would have graduated with honours far above and beyond what any reward could possibly be worth.

She says.

But her secrets are currently her secrets, and despite how much she wants to touch the bars of the fence between herself and Maggie, press up against them and stare that woman in the eyes as she registers her horror…

She also doesn't want to get shot.

"You didn't answer," Mandy says, finally fighting off the pain enough to stand again. Laurie, dead? It would be a shame… if it were true. She caught the expression, though. There's more to it than a simple death. "I studied him. I know who he considers a friend, who you both consider friends. Because you lied to me, Maggie, I'm going to kill them one by one until I get to you. You'll be last."

"Really," Maggie replies, taking a flippant, biting turn. She's unconvinced. Her arms unfold quickly, hands disappearing behind her, maybe into pockets. "You might want to check your math." Her eyes narrow slightly on the prisoner, guardedly considering how short a list that must be. She's quiet for a span, until, her voice deadly serious, she states: "I wasn't lying." The statement is dull, almost cynical; as if she wishes it wasn't true, that she did lie after all about — survey says — the man in question being dead. She didn't. Because as far as she knows, he could be.

With a frown, the detective finally looks away beneath furrowing, darkening brows. She takes a step back, then another, making to leave, but stops herself, nearly speaking again — but only eyes Mandy and turns around in the dim space outside the cage room, seeming to decide whatever she was thinking isn't worth saying.

As Maggie turns to leave, there's a sudden, inexplicable change in Mandy's demeanor. She lunges at the fence, pressing herself against it, regardless of the cutting barbs that dig into her skin. She reaches her arm through the cage, which prompts the guard to draw her gun; the gate behind her opens, and a guard with a taser stands there, ready to aim.

The arm is so very thin. Thinner than normal. Not so thin that she hasn't been eating, but her food isn't coming from her own plate.

Mandy's used to eating scraps.

"Maggie, you're the one," she says, one single moment before she's hit between the shoulder blades with the taser, and crumples to the ground, twitching. As more guards surround her to cart her off back to her cell, she very briefly meets the detective's eyes, and nods.


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