Gravity sat up and slowly moved along to the bottom of her bed. She stuck a hand out and was relieved to find Bliss there. Due to her unusual circumstances, Bliss was allowed to stay with her. She had spent a week at the police station, waiting for her sentence to begin. Gravity heard a clanging of metal and a creak. She realised that somebody was unlocking the door. “Who is it?”
“It’s Sergeant Dames. I’ve been assigned as your probation officer and I’m going to escort you to Foster hall. You are a little younger , then what they would usually accept, but we have made some arrangements. Even so you should look out for yourself. This place is pretty treacherous; it’s where some of the most dangerous women in the country go.”
“Then why are you sending me there?”
“It’s where the murderers are sent.” Sarah replied, simply.
Gravity nodded and stood up. She felt around the bed and picked up Bliss’ leash. The dog slowly raised her head and jumped of the bed. Sarah went over to her and took her hand. She led her out of the police station and into a car. She buckled Gravity in. “Don’t worry; Bliss is just behind you in the boot, but for hygiene reasons….”
“She is house trained, you know.”
Sarah smiled. “Yeah, but this is a nice car and if she fouls it, then it comes out of my wages to clear it up.” Sarah walked around the car to the driver’s seat.
“Wow, this seat feels so soft. I’m a dangerous murderer, why am I being treated so leniently?”
“Consultant Jones arranged it.” Sarah refused to say any more about the matter. Gravity smiled; maybe her dad was not so bad after all. If he had not interfered, then she would probably be handcuffed in the back of a police van, with an armed guard. After a short and bumpy ride, Gravity felt the car slowing down and coming to s stop. She heard one door close and another open. “Ok, it’s time to go.” Sarah reached in and unbuckled her;’ she then took her hand and helped her up. She led her to the gatehouse and signed her in. Afterwards Gravity was led down a quiet corridor. They came to a halt and she heard a knock on the door. “Come in,” said an old soft male voice, with a slight northern accent, “is this Gravity?”
“Obviously.” Gravity replied, coldly.
“I know you have a disliking of medical staff, but this should be different. Obviously I can’t restore your sight, but I can tell you, if you’re ill in any other way.”
“Hold on,” Sarah took her to one side, “Consultant Jones told me, that he met you at the waiting room of the hospital and Shadow asked him if he could you help you. But you must have know he couldn’t have. Why did you go there?”
“We were picking targets.”
“Why didn’t you pick your father?”
“We were more intent on killing that receptionist.”
“Are you finished?” The doctor asked. Sarah nodded.
The next hour consisted of Gravity being analysed and examined in every respect. Everything was recorded and written down. A series of psychological tests were performed.
“We’re now going to do a Rorschach test. Do you know what that is?”
Gravity shook her head.
“It’s basically random blots of ink on paper, that you are supposed to interpret. Usually this is done using sight, but in your circumstances, we have arranged to do it, using touch. If you could just put your hand there.” The doctor gently took Gravity’s wrist and guided it towards the paper. “What do you feel?”
Gravity knew instantly hat this was. She had felt the same thing, with her old gang. It was a man lying in a pool of his own blood. She knew she could not say this, if she did then she would be considered criminally insane and taken to the junior version of Broadmoor. “it’s a child playing in the snow.” Gravity smiled sadly, she wished her own childhood could have been more like that.
“How about this one?”
She recognised it instantly. It was a man on his knees, with a gun pointed to his head. “It’s just some children playing around. They’re doing cowboys and Indians.”
“The doctor nodded. “Ok, Gravity, that’ll be all for now. You’re free to leave,” a police officer appeared out of nowhere, “Burns will escort you back to your cell.” Burns helped Gravity up and led her out of the room.
Sarah approached the doctor. “What do you think?”
“I don’t know. I think she really did know what those shapes were, but she lied about it. During those tests, she never showed any signs of remorse or guilt. Whoever operated on her before, made her into the perfect killing machine.”
It had been two days since Shadow’s encounter. He had been recovering well. Mitch was watching all this through CCTV. He had seen Shadow take the pills and he had also sounded the alarm. Luckily some nurses arrived and stabilised him, before any serious damaged been done. The contents of the pill were analysed and it contained poison. He immediately went to Gideon about it. “Did you know somebody just tried to kill your son?”
“Yes I did.” Gideon did not even blink.
“Why are you being so calm about it,” Gideon looked at the floor, his eyes heavy with guilt, “oh my gosh, you did it. You tried to kill your son. Why?”
Gideon shot up. “Did you see how he was, when he was brought in? He had been beaten every badly. His knee was fractured. This will happen to him so much in prison. He’ll get it, day in and day out. He won’t be able to take all this abuse; he’ll end up killing himself. You see, I did it for him; I’m giving him a chance to end it quickly. He’s my son; I don’t want to see him get hurt.” Mitch was surprised, this was the first time he heard Gideon expressed an affection or emotion for Shadow.
“Think of it as euthanasia.” Gideon added.
“That’s your justification for attempted murder? Euthanasia? No that’s not it. I bet you’re quite respected doing the medical industry.”
Gideon shifted uncomfortably. “I haven’t won any awards or anything, but you don’t start out as a consultant. You have to work your way up.”
“This is it, isn’t it? You’re afraid that your reputation would be destroyed, if it was discovered you have a murdering homeless son. You didn’t do it to protect prisoner 3145, you did it to protect yourself. You’re a sick man,” Mitch turned his back and walked away. He briefly looked back, “don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone. I’m sure that deep down you might mean something to Gravity or even Shadow and it might damage them to find out their father is in jail.”
“Mitch, you have to understand you can’t tell anyone, especially Shadow. If you did, then he would hate me so much. He knows, I tried to kill Gravity and if he find out that I tried to kill him too, then that hared could turn into something else.”
“Gideon. It’s too late for that. Shadow doesn’t see you with hatred, he sees you with the utmost contempt.” Mitch turned back and walked out.
Gravity had just arrived in her cell. She heard a heavy bolt slamming home. Bliss was down by her knee., Bliss looked round and saw a basket in the corner. She as tired and wanted to go to sleep, but she knew she had responsibilities and should stay with her master. Gravity slid down the door and gently stroked Bliss., She decided it was time to explore her cell. Se stood up and unsteadily walked a few steps. She frowned, as her foot kicked something. She knew down and put her hand out. She discovered something very soft, like a cushion. “It’s ok Bliss; you can sleep here if you want to.” Bliss walked over to the basket and sat down. Gravity leant over and gave her a rub. She turned and started crawling on her hands and knees. She groaned, when she put her hands in something wet and squishy. She put her hand up to her nose and smelt it. It smelt like something meaty in gravy. It did not take to realise that she had put her hand in Bliss’ food. Luckily her faithful dog was there to lick it off. She laughed a little, as Bliss’ tongue tickled her hand. Gravity stood up and slowly moved around her cell, with one hand on the wall for balance. She felt that the all was padded and slightly sot. So maybe they thought that she was a little crazy after all. There was not a lot else in the cell: a single table, with a plastic chair, a bed. gravity had been given an overnight pack, containing some reading and writing material. She had been allowed to keep Darkness, her birthday present from Shadow. Sarah decided that it would count as a book. She walked over to the bed, with a hand on the wall. When she banged her leg on the metal frame, she could tell she reached her bed. Gravity felt around for the edge of there sheet and pulled it back. She got in under the covers. There was no uniform at Foster Hall; she was allowed to remain in her own clothes, Bliss watched her master go into bed. She walked over to her and jumped up. Gravity reached down and was relieved to feel Bliss there. She was glad that she had company. She was going to need it.
Shadow was ready to be discharged from the hospital. During his last few days, Mitch made sure all of his medicine was thoroughly analysed and all staff were meticulously investigated. He also had Gideon assigned to a different part of the hospital. Shadow did not mind this. He hated Gideon and did not want to be anywhere near him. Luckily no more attempts on Shadow’s life were made. “Are you ready to leave?”
Shadow nodded. “Have you found out who tried to poison me?”
Mitch hesitated. “No. It was probably someone who has a score to settle with you. Come on let’s go.”
Gravity instantly picked up the sound of a key turning in a lock. She heard the door creak open and footsteps, as Sarah walked over to her.
“This is how today is going to work. ‘ll take you to a tutor who is especially trained for cases like these.”
“Surely it would be more convenient if the tutor came to me.” Gravity replied.
“That’s a good point, but the tutor has a lot fo equipment which can’t be moved, so we have to go to him.” Sarah helped the blind girl to her feet and passed her Bliss’ leash. The policewoman led Gravity out of the cell and along the corridor. Halfway down the hallway Sarah clicked her fingers impatiently. “I’m such an idiot. I left some important paperwork in my office. I’ll only be ten minutes. Stay right here.” Sarah walked off leaving Gravity standing awkwardly in the middle of the corridor. With one hand outstretched and Bliss leading the way, Gravity tried to make her way to the side of the hallway.
The blonde woman walking down the corridor was chewing a stick of gum. Her name was Camille Nanti and she had been arrested for credit card fraud. She had a massive temper and when she got angry, she would explode like a volcano. She took no notice of the blind girl and walked straight into her. Camille turned around. “Watch where you’re going, you little lummox.”
Gravity smiled apologetically. “Sorry, but I can’t see.”
“Oh yeah you’re that blind girl. Just look where you’re going.”
“If I’m blind I can’t see where I’m going, you stupid person.”
Camille punched Gravity to the ground and started kicking her Bliss bit the woman’s leg hard. Taking advantage of this diversion,Gravity concentrated on the sound of Camille’s grunts. When the girl believed she was acing the right way she opened her eyes and stared at Camille. The blonde woman started to convulse. The gum fell out of her mouth, as she began to froth, The convulsion were rocking her whole body, Sarah was coming back from her office and seeing what was taking place, charged at Camille, knocking her to the ground and out of Gravity’s line of sight. A prison warden took advantage of this distractions and took out his truncheon and knocked Gravity unconscious.
A few hours later, Shadow was sitting in afternoon lesson. This consisted of English and P.E. Ms. Devon was his English teacher and quite attractive, but she was ten years too old for him. “An important writing device Dickens uses in Great Expectations is pathetic fallacy. Does anyone know how he uses those,” there was silence, “In the first chapter Pip is in the graveyard where his family was buried, and he is very sad and angry. His emotions are represented in the weather, as in the chapter it’s very stormy and wet.. Another writing device which is used…” Shadow zoned her out.
To hell with English. He thought. He never much liked school when he was a kid and he hated it more now. Slowly the seconds ticked by and finally class was dismissed. Now it was time for P.E, which was an hour in the gym. He was weak and still quite malnutritioned; he could barely lift anything. Not that it bothered him. He was here to improve his physique.
Gravity woke up. Mentally at least. She could not physically open her eyes, as she had been blindfolded. Behind her she felt that she had been handcuffed. She could tell that she was sitting on a soft padded floor and the wall behind her felt padded as well. Perhaps this was it. Perhaps she had been transported to the junior version of Broadmoor. At least she would not be alone. “Bliss.” She said, expecting to feel the warmth of her dog, at any moment. “Bliss.” She said, expecting to feel the warmth of her dog at any moment. “Bliss!” She repeated, slightly panicking now. There was no reply. “Bliss!” She screamed desperately. Nothing. The police must have taken her. She was alone now. Completely and utterly alone. In her whole life Gravity had never been alone; her dog had always been there for her. She laid down on her floor and started to quietly cry.
It was three p.m. and Shadow was supposed to be having fun in the recreation facility. This facility contained snooker and football tables, magnetic dartboards and table tennis. There were guards by the doorway. Shadow was supposed to spend three hours in here and he spent them thinking in the corner. Occasionally he would be asked to play, but he always declined. At six it would be time for dinner. Dinner was always beef casserole. Shadow would have enjoyed this, if the casserole was not burnt on the outside and if the inside was not full of blood. He did not want to this, but knew that there would be nothing to eat until breakfast. It had been along time since he had a school diner, but he decided that it was definitely a hundred times better than this.
The police woman walking down the corridor to talk to gravity on her second day of solitary confinement was Chief Inspector Lizzie Banks. She was older than Sarah, in her late forties. She had short brown hair. She had long stopped wearing makeup and had an expressionless face. She unlocked the cell door and sat down opposite Gravity.
“Who’s there?” The girl asked,
“My name is Chief Inspector Lizzie Banks and I’ll be looking after you, while you’re here.”
Gravity frowned. “Sergeant Dames doesn’t have the clearance to be here. I’ve brought you some food.”
“Where am I? Is this blindfold really necessary? Where’s Bliss? Let me have my dog.”
“The attempted murder of Camille Nanti, who has been confined as well for provoking your attack, has earnt you a week in solitary confinement. I believe that it is imperative to keep you blindfolded. While you’re here you might try to hurt or kill someone. As for your dog, having Bliss was a privilege and you’ve lost that right now. We’ll look after her until you’re released from solitary.”
“Let her stay with me.”
“I can’t do that.”
“Let her stay with me!” Gravity demanded.
“I’m not allowed to do that.” Gravity roared in frustration and launched herself at Lizzie. The girl’s forehead knocked into the woman’s nose. Before anymore damage was done, Chief Inspector Banks threw her off and knocked her out before making a swift exit.
Day three in solitary confinement. To avoid any more, Gravity had been put into a straitjacket and kept under heavy sedation. She just had enough energy to eat and talk. As for food, Chief Inspector Banks had refused to return, meaning that the plain faced policeman Burns fed Gravity. Burns had told her that if she refused to eat, then would have to been force fed through a tube. Gravity did not want this, so she decided to relent. She had also been told the minute, she had attacked Chief Inspector Banks, she had earnt three more days in solitary confinement. Just seven days left. Seven days of loneliness.
Dinner only lasted an hour and not it was time for community service. Shadow to had to spend two hours doing this. He had to work in the local care home. He did not mind his placement; his granddad had spent the last few years of his life in a place like this. His granddad did so much for him and this was his way of paying him back. At nine p.m., his work was finished and he was driven back to the prison. He curled up in his bed and let his heavy eyelids drop.
Mitch walked into his apartment and dropped heavily onto his sofa. Sarah came over and sat down next to him. “Tough day?” She asked.
“It was pretty bad. Prisoner 3145 just got out of hospital; he didn’t suffer any permanent damage from the beating.” Sarah knew he was talking about Shadow. She also knew it was protocol to call him that. “Oh, I forgot to say.”
“What?” Sarah asked.
“When prisoner 3145 was picking what he wanted to study, he told me that when he was at school he was interested in science and g-forces, especially gravity.”
“Don’t you get it? Gravity is his sister’s name. Obviously, her parents didn’t call her that, so how did she get the name?”
Sarah shrugged. “Well, it seems that her parents hated her a lot. Maybe the name was a last insult.”
Mitch shook his head. “I don’t believe that.”
“I’ll be with Gravity soon, I can ask her then.”
It was nearly the end of Gravity’s fifth day in solitary confinement. She had expected Burns to have entered her cell and fed her, but she had not been given food all day. She was starting to get hungry now, but she ignored these feelings. On the streets Gravity regularly went without food and her body had learnt how to adapt. She could deal with the hunger, but the loneliness was crushing her. Her isolation was slowly suffocating her.
Gravity still had not been fed. She almost finished the sixth day of her solitary confinement and she had still not eaten. A lesser person would have given up from the gaping abyss, which was starting to fill their stomach, but Gravity was stronger than this. She could live without food for a quite a while. Not that she minded. The sedatives made eating extremely difficult. The sedatives made anything difficult. They did not impede her mentally, but if she wanted to move a few inches, then this took all of her energy and willpower. She would lie in one spot for hours thinking. Thinking to pass the time. Thinking about Bliss and Shadow. Thinking.
An electronic ringing sounded. Shadow twisted in his bed, trying to remain in the escape of sleep just for a few minutes longer. He groaned, as his knee hit the wall and the old wound flared up. It had been three months since Shadow’s imprisonment started. He had always wondered how long the wound would be with him. He knew what day it was now and he was not looking forward to it. Mitch escorted him to a room, cut in half by a huge pane of perspex. On one side of the Perspex sat Gideon. Shadow knew it was vising day; if it was up to Shadow he would rather see Gravity, but Shadow did not have a choice in anything. He had not heard from Gideon, since had been released from the hospital. Gideon looked up at Shadow and saw someone he barely recognised. He noted that Shadow had dark rings under his eyes and he had lost a lot of weight. Gideon felt slightly guilty, after all he was the reason his son was here. He hoped his guilt did not show. Shadow heavily sat down and avoided eye contact.
“So, how have you been?” Gideon asked.
“I’ve been absolutely brilliant. I get to eat inedible food and I’m sleeping on a bed of nails. I’ve been beaten up and poisoned. I’ve been brilliant.”
Gideon shifted uncomfortably.
Shadow noticed this. “What is it? Did you find out who poisoned me?”
“No,” Gideon flinched at his mistake, he had answered the question a little too fast, “I mean, it was probably that Robert Smith fellow, just trying to finish you off.”
“Stupid idiot. Have you seen Gravity yet?”
No, she hasn’t been allowed visitors, but Sergeant Dames said that she’s had her ups and downs, but is coping well.”
“Yes, she is Gravity’s probation officer.”
“Ok, 3145 visiting time is over, let’s go.” Shadow felt himself being lifted up and pushed through the doorway. Gideon made sure he got a good look at his face before he was gone. He was worried that by the time he saw his son again, he would have already forgotten what he looked like.
Day eight. Twelve hours before, Gravity had been allowed to eat again.
“Why didn’t you feed me on the fifth and sixth days?” She asked.
“It was because you attacked Chief Inspector Banks and this is just extra punishment.” Burns replied.
“What a spiteful person.” Gravity muttered. Once the girl had finished eating,Burns packed everything away and left. Gravity was so cold. Even though there was no uniform in Foster Hall itself, you were expected to wear a paper thin, pale blue t-shirt and trousers when you were placed in isolation. Gravity was surprised by how much the cold affected her. When she was living on the streets she had to live and sleep in rain, hail and snow. She grown a seriously thick skin to keep the worst of the cold out, but this was a different type of cold. This was the cold that came with extreme loneliness. Everything that had ever cared about her had been taken away. On the streets when the cold did occasionally pierce her skin, she would snuggle up to Shadow and Bliss until her shivering subsided, but they were not with her now. Nobody was with her to protect her from the cold.
Day nine. The loneliness was affecting Gravity the most. More than the cold. More than the hunger. Once Burns had finished feeding her, he would pack everything away and leave. He was the only visitor the girl had. Once he left he would be all alone. Her cell was completely soundproof and no noise from the outside world reached her ears. She had never been alone in this sense before. Since Shadow had rescued her from the riverside, she had never been alone. Whenever her brother went out to beg amongst the crowd, he would leave Bliss with Gravity. The girl had often thought that he had done this just for convenience, but perhaps it was because he had not wanted her to be by herself. He was one the who wanted a dog as well. Even at that age, he was trying to protect her, if without knowing it. Perhaps he felt an extremely strong duty to protect his sister. Now she understood why he fought so hard at trying to keep her out prison and how shocked he was, when she told their entire story to the police. If only she had kept quiet. When Shadow had fond his sister by the riverside, Gravity wondered whether he had promised himself to never leave her alone again. Unintentionally he had broken his promise and it was all her fault.
Somehow Gravity had made it through ten days in isolation. Now she would be released. She had also been allowed to change back into her regular clothes. She was taken from her cell in solitary confinement and placed back into her normal one. As soon as she stepped inside, she heard a bark of joy. She could recognise that bark anywhere. Bliss came rushing over to her and rubbed her head against the girl’s legs. Gravity crouched down and tenderly hugged her dog. The girl stood up and with a hand brushing along the wall, made her way to the bed. She felt for the edge of the covers and pulled them back, before slipping in. Just as she expected, Bliss jumped onto the the of the bed. She reached down and softly stroked her dog’s head. She might have four years left in prison, but with Bliss by her side, Gravity felt she could survive it.
Shadow woke up unwillingly again. He hated prison and the only escape he could find was in sleep. It was back to normal classes today. He was walking to “school”, when three men approached him. They were only a few months older than him. They had a thin layer of hair and they were all very muscular. The leader of the three was black and called Tony Skinner. The other two were white. Shadow had heard a lot about these three men from other inmates. These three men were very infamous. They had committed several armed robberies, stealing hundreds of pounds. They were all in white vests. Down their arms were tattoos. Shadow had expected something like this to happen. He was skinny and looked very vulnerable. “Word says you got Robert into trouble.” Tony said.
“What’s it to you?” Shadow replied.
The leader stood face to face with Shadow. “He knew how to keep little idiots like you in line.” Shadow ignored the insult; he was used to all of the abuse. “Robert was good at his job unlike that Mitch, he is far too soft.”
Shadow once again kept quiet.
“I understand Robert disciplined you, but I don’t think he did a very thorough job. Allow us to finish it form him.”
“I’m good guys. I’m going to be late for class.”
Tony grabbed Shadow’s collar. “That wasn’t an offer.” The leader swung his fist around. At the last Shadow dodged it. Tony roared in frustration and threw Shadow to the ground, making him land on his bad knee. Afterwards the leader went forward and viciously kicked Shadow’s injured knee. Shadow was in too much pain to get off the floor. He waited for the inevitable. Tony knelt down and again grabbed by his collar.
“I promise you, you won’t dodge this punch.” The leader gave an uppercut to Shadow’s chin. The punch threw him off the floor and into the air, making him crash back down. “This is prison. You have to learn how to fight.” Tony said.
Shadow spat blood out of his mouth. “Is that why you’re doing this to me? You stupid thug,” he snarled. Shadow sat up, “Your mum is so stupid she attempted to kill herself by jumping of the curb.” Shadow said, bravely. Tony stormed up to him. Shadow noticed that his two friends were just standing there. Shadow wanted to get angry. When people were angry, they made mistakes.
“You want to stay that to my face, punk?!” As soon as the attacker was in range, Shadow kicked the man in the crotch with his good leg. The assailant fell to his knees Shadow saw his opportunity and kicked Tony in the face. The leader’s colleagues rushed up to Shadow, but police warders came along and held them back. Shadow felt himself being dragged backwards. He looked behind him, there was an unknown police officer holding onto his shoulders. He wondered if he was going to be disciplined again, but he was thrown back into his cell and the door was locked. It did not look like he would be going to school today.
The alarm sounded. Gravity was already awake. When she lived on he streets she tried to wake up as early as possible, just to try an rake in some extra money. There was a knock on the door. “Hey, Gravity, it’s time for breakfast now.” Gravity recognised Sarah’s voice. The door opened and Sarah took the girl’s hand. She also put Bliss’ leash in Gravity’s free hand.
“Do you mind, if I ask you something?”
Gravity shook her head.
“How did you get your name? I doubt your parents named you that.”
“It was one of my first words. Shadow decided to name me it.”
“Gravity? Gravity was your first word? I thought you lived with your grandparents for four years. Wouldn’t your first word have been grandma or granddad?””
“Yeah, obviously gravity wasn’t my first word, But Shadow was always going on about it. He wanted to be a rocket scientist or a physicist, maybe even an astronaut. He wanted to study gravity, maybe even defy it. I suppose all his talk about gravity rubbed off on me and influenced me.”
By this time Gravity was sitting in the cafeteria with porridge in front of her. Sarah picked up the spoon and put it into Gravity’s hand.
“Ok, the bowl is directly in front of you, jut take your spoon and dip it into the porridge. Good, good now into you mouth,” Sarah turned away, “I’m sorry, this must seem so patronising.”
“It’ ok. It’s been a long time since anyone has cared for me like this.” Gravity ate the rest of the food in silence, until the bell rang, signalling the start of another depressing and dismal day.