A Minor Misdemeanor

Chapter 8

To her surprise, Jenny felt nothing but relief at the verdict that had been handed down to her. Yes, she was going back to prison, but she was going to be free almost before she knew it, rather than languishing behind bars for months on end.

The lock behind her clicked, and a heavy hand clamped down on her shoulder as she was led straight down to the cells, without passing through any of the public areas of the prison, before being inserted into the same tiny cell she'd occupied before the ten minute hearing.

Swearing slightly under her breath, she curled up on the bench, giving her enough room to reach her Gameboy, before continuing where she'd left off, deliberately challenging another trainer, in order to pit her team against theirs.

She had sufficient battery life and additional batteries to last a total of ninety hours, assuming, of course, that Vastra had remembered that she needed to change the batteries anyway.

Three duels, a dozen wild Pokémon and a cleared dungeon later, she heard the jangle of keys that preceded the arrival of a court bailiff.

Quickly, she tucked the Gameboy into a small case she and Vastra had had made for it, carefully disguising it as a small bible, before closing the top of the case, completing the illusion. It would even open, at least as far as her favourite books were concerned. She opened it to a section that, according to the Doctor, was talking about an alien invasion he'd foiled.

When the bailiff arrived, all he could see was a young woman, bent over a bible and leafing through it.

The door was opened, abruptly, before she was ordered to stand, and dragged out of the cell once she was upright. If anything, as a convicted criminal, rather than a simple suspect, she was treated even more unpleasantly by the man dragging her along out of the court. A stumble, previously responded to by a half-break in the man's stride, was simply ignored, causing her shackles to cut briefly into her wrists, drawing blood.

The wagon waiting in the rear, enclosed yard of the magistrates’ court was a different design, with multiple barred windows, each letting into a different small compartment. Several of the doors were still open, and she was basically hurled through one of them, barely being given enough time to remove her feet from the doorway before it was slammed shut, then the bolt was driven home, and padlocked shut.

Inside the cramped space, there was a simple bench, set into the wall directly opposite the door, with a small handle set into it.

She was simply left alone for around ten minutes, with the only sound she could hear being the periodic banging of the heavy oak doors, before a sudden surge as the wagon leapt into motion without warning, sending her slamming into one of the three inch thick oak walls, before she managed to grab onto the metal handle bolted to the seat, and use everything she'd learnt from Vastra to pin herself into the seat.

The ride seemed faster than her previous journey, and it was only a few minutes before she was back outside the intimidating gatehouse of Newgate prison. From within the tiny compartment, she heard the groan of the gates as they opened on poorly oiled hinges. The wagon picked up speed again, and the compartment momentarily darkened as the gates blocked all light to her cell, before they were through.

On the inside, the guard force was much in evidence, with several of the warders cradling shotguns, broken open, with the glint of fresh brass cartridges visible.

In turn, each compartment was opened, and a manacled prisoner was led through the doors, into the building. Each successive transfer made Jenny quake slightly, and a pocket of dread began to build up in her stomach, growing deeper each time a prisoner was taken through the small wicket gate into the building.

Finally, she heard the rattle of the padlock on her compartment, and the door was pulled open by a warder she recognised.

"Mr Davies." She greeted him, trying to stay calm. The warder looked like someone you'd expect to see on the far side of the bars, with a nose at least an inch wider than his face suggested it should be, and missing several of his front teeth, which were exposed by his broad smile.

"This is unexpected, Jenny." He replied, as he supported her down from the compartment. "I'd have thought working in a large house precluded free enterprise."

"I'm not in for that, sir." She replied, unable to keep her face from reddening, as her feet finally touched the rough cobbles. "I punched the third son of the Earl of Uxbridge at a party at Paternoster Row last night." She explained; her face colouring with embarrassment. "I hit him too well, but not well enough, if you understand."

"I think I know what you mean." The warder, a veteran of dozens of brawls in the east end, replied.

As he led her towards the gateway she privately thought of as the Gates of Mordor, her stride shortened, just slightly, before she fought down her fear and pushed on, remembering an litany on the subject Vastra had borrowed from a mid-twentieth century science fiction novel.

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." she recited, quietly, allowing herself to picture the look on Vastra's face whenever Jenny failed at a task, such as picking a lock, or cracking a safe.

Vastra had tried to learn how to do both, but had broken fifteen sets of lock-picks in various ways, and permanently buggered the locking mechanisms of three safes, requiring a Sontaran laser cutter to open them in order to recover the jewellery Jenny had locked in them.

Strangely, the litany did calm her, and she stepped through the gates with her head high.

Instead of the visitors' room, she was taken down a different corridor, and led into a small room, with a grill for a door.

"I'm going to have to ask you to disrobe." Davies told her.

Her face coloured, turning a bright crimson at the sort of taking all of her clothes off in front of a man, despite her sojourn to a holiday resort in Italy in the seventies.

"Jenny, in case it escapes you, and not to put it bluntly, I'm not going to see anything I haven't seen before."

Silently, she held out her arms, and just shook them, causing the heavy chains to clink. Without saying a word, the warder unlocked them, before kneeling down and disconnecting the chain from her ankles, leaving her able to fully remove all of her clothing.

Once she was naked, she covered herself, one hand over her groin, the other covering both nipples.

"Is there anything in your clothing I'm going to find?" he asked, after she'd handed over the hatpin.

"Only my pocket bible." She replied, having been relieved of the rest of her possessions when she was booked in the previous night.

"Right." He said. "Go through that door."

She nodded, admittedly reluctantly, before proceeding into a small room about the size of a coffin.

Once she was inside, the door slammed shut behind her, dropping down from above, shortly followed by a deluge of lukewarm, soapy water. The deluge continued for several minutes, before finally ceasing, leaving Jenny's eyes stinging from the harsh carbolic soap.

When the door opened again, she was greeted with a large, ragged towel, along with a set of clothes very different to her own. The luxury fabrics Vastra had dressed her ape in for some time were replaced with a crude, ragged dress, a tiny bit shorter than society would approve of, and showing far too much shin to be permissible outside of a prison. There were a number of rags, which she used to tie her breasts roughly into position, and to provide some modesty in other areas.

Once she was dressed, Davies knelt down, and reconnected her manacles, linking her ankles together, but not restraining her hands.

Once she was restrained, she was led down a corridor, before being confronted with a paddlewheel construction, with a number of cubicles spaced along it, most of which were occupied by a prisoner. She was led, by the shoulder, to one of the few compartments that were vacant.

"Prisoner Flint, when I say begin, you will climb onto the wheel, and you will begin walking on it until I tell you to stop. Any talking will be punished. Begin."

Wordlessly, she clambered onto the device, grabbing onto the handle running roughly at chest height along the length of the machine, and began to walk, each step causing her manacles to cause discomfort.

After eight hours, she was allowed to leave the machine, her entire body aching, and her mouth dry, before being led into a cell.

If anything, the small room that was to be her home for the next week was more spartan than the room she'd spent the previous night in, with no mattress, just a hard wooden bunk, an open hole leading into a sewer, leaving the cell permanently stinking of sewage, and absolutely nothing else.

It was at that point, exhausted, and unable to help herself, that she finally gave in, and just began crying, curled up on her bunk.

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