by Gina Ranalli
They brought her in naked, screaming and thrashing, trying to escape the grip they had on her arms. The tops of her feet dragged across the cement floor; they were literally lifting her off the ground.
I sat on my cot and watched them toss her into the cell next to mine. She flew through the air and bounced off the far wall, but somehow managed to remain standing. Immediately, she whirled and charged them, but she wasn’t fast enough.
“Fucking whore,” the fat one with the gold badge snarled as he slammed the cell door and locked it. “You’re lucky I don’t bash your fucking skull in.”
“I ain’t no whore!” the naked woman shrieked. “Your mama’s a fucking whore!”
The younger one, the deputy, took a step back, his face ashen beneath his hat. He whispered something under his breath that sounded like “shit” and that almost made me smile. He was scared of her, that much was obvious.
Good for her, I thought.
The black woman, clearly insane with rage, thrust her arms through the bars at them, her hands curled into murderous-looking claws. “You fuckers!” The claws flayed, seeking flesh.
This time, both men took a step back and the deputy let out a little squeal of fear.
I snickered, which caused them to glance in at me.
“You see something funny, bitch?” the sheriff asked. “Maybe I should lock you in with her, huh? You think that’d be funny too?”
I screwed my face into a serious expression and said nothing. Fuck him.
“Yeah, I didn’t think so,” he said, self satisfied. Then he turned to his white-faced deputy. “C’mon Billy. Let’s let the ladies get acquainted.”
Billy seemed all too eager to get back to the front office and away from the naked woman. Together, they walked off out of sight, ignoring the woman’s continuing screams of fury.
Once they were gone, I figured she’d settle down some, but she didn’t. Instead she violently flung herself around the cage, bashing herself off the bars and walls, tearing at her hair and screeching curses to wake the dead.
Rising from my cot, I walked over to the bars that separated us and said, “Hey, knock it off. You’re not hurting anyone but yourself.”
Ignoring me, she lunged at the cell door and tried to climb it.
“They’re not gonna give a shit if you end up breaking your neck or something. In fact, it’d probably make them happy.”
Suddenly, the woman stopped battering herself and fell silent, turning her head as if she was noticing me for the first time. Her eyes were palest shade of blue I’d ever seen in my life. A blue-eyed black woman…
Then she spoke, her voice raw and ragged: “I have cramps.”
I wasn’t sure if she was telling me this as an explanation or an aside, but it didn’t matter. I frowned and could think of nothing to say, so I tried my best sympathetic look.
“They’ll be sorry now,” she said matter-of-factly.
Staring at her, I decided she really was crazy. I cleared my throat. “Maybe they’ll give you some aspirin.”
Without taking her eyes off my face, she reached down between her legs and appeared to dig around in there for a few seconds. Then she brought her hand up and showed it to me. The fingers were bloody. “Do you have a tampon?” she asked.
Jesus. I decided then that I needed to go back to my cot, and quickly. The last thing I wanted was some crazy chick flinging her blood at me. “You should ask the sheriff to get you one, though,” I said as I sat down, my back against the wall, as far from her as I could get. “They probably have some around, for situations like this.”
To my amazement, her face broke into a huge lunatic grin and at that moment blood began to trickle down her inner thighs.
“Shit.” I stood up and went to the front of my cell. “Hey!” I yelled. “We need a little help in here!”
“Hey!” Much louder this time. “We have a problem!”
Finally, I hollered, “Yo! You fucking redneck inbreds! Stop stroking each other and get your fat asses in here.”
It was only after I’d yelled this last that it occurred to me that maybe the woman didn’t want to bring attention to her situation. For myself, I knew I’d be mortified beyond description.
But it was too late.
“What the fuck are you screaming about?” Two pairs of footfalls could be heard approaching us just before the sheriff and his deputy rounded the corner and entered their pitiful, four cell cellblock. The sheriff glared at me. “You trying to get yourself beat, you little cunt?”
I bit back my anger and jerked a thumb at the bleeding woman. “You need to give her something.”
Both men turned their attention to the woman and at first didn’t notice anything. Then, in unison, their eyes dropped and their expressions turned sour. It was almost comical.
Wrinkling his nose in disgust, the sheriff uttered a “Christ almighty,” while the deputy turned a vague shade of green.
To wake them up, I snapped my fingers and said, “Instead of just standing there like the world’s biggest morons, maybe you should go get her something before she bleeds all over herself.”
The sheriff’s eyes darted from the woman, to me and back again. Then he let out a chuckle. “Looks like you got yourself a problem, alright. A little visit from your ol’ Aunt Flo, eh?”
The deputy laughed and finally spoke: “No wonder she was such a wildcat bitch, huh, Henry? She had the P.M.S.!”
They both thought that was knee-slapping hilarious and continued amusing themselves with crude jokes at the woman’s expense.
Meanwhile, those pale eyes burned with blue fire, watching them above a tiny crooked smile. I was somewhat surprised she wasn’t freaking out, trying to reach through the bars and choke the life out of the bastards. Or at least rake bloody gouges across whatever flesh presented itself. I wanted to kill them myself.
Finally, I could stand it no more. “What’s wrong with you losers? Can’t you just get her something? For Christ’s sake, what if she was your wife? Or your daughter?”
Abruptly, the laughter stopped and the sheriff took a step towards my cell and pointed a chubby finger at my face. “One word about my family and they won’t be able to ID your body, if they ever find it. Is that perfectly clear, young lady?”
I clamped my lips together, pressing so hard it hurt. I held his gaze for several seconds before dropping my eyes and releasing my breath in a huge sigh. Without a word, I went and sat on my cot, arms crossed.
Happy with himself, the sheriff looked at the deputy, and they both cracked up again. “Let’s go, Billy. That poker hand ain’t gonna play itself.”
They started off and I couldn’t stop myself. I yelled, “At least give her some fucking clothes, you sick prick!”
Over his shoulder, the sheriff said, “Fuck both you cunts.”
After that, I suggested to the woman that she simply sit down and bleed all over the cot mattress. I figured it was better than nothing and, as an added benefit, would undoubtedly piss off those guys to no end. But, she shook her head and said, “Then the blood would be absorbed and I couldn’t get it back.”
I stared at her. “Right.” What a loon, I thought, lying down on my own cot—no pillow, no blanket—and closing my eyes. This whole experience was getting on my nerves. If it hadn’t been for that frigging broken taillight and the roaches in the ashtray…
Cursing myself and my crappy luck, I drifted down to sleep.
When I woke up, the first thing I saw was the naked woman standing in the center of her cell, her arms and legs spread wide and her head thrown back. The first thing I heard was the trickling sound of water…
Yawning, I sat up. At first I thought she was peeing right there on the floor and for some reason my first instinct was to laugh. But then I saw the steady stream flowing down from between her legs: thick and scarlet-black, almost ropey.
“Fuck!” I leapt up and rushed over to the bars separating our cells. “Oh my god!” I stood stunned, eyes on the flow. Hemorrhaging. Maybe a miscarriage. “Fuck! Fuck!”
Racing over to the front of my cell, I screamed, “Call an ambulance! Call a fucking ambulance!”
I glanced at the woman and saw that her head was no longer thrown back. She was looking at me with those peculiar eyes, a finger pressed to her lips. Then she dropped the finger and used it to point at the floor. At the little circular drain set into the middle of the concrete. She stood directly over it and the steady stream of blood poured from her body and into the drain.
Vaguely, I heard the sheriff yell, telling me to shut the fuck up, but my attention was on the woman and her red waterfall.
“They arrested me because of my affair with the judge,” she said calmly. “A married white man who said he loved me but really only wanted to fuck me. When he was done, he dismissed me as if I were a servant. I’m no servant. I wanted to tear his throat out. He locked me in a bathroom and phoned the police. He’s a very important man. The community could never know his dirty secrets.” She paused, smiling slightly. “You should have stayed asleep.”
A wet smack hit the floor between her legs. I looked and saw what appeared to be a big bloody glob of ground beef on the drain, soggy and liquefying before my eyes. “What the…”
“You must never speak of this to anyone,” the woman continued in her mesmerizing voice. “Not ever. Danger will find you. Do you understand?”
I couldn’t lift my eyes from the bloody blob at her feet. I nodded just as another one fell—splat—on top of the first one, which was nearly gone already.
Blood clots, I thought. Huge, disgusting blood clots falling from her body and disappearing down the drain.
When I finally looked up at the woman, I saw that she was melting, her body sinking into itself and I had to bite into my forearm to keep from screaming. I felt my knees buckle, give way, and as I sank down, the woman sank with me, collapsing from the inside out.
Tears streaked down my cheeks from unblinking eyes. Far away, a muffled voice was muttering, “No,” over and over again. It was only later that I realized it must have been me.
I watched as the woman’s legs dissolved into a red bubbly mass, her torso sitting in the middle of the blood puddle until it too, began to dissolve. A flash of white—part of her ribcage—was briefly visible and then gone as a deluge of crimson washed over it. Her breasts, previously full and round, deflated, melting down the front of her and then her shoulders and neck were perched only inches above the drain. The eyes were still on me, fixed and very much alive. I heard myself whimper as the head began to spill its contents down the drain, the face finally melting away into nothing. All that remained were a few maroon drops and smears. She was gone and it wasn’t until then that I began to weep.
By the time the sheriff came to check on us and discovered a prisoner missing, I was no longer crying. Instead, I pretended to be asleep and when roused, I played dumb.
I knew—no, I know—that this particular danger will have no reason to find me. Not ever.
But the sheriff and deputy? The judge? Oh, yes. Danger will find them.
Of that I have no doubt.
Bio:Gina Ranalli is an American author of bizarro and horror fiction living in Seattle, Washington. Her writing has been described as "accessible yet eccentric, creepy yet endearing, catchy like bubblegum pop yet twisted and off-kilter." She is interested in environmentalism, feminism, eco-warriors, animal rights, veganism, tattoos, skulls, and horror flicks.