If you have clicked on this story, I implore you to read on.
Not even five minutes had passed after I clicked complete on my last story and I suddenly felt a new idea come into my mind. I still thank everyone who supported me in my last story and hope I have gained new readers and interested old ones in this tale. In case the summary was not enough on the previous page, I intend to give you a longer summary that will increase your interest.
As we all know, Benjamin Barker was convicted of a crime that he obviously did not commit. He was sent to an Australian penal colony where he was forced to perform grueling tasks as his nemesis, Judge Turpin, coveted his beautiful wife, and later on, their child, Johanna.
Here is my twist on things.
Johanna, who is now fifteen years of age (which means her father has spent fourteen years in prison, not yet fifteen himself), is a tortured child who is forced to run from her abusive guardian, Judge Turpin. She is thrust upon the streets where the girl learns the true meaning of horror. After days of wandering, she acts upon her desperation and is apprehended by the law. Through with the rambunctious youth of their city, a foreign judge sentences Johanna to imprisonment in Australia so that she may "teach all troubled youths a lesson of justice". (Might I add that this is historically correct and they did indeed, send woman to penal colonies and adolescents as well) Johanna is taken into custody in the Australian prison where she befriends many of her prison mates, witnesses grotesque deeds, gains unwanted enemies, and meets one man that ensures her safety, yet reopens locked doors of her past. This man, as you may have guessed, is her missing father, though the truth is unbeknownst to her.
I warn you that this story is filled with agony, torture, betrayal, and dark themes. I strive to portray the true events that took place within these punitive colonies and within the Victorian town of London, which are not the glorious events that some have made them out to be. These are times of true hardships.
I also assure you that underneath the darkness and detestation, there is light and adoration.
Please continue reading if you wish to read a story based upon courage, strength, love, and the human determination to survive that both separates and unites us all.
Through the thick mist of the gloomy London town, a young girl was scrambling through streets in the darkness of the night, stumbling and tripping over cobble stones, as well as sobbing and shrieking when she thought of her pathetic escape and the grueling consequences she would have face if she were to be apprehended.
She could not risk that.
Johanna Barker blindly turned down an abandoned road, stifling her fearful sobs by worrying her bottom lip with her chattering teeth. The thin air wrapped her soft skin in its icy embrace, sending shivers through the fifteen year old girl's spine. All admiration for the outside world was lost with each trip in the muddy road. Was it possible that she had actually yearned to spend her days outside only yesterday?
Another street came into sight around a sharp corner, though this one was occupied by a group of young men. Upon hearing her footsteps, they turned and observed the child with interested smiles on their vicious faces. Johanna let out a piercing cry and turned towards the adjacent road, running as if she were running from death itself. The looks on their faces…how they resembled her guardian before he would…
Falling to her knees after her feet faltered, Johanna moaned as her skin pierced jagged stone. Blood soon seeped through the hole in her dress, dripping down her leg and staining the rest of the material with its crimson trail.
Oh, she could not do this!
It had been an ordinary day. Johanna had slipped from her bed, though she had not slept a bit, and dressed. Afterward, her door was opened to reveal her guardian, Judge Turpin. The child could not help but wonder to herself how the man knew she was done dressing so quickly. Turpin's eyes wondered over her every curve, penetrating all strength she had mustered for the day.
The girl was used to his ways. Ever since she had been twelve years of age, this man, this monster had touched her, abused her, molested her…She knew all too well, for Johanna Barker was not an ignorant girl. When one lives with a sexually perverted man, it is hard not to ignore the motives of his actions as hard as she may have tried. And for that, Johanna cursed her own beauty with a cynical hate.
The previous night had been an everlasting nightmare. He had locked her in her room for the whole day, as he usually did, and had the audacity to enter her small prison at night, a lustful fire blazing in his eyes as he clenched his fists.
"Undress," he ordered her as he began tearing at his own shirt.
The piercing look he sent her told her to crush her objections and do as he said. She did not fight him, no, he was far too strong. She had learned to lay and allow her "father" to take her dignity and purity. Her weakness seemed to fuel his power.
"Sit up!" he would spit in her face when her limp figure challenged his movements and wandering hands. She could do nothing but oblige.
Through with her pathetic helplessness, Johanna began to plan a desperate escape to freedom. The day was young…Perhaps she could slip away while her guardian was at court! No, she would be noticed in the light by the strollers in the road…For the remainder of the day, the young girl thought and each thought brought hope as well as frustration. She could not wait this long!
The night sky began to push all light from the world, swallowing all of London in an endless curtain of black. If she were to flee, she would need to slip away in the darkness and leave her personal hell.
Slowly, Johanna grasped the handle of her door and eased it open, wincing when it gave off a slight moan. After she had enough room to make her way out, she left the solitude of her room and snuck her way down the hallway. Vulgar and despicable images of sexual intercourse were considered an admirable decoration in her home.
Servants whisked past her as she hid behind the safety of concealing corners. She cursed the uncertainty that plagued her as she went through the meandering halls. She had never actually seen all of the building before, yet she knew where the side entrance was, and that was all that mattered.
The low rumble of her guardian's voice was heard in the dining area, soon followed by the snorting laughter of his friend, Beadle Bamford. The Beadle tended to sneak into her very room at night, claiming her body and promising violence if she were to inform Turpin of their sexual intercourse. Johanna had kept the secret to herself in hopes to save herself from any unpleasant assaults.
Johanna strained her ears to hear the parts of their conversation. "Johanna…woman…very beautiful… we…here…yes…Barker…mother…"
The bits of their conversation sent warmth coursing through Johanna's body. From the sounds of the discussion, Johanna presumed they were speaking of her parents. Her parents…Turpin had never spoken much of her parents except for the depressing fact that her father was a horrendous convict and her mother had committed suicide because she could not bear taking care of her needy daughter. Turpin had said that Johanna was lucky he took her in long ago because no one else would have taken her in. The only positive thing he mentioned of her past was her mother's glorious appearance and her last name.
Then there were the faces. The faces came to her in her at night when she would curl up on her bed and imagine the features of her lost parents. While in thought, her mind would take on sights differing from what lay before her. A blonde woman and a handsome suitor smiled at her, their faces carefree and happy. Johanna prayed that these were her parents. Then, the face of the man would fade, suddenly leaving the woman in pure grief and mourning. The memory would fail at that point.
"Johanna….here…" The sounds of her captor's voices brought a foreboding sense of doom as she snuck past the dining room and towards the side hall.
"Gertrude!" Turpin shouted, nearly sending Johanna crashing to the floor in fear.
"Yes, sir?" the head maid of the house answered. The maid was not a particular favorite of Johanna's. In fact, the woman had ignored the child since as long as she could remember, stating that she would "end up like her mother." Johanna shivered when she thought of her mother's fate in comparison to her own.
"Retrieve my ward. She's been shut up all day and I would like to enjoy her…," a pause, "…company."
"It shall be done, sir."
Blind panic rippled through her body in shuddering waves as she listened to the maid's fading footsteps. Soon, they would know she had left the room. She was out of time!
Without giving the action a second thought, Johanna bounded for the side entrance. She pushed the door open and ran into the night, tripping over the material of her dress before gaining her footing and rushing towards an unknown destination. Her breathing was labored within seconds, for she had never run before in her entire life due to her being locked away from the world.
It was obvious that she could not stay in London. If she were found, she would be dragged back to Turpin by a man in hopes of a handsome sum for his services. The judge had made it all too clear what he was to do with her if she were to even attempt running from her own. All threats now seemed to haunt her, to condemn her to the edge of madness. She could never return to London, nor would she ever have the desire to do so.
She passed by a group of women who stood on the corner of the street on which she was standing. Pulling her arms closer to her body, the girl paced in front of them without casting them a single glance.
"Hey, darling, wouldn't you like to work for us, love?" one of the women hollered.
Her guardian's words echoed in her ears the moment the women had spoken. "There are many women out there who would be willing to share my bed, you ungrateful wretch!" he had shouted after her refusal when he offered himself to her. "…Prostitutes…after all I have given you…and you deny me." Johanna had cried herself into a deep slumber that night.
What had happened to the man who had treated her like his own blood? What had she done to him to deserve such fowl treatment? She could faintly remember the comforting hand that he placed on her shoulder when she cried; she could barely recollect the acts of affection he had shown her. If there was a time where he had been, even the slightest in measure, her father, it was gone now.
"Come 'ere, child," the prostitute called again, encouraged by the laughter of her companions and shattering the depth of Johanna's thoughts.
"No, thank you," Johanna whispered with a frown. Limping, she passed the group. Her running had reduced to sluggish walking.
The night had begun to fade away as the morning strollers began their promenade. All seemed so peaceful. The tranquility was almost a mockery to the girl.
Unsure of where she was, Johanna could simply presume that she was no longer in London. The distance she had walked surely must have been great enough to land her in a new town at the very least!
Johanna sent a group of young children a quick glance as she trod past their assembly in the road. The small boys wrestled with each other while the girls giggled and pressed their plump hands to their flushed cheeks.
The unfaltering smiles on the faces of the children made Johanna sigh with envy.
When had fear become a daily ritual in her life? When had her existence taken a turn for the worst, resulting in her seemingly unending agony and detestation of herself?
After midday, all the teen had was an uncoordinated sense of direction and hope that she had escaped her torment once and for all. Dizzy from exhaustion, she staggered across a group of workers who were unloading goods out of wooden crates. Though most stared at her with a hunger in their eyes, they dared not indulge in their desires while the sun was still out and witnesses roamed the area.
The girl had been driven to the point where she believed all good things in her life were destined to die. It would only be a matter of time before she too, lay in the ashes of virtue.
"We all fall," she moaned. "It will only be a matter of time before I do as well."
And through her bitter hate, she continued to walk on.
Days had come to pass and still, she traveled. The sun chased the moon in a never ending race; the golden beams penetrated the darkness of the night. Johanna Barker became tired and only rested when need be. She would stop at night, slump down in a secluded area and wake when the slightest sound she heard.
She had been confronted by unknown strangers, most being shady and sly. Johanna would turn on her heel and run from anyone who came up to her and alarmed her. After a few days, her running skills had increased, but she could not muster the energy to do so any longer, so she resorted to staying awake as must as she could and avoiding contact with anyone
She was dying, that much could be said. Johanna knew she had options that would save her. She could, for example, sell her body to men. A prostitute. The idea appalled her. To sell her own body to a man, well, she could have stayed with her previous guardian if she truly desired that. She could turn around and simply return home; and hope that she would not be punished for her flight. The chances of that were absolutely preposterous.
With a sense of defeat, she traveled far from her hometown, begging for a scrap of food wherever she may get it. Some pitied her and emptied a few coins into her hand, stating that she "needed to put some meat on her bones." Gratefully, she would turn into the nearest shop and purchase a pastry for her aching stomach and a cup of water to quench her burning throat.
The teen's body had begun to shrink. Her ribs stood out in a sickly matter, her hair was matted with grease and filth, and her body was aching from malnutrition. The freedom she was seeking came with a terrible price and the child was not sure she could pay it for another day without dropping to the floor, dead.
On a frigid January day, Johanna shuffled her feet across the floor of a busy marketplace. In all honesty, she was famished. As wealthy customers regarded the items for sale with a respectful interest, Johanna coveted the items with a burning desire. Only a little food…that was all she needed…
Johanna pulled her tattered dress closer to her quivering body. A stand filled with fresh bread had the girl's eyes watering and her stomach twisting with excruciatingly painful knots. The smell had reached her nose, wrapping its luscious scent around her conscience and forcing her to take a step towards the vendor.
Please, she begged. I have never stolen.
Ah, but it is only a piece of bread! You can run…they will not catch you.
With a nod to herself, the girl inched towards the stand.
Johanna gazed at the food before her. Its scent now stabbed her lungs. Her hands twitched, sobs built in her throat and still she stood, wondering if she should simply reach out and snatch the food.
It is right there! Do it!
The girl snatched the loaf and began ripping it into pieces, stuffing each bite into her mouth, swallowing, and wincing when the large bite made her throat throb with pain.
"Miss, yeh need to be payin' for that now!" the baker demanded as he held out his hand, expecting to see coins placed in his large palm.
Johanna jumped and stood frozen, stunned by the sudden appearance of the man. "I…do not have money…I…," she stammered.
"No money?" the man asked quietly as he began to withdraw his palm. His eyes glistened dangerously.
"I…" Johanna fell silent. In a moment, the girl turned her body around and dashed away from the demanding baker, running as fast as her weekend legs could carry her. She shot passed any obstacles in her way and shoved away all persons that blocked her getaway. Cries of guilt made her slow.
A hand then fell upon her shoulder and jerked her backwards. With a scream, she was thrust into the chest of a large male. As she looked at her captor, she realized that the man was a constable and with a moan of despair, she understood that she had failed when freedom was at her fingertips.
"Come 'ere, you," he muttered as he pinned her arms behind her back and led her down the road with him after straightening her figure. "Should 'ave thought 'bout wot you were doing, little one, 'fore you went on and did it. Now, you got some rough times ahead o' yeh. Don't struggle!"
Johanna writhed in his grip until she was slack with fatigue. "Where are we going?" she asked simply with her head bent as they continued along the road. People shook their heads as they studied the girl being led by the officer.
"To prison, I suppose."
Johanna felt all hope leave her with one despairing sentence. Darkness swallowed her whole, encasing her in its despairing grip.
And she did not fight it.
If you have read this far, I thank you so much for doing so. Please tell me how you feel on this chapter, the story idea, or my way of writing. If you wish for this story to continue, please do not hesitate in saying so. Your reviews motivate me to write more.
All my love,