This was my entry for the Cullens Incarcerated contest. With it I won second place thanks to my wonderful fans, and clearly I have the best in the world. So here is Justice is Blind. Please enjoy it, and make sure to check out "Letter to Mabel" and "Desolation Row." As always reviews are much appreciated.

I

The rain fell in massive sheets, turning the yard of Rochester Women's Prison into a sticky bog. And even with the mess and the much and the cold, and the rain all two hundred and fifty plus inmates stood ankle deep in the freezing mud to watch as the Fish Wagon pulled up to the first guard station. The gate buzzed and started moving aside, the wagon (a bus that even when it was new probably still was old) rumbled up the long driveway to the front gate. A chorus of jeers and taunts were shouted towards the bus muffled by the patter of the rain and the splashing of the Fish Wagon as it hit puddle after puddle.

The brakes screeched as the behemoth lurched to a stop and the main door slid open, as a guard armed with a pump shotgun jumped down, into the mud. The rain soaked him in an instant, dripping off the bill of his standard issue peaked cap. The second guard on the bus went through and, hurried every new inmate from her seat and into the rain, with sharp voice commands. One by one each fish stood and got off the bus, lining up in the cold rain; greeted immediately with new choruses of taunts, and sexual suggestions. Every one of the new fish kept their head down trying to ignore the feelings of fear deep inside of them.

"Two smokes says the tall one bawls before chow tomorrow morning." One woman, in her early thirties, shouted. Her brown hair matted down against her skull in the rain.

"You're on." A fiery red head spoke out from across the yard, "Only make it four." She pushed her way through the others to shake on the bet she'd made with another inmate whose name she didn't even know.

"A pack says I can get the one with giant knockers between my legs before lights out." Another inmate shouted, pointing at the one just getting off the bus. "She looks like she ain't nothing but a two bit whore." Several more shouts indicated that more of the inmates wanted to see her try that.

"Ten says that brunette second from the end is the first to cry!" A third inmate shouted from the middle of the crowed. Three more veteran inmates joined in on that action.

"That's a joke. Twenty says that shorty right there loses it before she even gets in the door." A fourth said pointing a bony finger at the last to get off the bus. She didn't look like she belonged in prison, but that didn't matter to any of the other inmates. They wanted cheap action, and her bowed head and hunched shoulders made her look more like a timid child than a prison inmate. The clothes on her back looked like they were four or five sizes too big for her.

"Twenty? Are you fucking serious? She only has to walk fifteen god damned feet. You're fucking nuts, I'm in."

"Another ten say she's wear a necktie before the week's out!"

"You're on!"

"I'll bet two packs that the little one doesn't make a sound tonight." A voice spoke at the back of the crowd in a voice so soft that it shouldn't have been heard over all the commotion, but it seemed to ring in every one of the women's ears. There was an immediate silence in the group and all eyes turned to the new comer. It looked like the rain parted around her, leaving her brilliant blonde hair seemingly dry. Her shoes and the cuffs of her pants seemed to repel the rain, and though her sleeves were pushed up along her delicate forearms she didn't appear to be the least bit cold.

"You serious?"

"Yes, I'm serious, and another pack says that she makes it through the week without any incident."

"What do you care about smokes, you've been here three years and I ain't never seen you light one up." The first inmate called out from what was now the back of the pack as everyone had turned towards the new comer.

"I don't smoke; but you do. This means I have something you want, which makes them valuable to me, only because they are valuable to you."

"Sounds like an easy two packs to me. I'm in!"

"Me too!"

"You're on."

"Count me in, Butcher."

She shot a harsh glare to the last one that would make anyone's blood run cold without even knowing what she'd been convicted of. The last woman backed away, fear plainly visible to everyone in the yard. She turned back to the rest of the yard, "You can drop my winnings off at my cell any time." She said as she walked away from the others without sparing so much as a second glance at the other inmates or her fish.

II

How the hell did I end up here? Alice thought as she trudged through the sticky mud and the pouring rain. She kept her head down, and hunched her shoulders, bracing her tiny frame against the cold wind. She tried to tune out the jeers and the betting that she heard going on, and from the sound of it they thought she was going to kill herself in a week. They sorely underestimated her, not like the others. The other's seemed just as weak as the inmates thought. She saw it in their trembling knees; she saw it in their wide eyed expressions; and she saw it in the way they carried themselves, like they were someone.

In here they were no one, and only one of the fish knew it.

The shotgun armed guard shouted, "Move forward" and the line of new inmates slogged their way through the mud, occasionally slipping. They were ushered through the entryway and herded them into a long room with what looked like shower heads on one end and a single long wooden bench along the other. "Shower's on!" The guard shouted again.

"Shower's on," a muffled voice replied, as all the showerheads sprung to life sending thin wisps of steam to the ceiling.

"Strip," the guard ordered, for the first time not shouting at the top of his lungs. The six new women stripped out of their prison issued clothes and stood in front of the bench as two new guards came in carrying a large bucket between them the set it down in front of Alice and each took a big handful of the white powder inside of it and threw it at Alice, covering her naked form. It began to sting against her skin, and she bit her lip to keep from squirming. The procedure was repeated along the row, and when they reached the end the fish were instructed to turn around, and the process was repeated. "Shower time ladies, three minutes."

The guard didn't even finish his sentence before four of the girls hand run straight for a showerhead and started scrubbing off the off the delousing powder. Alice on the other hand played it cool, not wanting anyone who may have been watching to see a moment of weakness. She got under the lukewarm shower head and scrubbed herself the best she could with only her hands. After three minutes the water was cut off without warning, leaving most of them still partially coated in that foul stuff.

"Follow me," the guard commanded switching out the shotgun at some point for a billy club and a clip board. The girls fell into line behind him, all of them nervous as the cold seeped into to their naked flesh. They followed him into a small low ceilinged room with three bar doors, one leading from the showers, one to what looked like a small supply closet, and the last to the main cell block. The guard took up a position behind a counter nest to the supply room motioning them to line up.

"Name, last first," He asked.

"Brandon, Mary Alice," Alice answered, her voice: soft and flat, speaking for the first time since the sentence was read at her trial.

"Brandon, Mary Alice," the guard repeated checking something off of the clipboard, he reached under the counter and pulled out a uniform consisting of a pair of faded blue pants and a matching grey shirt, "Prisoner number 246973." He wrote the number in the clip board and pulled a second uniform, checking to make sure the numbers matched, and two pairs of rough work shoes and four pairs of socks. The last thing he pulled out was a plain white pillowcase, "Two sheets: one for the bottom, one for the top, laundry is every Saturday, you'll get one new sheet, put the new sheet on the bottom, the old sheet on the top and the top sheet goes back into the laundry. There's a blanket in there as well and you have a pillow on your bunk. Your new sheet will come inside a pillow case. Stick the old sheet in your pillow case and put it in the laundry." The guard said, repeating the speech from memory, Alice wasn't listening, her mind was everywhere, but where it should have been. She should have been listening, or trying to take her mind off how naked and exposed she still was. Instead she thought of why she was sent to prison for the rest of her life.

"Did you hear me? You're cell is tier three cell thirteen. Now get dressed and get the hell outta here. Good luck."

Alice followed the man's pointed finger to the open door to the main cell block. She was supposed to walk through to her cell bare foot and naked. She clenched her jaw, suppressing the shiver that was trying to work its way through her body. She clutched her clothes and pillow case against her body, trying to hide her nudity from the other inmates. It didn't help; as soon as she took on step into the main cell block one of the inmates from the back of her cell said, "Look alive ladies, it's the march of the fish!"

By the time Alice took her second step on the red hued concrete what felt like a thousand pairs stared intently as Alice started for the stairs.

"Hey fish, drop dem clothes and lemme see that perddy little cunt of yours!" Another inmate called out somewhere to Alice's left hidden behind the darkness of her cell. Alice swallowed hard and marched towards the stairs, trying her hardest to keep her head down; her short black hair falling over her eyes, keeping them hidden. One by one the other new arrivals entered the cell block and were greeted in much the same way that Alice had been.

"Hey, shorty, what cell you in hun?" Another inmate called to Alice, this one was right next to her, she could easily see the heavy blockish features of the woman in her cell. Her hair was a mess of stringy grey hair that provided a ghastly frame for her face. Her teeth were blocky and all crooked, each pointing a different way; her nose had a large knot in the center of it, evidence that it had been broken and not set again; her eyes were narrow slits with crow's feet embedded off to the side.

"Tier three, cell thirteen." Alice replied, her voice still flat with only a trace of a southern drawl.

"Hear that girls? Looks like the butcher's gonna get some fresh meat today." She hollered, following it with a bout of harsh, cackling laughter. The news didn't seem to faze Alice; her eyes still had a glassy look to them. "If she starts to scare you hun, just come right back to Momma; she'll keep you safe." The inmate, Momma, said licking her thin grey lips.

III

The Butcher sat on one of the two small three legged stools provided by the prison at the table so small it could barely hold a game of solitaire she was playing. From the sounds of the shouting downstairs her fish was now going to be her cellmate. She idly turned three more cards over in her hand and laid the seven of clubs down on the eight of hearts, then the nine of clubs on the ten of diamonds, and moved the eight onto the nine. She vaguely heard the shuffling of bare feet on the concrete outside her cell and a guard shout, "Open on thirteen." Before a short buzzer rattled through her cell and the door rattled open.

She glanced up for a moment, seeing her new cellmate still dripping wet from the first shower and naked as the day she was born enter the cell. Her hair was cut short, too short for a proper woman, but too long for a man, and plastered in stringy locks against her head. Her eyes were a peculiar shade of grey and green, but were glassy and flat; like someone had already taken her will from her. She was much shorter than The Butcher and well toned. The door promptly slid shut behind her, giving a satisfying thunk as it hit the other wall, locking into place.

Out of the corner of her eye, she watched as the fish set her clothes and sheets down on the bed and dressed in the prison uniform. Even the smallest uniform the prison had billowed over the woman's tiny frame. She meticulously put the sheets on her bed, making sure that each corner was fully secured before moving onto the next one. With the same attention to detail, The Butcher noted, her cell mate slipped the pillow case over the pillow and smoothed it over, before placing the folded blanket at the end of the bed.

Alice never once noticed The Butcher's presence; she merely lay down on her bunk and went to sleep, knowing that she wouldn't be able to eat until the morning anyway. Rose picked up her cards and slipped them back into the tattered box, before she climbed into her bunk and lay down. The other inmates weren't of the same disposition. They continued to taunt the new arrivals, saving their most cruel insults for the one that was already sound asleep.

They counted as one by one each of the new inmates cried, shouting to one another how much they won, until the guards rapped their clubs on the bars; silencing them for the night.

IV

"Wake up ladies!" One of the female guards shouted as the door control for the entire cell block activated, slamming back every cell door against the off white cinderblock wall on the opposite side. The sound was enough to jolt even the most veteran of inmates out of bed. Alice wasn't the exception; she shot out of bed hitting her head against the steel springs of the mattress above her. She blinked hard a few times trying to remember where she was; it felt like camp to her. But the gravity of where she was finally started to sink in, and the shock she was in last night had worn off enough that she finally felt afraid. The overwhelming sense of dread soon filled her, as she stood from her bed, dressed in an oversized uniform with the numbers 246973 stitched across the breast and each arm.

She swallowed hard and stood up from her bunk, slipping her feet into the nondescript and ill fitting brown leather shoes. The cell seemed to close in around her, it was no bigger than her room growing up or a tent at summer camp.

Why was she thinking about camp, she wondered, standing just outside her cell, following the example of the other inmates. Because it's my only clear memory, she thought as the guards came around to inspect the. Well it was her only clear memory before her trial. But for those ten years in between her camp and her trial there was a big hole in her memory. She clenched her teeth trying to keep her jaw from quivering, she'd seen and heard plenty about prisons and knew that the last thing she wanted to do was allow them to see she was afraid. If she did they'd capitalize on it and she'd end up little better than a fuck toy.

No, she was stronger than that. She managed to make it through the night, without a single tear, while she heard the others break down.

A gentle scent that smelled like hay after a rain storm, pulled the inmate from her thoughts; she looked over to see her cell mate standing on the opposite side of the cell door. There was a vague memory from the previous day that woman who slept on the bunk above her was called The Butcher, but the woman she saw standing there looked nothing like a butcher to her. Her features were delicate: she had high set cheek bones that looked like she'd recently applied a thin layer of blush on them; her nose was straight and slight, looking neither too big nor to little for the rest of her face; her ears were elegantly swept back away from the side of her head; her lips were full and red, without any visible application of makeup (and judging from the other women she'd seen they weren't issued any makeup.)

The Butcher felt the eyes of her cellmate on her, but paid it no mind as a small, nearly invisible, smirk turned up on her lips. She hadn't made a peep all night, and that won her quite a lot. The veteran slowly turned her head and gestured for her to keep her head forward. Alice noticed immediately that the eyes of her cellmate were a hard and cold mix of blues of all shades. But behind them there was a hidden depth to them; one, she noted, that looked markedly conflicted. She faced front as the guard passed in front of her, sticking his head into the cell and looking around for a moment.

The guard moved onto the next cell and went through it with a fine toothed comb, pulling the sheets off of the bed, overturning the mattresses and tossing them to the floor. She noticed the process was being repeated all over the cell block. But not in their cell. She remembered the look on the guards face as he'd exited. It looked nervous…it looked scared. He certainly wasn't scared of the new girl. Then it must be…

Her cellmate, the blonde that looked like she belonged on the cover of a magazine, or walking the runway somewhere. That guard was scared of her, scared enough not to follow procedure. Alice heard herself gulp, more than she felt herself gulp. She dared a sideways glance; seeing her look calm and almost statuesque.

When the last of the cells were tossed and in disarray a guard shouted, "Back inside, chow in twenty." The inmates all slowly filed back inside their cells, and the doors were once again slammed shut. Leaving them to themselves.

Always one to try and look on the positive side of things Alice tried to smile as she walked back into the cell and made up her bunk. And then she realized how futile it was; that was the last bed she would sleep in until they took her out in a pine box. Suddenly making the bunk didn't seem important. And she let the sheets fall around the edge of the bed and sat down on it putting her head in her hands. She didn't have grounds for an appeal, and she was sentenced to life with no possibility of parole. The disgusting colored walls seemed to close in on her; she couldn't take it anymore and collapsed on her side.

The Butcher looked over at her, it hadn't taken very long, but this place had broken her new cellmate. When a place like that breaks you, she decided, it doesn't look like much; if you can cry then you still have hope. The deck of cards danced in her hands, though she made no conscious effort to do so; a game of solitaire began to appear infront of her as she gazed at the fish huddled on the bunk of her cell. She saw so much of herself in the new girl; except there was innocence about her; something the blonde envied. Hers had long since been taken away.

V

The walk to first meal passed in a total haze after the shock had set back in with her; she kept her head down and stayed close to the only person she'd felt remotely comfortable around and the one that everyone else seemed to be scared of. Hushed whispers rippled across the dining hall as she'd walked in with the woman she only knew as The Butcher.

"See that, The Bridal Butcher hasn't killed the fish yet." One of the inmates in the chow line whispered.

"She doesn't seem too scared. I heard she's done time before." Another one at one of the far tables whispered.

"Think she's The Butcher's bitch yet?"

"I bet Bridal is going to break her in soon enough, she's just waiting til the fish has had it."

"Don't listen to them." The Bridal Butcher said, in a low voice just ahead of her. Alice opened her mouth to say something, but before any sound could materialize from her throat the blond turned and walked into the chow hall, her tray laden with disgusting looking scrambled eggs and a grey sausage patty.

Alice stepped up to the steam tables as the nauseating smell of food washed over her, but she let the greasy man in the hair net ladle a heaping spoonful of what looked like powdered eggs into the center of the rough metal tray, along with an identical mystery met sausage patty and two pieces of toast so burnt the edges of the crust had turned completely black.

The chattering amongst the inmates threatened to overwhelm the petite inmate as she scanned the expansive room. It wasn't hard to pick The Butcher out of the crowd and she found her feet moving of their own will towards the corner, where her cell mate sat, picking at her breakfast carefully with a fork.

"Mind if I sit?" She asked timidly, acting more like she was in high school rather than in a women's prison.

The Bridal Butcher never said a word, she tilted her head downward ever so slight, a sign that Alice took for a yes. The food tasted worse than it looked: the toast tasted like charcoal sprinkled with bread crumbs; and the sausage was indescribably horrid. Only the eggs had no real taste, they were just slimy and slid down her throat. The only thing worse than the food was the feeling that her stomach thanked her for it, it had been close to a day since she'd last eaten, she'd had a ham sandwich yesterday during a court recess, and her stomach had been growling most of the morning.

She couldn't' help but constantly glance, never directly though, at The Butcher; it seemed that she was eating a gourmet meal the way she held used her fork. The only few people that the new girl had seen eat like that were straight out of finishing school. Could it really be that the inmate that everyone seemed particularly terrified of was in all likelihood a debutante? Surely those people never manage to earn a nickname as brutal as The Bridal Butcher. Could they? It definitely seemed possible now, but how could she know for sure?

"What are you in for?" Alice said, trying to make something that closely resembled conversation. She didn't look up; however, she was far too intimidated to dare looking into those harsh blue eyes.

The Bridal Butcher looked up for a moment, locking her eyes with the fish's and, ran her tongue over her bright red lips, but ultimately said nothing. Turning back to her food, she gingerly set her fork down, pushing the tray back; she twisted in her chair and stood up, stopping only to pick her tray up again. Leaving Alice alone without even so much as acknowledging her question.

Alice watched her leave, shoveling the food into her mouth as fast as she could; she resisted retching twice as the food threatened to come. This was not the kind of food that should be taken on an empty stomach. Scrapping her chair against the concrete floor, Alice picked up her tray and walked over to the trash can where'd she'd watched some of the other inmates scrape off their food and stack their tray and silverware. Following suit, she turned to walk away, when a hand clasped down on her shoulder.

"So hun, anything Momma can do for you?" Momma asked as Alice turned around in her grasp, "I noticed you didn't make sound last night. I figured the Bridal Butcher might have…" she dragged a thumb across her throat.

"I'm fine" Alice said faking a smile and a giggle, "Just peachy. I don't need your help, I'll be just fine."

"Oh now that's a little disappointing to hear hun," she said digging her hand deeper into the flesh of the smaller girls shoulder, "Because I figured if I took care of you, then you'd take care of me. Get my drift?" Her tongue, grey as her lips, snaked out of her mouth and licked her lips as seductively as she could. It forced a cold shiver down Alice's spine.

"Nup, I'm perfectly find without a momma." Alice replied, fighting to get out of the larger woman's grasp, "No let me go, if you don't mind." She clenched her hands into balls, feeling the tendons and ligaments strain and pop under the pressure.

"Maybe you didn't hear me." Momma said, clamping her other hand in a vice like grip on Alice's other shoulder. "You're going to be a good little fish and do what I say." Alice could feel bruises start to form along her shoulder just underneath each of the larger woman's finger tip. Out of the corner of her eye Alice saw a piece of metal streak towards her, and she heard as it sunk into flesh. Expecting a flash of pain at any moment she closed her eyes and slowly felt the pressure on her shoulders ease. Squeezing an eye open, an angry Butcher glared at her, as she traced her arm she noticed immediately that in her hand was a for. The fork was securely lodged Momma's forearm.

"You haven't heard yet? She's mine." The Butcher's voice was low, barely above a whisper, but it contained a reservoir of fury that Alice in no way wanted a part of. "If you know what's good for you'll turn around and go to the infirmary right now. If you don't a fork will be the least of your problems." Momma's face moved from Alice to The Butcher and then back again; without a word she trotted from the mess hall ripping the fork from her arm and letting it clatter to the floor.

"Thank you?" Alice said, wondering what exactly just happened. Was she in more trouble than she'd just been in? Off in the distance the buzzer sounded, telling the inmates it was yard time.

"Don't thank me." The Butcher replied turning and walking through the barred double doors that led to the recreation yard.

Alice lingered for a few moments, trying to understand what had just happened. The Butcher may have saved her from Momma, but what did she expect in return? Gooseflesh rose up on her arms at the thought. A guard shouted for to get out and she complied, scurrying out into the muddy yard.

VI

"You heard that The Bridal Butcher made the new little fish hers?" An inmate sitting on the top of a metal set of bleachers said the two inmates around her.

"Yeah, I heard that she just sent Momma to the infirmary for looking at her the wrong way." The redheaded companion replied, sending a sideways look towards Alice, you'd just started into the rec yard.

"Fuck, I feel sorry for that one. Wonder what she did to deserve that?" The third replied not paying any attention to the rest of the yard.

"Wrong place wrong time, would be my guess." The first said, cackling as she watched the little fish slip in the mud avoiding landing head first in the mud. The other two joined in, and soon most of the yard laughed at her.

"God help her, or she won't last very long." The second said.

"Hey Vic, when was the last time you saw God around here?" The third replied.

"I dunno when was the last time we had a minister come in?" A new round of laughter began as Vic finished. This one wasn't nearly as contagious as the first one, but it had the three on the bleachers in stitches.

"Hey, either of you two know what she's in for?" The third said tilting her head to indicate she was talking about Alice.

"Fuck if I know." Said the first as she pulled a pack of cigarettes and a book a matches from her breast pocket, "Look at her," she mumbled with the cigarette in her mouth as she struck the match and the book and brought it up to her lips; silencing her for the moment it took to light it. "She's five feet nothing, what could she have done?"

"I dunno but it probably wasn't that good. This place doesn't even seem to bug her." Vic said. "Think she's served time before?"

"I doubt it," The third one said again, "She doesn't even look twenty. Hey lemme have one of those." She gestured to the first woman's pocket with a narrow finger.

"Fuck off and get your own."

"When did you ever hear of age having anything to do with it. The Bridal Butcher was what, maybe twenty when she killed those people. Seriously, gimme a smoke you won a whole pack last night."

"Well yeah, but The Butcher's nucking futs." Vic said, "The fish looks a little too normal to have done anything like that."

"You know what they say about the quiet ones don't you?" The first said swatting the thirds hand away, "Yeah I won one, but I owe the Butcher two, and I sure as Christ on a Crutch don't want to end up like Momma; with a fork in my gut!"

"She got stabbed in the gut? I heard it was the side of her face?"

"You're both crazy, I saw it," Vic said reaching for a pack of her own cigarettes, she pulled two out and handed one to the third, "There ya go Jess now quit your goddamned whining. Yeah I saw it; she got stabbed in the thigh." The redhead pulled a lighter out and lit her cigarette, miming the stabbing with her own thigh.

"Thanks," Jess said taking a long drag from her own, "How long do you think it'll take before the butcher gets' pissed enough and kills her?"

"No clue, maybe she knows something about the fish that we don't."

"What're you fuckers talking about?" The long haired brunette who started last night's betting asked as she walked up the bleachers, straddling the bench just below the other three.

"The fish that The Butcher bet on. Word on the yard is that she claimed the fish as her own. Stabbed Momma in the thigh just for looking at her wrong."

"Shit," the brunette replied looking around, "That's not what I heard; I heard that she stabbed Momma in the eye so she couldn't never look at her girl again." The three other girls winced at the new rumor. "And by the time she got to the infirmary, her eye ball was just a husk with nothing left in it."

"Fuuuck," Vic said, stretching out the word, she flicked her cigarette off into the yard, letting out one more puff of smoke, "Hey Es, you know that the new girls are in for?"

"Yeah, two of 'em are in for whorin, another is in for larceny, the one with big cans is in her for dope, one's in for putting her husband's mistress in the hospital." Es replied.

"What's the little one in for?"

"No clue, she ain't talking about it. I don't think no one knows."

"You kidding?"

"Everyone I talked to hadn't heard shit about it." Es said, pulling four smokes out of her pack and handing them to Vic. "Take em ya stupid broad. Last time I bet with you."

"Hey! It's called gambling for a reason." The redhead said, stuffing them into her crumpled pack.

"You're a cold bitch Victoria."

"You'd know better than anyone else." She replied, puckering her lips as she blew the brunette a kiss. The yard filled with the sharp, electric sound of the buzzer, and the four inmates stood and started their way through the slick mud back to the cell block.

VII

The Butcher was one of the first back into her cell and had already started shuffling her cards by the time Alice appeared through the cell door. She entered quietly compared to the slamming of the cell door behind her. Taking up a position on the second three legged stool she posed a very simple question to her cell mate, "Why."

The words could barely be heard through the chorus of claxons and slamming cell doors, but the blonde had heard it just the same, and for a moment considered ignoring the question but changed her mind as she saw the timid, almost scared look on the petite inmate's face. "She had it coming." The Bridal Butcher answered plainly inclining her eyes enough that she could make contact with her cell mate's before going back to the hopeless game of solitaire she played. "Aside from that, I'm one of the few people in this place that picks up a newspaper on a regular basis, which means that I'm the only one here who knows who you are and what you did." The cold eyed woman, made no attempt to address the girl across from her; instead she said it to her cards.

"Then you don't know much." Alice replied, switching from the painfully uncomfortable stool to the slightly less uncomfortable bunk. Idly she traced her fingers over the grout in between the individual cinder blocks. "But it's probably more than I do." She muttered too softly for the blonde to hear.

"You killed three people at Echo's Hill last January. Shot the first two, both men, with a revolver and stabbed the third, a woman with the switchblade." She said, moving a few cards around on the table. "At the trial you pled temporary insanity, but you were deemed competent to stand trial. How close am I?" The Butcher finished, shooting her cellmate a look of pure contempt.

"Sounds like it."

"So then why did you just say to me that I didn't know very much?" Her words were icy and cut straight thought to the point. "Perhaps you'd care to enlighten me on the facts then?"

"I don't remember doing it, so I really can't. I don't remember anything between the trial and the time I was nine." Alice swung her legs over the edge of her bunk and stared straight into The Butcher's contemptuous gaze, "The doctor who diagnosed me called it Dissociative Fugue. But the judge didn't believe it was possible for me to commit a crime of that nature and not remember a single thing about it." Her cellmate went back to game of solitaire without another word. "By the way my name is…"

"Don't tell me your name! I don't want to know it, and I'm not going to tell you mine. So just drop it." The Butcher's head shot up and her eyes bored right through Alice's defenses, the anger in her eyes swirled and coalesced, turning her eyes a brilliant, although terrifying, shade of violet. "To me and everyone else in here you're just another uniform."

"Fine, Butcher," Alice said, using the only name she heard her cellmate had ever been called, "Then what did you mean earlier when you told Momma I was yours."

"You're small, I'm not…"

"You read the paper, I stabbed a woman thirty three times, and shot another two men. You don't think I can't take care of myself? Headline: I can!"

"On the outside maybe, but unlike the rest of the world this place is different." The Butcher's voice was cold, but there wasn't the biting anger that she'd just heard. "It doesn't matter what you did to get in here. Because everyone did that, the biggest hard ass on the outside is still a fish once they get in here. And now that Momma and the rest of the Butches in her think you're mine, they aren't going to try anything with you. Half this cell block thinks I put that fork through her eye, and by now the other half thinks I did the same to her vagina. So yeah, I did you a favor, but don't let it go to your head. We are far from friends; the sooner you realize that they don't exist in the place the better you can handle it in here." She turned back to her game, picking up the cards when she realized that she couldn't win that game. Her hands became a blur of motion as she picked the deck up and started shuffling it better than most Blackjack dealers in Las Vegas. A sequence of motions honed over her years inside. Alice opened her mouth a few times, trying to find the air to speak. The last time she felt the words bubbling to the surface when her cellmate spun around on her stool, "Don't even think of asking me another question."

About that time a small cart, pushed by an elderly inmate, who'd been incarcerated for far too long, pulled in front of the cell, "Book?" she asked nodding over to the Butcher. Slowly she rose, leaving the new set of cards she was dealing in place and accepted a rather large book and palmed three packs of cigarettes, "Anything for you?" she asked this time indicating Alice.

She stood up and nodded yes and went over to the cart and accepted an old tattered paperback that had long since lost the cover and a few pages from either end. Alice thanked her and watched as she pushed the cart on to the next cell, visibly limping with each step. Her stomach churned as she thought that one day, that shriveled old inmate would be her. Turning back into the cell, eyes wide, she sat on the stool with her back pressed firmly against the wall. Hazarding another look toward her cellmate, she noticed immediately that nothing, not even a glimpse into her future, could get to The Butcher. She wouldn't admit it to herself, but she knew just the same; Alice was jealous of her. She had been from that moment that morning in the dining hall.

She thumbed through the yellow tinged pages, not looking and any of the words. She shouldn't be there, it wasn't right. She didn't commit the crime, someone else had, even if that someone else had taken up residence in her body. She didn't have any memories; all she knew about what she had done had come from the coroner's report.

VIII

The rest of Alice's first day passed without incident, Momma wasn't seen or heard from. Rumor went around that her injuries were too severe for the prison infirmary so they had to take her by ambulance to the hospital in Rochester for treatment. That was partially the truth, it happened that the as she pulled the fork from her arm one of the veins in the wrist was nicked and she lost too much blood to leave the infirmary for the night. But no one bothered Alice, no one even dared look in her general direction so long as The Butcher was around, and Alice made sure she was never too far from the woman who'd given her protection. Whether it was out of gratitude or fear, she couldn't exactly say, but the veteran inmate didn't seem to mind – much. Every once in a while the blonde would shoot her a look of utter disdain.

"You don't have to follow me around like a whipped dog." The Butcher told her once they were returned to the cell following dinner and evening recreation. She took her cards back up and started shuffling them again, her hands blurred with motion as she shuffled and dealt a new game of solitaire.

"Don't you ever get bored with that?" Alice asked as she bent her book back and started reading, the first ten pages were missing, but it was read that book or stare at the wall.

"No."

"Do you ever play anything else?"

"No."

Alice was growing frustrated with the blonde's lack of a real answer, "Do you have a name."

"Yes." The Butcher was also beginning to grow irritated with the stream of completely inane questions; her motions became more deliberate, losing the fluidity that they had just had. Each card she placed was placed with an icy calm anger.

"Are you going to tell me?"

"No."

"I think you will."

"Really?" The blonde said turning to face her cellmate, her brow knitted together, "What makes you think that?"

"Eventually I'll wear you down and the only way to shut me up is to either tell me or kill me. And I don't think you'll want the mess in here that killing me would entail." Alice said with a wry smile.

"I think you grossly underestimate my tolerance for annoying flies like you." Her face visibly relaxed and she went back to her card game, quickly moving some cards around until she'd won. "If you want to keep going I can't technically stop you. But I can deliver you to Momma or one of the other Butches, I'm sure they'd appreciate it very much."

"You could, but you won't."

"Won't I?"

"Nope, you saved me in the cafeteria when you didn't have to. It would have been easier on you if you didn't. That shows that somewhere, somehow you give a damn about me."

"Is that what you think?"

"That's what I think."

"Well then, you're wrong."

"I don't think I am."

"Well you are."

"Alright women, lights out!" A guard called from the cell block floor, as he flipped the switch with a heavy click and the lights went out one by one, until the only light in the cell block came from the diffused light being reflected off the blanket of clouds over the prison.

The Bridal Butcher picked up her cards and slipped them back in the box annoyed that her new cellmate distracted her enough that she lost track of time. She left the cards on the table and climbed in her bunk, resisting the urge to step on her cellmate as she went. Once in her bunk she pulled off her shoes and tossed them carelessly to the cement floor. She pulled the covers over her and was asleep as her head it the pillow.

Her cell mate wasn't nearly as lucky, her first night had passed without any incident because she was in complete and utter shock, but her second night took its toll on her. The loneliness was blatant as she lay in her bunk, the blanket kept most of the autumn chill away from her, but the cold went so much deeper than her skin. It infused every part of her; she couldn't stop it as the tears began to trickle down her cheeks leaving warm trails in their wake. Sobs threatened to break out of her mouth, but she refused to make a sound, forcing every part of her will on it. Tears started pooling on her pillowcase as she rolled on her side to try to sleep. Eventually sleep found her, but even then it was restless and shallow. Not what she wanted and certainly not what she needed. Tossing and turning under the sheets she began to dream, her thrashes slowly eased as the dream took hold of her.

The sun had just began to set on a humid summer day, there wasn't the slightest breath of wind as Alice sat at the base of an old oak tree watching the sun set. In the distance, at the base of the hill maybe, she heard footsteps coming towards her. Two sets of distinctly male steps, and another quiet shuffling of a woman. Her heart began to race as the footsteps drew nearer. She felt inside of her handbag for the switchblade she always carried when she was some place new (only for protection she told herself.) The sound of playful laughter drifted up towards Alice as she clutched the knife in one hand, her thumb on the button.

The three people came up the hill, arm in arm, startling Alice even further. Their faces were obscured by the last rays of the sun at their back, as they first started to crest the hill, but as they came closer Alice could see that it wasn't that their faces had been obscured it was that they had no faces at all. Beneath their hair line was just a smooth expanse of skin that reached all the way down to their neck. Terrified, Alice lunged at the closest one, the woman, and started stabbing. The sticky red blood slowly oozed from each of the stab wounds that she left coating her hands until the knife became too slippery to hold on to. Staggering back in disbelief she watched in horror as the taller of the two men produced a revolver from his belt. Alice flung herself towards him before he could raise the muzzle of the gun up; she grabbed his wrist, trying to wrestle it away, but she was too short to do much good. The air echoed with the report of the shot and the man fell to the ground, blood soaked through the crisp white shirt he'd been wearing. The gun appeared in Alice's hands and she never even thought she started jerking back on the trigger; the second man collapsed to the ground, with a pained sigh.

"Wake up," a voice commanded in a harsh from outside the dream. Alice's eyes shot open and she was immediately met by a dark world around her. There was a soft silvery light in the distance that gave her enough to see the angelic face above her. She lost control of her body as her arms threw themselves around the neck of the girl above her. At that point her control was gone and she started to sob into The Butcher's neck. She felt week, but couldn't find the will to care at all. She'd seen it, she'd seen the murder; the murder she'd supposedly committed but had no memory of. Oh god. She did have a memory of it. Locked away somewhere in her head was that memory, and with that memory she had no more innocence. The shield of her amnesia was gone that instant.

"I did it…I killed those people…" She choked out between heavy, tear laden, sobs. The Butcher had stiffened under her grip, but slowly she raised one arm and patted her cellmate on the back. Alice didn't calm down, even with the comfort, all be it reluctant, of another human. The tears continued, dampening the collar of The Butcher's shirt.

"You have to stop that; don't let anyone else hear you cry." She commanded, but it was useless. The smaller inmate didn't care about what other people heard; she'd seen something that couldn't be unseen. She'd seen herself murder three innocent people in cold blood.

"I killed three people. Me, I just saw it, but…but…but they didn't have faces." She was onto babbling, half of what she said didn't make sense, and the part that did was barely coherent. She kept going on to her cellmate about some people without mouths that could still somehow speak, and blood soaked clothes, and people that wouldn't move.

"Rosalie," She whispered into Alice's ear after every

"Huh?" Alice responded, her babble stopping long enough to turn her hazy eyes to meet the clear eyes of her bunkmate.

"My name," She continued, her voice was hushed and low, "is Rosalie Lillian Hale."

IX

Alice awoke the next morning before wake up her pillow case soaked with cold salty tears, above her she made out the soft breaths of The Butcher…no, she made out the soft breaths of Rosalie. Unless everything she remembered of the previous night was just a dream. The new inmate couldn't be certain of it, but it didn't feel like a dream. The events of the dream continued to tug at the mind, trying to assert itself. A prickling shiver ran down her back, as her cellmate's breathing changed.

What did Rosalie think about what had happened just the night before. Alice was still alive, so it must not have upset The Butcher too terribly; after all she's still alive, that was something. She'd put a fork through the forearm of another inmate for touching her cell mate. She would have done something to Alice if she were truly upset by the previous night's events.

"Rosalie," she said on the cusp of sound; it came out less as a word and more of a breath, but The Butcher heard it none the less.

"So you do remember last night." It wasn't a question, it was far from it. It wasn't even a statement; it was more or less a command, but a command to do what Alice wasn't sure.

"A little, I almost vaguely remember my dream, and I remember crying into your shoulder, and I remember what you said about crying and I remember you telling me your name."

"That's all of it." Rosalie said swinging her legs over the edge of the bunk, letting her bare feet dangle in front of Alice before she hopped off and landed with almost feline grace. She took a pair of socks from beneath the bunk and slipped them on, as she sat on what was clearly her stool.

"So how many people in this place know your name?" Alice asked, blinking the sleep from her eyes, small; her eyes felt raw from all the tears, but she was able to focus on Rosalie, as she put her shoes on.

"Please don't tell me you're going to start playing twenty questions this early." The blonde replied tying her shoes with a little too much vigor; dust and dirt plumed from her laces with each action.

"Nope, just the one. Then no more until at least lunch I promise." Alice said, sitting up in her bunk and leaning against the cold wall.

"If you're real question is how many people have I told, than you're the only one. If you want to know how many actually know, I don't have an answer; anyone who's seen my file would know." Rosalie commented off hand, casually dismissing the one question that, by her own admission, her cellmate would ask.

"My name's Alice by the way." The smaller woman said.

"I know."

"I just wanted to tell you, because you told me."

"I know." About the same time Rose finished a guard on the floor of the cell block gave a shout that it was time to wake up and threw the same heavy switch, turning all the lights in all the cells on.

"Wait. What, how?" Alice stuttered, her brow furrowing.

"I read your case in the news paper." Rosalie replied, speaking very, very slowly as if she were talking to a child. "I told you this yesterday. And that counts as a question, so you don't get another one until dinner."

Alice frowned and pouted, crossing her arms across her chest like a petulant child who was just told she couldn't have desert before dinner. "Fine."

A small, self satisfactory, smirk crossed The Butcher's face as she looked up at her cellmate under her lashes. She took up her deck of cards, cutting the deck one handed in three separate ways; watching the dexterity in each of her slender fingers. She continued to play with the deck, never dealing out a game, just playing with the cards.

"Why do you do that?" Alice asked picking up the book that she'd tossed carelessly to the floor.

"That's a question." Rosalie said, not bothering to look up from the effortless card tricks she was performing.

"Sorry, but it's not like you're making an effort to converse here." Alice said setting aside the book, no longer interested in any of what it said.

"No, I'm not. You could learn something from that." The Butcher replied.

"Fine, but it's not like there's much to do."

"Right, as far as I know that's the general idea behind prison." The Butcher was beginning to show the slightest of signs that her new cellmate was beginning to get under her skin.

"Then we both need something to pass the time."

"I have something to pass the time." She replied, working hard not to let the cards slip from her fingers, but with each passing moment the irritation she was beginning to feel about her cellmate was making it harder and harder to concentrate. As she tried to swing the bottom cards around the deck and move them to the top, her fingers slipped and all the cards scattered around the cell. Alice cringed as she saw the last cards fluttering to the ground; Rosalie shot out a look that let her know the conversation was completely terminated. Without having to be told Alice dropped off of her bunk and on to her knees as she skittered around the cell to pick up The Butcher's cards.

"Come on ladies; it's shower time! So drop your twats and grab your socks." One of the guards shouted from one of the other tiers snickering to himself as he walked along tapping the bars with the butt of his night stick.

Alice hurried to get the cards back to her cellmate before the cell door opened and they had to leave for the shower. Rosalie never moved a muscle; she sat on the three legged stool, barely watching as her short haired bunkmate searched for every last card.

"Open tier three," Another guard shouted and almost instantly the entire row of cell doors slammed open in a clang only slightly less deafening than when the entire cell block doors were opened. Rosalie stood slowly from her stool and grabbed her spare uniform from the small issued footlocker. Alice hurried to get the cards back into the box, mumbling a quick sorry as she evened them out, and slipped them back in the flimsy box. She scrambled to grab her spare uniform from underneath the bed. She hadn't been issued her own footlocker so everything she had needed to be kept under her bun. "Come on ladies, let's get a move on. We don't have all day."

The occupants of cell thirteen were the last to join the line of inmates filing down the cold red walkway. Everyone in front of the fish had taken this walk countless times, but for Alice it was still new; they went down several dark hallways, no one talking, but each of them feeling the leering looks of the guards. They were herded like well behaved cattle into the room that Alice vividly remembered, her skin began to itch in remembrance of that nasty grey and white powder that coated every inch of her. She watched as each of the women ahead of her set down their change of clothes on the long wooden bench and stripped out of their uniforms placing the soiled one in a large canvas bag at one end of the bench as they went into the exposed showers.

Alice was the last, feeling very self conscious until she came to the realization that most of them were looking straight ahead at the brick and mortar wall. A few of the women that Rosalie had identified as butches were gazing quite intently at some of the others, in particular they were avoiding looking too closely at Rosalie, though the gleam in their eyes told the new inmate that they were, in side long glances. The only shower head left to use was the one next to her cellmate, and she didn't mind that one bit, as soon as she stripped her top off eyes focused on her, and not in any flattering way. From the corner of her eye, she saw as one of them licked her lips. Keeping her head down, she picked up the coarse bar of soap from the small shelf in front of the shower. Without a wash cloth, she had to run the bar of soap over her bare skin; it felt like a piece sandpaper running over her. A few days showering with that and her body would be nothing but one giant callus.

Her skin had always been sensitive, especially as a child, and the harsh soap left long ragged streaks of red everywhere it touched. She fought back tears as she brought the soap between her legs. Putting the soap away she grabbed the bottle miniature bottle of shampoo; like the soap it too was fairly odorless, but had a faint chemical smell to it. Pouring some of it out into her hands she worked it into scalp, feeling it burn anywhere it touched bare skin. She didn't let it linger to long on her scalp or her hair, she feared what might happen if she did. Rinsing her hair, she gave a quick glance to The Butcher, who somehow, even in this, managed to look flawless.

X

"So I get my question now right?" Alice asked once they were back in the cell after evening recreation. "And that wasn't a question; that was my way of broaching the subject." She settled into her bunk, producing the worn out paperback she'd gotten the day before.

"Make it count," Rosalie said nodding her head as she broke her cards out from the box that barely confined them.

"What did you do to get in here?" Alice asked, feigning interest in the pages in front of her.

"No."

"I get to ask one question, that's my one question."

"It may be, but I'm not going to answer it."

"Why?"

"No."

"No is not an answer to why."

Rosalie took a breath, then two, and then a third trying to calm the irritation that her cellmate seemed to have a knack for eliciting from her. For the faintest of moments, she considered just answering her question, just to get Alice to shut the fuck up; but, as always, her stubborn streak of pride kept her from even opening her mouth. "Fine, like you I'm in for murder."

"I knew that. You don't end up with a nickname like The Bridal Butcher because you were the wife of a butcher."

"You asked your question; I gave you an answer. You should be happy now."

"It wasn't like it was a very satisfying answer."

"I never guaranteed that the answer you got would be to be your satisfaction. I never actually agreed to answer your question in the first place. So in my humblest of opinions you should still be grateful."

"Fine, whatever, you win. I won't bug you anymore. But god forbid anyone actually give a shit about anyone else in this place. I mean certainly you don't otherwise you would have stuck up for a fish. Oh wait you did. So I guess some part of you, no matter how small, does actually care whether you want to admit it now or not." Alice said her voice steady though her heart hammered against her ribs. She wasn't about ready to back down, because what little she'd been able to glean of The Butcher, of Rosalie, she'd come to realize that everyone bowed down to her; probably throughout her entire life, and now she was betting that her cellmate wanted someone to go head to head with her.

"Some part of me? So it's not possible that all of me cares then?"

"If you do, you hide it better than anyone else I've ever known. That actually sounded like an admission of something, is it possible that you The Bridal Butcher care about another human being and a fellow inmate no less."

"Listen, Alice," The name came from the blonde's mouth like a weapon, one that ripped through the new inmate's week defenses, and went straight into her, "You've been in her for all of two days, so don't presume you know me; because you don't. You don't know why I'm in here, and you sure as hell don't know what my life was like. You may not know remember what your life was like for the last ten years, but let me ask you this: what you do remember about your life? Do you once remember being happy?"

"Yes" Alice answered, suddenly on the defensive.

"Well even if it was only once it's better than me." Rosalie said slamming her deck down on the table, feeling the flimsy legs flex under her hand. "My parents didn't raise me, they groomed me. They groomed me to be their tool to climb the social ladder. They were going to use me to get them ahead, and they did. And look where it got me."

"You're parents asked you to kill for them?"

"No, but they might as well have."

"What do you mean?"

"You and your damn questions. If it makes you happy to know what happened to me, I was raped alright. Understand now?" The distant look that always seemed to play across her eyes evaporated, it was now like what had happened had happened five minutes ago. Alice could see the feral rage that was no longer locked away in her carefully controlled demeanor. It seemed that at any moment she could snap and rip apart her cellmate with nothing but her bare hands.

Alice was too stunned to speak; she shrunk back into her bunk brining her knees up to her chin and watched as Rosalie's face contorted, distorting her perfect features, with more anger than she thought anyone capable of began to relax as she gained control of herself.

"If you really want to know I killed the people who raped me. If you don't want to know all the gory details then it's too late. You asked so here they are. It started four years ago when my mother told me to bring my father his lunch. An odd occurrence because in all the times that he forgot his lunch mother always sent Mary, our servant, to deliver it to him. Yes we had servants, my family was, is, fairly well off so you can close your mouth now." Rosalie commanded never letting Alice break her from the rhythm of her story.

"When I got to the bank, he introduced me to Royce King. They owned the bank, you see, and my parents, the social climbers they are, arranged a 'chance' encounter between the two of us in the hopes that we would hit it off and eventually I would marry into a higher status and thereby they'd raise up by extension. To make a long story slightly shorter, we did hit if and in less than a year we were engaged. Now, I'd known that Royce could be a fairly heavy drinker, but I hadn't seen much of it firsthand; until that night. I'd stayed late at my one real friend, Vera's, house; much later than I had intended, and though they both insisted that I stay the night I refused. It hadn't been the first time I'd taken a late night walk; I enjoyed the cold and the solitude, and the truth is I thought I could take care of myself. My way from Vera's house to mine led me right past a bar, until that night I don't think I ever gave it a second glance. But as luck or fate, or God," she spat the last word out with malice, "would have it Royce and his friends were at that bar, and they were completely drunk. One of them, whose name I don't think I ever knew, could barely stand up. Royce staggered over to me reeking of scotch and began to caress my face talking about how I was his and after the wedding I'd be all his. The drunken one then slurred that they didn't have to wait until the wedding to have me. He then gestured over to a side alley, and the four of them pulled me into the alley against all the protests I could muster. No one heard me scream or they didn't care, I don't know. But the three of his friends held me against the wall as he stripped my coat off and all but ripped my clothes off: one article at a time."

"Then one by one they had they raped me in every way they could; like I was a disposable toy for their sick amusement. Royce was the last, and by far the worst, I never stopped struggling against their grip, and while the other three liked that Royce didn't; he wanted me to submit to him, but I wouldn't. So he started me beating me across the face with his fists until I went limp against the brick wall. My memory after that becomes slightly foggy, but I remember them dropping me to the ground and leaving. Sometime after that, I was struggling to keep myself conscious, it began to snow; it felt so gentle against my skin, like someone had taken pity on me. But I won't be pitied by anything, not even nature. That snow gave me enough strength to crawl for the mouth of the alley before I finally passed out."

"By all rights I should have died there, but I didn't. The father of one of the men you killed was a doctor, and happened to be working late and walking by at the time. Isn't fate a weird thing? He proceeded to do everything he could to keep me alive, but I was the one who wanted me to survive. He called an ambulance for me, and when I woke up I was in the hospital. I can still smell that harsh antiseptic in that hospital, but what I remember most is seeing me in that mirror; I was not longer pretty. My face had been painted in a myriad of purple and black, and blue, and yellow bruises. To spare you the more boring parts of my hospital stay, I'll skip ahead to after I was released from the hospital."

"My family didn't welcome me home after that, and I ended up staying with Vera, one day a new servant from the house had brought over several trunks of my clothes, among them my wedding dress. I could barely look at that thing after what Royce had done. But then a wicked thought entered my head. What if I killed them? They'd already taken everything from me, why not return the favor, I thought. So one night I put on my dress and picked up the cutlery set that was supposed to be a wedding present and went to his bank."

"He'd just walked in to the foyer as I stuck a knife into each of his three friends. None of them could believe what was happening, they just watched as I killed them. They didn't even try to scream; of course two of them were dead before they hit the floor. I left the knives in them. I had ten of them after all. As I said, Royce just walked in to see his bashful bride kill his friend with a filet knife. He called for his guards and ran back to the vault. When the guards came I put started to cry, until they came to me to ask if I was alright. I killed both of them too, using the big chef's knife to all but disembowel one of them. I slashed the other's throat with a paring knife, leaving me just the meat cleaver. You're beginning to see where I got my name from. I walked into the vault, dripping with blood and holding the clever, to find him huddling in the corner. He was crying, no that's not accurate, he was blubbering. He begged for his life as I brought the cleaver across his cheek and split it open. I took my time on him; hacking off his hands then his feet, but that time he was in danger of passing out so I slit his throat, and waited for the Police. The rest isn't worth telling."

Alice had found herself becoming more and more drawn into Rosalie's story; she wanted to say something (she needed to say something.) But no words would come to her; she'd been rendered speechless. She finally managed one singular question, "Do you regret it?"

"No." Rosalie went back to her neglected game of solitaire; her movements were slow and deliberate as she picked three cards off the top of the deck and stared at them, before finally moving the queen of diamonds onto the king of spades and moved on. She finally flipped the last card on the table over, smiling a self satisfactory smile, as she proceeded to move all the cards to the top, stacking them on the aces one by one. She played another two games, winning each of them and never once having to cheat to do so. To her credit, Alice never made a comment about her story, there was nothing really could say to change anything, nor should she.

But after that third game ended she couldn't help it any longer, she had to speak; "It's weird, isn't it?" Alice still hadn't moved, her head rested on her knees with her arms wrapped around her legs.

"My story?"

"No, that the two of us could be sitting here, together, one not remembering her crime in more than the hazy memory of a dream, and the other remembering every crisp detail. One has no remorse for what she's done and the other has an infinite amount out." Alice said, shifting herself until she could wrap herself in the rough wool blanket.

"Didn't you know that justice is blind? It doesn't care who it affects, and its blindness isn't a benefit to society." Rosalie said, scraping her cards off the table and slipping them once more into the old faded box just as a guard called for lights out. Climbing up to her bunk The Butcher muttered a short, "Good night," and promptly fell asleep.

Alice didn't lie down; she sat there wrapped in her blanket, using it to ward off the cold, but once again the coldness came from inside her and not from the walls around her. She considered crying out again, remembering the brief warmth she had the night before when Rosalie held her in her arms, even for a moment, and told Alice her name. She wanted it, but didn't dare take it. The same pattern would repeat itself night after night, for many years; she'd yearn for Rosalie's arms around her, but would do nothing about it. Until it was just a memory. Until her heart had turned to stone. Until all she thought about at night was that phrase: justice is blind.