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The long night before the fight

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Vera stood in her darkened office and stared out of the window, thinking. She looked at her watch and sighed. It was 7:30pm in November, the brown leaves falling from the trees into the parking lot next to her window. Rain was falling in fat drops down the glass, making everything blurry. Vera knew the prisoners were being counted and standing out their cells while the guards called out their names, leaving them ready to spend another night in prison.
But there was one prisoner that Vera found herself thinking about more: Prisoner Ferguson. She was now down in protection, spending her last night there before she would be once again moved back Into general first thing the next morning.
Vera wondered how long Joan would last in amongst the other prisoners. It was almost as If Joan was resigned to the possibility of her not living for much longer. Vera shook her head. The minute they started feeling sorry for her is the minute she will strike. Vera reluctantly admitted that she learnt that from Ferguson herself when she was Governor and advising them against Bea Smith. Now Joan was doing the same thing, Vera thought with a wry chuckle.
Joan left Vera with mixed feelings. On the one hand, she wished Joan would die, but on the other hand, Vera felt drawn towards Joan and a little bit of empathy towards her.
Like her, Vera knew Joan had a tough, lonely life growing up, but even so, Vera didn’t go round killing people. Vera wondered how long Joan would last now that Bea was dead.
She frowned, thinking. She would have to keep a close eye on Ferguson. A very close eye Indeed.

Later that evening, at 8pm, Joan lay in her protected cell and was lying on her bed facing the ceiling. But she didn’t plan on going to sleep. She had too much to think about; plan, strategise and self preservation. As Vera had warned her, the other prisoners were out for her blood. She could hear them sharpening their shivs and what not.
She wasn’t too worried- if she died, then she died, knowing that what she would do is fight back and was in self defence.
After all, she had a pretty good chance of fighting back, thanks to her training in her favourite sport, fencing. Her father had taught her a lot about self defence and when to strike.
Joan was sure that the other prisoners didn’t know about her fighting skills, so that gave her an advantage.
The mattress didn’t make it easy to fall asleep anyway, Joan thought as she turned in her bed. At least the beds in general were better than this.
Joan made a mental note to tell Vera to spend more of their budget on the beds in the slot and protected cells. Joan groaned. Since she did nothing but read she felt unable to sleep.
With a sigh, Joan stepped up to the door where Officer Murphy was standing. Joan rolled her eyes. She had hoped it was Jake’s turn, not Murphy.
Still, she needed someone to talk to. Standing up, Joan pressed the buzzer. “Officer Murphy?” she asked.
With a grunt Murphy turned round, her arms folded across her chest. “What do you want, Prisoner Ferguson?” she demanded in a no nonsense tone. Joan shrugged. “Just a Chat,” she said, wondering what Murphy’s problem was. Murphy raised an eyebrow, then narrowed her eyes suspiciously at her.
“About what?” she asked. Joan gestured to the bed. “I can’t sleep on these old mattresses. Please tell Vera to get newer ones,” She said.
Murphy smirked. “If that’s all you’ve got to worry about, then consider yourself lucky,” She said before turning her back on the cell door once more.
Joan sighed and settled back into bed. It was going to be a long night.