Out of the Frying Pan Pt. 3
Marta stared at Skulley.
Skulley stared back.
The stockade was no hotel. Dead roaches lined the floor under the rough wooden bench on which the slender woman now sat, lit cigarette in hand. The rough-hewn stone walls wept cold moisture. Somewhere, water dripped slowly and relentlessly onto the damp stone floor. Marta was planted on the sagging bench bolted to the opposite wall. She coughed, a distressingly wet and noxious sound that echoed in the tiny cell.
"Nice place, innit?"
Pale, piggy eyes regarded her stonily from a bloated face marked with broken red-purple veins. Marta was a massive woman with ponderous, sagging breasts; broad as well as tall, she was as fat as Skulley was thin. Her enormous feet sprawled halfway across the room, covered in worn and filthy workboots. Tattered overalls attempted--and, thankfully, mostly sufficed--to cover her bulk. Skulley reckoned each of the thick hands resting limply on Marta's bulging thighs could easily lift a small child by the skull and crush it with a minimum of effort.
Skulley stared briefly at the quivering lump of congealed phlegm as it steamed next to the rusty iron bars cemented directly into the floor and ceiling.
"...Reckon if we put up some curtains it might make the place right cheery."
Marta grunted. "Bate 'is 'ead in wi' a 'ammer."
A cloud of smoke and steam issued from Skulley's painted mouth. "Y'don't say."
"'Ee na'er shat up nei'er."
Plink. Plink. Plink.
"Well! S'pose I'll spend th'rest a' me evenin' in th'parlor, then. Call if y'need me, eh darlin'?" Skulley shifted slightly on her bench and lit a fresh cigarette off the stub of her old one. She'd been chaining since Newhall'd had her frisked and taken both the plain silver lighter and her box of matches, as well as a number of other items labeled as contraband. Who knew when she'd get another light? Clearly the only solution was to smoke 'em while she had 'em, and they'd been kind enough to leave her with the worn tobacco pouch she wore knotted around a belt loop. Her jacket and confiscated locksmithing kit, however, were now hung somewhere in a cheerless, dingy office not much better than the rest of the run-down city jail.
The smoldering butt of her dying cigarette danced off her fingers and hissed in a small pool of standing water near the south wall. Then it hissed again. Skulley's pencil-thin brows lifted.
"Fancy seein' you here, Alej."
"Funny how that is. Captain sent me." Alejandra, snippy as ever, materialized just outside the prison cell, her small, dark form lodged firmly between the bars and the small stone outcropping that divided the room from the main thoroughfare and kept her hidden from casual observers. She passed a handful of bobby pins and a small thief's kit, a leather wallet with a row of small picks tucked into the loops inside, through the bars.
"Bit a' overkill on th' picks, love." She felt out the keyhole on the door, skinny arm wrapped around the bars. The lock was old and in spite of a bit of rust, it tumbled over in seconds.
"Don't bitch, you're lucky I came out here at all."
"Now now, sweetheart. Save the pussycattin' fer th'ship. Can ye pick at all? These locks is child's play, an' I need ta make a stop at th'warden's office fer me shite."
Alej rolled her eyes. "You need a distraction."
"You owe me, Skelton."
"'Course I do, sugar." Skulley swooped down toward the little deckhand. Alejandra didn't have time to react and took a brief but firm kiss to the mouth.
"...I'll fuckin' kill ya."
"Go on, darlin'. Lots to be done before we can clear outta here." Skulley's grin threatened to split her face. She turned and executed a sweeping bow toward Marta, dodging a half-hearted dagger-lunge from her livid crewmate and darting out into the hallway, where she promptly melted from sight. Alejandra sighed.
"Feckin' shite." Alejandra spat and headed the opposite direction, relying on her own tarnished pick to flip the locks on half a dozen cells down the block, picking the ones housing the least offensive-looking brutes--all the men who looked at her without a dull spark of rape-lust in their eyes, anyway. Just enough to cause a ruckus.
By the time the hectic clanging of the alarms began, both of the Guppy's crewmates were safe on board. Alejandra disappeared down-decks. Skulley pulled a lighter from the pocket of her reclaimed jacket and lit a cigarette, then knocked on Xionn's office door.
"Sorry I'm late, boss."