The Nurse is thrilled to present the second chapter of her diaries, The Life and Times of a Brighton Serial Killer. You can find out more about The Nurse and her misadventures here.
One door closes, another door closes
In custody down Brighton nick, The Nurse sits up straight in an uncomfortable orange plastic chair and scowls at the shitty public service posters on the interview room walls. There’s fuck all else to amuse her while the silly cunts run around in circles, trying to decide what to do with the worst serial killer the city has ever spawned. The only one, for that matter. They’re not used to this kind of thing in right-on Brighton & Hove, where the locals are more likely to politely persuade you to attend a play about homeless disabled lesbians – or bum you – than actually murder you.
The interviewing detective turns out to be Fatty Marsden, from school. He’s still a chubby fuck, but this time he’s in charge, not aged twelve, grappled to the ground by The Nurse and her grinning teenaged mates, nylon y-fronts around his knees and funny little pre-puberty bollocks flapping in the breeze. Roll The Nurse’s complete lack of remorse into the equation, and before long it becomes clear she is fucking toast. When it turns out the prosecution is being led by some famous cunt of a criminal lawyer from Finchley, she grits her teeth. Things are looking crappier by the minute.
Once the celebrity cunt of a solicitor from Finchley comes to the end of his long, deadly finishing statement at Lewes Crown Court, The Nurse sighs and prepares for the worst. She glances down at herself. Her Brief has done his best, but to be honest, she doesn’t look the least bit insane. She stands straight and impressively tall in a good woollen suit, crisp blouse, and discreet string of pearls. Her hair is coiffed into a stiff, fox-brown helmet above stern, intelligent blue eyes, a strong nose and thin, firm mouth. She’s no oil painting, but she looks perfectly sane and sensible. It’s her Thatcher-like face that does it. Sadly, she’d look just as sane and sensible wearing rags, pulling her hair out and trying to swallow her own tongue. It’s just the way her face is. Such is life.
When the judge bangs his gavel for silence, The Nurse suspects she’s in the deepest possible shit. She has been expecting a long stretch. But she can’t help being surprised by the locked-up-to-rot, life-without-parole horror of a sentence she is handed. The hammer comes down, The Nurse bows her head, and two heavies escort her politely to the back door of the court, down the stairs and into a windowless cell to await transfer.
Post-sentencing psychometric testing clearly reveals The Nurse as a person without conscience, a high-functioning, drug-loving sociopath with powerful anti-social tendencies and a raft of severe behavioural issues. No combination of happy pills will fix this lady.
The testers report back on her mental condition in a typically verbose fashion, sending a thousand-page document to every interested party, depressing numbers of the cunts. The Nurse moulders on remand without bail in Lewes Prison, seething with boredom, for several months while the powers-that-be wade through acres of paperwork.
HMP Lewes, being less than ten miles from Brighton, is mostly populated by the city’s waifs, strays, misfits and nut-jobs. A category B local prison with 742 male inmates, The Nurse proves an oddity. But the local authorities, never having encountered anyone quite like The Nurse before, have no clue what to do with her while the legal system grinds tediously in the background. In the end, they shove her in a spare room in G Wing, where twenty-three vulnerable and at risk prisoners are cared for. The Nurse appreciates the irony and stays put. It’s crazy-easy to escape from a place like this, but the world and his fucking dog probably know what she looks like by now, and she won’t get far. Fuck it.
When Jo, one of the Screws, sends the library trolley her way, The Nurse feels so much better. Being banged up with a good book is a world away from being banged up with fuck-all to read. If anything sends her over the edge, it’s being bookless, the purest of torments.
Once one of her fellow inmates swaps a nine bar of excellent quality hash for a jolly hard, enjoyable beating from The Nurse, she is reasonably content. Life without a decent toke or two would be completely unbearable.
The weird elasticity of time
Amusing herself while she awaits transfer to wherever-the-fuck proves tricky. She can’t plan. She has no idea where she’s going to end up. It could be Bronzefield, modern yet brutal. Or some remote secure unit for the dangerously insane in a really shit part of the country. She grinds her teeth in frustration. It’s hard dealing with the unknown, much easier to tackle problems when you actually know what the fuckers are.
It’s interesting to note how weirdly time passes when one is locked up without enough to occupy one’s mind. Time more or less slows to a standstill. The Nurse stares around the room a bit, fidgets, scratches her bum, observes a fly zizz past her face, glances at the clock, and only one second has gone by. What the holy fuck?
Playing the waiting game in limbo, The Nurse has lost track of the days she’s spent reading, smoking, reading, smoking. Reluctant to start her last book of the week, risking a weekend with nothing to read, she decides to undertake a forensic exploration of a shoelace.
She intends to take her time. She may as well. Time is her only possession right now, aside from the dozen almighty plastic baggie-protected spliffs hidden up her chuff. She will screw every last, tiny fucking sliver of pleasure out of the experience, pun intended. She will use up as much time as she can on life’s teeny, weeny details.
Taking a long toke and leaning down with her head between her knees, The Nurse observes one of her shoelaces. It is less than a metre long, five millimetres wide, a quarter of a millimetre thick and dyed pale pink. Leaning in so closely that she almost faceplants the cell floor, she notices the threads that make it up. The shoelace has been woven using hair-slim pure cotton. Each miniature strand disappears under its opposite number, creating a detailed V-shaped weave that’s remarkably strong and hard to break. When The Nurse picks up one end of the shoelace and tugs, the bow unravels smoothly, leaving a puddle of pink spaghetti on the floor that she idly writes rude curly-fonted words with: cunt, twat, bastard. Hmph.
When she re-ties the bow, the bits of shoelace that disappear into the knot itself are squashed flat, and the chevron-like construction distorts. Four small filaments of cotton ease themselves loose and spoil the neat perfection of the lace. She lifts it delicately between her forefinger and thumb and smooths the loose threads until the oil from her skin forces them to lie flat again. And again, and again. And again.
One of the ends of a shoelace has lost the solid bit that lets you thread it through a hole in a shoe – is there a name for it? – and the end is fraying. She eases one of the frayed threads loose, and it pulls the others into a series of tiny wrinkles. She smooths it, then lets it wrinkle, smooths it, then lets it wrinkle. Breathing heavily through her mouth like a bored toddler, The Nurse examines her shoelace until she knows the cunting thing backwards and inside out, then begins to examine the sole of her shoe in similar detail. Such are the minutiae of her life right now.
It’s a relief to get shot of Lewes jail. But by the time the Big Day arrives and she is finally transferred to the place she’ll be spending the rest of her days, The Nurse is feeling mightily hacked off. While sixty killings plus roughly the same number of assaults and GBH charges is not to be sneezed at, and she understands the public’s outrage, it comes nowhere near the volcano of barely-suppressed fury she feels at being sent down for life. She is fucking livid. And the more livid she gets, the calmer she looks, and the smaller her pupils become. By the time she’s safely gagged, grabbed by the scruff of the neck, dragged out of the Pig Wagon and marched through the moated gates of the prison-cum-loony bin, The Nurse looks so alien and strange it gives the officer on the reception desk nightmares for weeks to come.
Bundled along what feels like a low, narrow tunnel, occasionally bashing her head against the ceiling, The Nurse discovers she’s entering a new state of mind. She’s gone beyond fury into an eerily calm curiosity born of the inevitable. A state of ‘fuck it,’ basically.
The more human half of The Nurse’s psyche remains frozen with horror at the thought of imprisonment. No freedom, no self-determination, nothing to do, nowhere to go, no plans to make. The idea of countless monotonous years makes her feel like lashing out. Her kind of mind is ill-suited to idleness.
Her darker half feels oddly stimulated. The prison is going to feed her, clothe her and house her. Even if the food’s shit, she looks like shit, and she’s housed in a fucking hovel, her basic needs are met, and she will have large amounts of time to fill.
She is not alone, either. There are inmates. Not ordinary villains, but the mad and the frightening, the brainless, the disillusioned and delusional, the murderous, the committed and the lunatic. As far as The Nurse is concerned, now that she thinks about it, this place offers far more potential for medical mischief, experimentation, collaboration and trepanning than an ordinary jail full of boring, everyday criminal bell-ends.
The Screws don’t take off the leather gag – which makes her look like a gimp, for fuck’s sake – until they’ve marched her down many, many damp corridors and pushed her into a small enclosed space. Whipping it off, leaving The Nurse blinking and rubbing her eyes, they slam the door behind her, and that’s that. She’s arrived.
The Nurse is razor sharp, button bright and twice as smart as paint. Her intellect is formidable, she is powerfully built and as fit as a flea. This is an awful lot of angry, violent lady to accommodate inside a cramped, three-metre-square cell for a few days, never mind for decades on end.
A shithole with potential
Having some cunt of a Screw sticking her fingers up The Nurse’s arse isn’t much fun. What the fuck do they imagine she’s got hidden up there, anyway? Rip-off porn CDs? Bales of fucking hash? Power tools? Emigrants? For fuck’s sake.
The shower, where she is observed by three fat, grinning, truncheon-wielding female Screws, is no better, humiliation personified. And the clothing they’ve given her is desperate. She doesn’t know if she can bear it. She is disgustingly uniformed in cheapo padded pink towelling slippers and a dirty flesh-pink Crimplene tunic with integral pocketed tabard-fucking-thing. Head in hands, hair shorn, she slumps, motionless, until some fuck yells over the tannoy and a cross-eyed Screw unlocks the cell door for lunch.
Following the milling crowd to the dining hall, The Nurse people-watches. The vast majority of the population is male, and the few females – maybe four at a glance? – mingle freely, presumably because of the libido-numbing pills everyone’s given. Most of the inmates are too mental to pay her any attention. They wouldn’t know a new prisoner from the hole in their own arse, handily pre-classifying themselves as victims. Jolly good. She quickly spots a few potential collaborators, too. Playmates, if you like. Excellent.
Lights out at eight throws The Nurse into a pit of freshly-bookless despair. She realises she’s going to lose it fast unless she can get hold of some reading material and a supply of skunk. For now, she lies rigid on the thin, hard mattress, stained with Christ-knows-what, and sends her mind somewhere better.
The Nurse imagines herself walking down many cool marble steps, barefoot and serene, before turning right to face a neat red-glossed door with a brass knocker in the shape of a lion’s head. She opens the door and sails through the doorway into a beautiful garden where the sun shines and hummingbirds dart. There’s a feast of fragrant blooms and stands of majestic trees, grassy glades, tinkling streams and tumbling waterfalls, winding mossy paths and shining, clear pools. Basically every ‘beautiful garden’ cliché you can imagine. Approaching her Happy Place, now almost fully self-hypnotised, The Nurse relaxes the last shred of herself into the illusion and sighs with relief.
Her happy place is a huge hospital. The visual details don’t matter, they’re all bare walls and beige. It’s the action that counts, and that means people… of which there are plenty, each one a unique type of victim. The Nurse is the only member of staff. Every patient is either painfully restrained, unable to move through sheer terror, or tied up because they quite like it. She has been perfecting this imaginary place since childhood, and it is infinitely more detailed than the mind-houses that those memory feat twats dream up.
Choosing a ward at random, The Nurse eenie-meenie-miney-moes her way to a curtained bed containing an imaginary old scrote she created to celebrate her twentieth birthday. She was toying with S&M at the time (mostly S, to be frank), and the imaginary victim has an unusually low pain threshold. He isn’t afraid to be vocal about his pain either. He weeps with abandon, suffering unbelievably thanks to a lifetime’s chronic phobia of being tied up. And that’s the secret. It’s no fun imposing sadism on someone who likes it. But when it’s a person’s worst nightmare? That’s special.
The Nurse stores cutting edge tools in her mind-hospital, super-expensive, museum-grade vintage trepanning tools with crazy-sharp edges that cut fingers off as easily as slicing through courgettes. She plucks a tiny imaginary blade out of the air and experimentally swooshes it around her head. Just like in the movies, it actually makes a swoosh sound. Such fun.
The victim’s eyes go small, dark and watchful when he catches the knife’s glint in the deep gloom. He stops breathing and swivels rapidly from side to side, listening keenly for tiny giveaway sounds. She coughs, then watches, slinty eyed, as he lights up with panic. He scrabbles off the bed and tries to disappear into the curtains, which look soft like fabric but are as hard and strong as steel. That’s the beauty of imaginary stuff. You can do whatever the fuck you like. There are no irritating laws of physics to restrict you.
The Nurse turns the fear dial up to eleven and beyond, approaching the man sideways, shining light from the barred window onto her knife and flashing it at him like Morse code. He literally gibbers with terror. Brilliant. Then he shits himself, a bridge too far in real life, but here she simply imagines it away. Imaginary shit only smells if you want it to.
A quarter of an hour later, she’s feeling human again, ready for anything. Fucking hell. Bring on the horn-suppressing drugs. Who needs orgasms when you’ve got a happy place like this? Reassured that her imagination is almost as good as the real deal, even in this shithole, The Nurse sighs with relief and nods off. It’s her first night in the nuthouse. Only twelve thousand and three nights to go.
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