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April Fool by Joy Wood (1)

Chapter 1


“Sign here.”

April took the chewed-up pen from the prison officer and signed along the dotted line to acknowledge she’d received her meagre belongings.

“Print your name in full underneath.”

The lack of pleasantries was no surprise. To them it was just a job, one inmate leaving only to be replaced by another prisoner by the end of the day. She signed her name and tossed the pen down.

“Right, follow me.”

She matched the prison officer’s brisk pace as she headed to what would be their eventual destination, the exit. This particular part of the open prison wasn’t completely new to her. She’d walked through the area when she’d arrived twelve weeks ago.

Each unit was separated by an electronic door. It wasn’t like on television where the prison officer had a bunch of keys, and opened and closed each door behind them. It was a swipe card and fingerprint recognition which allowed access into each area.

There wasn’t any communication from the miserable sod walking alongside her, known to the inmates as Dr Death. Her cell mate, Julia, had explained the name had stuck due to two unexpected deaths in the prison, and on both occasions this particular prison officer had been on duty. Julia reckoned one look at her ugly face was enough for anyone to commit hari-kiri.

They continued in silence with only the background music from one of the rest areas in the distance.

Dr Death didn’t like her, and April new exactly why. She’d been fortunate to have inherited her mother’s beautiful looks, which on occasions had been an obstacle with other females. So often in her young life she’d used her appearance to her advantage with the opposite sex, but some women hated her for it, particularly fat overweight ones like Dr Death who denied overeating, and blamed their weight on their metabolic rate, their underactive thyroid gland, or some other obscure health condition, opposed to the reality that they were stuffing their faces at every available opportunity.

They reached the final door - the exit.

“Is someone outside to meet you?” Dr Death asked with a smirk on her face as if she knew there wouldn’t be.

She wasn’t going to tell her anything. “I’m not entirely sure.”

“You’ve money to get a bus, or a taxi to the station; do you know the area and how to get to town?”

“Yes, it isn’t far, I understand.”

“No. Basically you turn right out of the prison and just keep walking. But here,” she handed her a card, “if you’d prefer to call a taxi. This is a local one the inmates use.”

April shook her head refusing the card, “I think a walk might be good.”

Dr Death shrugged and turned to press in the final code which would mean her release. She didn’t rush. It was almost as if she was prolonging the moment on purpose.

April watched as the door to freedom slowly opened, squinting until her eyes became accustomed to the bright sunshine.

Eighty-five long days she’d been incarcerated. And every single tortuous one of them, she’d meticulously ticked off on a calendar. Visually seeing them disappear gave her the momentum to get through another laborious day.

She stepped forward to make her way through the big oak prison door, and deliberately didn’t look back. There was no way she was going to acknowledge Dr Death by shaking her hand on the way out. Prison officers weren’t friends or acquaintances. They had a bit of power because of the nature of the job, but boy did that go to their heads. Not all of them, some were reasonably okay, but not this one. She’d been hateful.

If Dr Death had known who April really was, then she wouldn’t have been quite so punitive and given her such a hard time. And there was a time she would have made her pay for the way she’d treated her, but not anymore.

Nothing was going to get in her way. Certainly not revenge on a jumped-up prison officer. To get to where she was right now had required meticulous planning and attention to detail. The new identity, the change in her appearance, and the stretch in prison had all been absolutely necessary to assist her as she was about to embark on the biggest pay day of all.