…for a moment the silence was blissful. Then the screaming started…
Writing team Leo and Mike Johnson have their day disturbed when a body turns up near their house.
There was a uniformed policeman at the back gate and he flashed a very white grin as he ushered the two disapproving figures out. Mike got up and motioned the two policewomen to take the chairs at the head and foot of the table.
A little blonde halfway down the table looked up. ‘Can I get a proper coffee please. I hate this decaf crap.’
Mike grinned. ‘Course you can. Now would one of you like to explain twelve teenage girls and not a mobile phone amongst you.’
The blonde giggled appreciatively. ‘The prison guards took them off us before we headed here. Gave them to our folks to take home.’
‘Oh. OK. But don’t one of the wardresses have a phone?’
‘No. Our revered leader wouldn’t even think of it, and you saw the other two.’
Ro grinned unpleasantly. ‘Pair of dried-up virgins if you ask me.’
‘Shut up Ro’ Mike said amiably. ‘Don’t you have toilets to clean.’
Ro showed her teeth and ambled off.
‘Why’d she go when you told her to?’ one of the teenagers was curious.
‘I’m the cleaner’ a disembodied voice floated back into the room.
‘The cleaner? But why don’t she wear an overall and creep around quietly?’
Mike laughed. ‘Is that how it happens in your house?’
‘Yeah. My dad insists.’
Leo leaned on his wife’s shoulder. ‘Should I be taking notes?’
‘You can, but I don’t reckon they will be much use to you.’
He sniggered and dropped a light kiss on her head.
‘Tell us what you are doing here.’
One of the girls groaned. ‘Long story.’
‘Try us.’ The oldest girl pulled a sour face. ‘Our school is faith-based, and used to be run by the Methodist church. Then some people with much weirder sort-of Christian beliefs started dribbling themselves into positions of power within the school hierarchy. Eventually they got to be in charge. A lot of kids have been taken away by their mums and dads. We are among the very few who were there before the takeover, and we think we’re only tolerated because we come from well off families who pay full fees. Our parents were asked to send us on this summer camp thing. They were told it was about becoming women. We see it as more about brainwashing. It might even have worked if we had any brains between us.’
Leo snorted. ‘Do they want to turn you into clones of the miserable mice?’
‘Um. No. Obedient wives is what they’re after. We’re considered to be of age.’
‘Like fuck you are’ Mike was shocked. ‘It’s my bet none of you has seen sixteen yet.’
‘No. We haven’t. But this lot marry off their girls at fourteen. They say there’s no sex before sixteen…’
Leo frowned. ‘Have you lot talked to your mums and dads?’
‘No. Because we’ve only just put it together. But we will.’
‘Good’ one of the policewomen spoke up. Then she gave each girl a card. ‘You can call this number any time day or night. It was set up to deal with arranged marriages in non-Christian faiths. However, this sort of thing would be right up their street.’