Deborah was roughly jolted into consciousness by a hand smacking into her left cheek. She sat bolt upright and looked round, eyes wide.
She found herself on a bed in the middle of a very strange room.
She tried to move her legs, but was unable.
Thinking her body had finally succumbed to her recent ordeals, she cried out in terror.
The open hand hit her again, hard enough to force the panic from her.
She realised that the bedsheets were tucked in tight enough to impede movement.
Thank fuck! I can still walk.
At first, the cloying stench of incense and the physical violence made her think she was back in Serenity, but she looked up and saw a pretty, if severe, blonde lady looking down upon her.
‘Ah! You’re up. What in hell’s name are you doing poking around out here?’
Deborah found it hard to voice her thoughts.
Her battered body and brain had finally had enough, it seemed.
‘She’s wearing one of these,’ one of the other ladies in the room said.
Deborah wondered what she was talking about until she felt her tugging at her neck.
The crucifix she wore plopped out onto her chest.
The blonde lady spat on the floor at the sight.
‘Fuck me, another believer,’ she rolled her eyes. ‘Give me fucking strength.’
She pulled a knife from beneath her clothes – which looked very much like a nun’s habit only one that a hooker might wear – and shoved it to the side of Deborah’s throat.
‘I’m not a believer,’ Deborah blurted. ‘Really I’m not. How could there be a God if he’s let this happen to us?’
The knife stopped just as it drew blood.
‘Then why are you wearing this pointless little trinket?’ the woman sneered.
Deborah gulped. ‘I’ll tell you, but it’s a long story. Please put the knife away.’
The woman – Sister Abbott, one of the other nuns had referred to her as – nodded as Deborah finished her story.
‘Quite the fucking tale, Debbie.’
She sniffed, pushed a few strands of hair out of her face. ‘So we have something in common.’
‘We are both women of little faith. We have both watched the world crumble around our ears while we waited for our so-called God to come to our aid.’ She tipped her head back and bellowed, ‘And we’re still fucking waiting!’ to the ceiling as though calling God out directly.
The others joined her.
Middle fingers were raised to the sky.
‘In return for my faith, I gave him my youth. And it was a fucking lie. Those bombs fell and blew everything to fucking dust and he did nothing to stop it. People are out there, raping and murdering and eating each other. And he did nothing to stop it. He still does nothing. And it’s only getting worse. This faith – this belief – was all a fucking lie. Well no more. No fucking more.’
Sister Abbott had a wild glint in her eye.
‘Enough was fucking enough,’ she said, hawking deeply and coughing up a gobbet of phlegm on the church’s floor. ‘So we turned our back on the God who turned his back on us.’ Her laugh was as bitter as Deborah had ever heard.
‘We realised what we’d deprived ourselves of all this time. The pleasures of the flesh, as they say.’ She ran her hands seductively up her outer thighs, over her hips and up to squeeze her breasts. ‘And what the fuck were we thinking?’
The other nuns laughed along with her. They wore grins of pure depravity and lust.
‘So we made this the black abbey. It used to stand for chastity, obedience, subservience. Now it stands for lust and indulgence. Strength and power. Dominance. We kneel to no god. We bow to no man. We are Godless. We are reckless. We are fucking merciless.’
A cheer went up, primal, feminine. It sounded like a wolf pack.
‘So from what you’ve told me, you’ve been beaten into a life of submission through religion too. You are welcome to join our ranks, if you would like.’
Deborah looked around at the defiled church, the black spray-painted walls with crude murals of orgies and bloodshed and burning crosses.
It was the polar opposite of Serenity.
She found it hard to keep the grin from her face.
‘You know, I think this place is just what I needed.’
Sister Abbott showed her to the showers, then to the dorms where there was a free bed.
She gestured towards the extensive range of dildos that lined the walls of the room, beneath upside down crosses and vivid paintings of burning churches and defiled deities.
‘Just make sure you wash them after you’re done,’ she winked and left Deborah to it.
Deborah laughed at the idea.
The nuns were getting years – possibly decades – of pent up sexual frustration out of their systems.
Who could blame them? They’d sworn never to know a man’s touch, since they were teenagers, so who could blame them for taking this line of action now the world had taken the fast track to hell?
She showered slowly, taking her time under the spray.
As she came out, she caught a flicker of movement from her right.
Flashbacks of Simon Cross appearing from behind her shower cubicle back in Serenity hit her hard, but she was relieved to see it was one of the nuns.
She was watching Deborah intently, one heavily-tattooed hand moving quickly inside her lacy knickers.
She was panting and moaning with pleasure as she watched Deborah wash herself.
She didn’t stop when she noticed Deborah watching her; if anything her efforts increased.
‘Hey, I can’t get you out of my head,’ the nun panted.
Deborah looked her up and down.
‘Sorry, I don’t swing that way,’ she said. ‘But I’m flattered.’
‘Are you sure?’ the nun teased, slowly running her tongue across her lips. ‘I used to say that too.’
‘I’m sure,’ Deborah said firmly.
The nun raised her hands. ‘No problem. But the offer’s always there if you change your mind.’
‘Thank you for that,’ Deborah said. ‘Now can I get my shower in fucking peace?’
After the shower, Deborah felt much better.
The run in with the peeping lesbian nun, less so, but she decided to take it as a compliment.
She went back to the centre of the abbey, through winding corridors with obscene anti-religious messages sprayed on the black walls.
Sister Abbott was pleased to see her.
‘Sorry about Sister Hill… she gets a bit carried away.’
Deborah laughed. ‘I’ve decided to take it as a compliment. So are you all lesbians?’
Sister Abbott laughed now too, a hearty laugh that echoed back off the abbey’s blackened walls. She shook her head, grinning, her long blonde hair flailing around. ‘No, not exactly. We enjoy any fun we can get, put it that way.’
‘Fucking good on ya,’ Deborah said. ‘I mean how long did you go without it?’
‘Decades,’ Sister Abbott said, shaking her head mournfully. ‘All for a fucking lie.’ She tipped her head back to the ceiling, which, Deborah just noticed, had obscenities scrawled across it and a very graphic picture of Jesus on the cross, and let out a stream of profanities. Her middle fingers were thrust hard to the sky.
‘Prayer time again?’ one of the sisters said and joined her in flipping the bird to the sky and shouting curses.
‘This is a very strange place,’ Sister Abbott admitted, once she’d fully vented her rage. ‘But the world is a strange place now.’
Deborah nodded. ‘I kinda like it here,’ she grinned.
The meal wasn’t perfect, but it was welcome. And there was plenty. But there was even more booze.
There were chalices overflowing with wine and spirits, silver communion plates piled high with white powder.
The sisters liberally inhaled before, during and after the meal.
They laughed and joked around, making Deborah feel immediately one of them.
She drank a lot, but didn’t take any drugs.
She immediately felt more at home here than she had in Serenity’s strict, prohibitive environment.
‘So what’s the story with the bodies on the trees outside?’ Deborah asked when she’d drank enough to forget her worries.
Sister Abbott laughed. ‘We’re like black widows. A stray guy stumbles up here, in spite of the signs and the obstacles – we just want to be left alone up here – and comes in. We have our fun with them and send them to the grave with a smile on their face.
‘One of us had the idea of hanging them outside the abbey as a kind of fuck you to God, kinda look what we’re upto now.’
Deborah nodded. It made sense if she put herself in their shoes.
‘Do you get much trouble up here?’
Sister Abbott shook her head. ‘Na, we’re pretty out of the way and we’re pretty well-guarded nowadays. Tends to just be lone people wandering seem to stumble upon us.’
‘Well you got a pretty good set up here,’ she beamed, taking a bigger swig of her drink.
‘I know,’ Sister Abbott grinned.
Time in the black abbey seemed to pass in a drunken haze.
It had been what Deborah had needed and she felt much better, although her liver took a pounding in the first few weeks.
Sister Abbott was kind to her and let her rest to recover from her ordeal at the hands of Simon Cross, Gus and the wood kids.
‘If I ever catch hold of the piece of shit who did that to you, I’ll feed him his scrotum,’ Sister Abbott grinned.
‘Thank you,’ Deborah said. ‘For everything.’
‘Hey, you belong here, Sister. Just as much as I do. We gotta enjoy ourselves, while we can. The way the world is now, any day could be our last.’
‘Amen to that.’
‘Watch your fucking language,’ Sister Abbott beamed.
‘I think I’m going to be very happy here,’ Deborah grinned.