Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Magistrate (The Prisonworld Trilogy) by Keira Michelle Telford

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Fourteen-and-a-half minutes left.

Carmen checks her watch one last time and covers it with her sleeve. She’ll make the deadline—she always has. She’s never failed to meet her quota, and she’s never lost a bet.

Standing quietly beneath the overhang of an apothecary’s shop in Whitechapel, in the East End London borough of Tower Hamlets, zone E2, she shelters from the rain as best she can. It’s been pouring down for hours, and she’s drenched.

Across the street, a drunkard tumbles out of The Drake’s Drum—a filthy East End alehouse with a reputation for holding lock-ins and serving minors. He staggers from The Drum to the gutter, unzips his fly, pulls out his undersized pipe, and proceeds to urinate into a storm drain. Swaying unsteadily from side-to-side, he breaks into song: some London folk melody that Carmen’s heard a thousand times before.

Lit only by the modernized electric gaslights atop lampposts, the muted light spilling out from the frosted glass windows of the alehouse, and the occasional gaslight hanging from a porch or doorway, the drunkard’s features are hard to make out clearly in the darkness of the evening. Unaware that he has an audience, he continues to sing.

His white, button-up shirt is badly in need of laundering. It’s yellowed at the cuffs and collar, the front covered with stains of food and drink. His cotton trousers are unpressed and held up by suspenders. He lacks the necktie, vest or jacket of a London toff, and his lopsided bowler hat is grimy and tattered.

This neo-Victorian style of clothing has been the fashion in London since the city was first re-established as the nation’s capital. At the beginning of this new epoch in human history—known as the Anabiocene—a lot changed. Many modern trappings of the previous Anthropocene era were lost to history when the world was consumed by war, and civilization was forced to regress and rebuild from much simpler foundations.

People adopted and adapted Victorian stylings as a mark of respect for a bygone time that’s now proudly echoed in the modern world. It became not only a fashion statement, but a symbol of Londoner pride. If you believe in this city, and you work for her, love her, and vow to lie with her through good times and bad, then you wear that devotion proudly.

That being the case, this drunkard’s clothing is typical of a working class man, and so, too, is his state of drunkenness. It’s payday, and he’s no doubt spent much of the evening on the ran-tan, along with almost every other bloke of his ilk who finds himself within walking distance of a bottle or two of gin.

Zippering himself back up, he begins to stagger away, still singing at the top of his lungs. If he has a wife to stumble home to, he will. Parched for sex, he’ll thunder into the house, thump his way up the staircase to the master bedroom, and throw himself upon her. If he has no wife, he’ll likely spend what little coin he has left to buy the services of the nearest available whore—and he won’t be fussy. His gin-soaked eyes will land upon the first cheap bangtail in sight, and he’ll possess her right there on the street.

It’ll last minutes. When it’s over, he’ll pass out in a covered doorway and sleep off his stupor till sunrise.

Carmen knows men like him well.

As his voice fades into the night, she turns her attention back to The Drum and prepares to cross the street. Stepping out from beneath the apothecary’s awning, raindrops roll off her leather trousers—her kicksies—and trickle down her heavy-duty knee-high boots onto the pavement.

Steel-plated and steel-toed, her footwear is a vital part of her uniform. The soles are several inches thick, protecting her from needles and broken glass: anything she might be likely to step upon during an average day’s work. Moreover, the heels of the boots are reinforced with steel to prevent her ankles from twisting, should she get knocked off her feet, and to protect her Achilles tendon from damage—be it accidental or deliberate.

Zipping her leather jacket up against the elements, she sends droplets of water cascading off the Crown Prosecution Service—CPS—emblem on her sleeve.







The Magistrate


Poverty is rife in twenty-fourth century London, England. Crime rates are at an all-time high, and living conditions for many are bleak. Capital punishment and public hangings have been reinstated, and Magistrates, in their new role, are tasked with patrolling the streets to enforce arrest warrants and ‘terminate’ any civilians who attempt to evade justice — which isn’t always a noble pursuit.

The laws are strict, illiberal, and unsympathetic. If you can’t afford to feed and clothe yourself, you’ll be sent to the workhouse. If you fall behind on your rent, you’ll be sent to debtors’ prison. If you’re gay, you’ll be hanged.

For Carmen Wild, the latter becomes a potentially deadly problem when the discovery of a murdered prostitute brings her back into the life of her first love — the Madam of an East End cathouse — and the illicit passions between them are swiftly reignited.

The Magistrate is a lesbian romance, set against the backdrop of dystopian, neo-Victorian London.

***Contains graphic & explicit language***

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Genre - Lesbian Romance/ Dystopian/ Neo-Victorian

Rating – R (18+)

More details about the author

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Website http://www.ellacross.com/