The televised match was a London derby – Palace vs the Hammers – and it commenced its second half in stalemate. The East End pub was rammed, but Rachel had staked out a snug to herself, her icy glare and ready heel fending off the burliest of Cockney geezers who tried to cuddle up to her. As her diet tonic water sat going flat, she perused student photos on her slimline laptop.
There she and Lucinda poised either side of a tennis net, tight white shorts and t-shirts dazzling in the overexposed shot. Rachel couldn’t remember who had won that match, though she was sure her opponent knew, right down to the tally for each set. Not that Lucinda had shown much interest in tennis, other than that Rachel played it. Ever since that back-row clash in the matriculation photograph, Lucinda had striven to beat Rachel at whatever was her own game, whether contesting her for the presidency of the Economics Society, or rising at the crack of dawn Saturday to race her in orienteering. The silly girl had even tried to upstage Rachel at the Jewish Society, though her Kosher credentials soon unravelled. Rachel had shrugged through it all, expressing her superiority through indifference.
Another image: herself in a claret cocktail dress, Lucinda in turquoise. The pair leant into one another, uncharacteristically chummy. That had been the end-of-term ball, when Lucinda had succumbed to curiosity and supped champagne.
I nearly took her to bed that night, Rachel recalled, reliving the cool night air, “Livin’ la Vida Loca” playing muffled from the college bar as the pair cuddled on the lawn. Her lips revisited the kiss they’d shared, before a fiery spat, the issue long lost in time, sent them storming separate to their rooms. What bedsheet battle might have ensued, Rachel could only speculate upon, but if Crow had possessed a fraction of the pubes she now sported, she’d had a lucky escape.
Returning to the present, Rachel spied a tall figure stalking through the thronged drinkers. A hoody was pulled tight around the face, on which balanced a massive pair of mirrored sunglasses, like an insect’s eyes. A stick-on moustache jarred with a discernible bust, and Rachel couldn’t help but chuckle as the newcomer slunk into the snug.
“Trying to outdo Crow in the hairy stakes?”
Amanda didn’t see the funny side. Her nails were bitten, her mood ratty. For the past two nights she’d lain in turmoil. The impending plot stoked more adrenaline than any of her old fraud jobs; Lucinda terrified her more than any cop or judge. Even prison seemed sufferable if one observed the etiquette. But if Amanda failed in this coup, there was no telling what retribution awaited her.
“I thought we agreed to communicate by text only,” she hissed.
“Developments are rather too drastic for a hundred-character exchange,” said Rachel, closing her laptop. “And when you hear them, you’ll understand it doesn’t matter if we’re seen together.”
Helvetica chose not to conjecture too deeply into the atypical appliances that dominated Lucinda’s dressing room. Maybe it’s her gym equipment, she told herself of the stocks and shackles, before absorbing herself in a full-length mirror.
She’d had her hair done that afternoon, and for a short, precious duration, the mass of curls would conform to reason. They spilt in neat spirals around her ears, ending just shy of her shoulders. A red, glitzy dress sparkled around her figure – a dark, smoky red that masqueraded as near-black in the muted lighting. Her boyfriend had presented it to her at the birthday brunch they’d held in lieu of tonight’s cancelled dinner. Yes, not only had he taken the snub with good grace, he’d lavished her with a gift on his birthday.
“Not every day you go on telly,” he’d explained as she’d opened the box. “You’ll be the prettiest girl on the screen.”
And in this garment, Helvetica began to believe it. The silky fabric brushed intimately against her bare flesh, as if transmitting his very tenderness. It was a novelty for her to go braless, even though her featherweight chest scarcely called for support. An elegant v-cut earned her an impressive return on her modest assets, even eking out a subtle cleavage. She swished one-eighty, the dress’s slit flashing a tease of white thigh. The fabric plunged in a U at the rear, right down to the small of her pale, freckled back, beneath which the curves of her rump glittered.
“I do have quite a sexy bum,” she remarked. She seldom appraised herself in such terms, but she’d broken a lot of norms that week. This was the new Helvetica – the rebel, the avenger, the femme fatale. As much as she feared jinxing things, it really seemed that life was going her way for once.
In the mirror her gaze fell on Lucinda, standing in the doorway. She straightened with an apologetic giggle, the old Helvetica embarrassed by the new’s vanity.
“Yes, it is a sexy bum,” Lucinda agreed. The presenter prowled over to her dressing table, leathers tight against her toned body. She skirted her finger over the array of buttons and switches at her disposal. “What would suit you better – green or black?”
“Gunge?!” Helvetica stiffened, half-expecting to be sloshed on the spot.
Lucinda smiled with dry amusement. “Tea, darling.”
“Oh. Uh, black please. Milk and sugar if you have it.”
Lucinda sighed, as if Helvetica had failed a test. “There aren’t many who appreciate the bitterness of green tea,” she lamented, flicking a switch. An ornate kettle purred into life. “Your big moment tonight, Vet,” she remarked, advancing upon her apprehensive guest. “You’re going to push the button on your bullying boss.”
“Me? I’m not sure… maybe you should do it.”
“Nonsense!” Lucinda placed her hands on Helvetica’s shoulders. “Why get all glammed up only to shrink into the shadows?”
“But I’ll get the sack,” Helvetica said, squirming at Lucinda’s touch.
“You want to stick with an employer who treats you like dirt?” Lucinda’s hands roved down the twenty-year-old’s back, in a manner that suggested other than a supportive hug. “You could set up business by yourself, Vet, a tiger like you.”
Helvetica mumbled thanks, tingling as Lucinda’s fingers slid over spine and shoulder-blades. Shorter than Lucinda, her chin came to nestle in the gorge between those leather-clad D-cups. She stared ahead at Lucinda’s long pink neck, not daring to peer down, cheeks burning with a mixture of straight-forward awkwardness and a forbidden thrill, which added another layer of awkwardness. The kettle hissed louder, pressure building.
Then Helvetica’s eyes bulged; Lucinda had slipped a hand within the swooping folds of her dress, and now had digits extended around her right cheek. The hand lay outside, not inside, Helvetica’s panties, but it made little difference when Lucinda squeezed. Vet bleated softly into her groper’s chest.
“Yes, a very sexy bum.” Lucinda purred, as Helvetica swam in emotion. Images flashed of the pair of them, laid out on the dressing table, ravishing each other’s naked bodies. Of her bending over before the mirror, Lucinda taking her from behind with an enormous strap-on. Of kneeling in obedience to worship that notorious overgrown pussy. Who knew where this would lead? Who knew where she might let it? She battled to conjure her boyfriend into her mind, but Lucinda’s ensnaring arms squeezed him out.
The kettle clicked.
“Besides” – Lucinda disengaged from Helvetica and strode over to her tea service as though nothing had happened – “you may not have a job to go back to. I anticipate Silverstein cashing in her enterprises once I’ve finished with her. A new life on a kibbutz, perhaps.”
Helvetica struggled to normalise her breathing.
“Speaking of whom, I can more than handle Silverstein tonight.” Lucinda sploshed hot water into a silver teapot. “But I’ll need you to take out Tang. Even a Crow can’t be in two places at once.”
“Oh, er, I d-didn’t intend to g-get involved…” protested Helvetica. “No, really, I can’t!”
“Course you can. There’s nothing to it. She’ll come here pre-show; you’ll be ready for her.” Lucinda looked up sternly from her tea-making. “And don’t you go showing any mercy; the traitorous little bitch deserves all she gets.”
“How will I be ready for her?” asked Helvetica, wide-eyed.
“Could you be any more prepared?” Lucinda grinned, indicating the room’s ample arsenal of flans, pails, hoppers and hoses. She pondered a few seconds. “The cream cannon would be a good place to start. You could blast her with it when she walks in. Are you familiar with its operation?”
Helvetica shook her head; unlike photocopiers, shredders and franking machines, such an item hadn’t featured on her secretarial induction course.
“I’ll show you, but first let’s have tea.” Lucinda readied two dainty cups. “Are you sure you want sugar, darling? Looks like something’s already given you a rush.”
A striker sliced a shot through the defence, only to whack the crossbar. The atmosphere built and waned accordingly, and dozens of beer glasses were raised to mouths.
“You are shitting me!!” Amanda exclaimed, the scant colour she possessed draining behind the oversized shades. “You’re saying our patsy has snitched?!”
“Not only snitched but working with Crow,” Rachel confirmed. “Goodness knows what’s got into her. Still, I knew that bugging the Bentley would pay off.”
“Shit shit shit shit shiit!!” Amanda clapped her hands over her hood-clothed head. “It’s over then. There’s no way I’m going back there – not ever.” She peered anxiously around the pub, as if expecting Lucinda to spring forth with a bucket of gunge. “I’m getting the next flight to Hong Kong!”
“You’ll do nothing of the sort,” Rachel chided. “You’re attending the Crow’s Nest tonight as planned, and so am I. We’re still one step ahead – Crow doesn’t know that we know that she knows – and we’re going to win this.”
Amanda rocked back and forth, stamping her feet in despair, but Rachel’s enthusiasm seemed only to have heightened with the setback. “You leave Crow to me,” she continued shrewdly. “I know her little ways, her tricks, what makes her tick. I’ll run rings around her before she’s even seen me coming. You can take the easy job – dealing with Baines. Tie her up in a broom cupboard, preferably with something slimy for company; it’ll serve her right.”
“Easier said than done,” fretted Amanda.
“Don’t tell me an ex-con can’t deal with that mouse of a girl!” sneered Rachel. Amanda winced, and even through the giant sunglasses, Rachel read her expression. “Oh yes, I know about your past.” She reached into her briefcase. “But if Baines won’t go quietly, here’s some encouragement.”
Rachel lay a metallic weapon on the table, its broad barrel glinting in the orangey pub lighting.
“Woah!” Amanda raised her palms, her mouth mirroring the gun’s nozzle. “I don’t do firearms!”
“It’s a splurge gun. The technology’s advanced a bit since Bugsy Malone,” Rachel explained with a smirk. “Six cartridges, each a different colour.” She pointed the weapon to Amanda’s side and pulled the trigger.
SPLURGE! The gun discharged with faithful onomatopoeia, producing a purple splatter that stained the seat beside Amanda and redecorated a section of wall. Nearby drinkers turned their heads, but the football soon reclaimed their attention. The barman looked over but did nothing.
“Are you off your rocker?!” gasped Amanda.
“Not really – I never liked that wallpaper,” Rachel replied, before clarifying, “I own the pub.”
Frowning at the stray droplets on her hoody, Amanda took the gun into her possession. “You’ve been very thorough in your planning,” she admitted to Rachel. “But there’s one thing you’ve overlooked – that presenting job. You said you’d have the contract sorted by the end of the week. I’ve received nothing.”
“It’s all ready and waiting – for after you’ve completed tonight’s job,” Rachel primly informed her.
“Uh-uh, contract first,” Amanda insisted. “Lucinda strung me along over this; I’m not having you do the same.”
“If you insist”, shrugged Rachel, pulling two stapled stacks of paper from her briefcase. “One copy for me, one for you. If you’d sign and date please.”
With greedy haste Amanda scribbled across the cover pages. “I’ll be on my way,” she said, furtively getting to her feet.
“Not yet, you’re not.” Rachel glanced at the match – still nil-nil. “Take off that stupid moustache and go to the bar. A gin and diet tonic for me and whatever you’re having, on the house. Let’s drink to the Crow falling to Earth.”
In dribs and drabs the audience filed in, presenting their tickets and signing the preemptive release forms that condemned them to whatever fate Lucinda saw fit. Behind the giant vagina, the woman herself dabbed black to her eyelashes, while Helvetica paced the griddle flooring.
“Not long now, pumpkin.” Lucinda patted Helvetica on the buttocks, eliciting a shudder through the younger woman. “I need to go speak with the crew, sort the final arrangements for you-know-what. You better ready yourself at the cream cannon; won’t be long until Tang turns up.”
She ushered the protesting girl behind the sturdy artillery, which was set up pointing at an internal door. “Remember, you don’t pull the trigger, you squeeze it,” she said, guiding Helvetica’s hand. “A good firm squeeze, as if it’s a nipple. And when you’ve blasted her with the cream, follow up with these pies.” Lucinda gestured a row of creamy desserts. “Or the buckets if you prefer. Just let the bitch have it.”
“And then what…?” Helvetica began, but Lucinda had already swished through the cervical doors opposite, leaving her alone. Apprehensively, she crouched at the cannon, exposing some more of her modest cleavage. “No sweat, Vet,” she murmured with limited conviction, closing her fingers on the trigger. She took stock of the pies. “Piece of cake.”
Amanda was indeed closing in. From corridor to corridor she darted, pressing herself to the walls, the splurge gun holstered in her blazer. A squeak from behind and she whipped round, bracing for Lucinda’s steely glare, but the corridor lay empty. “I should’ve stuck to white-collar crime,” she muttered, pressing on.
A door with a gold star heralded her destination. Releasing her nerves with a puff of the cheeks, Amanda readied the gun and yanked the handle.
Helvetica yelped as Amanda tumbled in; Amanda yelped in response. The Chinese girl saw the formidable cannon barrel levelled at her, and froze.
“Sorry about this,” Helvetica said out of habit, preparing to fire. But her hands shook, fingers failing for purchase. Amanda jerked herself from paralysis, raising the gun in both hands. Shaking with panic, Helvetica pinched repeatedly at the trigger, but nothing happened. Squeeze it like a nipple – that’s what Lucinda had said. How hard was one supposed to squeeze a nipple? It was easy for a lesbian to say…
SPLURGE! Amanda got there first. The shot exploded in the nook of Helvetica’s dainty cleavage. Bright green gunk coated the entirety of the girl’s exposed chest, icy cold after its rapid expansion from the cartridge. Helvetica’s throat stopped with shock, then she screamed.
Amanda fired again, higher. Light blue goo engulfed Helvetica’s face, the epicentre at her forehead. Her freshly coiffured locks flew into a crazy upstyle, permeated by the blue gunk. Spluttering, she staggered back from the cannon.
Amanda stepped inside, weapon trained. “That’s it, move away,” she said sharply. “Cooperate and you needn’t get messier.”
Helvetica spat out the nasty synthetic goo, wiped her eyes, and raised her hands in capitulation. Amanda half-smiled as she stole another step. Enemy neutralised without a fleck of mess on herself – this hadn’t been so hard after all.
“I’ll have to tie you up for a couple of hours. It’s nothing pers—”
The cannon went off. Whether in belated response to Helvetica’s fumbling, or of its own mischievous whim, it caught Amanda at point-blank range, turning her whole front a singular shade of white. The blast whipped back her twin ponytails, buried her blazer and made a misshapen mask of her face.
A gobbet of cream oozed rejected from her mouth, which hung open, a black half-moon. Eyes blinked their way to the outside world, cream suspended from lashes, the whites barely distinguishable. It had finally happened – Amanda’s messy cherry popped! All those times Lucinda had threatened her, those occasions she’d squirmed and palpitated at the prospect, and in the end the event slammed her before she saw it coming. The stickiness on her face, the heaviness in her hair, the full-bodied taste of double cream, the seeping wetness around her breasts – all were hers to deal with while the embers of presumed victory still glowed.
Slowly, the vacant disbelief lifted from Amanda’s eyes, and they fixed Helvetica accusingly.
“It wasn’t me! It wasn’t me!” Vet’s knees knocked at the creamy sight. Amanda, spraying dairy mist through anguished snorts, was having none of it. Her snowy hands extended toward a pair of Black Forest gâteaux.
She’s going to cake me, gulped Helvetica. How do I stop her? Cake her first! She snatched the gâteaux clear of Amanda’s reach, and cymbal-smashed them onto her head.
“Emmmppphhh!” The alternate layers of white, red and brown swiftly muffled Amanda’s cry. In for a penny, in for a pound, Helvetica slammed a coconut-cream pie into her opponent’s face, then emptied a trifle atop her.
Amanda flailed, her face and hair engulfed. A leg lashed out, toppling the cannon. A growl emanated from the pile of cream and fruit. Helvetica, on the latest yo-yo dive from bravado to timidity, began to giggle nervously.
“You,” Amanda seethed in a shaky voice, “are so for it!”
Helvetica didn’t doubt it. With a squeal she ditched her high-heels and fled for the cervical stage doors. But Lucinda had locked them. The girl battered the unyielding exit. Amanda, clearing eyes, raised the splurge gun.
“YEEP!!” A burst of yellow stung Vet across her bare back. She spun round, only for a scarlet splurge to pelt her crotch. Her dress alone suffered mess from that shot, but the impact drew a gasp regardless.
“I’ll make you wish you came quietly!” Amanda returned gun to holster and switched to two buckets, marching on her foe like an extra from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Vet, pressed to the doors, seized a dangling hose. Bright yellow spurted out, coating over the cream. A custard fragrance filled the air. Cursing, Amanda realised she couldn’t lob the pails one-handed. She set one down, getting pasted as Vet swept the hose over her, and slung the other. Mushy peas landed in one wet heap on Vet’s upper chest and shoulder. Vet cringed as it crawled into her dress, but kept the hose pointed. Amanda swung her other vessel, splashing home with a faceful of gravy. Out of ammo, she lunged, but slipped and fell short. As she went down, she seized the shoulder pieces of Vet’s frock.
Rrrriiiipp!! Helvetica shrieked as the garment plunged, along with Amanda, to her feet. She stood in nothing but pink knickers, one bantam breast buried in mushy peas, the other’s little nipple piercing fresh air. Her mouth hung agape, mortified; she might as well have been denuded before a dozen cheering rugby teams. And the dress! What would her boyfriend say?! The hose clattered to the floor, custard spraying over the griddle.
Amanda clambered to her knees, clutching Helvetica’s thighs for support. Vet, incensed, slapped her face – a squelching, mushy slap. Amanda thrust her head through Vet’s legs, lifting the latter on her shoulders. Vet yelped, forced onto tiptoe. The pair grappled around the room, Vet gripping Amanda’s sodden ponytails like a bull’s horns. They crashed into a set of shelves, bucketloads raining down.
With a snarl of exertion, Amanda freed her head from Vet’s legs and butted Vet’s belly. Vet stumbled and sat down – in a tiramisu. She made to get up, but it was lights out as Amanda rammed down a comic-sized top hat of circus slosh. A white geyser erupted from a hole in the top as Helvetica’s squawks were smothered. Amanda followed up with two fruity flans, slapped cold and hard against those small tits.
Blindly clawing forth, Vet yanked down Amanda’s skirt, leaving only dark tights and darker panties where the blazer ended. Instinctively Amanda stooped to rescue the garment, and Vet shoved with all her might.
“OOOOOOOHHH!!!” Amanda tottered and landed butt-down in a barrel. Lumpy green goo overflowed, whooshing between her legs and down her tights.
Helvetica slid off the hat, her head a cylinder of white that sported a single eye and a crude mouth. She stood unsteadily, almost slipping on the slick of mess. A yard away Amanda struggled in the keg, her bum wedged in, feet kicking shy of terra firma.
The cylinder’s lone eye regarded her adversary, and the mouth climbed to a satisfied smile. Clearing a path to the other eye, Helvetica perused the remaining wares and selected a pair of lemon cheesecakes.
Amanda wriggled in frustration, but if anything screwed herself deeper, the gelatinous slime welling up around her crotch.
The yo-yo was back on the ascent. Helvetica tossed the cheesecakes gently in her palms, affected with a bizarre sense of glamour, even as mushy peas and raspberry goo dripped from her. The flans’ pastry bases held in place, functioning as a bra. She glanced over her shoulder to the mirror. Tiramisu smeared her panties, suggestive of something less sweet, but Helvetica had to admire how the saturated undergarment clung to her delicate knolls of flesh and the crack betwixt them.
“Yes, a very sexy bum,” she purred to herself. She advanced on her wedged opponent, brandishing the cheesecakes. “Thanks for taking a seat, Miss Tang,” she simpered, enjoying her own voice. “Dessert will be served.”
Amanda whipped out the splurge gun. “You so sure about that?” she hissed. She took aim at Vet’s crotch, right at the camel-toe that protruded through the panties.
Helvetica sighed. Her arms wilted under the weight of the cheesecakes. “Well I guess…”
She pounced. Cheesecakes outstretched, Vet leapt in star formation, her foamy face contorted in a war cry. She collided with Amanda, the barrel went over, and they bundled to the floor, entwined in a maelstrom of wet flesh and cheesecakes and a flood of green slime. Face to boobs and feet to arse they grappled, four hands wrapped round the slime-coated splurge gun.
Side to side the pair wrenched the barrel, until one knocked the trigger and the gun went off. With a deafening “SPLURGE!”, an artistic splodge of brown was impressed on the ceiling.
Lights snapped on, the dressing room’s broody ambience seared by spotlights. Dazzled and confused, the warring girls froze. Footsteps strolled in from the corridor.
“Well well, it’s hard to say who the winner is here,” said a stern voice.
Amanda recognised the voice; to Helvetica it rang more familiar still. The latter’s eyes blanched, and even beneath the mess, her throat could be seen to swallow.
“Ms Silverstein!” spluttered Amanda. “Fear not, I have everything under control! Did you get Lucinda?”
Rachel stepped forward, smart blue shoes clacking on the grid. Her imperious figure loomed in semi-silhouette between a pair of spotlights. “You have some explaining to do, Helvetica.”
Helvetica didn’t look at her boss. The yo-yo hadn’t simply plunged; the string had snapped, dashing the toy to pieces on the ground. Her skin had turned quite grey. Admittedly, it was largely slathered with colour and cream, but underneath it was a stony, desolate grey.
“Never mind her!” Amanda cried at Rachel, gripped by fresh panic. “Have you dealt with Lucinda?”
“Oh yes, she dealt with me,” oozed a malevolent voice from the cervix. “We struck a most amicable deal.”
Lucinda entered opposite Rachel, leather glinting in the spotlights, cleavage thrown into stunning relief, black hair and make-up razor sharp.
“You know what, Rachel, I don’t think there is a winner.” Lucinda peered down at the messy duo with that condescending smirk she’d honed over so many hours. “All I see is a pair of looooo-zers.”
Helvetica turned yet greyer, but Amanda was slow to comprehend. “There she is, Ms Silverstein!” she pointed. “Why don’t you get her?”
Rachel returned only a wry smile, and Amanda understood. Heart thumping, she disentangled herself from Helvetica and pointed the slimy splurge gun up at Lucinda. She was a desperada now; there was nothing left to lose. Her worst nightmare would soon come to pass – infinite humiliation at Lucinda’s hands. Anything she did now could only make it infinity plus one. And if she could score one messy hit on her cruel oppressor, if she could knock Lucinda, in any minor way, from her pedestal of perfection, it would grant her satisfaction in defeat.
She trained the weapon at Crow’s cleavage, brow furrowed amid cream and custard. Lucinda smirked back at her, hands on sculpted hips.
Arrogant bitch, Amanda thought, and pulled the trigger.
The gun clicked uselessly.
“You’ve had your six,” said Rachel grimly.