|Doctor Who Internet Adventure #22 - "Clockwork Orange"
"Seven Hours with Peggy-Sue Holmgren"
by Daniel Hall
Book Three: Wind-Up
Three Hours Ago
So she was doing her nails when the first automobile arrived. Just sitting
on the porch outside the store, sipping on a soda and enjoying the last
warmth of the day as the sun goes down over the mountains and the sky
becomes bright with the mechanical orange of Vegas.
Nobody ever called Peggy-Sue Holmgren a beauty. Least ways nobody
called her that except Mad Larry, and he was half blind and wanted to marry
a horse. She was twenty-eight, stood a little over five-four, and weighed
in at two hundred and thirty pounds. What she lacked in looks though she
made up in strength. Back home, they used to joke that she'd wrestled a
bear and killed him with her own hands. It wasn't true, but she liked the
look of fear in people's eyes when they heard the story. And then she'd
deny it, so they'd believe it even more.
She heaved herself out of the rocking chair and plucked the binoculars
from the table. Four people in the auto. A man, two women, someone in a
sack. Not lost tourists, then. And they'd be here soon. She gulped down
the last of her soda and wiped her mouth on the dirty sleeve of her denim
shirt. Reached for the shotgun.
Way back, back when she'd been growing up, down on the south side of
San Diego, she'd lived with her Momma and a big mongrel wolfhound called
Killer. They had four locks on the door, and a shotgun by the side. Peggy-
Sue had been practising with that since she could spit. Sometimes they had
a man around, sometimes they didn't. Momma always used to say that the only
thing a woman really needed was a shotgun. Normally, she wouldn't bother
with the shotgun, like. Normally she'd just flag down the auto, sell the
nice people inside some souvenirs and send them back the way they came. And
if they refused to turn back, she'd improvise. She liked improvising. So
she strode out into the middle of the road as they approached, flagged them
down. They pulled to a stop, but stayed seated. She could get a better view
of them now. Young Whore and Pimp in the front seat. Old Whore and Bag Man
in the back.
"What is it, ma'am?" asked Pimp. "How can we help you."
"You can start," drawled Peggy-Sue, "by getting your smooth talking
ass out here where we can talk face to face. All of you. Step out of the
She stepped back, casual-like, lifting the rifle so it pointed at
Young Whore. Hopefully they'd get the message. Crystal clearly, seemed
like, as they did as they were told, nice and slow.
"What's with the guy with the bag?"
Old Whore answered. "None of your concern." Looked like she was in
charge, because Pimp said nothing.
Boy, that got her back up. That's what Momma used to say when she had
the late night meetings. This was her place. Everything was her concern.
A simple job. Sit on this porch, persuade the few tourist cars that
arrived that they really ought to turn back. Simple but important. And
Old Whore was getting on her nerves.
"Okay," she said, at last. "This is what's gonna happen. You're
gonna come up to my store over here, and sit down and relax. I'm gonna make
a few phone calls, and then I'm gonna decide what happens next. That's
what's gonna happen."
Young Whore took Pimp's arm, but none of them moved.
"Maybe I didn't make myself clear," said Peggy-Sue. This was the bit
that she liked the most.
She lifted the barrel of the rifle again, moving it from one head to
"I will shoot you," she said.
And to prove her point, she shot Bag Man in the leg.
* * *
Two Hours Ago.
It wouldn't stop bleeding.
No matter how hard she tied the pieces of shirt around Hallaghan's
leg, it kept bleeding, a red stain blossoming again and again. Ramona was
worried sick about him. An hour ago, she would have happily shot him
herself, if he hadn't been more valuable alive. Now, they were all in the
same boat, all afraid, and their fear had made them companions.
Roni was taking it pretty hard, and although Freddie was trying to
comfort her, she could tell that he was taking it pretty bad.
Two corners of the room, two conversations.
She could hear Freddie telling Roni that he was going to take care of
her. He'd always been there for her before. Why would that change? And she
could hear Hallaghan. His voice was faint, and she couldn't be sure who he
was talking to — maybe to her, maybe to himself, and maybe to some higher
"I've got two sons," he said. "Patrick's working as a prison guard at
Alcatraz. Got himself a pretty young wife, gonna make me a grand-pop
sometime soon. Michael... Michael's a fucking fairy. I should have known,
should have seen it as he was growing up — he was always the quiet one,
always his Mom's favourite. I should have pulled him away from his books,
should have made him play football more. I should have done something. But
I didn't know. I just let him grow up... broken. Let me tell you how I
found out. Let me tell you. It was a couple of years ago — he'd just
turned nineteen. I was out on patrol late, out near Sausalito. Stopped
off for a piss, didn't I? Only half needed to go, but I thought there might
be a faggot or two hanging around, and I was looking for a fight.
"Yeah, he was there. On his knees in plain view of the door, too, the
stupid fuck. Some nigger pounding into his face, who turned and grinned at
me as I walked in. I couldn't fucking believe it. He had his fucking nigger
cock in my son's mouth. I did same as what any good father would have done.
Punched the bastard in the face, then kicked the shit out of him when he
was down. I could hear Michael behind me, begging me to stop, but I
couldn't have done it if I'd wanted to. I had blood in mind, blood welling
up behind my eyes, and by the time I'd finished, blood on my boots. And
when the nigger stopped moving, I turned, grabbed Michael and pushed him up
against the wall. Part of me wanted to give him the same treatment as the
fucking piece of shit that was whimpering on the ground. Part of me wanted
to take him home, tell him that everything was going to be okay. And then
his pants fell down. For a second, there was nothing but the sound of our
breathing, and the pounding of blood in my head.
"I only cuffed him across the cheek. We went home, and we didn't talk
about it again. He got even closer to his mother, couldn't look me in the
eye. These days sometimes he comes home, sometimes he doesn't. Works in a
fucking flower market. Doing pretty well for himself. But every time he
doesn't come home, his mom cries herself to sleep, just in case he doesn't
come home at all, and I remember the day that he almost didn't."
He was dropping in and out of consciousness now, and there were traces
of blood when he coughed. And his leg wouldn't stop bleeding.
* * *
One Hour Ago.
So they'd quietened down a bit, now, but one of the whores was still
crying, sobbing away like a pathetic worm.
Back in San Diego, Peggy-Sue had only had two kills to her name. First
was Killer, the wolfhound. The thing was fourteen years old, half blind and
kind of insane. The vet had wanted to put him to sleep, but Peggy-Sue's
Momma was having none of it. That dog was family, and family died at home,
family died with dignity. Two days after they came back from the vet,
Killer was so poorly it was a pain to watch him. They both knew what had
to be done, but Peggy-Sue's Momma didn't have the guts to do it, so Peggy-
Sue did it herself. The first time she'd ever fired a gun, into the skull
of a sleeping mongrel. She told herself it had been an act of kindness, and
cried herself to sleep. She was sixteen.
Her second kill was a guy who tried to call himself Killer, a guy who
was running a sweatshop full of Mexicans by day, and fucking her Momma by
night. He used to wander around the house half naked in the mornings,
teasing Peggy-Sue about how nobody as ugly as her would ever get a man for
themselves. Said he was doing her a favour by letting her see him with no
shirt on. Said that maybe he'd get her set up with a blind man, or one of
the pox-ridden Mexicans who worked for him. She was eighteen by now though,
worldly wise. She knew what to do with herself, knew how to take care of
herself. And she wasn't stupid. He came to her one night, reeking of
alcohol. She could tell that he was already preparing the lines if she put
up a fuss. Oh I'm sorry, I walked in to the wrong bedroom... I must be
so drunk. Feigning sleep, she let him strip, and squeeze in to bed beside
her. And in the morning, when he pretended that nothing had happened, she
pretended too. Until he was halfway down the street on the way to work
when she called his name. He turned, she fired. Two kills in just over
two years. There had been a few since then.
The second car drew up, and the guy got out, walked up to her. She had
to put her hand over her eyes to see him properly, cause the sun was almost
down now, and the fiery orange reflected off the desert. Slim, fit young
"Excuse me, ma'am."
Well brought up, too, clean cut, all American.
"I wonder if you could help me, ma'am, I'm looking for my friends.
Their vehicle's here, I was wondering..."
Think fast, Peggy-Sue. Lie through your teeth. "The two couples?" Mr
Clean Cut nodded. "They were here a couple of hours back — they ran out of
gasoline, and I let them leave their auto here while they walked back to
town to get some. I offered to let the ladies stay here — blinding hot,
this sun can be sometimes — but they said something about wanting to stick
together. I don't really understand. Surely you must have passed them on
the way here?"
Hoping that he couldn't hear the muffled sobs from inside, or that if
he did he didn't recognise them. But there were danger signs. He wasn't
meeting her gaze, but was looking around, peering in through the windows
behind her, in to the store. So she stood, blocking his view as far as
possible, trying to make it look natural, like. Something about this guy
wasn't right, she knew. He was too edgy, and the fingers of his right hand
were drumming against his thigh, as though he was about to reach for a gun.
"I'm sorry, ma'am. I was wondering if you minded if I took a little
look inside. I don't want to be any trouble."
Too late. She stepped aside to let him in, and he pushed open the
door. He saw the canisters of gasoline stacked neatly under the window, and
turned back to her, his hand now on the gun that had been hidden under his
jacket. She was faster, though, despite her size, and she threw her full
weight in to the punch that sent him reeling. He fell back, back to bang
his head on the door frame before slumping to the floor. Another one for
the collection - this was getting to be a fine day for it. She hauled him
over a shoulder and threw him in to the back room with the others.
She lit the porch lamp, picked up the phone and dialled. The phone
rang at the other end, but nobody was there to answer her.
* * *
"So listen up. I've been waiting for instructions about what to do with
you bastards, but I'm getting tired of waiting. And when I get tired of
waiting, I get nervy."
She looks around the room, looks at the five cowering figures. Mr
Clean Cut is out cold - she must have hit him harder than she thought.
Makes him no use for now, maybe good for later. Bag Man is moaning, and his
leg's still bleeding and that'll freak people out. Good. Pimp — well, Pimp
she likes the look of. Maybe she'll make other plans for him later.
Which leaves the whores. Fact is, even without orders, she's got half
a mind to plug the whores in and see what happens. She's done that a couple
of times, and though she got into trouble for it the first time, the second
time was a pretty bitch from Culver City who squirmed prettily for almost
half an hour before she finally died, her pretty face drained and thin.
They liked that. Fact is, she gets results. But more than that, she scares
folks off, she keeps her mouth shut and she's darned good at her job. So
they let her have some kicks and turn a blind eye to it.
"So when I get itchy, this is what I do."
She pushes the rug to one side of the room, exposing the unfinished
pine of the floorboards, and the small trap door - twelve inches on a side.
Too small to escape, but it's there to let something in.
She squats in the middle of the room, the rifle tucked into the fold
of her thigh, pointing around the room as she turns. Her position is clumsy
and unfeminine she knows, but it's letting Pimp look up her skirt, and
though he's trying not to, he can't keep his eyes off her. She grins at
them. Trying to make them guess which one she's going to hurt first.
She opens the trap door, letting it fall back on to the floor with a
satisfying thud. None of them have spoken to her yet, but their eyes, yes
their eyes tell her everything that she needs to know.
"You," she says, poking the gun between Young Whore's legs. "Stand
up and come here." She watches the others as Young Whore approaches. Pimp
is itchy, almost getting to his feet. He's the one that she has to watch.
"What's your name, girl."
Young Whore mutters something under her breath so she slaps her across
the side of the face. Pimp is on his feet now, so she shoots him in the
"Freddie!" shrieks Young Whore, so she has to slap the bitch again.
"I'm okay, doll," says Pimp. Looks like she just grazed him, though
there's a lot of blood. His arm's still moving fine, but he's got enough
sense to sit down again.
"My name's Roni," says Young Whore, and there's a hint of defiance in
She stands very close to Roni. Her rifle is hooked on to her belt, and
she knows that she can have it cocked and fired before any of them can
move. Roni's actually quite pretty close up. She runs her hands over Roni's
face, gently, touching her lips, her cheeks, her ears. For a moment, there
is an intimacy between them; Roni is her lover, her focus, the centre of
her world. And then she grasps Roni's head firmly, digging her fingernails
in to the side of Roni's scalp, still running her thumbs gently over her
face. Roni is trembling in her hands, so she holds her tighter. It almost
amazes her how naturally her thumbs find themselves resting over Roni's
eyes, how little pressure is required to pop them out.
There's noise now. Screaming, and laughter, and something more.
Something smells blood.
Two fat metal tendrils snake through the trap door. She doesn't
understand what they are, but she's seen what they can do so many times
before that she's got her goggles on protecting her eyes within seconds of
their appearance. She always thinks of them like Rattlers. They make for
Roni, one of them focussing solely on the figure of the woman collapsed on
the floor, the other reared up, scanning the room, watching for threats.
They pause just before they reached Roni, adopting positions just over an
inch from each eye socket. They rear back a little, then turn so that they
are facing each other.
It seems like suddenly there's a new-found intelligence behind them.
Peggy-Sue guesses that someone else has wired themselves up to the other
end of these things.
And then, slowly, but undeniably, they turn away from Roni and wriggle
towards Old Whore, the one with the bleached hair, only speeding up when
she realises what's happening and tries to pull away. Oddly, she doesn't
scream as they drill themselves into her skull. And it takes her five
minutes before she dies.
* * *
An Hour From Now
Ramona's corpse is still there, but Harris has pushed it to the other
side of the room, and he's closed the trap door, hauled the rug back over
the floor and moved a table into the centre of the room, so that the leg
pushes down on the door. Hopefully, that'll keep... whatever it was... from
Roni and Freddie are confused. They will hug passionately, fearful to
let go of each other. Then she'll touch his shoulder and he'll wince, or
he'll open his eyes and see the ugly holes in her face. And they'll pull
apart, and sit back to back. Then one or other of them will brush the
other's hand, and soon they will be in each other's arms again.
Hallaghan is going to die. Nobody has the nerve to tell him, nobody
has the words to even say it to each other. But nobody has the skill to
save him, and if they are being honest with each other, nobody wants to.
He's dipping in and out of sleep.
Harris is the only one on his feet, and he's pacing. His mind is
racing, and he's desperate to escape.
"Michael? Is that you?"
Hallaghan has woken, and he's hauling himself to his feet. He seems
completely unaware of the fact that he's injured. He seems completely
unaware of anyone else in the room. Except Harris.
Harris clears his throat.
"Michael. I knew it would be you. I knew you'd come and rescue me."
"Not Michael. Matthew Harris. Your partner."
"Quit kidding, Michael. You can't fool your own Pop." He's on his
feet now. Leaning against the table for support. The light is fading, but
Harris can see him clearly. He can only assume that Hallaghan can see him
clearly too. "Come close, Michael. There's something I've got to tell
And Harris figures out what's going on. This is a confession. And if
Hallaghan needs to pretend that Harris is this 'Michael' person to confess,
then so be it. He steps over to the table, stands behind Hallaghan.
They're facing the door, with Roni and Freddie behind them. Hallaghan
places his hand over Harris's, grips it tightly.
"There's something I've got to tell you," he repeats. "It's about
that time I picked you up in the rest room in Sausalito. That time when I
had you pushed up against the wall. Yeah, you remember. Your pants were
round your ankles, and your ass was... God, I think you know already, but I
wanted to... I nearly..."
"Shhh... take your time. You don't have to say anything."
"Fuck it, I nearly raped you, Michael. I wanted to fucking rape you.
And not just then. Every time I saw you. You knew that too, didn't you? You
walked around the house, wiggling your butt at me, as if to say go on and
fuck it. And God knows, I wanted to. I can think of three times when we
were alone in the house when I could have. But I didn't. And do you know
Harris shook his head, aware of how hard Hallaghan was pushing down on
his hand. Then Hallaghan moved closer until he was face to face with
Harris, their noses touching.
"I hated you. I despised you. I wanted to hurt you, wanted to push you
up against that wall and hurt you so much. But that was what you wanted,
wasn't it? And what I wanted was more than that. I wanted to kiss you, to
have you kiss me back. You were so beautiful. You were my son. I loved
He kissed Harris then. On the lips, gently at first. His breath was
rank. As he grew more confident, he tried to drive his tongue into
"No," said Harris, pulling away, wiping the back of his hand across
his face. "I'm not your son, Hallaghan. And I can't forgive you for this."
* * *
Two Hours From Now
Harris and Freddie talk in mutters, trying to work out a plan to ambush the
fat woman with the gun, to get themselves and Roni to freedom. Hallaghan
tries to hang himself from the light fitting, but only succeeds in bruising
his neck and his ankle, and in pissing himself. Outside, Peggy-Sue rolls
herself a joint and listens to a distant explosion.
* * *
Three Hours From Now
Harris shouts for attention. Freddie is poised behind the door, one leg of
the now broken table raised in his hand. This is their plan, and none of
them can come up with a better one.
The door opens and Freddie is about to bring his makeshift club down,
Harris yells at him to stop.
So Peggy-Sue Holmgren dies round about now, when she raises her rifle
to shoot the guy she sees running away from the mine, except he's quicker
with his gun than she is. Problem is that she's dumb and stoned, and he's
faster, more experienced (though he wishes he weren't), and he's carrying
around an incredible amount of anger at the moment. He pauses outside the
store, trying to remember how to hot-wire a car, and hears the shouts from
inside. It's only the fact that Matthew Harris recognises him that saves
him from an attack.
"I know you," Harris says to the newcomer. To their saviour. It's
surprising that Harris recognises him at all. He saw him the previous
night, chased him on the streets, helped Hallaghan dump him at the club.
Hated himself, then found out John was there too. And that's how he ended
up here. And though it's the same man, he doesn't look the same. His hair
is hanging loose and wild. He's filthy, and there is blood all over his
face and on his hands.
"Get out of here," he says, slowly. "Get out of here and get as far
away from me as possible." He turns to go.
"Wait. Please." Harris grabs the man's arm. The older young man
seethes at the cop's desperate eyes. "There was a guy up there with you. At
the club. Must have been taken up there with you," he pointed at the
mountains. "John. His name was John West. He was my... he was a friend. He
got taken up there with you, last night. Did you see him?"
The stranger doesn't answer for a few seconds. Seems like forever.
Finally, he pulls away.
"No, I didn't see your friend," he says blankly. He walks out of the
store, into the night. "I didn't see anybody," he calls over his shoulder,
without looking back.
Freddie, Harris and Roni leave in one car. They think that the other
man leaves in the other, but they can't be sure.
And, sometime later, Hallaghan dies.
To be continued...
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