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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #1844679
Jemma awakes confused. As she goes about her evening she makes a new friend.
Witney, although the largest market town in Britain, often went unnoticed. It hid amongst the rural Cotswold landscape of south-west England. It contained a large town centre with a sufficient selection of shops, plus a wide array of cafes, bistros and a surprisingly large amount of pubs. Decades ago it was famous for producing high quality blankets, but the factory has shut down since. It still possessed a popular brewery which distributed its collection of bitters and ales to the surrounding towns and villages. Its latest claim to fame was that the new Prime Minister originated from these parts, and still represents the town in parliament. The old railway had been abandoned and so its transport links to nearby towns and cities was purely by road. The nearest city was well known throughout the world for its prestigious educational background, Oxford.  A few miles away in a different direction was the well-established army base and military airport, Brize Norton.  Witney’s population seemed very loyal to the town, you would often see people born, raised and continue to live their lives here. The town was large enough to entertain the young crowd, it had good education and commutability to keep the family’s content, and had a quaint and pleasant aspect to retain the elderly. Nothing of huge interest or importance ever seemed to happen to Witney, or to the people it held.

At the centre of Witney was Woolgate Shopping Centre, a series of high street shops enclosed within charming stone buildings. Following the pathway between these chains and franchises, sat the largest of these old fashioned structures. This belonged to one of the town’s high-end grocery stores. It was a Friday afternoon, and the shop was rather busy. Within the store, amongst the cereal isle  lay a girl in her early 20’s. Spread across the tiled floor; head down and in deep unconsciousness.  Jemma was flat out in front of her trolley, her reddish-brown hair strewn over the cold ceramic floor. Her deep brown eyes shot open with panic, she felt drool ready to drip to the floor. Jemma raised her head, quickly wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, and looked around bemused.  Seconds later her thoughts re-entered her mind and she realised where she was. An unknown sensation echoed through her as she urgently remembered how to use her muscles. She pushed herself to her feet and stumbled oafishly. Somehow her leg  had got caught around the wheels of the trolley and she had to wiggle it free before she could stand. Jemma thought she must have caused a scene, but it seemed like no one had noticed her humiliation. It felt like she had been on the floor for days, like a coma of some sort, but no one had come to her aid. There was a shopper continuing in front of her, facing away, and a couple choosing out produce behind. They had seemed oblivious to what just happened and even to her current presence. She calmed her racing heart, brushed herself off, and sunk back into her buzzing body. Only then did the girl from the couple look shocked to see her there. Out of the corner of her eye she had spotted Jemma, in her short black coat, standing next to her trolley. The other girl had jerked and looked aghast. Yeh NOW you see me!? Jemma thought.

Jemma didn’t want to move from the spot just yet, she pretended to look at the various boxes of cereal whilst regaining sense of the situation. She recalled pushing her trolley down this specific aisle to get to the checkouts, as she had completed her shop. She had chosen some ingredients to cook her boyfriend, James, a romantic meal. This was as a pre-emptive apology for some news she was going to break. She recalled the lights in the store appearing to dim, and then she  awoke on the floor.  The people around her were in the same positions as before she collapsed, the guy in front was two metres away, and when she awoke he had not moved. It was like time had frozen. She thought she was behind her trolley, but awoke in front. She thought she had been dead to the world for a long, long time but it must have been instantaneous. She had heard of seizures and memory loss before, a friend had told stories of their cousin with this issue. So she forced herself not to worry too much and continued without causing a scene. She let the couple squeeze by her, ignoring the weird looks the girl was giving, and then followed them down to the checkouts.

There was a long queue of shoppers at almost every till and so Jemma carried on upwards assessing each one. They all seemed equally as busy. She was about to pass a vacant position when a young blonde girl rushed in front of her towards it. She had long dark-blonde hair tied black in a crazy untidy fashion, like a birds nest. She smiled broadly at Jemma as she passed and set herself up immediately on the till. Jemma then realised that she was wearing the store's uniform, a black shirt with a green padded jacket over the top. A logo embodied upon the left breast. The employee composed herself, wiped her mouth and turned to Jemma.

“Can I help?” She asked with enthusiasm.

Although attracting some evil looks from other customers, she leapt at the chance of being seen to straight away. She only had a small amount of shopping, which helped convince her not to feel guilty. After she unloaded her trolley, Jemma glanced back to see a queue of four middle-aged people already waiting behind her. She was close enough to the blonde staff member to read her name badge; Charlie Dale. Charlie began to scan her items.

“It’s pretty busy” Jemma remarked shyly, looking around.

Charlie jumped at the chance to interact. “Yeh it is” Charlie nodded and gained Jemma’s eye contact “I wasn’t feeling too good and had to dash off a minute ago to the toilet, that didn’t help the situation” For someone who wasn't feeling great, she was very enthusiastic.

“Aw, are you feeling alright?” Jemma felt genuinely sorry for Charlie. She wasn’t well and had a huge amount of pretentious customers to deal with.

“Well, uh, yeh. I was fine all day until about 5 minutes ago when I felt very……peculiar” She struggled to explain. “But I feel all good now, it was the strangest thing”

Jemma didn’t reply. She could relate though. You too? She thought to herself At least you can remember what happened to you.  She was tempted to confide to Charlie about what just happened, but people were waiting for her to finish. Their mutual desire to rush cut the conversation short.

All the shopping had scanned through and Charlie had filled two carrier bags with the items . Jemma inserted her debit card and punched in the pin. Once the receipts had been printed Jemma took her bags.

Charlie followed Jemma with wide eyes  and spouted “ Take care!” before returning to her next customers.

“Yeh, see ya!” Jemma chirped back as she walked away, looking back to the disgruntled people who were replacing her at the counter.

Jemma felt like her focus had returned. She gradually formed a plan for that night as she walked through the sliding doors into the cold, fresh air. She walked out to a cobbled path which faced her place of work. It was a two story building with a white sign above the doors, reading CARGO ‘your house and home décor specialist’. Vases, cushions, tables, lamps and sofas were arranged behind the display windows. This reminded her she was still wearing her work clothes and would have to go home and change. She included this in her plan.  She turned right and continued down the path and away from the shopping centre. She was walking towards a large expansive car park. Although an unusual admittance, it was one of the nicest car parks Jemma had ever encountered. It had bushes and trees and rustic stone walls dividing certain sections. The road system was confusing though, as it had haphazardly grown with the town.

With all the times and schedules running through her mind, she felt the urge to text but had a bag in either hand. Her boyfriend’s flat was on the other side of the car park so she didn’t have far to travel. She decided her best plan of action would be to visit James and explain why they couldn’t spend the evening alone. If he didn’t protest too much, then she would reply to her university friend’s text. She hadn’t seen Laura or Fiona in a few months and loved it when they came to visit her in Witney. Laura’s unexpected text earlier had made the last 30 minutes of work much more bearable. She then had to inform her friends from around the town, to ensure they also came out for drinks. She meandered through the pathway around the oddly scattered plots of parked cars.

She walked past a recently constructed building which divided the old and new areas of the car park. On the corner was a café bistro which was also promoted as a wine bar. Today was Friday and they offered half price bottles of wine before 9pm. Jemma decided that this place, Hackett’s, is where they would begin the night. She was already wording the potential texts in her mind. It was half four and it would take the girls an hour and a half to travel from Northampton. So she decided eight o clock would be a good meeting time. Next was what outfit she would wear.

She was buzzed in by James flatmate, Russell. He was usually happy to welcome Jemma but his tone seemed offish today. She climbed the stairs and expected to be out of breath once she hit the third floor, but she felt fine. Normally her arms would be aching with the weight of the bags but she guessed that the anticipation of the night was giving her strength. She was met at the door by James. He was a short, solid man of 25. He had dark brown eyes and a constant cheeky grin on his bearded face. He was wearing baggy jeans and a short sleeve blue t shirt.

“Hey you”

“Hey you”

“What’s with the bags? I thought we were ordering in?” He took them off her and carried them to the kitchen. Jemma followed, waving at Russell as they walked by the living room.

“Well. Ur. I wanted to chat about that. Could we…” She paused “…postpone the whole night in?” Jemma cringed, eyeing the back of his head.

They had planned to spend an evening in whilst Russell stayed at his parents. They rarely had any serious alone time as often they just met up in town with mutual friends. Although Jemma didn’t mind a casual relationship, this was getting increasingly on James nerves. He wanted to see Jemma more than just on nights out drinking, and have more romantic time together. They were both strapped for cash and so James had persuaded Russ to vacate for the night.

He turned and looked disapprovingly at her “How come?”

“It’s just…” Jemma prepared herself and then went into a quickening rant “Laura and Fiona are free and they want to come visit, and I never get to see them anymore, and It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with you. ‘Cus I do. It’s just that I can only see them like once every 3 months.  I bought you this meal. It’s steak, it’s your favourite. I thought we could have a nice meal and then go out for a drink with them….”

By this point Jemma was flailing her arms slightly and looking in every direction apart from at James. Lucky for her, James was very understanding. He hugged her.

“No probs babe. I don’t want to stop you seeing your friends” He lowered his head slightly and looked into her eyes “I just want to spend time with you”

“Well you can come tonight!?” She tilted her head and forced the cutest smile she could.

“I’m not sure I want to sit there with you and your girls, I might go a little crazed”

Suddenly Russell was at the entrance to the kitchen “Are they hot?”

“Stunning!” Jemma automatically replied.

Russell looking at James pleadingly “Dude, let’s join!”

James looked around, thought about it for a few seconds.

“Fine! So long as you fuck off for the next 2 hours whilst we eat our meal” He looked intensely between the other two in the room “and you both owe me a rain check on tonight. I want you at your rents and you here with me” Although he was trying to be stern, he still couldn’t resist the approaching smile he had. The two faces he was looking at were too happy to be mad at.

“Done!” The said in unison.

Jemma leant on a worktop and began excitedly typing away on her mobile. Russell bounded to his room to collect some items before heading for the door.

“I’ll be round Joe’s” He called before exiting the flat.

As James slumped himself down onto the sofa and flicked through channels, Jemma set to preparing the meal. She had picked up a lot of easy to cook produce as she lacked any culinary intuition. She needed heat and time guidelines. She put some pre-cooked roast potatoes in the oven and left the steaks on the side. Then she opened all of her salad items, she believed that salads were her speciality. Whilst combining and chopping the ingredients she was hugged from behind.

“How’s it going? Need any help?”

“Nah, it’s all good” She turned and looked up at James “Sorry again”

“Don’t fret. I’m sure we will have a blast tonight. I’m looking forward to finally meeting these girls you go on and on about”

“There amazing. Trust me.” She reached her hands around him and squeezed his buttocks. He bent and pecked her on the lips, which he repeated until they shared a deep passionate kiss. Jemma’s phoned buzzed and vibrated on the side which forced her eyes to open and disengage from James. She clicked away as James returned back to the couch.

Jemma decided that James deserved a decent meal with no distractions. She turned her phone off and they both enjoyed each other’s company. She had bought dessert and a bottle of wine for them to enjoy straight after. The two hours soon went by and Russell returned. Saying hi to Russ and bye to James, Jemma decided it was time for her to go home and get ready for the night. As she buttoned her coat she looked at her watch, it was getting close to seven and her friends would be arriving soon. A small wave of panic hit her as she knew she was running late.

“Want a lift home Jem?” Russ caught the look in her eyes before she turned to leave.

“YES” She closed her eyes for a second and turned back “You don’t mind?”

“Nah” He had his keys and trainers on him and so he grabbed a jacket and followed her.

“See you at eight James”

“See you in a sec dude” Russ called after.

They hurried down the stairs and entered Russ’s old, weathered red car. They exchanged pleasantries, Jemma soon learnt that Russ really didn’t want to return back home tonight as his brother was back for the weekend and they didn’t get on. She now understood why he had been so unenthusiastic whilst buzzing her in. Three minutes later they were at her house.

“Thanks again, see you later” She smiled through the car window and turned to enter her house. Bypassing her parents and heading to her room, she was back on her phone again and requesting suggestions for outfits via text. She had time for a shower before she spotted the bright blue car from her window, and out stepped two cheery blondes readjusting their figure-hugging dresses.

Whilst Jemma strolled around in a towel debating what clothes to wear, the two gorgeous girls sat on the bed and shared a bottle of rose. From outside the room all Jemma’s parents could hear was increasingly regular spurts of giggling.

“Bye Mum, Bye Dad!” Jemma called down the hallway from outside, as she held the front door open. It was 7.55pm, the taxi was there and all three of them were ready to go. Jemma couldn’t have been more pleased with herself.

They were, to Jemma’s surprise, the first ones at Hackett’s. They each ordered a bottle of wine and headed towards a spiral staircase in the far corner of the bar. As they carried their bottle in one hand and a glass in the other, a few male’s heads were turned. All three were wearing dresses too short for October, and there presence sparked some attention.

The staircase led to a loft area consisting of a balcony where you could watch over the bar and its patrons, plus a selection of warm inviting sofa’s set further back. There was a few people chatting on the sofas and so the girls settled on a large table overlooking the leather seating and dark wooden floor below. On the other side of the room, near the window, was a large piano facing a raised eating area. The place oozed a calm state of class, but the three girls ignored this as they giggled and snorted over previous tales from university. The reminiscing was soon interrupted by two new faces reaching the top of the stairs. This caused a flurry of greetings, hugs and fashion-based compliments to take place.

“I didn’t see you guys walk in” Jemma looked confused. She had been too engrossed in chitchat to realise.

“Well we soon heard you” Replied Harriet, grinning.

Harriet and Stacey were two of Jemma’s oldest friends from secondary school. Harriet was tall, wore glasses and was curved in all the right places. Stacey was equally as tall, but thin and held more sharpish features. Both with brown hair but Harriet’s was lightand wavy, whereas Stacey‘s dark locks were straight and sleek. They were wearing more climate-appropriate attire than the other three.

Harriet was very much the group matriarch, lovable none the less. Her voice soared above the others and she had the most profound laugh. They didn’t know whether they had been too lively, or if the occupants of the sofas left on their own accord, but they didn’t hugely care. Once the last head was bobbing out of view down the stairs, Harriet was the first to duck under the low ceiling arc and grab a seat.

“Aw this is soo much more comfy” Jemma exhaled whilst she sank into the beige cushions, a full glass of rose in hand.

“Make room for us!” Came a voice from beyond their alcove. Russell confidently strode into the den, ducking appropriately, and stood admiring the five of them spread out on the large corner sofa. James soon followed, clinging attentively to two pints of beer.

“How expensive is the beer here!?” James muttered loudly.

“Should’ve got wine. Half price” said Harriet, gesturing to the bottles which littered the table.

“Fiona, Laura, this is my lovely boyfriend James and his…”

“…Stupidly handsome…” Russell inserted through a forced cough.

“…flatmate, Russ”

“You go the stupid bit right” James remarked before nodding to the two blondes to his left. They smiled and gave half-waved back.

There was a vacant, smaller sofa adjacent to the large corner one, but Russell and James ignored it and slid between the females. James placed their beers on the central table and lowered himself close to Jemma , Harriet shuffled towards Stacey to give him more room. Russell automatically cut between Laura and Fiona, leant back and looked between them.

“So how do you ladies know ol’ Jemimah, then?”

20 minutes later and Jemma had finished the last drops in her glass and looked around, pleased with the sight.  As everybody knew each other, apart from the boys and the university friends, the atmosphere was warm and comfortable. Although monopolising much of their time, Laura and Fiona were enjoying Russell’s cheeky behaviour. He was also impressed with how much banter they retaliated with, now finding them even more attractive. James was listening to Harriet and Stacey tell hilarious classroom stories, as they both had recently become qualified teachers. Stacey dealt with snot-nosed primary kids who liked to eat bugs and put on clothes backwards. Harriet kept order in secondary school; putting up with backchat, swearing and inappropriate questions.

Before Jemma knew it, it was 9.30pm. She had finished the bottle of rose and the Hackett’s wine offer had finished.  She needed the toilet, and enquired if anyone wanted to join her. The blondes to her right had just been and the teachers didn’t need to go.

“I would happily join you” Russell spoke up.

“I’m afraid you’re not welcome in the ladies Russ, not after last time” She joked as she lifted herself and shimmied past. This got her university pals asking him about, and guessing, details of the imaginary toilet story.  Once standing, the alcohol began to hit Jemma. Encompassing her in a soft haze. She blinked it off before leaving the buzzing conversations behind and tackling the narrow stairs.

Upon exiting the female toilets, feeling intense bladder relief, Jemma spotted a familiar figure waiting to order at the bar. The girl was wearing jeans and a white top; she was carrying her red coat and had a bag down by her feet. Moving her head expectantly to view all areas of the bar, it seemed the young woman was searching for someone. Whilst Jemma approached the bar, racking her brain for clues, she noticed the clasped-back blonde hair; purposely messy and twisted. She was out of uniform but Jemma suddenly recognised the face. Standing at the bar was Charlie, the Waitrose employee.

Charlie continued to look around eagerly. She eventually met eyes with Jemma, who had almost reached the bar.

“Hey!” Jemma excitedly greeted Charlie as if they had been close friends for ages. The alcohol was beginning to take affect.

“Hi” Came a polite, but hesitant response.

“How was work? Are you feeling better? Wasn’t it busy!?”

“Umm. Yeh it was ok, I’m ok” Nodding “How was your, ur, meal?”

“Did I tell you I was having a meal?” Jemma asked with a puzzled smile.

“Uh you must of. Or I guessed as much from what you bought” She thought about it “Sorry, It’s been a weird day!” Charlie looked apologetic.

UHUH! Jemma agreed. “What happened?”

“Well” Charlie couldn’t believe that she was telling a stranger such intimate and absurd details of her day but she was never one for over thinking things “I had this crazy moment of dizziness and darkness at the till, followed by all these mental thoughts and feelings and what not. And I was just finishing serving this little Chinese guy. I tried to hide it and carry on. My head was spinning and I was so sleepy, but I forced myself not to pass out or whatever. It all finished with a shudder and things around me looked all blurry! Like a bad painting. I tried to smile and wave goodbye to the Chinese man but he just looked at me like as if I had just killed his wife and rushed off. Another shudder and BAM! I needed to vom so bad! Had to lock the till, say sorry to the queue and make a run for the toilet. After a batch of nothingness came up, I felt normal again! Honestly the weirdest. Thing. Ever”

During this Jemma was leaning on the bar ready to order a drink, but had full focus on the animated Charlie beside her.  She wasn’t taking everything in as deeply as she usually would. A slight need to tell her story, for the first time, was entertaining her thoughts.

“Oh and today the people I served were, like, super mental!” She gasped and quickly backtracked “apart from you!” Charlie laughed at herself, the potential insult hadn’t even fazed Jemma but when it did she mocked outrage.  “But the others were, they were in their own little worlds, they muttered to themselves. No joke, a lot of the blokes said sly comments on how much they liked me…if you know what I mean. Everyone seemed judgemental and very inappropriate. Never. Work. In customer. Service” Charlie sipped the large white wine she had previously ordered.

“Good advice, but too late. Where were you, like, years ago with that advice!?”

After explaining to Charlie that she worked in the home furnishing shop opposite her, she ordered her drink. Charlie let on that she was meeting some work buddies for a few beverages. They had said ten o’ clock but she finished work at nine, so got ready there and strolled over as it wasn’t worth heading home. It was close to ten now and Jemma thought about inviting Chalrie to join her friends for the time being. Before given a chance, Charlie began to chat again.

“Just curious, what was up with you today then? I feel like it’s been all about me. What was the weird thing which happened to you!?” She was genuinely intrigued.

“B. Wha? Did I mention something weird?” Jemma was definitely tipsy, but was adamant that she had kept her incident from everyone.

“Urrr. Yeh” Charlie looked surprised. She was getting the slightly-drunk vibe off Jemma, which she enjoyed, and found it quite amusing “You were all like ‘me too’ at the checkout today when I mentioned my strange-ness. And just a minute ago you kinda…wanted to tell me about it” Even Charlie found her last sentence odd, biting her lip and looking out of the corners of her eyes “Didn’t you?”

“Hmmm. Well I just. I just don’t remember saying anything is all” Jemma felt quite embarrassed and on the spot. A tingling sensation began to erupt from her heavy, quickening heartbeat.

“Oh, you don’t have to say. I didn’t mean to pry or whatever” Charlie rubbed her eyes and blinked a few times, as a light fixture from behind Jemma seemed to seep through and dazzle her.

Jemma decided it was silly to get nervous, that Charlie had shared, and saying it out loud would show its nothing to worry about. She took a deep breath and described what had happened. From somehow being transported to in-front of her trolley, to time seeming to freeze. Charlie didn’t interrupt or look cynical. They both had shared their day’s peculiar unfolding’s with a comforting and relatable stranger.

“Don’t worry. It’s nothing to worry about…whoa, I don’t even know your name” Charlie laughed.

“Jemma” she stuck out her hand “Nice to meet you Charlie. I feel so much better now, even though it doesn’t make any sense”

“Yeh, maybe mention it to a doctor if you get the chance. Or if it happens again then definitely. You could of just tripped, fell and lost like a few seconds memory. I dunno. It’s unusual that both of us had weird Waitrose moments though. I would say ‘must be something in the water’ but you don’t see anyone else mentioning fucked up hallucinations or passing out”

Jemma had been down at the bar for 20 minutes, the fact that her friends were upstairs came flooding back. “Did you want to come upstairs and join…”

Jemma’s invitation was interrupted by three tall, broad men entering Hackett’s, all chanting Charlie’s name. This caused Charlie to turn, step forward, and open her arms in excitement. One after the other they strode towards her and hugged her, two of them picking her up in a bear-like squeeze. Jemma automatically presumed these gentlemen were rugby players of some sort. There inebriation levels seemed to surpass Jemma’s and Charlie seemed excited to see them. The dark haired men were wearing shirts, jeans and formal shoes. After putting Charlie down, they went straight to the bar. This gave Charlie the chance to turn back to Jemma.

“Sorry. I work with Jack, and the other two are his teammates. There a mental bunch. Did you want to sit with us? Oh. Sorry. You got your lot up there!” She pointed.

Jemma, more confused than ever, confirmed this and wished Charlie a good night. She grabbed her Malibu and coke, although half gone, and headed back to her group. She felt less tense about the day now, which was good as the alcohol would soon begin taking its toll. With that off her chest, she didn’t have to worry about blurting insane things out or spilling her guts through immensely drunken ramblings.

The night, for Jemma, was becoming an increasingly fun blur. She simply explained her short disappearance by a ‘bumping into a friend’ excuse and didn’t divulge any of what they shared. Soon after she finished her Malibu and coke the group all ventured to a new location. The short walk to a cheaper, more grungy pub became a flurry of piggy backs, fits of giggles and the two boys competing over trivial acts of athleticism. They had an interval at a cash machine before entering ‘The Vaults’ and ordering double spirits and mixers to loud chart topping music. Jemma spotted a few people she went to school with amongst the crowd, no one of immediate significance so she simply smiled at them. Groups of people overcrowded the furniture, circled the pool table and huddled around the quiz machines.

“There’s a table over there. In the conservatory. Grab it Russ!” Harriet ordered.

Once they had obtained the seats, Jemma and Laura thought it was a good idea to go outside and have a smoke. Jemma never smoked sober but it had become an involuntary habit for he drunken self. It seemed she always had more quality chats outside and away from the music. It seemed sociable. No one else in the group enjoyed cigarettes, apart from James in a way. He didn’t smoke tobacco; his enjoyment came from the more illegal substance of marijuana. Soon after entering the pub garden, Laura stubbed her cigarette out and wanted to go back inside, she was very cold. Jemma didn’t really feel it but took a long drag and joined. There were not enough seats so James offered his lap, she happily took it.

Although 'The Vaults' was a cheap place to drink, had plenty of customers and up-to-date music; it had a disappointing closing time. 10.45pm came around and the staff called last orders, ten minutes later and the door staff were hassling the patrons to leave. Most people were aware that the bar staff are young and want to enjoy the rest of the night once they've closed up and cleaned. The only nightclub in Witney, IZI, allows the pub's employees late entry.

Russ was starting to let the alcohol get the best of him by now. A bouncer strode to the back of the pub, into the conservatory where the gang were seated.

“Time to drink up now ladies and gents!” The short bald bouncer announced to all the tables.

Russ impulsively decided to loudly mimic the guy, with his drink in the air as if giving a toast. Door men are not the most lenient of people and are easily provoked. The bold man turned and shot Russ a glare of unamused disgust. Luckily for Russ he had an ensemble of attractive girls apologising on his behalf. The bouncer left and continued his rounds. This was an obvious cue for the bunch of them to hurry their drinks and leave.  Russ downed his drink and headed to the toilet. Fiona waited for Russ to enter the bathroom door before expressing an evil grin.

“Guys let get up and go, head outside and confuse the hell out of Russ”

To the intoxicated group, this seemed like a genius plan. Jemma took James' hand and walked towards the entrance, Stacey and Harriet right behind. Fiona and Laura were quickly finishing their drinks before rushing to catch up, they attempted to navigate themselves across the pub like giggling ninjas. Huddled outside ,they all waited. Fiona and Laura had their heads against a window anticipating the hilarious consequences of their plan. Jemma noticed the steam emitting from everyone's mouths as they breathed.

“Brrr. I immideatley regret this decision! Its fucking c.c.c.cold” Fiona declared.

Everyone agreed.

“I'm fine guys” Protested Jemma.

James had his arms around Jemma “She's right you know, she's warm”. Everyone began to place their cold hands on Jemma's arms to experience her body heat.

“God you are. Have you got the flu or something?” Asked Stacey.

“No” Jemma laughed.

“Guys, Guys” Laura whispered loudly. Her and Fiona were still peering though the glass “He's at the table, looking around”

“He's very confused” blurted Fiona.

“He thinks were in the garden, he's going out there now. The bouncer, from before, is watching him go out there.” There was a pause “Hes being dragged back inside, bald man is not happy!”

Fiona continues “The bouncer has let him go and is pointing towards the door, shit” Both girls put their backs to the wall so they couldn't be seen .

Another minute passed and everyone was shivering in the cold night air. Finally, a confused Russ appeared at the door.

“WHEY!” The majority yelled. Russ looked both shocked and pissed off.

“You. Twats!”

They all looked in the distance to the left of The Vaults, towards the queue to the nightclub. It wasn't overly busy. Collectively they started making their way towards it.

“Jemma!” An unknown voice called from a distance.

Jemma peered over the other side of the road to a large expanse of pavement, the Market Square. Their was a stall pitched with a white shelter above it. Religious folk often erected it to serve water  to the drunk, stumbling masses. Beside the stall was Charlie, sipping from a white plastic cup and waving. Her friends were no where to be seen.

“I'll catch up with you guys...hiccup...In a bit!” Jemma began crossing the road to join the red coated blonde. She could automatically tell that Charlie was equally as intoxicated, if not more.  A broad mindless smile greeted Jemma.

“Have you tried this water, its delicious” Charlie was so sincere it amused Jemma. She tried some to appease her.

“Yeh, delicious! Where are your...urr... guy friends?” Jemma looked around and caught Russ and the gang in the distance, joining the queue.

“There already in IZI's, I just wanted to have a nice chat to the water-Christians. They’re amazing. OH! I have, um, concocted a plan!” Charlie put on a faux-serious look and began to talk a lot quieter. “I know that the whole 'collapsing' thing is bugging you, you really can't make any sense of it!”

Jemma interrupted “You! You….you’re a mind reader you are!”

“what, nah! I can just see right through you! Jokes. I mean, I get you you know. Your. Your wicked.” So far she thought water and Christians were brilliant so Jemma didn't feel the need to blush.

Back on track Charlie continued “Right, so I have the keys for the store. I am a training manager and have access to the office and stuff. I reckon, right, we go now and sneak in. Have a quick look at the security camera's and then head back to party”

The shop was only two minutes away and Jemma was dying to know what actually happened.

“Isnt this, like, super-illegal!? Can't it just wait till the morning?”

“Yeh it could, but all the staff will be there tomorrow and others will see. It might be kinda'  embarrassing. Five minutes tonight and only we see it. I can erase it after.”

The idea seemed to sober Jemma up, usually she wouldn't consider anything something so irresponsible and impulsive. Although She liked the fact that no one else would see it. She looked around and saw that her friends had gone inside the club.

“Ten minutes and I want us back here Charlie” She looked her in her eyes and could tell this crazy  idea was dissolving their mutual buzz. “You sure this will work?”

Charlie nodded and led the way.
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