The Race

the-race-new-coverJoanna Parypinski is drugged, kidnapped, and forced to fight for survival, for the entertainment of the world’s rich and depraved, as well as the chance to win her weight in gold.

In the race for her life, glory, and gold, Joanna must kill or be killed.

*

 I wasn’t wearing my own clothes.

A headache pulsated through my brain, reminding me of the time that bastard, Jake Stanton, roofied my drink at a club a couple of years ago. The unpleasant memory of waking up in my car in the middle of an empty parking garage, naked and alone, made an unwelcome appearance. Jake had left a note saying: “Thanks for the memories,” stuck to my bare breast.

I found him a few nights later trying to pull the same shit on another girl. I guess I could have called the cops, but then I, and my past mistakes and issues with authority, would have been put on trial, not Jake. My way was so much better, and far more satisfying.

I made him drink the girl’s drugged wine with my flick knife pressed against his crotch. I waited for the drug to take effect and then had my fun. He woke up naked, tied to a tree, and with a big, pink, plastic dildo shoved up his arse. Apparently he had difficulty walking for a week or so, but he never drugged another girl after that. The girl I helped didn’t even bother to say thank you. Gratitude seems to be something that not many people feel anymore. I wasn’t expecting her to name her first kid after me, but a simple thank you would have been nice.

But this time was different, and more confusing. I woke up in a cell with twenty other women, wearing a baby-pink tracksuit with a zip-up top and hoody, and running shoes that didn’t belong to me. They fitted well enough and they smelt new, but there was no way in hell I would ever willingly wear pink anything. My cell phone, car keys, wallet, and flick knife were all gone.

Bastards!

The distinct briny smell of the sea drifted up my nostrils, which was impossible since I didn’t live anywhere near the ocean. In fact the nearest ocean was about a day’s drive from my home—if I drove really fast. The walls of the cell were slightly damp and had that salty smell you only get when you’re at the coast. My tongue was also thick from dehydration and whatever drugs they’d given me.

Some other women, locked in another cell, looked as though they’d escaped from a Xena convention. They looked like body builders, with those fake dark tans that were supposed to show off their over developed muscles. From the looks of them and the way they flexed their muscles they’d had a few too many testosterone injections.

The rest of the women in my cell were dressed in similar tracksuits to mine, they also looked as confused as I felt. The fear on their faces made me a whole lot more nervous than I’m used to being.

The warrior women flexed their muscles some more, did push-ups, or gave intimidating stares to the scared women in tracksuits. They seemed to be pumping themselves up for something. The Xena wannabes also had swords of varying types. I wondered if they’d been at some costume party, except the swords looked a little too real and a little too sharp for cosplay.

No one spoke.

I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d managed to get myself locked up in the local drunk tank. Except the last time I’d been locked up there, the place looked and smelled different. The local drunk tank usually had a hint of piss and puke in the air, not the ocean. Then there was the small problem that I didn’t remember getting drunk. I tried to come up with a logical explanation, but failed. The drug idea was the only plausible explanation, until men with machine guns showed up and dragged us, quite literally, out of the cells to a ship docked outside. The ship hadn’t seen a coat of paint since the Second World War. My Grandfather might have sailed on it.

We joined more women on the ship. I counted a hundred of us, all from different parts of the world—from the looks of things. About twenty per cent were dressed in warrior costumes, and could give the Williams sisters a run for their money in the muscle department. They looked determined. I, on the other hand, was scared shitless.

The ship’s engine sputtered to life, jerked under my feet, and messed with the delicate balance maintained by my inner-ear. Soon, we headed out into the open ocean. The waves smacked into the ship’s hull, causing the motion sickness that affected my balance to grip my sensitive stomach. A few other women in tracksuits threw up over the side of the ship. That was it. I lost my lunch or dinner. I didn’t remember when my last meal had been. All I tasted was bile and seawater. To make matters worse I was now completely dehydrated and it didn’t look like we’d be getting anything to drink soon.

The men with machine guns prowled the decks and the warrior women eyed each other suspiciously, while the rest of us cowered. It was the most surreal experience of my life. I kept expecting a fight to break out between the testosterone-soaked women, or to be shot by a machine gun wielding goon. Perhaps I’d taken some weird drug and this was all just an elaborate hallucination, but I didn’t remember chewing any shrooms, so that theory didn’t fit either. Not being able to come up with any kind of reasonable explanation for my current predicament was annoying, to say the least. I knew I’d been drugged, but I sure as shit hadn’t done it to myself. The pink tracksuit was testament to that.

One of the Xena lookalikes appeared next to me, smoking a cigarette. The blade of her sword looked like it had seen some action. Small nicks peppered the shining edge. The leather on the hilt was sweat stained and worn.

“Why are we here?” I asked her.

She looked me up and down. Sizing me up, deciding whether or not to kill me right then and there.

“We are warriors,” she said in heavily accented English. I couldn’t place the accent, but she looked Spanish or Portuguese.

“I’m not a warrior. I’m a fucking bartender,” I said, trying not to screech.

“It would seem they disagree,” she said, gesturing towards the cabins above us, and then she was gone, swallowed by the rolling mist that enveloped the ship.

It was the icy breath of an unquiet sea. It matched the fear mounting inside me.

The ship jolted and came to a sudden stop. I slipped, landed hard on my arse. It took a few attempts before I managed to get back onto unsteady feet. My butt ached. One of the guards tried not to laugh. Relief at the thought of his humanity flooded through me; I almost cried. Almost, but not quite. His laughter disappeared as quickly as it had started. He probably realised he wasn’t supposed to be a human being, that he was supposed to be a killing machine. The barrel of his machine gun pointed at me. But I’d gotten a glimpse of his humanity, and that knowledge could come in handy later.

I heard a thump coming from the port side of the ship, followed by women screaming. Running feet approached, fast. Using his machine gun, the guard gestured for me to follow the direction of the screams. My stomach churned and my scalp tingled. Hysteria started to curl itself around my spine, taking a firm grasp.

They herded us down the gangplank. Angry shouts mingled with screams which dwindled down to incessant sobbing.

The mist cleared once we were off the ship.

I found myself standing on a white, sandy beach. If it weren’t for the guards with machine guns and women with swords, it would have been pretty idyllic.

The mist closed around the ship again, making it simply disappear. Thoughts of the Bermuda triangle and the Island of Doctor Moreau surfaced on my fear fogged mind.

*

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