Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write for the ACTION and/or ADVENTURE Genre (11/13/14)
- TITLE: To Trust a Viper
By Helen Curtis
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Sure, she'd done some crazy things; trekked through Australia's outback on camel, visited hospitals to document the 'human element' in war-torn middle-eastern regions; she had even been a guest photog at a U2 gathering in her home town of Glasgow. Nothing could prepare her for this. Prefering non-touristy sights, Brenna asked the hotel recepción where she might go. "Senorita, you do not want to go to these places alone. So many young girls go missing with nada explanation; stay at the resort, missy. You be safe here."
The temptation was too great; hoisting the Nikon D7100 out of its bag, Brenna set off to find something to report. It did not take long; a line of young girls, ten, twenty of them even, were being hustled out of a run-down cantina and into a more-run-down van. Sensing the story before her, Brenna loaded her camera and took aim. The sunken eyes of the little girl last in line bore into her through the lens; the girl spoke in Spanish, then disappeared. Brenna turned to leave, and was met solidly over the head with the butt of a sawn-off shot-gun.
As Brenna was dragged like a lifeless rag doll to the same van as the girls, the previous day's SD card fell from her bag to the dusty road.
Brenna woke with a start. Darkness, save for a blinking red light some 2 metres from where she knelt. The mustiness of the threadbare, mouldy rug beneath her pins-and-needled legs made her feel nauseous. At least, that's what she attributed it to. Her arms hung like dead weights above her head; the rusty chains bit at her skin, the blood flowing in thin rivulets over her dirt-encrusted arms, disappearing into her black singlet top. Think, Brenna, THINK! She remembered little of what had happened.
Footsteps echoing from the staircase into the cellar sounded the arrival of her captors. Large iron Keys clanked against the slightly out of shape bars, then chinked into place, the ancient padlock resigning its grip. Brenna spasmed. One of the three, no four, men, reached down and took the flashing light in his hands. Beads of sweat landed on Brenna's legs as he leant in close and shook his head, thrusting the D7100 into her face.
"So, pretty lady, you like taking pictures, yes?" He leered at Brenna; gaps where there should be teeth revealed decay, and a bright green globule of guacamole sat prisoner in the whiskers on his thick-skinned chin. She began to mumble a reply, but his hand across her face showed he was not interested in listening.
Pulling a pair of grimey spectacles from his balding head he read the airline's tag on her backpack, "Brenna McIntyre, WHAT were you doing taking pictures of me and my girls? You uuhhh, working for the Centro de Investigación, huh?" The man, suddenly serious, stood; his ample frame did most of the intimidation. Brenna's mind raced for clarity amidst the mental anguish; why couldn't she...remember...flashes of a van... girls were sobbing...looked at Brenna, "Ayúdanos?!"
Brenna thought hard...Help us?
One of the men stepped up and whispered something to the leader. Brenna's stomach lurched at the thought of what might be coming.
Bradly Simmons knew her only hope rested in his ability to convince the cartel leaders he was legit.
He also knew the hopes of the hundreds of girls being trafficked daily rested not only on Brenna McIntyre's ability to survive long enough to escape, but her ability to trust him after what he had just done.
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