The radio droned on in the background, none of us were listening, save perhaps Lisa as she drove. Carrie slept in the back, I was struggling to stay awake and Lisa was left driving with little company beside the radio. We had managed to get ourselves lost twice all ready and Lisa, rightly, no longer trusted my navigation skills.
After realising we were lost, again, Lisa had pulled over and snatched the map from me. She sat in broody silence, wordlessly studying the map while I stared pointedly out of window. Several minutes passed before the map was tossed back into my lap and Lisa swung the car out onto the road. Lisa glanced quickly across at me, her eyes fell to the open atlas in my lap.
"We are here," Her finger stabbed at the page and started to trace a green line. "Try to stick with it Sandy or we'll never get there."
"Sorry." I murmured, my finger replacing hers on the green line. "Which way are we going - up the page or down?"
"You're kidding me!" Lisa shrieked.
I grinned back at her and the earlier tension dissolved. We were heading for fun, the sun, sea and sand on the west coast following our graduation success, providing of course I could get us there.
"See the red line off to the right?"
I studied the map for a moment. "U-huh?"
"If we follow that road and cut across country it should put us right." Lisa started to indicate, "Nothing to it really, we just stick to that road."
"Okay - I know where we are now."
We turned off the green line onto the red which would take us across country to our destination. And the endless miles rolled beneath us as the radio droned on and the sun beat down through the screen as my eyelids became heavy.
I woke with a start as a car drew alongside us.
"Pull over." A scruffy looking youth shouted through Lisa's open window. "We'll show you a good time."
"Hey!" One of the youths in the rear of the car yelled. "Show us your tits!"
"Fuck off!" Lisa muttered quietly, just as the rear youth clambered up on to his seat and dropped his trousers, poking his naked behind out of the window as they passed. We could hear them laughing as the car roared away.
"Stupid ass." She remarked, and we burst out laughing.
The incident was quickly forgotten and I started dozing again. Through semi-shuttered eyes I watched the road as we rounded a bend. Suddenly Lisa slammed on the breaks. I was wide awake as the car snaked past the tree lying across the road. Branches and undergrowth whipped across the windscreen in a blurred kaleidoscope of green and brown hues. Carrie screamed in the back. Moments later we lurched forward as the car hit a tree and came to a stop.
For several moments there was stunned silence. Carrie picked herself off the floor behind my seat and asked if we were okay. I looked at Lisa, she was shocked, but appeared unhurt and I answered that we were. Ridiculously, and totally inappropriately, a bird shrieked somewhere off in the trees, its crazy chatter sounding more like laughter; stranger still that I should be struck by the sound of a bird call when all around me was a chaos that could have proved fatal.
The door beside me resisted my first attempts to open it, but gave after a good shove and I clambered out to join my friends in inspecting the damage to Lisa's car. I'm a far cry from being any kind of mechanical expert, but Lisa's car looked a write-off to me. Even if it was salvageable, it was pretty obvious that we would not be travelling any further in Lisa's car.
Lisa burst into tears at the sight of her crumbled car. Trying to be practical, I pulled out my mobile phone to discover I had no signal while Carrie attempted to console Lisa. Seeing my disgruntled look, Carrie checked her phone and urged Lisa to do the same. Predictably none of us had a signal.
"We should try and get help." Carrie suggested.
The sound of a car caught our attention. The three of us immediately began to pick our way through the undergrowth, heading directly toward the road instead of retracing our steps back along the torn trail Lisa's car had created. It appeared that the driver had found the road blocked and from the sound of his engine had stopped his car. If we could only reach the car before the driver left the scene, we could raise help.
"I've left my bag behind!" Carrie suddenly stopped. "It's got my purse in it - you go on and stop the driver, I'll catch you up."
I wavered for a moment, reluctant to leave Carrie, but not wanting to miss the opportunity of help. Lisa paused, equally uncertain.
"Go on - quick the two of you, before they drive off!" Carrie insisted with a wave as she headed back toward Lisa's car.
I led the way, picking my way round clumps of brambles as carefully and quickly as possible while Lisa stepped in my tracks to avoid the worst of the stinging nettles and thorns. Nearing the road an unexpected loud whoop of glee checked us. I don't know why, possibly an instinctive reflex action, but the two of us immediately ducked down out of sight. We looked at each other with nervous puzzlement before I cautiously peered through the undergrowth at the road to see a car with its engine running. Several feet in front of the car four men were man-handling the small tree off the road.
A voice shouted from somewhere behind us. Our heads whipped round and then snapped back again as another voice answered from further down the road. I deep sense of foreboding crept over me. Every instinct told me to stay put and do nothing. Straining to look out, I spotted one of the youths that had passed us in the car earlier.
"They went down this way." He shouted to the men pulling the tree off the road.
"Get after them." One of the men called back.
Carrie! Both Lisa and I looked at each other, realising that she might be in trouble. Something about the demeanour of these men told me that they were not about to rescue us. We moved quickly and as quietly as we could.
I heard laughter up ahead and it was not a pleasant sound. Voices, an exchange; followed by a cry of protest. More laughter and as we neared our car Carrie came into sight, she was stood with her back to us, on the far side of the car were three of the youths that had passed us earlier and she was trying to keep the stricken car between her and the men. Lisa held me back as two more men appeared along the churned up path Lisa's car had created.
Carrie spotted the approaching men closing in on her and started wailing as the three youths moved round from the opposite direction. She turned to flee, heading straight toward us, and in that same instance the five men charged her, chasing her down like a pack of wild dogs before she could cover less than half the distance from where we stood hidden in the trees.
They fell upon her, pulling her limbs at impossible angles as they tore at her clothing. We stood in shocked silence, listening to her pitiful mewling as she fought bravely. Hands were all over her, pulling at her shirt, then her bra, while more snatched at her trousers. Two of the men were heaving on the legs of Carrie's trousers until they fell back with a sudden bump and Carrie's naked legs kicked wildly in the air. With a triumphant shout a small piece of fabric went sailing through the air and Carrie was rendered totally naked.
They physically lifted her off the ground and carried her towards Lisa's car where she was hoisted up on to the roof of the car and laid spread eagle. A brief shoving contest took places between the youths until suddenly one of the youths was standing on the crumpled bonnet of Lisa's car. Tears welled in our eyes as we watched in disbelief as his friends pinned Carrie down while he opened his trousers. And then the four men we had seen clearing the road arrived to join in.
We numbered only two, small odds against so many, nine in total. Two men had attached themselves to Carrie's breasts, her legs thrust upright at right angles to her body as the second scrambled up on the bonnet. Her wails continued above the din of their laughter as the second entered her. Someone shouted out, asking where the other two were, which we immediately understood to mean us.
We turned and fled, leaving our friend at their mercy. It didn't take them long to pick-up the noise of our flight through the undergrowth. We were panicked by the sound of their pursuit, running for our lives in the direction of the road.
The moment we hit the road, we ran for all we were worth, pounding along the tarmac as fast as our feet could carry us.
"Don't leave me!" Lisa gasped almost hysterically.
I turned as I ran to see that I was several yards in front of her. In that same instance, two of the youths emerged onto the road; they saw us straight away and gave chase at once. Grabbing Lisa's hand, I dragged her into the undergrowth on the far side of the road, disregarding the snagging branches that seemed bent on aiding our pursuers by hampering our escape.
We had gone maybe a hundred yards when Lisa's foot caught. I could do nothing to prevent her fall and bent to help her back to her feet. Suddenly I heard voices and ducked out of sight.
"Which way did they go?"
My heart pounded from the effort of running combined with the adrenaline pumping through my system. I tried to control my breathing, to remain as quiet as was humanly possible.
"Shut y'mouth and listen." Someone answered off to our left.
.... There is more of this story ...