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.
Hardly daring to breath and fearing the tom-tom's in my chest would give us away at any moment, I listened to the sounds of our pursuers moving through the undergrowth. Gradually the noise receded, but still we waited in absolute silence. After hearing nothing for about ten minutes, I slowly raised my head and cautiously surveyed the surrounding area.
"They've gone." I whispered to Lisa.
"What are we going to do?" Her face was tear stained and she was shaking.
"Get help." I replied vaguely stating the obvious. I had no idea what we should do.
"We should stay well away from the road - they are bound to be watching it." Lisa sobbed.
Lisa was having trouble keeping herself together. Goodness knows I was having enough trouble myself, but we needed to remain calm. Exercising as much caution as we could, we started to move onward, away from the road making as little noise as possible.
We must have been walking for about an hour and were just about regaining our confidence when we heard them. It sounded like they were sweeping the woods behind us, calling out to each other as they moved. Without making too much noise, we pressed on as hard as we dared, scrambling over fallen trees and any other obstacles in our path. The two of us maintained a constant watch to our rear and flanks while we progressed.
The trees started to thin and we travelled quickly until we suddenly found ourselves confronted with a small rocky outcrop, a cliff-face of about twenty foot in height. To our right the cliff continued, sweeping upwards to greater heights as the ground fell away. I glanced quickly left and saw the rock face circle round beyond the tree line, back in the direction we had come.
"What are we going to do?" Panic was creeping back into Lisa's voice.
"Quickly - we've got to get up that rock face."
"We can't climb that - I'll never make it!" She stared back over her shoulder apprehensively.
"Follow me." I didn't wait to hear her protest. At any moment I expected our pursuers to materialise through the trees.
My inexperienced eye picked out a potential route and without considering any other options I started to climb. Lisa came hard after me. If only we could get over the top of the ridge without being seen our troubles would be over. Surely, upon reaching the cliff they would assume that they had missed us and move their search to new ground.
Climbing as fast and as frantically as I could, a shearing chill ran through my heart as a voice suddenly yelled out. We had been seen. Throwing caution to the wind, I pulled and heaved my way up the cliff face. I didn't dare look back. My entire concentration focused on the rocky cliff face I was attempting to negotiate. But I could hear them racing out of the trees, scrambling over the stones at the bottom of the cliff. Lisa was sobbing as she pressed on behind me.
And then there was an awful, pitiful cry of despair. I looked down myself to see Lisa sliding backwards into waiting arms. I paused before realising that Lisa was caught. There was nothing I could do except save myself and fetch help.
I reached the top edge and I pulled myself up, immediately glancing down the rock face to see a youth climbing after me. As I scrambled up I saw an old tree branch. Without any hesitation I picked up the branch and pitched it over the side. A loud curse told me I had either hit him, or dissuaded him from further pursuit.
Lisa screamed loudly. I could hear her begging them. Lying myself down I stuck my head over the edge of the cliff.
"You come on down here or your friend gets it." One of the men shouted up at me.
They were tying Lisa's hands together. I watched them throw a rope over a high tree branch and then Lisa's hands were hoisted up over her head until she stood bolt upright, arms extended high above her head as five of the six men present started circling her.
"Do you hear me?"
"I can hear you." I shouted back defiantly. "And what happens if I come down?"
"We can all have a good time." He laughed.
"You'll just have to enjoy your party without me."
"Then we gonna whip your friend's skin right off!" He turned to the gang. "Strip her."
"NO!" Lisa screamed. "Do as he say's Sandy - help me!"
A deep sigh escaped me as tears welled in my eyes. Lisa screamed as they tore her tee shirt off, her bra quickly followed. I felt a moral obligation compelling me to surrender, but I knew that in doing so I would only share in her fate. Lisa was kicking out at her assailants as they tried to get at her waist to free her jeans. For their part, her attackers seemed to be enjoying her fight.
One of the men came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her, grasping her big breasts and squeezing hard. She howled in pain, her body stiffened and hands immediately unfastened her jeans. They quickly disappeared down her legs as another pair of hands took hold of the front of her panties. In two swift yanks, they were torn from her body.
The man behind her slid his arms down her body, fixing his arms around her knees as he buried his face in Lisa's naked buttocks. Another youth fell to his knees in front of her and pressed his face into the black triangle of pubic hair. They taunted her nudity as she cried helplessly back at them. One of them exposed himself to her, telling her what he intended to do to her.
"Are you coming down?" The man yelled up at me.
I watched him turn, unfasten his belt and slide it out from the waist of his trousers. He walked over to Lisa and kicked the man away at her rear.
"Last chance." He shouted up at me as he drew his arm back.
"You hurt her and I swear to God I'll kill you!" I screamed back at him in frustration.
His arm swung. Lisa screeched, bucking herself forward and bowling the youth kneeling before her over. The other men cheered and the belt swung back. I scrambled to my feet and ran. Lisa's screams ringing in my ears as I fled the scene.
I don't know how long I ran or even what direction I took. Only that I ran until I could run no more. Several times I stopped to rest and try and gain my bearings. One tree looked pretty much like another and everywhere I looked I was surrounded by trees. I pressed on, walking now.
Dusk was falling when, exhausted, I came across the old and tired looking building. Standing for several minutes in the shadows of the trees I studied the clearing where the cabin stood. Lights shone in the curtained windows telling me someone was home. I was wary, having seen too many movies where people inadvertently wandered into the arms of their aggressors through total stupidity. Seeing no sign of physical life, I crept nervously forward.
The whole area was littered with junk, so I not only had to keep my eyes open for someone coming out of the cabin, but also where I was threading. One of the curtains had a gap in them and I was aiming to look in through that window. The wooden step creaked under my weight as I stepped up onto planked walkway. Holding my breath, I paused, straining to listen for signs of my presence having been detected.
Inside I could hear voices, but they were too low to distinguish. I crept forward, my heart thumping in my chest, my eyes watching the door fearfully. I reached the grime covered window and stooped to peer inside. The cabin was lit by lanterns and candles, its interior looked as ill kept as the exterior. My eyes surveyed the length of the room and then I saw Carrie - naked.
It was all I needed to know. I had walked straight into the lions den.
Turning slowly, I stepped back, something brushed my leg and then the worst thing imaginable happened. A loud crashing noise broke the silence of the evening. Immediately I could hear swift movement inside the building. I fled as though the devil himself were after me. To my amazement I reached the safety of the trees without any sign of pursuit.
Puzzled, I looked back just as the door opened and all nine men filed out. Carrie and Lisa, both naked, were dragged out with them. I laid myself down on the ground, trying to make myself as inconspicuous as possible in the fading light. They made no attempt to enter the trees in front of the building where they lined up. Unbeknown to them I was hiding at an angle to the building so they were not directly ahead of me.
"Give yourself up!" One of the men suddenly shouted. "If you don't we will kill your friends!"
I lay in shocked silence, hardly believing what I had just heard.
"I know you're out there." He paused. "This is your last chance. If you don't give yourself up you'll leave us no choice - we won't harm you if you come in now."
"How do I know you won't kill me too?" I shouted back.