Posted by Barbanne on November 13, 2003 at 22:35:35:
PART ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY TWO
I stood outside the door to the old Spanish mission, the others crowding in behind me, and stared awestruck at the sight before me.
We were ringed by about twenty people. Three or four were men, the others women. The men wore protective leather harnesses and short cotton skirts and their feet were clad in strapped leather boots and they had worked leather helmets on their heads. The women were all dressed in long flowing cotton garments which were gathered at one shoulder leaving their arms and the other shoulder bare. The strange patterning hemming and otherwise decorating their clothes I had only ever seen in illustrated history books. Most of these people were tall and dark haired and dark complexioned but several were lighter in colouring and a couple were actually blonde.
It seemed quite unbelievable and my mind couldn't get around it, but I was struggling to accept that I was looking at people who appeared to have come straight from the courts of Cleopatra.
I stared at them open mouthed and then I felt a little faint and staggered backward and Loreen grabbed me and steadied me on my feet.
What I really couldn't get my head around was that these dudes weren't carrying spears or swords and the shiny barrels of the automatic guns they were pointing at us were anything but ancient Egyptian.
A tall, sharp faced woman stepped forward and stuck a silver hand gun in my tummy and, in perfect English, said, "OK you lot come with us."
"What the fuck is this all about and who the hell are you.................gangsters?" I said, anger masking my gut loosening fear.
She jammed the gun into my solar plexus robbing me of air and said, "Shut up sister or would you like to be stretched out here, food for the wild life?"
"Who the fuck are you people and what's going on? I demand that you set us free at this instant otherwise we'll have the cops out here quicker than you think."
"Barb.......," Alex said warningly.
"Cops," the woman said mockingly and her companions laughed, "cops out here? You forget where you are madam."
"What is this? kidnapping? some form of ransom thing? Who the fuck do you think you are?"
My fear was making me babble.
Then she hit me. The gun which had been in my middle was suddenly level with my face and she slammed it into me and I went down on my knees and I could feel blood flowing hotly down over my cheek. Alex helped me to my feet. I was stunned and hurt and distinctly wobbly and the woman who had hit me said, "Put her down, leave her."
"No way, she stays, I stay," said Alex.
I heard it but my head was spinning and I was half out of it.
"She'll stay here dead," said the woman, "and if she does, so do you."
"Damn you. Wherever we go she goes."
"Fuck it. OK come on then you lot and if the girl can't keep up I'll shoot her myself."
"She'll keep up," said Alex in a voice of ice and he and Loreen half supported and half dragged me and away we went.
They hurried us through the sandstone pillars that were the lost city and then after something like twenty minutes hard travel we were hustled into the shade under an overhanging ledge of rock and then we were walking down a steep incline into subterranean gloom.
It was dark and it was cold and water had formed on the rock walls and dripped down onto the floor. Stalactites and stalagmites appeared. By now I had more or less recovered my senses and despite having a very sore head and (I just knew) a big black bruise and a bloodied tee shirt, I was OK again and could walk on my own and take in everything around me. We were in a cavern, a dark, cold and, surprisingly, seeing we were in the desert, a wet cavern, a sort of rock passageway that led from outside into wherever we were headed. We were hurried along this for a while. It was almost impossible to gauge time in this nearly black environment. Then after maybe ten minutes, although it could have been fifteen and it could have been five, I saw light ahead, at first dim and then increasingly bright until at last we emerged from a fissure in the rocks into a subterranean amphitheatre some three or four hundred metres across and enclosed by a hemispherical rock dome about two hundred metres high. Light streamed down through a sort of rock chimney just off centre in this roof and spread out inside the cavern making it about as bright as if it had been lit by fluorescent lights. Around the perimetre of the amphitheatre were huts built of timber that looked substantial but fairly crude and the space in the middle was a sandy floored area that looked to me like a stadium or something similar. There were more of the strange, Egyptian looking people milling around and somewhere in the distance I could hear a generator running and I saw that there were electric lights (and who knew what else) in all of the huts.
In the stadium, no it was an arena I realised, two of the robed girls were facing each other and our captors stopped us and we all watched as a strange and frightening scene unfolded.
One girl was slim and dark and the other was fair and tall and had an incredibly impressive chest.
They shucked off their robes and were naked underneath and then, naked and sweating slightly, they commenced circling each other. The woman who had pistol whipped me called out something I didn't understand and one of the men with us ran down and threw a small, straight and razor sharp knife into the arena. By now the rest of the people of this weird underworld had gathered where they could watch the approaching drama.
The two girls continued circling and then, as one, they dashed for where the knife lay on the sand. They reached it at virtually the same instant and dived onto it.
Then they were entangled in a furious struggle and like two ancient Graeco Roman wrestlers they rolled around on the sandy ground and I saw the flash of the blade but couldn't tell who had it and then the girls were locked together almost like one creature and I saw the big breasted fair haired girl starting to thrash and I thought this is going to end badly and then I heard a horrible heart rending shriek and the two girls parted and the fair haired girl had the dagger driven so far into her chest that only the handle of the knife was showing and I watched as her face twisted in a ghastly rictus and then her eyeballs rolled completely out of sight and she fell to the sand and blood glooped from her mouth and she thrashed convulsively for what seemed forever but was in reality only a few seconds and then she jerked, spasmed and went still.
The dark girl picked up her robe and slipped into it and without another look at the girl she had slain walked off and went into one of the huts. Two men from among the crowd ran over and grabbing the dead girl's ankles ran from the arena with her body flopping behind them, hair and arms trailing, until they disappeared behind a break in the huts.
I stomped over to the woman leading our party and said, "That was fucking murder you bitch."
She raised the pistol until it was pointing at the bridge of my nose.
"One more word and I'll kill you sister."
I had opened my mouth to say that one more word when Alex grabbed me and said to the woman, "What's going on here?"
"You come with me and I'll explain," she said to him, then looking at me she said, "and get that little shit out of my sight."
Alex stayed with her and the rest of us were hustled away.
The Egyptians, I kept thinking of them as Egyptians, pushed us into one of the huts that was otherwise empty. It consisted of a central living space, simply furnished, and another room that contained a number of bunks and was obviously the sleeping quarters. A fairly utilitarian bathroom completed the accommodation. The lighting was electric as I had surmised and the whole thing was sort of like a so, so, suburban house.
I sat down on one of the chairs and looked at Jade, Dave and Loreen and the awfulness of what had happened swept over me and I felt tears form and start to fill my eyes and I slapped angrily at my face and then I started weeping in earnest.
"Well," said Dave, "is this weird or is this weird?"
"What's going to happen to us?" said Jade.
"Who are these people?" said Loreen.
"Pharaohs with shooters," I sniffed.
"And you nearly got yourself shot a couple of times girl," said Jade and I started snivelling even faster.
"I didn't mean it and I hate that I put you guys in any danger but I was so angry."
"Barb its OK, we're you're friends for goodness sake."
I smiled but felt crappy.
Alex ducked through the door and came inside. Four pairs of eyes swivelled to follow his movements.
"Well?" I said, "what did Miz Bitch have to say?"
"Her name's Karla Barb and I suspect she's a sociopath. It seems that this little group of cave dwelling psychos started as some sort of hippie commune and existed as such with a lot of well meaning love children running around baring their asses to the sun until Karla arrived here a few of years ago looking to do a little drugs and have a good time. Anyway, whatever, at some time about two years ago her drug addled brain decided that she was some sort of reincarnation of Isis and after that it's all gone feral. She's been able to surround herself with like minded loonies and they have killed off the original hippies calling it some perverted sacrificial thing and now they kidnap tourists, mostly young backpackers who get out here off the beaten track and these have become their new sacrificial victims. That was what we witnessed as we came in. Needless to say their latest group of prisoners is a doco film crew namely us.
Oh and Barb............."
"Just be careful. For some reason she really hates you."
"I'll keep low."
"Are they going to hurt us?" Jade had that haunted look she had had when I first met her.
"After what Alex has told us," said Dave, "are you kidding."
"Shit," said Loreen.
"Exactly," I agreed.
"The killings are dressed up as a contest, we saw that," said Alex, "but I suspect they're fairly uneven and the vic stands no chance at all. What we've got to do is keep our heads down until we can come up with a plan to get us out of here."
The doorway darkened and Karla swept in in full robes accompanied by two of her male companions. She strode over to me and got right in my face.
"OK bitch. Isis has chosen you. You fight in the arena."
She slapped me hard making my poor abused head ring.
"You fight now..............come."
"I don't fight. I don't like hurting people. Just take your lunacy Isis shit and piss off."
She turned back livid.
"Isis really wants you," she spat, "and for that she has chosen to fight you herself. Your opponent bitch is ME!!!"