Twelve kidnapped young women, a lonely island, and a hauntingly sensual curse. A young woman named Sophie finds herself among the twelve kidnapped from their homes and taken to Wolf Island. There they are forced to participate in the Choosing, an ancient ritual that binds them to a man who is more than he seems. She refuses to submit to their demands and plots only to escape, but she finds herself entranced by the man to whom she is bound. His alluring eyes catch her like a moth to a flame, and she finds herself falling into a world of dark desires and feral lust.
I awoke to a place that was dark, filthy, and crowded.
My confused, fuzzy mind tried to comprehend what was the matter. This wasn’t my small, dank apartment in my rough neighborhood, nor was it the large department store in which I worked. No, this was somewhere else, somewhere horrible and frightening.
I tried to sit up, but I grew lightheaded and swayed. My shoulder knocked into the leg of another person.
“Watch it!” a woman’s voice hissed.
“She didn’t mean to,” another voice spoke up. Again, it was a woman who spoke.
I forced my eyes open and beheld a dark, cramped holding car much like a boxcar, but half the size. There were slats near the top to allow for ventilation and some light from the dark night sky beyond the little prison. Benches sat two feet off the dirty floor and were on three sides of the rectangular space.
The fourth side, one of the ones that comprised the short end of the car, appeared to be made of two metal doors that swung outward. I lay on the dirty ground at the far end opposite the doors and in front of one of the benches.
On the benches and the floor sat a dozen women counting myself. In the dim light I glimpsed their wide, frightened eyes. Their ages ranged from the mid teens to early thirties, and their clothes were as different as their ages. Some wore jeans and shirts, others were clothed in dress pants and blouses. Some wore glasses, and others didn’t. A few were beautiful, some were plain like me, but none were what I’d called unattractive.
I tried to shift my legs, but there came a metallic scraping sound and something arrested my movements. I glanced down at my ankles and saw I was shackled. My wrists were likewise attached to one another, but at least they were locked in front of me. I ground my teeth together and shook the wooziness out of my head.
“Where. . .where am I?” I asked the women.
“Hell,” a nearby woman quipped. I recognized her voice as the one I’d angered. She had long, dark brown hair and narrow, dark eyes.
“You’re not making things better for any of us saying that, Carey,” a woman near her scolded her. That was the second woman I’d heard earlier.
“Why should I care about everyone else? I don’t know any of you. All we’ve done is give our first names,” Carey snapped.
I tried to stand, but the holding car suddenly jumped as though it hit a bump. I tipped over and fell into the arms of the friendly woman. “Easy there. The stuff they gave you is just wearing off,” she told me.
“‘Stuff?’” I repeated.
The woman smiled. “You’re really out of it, aren’t you? Do you remember your first name?”
“What does it matter? They’re probably taking us somewhere where they can kill us all,” Carey argued.
The woman who held me glared at Carey. “It matters to put names with faces just in case we need to help each other.” She returned her attention to me and squeezed me between herself and a young girl of sixteen. “I’m Briana, but you can call me Bree. What’s yours?”
I clutched my aching head in my hand and scrunched my eyes shut. “Sophia, but where are we?” I persisted.
Bree shrugged. “In this boxcar driving somewhere. It’s been like that for a few hours. Ever since the first of us woke up.”
I swept my eyes over the long, haggard faces of the others. “How’d we get here?”
“Probably the same way you did. What do you last remember?” Bree asked me.
I furrowed my brow and grimaced. “I. . .I remember having a drink after work, and this guy comes up and offers to buy me one. He-” My eyes widened when I recalled what happened next. “He put something in my drink! He drugged me and pulled me outside, and then. . .and then-”
Bree nodded. “And then you woke up here. That’s pretty much the same story everybody else told. Well, most everybody.” She leaned back and looked at the young woman beside me. My right-side companion was small and thin with short hair and a shy face. I realized the girl’s shoulders shook, and the soft sound of crying reached my ears. She was bent forward and her face was in her manacled hands.
I tried to wrap my arm around her shoulders, but my shackles constrained me. I had to settle with setting a hand on her arm. “You okay?” I whispered.
“Don’t mind her. She’s been balling since she woke up,” Carey spoke up.
Bree whipped her head to Carey and glared at her. “You’d be crying your eyes out, too, if you were stolen off the street going home after school,” she snapped.
I leaned forward and squeezed her arm. “What’s your name?” I asked her.
She raised her head and revealed tear-streaked cheeks and a cute, but young, face. “L-Lillian,” she replied.
I smiled. “That’s a pretty name. I’m Sophia.”
Lillian wiped a few stray tears from her cheeks and straightened a little. “That’s a nice name, too,” she told me.
“I could just barf,” Carey spoke up.
“Don’t. Those slats up there aren’t that great at getting air down here,” Bree pointed out.
I stood and leaned my back against the metal wall to steady myself against bumps. I inspected the slats. They stood eight feet off the ground, and a thin screen covered their six-inch openings. My desperate mind conjured up a desperate plan.
“I think some of us can fit through there if the others give them a boost,” I suggested.
Carey looked me over and snorted. “You’d better not be considering you for the top.”
I hated to admit it, but she was right. I wasn’t slim. My hips were wide, my belly flabby, and my breasts were too big for this escape. I was plump, and plump wouldn’t get me out of this terrifying ordeal. The rest of me, my long dark-brown hair and frumpy clothes, suited me, but still wouldn’t help.
“I’m not, but Lillian and a few of the others might be able to fit through,” I insisted.
My bold idea caught the attention of the other car occupants. They raised their heads and looked at one another, sizing each other up for possible escape.
“Right. And what will they do when they squeeze out? Get squished by truck wheels?” Carey retorted.
“They can find help,” Bree spoke up. She rose to her feet shoulder to shoulder with me and smiled at me. “It’s not a bad plan, and it’s a hell of a lot better than staying here to see what’s at the end of this ugly rainbow.”
Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to try out my crazy scheme. Our momentum slowed as someone applied the brakes to the truck. The car rocked to and fro, and Bree and I fell back into our seats. The truck parked and the engine was shut off. We inside the car held our breath, but voices came from in front and on the sides of our little prison. Male voices.
“How many you manage to dig up this time?” a gruff voice asked someone.
“A full dozen, just as you ordered,” another, meeker voice replied.
“And they better not be ugly or I’ll make you uglier,” the first voice warned the other man.
“Of course not, sir. They’re all very pretty, healthy young ladies.” The voices moved to the rear of the car.
Another even crazier idea came to my mind. I glanced at Bree and saw her eyes followed the voices like mine. I jerked my head towards the rear of the truck. My girth couldn’t help me for my first plan, but it was an asset for my second. “You thinking what I’m thinking?” I whispered.
“I’ll get the right door, you get the left,” she replied.
We shuffled towards the exit just as we heard a metal bar removed from the doors. “I’ll be the judge of what’s pretty and what’s-” The man didn’t get to finish his sentence before the doors swung open.
Bree and I flung ourselves into the unknown. That turned out to be the two talkers at the head of a half dozen other, hairy men.
“Yeehaw!” Bree yelled as we dove into their midst.
Our surprise attack did the trick. We crashed into the men, and they dropped like bowling pins before a bowling ball. Bree and I bit, clawed, and kicked at our captors. They couldn’t get a grasp on our flopping legs and swinging arms.
The other women rushed out after us, but rather than help they sprinted off in all directions. Their shackled legs didn’t get them far because the expiration date on Bree and my tentative distraction expired. The men managed to snatch the chains that connected our manacled wrists and pull us off our kicking feet. They lifted us off the ground and gave time for their brethren to stand.
One of the men, a large, burly-looking fellow with close-set eyes and greasy black hair, pointed at our fleeing companions. “Get them back here and on the boat!” he ordered them.
For the first time I got a view of where we were, and was confused. Our little group and holding truck sat at the edge of a forest filled with tall, ancient pine trees. Thick brush obscured the trunks and disallowed travel between the trees. The tops of the trees stretched into the night sky and obscured much of the clear, starlit ceiling. Nothing moved in the shadows, and the only noises were of the women screaming as they were recaptured. Our female companions were dragged or carried to the front of the truck.
The burly man marched up to Bree and me, and glared at us with his narrowed eyes. “Dumb bitches. Thought you could just get away like that, huh?” He snapped his finger in front of Bree’s face, and she cringed away from him.
“Leave her alone,” I ordered him.
The man turned his ugly eyes on me, and a sly, lecherous grin slipped onto his wet lips. He grabbed my chin between his fingers and chuckled. The sound sent chills down my spine, and his breath made me gag. “You’ve got some spirit here, huh? Well, your mate will break you of that.” He stepped back and jerked his head over his shoulder to the front of the truck. “Take them with the rest of them.”
A muddy dirt road behind the truck showed where we had traveled, and a large boat in front showed how much farther we had to go. The boat sat at the end of a long wooden dock whose planks were half-rotten with age and neglect. The dock stretched out into the waters of a large lake. It was impossible to tell how large was the body of water because of the fog that covered most of its opposite shores. Its shores were filled with large rocks, and trees crowded in behind the rocks. The branches of submerged trees stuck out of the water as though pleading for help from a wet demise. In the distance, silhouetted by the light of a pale moon, I could see the shadow of a large island.
The boat was the size of a small yacht and of the general shape, but with all the extravagance torn away. The belly of the beast was a mess of peeling paint and lake life. The windows, what few I could see, were grimy and cracked. There was a crooked railing on the deck, and ropes hung off the sides in haphazard fashion. There were no life boats, and the whole thing smelled of seaweed and diesel.
There were two planks onto the boat. The higher one led onto the deck, and another pointed down to a tall hatch where lay the cargo hold. We were shoved and carried across the lower plank into the bowels of the decrepit vessel. It was a dark, dank hold smaller than the boxcar and without windows or artificial light. I don’t know how our captors could see in such darkness, but they had no trouble lining us up along the wall. They slammed our rears and backs against the walls, and left us. The opening closed and the light completely vanished.
“Any more bright ideas?” Carey quipped.
“Yeah. Don’t give up hope,” I retorted.
I heard someone shout above deck, and the boat rocked and moved forward as we continued on our terrifying journey to the unknown.