Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language, violence, and mature content.
Prologue - Makaily's Demise
As the breeze hummed across the river, Makaily Lewis tucked her billowing strands of red hair behind her ear. The leaves of the bushland hushed a gentle tune as the sun glistened off the riverbed. The shallow water at the riverbed trickled soothingly over the rocks. The hillside behind her trapped the wind into the clearing, adding to a cool and serene atmosphere.
Makaily lay back under an overhanging tree to admire her boyfriend who was floating in the river. She smiled at that thought. Her fiancé, she corrected herself...ever since last night when he'd gotten down on bended knee. When Andrew had brought her on this camping trip, she had no idea what his true intentions were.
The night before, he had proposed to her under the stars and she'd immediately accepted. His earnest expression glowed softly in the flicker of firelight as he confessed his deep love for her. The adoration in his eyes had been enough to make her melt. For all the time they'd spent together, she had no doubts he was the one.
Now sensing her stare, Andrew rolled off his back in the water and swam towards her. He came to a halt when he reached waist-deep and he stood up with a grin. The water streamed from his trim torso, his wet blonde hair tangled around a smooth face. Makaily's smile widened at the sight. He slowly crept out of the water, his arms extended from his waist like a candidate for wrestle mania. His grin slyly grew.
When his feet hit the pebbly sand, he paused to shake the excess water before his cheeky expression returned. His eyes glistened adoringly, making her feel like the only woman in existence. He let out a playful growl and she giggled while he sauntered towards her. Sitting upright, she quickly pulled him down into an enticing embrace. Their passion slowly grew with every minute of their kiss.
A sudden cat-call abruptly broke the silence, causing them to pull apart. The calls continued in sarcastic tone, echoing off the hillside that loomed behind them. Makaily's nerves tightened when she saw Andrew's face harden when he peered beyond her. His body tense while he edged to his knees and Makaily mimicked his movements. With anxious curiosity she turned her head to the voices that shouted from the hill.
She only saw three men at first. As they swaggered down the dusty trail of the hill, more emerged behind them. She counted ten at least. They varied in size but they all wore dark denim clothing. Their arms were exposed, revealing matching tattoos. From what she could see, it was a picture of some sort of skull clutching a decomposing rose. The ruggedness of their jaws and the array of punk hair were enough to make her nervous.
She could sense Andrew's caution as it radiated around her like a unnerving blanket. He slowly rose to his feet and asked, "Who are you?"
The man that was nearest came to a halt while his friend leaped off the trail behind him. His cracked lips drew into a toothy grin. He folded his arms across his chest, accentuating his tattoo. His hair was jet-black and spiked in every direction while he shook his head, "Uh-uh, you don't get to ask the questions, you're on our turf."
Andrew slowly raised his hands, "We don't want any trouble."
The man sniggered derisively, "Well that's too bad."
His voice was deep and intimidating as two more men appeared by his side. The one of his right was gangly, seeming to swim within his sleeveless jacket. His hair was streaked with green and earrings studded every part of his lobe. He spat on the ground while his dark haired friend spoke. The man on the left was far bulkier than his friends. His head was shaved clean, shining in the sun that filtered through the treetops.
More men swaggered around them, many with scraggly long hair and bushy beards that hid their features. They all wore a disturbing snarl as they looked Makaily and Andrew up and down. Makaily hastily got to her feet and shuffled behind her fiancé. Andrew reached back and clutched her waist reassuringly as he asked them, "What do you want?"'
"What do ya think?" the green haired punk fished out a pocket knife and flicked it open, "Your money of course!"
Another man emerged through the group, cracking his knuckles while he approached them. His hair was a single strip across his skull, in style of a Mohawk. His eyes burned with malicious intent. Andrew shuffled in front of Makaily more protectively.
"We don't have any money."
"Quit jerking our chains," the bald man's mouth twisted in a sneer.
"We just hiked here," Andrew replied nervously.
"Then it looks like we're gonna take a field trip," the leader replied in a taunting tone.
The rest of his group chuckled darkly around him. Makaily couldn't move, her fingers digging into Andrew's side as her uneasiness grew. Her fiancé swallowed slowly and scanned the group that surrounded them. The Mohawk man now revealed another knife as he moved alongside the green haired punk. Andrew gazed at the blades helplessly and held his hands up in surrender, "Okay."
He took Makaily's hand tightly, keeping her close while they reluctantly made their way towards the trail on the hillside. Makaily's heart was thumping in her chest as the men closed in around them with blended smells of sweat. Their musky scents mixed with their shabby appearance were enough to draw out her anxiety. Andrew glared while they cautiously stepped through the daunting path of gang members. His palm began to sweat as it wrapped tightly around her hand, increasing her apprehension all the more.
"Where's your stash?" the leader asked gruffly.
Andrew and Makaily paused at the base of the hill and exchanged a puzzled glance. The leader waved his arms impatiently, "Your goods, your campsite? Where is it?"
They paused at the base of the hill. Makaily pressed herself against Andrew as the knife wielding men edged closer. Her skin prickled from his close proximity and her instincts told her to run. But there were so many of them and it was her fear that kept her grounded. She warily turned her gaze to the gang leader while Andrew pointed up.
"Not far, just over the hill here."
The dark haired man peered up the hill. He then turned his eyes drolly to his fellow members and simply announced, "Too far."
These two simple syllables turned her stomach cold and she sucked in her breath. There was a scuffle in the dirt behind them and her heart skipped a beat as she flung her head around. Andrew was already spinning on his heels, driving his arms out to shove a man away. His eyes were wide as they flicked to Makaily and he urged her to run. She could see the trepidation within them and it seemed foreign. For a second, her feet refused to move as she watched in disbelief.
She saw Andrew swing another fist and wild punches began flying everywhere. Her pulse raced as her eyes darted around, uncertain of what to do. When she heard Andrew grunt again, the ice in her stomach began to spread.Still in a state of shock, she watched her fiancé collapse to his knees and nurse the back of his head. Suddenly a hairy arm came thrusting down on him, snapping Makaily out of her stupor.
She screamed when Andrew jerked from the blade plunging into his back. Her heart leaped into her throat as he instincts took over. She sprang forward to come to his aid while the hand continued to pound him. Adrenalin coursed through her veins as her fingers clawed at the man attacking her partner. A strong grip suddenly latched around and pulled her backwards off her feet.
Her lungs compressed under the tightening grip and she thrashed against the thick torso, her fear now taking full control. She desperately lowered her mouth and sank her teeth into the hairy arm wrapped around her chest. She dug deep, having no mercy for the dirty paws that gripped her. The arm jerked and she wriggled herself free from the hold. She landed clumsily on the ground and fumbled toward the dusty trail that scaled the hill.
She'd only got a few steps when something swiped the back of her legs, throwing her onto the ground. She rolled onto her back and gasped at the massive bald man that loomed over her. A nauseating sensation churned her stomach as he grinned deviously and began to lean down. With a roaring shout, Andrew reappeared, springing onto the man's broad shoulders. His face was streaked with blood, his eyes desperate as he wrestled the beast away from her.
The dirt trail hissed as Makaily hastily scuffled backwards. Her breath came in pants as her eyes transfixed on the wrestling men. The bald man looked furious as he turned his wrath on her fiancé. A gust of panic swept over her as she watched more men crowd around her partner. Through the gaps of their legs, Andrew gave her a final look, pleading for her to run.
Before she could blink, he disappeared from view amid the circle of gang members. Fists were thrown, legs kicked viciously as her lover grunted in pain. The sound pierced through her chest like the cold stab of an ice pick. She scrambled to her feet, her legs feeling like jelly, heart pumping so fast it was difficult to breath.
Then a second of frozen fear, caught in a moment of confliction. Anger was battling her dread. She wanted to rush over to help him, but fear was winning, quickly engulfing her to a state of helplessness. Her instincts told her to heed Andrew's plea and run but her insides knotted taut with hesitation.
The Mohawk punk suddenly broke away from the others and snarled at her. Absolute dread flushed through the red-haired girl as she stared back at the monstrous man. With shaking legs, she twisted around and darted for the hillside trail. Her eyes scanned the hill frantically, trying to seek salvage in its rocky levels and darkened caves.
A new rush of adrenalin burst through when her feet hit the dusty trail. The small glimmer of hope was vacuumed away when the heavy hand groped her shoulder from behind. Her body stiffened under the touch and she gasped when a burning pain suddenly pierced her ribs. Panic soared as she peered down in astonishment at the blade embedded in her side. The weapon slowly eased out, sending a warm dribble of blood down her waist. Her legs gave out from under her, sinking down as the pain spread.
Thick fingers gripped around her legs and reefed her backwards, making her smack the ground face-first. She coughed and spluttered as the dust rose up around her face. She feared she may choke on her heart at any moment. A heavy weight drew down on her legs to keep her pinned to the ground. She blinked through the dusty air to the other men that still circled her fiancé.
The pain in her side was completely taken over by the throbbing pain in her heart. Water stung her eyes as she saw her lover twitch from their violent attacks. She sobbed as the reality set in that they were completely defenseless. Like an animal caught in a bear trap, struggling uselessly against an impending doom.
Her quiet pleads grew into a wail as she watched them take the life from her one true love. Her cries then choked in her throat to the movement of heavy boots and she was overwhelmed with a sickening dread. The sound of each footstep trembled right through her chest. Pure panic set in and she squirmed desperately under the weight atop of her.
Confused thoughts and deep regret swirled and burned her mind like a vicious volcano, realising her end was near. Her heart screamed in protest to the impending doom they'd done nothing to provoke. The leader's menacing voice rumbled instructions around her.
"Go check out their camp and get the money."
"What about her?"
"We'll take care of it."
The deep tone was merciless, echoing in her ears with absolute contempt. A bitter taste invaded her mouth as she pleadingly wept for her life. There was another sharp pain, causing her to whimper with the dust clinging to her tear stained face. Her head was dizzy with frantic thoughts. Her eyes darted in every direction;reluctant to look but too scared to close them.
Every fiber of her muscles were tensed while she struggled to breath. Her limbs burned with pain while her insides iced with terror. Her instincts still urged her to fight, though her efforts were useless. A hollow feeling of helplessness began to burrow through her chest. She then squeezed her eyes shut in effort to escape the fear and pain...