My name is Cammie Dragul. But for the purposes of this story, you can call me Cam. It’s a nickname my friends from high school called me. Not part of this story, at least that’s what I thought. Behind this wall that stands before me is what the city refers to as Prison City. There’s no electricity. I doubt there’s running water. The bad of the bad is in there.
Because if you’re not, you’re dead before they put the lock back on the door.
These are some bad motherfuckers. This part of town got so bad, the city just walled it up and threw away the key. The top of the wall is not only spun with razor wire, but just to be sure no one tries to climb over, they electrified it. They say once you go in, you never get out.
Here I am. Trying to get in.
Why? Why would I dare want to go into Prison City? The man who killed my husband is in there.
And I’m going to kill him.
ENTERING THE CITY
It’s almost as if the weather knows how bad a place Prison City is. The rest of the city is bathed in sunlight, but the clouds are ever looming over Prison City. It’s been ten years. Ten years since that bastard killed my husband. Since the day they sentenced him to Prison City, I’ve been fighting and fighting. From one martial artist trainer to another and another. Maybe I was a dumb bitch getting married so young, but when you’re walking home and mugged and you watch your husband get killed right there on the street and no one comes to help, you do what you need to do. So, I determined that I was going to go in there and kill that fucker. He didn’t deserve to live while my husband died that day.
One thing I know is that there are no rules in Prison City. That is just fine with me. So, I’ve petitioned the court to allow me entry into Prison City. I’ve been warned that I will not be released once I go in. I had to sign a legal document absolving the city of any legal or financial responsibility if something goes wrong. If I don’t survive.
Today is the day they open the door and I walk through.
I have been to the court every day for the past eight months and they have finally had enough of me.
“You the idiot that wants to go into Prison City?” One of the two cops ask as they approach. “You know once you go in, you ain’t coming out, right?”
“I know. Just open it up and let me in.” I’m annoyed. How many times have I been asked if I’m sure this is what I want to do? How many times? More times than I care to even go back and count. Just fucking open the door.
A jangle of some keys as the cop approaches the door and checks the monitor to make sure no one is on the other side. But if there is, the second cop is there ready to shoot anyone who tries to come out. The door opens up and I am motioned through.
There is a moment of doubt that crosses my mind. This is what I have been obsessing over for five long years. Every creak of the door that opens sings the song of my eventual doom. Then that music stops.
“You going in, lady, or what?”
I’m going in. I start placing one foot in front of the other and it isn’t long before I hear the door creaking back shut. There’s a part of me that wants to turn around.
But then it’s too late. I can hear them securing the door on the other side. It’s then I notice the eyes. Notice may not be the right word. I could feel them on me. It’s a feeling I don’t like, that’s for sure. Then the question comes that I’m not expecting.
GUEST STARRING: ERIK HOLLAND
It’s eerily quiet for a prison. There are empty buildings. Seems this used to be a business area as the long abandoned storefronts sit empty.
GUEST STARRING: JAY AGUERO
No. Not empty.
I couldn’t tell you how long I had been standing here, but I hadn’t moved since I stepped foot inside. This was a fucking stupid idea. Off in the distance, standing tall over everything in Prison City is the old Grand Hotel. This part of town got so bad, it was just abandoned and they rebuilt it somewhere else in the city and now it just sits there.
“Well, lookie what we got here, gentlesmens,” an accented voice is heard. From around a corner comes three motley looking men. From the look of them, they’ve seen better days. They look like they got the shit kicked out of them in the last few days.
“Fuck off,” I said as I started to walk down the road. Best not stay out in the open. It’ll only attract trouble. Speaking of which…
“You got a mouth on you, lady. You see, we run this entrance. You wanna get past this area, you gotta pay the toll.” His gross tongue slips from his mouth and wets his lips and then disappears back into his mouth.
They’ve maneuvered around now to keep me not only surrounded, but blocking my way by them. There’s no way to go behind me, so the only way is forward. “You interrupted us, having a go at little miss over there and now you’re gonna have to take her spot.”
I didn’t know what a ‘little miss’ was, but I know what he was referring to and there wasn’t enough penicillin in the world to clear up what these three had. I took a step back and they came close. I reached behind me and pulled out my wooden sword.
“Ha! This bitch gonna hit us with a stick,” and as he stepped forward I swung for all my might and heard the wood connect with flesh, followed by a squeal that must have come from that poor excuse for a human being. He fell to the ground and clutched at the side of his face, turning to the others and shouting, “Get that bitch! Fuck!”
The whistling of my sword slicing the air and then finally cracking into the ribs of number 2, before I spun around and sliced upward, striking number 3 right in the crotch, which elicited a very high pitched squeal.
They were done for the day as they lay on the ground writhing in pain.
I heard a step behind me and spun around.
Little miss, I presume.
“You saved me. Thank you.” My senses were on high alert as I wondered who to trust in here and who not to trust. I kept my sword at the ready as I looked down at the woman who had obviously been here a little bit. A couple of weeks maybe. Her brown hair was matted against her face. She was obviously in a bad way, so perhaps the story these idiots were spinning was the truth.
“Who are you?” I asked as I stood defensively, waiting to see if she would try something.
“Never. My name is Never. Those guys…” she didn’t finish. She didn’t need to. Fucking pigs. Anger built up in me very quickly as I turned and just waylaid into each of the three, causing them even more pain and suffering.
When I finished, I stood there panting as I tried to catch my breath. I turned to the woman, “They won’t bother you again.” I turned to walk away and suddenly she ran in front of me, “Don’t leave me here alone, okay? I can tell you things. I can show you where everything is. I can be of help to you, just don’t leave me here, okay?”
The desperation in her eyes. Who knows how long she’s been here and what has happened to her since she got here. I knew I could use a ‘tour guide’ for lack of a better term. Perhaps she knows where I can find ‘him’. I started walking.
“Stay close. Don’t fall behind.” I heard her catching up. “I need to know where Killjoy is.” Then she stopped walking.
I stopped and turned around, “What?”
“Why do you want to find Killjoy? He runs this place and he would just as soon kill you than look at you.”
I turned and started walking again, “I have my reasons. And if you won’t help me, you’re on your own.”
I heard her footsteps again hurrying to catch up, “You can’t get to Killjoy. He’s protected. He’s there.”
I stopped and turned back to her and saw where she was pointing. The top of the Grand Hotel. Of course that’s where he would be. “How do I get there?”
“You have to play the chess board.” I must have looked at her like she was crazy, but to be fair, she could very well be crazy. She saw my confusion and continued.
“The path to Killjoy is paved with challenges. You must defeat the rooks, then the knight, then the bishop and then the queen. Only when you beat the queen can you see the king. King Killjoy.”
“So, I have to fight my way to get to Killjoy.” It was not what I expected. I expected to walk right up to the bastard and bash his brains in with my wooden sword. My eyes wandered to the top of the former Grand Hotel.
Meanwhile at the top of the Grand Hotel, someone is out on the balcony. The man is massively tall, built. We get a brief shot of the back of his head before he places a mask over it and ties it up in the back. “Who’s the fresh meat?” he grumbles under his breath.
“No idea.” A graphic identifies the second voice as Lince. A brunette female who lounges comfortably in a plush chair, kicked back reading a newspaper. She is additionally labeled as Killjoy’s Second in Command.
He finally turns around and as he does, he is labeled as Killjoy the King. His mask is that of a luchadore but thicker. He walks into the room from the balcony and as he does his shadow darkens the entire room until he clears the sliding glass door and the room brightens again. “How about you get off your ass and go find out. I don’t like surprises and I don’t like not knowing who is in our city. And stop reading that damn paper. You’ve been reading that same one since you got here. The news hasn’t changed.”
She folds up the paper and lays it on the table and gets up out of her chair, “Fine, boss. I got you. You don’t gotta get all stressed.” She walks toward the door and opens it up where there are two thugs standing outside. “Go find out who the new person is and let us know.”
They look past her to see Killjoy and they are only too happy to get the hell out of there.
Lince closes the door and walks out onto the balcony, “I don’t know why you’re stressing. Is that her? She looks like she’s a buck five soaking wet. The rooks will handle her with ease.”
“We will see. Something is different in the air today.”
“You’re losing it, boss. You ain’t lost a fight since you got in here and there hasn’t been a worthy challenger in years. Besides, what are the chances that she’s here looking for you?”
For some reason, Killjoy doesn’t seem at all consoled by his second as the scene fades to a break.
Returning from break, Cam and Never are walking down a side street that’s littered with trash and a few bodies that appear to have been lying there for days, perhaps weeks.
“So, you said the rook was first? Who’s the rook?” Cam asks as she steps around the bodies in the street.
“Rooks. There are two, actually. Brothers. The younger one is huge and very strong. The older one is the mouth and the brains, but he’s a bad ass too,” Never responses as she attempts to keep up with Cam. “If you beat someone, you take their spot. If you beat someone higher, you take their spot and they drop down to the next lower rank. It’s a whole political system based on fighting.”
Cam steps out into the cross street, “I’m not here to play politics. I just want my revenge. Once that’s done, life here inside can go on. I could care less. Which way?”
Hesitantly, Never points through an alley.
While the silence within Prison City can be deafening, there was something awful absent down this alley way. For a moment, I considered that Never was going to try and send me to my demise, but I either had to trust her, or I had to try and find my own way and leave her to the wolves.
So, I stepped into the alley.
Nothing. Slowly, I took one step at a time and I could hear Never behind me, close. As I walked past a burning dumpster, which was a nice touch, I’ll have to admit, again nothing out of the ordinary happened. I turned to Never and asked, “Are you sure?”
She just nodded her head before whispering, “Just on the other side.”
As I turned to step through a memory flooded into my brain from several years ago when I was in high school, before all of this. In high school, my best friend was Tee. She was as white a girl as a white girl could get. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Everything about her was perfect.
On my first day of school, I was eating lunch by myself and she was about to go to her normal table when she saw me. Leaving her friends curious, she just sat down at my table and began a conversation. That conversation led to us being tight throughout school.
But Tee has a knack for the dangerous. Walking home from school, we took a shortcut through an alley and a door was open. Tee decided to take a look inside and she saw several cases of beer stacked up and no one watching them. It looked like they had just been unloaded and hadn’t made it to the cooler yet.
She glanced up the alley one way and then the other and reached in and took a case and handed it to me and then took another for herself and next thing I knew we were running through the alley. We took the backways all the way home and hid the beer in her garage and we would sit after school and drink a few until one day it was gone. She was always taking risks like that.
The shuffling of feet behind me startled me out of my daydream as I shook it off and headed forward. We were almost to the end of the alley when someone walked in front of our path.
The tone of his voice made me shudder and I could feel Never inching closer to me from behind.
“Just walking through.”
His laughter was mocking, there was no mistake about that. “Darling, if you think for one minute that the two of you are going to waltz through my fucking territory, you might want to think again.”
I heard what could only be described as a ‘meep’ from Never which caused me to turn to the side as I saw the largest man I have ever seen in my life behind us. I jerked Never against the wall and, then put my back towards it so I could see both of these fuckers. “I already said I’m not looking for trouble. I’m just trying to get through.”
The big one looked to the smaller one as if asking what to do but he was all but ignored. “And I already told you that no one walks through our territory. We run this shit. That means, you either barter for entry or you fight us.”
“Me against the both of you? Are you fucking crazy?”
“I’ve been called worse than crazy, bitch,” he grins again as he steps forward. “So, what’s it gonna be?”
The smaller one was obviously in charge. He wore an old ball cap, torn jeans, flannel shirt with the sleeves ripped off and what looks like a bullet proof vest over the outside.
“That’s Felon,” murmurs Never from behind.
The larger one had muscles over his muscles. He was a beast for sure, but he also didn’t have that crazy look in his eyes that the other had. He just wore a sleeveless tee and jeans with big boots.
“Canter,” Never informed me as I nodded.
“I asked you a question.” Felon stepped forward and tried to put his hand on my face and I slapped it away. Slowly that grin got wider and creepier. “It’s gonna be like that, is it?”
The slap came from nowhere. I should have expected it, but I was trying to watch both of them at the same time. My eyes left him for a moment and he took advantage. I could hear Never whisper, “Oh my god..” behind me.
“It’s fine,” I tried to assure her, but even I wasn’t assured so I doubt the conviction was there. I tried to retaliate with a slap of my own, but he easily caught my wrist and held it there, still grinning that stupid, smug look. He jerked me to the side towards his brother.
“Take care of the bitch,” he commanded and turned to walk away.
“But, she’s a girl. I don’t fight girls.”
Felon stopped dead in his tracks and spun around quickly and stormed over and gave Cantor a push, though it didn’t so much as budge him. “I said take care of her, goddamnit! You do what I tell you to do, you stupid son of a bitch. Do you hear me?”
A timid series of nods came from the larger man as I watched him back down from the smaller. It was a strange dynamic. Finally, Felon assumed he had gotten his point across and walked away, while I prepared to fight this guy who was easily twice my size.
I reached behind me and pulled out my wooden sword. I would give an occasional glance to the other one but my attention was on the bigger. I spied Never out of the corner of my eye crouching down against the wall with a look of concern on her face.
I turned to face my opponent, “If we’re going to do this, let’s do this.” To be honest, he didn’t look like he wanted to do this and I wasn’t going to stand here all fucking day, so I charged over and used all of my strength to swing, hoping to end this quick.
But he caught it. In his bare hands. Like it was nothing. He didn’t flinch. He didn’t cringe. I tried to pull it free but his grip was like granite and I couldn’t do anything. I was fucked.
I needed a new plan. I released the sword and charged in and aimed a kick right to the side of his face, but he caught my ankle and a brief moment of anger crossed his face as he just swung me like I was a child and sent me crashing into some piled up trash.
I crawled from the debri and got to my feet, but he was already there and I felt his hand palm my head like a basketball and as he squeezed, I swore I heard it cracking. I did the only thing I could think of doing.
I kicked him in the fucking balls.
I immediately felt the pressure release as he grimaced and fell to his knees holding his crotch. I spun around and kicked him square on the side of his head and he fell over onto the pavement. A quick glance at the other saw a look of worry on his face.
I was already getting tired but I couldn’t stop now. I had the advantage. I needed to finish this guy off and we could get the fuck out of here. I heard him scraping against the pavement as he struggled to get to his feet. I charged and drove a knee right to his face and I could feel the bones breaking as they connected. The force of the blow sent him against the brick wall and he slumped to the ground.
I didn’t hesitate as I grabbed the edge of a dumpster and began to push it across the alley. I could hear his voice, softly begging his brother for help as he whimpered, “Felon?” who finally saw what I was about to do and started to run towards us but it was too late as the dumpster smashed into Canter. His legs twitched underneath as blood began to pool underneath him.
Panting, I staggered back and stumbled towards Never and motioned for her to leave. I heard Felon pushing the dumpster away and then a gargled cry, “You killed him. You killed my brother! You bitch.”
I heard the footsteps and gave Never a push, and as I turned around I was hit square in the face with a fist that sent me to the ground. I was already tired from fighting Canter, it was hard to move from where I lay on the ground.
I watched him walk away and thought perhaps it was over, but he returned with a giant cinder block and he raised it high over his head, “Ima kill you, bitch, just like you killed him.” There were actual tears in his eyes as I saw him plunge downward releasing the block, but I was able to roll to the side to avoid the blow.
I tried to crawl away, but he grabbed me by the hair and pulled me. “You ain’t getting away now, ever. You’ve reached your mother fucking final resting place, bitch.”
I could feel the strands of hair being pulled from my scalp as he dragged me across the pavement. I heard Never rushing over, but he just gave her a push and sent her back to the ground. “Ima deal with you next, you stupid fuck.”
I could smell the smoke as we got closer.
The dumpster fire.
I remember passing it as we walked by.
He jerked me to my feet and then pushed me against the hot metal surface of the dumpster. “He may have been a dumb fuck, but he was my dumb fuck. What you’re about to go through, you got it coming.” I could feel the scorching of my shirt and then my skin as pain seared it’s way into my flesh and the smell of it all filled my nose.
Out of desperation, I reached up and jabbed a thumb right into his eye as he staggered back which allowed for a kick to the crotch which doubled him over, “Goddamned bitch!”
As I tried to pull my burning flesh away from the heated dumpster, he just grabbed me and pulled me free and I could hear the sound of my flesh, crackling. He slammed an elbow to the side of my face and then drove a fist into my midsection, knocking the air out of me.
He grabs my face and pulls it up towards his, “I should keep you fucking alive so I can torture you day in and day out for killing my brother.”
I spit right in his face.
He reaches up and wipes the spit from his face as his face contorts as he gets even angrier. Which is what I was counting on. He takes a wild swing and I duck and lifts with him on my back and I hear myself scream as I rush towards the flaming dumpster and lift him up and over.
I heard his screams as I fell to my knees and began to crawl away. I couldn’t go far and collapsed on the ground. I turned and saw Felon, inside the dumpster on fire. He was trying to get out, but the flame enveloped him and as he continued to scream, he disappeared inside. Then all I heard was the sound of the flame.
Next thing I knew, Never was helping me to my feet. “Just.. careful,” she whispered as we walked to the end of the alley.
We found a place to hunker down and as she helped me lie down, I immediately blacked out.
I was woken by her attempts to remove the burnt clothing from my back and I could feel the skin peeling away with it. I blacked out again.
Scene ends with the sounds of Cam screaming out in pain.
TO BE CONTINUED
CAM Jazmin Davis
NEVER Sativah Nevaeh
KILLJOY Gabriel Ohio
LINCE Mai Blackman
TEE Anaquin Adams
FELON Erik Holland
CANTOR Jay Aguero