“Fight or Flight” – Sofia Hadley-Johnson

I cast a glance back to the ship as the sailors pile into the boat, rocking it slightly and momentarily knocking me out of my trance. Their uniforms were pristine as was always the case, concealing the dirty, corrupt nature of their occupation. Providing me with further evidence of their lack of humanity, they forced me to strip down to my chemise, ripping apart what was left of my dignity. Blankly, I scanned the calm waters ahead, my eyes coming to rest on a rock not far from our path. “Watch out!” I muttered in fake horror under my breath. “What was that?” the sailor closest to me asked as the boat hits the rock, causing us all to jolt forward. In this brief moment of confusion I jump, leaping into the sea using my arms to propel myself forward and pushing my legs like a mermaid gliding through the water.

Though my feet were tied, they were not tied well- the sailors took all of two seconds to try and prevent me from escaping, as if the possibility of me doing so was an afterthought to them. I saw that the confusion had long ended and the boat was not far from where I stood, sailors all prepared to jump as soon as their feet touch solid ground. Knowing that there was no way I could take on the whole crew at once, I quickly undid their amateur attempt at a knot and began to run across the beach and towards the tree line. My sandaled feet carried me across the soft sand and in no time I was hidden in the lush foliage of the forest.

I wasted no time in running as far as I could through the forest, the beach long behind me as I ran through the trees, constantly zig-zagging in hopes that I would deter the sailors from looking for me if I kept running. I sprinted across the harsh ground, using my arms to push back the leaves and branches as I barrelled through the forest. Eventually I came to a clearing, and after not hearing or seeing the sailors in what must have been hours, I took a breath, and begin to gather supplies that I felt could sustain me. After finding some dry wood, large leaves, substantial rocks and fruit, I located
a good area to set up camp for the night.

The fire crackled loudly in the darkness of the cave I situated myself in, I don’t know how long I will be able to hide here before someone finds me- but anything to lessen the pain I will inevitably have to endure can only be a good thing…surely? As I begin to get comfortable, preparing to go to sleep, I heard movement in the trees beyond the cave, too controlled to be the natural movement of the leaves in the wind. Listening more closely I heard voices and decided to abandon the cave and find a way to escape. As I quickly ran out of the cave’s only exit I was surrounded by the sailors, all of whom had their hands on their sides, ready to pull out their guns.

I slowly turn round in a circle, thinking. I can surrender and give up my freedom, forever. Definitely not. I could jump over their heads and cause them to shoot one another, or just buy me some time. Though ideal, impossible. This seems like the only viable option. I sink to my knees, with my hands behind my head, begging for forgiveness. One naïve sailor seems to take pity on me and comes to the centre of the circle, in his hands he is carrying a rope, he leaves his gun unguarded by his side.

As he approaches I put my head down slightly, playing the part rather well- if I do say so myself. I let my eyes ready on my target and as he goes to move behind my back I grab the gun, quickly turn the safety off and aim at my closest target. I fire seventeen times. Fifteen bodies lay on the floor. I leave the scene of my crime and head back the way I came; to the ship. The ship that will hopefully carry me back to a civilisation. One that will accept me.

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