Photo credit: www.skin-retreat.com
Lola was drowning. Choking. Spitting. A bucket of frigid water had been dumped on her from an opening in the shed’s roof. Her wounds stung and her body shivered with the shock. “Breathe Deep and Stay Strong,” she told herself. Abruptly, the door flew open and two men untied her and pulled her up. She was wrapped in a white sheet blindfolded and gagged. Then the cocking of a 12 gauge. She knew that sound. As a child, she had been trained in weaponry for use in protection and hunting. Now, 20 years old and a trained Scout, she carried a 9 mm in her backpack. Lot of good it did now. The pack was somewhere in that cornfield. Lola was angry with herself for falling asleep. She hoped the pack and all its supplies would remain hidden until she developed her escape plan.
“Too bad we can’t touch her.” It was the voice of the Rifleman talking. “Yep. I bet she’d be mighty fine.” Another voice with another gun. “But you know them rules. If we ever get caught, we’d be dead on the spot. Remember what happened to Wayne.”
Unable to walk because of the sheet, the men placed her on a gurney and carried her out of the shed. Lola felt the cool air on her face. Must be late afternoon by now, she thought.The men were gruff in their movements as the path became rougher. Lola listened hard to the sounds around her. Nothing but birds. She could feel their presence along the route. No crows or vultures. The sing-song of the cardinal and the mournful coos of a dove. Oddly soothing.
“HALT!” They stopped with a lurch that nearly toppled Lola off the stretcher.The voice was commanding. “Bring her to the Intake Suite. She needs further preparation before a final decision is made.” The route took a turn downhill. Lola was replaying the route in her mind. Previous information from other Scouts had never mentioned an Intake Suite.
Before long, Lola heard a sliding wooshing sound as if two doors were opening automatically. She felt as if they stepped into a sterile hospital setting; she could almost feel the smoothness of the linoleum floor even if her feet weren’t touching the ground. She could see the glare of the florescent lights through the cloth that covered her eyes. Then another Woosh. Another opening and finally a room.
She was placed on a table and they removed the blindfold from her eyes but left her gagged and wrapped. Woosh. Woosh. “Thank you, gentleman.” The voice was melodious for a man. “You’ve earned some time off for this catch. Tell Merle to make sure you get two days at the Saddle Club.”
The Rifleman and his companion left without a word. “Now let’s take care of the rest of you, my dear. But you cannot speak. Otherwise, I will see fit to punish you.” The sheet and cloth were taken from her body in one fell swoop. “Aah. So beautiful. Stand up and turn around.” Lola obeyed. As she turned herself, she took in the room. Sparse. One large comfortable chair at the end of the room and the table. She wouldn’t be here long. She knew that much.
“The Team will have to take special care of you. Your beauty is one of a kind. Worthy of special status. We will need to save you for just one man alone. But the Master will have the final word.”
The Master. Supreme Leader of the Restoration Party. Father of twelve sons from two wives. Believer in the fruitful multiplication of the party. Lola had a feeling she would be ripe for the picking.