The compound was barely visible behind the trees. The vivid greens and browns stuck out on the background of white wall. My eyes hurt from staring at the seamless walls, my hands trying to undo the tight knot that held me around the trees trunk. Jasmine was tied to the tree across from me, her face scrunched in concentration as she tried to grab her rope. The ground between us was sprinkled with a little bit of our blood, a test to see who the pig would choose.
“That man is dead once I get free.” Jasmine swore. “I don’t care who he is, we’re out of here… even if it means we leave them gagged, bound, or in the ground.”
“I’m with you.” I crouched down and began rubbing the ropes against the rough bark until they were shredded and fluffy, but they still remained intact by a few strong threads in the middle.
It was late afternoon, and I knew that once it was dark the pigs instincts would lead it back to the shelter of the compound.
Back to a meal tied conveniently to a tree.
“Let us go you stupid dolts!” Jasmine screamed, her face red.
“Dolts? Ooh, I’m scared.” Tanner’s voice taunted us, his voice floating through the trees. “We’re leaving now, but it was nice knowing you two!” He laughed sadistically.
“Ahhhhhhh!” Jasmine was turning red with rage. She began yelling incoherently into the sky.
“You’re going to draw the pigs attention.” I said. “We need to figure out a plan.”
“Okay, the pig kills one of us and hopefully leaves the other alone.” She said.
“No, we both escape.” I said. “These guards never took back their knives and I have one with me in my pocket, from when I got dragged away by the pig.”
“Yeah, well have fun getting it out of your pocket, genius.” She turned her eyes away and refused to talk to me.
I shook my head and crouched down again, my fingers straining for my back pocket. They slowly inched closer until they began turning red from cut off circulation. I grunted and gave a strong pull, just reaching the end with two fingers. I carefully pulled it out and began rising. Jasmine watched me curiously.
The knife was hard to manage but I got a slow rhythm going. It was hard and the ropes were almost impossible to cut through. One finally snapped. I smiled, but in the sudden rush of excitement the knife slipped from my grasp.
“Wow, great job.” Jasmine’s voice sparked irritation.
“Could you just shut up and let me try?” I snapped.
“Oh, I’m sorry, excuse me!” her voice was thick with sarcasm. “I’ll just lean against this fluffy tree while you ruin our only hopes of surviving.”
I ignored her, my stomach trying to get smaller as I reached for the knife.
“Just grab a stupid leaf and try to pull it closer.” Jasmine said.
I looked up. “How do I get a branch?”
“There’s a few hanging down behind you… Can’t you reach them?”
“I’ll try.” I reached behind me and grasped the leaves by their tips. The first ripped but the second came off pretty easily in my hands. I grabbed it by the flimsy side and used the tough stalk to drag the knife across the ground.
“Hurry, it’s getting dark.” Jasmine said. I looked up at the sky, which was turning a pinkish hue.
“I’m hurrying.” The knife got stuck on a random twig. I maneuvered the stalk around and pushed it away. I reached down and struggled to grab it. Once it was back in my hands I sliced furiously at the thick ropes.
By the time the last one snapped apart, the sky was almost black. Jasmine had been rubbing her bonds and they only had the three strong strings holding them. I hurried over, my cramped legs almost buckling. My finger hurt from gripping it tightly and I was starving.
“By the time the pig gets here I’ll be ready to eat it.” I said, smiling. Jasmine looked at me, her face expressionless. “Sorry, I shouldn’t be joking right now.” I silently worked on setting her free.
The first one cut nicely and my confidence rose a couple notches. It wasn’t until I reached the center of the second frayed rope when I hit the metal string. I tore at the loose fluffy strands and stared in disbelief at the vivid string of metal.
“I’m guessing you didn’t have metal in yours?” Jasmine commented.
“Nope…” My voice trailed off. “Looks like Tanner was hoping you’d get caught, and if you didn’t he made sure you couldn’t escape.”
“That lying-” She was cut off by a loud squeal. “Oh, no…”
I bit back a cry of fear as began slamming the sharp blade into the metal until the knife was dulled and dented. “I don’t know what… honestly-” I stopped.
“It’s fine, just leave me.” Jasmine said. “No use in both of us dying.”
“I’m not leaving you.” I swore. Another piggly grunt reverberated through the forest and Jasmine’s lip began to quiver.
I could hear its rotund body crashing through the undergrowth as it neared us rapidly. Jasmine bowed her head against my chest and I could hear her sobbing. “I’m sorry.” She mumbled.
“It’s fine.” I stood up and faced the direction of the noises. The grunts grew closer and closer and my grip tightened around the small blade, the only thing I had as defense. Jasmine slowly sunk back into the tree, her wrists the only thing showing. I watched in disbelief until she came back out.
“Maybe I can-” She suddenly screamed, her eyes fixed on something behind me. I spun around and stared in horror as the large warthog leaped over a bush and charged.