Hi there, I'm Sori, a new writer taking the plunge into the world of fiction. This was a submission for a competition on Reedsy and I thought I might as well publish it here too. It's basically an opening chapter, setting up a story. If you think I should continue with the story please let me know!
Gregory gazed down the dirt path leading from the cottage to the dense forest. Any minute now they would be here, and the anticipation was making him jittery. A bead of sweat slithered from his hairline to his brow, which he wiped with the once-white handkerchief that was tucked in his pocket. He impatiently looked at his Rolex and shifted his weight between his feet. They really should have been here by now. Hearing the distant crinkle of stone and dirt underneath wheels, he saw a dark green jeep crawl out of the clearing towards the cottage. His heart sped up and he released a breath he never realised he was holding in. Shortly after the car stopped he made his way down the porch steps and stood awkwardly awaiting his friends to approach him. First to step out was Michelle, donning her usual hunting attire with a Winchester rifle resting against her petite frame. Despite carrying such a weapon she looked as beautiful as ever to Gregory, her sleek black hair framing her porcelain skin which was accentuated by a pair plump lips painted a deep red. What he would do to kiss those lips, he blushed at the thought. Next to exit, the car was Dylan, Michelle’s brother, a burly man with a thick head of black hair, speckled with silver. His face, though showing slight signs of age, was still what was considered traditionally handsome, something Gregory was supremely envious of. Dylan slid the hunting knife into its sheath attached to his belt and slung a large black duffle bag over his shoulder. Lastly, Emmet, a slender yet intimidating man threw a heavy bag out of the car door, most likely holding his crossbow, and stepped on the dry path.
As they approached him, Gregory was aware he was sweating more than before and dabbed his forehead subtly.
“Not losing your nerve on us are you Greg?” Dylan chuckled, landing a heavy muscular hand on Gregory’s shoulder.
“No, no, just want to make sure you’re happy with your purchase,” he smiled back, his anxiety palpable.
“So, did you get us something good this year?” Removing his hand, Dylan headed towards the cottage with his entourage in tow.
“Don’t I always?” Gregory queried whilst opening the door the small, yet spacious, cottage.
“Yes of course, but last year is quite hard to beat,” Dylan dropped the duffle bag onto the sizable wooden table. The chipped edges and faded varnish showing its age.
“Well, I have tried to meet your expectations,” Gregory stated, hoping he certainly hadn’t let them down.
“Enough of the shit, I’ve been waiting for this all year!” Emmet snapped, unzipping his bag and lifting his crossbow to inspect.
“This weekend is definitely overdue but please have some patience Emmet,” Dylan frowned at his friend before rummaging through his bag and handing a box of ammunition to his sister.
“Hi G,” Michelle winked at Gregory as took the box from her brother and placed it on the table in front of her. Catching Gregory gazing at her, she smiled at him seductively and started loading her rifle.
A tinge of red blessing his cheeks, Gregory smiled and nodded as he turned back to Dylan.
“Are you going to show us what you brought or not?” Emmet raised his eyebrows impatiently.
“Yes, yes, of course… it’s in the backroom as always,” Heading towards the room, Gregory felt a frown come across his face. He never much liked Emmet, his attitude was very dismissive which often made him appear condescending. Who was he kidding, he WAS a condescending arsehole. Replacing his scowl with a smile he unlocked the last door in the hallway, opening it to a darkened room with boarded-up windows. Flicking the light switch, the bulb in the centre ceiling flickered briefly before emitting a yellow aura. The bodies made their way into the room and stared into furthest away corner.
“My, my,” Dylan lowly said, walking towards the darkened corner. He crouched down gazing at the sight in front of him, feeling that familiar spark of joy and excitement he only ever felt on these trips.
In front of him, curled into itself was the body of a shivering girl. Terrified and confused at what was happening. Hailie McAllister, bound by the legs and arms with cable ties, was cowering before the large man. Reaching out, Dylan peeled the tape gently from her mouth as she retracted in fear.
“That’s better,” he quipped, “Don’t worry, you won’t be tied up much longer,”.
“What is going on?! Where am I? What is happening?! WHO ARE YOU?!” Hailie cried, feeling the tears that had not stopped coming since she had awoken half an hour earlier start to get larger.
“Shhh, too many questions my dear,” Dylan hushed her, patting her knee with his strong calloused hand. “All you really need to know is that you are the trophy of this year’s trip,”.
Placing his hand under her chin, he pulled Haillie’s face forward into better light.
“Beautiful,” he whispered.
“Is it better than last years?” Gregory asked nervously, wringing his hands.
Dylan stood and turned with a satisfied grin spread across his charming yet devilish face. “Gregory my man, you have certainly outdone yourself,”.
Relieved with his good work, Gregory let out a sigh and beamed a smile.
“Pay him,” Dylan ordered Michelle, who was more than happy to pay for the gorgeous creature in the corner.
She lifted her phone from her pocket and sent word for the transfer to be done. “$1.5 million as agreed,” She smiled, walking over to Gregory who gulped audibly. “Don’t spend it all in the one place handsome,” she cooed, sending him another flirtatious wink as she slipped her phone back into her pocket.
Taking one last look at the group, Gregory smiled with satisfaction that his job was done and made his way to his car before speeding off to the comfortable sum of money in his bank account.
“Can we do this already, I didn’t pay to just look at her,” Emmet growled, growing more irritated as the seconds went by.
Dylan reached for his knife, causing a shriek from Hailie to fill the room. Swiftly cutting the cable ties, he grabbed her by the arm and began marching her out to the front door.
Worry and confusion engulfing her, Hailie fought against his grip, feeling the bruising already forming in her delicate skin.
“What are doing?! What is this?!”
Dylan threw her on the dirt path in front of the cottage and grinned. “I know this must be incredibly confusing for you dear, but I have found time spent explaining is the time taken from our enjoyment. We’re going to play a game of hide and seek,”.
“Hide and seek? I don’t understand?” Hailie scrambled to her feet, eyes widened in fear.
“Simply, you hide, we seek and the first one to catch you wins,” Dylan’s smile grew more venomous.
“And the weapons?” Hailie sobbed.
“What’s the point in a hunting competition if the winner doesn’t get a trophy?” Emmet laughed darkly.
Hailie felt red hot tears streaming down her face as she knew her end was near, so much sooner than it should have been for a 20-year-old girl.
“Why would you do this?!” She screamed, almost choking as she cried.
“Why not? When you have money as we do, you can do whatever you like,”. Dylan moved down the steps, stopping a few feet away from his prize he was certain he would win this year like had done many times in the past. “You will look immaculate in my collection,”.
Hailie felt her pulse in her ears, this couldn’t be real. Surely people don’t hunt humans for sport. This had to be a nightmare. Looking at the four faces in front of her, she knew in that moment evil truly existed.
Dylan looked back at his sister and his friend who he knew was as eager as he was to begin. “So, my precious little trophy. All that’s really left is for you to do your part,” He faced her, taking in her horrified expression. His eyes darkened and he grinned again before sweetly speaking.
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