This month is very difficult for writing for me but I’m a little bit ahead of schedule. The stats on campnanowrimo.org say I have to write 1458 words a day to hit 50k on the 30th.
Technically, that’s ahead (it takes 1667 from day 1 to day 30) but to me it’s behind. I like 2k a day so I should be at 26k, not at almost 24.
Oh well. I have to work with the way I feel.
I am trying to push through though because of the project I am working on. In order to complete the weekly pieces on schedule, I will have to work regardless of how I feel quite often.
James is 2480 words so I will get to letting you read. I am going to scrub off the heebie jeebies.
Japanese Game of Justice
The sign almost said JAMES JOSEPHSON. It said JAMS JOSFSON and the Japanese man holding it was smiling large and nodding hopefully at every well-built male he saw.
James, the guy in question, ambled through the arrival gate and started looking for his ride. He found the sign and approached the driver. “Konichiwa!” James said cheerfully. He was quite happy to be a contestant on this game show that Japan was for. The prize was ¥500 million, which was about $4.3 million US dollars, and it was totally tax free.
The man with the sign looked James up and down and stifled a sigh. This man was not what he expected, but then, he had not been told what to expect, just that he was to pick up a contestant for the show. He had done this before and the contestants had always looked like athletes. This one looked like he ate too many American cheeseburgers and sat around on his ass. “This way,” he said in heavily accented English and a barely there bow. He left James to bring his own bag.
Adjusting his grip a little bit with a barely muffled derogatory comment on the service, James followed the man out to the parking lot. He hoped there was a limo to take him to the studio. The car was tiny, a boxy little Japanese wagon, and James barely managed to squeeze his 6’2” self into the back seat. He finds a tray with a selection of bottled drinks and packaged snacks on the seat next to his.
“Eat, eat!” His driver says.
James woke up some time later, naked and shivering, and crammed into a cage. All around him were other cages, all containing other people, equally naked, cold and pissed off. Each cage was about twenty inches square, they were bolted to the floor, and there was no space between them. There were rows and rows of cages. He estimated that there were ten cages in his row and ten rows in the …cave? “What…what are we doing here?” James spoke through chattering teeth. “I thought…”
“Yeah, we all thought.” A man closest to him on the left sneered at him. “What did you do to earn this?”
“What do you mean?” James asked with confusion.
“I mean that all of us are crooks, cons and, like in her case,” he pointed, “killers. What is your dark, dirty secret?”
James shrank back against the bars of his cage. “I…I… I don’t know what you mean. I play contests, that’s all. I win a lot but I’ve never hurt anyone.”
“I play contests, that’s all,” someone else mocked.
“Bullshit. You’ve done something.” The woman to his right came close and pressed her face between the bars. It mangled her features and she glared at him with her eyes bugging out and her mouth stretched over her teeth. “I know a killer when I see one, asshole, and you are a killer.”
“I am not!” He nicknamed her Jane, because he was lacking in imagination.
She reached across the space between them and jabbed him with her finger. “You are! I can see it in you. What a clever little psychopath you are. Hiding, hiding behind your games, cheating whenever you can. Lying little asshole.”
“You don’t know anything about me!” he cried.
The first speaker stabbed him in the back with his finger. “Lying bastard! You wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t hurt someone somewhere.”
“Ouch!” James jumped away. He decided to call that guy Stabby Joe. “How do you know that? What do you know?”
“There’s a Jap over there that speaks English. He heard them talking. We are the scum of the earth, our captors think, and they were hired to punish each of us. If we make it to the end, we earn our freedom.”
James’s eyes hardened and he snarled. “Then I guess I’ll have to kill you all, just like that little half Jap bitch Tahlia in high school.”
Jane crowed gleefully. “Oh-ho! I knew it! I knew you were a killer!” Freezing water suddenly pelted them from sprinklers above them and they all screamed in shock. She turned her face up to it and closed her eyes. “Drink, asshole. It’s the only water you’ll get today.”
James reluctantly did as she told him to and tipped his head back. The water wet his dry throat and he gulped it down. The water shut off before his thirst was slaked. He smacked his lips then noticed his mouth was a little slimy and there was an acrid taste left behind. “What the hell?”
“Oh, just wait, newbie. It gets better.” Someone shouted.
A few minutes later, his gut cramped. Hard. He doubled over, as best he could in his small box, and wrapped his arms around his middle. He swore loudly as the cramping turned into convulsions in the lower intestines. “No, no, no” he moaned.
His neighbours laughed between their own convulsions. It wasn’t their first time and wouldn’t be as intense as what James is about to go through. He cursed them as he tried not to shit himself. The convulsions worsened and he squatted.
The moans and groans of pain echoed in the room, warring with the drips landing in the puddles. James tried and tried but he couldn’t help it and his bowels evacuated themselves brutally, in a messy, chunky stream of liquid.
“Ha, ha!” crowed Stabby Joe gleefully, even as his own bowels let go. “Serves you right.”
Suddenly the lights went out and came back on. A hush settled over the prisoners.
“What’s going on?” James whispered.
“Shut up!” Jane hissed.
Someone screamed at them in Japanese and the few people who understood it stuck their arms between the bars, cramming them both through the same space. Others followed suit and two men pushed a trolley between the rows. The trolley held a large pile of steel manacles. He cuffed each prisoner.
James struggled and the man grabbed his thumb. He bent the thumb back toward James’s elbow and James screamed as he was driven to his knees. The manacles were snapped around his wrist. The next three people to James’s left were given the same treatment. Every time someone fought the restraints the following three people were hurt as well.
When the man was done, several others lined up at both ends of each row of cages. Each person was sexless and faceless behind heavily padded black leather jackets and pants, leather gloves and black motorcycle helmets with deeply tinted face masks. They carried cattle prods. James shuddered as he stared at them. One turned to face him and the dim overhead lights reflected in their face mask, giving the impression of eyes.
There was more screaming of incomprehensible words and a loud buzzing echoed through the cave. The doors of the cages swung open and the prisoners surged forward. Most of them took a second to stretch, revelling the small freedom. They were yelled at again and the doors began to sing closed. Everyone moved out of the way then, once the doors were closed, they were prodded out one end of the row, one row at a time. They were led and followed by the faceless people. There were others watching over the groups and they made their role clear as the group emerged into the bright, blinding light of day.
As sunlight pierced James’s pupils someone made a run for it. There was the sound of a shotgun being racked and then the boom of the firing. A thud of the body landing on the ground was followed by silence. James decided to let these events play out.
They were herded to a field, guided by a few zaps of the cattle prods and then several prisoners were shoved to their knees on the damp ground until the others got the hint and knelt on their own. Tents lined one side of the field and a large wall of fabric stretched across the end the prisoners faced. Solid, wood, scaffold-like towers stood at each corner with armed gunmen standing in each. Bleachers lined the side opposite the tents and the final edge of the field held
Several small, very old women scrambled among the prisoners, shoving small wooden bowls of soupy rice at each person. James stared at the contents of his bowl, trying to figure out the contents. Chunks of white, fibrous vegetable and a brown stringy meat. “I’m not eating this,” he said, setting his bowl on the ground.
“Suit yourself,” Jane said as she reached for the bowl. Stabby Joe beat her to it and she screamed wordlessly at him and launched herself at him. Gunshots boomed again and those with cattle prods rushed in. Jane subsided, returning to her own seat with her hands over her head and her eyes lowered to the ground. “Okay. Okay. I’m sorry. I’m good.”
They halted, the cattle prods less than an inch from her skin for a long moment then pulled back and marched out of the crowd. Jane sagged with relief then glared at Stabby Joe. “I will get you.”
“Not if I get you first, skank. And when I do, I’ll make sure your last act in this world is to get choked out while I fuck you.” He grabbed his genitals and shook them in her direction with an over-the-top moan of pleasure.
She flipped him the bird while James looked at her appraisingly. Yeah. He could do that.
A moment later, two men got up on one of the towers by the long stretch of fabric. They both had megaphones. One spoke in Japanese and the other followed in English. “You have ten tasks to complete to get to the castle. If you survive the castle, you will earn your freedom!”
More Japanese then more English. “This is a fight to the death! You are all criminals. All have one goal: survival with a clean slate. If you win, you can go anywhere in the world and begin a new life.”
“What about the money?” James wondered aloud.
“Money?” Stabby Joe laughed. “You thought that was real?”
James was crushed.
“On your feet!” the English speaker screamed at them.
The prisoners surged to their feet and pressed forward. As they were jostled and crowded, Stabby Joe spoke hurriedly to James and Jane. “If we work together, we can get to the castle. From there, it’ll be each to his own. Deal?”
“Deal!” James and Jane said together seconds before a horn sounded. The four rows in front of them started running while the five behind them forced them forward.
James ran for it, swearing because his hands were still manacled together. The three of them ran, stumbled, slipped through the mud. There were already dead and dying bodies littering the ground.
They fought their way through the ten challenges, killing more than two dozen people between them. Injured, they finally stood in the castle courtyard. James had a broken rib that shifted every time he took a deep breath. One wrist was sprained, two fingers were broken and he had several deep bruises forming, including the one that covered half his face and forced his eye half shut. He thought he probably had a crack in his cheekbone.
Jane grinned savagely at him. “We did it!”
“Yes, we did.” James grinned back.
“And now, you’re on your own. And your ass is mine, slut.” Stabby Joe leered at Jane.
“I’ll rip your dick off with my cunt,” Jane snarled at him.
Guards with semi-automatic rifles stood in a circle around them to protect the medics who went through patching them up, though only just enough to stabilize broken fingers and stop the bleeding one all three of them. They were given water and food. And through this, all around them, people cheered and shouted at them. TV cameras caught every expression and high powered microphones heard every word. Viewers present and around the world placed bets on the winner.
“There are three more tasks inside the castle!” The words came over the loudspeaker. “Only one can survive!” The audience screamed in delight and encouragement.
James thought castle was too grand a word for the big boxy building. It was two storeys, stacked like a cake that had one layer smaller than the other. There were barred windows cut into the cement block walls and no other doors. More guards paced the walkway on top of the first storey. Three jumbo screens on the top of the building showed their faces to the people in the stands.
James, Jane and Stabby Joe were dragged forward and positioned in front of the three entrances at the base of the castle. The voice over the loudspeaker counted down from ten with the help of the screaming crowd and the three contestants were shoved into the rooms. The doors dropped down behind them with a bang.
James immediately turned around and felt all over the door, looking for a way to open it. There was nothing. He couldn’t hear the outside anymore either; he couldn’t hear anything at all.
With sliding steps and his hands straight out in front of his face, he started forward. Three steps in something skittered over his foot. James shuddered and stifled a scream. “A bug,” he muttered. “That’s all. It can’t hurt me.” He repeated the mantra, willing himself to not panic. He took two more steps and heard a whisper of sound. It sounded like a screen being pulled to one side. James strained to hear anything, anything at all.
A moment later, he heard it.
In the dead silence of the room, it sounded like whispers or silk sliding on silk. For a moment he entertained romantic notions of a sexy, scantily clad woman, waiting to touch him. Then reality hit him.
Or, rather, bit him.
Something sharp stabbed him on the top of the foot. It felt like a bee sting.
And again on his ankle.
James felt tiny feet clinging to the hairs on his legs, crawling up his body. A wave of multi-legged creatures swarmed over him. He tried swiping them off and they clung to his hands. He felt tiny strands of silk sticking to his fingers and screamed.
The sound seemed to embolden the spiders more and hundreds of them rose up his body in a tidal wave of legs and bites.
He screamed again and they climbed in his open mouth. They bit him everywhere they touched him. The pain and venom from the sheer number of bites drove him to his knees and eventually to all fours before he was finally laying on the floor. The spiders continued to bite without mercy as the audience outside screamed their delight at his death.