The Charm – Chapter 18


Jemma rises from a bad dream, clammy with sweat. Rock music thuds against the van windows. Red firelight paints the roof with leaping shadows. An intense thirst scratches at her throat. She takes a mouthful from a nearby water bottle and groans with the effort of moving. Her eyes droop and feel out of place. Three beers shouldn’t be having this much affect on her. In fact she distinctly remembers checking that no one was watching and pouring the last beer out. It had tasted funny.

A crawling sensation between her breasts causes a spark of panic. She jerks upright slapping at the hard object under her shirt, remembering the troublesome Charm residing there at the last second.

She yanks it out angrily, intending to remove it once and for all but her hand falters. Her eyes glaze as soon as she touches the hot metal. Soft pressure overrides and soothes her anger. Any thought of taking it off is forgotten. Every part of her tingles with a healing flush. The leaden weights drain from her muscles, along with the headache and dizziness.

Shrugging off the miraculous recovery Jemma decides to get up and be sociable for a while. Getting out of the van involves climbing over Traci. She doesn’t stir. The door is still jammed open. She exits without further noise. Her shoes are nowhere to be seen. The soft sand won’t hurt her feet so she doesn’t bother looking further.

Her name, followed by Marks laughter causes her to pause in the deep shadows at the van’s rear instead of revealing herself to them. Were they making fun of her? The drunken, slurred words mix with the music and are hard to make out.

She retraces her steps to the front of the van. Creeping on hands and knees along the river bank brings her up behind them. The Charm vibrates warmly, singing an eerie tinny note. Jemma clamps a hand around it, deadening the sound, ready to jump out and surprise the men.

“…should have dumped em in Darwin.”

Jemma tensed at the words and shrinks back to listen.

“Oh yeah? She had half the gear, dimwit.”

“Well you said we’d grab the gear and dump ’em. Now we gotta put up with ’em all the way. Wouldn’t be so bad if that little prick teaser hadda put out. Been stirring me up all day then won’t put out.”

“I’m sick of hearin’ about it. We’re still gettin some, whether they like it or not.”

“Yours aint much better. Stuck up bitch. Man, when she emptied her bag I juz about freaked. I thought it was all over right then.”

“You almost blew it, scaring her like that. I told you I put the stuff right down the bottom under the flap. S’no way she’d find ’em by accident. Anyway we’ve got the pills now, so no problem. Chill.”

“Yeah, well, wha’s with the sand story, man? That’s stupid.”

“You’re fucking stupid! I had ta think quick, something you can’t do. Whaddoya reckon they’re gonna think? Asking for baggies! Idiot! And annuva thing. How many pills you give ’em? Bloody waste. Tha’s outta your share.”

Mark hung his head in a sulk.

“I didn’t wanna wait all night to get laid. Thought I was already in with that prick teaser. An’ we gotta get up early tomorrow. Anyway we got plenty. Gonna make a fortune in Adelaide.”

Mark contemplates the pile a plastic ziplock bags they’ve been packing individual pills into. The fire reflects deep shadows into his eye sockets.

“Your chick got good’n wasted on that last beer. She crashed pretty early. If you don’t wan her, I’ll have both.”

“Leave her alone.”

For a second Jemma had a foolish hope that Terry would call Mark off. It fades when he laughs.

“She’s mine. Go bang your own bunny. I’ll be over when I finish this beer.”

Jemma inches backwards in disbelief. They’d been drugged and were about to be raped, out in the middle of nowhere, by a couple of amateur drug smugglers. Question was, what did they intend doing after they’d had their fun?

Crouching in the darkness wasn’t helping useful ideas come forward.

Should she brazen it out?

No. These men were drunk enough to take what they wanted, regardless of her objections. It would be worse if they thought she’d heard them. For a hateful second she wished drugged sleep still claimed her. Being abandoned at the next fuel stop might be the worst thing they had to worry about if the men got what they wanted and thought they were safe.

Fighting back is a sure way to get hurt. Mark’s the type who wouldn’t be above hitting a woman. Being dumped out here in the bush alive after they raped her was a scary enough thought, but what guarantee was there that her or Traci would ever be leaving this tiny haven.

“Don’t forget a franger,” Terry calls to Mark as he walked off into the dark.

“Yeah, yeah, I know. I gotta take a piss first.”

The medallion thrummed, hot and urgent. Realising this is really happening releases a flood of adrenaline, pushing Jemma past the lock of terror.

(Chapter 19)

Published in: on Thursday, 6 November, 2008 at 3:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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