Fast asleep in my bed, I had no chance of stopping my attackers. It was so sudden and abrupt that I’d barely blinked before I found myself being dragged, kicking and screaming, out of my own home. A blow to the head and consciousness quickly left me…
Blinded and bleeding, I awoke in a strait jacket with my knees tied to my chest and my mouth gagged shut. Everything was cold. Without any clue as to where I was, my first guess was the North Pole. After a few silent minutes my blindfold slipped, allowing me a first glance at the black, blood-splattered stone of the basement that surrounded me. The only window in the corner of the room was boarded up and only slight glimmers of moonlight found their way through the cracks.
The odour of blood, sweat and vomit overpowered me, forcing me to blackout for several minutes every time. Blinking to adjust to the darkness, my jaw was met by a powerful fist. Suddenly, I recognized the voices and the stench. It was the gang. This was my initiation.
Although I knew no harm would come to me, I couldn’t help but tremble with fear. Preparing for a beating, I asked for one request. “Please just don’t leave me on the streets when you’re done.”
This was met by hoots and howls of laughter. “Nothing’s that simple,” replied a voice, unmistakably from Tam. Even now, he couldn’t hide the spite in his voice. “This is just the warm up.”
With my blindfold back in place, I was pulled to my feet and shoved head first out the door and lead down ceaseless corridors, growing colder and colder until we finally reached the surface where the bitterness of the night pierced my bare skin like a million knives.
I recognized Mitch’s voice beckoning me forward with his hand glued to my arm. I wouldn’t say he was gentle but he wasn’t as rough as the others. I imagined what we must have looked like making our way down the streets. How would people react to six or seven hooded figures dragging along a bagged and beaten schoolboy?
As minutes passed, my terror amplified until the sub-zero weather wasn’t the only thing that was forcing my body to tremble. Where were they taking me? What would I have to do? Would I be the only one in the crossfire? Knowing the reputation of the gang, an initiation would not be taken lightly. My worst fear fell to the thought of taking another person’s life… Could I get up in the morning knowing that someone had to die for me to live?
Another few minutes slipped away when I heard clangs of metal as gates were opened, and then voices as deals were made. Mitch drew close to my ear as he whispered one final note of encouragement. “It’s been nice knowing you, mate,” he said quietly, so as to avoid letting the others hear. Sounding completely sincere and dejected, I felt like crying, vomiting and fainting all in the same moment.
Back in the hands of Tam, he yanked off my restraints and thrust me forward with such force that I fell to my knees. The distinct sound of a gate closing filled my ears. Slowly, I reached up to restore my eyesight. Now, clinging onto the blindfold around my neck, I took in my surroundings trying to remember to breathe.
Tam and the others lay beyond the metal bars of what appeared to be an enclosure. “Welcome to London Zoo. You have two weapons to use however you see fit. Survive this and you’re one of us. The keeper will let you out before opening time.”
Mitch was long gone before the others began to disperse. Only Tam lingered behind, with a smirk plastered across his smug little face. Batting his eyelids, he blew me a kiss before he skipped off into the shadows. “Have fun!”
Trees and shadows enclosed me as the waking question as to what else was in here with me, grew stronger. Covered in blood, I knew, without a doubt, that the animal had my scent. With a helmet askew on my head and a rickety bat firmly in my hand, I readied myself for the longest night of my life…
BY MEGANN MCCAFFERTY 13 YEARS OLD (YEAR 9)