AU: Gwen is a runaway from a religious compound, her struggle to freedom brings her in the paths of friends, enemies, and a unknowingly- family. But what she tries to escape from, catches up with her, and her role in which she is to play will horrify all.
Warning: This story contains cult-like themes, torture and sexual elements. If you feel that these are too uncomfortable for you I highly recommend you not read.
Chapter One: The Take Off
She tripped over shrubs, banged her shoulders on passing tree trunks. The sting of the twigs scratches her legs was nearly too much, but she was determined. The heat of the jungle around her caused her to perspire so much that she felt as if she just swam in water. The sun radiated above her with the gleam and glare of the rays mocking her. In and out, in and out, her labored breathing she tried to control and keep her mind off that burning in her throat and the pain in her chest.
Was that a voice? Did she hear a voice in the distance? Was it in front, behind, beside? She couldn't tell. Whether friend or foe it caused her to run harder.
A slight breeze gently kissed her skin, a familiar roaring just ahead.
She had been running for a good three hours, she must have reached the river sooner then she thought.
The shrubbery broke way abruptly, so soon that she almost tripped into the river. The shore itself at that particular spot was only about two feet in width. Coming to clumsy stop with her grabbing at the ground, she finally stopped to rest.
A 'caw' from birds in the trees above echoed in the surroundings. On her bloodied knees she scooped up the water and drenched her face, welcoming the cool contrast.
She began to drink her fill, careful not to drink too fast lest she make herself sick.
"How soon can we get this cargo loaded?" a baritone voice demanded. A plump and gritty man in his 60s looked on at the two boys as they carried crates onto the truck.
"Doing the best we can Red." The taller one said. His black hair sticking to his handsome face as he lifted.
"Yea, good work shouldn't be rushed." the shorter one answered, he had a grey pallor to him and his facial features imitated that of a rat (Guess who?).
"I ain't paying yeh to loiter." Red yelled again, spit coming out of his mouth. "Those loonies over at the Haven pay good for these goods." The mention of the 'Haven' made the two boys nearly drop the last crate.
"Dude! You want us to drive this up there? No freaking way." The taller boy said.
"You'll do it, because I'm paying yeh to do it." said Red.
"Yea Kev, don't bite the hand that feeds you." the shorter boy retorted.
"Do you know what they are like? I've heard enough stories to know that place ain't right. 'Kev' explained to his friend.
"They ain't that bad, just deliver the cargo and leave- simple as that."
Kev and his friend climbed into the truck front after all the crates were loaded. Red walked over to the driver side window to remind them of one last thing.
"Keep to the dirt roads and stay away from the main ones- you know the drill. I don't pay you under the table for no reason."
"We know." Both boys said in unison.
"Good, now get goin'."
They traveled down the dirt roads aligning the jungle, a bumpy ride and rigorous. Someone needed good automobile experience to direct any transportations down these paths. They had followed the map for nearly an hour till they reached a sign pointing North, and the name 'Haven' next to it.
"So, what exactly is so bad about this 'Haven' place?" asked the shorter boy.
"I've heard it's a cult compound, full of extreme nut jobs and such." Kev responded.
"..So they ain't gonna kidnap us and try to brainwash us of our vast intellect?"
" That's the last thing you need to worry about Argit."
They came upon a white painted wooden gate, with two lookout posts on each side. No doubt they had arrived. One of the persons guarding the gate came up to Kev's side of the truck and motioned for him to roll down his window. The man himself had a receding hair line and a brown mustache. He was too lanky to be taking the position of guard and was well into his mid-forties.
"What brings you to our happy community?" The man asked.
"Just got a delivery for you, Red sent us." Kev explained. The mention of 'Red' sent compliance to the man's features.
"Oh good you brought us our supplies. May the Great Power praise you!" Said the man. "Open the Gates!"
The white wooden gates opened, allowing Kev and Argit to drive through. They followed he road all the way through the community. They saw huts, farm fields, workers, children, and women. They were all dressed in hand-made clothes, the women's hair were all braided while the men wore red scarves around their heads. Kev and Argit surveyed young girl's weaving baskets, boys gathering wood. All in all it looked like a perfect functioning community.
The truck came to a halt as a man held his hands up for signal. Kev killed the engine and both got out to greet the man.
He grinned widely, his hands stretched out in a gesture of welcome.
"Greetings my friends, I see you have brought us our supplies how good of you!" He laughed as he approached them, shaking Kev's hand.
"I am John Paul, Founder of the Haven Community. I welcome you with a smile in my heart and a laugh upon my breath. Here at the Haven we accept all and leave out judgement, I know we shall be fast friends."
"uh…yeah. Look, where do you want us to unload these crates?" diverted Kev as he pointed to the cargo.
"No, no, no. Let some of the men here unload it. It is meant for us and you've carried it a long way already. Come inside my hut and we will have some rice." John Paul said joyfully.
Argit and Kev exchanged uneasy looks and reluctantly followed the man inside the shabby hut.
"Come, come!" he beckoned more, motioning them to sit as he got the rice ready for them.
"Its..uh, nice place you got here." said Argit.
"Isn't it? We thrive on hard work and faith to guide us to a pure life. Together we can find the happiness the Great Power has for us." John Paul said.
"Great Power?" Kev inquired. This caused the man named John Paul to change his demeanor for a fraction of a second before settling back to his calm nature.
"The Great Power gives us life, governs us in how we should live that life. Nothing is by chance, it is the will of the Great that things should happen. Our meeting for example, is by the Great Power's willing.
"Okay." said Argit.
"Perhaps if you stayed for the night and let the people here express their delight with Haven, you too will see that we've found the right way to live." John Paul expressed.
'No, no thanks. We got to get back to Red. To….tell him that…we delivered your supplies."
"Uh, uh, I won't take no for an answer. You can tell your boss tomorrow, I'm sure he'd understand."
"It's just…that our mother is sick and we really shouldn't be away from her long." tried Argit.
John Paul's face fell, his joyous features faltering again to reveal slight contempt.
"Very well, perhaps another time and I'll hold you both to it." he said pointing to them, and laughing heartily. He settled his chortle and became slightly more serious.
"By the way," he began. "There is one thing you can do for us."
Both boys tensed up, Argit had expected to be ambushed by some of the men at that moment and taken to some underground room and be prepped for brainwash.
"We're missing a member, actually. Her Aunt and Uncle are really worried about her. She's about your age, auburn hair, skinny." John Paul described. "We believe she got lost in the jungle and may be roaming around near the river ports. If you see her…"
"We'll let you know." Kevin finished.
"May the Great Power protect you both on your journey back." John Paul muttered as he bowed.
"Yea, the same back at ya." Kev replied.