"I don't know about this Mary," The young, pretty woman called Ann looked at the computer screen and on it there was a picture of a dozen women lying on the ground covered in blood and standing over them was a really tall, muscle bound man holding a large rifle.
†"Oh come off it Ann," another pretty young woman was looking at the same picture. "It's a fetish thing."
†Ann looked at her best friend. "This is sick!"
†She clicked the next picture and it showed the same big man grinning and seemingly to hold a dead woman by the hair as if she was a trophy, her face was drenched in blood.
†"It's all pretend!" Mary spoke but didn't sound completely convinced. "I mean if he did kill her then why would he post his picture on the web..?"
†"I don't know," Ann clicked another picture and once again it was the same man but with a different woman this time and her whole body was drenched in blood. "How can anyone get their kicks out of this?"
Mary looked, paused, and then shook her head, "Thatís men for you."
Both women nodded to themselves.
†"Its good money." Mary said quietly as Ann clicked through lots of pictures with the same man and different women.
†"Not enough if they kill us."
†Mary leant forward and looked at one of the bloodied women, she clicked on the size bar at the bottom of the screen and clicked 200%, and the woman's bloodied face filled the screen.
†"What are you looking for?"
†"She hasn't got any injuries." Mary spoke slowly as she looked at every detail.
†Mary right clicked the picture and saved it in her documents; she opened it up in Paint and then blew it up 400%. The image was still quite clear.
†"At least they are using a high quality camera," she said absently.
†Mary blinked and looked at her friend, "It means that they have some money...."
†Ann frowned, "What are you on about"
†Mary didn't answer because she wasn't sure what she meant, instead she moved the mouse down the picture to the woman's torso. She was wearing a white sweater and it was covered in blood but Mary could not see a hole where the bullet would have gone in and besides would there be that much blood?
†"I don't think I want to do this Mary."
†"I don't want to either," Mary spoke quickly. "But I need the money, I haven't got next month's rent and they are cutting my hours in the shop."
†"I need the money as well," Ann nodded but could not take her eyes of the screen. "But I don't want to do this."
†"Have you got any other ideas?" Mary looked at her friend and knew she didn't.
†"There must be something else we can do?" Ann asked feebly.
†"There are lots of things we can do but this will pay us 300 quid for a weekend in the country and we both need the money by Monday."
†Ann knew this was true and sometimes she hated her friend for being right most of the time even though it was part of the reason she liked Mary.
†"Tell me again how did you find out about this?" Mary asked after a few moments.
†"Face book." Ann answered. "One of my friends sent me a message..."
†"Who was it?"
†Mary smiled but didn't answer.
†"You don't know who she is do you?" Ann leant closer to her friend.
†"Yes," Mary didn't sound convinced. "We have lots of mutual friends."
†"Its someone you've accepted without knowing who it is haven't you?"
†"No," Mary spoke to quickly.
†"You have over a thousand friends on you face book Mary," Ann shook her head in exasperation. "And you know about twenty of them."
†It was true, but there was no way Mary was going to admit to it and besides she really did need 300 quid by Monday and this Fiona Lewis seemed nice enough.
†"She's got 500 friends, so she must be ok." Mary said in her defense.
†Ann shook her head once again; sometimes her friend could be so blonde, even though she had brown hair.
†"Why did she ask you?"
†She had no idea, she just assumed that this Fiona woman had asked all of her friends and perhaps there would be lots of them at the mansion pictured on the webpage. If she was honest she doubted it but she was absolutely penniless and had even thought of selling her body for the rent.
†"Look Ann," her voice was hard. "I'm going for this and I would love for you to come with me but either way I am going to do this."
†Her friend was determined and also desperate.
†"I suppose we could do with the money." Ann smiled. "And besides if we get killed them I'm going to bloody haunt you."
†The next day the two of them were waiting outside their flat with only a bag packed each because most of their clothes needed to be washed and there was no money for the laundry.
†"I told Peter to phone me latter," Ann looked down the road to where the car was meant to be coming from to pick them up.
†"Why doesn't he take us?" Mary asked "Fiona said our boyfriends could come along if they wanted to."
† "He's away with the rugby," Ann shook her head and a glazed expression filled her eyes. "Sometimes I wonder about him.....about us.."
† "So you still haven't talked to him then?"
†Ann shook her head, "I'm waiting for the right time."
†Mary did not say anything because she knew her friend would get defensive anytime she criticized Ann's present boyfriend. In the past they had both laughed and jeered at boyfriends if they were no good and sometimes even if they were and it was great, but with Mark she was very, very protective and Mary had learned quickly when it was best not to say anything.
†"Anyway, what about Clive?" Ann turned sharply to her friend. "He could have taken us."
†"You know he can't," Mary spoke quickly. "He's away on a course with work."
†"Oh yeah," Ann said. "Another one of those weekends away with the company."
†Mary frowned, "What do you mean?"
†"He's been away a lot lately."
†"He's working to be deputy manager," Mary was getting angry. "And he told me a while back he would be on a lot of courses and besides this was a last minute thing."
†"How many courses does he have to do?"
†"As many as they tell him to go on and thatís it!"
†A tense silence passed between them.
"Here they are," Mary was glad when the expected car appeared at the end of the road, she was glad because the silence between them was getting to be uncomfortable.
†"That must be Alice." A woman was sitting in the front seat and the moment both women saw her they smiled and the tension about the weekend was broken, because Alice was one of the "dead" women on the internet.
†"Hi," Alice smiled as she got out of the car after it had pulled up. "You must be Ann and you must be Mary. I'm glad you agreed to do this because we're short and Fiona said..."
†"Who is Fiona?" Ann cut in.
†Alice frowned, "You don't know?"
†"Mary collects friends on Face book so most of the time she has no idea who she is talking to."
†Mary half smiled and glanced at Ann.
†"Well you were in school with her." Alice smiled and started to get back into the car. "She said you were both up for an adventure because in school you were always getting into trouble."
†Both women looked at each other and frowned, they had met here in the city, Mary had come from a small village in the Welsh countryside and Ann had been a native of the city.
†"We weren't at school together." Ann said.
†Alice stopped and slowly got out of the car again. "What?"
†"We did not meet in school."
†Alice frowned, "But Fiona said that you two were in school together."
†Silence descended and the three women just stared at each other.
†"Sod it!" Mary said. "We're here now and you need us and we need the money."
†Alice looked at one to the other and then smiled, "Yes." She got back into the car.
†"If you don't want to come then don't!" the words were hard.
†Mary got into the front of the car and sat looking forward. Ann blinked; this was going to be a long weekend.
†He was there, the big muscular man on the internet, he was holding a shotgun and was just staring as they pulled into the farm yard. The journey had been over an hour and they had left the city and passed through stunning countryside. Ann had only left the city a few times and she had loved every mile, Mary had been silent all the way. Alice stopped the car and the muscular man made his way deliberately towards them his expression was set hard and he was bigger in the flesh than in his pictures. He strode right past the car without as much as a glance their way.
†"Oh shit!" Alice sighed.
†"What?" Ann asked.
†"He's in a bad mood, he's going to be rough today, you'll have to watch yourselves."
†Both friends stared at her.
†"What do you mean?" For the first time since they had got into the car Mary looked at Ann.
†"Don't worry," Alice said as she opened the car door. "He's alright, itís just when he's like this he'll be a bit rough with you."
†"Rough?" Ann asked.
†"Yeah it's nothing to be frightened of." Alice was out of the car and stretching her legs.
†"Mary I don't..." Ann's sentence was cut off by Mary getting out of the car quickly and ignoring her.
†"This is going to be a bloody long weekend!" Ann sighed her thoughts aloud.
†They followed Alice to a large shambling mansion.
†"Your on the middle floor, a double room," Alice opened the door and both women smelt fresh paint. "There is a bit of work going on because this is an activity centre and we have hired it for the weekend but it's only us until Sunday night so watch out for any tools lying about. After you've unpacked come back downstairs and their is a room to your right, itís the main living room come in and we'll explain whatís going to happen today"
†They made their way to their room and for the 20 minutes it took them to unpack they didn't say a word to each other.
†They silently made their way down and in the main living room there were a dozen other women, they turned to look as Mary and Ann entered and there were a smattering of smiles and nods.
†"Well," Alice was at the door. "This is the rest of the girls."
†Introductions were made and soon everyone was relaxed with each other but Ann and Mary still didn't speak.
†"Okay then," Alice began. "The first video will be with five girls and you'll be hunted by Adam, you all know who I mean, the big bald guy and just to remind you he's not in the best of moods."
†All the other girls nodded.
†"Mary and Ann you can go with Leslie, Phyllis and Erica." Alice pointed to three women who looked very similar, athletic and strawberry blonde. "They've done a few of these and they'll make sure you girls are ok."
†The group made their way out into the yard; both Mary and Ann felt butterflies in their stomachs.
†"Its ok," Leslie smiled. "It's an easy one to start off."
†"What do you mean?" Ann asked.
†"It'll just be a ten minute chase and then Adam will shoot us in that barn over there." She pointed to a barn at the far end of the yard. "We'll just run down that track there." She indicated a lane directly opposite the entrance to the Mansion. "And then he'll chase us into the barn and shoot us one at a time."
†Phyllis and Erica laughed, Mary and Ann smiled uncomfortably. Mary would never admit it but she was wondering perhaps Ann had been right after all, this was weird, very weird.
†"That's Ian," Phyllis pointed to a fit middle aged man with a small digital camera in his hand. "He's nice."
†As compared to what? Mary thought.
†As they left the mansion Adam appeared from behind the back of it, he did not come towards them and nobody spoke when they saw him. Mary felt her stomach muscles tighten.
†"I don't think this is a good idea." She said aloud.
†Ann looked at her and smiled.
†Mary smiled back and was happy that things were getting better between them even if it was weird, but that man.
†"Ok girls," Alice said. "Go."
†Adam raised his shotgun and blasted into the air, all the women screamed and they were off.
†"Oh shit, oh shit!" Mary said aloud.
†They raced passed Ian and he was already filming, Phyllis, Erica and Leslie were screaming and shouting for help, both Ann and Mary were silent for a moment and then joined in. The noise and the adrenaline made all the women run faster and faster and Mary looked behind her and saw Adam coming towards her really fast his shotgun out in front of him.
†"Oh shit, oh shit!" Ann had been doing the same and saw Adam as well.
†The five women ran deeper into the woods along the rough path, despite themselves fear started to go through Mary and Ann, both were certain they could hear Adam breathing close behind them.
†"He's going to kill us," Ann shouted and let out a scream, Mary did the same and reached out to her friend, they grabbed each other's hand and ran even faster.
†"Dirty whore!" Adam bellowed and blasted a round above their heads; both friends thought they could feel the shot raining down on them.
†"Oh my god," they both ran faster. "He's going to kill us."
†The three women in front were screaming louder and louder, they were looking back with wide eyed terror.
†"He's getting closer!" Phyllis screamed and almost tripped.
†"Into the barn!" Erica shouted and pointed to where they had been told to run to.
†"No way!" Ann shouted and started to move away from the group.
†"Where are you going bitch!" A shotgun blast brought her back and all five of them ran towards the barn.
†"Ann," Mary shouted through gasps. "I think I made a mistake."
†"Fuck off!" Her friend screamed and pulled away from her.
†"Ann don't leave me...Ē Mary looked back and Adam was almost on top of her, this made her spurt faster and she almost overtook her friend.
†"Bitches!" Adam bellowed and yet again there was another shotgun blast.
†They were in through the entrance of the barn before they could think and suddenly the bright sunlight was almost pitch black and it took a few seconds for all of their visions to adjust and immediately Adam was in the doorway.
†"Right you bitches!" his voice was unnaturally calm. "Now your fucking mine!"
†He leveled the shotgun and blasted, Erica flew back and Mary saw her chest explode in an eruption of blood.
†"No, no, no, no, no!" She shouted and suddenly ran at Adam; his eyes widened as she raced and he did not have time to react when she launched herself at him swinging wildly and caught him full in the face.
†"Oh no!" It was another man's voice, it was Ian.
†She could see him coming towards her his camera on the floor behind him; he was reaching out, "No, no, stop..!"
†Mary was about to launch herself at him when a hand grabbed her from behind.
†"Stop Mary," It sounded like Erica.
†"What?" She turned and tripped at the same time and as she thudded to the ground she saw the bloody and should be dead Erica standing over her.
†"Mary," Ann was coming to her as well. "I think something is going on."
†"Bloody hell!" Adam's voice was different, higher pitched and softer. "I wouldn't like to get on the wrong side of you."
†"Oh no," It was Alice's voice from the doorway and both friends looked at her. "I said we shouldn't have gone so far."
†Mary was trying to get to her feet but a wave of dizziness washed over her.
†"Its ok love," Adam was bearing down on her. "Take it easy, everything is alright."
†Mary passed out.
†"I saw her chest explode." Ann pointed to the grinning Erica.
†They were all sitting in the front room of the mansion, they were drinking hot coffee and nearly thirty minutes had passed.
†"Yes I think that was a bit much!" Adam nodded thoughtfully and sipped his drink, he winced. "God Alice why don't you buy us some decent coffee?"
†"Sorry they were out in the shop." Alice explained.
†"Anyway," Mary asked. "Why didn't you tell us?"
†"Because new girls are always best when they aren't aware whatís going on." Phyllis said as if repeating what she had been told.
†There was a moment if silence in the room.
†"I told you itís too much." Adam said.
†"Ok," Alice began. "I'm sorry, it was my idea but when you see the footage you'll be impressed by how well you acted."
†"We weren't acting." Ann said and looked at Mary who nodded in agreement.
†The whole room laughed and after a moment so did Mary and Ann.
†"I don't understand why anybody buys this stuff." Ann blurted out.
†Adam nodded, "Neither do I darling."
†"We just make it and then send it off," Ian sighed. "I upload it to a place in London and they put it on the web, itís all legal because customers can pay with credit cards, even PayPal and its vat registered."
†"I dunno'," Adam shrugged. "Men!"
†There was another pause and they all laughed.
†"Ok when do we do the next one?" Alice looked at her watch.
†"There are another four girls coming a bit latter with Tony," Ian said.
†"What then?" Ann asked.
†"We make the big one." Alice nodded mostly to herself.
†"I have a real hissy fit on that one!" Adam giggled. "You dirty bitch whores, I'm going to cut you up!"
†"Oh itís all blood and guts on that one!" Phyllis finished her coffee. "Well I'm going to my room and have a nap for an hour or two."
†"Is the video ruined now?" Mary asked.
†"No love," Adam said. "Clever clogs Ian will shoot other stuff, excuse my pun, with me and my big gun and then you girls can have your little bit of fame by acting your little socks off! It will look marvelous."
† They all laughed, it wasn't going to be so bad after all.
†Alice spoke after the laughter stopped. "Okay Ann and Mary we and the other girls will do some filming so if you want to have a look around the place then feel free because we'll be about an hour."
†Both friends looked at each other.
†"Fancy a walk in the woods," Ann said. "We don't get out of the city often enough and it should be nice."
†"You girls watch out for all those bad men." Adam teased and again they all laughed.
† A little bit latter they were walking through the woods and things were better between them.
†"It's not so bad is it?" Mary asked.
†Ann nodded and smiled, "You thought it was real didn't you."
†Mary frowned and then giggled, "No I didn't...well only for a moment."
†"I did all the time!"
†Both friends walked in silence and enjoyed the woods, it was nice and the breeze blew through the trees.
†"It is nice here isn't it?" Ann said.
†"Yeah," Mary just wanted to walk and enjoy the place.
†Suddenly there was a sound far off and it was familiar.
†"What was that?" Ann asked.
†"I don't know."
†Both women looked to where they thought they could hear the sound coming from.
†"Thatís," Ann paused.
†"It must be the girls back at the mansion."
†Ann looked behind her, "No it's coming from the wrong direction."
†"Is it a scream?" Mary asked and looked once deeper into the road.
†"It can't be." Ann felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.
†The sound came again and it was definitely a woman's scream.
†"It must be another film being made."
†"Yeah," Ann was not convinced. "It must be."
†Another scream echoed and then there was a shot, it was loud and close by, both women whirled around and they saw a woman running towards them at high speed and even from the distance they were they could see that she was terrified.
†"Who's that?" Mary asked.
†"I don't know."
†She did not look like the other girls but she was heading for them, suddenly there was another shot and both friends could see a man raise a gun behind the woman and fire, a spurt of flame came out of the end of the barrel and a tree just in front of him splintered and they actually heard the shot.
†"That's real bullets!" Ann had her mouth wide open.
†"That's not Adam!" Mary added.
"Help me!" the woman was wide eyed and screamed. "He's trying to kill me.
Both friends were stunned and did not move for a moment. The man raised the gun again and it was a shotgun similar to the one that Adam had used and Mary was certain in that moment that it was the actual gun.
†"Run!"† The woman screamed again and before both friends knew it she was running past them and another blast from the gun shook them out of their shocked stillness and they turned and sprinted after her.
†"You bitch!" the man behind cursed and another blast shook the air around them, it was real shot.
†"Oh my god!" Ann gasped and despite herself looked behind the man was almost on top of them, he was raising the gun but his running spoilt his aim and the shot went wide, but both friends could feel the heat and shot in the air.
†"Don't look back Ann." Mary shouted.
†The woman in front seemed to be pulling further and further away and Ann was so she could actually feel the man's breath on her neck.
†"I'm going to kill you!" the man shouted.
†"Oh god, oh god, oh god!" Mary chanted.
†The woman in front went around a tree and disappeared, both friends did not have time to react because they both saw Adam at the same time and he was coming towards them.
†"Adam!" Mary shouted. "Behind us."
†He looked behind them and his face quickly furrowed into a frown.
†"Run Adam!" Ann screamed.
†They were getting closer and closer to him and they could see his expression was changing to one of confusion.
†"Whatís wrong?" He asked.
†"Behind us!" Mary shouted and turned to see the man was not there.
†"What?" Adam looked form one friend to the other. "What are you running from?"
†Ann turned as well.
†"There was a man." Ann spoke quickly. "He was chasing a woman and shooting at her."
†"Oh come on darling!" Adam smiled but it faded as he took in their expressions. "What do you mean?"
†"There was a woman," Mary looked to where she had last seen the fleeing woman but there was nobody there.
†"She was being chased by a man," Ann pointed to where she had last seen the man. "He was shooting..."
†"I didn't hear anything." Adam looked beyond the two friends. "There was nobody..."
†All three of them looked around and there was nobody there or any trace of anybody being there.
†"I saw nobody."† Adam spoke quietly.
†A few minutes latter Alice was looking at them confused. "Its only us and we've been in the barn."
†"Yes," Phyllis agreed and was covered in blood. "Adam only popped out for a cigarette."
†"But he was shooting at her." Mary sounded confused.
†"None of us saw or heard anything."† Erica stated.
†A silence descended on the room and nobody looked at the two women.
†"I think we'd better leave." Mary spoke slowly after what seemed like a long, long time.
†Nobody said anything and all of them avoided her look
†Alice nodded her head quickly and the tension in the room eased a little, "Okay I'll run you back."
†She pulled out some money but both friends shook their heads.
†"Tony should be here soon," She looked at Adam. "If you finish off in the barn that will give the girls a bit of a rest after the journey and by that time I should be back."
†Adam nodded and smiled at the two friends, they smiled back, the other girls did not look at them and followed Alice out to the car. In silence the three of them got in and Alice started the car and began to move out of the mansion's driveway. Another car appeared and as they passed Alice waved and made a phone gesture with her hand. Both friends looked at the passing car as well and in the front was the man who had been running after the woman in the woods and sitting next to him was the woman. Both friends turned to each other and did not say a word, just got into the car with Alice and headed back to the city.