Sutton Wins Fall Fiction Contest
National Park College’s (NPC) student creative writing group, The Write Hawks, sponsors
a fall fiction contest each year for students. A small group of faculty members judge
submissions anonymously. The winning author receives a prize package and certificate.
The winner for the 2020 fall fiction contest was Grace Sutton for her story Fight for Freedom.
Fight for Freedom
CRACK! A young lady ducked in surprise.
“Hey! You don’t need the whip! I’ll do what you want, alright?”
The man raised an eyebrow in shock. “Alright, girly. Have it your way. But if you make a wrong move...” He snapped the whip again to finish the threat.
The woman walked up to the leader of the marauders who’d raided her town and killed her father. To say it was hard to be his slave and do as he beckoned was a major understatement. All Ashwyn could do was grind her teeth to keep from saying something she’d regret and just try to stay alive.
“What can I do for you, Sir?” She forced out as kindly as she could.
“Oh, there’s no need to call me ‘Sir.’ Please,” He leaned forward with a nasty smirk and continued. “call me ‘Master.’”
Ashwyn bit her tongue before she could snap back and replied. “Yes, Master.” She had to get out of there. Had to escape. Had to find a new home. But how? Was it even possible?
“I want a cup of tea with two sugar cubes and a splash of cream. My laundry is in my tent—you know where to find it. And make sure the clothes are washed upstream where the water is clean. No going downstream y’ hear?” He commanded.
Ashwyn nodded even though she didn’t understand why she needed the reminder. She never washed clothes downstream—not that she hadn’t thought about doing it for her ‘Master.’ As she turned to follow her orders, Captain Anders taunted her:
“Also tell that scraggly young man you work with that I need my weapons cleaned and sharpened... for my next raid.”
The woman—to her honor—stiffened but did not retaliate. Instead she stormed off across the grounds with her two guards in tow. She knew her place and tried to maintain the manners that her father... that her now deceased father instructed her in which to behave. But it was excruciating to respect those who ripped her life apart.
“Dakota?” Ashwyn asked looking around the slave tent for her friend.
The man from Iden groaned, “Right ... here.”
Dashing to the young man on the ground, she asked. “Are you alright?”
“Perfect. Don’t worry.” He stood slowly, eyes dazed as he fixed the feathers in his braided black hair.
“Oh nothing. Just that I didn’t know I WAS DOING ANYTHING WRONG until the guard hit me over the head!” He growled to the guards at the tent entrance.
“Something’s got to be done. We can’t continue to live like this!” Ashwyn whispered in anger. “We have to find a way to escape...”
“Sounds great, but how? We aren’t really in a great position to plan an escape,” he
said nodding toward the guards.
“Don’t worry about that for now. Just try to think of some ideas. We can compare thoughts tonight.”
“Sounds good. So, you came in here to tell me something? More orders?”
Sighing, Ashwyn told him to tend to the weapons again. Afterward, she left to fetch tea for Captain Anders and to start cleaning laundry—lots and lots of laundry. As the sun began to set, she met up with Dakota once more. She approached him in the failing light of the day while helping to gather firewood.
“So, I heard news that the marauders are planning to sell us at the slave auction to be held in three days’ time.” Dakota informed. “Do you know where the slave auction will be held?”
“Vynmara... I believe,” he replied puzzled. “Does it matter?”
Ashwyn’s thoughts began running ahead, “Their security will be more focused on who comes in rather than who goes out...”
“Why? Shouldn’t they make sure slaves don’t make a run for it?”
“Usually, yes. But in Vynmara it’s illegal to sell slaves! They will be more concerned about getting caught selling slaves than keeping a close eye on us.” She mused. Silence settled as the thought was solidifying into something dangerously like hope. A hope that could propel them toward the great escape that could save them... or get them all killed!
“Even so, we’ll need more people if we’re to overcome the guards and escape. I suggest we find more allies. We could strike at noon just when the auction is starting,” Dakota added.
Ashwyn nodded as she turned back to the camp with her arms full of wood. “But be careful who you talk to!” he said as he snatched her arm. “If we talk to the wrong people, they may rat us out. Some people would rather be slaves than risk dying in an attempted escape.”
“Right. Go to those we are sure will fight with us.”
“Ok.” The young man looked over his shoulder to see the guards stepping forward signaling their time to discuss was over. “Goodnight.”
Ashwyn never knew she could be so excited about the day of a slave auction. That day did not seem to her as bonds and shackles, but as the day she could truly be free. The night before the auction, she and Dakota compared how many people sided with them to be sure they would stand a chance of escape.
The dark-skinned man whispered. “I’ve got about twenty people on my side. You?”
Ashwyn smiled victoriously. “Fifty!”
On the day of the auction, many signals and subtle nods were passed from other slaves to Ashwyn and her cohort throughout the crowded auction. Plans had been exchanged with each person, and tensions were high. Just as the auctioneer slammed his gavel down to open the bidding, all the slaves attacked their captors, stealing weapons and striking them down. They cut lose the bonds of their fellow slaves. Chaos reigned as the guards tried in vain to control the situation. The slaves scattered into the forested hills. Ashwyn excitedly raced after Dakota into the thick undergrowth.
They were free!