"Hey! The show's about to start!" A man called out. "Is that lady awake yet?"
A woman woke up in total darkness, a thick leather sack wrapped tightly around her face. Her whole head throbbed in pain, her eyes burned, her mouth was dry and she could barely catch her breath. As she slowly came to consciousness, she struggled in her chair and felt the rusty iron chains pressed tightly against her wrists and ankles, trapping her in place on a creaky wooden chair.
A hand reached out and grabbed the sack on her face, ripping it away in a single swift action. The woman found she was in a dark, filthy room the size of a walk-in closet. The supply shelves were barren and empty, the walls were covered in an unidentifiable filth. Two men stood by her side, both in black three-piece suits. Their hands were covered in thick leather gloves. One man's face was covered by a ski-mask, the other wore dark goggles and a skull bandana. Both were armed, one with a scoped hunting rifle, the other with a suppressed shotgun.
Immediately, tears streamed down the woman's face. She started rocking back and forth and screaming. Her throat was heavily strained as her voice cracked like a bat. One man grabbed her by the hair and pulled her head back, slamming it on the headboard of the chair, nearly cracking it in half. The other man reached into a nearby crate and pulled out a ball gag. He jammed it in her mouth, bruising her lips, and the other pulled back the leather straps and locked them tight.
"Hey, hey! Pipe down, lady!" One of the men commanded. "These walls are sound-proof, and we're in the middle of nowhere. The only thing you're doing is hurting our goddamn ears."
"Besides..." The other man dug through the same crate the gag came from, shuffling around in it for a few scant seconds before pulling out a bizarre mask. It was a white cotton rabbit mask covered in grime, tattered, frayed and discolored from years of neglect, a small camera jutting out from the forehead. The man walked over and slipped the mask over the woman's face, she grimaced as the musky, moldy odor of it hit her nostrils. The man looked her directly in the eyes. "Little rabbits don't talk."
The men flanked her at both sides and began to unhook the chains from her limbs. They grabbed her by both the arms and pulled her upwards. The men shoved the dual doors wide open and dragged her out into a large entryway. The musty odor of rotten wood, mold and drywall dust filled the air. The woman helplessly looked around and saw large shipping containers, broken windows and squalid, crumbling warehouse walls.
The guards brought her to a large entryway. There, dozens of other people, all dressed in rags wearing the same bunny mask as her, stood trembling, surrounded by a score of masked men with guns. As the two guards roughly shoved her into the crowd of rabbit-masked people, she got a good look at all the figures who circled them.
The group on the left side were dressed like slasher movie killers. Hockey masks, umpire helmets, stitched leather and potato sacks. They wore tattered, punk-ish clothing like ripped jeans, derelict t-shirts and dirty jackets. The other group all wore animal masks. Sharks, hounds, tigers, all predatory animals. They were clad in varsity jackets and gym pants. Surrounding everyone were more of the well dressed men in suits, all of them with their faces covered. The suited men all had firearms, the other gangs had improvised weaponry; hatchets, pipes, bats, clubs, knives and chains.
As the woman's eyes scanned the gang of animal masked figures, her eyes were drawn to one in particular. A large, muscular man with no shirt in a wolf mask, who seemed to be twice the size of everyone around him. Thick chains hung loosely from his wrists, and his hands were adorned with razor gloves that looked like they could tear through metal. As they made eye-contact, she felt sick at the beast's gaze. Its eyes were on fire, almost bloodshot with the pure, focused rage they projected. All the hairs on the back of her neck stood up, and she looked away from it. But she could still feel its eyes on her.
One of the rabbit-men began screaming through his gag, pacing around in place frantically. He went running towards the large, darkened hallway in front of them. He actually managed to slip past the suited men and ran several paces away from the starting area before a guard managed to catch up with him. The man in the black suit punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground in a single blow. He dragged the man by his neck back to the staging area and tossed him with the others. All the other rabbit-people stood frozen in fear.
Out from the shadows came a man dressed in referee clothing, his own face obscured by a hospital mask and a pair of sunglasses. He raised his hand in the air, and all the other armed thugs stood at attention like soldiers. He brushed off his shoulders, cleared his throat and cracked his knuckles.
"Alright, you fucking psychopaths! Listen up!" The Referee announced. "The broadcast just started, and the game begins in five minutes. We all know the rules, but a little refresher for the audience at home: these sorry sacks of shit you see in the bunny masks are the runners. We're gonna let them loose in a warehouse full of booby traps, dead ends and fake exits, and they have to try to find the real one and escape. The two gangs here tonight, The Skulkers on the left and The Ferals on the right, will try to hunt them down. The group that brings the most rabbit masks to the starting area wins. How you get those masks is up to you, but The Director would like it if you put on a good show for the fine folks watching today. Make some great footage for the highlight reel!"
"The fresh game will be escorted to the starting line, and they'll be given a thirty-second head start." The Referee explained. "None of you deranged fuckers move an inch until I blow the whistle, or one of The Professionals here will fill you full of buckshot. And remember: you're allowed to beat, maim and subdue enemy gang members, but not kill them. Only the prey. Any questions?"
The room was completely silent, save for the weeping and moaning of several of the so-called "rabbits" muffled by their gags. The Referee smirked and nodded. He held up his hand again, and two of the "Professionals" began to shove the victims forward. They marched ahead instinctively, led to a thin white chalk line drawn on the ground.
From the wall-mounted loudspeakers, a distorted voice cackled out. It was The Director. "Ladies and gentlemen, you're watching Murder, Live! Broadcasting from gloomy Nekropolis City, Charon County! In Tonight's very special Murder Run, the scum of the earth will hunt down these miserable vagabonds and rip them to pieces for your viewing pleasure! Those of you in the front row will get wet!"
"Now, release the runners!"
A guard fired his shotgun into the air, the many rabbit-masked captives bolted like wildfire, scattering out of the entryway like a swarm of wasps escaping a nest. The woman was among them, jogging aimlessly into the darkness, not sure where she could hide. The referee blew his whistle, and the many masked thugs ran out. Their movements were cool, precise and controlled, like football players charging into a game. It was clear they had done this many times before.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the fun has begun!" The voice over the loudspeaker announced. "Who will win? The savage Skulkers, or the ferocious Ferals? All you have to do to win is follow the white rabbits!"
The woman ran as fast as her legs could carry her, huffing and puffing as her hamstrings strained and burned. The pain was nothing to her, she had to get away by any means necessary. Every muscle in her body was tense enough to snap, her feet slammed on the concrete hard enough she felt like it could crack underneath her. She looked in every direction she could, seeing squalor and people running everywhere she looked. It was a pitch black war zone. Her ears were filled with the sounds of screaming, banging and the distorted echoes of the chaos around her.
As she darted aimlessly, she found a shadowy corner behind a large, rusty piece of unused machinery. She ran into the darkness and collapsed down, crouching as low as her body could go. From a small gap in the machine, she was able to see another victim running as a man in a hockey mask sprinted after him. The hunter tackled him to the ground before savagely beating him over the head with a cricket bat. The woman sobbed as she looked away, shrinking down and covering her ears. No matter how hard she pressed her hands against her head, she could still hear the mushy, fleshy sound of the victim's skull caving in under the pressure of the thick wooden club.
She looked all around, trying to find her next hiding spot. If her legs could stop shaking long enough for her to run away, she'd try to find a window, a vent or an unlocked door and bolt out of it. She saw an open doorway with an exit sign on top. A twisting knot in her stomach formed as she began to stand up. A deep feeling of uneasy overcame her, and she couldn't bring herself to walk towards it.
"Not going near it, are you? Clever girl. I knew I picked right."
The woman struggled to hold back a gasp as she looked around, trying to find the source of the distorted, static-muffled voice. She felt around her right ear, and felt a thick plastic earpiece protruding through the fabric of her mask. The woman froze in place, cowering in the shadowy corner as she listened to the voice.
"Hey, you're listening, right?" The mysterious voice questioned. "You're gonna wanna listen. I can see what you can't. Let me explain, I'm what they call a 'Producer.' I help set up these little presentations. They stream live on the internet, if you know where to look, and we sell the highlights on home video! Rich men and poor folk alike enjoy our high class entertainment, but you have to know where to look."
The woman poked her head out from around the corner of the rusty machine, and she watched as another woman in a rabbit mask ran towards it. She sprinted as quickly as she could toward the doorway. Suddenly, she stepped back, her neck began to gush blood, and she waddled around before collapsing onto the floor. The woman cowering in the corner squinted, and could just barely see the reflection of a razor wire in the doorway. The other girl had fallen into a trap.
A hunter in a stitched leather mask ran up to the dead body, carefully placed his machete on the ground, and dug his hands into the gash on her neck, pulling upward to rip the head clean off the shoulders. As it started to give way, another killer in a monkey mask charged over and tried to rip the severed head out of his heads. "Hey, back off you fucking fleabag! I saw it first!" The Skulker chided his rival. The Feral responded by screaming incoherently at him before pouncing on him and hitting him a flurry of punches. The Skulker picked up his weapon and swung it at the Feral's leg.
"Fucking idiots! Fighting over some sloppy seconds." The Producer laughed over the earpiece. "Sorry, I should really explain: these are called 'Hunter Gangs.' Sometimes they're also called 'Warders' and their leaders are called 'Wardens.' They're sponsored by influential people from organized crime, big business and politicians. Rich fuckers take bets on which teams will win these little challenges and rake in the cash. People also bet on how well individual runners will do, how long they'll live, if they'll escape, or even if they'll take anyone with them."
"The odds are always against the runners." The Producer explained. "That's why I gave you this earpiece. I've watched a hundred of these games, I can look through the cameras, see where the killers and the traps are. You listen to me, you'll get out of this alive, and I'll make a fucking fortune! Do you understand? If you understand, look up into the broken light above you and nod."
The woman did just as the man told her, gazing directly up at the light fixture and nodding her head "yes."
"Excellent stuff." The Producer replied. "Now, listen, someone's already spotted you. You have to get moving, go north... and watch out for the big bad wolf!"
Over the intercom, the producer gave out a series of directions. Though terrified, the woman was able to internalize them. She weaved through piles of crates, rusty machines and weathered support beams, underneath derelict catwalks. All around her were the sounds of running, screaming, banging and laughing. The voice over the radio was just barely audible over the sounds of chaos.
Eventually, the Producer directed the woman over to a metal shelf on a darkened wall. It was a good place to hide, a quiet vantage point out of the way of nearby hunters where she could easily observe her surroundings. The Producer wanted to make sure she had a good handle on the layout of the immediate area so she could better follow his directions.
As she knelt in place, watching the walkway below her, she saw a runner stumbling around clumsily, blood leaking down the side of their head, staining their rabbit mask and pouring out of the opening of it like a faucet. She couldn't take her eyes off the poor runner, the way they dragged themselves at a snail's pace across the floor, their arms twisted in a bizarre position as they stumbled forward.
In the blink of an eye, a Skulker emerged from the shadows, a crowbar in his hands. He started cackling like a hyena as he swung at his victim's head, dropping to the ground instantly with a loud "crunch!" sound. He taunted the runner as they lay on the ground in a pool of their own blood, smashing away at the back of their skull until a large gash opened up in the back of their head. The man plunged his weapon downward, tearing away at the open wound with the curved end, like gutting a fish.
As the woman saw this, she couldn't help but gasp and sob loudly, turning her head away and trying to hold back the bile building up in her throat. The Hunter went completely silent, and turned to look in the woman's direction. She trembled in place as they made eye-contact.
"I see you, bitch!" the Hunter shouted. "Come on down and play! You're missing all the fucking fun!"
He charged at the woman like a hungry lion, she screamed in terror through her gag as the man began swinging his bloody crowbar at the woman. She slid and squirmed in place to avoid the blows. The Skulker began to bash the metal shelf she was crouching on, causing it to shake violently. The Hunter laughed and taunted her, calling her every foul name in the book as she screamed and tried to kick away at him.
The shelf came tumbling down, sending the woman crashing to the hard concrete floor. She could only scuttle away helplessly as the hunter loomed in, stepping closer and closer as he cackled loudly. "I got you bitch! I got you!" He hollered. "I got your sorry ass, you little worm! You sorry sack of shit! I'm gonna carve you up!" He swung his crowbar downwards at her. She screamed as she dodged the blows, the concrete cracking around her.
She bolted upwards and sprinted away as quickly as her legs could carry her. The man howled with a cruel, mocking laughter. He did some gym stretches before he trotted along behind her, waving his weapon around in the air. The man was much faster than her, and even with her considerable lead, he was quickly getting closer.
"Here, bunny bunny! Come on! I'll only hurt 'ya a little!" The Hunter laughed as he chased her. He was so close behind her that she could feel his breath slip through his plastic mask. Just as he tried to grab at the collar of her shirt, the man was slammed into the wall by another hunter.
The other hunter shoulder-tackled the man into a wall, knocking the wind out of him. The new Hunter stomped on the old one over and over again, easing up only once the downed man stopped moving. The woman froze like a deer in headlights, watching the whole affair. The new hunter turned around, and the woman's heart sank when she realized she recognized him.
Those cold, hateful eyes tucked away inside the blood-soaked wolf mask were a dead giveaway. It was the killer who was eyeing her when the game first began. The two shared eye-contact for a few fleeting seconds before The Wolf charged at her. The woman wasted no time, turning around immediately and running away.
The Wolf bolted after the woman. Even with a flood of adrenaline pumping through her veins, he kept at her with ease As she ducked and weaved through piles of debris and broken machines, The Wolf swung his razor claws around viciously. The woman screamed in pain as the edges ripped flesh in her back and legs.
She knocked down junk to block his path, she climbed over piles of boxes, but her distractions did nothing to slow him down. The hunter plowed through obstacles, easily leapt over debris and skillfully dodged anything she tried to throw at him. As the woman kept running, she could hear the Producer's voice chirping in her ear.
"Hey, lady! There's a corridor on your right!" He explained. She quickly turned to her right and ran straight for it. The Producer continued. "Good, good! Now, there's going to be a tripwire there, but don't dodge it! stomp right on the fucker!" The woman didn't stomp, she simply stumbled over the wire clumsily, but it still snapped. As she bolted, a pair of pipes from the low-hanging ceiling of the corridor shot out a massive burst of foul-smelling steam. The Wolf stopped dead in its tracks as it was blasted by the mist, screaming incoherently and growling in anger as it fumbled around.
The Producer laughed heartily. "Bam! Nice one, kid. That stuff will burn for days! That fucker was The Wolf. He's on his way to becoming an Executioner, superstar solo-killers!" He said as the woman continued running into the squalid darkness ahead of her, weeping softly into her gag. "Alright, you're heading for an observation area. Its nice, dark and quiet, but it's full of windows those fucking animals can see right through. Stay low and go slow!"
The woman found herself skulking through a small, modular shack.Years ago, when the factory was still functional, this would have been an area where guards would observe the building, or interior offices for employees who weren't manual laborers. However, it was now a dark, filthy hovel with no light or furniture. Every single window was broken out, and the carpeted floors were a mess of sludge and mold.
Crawling on the putrid, stinking ground, she stuck her head out to look out one of the ruined windows, looking for somewhere to hide next. The area outside was sparsely furnished, with only a few large crates and some knee-high barricades. Blood and viscera were spilled all over, a few oil lanterns providing a very dim, gloomy light.
All throughout the immediate area, hunters were chasing, tackling and beating prey. Two Skulkers had a rabbit pinned to the ground on its back. One hunter jammed a large plank of wood under the rabbit's neck, and the other stomped on their forehead as hard as he could, making a horrifically loud cracking sound. A few brief twitches came from the victim's body, and then they went silent.
Across the room, two Ferals had already ripped the masked off a downed man, and one of them had shoved it in the back of his jeans. However, even with the man incapacitated, the two were still hacking away at him with meat cleavers. Blood splattered all over them as they whacked over and over, ripping off chunks of flesh as they were further and further abused. His body wasn't moving even slightly.
A few feet away, a Skulker and a Feral had both tied chains around the neck of a victim, and were locked in a fierce tug-of-war trying to pull the victim over to their side. The rabbit grabbed at her chains, pulling and slapping at them, but it did nothing. The chains were tugged so tightly that his neck began to bleed. His arms went limp, and the rest of his body collapsed downward. The two gang members struggled to grab at the mask, throwing punches and pushing at each other.
The chaos all around her was sickening, but she couldn't pull her gaze away. She saw a victim's neck shredded with razor wire, she saw another man's head caved in with an old computer tower. One man's eyes were gouged out, a woman's head was smashed into a wall, shards of glass were stabbed into a woman's eyes, an icepick was driven into a man's head, another was gutted like a fish with a rusted saw. The brutal murders were punctuated by the vicious fist fights and small skirmishes between the two hunter gangs all around.
Over the warehouse intercom, the loud, booming voice of the director echoed out once again. "Attention all hunters! We're our officially in the final stretch of tonight's game! Over half of our little rabbits have been taken out, and the score is tied! Hurry up, Hunters! You don't have much time left!" The Director gleefully announced. "For those of you watching at home, Cheap Thrills Entertainment thanks you for your generous support! We hope you're having a great time!"
As the woman continued to crawl through the shadow, she could hear two men stomping in her direction. She scurried to a nearby corner close to the shack's exit, hoping she wouldn't be seen. Two Skulkers, one wearing a Smiley-faced masked with crude writing on it and the other with a simple hockey mask, walked into the shack carrying bloody rabbit masks and machetes.
"Man, these guys are fuckin' amateurs." One of the Skulkers spoke. "Cutter's a shitty leader, but we're still crushing this shit! By the time the night's over, the Ferals will be cryin' in their shitty fursuits!"
"Hell yeah, man! We're kickin' ass!" The other Skulker replied. "This is the most fun I've ever had on a Rabbit Run! Way better than that time we had to play the fucking Joykillers."
"No kidding." The other Skulker concurred. "For a bunch of guys in clown makeup, they're some of the least humorous, most miserable fuckers I've ever played against. Can you believe those shitheads are tied with The Skulls for top of the league?"
One the two men had made it to the end of the room, they looked around for any sign of stragglers, but found only darkness. They shrugged their shoulders and turned back to join the other Skulkers in the orgy of slaughter outside the shack. The woman was already long gone, having slipped out while the two were distracted.
The woman exited the shack and found herself in an open area with no cover. Even with the rush of frenzied, terrified thoughts in her head, the woman could still plan ahead. She knew she had to get out the area as quickly as possible. She noticed a particularly bright lantern within arms reach, and thought breaking it would give her some cover.
"Wait, what are you doing?!" The producer scolded as she grabbed the light source. She tossed it on the hard concrete ground below, and the shattering of glass and smashing of steel echoed all throughout the immediate area. The woman's heart sank in her chest as she realized she just made herself known.
"Hey, I see one! Over there! Over there!" One of The Ferals emerged from the shadows, clad in a bloody cat mask, while his friend trailing behind him wore a sheep mask. The two began to chase after her, laughing and hollering at her, telling her to stand still. The man in the cat mask climbed on a nearby crate, a rusty sickle clenched tightly in his fists. He jumped high into the air to pounce on her.
But the cat-masked Feral realized all too late that he overshot his jump. He went hurtling into a nearby spike trap. In mere seconds, he slammed his whole body face-first into the jagged metal, impaling nearly every inch with sharp iron. The woman screamed in horror as she watched the spikes rip through the man like construction paper and create a pool of blood below him.
"Freddy? Freddy! Oh, fuck!" The sheep-masked goon exclaimed as he ran over to see his dead friend's mutilated corpse. He screamed his friends name over and over in disbelief. The woman hid behind the same crate the other hunter had jumped from moments ago, but the sheep-masked thug easily spotted her, and turned to berate her. "You dumb fucking cunt!" He snarled. "You killed Freddy! Freddy's dead! He's fucking dead! You stupid bitch!" The man charged after her at full force. She sprinted away as fast as she could, only to find a trio of Ferals coming from the other side.
Out of the corner of her eye, the woman noticed a ladder leading up to a flimsy metal catwalk. She immediately charged towards it and began to climb. The hunters surrounded her. One grabbed the ladder and began to shake, two others threw small objects at her head and back to try to knock her down, and another started swinging her sickle at her legs as she ascended. The woman narrowly got away, racing up to the catwalk and fleeing.
The woman expected the men to climb up on the catwalk to try to catch her, but once the catwalk began to violently wobble so badly she couldn't stand still, she realized what was happening. The Ferals were trying to knock the structure down by ripping away at the support beams and smashing at them with their weapons. The woman hoped that by running to a different part of the walkway she could avoid falling.
Unfortunately, once the previous section of the catwalk fell, it created a domino effect where every rusty, faulty joint in the decrepit structure burst at the seams. The section she made it to gave out and sent her crashing down with a loud booming noise so powerful it alerted practically everyone in the building. The woman's body was bleeding all over and every bone in her was screaming in pain. She turned over to see multiple members of both gangs looming over her on opposite sides of the room, staring each other down.
"Aw, shit! Shit! Shit!" The Producer swore into her earpiece. "This isn't good. This isn't good at all. You're so fucked, kid. Fucked!"
A small crowd had gathered around her, eyeing her like dogs would eye neglected meat. Emerging from the shadows she saw The Wolf once again. She was paralyzed with absolute fear as she looked directly into his bloodthirsty eyes. His gaze seemed to burn holes in her. The Wolf was accompanied by a man in a Tiger mask, whose arrival made all the others stand at attention. From the other side, a hockey-masked man with a mohawk and a red arm band stepped forward and joined the other Skulkers.
"Alright, Brother Tiger, this is the last one." The mohawked hunter spoke. "There's still a couple unaccounted for, but I'm sure it's all just bodies we haven't looted yet. So, who gets this one?"
"Are you kidding, Cutter? We do. This is our kill!" Brother Tiger announced. "The Wolf has been chasing this little bitch all day! We caught her fair and square. She's our kill!"
"Really? Because there ain't nothin' in the rules about giving away your kills!" Cutter argued. "What's to stop me and my boys from kicking your asses, curb-stomping this little cunt and taking the mask out of the fine red mush we turn her into?"
"That's not very sportsman-like of you, Cutter." Brother Tiger replied. "Why don't we make a game out of it? Pick her up, toss her around, and whoever lands the killing blow on her gets the point!"
"Shit! That sounds awesome!" Cutter replied. "Fuck it, I guess we'll do it. Boys, pick her up!
A pair of thugs from opposite gangs grabbed the woman here arms in a piercing vice grip and ripped back up to her feet. Her head was spinning as she wobbled helplessly back and forth. She tried to regain her focus, tried to stand still, but she felt a pair of hands brutally shove her forward and immediately, a hard whack from a cricket bat smacked her in the stomach, winding her. The man in front of her shoved her forward and she stumbled again, trying to dodge the twin weapon swings at either side. One cracked her in the back of the head, the other sliced her across the arm.
As the blows landed, she could hear the static filled, cracking voice of The Producer screaming in her ear. "You dumb bitch! Look what you did now! Look at what you fucking did!" he screamed directly into her air as the men around her laughed and cheered. They slapped her, punched her, swung their weapons at her clumsily, some completely missing and others just barely landing. She tried to run and dodge as best she could, but the circle of hunters around her shoving her around in every direction meant there was nowhere to go.
"Do you know how much money you've cost me, you dumb bitch?!" The Producer whined as the woman's body flailed helplessly like a plastic bag as the men continued to torment her. "Goddammit, I put down 10k! The odds were 10-1! Jesus fucking christ, you dumb whore! You fucking cocksleeve! You dumb bitch!"
Finally, in a split-second flash of clarity, she managed to charge between two Skulkers and smash her way out of the circle of men by charging through a gap between them. She sprinted as fast as she could, but in mere steps she was tripped by The Tiger and fell helplessly to the ground, smashing her face and breaking her nose against the hard concrete below. Two Ferals brought her back to her feet by grabbing her by the shoulders, and The Wolf approached. The Skulkers stood idle, they knew this kill belonged to the other team.
As The Tiger watched with his arms folded, The Wolf loomed over the cowering woman, covered in cuts and bruises. The Wolf's shadow completely covered her, and her crying did nothing to persuade him. On the woman's arm was a loose piece of flesh dangled from a freshly made wound. He grabbed at it with his hand and tugged at it, causing the woman to scream in agony. As hard as he pulled, it wouldn't come off. Using his razor gloves, he began to saw away at it like wood. The woman's screams became so loud a goon had to cover her mouth to muffle it.
Once the flesh came loose, blood gushed down the woman's arm like a waterfall. The Wolf slipped the sliver of gore and shoved it in his mouth. In seconds, he chewed it and swallowed. He grinned smugly, his teeth stained with blood. The woman whimpered and sniffled. The Wolf grabbed her hair and raised his claw high up in the air to deliver the killing blow.
In an instant, a loud gunshot rang out. The Tiger's head exploded into a red mist, splashing everyone nearby. The sounds of goons screaming and running filled the air as the hunters scattered like flies. The two Ferals holding the woman shoved her back down to the ground and ran in opposite directions, and The Wolf retreated.
The woman shoved herself up and saw what was happening. Several of the rabbit masked prey stood at the end of the room, wielding firearms and shooting into the air, screaming like wild animals. A dead guard at their feet. One lucky rabbit caught a Professional off-guard, and it started a chain reaction. The rabbits chased after the fleeing hunters, shooting wildly into the crowds.
Any pretense of structure or sanity was gone now. Gang members were charging at rabbits, some successfully subduing them while others were shot dead. The Professionals emerged from the shadows and started trying to control the situation, shooting blindly at anyone in range, including the hunters. A four-way battle erupted between the various factions, people were murdering each other in a blind fury. Gunshots and loud crashes came from every direction.
The doors to the factory burst open, and a squadron of troopers in SWAT armor with automatic weapons and gas masks with glowing red goggles marched forward. A logo on their body armor read "FENRIS Security" in red letters. A hail of bullets and tear gas exploded forth, and the entire building became an incomprehensible cloud of chaos.
The woman saw her opportunity. There was no one watching her, nobody had the luxury of caring about her anymore. She rose to her feet, stumbling over the bullet-ridden body of the Skulkers' slain leader, Cutter, she ran frantically to the wide-open door. She sprinted through and was finally outside. A massive blizzard was ravaging the city, but the cold didn't phase her a bit. She charged straight into the cloud of snow, disappearing in the fog.
In the freezing cold, the dirty, bloodied rabbit mask hit the ground, spilling filth onto the pure white snow below. The woman ran wildly, ripping at the leather strap of her ball gag and pulling off in an instant, tossing it away as she sprinted forward, walking aimlessly and clumsily through the impenetrable fog ahead. In the distance, she stopped a police cruiser driving by. She raised her hands to the air and screamed as loudly as she could, and the car came to a halt. Two police officers emerged from it and began walking towards her.
The woman shrieked as loudly as she could as the officers rushed towards her. She couldn't walk in a straight line, she could barely talk, her body was ravaged with cuts and bruises, tears streamed down her face and mixed with blood from the gash in her head. She was barely alive, but she made it out.
The officers covered her in an emergency blanket. It took a few moments before she calmed down enough to speak coherently. The lieutenant had to bring out a first-aid kit from the back of the cruiser and patch up her wounds. As she sat in the back of the squad car, she finally became lucid enough to start talking. The Sergeant listened carefully to every word.
"Please, please god! You have to help me." The woman sobbed. Her accent was immediately apparent, but she spoke perfect English. "There's... that warehouse, the empty one nearby! They're playing some kind of fucked up game in there. Killing people! I saw so many dead bodies, people were screaming and there were cameras everyone! Like some kind of fucked up game show!"
"Ma'am, please, slow down a bit. We need to write this all down." The Sergeant spoke. "Just stay calm. Can you tell me your name?"
The woman sniffled. "Maria." She said. "Maria Amari-Naja. I'm from Denmark. They told me I was going to be an actor, but they took away my Visa."
"Okay, okay. This is very helpful, but we'll talk about all that down at the station." The officer told her. "Look, when you were screaming, we heard you say something about gangs and masks?"
"I... I don't know. I don't know how much of it was real, it was like a fucked up dream." The woman said through tears. "They were acting like it was a sports game, with different teams and points and... and..." the woman's voice cracked more and more with every word she spoke until she couldn't talk anymore. All she could do was cry. The officer comforted her.
"Look, ma'am, we're gonna get you to the hospital, they'll get you patched up and then we'll work with some service agencies and see what we can do for you." The man said.
"I want to go back to Denmark." The man said. "I want out of this hellhole, away from these freaks! Away from--"
"Easy. Easy." The officer calmed her. "Before you go, you also mentioned something about an earpiece?"
Tears streaming down her face, the woman nodded and handed the officer the earpiece. She explained that a man who only called himself "The Producer" was barking instructions in her ear and began swearing at while she was being attacked. The Sergeant gripped it tightly in his hand, patted the woman on the shoulder and signaled to his lieutenant to take her away. The door shut gently, and the lieutenant drove off.
Once the car was out of sight, the officer raised his hand to the side of his head and flipped on his own earpiece. "Director?" The Sergeant questioned. "Director, are you there? Has the match ended yet?"
"We're still cleaning up, but it was a spectacular show!" The Director replied. "A bit of a rocky ending, but everybody loves a good twist! We got some great footage, we'll be making highlight reels out of this episode for weeks!"
"A woman got away. Maria. An immigrant. Looked to be in her early twenties." The officer explained. "Should we take care of her, sir? People go missing in Nekropolis everyday, and she could be a witness."
"No, no. There's no need for that, Sergeant." The Director replied. "She got away fair and square, she's the sole survivor! The heroine! Classic Hollywood, a happy ending. Besides, nobody will believe her. By the time any of your fellow boys in blue show up, that warehouse will be burned to cinders."
"That's good. I kinda liked her." The officer replied. "Would've been a shame to have to waste someone so young."
"By the way..." The Sergeant began to explain. "You were right about O'Doyle. The woman gave me an earpiece and told me about a 'producer' yacking in her ear. It's just like the informant said he'd do."
"Ooh, really?" The Director said. "What a good girl, bringing us the evidence. Don't worry about O'Doyle, I have a special plan for him..."
Days later, on the other end of the city, in a completely different warehouse, The Director was about to make good on his promise.
In an all red room about the size of a large closet, a fat, slovenly man in his late 50s woke up tied to a chair, bright lights shining directly into his eyes. On opposite ends of the room were two large tables covered in tools, along with a simple sink and a trash can. He started to mumble and squeal through the gag in his mouth as he frantically shook and looked around, his pudgy wrists tightly wrapped with rope. He turned his head to a nearby mirror and saw that his face was covered with a pig mask.
"Wakey wakey, eggs and bakey~" The Director cooed over a loudspeaker. "O'Doyle, you've been napping far too long. Or should I call you 'The Producer'?"
O'Doyle shouted incoherently into his gag, trying his hardest to struggle out of his bindings, but they held him tightly in place.
"Your little rabbit told us everything, and she didn't even know it." The Director told the frightened man. "Don't worry, you did a great job, she survived, and she'll live a good life. But you still broke the rules. You tried to fuck me, you bad little piggy."
"Consider this your retirement, Marty. You've done a great job securing clients for me, but I just can't overlook this latest little insult." The Director said. "Haven't you ever read a fairy tale? Good little piggies listen to their superiors and live happily ever after, but bad little piggies who try to scam their betters? They get caught by the big bad wolf..."
The only door in the room swung open, and The Wolf emerged. His mask and razor blades were perfectly clean, his bare chest was covered in scars, and there was a single bullet hole in his right shoulder, but his arm appeared to work just fine. The Producer saw the same look in the wolf's eyes that the woman did that fateful night. Bloodthirsty, hateful, burning holes into him.
"Look at what you did to our poor little wolf!" The Director said, laughing. "This poor fella brought his team to victory and reached the rank of Executioner, but he still lost his favorite little plaything. You took his kill from him, O'Doyle. You ruined his fun. So I thought it would only be fair if we gave him a consolation prize."
The Wolf approached O'Doyle. The fat man's face turned pale white, and he could do nothing but whimper as his pupils shrank to the size of ants, staring at the shiny blades on the Wolf's arms, reflecting his own terrified face back at him. At that moment, The Wolf felt like he was 500ft tall, and O'Doyle was barely an inch.
"Look on the bright side, O'Doyle. You're finally gonna be a star!"