Edited by Julia Rios

October 2017

“Alright Meka, I’ll see you tomorrow morning,” Gina said as she made her way onto the bus.

Meka waved goodbye and turned to walk the rest of the city block towards her house on the corner. Gina was still chuckling to herself, remembering scenes from the comedy they’d just watched. The theater had been packed with kids from her high school, all loud and rowdy. The extra commentary from the audience made the movie even funnier.

She snapped back to reality when she felt the bus lurch to a stop, bracing herself for the frosty winter cold. I’m about three blocks from my house. It should take like 15 minutes to get home, Gina thought while power walking down the dark side street.

“Yeah, I see her,” a deep voice whispered from across the street. “Got it…be ready on Broad Street in like 2 minutes.”

Gina’s walk turned into a light jog as she rounded the corner. Only two more blocks and I’m home, she thought. The man’s steps sped up to match her own. He crossed the street. He was so close now that she could hear his heavy breathing.

“Hey, excuse me Miss can I ask you a question real quick?” he asked.

Gina’s jog turned into a bonafide sprint. Fear overpowered everything else as she desperately tried to get away. One more block, she thought with relief.

But that relief was short lived when she spotted the unmarked black van opening its door on the corner. She turned around just in time to see the masked man jump at her, knocking her to the cold hard sidewalk. Another masked man jumped out of the van and grabbed her arms.

Gina did not go quietly. The commotion should have awakened the whole neighborhood, but no one opened their door to see what the noise was all about.

“Somebody help me!” she screamed over and over. But no one came to rescue her.

The two men scooped her up like she weighed no more than a rag doll and threw her into the back of the van. One masked man jumped behind the steering wheel and the other slid into the back next to Gina, closing the sliding door behind him. In less than one minute she was lying in the back of the van with her hands and feet tied together.

Gina screamed and fought, but her struggle was pointless. Her 115 pounds were no match for the attacker, who was more than twice her size. He threw his weight around, enjoying the fact that he overpowered her.

She saw movement out of the corner of her eye. There were three other girls tied up and gagged, crying in the dark of the van. They were huddled close, trying to comfort one another, but failing miserably.

Everything was happening so fast that she barely had time to process what was going on. But, Gina’s fear turned to anger as the realization of her situation finally hit her. She’d been reading about it on the news over the past few weeks. African American and Latina teenage girls were going missing at an alarming rate all over the country. Here one minute and gone the next. No one would say for sure what was happening to the girls, but everyone knew the truth: sex trafficking.

She saw the gag in her attacker’s hand. A growl grew in the pit of her belly, turning into a deep throated roar. The man’s hand stopped mid-air, clearly shocked by the awkward sound coming from such a small frame. To Gina’s surprise, her roar quickly switched octaves, now a piercing shriek that flowed from her O-shaped mouth.

All fear disappeared, replaced by rage. Her eyes rolled back until the only color visible was a glowing white. She directed all of her hurt and pain onto the two men who wished to violate her. The van began to rock violently. Then suddenly the windows blew out. Ice cold winter air rushed in cooling the warm blood that trickled from the ears of the now unmasked attackers. They clawed at their ears, begging Gina to have mercy.

Gina persisted.

Alarms sounded as Gina’s shrieking caused the windows to blow out of the cars up and down the street. The men twitched to the sound of her death song. Convulsions rocked the man in the back of the van. His pale white face pleaded for the pain to end. Gina’s voice reached an even higher level and his body jerked one last time, eyes snapped wide-open.

Gina was pleased; his pain made her happy.

“Gina! Gina!” a familiar voice yelled. “You have to untie us.”

It was Meka. She was tied up in the dark of the van with two other girls Gina recognized from her school. She managed to remove her gag while Gina was struggling with the now dead attackers.

The adrenaline began to subside. Gina felt calm washing over her. She untied herself then quickly freed the frightened young ladies next to her. Gloria and Clara, still crying, ran off in the direction of the bus stop. Meka clung to Gina like her life depended on it.

The girls stumbled down the block together. They cleaned their faces and adjusted their clothing before approaching the front porch. Still in a daze, they stepped into the warmth of Gina’s living room. The smell of baked chicken and something sweet wafted from the bright kitchen.

“Did you girls have a good time?” Gina’s mother asked from the kitchen.

Gina met Meka’s eyes and shook her head gently. Don’t say anything, she mouthed. Meka nodded to reassure Gina that their secret was safe; she would never tell a soul. Gina pasted a smile on her face.

“Yes,” Gina replied.

© 2017 Cherrelle Shelton

About the author

Cherrelle Shelton grew up in New Jersey where she currently lives with her husband and three children. She has a Master’s degree in Public Health and works in Environmental Health. She is the author of several children’s books as well as a young adult novel, Dreamers. Find her at