We, one by one, fight Anana’s team using the same tactic. When they think they are reading our strategy we actually kick without feigning.

Three from our group win, but then Anana’s group catches on to our tactic; five from our group are defeated in quick succession.

It’s my turn to fight.

The whistle blows. I waste no time: attack my opponent side on, at warp speed. I feign striking with my whole body then move as if I’ll use my right fist. My opponent blocks my feigning hand – only to leave her whole face exposed. I throw up my knee to her chin.

She stumbles backwards, dazed. My right kick connects with her jaw. She falls to the ground. I know she won’t get up anytime soon.

My feet are no longer on the ground. Wufen has lifted me up. Our group is clapping for me. My fight didn’t last even a minute.

Nqo is next, and the last to fight. How will she manage?

Kapo stands up from his stool. He heads towards our group, his gold teeth gleaming as he smiles

“I’m impressed!” he says, clapping his hands. “I’ve seen enough. No more fighting!”

Four in our group have won, five have lost. Nqo hasn’t fought yet.

“All those who have won, and those who have not fought yet, must leave for the house at the bottom of the hill, right now!” orders Kapo.

We fall in line and start to run.

Then, to our horror, gunshots and screams echo throughout the forest. I glance back to see that those who have lost have indeed been shot dead; executed!

I’m shocked but I turn my eyes away from the bodies and look straight ahead. I know I’ll also be shot if I stop running.

We file into the house. The door is locked from the outside as soon as all of us are inside. Anana’s group sits against the opposite wall from ours. We size each other up with suspicious glances.

“What time do you eat around here?” asks the tall Russian, who was the first to fight.

“Did you bring any food?” asks one of the guys from Anana’s group mockingly.

“So you are saying we won’t eat?” says the Russian guy. “What about water at least? Where is the tap in this house?”

“Drink your sweat,” says another guy from Anana’s group.

“Guys – you were present when our friends and your friends were murdered. The least you can do is be cordial,” says the Russian.

“They are the lucky ones!” say many in Anana’s group.

“What!?” we exclaim together.

“It’s better to die once and for all than to sit here dying of hunger and thirst!” bellows another Japanese guy who has been quiet all along. He speaks with such angst he seems to be spitting out every word. “I’ve had enough of being baptized with freezing water every day! Of being beaten like a donkey! It’s better to die! So shut your mouth and wait for your day to die! Or do you think you are better than those who died because you won today? Then where is your trophy?”

The Russian is as taken aback as all of us. “I have to fight for my life so I can get back to mother Russia,” he says.

“So in other words, you are saying you will defeat all of us? Why don’t you start now by showing us what you’ve got? There is no referee here. Why waste time? We can fight to the death, right now,” says the Japanese guy as he stands up.


Tell us: How do you think you would cope with being held captive by kidnappers?