Sneak Peek: Fighters

Fighters by Mae Orwell

After narrowly escaping America’s most deadly game show, Sasha and Daniel are on the run from bounty-hunting Watchers. When Daniel is recaptured and thrust back into The Elimination Game for an even more brutal round two, Sasha must recruit new allies to help her rescue Daniel – or better yet, burn the whole sadistic game to the ground.

Fighters by Mae Orwell

Fighters is the second book in the Watchers trilogy, available now on all major retailers. Read the first chapter below.

The prison camera is poor quality, grainy and without color. The building itself is at least a hundred years old and its technology isn’t much newer. But it’s good enough to pick up the features of the woman being marched down the hall by a guard.

She’s wearing a baggy prison jumpsuit that drags on the floor beneath her thin-soled sneakers, and she’s holding a small pile of threadbare sheets. A flat thing that’s barely padded enough to qualify as a pillow is stacked on top, and that’s all she will possess for the next six months.

Her crime? Pointing a gun into a crowd on the street outside her apartment. Even the drones were insufficient to de-escalate that situation, and when the armed Tier 1 Watchers have to deploy, it’s a guarantee that somebody’s going to prison.

The inmates on this cell block are watching the new arrival with interest. It’s not that she’s particularly interesting, but there’s not much excitement in the women’s wing of the Philadelphia County Correctional Facility. Intake day is always a source of entertainment. The other prisoners leer at her and the surveillance camera picks up a few cat calls along the way.

“Hey, baby,” one of them says. “There’s room in my cell for that sugar.”

“Shut up, inmate!” snaps the guard.

He’s walking on the woman’s right, his hand around her plump forearm. She’ll lose plenty of that weight during her stay here – the cooks take great pleasure in making the food as awful as possible for newcomers.

As the woman and her escort walk closer to the ceiling-mounted camera that’s capturing all this, she keeps her jaw set and her eyes straight ahead. Her dark hair is greasy and unkempt, but she doesn’t look like the type who would wind up here. She definitely doesn’t look like the kind of person who would snap and start waving a gun around, but then again, they never do.

She and the guard walk beneath the surveillance camera and there’s a momentary pause as it continues to film an empty corridor. An inmate puts her hand out from between the bars of her cell, flicking off the guard behind his back. Then the view switches to another ceiling-mounted camera farther down the hall.

The guard squeezes his new charge’s arm, his fingers digging into her flesh, then brings her to a halt.

“Here it is – home sweet home,” he says, then shouts to another guard stationed out of view at the other end of the hall, “Open cell 145!”

A buzzer sounds and the woman flinches as the cell door slides open.

The guard releases her arm only to shove her head-long into the empty cell. The camera pivots, following the action as the woman careens into the edge of a steel bed frame and drops her pile of sheets on the floor.

The room is very small and the bed takes up the majority of the space. The cell is about six feet square, with a sink-toilet combo in the corner. There are no windows – no natural light at all. Her only view for the next six months will be the woman in the cell across from her and, of course, the surveillance camera mounted right outside her cell.

The guard smirks. When the woman regains her balance, he steps into the cell and slugs her. His meaty fist connects with her jaw and she stumbles backward. She hits the concrete block wall with a sickly thud, getting the wind knocked out of her, then slides down to the floor.

The guard takes another step toward her and she puts up her arms in self-defense, but the other guard hollers from his station at the end of the hall. “Evans! Everything okay in there?”

Evans’ back is to the camera but his clenched fist shows just how irritated he is by this interruption. He shouts over his shoulder, “Yeah, just helping her make the bed!”

He turns back to the woman still cowering on the floor. He rolls his shoulders back and makes a stomach-churning hawwwwk sound. When he steps to the side, the camera catches the glimmer of a massive loogie sliding down the woman’s nose. She’s doing her best not to react, not to give him the satisfaction of seeing her disgust.

“Traitor,” he growls. “I hope you get what you deserve in here.”

Then he marches out of the cell and gives the order to close the door. It slides shut and the camera captures a sly grin spreading across his face. He pulls a billy club from his utility belt and rattles it against the bars, then shouts at the top of his lungs, “Lookie what we got here – this one’s a Watcher!”

That gets the other inmates riled up good, and just in time for their mandatory exercise period in the yard. A lot of mumbling and discussion can be heard from all around the cell block. There’s a Watcher in their midst, one who’s not in a guard’s uniform and carrying a baton.

It’s payback time for the infamous Elvis Splorch.

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