Meg parked a few blocks away as the group had agreed, so as not to have a large number of cars draw attention to the gathering. Her feet stepped over the cracked and broken sidewalks of the run down neighborhood. She looked down to keep from tripping, but then looked up and scanned the area, alert to male predators. It was a habit she had acquired early in life.
You see, Meg was beautiful, with long dark hair and a cute, young looking freckled face. She was athletically built and though she wore a rather elaborate dress which was out of place in this industrial neighborhood, her figure was still obvious and attractive. No matter what she did to cover up she attracted attention and had to be aware of her surroundings.
Life had stopped being meaningful to Meg more than a year ago. She had run afoul of an unscrupulous boss who had physically used and abused her, then fired her when she finally fought back. Her lesbian relationship of two years had crumbled soon after, and her family wouldn't accept her, rejecting her chosen lifestyle. Jobless and abandoned, she had run out of money and friends, living a more and more sparse and empty life.
Looks were the only thing that she had going for her, and that only got her money. The wrong way. Parlaying her looks into money was easy, though she had been beaten twice and started experimenting with drugs as a way to cope with some of the disgusting things she had to do for the money. Meaning and hope had slipped away gradually.
She joined the Suicide Club two months before. It made sense to her. She wasn't really living anyway, but had never been able to take the logical step. This way it was out of her hands, just as she had lost control of her life. The Club would take care of the details, the Club was a place with like minded people, the Club was almost a family to her. Last month she had seen Kim die, drowned in the ocean.
Afterward, she had felt alive for the first time. Faced with the death of another club member, the contrast became clear. It wasn't that she changed her mind about living, but what life there was seemed a little more bearable; and it was clear it would have an end, soon. Before the boat returned to shore, she had actually hooked up with Marta, one of the other girls in the club, and had better sex than she had experienced in ages. Marta was a beautiful young girl of 21, dark hair and eyes, with a loving, gentle manner. The memory had stayed with Meg during the intervening weeks.
The rickety wooden door with peeling paint sounded hollow when she knocked. It opened almost immediately and her steps echoed when she entered the cavernous interior. Parker stood by the door, and pointed to a stairway to the side. "Down the steps and to the left. Almost everyone is here. We have champagne today."
Meg felt a stabbing pang in her stomach. Champagne. To celebrate the passing of one of their group; to celebrate another month of life to those that remained. Fitting. She hoped it would be her turn today. Life was more livable now, but only because she was looking forward to the final end that the Club promised.
They were a motley cluster of people. In the basement of the building they gathered in two or three groups, talking of their lives and club business, comparing how each was doing, talking of their own despair and hopes. She joined the group with Marta, squeezed her hand and began listening to the conversation. The air was slightly nervous, but surprisingly upbeat. It felt good to stand with Marta, comforting in a way. All the club members were there by choice. They all accepted the consequences and committed themselves. Each had his or her own reasons for their membership, but they were all tied with a common bond.
With the arrival of two additional members, there were ready to begin. Gathering in a large circle, Parker spoke briefly of the rules. The group would draw lots in series, each series eliminating half the group until the last two. When the last candidates cast their lots, their hands would be bound to prevent any last minute attempts to escape if someone lost their nerve. Once the first lots were cast, all members were bound by the random decisions and final selections. No backing out.
"Is it possible to volunteer?" A young man named Jacob stepped forward.
"No. This is something we have discussed, but in volunteering, you rob the others in the group of their equal chance at being selected." Parker was firm in his explanation. Jacob stepped back with the others, head bowed.
For the first round of selection, there was a stack of envelopes on a side table. Each of the members took one envelope and opened it. Half the members had a paper with a black dot in the middle. The others had a clean white piece of paper. Those with a white paper stepped back, and the half with dots stepped forward, having advanced to the next round. Meg had a black dot. It meant little, it was an 8% chance of dying that day. Marta continued to stand next to her, having received a black dot as well.
Parker provided a deck of cards and handed them to Jacob to shuffle. Meg performed a second shuffle, and the deck was handed back to Parker, who fanned the cards out. Each of the remaining 13 members took one card. Meg joined the other in turning cards over and showing them to the others. Her card --- the ten of spades. She was one of the six to advance. A 15% chance of dying today. She felt her stomach flutter, as a murmur ran through the group.
One of the other girls in the group of six had started crying. Meg wasn't crying. This was what she wanted, desired, yearned for. She had dressed up for it. Advancing this far gave her hope, excitement that was almost sexual in nature. She looked over at the bottles of champagne on the side table and wondered if she would taste it today, or if she would be the one. She felt glad that Marta was next to her during the process.
Six dice. Each of the remaining members cast. They were hard to see in the dim light shining through the dirty windows high up the walls. Gathering around the dice with the others, Meg was suddenly aware of how alive each of them was. Fast, labored breathing could be heard. She felt the warmth of Marta next to her and Jacob on the other side. The movements, the rustling of clothes, all signs of the living. Soon to be discarded by one of their number.
Three left: Marta, Meg, and another guy that Meg didn't know well. Meg caught her breath, tears coming to her eyes. She felt the life in her body, blood coursing through the arteries, air filling her lungs, muscles functioning. Was this what she wanted? To terminate this? To become a dead body? A 33% chance remained. It was still probable that either Marta or this other guy would be chosen over her. She found herself wishing it was the guy. She liked Marta, in fact in a different universe she might have loved Marta.
Marta was shaking. Meg held her hand in support, and discovered she was shaking herself. The memory of their love making session the previous month suddenly poured over her, and she discovered she no longer wished to die. She wanted Marta to live with her. She wanted the guy to die, the nameless skinny pale male that already looked dead that stood next to her. Thinking rapidly, she tried to work out how she could influence the final decision. There was no way. She could volunteer, but even if that worked, it would mean she would be gone and still unable to be with Marta.
Tears trickled down her cheeks. Marta wrapped her arms around Meg, sharing warmth and life, but they were forcibly removed as some of the men in the group tied Marta's wrists behind her back. The sudden indignity of this process made Meg flush as her own wrists were forced behind her and tied securely, bringing back memories of some of the things she had done for money in the past few months. There was no turning back now. The three of them were bound, restrained, and ready for the final gamble. The room was hushed.
The final selection was to be done by roulette. Highest value would be selected. No way to influence or interfere with the outcome. Parker spun the wheel, and cast the ball. This spin was for Meg. The ball spun around, endlessly, moving opposite the spinning numbers, seemingly forever. Meg was holding her breath. The ball descended and bounced, back and forth, up and down, finally landing.
The number: 17.
The next spin was for the guy. The numbers whirled, the ball fell and bounced. The ball settled into place.
The number: 10.
It took a moment for Meg to understand what was happening. Someone was cutting the plastic ties that held her wrists... why? The selection wasn't over.... but then she realized. The pale guy had a higher number. Only one would die that day. It was to be either Marta, or the boy that was now shaking as if he might collapse at any moment. Meg couldn't believe what had happened.
The while spun again, this time for Marta. Meg was crying. She would either see this useless lump of male flesh exit the world, in which case life might be complete and there might be some future for her, or she would see Marta die, and her life would collapse once again.
There was the smell of urine and Meg saw the guy's pants slowly darken. She stood close to Marta as the ball spun about, then descended and bounced about. Two, three bounced, and then the ball settled.
The number: 22.
It was Marta's turn. There was a thump as the guy fainted, hitting the concrete floor. Meg reached out and circled her arms around Marta, pulling her body close to kiss her, to communicate their life one last time, to share something with each other. Marta kissed back, passionate and yet gentle.
Two members of the club had to pull the two apart. Meg was crying, but Marta was not. Sadly, Marta looked at Meg and said, "It's OK Meg. Neither of us really wants to stay here, not really. This is just another nail in both our coffins. Perhaps we will meet on the other side."
Three male members of the group wasted no time moving Marta over to the other end of the large empty room where a single chair was placed under a noose which hung from a rusty pipe above.
"A favor. May I die with my hands untied?" Marta asked quietly.
This was very unusual; once committed to the ceremony of choice, no turning back was allowed. The men of the group lifted Marta and stood her on the chair. Parker intervened at the last moment, cutting the plastic ties from Marta's wrists.
"Let me do it," she said.
With her free hands, she reached up and drew the noose to her neck, sliding it tight with the knot behind her left ear. The group backed away from the girl as she stood on the chair for a moment. Then, with a sudden motion, Marta kicked the chair away. It tipped over and clattered on the concrete floor a few feet away.
There wasn't much of a drop in the rope. Meg watched it suddenly tighten around Marta's neck, the neck she had kissed and nuzzled the month before. Small wrinkles and creases formed where the rope squeezed the flesh tighter, creating compressed folds. The descent, barely a foot, jerked Marta's head to the side violently, but not enough to break her neck. As a result, her legs kicked instinctively.
Meg cried out, horrified by the spectacle before her. When Kim had died last month, she had simply been tipped over the back of the boat into the water. Meg was actually watching Marta die before her eyes. Marta's tongue had been forced out of her mouth suddenly by the pressure of the noose on her throat, and her eyes were wide open and staring. Her legs kicked, and her hands rose to her neck, clawing at the ligature that strangled her.
Other than the swishing of Marta's dress as she kicked there was barely any noise. The noose had drawn so tightly that no air could come or go through Marta's neck, so there were no cries, not even a gurgle. Just the horrified, agonized fixed look as the flesh of her face turned purple and her eyes became red.
The rope creaked as Marta's struggles made her body swing back and forth. Her hips writhed, and the palpitations of her stomach could be seen through the cloth of her dress. A faint gurgle finally escaped from her lips as the girl lost strength and her arms fell to her sides. Meg realized she was being held back by two of the club members or she would have gone to Marta, though for what purpose she wasn't sure.
It took about two minutes for Marta's body to stop twitching and for the swinging motion to stop. Meg stared at the girl's face, eyes fixed in front of her, unseeing. She remembered their nakedness together, the warmth of Marta's body, her gentleness and the orgasms they had shared and delighted in giving each other. The lifeless body that swung before her wasn't what she had made love to a month ago; that was gone. She turned and felt suddenly angry.
The champagne was opened with pops and flowed. It wasn't exactly a party, but there was a celebration of sorts as Marta's body hung motionless in the background. Every club member understood that next month, or the month after that, it could be them, and they had no problem celebrating the life and death of one of their own.
Meg drank an entire bottle of champagne. Her anger turned into depression and guilt. She found herself sitting with Jacob, and then kissing Jacob lustfully. She wanted to punish herself, to demean and destroy herself for what had happened, for the loss she felt. Sex with a man seemed about as demeaning and disgusting as she could imagine, and in their drunkenness Jacob and Meg found themselves naked, Jacob on top, Meg's legs wrapped around his hips as he thrust hard into her, pounding as if she was being beaten with a hammer.
She orgasmed that night, a shuddering, massive warm shimmer of pleasure. It was the first time she had come with a man in years, and she rolled over and vomited immediately afterward. Her self destructive need unsatisfied, Meg stroked and enticed Jacob back for a second fucking, this time from behind, and she imagined herself as a dog, a bitch, being taken by another animal.
During the next month Meg made more money with male strangers than ever. Referrals came in as wealthy johns passed the word-- this was a wild woman, up for anything. Discounts were given, volume was everything, the more disgusting the activity, the better.
Before the next meeting of the Suicide Club, police found Meg's body in a dumpster. She had been raped with a number of objects, stabbed, and then dumped.
Not everyone in the Suicide Club had to wait until the next meeting.