"Journey Away From Freedom."

Akira raced through the dense jungles of Africa. Yells followed close behind. Her deep brown eyes looked everywhere at once, but only saw trees, vines, and the like. Her brother, Makea, looked at her helplessly. "What are we going to do?" He asked, speaking in their native tongue. Akira had no answer, and the two continued to run. Sweat dripped down their faces, and breath came in short shallow gasps. They had been running for a bit of time now, and yet their pursuers seemed to never tire. "I can't go on for much longer." Akira wheezed. Her brother nodded, and grabbed her forearm. "Climb, climb this tree quickly!" Makea instructed, shoving her up the tree. Akira's hands grabbed at the gnarled trunk as she ascended into its leaves. When the two young teens reached the top, three males appeared. They were lean men, with long muscular legs, and skin the color of the trunks of the trees. The same color skin of Makea and Akira. They were from the Kame tribe, the enemy of Akira's tribe. The three were warriors, and traders. They traded fellow blacks for money from the white men. Makea pointed to their nets, and Akira knew that they might be caught and traded. In her tribe, many had disappeared and never returned. Most had been presumed eaten by a jungle creature or sold. The other two warriors held crudely made spears.

When it seemed the men might move on, a toucan burst into the air. The warrior's head shot up, and Akira and Makea were spotted. "Run!" Makea yelled, but it was useless. In seconds, the warriors had dragged the two from the tree, and threw the net over them. "Move." One warrior growled, poking Akira with the spear. The two teens obeyed, and followed the leading male. Akira tried to look brave, like her father would be proud of, but the terror that grew in her heart was nearly unbearable. "What's going to happen to us?" Akira whispered in Makea's ear. He shrugged, and a warrior jabbed him with a spear. They walked for nearly an hour before they arrived at the Kame village. It was nightfall, and the occupants of the village were asleep…except for a few shadows near the edge of the huts. Akira and Makea were led to the shadows, and Akira gasped. It was three white men, holding chains and a strange contraption. The lead warrior stepped up to the white men, and began to talk. It all sounded like a bunch of gibberish to Akira and Makea. The other two warriors removed the nets, but kept a careful watch over them. Makea was mesmerized by the white man's contraption, and told Akira to look at it. She was too terrified. One of the warriors heard him, and with a sneer on his face, told him, "The white men call them guns. If they shoot you with one, it smokes, and makes a loud noise…BOOM!" Akira jumped, and the warrior continued smugly, "After the noise, a hole appears in your body, and you die." Makea's face drained of color, and he squeezed Akira's hand. The warriors laughed, and the white men stepped over. Chains were placed on Akira and Makea's necks, keeping them together. The white men shoved them forward, and once again they were walking through the jungle. After hours of walking, Akira began to stumble from sheer exhaustion. The white men screamed at her, but she didn't understand a word of it. The white men finally decided to rest, and Akira was asleep next to her brother in moments.

Akira was awoken with a sharp jab in the side. She looked around dazed, and realized she wasn't at home. She wasn't in her hammock, wasn't with her mother and father, wasn't with the tribe. A lump formed in her throat as a white man pulled her upward. It was daylight now, and the teens were each given a small break of old bread. They gobbled it down, and the small group continued to walk. Each step took the brother and sister farther from their family and closer to an uncertain future….

"Do you hear that?" Makea asked, listening intently to something. Akira glanced up wearily. They had been walking for three days now, with short rests in between. "Hear what, Makea?" she asked, ignoring the white men's quizzical looks. Makea was silent for a moment, then answered, "It's the ocean, can't you hear it? Why would we be near the ocean?" Akira listened, .+

+and did in fact hear the ocean. "I don't know. Makea, whatever happens, stay with me." Akira begged. Makea smiled at her, something rare these last few days, "I will. I promise."

Makea had been right, and within a few hours, they were walking on sun-warmed sand. The ocean waves crashed against the shore, and in the sun's heat, the two wished they could dive right in. The white men brought them down to a harbor that was jammed full of other blacks from various tribes. Each one was chained in some sort of way, and white men stood around, struggling to keep some order. Akira and Makea were swept up in the mess, but managed to stay together. "Makea, look! It's Kirma!" Akira yelped, recognizing a member from their tribe. The two pushed their way over to where a young man stood, eyes blazing with a defiant fire. "Kirma! Kirma, over here!" The man glanced up and saw the two. "Akira, Makea? Oh no, they caught you too?" He shoved his way over to them. His hands were chained together, and many bruises covered his body. Akira had a feeling it was because he didn't go without a fight. "Are you all right? Everyone figured you were eaten." Makea said. Kirma's face was grim, "No, I wasn't eaten. A fellow tribesman captured me, but I won't tell you whom. He turned me over to—" He was cut off as the crowd surged forward.

The white men tried to keep some sort of control as the blacks where loaded into the hull of a large ship. "Makea!" Akira yelped as the chain around her neck tightened. Makea appeared next to her, and grabbed her arm tightly. The blacks were in rows along the hull, and their old chains were taken off. New chains were placed on their wrists and ankles, and each one was connected to their neighbor. A tall muscular white man, dressed in elaborate clothes, walked around, a whip in his hand. He whipped certain individuals who dared to disobey. Akira caught Kirma being whipped as they struggled to chain him in. She flinched and glanced away.

After awhile, silence filled the place, except for the occasional wails and pleas for help. A single tear rolled down Akira's face, and Makea watched it fall off her chin. "Be brave, Akira. Be brave for me, for you, and for everyone." Akira nodded and took a long, deep breath. Kirma, who was seated close to them, agreed, "Your brother's right, Akira. We all need to be brave, and wait. We'll get our chance to regain freedom!" Cheers erupted into the air, and didn't die down until two white men with whips came into the hull.

The thoughts of freedom seemed farther and farther away as each day passed. Each day was as torturous as the next, and seemed to blend together. The place stank, and after only a week, three had died. Food consisted of a small amount of mush once a day. Akira found herself to be considerably thinner, as was everyone around her. All around her, bodies began to disappear. But she knew their destination was the ocean. After a person died, the crew would take the body and throw it over board. Each time, a shutter overtook Akira. The hull was a dark, gloomy place, but getting less crowded every week. Kirma struggled to keep spirits high, but it was a useless effort. Soon his sprits were as low as the next fellow's was. Akira often caught herself dreaming of being back home…

She was home again, outside with her toddler sister. The sun shone down on them cheerfully, and her mother was sitting in the shade of the hut. Her father and Makea were out hunting for the night's dinner. Akira couldn't wait until her father returned, for when he did, the fun began. He would teach his eldest children, Akira and Makea, useful tips such as spear hunting and the skill of being stealthy. Those days were gone now, and she would never see her family, hut, or tribe again. She muffled a cry, and looked about the damp dark prison. Nearly everyone was asleep, which was the only thing to do, and she decided it would be a good idea. Gently she rested her head against Makea's back.

Months later… Hopes of freedom were dashed to the ground, and the will to live existed no more. Days vanished only to become a blur of time. About half the prisoners had died form sickness, starvation or simply because dying seemed better than living. Then one day, everything changed. Shouts, running feet, and other noises could be heard above. Remaining passengers stirred in their sleep, and a buzz of talk began. Makea looked at his sister, and gently shook her awake. She was nothing more than skin and bones, and her once bright eyes were sunken in and dull. He must look nearly the same. "What is it?" she croaked, her throat dry from lack of water. The commotion above grew louder, and the talking lessened. "We all are going to die!" Someone wailed. Akira looked at Makea, and out of habit to the spot where Kirma was. But the spot was empty, for only two days ago; their friend had become part of the ocean.

Light flooded down into the hull, and yells of pain were heard. Makea also yelled and covered his eyes. When his eyes adjusted, he saw the crew members unhooking their prisoners. "Look Akira!" He said excitedly. Akira looked at him dully, and his excitement dwindled. Soon, everyone was unhooked, and led to the top deck. Akira stared into the blue sky and a small smile creased her face. She hadn't smiled in months. As she stepped off the plank, a strange world greeted her. She was rushed along a harbor and through streets. Her eyes struggled to take everything at once. White men and women occupied this land, and streets existed where she was use to jungle. Instead of a normal hut, large houses were placed. She blinked as a large creature clipped-clopped down the street with a white man riding on its back. She had no idea that the animal she stared at was a horse. As she was pushed past an alley, her eye caught sight of a tabby cat. She thought it looked strangely like a jaguar.

Finally, they came to a large wooden platform, and were pushed up there. The defiant blacks had chains on once again, but they were so thin they barely could lift the chains. White men dressed in tall hats and coats crowded around the platform. A few women with colorful dresses watched also. And as Akira watched, each slave was brought to the center of the stage. There the white men would yell and after the yelling died down, the final bidders dueled it out. When the highest bidder was left, the newly bought slave was brought down to their new master. Akira's turn came, but she held on tightly to Makea's hand, and refused to budge. She felt the sting of a whip lash against her back, and finally was dragged to the front. A man stared at her, and she looked deep into his eyes. They were kind, warm, and almost understanding. He smiled at her, and called out a large sum of money. No one wanted to go over that price, especially for such a young girl slave. She felt someone pulling her off the platform, but she broke free and dove for Makea. He grabbed her, and pulled her close. "Makea, Makea!" she wailed. Out of the corner she saw a whip raises, and tightened, waiting for it to hit her…. But it never did, the kind white man made sure of it. The white man took Akira gently by the hand, and then told the auctioneer he wanted them both. The auctioneer sneered and said he would have to pay double. Without a pause the kind man agreed. Makea looked at Akira, "What are they saying? I don't understand their language." Before Akira could reply, the kind man took both their hands and led them off the platform. Finally, Akira said, "I don't know, but we are safe from now on."

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