Winners by Elaine Peters

The stands were packed with excited spectators who had entered the lottery to obtain a coveted ticket. 

The competitors had gone through a rigorous selection process before their application was accepted. Then a series of heats before they could become a member of the 10-woman team representing their area. Once the real event got going there would be no holds barred as they battled other teams, and each other, for the ultimate prize. Each of them wanted it with a fierce longing churning their insides. Women watching could only wish they were in on the action. Some of them were too old to take part and others had not been lucky in the draw this time. 

Preparations were tough. The women trained hard to get to the peak of fitness. Outfits were chosen with care. Each one splashed out on an expensive dress with coordinating shoes and bag. They lost sleep over the decision to choose a fascinator or a hat. Could they risk the weather and not take a coat? It was nonsense really, they knew, because they would never be worn again. Still, it was fun to dress up, like in the old flat racing days. 

The long-awaited day arrived. The team from Central climbed aboard their minibus eyeing each other as team members and as rivals. Some recognised they didn’t look as good as someone else. Others were full of confidence that they were indeed better than all the rest. Each one knew that whoever won would have to fight like a demon to hang onto the prize for herself. A united team was one thing, but when it came to the finish it was every woman for herself. 

The crowd hushed. The ten teams were spaced out around the field. Then the ten players were brought out into the middle to thunderous applause. They were draped in their colours, ranging from bright neon to subtle skin tones, and paraded past the teams. Two hundred hungry eyes fixed on them in anticipation, judging which specimen to go for first. A marshal, wearing a fuchsia uniform with high-heeled boots and hoop earrings, kept them in line. Now and then her whip lightly touched a leg, just as a reminder. 

Then the whistle blew. The ten men dropped their cloaks and revealed themselves in tiny matching briefs. They ran frantically round the ground trying to evade the slavering women. There was no real hope of escape; their destinies were sealed. There were clashes as two teams went for the same man until one lot was dispatched with blows from weighted handbags. Those still standing went after another target. There was one per team. 

As each victim got captured, he fell under a scrum of determined women until one of them managed to shake off her team-mates and haul him away for herself. Her outfit was ruined, but she had won her prize.

She could keep him for a year until the next event and in the meantime, if she got lucky, she could beget a child. Maybe a man child to grow up and take part in a future ‘Population Enhancement’ event. She would be so proud.

Published in Issue #12

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