In the future there will be massacre events to suppress the public, you have been warned." -President Nathaniel Krusen 2024-2027
I came to conscience up hanging upside down. My feet were bound with a coarse rope that had already rubbed my ankles raw. Behind my back, my hands were tied with a tight smooth cord. My closed eyes were itching and stinging and when I attempted to rub them, my bonds just became tighter. As I opened my eyes I saw the interior of what appeared to be a large semi-truck and realized that the low rumble I was hearing was the movement of the truck on a road. From what I could tell, the road sounded like we were the only vehicle currently using it. Slowly it was dawning on me, I had been abducted.
Then I gasped, I had just seen my barely exposed shoulders. They looked like a cracked desert landscape. I risked a glance at my ankles and saw my ankles were rubbed raw and badly bruised. I let out a weak whimper, but it wasn't from the pain, it was from shock. Merely two weeks ago I had been at camp training with my … I couldn't remember what I had been doing. I was certain that I had not been in a truck, but it was all unfocused. Then I remembered a face, an innocent face, a round innocent face with blue eyes and brown hair. Her hair glistened in the light and then she was gone. I tried to remember the image but to no avail. Whatever was happening, I was going the see that face again.
The bus lurched and interrupted my thoughts. I heard footsteps and tried to look asleep. The back of the truck opened and I heard mumbling. I risked a quick glance at the person speaking and the next thing I knew, everything was black.
When I arose from my bed, I found myself sleeping in a monotone gray bed in a grey room of the same shade. I risked a glance at my shoulder and found it perfectly healed with fresh bandages the way I was sure it had been back before this. As I examined my room more closely I saw a platter with what I was sure was my meal. I couldn't be sure it was breakfast because my room had no windows. Without the sunlight, I felt weak and morose. When I got up from the bed I noticed that I had what seemed to be silk pajamas on me. When I reached my food I had a brief moment of skepticism. Am I being tricked? Watched? Poisoned? As soon as I picked up the tray of food, I noticed a microphone disguised as a pencil. I started to wonder what kind of maniac kidnaps someone and then pampers them beyond belief? I was a toy for some maniacal, sadistic tyrant. For some reason, I had a feeling that felt foreign, but I instinctively knew that this was something I had felt before my sudden amnesia. It felt as though this was just part of a routine, something that happened to everyone. Trying to suppress my feelings of fear and discomfort, I walked back to my bed to eat.
After enjoying a hearty meal of scrambled eggs and sausage, I got up to go and get rid of the microphone. It was giving me chills thinking about someone tracking my every movement. As soon as my foot hit the ground I heard a voice. I stopped. The voice was talking to me, but I was too shocked to listen. It seemed as though the sound was coming at me from every side and direction. It scared me out of my senses. At the moment that I gained control of myself again, I caught the words "Out your door and to the left." The voice was deep and tantalizing, teasing me, daring me to come.
I decided to take the challenge so I showered with warm water and put on the clothes laid out on my bedside table. As soon as I opened the door out of my room, I entered a large room with a dome-like ceiling. The room had about 12 tables evenly spaced throughout the giant room. They all had weapons of varying size and type laid out on them. The startling thing was that there were about 15 kids wielding practice weapons identical to those on the table. Those very kids were mock dueling. One thing that scared me was that I could name the moves they were making as well as the weapons they were using. Mesocorpus parry. Morticus Feint.
"You're late, come here kid," shouted a figure that appeared to be a leader of some sort. "If you think you can get out of bed late and just saunter on in, I want you to know, you can't!"
What happened next went by in a blur. I remember only small patches such as being called over and getting tested on fighting vocabulary. The next thing I remembered was picking up a bow and quiver of arrows and impressing the administrator. The last thing I remembered was impressing everyone with my survival instincts and skills.
That night I vaguely remember being warned that something was starting tomorrow but that I shouldn't worry because I was a 'natural'.
I woke up standing in what seemed to be a large huddle of people, kind of like those that the football players make at games. We were probably going over practice strategies. I opened my eyes and decided to tune in in case this conversation was crucial. I'm very glad I did. When I opened my eyes I saw a lush, dense rainforest surrounding me with a large metal spire sticking out above the tips of the trees. It seemed eerie, yet it was beckoning me and challenging me to come and face whatever it presented. A strong voice with a barely detectable air of anxiety pulled my out of my stupor.
"Okay, remember, we grab our weapons and a small pack for everyone. The big packs are too much of a risk," explained our administrator.
I asked him to repeat what he had said. Everyone looked at me.
"What?" he exclaimed.
"3 minutes until the first round begins," blared a voice that sounded smooth and intense, but was obviously computer generated.
"Seriously, I woke up this morning standing in a huddle with you guys and I was dressed for battle."
"Ryan, are you telling me that you forgot what you're doing," interrogated the muscled, husky boy that looked to be the senior officer.
"That's exactly what I'm telling you," I yelled desperately, "I woke up and my memory was gone. I didn't even know my name until you just told me. Who are you?"
"We can take care of formalities later," explained the boy, "I hope… But the simple way to put it is that we're an elite fighting group that trained together for the last 10 years and now we are in an arena fighting other groups like us to the death to appease our governor and scare the civilians," he gasped for breath.
I didn't have anything to say.
"And you are our archer," he said, "you are the second most skilled warrior in our entire group."
"Duly noted," I said. For loss of something better to say, I asked him what his name was.
"My name is Lucius, but you can call me Luke," he said. When he was speaking I noticed he was all nervous and jittery, but he quickly covered it up with a deceitful face of authority, "You can learn the rest of our names later."
"So, what is our plan," I inquired.
"1 minute remaining before the first round of the games begin," said the same voice that had announced our time constraints earlier.
In reaction to this pressuring information, Luke ordered the group to disperse into their positions and prepare.
"What should I do," I inquired with a voice of power and a sense of duty that felt very familiar, "I can do almost anything."
"Just follow me, our goal is to reach that metal tower over there," he explained, "once we make it there, if we make it there, we will try to grab a small burlap pack for everyone as well as everyone's specialized weapon."
"So I grab a bow and quiver of arrows as well as a bag?"
"And a dagger if possible, you might need it," he gestured to a heavily visible scar down by his jaw-bone."
"And I might die too right?" I joked.
"Yep," he said seriously, "you could de too."
"3… 2… 1…," droned the voice, it sounded almost bored, "Let the games begin."