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RPS Shoot - Chapter One
Atop a towering rocky cliff, there was a huge explosion of human organs, and a fine red mist rained down from the skies and pattered across the otherwise dry desert ground. After the brief bloody rain stopped, I saw someone's detached right hand thud next to my left foot. The gesture it was making was two fingers spread apart for scissors – and rock beats scissors.
In the year 2347, as advanced as technology got, traveling from one star system to another in minutes, people still played one simple, generic game called Rock-Paper-Scissors. I never quite understood why people would do something as idiotic as risk their lives over a simple game of chance. On this desert planet, thirty light years from Earth, people actually volunteer to play this barbaric game on a battlefield the size of Venus, despite the fact that if their luck is the slightest bit off that day, their brains will be scattered across a half-mile radius. Back on Earth, our matches are broadcasted, and people somehow find enjoyment out of it. To anyone asking why I got sent to this useless spinning rock, the reason is two parents who lack the responsibility to raise a child the right way. When I was sixteen, they signed a form to volunteer me without my knowledge, and the next day, they told me. I was furious, and being a trichotillomaniac, started tearing hair out in wads at a time. I remember my dad saying, “Ike, you've been disappointing all your childhood – If you weren't to be sent off to the Deathmatch Planet, it would make you an octopus for the rest of your life, and I don't want that.” I don't know if when he said that, he was meaning well in an idiotic way, or being negligent in just an equally idiotic way. As much as I hated the game, I figured there was only one way out of it. I packed my right hand into a fist, and took my trembling left hand out of my hair and flattened it out. “If you lose,” I said, “I'm out of the game. If I lose, every organ in my body scatters across this kitchen. And to me, that's just as good.” He stared daggers at me. Instead of being a hypocrite, like I've known him to, he must have decided that he didn't want to be an “octopus,” and gestured to start the game. Simultaneously, we pulsed our fists against our left hands, and after three times – one, two, three – we made the gestures – shoot. Both of us made paper. No explosion, no blood all over the kitchen. “But you said nothing,” he said, “about if we tie.” This shook every cell in my body. I didn't even say anything, and just slowly made my way up the stairs. The door to my room opened for me, and I, dare I say it, slammed the red button by the door that said “SLAM.” At the same time, the door rapidly slid shut and locked itself. I plopped down to my bed, facing the adjacent wall, and pulled up my terminal. I pressed “DRAFT” and the thought-sensitive keyboard came up, with a box of text by it. I placed both hands in the input area, and text instantly shot out.
“If you're reading this, I have a week until my life is practically over. My idiots parents, without my knowing, decided to sign me up for the RPS Shoot Deathmatch Planet. There's no training I can do, no skill that can keep me from losing. The only way off is to survive for five years. I don't get how they get away with this. Some people volunteer, because RPS Shoot offers them a prize if they survive for five years. They wouldn't do it if they were going to get some kind of higher education.
My parents didn't have that planned for me. They really didn't have anything planned, the only things they provided for me were food and shelter. They must have been thinking 'Oh, what better way to deal with him than to send him off to his death!' There really isn't much more I can say. I guess, be thinking about me, don't expect many more posts, and wish me luck. I'll quite literally need it.”
I hit “Post To”, then “All Providers.” It went through all of them, some of them being centuries old. Reddit, Blogspot, and many more that had been founded in the past decade. A couple minutes later, someone gave me an up-vote. I don't know whether to feel grateful or angry about that, I thought.
The next week went by like I was in stasis. I couldn't remember anything that happened in school, any arguments I had with parents, or even what I had for breakfast on any of those days... or if I even ate it. The date came. November 8, 2041. The day I was due to leave for the Deathmatch Planet. It was 0500, and I figured I'd rather go there myself instead of getting dragged there once my dad woke up. I tiptoed down to the transporter pad, put my hand on the thought-sensitive keyboard, and it sent me to the RPS Shoot launch facility. The next thing I knew, I was in a completely different building, There was a front desk, and to the left was a line, which seemed to go outside of the building – possibly to the launch facility. The launch was scheduled in two hours, so it was surprising to see that many people already in line. I went up to the tall, brown-haired woman at the front desk. “Please put your hand on the pad here,” she instructed me. I followed, and put my right hand on the scanner pad. The monitor on the left of the desk showed my file – Photo ID, date of birth, sex, gender (To clarify, they are two different things), finger prints, and parents' signature for admission to RPS Shoot. “Thank you,” she said in her low, busty voice ,”just follow the line out that door on the left. It leads directly to the launch site.”
I'd waited for over an hour in the line. I hadn't remembered my mini-terminal, so there was no hope of me playing that addicting two century old Soviet game, Tetris, to pass the time – oh, no, I had to wait for every tedious minute to go by until the line actually got outside the door. On the outside of the building was what must have been our ship. It was a huge, grayish-blue tower in the shape of an octagonal pyramid, looking just like any building in today's modern architecture. There was a sliding door at the entrance to the ship. Another person, this time, a short, older man, with white hair, was at the door of the ship to confirm our registration. Whenever someone entered, a field of energy closed around them – appearing to be a two-way force field, one way in, no way out. I guess I couldn't run now, since I could see the emitter pylons posted up in a square around us. The cube-shaped field itself was perfectly invisible, though – I could see every personal car, ship, delivery truck, or trailer soaring through the sky with remarkable ease. After being distracted from the line with the amazing view of the pyramid and the above sky, I finally reached the front of the line. I figured I'd never actually learned to appreciate the sky, I would be seeing from the other end soon. I pressed my hand into the pad, and the old man gave me a small card with a room number on it – Deck 20, section 3, room 4. “These are your quarters,” he said. Then, I took my first step into the ship, and immediately felt the field close in on me, as if I were walking into a bubble. Only about three or four people were behind me to do the same. Finally, the door slid shut and all natural light was sucked out of the ship. Illuminated arrows showed the path to the lift system. It was in the very center of the ship, one lift for each of the eight sections. I went into the one with a “3” on it, and put my hand up to the pad for deck 20. In about five seconds, I was there. I stepped out into a corridor with ten rooms each, and nine other people poured out of the lift. They neatly filed into their quarters, leaving me the last one outside. I placed my hand on the door, and it opened for me. The room inside had a dark red carpet, dark gray walls, a bed, and exactly what I was hoping for, a terminal. I sat down at the terminal, crossed my legs, and started another post.
“I'm on the ship now – It's like an octagonal pyramid-shaped skyscraper. The quarters are nice, like a hotel room. I guess they want us to be as comfortable as possible the day before we're sent out to be killed. I'm looking at these terminal functions right now... Sonic cleaning, sonic shower, sonic screwdriver, you name it. The bed also has full rigidity control, so I can choose whether it's a stone slab or a pile of cotton. On one of the walls, there's an artificial window, showing the downward flow of the stars... Wait, stars? It seems we already launched. I didn't even feel it! As much as I hate the RPS Shoot organization, I must say, their ships are wonderful. Funny that I'd be thinking about this at a time when I'll turn to a fine red mist tomorrow. I'm out.”
I submitted it to all the providers, it went through to all of them, and the traffic of up-votes came flowing in. Screw it, I thought. I might as well just spend the rest of time on this giant pyramid in stasis, none of these amenities will actually keep me comforted while I wait to die. Before I stood up off the terminal, I told it to activate the sonic shower and prepare the bed for stasis. I stretched myself a little, and hopped into the shower. Nothing but pure energy ran down me, taking off whatever dirt a conventional shower would leave, and relaxing every muscle. It shut off after a minute, once I felt like I possessed an entirely new body. I plopped down on the bed, and immediately fell into a deep lack of consciousness.
There were no dreams. No REM sleep. Just pure stasis. I came back into consciousness to hear a recorded female voice. “All participants at this time, proceed to Deck 1 to prepare for deployment. All stasis sessions have been terminated and terminals have been disabled. The current time is 0600.” 0600, I thought, one more hour of sleep than last night. Wonderful.
I took the lift to the first deck of the ship with the same nine people, plus more from above and below, and finally landed at the very base of the Octopus – My new nickname for the eight-angle ship. We were directed to a ballroom with a stage, just to the right of us in the next section. I chose the nearest chair to sit down. The same old man from yesterday cleared his throat at the front of the stage, and began to speak. “Participants,” he said in his rough, elderly voice, “in about five minutes we'll be landing on the Deathmatch Planet.” Amazingly, some people were cheering. “This means that in just a second, our gravity will be coming offline. Please put on seat belts at this time.” I looked at my side. There was a seat belt. I went ahead and clicked it on, as I didn't want to come flying to the ceiling and hit my head. Then, I felt weightless. From the bottom of my toes to the very top hair on my head, there was no gravity, for the first time in my life. With no jolt at all, gravity returned and we landed perfectly. “Ah,” he said, “we're a bit ahead of schedule. There's only a few things you need to know about how the game works. First is, every week you rotate battlefields – small sections of the planet. You'll be transported to random locations within that area. The second thing you need to know is three rules. Rock beats scissors, scissors cut paper, and paper covers rock. If you win, your enemy explodes. If you lose, you explode. If you tie, nothing happens and you walk away. Good luck.”
We were then transported off to an area in the rocky desert. The only sound was a light breeze, and a one-week pack of basic survival supplies materialized by my right foot. Already, in the first few minutes of battle, I saw my first instance of the fine red mist. Soon enough, I'll be that, I thought.