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The Game

I sat stiffly in the seat he offered to me so graciously in the beginning, my consciousness slipping away from me. I jolted forward in my seat and forced my eyes open, rubbing my fingers in them. I rubbed them hard.

My attention turned to the pistol next to me. His was in his lap, and he was absentmindedly stroking it.
My opponent smirked ever so slightly as he noticed my struggle to keep awake. In The Game, it’s more than that. It’s staying alive.
My throat was parched, and I kept running my tongue over my cracked lips, my eyes falling to the two teacups that lay untouched on the table between us.

But the tea was poisoned. We both knew it- every player in the Game knows this trick, you’re an idiot. It’s in the book you see, so everybody knows it. Only idiots would fall for it, idiots who are too scared and need something for their fingers to fumble with- and voila, there the docile teacup sits, waiting to strike.
You can fight or outsmart your opponent till there’s only one of you left breathing. There have been many occasions where I have faced bright eyed, eager, young opponents who sit or stand restlessly and lunge at me as soon as the door clicks shut. In these cases, I have no choice but to fight back. But fighting isn’t really my thing. Maybe I’m a romantic, or maybe I’m just smarter than the rest but I like to play the Game like a battle of wits.

One after another I’ve beaten every single one of my opponents. I mean, obviously, otherwise I’d be dead. There is no cheering crowd, rounds of applause or trophy that greets me when I come back out the door. My trophy is my life, and every other day I spend without playing a Game is a gift.

I never like to stay to watch the loser being carried out of the room. It makes me feel bitter in my mouth, watching the men with the black hats carry them out on their stretcher. Sometimes the men in the black hats don’t even use stretchers. They simply sling the body over their back and walk out the door.

But anyways, here I am, face to face with my current foe.
This opponent is not easy to trick. As soon as I made even a momentary glance at his face, there was trouble written all over his face. He is smart.
Sooner or later, one of us must succumb to sleep, or one of us must strike, or we will both be disqualified. Disqualified means we both reap the loser’s benefit.

I tried to remain as relaxed looking as possible, but my grip on the armchair had tightened over the course of the time. My eyes moved from my opponent to the grandfather clock in the corner, the only other piece of furniture in the room. It didn’t tick.

It was one in the morning. I chewed my lip. I realized that we only had one more hour before we would be disqualified. I had to think fast, or else-
“Would you like some tea?”
I met the twinkling eyes of my opponent, and couldn’t suppress my laugh quick enough, that, we both noticed, had an edge of panic to it. This was taking too long. It was never this long. I bit harder into my lip and it split.
“No thanks.” I said, while sucking my lip. “I think since you proposed the idea, you should take the first sip.”
My opponent only smiled wanly and looked away from me.
“We only have an hour left.” He noticed out loud. “Well, shoot. I need to eat dinner.” His fingers reached for the gun.

I dropped to the ground as the gun blasted, the bullet grazing the top of my head. I shakily held my gun to my chest and scrambled behind the armchair. I felt sick, for the first time in a long time.
“I’m going to kill you so bad.” I yelled from behind the chair. He laughed because I sounded stupid. I sounded like a child and I felt like a child. I turned around to aim my gun between his eyes.

But as I readied the trigger, the door swung open and a lady’s howl engulfed the room. A disheveled looking woman, her hair unkempt and her lipstick faded flung herself before the boy, who looked down at her palely. She even brought her pocketbook with her, which she set aside.
“Come home for dinner.” She begged, clasping his free hand. “Listen to mama.”

I was taken aback by the scene, but more angry that this stupid woman had interrupted us. My adrenaline was slowly declining as I stood and gawked. This was against the rules. If they weren’t playing fair, then neither did I.

My opponent dropped to his knees and brought his face close to his mother’s.
“Go home. Or wait outside.” He waved a finger at me, as if telling me to wait. “We’ll have this sorted out.”
Where were the men with the black hats?
I tapped my foot. Why wait? I leveled my gun at the woman’s head instead.
The boy notices. “Don’t! Don’t, don’t. I’ll get her out of here, I promise.”
The woman mumbles under her breath, disoriented. “Come to dinner.”
“Soon, I promise. Go. Get. Get out.” He was still crouched, pushing her away from him.
Where were the black hats?
“But you always do this to me!”
He grew angrier as he drew in a sharp breath. He kicked at her, he shoved her away and he grabbed at her hair roughly when she came too close. She tried to embrace him, feebly.

I shot her.
She plopped to the ground with a muffled thud because her coat was so thick.
He, the boy, surveyed the situation and without a noise shot me, which I didn’t realize until the searing pain coursed through the entirety of my left shoulder. Agony trickled out of my mouth. But the boy was more agonized than I was.
“You win.” He told me. When he started to put his gun in his mouth I shot him too.
Because that wasn’t how I was going to win The Game. I only felt like a winner if I actually did the winning.


It only took a second to kill them both, but I stood there for a few more minutes. I crouched at the heads of the two bodies and then I was so tired I fell on my bottom and just sat like that, looking at them. My shoulder felt like it was burning and now my clothes were soaked with blood and sticking to my skin, but I was so tired I couldn’t do anything but sit there.

The man with the black hat came in. I trembled with fury as he approached me.
“Where were you.” I said, my eyes still on the bodies.
“We just thought you’d have taken care of it.” He said with a shrug. “Which, you did. What the hell happened here? Whose brains did you blow out first?”
“How could you not have seen her come into the building!” I yelled. “I had to deal with this because you weren’t there to stop her!” I shouted obscenities at him.
“Well, it doesn’t matter anymore.” He said. “You won.” His voice sounded very tired.
“I’m quitting.” I told him. “I resign.” He cackled and gave me a pitying smirk. He knows I can’t ever quit.
“Get your arm fixed.” He instructed me. “Else you’re going to bleed to death.”
“I can’t believe you didn’t stop her.” I muttered.
“Cut that out!” He snapped at me, whacking the back of my head. “Go home!”

I knew I was going to be scolded if I came home late. But I knew my brother, my guardian would still be proud to see me come through the door even if I was late. And he probably assumes I’ve won anyways. He knows I am a winner.

After fifteen minutes or so I left the room. I left the man in the black hat back there. He was waiting for his partner to come help him. I didn’t say goodbye because I was angry.
His partner walked past me, on his way to the room. He patted my head gingerly.
“Good job, dear.” He told me. “I’d hate to see what you did to that boy.”
“Thank you.” I said.

When I was nearly at the end of the hallway, I froze. It sounded like someone was crying out. I almost feared the impossible- that I had not fully killed my opponent. I scanned the hallway to look for something to use as a weapon. Because, if my opponent wasn’t fully dead, the Game was still on. And the men with the black hats would have to simply look on as we resumed it. It’s the rules. I had nothing. I raced back to the room and poked my head through the door, bracing for the worst. I didn't care anymore.

The man in the black hat who arrived first, who told me to fix my arm, was leaning in the door frame, looking on.

The man who called me dear earlier, stood over my opponent’s and his mother’s body, his face buried in his hands. His partner gently pushed me away from the door. He told me to leave.

“Damn kids,” the man in the room sobbed. “They don’t play the Game like they used to.”



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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

kittypryde said...
today at 2:34 am:
This was really good. I loved reading it, it was well written too! 
 
dorkalert replied...
today at 3:52 pm :
Hi! Thank you so much! It's lovely getting my first comment and such a kind one as well :)
 
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