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Kill, or be killed
Sat Jun 25, 2011 5:05 pm
Chapter 3: Kill or be killed
Drew exited the room in the nick of time, because the dark skinned woman was back. She looked even more sullen than before, if it was possible. She greeted me, then gestured for me to follow. She walked quickly and I had to practically jog to keep up.
“So what now?” I asked her, between pants.
“Now you learn the rules.” She said briskly. “Then you get your pass card, and run like hell.”
She had become strangely less formal and I briefly wondered why. Her demeanor had changed from uptight to downright hostile. After twists and turns and another ride on the lift we reached our destination. As my stony guide turned the door handle I realized I didn't know what to expect. Would I be told the rules with my fellow marked, or would I just be handed a list and told to go? I hoped it was the latter, it would be unnerving being in the same room with people that were going to try and kill me.
The door swung open to reveal a small dark room. I guessed it was the later, until I walked forward and realized what I was really standing in. It was a gigantic lecture hall, with steps leading down to a stage, with a gigantic screen situated behind it. The only catch was each individual chair had it's own little room. The little cubes had only one wall facing into the lecture hall, that wall was made of one-way-glass. There for, I could see out of my room, but no one could see in. I pressed my hand against the glass of my cube and peered out at the room. The glass on each row curved like it was one big sheet. There was nothing to hint that every couple a meters a new window began. I was three rows up from the stage, and I assumed that there were more rows above me, although I couldn't be sure. If I looked down I could just barely make out the black glass of the row below me.
I gazed out across the room as I waited for the presentation to start. I swear I saw some movement behind one of the windows to my left. I wondered if they knew I was staring at them. I wondered if they saw the outline of my hand pressed against the glass. With a sigh I went back to sit in the chair. The woman had left the room while I'd been starting out the window. Seeing all the windows had just served to reminded me of how many people were going to be trying to kill me, and this was only half of them. I'd just taken my seat when the lights in the room turned on. My little room was flooded with light and I was momentarily afraid that the one-way-glass would fail and that everyone would see me. A quick look at my adversaries windows disproved this fear.
A man in a suit walked up onto the stage and the screen behind him flared to life.
“Attention!” He said, his booming voice echoed around the room. “You have all been chosen, and now you've all been marked. You have all been chosen for different reasons. Some of you have committed crimes or are just an overall drain on society. some of you have been evaluated to have problems in the future, and some of you have just been chosen randomly, I'm sorry. There is no going back, your fate is sealed, please accept that. As you know, the majority of you will not make it through the two months. The majority of you will die.”
I swallowed and gripped the arms of my chair. This man wasn't exactly one for being subtle.
“I'm here to tell you the best ways to prevent that from happening. Listen or don't it's your choice, but the chances of someone else in this room killing you are greatly raised if you ignore these rules. So I guess this whole thing is a battle of who listens best.”
There was something about this man that made me want to rip his head off. I could tell he wasn't from the city. He spoke with a slight accent, and that annoying little detail served to irritate me further. He was too perfect like we were listening to a projection and not a person. He was perfectly clean shaven, with black hair that was cut in a uniform military cut. He had perfectly placed gray hairs, that gave him a look of superiority. Although, his face bore no wrinkles. He wore dress pants, that I could imagine on any business man, and a strange black top that hugged his upper body, showing off every muscle.
He continued with his demeaning speech. “So pay attention as I give you these rules, because this is the one and only time you will be told them.” Words appeared on the screen behind him, and he read them off to us without even turning around.
“Number one rule is kill or be killed. I don't think this one needs much explanation. Your only means of survival will be to kill one another.
Rule two: you will be unable to purchase anything with anything other than your pass card.” He listed off the rest of the rules in a bored monotone.
“When you kill another marked person, money will be automatically transferred onto your card.
Do not attempt to cover up the mark.
Anyone who has assisted a marked person also has a priced placed on their head. If you kill them you get money transferred onto your card.
You will start with 500 dollars on your card, use it wisely.
It is illegal for a store owner to refuse to serve you because of your mark. If they do, please report them immediately by going to one of the start points.
You can not leave the city limits. Doing so will result in immediate termination.
The two start points are safe zones.”
This rule made no sense to me. Whenever I'd heard it before I'd dismissed it as a rumor. Couldn't everyone just stay here the entire time? There had to be some sort of catch.
“However,” he confirmed my thoughts, “you have to have a legitimate purpose to be inside. Therefore, you can't just come here to hide. The purpose could be as simple as coming to visit a friend that works there, or reporting a store owner. However, if you are thought to be loitering on are property, are agents are free to use whatever methods necessary to get you to leave.”
At the thought of the agents, a shiver ran down my spine. I'd seen them a few times in the city. near the end of the two months.
“If there are, in the governments opinion, to many of you left when we are nearing the end, we send in the agents. They are hunters, and they'll be hunting you. My advice is hide.
If, in the unlikely event that you survive the two months, you will be granted the privilege to travel in and out of the city as you wish. You may choose whether you want to live here or in the world of today.
In the unlikely event that I forgot something it will appear on one of the billboards. These will also display the number of living contestants and the number of dead. If there is a special deal or condition it will also appear on the billboards.”
The black letters on the screen faded away and it powered down and turned dark. The man began to head over to the edge of the stage. He paused and turned around and I could have sworn he was looking directly at me, through the one way glass.
“Good luck,” he said. “You're going to need it.”
Then the lights in the room shut off and I was shrouded in darkness once more. I sat there, in silence, trying to let the rules sink in. They were going to be the code I lived my life by, and I couldn't forget them. It wasn't long before the door at the back of the room swung open. But instead of the government agent I was used to, there was a blond women standing there. She looked much friendlier than the other women, but I wondered what had happened to my first guide.
She told me to follow her, and I did. She lead me down to one of the back doors of the building. I looked around, expecting to see at least one of my opponents. Although I was relieved when I didn't.
“Don't worry.” Said the woman, figuring out what I was thinking about. “You are all started at different times, or from different doors. You'll all be given a chance to get away. You get five minutes before you're allowed to kill one another. You'll know when a horn goes off. It's quite loud so you definitely won't miss it.”
I remembered the horn from previous years. I'd always assumed that the horn had something to do with the marking but I'd never known that it symbolized something so ominous. Five minutes, that's all I had left before the world came after me. That's all I had left before I had to stop taking life for granted. The woman pushed open the door and gestured for me to leave.
“You should go.” She said, and I could have sworn I heard a hint of pity in her voice.
I didn't spend time considering it. I sprinted out the door and toward the entrance to the park. It was safest for me to be in a crowd, I had to try not to stand out! As I ran through the park I saw no other living souls. This unnerved me to no end. How could there be no one around when there was a hundred-ninety-nine people after me? I couldn't help but wonder if they were all waiting around to next bend, waiting to jump out and get me. It was like one of those nightmares where you ran and ran, but you never saw what you were running from. When I finally reached the entrance to the park my breath was coming in ragged bursts and I was starting to wish that I'd worn something other than jeans.
I forced myself down to a fast walk. I couldn't waste all my energy now, I had a lot more running to do. I'd never been this utterly terrified in my life, and I had no idea how to rid myself of the gripping fear. I could actually taste it and I felt like gagging. I tried to take deep breaths, but instead I began to rasp like Darth Vader. Finally I was calm enough to look around. I was in a quite street beside the park. There was no one around aside for a family with two young kids. At closer inspection I recognized them as tourists. I'd never seen them around during the marking before. They usually cleared out long before. It was considered unsafe to be in the city during the marking.
You could identify them by their strange clothes. It's like they'd taken a walk through the local department store and picked clothes randomly from the racks. I heard the shrill voice of the little girl. I looked up to see an accusing finger pointing in my direction. The woman let out a shrill gasp, and she picked up her daughter and began to run. The man followed suit with their son. The mark on my face burned like it was made of hot coals.
They had no right to be afraid! They weren't branded with a target that screamed kill me!
I felt the tears prick the inside of my eyes but, I knew by now that they wouldn't fall. I broke into a light jog and headed toward the south end of the city. This end was filled with the gigantic houses of the rich. I knew that I needed to get back home, my family would help me. I wondered if the government had already told them. I hoped so. I didn't want to see the shock and surprise that was sure to occupy their faces when they found out. I had enough money for the bus in my sweater pockets. I was eternally grateful to my laziness. I don't know what I would have done if I'd remembered to empty my pockets. Now all I had to do was make it to the university bus terminal.
My anxiety had almost dissipated and I was now glad for the emptiness of the south end streets. I was utterly alone, but I still pulled up my hood to cover my mark. I didn't think it actually counted as concealing the mark. My ears were just cold. My stomach contracted as I passed the first person. I was nearing the university and there were bound to be people about. I knew they wouldn't be trying to kill me, not yet at least. The rewards weren't high enough for them to even consider taking another human's life.
As I walked I suddenly became aware that I was being watched. I looked around and realized the street had become eerily empty. I felt the eyes boring into the back of my skull. I whipped around and tensed myself to run. As I turned the wind grabbed my hood pulling it off my head and revealing my left cheek, and it's mark.
There, standing less than three meters away from me was a man. He looked like he was in his mid twenties, but I couldn't be sure. But I didn't really notice anything about him other that the mark proudly displayed on his cheek. Now I understood why the street was so empty. I barely had enough time to register this piece of information when I noticed what was in his right hand. He held the gun like it was natural for him. I think it was some type of shot gun, but I couldn't be sure. It wasn't like I spent my time memorizing types of guns. I hadn't been expecting this, at least not at this point in the game. Had he somehow had enough time to buy the gun since we were marked? Or did the nut job just keep one under his bed, just in case?
But it didn't really matter how he'd gotten the gun. Nothing mattered except that it was pointing at me. The fear was back again, at ten times the magnitude. Suddenly it was like someone had pressed the fast-forward button on a dvd player. At the exact same second that he pressed the trigger I dived to the side, just barely staying on my feet. I heard the bullet whiz by my ear, and I zoned out. No more thinking, just surviving. That was all that mattered.
I sprinted toward the nearest house. I needed cover. At the pace I was going I should have been exhausted in less than a minute. But it's like a switch in my brain had been turned off. I could no longer feel the throbbing in my legs, or the tightness in my chest. I had no plan, but it was almost like my legs knew what to do. I ran through the back yard of the house and vaulted over the fence. I heard the sound of a bullet hitting the wood of the house. That was good, he still hadn't reached the backyard.
I knew the general layout of this neighborhood, but I had no idea what to expect as I emerged onto the adjacent street. On one side of the road was the row of houses that I had just came from, there was definitely no going back. On the other side ran a small river. I was trapped! Then I saw it. To my left, in easy sprinting distance, was a bridge. It was my only chance.
I'd just made it to the granite of the bridge when I heard the sound of footsteps behind me. The man was just emerging from behind the house. I had less than a second before he noticed me. Without a second thought I dived behind a row of hedges that ran along the median of the bridge. I closed my eyes for a split second, and almost let the crushing fear and exhaustion catch up to me. I couldn't do that, I had to stay alerted.
I turned my head a fraction of an inch and looked through a small hole in the hedge. He was on the bridge now. I froze, too scared to even breathe. The needles of the hedge pushed into my back as I watched him. Silently praying that he wouldn't notice me. He looked around in confusion. It looked like he knew I hadn't made it across the bridge, it was far too long and open.
He walked over to the side of the bridge and peered over the side to check if I'd climbed down. He'd overestimated me, I hadn't even thought of that. Something down there caught his eye, though, and he leaned farther over the edge. My body reacted without me having commanded it. It was probably the animal instinct of fight or flight kicking in. Lets just say that flight wasn't an option at the moment.
I launched myself over the hedge. The bottom of my pant leg caught on a twig, but I still managed to land on my feet. I can honestly say that at that moment I wasn't thinking about the consequences of what I was about to do. I really wasn't thinking at all. I lifted my foot and planted it, with as much force as I could muster, on the back of the man. It was clear he hadn't been expecting my kick. He toppled, head long off the bridge, and toward the exposed rock below.
Last edited by
on Sun Jun 26, 2011 10:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Sun Jun 26, 2011 2:01 am
'when I'm gone, my words will remain...
your word is a weapon, either of destruction or re-construction, whatever you make of it,
It's your choice.'
Wed Jun 29, 2011 8:18 am
Great story you have here. A noticeable lack of spelling and grammar mistakes, and good action scenes. Hope to see more of this stuff.
We are Legion.
Fri Jul 08, 2011 7:44 pm
Its interesting the audience is sort of confused in the beginnig and to a point that is a good thing, also more voice from the characther give more of the characters thoughts but it really is really good!
Mon Jul 11, 2011 2:10 am
I don't think there's anything I haven't said in a previous review yet,
but I'll say again that this is really, really excellent. Your grammar though, it is off in a few places (dialogue). There were a couple typos that I spotted, and where you used 'dived' you should have used 'dove'. Other than those you're clear in that front, and your story is engaging and fun to read. I will definitely keep this one on my reading list.
"They don't have meetings about rainbows."
-Cole Sear, The Sixth Sense
Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:18 pm
The second and third chapters are even better than the first! There is a great build-up of tension and a lot of suspense. You write descriptive and the descriptions are much more balanced than those in the first chapter. Some parts of the story still felt a but rushed, such as the moment where Nance has to let reality sink in. You could have elaborated on that. The ending of chapter 3 was great; the action was thrilling and the velocity of the story was just perfect. There were a few typing errors, I would correct them if I were you; they interrupt the flow of the story, which is otherwise smoothe.
But don't get me wrong: I absolutely love the story as well as your writing. Fourteen years old and already you are writing like a professional! I have got to say I am a little jealous, haha! I hope you are getting the story published? If not, you should seriously consider that. This is really mature science fiction, and with only some minor tweaks here and there, I too could see this ending up on the shelves..!
It's like being in love, discovering your best friend.
— Elizabeth Wein, Code Name Verity
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