In this game, you step into the arena with no weapons, no disguises, no tricks up your sleeve. You only carry yourself, your composure haughty over the screams of thousands. In this game, this is how it works. There’s nothing to stress about because you know what to prepare for, and even without knowing, you’ve been preparing all your life. Nothing is real to you except yourself, which the audience will deem worthy or not. You question whether being worthy is...worth it. The Proctors didn’t tell you that other than today, you would be one of the many that were chosen for this specific task.
Only three spoken words. Only a minute glance. That is all you and the others are given. Something rough shoves into your shoulder: a Proctor, telling you to get a move on. You’ve already dressed in a simple gray shirt and pants, removed all traces of bandages or cosmetics or whatever you typically wear. Even glasses. And now, you’re practically blind, left exposed to the flashing lights and spells of reality.
You feel yourself walking down a hall with two Proctors flanking your side. Feet hit soft sand. Warmth envelops you in the sun. Roars from the crowd. It doesn’t seem too bad after all. Perhaps you like it, perhaps you want more.
The Proctors shove you into the center of the arena and let you say what you have to say. All around you are miniature little dots and splashes of natural-toned color; people’s faces. What could be your name is emblazoned on the giant projector screen in a blocky green font, along with a video close-up of each single movement, the slight tensing you do, the way your eyes look emptily ahead. All those eyes on you and only you thrills you, the crowd’s apprehension for your next action drives all of you insane. After this second, ratings will pile in. You will be ranked. Accepted, perhaps, to the next stage of this mad game. The audience will forget you, but not for long. Definitely not for long.
You raise your arms, open your mouth, and set three words free.
“We begin again.”