By S. F. Brooke
“JAZZY!” Amber yelled from the couch. “Hurry up; it’s about to start!”
“I’m coming,” Jasper said, messing with his hair. It was getting too long for him to manage, but it’s not like he could afford to get it done. He barely had twenty bucks to his name. He grabbed a pair of scissors and some of his hair. “Hey, do you think I could give myself a master class haircut?”
“DON’T YOU DARE! If you come down here bald, I’ll kill you! No, actually, Ronda will kill you. You’re on your own if she gets involved.”
Jasper laughed at the thought. He kind of wanted to do it anyway. Just to see. He let his hair fall back into place and headed downstairs. Amber looked up at him and sighed. “For a second, I thought you did it.” Amber held up her phone. Displaying Ronda’s picture. “I was about to call her,” She said with a devilish smile.
“Some friend you are,” Jasper said, grabbing the bowl of popcorn he put aside. He jumped on the couch and made some of it go everywhere. “Oops.”
“Why are you like this?” Amber asked, brushing the popcorn off of her and turning on the tv. A black screen displayed with a timer counting down from five minutes. “Ah, good, it hasn’t started yet. My money’s on #233. I’ve followed his progress since day one.”
“You know it’s kind of ****** up to beat on someone, right?” Jasper said with a mouth full of popcorn. “I mean, it’s just a competition. Who cares?”
Amber turned to him with a concerned expression. She placed her hand on his forehead. “Are you okay, Jazzy? You sound insane right now.”
Jasper rolled his eyes and pushed her hand away. “Whatever. It’s just a game. It’s the same thing every year. Some person gets through the competition and gets a lot of money.”
“Um, you’re leaving out some big points. You get over ten million credits, you get the title of “King of the World.”, and you become super famous!”
Jasper shrugged. “I mean, the money part is the best part, sure, but who cares about a title?”
“Being King means becoming a god! You and I both know just a few hundred could change our lives,” Amber said as the counter entered the final ten seconds. “Oh, shhhhh! It’s about to start!”
“I didn’t say anything,” Jasper said, clenching the bowl she nearly pushed out of his hands.
The counter on the screen disappeared, and a man wearing a black mask with a digital smiley face stood in front of them.
“Good evening, everyone. I’m The 4th King. But please, call me King. Everyone does,” King said. As he talked, his masks mouthed the words. Jasper thought it was cool but kind of creepy. The man was dressed in all black with no part of him exposed. He even had a gold crown on his head. “If you didn’t know, I was the kind of the previous competition five years ago. It’s time for my reign to end and for one of you to become my replacement.”
“Isn’t he so cool?” Amber asked.
“By cool, do you mean creepy?” Jasper asked. “Cool mask, though.”
The King continued talking in his deep robotic voice. “Let me explain the rules.” A small window appeared beside him. Displaying the rules. “Rule one: There can be only one King. Rule two: alliances are not allowed. Rule Three: No cheating. Rule Four: Once the completion starts, the players can’t back out until it’s over. Rule Five: Have fun.”
Something about that last rule didn’t feel right to Jasper. Maybe it was the way the creepy robot man said it. Yeah, Jasper thought that’s the reason.
“Now, let’s show some who have earned the king’s favor as of right now,” King said as five people appeared on the screen. “These lucky few have earned the King’s favor. My favor.”
“LOOK! IT’S HIM! #233!” Amber yelled.
“Jesus! I’m right here,” Jasper said, coving his ears. Number 266, Ashley Nguyen from Zone 2. Number 120, Mason Young, from Zone 5. Number 56, Jason Miller, Zone 4. Number 200, Oscar Mackie, Zone 1. Number 233, Eliot Williams, Zone 5. All of them have proven themselves worthy of the title of King.”
“He’s from your Zone! I can’t believe it! He’s kind of hot, right?” Amber asked, shaking Jasper.
“No comment,” Jasper said. He looked at Eliot Williams. He had short black hair with green eyes. He didn’t know why but Jasper didn’t like him.
“You’re just jealous,” Amber said, crossing her arms.
“Yep, you got me. Suuupper Jealous. ****, I thought I was careful too,” Jasper grinned.
“You’re sarcasm offends me, Jazzy.”
“Those who gain the King’s favor get a bonus prize even if they don’t win. However, my favor isn’t set in stone. Those who lose my favor will be forever banned from participating in any future game. Also, those who are related to them will be banned as well. The ban doesn’t just stop at them. Regular participants can be banned as well. Now, on to better things. I’ll turn it over to my right hand to recap the competition.” The King gestured to the left as a woman came into view. She wore an identical mask with a silver crown.
“Hello! I’m Queen Kate. For those who don’t remember me, I was the runner-up for King of the World. King of the World is a game where anyone can become the best of the best. Becoming king is like becoming a god. Just ask 4th.”
“Ha, it’s differently been life-changing. However, I believe in sharing the wealth. I want to give someone else this opportunity,” King said.
“The King of the World competition lasts for a month. Over the month, the participants will play a series of games to weed out those who aren’t worthy of becoming King. We’ve already had over two hundred eliminations so far out of five hundred. A lot of people want your crown, King.”
“They’re all welcome to take it,” King laughed. “Though I want to do something a bit out of the ordinary.”
“Oh, a new decree from the King?” Amber asked on the edge of her seat.
“You’re way too into this,” Jasper laughed. “What are they gonna up the reward?”
“And what would that be?” Queen Kate asked. Her mask displayed a surprised face.
The camera zoomed into King’s mask, which displayed a smiley face. “My loyal subjects, this competition has been one of the best we’ve had in a long time. That being said, I want to make a new rule. Rule Six: Once we get down to one hundred participants, the registration will reopen, and the competition will be extended for another month. That’s right. This game isn’t over yet.”
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