By Cleo Rust
“I never agreed to get kidnapped!” Someone said. “Where are we anyway?”
“Yeah, where are we?” Another player asked.
King looked over the crowd and smiled. “No need for alarm. This place is the site for King of the World. You all want to be King, right? Now’s your chance.” King cleared his throat. “Today’s Wednesday. The time’s 1:30 pm. This competition will last until there is only one person left. That person will be crowned the new King. You will have power, status, money, and everything you always wanted. You’ll be a god among men. For the next five years anyway.”
“Did he just say it’s Wednesday? How’s that possible?” Jasper asked, looking himself over. “Shouldn’t we smell or something? Or be hungry?” Jasper suddenly felt King’s eyes on him.
“Yes, 99. You should be. But you’re completely fine. My staff saw to it that you were taken care of. No need to worry.”
“Wait then, does that mean?” Jasper wanted to vomit at the thought of someone touching him without his permission. Changing his clothes was going too far, but cleaning was a new level of wrong.
“Now, I’m sure you all know the rules, but I will repeat them and will be adding four new ones. Also, some rules have changed.
Rule one: There can be only one King.
Rule two: alliances are not allowed. If caught, you will be eliminated.
Rule Three: No cheating. If caught, you will be eliminated.
Rule Four: Once the completion starts, the players can’t back out until it’s over.
Rule Five: Have fun.
Rule Six: Each player will stay with their assigned group until we get down to ten.
Rule Seven: If one of my knights tells you to do something, then do it.
Rule Eight: In the case of a medical emergency, the player will be escorted to our on-site medical facility. If the player can’t continue, they will be eliminated.
Rule Nine: A player must stay in their rooms until the next round starts. Anyone caught outside their assigned rooms will be eliminated.
Rule Ten: If a player harms another player and gets caught, they will be eliminated.”
A person with the number 75 stood up and raised their hand. “Excuse me,” The guy asked. “You kept saying, “If they get caught,” What does that mean exactly?”
“Are you stupid?” Number 85 asked. Jasper could tell he was one hundred percent done with this. “It’s exactly as he says. Don’t get caught, and you can do whatever. Shut up and sit down.”
The lights to the theater turned on suddenly, causing everyone to cover their eyes. After his eyes adjusted, Jasper looked around at the competition. Franklin was the first he saw. He was a dark-skinned guy with skin grafts going from the left side of his face to at least his left arm. “What happened?” Jasper asked.
“I was in a fire when I was a kid. ****** up the left side of my body. Not much else to it,” Franklin shrugged. “Also, I wouldn’t recommend it. Hurt like hell.”
“I-I’m sorry for staring,” Jasper said, looking away.
Franklin laughed. “It’s cool. It’s in the past now.”
Jasper wished he could laugh at his past like Franklin. “Only it would be extremely ****** up if I did. Wonder what happened?”
The room erupted into frantic but excited murmuring. Some players were smiling while others looked unsure. Jasper noticed that each row had different colored tracksuits. His row was blue.
“Now, let’s get on with it. To the left, you will find a set of double doors. Each row will be dismissed by row. Once outside, one of my knights will lead you to your assigned rooms via elevator. Each floor is color-coded, so you shouldn’t get lost. The rest of the day is yours, but tomorrow the games begin,” King said.
Franklin shook his head. “I thought the competition starts after–“
“Go on, Row 1. You may leave. I will see you all tomorrow. Best of luck, everyone. You’ll need it,” King said as the screen turned black.
The double doors swung open, and the seats for row one rose off the ground quickly. The red players were pushed off their seats and fell onto the floor. Three black suit men came into the room—faces covered by low-grade masks with a blue heart on them.
“We will escort you to the Blue Heart Knight now. Row 1, follow us,” They said in unison. The red players looked at each other and followed them out of the room cautiously. Once the last red player left, it was the green players’ turn. Row by row, they all left the room. Each row was made up of ten players. Jasper’s row was the last to leave. However, the last group of men that came to get them had blank masks.
“What gives?” Jasper asked. “Why do we get guards that have blank faces?”
“I have no idea,” Franklin said.
The blank masked looked at each other then walked towards the door.
“Are we supposed to follow them?” Number 97 asked timidly. She was a light-skinned short girl with blond hair. She had a large scar on the side of her face going from her right eye down to the lower left side of her face.
“I think so,” Number 96 said. He was light-skinned with brown hair and a green right eye. The other eye was covered by an eyepatch. “What?” He asked, catching Jasper staring at him.
“N-Nothing,” Jasper said.
Number 96 squinted his eye at him then started laughing. “It’s alright, dude. I lost my eye a year ago in an accident.”
“We should go,” Franklin said. “If they’re willing to go to these lengths, then we don’t want to make them angry by not following the rules.”
“I mean, technically, they didn’t say follow them,” Number 96 said, putting his hands in his pockets. Ninety-six turned around to the other players. “Hey, you lot, let’s…” He went silent when he realized no one was behind him. “Um, we missing a few?”
Jasper looked behind 96. “Huh, I guess we are. Well, I guess that improves our chances. Come on, guys, don’t want to keep them waiting.”
The blue player’s shuffled out of the theater. Once outside, the doors slammed shut behind them. The sound following them all the way to the elevator. The hallway to the elevator was long with no color besides the players and the staff. White tiles and bright white lights lined the hallway with only one door at the other end. Along the way, Jasper noticed the blank masks kept looking back at them. Almost like they were expecting them to run. When none of them did, the blank masks looked disappointed. Their body language seemed to change. If Jasper could see the future, he would have realized he should’ve.
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