A pounding on the door startled Jasper awake. Before he could adjust himself, two blank masked men stormed into his room.
“Number 99, your first game starts in one hour. We’ll escort you to the game site. Once there, you will meet your game group and will be given breakfast. Any questions?” One of them asked.
“Yeah, what the hell? ” Jasper asked groggily. “And can I use the bathroom?”
The blank masks looked at each other and shook their heads no. “You can go when you get there. Let’s go. Being late can get you eliminated. A King must be on time.”
Rubbing his eyes, Jasper followed them towards the elevator. One the way, he saw that the others were still in their rooms. “Lucky bastards,” He thought. They rode the elevator down to the point that the numbers turned negative. “Underground? Huh?”
The doors to the elevator opened, and a long hallway full of participants greeted him. Some people looked at him while others talked amongst themselves. The two blank masks walked forward and stopped in front of a door with a big red “9” on it. Beside the door was a nameplate that read, “Press the Buttons.”
“This is the game site. Go inside when you’re ready. Your teammates are inside waiting. Once the King says to start, you start. A knight will be overlooking your game remotely. Good luck. You’ll need it,” The blank masks said as they walked away.
“Thanks?” Jasper said, staring at the door. It was just a door, but it felt intimidating to him.
“45 minutes before doors lock and the games begin. Anyone outside the doors will be eliminated. You may enter the room at any time, but you can’t leave once you are in there. Please take care of any needs before entering. Bathrooms and refreshments are towards the end of the hallway. This message will repeat every 5 minutes.”
Jasper walked towards the bathroom and washed his face. He looked at himself in the mirror. “God, I look awful,” Jasper said to himself.
“Bet I look worse,” A voice said from the stall. The participant walked to the sink next to him. His hair was completely white, and he had blue eyes and was wearing a grey tracksuit. “At least I make white hair look good,” He laughed. “My bad, I’m 77 or Lance, whichever you prefer.”
“Oooh, I wouldn’t worry. It’s just a game, after all. I heard the first game was a team game. You work together with your group to win. However, once the game’s done, all bets are off. I’d watch myself if I were you.” Lance grinned and put his hair in a short ponytail. “Well, Jasper, it’s been a pleasure.”
“You talk like you won’t see me again.”
Lance walked towards the bathroom entrance and looked back at him. Still grinning, he says, “I know what game you’re playing. Best of luck and all that.” He turns and exits the bathroom.
Japer was about to open the door when Lance peaked back into the bathroom. “Hey! Sorry, but I got a good feeling about you. So I’ll give you some advice. Go for the left button. Trust me. Okay, bye!” Lance says as he grabs an apple and walks into the door labeled “7.”
“So, weird,” Jasper said under his breath. His heart was beating out of his chest. He shook his head and heard towards the breakfast table. Apples, bananas, oranges, water, and granola bars lined the table. Jasper picked up an orange, granola bar, and water and sat next to the door. Most of the participants were inside their game rooms by the time he finished his breakfast. Once he was done, he took a deep breath and headed inside.
The room was dark. A glowing red line went from one side of the room to the other. Each wall had a monitor on it with a button underneath. Each one displaying the message, “Wait behind the red line.”
“Hey,” A voice said. “99, you almost didn’t make it. That would’ve been a problem. Try not to make things harder for us, okay?” A male participant said. Jasper could see his number was “56,” and he was wearing a white tracksuit. Beside him were two others; a small girl with a green tracksuit (10) and another male participant with a purple tracksuit (35).
“Sorry,” Jasper said. “So, anyone ever played this before?”
“Nope, but it seems simple. We all have to press a button, and the door opens,” Number 35 said.
“I feel like it’s like four corners. Almost,” Number 10 said.
“My guess is that the lights are gonna go off. No way it’s that easy,” Number 56 said. “Just make sure you guys press the buttons.”
Number 35 looked at him like he was crazy. “Bro, what’s your problem? I get your nervous, but–“
“No, bro, I’m not nervous. I’m just not in the mood to let one of you ruin this for me. Just so you know, if you don’t play your part, I’ll make you regret it.”
“What crawled up your ass?” Jasper asked.
“The **** you just say, *******? You got the balls to be almost late, and you say that to me?” Number 56 said. Jasper could see the steam coming off him. He almost thought it was funny. Jasper wasn’t a stranger to ******** who thought they were better than him. “I asked you a question, 99.”
“I heard you, but I don’t care to answer. If you want us to work together, then maybe be a little nicer. I’m used to big tough guys thinking they’re better than me. You ain’t nothing special.”
“You ******’ piece of–“
Suddenly the screens changed, and a man appeared on the screens. “Players, the doors have been locked. Smile! You’re on Tv. My name’s Jessie. I’m the Knight of Clubs. I’ll be your Game Master for this round. The name of the game is “Press the Button!” It’s straightforward. Each of you picks a button. You have to press the buttons in unison. The door will open, and you will have one minute to leave before the door shuts. Make sure you’re on the other side or else. You need to work together to get out. You need to press the buttons, but once that’s done, you’re on your own. Be careful; the first part is easy. What comes after will be hard. Watch your step, everyone; you have one minute to press the buttons and one minute to leave. I’ll give you thirty seconds to pick a button. Go.”
“I’m going for the button on the right,” Number 35 said.
Jasper suddenly thought about what Lance said. “I’m going for the left.”
“I’m staying right here,” Number 56 said. “It’s the one closest to the door. Idiots.”
“I guess I’m going to the one in the back,” Number 10 said sheepishly.
Everyone hurried to their side of the room and placed their hands on the buttons.
“Good! You’re all off to a fantastic start. Okay, now comes the fun bit. Now all you have to do is press the buttons at the same time and leave. You’re minute starts…now!” Jessie said as the monitor switched to a countdown clock.
“Okay, one…two…three!” Number 35 said. Then everyone pressed their buttons, and the room went dark. The door they came through opened, and a dim light came into the room.
“Later ********,” Number 56 said as he took a step towards the door. Something sharp sliced his face, and he recoiled. “The ****?!” He said, holding his face. Blood dripped from the wound, and a thin wire appeared in the air covered in blood.
Jasper squinted, and he could see a few wires in front of him. “DON’T MOVE!” Jasper yelled. He put one finger out in front of him and snatched his hand back. Blood leaking from a thin cut. “Where did these come from?”
“Guys?” Number 10 asked. “Look at the timer. It changed. We have more time now.”
Jasper looked up and saw the time was extended by two minutes. “Why?”
“I think it’s because you guys hurt yourselves. I was looking at the screen, and when 56 hurt himself, it went up. I think we need to move carefully and head towards the door. Hold on.” Number 10 took off her jacket and threw it in from of her. It was almost in ribbons when it hit the floor. “Okay, 99. Your turn. Throw yours towards the door.”
Jasper nodded and took off his jacket. He threw it to the left of him, and it hit the floor. Completely fine. “Alright!”
“Okay, now I’ll do this,” Number 10 said, putting her finger out and snatching it back. The timer increased by a minute. “Okay, two of us will throw our jackets, and the other two will cut themselves to increase the time. I know it sucks, but it’s something.”
“I don’t know what you’re trying to do, you emo *****, but I’m not cutting myself over and over,” Number 56 growled.
“Fine, just stand there like a ******* and not listen to the only person who’s trying to save your ass,” Number 35 said, throwing his jacket to the right of him, Which turned to ribbons in seconds. “Well, ****,” He said as he touched the wire to give them more time. “Who’s next?”
Jasper looked at the wires. The lights made it a little easier to see some of the wires but not much. He threw his jacket in front of him, and it fell to the floor, still in one piece. “Ha!”
“What the ****? How’s he fine?” Number 56 asked furiously. He waved his hand in front of him, and the wires cut deep into his hand. He bit back the pain and covered his hand with his jacket. The timer was extended by three minutes.
“Oh, look, he can be helpful,” Number 35 laughed. “99, want to go again? You’ve been on a winning steak.”
Jasper surveyed the room and noticed he was close to 56’s wall. If he threw his jacket again in front of him, it might be a waste of time. Fifty-six touched the wires to the left of his position and then the ones facing them. “Hey, 56, try the ones facing the right.”
“So, I can get sliced up? No thanks.”
“They would’ve had to make it possible to escape for you. Left didn’t work, front didn’t work, so try the right,” Jasper said, throwing his jacket to the right of him. Safe. “Okay, now 10, throw yours in the opposite direction.”
Ten nodded and threw her jacket. Safe. “It’s good,” She said, surprised.
“Okay, 35, do the same,” Jasper said.
“Okay?” Number 35 said, doing the same. Safe. He sighed and touched the wire—a one-minute extension.
“My turn,” Jasper said, throwing his jacket forward. Safe. “Okay, I think I figured it out. We all have a pattern. My direction is two times in the same direction. Left two times and right two times. For me, I only have one more time, and I’ll be out. Two throws to the left. If I’m right, just find your pattern, and you should be fine. But I’d try going it with a shoe or something. It’s made of tougher material. Only cut yourself if you feel like you need to.” Jasper took off one of his shoes and waved it in front of him. Wires. Then he did the right. Wires. “Ah! I’m right.”
“Bet you’re glad he’s here now, 56?” Thirty-five laughed. “Nice work, guys.”
“Less than two minutes! Hurry!” Ten said, waving her shoe around. Everyone, except 56, made their way closer to the exit. 56 was watching them closely before taking off his shoe and doing the same.
“Ugh! You guys are boring! Let’s make this a little more interesting. The King demands it!” Jessie said. “You now have 45 seconds.”
“You can’t do that!” Fifty-six shouted. He frantically waved his shoe around. Cutting his arms in the process. 30 seconds.
Jasper was the first one out of the room. From his position, he could vaguely see the wires better. “35, go straight two times and right one and left one. 10, go left three times and right two times, then straight. Hurry!”
They did as he was told and got them out safely.
“Holy ****, dude! That was close!” Thirty-five said, clasping on the floor. “Thanks!”
“Totally, I would’ve taken forever,” 10 said,
“Hey, you started it. I would still be ******** myself,” Jasper said.
“Hey, ********! What about me?” Fifty-six said.
“Ha! What about you?” Thirty-five said. “Figure it out.”
“I’m with him,” 10 said, smiling at 35. “I don’t help people who call me an emo *****.”
“Screw all of you! I swear when I get out of–” SLAM! The door slammed shut. “Hey! Open the ******* door!”
The monitor in front of them turned on, and Jessie appeared. “Congratulations, everyone. Well, most of you. I did tell you teamwork was key. Too bad one of you didn’t listen.” The monitor showed 56 beating on the door. Jasper could see the blood running down his body. 56’s clothes were in ribbons. He was frantically screaming something. Jasper had an idea of what was being said. “Number 56, Thomas Middleton, from Zone 4, is not fit to be King. Those who are not fit to be King…will be eliminated.”
The camera showed Thomas still beating on the door, but then he stopped. Jasper watched as Thomas turned around with wide eyes and started throwing himself into the door. Desperately trying to escape. Whatever he was looking at was scaring him to death—bad choice of words. Suddenly, a large screen made up of razor-sharp wires started to move towards him.
“T-This is a joke, right?” Jasper asked. “They’re just trying to scare him.”
“Bro, I don’t think so. I think he’s ******,” 35 said. The fear in his voice was clear as day.
“Let’s hear the unworthy’s last words,” Jessie said.
“HELP! I’M SORRY, OKAY? PLEASE HELP ME! I’M SORRY!” Thomas screamed with tears and snot running down his face.
Jasper tried opening the door, but it wouldn’t budge. He didn’t want to look at the screen. He couldn’t.
“Interesting. Number 99, why are you trying to help him?” Jessie asked.
“I don’t want him to die! He’s an *******, but he doesn’t deserve this!”
“PLEASE OPEN THE DOOR!” Thomas yelled. But it was too late. The screen of wires cut through him like a hot knife through butter. Turning him to ribbons. Then the screen went black.
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