Jasper just stood there in shock. Part of him was expecting for Thomas to come strolling out of the room completely fine. For Jessie to ask that it was a joke. Nothing like that happened. They just stood there staring at the monitor. The other rooms started to open, and participants began shuffling out—each with horrified expressions on their faces.
“H-Hey, 99. We should go,” 35 said. “I don’t want to be here anymore. Let’s put some distance between this place and us.”
Suddenly the door to the elevator opened, and a bunch of masked men came out. As they made their way down the hall, two masked men stopped at each room. Two masked men with clubs on their masks stopped at their room. “The King requests for you all to meet in the auditorium for reflection. Please follow us,” The masked men said in unison.
Jasper looked at the other participants and saw them going into the stairwell. One by one, the groups left the hallway. Thirty-five placed his hand on Jasper’s shoulder. “Come on, bro. We should do what they say.” Jasper turned his head towards him and nodded. They followed the masked men to the auditorium.
The auditorium was bigger than the one they woke up in. Jasper noticed there were more participants than before, but somehow fewer at the same time.
“Hey! Jasper! Over here!” Lance waved with a big smile on his face. “It’s Lance from before! I saved you a seat!”
“Who’s Lance?” Thirty-five asked.
“I met him in the bathroom before the game. Um…” Jasper said.
“Go on, sit with your friend. Just…keep calm, okay, bro. You wanna meet up with us after?”
“Okay,” Jasper said, walking over to Lance.
“Good to see you’re alive. It looks like you took my advice,” Lance said, leaning back in his seat. “You don’t have a scratch on you.”
“How did you know?” Jasper asked.
“Left. You told me to go left. It turned out to be the easiest path. The pattern was simple when I found out what it was. So, how did you know that?”
“Oh, that’s easy. I saw it. Before everyone came down for the games, I looked around. They never said we couldn’t,” Lance shrugged. “If you looked around when the lights were on, you could see tiny holes all over the room. When I pressed a button, small wires appeared all over the place. I was curious, so I pressed them all. The one closest to the door was the worst one. Any way you slice it, you were screwed if you chose that one—bad choice of words. I even tested it. The order was left button (easiest), back wall button (medium), right button (hard), and front button (extreme). The lights made it easy to navigate.”
Jasper looked at him like he was crazy. “You could’ve died!”
“Yeah, I could’ve, but I didn’t. With the lights, my chance of survival was at least 90%. Lucky me,” Lance smiled. “My game was sooo much more boring. It was a memory game. I solved it in seconds. We were partnered—two aginst two. The first pair to finish got to leave. Lucky for my partner, I’m kind of a genius. Even our knight was speechless. I would’ve preferred your game.”
“You sound insane; you know that, right? What happened to the other pair?”
“Thanks, and they died. Or got “eliminated,” as the King says. Kind way of saying they were murdered,” Lance yawned.
“How can you be taking this so lightly?” Jasper asked, still trying to come to grips with the situation.
Lance’s head lolled towards him carelessly. “Because this is a competition. I really have to look out for myself. As long as I’m fine, that’s what really matters. That is what I would say if I were an *******. I don’t really care about the competition. I only care about the games. I guess you can say I got a thing for tests. I’ll tell you about that later. The show’s about to start.”
The lights dimmed as the final participant came in. The large monitor turned on, and King was waiting for them with a digital smile on his mask. “Greetings, everyone. I hope you found the first games to be exciting. The unworthy have been weeded out. Out of the two hundred participants, only one fifty have moved on to this point. Good job, everyone. You’re all one step closer to becoming King. I’m very impressed with some of your quick thinking. A King must make quick decisions. Those who wait are unfit for the role. I understand that this may be jarring to you, but you’re here because you have potential. The viewers think so too.” A graph appeared on the screen. “These individuals received the most viewings in the games.”
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