“Why would someone cheat?” Jasper asked. “I mean, it just seems…unnecessary.”
“Maybe they got despite?” Lance shrugged. “At this point, everyone here knows what happens if you lose.”
Jasper looked at the monitor, which had a countdown timer. Three minutes before, they had to watch people die. “Something about this…I-I can’t explain it.”
“I’m surprised no one tried to cheat in the other games. Even before you guys got here. No one cheated.”
“So Dom was right. He was here before us. Dom and the others. I hope they’re okay. They made it through the first game, so they have to be okay.” Jasper thought.
“Huh?” Jasper asked. “Sorry I spaced out.”
“It’s, um, starting,” Lance said.
The timer on the screen faded away, and the screen went black. The sound of fake applause filled the room as the screen changed. Queen Kate sat on a stage with three cages beside her. Each had a participant inside. All of them looked terrified.
“Sorry for the wait. We had to finalize some things, but now everything is ready. Before we begin, I want to give the accused a chance to speak. First, we have Elliot Winters or Number 66. His game was four corners. All he had to do was stay in the tile he picked. But then he had to switch tiles at the last moment.” Kate turned towards Elliot. “Explain yourself.”
“I didn’t ******* cheat! I was standing on the tile. She’s lying!” Elliot shouted. Frantically trying to undo his restraints with his teeth. “Look at the **** footage!”
“We did. We saw you switch. How dare you talk to your queen like that. Next, we have Sarah Williams or Number 105. Her game was called Copy. She had to look at a picture and recreate it. We have evidence of her tracing the picture. Sarah? Anything to say?”
“I-I didn’t. I held it up to the original b-but just to compare. I didn’t t-trace anything!” Sarah cried.
“They showed the picture at the end. Why would you need to compare? Sarah, stop lying,” Queen Kate said, shaking her head. “Last is Nathaniel Thompson or Number 24. He-“
“Can we just get on with it?” Nathaniel asked. His tone was low and distant. “No need to drag it out.”
“So you admit to your crime?” Queen Kate asked.
Nathaniel glared at her then looked back at the floor. “Just get on with it,” Nathaniel said.
“As you wish,” Queen Kate said, clapping her hands. Two guards emerged off-screen with a giant wheel. Each wheel had the accused color on it with an envelope tapped to each panel. These punishments were voted on by the viewers for each of the accused. “Okay, it’s punishment time! You guys got creative, that’s for sure! But, before we get started, a word from our King.”
“Of course, he has to have a say in this,” Jasper said under his breath.
“Not a fan?” Lance asked, smirking.
“Good day, everyone,” King’s voice said. “Sorry, I can’t be there with you all. To the accused, how dare you? How could you ruin such a grand competition? Years in the making. I understand how much this means to all of you, but this was truly disappointing. I hand-picked each of you to participate because I knew you all had the potential. However, even a king can make mistakes. For that, I sincerely apologize. I hope you can reflect on this, and I hope everyone watching can learn from this experience. Now, I turn it back to the queen. I hope this will be the last time we have to go through something like this. I truly do.”
Crying sound effects played after King’s voice cut off. “I know. I know. I wish he were here too, but King has to be elsewhere. Now, I’ll spin the wheel and see who goes first.” She got up and spun the oversized wheel as hard as she could. It spun for a while before landing on Nathaniel’s green space.
“Well, Number 24, you get your wish after all.” Queen Kate undid the envelope and showed a piece of paper with a picture of a guillotine. “The Guillotine! A classic.”
Nathaniel’s hand instinctively rubbed the side of his neck. Jasper could see Nathaniel mouth the word, “****.”
Jasper was speechless as they brought out an actual guillotine and put Nathaniel’s head through the hole at the bottom. Walking into view was Jessie and Rose. Both in their knight armor. Kate placed a black bag over Nathaniel’s head, and Jessie moved to the lever on the side of the device.
“Any last words?” Jessie asked, smiling.
“Go **** yourselves,” Nathaniel said. His words were muffled, but his fear was apparent.
“Except your execution with dignity, Nate. The world’s watching after all,” Jessie said as he pulled the lever, and the blade came screaming down, lobbing Nathaniel’s head clean off and tumbling out of sight of the camera. His body twitched and then went still.
“Holy ****,” Lance said. “They actually did it.”
“Moving on!” Queen Kate said. “Oh! Before I spin again, I want to thank our viewers out there. Without you, none of this would be possible. We just hit one million viewers! Thanks so much! Okay, let’s get on with the show!” She spun it again. This time it landed on Sarah’s red space. Queen Kate reached up and grabbed the envelope. “This time, it’s…The Iron Madian! Come on, guys. Let’s get something from this century.” Fake laughter filled the room.
“My queen, we have some audience input from the last execution!” Jessie says. “Jeremy B. from Zone 5 says, “Wow, the effects are insane! Could’ve used more blood.” Heh, we’ll consider that. Thanks for the feedback. Gavin T. says, “Not so badass without a head. Dude, was all talk.” I agree, Gavin. Oh, this one’s gold. Wallace V. says, “That’s what he gets for cheating.” Trust us, Wallace, it could’ve been a lot worse. Okay, back to you, my queen.”
“Thank you, my knight. Let’s get set up!” Queen Kate said as they wheeled the deadly box out.
“NO! NO! PLEASE! I DIDN’T CHEAT, PLEASE NO!” Sarah screamed as they pulled her out of the cage.
“Poor thing, please pull yourself together,” Rose said, fighting back the urge to laugh. “You got caught breaking the rules. What did you expect?”
Sarah was taken out of her cage and shown the inside of the maiden. Spikes. Hundreds of spikes. Sarah’s bloodcurdling scream made Jasper put his hands on his ears. Her body was shaking violently as she tried to get away. No one was coming to help. The realization hit her like a ton of bricks, and that made her struggle harder. In one swift motion, the staff threw her inside, and Rose slammed the door shut. The box shook violently but then went still. A small amount of blood leaked out the bottom.
“Jesus,” Jasper said. “How can they do this? How can anyone watch this?”
“Easy, they’re not the ones that have to die. Everyone thinks this is a game,” Lance says, running his hand through his hair. “****.”
“Okay, last but not least, Elliot. It’s your turn. But first, Rose? What did the people have to say about that?” Queen Kate asked.
“Due to the nature of the comments, I’ll have to omit some. Arin B. says, “Chick needs to******* up. She got caught.” Tyler H. asks, “Doesn’t this seem a bit extreme?” Sure T, I get you. But rules are rules. They knew what would happen but did it anyway. We’re all here to have fun, and they ruined it. Hunter C. says, “Clean up on aisle 105.” Hunter, you’re hilarious.” Rose winked at the camera. “That’s all.”
“Thanks, Rose. Alright, everyone! Time for the grand finale! Elliot’s punishment is…burned at the stake? Um, I don’t think we can do that one.” Queen Kate laughed. “So let’s go with modern execution.”
“Can I do it?” Rose asked, jumping up and down with excitement.
“No way, you already did yours!” Jessie said. “I think our Diamond should do it.”
“He’s not here. Well, shoot. Who else could do it?” Queen Kate asked. Then snapped her fingers. “I know; how about our Knight of Spades? Come on out, Jason!”
“Did she just say, Jason?!” Jasper shouted.
“Yeah, why?” Lance asked.
Jason walked out, waving to the cameras. He was wearing regular street clothes. “Hello, everyone. Sorry, I’m not dressed for the occasion. I had to go run an errand. It looks like you guys had a party without me,” Jason laughed.
“It’s your fault for being late,” Rose said. “How are you gonna make it up to me?”
“Careful, I’m engaged, down girl. I’ll buy everyone food. How about that?”
“Fine,” Rose said, moving out of the way.
Jason walked towards Elliot and leaned down to look him in the eyes. With a big smile, he asked, “And what did you do?”
“Not. A. ****. Thing,” Elliot spat.
“People don’t get executed for doing nothing, friend,” Jason said. “So, what are we doing?”
Queen Kate handed him an orange box. Matching Elliot’s tracksuit. When Jason opened the box, his smile got bigger. “Seriously?”
“Make it quick; we’re on a schedule,” Queen Kate said, moving out of the way.
Jason pulled out a small handgun and aimed it towards Elliot. “Stay still, okay? I’m a little rusty.”
“Screw you. I feel bad for whoever wants to marry you,” Elliot said, spitting in Jason’s face.
Jason didn’t hesitate when he pulled the trigger—shooting Elliot right in between the eyes. Then again in the chest. “That was for my fiancée.”
“Aw! Did he hurt your feelings?” Rose laughed.
“No, just don’t like anyone talking bad about my woman.” Jason looked into the camera. “That was for you, Em.”
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