To Win is To Lose

Continued from ‘Enter The Game

She runs so slowly behind me as if our lives aren’t in danger, as if she wasn’t a prisoner just moment’s before and I can’t understand why. My heart pounds in my chest. Adrenaline pushes me to move faster, but she drags her feet, even with the frantic look in her eyes.

“Eva, hurry!” I coax, trying to keep my tone gentle. I don’t know what she’s doing here. I don’t know what they did to her here, but I have to get her out. We have to get out.

Tugging more forcefully on her hand I tug her farther down the hallway. By now my force field will have let the escort go. They’ll be after us. They’ll alert the others. It’ll be an all-out manhunt, just like back home. Nostalgia washes over me. It tugs at my lips, curling them into a joyous smirk. Oh, how I missed fleeing for my life.

Finally a break in the wall appears. An intersection greets us, offering three identical options, but even as they look the same only one offers escape. After all, that’s how a maze works and from what I can tell this is just another maze. Why these people built it, I don’t know. Though, it must be to keep us in, to keep us from escaping and that notion in itself is a challenge in my eyes.

The smirk deepens as I evaluate the hallways. Eva stands behind me silently. She hardly moves a muscle even as I cling to her hand tightly and swivel my head to investigate the darkness that each option offers. Her silence unsettles me.

“Eva,” I whisper, turning to her finally. “Eva, are you alright?” My hands slip from hers to rest on her shoulders. Yet, as I stare into her eyes, something’s missing. The dull look hovering behind them alerts me that something’s wrong and my stomach twists in on itself. “Eva.” My voice fills with a plea, a plea for her to answer, to say anything. She doesn’t.

Her eyes watch me vacantly as if she doesn’t even see me. The look sparks a memory.

A body. Fallen from a great height it crumples at odd angles. Blood seeps across the stone. A blank look in a pair of lifeless green eyes.

The same green eyes in front of me and I swallow hard. Pulling my hands away as though I’ve been burned I stagger backwards, bumping into the wall. The solidity of the stone startles me. I jerk away from it, my attention snapping down each of the halls in turn again. Which one did I come from? Where do they lead?

Hands clamped against my temples I squeeze my eyes closed. I shake away the questions. It’s just a maze. It’s just a game. I can do this!

Once more my eyes snap open only for Eva’s expressionless face to greet me. No longer does she hold any fear. No longer does she hold any emotion at all. She looks the same way she did when she died: empty. My jaw quivers at the memory. It was my fault! It was all my fault! “I didn’t mean to!” I scream at her.

She says nothing. She doesn’t move. It’s like she’s a statue, a statue that begins to blur like smoke.

“No!” I shout, jumping towards her, but Eva isn’t the person I latch onto. The escort stands wrapped in my arms. Their dark eyes look down on me, the gun nudges between us, pointing at my chest. Fury explodes from me. The force field returns with a new-found rage, slamming into the escort fully, knocking them off their feet.

Through the air they fly. Their head smacks into the stone of the ceiling before their body crunches into the ground. Odd angles. A broken neck. Arms splay to the side, one as if reaching for the gun, but they don’t move.

Blinking, Eva replaces the masked figure. Blood paints her lips bright red, making her all the more beautiful.

Another blink and she’s gone. The escort returns. Their mask covers their face and any blood that might leak from their mouth, but I know they’re dead. I’ve seen enough  dead bodies to know. With that in mind, I turn from them and the memory of the things I’ve done and race down one of the hallways, my gut telling me it’s the right one.

Down the hall another black-uniformed escort races towards me, gun raised and ready to fire. A flick of the wrist. A blast of invisible wall cracks their neck backwards. They collapse. Dead. I push on.

Turn after turn. Escort after escort. I tackle each obstacle with the same determination that kept me alive in the city, the same determination that will get me out of this place and take me home. I don’t care what this place is. I don’t care who these people are. They can’t keep me here. I won’t be their prisoner. I’m too strong for that.

Sliding around the last corner, a wall of escorts greets me. Dozens of guns aim their barrels at my chest. They don’t hesitate, as if warned of what I’ll do to them and in a blast of noise, they discharge their weapons. The sound shatters my eardrums. My ears scream in pain, but I scream in anger at the tricks this place plays on people.

With it, I throw my energy forwards. Propelling it from my hands so that it blows through the smattering of bullets rocketing in my direction. Each one drops to the ground with a tinkle of sound. Only moments after do the anguished cries of pain follow, each one glorious and melodious to my ears, spurring the familiar sneer onto my face.

After the clamor, the silence is odd. Synthetic even. Yet, I welcome it.

Triumph fuels me as I stride forward, carelessly walking through the mass grave I’ve created towards the door at the end of the hallway. The door that sits squarely between the walls. The door that holds my freedom.

‘He beat The Game,’ a voice whispers, halting me in my tracks. I whip back around, searching for the source. No one’s there.

‘What a shame,’ another answers, as if communicating to each other, yet no living person accompanies me in the dark hallway and the dead don’t speak. ‘Terminate him.’

A pinch bites at my arm, dragging my attention down from my search, but there’s nothing there. Nothing touches me. Even so, fire races through my veins, burning every limb and clawing against my nerves. Agony struggles from my throat. It longs to burst out and exclaim my pain. Yet, my voice dies and the world with it.

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