At night, after everyone has gone to bed, an unnoticed store switches on its lights and welcomes people inside with only a neon Open sign. Inside, familiar faces are gathered in a circle. I sat in my usual seat with my back against the wall. It's only safe if I can see everyone with both my eyes. Phillip, who was sitting to my right, smirks at me, 'Are you afraid? You know what happens to the loser.' I smiled confidently back, 'As you can see, I'm still alive. I'm surprised that Mark lost. I'll miss him. How many more do you think will be gone before the Game master stops?'
The Game master was the only one whose face no one could see. He always wears a mask. We knew nothing of his identity or how he chose his players. All we know is that everyone started playing because he or she was bored with their life. This game was the most adrenaline pumping and risky there was. A gamble on your life. Literally.
He stood at the head of the circle and clapped his hands for attention. Everyone stopped talking immediately. There wasn't many of us now. Only five. Only five more rounds until the end of the game. One will walk away with the prize or not walk away at all. There is only one rule to win: Survive. We watched as the clock ticked slow second by slow second. I double-knotted my laces and gripped my Zippo lighter and body spray. Each player was allowed to bring two items of their choice. Mine has yet to disappoint me.
The door sprang open and we all ran. The whole town was our playing field. And that wasn't even enough. The Game master always find someone. Someone always lose. Because, the Game master is always hungry after a run. I hid myself in the dumpster and listened for a bloodied scream. It was the only true signal of our safety. At the end of every game, we were given a container of freshly cooked stew. He watches the relief from our retreating backs while wiping the blood onto his apron, 'I hope you like this week's stew. Sarah was extremely helpful with the cooking.'
And we wait for next week.
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