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(Benjamin Lichter continues from Prince of Nothing)

He sat in a chair. He knew his hands and feet were handcuffed to it, even though he didn't look down. He knew his classmates were left, right and across from him, though he didn't turn to look. He sat, terrified, looking past the dead body of Mr. Graham, who sat limply in a chair in the middle of an ever-growing pool of blood. He was looking at the man who was standing behind the chair, still holding the gun to Mr. Graham's head. The man looked at the group, not focusing on any of them, but just stood there, leering. Then he walked around the chair, gun in his hand, held loosely at his side, and started to speak.

"My name's Jim Greynolds, but you probably won't be seeing me again," he said. "Now that I have your attention, please follow these ground rules during the presentation you're about to receive: No talking, no struggling, and absolutely no crying."

"If you think of trying anything at all," he smirked, while gesturing to Mr. Graham with his gun, "that will be you. We take our chats pretty seriously; we know how kids love to chatter, so we're demonstrating our no-tolerance policy." He poked Mr. Graham in the head with the muzzle, while the blood on the floor soaked into his shoes. "Now, with that out of the way, please welcome to the stage the one and only Danya." Then he walked off the stage with exaggerated strides, clapping all the way.

Danya walked on to the stage, and it was as if the devil himself had taken form and walked upon the earth. Ben knew very little about God, and Satan, since he himself had been very little when he had stopped going to church, and, truth be told, he'd never really prayed much. If he did, it was more of a "Oh-God-please-let-me-pass-my-math-test.", type of prayer, one that even he didn't really believe would work. But looking as the man on the stage, Ben knew that, if Satan walked among them, his name was Mr. Danya. His smile was kind and ruthless. His face was welcoming and cold. And his voice spoke with the authority of a true leader, someone who you would gladly follow to your doom.

"Hello, students of Cochise High School. For those of you who don't know what's happening, or who may have forgotten or chosen to deny it, allow me to explain. My name is Mr. Danya. Welcome to Survival of the Fittest."

Ben's classmates erupted in horror, but Danya waited, patiently, until they died down. His ease and certainty was horrifying, and Ben knew that he could afford to take his time: He had all the time in the world.

"The next time you wake up, you will be on an island. You will have a metal collar around your neck. These collars are filled with explosives. If you try to tamper with them, they will blow up. If you try to escape the island, they will blow up. Every day we will make parts of the island off-limits, and if you enter them or stay in them, your collar will blow up.

"You will be randomly assigned a weapon, but keep in mind that if you don't like it you can always seek out an opportunity to upgrade. The point of this little game, you see, is to be the last person standing. Only one of you gets to go home. That lucky survivor will, providing they killed someone, be allowed to return home. If they didn't, we'll put them right back in for the next version, to learn from their mistakes or be taken out by someone with a better attitude."

He smiled with glee, his excitement at the prospect clear for all to see. His facade of gracefulness fell away as temptation was no longer needed. Instead, pure malice, evil, shone through.

"We'd like to discourage the last one standing not having killed anyone, you see."

Then he stepped briskly to the side of the stage, moving out of the way of a projection that had appeared on the wall behind him. "Don't worry if you can't take all of this in," he said while he walked. "Allow me, if you will, to provide an illustrative example, to perhaps make clear what simple words cannot."

Ben looked, and saw two boys and a girl on the screen. One of the boys, the one in the beanie hat, was holding a machine gun. The other was wearing a striped shirt and was facing away from the other two. "You can't just run away from this," said the girl to the second boy. "Yeah, I know," he answered, "But I think I can briskly walk from it. See you later." Then he started walking in the direction he was facing. "Did he really just do that?" said the girl. "He killed Amy and is now walking away like nothing happened?" She paused, uncertain what to do. "Do we follow?"

"No. We don't follow," decided the boy with the beanie and shot the other boy in the back.

Danya moved in front of the image as it started to fade. "Those two boys," he said, pointing to the image, "were friends. You see now what friendship is worth. It's one thing to let someone copy your math homework, but quite another to trust them with your life." Ben looked to his left, where Maxim sat. He had a grim but determined look on his face. No, Maxim wasn't the danger. He looked to his right, where he knew Lili was. She was pale, but resolute, like she had been when she wanted to take first watch. Maybe she lacked the strength she thought she had, but she wouldn't be the one to turn on them. Then he looked at himself, sitting there shackled and trembling, and felt surprisingly calm. He would be scared, he would be angry, and horrified. His mind would lack the strength to resist that. Maybe he would defer to instinct or fear in moments of stress, but he was sure that nothing in the world would make him turn on his friends. And so they sat there, resisting Danya, rebuking him in silence.

Danya opened his arms wide, as if to hug them. ""Look around you. Every one of the others in this room, every one of your classmates must die if you want to go home." No.

"Anyone you see could end up killing you, or you could end up killing them." You lie.

"I'll be in touch with you every day. I'll tell you who died and who killed them. I'll also let you know which parts of our arena you can't go to." How nice of you.

"Everything that takes place here will be broadcast over the internet using cameras we've placed around the island. That means you don't have to worry about your families not knowing what you did here— they'll be able to watch it all happen." They'll see us escaping you.

"Of course, it would be very selfish of anyone to stop other people's families from keeping up - not to mention a security concern - so if you tamper with or damage a camera, we'll blow your collar." Ben's eyes widened. The cameras! He'd forgotten about them. How could they possibly plan an escape while Danya was watching?

"You'll want to put on a good face for your loved ones back home, of course, but do remember what you have to do to see them again. I imagine most will be forgiving, should you manage to do what it takes to make it back." Coldness slipped down from Ben's upper spine and wrapped around his heart. He wanted to see his family again.

Danya started to turn to go, but stopped, and turned his face towards Ben. "One more thing: There's no waiting this game out. If a day passes without someone getting a kill, we'll blow all your collars try again next time."

He put on a gas mask and walked away, his footsteps echoing across the room as he walked and walked and walked away...

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Ben woke slowly, his mind jumping erratically from one fact to the next. They were being watched. People had to kill or they all died. His family could see him. People had to kill or they all died. He wanted his family. His family could see him. They were being watched. He wanted his family. People had to kill or they all died.

He opened his eyes. He was lying on the same bed he and Maxim had sat on the night before. He had curled up on it when Maxim took first watch, and again after waking Lili. People had to kill or they all died. He wasn't dead. That meant someone else was. And their death had been on purpose.

He shivered, and turned on his side. The morning felt cold, but it wasn't just the temperature that made him do that. Someone had killed someone else. And he had a sneaking suspicion who had done it. It wouldn't have been that hard, he thought. An exposed neck, a glass shard rammed into it from the side, cold dead eyes staring in silence as someone else's lifeblood drained away. Simple. He tried to imagine who it would be lying dead now, but he couldn't. Everyone who he knew was still alive. The dead body was just a faceless mass.

He shivered again, and sat up, placing his feet on the floor. He grabbed one of his boots he had taken off before going to sleep. He pulled it on and laced it up, then started with the other one. He had just stood up when a voice, Danya's voice, rang out from all around him. He jumped in shock, but knew what was going on. The first announcement had begun. Danya was getting in touch.
Edited by Malloon, Nov 1 2016, 05:53 PM.
V6 Character:
Benjamin "Squirrel" Lichter [ ~ / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / > ] - You'll find him in the clouds.
V7 Characters:
Chloe Bruges [ - ] - You'll find her doing math.
Joseph "Joey" Quintero - You'll find him writing speaches.
Keith Rogers - You'll find him out with his gang.

In the unlikely event you want to use my characters...
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