How do you describe something that is soundless and wordless? It is the hum of existence. The most powerful scream. For some, the silence is breaking their hearts. For others, it is an admission of guilt. For the caring individuals, it is a sign of respect for the lives that had been taken away so quickly. For the rest, the silence is a total void, just like how they feel on the inside.
The silence is broken by a quiet, husky voice.
"Everyone... look at your ankles. There's a faint red scar there."
True to the stranger's words, there is a small, jagged, white line that is sketched on their ankles, almost in the shape of a lightning. The area surrounding the mark is pink and the scar looks rigid and bumpy, but it is smooth to the touch. Foreheads crinkle in confusion and eyebrows are knitted close together in thought. Matthew averts his attention onto the young, well-dressed, Middle-Eastern man, who pointed this little feature out.
"What does this mean?" Matthew asks him.
"I'm thinking they somehow inserted explosives inside of us," the man, Hassan, replies confidently. "You can tell they've done this if you feel around your ankle. The texture is hard and you can sort of feel the nano-sized chip. My guess is that these explosives activate by command."
"Really?" Ashton murmurs, as his wild green eyes notice Timothy's broken leg that is neglected on the floor. Casually, he walks over to the broken limb.
"Look! It's typing!" A voice interjects, directing people's attention to the massive screen. The name generator has suddenly disappeared and, as everyone is observing, the ellipses are flashing. Many people are holding their breath in anticipation.
The computer types out: 'Hassan, would you rather kill Timothy's daughter or slice off your arm?'
Again, the robotic hands claw their way out of the screen. Dangling from the large metal hook is a sharp ax, which is gleaming due to the intense blue light from the monitor.
Immediately, there is a defensive cry among the crowd. "No!" It is coming from Ayesha, who has wrapped her arms protectively around the petrified little girl. Elsa hides her miserable face into the woman's arms.
"You can't. She's only little and her father literally died seconds ago just so that we can all live," Ayesha says, looking straight into the man's worried, brown eyes. "It's only common courtesy to respect his dying wish, which is to protect her at all costs."
"Yeah, besides we want to keep many people alive," Seiko joins in. "I know cutting off an arm is probably the bravest and trickiest thing a person can do, but you'll have to do it if you want to survive."
Hassan's face slackens as his brows furrow. His eyes are darting about in concern as if he is searching for a place to hide, but he knows that he is trapped like a prisoner in shackles. The time ticks mercilessly. Sighing, he walks over shakily to the ax and he picks it up using both hands. The object feels lighter than he thought it would, yet it is threatening to slip out of his grip. The smooth, wooden handle is already damp against his sweaty hands.
"How much... how much do I cut off?" Hassan asks, as he forcibly gulps down the lump in his dry throat.
Ayesha walks over to him. There's twenty five seconds left.
"Cut off this much," she tells him, as she draws a line directly in the middle of his arm with her hand. "Then we can tie the blood vessels together. Make it a solid cut to reduce the amount of blood loss, as your blood vessels will be clamped. The ax looks clean and this room seems sterilized, so hopefully you won't get an infection."
"How do you know all of this?" Seiko questions in wonderment.
"I'm a former surgeon," Ayesha replies. She steps back. Ten seconds left.
Trembling, Hassan raises the ax. Fear creeps over him like icy fingers and it shakes him as if he's been electrocuted. It is this moment that takes his breath away, yet it is leaving him choking for air. His blood pressure is reaching a hypertensive crisis, while his sweat trickles down like rain on a window. It is the moment where he has to confront his fear or watch his life flash before his eyes.
Five seconds left.
A quick, swift motion from the ax, as it slices through the air. Ayesha closes her eyes and she looks away. A violent, alien scream tears from his lungs, piercing her ears as painfully deep as the ax that chopped off his arm. Others flinch from the blood-curdling noise, while the rest feel thankful that they are not in his position right now. His eyes roll to the back of his head and he continues to scream tortuously; half of his arm lying on the floor in the scarlet puddle. He's clutching his arm, holding onto his stinging wound, desperate to slow the blood that is trickling down at an alarming rate. It merely seeps through his fingers, running through them like a warm, thick, crimson stream.
Ayesha runs to him. "Sit down!" She tells him, as she guides the man to the ground. The world seems in hyper-drive as adrenaline pulsates through Hassan's veins. Every sound is magnified to a countless number for him. He's struggling to breathe and his vision is clouding.
Ayesha acts quickly. Pulling out the wires in her bra and threads in her burka, she closes his blood vessels skillfully through the technique of ligature. Then she takes off her headscarf, which was covering half of her lower face, and she wraps it firmly around the man's wound to decrease the blood loss. Meanwhile, through his hazy, tear-stained vision, Hassan is able to decipher the woman's glossy black hair and her natural peachy lips. There is a determined look across her hazel-brown eyes. He thinks she might possibly be the most beautiful woman he's ever seen.
During this, almost everyone is too preoccupied by the scenery that hardly anyone notices the timer is ticking away for the next player. Only Matthew realizes this, but he selfishly remains quiet.
Daisy, the pale little girl, explodes into pieces. Instantly, a lot of people jump in surprise and fright. The burst of heat slaps Seiko in the face. Her watery eyes enlarge and the hair on the nape of her neck bristle. Goosebumps laminate her skin. Terror chills her like an icy wind when she realizes that she failed to protect her tiny friend. Fury and disbelief is written across many people's faces. There are no limits for this game.
"I can't take it anymore!" A high-pitched voice yells. It's coming from Taniya, the Indian girl. She pulls away from Kat's grip and she runs to pick up the ax. She's already mentally unstable to begin with, but this game is chucking her into a spiral of anxiety attacks. She's absolutely sick of everything. Sick of watching this cruel game of torture. She would rather die by her own hands than play along in this monstrous game like a chess piece.
"No, put that down!"
Voices are yelling at her, which is only frightening her more because she feels as if everyone is against her. Suddenly, there is a loud command from the Polish girl.
"Shut up everyone!"
Kat steps forward slowly to the shaking, suicidal girl. "Listen, Taniya, I know we don't know each other that well, but I really do care about you. Please, I'm begging you, put that down. We can work through this together..."
Then she stops walking and her cool-blue eyes fix on the screen, which is producing a noise like wind blowing through trees. The robotic hands are out again. Hanging from the metal hook is a razor.
'Taniya, would you rather strip naked or shave your head?'
"Strip naked," Ashton murmurs, while he's busy ripping Timothy's ankle apart with the gardening shear. Elsa is watching him savagely tear her father's limb apart with a horrified expression across her little face.
"Shave your head! It will grow back!" Kat says to her. Other people are backing her up and encouraging Taniya to choose the latter option. For some people, it almost seems too easy.
"That's not fair! Why does she get such a simple question?" Leshontae, the only drag queen in the room, cries out bluntly. His tone is resentful, matching how others are secretly feeling about the situation. Particularly Hassan, whose arm is painfully killing him, as he cannot believe the ridiculous drastic change between their questions.
"Shut up!" Kat yells back. "Taniya, time's running out. Please shave off your hair!"
"You can do it!" Seiko chips in, offering extra support. Others are joining in, trying to persuade Taniya to not give up her life over this easy opportunity.
Leshontae rolls his eyes. Matthew notes that the game is being sympathetic towards the suicidal girl. The widgets in his brain are spinning and a plan is being formed.
Crying hysterically, the girl drags the razor through her head. Her heart and mind is not set into performing the task. The people surrounding her notice that she is not fast enough.
A burst of fiery light. Heat waves. Body parts flying everywhere and blood being scattered all over the place. A single tear falls down Kat's cheek like a delicate raindrop. Taniya's gone.
"Should have stripped. Would have been easier," Ashton remarks snidely. Kat shoots him a penetrating glare, feeling an intense hatred for the uncaring, cynical boy.
"You're all fucking morons!" A deep voice roars in fury. Heads turn to look at a mid-forties, white, fat man named Benjamin. His face is an angry red and his eyes are stinging with tears. "Instead of standing around and waiting for our turn to die, we should all look for a fucking escape! How goddamn stupid can you all be?"
"But- but... there's no escape," Liam, the boy in the wheelchair speaks up, his quiet voice trembling.
"There is!" Benjamin snaps back. "You're not looking hard enough. For fuck sake, everyone look now!" The fat man runs around, banging and scratching and kicking the walls, while screaming maniacally until his lungs threaten to burst. Others look at him and shake their heads because this situation is hopeless.
"Come on, guys. Let's try knocking this down!" Joseph, a white Christian male says, as he grabs the ax that is lying near Taniya's broken arm. His wife, Mary watches him with worried eyes as he swings the ax viciously against the wall. The forceful impact causes the ax to shoot fierce vibrations up his arms, like a flag furiously flapping in a storm, yet there is not a single dent on the clean metal surface.
Suddenly, the computer screen is typing. It echoes Liam's words: 'There's no escape.'
Something snaps within Hassan, whose face contorts in an all-consuming anger. His nose is flaring, his eyes are flashing and closing into slits and his mouth curls into a bestial snarl. Picking himself up and running to Joseph, he snatches the ax off him with his one good arm. Fury is eating Hassan alive as he turns his attention solely to the screen. With his mighty strength, like a volcano releasing its pent up emotions into the darkness, he throws the ax straight at the mocking message.
The ax merely touches the screen, bounces off, and tumbles to the floor, hardly scratching the surface of the large monitor. Like the sound of a waterfall rushing, the computer screen opens up, as if a giant is yawning. A mechanical device that startlingly resembles a machine gun claws out, directly pointing at Hassan. Before the man can even run away, a blinding, potent, neon-red laser beam shoots him, completely disintegrating him to dust in front of everyone.
The laser gun disappears into the screen and the computer types out another mocking message: 'He would have died from blood loss anyway.'
"He's right," Ashton mumbles when he discovers the explosive chip inside Timothy's ankle. The square object is tiny, which he holds between two fingers. Red, green, blue and black are sketched on the electronic chip in such a complex design, decorated with golden and silver pieces that shine under the blue monitor light.
"Listen up, everybody!" The mixed-race boy yells, as he holds up the tiny chip. "There is hope! Here's what we're gonna do."
Butterfly: Hope I'm continuing to impress you! Thanks for reading!
Annie: I appreciate that. Here it is! Thanks for reading.
Jamie: You always know what to say to fill my heart with joy. Haha, sorry for being cheesy. I hope you enjoyed this one too! Thanks for reading.
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