Eyes flew open. Jaws slackened with shock. Questioning looks were fired towards the teenage boy's direction.
"You're crazy," a voice says bluntly to Ashton. Others are murmuring in agreement, shaking their heads in disbelief, as if the teenage boy had cracked a disgraceful joke.
"Even if we remove the chips, the computer can still kill us with that laser gun, do you understand?" The drag queen, Leshontae says in a condescending tone. His purple eye contacts are staring down at Ashton, demoting the teenage boy to a toddler with a crazy imagination.
Ashton snorts with an empty laughter, clearly unfazed by the negative reactions that his idea is receiving. His tone is very apathetic, while he responds with a calm demeanor.
"Listen, we can always try to avoid getting shot, but there's no way we can stop exploding into bits until we physically rip the chips outta us." He looks straight into Leshontae's purple eyes and he adds mockingly, "Do you understand?"
"This is ridiculous! Are we really going to do this?" Seiko asks with her face scrunching up in frustration. Her cloud-gray eyes are darting all over the place, seeking to find a hiding spot. Then her eyes pause on the elderly woman and she asks in a concerned voice, "Hey, what's wrong? Are you okay?"
The elderly woman doesn't respond. Her body is swaying, as if her legs are going to snap like twigs, and she has a distant look on her wrinkly face. It feels as if her brain is short-circuited and it needs to be rebooted. Around her, everything is in fast-forward while she remains motionless in the middle of it.
"What's her problem?" Kat questions, raising her eyebrow in confusion.
"I think she's in shock," Ayesha murmurs.
Rosa presses the heels of her hands into her eyes until she sees nothing but sparkles. She tries to sit down, but she stumbles and falls over, leaving her in a trembling heap on the floor. Both Ayesha and Seiko run over to her, where they help the elderly woman sit up.
By now, Ashton realizes that nobody seems too keen on his plan. He shrugs it off in a careless manner.
"You guys wanna get exploded? Go ahead, suit yourself. But I'm gonna stay alive - no matter what," he spits out aggressively. With that said, he pierces the sharp gardening shear directly into his ankle and he stretches the blades open, tearing his flesh apart. Thick, warm blood oozes out from him and it stains the floor and his weapon. Others look away, flinching from his reckless display of self-harm.
A whirring and clanking noise invades the atmosphere. The robotic hands are flying out of the screen and the metal hook of their fingers are holding a human-sized, sharp needle.
"Look! Now the computer's asking two people!" Liam says, pointing to the large screen. Eyes follow his finger and, true to the boy's observation, the computer is addressing the Christian couple.
'Mary and Joseph, would you rather Mary has sex with the drag queen or Joseph shoves the needle up the fattest man's ass?'
"Oh, why, God?" Mary cries out as she buries her face into her hands while she resists the urge to blubber like a baby. This game is officially the worst way the couple are spending their tenth anniversary. The timer ticks away, clearly unsympathetic to their situation.
"I'm warning you, I have an STD," Leshontae responds, further adding onto the couple's dismay. Mary shrieks into her hands and she sobs uncontrollably. Joseph wraps his arms around his miserable wife comfortingly.
"Piercing someone is not a huge sin compared to adultery. I'm gonna have to choose the lesser of two evils," Joseph says apologetically, as he looks at Benjamin nervously.
"Oh, hell no!" The fat man snaps. The metallic room becomes a blur for him, as he runs towards the needle. His footsteps are heavy and echoing in his ears, while beads of sweat roll down his forehead. Picking up the needle with both hands, he points it towards Joseph threateningly and he bares his teeth like a predator.
"You come anywhere near my ass and you're the one that gets pierced, mate," Benjamin warns him coldly.
Forty-five seconds left. Joseph is breathing rapidly and his hands are clutching his sides. Each tick from the timer causes his vision to swim. It's too much. Too much.
"I think you're both going to explode if you don't do something," the Muslim lady says, urging the Christian couple to take action.
Her statement is like a breath of fresh air for Joseph's frantic senses. His mind is clearer and his confidence is boosted. In an instant, as if a referee blew a whistle, a blurry figure lunges into Benjamin and they both tumble straight on to the ground. Joseph punches the fat man's jaw and he smashes his head against the floor. Pain explodes against his head, causing Benjamin to see stars and taste blood in the back of his throat. The fat man tries to kick his opponent off, but Joseph's legs are firmly straddled against his wide hips. Like a vicious whip, Benjamin raises his head and smashes it against Joseph's, trying to knock him out cold. For a moment, dizziness takes over the Christian man and he can see black and red spots flying everywhere. In his vision, the image of Mary, the mother of his child, flashes through his mind. He grabs a firm hold of the needle and, with every bit of his strength, he tries to snatch the weapon off the fat man's vice-like grip.
Twenty seconds left.
The Christian man has almost grabbed the weapon off Benjamin, when suddenly the fat man whacks the large needle across Joseph's face. It feels like the sting of a swarm of bees. The imprint of the needle is burning into his face. The forceful impact causes Joseph to fly off his opponent and it sends him crashing onto the bloodstained floor, where he's lying near Taniya's broken arms.
Fifteen seconds left.
Benjamin picks himself up and he stands over the Christian man, who is evidently groaning in pain. He positions the needle directly towards Joseph's heart, towering over him like a skyscraper. Hopelessly, Joseph looks up at the man with big, wide eyes, as fear squeezes his heart with its icy hands.
Suddenly, blood spurts everywhere and there's a horrible squidgy noise of flesh being torn apart and bones being cracked. Benjamin's eyes are wide, as if they're going to bounce off his sockets, and a violent scream of horror escapes from his lungs, chilling his peers to the marrow. His legs fail to support him as he crashes onto the floor, his face lying flat on his puddle of crimson blood. Sticking out of his back is an ax, which is being pushed into his skin by Mary. There is a thunderous look of murder across her face.
Five seconds left.
Benjamin is crying and howling in pure agony, while Mary stumbles and falls back in shock. Looking down at her shaky hands, guilt eats her alive as she feels horrified by the beast that possessed her. Joseph quickly picks the needle off the floor. With under five seconds to go, the Christian man thrusts the sharp object into Benjamin's rear. The needle breaks through the fabric of his jeans and blood seeps out of his anus, spreading all over his buttcheeks and staining his trousers. Benjamin throws his head back and a final mighty cry tears from his lungs, before he passes out and his pale face slumps in his pool of blood.
Everyone else is horrified by the brutal murder. Some are in a state of disbelief and shock. Did that really just happen?
"It would've been easier if he just accepted his fate from the start," Ashton snaps, voicing the opinion of others who are terrified to speak up. "At least then he'd still be alive... and he calls us morons. Okay then."
Matthew nods, except he thinks both the fat man and the couple are fools for failing to realize their golden opportunity to get around this question.
Ashton sticks his fingers into his open wound, his face turning red from the stinging pain, while he digs around his exposed flesh. He feels the nano-sized chip and, as if he's pulling out a stubborn cork from a wine bottle, he tugs the tiny explosive out of him. More blood is flowing out and his leg is shaking like the tremble of an earthquake, but he doesn't care. He examines the blood-covered chip, identical to the one he found in Timothy, and he chucks it carelessly at the body of the dead fat man.
"Such attitude," Kat mumbles, her hatred for the mixed-race teenager growing stronger.
"Who's next?" Ashton asks, failing to hear the bitter girl's remark, as he turns his attention onto everyone else.
"Here, let me fix your wound," Ayesha offers, walking over to the teenage boy.
"Thanks. Want me to get the chip outta you?" Ashton asks her.
The woman bites her lip in contemplation. She values her life. She knows the pain will be unbearable, but she figures that this game of torture has made it obvious that everyone will endure pain at some point. She might as well make her pain worth it for survival. "Yes, please," she replies softly.
Meanwhile, the name generator has landed on the Polish teenage girl, who looks completely sick of everything. Instead of being scared or panicking like the previous players, she merely rolls her eyes in a resigned manner.
'Kat, would you rather remove all of your teeth with the pliers or stab the person of your choice?'
The robotic hands are out and they are holding a tray. In the tray lies two objects - a huge pair of pliers and a shiny butcher knife.
"I don't like how they keep adding more weapons," Seiko says uneasily. After witnessing the murder of Benjamin, she fears that everyone will lose their minds and fight each other to death.
"Nah, it's all good. More weapons mean more people can quickly get the chips outta them," Ashton states, waving his hand in the air to dismiss the topic, wanting to prevent further anxiety.
Time is ticking. Kat walks towards the tray and she picks up the pliers. Her vacant eyes are burning into the object, wishing that she could shoot lasers and turn this weapon to dust, just like Hassan's fate.
"Are you freaking stupid or something? You can't yank out all your teeth in a minute. Stab someone in their ankle. At least then you'll be doing them a solid," Ashton spits out. Then he turns his attention back to Ayesha.
Irritation pounds through Kat's forehead and she shoots him a deadly glare. She grabs the butcher knife. Others suck in their breath as she walks over to Ashton. The boy doesn't realize that she's approaching him, raising the knife behind his back. Ayesha, who is busy cleaning up the boy's blood, raises her head and her eyes widen in terror. She's praying to God internally that Kat doesn't attack Ashton.
Just then, Kat has a sudden change of heart. Running to the other side of the room, she swings her knife and lunges it viciously into Mackenzie's thigh. Invading the thick atmosphere is an ear-splitting scream that pops eardrums. The woman feels a cold tingling sensation that instantly turns hot from the searing pain. Instinctively, Mackenzie puts her hands onto her wound that is spewing out blood rapidly. Her younger sister, Madison immediately runs to Mackenzie and she holds onto her, preventing her from falling down. Madison scowls at Kat, who is wiping away the shiny, red substance from the knife.
"You little bitch!" Mackenzie yells at the teenage girl while tears stream down her boiling red face. "What the fuck was that for!?"
"Yeah. Why the heck did you stab her thigh, you stupid cunt?" Ashton demands in an acidic tone. He lifts himself off the floor, his hands clutching the gardening shear, wanting to stab Kat himself. Ayesha tugs at his sleeve and she shakes her head. The teenage boy continues glowering at Kat and he reluctantly sits back down, wincing from the pain of his wound.
"She was smiling after that transgender guy died! Even though she was trying to hide it, I still saw it! That ugly smile," Kat explains, her blue eyes glazing with pure madness. Her hands are still tightened around the knife and she seems ready to attack again.
"So that gives you the right to stab my sister, does it?" Madison questions coldly, as she holds her older sister back, who wants to break free and pounce on the teenage girl.
Kat laughs humorlessly. "My own brother killed himself because so many assholes were transphobic. I hate transphobic bitches and I will gladly stab them if I'm given a chance," she explains in resentment.
"You little retarded bitch!" Mackenzie yells, her nose flaring while she breathes like a dragon. "Trans people are fucking fake, okay? They're attention whores and they're self-centered. It's a good thing we got rid of the weakest link first because he - she - it would've killed us all! Trans people are all selfish and all they ever do is think about themselves, you dumb bitch! They're disgusting, deluded and mental - just like you!"
Mackenzie wriggles free from her sister and she moves hastily towards Kat, whose mouth is open in shock. The woman slaps the knife out of her hands, sending it flying towards her, as she catches the knife. Ashton is impressed by her coordination skills, considering that he expected her to move poorly due to being stabbed. Before Kat can run away, the woman shoves her to the floor.
"And now I'm going to end you," Mackenzie spits out.
"No, wait!" A voice yells. It is the elderly woman, Rosa. Despite feeling sick and shaky, she manages to stagger over to the scenery, where she steps in front of Kat. Her arms are out, shielding the teenage girl. "She's only a little girl!" Rosa persists with her croaky voice. Her legs are shaking and she can barely stand up straight. "Please! She doesn't know what she's doing!"
Tears are forming in Rosa's eyes. She has a granddaughter who resembles Kat in multiple ways and it will break her heart to see violence inflicted upon her. Other people are joining in, backing up the elderly woman.
"She knows exactly what she's done," Mackenzie says, feeling outraged that many people are taking the teenager's side and protecting her. Her face is scrunching up and she looks like she's going to burst into tears. Her hand flies to her wound, where the pain is intensifying and her thigh is throbbing to the beat of her frantic heart.
Seiko shakes her head and clicks her tongue. "Look at us... we're becoming monsters," she murmurs disapprovingly.
Madison comes up to her older sister and she takes the knife off her. "Look, just control yourself," she hisses as she carefully lowers Mackenzie to the floor. She whispers in her ear, "We don't want people to hate us, okay? Trust me, you've got the upper hand if you're the bigger person here."
"I'll treat your wound in a minute," Ayesha calls out to Mackenzie. The Muslim woman is wrapping a cloth around her ankle, trying to slow down the blood flow. Like Ashton, she has also removed her explosive chip successfully.
By now, a lot of people have noticed that the name generator had been scrolling for such a long period of time. Seiko stares at the screen, feeling complete resentment bubbling up within her, hating that the game didn't show the same type of mercy for her little friend, Daisy.
The name generator eventually stops scrolling and it lands on the mid-twenties white man.
'Matthew, would you rather have sex with the drag queen or force Timothy's daughter to give you a blowjob?'
"Oh, my days! Why is this game so obsessed with making people have sex with me? I mean, why me? Gosh!" Leshontae cries out in annoyance.
"Well, you said it yourself that you've got STDs. That's probably why," Ashton says, as he tries to hold back his laughter.
"What's a blowjob?" The eight-year-old, Elsa asks Ayesha softly. An aghast expression is clear on the Muslim woman's features, but she quickly regains her composure.
"Oh... it's nothing you have to worry about, sweetie," Ayesha says, as she wraps her arms protectively around the little girl again.
"This is so frustrating!" Matthew exclaims, putting on a display of being scared. He runs his fingers through his hair and he's wearing a mask of fear across his face. The time ticks away. Eventually, he heaves a deliberate sigh and he looks into Leshontae's purple eyes. "Look, I'm sorry but I can't traumatize a little girl. We're both adults and we can get it over with. Let's do it for Timothy," he says, as he walks over to the drag queen and he gives him a quick wink, as if to say, play along.
It is almost as if a light switched on inside Leshontae. "Oh," he whispers, his eyes lighting up with mischief. "Do what you must," he says, as he hides behind a facade of sadness.
"Can we have some privacy please?" Matthew says to the rest of the group, who are staring at the men with a dumbstruck look. People avert their eyes away, while Matthew takes Leshontae's hand and he leads him to a corner of the room. The room has fallen into silence with only the sounds of grunting and skin slapping coming from the two men. Everyone else looks at each other uncomfortably. Cheeks are burning in embarrassment.
"Seriously, what the fuck is this game? What sick, sadistic pervert created this?" Kat hisses, absolutely mortified.
"Why did they create this game? What's the purpose? That's what I want to know," Ayesha whispers, as she holds Elsa in her lap and she's covering the little girl's ears.
"Who cares? Our main focus is to survive," Ashton says drily. "If you lot are smart enough, you'll rip those explosives outta you, so you don't have to play this fucked up game any longer."
Eventually the men are done. Matthew zips up his trouser fly. The name generator is scrolling again. Meanwhile, Leshontae tries to hide the smirk on his face. They convinced everyone, including the computer, that they had sex. In reality, it was all merely an act.
This is exactly why Matthew thought the Christian couple and the fat man were fools. He realizes that there are ways to deceive the game and become the winner. Looking around at everyone else, Matthew already has a plan. However, he's not going to share it. Yet.
Jamie: Thanks for your beautiful comment! As soon as I read it, I felt so motivated to type up this chapter. I'm relieved to hear that I'm portraying the diversity well! Thanks for reading!
Annie: Aww, I'm touched that it's your favorite! Thank you!
Butterfly: Haha, thank you! I'm glad I've kept this suspenseful.
Thanks for reading. Want Part 5? Leave a comment.