Bobby woke up more gently than he’d expected, given where he was. Locked in some spirits-forsaken facility out in the middle of nowhere with Viriathus and Igrath, with no guarantee that he’d ever see the light of day again. He turned his head, still trying to wake up towards the currently blurry vision of Vi, who was currently sitting nearby and sulking.
“What time is it?” He asked.
She looked down at the bracelet that was locked around her wrist. Bobby naturally had one as well, since they were in the same boat – but he was too fixated on trying to remember how they got there. “Looks like it’s 4:30 PM.”
“We voted at 9 AM, right? And then we were injected with the anesthetic. Does that mean we’ve been out for over seven hours?”
Viriathus shook her head. “Not necessarily.”
“What do you mean?”
“What do you think I mean genius? Our captor said that every 90 minutes we’d be put to sleep and have our memories of that time erased. We could have woken up countless times and not remember a thing.”
Bobby sheepishly looked to the side, and rubbed the back of his neck. “Oh. Right.” Bobby began looking at the room the two were trapped in more closely. There wasn’t much in particular about the room – unless you count the fact that there wasn’t all that much about the room itself. There was a terminal at the center of the room with two data scrolls in it, along with a few other scrolls lining the walls. There was also a large curtain on the wall to the left of the terminal – and odd sounds that seemed to come from behind it. Looking at the other side, there was a curtain there as well, and sounds coming from it as well. There was also a large metal door in the back of the room. Bobby gave it a quick pull and push to see if he could open it, but the door didn’t budge. “Figures. It’s locked down tight.”
“Move.” Vi said, without much inflection in her voice. Bobby complied as Vi headed towards the door and put her hands on it. A halo appeared over her head as she began to yank on it. The door groaned, but didn’t seem to give. “Huh. That’s one sturdy door. I guess we’re not getting out this way.”
Bobby nodded, though that would prove to be a problem. That was the only obvious exit, and if the door was that secure then there the walls were probably just as sturdy – if not more. It was at that moment Bobby was finally hit with a dawning realization. “Hey, Vi? Where’s Igrath? He was put in the same ward as us, wasn’t he?”
“Yeah, he was. But I don’t know where he’s disappeared to.”
Bobby paused at that one. He wasn’t sure why, but Igrath being missing sent a chill up his spine. Unfortunately, that sense of anxiety didn’t have long to settle before the scrolls on the walls crackled to life, showing the masked face of their captor.
“Good evening. I trust the two of you slept well?” Bobby perked his ears slightly to the voice. He was almost certain it sounded familiar, though he couldn’t tell who it belonged to since it was being affected somehow. He looked to the side to see Vi, her hands shaking and balled into fists. No question she was enraged at just seeing this guy’s face – not that he could blame her. Before either of them could speak, the person on the screen began talking again.
“I’m sure you have many questions for me – first and foremost of course being ‘where is our last companion? I was sure he was with us.’ Well, obviously I can’t answer those questions in this format. After all, I cannot really hear what any of you would say. However, if you wish to understand where your friend has gone you will need to play my Decision Game. Ordinarily, I would have you search for how this game would occur- but this time, I’m feeling rather tired and would simply like to see what you do.”
Bobby and Vi looked at each other in confusion. A game? What game could he possibly mean in a room like this.
“Now, if you will look to the center of the room you will see a terminal with two data scrolls on it. I want you to approach it. Of course, you can choose not to comply – but know that the door will not open until the game is complete.” Bobby and Vi hesitated before doing as their captor bid. As Bobby approached the terminal, he noticed a pair of cuffs on either side of it – each one leading into the curtains behind them. Without much time to think about why that is, their “host” continued. “Excellent. Now I believe you should see ankle cuffs near where you are. I want both of you to fasten one of the cuffs to your leg. It doesn’t matter who takes which cuff, or which leg they are attached to.”
Vi, sensing that nothing would change if she didn’t obey, sighed and did as she was bid. She gave Bobby a nod, and he followed suit. Suddenly, the cuffs locked in place – Bobby gave a few tugs to see if he could pull it off. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the cuff remained strong. What was surprising however, was what happened next. First, the data scrolls turned on – displaying two choices. There was a metal bar between the two scrolls, so Bobby couldn’t see Vi’s scroll, but he assumed it was probably similar. He would have begun reading the choices, but was distracted when the curtains finally were drawn – revealing legions of Nightmares behind each. Bobby could see the color drain from Vi’s face in horror, and he guessed that she was seeing the same in him. Where had this guy found so many Nightmares? And how was he able to imprison them like this?
“So, how do you like my surprise?” The two were so focused on the sight in front of them that they barely registered the voice from the data scrolls. “No doubt you have surmised the penalty for losing this game. Should you fail to win, you will be devoured by the Nightmares you see. Now, onto the rules. You each have a data scroll in front of you with two options. ‘Ally’ and ‘Betray.’ All you must do is choose one. If you pick ‘ally’ and your opponent chooses ‘betray,’ you will lose. If you choose ‘betray’ and your opponent chooses ‘ally,’ you will win and watch as your dear friend is eaten alive. If you both choose to betray, then both of you will die. If you both choose ‘ally,’ however, then a die will be cast. There will be three outcomes with equal weight. Either the player to the left is eaten, the player to the right is eaten, or no one is eaten and you both win. I would suggest thinking this over. After all, your lives are on the line here.”
With that the data scrolls turned off. Vi and Bobby looked at each other, before Bobby chose to break the silence.
“So, what do we do?”
Vi scoffed. “What do you think? We both choose ‘ally.’ It’s the only chance for both of us to survive right?”
Bobby laughed for a second. She was right, what was he thinking? Choosing ‘ally’ was the best choice…assuming she wasn’t planning to betray him. No, but that wouldn’t change his fate either way. Choosing to betray would only be spiteful. On the other hand, if she chose to ally, he could guarantee his safety – but that would mean absolutely sending her to the gallows. His choice really was clear. The two of them hit the button at the same time, and a voice spoke up – this one was feminine and mechanical, different from the one they’d heard only minutes ago.
“THE RESULTS ARE IN. PLEASE LOOK AT THE SCREEN IN FRONT OF YOU.” They complied and watched as Ally/Ally flashed onto the screen. The two let out a sigh of relief…and then heard it. It sounded like chains rattling. Bobby looked down for a split second until he heard Vi cry out. Looking up, she was holding onto the table like and anchor, and the chain to her cuff was several inches above the ground.
“Vi!” Bobby screamed out. She’d been picked?
“D-don’t worry about me…” She said, gritting her teeth. “We both k-knew this was possible, right? F-find Igrath and forget about me! Just k-keep moving!”
Bobby opened his mouth to respond, but he couldn’t protest. She was right – he couldn’t save her. Vi sighed, and let go of the table, and was quickly yanked back into the room behind her. As she slid into it, the Nightmares began to close in around her - as the curtains suddenly slid shut again. Even if Bobby wanted to see her death, it would have been impossible. He could simply try to hold himself together as he heard her screams. The data scrolls then flicked back to life as Bobby’s captor suddenly reappeared.
“How sad. You tried so hard for the best possible outcome, but you found your worst. Life is simply unfair, isn’t it?”
Bobby suddenly found his grief replaced with anger. This Dreamkeeper, the person who trapped them there had just killed someone – someone close to him. He was about to say something, but realized that he wouldn’t be heard. Instead he chose to look at one of the data scrolls with what he could only consider a cruel look. Bobby was going to get out of here, find Igrath, and then take his revenge.
“You seem so angry. I suppose it’s to be expected. But, I am not a cruel man – despite what you may believe. As I promised, I will let you leave. Now, as to the matter to your other friend – I would suggest you go to the rec room. It is on the second floor of this wing, and should answer any questions you may have about him.”
Bobby was confused. The rec room? Why would that answer his questions? Suddenly, a possibility surfaced in his mind. He ran in the direction he was told and ran into the rec room and fell to his knees. In front of him lay Igrath, bloodied and covered in bullet wounds. Surrounded by him were suits of armor – high-powered springer rifles sticking out of an open cavity in each one. He started to stand himself up to check, and make sure he was dead when the mechanical female voice started up again.
“NOW ANNOUNCING THE CURRENT CASUALTIES:
M TEAM – MACE, WHIP, BAST
I TEAM – IGRATH, VIRITHUS
THEREFORE, 5 X-PASSES SHALL BE REVEALED…”
Bobby stopped listening at this point. An entire team was dead? How? How could this have happened? He began sobbing quietly. He was all alone – nobody else had survived. How could he be expected to continue after all that happened? Suddenly, the data scrolls in the rec room flicked to life again.
“So sad. It would appear that you have no one left to help you. I suppose that life is…simply unfair.”
Bobby barely registered what was being said, until the next sentence began.
“Now, it is time for you to sleep. When next you wake, you will have no memory of the last ninety minutes.” Bobby perked awake – and began to panic.
“What? No! I can’t – I can’t forget everything that just happened! Please! Don’t make me…” Suddenly, he felt a sharp pain in his wrist. The anesthetic had been injected. As he began to drift to sleep, his last thought was begging forgiveness from his friends about how he wouldn’t remember their deaths again.