Future Gladiator

Seventeen year old Burnet is brutally taken from her home to become the face of the Government Gladitorial Division. Her story will unravel both her past and her future and force her to make decisions with both consequences and rewards. Friends will become enemies and enemies may be the exact opposite of what they appear.

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4. Branding

A harsh ray of red light sears my skin as my left arm is held up to the gun. I can feel the blood boiling beneath my skin as it endures the burning. I focus on the black walls of the room to comfort myself. The room smells sterile yet it has an underlying odour that permeates the room. I don’t wish to know what that smell is. I know however that I can smell fear in the room and I know this because fear racks my own body. I know that I cannot allow this to show. After what seems an age I feel the numbness overtake my body and I know then that it’s almost over. I’ll soon be placed in the arena to await The Trial.

When the branding is finally done I lift my arm up to look at it in the cheap fluorescent lighting of the room. All I can see of the brand is an empty red circle though I have a feeling more will be added to it later. I watch as the two men that had dragged me from my home leave the room and a young girl steps in. She is slight and the first thing I notice is her left eye. Or more to the point the huge pink scar under her eye that carves her left cheek in two. It looks like it must have once been painful. I’m sure it’s still painful for her to look at. Her head is bowed and her eyes downcast as she hands me my grey uniform. She turns away and I slip out of the brown foulard dress I had worn before being dragged out of my home and into a pair of brown leather trousers that I then tuck into dark brown boots. The front of the boot is high and slanted to guard the shin and the boot is supple, designed to shape itself to your figure. Finally I pull the long sleeved brown top on. The material is thin; none of the outfit is designed to trap warmth I guess but as I swing my arms around I notice that it allows a great range of movement. Last but not least I pull on a heavily shouldered dark brown leather jacket. The zip is weak as I pull it tight and I try hard not to break it. If I break it I’m sure I won’t be given a replacement. Coughing slightly to grab her attention, the girl turns around. I smile weakly as she takes my old clothes. She nods imperceptibly and then walks away.

I don’t take offense by her lack of communication, she knows what I’m about to go through. The same as what she went through when she was dragged here I’m guessing. There are no words to describe how you feel, or to wish luck on another as you wait in this room. Luck won’t save me. And so I walk to the steel door in front of me and knock timidly on the door in the hope that I am doing the right thing.

I have a rough idea of what awaits me in the arena. It’s helped me prepare myself actually; I’m guessing I’m at an advantage to some of the other gladiators. Sometimes our village would hear whispers of the Rustlers when they attacked a nearby village. Rarely did we also hear of escaped Gladiators who holed up in nearby villages. Thankfully none came to our village. Any village that tried to protect the escapees were soon swamped by Rustlers. Many a night I’d led awake in my bed, listening to the screams and hoping I wouldn’t be next. You can see why people hated the government and wanted to run to the rebellion’s side. But the chances were you’d die on the run or get killed in the war anyway.

 I can still remember being taught about it all in Historical Studies, though of course we couldn’t be told the whole truth even if the teacher wished to tell us. You don’t go against the government’s orders unless you want to die, and believe me many already have. After the Great War when our ancestors had almost perished after centuries of destroying themselves, peace had descended upon the remaining humans. Soon a new power was installed and we dragged ourselves out of the ashes of the past war and built a new empire. But yet again war struck, people who sought power only to abuse it rose up and took advantage of the weakness of society in its rebuilding and we received the government we are now burdened with, though of course our teacher didn’t phrase it like that. That was when the rebellion began.

Broken out of my reverie by a metallic creaking I watch as the door is opened. A corridor waits through the open door. I can think later, mull it over and think over my options, but right now I need to move on. I take a deep breath and step into the corridor. The door swings shut behind me with a metallic peal and lights flick on one by one down the corridor. I clench my hands into fists by my sides and walk slowly down the corridor into the bright light of the arena leaving the old me behind. Or at least that’s I try to convince myself.

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