I stare. At the chair before me. It looks cold, like... death. We all move closer to the seats in front of us, though it feels like the longest walk I have ever walked in my life. Everything is going in slow motion. Or maybe I'm just wishing that it is. Maybe there's a good reason for that. No one knows what happens when you enter the games; all the past participants have mysteriously disappeared. I feel a chill up my spine suddenly. Every step we take is closer to uncertainty. I look at Sienna. She looks so scared, I'm afraid she'll run out of the room. Then I'll never see her again. She turns her head and looks me in the eye. I try to smile, in some stupid attempt to say that everything will be alright. But how can I make that promise? Nevertheless, I must protect her. For when I see her, I see Clementine, my sister, who is undoubtedly watching this right now. I miss her.
All of a sudden, I realise we're at our seats. We all turn around slowly in unison, as the camera cuts to all twelve of our faces. We slowly fall into the hard, white leather seats, my heart beating fast, sweat sliding down my forehead. Something grabs my arm, which causes me to jolt. My head spins to see my brother Rowan giving me a look of concern.
"It'll be OK", he whispers.
I was planning on making a joke like "Want to stake your life on that?", but I stay silent. How can I make a joke? How can everything be OK ever again? My friend and brother are coming with me into the depths of hell. Just because we stole to live. But... it seems we couldn't live from the start.
The screens cut to his face. Him, in his grand palace, as we sit here paralysed in fear pretending everything is alright. When we have no idea what he has in store for us. His lips move and words come out, but all I hear is lies.
"Welcome, and thank you for joining us this afternoon."
Like anyone had a choice. Everyone, no matter where they are or what they are doing, must watch this or suffer the consequences, perhaps even end up in the the next Mind Games. Everyone must see that those beyond salvation will be made to see the light.
"This programme has not been created for entertainment or for the pleasure of seeing people suffer. This programme is to demonstrate to all viewers watching at home to know that we are here to take care of you."
As he says this, the Mind Manipulator caps start to come down from above, while people off-camera push buttons on a strange contraption. This has got to be a nightmare. Sienna starts to whimper beside me. I silently scream.
"Those that appear beyond the realms of salvation will be able to see the light. Those that have committed even the most atrocious of crimes can be brought back among the living. I recommend you now to sit back and relax and witness how we make that happen."
The camera cuts back to our faces. The caps are fully covering our heads now. Both Sienna and Rowan squeeze my hands like they will never let go. But all of a sudden, everything changes.
I black out. I let go. What I see next terrifies me.