“As you are all aware, today is the day of The Raffle,” the voice announced. My family was all standing together, not wanting to be separated. “There will be a total of four players taken from your village this year.”
Four, I thought to myself, that’s the most it’s been in years. There was only about a hundred people in my village, and so the chances of getting picked just went up. My father’s hand rested on my shoulder. He knew he wouldn’t be picked as he wasn’t even an option. He had won the game nine years ago, and was still suffering with the repercussions. I understood why. I had watched as he murdered people.
The voice continued. “This year, we will be focusing on,” it paused for effect. There was the sound of paper spinning and rubbing against each other, but no one was sure where it came from. “Young adults aged nineteen to twenty-three.” Almost everyone let out a relieved sigh as my father’s hand tightened on my shoulder. Yes, I was in that age range, but last year the group had been children aged six to eight, and the year before that was ages five to ten, and no one wanted that to happen again.
“If you are within those ages, please go up on stage.” A light flashed on me and the seven others around my age. Grace followed me up onto stage; she was shaking but I walked steadily. My father had told me what it was like to be in the arena, what it was like to have no soul, and even though I feared it, I stood tall.
The voice spoke again. “You all know the rules. Please write your name down on the piece of paper provided and place it in the Spinner.” A table rose from the center of the stage, right in front of were Grace and I stood. I didn’t look at her, or at anyone, as I grabbed a slip of parchment and wrote my name. I placed it into the spinning container and moved so the next person could follow suit.
After the eight of us had all stepped away from the table, it sunk back into the stage. A few moments later, there was the sounds of ruffling paper, and it rose again.
There were four sheets laying on the table now, face down. The eight of us looked at each other, before a boy, Jeremey, stepped forward to the table. He took a deep breath, picked up the first sheet, and spoke.
I tensed, know what would happen if I was chosen. “Amy Galson,” he said and the floor of the girl at the end started sinking. I knew that she was unable to move, to run. Her body was temporarily paralyzed as she went lower and lower. I saw her staring at her family who was calling out to her, their fearful faces being the last thing she see’s before the stage closed around where she just was.
“J-.” the boy hesitated as he spoke, fear shook his voice. “Jeremey Kiner.” His body stiffened and his eyes shot to Kai, the girl who he was engaged to. I remembered him telling me every detail of his plan to propose and then how nothing went to plan, but she said yes anyways. Kai and Jeremey stared at each other, having an unspoken conversation before the stage closed above him.
Anna, the girl to my left, stepped forward and picked up the next sheet. She took a breath before she spoke the name. “Jordon Fife.”
My body was suddenly paralyzed, stiff as a board, as the ground beneath me started lowering. I looked at my girl, Grace, who was standing next to me, tears forming in her eyes. I looked at my family, who were yelling their final words to me.
“Be brave!” My father screamed. “You can win this.”
My last thought before the staged closed above me and everything went black was, ‘Maybe I don’t want too.’