Battle of the Killers

Seventeen-year-old Betinia "Tini" Woods has never had a normal life. As a child, she has always been categorized as weird, or odd, or a freak. But after a horrific event in her childhood, she makes a promise to herself to always act normal, which causes her to completely change herself and her personality.

Ten years later, she wakes up in an abandoned room with an ankle monitor and no memory of how she got there. As she tries to escape, memories of her childhood start to weigh on her psyche, and when she thinks she might've finally escaped her prison, she's wrong.

She actually just entered into a game where she'll have to fight to survive.


6. 06 - Slicing the Unknown


Jookie cocked his head to the side, showing off his industrial piercing. "This first challenge is deliciously evil. I love it!"

His enthusiasm wasn't contagious. The contestants radiated either sullenness or blankness. 

I couldn't really see the other contestants too well in the cages, but up close, we all varied in clothing, size, and race. The only thing we had in common so far was our expressions — confusion mixed with disbelief with a side of uneasiness. 

"The audience is gonna love this," Jookie said as he hopped around like Bugs Bunny. 

The rude guy narrowed his eyes, clenching his fists like he was ready to knock the joyous Jookie out cold. But the new flood of guards — fifteen to be exact — seemed to be the only thing stopping him. 

Tears in her eyes, a curly-haired girl with braces and sketchers trembled near me, looking like she wouldn't even harm a worm. 

She didn't look like a murderer, but then it dawned on me, I wasn't a killer, but I was still put here. So, maybe she wasn't either. But who the heck sponsored her? Or me? That unknown question itched at my brain. 

"Can we ask questions first?" the rude boy asked. 

Jookie looked like he was ready to electrocute him again, but smiled instead. "No. Only the winner can ask a question. Any question she or he desires in fact." Then, he snapped his colorful fingers. 

With a quiet start, the guards ambled forward, grabbing us. A guard with white-tinted glasses gripped my shoulders and flung me forward, ordering me to walk. 

None of us tried to fight, even the rude guy. Mostly because they jabbed guns into our spines, leading us toward steel double doors before flinging us inside. 

Losing my footing, I stumbled into some guy. 

He caught me before I fell over, letting my body lean against strong shoulder so I could stabilize. Once I did, I caught his intense, warm eyes staring at me, studying me with interest. I think. 

"Sorry," I whispered, wrapping my arms around myself again. 

Voice pillow soft, he spoke while running lean fingers through shoulder-length strands. "It's fine." He then took off his leather jacket and pushed it toward me. 

I looked up, confused. "Huh?" 

Warm-eyes never said anything. He just handed me the jacket and walked away. 

The door slammed shut behind me, and I jerked at the echoing noise. Shiny steel formed the walls around us, creating a large room that held only a metal morgue bed and a table of tools. The stench of decaying death smoked the air like humidity on a summer day. 

Without a second thought, I tugged on the jacket. It fit a little big, but I liked it like that. It smelled like harsh mint with a tang of delicious almond. My eyes looked for him in the crowd, spotting him leaning against the wall, staring down at his anklet. 

What was his deal? I appreciated the gesture, but... never mind. 

"When someone does something nice, just accept it. Don't overthink it," Tim said one time. That was true, but these weren't ordinary people. 

"Hello contestants." Jookie materialized on a television that descended from the ceiling in the corner. "Your first challenge is to kill this man — " 

The ceiling opened up again, dropping down a frightened middle-aged man. Dressed in a plaid shirt and khakis, he trembled like a scared puppy. 

" — and cut him up and grab the biggest body part," Jookie said, emphasizing biggest with a smile. "The winner gets one question and 2,500 points! You have two hours." He clicked off, but then came back suddenly. "And who over doesn't complete this challenge will die. They'll get shot in the head by one of our lovely guards," he said before a timer replaced him on the screen. 

Everyone stood there, all thirteen-no it was twelve of us now. But we just had thirteen like two minutes ago? Did Jookie kill one of us already? 

"This is a joke. A horrible joke, right?" A red-haired girl with a southern accent said. 

"Please don't kill me," the victim whispered as tears fell down his face. 

The rude boy watched him cry, nose turned up. "I got electrocuted multiple times. This shit aint' fake."

The girl with the sketchers began to sob and hyperventilate before throwing herself into a corner, arms wrapped around herself. 

"We can't kill him," a preppy boy in a blazer said, shaking his head. "We can't." 

The rude boy narrowed his eyes. "Do you want to die? I sure don't. Especially not for some stranger." 

I didn't want to die either, but to kill another person? It sounded so easy, but could watch the essence drain out of a person until nothing but a blank carcass remained? I don't know if I could do that. 

And what if killing pushed me over the edge, and I became my mother? Blood-thirsty and evil. No one knows how they'll react when they have to do something like that. 

"Please. I have children," the man begged, bringing me out of my thoughts. He shivered like he was cold as delicious fear entered his eyes, reddening his whole face. 

The television popped on again.

Jookie says, "To make things more interesting, let me tell you about your victim. His name is Michael Lent. A thirty-two-year-old husband and father of four. Wife's currently six-months pregnant with his first girl and he's a church-going man who donates half of every paycheck to charity." Then, he disappeared with a giggle. 

I sighed. He did that on purpose. Getting to know someone makes it harder for you to kill them. 

"I want to see my family. I want to meet my baby girl," Michael cried, shaking his head. "I don't want to die here. Please." 

The rude guy moved forward, dropping to a knee. "I don't want to die either." He gripped the man by his hair and smashed his face into the steel wall with a loud banging noise.

A few people gasped while others flinched like me. Rude guy did that with no remorse. No second thought. 

With thick blood running down his face, Michael screamed, flailing around like a fish, trying to get out of rude guy's grasp. He was a fighter. 

Rude guy couldn't slam his head anymore because Michael kept moving. So instead, he wailed punches on his face, blood caking his knuckles. Every landed punch sounded like raw meat slapping a cutting board, eerily creepy. 

Michael held on though, determined to live. He ate those punches while screaming and struggling. When rude guy looked like he was about to lose his grip, the short, gruffy-beard contestant behind me surged forward, grabbing a surgical blade off the table. 

Running over to the struggling men, gruffy-beard came up behind Michael, snapping his head back with one hand. His stubby fingers held the blade tight before slashing across Michael's throat in one slick, hard motion. 

A trickle of red liquid squirted out of the wound in a quick blink, drenching the rude guy, along with the white floor and the wall. 

"What the fuck, man?" the rude guy snapped, dropping the victim on the floor so he could wipe the blood from his face. 

Michael, the father of four, crashed to the ground, gargling blood as thick crimson flowed out of his neck like a tiny waterfall, painting his shirt. He tried to stop the bleeding with his hands, but the liquid flowed through his fingers, staining his prints as he coughed. 

Seconds later, he stopped moving, the light drained from his eyes. 

Quietness blanketed the room, everyone still. Gruffy-beard moved first, still mute. He dropped the knife back onto the tool table and grabbed Michael's body, hefting him onto the metal bed by himself. 

Wow. This man couldn't be more than 4'10, but he was built like a body builder. I noted in my mind to never get on his bad side. 

"You killed him," the sketcher girl sobbed in the corner. "He had kids."

The gruffy-beard man ignored her as he lowered the table to his level. Stripping the guy naked, he grabbed another tool, a meat hammer and began whacking away at the body without a care. Each whack created a meaty clanknoise as fresh red liquid sprinkled his face and his body. 

The preppy guy gagged. "Man, what the fuck is wrong with you?" 

Gruffy-beard finally answered. "Doing the challenge." 

"This is unbelievable," a skinny girl said, pulling down her plaid skirt and straightening her cashmere sweater, her tight-curls pulled back in a neat bun. 

In retrospect, this was crazy, completely nuts! But considering the circumstances, this was a him or me situation. The whole game was kill or be killed. I just hoped this game wouldn't make me into the thing I feared most. 

I was already a little... off. I should be like sketcher-girl over there, sobbing my eyes out, slowly crumbling and breaking down, but I wasn't. Neither were the others. Maybe, we were all killers — whether we killed before or not. 

A beep went off. Thirty minutes have passed, and the challenge was only half complete. Could I really do this? Dissect this man?

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