My arms dropped to my sides, totally useless. My green eyes met his bright blue eyes, as he stared and stared at me. His eyes were shining in fear and pain. He was terrified that I was going to kill him. He was desperate to live, he was scared to die. But, I knew I didn't want to kill him. And I was hoping he didn't want to kill me either. If I had to face death, I would have been okay to face death this way.
I didn't know his name, or where he came from, I just recognized him for his dirty blonde hair. Maybe his hair would have been platinum blonde had it not been for the dirt coating it, and maybe he would have had freckles but the dirt covered those as well.
"Fight," one of the scientists observing the dual that was about to take place ordered.
I didn't know a lot of words, only the words we were allows to hear and fight was one of them. It was a warning word. If the two contestants refused to battle, fight was their last warning before the guards came out and killed them both. Even with that demand echoing through my end, even though the fear of dying was almost too much too handle, I knew I had to act to give us a few more moments of life.
Tears ran down my cheeks as I slowly walked towards someone who I could consider a friend. I heard the footsteps of the guards coming near us surrounding us and getting ready for the kill. I ignored them. I ignored all of them. I didn't know how to say goodbye, or how to explain what death was going to feel like, how to comfort either of us, but I knew I would rather die than fight him. And I knew he had to feel the same.
I raised my hand that held the blade I was given with the blade part vertical to my body. I bared my teeth, my hand shaking in fear as I released the blade from my hand, one agonizing muscle at a time. The knife seemed to fall to the ground slowly then normal. Was this what death was like? Slow and brutal? Did the world purposely slow down right before death to make you regret decision you have made up until that point? The entire world came into such perfect clarity. Everything was so clear, every memory, every feeling every movement became slower, every thought sunk into my head like a rock being thrown into a river.
I saw one of the guards raise a hand front the outskirts of the arena, about to order his men to fire, I saw the moment my friends eyes changed to something more primal. The spark of fear was gone, and was replaced with a painful desire to live. I didn't have time to react as I heard him scream, a hair splitting squealing sound as he lunged for the fallen blade. My eyes widened in shock, and I took a step back but I wasn't fast enough. He had already grabbed the blade and was now charging me with it in his hands.
I didn't even have time to defend myself. I felt the rusted blade slice through my chest starting from my right shoulder and ending just below my left breast and again, the other way. I couldn't fight back. Not as my blood flew from the open wound or as my scream of agony broke from my throat. I fell to the cold cement floor feeling my blood, my life force, spilling from me freely. I heard my friend scream and the clatter of the blade landing on the floor. I felt the hilt of it hit my knee and I knew where it had landed immediately. But, I didn't know if I cared.
As my friend continued to scream, and as I lay there slipping further and further away from this world, my vision blurring with every intake of breath, there was a silence that went through the rest of the world. A still calm that had me thinking about my resolve just yesterday that I wouldn't die here. And now I was dying. Images of my past, now seeming so far away flashed into my memory. Children screaming. Blood being spilled. Giant meat grinders made to tear up and destroy the losers of this match. But as my body faded away, I found that I maybe didn't care anymore.
"Test Subject 01-4382 is winner of this match," I heard one of the scientists announce.
My heart skipped a beat as I realized that means that I was dead.
"Get up," someone ordered me from far away.
The voice was feminine and her voice sounded like a beautiful lullaby. But instead of lulling me deeper into the darkness that beckoned me, it brought me closer to the light. To where life and pain resided.
"I know you're life is brutal right now, I know you don't know of another way of life, and death may seem like a better alternative, but you are here for a bigger reason, my Keeper of Light. You must fight to survive. Fight to grow up and to become stronger. The people of the world need you. They need your light. Fight. And live. The peace of the entire world will rest in your hands. Fight,"
I didn't understand what the women was saying, but I understood that I had to fight. I felt a soft hand brush my cheek and a healing warmth spread over my body giving me the strength I needed to feel my body again. My hands formed into fists at my sides as I tested how put together my body was. My body wasn't very put together but it could last. I could make due. My eyes shot open, and I remembered immediately where the knife was laying. I lunged for the blade, my bloodied hand wrapping around the hilt of the dagger. I screamed in pain, in sorrow, in agony as I lunged to kill the person who was supposed to be my friend.
He wasn't expecting it. One minute he was sitting on the cement floor, crying as the guards started to slowly approach us and the next, I had the dagger embedded into his chest hilt deep. There wasn't as much blood as I thought there would be, and as his blue eyes gazed back at me, red from the tears he had shed, I saw something in his eyes as his life faded from them. His blue eyes softened, and he went slack before falling away from me. I let go of the hilt and stumbled backwards. His eyes wide open staring up at the ceiling, up to a heaven I couldn't see, a world where this hell wasn't a place.
I stared at his dead, lifeless body for a few heartbreaking moments, my hands started to shake and breathing became difficult. The scientists said something, but I couldn't hear what they had said. I lifted my hands up to see the blood staining them and that was when the reality hit. I had killed my friend and now I was living. I was alive and he was dead. I was alive and he was dead.
The emotions kept spinning around and around in my head, my hands grasping for my bleeding chest like I was trying to put myself back together again. My head was reeling and spinning and the whole world started to tilt and dance and I fell on my butt. My eyes blurred with tears and before I could stop myself, or control myself, I screamed. A blood curling, bone shattering scream.
I didn't remember how long I screamed, or when I was picked up. I didn't remember where I was being taken to, or who was taking me there. I don't remember going back to a cell, and I don't remember feeling anything. For a long time, the entire world was black.