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A Vicious Cycle

by Jonathan Bishop

I stood in the decrepit, smoky hallway — afraid and alone — as the roaring crowd that encircled me awaited for us to begin. I was in a dead stare down with my opponent. He was tall, muscular, robotic. His head was bald and his eyes were cold and unfeeling. And in his hands was a sharp, double-bladed sword.

And then the silence came.

The Overlord had arisen and was motioning that the fight was about to begin; I could tell he was just as anxious, as excited as the massive crowd was for all of this to start.

I wasn’t. But I had no choice.

Years ago, I was an innocent banker. All I had done my entire life. But then the Overlords came.

No one knows from where they had arrived. Soon enough, though, they had taken over after we had lost our fight against them. We were always taught to resist. It was inbred in us from birth — a staple of our society. But this time it was useless.

They had taken away our modern technology. And they had impressed their backwards ways upon us. That included these horrible battles.

FreeFights they called them. They were held weekly and were looked upon as a respite from the long week of work. New individuals were selected each time. It was done randomly. This was done to make it fairer, they said.

But I didn’t want to die.

They had snatched me out of my home and away from my family at the beginning of the week. I knew immediately what it was for when they arrived. Of course I resisted. And of course they sedated me and dragged me away and the next thing I new I was in a strange place, strapped down to a cool, metallic table. There was a bright light above me that was making my eyes water.

One of Them was above me, poking and prodding me, and then walking over to a device which he used to catalogue the observations that he had just taken. Even though I was still a bit groggy at the time, I knew immediately what this was. The physical examination to be sure I was a worthy candidate for the FreeFight. Training would begin soon. And I was scared, because I’d heard stories of people who had died during it, due to its intensiveness.

Then I was down on my face with an Overlord directly behind me, yelling at me in that strange tongue that they spoke in. I got up and continued with my assigned task.

Training was the same every day. It was run through a simulator. You would fight with an image for hours and hours a day, steadily gaining knowledge and credibility and rank. It culminated in a sparring match with the ranking Overlord at the facility. During this time, we would eat once a day and sleep little. The rest of the time was dedicated to Training.

Then it was over and the fear I had was gone. I had passed with flying colors. I was lauded. They said I was one of the best they’d ever seen, and they anticipated great things from me.

But now as I stood here, seconds away from the beginning of the fight, the fear had overtaken me once more. I ignored it. I had to. Or else I would die.

The Overlord gave the signal and the battle began. The crowd roared like the brainless, blood-hungry maniacs that they were.

My opponent and I began to circle, our eyes deadlocked. He made a jab at my chest, but I quickly dodged it. The crowd cheered.

I pulled out my weapon. It was a small, black, well-crafted, yet older pistol. Its design was nothing of ours. Before we were allowed to enter the Arena, the Overlord here had given it to me with only one bullet inside of it. He told me that with my impressive skills, I would need nothing else.

He was right.

The Overlord above us had grown angry.

“Fools!” he said.”Why must you cause us to wait? I demand to be entertained. We all desire it. I am growing im—”

Before he could finish, I aimed the pistol directly at his head and shot him. He was killed instantly.

The silence came again. Everyone was obviously in shock, including my opponent, as he stood motionless and open-mouthed.

Armed guards burst through the entrance doors, heading in my direction. They showed up a lot quicker than I had originally thought. All of them had fierce expressions, but their eyes were empty, cold.

They stunned me with their Stunners and began beating me with clubs until I was bruised and bleeding all over. But I didn’t care.

As they dragged me away — the crowd still mostly silent, some jeering — one whispered,”You will never see the light of day again.”

I smiled. I internally equated this to a child stacking blocks to form a tower and then pulling them apart to watch them fall. I had removed one of the blocks. It could now stay as is or more could be removed. Until they’d collapse.

They dragged me into a holding cell in the basement of the Arena and threw me onto the floor. They pulled another man out of there and ordered him into the Arena. The battle had to continue. That was protocol.

Soon, the vicious cycle of the FreeFights would begin again.

But hopefully the Tower will fall.

Copyright © 2007 by Jonathan Bishop

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