"Basically, you are all going to kill each other, one way or another."
…Those were the clear words coming from the loudspeakers. It filled the room with silence afterwards for a few moments, before someone finally spoke up.
"What?" It was Mia, who had finally spoken up again, looking extremely concerned.
"K-Killing each other...Why would we ever consider doing such a vial thing?" Next to speak was Liam, who looked just as shaken, but barely keeping his composure enough to speak.
"Liam's right, why would any of us want to kill each other?" My own voice spoke up next, questioning the psycho on the loudspeaker.
"If you are wondering how, or why, then allow me to point you down the hallway," Declared the Loudspeaker, making all of us turn to the way we came in, "Straight down the hall, you will find your living quarters. In each of your rooms will be a detailed explanation of what you are all going to be participating in."
"Why do we need a tutorial for fucking murdering?!" Poppy finally spoke, seeming very panic stricken.
"As for motivations," The speakers went on, ignoring Poppy's concerns, "I will be personally giving out motivations that will make you all want to kill."
"How can you be so sure of that? We all have different views on things!" Joseph rebutted.
"These motives are carefully crafted to be a general motive. They will eventually make you all cold-blooded killers. I am certain of it." Their words made me shudder in fear, as the loudspeakers emitted an odd sound, presumably shutting off. All of us were left there, catching glances at each other, and contemplating what to do next.
"Wh-what are we supposed to...." Jinju tried to ask, but got his words caught in his throat as he teared up.
"Well...I-I say we should go along with that dodgy cunt's plan, and read their stupid instructions manual. That's a better option than sitting here whinging." Jambo said, slowly and carefully, while looking around to everyone else for affirmation.
"Why would we do that?! Do you want to die?!" Akira questioned, seeming very stressed by the situation, "You're suggesting we just give in and read that asshole's guide to murder?!"
"Realistically...Adebayo has...a point." Mia spoke up again, entering the group's conversation, sounding almost defeated, "If we know what they want from us, we can learn what we have to avoid."
"I'm gonna have to agree with Mia…." Urkstin supported, while comforting a very panicked Risa, "I-I don't want anyone to get hurt."
"Agreed. Mia's right….finding out whatever sick plan this monster wants us to follow will help us find a way around it." I explained, which was followed by Mia giving me a weird look, while everyone else nodded their heads in agreement. Once everyone was in on our very minimally planned idea, it was up to me to lead them down the hallway once more, to reach our final destination. We all exited the cafeteria, and started to walk.
Unlike every previous time, there was no happy, open atmosphere as we walked. Everyone, including myself, was shaken to the core by the message given to us.
'You are all going to kill each other, one way or another.' said with no hesitation, regret, or remorse. It was pure confidence in the fact that we were all going to end up...killing each other. With each step, more thoughts entered by head.
'What do they mean by motive?'
'What motive will we have first?'
'Who will snap first if the motives really do work?'
That last thought always brought me back to the guy in my starting room. Angry, feral, willing to easily threaten murder. If I had let him out, he most likely would've snapped when we first heard about the killings...but at that point, I was less worried about that, and more worried about what was waiting for us at the end of the hallway.
Thankfully, I didn't have to worry about that for much longer, as the end of the hallway was in sight, and I realized then that our 'living quarters' were also gated off by a locked cell door.
"Do you have the key for this door too?" Urkstin asked. I was ready to say no, but realized that if I did, I would be exposing the existence of the last key on the key ring, which would in turn expose the bald guy's existence as well. So I was forced to lie, and held up the key ring.
"There's only one key left on the ring, so I assume it's for this door." I attempted to use the key on the lock, and was astonished to see that it actually unlocked.
"O-Oh, hey, it worked. Voila, the door's open again." I gestured to the door once again, allowing everyone to silently pass through. Before I could enter though, Mia stopped at the door, and pulled the key out of the lock and looked at it, with her previous cold, defeated glare.
"C.B." was all she said, before turning and staring at me with an angry look of suspicion, "What do you think that stands for Nishinzu?"
"I mean….if this really is a prison, and this room will be our living quarters, it would probably be a good guess to say that it stands for 'Cell Block', right?" My lie barely seemed to satisfy Mia, but she just nodded and entered, keeping the key. I followed behind her, and breathed a short lived sigh of relief when my random intuition was right.
A large cell block awaited me, with named cells for each of the people in the prison placed around. I noticed one next to Urkstin's, and it made my heart skip a beat.
'Ceáser Bálad' was the name above an empty cell, and I tried my best to look casual as I ran over to his cell. Once I made it there, I reached up to his name above the cell door, which was thankfully just a piece of wood hung by a nail. After I removed 'Ceáser's' board, I ran towards my own cell, feeling immense regret over how hard I'm trying to keep him a secret. Once I found my cell, I entered, and found a very normal looking prison cell waiting for me.
A bunk bed, a small light source via a desk lamp, a desk for said desk lamp to sit on, and a chair pulled out in front of the desk. The room itself was pretty cramped, barely giving me enough space to move in between the chair and the bed. Once I moved past though, I noticed the piece of paper neatly placed on the desk, and I carefully sat down in the chair, scooched closer to the desk, and started to read the sheet of paper.
'Rules for the killings:' were the first words in bold at the top of the page, already making me feel sick.
'1. Night time begins at 12 AM and ends at 7 AM. During this time, all contestants must be in their cells, and are not permitted to leave.' One rule in and I could already feel a controlling aura coming from whoever is making us go through this. Even still, I kept reading.
'2. Destruction of any important pieces of equipment (loudspeakers, cameras, etc), is strictly prohibited.' Reading that made me do a double take. Cameras? I hadn't seen any around where we had gone. Must've been a mistake on my part.
'3. Once one person has been killed by any means, there will be a murder trial held for said person's death. The contents of said trial will be explained when necessary.' …A murder trial? That one phrase made me feel completely confused, how could something like that even work? Even through my confusion, I read the last rule.
'4. Breaking any of these rules will result in a severe punishment.' That was it, the rules ended there, on that last note about punishments. The vague phrasing of the rule made me worry about what exactly that could entail. Even as I read the rules over, again and again, there was a feeling of dread that wouldn't go away, coming from deep within me.
Questions about the killings, the trials, and the punishments kept circulating in my head, making my head heat up in frustration because I couldn't rationalize any of it. I put my head in my arms, trying to escape this feeling, but the questions wouldn't stop coming.
'How brutal will the motives be?'
'What kind of punishments will we have to endure? Death? Torture?'
'What counts as a murder for the trials? Would a punishment count?'
'What's going to happen in the trials?'
'What happens if Ceáser gets punished?'
That last thought caused me to shoot up in fear. What if he died as the punishment for being out of his cell for night time? Would I be counted as the killer? Would we have a trial to dictate how he died? All of the logical reasoning I had up until that point about keeping him locked up completely vanished. I had to go back, I had to let him out, there's no way I can just let him stay there and potentially die-
"Attention contestants," I was halfway out of my cell when the loudspeakers came on again. My sense of panic shot up even more as the Speaker continued, "It is now Nighttime. I hope you all read the rules and are in your cells.''
The loudspeakers shut off after that message was broadcasted, and I was left there, with absolutely no idea what I could do. That's when I realized that...there was nothing I could do.
The thought hit me like a tidal wave, as I stepped back into my cell. I might have just killed someone. Someone might die tonight because of something I did. Before I could even think of anything else, I found myself sitting on my bed, unable to move.
I was frozen in place by fear, regret, anxiety, all emotions that could describe the hopelessness I felt in that moment. I...I had to tell everyone. If he has a chance at still being alive after tonight, then I can tell everyone, and we can go get him tomorrow.
Those were the naïve thoughts I told myself in order to calm down. I don't know how long I stayed in bed without going to sleep. At the time, hearing that first nighttime announcement was a horrifying first step. It told me indirectly that I had no control over the situation.
At that moment, that is when the killing game had really started. The lack of control over the situation was the worst motivation to come out of this 'game', which had no end in sight, and no telling what could happen to us. It all started right here.
And there was nothing I could do to stop it.