In a life or death situation, one would be surprised at what humans could tolerate. Aversion to murder and brutality was something reserved for an orderly society and when that order broke down it was obvious what would happen. I often thought that the laws aren’t enforced by the authorities but rather by the people. Seeing as the number of police were dwarfed by the population it made sense. While I wasn’t cynical enough to say that everyone would be ok with murder, I was aware that everyone had the capability deep down. Some people were more active in carrying it out while others would rather someone else do it for them. Daniel and Paul were the latter and which happened to be the ones who slower to realize what the world would be from now on.
They planned on letting me get killed by a monster which would’ve been very ironic considering that I did the same to Bobby. Of course, I had no plans on letting that happen since I was stubborn about keeping my life. Although they had good reason to plot my death, I couldn’t just accept it and I couldn’t trust them to walk away as if nothing happened. They began to distrust me almost as much as I distrusted them and it was obvious what the next step would be.
The growing paranoia among us came to a climax as we reached floor 38, exactly 9 floors down from where I started the fire.
“Do you smell that?” Paul sniffed heavily as he addressed the growing smell of something being burned.
“Yeah...You think it’s another monster?” Daniel asked.
At some point, they unconsciously stopped speaking to me directly in what must’ve been an attempt to avoid any guilt for wanting to let me die.
I sighed aloud as my heart began to be faster and adrenaline filled my body. Killing Bobby was easy, he was obviously a terrible person and had likely deserved it. Daniel and Paul were different, they were scared and if I had explained why I let Bobby die I’m sure we could’ve avoided the current situation.
No. That same line of thinking gave me nothing during the first few years of being known as Richard Daltroy’s son. There was a mob forming around me and everyone close to me wished to avoid it so they distanced themselves in any way they could, even if that included reporting my whereabouts or joining the witch hunt. It was understandable why they did what they did and I may have done the same if the situation was reversed, but that didn’t mean I had to like it or put up with it. I hold the same selfish desire to live as everyone else and because of that, I can’t let Daniel or Paul live.
“It’s about time,” I put on the half-face gas mask as we walked forward causing the suspicion of the two behind me to rise.
Before they could react, I spun around and thrust the makeshift spear into Daniel’s leg.
“Ahh!” Daniel fell to the ground and Paul was obviously lost at how to react. He moved toward me, but I pulled the wooden stick back and struck at his stomach.
“Hey!” Paul shouted as he jumped back in an attempt to dodge but the knife cut into him deep enough to do some damage.
“Remember, you wanted me to die first,” I pull the makeshift spear back as I slowly move away from them. After I was out of striking range, I turned around and began to run.
“Ulysses!” Daniel shouted at me, but I didn’t turn back.
I continued running while on the lookout for any monster that might ambush me. After I reached floor 34, the building shook and the sound of consecutive explosions filled my ears. I was panicking inwardly and outwardly. I knew it was a biological response, but that didn’t help anything. There was a reason people became adrenaline junkies and it probably due to the vividness of everything. I guess one of the greatest ways to feel alive was to put yourself in danger. I was of a mind to disagree, going days on end being on high alert left me stressed out beyond belief, but at least it turned out to be perfect preparation for the end of the world.
I calmed down but didn’t slow my pace. Since I killed the monster on floor 47 that meant there was one anywhere from floor 29 to floor 1. I heard the creaking of wood and ran even faster, the possibility of the building collapsing scared me and I wanted to avoid being crushed to death at all cost.
I leaped down the stairs and stumbled but never once paused, I had no time to. Although I could’ve set an ambush for Daniel and Paul it would shorten the amount of time I had to escape. The fire was probably right behind them. I wounded Daniel since he was the biggest threat and Paul wouldn’t make it very without him.
I arrived at floor 22 and finally started to slow down as I took deep breaths. My sides ached and my chest hurt, so I decided to finally slow down. Realistically there was no way that Daniel and Paul would catch up to me in such a short amount of time. I removed the gas mask and placed it in my bag.
After catching my breath I maintained a quick pace as I continued on. There had been an elevator available every 10 floors but I hadn’t even thought about using it once since it was essentially a waste.
Once I stepped foot on floor 13 I saw what I thought was the last monster. It looked like a giant fleshy centipede with a human body attached. Its head was sort of dog-like, with a strange snout that was the most prominent feature. The eyes were the same as the previous monsters, beady little black dots. It turned to look at me before it skittered forward.
I moved into a room and closed the door behind before blocking it with whatever I could, but the rotten wood wouldn’t hold for long.
“Damn it,” I exhaled as I calmed down. I thought I pretty much had figured out this entire “trial” so I didn’t panic. I opened the window and climbed out before slowly creeping across the ledge, it was much harder to do with the spear in hand but I managed it. I pried open the window to the adjacent room and tossed the spear in before I climbed in.
I tiptoed toward the door and cracked it open only to jump back after seeing the same monster looking at me.
“Shit!” I reflexively stabbed at it with the spear. The blade sunk into its torso, but it responded with silence as it grabbed the broomstick and snapped it in half before reaching out to me.
“Fuck! Get off me!” It grabbed my arms and lifted me into the air which caused me to panic. Without a sound, it opened its mouth and bit into my left shoulder which hurt like hell. Its needle-like teeth dug into my arm before I raised my leg and kicked the knife deeper into its torso. “Ah!” It dropped me and I tried to ignore the pain while scrambling away.
As I retreated down the corridor I was honestly amazed at how much blood was coming out of my arm and how much it hurt. I could hear the monster crawling behind me and running away wouldn’t be a good idea since I would only get weaker. As soon as I entered floor 9 I dropped to the ground as if I tripped and reached for the pocket knife tucked into my sock.
The centipede-like creature shuffled up to me and I let it grab me without any resistance. It lifted me up to bite into me again, but I shoved the pocket knife into its mouth as it bit down. The knife went straight through its snout and became lodged which caused it to let go of me as it struggled to get rid of it.
My left arm was numb so I used my right to pull the knife out of its abdomen and stabbed it again and again. Everything that happened next became a blur and I blinked a few times only to realize the thing was dead. It faded into black particles and my spare knife became visible. I grabbed it before folding it and tucking it back into my sock, after that I took off my backpack and pulled out some gauze before wrapping up my left shoulder to stop the bleeding. Every time I moved I felt a sharp pain that made me suck a breath of air in.
After I completed my patchwork job of bandaging, I tucked the larger knife into my waistband and continued on.
I checked the balance of my black coins and was surprised that my balance was resting at 12. It seemed that I recieved a bonus for killing what could’ve been from killing what might have been the last enemy or completing the trial, It was hard to tell.
I trudged down the stairs of the 7th floor and to be honest, I was satisfied. Although I was worse for wear, I didn’t die, but I didn’t celebrate prematurely in case something were to happen for those who let their guard down.
As if to prove me right I heard a set of footsteps coming from behind me.
“Ulysses!” I looked at Daniel who was shouting at me with the thought of revenge clearly on his mind.
There was no way he could’ve made it down with his injured leg–The bonus for killing the last enemy must’ve gone to all surviving members. If he received 5 that meant he could take the elevator on floor 20 and would’ve been on floor 10 while I was resting.
“Fuck my life,” I whispered to myself as I looked at the katana-wielding teen. I pulled out the survival knife that was tucked into my waistband and firmly grasped it in my uninjured hand.