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“So Paul’s dead?” I taunted him which caused the reaction I wanted.

“You killed him! You burned everything up!” Daniel shouted as he limped forward. He used some sort of cloth to slow the bleeding, but it was soaked through.

“You were going to kill me first, so can you blame me?” I asked. I did what I needed to ensure that I wouldn’t die, it was common sense.

“You killed Bobby didn’t you?!” Daniel raised the katana in a sloppy stance that made it seem more like a bat than a sword.

“Bobby wasn't someone worth saving and he probably would’ve killed you. I saved your life and had ample opportunity to shoot you in the fucking back before killing Paul, but you still found a way to be suspicious.” I smiled at the situation but not out of delight but rather it was fitting. I was starting to think my Father’s death gave me incredibly bad luck.

“Shut up!” Daniel moved closer and swung the katana wildly. His leg injury limited the actual reach of his swings so I could dodge pretty easily.

I saw an opening and kicked him in his leg which made him stumble. Seeing my chance I tackled him to the ground before climbing on top of him and stabbing the knife into his right bicep which made him drop the katana.

“Aaaaah!” Daniel’s face contorted in pain as he used free to claw at me before he dug into my wounded left shoulder.

I grunt in pain and twist the knife which caused him to claw tighter and I let go after it hurt too much to ignore.

“Fuck!” I stood up and kicked Daniel in the face as I held onto my wounded shoulder. Daniel blocked my foot with both his arms as I continued to viciously stomp.

Seeing that it wasn’t working I moved to grab the katana but he grabbed my foot and tripped me.

“Get the fuck off me.” I moved to stand up and he does the same. I don’t know where he got his second win but he yanked the knife out of his arm with a scream before charging into me causing both of us to fall again.

Now I was the one under assault as Daniel tried to stab me with my own knife. He held the knife with two hands as he put all his weight on it and it took everything I had to hold him up. We stood at an impasse as I slowly directed the knife toward my collarbone. It was the best idea I had since bone was hard to cut through.

As soon as the knife touched me I knew I had overestimated myself. It fucking hurt as it dug into my bone, but I used the chance to knee Daniel in the groin. He groaned and slipped up letting me shift my weight before letting him go. Since he was pressing down so viciously, the knife went straight into the floorboards.

I reached into my sock while kicking at his stomach with my other leg. I retrieved the pocket knife and flick it open with trembling hands. Fights in real life were nothing like the movies, you barely had any time to think and most of the fight was done through reflex, muscle memory, and human instinct. I stabbed at Daniel but he raised his arms to block most of it. Although he tried his best, he couldn’t cover his entire body so I stabbed him in thigh hoping to hit an artery.

“Aaaah!” Daniel cried out again.

I stab a few more times to make sure he doesn’t try to get up again before I raised my foot and pressed down on his wounds.

“Stop! Stop! Stop!” Daniel was in tears as he tried to get my leg to move but I pressed down harder.

Just as I was about to go for the knife or his katana, something hit me in the head.

“God fucking damn it!” I don’t know if God was watching, but he surely favored Daniel over me. I stumbled back and fell and looked at the culprit which was a loose brick that had fallen from the ceiling. Blood dripped down my face and I had to squeeze one of my eyes shut to avoid it. I picked up the brick and move over to hit Daniel with it. Even though he had a chance to reverse his situation, he was in no position to do it. I raised the brick high and bring it down on Daniel repeatedly, ignoring every sound that came out of his mouth.

The smell of smoke stopped me and helped me realize I needed to leave. Daniel’s face was swollen beyond recognition and he made miserable groans which told me he was still alive. I grabbed the Katana and moved back toward Daniel.

“D...on’t…” Daniel held his hand up for mercy, but I couldn’t let myself show any. I was fearful of letting him live and having him come back for revenge.

“...I have to.” I raised the sword up to Daniel’s head and press down with all my weight. In an instant, he went from being alive to being dead and I was the one that caused that transition. When I killed Bobby I felt nothing. When I left Paul and Daniel to burn to death I felt nothing in particular. At that moment I felt a strange guilt or maybe regret after killing Daniel.

I picked up my knives and sheathed them before grabbing the katana and its scabbard. I had no way of using it properly, but it could be used to trade for food or supplies.

I moved in an exhausted daze before I arrived at the exit of the bottom floor. The building rumbled as if urging me to speed up my departure and I obliged i., I stepped out and turned around to survey what I had done. A huge flame raged on and bits of burning debris fell toward me. I looked at all the other high rises that stretched for miles, but my building was the only one on fire. It seemed if no one was brave or stupid enough to set the building on fire while they were in it.

...

I walked toward a rusty car and sat down, resting against it as I waited for some type of notification to confirm it was over.

Congratulations. The First Trial has been completed. Introductory Phase Complete. Calculating Rewards...

I felt relief wash over me and I was just about to close my eyes when I heard a long whistle.

“Boy, do you look like shit!” A pale girl with curly ginger red hair peeked over the car to look at me. She was wearing an orange prison jumpsuit stained with blood that missed her hair color by a few shades and the metal pipe she held onto wasn’t very different. The knuckles on her free hand were swollen and bloody which told me all that I needed to know about her.

I looked up at the girl with tired eyes in an attempt to show that I really wasn’t in any condition to fight.

“Woah, sweet fucking sword...Wanna trade?” She offered the bloody pipe.

I handed over the sword and she dropped the pipe at my feet before drawing the sword and swinging it a few times. Although she didn’t appear to be a master she clearly had some foundations and knew what she was doing.

“This thing is fucking awesome!” The girl who appeared to be around my age shouted excitedly as she placed it on her shoulder.

As I looked at her I realized she was sort of familiar, “Do I know you?” I asked as I adjusted my position.

“Me? You’ve probably heard about me on the news.” The girl pointed to her prison jumpsuit.

“News?” I was completely clueless since I never really had access to television or social media while living in that decrepit apartment.

“Come on, you’ve heard of me. I was pretty famous in the junior mixed martial arts, ya know. I just ended up accidentally killing someone and it didn’t end too well.” The girl said it was an accident but her bloody knuckles didn’t exactly illustrate her unwillingness to kill.

I unconsciously gave her a skeptical gaze to which she laughed, “Alright, it wasn’t really an accident and it wasn’t just one.”

I hated my father more than anything, I truly did. It must've been because of him that I received terrible luck which would lead me face to face with a psychopath.

“Hey, you look kinda familiar yourself...What’s your name?” The girl’s eyes narrowed as she examined my face.

“...Ulysses.” I debated on whether or not I should be truthful, but my face was recognizable to anyone who kept an eye on the stories surrounding my life.

“Isn’t that the guy who blinded himself after banging his mother?” The girl looked at me weirdly.

“That was Oedipus,” I corrected her and watched as she showed some astonishment.

“Ah, you learn something new everyday…” The girl stroked her chin, “Oh, my name is Red by the way. That isn’t my real name, but since it’s the end of the world I can choose whatever I want, right? So Red's the name I'm going for today.”

“You seem oddly calm about this.” I decided to stay on her good side until I was safe since I didn’t want to be beaten to death by some random girl, no matter how pretty she was.

“You may not believe me, but I think I’m the one who did it,” Red said with a serious look as she jumped onto the car and gazed up at the burning building.

“Somehow I highly doubt that's true,” I said reflexively before instantly regretting it.

“No, I was stuck in that tiny little cell and I kept wishing something would happen. Next thing you know, it's a prison riot. They threw in the tear gas and made us all get down, and you know what I did next? I wished for something else to happen and a bunch of fucking monsters came out of nowhere and then boom, I’m here. I'm leaving that highrise and I look at that rusty pipe and I wished for a better weapon and what happens then? There's you with this sweet ass sword.” Red seemed very convinced and even spoke as if she feared herself a little.

“That’s all just a coincidence,” Since she didn’t respond with aggression, I continued to voice my skepticism.

“Your not a man of faith, Ulysses. I would wish for your wounds to heal, but you don’t believe me.” Red jumped up and down on the car before she plopped down on the roof and looked down at me. Her long curly red hair obstructed my view. It seemed she had Celtic roots in her family that were very prominent.

“You know what, you're starting to look very fucking familiar, Ulysses.” Red hopped down from the car and crouched in front of me.

I felt nervous as her blue eyes scanned over me, I decided to be honest since it didn’t have a negative effect so far and Red seemed to be different from normal. “I’m Ulysses Daltroy, my father was Richard Daltroy. He was caught attempting to aid Anti-Minerva extremists and after he died a lot of people attacked me online and in real life.”

“Wow, someone people hate more than me. All they said about me was that I was a disgrace to the world of mixed martial arts and a few people sent me some hate mail while I was awaiting trial. You, on the other hand, you take the cake. I heard about that shit they did to you, that online group of vigilantes used to beat the shit out of you and post videos, right?” Red seemed excited to talk about my terrible life so I humored her.

“Yeah, that sounds about right,” I answered with a bitter expression.

“Oh boy, that must’ve sucked for you. Wouldn’t have happened to me though, I was so good at fighting that I almost had a fucking sponsorship and everything. This company was going to give me these free cereal bars for life, but I killed a few people so they changed their minds for life. It sucks because those cereal bars were delicious as hell, I wish I had one.” Red spoke with a vivid passion.

“Hey, I think I know what you’re talking about.” I used my uninjured arm to lift my backpack and opened it before handing over a cereal bar to Red.

“Fuck yes!” Red smiled brightly as she snatched it from my hands and exmained it. “I fucking told you, Ulysses! I wish for it and then wham! It happened. Thanks by the way.”

I slightly changed my opinion on Red as I watched her devour the cereal bar. Psychopaths like her would be the most dangerous, but they would also be the ones who were the best at surviving. If we met again after the trial I could ask for help. She even knew martial arts and seemed to be at a skill level where she could teach me a few things. I couldn’t tell if she actually believed she was the cause of the apocalypse or if it was just her way of coping, but she didn’t seem like someone who would stab me in the back.

Red finished eating and smacked her lips before taking a seat next to me and throwing an arm over my injured shoulder, “You know, I know a lot of people said you were an asshole online, but I don’t believe it. You’re pretty ok in my book.”

I winced in pain as I spoke, “Thanks, I guess.”

“No problem.” Red climbed to her feet before looking further down the road. “Hey, we got a few people approaching.” She began to stretch which told me she was prepared for a fight. Or maybe she wanted to iniate the fight. I lifted my head to peek over the car door and saw a group that seemed to have worked together and survived. All four looked worse for wear, but they weren't injured.

“Hey! There’s a survivor!” A man pointed toward Red who still stretching. His reaction informed me know that Red’s orange jumpsuit didn’t register in his mind or it was obscured by the car.

The group of three men and one woman approached and when they went around the side of the car, they saw Red’s prison jumpsuit up close.

“Back up,” The man put his hand out to block his group from advancing as they looked at Red who was absorbed in her calisthenics.

“You've got the right idea.” Red finally finished stretching and cracked her neck.

I finally understood that Red was the one who purposefully went seeking trouble.

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Monad

Bio: I'm writing a bunch of stories until I die and, hopefully, I'll have improved before then.

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