The End: Story One

By: David K. Montoya

The contest was over and as the guards dragged Richard's war torn body off the field, all we could do was to sit there in silence. He disappeared into the darkness, leaving a trail of blood that gushed from his wounds. I stared at the blood–spattered floor of the arena, while trying to take in what had just happened; I sat there for some time, thinking about my battered brother and how much pain he must have been in. I was oblivious to everything around me, until Maria finally got my attention by tugging on my arm and telling me that we were leaving.

The six of us were escorted from the arena still somewhat troubled by what we had just seen. Michael and I decided that we would check on Richard, since he had looked to be seriously wounded after his encounter with the two Unluckys and possibly needed our help. Even though he won the fight, the end result might not have been in his favor, and the way they took him off the field, it seemed that he would be tossed to the side once he was out of sight and left to die. The girls decided that instead of going with us to check on my brother, they would go back to their rooms. They went one way and we went downstairs to find the backstage area (assuming there was one).

Sometime later, we were wandering down a dark hallway that was somewhere in the back of the building, still trying to find an entrance to the backstage area, and by this time I was ready to admit that we were completely lost. It was a hard to see anything at times, since the only thing that gave off any form of light were the twenty–five watt bulbs that continued to flicker on and off.

The hallway we found ourselves in was huge; it was large enough that a semi–truck could easily pass down this hall. With each flicker of the light, it would temporarily illuminate the surrounding area, allowing us to see the old brick walls that comprised the hallway, and how it had been neglected for many years. The once white paint was peeling from the walls, but oddly enough the floors appeared to be freshly cleaned. It gave us a feeling that we were in an old psychiatric hospital from the 1950's or 60's.

We moved up through the eerie passageway for a few more minutes. At that point, I had begun to wonder if any form of life had passed along these passageways in the last decade or so. Michael eventually stopped dead in his tracks and questioned if I had any clue where we were heading.

I told him that I wasn't sure, but I thought that we were heading in the right direction. He and I agreed that we would go up ahead, for a bit longer. If there were no signs of life, I'd head back in the direction from which we came.

Just when I was about to turn around and head back, I saw a figure that was nearly concealed in the shadows. He seemed to be mopping, but why would anyone be cleaning way out here? Michael and I moved on farther, until we came up to the person. He was an older man, dressed in a dingy gray jumpsuit. The worker was surprised to see us as we walked up to him.

I asked him where the backstage entrance was. The man paused for a moment and just stared at us. Eventually, he pointed us in the right direction—somehow we over shot it and walked right by without noticing the entrance door.

We both thanked him for his help, but the older man did not respond. He only cracked a weak grin and started mopping the tiles on the floor once more. A few seconds into his job, the worker disappeared into the darkness.

So we turned back and headed toward the other direction. I wondered to myself about the old man; it just did not make sense. It was obvious that no one would go that deep in the building, since there was nothing back there, but dust and cobwebs. Moments later, we came upon the door, right where that old man said it would be.

We walked inside and were both shocked at what we saw. The entire place was a wreck! My son was fast to point out that there was dried blood smeared all over the floor, as well as some places on the wall, and it was in serious need of some kind of maintenance.

The smell of something that was obviously dead and decomposing filled the room. Mike was unable to handle the stench and puked, but no one around us seemed to care, as if they had been through this more than a few times before. All of the people there in the room continued running about, doing some type of task to prepare for the next contest.

Mike and I walked farther up to find, off to one side, four holding cells which contained the Unluckys that were to be used in the next fight. We kept our distance as we went by, dodging the Unluckys who were trying to swipe at us. They looked more deranged than normal—I wondered what the Emperor had done to these creatures?

As we went up the hall, I noticed human screaming off in the distance. The more we advanced, the louder the screams became, until the two of us turned the final corner, to find my brother lying on the floor as another man sewed up his open wounds.

I saw with horror that he was tied down and blood flowed freely from his injuries. The man who was attempting to sew up Richard's wounds ran the needle (which looked like an old fish hook) in through one side of an open gash and ripped it out the other side. I went to help the man, but I was confronted by two guards that appeared to come from nowhere. I tried to explain to them my intentions, but they would not allow me to pass.

Up close, it was unsettling to learn that Richard's wounds were much more serious than I had originally thought. There were several deep lacerations that ran across his face, as well as down his neck. I also noticed a steady flow of blood came from where one of the spikes from the Unlucky's vest pierced his chest.

I was most concerned about the large wound on the back of his arm, where an Unlucky had bitten a chunk out of flesh out of it. A sticky pool had formed underneath that wound. It was clear that Rich had lost a lot of blood from his several serious wounds, but the man slowly stitched the injury on his leg.

The guard pushed me back away from Richard and said he was a prisoner of 'Palace City' and therefore was the property of the Emperor. I asked where he was going to be held, so we could visit him once he was in his cell. The other guard interrupted me at that point and told me that prisoners of Palace City were not allowed visitors for the first year of containment. Knowing at this point that any type of confrontation with either or both guards would be useless. I nodded and said that I understood, grabbed my son and we cautiously walked away from the two guards as well as the cries of my brother.


Once I got back to my room, all I could do at first was to just sit there on the side of the bed and think about how bad Richard looked. He was in so much pain and there was nothing I could do. I hoped that he would make it through the night, especially after the barbaric way he was treated. I don't believe the man that was sewing him back up even wore gloves.

And if he were to survive that night, all of us would have to worry about whether or not he had contracted "The Sickness." From what I could tell Rich had suffered not one, but several bite wounds from the Unluckys. I realized that the odds of him surviving were grim; there seemed to be no hope for him. It also occurred to me that it would be rather pointless to attempt an escape, but Richard is my brother and if he were to die, then he would do so with his family around him. None of us were even certain if he would make it through that night. I was quite positive that some sort of infection might set into one of his many wounds.

One in particular that worried me was the one on his chest. It being so close to his heart, if any type of bacteria were to develop in the wound, he would be as good as dead. We all needed to get the Hell out of there! But before I could go after my brother, I needed to find our SUV. The last time I saw it was when that Arch–Commander guy (Patrick—I think his name was) took it off to park it inside a multi–level lot that was a part of Palace City domains.

So what I needed to do was to have someone (most likely one of the girls), go out to the complex and scout around for our vehicle. Even after that, I still needed to track down the location of the keys. What good would it be if we can't even get the damned thing started? I was pretty sure that the girls could get one of those poor Palace goons out there to give up info as to where the keys were kept. And while they were doing that, Michael and I would be able to get Richard. Maybe.

The biggest trick was to set things into motion. It was now too late in the night and the others were sure to be fast asleep, so I would have to wait until sunrise to get started—until then I would just have to wait. I lay down on the bed and turned off the lights. Even with the comfortable bedding I could not fall directly to sleep, but knew that I had to at least try, because the days that were to follow would mark our final stay in Palace City.

And while everything sounded easy enough, I prayed that none of us would wind up dead in the end.

To be continued…


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