XIII

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𝟎𝟔𝟕

𝐗𝐈𝐈𝐈: 𝐀 𝐏𝐮𝐬𝐡 𝐨𝐟 𝐄𝐧𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭


Only a handful of players were left as we all trudged through the bright and colourful room. After what I had seen in it, the colours and design no longer made me feel happy. Only sick. I was also exhausted from keeping watch all night, and only hoped that wouldn't affect my performance in any negative way. 

We all stood back in the white room, however instead of it being completely empty, there were mannequins on stands wearing pink vests numbered 1-16. What were we playing this time, netball?

No one dared to approach the mannequins as we all silently stood on the stairs, taking everything in. 

"Welcome players to the fifth game. Before we begin, please make your way down the steps, and choose one of the mannequins presented before you. Once you've chosen, take the corresponding vest. They are numbered through 1 to 16."

Even when we were free to grab hold of a vest, no one moved. That was until that really religious dude stepped forward, and walked towards a mannequin. "It was on the sixth day that God created the first man on Earth." He continued to mutter things under his breath, but I blocked him out, looking at all of the mannequins and trying to figure out which would be the smartest to get.

Going first in a competition like this is bold and plain stupid, however if if the competition is timed and I decide to go last, the odds are against me and I may just die from running out of time. I didn't know which one sounded better. 

One by one, people walked towards the stand and picked a vest. No one dared to pick the first few at the start or the first few at the end. They all stuck to the middle. As more vests started to disappear from the mannequins, I started to get worried. No one from our remaining team moved a muscle, as if they were waiting for everyone to take a vest, and they'd wear the leftovers. 

Suddenly, another announcement was made, ripping me from my thoughts. "Your attention, please. The numbers you see on the mannequins correspond to the order in which you will be playing. Please make your decision carefully." 

Sae-byeok and I glanced at each other for a second, before I turned back to the mannequins. My eyes zoned in on 14, my lucky number for pretty a unlucky reason. 

"Which one are you going to wear?" I whispered to Sae-byeok as she looked down at me. She looked back at the vests, thinking for a moment. "I think 15." 

I grinned before dragging her to the end of the line of mannequins. I took the vest numbered 14 off the mannequin, before slipping it on over my head. "Perfect. 14's my lucky number." I said, as Sae-byeok grabbed the number 15 vest. 

As we both were walking to the end of the long line of people, she spoke. "Why's that?" I dramatically sighed before placing the back of my hand to my forehead. I recalled the 3 year old story, before turning to look at the awaiting girl behind me. 

"I was 14 when my own personal debt started." Her eyes widened and I sent her a wink before turning back to face the front. I was still very unsure of what game we were to be playing, and I wasn't eager to find out. I tried to rack my brain of any game I played as a kid similar to this, but came back empty. 

The doors we were waiting in front of swiftly opened, and from where I was, I couldn't see anything behind the crowd of people. 

"Hello players, let me welcome you to the fifth game." We spread out around the platform, and I felt all the blood drain from my face, when looking in front of me. The 'game area' was filled with little, colourful lights as if we had just walked into a circus. I still didn't know what game we would be playing, but by the looks of it it was pretty fucking scary. 

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