Quin stared blankly at the four enemies ahead. There were three women and one male. He scanned the room, trying to find the best course of action. A sea of circular tables separated them. White square linens covered each table, the corners barely kissing the floor beneath. Wine glasses, plates, silverware, and napkins were all placed in exactly the same spot, centered perfectly above the chairs that were pushed in their places.
Alice looked to Quin. “What should we do? Fight? Stall?”
“Lauren?” Quin yelled. “Are you there?”
Silence followed. They didn’t have time to plan. The four enemies’ patience with their hesitation finally wore out. They broke the standoff and started jumping over and running around tables to reach Quin and Alice. Chairs were knocked over, glasses shattered, and tables toppled.
“We need to get as many down as possible and stall the rest. I don’t think we can communicate with Lauren while we’re locked in here,” Quin said as he and Alice ran to the side of the room to avoid the oncoming assault.
“Think you can take two?” Alice asked.
“Probably not, but I can at least hold them off a bit,” Quin scoffed. “Can you?”
“No, but I don’t need to.” Alice looked at Quin and smirked. She then turned her attention to the closest enemy. She screamed and jumped onto the table in front of her and grabbed a fork sitting neatly next to its plate. She vaulted off the other side of the table, tackling the girl to the floor. Quin couldn’t see anything from where he stood, other than Alice’s arm raising the fork above the table and plunging it out of sight, most likely finding a new home somewhere in the girl’s body. Alice stood up clapping her hands clean, although they weren’t even dirty. She looked at Quin, and then a look of terror appeared on her face. “Quin, look out!” She pointed behind him.
Quin was so transfixed on Alice that he forgot about the other opponents. He turned just in time to see one of the other girls trying to stab him with the broken stem of a wine glass. He stepped to the side and pushed her, knocking her over a chair that had already fallen. Alice ran over to try to finish her off, but she was on her feet before Alice arrived, and they started fighting from there.
Quin had the third girl and the man on him then, each holding a makeshift silverware weapon. Quin grabbed a plate from a table and threw it at them. He missed completely, but they still ducked out of the way, which gave Quin enough time to run back and grab a fork off the table. He felt silly, armed with a fork, but he had to make do.
Not sure what to do, Quin ran towards Alice in a desperate attempt to not be outnumbered. She was on the ground with the other girl. They kicked and screamed at each other as they tried to stab one another. Quin stopped, hovering over top of them and gripped his fork with both hands and with all his might drove it down into the side of the other girl’s neck. She disappeared instantly.
“Watch out!” Alice screamed.
Quin was just about to help her quickly to her feet when he felt a sharp pain in his back. He was pushed from behind, and he fell forward, hitting his face off the chair in front of him. The metallic taste of blood filled his mouth as his lip started bleeding from the impact. He felt at his side and found no blood, though it felt as though he’d been stabbed.
He flipped onto his back. Their attackers were standing over them, ready to strike. The attackers lunged with their weapons, but just as they were about make contact, they disappeared. Immediately after, the walls, tables, and chairs around them sank back into the ground. The fork that was clenched in Quin’s fist disintegrated and fell to the ground like sand, melting into the floor with the rest of the furniture. Quin looked up and saw all of his teammates in the distance. Kevin was lying on his back near the midpoint line panting like he had just ran a marathon.
Javier’s voice came over the intercom. “Congratulations!” His hands clapped together, echoing over the room. “You’ve won.” Kevin pumped both of his fists in the air repeatedly as he laid on the floor. Davontaye jumped in the air in excitement.
“No, no, no, no, no,” Alice weeped from behind Quin. “No, Clyde, no.”
Quin turned around to see Alice hovering over Clyde. As he got closer, he could hear Clyde’s gurgling, still alive. “Oh my god.” Quin wretched and the backs of his fingers found refuge under his nose.
Most, if not all, of Clyde’s ribs were sticking out of the front of his chest, blood pouring out around them. His teeth littered the ground leading up to him, and the bottom half of his jaw was crushed to powder leaving mangled skin resting on his neck, nestling the few teeth that hadn’t managed to find the ground. He coughed and sputtered saliva and blood into the air in a desperate attempt to not choke on it.
“Clyde? You all right, buddy?” Kevin said worriedly as he came over. “Clyde?”
Quin wanted to stop him, to tell him not to look. But the state of Clyde’s body left Quin in too much shock to avert his own gaze, let alone prevent Clyde’s best friend from seeing him like that.
“CLYDE!” Kevin stopped for a moment. “Clyde! No, Clyde, no. You’re all right, man. You’re fine.” As Kevin raced to his side, he slipped on one of the teeth on the ground. “Goddamn it!” he said as his knee hit the ground hard. He crawled the remaining few feet to his friend, his hands and legs getting covered in Clyde’s fresh, sticky blood along the way.
“Oh my…” Blair said as the rest of the group caught up to them.
Quin heard someone, maybe even multiple people, throwing up behind him, but he still couldn’t look away to see who it was.
Quin heard the door open across the room, followed by a multitude of footsteps. Quin finally turned around to see at least twenty guards behind Javier as he walked towards them.
“Jesus,” Javier muttered. “I’m so sorry you had to witness this. Please, let us handle this while you return to your rooms,” he said with a hesitant tone.
“No, I can’t,” Kevin screamed. “I won’t leave him. No, please, don’t. Let me come with you. Take me where you’re taking him.”
“We can’t do that,” Javier said without looking up, avoiding eye contact. “I’m sorry.”
“Why not?” Kevin turned his head only slightly, not enough to take his eyes off Clyde, but enough to see Javier.
Javier did not answer him.
Kevin ran at Javier and grabbed him by the front of his jacket. “Why not?” he screamed in his face.
One of the guards stepped forward to intervene, but Javier raised a hand to stop him. A small tear fell from his eye. “I just can’t. I have strict orders to…”
“Oh, strict orders, huh? You can shove your orders up your ass. I’m not leaving my friend.” Kevin released Javier from his grip and returned to Clyde’s now lifeless body and wept.
“Again, I truly am sorry.” Javier turned around and whispered in one of the guard’s ears before walking back to the door.
The guards approached them and grabbed each person by the arm to forcefully escort them out.
“Hands off, bub!” Sam demanded. “We can walk. We aren’t the ones to worry about.”
The guard released her, and she, Davontaye, Lauren, Timothy and Jordan started walking towards the exit. Blair grabbed Quin’s arm and escorted him out. Quin looked back to see Alice stubbornly following behind him with over half the guards close behind her. The rest of the guards were picking up Kevin to carry him out of the room.
Just one more phase, Quin told himself. Just one more phase.