Beep…. Beep…. Beep.
The sound of a ringing bell shakes my core. A countdown. With the noise, every fiber of my being comes to life, as though a breath of pure oxygen is being pumped directly into my bloodstream. The adrenaline rush is what many live for, but this feeling is much greater. See, adrenaline is your body turning off certain limiters, increasing the output of your muscles, and turning down your pain nerves. This feeling? This is different. This is the feeling of doing what I live for. This isn’t adrenaline. This is bliss.
As I hear the crowd cheer and the massive door in front of me hisses open, the noise begins to fade. My breathing becomes steady. My sweaty palms dry. My mind clears. The lights flash on, the hill comes into view. My vision is filled with two single pieces of information; a marker at the very top of the hill and a crown grayed in the right corner of my vision. All doubt fades from my mind as I step out into the grassy, open field. Fifteen others do the same, with some already sprinting. I glance to my right, then to my left. I check for familiar faces, see a few, and let out a huff of air. I look to the hill, countdown from ten, and wait until zero. The hill flashes at its peak and a white ring appears. A fifteen-foot radius circle covers the peak. Seconds later, the white turns red. Occupied. Above the hill, and against the glass dome encircling us, a scoreboard appears with a list of names, time, and points. The clock begins to tick down, and one of the points begins to rise.
Moments after the hill is occupied by its first victim, the sound of fighting reaches my ears. Fire erupts, water splashes, and gunfire shakes the floor. I coil my hands into fists and take in another breath. The others I can see are sprinting for the top and as far as I can tell, I’m the last to take another step. Fifteen minutes has ticked down to Fourteen minutes and thirty seconds remaining. By the time I take my next step, it’s fourteen minutes left. It’s courteous to let the weak go first. As I start my march, I pull on a pair of finger less leather gloves and wrap the straps tight to my wrists.
It’s time to go to work.
Striding up the hill, I hear the sounds of mixed screams and agonizing cries. I hear battle shouts, curses, and even the disgusting noise of carnage. Bones snapping, flesh ripping, and bodies being smashed. The scent of burnt flesh reaches my nose as I close in on the peak. Several bodies greet me at the door to this hell, and I even walk by one young girl who’s still alive. She snarls at me, her breasts laid bare because of her top being ripped apart. But it’s not enticing in the least. Especially not with the blood leaking from multiple holes in her legs and her stomach cut open. As I pass, I turn my eyes away. I hear shuffling ahead, then step left as a fireball is lobbed just past my skull. Turning, I kick a blade up off the ground and snatch the handle. With a flick, I throw it end over end into her skull. She falls limp. I keep climbing.
An explosion erupts and three men are thrown from the top. One lands straight in my path and rolls under my feet as I step over him. The other two land flat, dead, off to the side. As I step over the crest of the hill, the fifteen-foot ring flashes. The radius shrinks from fifteen to ten. I check the time; ten minutes left. After the time, I check the points. Low and scattered, as per usual. The person who scored first has her name blurred out. Unable to continue.
When I look down, I see why. Three men stand with their backs to one another. The three fight together to fend off various attacks from others, others like me who never fight in groups. One man holds two pistols, another holds a sword, and the third wields water in his hands that he seems to be managing pretty poorly. Checking their surroundings, I see several bodies immobile and the others who are still standing pushing inwards. Like dogs to the slaughter, the mashup collides.
I step into the circle, and the crown in my view illuminates yellow. A word appears below it; Contested. I nod and hold my place. Looking up, the number beside my name begins to increase. Slowly, one point every five seconds. Typical of a Contested Hill, but with the winning point being One-Hundred, I have a long way to go. The battle in front of me unfolds as expected. The trio hold their footing, using quick and brutal tactics as a team to handle the threats. But, as those threats diminish, one of them catches me in the corner of his view. The man who holds water shouts.
“Got another one!” He alerts his pals and immediately lobs a stream of pressurized water towards me. High velocity, but I can see him struggle to keep it accurate, as the stream bobs up and down in transit.
“Wait, stop!” A partner shouts, but it’s too late. I raise my right hand and grab the water flow as it reaches me. Corralling it, I coil the high pressure into my palm and stop the water blast in its tracks. Then, I feed it. My arm heats up and flares purple, the veins and arteries inside my limb illuminating as I pump a harsh current into the water. Electricity. The purple streaks steal through the water flow in a blink. Before the man on the other end can react, his entire body is coated in static. Seconds later, the water stream collapses, as does he. His flesh smokes and his eyes are white. A name on the score board goes dim.
“Shit, to think we’d get this match up.” The man with the guns steps back, kneels, and fires. Two shots whiz by my ears. I react only to the next three and catch them in a net of static. I rob them of their kinetic energy and convert it to heat, melting the bullets right in front of me. I snatch the hot red balls into my hand and magnetize each one. With a flick, they fire at twice the speed of sound. One goes through the shooter’s skull, and the next two impact his friend. The man with the swords falls into a pool of blood, both of his lungs pierced by the metal balls. The edge of the dome rattles as the balls of lead ping off the hard glass. I suck my teeth; still too weak.
With the main three competitors down, I make quick work of the rest. I step forwards the middle and open my palms. They come like flies to light, and I answer. I collect energy into my chest and close my eyes. Breathe in. Breathe out. Inhale. Exhale. In…. Out.
After my third breath, my body pulses. Electricity explodes outwards, cracking loudly. Thunder rumbles through the dome as the entire stadium is illuminated for a brief moment. A light so bright that even the tint on the dome shielding isn’t enough to contain it. I look out in that moment to see hundreds of faces looking in, silenced as the remaining competitors are cooked alive. Five remaining players all fall to the fake grass beneath my feet, immobile, and I stand in the center.
The yellow crown changes to green. Contested, turns to King of the Hill. I look up to the scoreboard. No other name is colored in except for my own. The timer stops, the points zero out and the display shifts. Contest Over. Winner.