|The Assassination Game
Author: Jax Creation PM
"It's all fun and games until somebody gets their throat slit." 30 Players. 7 days. A one million dollar cash prize. Buried up to his eyeballs in his deadbeat father's debt, Jayden Ceres thinks this is his opportunity to turn his life around. But this is no ordinary round of TAG; someone is assassinating Players for real and elimination from the Game has fatal consequences.Rated: Fiction T - English - Horror/Suspense - Chapters: 3 - Words: 4,840 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 6 - Updated: 11-05-12 - Published: 01-10-11 - id: 2881122
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
2: $1,000,000 round
"You win money; how much exactly?" – Blake Harkins, non-Player
It was long past sun down by the time Jayden wearily trekked up the front of his sorry-excuse for a house, shoes and socks stuffed with mud and dried leaves and streaks of dirt all over his clothes and skin serving as his trophy for coming runner-up instead of the crisp one hundred and fifty dollars he'd been aiming to win. The place was as dismal as ever with the overgrown front lawn and the persistent weeds that pushed through it; the short wooden front gate was barely hanging onto its hinges. The bin was still out on the sidewalk, left there from rubbish collection two full days ago. Evidently his father still hadn't returned – or perhaps he had but was still the useless, pathetic excuse for a human being that he had always been. The open curtains and unlit rooms suggested the former.
Fumbling with the keys, Jayden entered the cold, empty house and slammed the door behind him. The excitement he'd felt while playing the Game had long since drained away and being in this house with its distant echoes of happier times made him all the more tired. Feeling too exhausted to even remove his shoes he headed to his room at the back of house, heedless of the filthy prints his runners left behind him. All he wanted to do was lie down.
He dropped backwards onto the bed with a thud that seemed to reverberate through the entire house emphasising his loneliness. Pissed at the unintentional reminder of just how alone he was, Jayden sat bolt upright glowered to himself.
Lonely? he thought furiously, Who the hell is lonely?
Of course, the short rhetorical conversation was all the proof he needed.
Eager to get his mind off such self-defeating facts, he moved to the desk and jabbed viciously at the power button of his old, spluttering PC, drumming his fingers impatiently against the keys as the monitor flickered to life.
Alright, so maybe it was true. Maybe he was a little lonely all by himself and maybe he did resent having to return this empty, rundown crap-shack every day after slaving his ass off all day at some poorly-paying part-time job to pay the bills and write off the debts his runaway mother and absent father had left him with six months ago at the age of seventeen instead of going to school.
Two sharp raps on the front door, clearly audible throughout the whole house, drew Jayden from his angry reflections. For a moment he considered just ignoring it, but he also knew that there was only one person who would be bothering to come knocking at this time of the evening and he usually brought free food. Jayden's stomach growled. Come to think of it, he had nothing to make dinner with and he hadn't eaten lunch either.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm coming," he muttered, striding to the front door as the knocking grew louder and more persistent. He flung open the door to reveal Blake Harkins, the red-headed twenty-one-year-old mechanic apprentice from the house across the street, who shot him an innocent grin as he lowered the hand he'd been knocking with.
"Hey, man. I was beginning to think you'd died or something."
Jayden grunted in reply and stood aside to let the larger youth inside.
Without a word the two young men headed for the kitchen. Blake pulled two cartons of Chinese food from the plastic bag slung over his shoulder and Jayden searched the dirty kitchen for clean cutlery.
"So, how's it going paying off your old man's gambling debts?" asked Blake, carefully wiping the supposedly clean fork he'd been offered on the front of his jeans before digging into the box of chow mein in front of him. He knew very well just how low Jayden's standard of hygiene was. "You working hard?"
"S'alright. The collectors don't come here as long as I mail off some money every couple of weeks. How's your mother?"
Blake shrugged noncommittally. "Same old. Not getting any better but thankfully not getting any worse. If luck goes my way I might be able to scrounge up enough cash for her to get that operation she needs." He smiled grimly at the younger youth. "It's a hard life we lead, isn't it?"
Jayden said nothing, knowing that Blake would understand. The two boys had grown up together. Jayden's father had always been a heavy gambler and mean drunk so Jayden and his mother had spent more time across the street at the Harkins' place than at home where getting beaten during one of his dad's drunken rages was a common, looming threat. Consequently that meant that Jayden had ended up spending a lot of time in the company of Blake whom he now regarded as an older brother of sorts and was probably the closest thing he had to friend if he'd ever wanted one.
Now the two of them were more or less in the same boat; Blake now lived alone in the house, having been raised single-handedly by his mother, and was working to raise the money for the operation his mother desperately needed; and Jayden, a high-school drop-out who was now working to pay off his father's ridiculously large outstanding gambling debt after his father had gone to look for his mother, who had walked out of the house two years ago and had never been seen since.
Blake frowned sharply as a thundercloud passed over Jayden's normally inexpressive face and quickly looked for a new subject. He gestured with his fork at the streaks of mud that ran across the other boy's t-shirt. "What's with all the dirt? Were you digging a trench or something?"
"I was playing TAG in the forest," explained Jayden dully.
The red-head shook his head and made a second gesture for Jayden to elaborate.
"TAG. T-A-G," repeated Jayden impatiently, "You know, The Assassination Game. Players are given another player as a target and have to 'Tag' them to kill them until only one person's left."
"Uh-huh, and why is an anti-social, general hater of other people like you playing a game like that?"
The reply was flat and straight to the point. "I win money."
Blake's eyes lit up at the last word. "You win money," he repeated, suddenly much more interested in the topic, "How much exactly?"
Jayden shrugged. "It depends on the game and the person running it. Today's was worth a hundred and fifty if I'd won it."
"And how exactly did you end up as a part of this 'tag' thing?"
Another lift of the shoulders. "I don't know, was searching online for a quick way to make money and found some guy's blog going on about how he made over two grand in one week from playing TAG through this group that calls itself The Assassins' Guild. You sign up, receive a Tagger –" Jayden pulled it out of his pocket and slide across the table to Blake for a closer examination, "– and then you join the rounds of TAG in your area that offer up money as a prize for winning the game."
Blake flicked through the screens of the Tagger and whistled, highly impressed with the technology. Briefly he wondered how much cash it would fetch. Then the first part of what Jayden just said hit him, and he almost dropped the device. Two grand just from running around playing a game for a week, imagine how much money a person could make off this "TAG" thing for a month. The thought disappeared as the Tagger vibrated in his hand and a message flickered onto the screen. Blake scanned it and his mouth dropped open in badly hidden shock.
"Say, Jay?" He glanced up at the teenager to see if he had noticed his reaction. Judging by the way Jayden was shovelling food into his mouth, he hadn't caught on. "What's the most you've ever made in a single round of this 'TAG' thing?"
Jayden swallowed. "Er – four hundred dollars? Round went on for two days, though."
"Reckon you could win one million in seven days?"
"Sure," he replied absent-mindedly then paused, his brain registering the conversation. Blake hid a grin as Jayden did a double-take. "Wait –what?"
Chuckling quietly to himself at the normally expressionless teen's reaction, Blake sent the Tagger back over to Jayden.
GM #13 – Hades: to Jayden Ceres
You are the thirteenth member of the T.A.G. community selected to participate in an exclusive round of The Assassination Game
You will have seven days to assassinate twenty-nine other Players
Prize: $1,000,000 cash
Time and Location will be distributed to participating members only
Participation is by invitation only
You have 24 hours to decide
Jayden gaped at the screen, his eyes growing larger and larger with each zero he counted after the one.
Blake smiled wryly at the stunned look on Jayden's face. "That's not a hoax, is it?"
T.A.G. Database :: GM - Hades
Player Profile :: #13 - Jayden Ceres
"Smile for the camera, sweetheart. I just killed you."
Runaway mother. Absent father. Financial status = neck-deep in debt (i.e. incentive.)
Hair: dark brown, nearly black
Status: Invited :: Accepted :: Active