"Alex, he was alive and fine just a few minutes ago. He got in the fucking car and drove away," Trick pointed at him and shouted at me.
I nodded. I was extremely speechless. I didn't know what the hell to say next. What to do. He wasn't supposed to die out here. He was supposed to have a chance at the arena next weekend.
Bailey dropped to her knees and stared up at him with tears falling down her cheeks. Her face had completely paled and her body trembled as she stared at his lifeless body swaying back and forth in the wind. The only thing you could hear was the sound of the rope rubbing against the tree. His neck had bruising, but it wasn't from rope burns. It looked to be distorted as though his neck were broken. It was likely a quick and painless death. It explained why we didn't hear any screaming.
"Trick, help Bailey get into the car and do not let her look back here."
She nodded before walking over to Bailey and helping her to her feet. She led her over to the car and then helped her inside. Once I heard both doors shut, I let out a loud shout of frustration. I knew what I had to do. I knew that if I didn't tell my boss, I would be in a large amount of trouble.
I pulled out my cellphone and dialed his number. I let the phone ring once before setting it against my ear. I could feel pressure build up in my chest. I was nervous to hear his answer. I was also nervous to have to be the one to break the news.
"This better be good," my boss answered.
"I wouldn't call if it weren't. It's about Jack."
He gave out a deep sigh. "What did he do now?"
"We are currently out at the training area trying to prepare for the arena. We saw Jack and his two kidnapped leave. We had left the site for a brief moment to come back and find the first arena winner hanging from a tree by his neck."
"Son of a bitch," He cursed. "Just when you think you don't have to watch his every move any longer."
"I am sorry, Sir. I wasn't sure what else to do."
"Cut the body down and set it next to the dummies. I will send someone out there to retrieve it."
"Thank you for letting me know."
"Absolutely. I will keep in touch."
The phone went dead and I was left in silence. I let out the breath that I had been holding and slid my phone back into my pocket. I grabbed one of the army knives then walked over to the tree and began climbing up to the limb that the noose was tied around.
Once I got to the knot, I started sawing away at the rope. As I got to the last part of it, I held my breath for what was to come. The final thread broke and his lifeless body fell to the ground with a loud thud. I glanced down to see it mangled in so many directions. I could feel the blood drain from my face. The way his head bobbed in another direction confirmed that his neck had indeed been broken.
As I began to climb down, I glanced over at Bailey and Trick. They both looked sick to their stomachs. I knew that they wanted to get out of here just as much as me, if not more. I had seen people die and handled their bodies, but they had all been killed in the arenas. This was a senseless killing by Jack. It made me nervous to think what he would do next.
I dropped down to the ground, lifted the body from the dirt and dragged it over to the dummies. His skin was cold and he didn't seem to move as easily as it would if he were alive. Once his body was where my boss instructed, I wiped my hands against my pants. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get off the feeling of his skin.
"Can we go, Alex," Bailey shouted with the door to the car wide open.
I nodded and jogged back to the car. My stomach was in knots as I sat down in the driver's seat and put the car in reverse. Bailey and Trick were both staring out of the window in silence. I opened the windows to help with the sick feeling that we all felt.
The drive back to our hotel didn't seem like it was long enough. Before I knew it, we were back in the room sitting at opposite ends. This made it seem so much more real for them. I knew that there was a lot of fear in the air. It was exactly what Jack wanted to do. I would need to find a way to get them out of the mood and help them focus, but I didn't know how. I was having a hard-enough time myself.
"Are you guys hungry?"
Bailey and Trick both shrugged.
"Yeah…Me either…" I trailed off. Probably not the best question to ask after what they just saw. What could we train on? What could we talk about?
"I have a feeling that Echo dude is going to be a big pain in the ass during the arena," Trick spoke up.
I nodded. "I think he will be the one we need to watch for."
"The one we need to watch for. Not you."
I looked over at Bailey with a raised eyebrow. What was with the sudden attitude change? "I will help with what I can."
"Yeah, but let's be honest. There isn't a lot you can help with while we are in there."
My stomach felt tight because I knew that she was right. "Do either of you have any ideas on how to take someone like that out?"
"We could lead him over a cliff with food?"
I looked over at Trick with a smile. Her sarcasm was always appreciated. "That could work, but let's say there is no food or cliffs anywhere nearby."
"We would need to be quiet and use our size as a benefit. Going hand to hand combat would not end well, but if we can find a weapon…We would be able to take him out with sneaking around."
I glanced over at Bailey with wide eyes. So, she had been listening to what I said. Maybe I didn't have to lose hope with training her after all. "That is correct."
"That would also mean taking a life. I can't do that, Alex. I am not a monster."
"You won't need to be, Bailey. I will keep you safe in there," Trick said as she moved over and sat next to her. "I just need you to work on staying alive. Think you can manage that?"
She looked at her and nodded. I watched Bailey pull her feet from the floor and curl them underneath her butt. The more we spoke about it, the more of a small ball she became. I knew that she wouldn't be able to kill anyone, but that arena changes people and she would need to understand that her life depended on it. Part of me was thinking that my life would depend on it. Would Trick really be able to get there in time?
"It is in five days now, right?" Trick spoke up, breaking my though process.
I nodded. "Yeah. Five days."
"Part of me honestly just wants to find Jack and let him put me out of my misery like that guy he just murdered," Bailey mumbled.
"I can promise you that Jack didn't kill that man. Echo most certainly did…"
"It doesn't matter. At least this would all be over."
"I think it is time for us to go to bed. I think it has been a long day," Trick said cautiously, waiting to see if Bailey would agree.
She nodded. "Goodnight."
I watched her get up and move into the cage that was designated to be hers. She pulled the thin blanket over her head and pulled her knees to her chest. I glanced back over to Trick and she was shaking her head. She motioned for me to meet her outside, likely to tell me something that I needed to hear.
We walked into the cool night and closed the door quietly behind us. She ran her fingers through her hair and turned around to face me.
"Why the hell is she a part of this, Alex? It doesn't even make sense."
"I honestly don't know, Trick. I just do as I am told."
"Can we help her escape? At this point, I don't even care if I die trying to get her out of this."
I let out a deep sigh of frustration. "That is not possible, Trick. He would hunt her down until she died. The arena is the only way out of this."
"Fine. Only one person can get out of this arena, right?"
I sighed and nodded.
Trick clenched her jaw. "I will make sure it is her."
The next week went fairly quickly, no matter how hard I tried to make it slow down. Bailey's ankle was starting to get better and they were both getting stronger and faster. I wasn't sure if it would be fast enough, but we had to hope that it would.
On Tuesday, we continued to exercise every few hours and studied tactics. Bailey didn't talk much at all that day or complain about anything. She seemed very focused and determined. I wasn't sure if it was a good or bad thing. I just put myself in my place and talked about everything arena related.
Wednesday involved kind of the same stuff. We did utilize the pool to help get some more full body exercise. Afterwards, I took them out and we practiced dodging. They were running while I threw rocks at them and they were expected to duck out of the way. I did end up hitting both of them a couple of times, but they continued to work.
Thursday, I noticed that things were getting more real. Trick wasn't cracking jokes as much and they really just trained, ate, and slept. There wasn't anything I could do. Part of me hoped that the days would go slightly faster so that everything would just happen. Waiting for all of this was the worst part. Bailey woke up multiple times through the night, screaming from her nightmares. Every time I would try and comfort her, she would turn her back toward me and look away.
Today, I woke up before everyone and made a large breakfast full of everything possible. It would be their last real breakfast before the arena. We would be heading over today and they would wait it out in separate cells, while my boss would determine that everything was good to go. I wasn't sure if it would be different this time since we would have people watching.
"That smells good, Alex."
I glanced over to see Trick emerge from her bed and stretch out her body. I took a second to take this moment in. It would likely be the last time that I ever see her do it. The same with Bailey. I bit down on the inside of my lip and went back to cooking. I didn't know what to say to them today.
"So, when do we leave," She asked as she sat down at the table in the dining room.
"Fairly soon. I am just waiting to get a call from my boss to see where we need to go and what time he wants us there. It should be any time now."
She nodded and stared out the window.
If there was one thing I knew about this experience, it was that I did not want to babysit the Kidnapped anymore. I couldn't handle it. Once they were both out of my life, I would be sure to express that. I would never do it again. Not even if my life was on the line for it. This was much more suitable for someone like Jack to handle.
"Good Morning," Bailey walked into the dining room and sat across from Trick. "You made food?"
I smiled slightly. "Yeah. I thought you may want to have something good for your energy…Although I am not the best cook so I may end up making you sick."
"I don't think you will be the one making us sick. I already feel like my stomach is going to explode. I am just waiting for it all to be over."
Trick glanced at me with sad eyes. She wouldn't admit it, but I could tell that she was feeling the same way. She had been through so much and helped Bailey with so much. She deserved a chance at a new life and now she wouldn't be able to experience it if she didn't make it out of this. I knew that she would put Bailey first though. It wasn't in her character to think of herself before others.
I walked the food out to the table and gave them two empty plates. They started grabbing small amounts as I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. I clicked the answer button and then held it up to my ear.
"Good Morning, Alex. Are you ready for today?" I could hear the excitement in my boss's voice.
"When and where?"
"I will have someone pick all of you up within the hour. We have much to prepare for."
"Good. See you soon."
I hung up the phone and placed it back into my pocket. The girls didn't even bother with asking who it was or where we were going. They just silently ate their breakfast and stared off in the distance. I glanced at the empty seat and thought about sitting down and eating some food with them, but my stomach wasn't in the right mood for it. I was honestly surprised that they were even eating.
"Someone will be here soon to get us," I spoke up.
Neither of them responded. They just continued to eat until their food was gone and then they set their plates in the sink. I gave them their space and left them alone. I wasn't sure what else I could do or say to make things better. Before I knew it, it was time to go and we were heading out.
We stepped outside of the hotel and found a black van with the side door open. Both of them climbed in without a word before the man shut the door behind them. The windows were tinted a very dark black to the point that you couldn't see a single thing inside. However, I knew what was inside. The windows were covered with metal bars to help with an attempted escape and there were benches that sat on both sides. There weren't any seatbelts to help support them, but they wouldn't really need them.
I hopped into the front passenger seat and we were off. No words were exchanged throughout the entire ride. Not like I expected much to be said. This would be the last time that we would all be in the same place. I glanced back at them to see them staring down at their feet. I wanted to know what they were both thinking. I knew I wouldn't ever get the chance though.
The drive only took a couple of hours, but it felt like forever. I continued to watch the scenery outside during most of it. Each passing tree helped me calm down with my thoughts. I eventually started counting them, but it didn't help as much as I had hoped. It took every ounce of me to not turn around and take another look at Bailey.
"We are here, Sir."
I looked ahead of us to find a tunnel that was hidden along a dirt road in the woods. The light from the sky quickly disappeared so that the only light we could use was from our car. Suddenly the road dipped down and we headed further underground. It didn't take long for us to pull up in front of a large cement wall.
The driver pulled out a walkie talkie and announced that we were here. The large cement door began to open to reveal a large white room that resembled a parking lot. I had to squint my eyes for them to adjust to the sudden change. It did look a lot different from the previous time I had been here. My boss really had been busy cleaning everything up. I quickly noticed the few cars that were already parked and present. The investors must already be here.
"Sir, I will take the Kidnapped to their cells. Boss wanted to see you as soon as you got here. He is in the control room."
I nodded. "I would like to say something to both of them before I leave."
"I don't know if…"
"I wasn't asking. Step out of the car for a moment." There were times that I needed to push my authority. Now was one of them.
He parked the van and then stepped out as I instructed. I did notice that he made sure to not step too far away. I knew that I needed to be very careful about what I said in case anyone was listening in on the conversation. Although now I didn't really know what I should say. I just knew that it may be the last. I turned around to find them both staring at me, waiting for me to speak.
"Look…I am terrible at this and I have never said goodbye before to a Kidnapped. Please just try your best out there, both of you. You have worked so hard to learn everything and build your strength. Remember everything that I taught you."
"Thank you for everything, Alex," Trick gave me a small smile. "Take care of yourself."
I nodded back and then looked at Bailey. She looked to be completely shut down. She hadn't lifted her head or made any motion to show that she was listening to what I had to say. I let out a deep sigh before turning back and stepping out of the van.
I slammed the door behind me and left without looking back. It didn't take me long to navigate my way to the control room and find my boss pacing back and forth. He was wearing a black suit and had his ski mask still covering his face. If he weren't pacing back and forth, it would've been difficult to tell how stressed he was.
"About damn time you showed up, Alex!" He turned and faced me. "I am at my wits end here!"
"What's going on?"
"I am about to lose my damn mind with everyone. We have a total of five Kidnapped for this. Three of them were the prisoners and two are from the original arena. How the fuck are we supposed to entertain with this many for the investors?"
"Sir, you did let them know that this was just a sample of what we have to give them. Five honestly makes the most sense to me. We can let them know that we will have the full thing later on."
"It just doesn't seem like it is enough."
"Look, you are stressed out and you just need to take some deep breaths. I will get Anthony and work with him on making sure everything is good to go. You go entertain them and make sure everything works on that end, okay?"
He took a deep breath before hanging his head and giving a slow nod. I watched him walk past me and exit the room without another word. I took a deep breath before taking a look around at everyone. There was a total of eight other people sitting at their computers with monitors all around. It was a very dark room compared to the white that covered the halls.
"What is the status?"
"Everything is looking good so far, Sir. We are just finalizing everything."
"Have Jack and Anthony arrived yet?"
"Anthony has been here for a while, but Jack has not come yet. We did receive word that he was picked up by the transport van."
"Good. Tell Anthony to come in here now."
"How much time until we are ready to go?"
"Give us thirty more minutes and everything will be ready."
"What arena type are we using?"
"We weren't given a lot of heads up, so the boss decided to just go with everything that was set up. It is more over a mountain theme."
I was kind of relieved to hear this. I was thankful that we were able to go out and train in the mountains. It would at least somewhat help with what was to come. I just hoped that Trick would find Bailey in time.
"How many traps do we have?"
"There are only a couple. We were told not to have as many since the amount of Kidnapped we had was minimal."
I turned around to see Anthony standing in the doorway. I quickly noticed that his hair had grown out and his eyes had bags under them. He didn't look like the last couple of months were easy on him at all. I didn't expect them to be though. I knew that Anthony would be on board to never watch the Kidnapped ever again as well.
"Hey, Anthony. Grab a seat and help me get things in order."
He smiled at me and quickly took a chair. Computers were his realm.
"Where is Jack," He asked after he got logged in.
"He should be here soon. Have the Kidnapped been given their clothes?"
"Yes, Sir. They should be ready any moment."
"Where is our boss?"
"He is in the observatory with the investors."
"Alright. I will leave you guys to it. Anthony, let me know if something comes up. I will go see how everything is going upstairs."
"On it, Alex."
I smiled before leaving the room and heading out to the observatory. The room was massive and the ceiling was round. There were screens on every inch of the walls. It was like having one massive movie theater. I usually never sat in it during the arena though.
"Ah, Alex! Welcome."
My boss greeted me and wrapped his arm around my shoulders.
"Thank you, Sir."
"Everyone, this is Alex. He is my number two. If you have any questions or concerns while I am not present, please feel free to go to him."
I glanced around the room and looked at the investors. They all seemed like rich people who had too much money for themselves. Their wardrobes were all clean and perfect. It was almost like stepping into a political function. I certainly felt out of place around them. I could tell that they were surprised to hear that I was the second one in line. I did not look like I should be.
"Give us a moment, please," my boss said before turning me around and getting closer to me with a light voice. "Is everything okay?"
"Yes. We are just waiting for Jack and his Kidnapped."
His jaw tightened. "He still isn't here?"
"He was picked up, but that is all I know for now. Anthony is working on it."
"Good. I had hoped to get started in the next twenty minutes."
I felt my phone begin to vibrate in my pocket. I pulled it out and saw that it was Anthony. "One moment, Sir. He likely has an update for me."
He nodded his approval for me to answer before turning around and returning to the investors. I quickly exited the room and held the phone up to my ear, "Yes?"
"Jack is here. We have already taken his Kidnapped downstairs and they should be ready within a few minutes."
"Great. Everything else is ready?"
"Yes. I will have the Kidnapped escorted to their entrances, which will take about five minutes. Just give me the word and we will begin."
"I will let the boss know. Thank you, Anthony."
I hung up the phone before noticing that my hands were trembling. It was real now. Bailey and Trick were both going to die and Echo would come out alive. I couldn't help Bailey this time. It would be on both of them. My chest was beginning to get tight and I could feel my breaths getting heavy. I had to think of something else quickly or everyone would be able to tell.
"Alex, is everything okay?" I glanced up to see Jack standing in front of me with his arms crossed. "Do you need water or something?"
I pushed back my emotions before standing straight and laughing. "Everything is great. I was wondering if you would ever show up."
"Well…I did. Is he in there with the investors?"
I nodded. "Yup. I was just about to let him know that we were ready to proceed at his order."
"Good…" Jack's voice trailed off and his gaze fell to the ground.
"Are you okay, Jack?"
"Yeah, I am good. Let's just get this over with."
He walked past me and entered the room. I followed in behind him and closed the door. My boss made sure not to make eye contact with Jack. He looked at me and I gave him a nod to let him know that we were ready to proceed. His mouth curved in a wicked smile. Suddenly he didn't seem so nervous about showing them.
"Alright, Ladies and Gentlemen. We are finally ready to go! Please take a seat and prepare yourself for the arena. I hope none of you have weak stomachs. This is just a taste of what is to come later on."
I chose to sit in the back behind everyone so that I could work the lights and leave the room if Anthony needed me for anything. I dimmed the room before turning on all of the screens. There were five separate views that showed the entrances of where the Kidnapped would be coming. I quickly messaged Anthony to begin and watched as the doors swung open.
Slowly each of the Kidnapped exited the chambers they were in. Their eyes all squinted as they tried to adjust to the new light. The cells they were held in had been black with basically nothing to illuminate the room. It would take them a moment before they started doing anything.
I held my gaze on the screen that had Bailey. Her long hair was pulled back into a ponytail and she wore the white suit that every Kidnapped was required to wear. She was different this time. She seemed more experienced than the last. Her legs moved at a fast pace as she kept her eyes looking around for any movement. Her ankle no longer seemed to be causing any pain as she wasn't limping with each step or wearing the brace. Although, that could've also been because of the adrenaline that was certainly flowing through her veins.
I averted my eyes over to Trick's screen to see a similar motive. I could tell that she was looking for Bailey. Her pace was a lot faster and she paused at everything noise she heard. I could tell that she was wanting to call out Bailey's name and find her, but she knew it wouldn't be the best. She was also the first to come across a weapon. I watched her reach down and grab an axe hidden in the long green grass. As she picked it up, I noticed that she stared at her reflection in the blade for an extra moment. I knew that look all too well. It was a look of encouragement, but also one that said goodbye. She wasn't planning on living through this and it pained me even more to see. She did not deserve this at all.
What I heard next caught me by surprise. I wasn't sure why it did though. Echo walked calmly through the trees. Not even watching where he stepped or for anyone coming toward him. His eyes were blood thirsty. It made me even more nervous to see that he was getting closer and closer to Bailey. I curled my hand into a tight fist and tightened my jaw.
"Come out, come out wherever you are!"
It sent chills down my spine hearing him call out to them. Every other Kidnapped froze in their steps as soon as they heard his voice. Bailey quickly ducked behind a tree while Trick started running. I couldn't imagine that she was running toward him though. She saw what Echo was about. That wouldn't make sense after everything I taught them.
The entire room suddenly grew quiet as we watched one of Anthony's Kidnapped run directly into Echo's line of vision. It was the recent one that he had been given from the prison. He had to be in his thirties with his dark brown hair shaved in a military style cut. There was a long scar that started from the top of his forehead and dragged jaggedly down to his chin. The white suit he was wearing had been covered in green and brown stains from the turf. I quickly noticed something small and sharp in his hand. It looked to be like a knife.
"Finally, someone decided to man up and come out from hiding," Echo grinned.
The Kidnapped didn't say a word. Instead, he ran forward with the knife held in front of him and slashed at Echo's chest. He dodged it with ease and shoved the man to the ground. His confidence dwindled as the knife fell from his grasp and landed a few feet away. He crawled backwards as Echo approached him and stopped when a tree got in the way.
"Better pray now while you still have a chance," Echo said as he slowly pressed on, only a few feet away.
Just as Echo bent down to grab him, he froze with his eyes wide. He turned around to reveal the small knife suddenly plunged into his back. I was surprised to see that it was Anthony's terrified Kidnapped from before the first one he had been given to babysit. He had silently grabbed the knife and stabbed it into the shoulder of Echo.
"Maybe you should start praying, you son of a bitch!"
My eyes widened at this new found courage. Echo reached back and pulled the knife out. He wiped the blood off on his white clothing to show that he was injured pretty badly. I half expected him to get rid of the knife, but he kept it in his hand as he approached the man who stabbed him. The anger was very evident.
"I am going to kill you now."
"Not if I can help it!"
The first man quickly jumped on Echo's back and wrapped his arms around his neck. It didn't last long. Echo's arm flew back and the knife plunged directly into the eye of his attacker. The body went limp and dropped to the ground with a thud. The knife had left his hand and remained lodged in the lifeless being.
The group of investors were completely silent. It was the first kill of the game. I couldn't tell what they were thinking. Their faces were straight and no one seemed to be disturbed by the death. It only made me question even more who these investors were.
Echo didn't take long to pounce on the other guy and strangle him. He stood up once he was satisfied and smiled at his work. It made me even more nervous for Trick and Bailey. He just took out two of the Kidnapped with ease and even had a knife wound in his back. I could only hope that they would figure out a way to stop him. At this point, I did not see a chance of them making it out at all.
I glanced over at Jack and smirked. "Why would I be worried?"
"It looks like my dude is going to win this whole thing."
"I wouldn't get cocky yet, Jack. Let's see what happens."
I glanced back up at the screens to see Bailey walking closer and closer to Echo. She walked in between trees and made sure that she didn't make too much noise. It didn't matter though. Echo already knew she was nearby. His head turned in her direction and he started walking at a fast pace toward her. He mowed down everything in his path until he froze once he saw her.
Bailey's eyes widened and she quickly turned in the other direction, running as fast as she could. Echo didn't hesitate to take off after her. Within seconds he had tackled her to the ground and flipped her over so that she was on her back. She reached up and punched him across the face. It only made him angrier. His large hands grabbed her wrists and pinned them above her head.
"No, stop," Bailey yelled at the top of her lungs.
I gripped the handles on my chair and looked away. I couldn't watch what was about to come. I couldn't watch her die. Her screams filled my ears and that soon became less and less as his hands found their way to her throat. I could hear her gasping for breath and choking. I couldn't do this. I couldn't be here. I started to get up from my chair and move for the door.
"Get off of her, Asshole!"
I looked up just in time to see Trick's axe imbed itself into Echo's back. He let go of Bailey's throat and reach behind him. The axe was perfectly centered and he couldn't reach it. Echo began growling in frustration as he rose to his feet and turned back toward Trick.
"You little bitch. I am going to break that pretty little neck of yours."
Trick smiled at him and held up her fists. "Come at me you worthless piece of shit!"
Bailey was still on the ground with her hands grasping at her neck. She rolled onto her side and slowly tried to crawl away. It took her a moment to realize that Trick was there. Her head turned back and she stared up at her in surprise.
"Is that really you, Trick?"
"Don't worry, Pretty. I am going to make sure you get out of this alive."
Echo let out a laugh. "Is that so? It may be kind of hard since I plan to kill both of you."
"Shut up, Asshole. Only one of us gets to live and it sure as hell won't be you!" Trick ran and moved to tackle him.
He quickly noticed her motive and grabbed hold of her body with easy. He lifted her up over his head and slammed her onto the ground behind him. Her body crashed onto the dirt floor and he quickly turned around. His foot found its home in her rib cage over and over again. Trick cried out in pain and tried whatever she could to stop him, but he was too strong. He was quickly starting to overpower her.
"Leave her alone!"
Bailey had managed to stand to her feet and grab a rock from the ground. She was running at Echo as fast as she could and it was just enough. Her hand brought the rock down so that it smashed on the top of his head before he could turn around.
Echo staggered back while trying to hold the top of his head. His expression was confused. Bailey didn't hesitate to grab hold of Trick's arm and pull it around her shoulders. She pulled her up onto her feet and they quickly limped away while Echo sat down on the ground. He was now looking at his own hand in front of him, covered in blood.
"Two against one isn't fair, Alex!"
I glanced over at Jack to see his fuming expression. I couldn't help, but smile. They had managed to save each other already. This wasn't over yet though. Only one of them would make it out of this alive. I couldn't make my stomach calm down at the fact that I would be watching one if not both of them die today.
The screens zoomed in on Bailey setting Trick down against a tree hidden in the brush. She looked around to make sure that it was just them before taking a seat next to her. She brushed Trick's hair out of her face and tucked it behind her ear. Trick was breathing hard and holding the side of her body that Echo had tormented with his kicks.
"Bailey, you need to leave me and hide," She whispered through clenched teeth.
"I am not going anywhere Trick. You saved my life."
"Well yeah. I promised that I would. They won't let us sit here forever and hide from Echo. We need to come up with a plan."
Bailey nodded her head at what Trick said. I could tell that her body was drained, but her eyes were alert and she continued to look around. "What do you suggest then?"
"We need to come up with a trap for this guy. He is stronger than both of us…and I don't know if you saw the other two guys. They didn't make it and are stronger than us. Remember what Alex taught us. We have to use our heads."
"Yeah. Do you have a plan in mind?"
Trick gave a smirk. "Yeah. You won't really like it though."
Bailey rolled her eyes. "I can't say I like any part of today. May as well add onto it."
"Good. Come here," Trick opened up her right arm for Bailey to sit next to her and then pulled her close when she obliged. I watched as she started whispering the plan into her ear. I was proud of her for knowing that we would all be able to hear if she said it out loud.
"Trick…I don't know about this," Bailey said nervously and avoided eye contact with her.
"Don't worry, Love. I call this plan Damsel in Distress. We will finish him off and then we can figure it out from there, okay?"
"Okay. Let's get going then."
Bailey helped Trick onto her feet and then they started walking through the forest together. Neither of them said a word and they both made sure to scan the area ahead and behind. I watched as they continued to move toward one of the cliffs in the arena. What were they planning to do with the cliff? I was hopeful that they weren't both going to jump and end it there.
Tricked peered over the edge and nodded her approval. "This is good. You know the plan. I will go see if I can find him."
"Trick? Whatever happens…Thank you for everything."
Trick walked up to her and gave her a hug before leaning up and kissing her forehead. She pulled away with both of her hands on Bailey's cheeks and looked into her eyes, "You will make it out of here. I will be right back."
Bailey nodded before standing on the edge with her back facing the drop. Her face was completely straight as she held her stance and scanned the trees once Trick was out of sight. She had grown so much since the start of all of this. I was very proud of her for fighting for her life.
"It is too bad that Trick girl left, Alex. Echo is heading right toward Bailey."
I glanced up at Echo and saw that he was really close to her. He was like watching a blood hound. His body was covered in his own blood and he walked with an arched back from the wounds. As soon as he emerged from the tree line and had Bailey in his vision, he grinned.
"Where is your little friend? Did you kill her off already?"
Bailey's eyes widened. I could tell that this wasn't part of their plan. If that was the case, where had Trick gone?
"Yes, I killed her," Bailey yelled. "You are next!"
Echo's grin didn't disappear as he took each step closer to her. I could see the sudden fear in her eyes. She moved back and felt the edge of the cliff on her heels. I trusted Trick enough to know that she was up to something that would save Bailey. She had to wait until the last possible moment for Echo.
"You should close your eyes for this one." He reached his hands out toward Bailey.
Trick emerged from the trees and ran full speed at Echo and Bailey. She had just enough time to tell Bailey to duck before she tackled Echo. Bailey dove to the side out of the way and into the dirt. She looked back just in time to see Trick and Echo both fly off of the cliff.
"No," She screamed and crawled to the edge.
The camera quickly zoomed in on both of the lifeless bodies at the bottom of the ravine. Both of them were mangled in ways that they shouldn't be. The drop had to have been at least fifty feet.
"I guess you won after all, Alex," Jack stood up and left the room without another word.
"Alex, go get your Kidnapped and get her back in her cell. She is the winner for this round."
I nodded before taking off and running to her as quick as possible. I ran through the halls without hesitation and burst into the arena at full speed. I knew exactly where she was and I had to make sure to get there before she tried to kill herself. I found her curled in a ball on the edge of the cliff, crying. Her body shook with each breath that she took.
"Bailey? It is me, Alex."
She glanced up at me with more pain that I had ever seen in her eyes. Her face was completely red with tears streaming down. The dirt of her face had smudged around the tears and stuck to her skin. She had a small cut along her cheek that was likely from a tree branch or bush that she had run past.
I walked over to her and pulled her up by her arm. "Come on…We have to get you out of here."
"I know. She saved your life."
"She shouldn't have. I should've died in this arena. She should've gone on."
I tugged her along with me and made sure to go at a pace she could manage. She was in complete distraught and not aware of any of her surroundings. I wasn't sure what to do or say aside from getting her to her cell. I had a hard time believing that Trick was gone as well. I couldn't think about it though. I had to push that feeling away. My boss would be watching.
"I am going to take you to your cell, Bailey. From there I will figure out what happens next, okay?"
She didn't respond. Instead she followed me back and went into the cell without another word. I watched her walk back into the corner and pull her knees to her chest on the floor. Her face was buried in between them and the room filled with her cries. I turned my head and closed the door behind me. I couldn't watch her like this.
I returned to the theater room to find my boss sitting alone in one of the seats. He was watching replays of the short arena. I sat down next to him and waited for him to start talking. I watched the screen until I saw the final scene with Trick. There was new footage that revealed her side of it. She was huddled behind a bush, on her knees, praying for Bailey to make it out alive. She had planned to die with Echo the entire time. It was the only way that Bailey wouldn't try and take her own life to save Trick.
"Everything went perfectly, Alex. The investors want to take part in the next arena. They were honestly thrilled by the show that was revealed. They hope that this can be a new version of the death penalty."
I glanced over at his masked face and watched him grow silent. "Is there something that is wrong, Sir?"
He shook his head. "No, I just can't believe we made it. They finally believed me. After all of these god damn years of trying. I finally have people who want to work to make all of this better. I want you to take your Kidnapped back to the hotel and continue to train her. Since they saw her in this arena, I want them to see a familiar face for the next one.
I will work on getting everything set up for the next one. I will need to find new prisoners and more people to train the Kidnapped. The bond between the two girls was something they really enjoyed. If we continue having them train together, they can band together to fight and then battle each other at the end. It would make an excellent show."
I nodded. "Yes, Sir. I will gather the Kidnapped and take her back to the hotel. Keep me updated on what comes next."
I stood up from my seat and walked out of the room. What comes next…The image of Trick praying before her death and Bailey crying out for her continued to play in my head. I was beginning to wonder if I really did want to be a part of training them and getting to know them. I wasn't cut out for this. How would Bailey manage a third arena? Regardless, everything was about to change.
Author's Note: Thank you so much for taking the time to read this chapter!