Alea Ludo Chapter 4: The Votes!

There we all stood. In the lobby. Motionless. All our gazes fixated on the unrecognizable carcass that was once Frederick Lukas. Blood was splattered all over the room. The corpse remained seated in the chair.

My stomach churned in disgust, and a burning sensation ignited in my chest. As I backed away from the window, I clasped my hand over my chest to steady my ragged breathing. Meanwhile, multiple questions raced through my mind at that moment.

Was he dead? Was Frederick actually dead? If not, how could he survive a hailstorm of bullets? Was it all a hoax fabricated by Caius?

It had to be. It must’ve been a part of the game. Frederick’s death was all some cheap magic trick to get a rise out of everyone. It seemed like something Caius would do. I was only waiting for the moment when he would appear and shout out ‘just kidding.’ But, that moment never came to be. The room remained completely silent until someone finally spoke.

“That…was…so…awesome! Oh my god! Did you see the way his blood splattered all over the place? I’ve only seen shit like that in the movies!” The excited voice came from none other than Melanie.

Out of anyone that could’ve broken the silence. Out of any sentence that could’ve been said. It just had to be Melanie to speak. It just had to be her words to break the silence.

That girl celebrated the death of Frederick. Somehow, it didn’t surprise me that much. She was the only one that did so. It disgusted me to see how cheerful she acted over someone’s death.

Death was no laughing matter.

“Is he dead? Is Frederick dead?” Elena called out to everyone with her eyes still closed. She had been very fortunate not to have witnessed such a brutal execution; no doubt in my mind that would’ve traumatized the poor girl.

“There’s no way that he’s alive. Not after being shot up like that. No human being could survive that.” Darius slowly shook his head and stepped away from the window as well. His face turned pale. His body trembled. He eventually lost control of himself and fell flat on his ass.

I looked around the room and took notice of everyone else’s reactions to Frederick’s death. Wyatt stood firmly in front of the window. He scowled fiercely and balled his hands into fists.

Next was Salomon. He too remained in front of the window. His usual smirk was gone. He didn’t show any form of emotion as well. As a war veteran, I wouldn’t expect anything less from him. He’d been in battle and he’d most likely witnessed the deaths of hundreds. Maynard made expressions like him whenever he remembered his days back in the military.

Iris was crouched down next to Elena, who had also dropped down to the floor like Darius. She hugged Elena in a desperate attempt to calm her down.

Nicholas wandered over to the nearest wall and used it as a means of support. He mumbled something to himself, but he was too far for me to hear what it was.

Henrika stayed on the sofa, hunched forward; her face concealed by her hands. Incoherent mumbling came from her. But, I decided to ignore them.

The last one was Leona. Instead of standing in front of the window, she chose to direct her attention to the television screen. Unlike some of the others, she was calm and collected.

“There is no way I can spend twelve days trapped in here. We have to leave this place first thing tomorrow.” Wyatt spoke with conviction as he turned to look at the surviving players. “The money is not worth it anymore. Not after witnessing what could happen to us if we continue to stay here in this death trap.”

“Do you think they’ll let us leave?” Henrika suddenly asked, removing her hands from her face. “We just witnessed a murder take place here. I doubt they’ll let us leave so quickly since we could inform the police of this incident once we escape.”

“Of course they’ll let us leave. Caius said that we could leave tomorrow after we vote.” Iris nervously mentioned with a pale face. She forced herself to say those words. Caius’ words seemed like the only thing that we could all cling to as a means of escape.

“Besides, it is not like the police would believe that we were ever in a situation like this. Hell, even I am still having trouble believing it.” Wyatt shamefully admitted.

“Well, you had better start believing it, youngster.” Salomon pulled out a cigar and then lit it. He took a long drag of it before blowing out the smoke. “This is the reality of our situation.” He indicated to the corpse lying in the game room.

Before anyone else could say anything, our attention was directed over to the other side of the room where Caius and Klara entered. Everyone’s eyes solely focused on Klara. The woman walked past everyone and left the lobby room without saying a word. Anyone that stood in her way quickly stepped aside. That woman was partially responsible for Frederick’s death. It was only natural for everyone wanting to be cautious around her.

“Did you all enjoy the magnificent sight of Frederick’s execution?” Caius happily inquired with an expression of eagerness.

“No! I didn’t enjoy it at all! He didn’t deserve to die! I want to go home!” Elena desperately cried out, unable to contain her tears.

“You will have your chance of going home tomorrow during the voting process. Until then this concludes today’s game. Please feel free to explore the rooms on this floor and head to your rooms with your bracelet number whenever you feel tired. See you all in the morning.” Caius bid us farewell before he left the room.

Caius excused us from playing games for the rest of the day. Surely, I should’ve felt some form of relief. But, there was none.

Only tension.

To even leave the room proved to be difficult. By the time, I even came back to my senses; everyone else had already gone. It had been a stressful day. I had to rest. My feet carried me around the facility until I found the room with the number twelve on the door.

There appeared to be some scanner next to the door acting as a lock. Without thinking, I placed my bracelet near the scanner. The screen of the scanner turned from red to green followed up by the sound of the door unlocking. It was quite the unique security measure, to be honest. I entered the room and then closed the door behind me.

I wandered over to the bed and then collapsed onto it. The soft bed eased some of my tension.

It was real. Everything. The place was real. The people were real. And the danger of losing our lives was real. Trying to mentally deny that fact was futile considering I had watched Frederick get shot to death after his game.

Even though the dumb ass deserved it for gambling away all of his points in the first game, it still didn’t make his death any less horrifying. I guess that’s what happened when one got too greedy. Regrettably, there was a lesson learned from Frederick’s death. Hopefully, people would learn from that experience and vote to leave tomorrow. It was a mistake for me to have agreed to compete in the games. Sure, I was desperate to win enough money to save the old man’s bar, but at what cost?

How far was I willing to go? How much was I willing to give to achieve my goal? Would I be willing to risk my life and the lives of the others over the bar? If I were to ask a question like that out loud to someone, I’m most confident that they would laugh at me. But, the bar was my home, and I didn’t wish to lose it. But, I also didn’t want to risk losing my life by staying in the facility any longer.

My mind and thoughts were in shambles. I couldn’t think straight. I spent hours racking my brain over what I was going to do. Soon enough my eyes closed and I drifted off to sleep.

Hours passed and then my eyes snapped open upon hearing a loud chime in my room. It sounded like a doorbell. At first, I thought I was going crazy. I didn’t remember there being a doorbell for my room.

I passed it off as a delusion then tried going back to sleep. My efforts were futile. The chime returned — multiple times. I reluctantly got up from the bed, headed over to the door, then opened it. To my surprise and annoyance, my gaze rested on the person responsible for my irritation — Iris Korinna.

“Good morning, Troy. How are you this fine morning?” She politely asked before smiling.

“Ambrose,” I corrected her, “call me Ambrose.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Iris quickly apologized.

“What do you want?”

“It’s eight in the morning. Time to wake up for some delicious breakfast made by yours truly.” She brought her hands up close to her face then gave me the peace sign.

“Breakfast?”

She smiled at me and repeatedly nodded her head. “That’s right. I’ve taken the liberty of cooking breakfast for everyone today. I’m sure eating some pancakes, eggs, and bacon will cheer everyone up from yesterday’s disaster.”

“That’s…nice of you?”

“Stop by the cafeteria whenever you’re ready. You’ll want to have a full stomach before we leave this place today.” She turned around then walked down the hallway, eventually disappearing after turning the corner. I closed the door then let out a sigh of exhaustion. Despite having gotten a few hours of sleep, the effects of yesterday’s disaster still lingered.

And I was still unsure if I wanted to stay or leave when it came down to the votes. Perhaps an answer would come to me after filling my stomach with food. I quickly straightened myself up then left my room, heading towards the kitchen.

I entered the cafeteria and found five players sitting around in silence. Darius, Elena, and Henrika all had bags under their eyes.

Salomon and Wyatt, however, seemed to been completely calm. Both of them ate their food on the other side of the room.

I glanced over to the table where seven remaining plates of food rested, just waiting to get taken. My stomach grumbled at the sight of it. I walked over to the table, grabbed my food, then found an empty table to eat. The food looked delicious.

The pancakes looked soft and fluffy. The bacon and eggs had been well-placed to form a perfect smiling face. It reminded me of my mother’s cooking when I was younger.

I made a mental note to thank Iris later.

I grabbed my fork then stuck it into the pancakes. But, before I could take my first bite, my attention was drawn over to the front of the room after hearing a familiar, loud, obnoxious voice.

“What’s up with this gloomy atmosphere?” Melanie entered the cafeteria then scanned the room with her hands on her hips. She didn’t receive a response from anyone. But, that didn’t stop her from talking anyway. “How did you losers sleep last night? I slept like a rock.” She wandered over and collected a plate for herself.

It didn’t take her long to begin stuffing her face. I guess Frederick’s death didn’t affect her at all.

“I don’t understand how you could even sleep. After seeing Frederick get shot up like that, I couldn’t close my eyes for a second.” Darius sadly admitted as he picked at his food. He dropped his fork then brought his hands up to his face.

“I was too scared to sleep. I thought that there were booby traps in my room,” Elena nervously announced, “so, I had no other choice but to stay with Iris in her room.”

“Sounds hot,” Darius mumbled.

“What?”

“Nothing.” He looked away from her.

“I doubt that they would put booby traps in our rooms. They would not kill us outside of the game room.” Wyatt sounded confident in his statement.

“Unless of course, we break the rules of the game,” Henrika stated.

“I’m still hoping that it was all just a dream or some prank. Frederick wasn’t killed in front of us, right?” Elena desperately looked around the room for some assurance from the other players.

“Oh no, that dude’s dead. Didn’tcha see it? He got shot up so many times that he looked like Swiss cheese once it was all over.” Melanie reminded Elena, showing no qualms about speaking ill of the dead.

“Is that what the losers have to look forward to?” Elena sadly looked down at her plate.

Darius placed his hand on her shoulder to comfort her. “Only if we do something stupid like gambling away all of our points.”

“Then let us hope no one else makes that mistake,” Nicholas, Iris, and Leona entered the cafeteria, “what happened to Frederick was indeed tragic. Everyone should learn well from what happens when you allow your greed to cloud your better judgment.”

Darius nodded his head in agreement. “Yeah, it gets you killed that’s for sure.”

“Well, at least now we know that they’re serious about taking our lives if we carelessly gamble away all of our points and lose,” Leona said.

“It’s just all so stupid. If Frederick hadn’t gambled away all his points, then he would be here today. Why didn’t he listen to me?”

“I dunno why you’re all so worked up over his death. Didn’t he deserve it for being a dumb ass?” asked Melanie.

Iris turned her head in Melanie’s direction then harshly said, “It isn’t nice to speak ill of the dead. Cut it out already.”

Surprisingly, no immediate verbal response came from her. She merely shrugged her shoulders before returning to her breakfast.

“Anyway, now that everyone has gathered here. Let us discuss our means of escaping this place.” Wyatt said as though he suddenly became the leader of the group.

I looked around the room and found something amiss. There were only ten of us in the cafeteria. “Isn’t Klara missing? Shouldn’t we wait for her?”

Wyatt’s face contorted into a scowl after hearing her name mentioned. “That woman is responsible for the death of Frederick. I do not want her included in this conversation.”

“It’s not like she would respond to us anyway.” Darius shrugged his shoulders.

“Disregarding Klara for now, didn’t Caius mention something about voting to leave yesterday?” asked Elena, raising her hand to gain the attention of everyone.

“That’s right. He did mention that we could vote to leave.” Iris confirmed.

“Since that appears to be the case, there’s no need to have this meeting,” I concluded before returning to my breakfast.

“Though I do not wish to say this aloud, I believe that two of us will be voting to continue playing these games,” Wyatt said.

“Two of us?” questioned Nicholas.

“I have a suspicion that Klara will be one of the people to vote to continue playing. Like Frederick, she also gambled most her points to land herself in first place.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. She’s already in first place. She can’t make any more money than she has now.” Henrika revealed the holes in Wyatt’s statement.

“Yeah. There’s no need for her to vote to continue playing.” Darius stated.

Wyatt brought his hand to his chin, processing the statements given to him. They were right. Klara was in first place. If everyone voted to leave, she would leave with one million dollars.

“You’re right about that. Then the only person that I can imagine wanting to continue playing is…” Wyatt paused as he turned his head and looked over to Melanie.

Feeling everyone’s gaze on her, she looked up from her plate. She then waved at all of us with a mocking smile.

“You all suspecting me? I can’t guarantee that I’ll vote to leave. At first, I would’ve been fine if everyone left with nothing. But now that Bookworm is in the lead with one million dollars…” She intentionally trailed off, trying to leave us all in suspense.

“Speaking of Klara…what should we do about her?” Nicholas suddenly inquired.

“What do you mean?” Darius asked.

“I do not feel comfortable being stuck in the same facility as that girl. After seeing how she got Frederick killed yesterday, it unnerved me.” He admitted.

“Same here. She didn’t even blink after seeing him get shot up and killed.” Darius added.

“She just walked away from us as if nothing happened,” Elena added as well.

“Is there a need to be worried about her? I agree that her cold attitude is a bit intimidating, but I don’t think that she’s dangerous to be around.” Henrika said.

“I agree with Henrika. Klara wasn’t in the wrong for what happened to Frederick. He was at fault for being greedy,” Iris reminded everyone, “she didn’t kill him. He killed himself in a way.”

“That is true. I am sorry. I got a little carried away about the situation.” Nicholas apologized to everyone.

Wyatt clapped his hands together to regain everyone’s undivided attention. “We are getting off topic here. We have to find a way to escape.”

“It’s impossible to escape. The only way out is for us to vote.” Leona stated.

“We won’t be able to escape by voting with Klara and Melanie around.” Wyatt folded his arms over his chest.

In a short burst of anger, Henrika slammed her hand on the table. She glared at Wyatt then asked, “I understand Melanie. But, why do you keep mentioning Klara? What do you have against her?”

“I do not trust her. She gives off a bad vibe. I feel like it would be safe for all of us if she were not here anymore.” He replied with a harsh tone of voice.

“Let me warn you, youngster. It would be wise not to place a target on her back. She has already killed off one of us. Agitating her might make you the next target.” Salomon warned him.

“I am not putting a target on her back. I am just saying that our chances of escape would be better if she were gone.”

“Does the same apply to me, Doc? Do you think I’ll hinder your chances of returning to your dying wife?” Melanie taunted Wyatt. “You wouldn’t be wrong to think that.”

Wyatt clenched his hands into fists. “Back to the topic at hand, we know that we are inside some facility. If that is the case, no matter how hopeless it seems, there is certainly a way out of here.”

“You sound like a broken record. I’m not repeating myself again.” Darius said.

“There’s no point in trying to escape. Every room has security cameras remember?” I reminded the players.

“Break them.” Melanie bluntly said.

“Break them? Wouldn’t that get us in trouble?” Darius asked.

“Doubt it. I broke the security camera in my room last night. I wasn’t gonna let Caius see me sleep naked.”

“You sleep naked?”

“Yeah. What? You turned on now?” She playfully winked at Darius. He grimaced in response and quickly looked away from her.

“That may not be the best course of action. I am sure that Caius is lenient since it was just one camera.” Wyatt said.

“If we were just suddenly to start rebelling and break all of the cameras, certainly we would be put to death by lethal injection.” Nicholas raised his handed and pointed to the bracelet on his wrist, “Though I seek to escape from this place as much as everyone else here, I do not want to cause a ruckus and die.”

Elena nodded her head in agreement to Nicholas’ statement. “Let’s just abide by the rules and remain alive until we all leave.”

“Good morning everyone! Did you all have pleasant dreams last night?” Everyone looked to the entrance where Caius and Klara stood.

“No, I didn’t! I don’t wish to be here anymore! I want to go home!” Elena demanded.

“Well then, you might be in luck. I have come to bring you to the voting room.” Caius happily announced.

“Are you serious? Thank god! We can finally head home!” Darius cheered.

“This is real, correct? You’re going to let us go after everything that we’ve seen here?” Leona asked.

“Of course! Now please follow after me!” Caius turned around and left the room with everyone following after him.

We all reached the voting room and looked around anxiously. Inside of the room were twelve booths in total. They were in two groups on either is just of the walls. Each of them concealed by a black curtain.

“This is the voting room. Inside of these booths is where you will vote to either continue playing or head home.” Caius informed us.

“I’m guessing that we have to enter the booths matching our bracelet numbers?” I asked.

“Yes, you do. Now go ahead and place your votes. But be warned…temptation is very powerful in this room.” He grinned at us.

Ignoring his warnings, everyone split up and entered their respective booths.

Inside of the booth was a small monitor. It appeared to be a touch screen since I didn’t see any buttons around it. The moment my hand loomed over the screen, it turned on. And to my annoyance, it featured Caius’ face with his signature grin. A cold chill traveled down my spine as I waited for whatever was going to happen…to happen.

Caius’ face eventually shrunk as two buttons appeared on the screen. One button was green with the word ‘Leave’ on it. The other one was red with the word ‘Stay’ on it. The sight of these buttons made me remember that I had yet to make a definitive decision on whether or not I wanted to continue playing or not. If I chose to design playing, we would continue to play another high stakes game for the day.

The chances of someone losing their life in the process would be rather slim, but not nonexistent. If I chose to leave and everyone else voted for the same thing, then everyone except for Klara would leave the facility with no money. And then it would be back to the drawing board for me. I would return to the same situation that I was in two days ago. The IRS would foreclose on my bar, my home, and I wouldn’t be able to save it.

My finger hovered over the ‘Stay’ button. Although it would indeed betray the trust of everyone here, I so desperately needed the money. I couldn’t afford to lose my home. It was my one and final chance to earn enough money to save the bar. I also recalled stating that I would do whatever it took to win the money no matter what. Without any further hesitation, I sealed my fate and the fate of others by pressing the “Stay” button.

Caius’ face on the screen winked at me.

Disgusting.

It then disappeared before the screen turned black. I stepped out from the booth and found that everyone else had completed making their votes.

“The voting is now complete! And the results are…” Caius paused, taking out his tablet. With a press of a button, he activated the surround speakers installed in the room. The sound of drum rolls thundered around the room. “Five out of the eleven remaining players have voted to continue playing! Congratulations! The games will continue for today!”

“What? Are you serious? Five people?” Wyatt exclaimed in shock. His body trembled as he attempted to contain his rage.

“No! No! No!” Elena placed her hands on her head as she dropped down onto her knees in despair. Iris crouched down next to her and tried to comfort her again.

“Who were the five people that voted to continue playing?” Nicholas asked calmly.

My heart rate instantly increased at that moment. I could’ve sworn that it was pounding so loud that I nearly placed my hand over it just to shut it up. But, of course, I didn’t go through with it. Such an action would make others feel suspicious of me. After all, I was one of the five people that chose to continue playing the games. How stupid could I be for not taking into account that someone would ask what everyone else voted on? If Caius revealed the votes to everyone, I could only assume the worst.

Caius’ eyes shifted from left to right. Was he going to do it? Was he going to give out the results of the votes to the other players? Would I immediately face retribution for my choice?

The game moderator leaned forward and brought his index finger to his lips. “That is a secret. If you wish to find that out, you will just have to investigate that matter on your own.”

“Well, I see no fun in that. I’ll just come out and admit that I voted to keep playing.” Melanie willingly revealed herself by raising her hand above her head.

“Now why am I not surprised to hear that?” Henrika turned her head then frowned at her.

“You bitch!” Wyatt angrily approached Melanie. He stopped inches in front of her, glaring intensely. “Do you understand what you have done? You have practically cost someone else here their lives! And for what? Money?”

Those words struck me right in the heart. As one of the people that voted to continue playing, I practically cost someone else their lives for money. While cruel as it may sound, I believed it to be a necessity. I wasn’t doing it for greed. Once I won enough money to do what I had to do, I swore that I would vote to leave Serendipity.

“That’s exactly it, Doc! I came here to play some games and win money! I’m not leaving this place until I win the one million dollars!” Melanie declared without fear.

Something inside of Wyatt must’ve snapped. His eyes bulged. The veins in his eyes became visible. He lost his composure and raised his fist. That idiot intended to punch the girl, knowing full well of what would happen to him if he did. Acting quickly, Nicholas and I restrained him.

“Stop it, Wyatt! Do you want to be killed?” Nicholas exclaimed.

“Don’t let her get to you! She’s intentionally trying to get you angry!” I told him.

“Hey! Don’t interfere! Let the Doc do as he wants!” Melanie snapped at us.

“You keep your mouth shut!” I glared at her.

She returned the glare before eventually letting out a sigh of defeat. “Damn it; you’ve ruined my fun. I’m outta here.” She had waved everyone goodbye before she left the room.

“Are you just going to let her go?” Wyatt looked to us a flushed face. It looked as if he would start swinging at us next.

“There is nothing we can do about her right now, Wyatt. Besides, it is not just her that voted to continue playing.” Nicholas said.

“Who else?” He whipped around then glared at the other players remaining in the room. “Who else voted to continue playing? Do you people not understand that the longer I stay here, the closer my wife is to certain death?”

Darius raised his hands up in front of him in a defensive manner. “Don’t look at me. I voted to leave.”

“Same here! I don’t wish to be here anymore!” Elena said.

“Me too!” Iris said.

“We can go around the room and make whatever claims that we please. But in the end, we’re still trapped here for another day.” Leona stated.

“I already know that! Which is why I am pissed that five people might be the cause of my wife’s death!” Wyatt looked down to the floor with tears forming in his eyes. The poor man looked like he would break down at any moment.

“What should we do now? We’re going to be forced to play another game for today.” Darius stated.

“All we can do now is play and hope for the best tomorrow,” I suggested. My words were hollow and meaningless. What could they hope the best for if I wasn’t selected to play any games for that day? I would only vote to continue playing until I earned the money that I needed.

“No. That won’t solve anything. We have to find the five people responsible for this incident.” Henrika announced.

“I agree! We should find those traitors among us!” Wyatt exclaimed.

“And what exactly are you planning to do after that? Even if we find them and confront them, it won’t change a thing.” I told him.

“Ambrose is right. Even if we find them, they’ll probably continue to vote to keep playing.” Darius added to my point.

“Then perhaps we should just kill them,” Wyatt cruelly suggested to everyone, “if we cannot persuade them to cease with their selfish behavior, then we should pass judgment onto them through the games and kill them.”

“Kill them? No way! That’s a crime! We can’t kill them!” Elena immediately refused the idea.

“I don’t want to be involved in this.” I voiced my input on the idea.

“You are just going to leave them be then? Even though they are keeping us here for another day?” Wyatt turned his glare on me.

“I’m not going to leave them be. But I’m not going to kill them either. This isn’t a game about killing each other.” I declared.

“So cool.” Words of awe came from Darius, Elena, and Iris.

“Well whatever, if you are not going to help us then you are no good to us.” Wyatt decided to ignore me and focused his attention onto the other players. “What do you think about this, Nicholas?”

“Finding them is one thing. Killing them is another. I wish to leave this place as soon as possible, but if we have to kill five other people to do it…”

“Listen to me everyone; there is a time when we must do whatever it takes to survive. And right now five people among us are hindering our chances of survival. If we do not do something about this soon, then every one of us will…”

“That’s enough talk about murdering people!” Henrika yelled at Wyatt, everyone in the room momentarily expressed their shock by the sudden outburst of anger. “It’s already bad enough that one of us has already died. Talking about killing others will only make it worse. Let’s work together so that we can all escape from this place alive.”

“It will be difficult due to the traitors. But certainly, we should be able to convince them to change their minds.” Leona said.

All gazes slowly moved to Wyatt. No one appeared to be on his side throughout the discussion. He realized that and then calmed himself down. “You are right. I jumped the gun there. Forgive me. Forget everything that I said about murdering them.”

“Well…two of us will be playing one of the games today. Let’s hope for the best and pray that no one else dies today,” said Iris.

“Hopefully that won’t turn out to be the case. In the meantime, we have several hours to prepare ourselves for whatever Caius will throw at us.” Darius said.

“Knowing him, I’m sure that it won’t be anything good for us.” mentioned Elena.

“We’ll just have to be on our guard from now on,” Leona warned everyone.

“Like that will be enough.” Wyatt exited the room with a solemn expression.

“I am going to go have a word with him to lift up his spirits. If anyone else needs me, I am always available to talk.” Nicholas had said before he exited the room. Everyone else in the room exchanged glances with each other before we eventually left the room in silence. And thus, ended the first of possibly many voting rounds in Serendipity.