Alea Ludo Chapter 6: Declarations of War!

Just like yesterday, everyone stood in the lobby, too stunned to say anything. Melanie defeated Darius in the second game. His life completely in question. He suffered through twelve electrocutions. Each time the voltage had been increased. It would’ve taken a miracle to save that kid’s life if there was even any left.

The doors leading to the game room burst open. Four people in black suits entered the room with a stretcher. Two of them attended to Darius. The other two attended to Melanie. She snaked her arms around their shoulders and used them as a means of support. After she was situated, she left the room with them. Darius, on the other hand, was carried out.

“Oh my god! Darius! No!” Elena uncontrollably wept after the second game had concluded.

“Jesus Christ! Is he dead? Is Darius dead?” Iris stammered as she slowly backed away from the window.

“You all witnessed Melanie check his heart beat. She confirmed it herself that he was dead.” Nicholas spoke with a solemn expression. He hung his head and looked to the ground.

“Two of us have died in a row. And this is only the second day.” Henrika balled her hand into a fist.

I did a quick eye sweep of the room and gauged the reactions of everyone else. Wyatt scowled fiercely at the television screen which showed instant replays of the electrocutions that Darius suffered. As if watching it before wasn’t enough torture.

Leona also stared at the television screen. There wasn’t any really indication of anger shown on her face. However, she clutched onto her wrist as if she were trying to hold something back.

Salomon didn’t show any anger as well. He just kept smoking his cigar with a blank expression.

“That bitch! Now we have two murderers among us that we have to keep an eye out for!” Wyatt claimed.

Everyone’s attention turned towards the entrance as Caius, Melanie, and her two supporters entered the room. Caius and Melanie had similar grins sprawled across their faces. It truly disgusted me how happy the two of them seemed. How could they smile so easily after causing so much pain to someone like Darius?

“Hello, everyone! Did you all enjoy the spectacular Prisoner’s Dilemma game?” Caius inquired.

Stepping away from her supporters, Melanie placed one hand on her hip. Her Cheshire smile disappeared for a moment after she swayed a bit too much, losing her balance. Her hand quickly pressed against the wall, saving her from an embarrassing fall in front of everyone. She must’ve still felt weak after suffering through so many electrocutions.

“What’s up bitches? What’d you all think about my win?” She winked playfully at us before extending her free arm out to give us all the peace sign. That bitch was seriously pushing it. She knew that everyone had their limits. But, she clearly didn’t care. She killed someone and acted like she was walking on cloud nine. People like her — I believed they only existed in fiction. Someone that killed for the fun of it couldn’t be allowed to exist in reality.

However, there she stood. She killed someone like it was nothing and she was happy about it. She mentioned that Darius wasn’t the only body under her belt. Maybe that’s why it all seemed like nothing to her. She had killed before.

Elena approached Melanie then tightly gripped onto her shirt. She repeatedly shook the young girl as she continued to bawl her eyes out. “Why did you do that? Why did you kill Darius? Why couldn’t you just cooperate with him?”

She ceased with her actions then stared the bitch directly in the eyes. No verbally response came from the bitch. She only stood there — smiling her usual Cheshire smile.

“Elena…” Iris softly called out to her.

“Both of you would have survived this game without suffering any injuries. You could have both…” She released her grip on Melanie and dropped down onto her knees. She covered her face with her hands, sobbing uncontrollably.

“Hey, you saw what happened down there. I did try to cooperate with him, but he chose to betray me twice,” Melanie stated the facts, “instead of blaming me, you oughta blame him for his stupidity.”

I had enough of that girl and her attitude. I stepped in and glared at her. “You were given plenty of chances to cooperate with him. You knew what you were doing out there.”

She looked at me with a condescending expression then scoffed. “Yeah, you’re right. I did try to kill him. I mean, come on; any of you would’ve done the same if you were in my position.”

“Allow me to speak on behalf of everyone else here,” Leona confidently took a step forward, cutting her way into the conversation, “none of us would have betrayed one another.”

Another scoff of disbelief escaped from Melanie’s mouth. She then raised her head slightly and folded her arms underneath her chest, meanwhile giving off an arrogant smirk. “That’s bullshit, and you know it, Detective.”

“What are you trying to say?”

“I’m saying that the temptation of money can reveal the true nature of us human beings. We’ll do things that we wouldn’t normally do under any circumstances.”

“You’re wrong! We won’t become monsters like you!” Iris pointed at Melanie.

“Monsters?” A feigned gasp came from her as she placed a her hand over her heart. “You think that I’m a monster? Have you taken a look in the mirror lately, Rainbow?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Disappointed with the response, the bitch raised her finger then wagged it back and forth, clicking her tongue in the process. “Don’tcha understand that by accepting to play these games that we’re all practically monsters? I mean no doubt we know that this is totally illegal.”

“The youngster has a point. We had a vague idea of how this was going to turn out and yet we still accepted to play these games.” Salomon said.

“And for what? The promise of winning a million dollars? Would any of you wanna play these games if they weren’t offering any money as a prize?” She confidently looked around the room as silence befell on everyone. No one dared to speak up to challenge her. We all knew that she was right. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. Don’t try and act as if you’re all a bunch of saints. In case none of you have realized it yet, normal people aren’t chosen for these games.”

I slammed my foot on the ground then pointed at her. “Regardless of why we decided to play these games, it doesn’t give you the right to go around killing us off as you please.”

“Are you sure about that, Barkeep? It sure seems that way since I just killed that dumb ass and I’m getting away with thirty points. Perhaps even forty since his points have to go somewhere.” She mocked me, shrugging her shoulders.

“How can you speak about killing someone so nonchalantly? Don’t you care at all?” Wyatt yelled at her. He erupted from the sofa, glaring intensely. If looks could kill, she would’ve been dead days ago.

The bitch extended her arm forward and smiled wickedly at Wyatt. Her eyes shone with clear malicious intent. “Don’t act like you’re some saint, Doc. I overheard your conversation earlier about suggesting to kill me along with the other traitors. The fact that you’re yelling at me for killing someone when you were planning on doing it is totally hypocritical.”

“No…you’re mistaken…that was just…” Wyatt stammered with his words as he took a step back.

She had got him. He found it difficult to come up with a logical response to her statement. Who could blame her? It was hypocritical of him.

“Face it, Doc. You’re fine with murder if it’s not you getting killed. As I mentioned earlier, if you were down there in that game, you would’ve betrayed him. The only thing that you can care about or trust in this world is money. It doesn’t betray you like everything else.”

Having said her final piece, she returned to her supporters. She placed her arms around their shoulders then walked towards the exit. I refused to let it end that way. I wasn’t going to allow that girl to kill someone and get away like it was nothing.

I quickly stepped out in front of her and blocked the exit. There was a brief moment of silence once again as the two of us engaged each other in a staredown.

“Get outta my way.”

“Let me tell you something. You’re not going to get away with this. You’re going to get what’s coming to you eventually.” I warned her.

“Oh yeah? Is that supposed to be some kinda threat or something?”

I shook my head in response to her question. “No. It’s a promise. And I keep my promises.”

“Oh yeah, tough guy? What’re you gonna do? Kill me?” She removed her arm from around one of her supporters. She slowly grazed her thumb across her throat with a condescending expression on her face as a taunt to me.

“No. I already said that this was not a game about killing each other.” I reiterated.

“If you’re not gonna kill me, then there’s nothing that you can do to harm me in any way.”

“We’ll see about that.” I stood aside, allowing her to pass through.

“Whatever. Oh, and you don’t need to worry about me voting to keep playing tomorrow. Now that I’m in the lead, I don’t wanna play anymore.” Melanie exited from the room with her supporters.

Caius frantically clapped his hands together to gain everyone’s attention, “Well, that was interesting. Anyway, this concludes the end of today’s game. You are all welcome to leave the lobby room now.” He announced.

“What are you going to do with Darius’ body?” Elena looked over to Caius.

“Take him to the infirmary room and let the medical personnel treat him, of course. He needs to be in top condition if he wishes to keep playing these games.”

“Wait. Darius isn’t dead?” Henrika exclaimed.

Caius stared blankly at her for a moment before his smile returned. “Of course not. Do not be ridiculous. He has suffered some burns from all the electrocutions, but he will live.”

Hope returned in the eyes of Elena as she quickly stood to her feet. She rushed over to Caius and firmly placed her hands on his shoulders. “Oh, thank goodness! Please! Can we see him? Can we go and see how Darius is doing?”

“Yes. I too would like to see him. I am a Doctor after all. I do not trust the life of that young man in the hands of your medical personnel.” Wyatt said.

An exaggerated gasp suddenly escaped from the game moderator’s mouth after hearing those words from Wyatt. “Well, I am just offended by your words, Wyatt! Our medical personnel are top of the line! The best of the best!”

“I will be the judge of that once I see them personally. Now, where is the infirmary room?” Wyatt demanded the location from Caius. The man eventually gave in and led Elena and Wyatt to the infirmary.

At first, I wished to join them to check on his condition. But, I realized that I would only get in the way. And plus the overwhelming guilt that I felt for being one of the people responsible for Darius’ fate also hindered me. He could’ve died in that game. And it would’ve been my fault. Well, a portion of it anyway.

I had nothing against Darius. He seemed like an okay kind of guy. He tried to stay positive in most situations, despite failing most of the time. And he seemed eager to please, which annoyed me a little. But, it didn’t mean that I wanted him dead.

“Thank goodness. I’m happy to hear that Darius isn’t dead after all.” Iris said after heaving a sigh of relief.

“Same here. Melanie had us worried there for a while,” mentioned Henrika.

“Do you think that she did that on purpose to get a rise out of us? Like how she intentionally told us that she voted to continue playing earlier today?” Nicholas asked.

“I would not put it past her. That girl has a couple of screws loose in her.” Leona mentioned while tapping the side of her head.

“Tell me about it.” I agreed with her statement.

“But, I was so sure that Darius had died though. She pressed her ear against his chest and everything.” Iris reminded us.

“Now that I think back on it. Melanie placed her ear against the right side of his chest. The heart is on the left side.” Leona stated.

“Oh yeah! You’re right!”

I clicked my tongue in annoyance. Everything Melanie had done was nothing more than an elaborate plot to piss off everyone. And I had fallen for it. Thinking about it only made me more upset. “I’m certain that bitch did that just to piss us off. I swear that little girl isn’t going to get away with what she did.”

“Now, now, do not do something that you are going to regret,” Nicholas warned me.

“Oh, trust me. I’m not going to regret it. I’ve figured out a major weakness of hers after watching the match.” I announced to the group.

“I’m fine with you doing whatever you have to do to her as long as it does not involve killing her,” Leona told me.

“I won’t go back on my word. I’m not going to kill her. But, she can’t keep going around doing as she pleases during these games. She’s far too dangerous.”

“What do you plan on doing to her then? Physical violence isn’t allowed outside of the games, remember?” Salomon reminded me.

“I don’t intend to harm her physically. But mentally, that’s a different story.” I couldn’t help but smile as devious plan of revenge concocted in my mind.

“Oh! Attacking the mind instead of the body sounds awesome! I can’t wait to see what you will do, Ambrose!” eagerly said, Iris.

“I would advise you to be cautious with that plan of yours, Ambrose,” Nicholas suddenly interjected, “attacking the mind so carelessly can produce some unpredictable results.”

“You sound like you’re speaking from personal experience.” Salomon looked over to Nicholas with a curious expression.

Nicholas folded his arms and nodded his head. He lowered his head then said, “I am a psychiatrist after all. People tell me about their insecurities and mental weaknesses all the time. So, I know how to break one’s mind.”

“What is it like breaking someone’s mind?” I felt the need to ask.

“I have never done it before myself. But, I do remember a time when a colleague of mine got angry at one of his patients and verbally assaulted him.” He looked up from the ground and stared directly at me. “He was truly relentless. He exploited the patient’s weaknesses so much that the man eventually wound up killing himself.”

“Oh my god. That sounds horrible.” Iris brought her hands up to her face.

“It truly was. The media was all over it within hours, and they destroyed that man’s career. He got blacklisted from his job, and he too eventually killed himself.”

“I do believe that I remember reading about something like that happening somewhere before,” Leona said.

“Anyway, I did not mean to create such a tense atmosphere for us. I am just warning you that you should be careful.” Nicholas told me.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” I nodded my head in understanding.

“Well, it’s getting late. Perhaps we should get some rest and hope that we can all go home tomorrow.” Iris said before she let out a small yawn.

“I would not get your hopes up. Remember that besides Melanie, there are four other people that wish to continue playing these games.” Henrika reminded us.

“If that’s the case, I might vote to continue playing these games tomorrow,” I said.

“What? Why would you do that, Ambrose?” Iris exclaimed.

“Have you lost your mind or something?” Henrika and Iris glared at me in response.

I slowly raised my hands in a defensive manner. “I said that I might. I know it sounds selfish, but I don’t like the fact that Melanie is in the lead.”

“You should just accept it. If you plan to knock Melanie down a peg, you might wind up getting others killed in the process.” Nicholas said.

“So, you just want to let her walk away with all of that money unpunished? She nearly killed Darius today. Who knows what she will do the next time she is chosen to play.”

“I do not like the idea as much as you do. But, there is nothing that we can do about it without risking the lives of the remaining players.”

“We’ve just witnessed another possible threat in choosing to continue playing these games for money. And you wish to continue playing for revenge?” Leona’s cold stare unnerved me. She looked at me like I was nothing more garbage. Eyes like those were familiar to me.

“It is not a good idea, Ambrose. I know what happened to Darius today was tragic, but we cannot risk staying another day in here.” Iris spoke softly.

I looked between Iris, Leona, and Nicholas. All three of them had stern expressions. My gazed lowered down to the ground, and I let out a sigh of defeat. Guess I was no match for those three. My anger subsided once they pinpointed me as the bad guy. That was the last thing that I wanted.

“All right. I will vote to leave tomorrow. But, it still does not change the fact that there are four other people here that still wish to continue playing.” I told them. The actually number was three, excluding Melanie and I. I didn’t want to lie to those people, but I couldn’t let them know what I voted.

If they somehow found out that information, no doubt they would turn against me. Everyone would’ve targeted me for the duration of the games. And I didn’t want to be involved in an environment in which I had to look over my shoulder every ten seconds or less. I had gotten enough of that at home.

Leona approached me then placed her hand firmly on my shoulder. “When the time comes we will weed them out. Until then we will just have to continue voting.” Her cold stare vanished. They returned to their neutral state.

“And if we do weed them out, then what? It’s not like we can do anything to them outside of the games.” I said.

“If the games are going to continue to get dangerous from here on out, then we can use that to intimidate them.” Iris eagerly suggested.

“It is as good a plan as any.” Nicholas shrugged his shoulders.

“I guess I can get behind that plan.” I nodded.

“Finding them in the first place will be the most difficult part though. I wonder how things will turn out for us tomorrow.” Salomon said.

“We will just have to wait and see. Until then let us get some sleep. We will need to make sure we are well rested for tomorrow.” Leona said.

“Good night everyone,” Iris said goodnight to everyone before we all dispersed to our respected rooms.

I entered my room then crawled my way to the front of the bed. I lied across on my back then stared blankly at the ceiling. My hand was brought to my stomach as I grimaced. It was like there was a knot in my stomach. Not that it was surprising, though. It was certainly an eventful day. I betrayed everyone and nearly got Darius killed. Despite yesterday’s experience concerning Frederick’s death, I had clearly learned nothing from it.

If Darius were somehow killed during that game, I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself. Although we were nowhere near close enough even to be considered friends, I still cared about his well-being. Sure, he was an annoying brat, he seemed like he had a bright future ahead of him and I didn’t want it ruined because of the games. Then again, it wasn’t like I was the one that convinced him to participate in the first place.

My train of thought shifted from thinking about Darius over to Melanie. That smug little bitch clearly didn’t care about Darius’ life. She openly betrayed him on multiple occasions throughout the game, nearly killing him. Because of her actions, she was in the lead with thirty points. So, if everyone chose to leave the facility, she would’ve left with one million dollars. The thought of that happening left a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t care who won the money. I would rather the old man than that bitch.

Something had to be done about her. I already knew about her mental weakness. It became clear to me during her match against Darius. However, it wouldn’t prove to be of any use if she was in the lead or participating in any of the games.

I clenched my hands into fists and shut my eyes to go to sleep.

Time passed, and my eyes opened after I heard the doorbell to my room sound off. I groaned in irritation before having left my bed to answer the door. Lo and behold, Iris was the one to wake me up again.

“What is it?”

“It’s morning, Ambrose. It’s time to wake up and have some breakfast with the rest of us.” She happily announced.

“Just to be clear, are you going to be waking me up every single day for breakfast?”

“I don’t just wake you up. I wake up everyone else.” She stated. So basically, the girl had elected herself as the alarm clock for everyone.

“Shouldn’t you just let us sleep and wake up whenever we want? People must be pretty exhausted after playing and watching the games so far.”

“But, if I did that then no one would wake up in time to eat my delicious breakfast.” Her mouth curved downward and her lower lip quivered. Small whimpering noises escaped from her mouth. What an odd transformation. She went from an alarm clock to a puppy.

Then, her eyes suddenly widened. She gave me the classic puppy dog pout. Despite how embarrassing it may have looked and sounded, it somehow managed to affect me.

“You made breakfast again? Wait a second, how early do you wake up?”

“It’s eight right now…so I wake up around five thirty and make breakfast around seven.” She answered.

“Why do you feel the need to wake up so early? You know what. Never mind. I will be right out.” I told her before I closed the door. After taking a moment to heave a sigh, I took a step forward then stopped upon hearing a crunching sound beneath my foot.

I looked down.

A piece of paper rested under my foot. I picked it up then read it.

It read, “If you wish to escape from this facility, you should know who your allies and enemies are. Do not trust Melanie or Nicholas. They are two of the five traitors that voted to continue playing the games.”

I scratched the back of my head then flipped the paper over to see the back. Nothing. I crumpled up the paper then put it in my pocket for the time being. Multiple questions raced through my mind.

Who the hell sent me the letter in the first place? Was it Iris?

Unlikely.

She didn’t seem like the type of person that would do that.

I began to pace back and forth around the room, contemplating on how to proceed with the information given to me by the mysterious sender. Multiple theories raced through my mind. The first one was that it was the work of Caius to start some drama and sue seeds of distrust among us players. However, I dismissed the idea once I realized that was what the voting was for.

The next theory was that someone was desperately trying to warn me about Melanie and Nicholas. I was already aware that Melanie was a dangerous individual. But, Nicholas, on the other hand, seemed a little too far-fetched. It crossed my mind to ask around and check to make sure. However, I cast aside that idea.

I didn’t want to be manipulated into starting something like a witch hunt. I headed into the bathroom then freshened up before I left my room and walked towards the cafeteria to join the other players. Along the way I encountered Wyatt. He was just leaving the infirmary room. Our eyes met, and he called out to me.

“Ambrose? Were you planning on checking on Darius?” He inquired. “He is conscious right now. You can go ahead and visit him if you wish.”

With that said, Wyatt left and headed down the hallway. To be honest, I wasn’t planning on visiting Darius. At least not until I was ready. I was partially responsible for what happened to him. Sure, I wasn’t planning on telling him that directly, but still, I was already there.

The infirmary room was right there in front of me. All I had to do was open the door and step inside, no problem. Or at least that’s how I wanted to perceive it. Of course, it was a problem. I didn’t know what I was going to do or what to say to him. I didn’t even have a clue as to how he was going to react.

It was all very complicated. It was too early in the day for me to be dealing with shit like that. Unfortunately, it was too late to back down. I mustered up my courage then entered the infirmary room. It was a rather large room. Large enough to contain twelve medical beds. All of them divided by white curtains hanging around them.

Of course, one of them was occupied by Darius. But to my surprise, Elena and Iris kept him company. He was wrapped up in bandages and was being spoon-fed oatmeal by Elena while Iris suspiciously looked on. Since he seemed to be enjoying himself, I decided to turn back and leave. However, Iris wandered over and forced me to join them.

“Ambrose, I didn’t expect to see you come and visit. Please have a seat.” She smiled brightly, forcing me down into one of the seats next to Darius’ bed in between Elena and him.

“Ambrose is here too? Man, I didn’t know that I was this popular.” Darius weakly laughed.

I guess I was worried for nothing. If he was capable of joking around in his condition, then he was completely fine. Or perhaps that’s just how he wished to act while we were in front of him.

“Don’t let it get to your head, kid. I was just passing by.” I told him.

“Regardless if you were passing by or not, it means a lot that you came to visit.” Elena chimed in.

“So what’s the diagnosis?” I inquired.

“Wyatt and the other doctors mentioned that my wounds aren’t too severe. I should be up and moving in about two days or so.” Darius answered.

“Then make sure that you rest up.” My eyes bulged after hearing a familiar, obnoxious voice further down the room. Everyone reluctantly turned their heads in the direction of the white curtain that had been moved aside. To our immediate anger, the voice belonged to none other than Melanie. “You’re gonna need it for the next time you play the games.”

“You?! What are you doing in here?!” Darius exclaimed in horror. Certainly, the last person that he had expected to see was her.

“Have you forgotten? I was electrocuted during the game too, Dumb ass.” She clarified. “Those people in the black suits brought me here to get some medical treatment. The doctors spent more time on you than they did on me for some reason.”

“Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Darius was far more injured than you were.” Iris angrily mentioned.

Melanie puffed her cheeks then pouted in response. “How rude. Whatever happened to chivalry? Ladies first, remember?”

“He nearly lost his life because of you.” added Elena.

“That’s right. Nearly. He’s still alive and kicking, unfortunately. So, you guys were worried over nothing yesterday.”

“Nothing?! I almost died!” Darius yelled at her.

He fiercely scowled at her. Not that I could blame him. The bitch was always so blunt and childish. But then again, I expected nothing less from that girl. She was a lost cause.

To ease the tension in the room, Elena shoved the spoon of oatmeal into Darius’ mouth. She then firmly placed her hands on his cheeks then turned his head so that he was facing her.

“Ignore her, Darius. She’s just trying to rile you up like she does with everyone else. Don’t fall for her taunts. You just focus on resting, okay? That’s an order.”

It was a rare sight to behold. Never thought that Elena was capable of ordering someone around like that. She was always so shy, quiet, and timid.

Darius’ face turned bright red. He averted his gaze away from Elena and nodded his head. He soon calmed down and reclined in his bed.

Melanie lost interest as evident by the fact that she clicked her tongue and then moved the curtain to conceal herself.

“So, we’re going to be doing the voting round again today, right? Hopefully, we’ll be able to go home this time. I do NOT want to have another near-death experience like that again.” Darius said then groaned afterward.

“Don’t you worry about a thing. I’m sure that we’ll be going home today.” Iris proclaimed proudly. She stood up and struck a dramatic pose for emphasis.

“You suddenly seem confident in that statement of yours,” I said.

“Of course, I’m confident in my statement. I had a dream last night that we all voted to go home. Perhaps it was not a dream, but rather a premonition.” She told me.

Elena’s eyes seemed to lighten up as she said, “A premonition you say? What? Do you have psychic abilities now or something?”

“Hey! When I have dreams like these, they usually come out becoming reality! Just you watch! We are going to leave this facility one day!”

Almost immediately our attention was drawn up to the intercom in the ceiling. It was Caius. He informed everyone about the voting round. It was time to begin. The second round of the voting that would determine whether we would stay here or go. Everyone in the room, excluding Darius, stood to their feet then left the room, heading towards the voting room to decide our fate.