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If You’re Reading This, It Means I’m Dead

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If you’re reading this, it means I’m dead. I lost the game, and these notes will be scattered across the manor I resided in until the day of my death. I wonder if anybody would even be able to read this, the baron of the manor has always been sketchy. No way just anyone would be able to uncover the hell of this place, but hey, if you’re reading this, congratulations.

Now you’re probably wondering how I ended up here in the first place, so let me tell you. I grew up as an orphan in the West, at a young age I was hired as a miner. My coworkers took care of me, making sure I didn’t drop a pick axe on my foot or the candle on my construction hat didn’t fall off and would cut off my line of sight. They looked out for me as if I was their own child.

The money we got from mining was never enough. I envied the rich men who would come and take away all the coal and ore we found, only giving us pennie’s for our hard work. It wasn’t fair that they got to ride off their high horse where as I had to slave my day away in a mine for a couple bucks. I didn’t take what I got for granted, though.

At least, not for awhile, I didn’t. You see, I was actually grateful for every meal I ate and every day I got through. Those stupid rich bastards would never be able to survive a day in my life. It just proved I was stronger than them, and that their karma for treating me like a maggot would one day come. How I wish to know if karma really ever did hit.

I was in my early twenties, things were the same, except I was desperate for a new way of living. One of my coworkers, I’ll call him Benny, that was his name, showed me a map of different mines along the coast. Normally, I would see this as regular work; go to a new location, mine everything you see, then head back home. But this situation was different.

Benny told me one of these thirteen mines had tons and tons of gold in it. Enough to last someone for generations. This was big news, it was great news. Getting my hands on this gold would mean never having to step foot in a mine ever again. No more waking up at 6am and heading off to get an early start on the job while my coworkers slept to the latest they could.

He never told me there would be a catch, and thinking about the events after everything, he definitely didn’t tell me on purpose. A few days after, I gathered my men around and told them of these mines, repeating what Jackson had told me. Needless to say, they were all ecstatic. It was a good day for us, we would no longer have to slave every day away.

Two weeks after we were at our first mine, and it was just filled with coal and ore. The next one had the same result, and so did the one after. By the time we cleared the eighth mine, a lot of us were tired and giving up hope. But we kept pushing, and pushing, and pushing. I think all of our pushing just made us greedier and greedier to get what was promised within one of these thirteen caves.

After about three months, we finally were at the last location. This had to be the one. It was a bit more difficult to get access to this mine though, locals deemed it unsafe so it required us to do a little dirty work to get into it. Looking back, none of us in our right minds would have gone in there if it was labeled dangerous. There was definitely something weird going on in the village the mine was located in, only later to be revealed a meteorite had crashed near the site we were at long before.

That information seems irrelevant, wouldn’t you think? Funny thing though, that stupid meteorite is what cost my friends their lives and put me to where I am today, writing this.

Me and a few of my coworkers went to a local explosive shop and stole some dynamite, as the mine was blocked by debris and rocks. We had this elaborate plan of blowing it all up and hooking out the gold we could find. How I wish that was how it actually went.

The day finally came where we would ignite the mine to get inside, to finally put this long journey to an end. I set up the explosives before everyone was awake, wanting to make sure that none of us would get injured by the dynamite, and if we did, it wouldn’t be fatal. By midday, we were all ready. A lot of us were very anxious, and many excited. Three months if hard labor had to pay off for this glorious victory.

I lit the dynamite and watched as rocks exploded and flew into the air. Next were the screams. The ground beneath us shook, crumbling and sinking, as if it were an earthquake. I could hear one of my buddies shouting my name, and i turned my head swiftly to him before watching a large rock fall on his head and knock him out.

Before we knew it we were inside the cave, but not in the way we wanted to be. We were crushed, covered in rocks and ore. The tumbling of nature settling around our bodies as I heard the men I grew up with scream in pain before, silence. I sighed, looking up through a small crack to see the sun. It seemed that the explosives had stopped and the rocks had settled. Fate was in my hands now, and those of us that didn’t die from this would now starve to death.

I heard another loud crash before dread filled my body as I remembered I delayed a piece of dynamite from exploding in case the ones we lit off weren’t enough. Before I knew it, everything on the left side of me exploded once more, as if everything was starting up again, and I blacked out.

I remember waking up in a hospital bed, the nurse looked at me expectantly when I opened my eyes, well, one of them at least. The entire left side of my body was covered in third degree burns and I could barely feel anything, it was remarkable I was still breathing. She told me that I was part of an explosion, and that I was buried under rocks for four days. There were fifteen other men buried under there with me, but I was the only one to make it out alive.

It took awhile to register in my head what she had told me, and my heart churned. Thoughts started flooding my head. I was the only survivor of what I had caused. What I started. Would I be labeled as a murderer for it? How would I come back to everyone and tell them what happened?

I’ll save you the details of my recovery and what I did after the accident. It would make this note ten times longer if I explained how the meteorite nearby the mine site laced our brains to make us more greedy and how it permanently made a change in my emotions. I became very gloomy afterwards, retiring as a miner and started working my way up to be a prospector instead.

My mood swings became more terrible as the days passed, I could have sworn those rocks were the trigger to them. I’d be so depressed one day and absolutely boiling with anger for no reason the next. People in my hometown stopped pitying me and started growing tired of what I had become. Started actively avoiding me, not that I cared much. They only supplied me with forced pity and barely anything as compensation for what I went through. I was still poor, but now I was poor with no friends.

The days passed, weeks felt like months, and my situation wasn’t getting better. I’d spend long nights in the old shed one of the locals who felt sorry for my situation gave me. I’d stay up all night, studying ores and gems. I became so delusional over it. One day, the mailman came to me, he seemed very shy and nervous, as if he wanted to get away from me as fast as possible. That was when the letter came.

Sometimes I wonder, ‘What if I never accepted it?’ but, I did. And that’s why I’m writing this now. So you don’t make the same mistake I did, but if you’re reading this you probably already did. However, maybe you won’t die like I did.

The letter consisted of a promise to fulfill me of all my wishes and provide me of great wealth had I participated in these games of 1v4. It seemed weird, and it was really fucking sketchy, but I was desperate for a change in my life. I was tired of being poor and scraping at dirt all day.

So I went. Bad idea. I should’ve known there was a catch. A really, really, bad catch. These weren’t just your typical 1v4 hide and go seek games, they were a matter of life and death. Four of us—survivors is what the baron of the manor called me when I arrived— were put into these ‘maps’ against someone. It wasn’t just a regular person, they were called hunter, but these were extraterrestrial beings. Something that you’d only see in children’s books. I mean, if I told you I was being chased by a woman who looked like her head had been stitched onto her body with a blood red dress and could summon a mirror that mimicked her every move at her will would you believe me?

We had to run from these hunters, and if we got knocked down by then we would be placed on these rocket chairs, that would shoot us up into the sky if we lost. We could be rescued of course, sometimes only once, but usually twice, before we were sent back to the manor. I don’t know how the rockets got us back to that hellish place, I always blacked out before I even left the ground. Sometimes not everyone made it out though, and fatalities would only become more common as the games progressed.

I remember my last game. I was with three others; a man with a rich posture, a woman who wore a net to cover her face, and carried around a bug net, and lastly a small blonde child. All four of us were forced to drink a small dose of this weird medicine before the matches started. And as it always went, we were plopped into this arena that looked like an abandoned factory in the middle of the forest. It was like I was trapped in a human version of a hamster cage.

There were these machines that looked like typewriters we had to decipher. There was around eight or more littered around the map, but we only had to decode five to escape. I hated these machines and how loud they were, they often triggered these quick calibrations that I had mere seconds to finish or else they’d take away some progress of the machine.

I remember I felt like something was watching me, and I stopped decoding to turn around to see if it was one of my teammates, but nothing was there. So I resumed my task, hearing a pop of a finished cipher in the distance. Someone had finished decoding one of the machines, which was great We only had four more to finish before being free of this place until we were thrown back in for another sick round of this game.

See, we knew that the hunters were near us when our hearts started beating rapidly, and my breath hitched as soon as I felt my chest racing. I turned around, ready to defend myself at whatever cost, before seeing a horrendous version, dare I say hunter form, of the bug woman I was teamed with in this match. She hadn’t seen me yet, and I was too struck to move.

I knew I had to act quick, or she’d have me on the ground bleeding in a matter of seconds. I’ll be honest, I don’t know what came over me to do what I was going to do. Normally I’d run for my life, but something in me told me in order to survive I had to kill.

She was looking around, as if she knew I was nearby but couldn’t pinpoint my location. This was my chance, I had thought. I could catch her by surprise. I pounced on her as a cat would to a mouse, and smashed her head into the ground with my fist. She struggled against me but not for long, and I could sense the fear coming from her despite the fact that I was the survivor and she was the hunter.

I don’t know what happened next, I knocked her out and I still couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched. My mind started to grow foggy. You know those meds I mentioned earlier? Well, those weren’t just your ordinary meds. But of course at the time I didn’t know that, and once again I was met with my heart rapidly racing again.

The small child in the match with us ran into my line of view yards ahead of me, and her eyes widened in fear before running off. I instantly started chasing after her, desperate to get some kind of explanation of the the hell was happening, even if it was from a child. I had forgotten about my racing heartbeat and was unaware of the beast following behind me before a twig loudly snapped which grabbed the attention of me and the little girl.

We had never gone against this hunter before, he had long dirty hair, and seemed to be wearing those plague masks. His claws were long and his breath smelled so, so bad. I took a step back, falling against a wall. He was cornering me, and the small child was nowhere to be seen now. Somehow I knew this was the end as he approached me slowly. I cursed myself out in my head before praying to every God I could think of to get me out of this alive. This wasn’t how I wanted this to end.

Of course, I wouldn’t be here to write this if I died from that, but in the beginning I told you that the only way you’d be able to read this was if I died, and I also mentioned that this was the last game I ever participated in. This was the match that I lost, the match that made me lose the game, which would result in my death.

He pounced on me as I had to the bug woman, and I was too frozen in fear to defend myself, feeling my body shut down on itself as blood flooded out of my mouth. Everything was black, I don’t know what happened after. I died shortly after that match, but not before writing this. Not before a polite and short conversation with the baron of the manor who spoke to me very kindly and provided me another deal I just couldn’t resist, even on my death bed.

And that’s why you’re reading this. You are going to be part of the next game. And me? Well, I get a new shot at life because of you. Don’t panic, I’m sure you’ll be promised the same deal after your demise, and some other soul will be forced to take your place. I thank you for reading my story, and I am terribly sorry for this. But I need to get out. I need to live the life I’ve always dreamed of.

Yours truly,

Norton Campbell

I woke up on a poorly fixed bed, reaching my hand over to the nightstand next to me and feeling a piece of paper. Picking it up, I rubbed my eyes before my heart dropped as I read the contents of it.

“Congratulations! You will be scheduled for your first match at 14:00. Being late or not showing up will result in your death, see you soon.”

The notes of the diary I found last night wasn’t a dream.