Segrishment - [Part 1]
I woke up. I felt groggy. I got up and dipped the bucket into the stream, filling it.. Tommy didn’t wake, and I decided not to wake him. Soon, we’d be in the thick of it, and I think Tommy deserves to sleep a little more anyway. He’s a good kid. I filled the bucket, and dumped it into the rock, where it swirled in that curious pattern that always captivates me. Around right, around left, to the right and to the left concurrently breaking off into two different streams, then swirling into the hole together. The old-heads once explained to me how it works, it’s a natural series of engraved rivets in the stone, which somehow have this strange effect.
Soon after I dumped the water in, I placed the bucket on my mark. Water slowly started falling from the ceiling into the bucket. The folks above us, we have never met, but every day they do as I do and dump the water into their own stone. It’s supposed to represent C.A.T, which is community, absurdity, and trust.
Soon after, Tommy awoke. He put on his clothes, we both put on our protective vests, and we went out of our room, deeper into the ground, towards the arena. Mostly the guard would leave us to our own devices, but they built this arena, they left this protective gear, and naturally the brutal among us organized and now force everyone to show up every day. Depending on the mood, one to five people will die today, but no more than that unless by some rule breaking. The game has strict rules. Anyone in the audience can die. If you don’t show up, you die. Best bet is to look stone-faced, small, unnoticeable. Best bet is to disappear.
I’ve thought about leaving. Taking Tommy and just getting out of here, but what is there for us out there? Strange people with strange habits that I’m unfamiliar with. Maybe we would live longer, but then maybe those strange people would tear us up alive. Or worse, make us feel smaller than we already do. At least here we have some intrinsic respect, some intrinsic value. Out there? I’ve heard they look at us dwellers with a look of morbid curiosity and at times hatred.
The first name was called. Then the second. Then the third. Then the fourth. Four names called, two will die. Two from team A, One from team B, One from Team F. The relief I experienced was negligible. We were all prepared to die, if necessary.. At least the Old Heads told us that HE will take us in after we’re dead, and there will be no more fighting, no more unknown, no more disrespect, just love, just connection, just understanding and knowledge.
Me and Tommy began to leave along with the crowd, when Tommy slipped on the wet stone staircase, and fell back. He knocked against a man twice his size, who also slipped and fell into the seating. People watched on, enjoying their humiliation. The larger man, 6'4 and built, stood up. He let out an angry roar; “Do you know who I am?, Do you know who I fucking am?, you will be hung for this!”. The people stopped laughing, realizing then who it was. It was Thrack.
Thrack has killed many, and the fact that he’s still alive attests to his combative skill set, size and strength. Through his successes, he has become well known, garnering favor not only with every sect and the organized fighting syndicates, but even, if we were to believe the rumors, with members of the guard. I had never met or seen a member of the guard, nor anyone else external to our underground, for that matter. The idea that a man here garnered favor with, entered into life with someone in the guard? It was unthinkable, it was amazing.
Thrack would find Tommy, and he would kill Tommy, of this I had no doubt. I loved Tommy, and I was not willing to let that happen. “Tommy, we need to go”, I said to him, and we took off. Thrack was still making his way after us, but we were smaller, more agile. We made it through the crowd, banked a left. Banked a right, another right, then a left. I saw an incline, and we took it. Took the next. Found our room, entered, and we shut the curtain. Tommy was crying.
“I’m dead, I’m fucking dead. He’s going to kill me. Nobody will stop him.”, he said, and he was right. I was silent, racking my brain. We could mount a defense, but we would soon after be killed by the syndicates. Seeing him cry, knowing the hopelessness of this situation, I was nearing tears of frustration myself, holding my head as blood rushed to it. I was panicking, but I was thinking. And then it dawned on me.
“Tommy.” I said. “What?!” he replied, watching me impatiently. “WHAT!?!” he said desperately as I stared at him, not answering. “We have to leave. We have to leave the city.” I finally said, looking at Tommy with what felt like terror.
The crying started again.