Six children from the age of thirteen to sixteen are thrown into the most deadly game of snakes and ladders they will ever play.
It's a race, but not to see who can get to 100 first, it's to see who can get there at all.
This is no board game.
"Bye Mum, bye Harry," I called as I left the house. "I'm off to Snakes and Ladders now, see you later!"
"Make sure you talk to the other kids," Harry teased me, ruffling my hair. I frowned at him.
"Seriously, Lily," Mum warned me. "Don't be antisocial."
"Yeah, you killjoy," Harry smirked.
I shut the door on them both, but I knew they were right. No matter how much I might want to, I was pretty sure that that goodbye would be pretty much the last words I spoke today. It's not that I didn't want to speak to people, it really wasn't. It was just that every time I tried to speak I choked up and nothing came out. The only people I could have an actual successful conversation with were people who were close to me, but due to my shyness there really weren't many of those. I used to have a friend, but she abandoned me. Well, I kind of ruined the friendship by demanding that she stop taking the pi-
"Oh, sorry, I, I didn't," I stuttered after walking into someone, absorbed by my thoughts. They were obviously in a hurry and disregarded me without even speaking.
I straightened out my skirt and continued on my way. I really hoped this thing would be good, because I hated being out in public.
When I reached the building I had been told to go to, there was a sign on the door which read participants of snakes & ladders please enter through the side door.
Groaning, I walked around the building. The door was in the most dingy alleyway, and looked like the entrance to the most ransacked apartment in the history of the planet, yet when I opened it I was shrouded in complete darkness.
"Participant, please enter through the door to your left," said an artificial voice. I extended my arm and pushed against the wall, and was led into a rather empty room by a really odd-looking lady.
She took me through an extremely thorough safety check, which I passed mainly by nodding and looking innocent. She removed everything from my pockets, and confiscated my bag. Apparently scraps of paper were dangerous. I was made to take out my hair from the ponytail I'd hastily tied it into, which was the most annoying thing. My side fringe hadn't been cut for months because I was trying to grow it out, and so now if I didn't pin it back my eyes were completely covered and I was constantly having to move it out of my face.
In fact, I was left looking quite bedraggled. The cardigan I had been wearing had been removed because the buttons were magnetic, my shirt was somehow unacceptable, because it had sequins on it, so they had supplied me with a flimsy white one, through which my bright purple bra was partially visible. Jeez, never before in my life had I regretted what underwear I had on. My shoes and socks were also taken away, but according to the woman they took those off everyone.
What kind of game was this?
I then had to undergo a health check. She measured how long I could hold my breath for, how easily I lost my breath after exercise and how long it took me to recover. How fast I could run, how high I could jump, how quick my reactions were. You name it, I was tested for it.
Then she finally announced that the tests were over and was about to leave when she noticed my bracelet.
"I'm going to have to take that from you," she told me, not unkindly. I clutched at it and shook my head. "It might jeopardize your chances of winning."
I shook my head again. "I, um, I mean, there's, there's nothing in it."
The woman frowned at me, but then just sighed and left me in the room after telling me that the game would start once three people had entered the room. I heard the door lock. So now all I could do was wait.