Between a Rock and a Hard Place

"Why won't you tell me?"

"There's no point, Gavin."

"Don't you want to get out of this place? There's got to be a way. . ."

"I never said I didn't want to," said Kris. "I didn't say it wasn't possible, either. But It's extremely difficult to do, with death as the most likely outcome."

"Death's got to be better than here, anyway."

We were in the large room waiting to be called to fight. There was the usual strained, tense atmosphere in the room, but I slumped against the grimy wall as though immune to it. Incredible as it sounded, I had bigger things to worry about than the death match awaiting me.

"Listen, Kris, I have to escape," I said. "I don't care how dangerous it is, I don't care how difficult it is, but I'm going to die if I stay here, too. I'm between a rock and a hard place."

Kris gave me a sharp, questioning look. "How come?"

"An old friend came to visit me yesterday," I explained. "Friend being used in the sense of someone who hates your guts and very dearly wants you dead."

Kris nodded. I continued.

"Well, apparently he was a bit disappointed when he found that I hadn't kicked the bucked yet. So he promised me that before the year was out he'd finish me off. And believe me, this guy's the type of person who certainly has the power to back up those words."

Kris took a deep breath. "Fine. I'll help you break out, but you have to promise me something."

I waited.

"I'm coming with you."

I hesitated for a second. For some reason I didn't want Kris to try this with me; maybe I worried that if it went wrong then I'd feel responsible for her death. But what did I care? If things went wrong, I'd be dead, too. It was her decision, really. Besides, if she stayed, sooner or later the arena would claim her anyway. No one could survive forever here.

"Okay," I said after a pause. "Just tell me what you did last time and I'll try to string together a plan."

Suddenly a guard's voice butted its way into our conversation.

"Gavin Ryder."

"I'll tell you tomorrow," said Kris as the guard made his way forward to escort me. I nodded.

If I made it until tomorrow, I thought.

The End

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