The Marked One

Short story written via a writing prompt on Reddit.

The prompt: You are notified that in 24 hours, every human will try to kill you for one hour. Your preparation starts now. (credit: /u/AliceLSchade).

The e-mail I’d waited for my whole life finally arrived, and I felt nothing but excitement.

Rayne Boyd, you have been selected. Starting at midnight tonight, your only goal will be survival. You’ve waited for this, one of the select few who asked for this, now is your time to prove yourself. If you live, you join our ranks. If you die, you die an insignificant speck.

The world had changed. This was the 54th year of The Selection. Only three other people had ever survived before. Only three people to join the ranks of The Initiative, the corporation that owned the world. Literally. They decided everything. A thousand people that determined the fate of the ten million of us left on Earth.

Behind their screens in their secret control room, they monitored every human being on the planet. The ones that showed intellectual promise were taken as babies. The rest of us had to take tests every year. At the end, you got to select if you wanted a chance to prove them wrong about your scores, that you had what it took to join them.

Everyone wanted in, but few people made it. If you were a part of their organization, you could eat whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted. You could soak in a hot tub for hours, travel to space, read real books.

Life down here was nothing but a fight for survival. I was ready for this. I’d been born in the Sludge. The previous winners had also come from the Sludge. I had to be the next. I’d been preparing for this since I was four years old, after my father had been chosen. He’d lost. He didn’t have the balls to survive.

For 24 hours, every human being I’d encounter was going to be hardwired to kill me. Their implants told them so, and there was no overriding it. Doctors, nurses, teachers, pastors- all of them. They’d all try to kill me.

It was pretty shitty. If you failed in your duty to kill the Marked One, you’d lose rations for a year. That meant scrounging in the worst of the worst. Most of them died.

The light outside my broken down hovel flickered, a sign of what was to come. The Initiate kept it dark on purpose, they wanted every hardship possible thrown at the Marked One. They wanted me to fail. They wanted only the best of the best. Only the best of the best got chosen to run the world.

I whistled as I began to pack my gear, packing the weapons where they needed to be. Hand crafted shanks, gas bombs, you name it, I had it. I reached out and grab my favorite weapon, a rusted and notched machete with a frayed green leather handle. It fit perfectly in my hand. I knew how to use it.

I looked up, seeing my reflection in the mirror. The pink streak in my hair the only bit of color I could see, my gold eyes flashing. I slid the machete behind the pack on my back, and cracked my knuckles.

The bitterly cold wind whipped through my shaggy hair, and my clothes. I crouched on the windowsill, looking around one last time at my home. I wouldn’t come back, I had somewhere new waiting for me. The ground flew up to meet me as I leapt down, landing quietly on my feet, snow floating around me.

Let’s do this.


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