I stepped into the arena for what I hoped to be the last time. The sun was low, and the sky was a multitude of colors I rarely got to see. In front of me stood Daimon in all his scary glory. His loose shirt, dark pants swayed in the wind. His hair covered his eyes, and I couldn’t see them. He wouldn’t look at me as he kept his head down.
“Daimon? Are you okay? You had me worried. I thought they were killing you. I almost broke my door down to get you.” I said in a rush in my head, hoping Daimon would hear me, but it was silent. I could see him twitch as I spoke, but I wanted him to reply so that I know he is okay.
Finally, he lifted his head and gave me that creepiest, sadistic smile I had ever seen. It terrified me. I forced myself not to take a step back. As he stared at me, I felt things crawling on me. It made me look down, and I saw misty spiders crawling all over my body. I suppressed a surprised scream, telling myself that they were not real. It was fake, and I am excellent. I looked back at Daimon, giving him a stink eye, and his sadistic smile widens, knowing that he scared me.
The terrifying thing about him was his eyes. His pupils were huge, filling up his iris’. They didn’t look right and were not friendly. I could safely assume the deal was off, but why?
Then Elder Kakios’ voice rang out across the stage. “Welcome one and all. I apologize for delaying the final battle, but we had some technical difficulties with our contestants. Now, we are ready for a great fight. Just to remind you who the finalists are. Gaia, who has fantastic earth abilities, faces off against Daimon, the most feared of the games. On my mark, we will begin.”
As he counted down, I quickly yelled in my head, “Daimon, what is wrong with you? Can you hear me?”
Daimon’s smile disappeared as he said in my head, “You’re going to die.”
My blood ran cold, and before I knew it, I heard the word start. I took one step off the start line and commanded the earth beneath me. Preoccupied with talking to Daimon, I didn’t check to see if my power came back. I was still weak and hurt by the cursed necklace and the ritual to remove it.
My old strategy to defeat the walking nightmare was to strike him right out of the gate, so instinctually, I did just that. One step over the starting line, I stomped on the ground and lifted both hands to bring the earth up and encapsulate Daimon’s hands. Ignoring the itchy feeling all over my body, he was using his ability on me to make it feel like spiders were crawling all over me. I’m not too fond of spiders.
That creepy smile stayed on his face as the earth crawled up his arms, making sure he couldn’t snap his fingers. I walk towards him cautiously as I spoke, “Daimon! Listen to me, I don’t know what they did to you, but you need to remember!” I started before he cut me off.
“Quit talking! I only want to hear the sounds of your screams.” Daimon said as he started to break the rock around his arms. I pulled more earth and tightened it around his body so that only his head was visible. I was beginning to breathe heavily, and I didn’t know why. I didn’t do much, and I am not running around. I must be being affected by Daimon. One of my biggest fears is not being able to breathe.
I guess my realization was plastered on my face when he said, “I can take more than just the air away from you!”
I tried to ignore the shortness of breath as I used more rock around him. “Daimon! Remember who you are! We had a plan, please don’t do this. I don’t want to kill you! Just remember me!” I screamed, hoping to get through to him. It seemed to have fallen on deaf ears as his darkness began to spread, bursting through the earth that encased his body.
Fear seeped into the arena, making me gasp for air. He made me believe that the air is gone, but it’s not, and I need to remember that it is not real. I start to back away, hoping to get a good grasp of air, thinking that maybe some distance would soften his ability on me.
I end up in the middle of the arena, feeling a little better. The dark mist was flowing out of the rock like a fog, spreading across the ground slowly. Daimon was struggling to escape the rock formation I created. The thirst to kill me was written all over his face, and I didn’t know what to do. The more he freed himself, the more I felt things crawling on me and air restricting around me. I didn’t want to kill him.
Surprisingly, even though we didn’t talk in person and I never fully trusted him, Daimon was the closest thing to a friend I would ever have. Alec was family to me, and his death still pained me, but Daimon was beginning to be someone special in my life, a friend I never had. The thought saddened me as I sat on the floor.
I didn’t care about the air escaping the area or the creepy crawlies that traveled all over my body anymore; I just wanted Daimon to remember me and the plan. We would destroy this place and free ourselves and future Gifted, but now that dream is gone. The magistrate took another person from me, right when I was beginning to trust them.
Daimon stopped struggling against the rock and stared at me for a moment. His eyes were still significant, but the creepy smile on his face was gone. I tried to speak to him through my mind hoping he would turn around and be with me. There was nothing but silence. He returned to trying to escape when one of his arms popped out of the stone. His sadistic smile returned as he readied to snap his fingers. His dark fog was surrounding me and climbing the walls of the arena.
I just sat on the ground, waiting for my worst fears to materialize in front of me. Daimon saved me from that cursed necklace. I could have died that night, but he told me how to lesson the warding so that I could live for the next day.
Then I heard the snap, and my world went dark around me. It was strange, I was wide awake, but I could only see what Daimon wanted me to.
“So Gaia, you think that we were friends? Well, let me put your mind at ease.” Daimon’s voice drifted into my mind. “We were never friends, just a means to an end. I know your weaknesses because of your fears. You were always going to die in this arena with me. Dead like Alec.”
When he said that, I saw Alec kneeling and magistrate guards holding him down. It was my last memory of him right before his throat was slit. Tears welled in my eyes as I tried to look away, but I couldn’t. Everywhere I looked, he was there, dying over and over. Even with my eyes closed.
I shake my head, trying to remind myself that it wasn’t real, but it was proving to be difficult to believe. I placed my palms on the earth to feel it teeming with life, but I felt nothing. It was like when I had the necklace on, but worse, I felt nothing on the earth. It stopped on the surface.
That scared me because he proved that he could take everything away. Before he could convince me that he took my ability away, I raised the dirt around me, entombing me in a pyramid of stone. I crossed my legs and began to meditate, concentrating on emptying my mind of all negativity and thinking about the good times with Alec. I could hear Daimon pounding on the outside, screaming and demanding that I open it up and die for the magistrate.
It was weird to hear him say that. I didn’t know the full extent of his feelings towards the magistrate, but asking me to marry him is not an idea someone that loves the government would have. I made that thought very clear in my mind, hoping Daimon would see it.
Whatever Elder Kakios did to Daimon can be reversed. He was brainwashed and tortured to be like this. That must have been why he was screaming, telling me to kill him. He needs to remember who he is.
As I sat there for what felt like forever, a thought came to mind that made me feel hopeless and scared. “What if the only way to get Daimon back was for him to accomplish his goal? Talking to him was no use, and I don’t want to kill him. I considered him an ally long before I thought of that idea.” I said to myself aloud, knowing the walking nightmare can hear me.
I took a deep breath, happy that I got a lung full of air as I did it. I opened my eyes, relieved not to see Alec’s dead body, and lowered the pyramid I created around me. I stood and faced Daimon, who was standing a few feet from the rock. I could see the conflict in his eyes. He probably didn’t want to kill me, but the hold the Elders had on him was strong. He spread his darkness to cover me as I did to him with the earth.
I wasn’t fighting anymore; there wasn’t a point if I would be alone forever. I was okay with being alone, even before Alec died, but after believing I would have someone like me. Someone to talk to about being captive all my life and discover new things was beginning to look promising. It’s what I wanted when I was about to walk into this arena last time. Now, I was unsure of the future.
I thought all these things, knowing Daimon was listening because he was trying to find more of my fears, the one that would send me over the edge. I stared into his eyes, desperate to get through to him. Constantly repeating, ‘remember me and who you are.’
I could see the conflict in his eyes. He is fighting with himself.
“I can see deep down what your worst fear is. I just don’t understand.” He whispered, knowing I could hear him only. I could feel the dark tendrils slithering around my neck, slightly squeezing. I have to force myself to be calm as my air is restricted.
“Why is losing me your greatest fear? It makes no sense. We are enemies.” Daimon continued.
After a few tense moments, his eyes finally focused on me, and I could see that he had made up his mind. He came racing towards me and tackled me to the ground, pinning me down, and started choking me. I couldn’t breathe as he crushed my windpipe. I kneed him in the side, causing him to lose focus, and I pushed him off me long enough for me to pin him to the ground. As a last-ditch effort, I choked out, “You wanted to marry me, to fight the system and kill them all. Please remember.”
I punched him in the face, hoping to jog his memory, but when I went for a second swing, he grabbed my hand. Able to use the upper hand to grapple me to the ground. He wrapped his arm around my neck and his legs around my waist. Daimon yanked back, cutting off my air supply once again. I tapped his arm and tried to get him off, but I couldn’t.
Finally, I slumped down and whispered in a raspy breath, “It’s okay, Daimon. When you remember, kill them all, please. Destroy them as they destroyed us.”
Then I let go.