“Be brave,” I whispered to myself.
Be brave and fight, I repeated over and over in my head. I was at the edge of the stadium, magnificent beasts stood before me. Remember what he told you, remember… I sucked in a deep breath but, before I knew what I was doing, I began running in the opposite direction.
“This is not bravery.” It’s cowardice. What are you so afraid of? Dying?
I was arguing with myself, which happened a lot, honestly. But I couldn’t win this fight. I had been trained, yes, for this moment however my muscles wouldn’t obey me; it was like my brain knew I was about to die and was trying to preserve every last bit of fight for something far greater. Would I need my strength once I was dead? I mean, if I couldn’t turn around now and face the music then what would come of me? There was no way I could protect myself, not against these gigantic things.
My legs ached with how far I had run. This stadium was too big and I was skeptical I would make it to the entrance.
I was out of breath by the time I reached it. I slowed down to a jog but ran into something invisible. It whirred and buzzed when I touched it as I tried to get to the other side. There was a freaking force field at the entrance! I couldn’t escape. I glanced around to the edges where the audience sat and noticed the twenty-foot field high up on the half-walls.
This was it.
I collapsed and there he was, standing in front of me. But he wasn’t looking at me. I could see his profile with his head in a hand, rubbing his eyes. Did he even see me flee? Did he see how pathetic I was at self-preservation?
I shouted his name but he couldn’t hear me. I screamed it over and over again but still, he did not turn.
I pounded on the field blocking my exit and could feel the vibration from the monsters behind me. They were getting closer and I had backed myself into a corner like dumb prey. I was easy pickings and my end was nigh.
I was going to die for entertainment. On some foreign planet. My body burned as my strength faded from me. I turned around to see my death and that’s when I felt a spark within me. Everything slowed around me: time, noise, movement. The vibrations nearly halted as a newfound confidence overtook me.
I rose up, charged forward.
“Be brave,” I heard from behind me.