He stepped into the sunlight and hefted his sword, moving it to his shoulder as he walked to the center of the coliseum. He watched as his opponent, a large man carrying an axe, do the same from the opposite end. A voice in his ear buzzed, “Can’t see the logo.”. He lifted his shield, making sure the cameras could see the large Nike logo painted on the front. “Good,” the voice said. “Now put on a good show.”
The stadium was silent. There were no crowds to watch the blood match. There were never live crowds. They all filtered it through their screens. Little cameras floated around filming every angle. It was easier for them that way, he figured. Makes it seem more like a show than anything. No one thought of prisoners as real people, and when you had a life sentence, you were as good as dead anyway. When they first asked for anyone interested, he signed up right away. Prison was boring. This was different. This made every day a struggle, where he earned the right to live. He opened his mouth wide and breathed in as much air as he could, and swallowed an air bubble that made him want to burp.
He faced his opponent in the middle of the arena and sized him up. He imagined the same thing was being done to him. They waited until the three consecutive beeps, then the lights on the cameras turned from green to red, and they circled one another. His opponent bared his teeth at him in a heinous grin and feinted, swinging his axe out to the right before spinning and coming at his left. He saw everything happen and knew that it was already over. Blocking with his shield, he thrust his sword straight into his opponent’s stomach, who wore a surprised look on his face. Blood pooled in his mouth and the axe fell to the ground. The body followed.
He dropped the bloody sword, unstrapped his shield and let it fall too. He rubbed his arm and looked down at the man who had to die so he could have another day. The cameras swiveled around him, then turned green again.
“That was great, boy did you see that!” the voice in his ear buzzed again. “Blocked ‘im right with the logo. They got that, right? Make sure that goes on replay after commercial.”