Captain Grayson stood at the front, leaning on his desk like the cool teacher at school, only better armed, although I guess that depends on what kind of school you went to. He waited until everyone was back from the loo before straightening up and slapping his hands together.
“RIght. First things first, you’ll be wanting to know where you are, how you got here, and why. That’s the big one, right? So, this town you’re in is called Probet. It’s in a country called Flatland, because it’s very flat.”
He raised his eyebrows like he’d revealed a valuable secret. When he got no response, he turned and pointed at the map behind him.
“We’re this bit in the middle. Nothing much here but farmland and forests. These are the four major cities.” He pointed to circular marks at the top, bottom, left and right of the map. “We can go into more about them later.”
He faced front again and folded his arms and took in a deep breath like he wasn’t looking forward to telling us the next part and needed to prepare himself. The room hushed in anticipation.
“As for how you got here and why, nobody really knows.”
A wave of grumbling and muttering washed over the unhappy audience.
“I know, it’s not what you wanted to hear, but that’s how it is. For the last century, every leap year, on the longest day of high summer, a group of young people appear in the glen where you woke up. Sometimes it’s three or four, sometimes, as in this case, it’s many more. These people are destined for greatness. If they can survive, that is. I won’t sugarcoat the truth for you, this is a hard land to live in, even for those of us born here. There are many things that will try to kill you. But if you can adapt, there are also great rewards that you can claim. Some of those who came before you have become legends.”
He sat back on the corner off the desk, very much giving off an impression of mission accomplished.
Golden Boy stood up a few rows behind me and spoke in a loud, irritated voice. “I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about, but we want to go home. Now. If you’re not going to tell us what’s really going on, give me a phone.”
“Don’t be such a dick,” said another guy. This one had a highly-groomed beard and a short back and sides so severe it must have been sculpted with a chisel. He didn’t have a top on and one arm was covered in a sleeve tattoo. “Obviously they don’t have phones here. Did you not see that thing out there? I want answers just as much as you, bruv, but we ain’t going home any time soon, I can tell you that much.”
“You’re the dick, mate,” Golden Boy shot back. “Can’t you tell we’re being pranked? Probably cameras all over this place. Everyone’s having a good laugh at us, ha, ha, ha. Well fuck that. I’ve got better things to do than provide entertainment for free.”
The two alphas continued to snap at each other as more people joined in the pointless debate. I noticed Captain Grayson yawning. He had a ‘seen it all before’ expression on his face and seemed in no hurry to intervene.
“Just stop for a second,” said one of the girls, practically shrieking in order to get everyone’s attention. She was tall and athletic-looking, with straight brown hair in a bob, although her oversized white tee shirt made it hard to get a proper idea of her figure. Not that I was looking. “This is getting us nowhere. Let’s at least hear him out.” She turned to Grayson. “What is it we’re expected to do here?”
“Ah, okay,” said Grayson. “First we need to get you some clothes. Then each of you will be given a weapon. We only have a limited selection, but they’ll do for now. We’ll feed you for the next three days, but after that you’ll be expected to provide for yourselves, same as everybody else.”
“Provide for ourselves how?” asked the girl.
“There’s only one way,” said Grayson. “By killing monsters.”