Girl in the Arena

Free Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

Book: Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lise Haines
at least through my next title match. It has to do with some new rule. The thing is, if I don’t, one guy said, they might add another year to my contract. As soon as I can take it off, I’ll be relieved to give it back to your family.
    —You’re the most pathetic man in the world.
    It doesn’t take much to wound the guy, from the look on his face. I ask if he has a lighter and he actually comes up with one, after he shuffles through his locker.
    I don’t look around, I just go back into the dark passageway. I’ll wait for a while, until the photographers clear out. Then I’ll make it up into the stadium again.
    —Wait! I hear him call after me, but I don’t wait.

CHAPTER 8
    As I look around the stadium, the post-traumatic sky is almost navy blue now and the bodies are gone. Tommy always said Mass General is the best hospital in the country for stampede victims, so I imagine a lot of them are over there, crowding the halls on gurneys, some in surgery. There’s even a specialist for clown injuries. Tommy was pretty loyal to the clowns and made large donations to the hospital.
    The cleanup crew will come in the morning. All the power in the stadium is off for the night. The jumbo screens are down and the only light from the moon is caught in the nearly perfect ring of water bottles that surrounded Tommy. But his body’s gone. Maybe he’s risen from the dead. He’d do something like that—rise from the dead. It’s eerie that the bottles are still in place that way. Like one of those roadside memorials with family photos, stuffed animals, things no one wants to disturb.
    tommy.
    I slump down on a damp bench, kick some trash aside. I have to get home and take care of Allison and Thad but I’m seven ways to tired and need to lie down for a few minutes. Uber will leave by the GSA door, especially if he hopes to avoid the throng that can build at the gates, and no one hangs out in the stadium at night. I know because I’ve done that a couple times with my friend Mark. So I’m not too worried, but I get my knife out of my bag anyway and tuck it under my body, just in case, and then I let my thoughts drift.
    Some people think violence is nothing when you’re raised in Glad culture. They say we have no feelings, that we don’t value life. There was a comedian who said we collect death like fast-food toys—something we enjoy with a quick meal. Or something like that.
    What they don’t get is this: a Glad has an incredibly strong sense of reality. Dreaming is not, strictly speaking, what we hope for, what we encourage or need. And if you stop dreaming and get real, you have to accept the fact that violence is a part of life, part of nature. Ask any biologist. To a true Glad, the arena is the only fair fight.
    Two people sign up to test their skills and bravely take their consequences. We don’t consign slaves, we don’t shackle or bind anyone to fight unless he happens to be on death row when he arrives at the stadium, and even then, this guy has petitioned hard to fight, gone through several screenings. He’s free to drop out and return to prison up to the last minute. And though there was an idea floated by one congressman to have illegal aliens thrown into the arena, that guy is strictly a monster and was eventually knocked out of the club for molesting his young aides.
    I have my bones to pick with Caesar’s Inc., but no one has to sign their stupid contracts, especially not the multiple-year ones. But the deals are more than lucrative, or at least they seem more than lucrative, so people sign.
    Tommy always said it was our country’s stealth activities he couldn’t stand, the forces neatly stacked against a person where the concept of fair fight just doesn’t exist: the military game, corporate culture, divorce courts, insurance companies, the IRS, government wire taps.
    — You take a boy, eighteen, throw him into a war he doesn’t understand, in a country he’s never even read a book about,

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