“Pick a number from one to ten. You have a minute to choose.”


The speaker buzzes out. Installed into the metal table in front of me is a touchscreen, with ten buttons displayed; the numbers one through ten. The screen itself is heavily damaged by the number of people that have used it. Grimey fingerprints and nail scratchings litter the surface of the screen.


Besides the screen, table, and speaker, there’s just me and the soundproof walls to keep me company. And the triple security door behind me. Quadruple-security if you count the fact that by the time you opened that door, your minute would be up. And you’d be dead.


To be honest, a minute is way too long to pick a number. This is supposed to be a luck test anyway. Only those truly “lucky” would survive, and trust me, you won’t get luckier with that extra 59 seconds.


What would you think about if you had a minute to live? Your regrets? Your past? Your life in heaven (or hell in my case)? Your loved ones? Your secrets?


I’m thinking about how I managed to survive up until now. If I’m going to die, then I’m going to at least savour my near escapes from death. If I’m going to die, then I’m going to die proud, that I died from bad luck, and not a lack of skill. Bad luck is everyone’s favourite excuse, after all.

I am a criminal and a murderer. I don’t deny that and I don’t question my decision to be one.

I know that the only way to get rid of evil was to be evil. Beat them at their own game. So I trained. My body, my mind, never forgetting the reason that I became a murderer. My first taste of blood was at a jewelry shop, where I literally punctured the robber’s throat with a diamond ring. My first taste of justice.


I will not deny that my mind is twisted. But I am not alone. I ventured on bigger and bigger projects, from rapists to corrupt officials, even to other mass murderers. But I needed a partner. Just as Batman had Robin, I needed my own Robin. And where better to find one of those than in jail?


My only mistake was that my realization was too late. If only I hadn’t made a name for myself, I wouldn’t have been sent to such a high-security prison. As they say, though, high risk comes with high reward. Higher security prisons come with more dangerous, adventurous, and like-minded people. I was in both hell and heaven, and I knew that I could find my Eve here.


And indeed I did. As luck would have it, a fellow in a neighbouring cell had the same philosophy as my own. He agreed with everything that I proposed, and even added in ideas of his own. Of course, we communicated with each other very discreetly, and after several months, we were ready and eager to plot an escape.


Alas, luck betrayed me then. It turned out that our prison was on an island, and that the bridge connecting to the mainland had been severed. It would take a few months to repair. More importantly, though, was the fact that the mainland suddenly went through a famine. People needed food more than ever, and who would spare any for criminals? Naturally, food for the prisoners declined. Things became so drastic that the wardens at the prison decided to take matters into their own hands.


After a long assembly, they proposed to all the criminals three tests: the physical test, the mental test, and the luck test. Their reasoning was that even though we were criminals, we were still humans and that they would not sink to our level and leave us ALL to die. Instead, those strong, smart, and lucky enough would be set free. If we could make it across the severed bridge ourselves, then we could make it to the mainland.


That sounded like a sweet deal to me. The tests were to be held a week from now, since three days after that, the food wouldn’t last. Everyone’s rations were cut down for the week.


The week before the tests were gruesome. The weakest in strength or willpower gave in. Once every so often, we would hear the unmistakable sound of bone cracking against the steel walls, amidst the constant screams of terror and despair. This was motivational music to my ears. Any criminal should deserve to die, especially if they’re weak. Wailing and moaning ensued until the day before the test. The only people left were those that had decided to take the test. Naturally, I was one of them.


The physical test consisted of swimming, weight-lifting, and endurance. We had to swim and run the whole length around the island, and anyone who collapsed would be instantly shot dead and tossed into the sea. Apparently, we had more bullets to eat than food. Many people collapsed under the burning sun and plenty drowned in the scorching sea. However, I had trained for this. I hadn’t stopped my fitness regimen since the day I entered the prison. So I passed.


The mental test consisted of a knowledge test. 500 questions, to be done in 5 nonstop hours. If you could get 90% of the questions correct, you would survive. All questions were done in multiple-choice format, so I guess it was sort of a test of luck too. However, each question had 20 choices, so on second thought, you’d have to be pretty darn lucky. All questions were inputted into a screen, one similar to the test of luck. Even the hackers couldn’t hack into such a simple device, and definitely not with so many guards watching. Those that didn’t finish were shot dead and tossed into the sea. I survived that one too.

And now here I am. The test of luck. How shall the goddess of luck look down upon me? How will her scales tip? Whom does she favor? Shall I run free, or will I meet my demise?


My minute of reminiscing is almost up. It’s time for the choice. Life, or death. They say humans only use 10% of their brains. Let’s hope 10% of my luck here is enough for me to live.

Here goes…


Photo: Grant Durr on unsplash.com