Ryan Collins was your average thirteen year old kid in the year 2045. He spent his entire weekends playing on the Portal, a virtual reality simulation. On the Portal, you could do anything from playing virtual laser tag, to virtual NASCAR driving.
It is November 3rd, and the Gauntlet is 1 week away. The Gauntlet is a competition in the Portal. All of the greatest players of the Portal are selected by an A.I. to enter the Gauntlet. The competitors are placed in a maze, and they all have to survive until the end. The Gauntlet ends when all of the players virtual avatars, except for the winner, have been killed by the maze, or killed by other players. Eliminating another player doesn’t give you any perks except for confidence, which is key in the Gauntlet. Of course, if you die in the portal, you don’t actually die in the real world, but it still sucks. The prize for winning the Gauntlet is not only winning fifty million, but eternal fame across the globe.
Ryan was great at the Portal, and he was really hoping to be picked for the Gauntlet. The gamers that are entering the Gauntlet will be chosen today. In fact, they were starting right now. Ryan hurried over to his TV, and listened for the names. “There will be 50 people entering the Gauntlet,” the guy on the news said, “please listen for your name.” about 30 names were said before the news anchor said, “Ryan Collins.” Ryan’s mouth dropped, he would get a chance to compete!
Ryan was about to run over to his parents, but then he remembered they were on vacation in a place called Collark, what used to be called Hawhii. Ryan’s parents both had big jobs at the Portal. Ryan lived in a huge house and was mostly alone, since he was an only child. Ryan texted his parents, and his friend Michael. Michael instantly wrote back. “I know, I was watching! That’s so cool! I really hope you win.”
The day had finally come. Ryan put on his senso gloves, his chest sensor, and his VR goggles. When he logged into the Portal, he was instantly put into a waiting room with all the other players. He looked in a mirror at his avatar that he had personally designed. His avatar was a normal human body with camo pants and a sweatshirt, but his avatar’s head was a head of a monster from a really old movie called Godzilla. It was from the 2010’s. The head looked like a T-rex head with purple armor.
When he looked around at the competition, everyone seemed uneasy. Nobody was even talking to each other. Some gamers were pacing, some were sitting, and some were staring off into nothingness. After about thirty minutes, an automated voice spoke into the waiting room. It said, “all players, please choose two weapons for your survival.” A wide selection of weapons hovered on Ryan’s screen. He chose a plasma blaster and a standard sniper rifle. Once he was equipped with the weapons his avatar disappeared, and when it reappeared, he was in the maze.
The first thing that Ryan did was find a hiding spot where no one would find him. His strategy was to wait for a while and watch until there were less people left. If anyone came, Ryan could take them out without them even seeing.
A couple minutes later, he heard the sounds of battle echoing through the maze. The voice from the waiting room said, “two competitors have been eliminated. There are forty-eight players remaining.” Just then, two competitors came into Ryan’s view. He quickly ducked behind a wall to hide. He was breathing heavily back in his rig at home. He readied his blaster and took aim at the two avatars. He fired three shots at the avatars. Only one of them hit and eliminated one of the players. “One competitor eliminated,” the voice said, “forty-seven players remaining.” The other player had an RPG and he fired it at Ryan, and destroyed the wall Ryan was hiding behind. Ryan turned and ran, In no particular direction except for away from his attacker.
After minutes of running Ryan finally stopped and looked behind him. No one was in sight. The voice said, “forty-one players remaining. In the real world it was 6:57 p.m. and the Gauntlet ended at 7:00 p.m. It would resume at 7:00 a.m. the next day, with everyone just where they left off. The screen faded and Ryan took off his gear. It was a decent day for Ryan, since he was still in the game and 18% of the competition had been eliminated.
Ryan woke up the next morning, brushed his teeth, ate breakfast, and logged into his portal account. It was 6:58 a.m. and in two minutes, The Gauntlet would resume. Ryan stretched for about a minute, and then his screen transported him just where he left off in the maze.
After an hour of waiting and watching, Ryan heard the voice say, “eight competitors have been eliminated, thirty-three players remaining.” Ryan had made to the last thirty-three players. He was expecting to be eliminated sooner, especially after his attack on day one of the Gauntlet. Ryan made his way towards where he thought he heard the sounds of battle. He was planning on watching everything play out until he could comfortably fight. Then Ryan saw an avatar walking by. He quietly pulled out his sniper, and fired. He hit him! Ryan had gotten his second elimination! “Thirty-two players left,” Said the voice. Ryan quickly climbed up to a perch where nobody would notice him, looked through the scope of the sniper, and surveyed the area. Nobody came into sight for about forty-five minutes. Then another avatar came into view, but this time the avatar saw Ryan and fired at him. None of the shots hit but one whistled right by his left ear. Ryan fired back at the avatar. None of the shots hit, but Ryan still had the high ground, so he fired another round at the avatar, and the shots hit. Ryan now had three eliminations. The voice said, “thirty players left.” Another player must have been eliminated. Ryan was on a roll. Then he heard the grinding of metal. The maze was closing in! Ryan jumped down from his perch and ran for his life. “Twenty-seven players remaining,” the voice said. The maze must have killed three players. Then spikes rained down from the ceiling. Ryan barely dodged the first round, but then he tripped on an uneven bit of floor. This was actually very lucky, since if he tripped any further, his avatar would have been impaled by a spike. Ryan got up and looked behind him, to see a raging fire chasing him. He once again ran for his life as the fire came closer and closer. It finally stopped after a few minutes of running, just as Ryan ran out of breath. The voice made its usual announcement. “Nine competitors have been eliminated. Eighteen players remaining.” Only eighteen players left, Ryan thought to himself. The maze is really starting to hate me. Ryan sat down in a tunnel and rested for a bit. By the time he woke up, it was 4:36 p.m. Still a while before the Gauntlet ended for today. With all of the excitement of today, Ryan had forgotten about how thirsty he was. He couldn’t risk getting a drink in the real world, just in case someone came. Ryan would have to forget about his thirst for a while, as he set out to go hunting for any unsuspecting avatars. He walked for about thirty-five minutes this way and that until he found a big red illuminated X on the wall. In Ryan’s mind, this could have meant some kind of treasure, or it could have meant danger. Apparently, the maze picked danger as the X shot out a laser, and Ryan barely dodged it like Neo dodging a bullet from a really old movie called the Matrix. Not only did the maze hate Ryan, but Ryan was really starting to hate the maze. The Gauntlet was so much harder than Ryan could have ever imagined.
Jack Miller was a fifteen year old kid from St. Paul, Minnesota. He was chosen to enter the Gauntlet, and now he is still in with eighteen players remaining. Now seventeen according to the bodiless voice. Jack was really excited to have gotten this far in the contest, and he was currently planning on buying a twenty million dollar home in Beverly Hills if he won. Jack was also really proud of his avatar, which was a tiger head and tiger claws for hands, and the avatar wore a black and orange striped Under Armour shirt. It looked really cool, and a bit frightening if you heard it roar.
Jack decided to go exploring, maybe get his first elimination. It would be pretty cool if Jack could get an elimination in the Gauntlet. Maybe he could even place top ten, or even, just possibly win the entire Gauntlet. A couple of minutes later, Jack heard footsteps, and prepared for a fight.
Ryan was walking along the maze when he heard a blast. He quickly jumped out of the way to see an avatar with a tiger head. Tiger head fired again, but badly missed. Ryan jumped up to get the high ground, but tiger head grenaded the area around Ryan and sent him against the wall. Ryan picked up his blaster and fired at tiger head, who dodged it, fired at Ryan, And nearly missed him. Ryan saw his opportunity as tiger head reloaded, shot, and hit tiger head in the arm. This wasn’t enough to eliminate Mr. tiger, but he was certainly at low health. Ryan advanced towards tiger head, but tiger head fired and hit Ryan in the leg. Now they were both at low health, and if either one of them got hit, they were out. Ryan charged at tiger head, slid to dodge his shot, and fired and hit tiger head, finally eliminating him.
After that close encounter with tiger head, Ryan checked the time. Thirty minutes until the Gauntlet ends for the day. Then, he saw three players walking together. They were teaming! Ryan quickly calculated two options, run, or take on all three of them on at once. He chose the first and ran once again for his virtual life. By the time he had lost the teamers, the day was just about over which he was glad about, but he was sure he would have to encounter the teamers again.
When Ryan finished taking off his gear, he texted his parents, who still ignored him. His parents had never been there for Ryan, so he texted Michael about his adventures. Ryan said, “I made it to the final eighteen players! I fought with this tiger head guy and just barely eliminated him.”
Michael wrote back, “cool. I wonder how many people will be left by the end of tomorrow?”
Ryan replied, “we’ll see.” Ryan tried to call his parents again, but they still didn’t pick up. Ryan was rarely with his parents. They were always at work, or on vacation, or just any place that wasn’t home. Ryan took care of himself all the time. Tomorrow is Monday, but Ryan can skip school because of the Gauntlet. This wasn’t technically a law, but Ryan decided it for himself. He ate a bad frozen pizza for dinner, and figured that he should probably get some sleep, considering the big day ahead of him.
Jack learned one thing after he was eliminated from the Gauntlet. It sucked. When he was in the Gauntlet, he was so confident that he could get really far into the contest, and then the next thing you know, you get eliminated. Jack kind of hoped that the player that eliminated him won, just because if he won, he would at least have been eliminated by the winner.
When Ryan woke the next morning, he knew what was coming. Today was day three of the Gauntlet, and the teamers were coming for Ryan. Deep down, Ryan knew that the only way he could survive against the teamers was to outsmart them, and that was what he was going to do.
When Ryan logged into the game, he was transported to the spot he left off at as usual, and began his plan to beat the teamers. But to do that, Ryan needed a decoy, and he knew just how to do it. Ryan climbed up the maze walls to a viewing deck, which looked a little out of place in an illuminated stone corridor. Now he could take his plan into action. He could barely see the teamers through his scope. He picked up a grenade launcher off the floor from a competitor that had previously been eliminated, and fired past the teamers. Then, he quickly pulled out his sniper, took aim and sniped the grenade. He missed. So much suspense, and he missed. He tried again, although his moment of triumph had been ruined. He fired the grenade again, then pulled out his sniper, and finally hit the grenade. This set off an explosion right in front of the teamers. Now Ryan could attack them from behind. Ryan reloaded his sniper and eliminated all three of the teamers with perfect headshots now that they were distracted. The voice said, “three competitors eliminated, fourteen players remaining.” In the first day of the Gauntlet, Ryan had not been a dangerous player, merely practice for the others. But now, Ryan actually had a shot at winning this thing. Sadly, the maze continued its streak of dislike towards Ryan, as it once again started closing in. This time, instead of fire, the maze chose to send a virtual avalanche to chase down Ryan. Ryan ran away from the avalanche for about five minutes until it finally subsided. Ryan could now see the other side of the maze. That meant one thing, more players to deal with.
Ryan fired his plasma blaster at the opposing players. He counted about five in sight, but there were definitely others hiding somewhere or other. The shot missed but a player hiding behind another avatar eliminated him. Thirteen players left. He picked up a minigun off the floor from the player that just got eliminated, and he rapidly fired it into the direction of the other players, and eliminated one. Then, he used the same tactic he used to beat the teamers. He threw the minigun near an opposing player, and fired at making a huge explosion that eliminated two players. Eight players left, now that two others just got grenaded.
The maze started closing in again. Now, the players had to fight on the run. Ryan avoided the main battle as he ran towards a wall far enough away from the edges of the maze so that he wouldn’t have to worry about the maze closing in. Five players left now! The look on Ryan’s face said it all
He pulled out his sniper and looked through the scope, but everyone was moving so much, that Ryan couldn’t get a clean shot off. He took out his blaster and decided to eyeball it. Ryan fired at one of the remaining avatars and hit her in the shoulder, but it didn’t eliminate her. He fired again at her, but the shot missed. Now that he had her attention, she didn’t notice how another avatar was firing at her. “Three players left,” the voice said.
The maze was so small now that Ryan could easily see the other end. Ryan fired again at both of the remaining avatars. One of the avatars hid behind a wall, and one fired back. His shots were amazingly accurate. Ryan ducked behind a wall to avoid the avatars shots. The avatar switched to targeting the other avatar, and after five shots, the player being targeted was eliminated. It was the final two people! For about two minutes, Ryan and the other avatar traded shots. The other avatar was really good. All of the shots from the avatar were alarmingly accurate. Ryan couldn’t do anything about it. If he came out of his hiding place, the other avatar would have easily eliminated him.
The next two minutes were a bit uneventful, as neither avatar wanted to give up their position. Then, Ryan heard a whirring sound, and the next thing he knew, a pillar of lava shot right at the place Ryan was previously standing. This forced both Ryan and the other avatar to move, which made the both exposed to each others shots. Ryan could only get two shots off before the ground started crumbling. Random chunks of the ground were now missing. Ryan was running away from a crumbling piece of floor until he slipped. He nearly fell through the hole in the ground, but at the last second, he grabbed the edge, and hung there, trying to pull himself up. A flare of terror erupted in his chest. He finally found the strength within him and pulled himself up. The other avatar seemed to be having similar troubles. Ryan could have just ended the contest right then and there, but he didn’t want to win like that. He waited for the other avatar to get up before Ryan started firing at him. The ground had at least stopped moving, and Ryan could tell that someone was about to be eliminated.
As Jack watched the final two competitors fight on TV, he felt jealousy like he had never felt before.The feeling that the person you are watching on TV could have been you, but wasn’t, was indescribable. Jack knew that he maybe could have gotten this far, if he had just been more careful. It was devastating watching the final two players of the competition that he was in. Jack couldn’t bare it. He turned the TV off. He would watch the news about who won the Gauntlet later. He would do anything for another chance to compete,
Ryan dodged three shots before going on the offensive. He took his time for his next shots. He looked, fired, and boom. It was over. Ryan had won the Gauntlet. Ryan’s avatar was lifted up and up until he was looking from above upon the maze that he had just conquered. The voice spoke for the final time. “Congratulations! You have won the Gauntlet. This is an incredible feat, and your name will go down in the history books. Do you accept the prize of fifty million dollars?”
“I do,” Ryan replied.
“Very well,” the voice said. “You now have fifty million dollars in your bank account,”
“Thank you,” Ryan said.
The Next Day
It was a good twenty-three hours until Ryan woke up. He was exhausted. Michael had been waiting for him. “Dude, you won!” Michael exclaimed.
“I guess I did.” Ryan replied.
“What are you gonna do with the money?” Michael asked.
“I think I have an idea,” Ryan answered.
Five Years Later
After Ryan turned eighteen, and was able to move into his new home, (without his parents.) The first thing he did was make an announcement on the very same news channel that he first heard his name on for the Gauntlet.
“Five years ago,” he said. “I heard my name on this channel, informing me that I would participate in the Gauntlet. Little did I know, I would end up winning it. Many great things have happened to me since then, and I would like for many more people to feel the way in which I did. Because I loved the Gauntlet so much, I will be personally running and funding the Gauntlet II.”
The Gauntlet Will Return…