Step after step the beat of drums grew louder, the dreary moss hangs from the grated cubes that line the ceiling, blood coursing through my veins like an untamable river rapid. My vision focused on the behemoth of a man that stood before me.
This is it.
“Charley Brabston if you win this, you will become enhanced,” Instructor Striker spoke.
Perfection, my, chance to become perfect.
“Kill him and you will become elite,” Striker spoke.
“Just breath Charley!” Elijah yelled from the stands.
The behemoth seemed to grow more prominent in size, the ground beneath him began to shatter. Wind brushed forward like a sonic boom. This was his enchantment.
“Push forward Charley, Push,” Elijah spoke.
With a single swift move of my sword, I slew the mighty beast known as a man.
“Congratulations Charley, proceed with me, you too, Elijah.”
Shadows of dusk covered the room, and ash from the torch flickered diming the corners, with just enough light to see the syringes. The enhancement process was about to begin.
“Let the process begin. Choose your enhancement,” Striker spoke.
“Our hard work has paid off,” I reply.
“But all those bodies, all that death, was it really worth it?” Elijah asks.
“If it means we can become perfect, yes,” I reply.
“Pick your creature,” Striker spoke.
“The frost troll,” Elijah says.
“The minotaur,” I reply.
Just like that needles began to pierce our skin. The color of my veins changed to a dirty brown, my heart ached in pain, pain I had never felt. Pumping like gunshots being fired, blood pouring from the sockets of which my eyes sit. Dark prickly hair spouted from my legs. My feet morphed into horrid hooves.
Pressuring force kept building and building starting from my chest. My rib cage felt like someone was pulling it apart and then like a flower blooming in a spring field. My head split into two, turning into the shape of a bull. It was done.
“Charley, Elijah, you have become enhanced,” Striker says.
“Charley, you hear that! All our brothers that we have slain, their deaths aren’t in vain.”
“A much-needed sacrifice,” I reply.
“Now you two will be able to activate and reactive the enhancement when need be. But before that, I have a proposal,” Striker says.
“If it’s to become a better soldier, the answer is yes,” I reply.
“I don’t know Charley.”
“Brother, you question me?”
“No, but why are you obsessed with becoming perfect?”
“You know why, Elijah.”
“But the death, the destruction, the loss, the pain.”
“All worth it.”
“Fuck this perfect ideology, it’s almost as if you’re idealistic.”
“I would agree.”
“What’s your proposal, Striker?”
“Unfortunately, we may only have one perfect soldier,” he says.
“So, we must fight?” I ask.
“Charley, we are brothers.”
“Right now, you are nothing, nothing but a mere obstacle in my way,”
“Fuck you, Charley. The shit we’ve been through, the blood we have shed, you’ll throw it all away just to be perfect?”
“I will do whatever it takes.”
The sound of drums began to dance once again. Claps from the audience echoed into my soul. Orange and yellow ignited into flames that shot toward the sky.
Whatever it takes.
“A death match to prove who is superior. The two of you have triumphed over all tribulation. But only one must remain,” Striker says.
“Charley, it’s not too late, you can give up on this dream, we can prosper together.”
“Prosper? Only perfection can prosper.”
Activating my enhancement, my hooves left the ground, running so fast almost as if I was flying. We charged one another. Sliding under a right hook that came directly toward my face. Rushing my head forward like a ram batting a shield I pierced his stomach. Crimson ooze dribbles down my horns. A warm kindled hand places upon my head. The eyes of regret look deep into my soul.
“Was it worth it?” he asks.
“Perfection comes at a price.”
“Greed is too, brother.”
The once warm kindled hand became cold as ice, the eyes of regret became colorless and empty. The soul of my brother withered away. He was dead but at what cost? The colors of blue and white turned into mist, that seamed into my body. What was once his is now mine, I have acquired his enhancement.
Was it worth it?
“Congratulations, Charley, you are now the perfect soldier,” Striker says.
“My brother is dead. I killed him.”
“Perfection comes with a price.”
“Well now we move forward, you have earned yourself freedom. However, in pain, in death, in life. You will forever be the perfect soldier.”
“But look at what I’ve done.”
“Which is why you have reached that perfection you so utterly desired.”
“I guess you’re right.”
The rustling wind faded into silence. The drums stopped beating, the iron posture began to rot, my face drooped like slime. My heart began to ache.
I have reached perfection but at what cost?
Ethan Michael is a novelist who writes fantasy, mystery, supernatural, Horror, and sci-fi. He is earning a BFA in Creative Writing at Full Sail University. He has three self-published short stories on Wattpad and has amassed 6,000 followers of his content creation on social media. He is a Full Sail University Writing Club member. Ethan Michael spreads positivity anywhere he can. A fitness enthusiast who enjoys spontaneous adventures, he travels as much as he can.