Bright light… The shape of a face… My eyes flutter open. A young man’s face comes into focus, slowly but surely. He has dark skin, he has a deep scar across his forehead, and a small slash on his nose. His head is shaved. He’s leaning right over me.
“Hey guys, he’s awake!” he exclaims. Where am I? His eyes were kind. He extends his hand. He then says, “Welcome to the Underground. I’m Block. Just hold on. You don’t wanna fall down when Knots unties you.” I look down as I grab his hand. Now I notice that my right leg is tied down. I gasp as a small arm reaches out from under where I’m resting. It seems I’m resting on some sort of wooden board. It’s raised at least a foot off of the ground. The arm unties my leg from the board. Block hoists me up.
“Yo guys! He’s walking now! Come see the Newbie!”
We walked over to some cubicles, but in the floor. It had a bed, and three drawers. The bed was small, and the walls around it rose up about three and a half feet. One was empty, and Block pointed to it. “That one’s mine. I’m gonna get one for you ready.” He left, and then a head popped out of one of the cubicles.
“Hey! Block didn’t lie! Hi there, Newbie. I’m Sock. This guy here-” a head then slowly rose from the space next to his.
“His name is Stick.” Stick just nodded and went back to his space.
Sock had a scar running across his left eye. Stick had no scars, surprisingly. They also had shaved heads.
“Where am I?”
“Well- uh, we call this place The Underground. But to be honest, we don’t really know either. As far as we can tell, it’s a bunker. A big one. But there’s another part, an arena of sorts, where the elimination happens.”
“Don’t worry. Block will explain later.”
Time went by, as I chatted with Sock. I asked him about the names, and he said, “It depends what item you came with.”
I decided I would ask Block more later.
Block then showed up about an hour after, and showed me to my cubicle. I thanked him and scoped it out. The drawers contained clothes, an electric razor, some hygiene products, a notebook and a pen, and… a plastic knife? I stared at it.
“So you came with a plastic knife? Wow.”
I was startled by the sudden voice. I turned to see Sock was standing behind me, smirking.
“We’ll come up with a name tonight at dinner. You get a free meal, since you’re new. By the way, you’ll need to shave your head before you go to sleep,” and with that, he turned and walked away.
A few minutes later, there was an announcement that told us to go to the Mess Hall. I made my way down to it, and outside the entrance someone knocked me over. “Hah! Newbie.”
It was Stick. I looked up at him from the floor, as he walked away laughing.
I got up and walked in. There was about twenty others, all shaved, sitting down. Block waved and invited me over to his table.
“Hi Newbie! You’ll be getting a name tonight. Get ready.”
“OK? Sure” I said. I stood up to grab some food. The meal consisted of bread, some sort of stew, and a biscuit. There was water to go with it.
When I came back, it was time to learn names. There was Spark, and Asian guy who came with a broken piece of fire steel. He was tall, he had a cut across his lip, and had a friendly smile.
There was Wheeler, he came with a toy car’s wheel. He was short, and spontaneous. His eyes darted around as he introduced himself, and he constantly tapped his fingers on the table. He had a long cut on his arm, but it had long faded away to nothing more than a line.
There was Reflection, but everyone called him Ref. He had come with a hand mirror. He had a few old cuts on his arms, and he had dark skin, but not as dark as Block’s. There were many others, but I liked these ones the most. They were very kind to me.
After we finished eating, Block stood on the table and got everyone’s attention. He dragged me up there with him and said, “This is the Newbie we’re gonna name tonight! He came with a plastic knife! Any suggestions?”
Various voices yelles things like “Slash!” And “Stab!” When Sock said, “How about Cut?”
Block silenced the chatter.
“Did you say Cut?” Block asked, with a slight smile.
“Yeah, it sounds kinda cool.” Sock replied.
“Whadda you think, Newbie? Is Cut good?” Block asked.
“Yeah, I like Cut. It does sound good!” I replied happily.
“So it’s settled then! Cut is now in our ranks!” Block yelled. “Now, go to sleep, everyone!”
At this point I was sure, Block ran the place. He fit the role quite well. I was happy that I was no longer “The Newbie”. I was Cut. I was now like a member of a club. But then the question came to me. “What are we doing here? Why are we here? What is this place? Sock said a bunker, but what for?” I dismissed the thought and headed to my cubicle.
As I jumped down to my bed, I opened the drawer which held the plastic knife. “Cut. That’s me.” I thought.
“Don’t forget to shave that mop of yours!” It was Spark. He kneeled next to my cubicle and pointed to a door at the back of the cubicle room. “That’s the bathrooms. There’s plug sockets next to the sinks. Clean you hair up after, okay?”
“Sure thing, Spark. Thanks!”
“No prob, Cut. See you tomorrow.”
I headed off to shave. I got there, opened the door, and plugged in the razor. I leaned over a waste bin and started shaving. Clumps of my dark brown hair fell in. When I felt completely shaved, I looked around in the mirrors above the sinks. I had started a new life, my former one forgotten. I am Cut. But who was I before? There was someone before Cut. I unplugged the razor, checked for stray hairs, and headed back. I lay down on my bed, and fell asleep.