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Chapter 1 of The Black Goat Game

The Return of the Prey

By XiaoZhiYuanChuangPublished 3 months ago 5 min read
Chapter 1 of The Black Goat Game
Photo by Karthik Balakrishnan on Unsplash

Welcome to the Black Goat Game, with a prize of three million dollars for this round. Are you participating?

I hesitated for a few seconds but chose "Yes" in the bottom left corner.

After submitting, I glanced at my left hand, where my ring finger and pinky were cut off. I let out a bitter laugh; that was the price I paid for losing the previous game.

With a $120,000 mortgage on my back, I was laid off. Looking at the balance on my bank card, I fell into anxiety. Without income, how could I pay the mortgage next month? Those examples online of people whose houses were taken away due to default, and then they stole tens of thousands from the bank, stabbed at me viciously. I put out my cigarette and finally made up my mind to open an app on my phone that I hadn't used for a long time.

A Black Goat head with an eerie aura appeared on the phone screen.

"Mr. Mobby, hello, you haven't logged in for 578 days. Welcome back to the Black Goat Game. This round will have twenty players, with a first prize of three million dollars and a penalty of one million dollars for last place. Will you participate?"

I hesitated for a few seconds and chose "Yes" in the bottom left corner. As soon as I submitted the registration information, my phone received a text message:

"Players please gather at No. 52 North Garden at 6 pm on October 13th."

I turned off the phone screen and wiped my face. My bloodshot eyes stung a little. The Black Goat Game is a thing created by a bunch of rich weirdos. Each round has a different theme, but they're all quite brain-burning. Generally, no more than thirty players participate, all the craziest gamblers, winning money or losing organs or limbs if they lose. Of course, there are also professional players. They have teams with numerical advantages, analyze the game rules, find loopholes, and use various means to lock in victory in advance. If you encounter them, you can only admit your bad luck. Professional players in the circle have a special nickname, called "Hunters".

The first time I participated in the game, I encountered a Hunter and lost two fingers.

But did I have a choice? I let out a bitter laugh. If I couldn't pay the mortgage again next month, the bank would sue me, and then I would have to bear the lawsuit fees of several thousand dollars. Thinking about having to return to that terrible game, I felt not a shred of anxiety or fear in my heart. Because this time, I had made up my mind to either win the game and change my destiny or be completely screwed.

On the evening of October 13th, I arrived at No. 52 North Garden, a small town of European-style buildings where not only residents but also many businesses had settled. I came to a villa, scanned the QR code with my phone, and a staff member gestured for me to enter. Walking into the villa's lobby, I glanced around silently; twelve or thirteen players were already seated. I found an inconspicuous spot and sat down, patiently waiting.

By Ashley Byrd on Unsplash

After a while, the villa's main door opened, and five or six men rushed in. They were wearing ripped jeans and leather jackets, with some wearing nose rings, ear piercings, and even tattoos of blue dragons and white tigers. Their flamboyant attire clashed with the atmosphere here. The leader, a man in his thirties with a quiff hairstyle and a cigarette dangling from his mouth, was puffing out smoke rings. Our eyes met through one of the smoke rings he exhaled. I recognized him, and he recognized me.

"Well, well, if it isn't Brother Mobby?"

He raised his eyebrows in mock surprise and walked over. I took a breath, and the stump of my severed fingers seemed to ache a little as he looked at me with a half-smile.

"Long time no see, huh? What's the matter, broke again? Listen to me, brother, don't play anymore. This game ain't for you."

He pointed at my head.

"No brains for this game, it takes smarts. Just acting dumb won't cut it."

He patted my shoulder, then winked at me before turning to call his brothers over. Finding a comfortable sofa, he plopped down, lounging with his legs stretched out.

From start to finish, I didn't say a word, just kept massaging the stump of my severed fingers. The scene from two years ago replayed in my mind.

"Brother Mobby, once we get through this stage, we're set to win. Listen to me, when you go through the Gate of Judgment, choose the Sword of Justice on the left. As long as you get the Sword of Justice, you'll be the biggest winner this round. And don't forget our deal after winning – we split the prize money."

"No worries, Chen Nine. Without you, I wouldn't have scored so high this whole way. Just wait for me, I'll go get the Sword of Justice right now."

The scene flashed, and I emerged from the Gate of Judgment holding the Sword of Justice, beaming with impending victory.

But when the gamemaster announced my score, the smile froze on my face.

"Why? I got the Sword of Justice, the highest-scoring item. You must have made a mistake!"

"We did not make a mistake. You obtained the Black Demon Sword, a death item. You will be deducted 500 points. You now have the lowest score of all players. Mr. Mobby, unfortunately, this round has ended, and you lost. You have two choices: accept the one million dollar penalty or have two fingers cut off."

The gamemaster's cold voice hit me in the chest.

The scene flashed again, and Chen Nine's mocking face appeared before me.

"Brother Mobby, you gotta use your brain in this game. Why can't you get it through your thick skull?"

"That's right, I swapped the Sword of Justice for the Black Demon Sword. Who told you to score higher than me? So I rigged it a little. Split the prize money? Who's the fool, why would I give you half after getting it? I pocketed the whole $1.5 million."

"Oh, and I don't go by Chen Nine. I'm Snake Nine, a professional Hunter. Professional players, you know? We analyze the game rules, find the loopholes, then find a dummy like you and—snip—cut you down. You said it yourself, easy money, ain't it?" Snake Nine smiled sinisterly, his beady eyes like a venomous serpent.

Two years later, I'd run into him again. I watched him silently, lounging comfortably on the sofa with his legs stretched out, surrounded by his five underlings. The one with blond hair was called Gold Hoop, the one with silver hair Silver Hoop, and I hadn't seen the other three before—probably hired hands.

By Reuben Juarez on Unsplash


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