01 Feb The 24 Hour Game 02:00-03:00
“Melissa,” she said her name as we pulled into the parking lot of the dump just five minutes before our hour was up.
Her phone and mine pinged at the same time as we sat there in the dark with the same message.
III. FIND THE OTHERS.
“All right, lets get in there,” Melissa said as she turned off the engine to the Mazda.
“Hold on a second. Let’s stop for a minute and at least think,” I argued.
“What’s there to think about? What do you need to know? Did I sign up for some dumb internet challenge thinking it was all fun and games? Yes. Did they blackmail me into hitting those cops and bringing you here? Also yes. What else is there to say?”
“Who did they hurt that you know?” I asked softly.
Melissa grabbed the steering wheel and let out a soft breath before muttering, “Does it matter? I’m not going to waste time spilling my life story to some complete stranger when I need to finish this challenge and get them back.”
She moved toward the barbed-wire fence that kept any and all passers by from just slipping in undetected and then toward the main gate about a block from where we parked.
“I bet we could ram that thing,” she said as she started back toward the driver’s seat.
“Hold on, hold on!!” I said standing in her way.
“Listen, I want my family back as much as you do. But we’ve already committed a federal crime! Do you really want to add another problem to our growing list?”
She crossed her arms and sighed, “Do you have any brighter ideas?”
“Let’s look around. There’s got to be another way in,” I suggested as I led the way down the side of the fence line.
Neither of us talked as we started searching it for any sort of weak points, and as we made it to the south side near the water I was beginning to think maybe her idea would have been the smarter choice.
“Hey what’s this?” Melissa said as she peered over a rock and found what appeared to be a tool kit of some sort.
I reached down and opened it up to find a pair of bolt cutters inside and then glanced toward the fence and said, “Looks like it’s our way in.”
I motioned her over toward one of the shorter spots on the fence where there was a gate that opened on the other side and said, “I’ll hoist you up, you cut and then open the gate.”
“All right,” she said brushing her hair back and taking the cutters.
I knelt down and let the young girl lift herself into my shoulders and then gingerly lifted her up at least three feet into the air. I wobbled back and forth for a good thirty seconds as I struggled to hold her and Melissa cut apart the wiring to slip over.
“I think I can get over now,” she called as I told her to hurry. I heard dogs barking from somewhere near by. Like there was some sort of search team in the area.
I gave her a final boost and then looked up as the redhead slipped out of view to the other side.
The barking became more intense as I shouted to her to open the gate.
Three tall dark Dutch Shepards bounded around the corner, gnashing their teeth as they came toward me.
I panicked and was about to pull out the gun I had been given when Melissa shouted for me to get near the gate.
“Don’t waste your bullets!!” she yelled as one of the dogs snapped against my arm and I tried to cover my face.
She opened the gate and pulled me, slamming the door shut as the second dog lunged for me.
The animal made a yelp as it tried to snatch at my foot and I kicked it away, scrambling to stand up as I checked my wound.
“You’ll be fine. We need to look around,” Melissa said as the dogs kept barking.
“They won’t stop until they find us,” I pointed out as we walked toward the central dump site.
In the dim light of the moon it was hard to tell what we were supposed to be looking for, and the smell was enough to make me want to vomit.
“See anything?” Melissa asked as we rounded another tall stack of garbage.
“Not a thing,” I said as I paused and looked toward the crane that was moving large chunks of metal and dumping them onto a fresh pile about twenty yards away from us.
“Maybe we’re looking in the wrong way,” I said as I moved over toward the pile and started to rummage through the trash.
“What? What are you doing?” Melissa asked.
“I don’t know, call it a hunch….”
She was about to tell me that I was wasting my time when I moved aside another pile of debris and saw a man’s hand sticking out from the trash.
“Holy shit!” she yelled.
“Help me!!” I told her. Together we worked to pull the man out and then laid him down on the soft ground next to the trash heap as he struggled to breathe.
“We did it!” Melissa said excitedly, trying to not freak out. I knew why she was nervous though. The game had forced this man to bury himself in the garbage. And if we hadn’t found him in time…
He coughed up sewage and blood as he struggled to find words and pointed toward the heap again.
“My… my partner…” he mumbled.
My eyes widened and I went to digging again, trying desperately to find the other person within the trash.
Nineteen minutes later I found a young man wearing a number thirteen sports jersey in bright red, he was barely clinging to life.
“Are you the only ones?” I asked the first man as Melissa tried to get the second one conscious.
He was too weak to talk though.
I checked the time. It was only twenty three minutes before we got our next challenge. Maybe then we would find out if we had managed to save some of these participants.