01 Feb The 24 Hour Game 06:00-07:00
It’s around 6:10 when we reach the shore, the wide ranges of the Appalachians stretching out in front of us with the raw beauty that under normal circumstances I probably would have enjoyed seeing.
But these aren’t normal circumstances at all. I’m cold, tired and hungry as I help Melissa get off the ship and follow our new leader toward the rugged sandy shores.
“We haven’t gotten any new instructions yet,” Wayne pointed out as he stretched and looked toward the winding forest.
“It won’t be long now,” Heather remarked as she looks about, seemingly checking around for something hidden in the sand.
A moment later she spots it and digs out a large metal chest. In some ways it reminds me of the one that the items I received earlier this same day.
She opened it up and to my relief I saw food inside. Along with a note.
“I guess this is our reward for good behavior?” Celeste says as she drops her backpack and takes out one of the sandwiches.
Heather seems nervous, looking around the isolated bay as though someone is watching us.
“What is it?” I ask.
“This doesn’t feel right. The Game never goes easy on anyone. Never. It’s almost an unwritten rule,” she said.
“Maybe it did because we followed through with the last set of instructions? And we’ve been handling the challenges pretty great so far, in my opinion,” Wayne said as he started to munch on the sandwich.
“That’s just it. This is a challenge. That means there is something else to it besides just eating a damn tuna sandwich,” Heather said.
Wayne seems to mull over this for a short moment and then suddenly his eyes go wide as he drops the food into the sand.
“Fuck, fuck fuck fu…” he says rapidly as he grabs at his wind pipe.
“Daniel! Drop the damn phone and help me! He’s having an allergic reaction!” Heather ordered.
What happened over the next nineteen minutes seemed like it stretched longer than it could have possibly been.
I ran over to Wayne’s side as I check the sandwich, trying to figure out what ingredient he might have been allergic to and then Celeste shouted, “There’s an epi pen in the boat!”
Melissa drops her own food and runs toward the ship as we lay Wayne down and he continued to struggle to breath.
I look at my own food and tossed it down, not even daring to take a bite. “I think it’s all been poisoned. It’s a trick,” I said.
Celeste seemed to nod in agreement but her partner wasn’t hearing any more excuses.
Heather clenched her teeth and then muttered, “No… it’s more than that. It’s another damned test. We have to finish the challenge. We have to eat.”
She bit down on her food and I watched hesitantly as she swallowed without anything bad happening.
“Some of it is laced with allergens, some of it isn’t. We have to choose wisely to get the right ones,” she realized.
Wayne is gasping, barely conscious as Melissa ran back with the kit. Celeste turns him over and starts to get the correct dosage as I stare down at my own food.
“We don’t know which is which do we?” I asked.
“Afraid not,” Heather admitted as she paced the shore.
“I’m not eating anything!” Melissa stammered.
Wayne started to regain his composure as the medicine took effect and then Heather pointed her gun at Melissa again.
“You’re really starting to piss me off you know that? First you nearly jeopardize this whole thing by being stupid and then you try to kill yourself. Well if you’re so eager to die than why don’t you just eat the damn sandwich?” Heather screamed.
Melissa raised her hands defensively and I reached down and got my own food, nibbling on it a bit.
“I think… I think mine is fine. We can share,” I said as I kept staring at Heather, her eyes still wild with rage.
Those are the kind of eyes that hide something.
Melissa took a bite of my sandwich and then we passed it over to Celeste.
“Well… now we know that two of them aren’t laced with anything toxic,” I said.
For the next ten minutes we took turns biting the same sandwich to get a little strength back. I offered Wayne the most after he was finally able to breathe clearly.
“I’m scared that it’ll just come back up,” he said.
“We all have to do it. You know the rules,” I said.
I didn’t want Heather to have another tirade so Wayne nodded solemnly and ate.
The silence that followed over the rest of the hour was deafening.
But one thing was abundantly clear as I sat there and stared at the four strangers that were alongside me, none of us seemed to really know what was going to happen next.
“I guess there was no cache this time,” Celeste said in frustration.
Heather didn’t bother to make a reply.
Then almost forty five minutes later I heard a strange noise coming from the north and looked toward the mountains. It was a black helicopter most likely from the same SWAT team that had attacked us near the dump.
“It’s another assault!!” Melissa shrieked.
She was about to get up and run when Heather held her back and we all watched as something was tossed out the side of the helicopter.
“What the…” Wayne started to say as the crate fell not but thirty feet away from us. “Told you there is always a drop,” Heather said triumphantly.
Then three seconds later the helicopter started to point its nose toward the water and I held my breath.
“They’re going to crash!!” I shouted frantically as the sound of their choppers grew louder. We stood up in frantic shock as the helicopter grew closer, whirling past our heads and straight into the rocks nearby.
It burst into a hundred different directions and from beneath the flames and carnage I heard the soft familiar sound of a phone chime.