01 Feb The 24 Hour Game 15:00 – 16:00
Josh is the one that gets to read what the message says.
He doesn’t seem that all surprised when he does.
XVI. KILL CONTESTANT.
There’s no between the lines this time. The Game isn’t playing tricks. One of us had to die.
“Well… fuck,” Wayne said as he seemed to think that he would be the obvious choice. There was plenty of reason for all of us to hate him.
“What are you even doing here??” Heather asked my old friend.
I’m not really surprised to know that they were contestants together.
More surprised though that again neither planned on the other being here.
“To save your sorry ass…” he looked toward them with shifty eyes and then toward me.
Josh said, “It needs to be me.”
“What… you… you can’t just do that. I just saved your ass!!” I screamed at him.
“You aren’t going to talk me out of it, Danny. I’ve already lost anyway. Lost before I left that room actually. My last task was to tie myself up and wait. Never got another message. I guess the Game knew you would be on your way to save me,” he said.
“That doesn’t mean you lost! Maybe us saving you means you made it to this round,” I argued.
“Danny…. you have… no fucking idea. Fuck man. It took you 16 hours just to get here… don’t you get it?” he muttered.
“Get what?” Melissa asked.
He looked toward my new companions suspiciously.
“I want to talk to Daniel… alone,” Josh said.
Heather sighed and nodded. Clearly exhausted by this new monkey wrench that the Game was throwing at us.
Josh motioned for me to follow him away from our makeshift camp and toward the woods.
Once we were out of earshot, he muttered, “You’ve got a lot of questions I’m sure.”
“That doesn’t even begin to describe what is happening and what has happened to me today, Josh. But all that matters is where Marcy and Michael are at. Tell me that and I won’t care about anything else,” I said.
He sighed and rubbed his forehead.
“They were still alive last I checked. And… I’m pretty sure the Game is leading you to them,” Josh said.
“Leading me? What do you mean?” I asked.
“It’s just simple math, Danny. The Game is stringing you along to take everything away from you. Why else do you think it forced me to recruit you! To kidnap your wife? And your kid!! Do you think that I wanted to do any of that shit!!” He muttered.
“Because you lost the last time you played,” I said.
“Damn straight I did. And do you know why?” he said and then gestures toward the camp.
“Your fucking friends. I was with that team, Danny. Don’t be fooled by their charm and smiles. They are cold blooded. Did they tell you what happened to Charlie?” he muttered.
“I don’t understand… you were here two years ago?” I asked.
“Obviously not here as in this spot. Last time the Game started we were up near Toronto. Last round I was in was near Lake Ontario. The instructions for the round were simple enough. Throw someone overboard. It was round fucking nine and they were already prepared to kill someone to get what they fucking wanted Danny!!” He screamed angrily.
I felt my palms get sweaty as we stood there.
“And what is it exactly that they want?” I whispered.
“Hell if I know! They left me to drown! I was lucky the coast guard picked me up,” he said waving his hand dismissively.
I turned back toward the cliff edge, seeing Heather and Celeste’s silhouette outlined as the sun started to streak out bursts of orange and red.
“So why did you play again? You said that the Game forced you to?” I asked.
“It did. It does that to anyone that loses. Makes them keep the game going. When I got home I found that I had nothing in my bank account. I had to declare bankruptcy. I was homeless for three weeks. And then like a guardian angel, this… message online asks me to recruit someone for the Game. Says that I can get back everything I ever lost and ten times as much at that. Of course I didn’t say no, why would I?” He said.
I can’t help but to punch him in the jaw.
“So you recruited me?? Why? Why not one of your other damned idiot friends?” I asked angrily.
“Look I didn’t know that it would make me hurt Michael or your wife!! I didn’t!! But I do know that you can stop this game Daniel. I know you can!” He said.
“Stop it…? What do you mean?” I asked.
“The Game is pushing harder than ever to make you all fail a task. It’s playing all kinds of mind games with you, am I right? Well here’s one more bombshell for you. That’s cause it’s not designed for you to win!” he said.
“How do you know that?” I asked.
“We found a way to beat the game, Jack, Lionel, Wayne and I,” he whispered gesturing toward the group. “That’s why it’s fighting back so damn hard.”
He sighed and looked toward the setting sun.
“They aren’t going to let that happen though,” he added as he glared at his former team mates. “The Game will see to that.”
“They might surprise you,” I argued.
“There isn’t time for this Danny!” he said as he grabbed me and muttered, “Marcy and your son, they are in a mansion nearby. You can get there, save them and get out of this before it takes everything from you too!”
Then he took the gun I had been holding onto this entire time and pointed it toward his skull.
“Josh… what are you doing…” I said.
“You need to listen to me. Listen to me. Repeat what I just said. Go to the mansion. Save your family. Trust no one,” he ordered.
The others are seeing the commotion that he is making.
“Say it Danny!!” He screamed.
“Go to the mansion… save my family…”
I swallow hard as I hear Heather and Celeste running toward us.
“Trust no one.”
He nods as a tear trickles down his cheek.
“Godspeed Danny,” he muttered and then pulled the trigger.
I covered my mouth as the bullet slammed through his skull, the blood splattering in a hundred different directions as his body crumpled onto the ground.
I’m still standing there as Celeste steps past me, confirming what has happened.
She looks at me to offer words of comfort. But I don’t know if they are sincere.
I don’t know if anything is real anymore.