01 Feb The 24 Hour Game 16:00 – 17:00
Wayne and Celeste helped me move Josh’s body toward a bonfire that Heather started.
It seemed a fitting end to him given the circumstances. To keep us warm as a noble sacrifice.
As we pushed his body into the flames the sun dipped almost out of view. The twilight was taking hold of the mountains as we sat there, all of us in some way lost and confused by what had transpired.
I can barely see out of my eye and I’m doing my best to keep from getting an infection as the rain drizzles down over us.
Then as we settled down around the fire, Melissa’s phone is the one to chirp and all of us begrudgingly look to see what the latest task is.
“No arguments here,” Wayne said as he laid down and rubbed at his swore leg.
I shook the cold wet rain off my body and sat criss-cross as Heather muttered, “I’ve… never made it this far before. Is the Game… really rewarding me?”
I shrugged, too tired to even talk. But still I knew that I needed answers about what Josh had just told me.
“We need to conserve battery power,” Celeste suggested and dimmed the lighting on the cell phone while also switching it to silent mode.
“Is it going to last the rest of the day?” Melissa asked worriedly.
“I… I don’t know…” Heather admitted.
We were now all in uncharted territory. I sighed and looked at them.
Time to confront the elephant in the room.
I scooted over to where the one armed lady and her partner were at and said, “Before we go any further… there’s a few things that I need you two to answer for me.”
Celeste looked toward Heather and the two of them nodded without hesitation as I asked my first inquiry.
“Charlie. What happened to him?” I asked.
“Challenge 13,” Heather whispered softly.
“Last year when I lost my arm we were all being held up near an abandoned school in south Ontario. It was so fucking hot… middle of fucking August when we played,” she added.
“But two years ago… You cut off his finger… and the Game didn’t accept that, no new message,” I said as I drew my own conclusions about what happened next.
“Charlie killed himself, didn’t he?”
“The rules said to lose. I thought… we all thought that meant we had to sacrifice something…” Heather said her voice shaking.
I just sat there in the silence and looked toward Josh’s body.
“So after you lost… you were instructed to recruit others for the Game. People like Lionel and that pilot, I assume? What about Josh? I thought you said you didn’t know him?” I asked.
“Not by that name, no…. We’ve… been through this before Daniel. We wanted to have a strategy about how the game would force us to play. Certain elements were common, we knew that it would be the same time zone when it started so we all maintained clear communication with each other. When the game started we all knew eventually it would bring a total of 12 contestants together in one way or another, never knew what that might lead to,” Heather said.
“And you two started together? You worked this all out from the very beginning?” I guessed.
Neither of them said a word.
“We need to get some rest, got to follow the rules,” Celeste said as she laid down and closed her eyes.
I looked toward Josh’s corpse as the flames grew into the evening sky.
“That’s what you two have been doing all along isn’t it? Following the rules. You came into this game on purpose, determined to see it through to the end. But the Game expected that. It’s been playing you both this whole damn time… ever since it forced you both to participate,” I said firmly convinced that my theory was right.
Heather and her partner don’t say a word and close their eyes as darkness falls over top of us.
But I know that I’m right. Josh was right. Or whoever he was.
These two were up to something, some way to stop the Game. Or something far more sinister entirely.
Wayne fidgeted as he slept and I wondered briefly what he knows about all of this.
I looked toward Melissa, too high strung to even consider sleep.
But I have to keep these logs going. I have to keep going.
So I asked her to watch the phone and we will take turns resting until the next challenge. I don’t feel safe falling asleep near Heather or Celeste so I laid down beside Wayne at an angle and offered the phone to Melissa.
I know I probably shouldn’t put this here. Daniel seems like a nice person. He told me to just watch the group as he sleeps. But all I can think about is my dad.
I’m probably going to die soon if this game keeps going at this rate. In fact, I know I am.
I’ve told the others that I’m not scared to die. I’m a fucking liar.
I don’t want to lose. I don’t want to be gone. Daniel and the others are right. Dad wouldn’t have wanted me to just roll over and give up.
God I’m tearing up just as I write this. I’m so sorry dad. Sorry I made you play this game. Sorry I convinced you to let me help you finish it.
But I think now I’m realizing what none of these people are willing to accept. This Game can’t be won.
It’s going to push us to the very edge. And then hold us there and force us to jump. I can feel it.
I’m so fucking scared. I don’t want to be. I need to do something to stop this. But I know that I can’t.
All I can hope for is maybe saving one of the people I’m here with. If push comes to shove…. I’ll do it, dad. I’ll sacrifice myself to save them, they way you sacrificed yourself to save me.
The hour is almost up. I’m going to have to wake them up soon and get some rest myself. Got to follow the damned instructions. I’m going to wake Daniel up now. I hope he doesn’t read this.
Fuck it anyway.
Melissa passed the phone back to me about ten minutes ago. She asked me not to look at what she added to my log, and I can’t help but to feel obliged to honor her request.
I get the sickening feeling these few minutes where all of us caught some rest are the last threshold before something beyond our capabilities. I thought at first that this was some sick reward but I’m certain it’s not.
The Game forced us to rest, the way it forced us to retrieve that phone in the icy river. Once again, playing a mind game to make us all comply. Was it stringing us along to make us lose everything? A final checkmate?
The only question for now though is whether or not the people who I am playing with, are also playing an end game of their own.