01 Feb The 24 Hour Game 17:00 – 18:00
Like clockwork our last remaining burner phone buzzed and Celeste checked it.
It actually made me pause and realize how customary all of this has almost felt at times. But there is still an adrenaline rush each time.
Is this what lulled people into playing the Game all along? Some enticing offer of unknown adventure?
I can’t help but to wonder if this strange game was ever meant to actually be fun and who even created it.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot actually, ever since we left that bunker and Josh told me what he did.
You can stop this game, Danny
Those were his words but I have no idea what they mean. I have a feeling though that some in the group I’m traveling with do. Those who played the long con this whole time.
But I don’t have much time to think about that as Heather grabbed her backpack and moved toward the western ridge where we are resting.
There’s a river down below, and before I get a chance to ask what she is doing, the disabled woman tosses her backpack down to the water below.
“Um…” I said slowly and she flashed the burner phone in my face. I guess it doesn’t surprise me that she is blindly following the Games instructions.
“We can’t… that at least a two hundred feet drop,” Wayne said as he struggled to push himself up on his good foot.
“He’s right it’s too dangerous. We should climb down and jump from a lower level,” I suggested.
“The rules didn’t tell us to do that. It told us to jump. That means here,” Heather said.
She doesn’t even bother to argue and Celeste screamed out in shock as her partner went over the side.
“Shit!!” Melissa yelled as we all watched the one armed woman dive into the frigid river below.
For a moment none of us said a word as I scanned the river for any sign of her. There was no doubt that all kinds of rocks could have easily broken half of the bones in her body.
Finally Heather resurfaced and her partner squealed in delight as she watched her swim downstream.
“Good enough for me,” Celeste said as she shivered in the evening air.
She passed me her pack and made the dive herself. Again all of us watched and waited, nervous to see if she too would survive the descent.
“I guess that settles it,” I muttered, still uncomfortable with the whole thing.
“I can’t,” Wayne said shaking his head and then looking toward his foot.
“I won’t make it,” he added.
I sighed and looked at his injury. I know he is probably right. With that sort of wound a fall from this height would only compound what ever else he was dealing with at this point.
“You have to try,” Melissa told him.
“Fuck,” he said shaking his head and trying to think.
He started to pace back and forth on the ridge, looking for a way out.
Then he stopped and looked toward me.
“You’ve got that flash drive right Daniel? The one Jack gave you?” he asked.
“Yeah; right here,” I said taking it out of my pocket.
“Give it to me, and the phone,” Wayne replied.
“What? Why?” I asked in surprise, and then realized it.
“You know what’s on it.”
“What matters is that we are about to jump into a fucking river and I’m the only one that is wearing a water proof vest under my clothes. If you want that drive to survive, I’ll need to take it down,” Wayne said.
He shook his head and muttered, “This is what I get for signing up for this shit twice.”
I want to ask him so much about what he is saying but I know that each moment we waste he might reconsider his position, so I offered him the drive.
Melissa and I watched as he braced himself, slipped the drive into his protective suit and then leapt down the cliff wall.
I counted as time raced for him to resurface like the others did. Nineteen seconds, thirteen…
“Come on. Come on,” I said.
Finally we saw him wash up against the rocks, swaying against the muddy shore as though driftwood.
“He’s unconscious,” Melissa realized frantically.
“We have to get down there!” I shouted as I placed the burner in my pocket and then extended my hand to her.
The teen redhead swallowed hard and took it, we jumped together over the edge of the precipice.
Pain shot through my body when we hit the river. Cold and pain.
I held my breath and closed my eyes as I fell, Melissa screaming as we hit the water.
We plunged below the surface, my body crashing against the water as I lost hold of her.
I couldn’t see or hear anything. I felt the river push me downstream as more rocks hit my bruised stomach and abs.
Finally I grabbed at the surface of the shoreline, gasping and coughing for dear life as I opened my one good eye.
Melissa was close by doing the same, both of us exhausted and wet as we tried to recover.
Heather and Celeste were nowhere in sight. I know they’ve pushed on ahead, likely already receiving another message from the Game in some shape or form.
Wayne laid against the rocks, unconscious but still clinging to life. I looked down at him and reached into his suit to procure the flash drive and the burner.
Neither of them are damaged and that is the only small trade off I can make in this hell we are experiencing.
Wayne woke up as I finished up the log, checking all of the reports that our viewers were making. He coughed up some more blood as he mumbled, “Won’t be long now… I’m going to have to tap out.”
I shook my head trying to keep my spirits up. “Don’t talk like that… you’ll be fine,” I said.
He laughed and grabbed at my arm.
“I can’t feel my legs, Daniel. I wouldn’t consider that a good sign,” he said.
Melissa is there trying not to cry, neither of us have much to say as the man lies there dying.
“You need to take that drive. Find your family and stop this game.”
I look down at it, trying to even comprehend what was so special about it.
“What is this??”
“It’s the way out Daniel. Don’t let it close to those bitches though. If they.., if they find out what it is. They’ll kill you.”
He closed his eyes as we stood there and refused to leave his side.
I touched his scars.
“What did they do to you…?” I whispered.
“Followed the rules. The Game said disable a contestant. They chose me…”
“I tried… god damn it I tried to stop this…” he groaned.
And then, with neither fanfare nor pause, Wayne Salsby was gone.