01 Feb The 24 Hour Game 18:00 – 19:00
Melissa and I moved toward the deep forest, the long rainstorm that we’ve had to deal with for the afternoon passing away as we trekked through the trees.
Our steps are the only ones we heard. I can’t help but to wonder if Celeste and Heather assumed that we died in the jump.
The phone that Wayne passed to me is barely working. I actually smile for a minute and wonder if the reason it’s survived this long is because it’s a Nokia.
I pushed through the heavy grass in the trail, trying to search for the others. A long time passed and neither of us seemed to really know where to go next.
“Do you think we failed the challenge somehow? Is that why it’s gone dark?” Melissa asked as she gestured toward the burner cell.
Again I didn’t have the answers. I just stumbled through the dark trying to find something to still hope for.
Then amid the shadows I saw a looming silhouette and ran toward it.
The flashlight on the phone fizzled out as we moved into a wide open area and I looked up toward the shape as it took form.
It was a building.
It was a mansion.
As I stood there trying to take in what all of it meant; the cell vibrated again.
Melissa is at my side a moment later and we don’t waste a moment entering the gloomy estate.
The door creaked open and I peered into the dark unlit manor, looking down at the tile floor and barely seeing the footprints of Heather and Celeste on the dusty, grimy surface.
“What is this place?” the redhead asked softly.
“I don’t know… stay close,” I told her as I looked around the interior. None of the rooms on the 1st floor appeared to be touched by anything except cobwebs and more dust. As though no one had been here in quite a while.
We moved from room to room, examining each artifact and item that I felt offered a clue. None of it was registering in my tired brain though.
“This door is locked;” Melissa said as she rattled it.
“Looks like it might be the dining chamber or something…” I said as I tried to shove it open but the thing wouldn’t budge.
“Too bad we still don’t have those bolt cutters,” she quipped.
“There’s some one in there, I can hear voices,” I said as I moved toward the furniture and tried to ram the door open with it. Again it just refused to open and I strained my sore muscles before muttering, “Something must be barricading the door. We need to see if there’s another way in.”
“Maybe on the second floor?” Melissa suggested. We moved back to the vestibule, a loud grandfather clock making a thudding sound as we reached the half hour mark.
“This place gives me the fucking creeps,” she muttered.
I don’t bother with any more small talk, I can feel my adrenaline kicking in again as I move up the grand staircase to the second floor.
I’m close to the truth. I can feel it.
We move in the direction of the dining hall and I stop short of pushing open another door as Celeste walks out straight in front of us.
“You made it,” she said with a wave of relief.
I don’t bother acknowledging her and push into the next room.
It’s some kind of observational deck. There was a large glass pane window that overlooked the dining hall and I see Heather staring down at the room and softly crying.
I walked over slowly and peered down myself, a mix of emotions rushing my body.
There below us I saw four figures strapped in the chairs that faced the table.
Two of them I don’t recognize at all, an older gentleman and a young girl barely five years old.
The others are my wife and son. And there is a row of explosives tied all around them on the dining table as they sit there unconscious.
I slam my fist against the glass.
“Mother fucker,” I said as I reached over to Celeste’s backpack and grabbed a weapon.
“Don’t! It’s reinforced bullet proof glass,” Heather told me.
“We’ve got to get down there!!” I urged them about to move toward the door.
Celeste blocked my path.
“Move out of the way or so help me I will bust a cap in your ass,” I told her.
“Daniel. It won’t work. There isn’t any way in,” she responded.
I move back toward the window and look toward the two door ways that lead into the dining hall. Both of them are also lined with heavy crates of toxic chemicals. Likely from the very same dump where we were first led to.
“Fuck,” Melissa said softly as she looked down at the scene.
“We have to do fucking something!!” I urged them. I looked at Heather. Even she looked defeated.
“It’s too late. We’ve lost. We came all this way… for nothing,” she said shaking her head sadly.
“God damn it. Don’t talk like that. There’s always a way to win,” I said.
“We have to give the Game what it wants, Daniel. Pure and simple. We do that or the people in that room die,” Heather said as she motioned toward a television screen.
“What it wants? What does it want?” I asked.
“That drive that Jack had inside his stomach… I assume you don’t have it anymore or that the jump damaged it beyond repair?” Celeste asked.
I stood there, my heart racing as I reached into my pocket and took it out.
“Wayne gave it to me…. he held onto to it during the jump,” I said.
“Thank god. In the insanity I didn’t even think of how it would survive,” our leader said.
“Give it to me, now,” Heather added as she pushed toward me.
Before I can think I raise my weapon and fire a warning shot at the floor.
“Daniel, what are you doing??” Celeste asked.
I looked at the drive, finally realizing what must be on it. But still I need to know as I feel the phone vibrate.
Before I answer it, I point the weapon at the two women that have brought me this far. “It’s time for some answers,” I said firmly.