Friday, March 12, 2010

Chapter 129: Succinctly Screwed

~ As Jaden drew nearer to the media station, he slowed to a walk, glancing around himself cautiously. There was nothing to hear over the waving of the tall grass in the wind, but his mind kept telling him that it could not be that easy.

"You're just going to walk right up to the station and that will be the end of the level? You just happened to stumble upon it because you picked exactly the right direction to go on the first pass?"

"What? What do you want from me?"
he demanded of himself. "Want me to turn around and go back. I'm being careful, now shut up already."

"Fine. Whatever. But it couldn't be this easy!"

Jaden sighed a bit more noisily than he intended. "I'm insane. I am frigging insane," he muttered.


Takyle stared at the two huge images in front of her. Both of them showed a view from far above. The screen on the right held Jaden, walking across the grass, toward what she couldn't tell. The picture on the left was clearly of Andrew. At first she thought the image was a single shot, he was so still. In front of him, nearly hidden in the grass, Takyle could barely pick out the shadowed form of some kind of big cat.


Despite Jaden's forebodings, he couldn't help feeling a sense of elation as he stood in front of the media station.

"I did it. I found the thing. Now just to find the on switch." He tentatively pressed one of the keys on the board and was pleased to see the screen come to life and words begin to fade forward.

"Look out," he read, immediately glancing around. When he found nothing but the unchanged, rolling grasses, he turned back to the screen. The words had disappeared and were being replaced.

"Watch your back." Jaden turned again, just to be doubly sure no one was sneaking up on him, but the plain persisted in being deserted.

"What the hell?" he asked aloud, expecting the words to change again, but they did not. In a minute the message faded away and the screen darkened. Jaden tapped the keyboard, with no response.

"What the bloody hell..." he asked again, his voice trailing off as he turned around. ~

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chapter 128: Double Jeopardy

~ Andrew crouched low, eyes fixed on the leopard's face, pointedly taking deep, slow breaths and trying to keep his heart from racing. Now that the big cat knew Andrew was aware of its presence, Andrew's experience with nature programs told him that there would be no more stalking. Andrew was suddenly very sympathetic toward the nervous, twitchy little deer that never stand a chance of getting away.

"Once the prey is on to you the only real option is to charge while there is still the chance of capture,"
Andrew thought, knowing full well that the slightest move on his part would trigger the chase instinct and that would be it.

"Well when you can't run and you can't hide, what possibilities are you left with?"

Andrew tensed his fingers around his dagger.

"I'd prefer not to have to go with that option..."


"Come with me," the little girl said, holding her hand out to Takyle. For a moment Takyle hesitated, then stepped forward and reached out for the pale fingers. As soon as the girl's smooth, cool skin brushed against hers Takyle felt the ground whirl around her dizzyingly. Everything but the child seemed to streak away and she was left standing on a rock, surrounded by starry sky and vast emptiness. Takyle gasped in fear at the sudden, disorienting change and stood frozen in place, too terrified to near the edge of her rock.

"What the hell did you just do?"

"I've taken you out of the game."

"It looks like you've taken me out of the freaking solar system!"

"Are you frightened?" the girl asked calmly.

"Hell yes, I'm frightened! What do you expect when you just go and slap someone on a floating hunk of rock out in the middle of space?"

"You are easily frightened," the girl stated blandly. Takyle gaped at her.

"Look here, Red. I didn't ask to be transported to another dimension. Quit speculating on my fear levels and tell me what the fuck is going on already!" The girl never even blinked at Takyle's escalating rage.

"You must complete a task. You will control the game."

In the blackness in front of Takyle two transparent squares appeared, growing and stretching until they merged to comprise a rectangle the size of a wall. Two pictures began to fade onto the clear slabs and when the images were solid enough to make out, the only sound in the eternal emptiness was Takyle's sharp intake of breath. ~