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Time to Play
In a desolate amusement park, a half-lit sign hung loosely at the entrance and read, “Coasters Galore”. Jack stood trembling inside an empty warehouse with a ball in his hand. The sweat formed beads on his forehead and he stared straight ahead; a red and white target stood on the opposite side. He swallowed hard and threw the ball towards the target.
“No, please don’t!” Jack pleaded as he tried to escape.
He ran to a nearby counter and hid behind it, panting. Jack peered around the corner to see if he was being followed and to his relief, nobody was to be seen. As he returned back to his hiding spot he heard a breath; it wasn’t his.
“What’s wrong? Come play!” a menacing voice cackled.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Mom! Mom! Where are you?” Tim searched in the dark, “It’s dark in here!”
Something bumped against the wall.
“Mom! There’s something in my room!”
More loud noises filled his ears.
“Mom!” Tim screamed again.
Suddenly, Tim sat up in his bed. His bedroom light faintly glowed in the room.
“I even hate the dark in my dreams!”
As he wiped his eyes to wake up, the phone started to ring. Tim groaned as he leaned over to answer it.
“Hey Tim, it’s Evan. I saw this sweet ad for an amusement park. Wanna go?”
“No way! You know I hate heights!”
“How old are you? Stop being a baby. You just turned 18. Man up! Nikki said she was going to come.”
Tim could hear Evan smile through the phone. Everyone knew that he had a thing for Nikki and how couldn’t he? She was absolutely gorgeous and Tim always had had feelings for her.
“Well?” Evan asked.
“Where are we going?”
“Coasters Galore. It looks awesome!”
“Fine. I’ll come.”
“Sweet! See you later.”
Tim hung up the phone and thought to himself. “It can’t be that bad. Especially if Nikki is going to be there. I can’t wuss out now.”
After Tim got ready, he headed out to his car to pick everyone up. As he took a step in his driveway, a piece of paper blew across his lawn and landed at his feet. Tim bent over to pick it up. “Coasters Galore. Get ready for the fright of your life!”
They arrived at the amusement park.
“Hey, look at that!” Jake exclaimed, “There’s nobody here!”
The rest of them looked around and realized he was right. The parking lot was completely empty. Not another car was in sight.
“Dang... They must be closed,” Tim suggested.
“Here, let me pull up their website.” Jake pulled out his phone.
“There’s no service here!”
“Let’s just go look,” Cole said as he exited the car.
“C’mon Tim!” Nikki smiled at him.
“Alright, alright,” he smiled back.
As they approached the front gate, there was somebody working the ticket booth.
“See! They’re open. We’ll have five tickets please,” Jake slapped a credit card on the counter.
The person in the booth wore a black cloak that covered his face. He motioned for them to keep moving on into the park. As he lifted his arm to show them in, Tim noticed the numerous amount of shoelaces that were tied around his grey wrist.
“Strange,” Tim thought.
The group entered the park and headed to the first ride. The air smelled of stale cotton candy and burnt popcorn.
“This is awesome! There’s no lines,” Cole exclaimed.
They all piled into the coasters and the same ticket booth worker was the ride attendant. Still, no face was showing.
The coaster shot off and everybody screamed as they went through twists and turns and up and down hills. One scream was particularly loud though. Cole looked over to see that Evan was no longer in the seat next to him.
“Evan? Evan?” Cole screamed, “Where are you?”
The ride finally came to a halt and the attendant was nowhere to be found.
“Guys, Evan fell out of the ride,” Cole explained frantically.
“What? What do you mean?” Tim asked.
“We have to go look for him,” Jake ran off.
The group unbuckled their seats and went to go look for Evan. Just as they rounded a corner, Tim saw the black cloaked figure disappear into a warehouse.
“Hey, sir! Help us!”
The figure didn’t hesitate and continued into the building.
“Let’s follow him,” Nikki suggested.
They all nodded in agreement and ran after the attendant. As they approached the door,
Tim looked up at the sign above. It read “Games”. Tim looked at his friends as they shrugged their shoulders. He opened the door and a wave of stench overtook them. Cole gagged when the pungent aroma reached his nose.
“What is that?” Cole choked out.
“I’m not sure, I can’t see anything,” Jake explained, “it’s too dark in here.”
Nikki clung to Tim’s arm, “Go in and find a light for us.”
Tim swallowed hard. If there was one thing that he was more afraid of than heights, it was the dark.
“I...I don’t know,” he stammered.
“There’s a switch!” Cole said.
The lights slowly flickered on, one by one intensifying in brightness. When all the lights were finally turned on they could see what was causing the foul odors.
Piles of mangled human limbs covered the floor of the warehouse. Jake puked outside the door as the rest of the group stood there in shock.
“Evan!” Cole screamed, “Evan!”
Suddenly, the cloaked figure appeared at the other side of the room. He motioned to the group to walk forward and as soon as they were all inside the door shut tight behind them. Nikki shrieked with surprise. The figure then held up his hand and had them stop. The lights shut off again briefly and when they turned back on they were in a different room. In front of them stood the figure holding Evan at knife-point.
“Evan!” Jake said as he ran towards him.
As soon as Jake took a step forwards, the figure grabbed Evan and stepped back.
“Jake, stop. It’s no use. There’s only one way to save us.” Evan said weakly.
“What are you talking about?” Cole asked.
Evan looked up at the over-towering black figure and said, “Each one of us has to play a game to stay alive.” The figure nodded in agreement.
“That’s just sick,” Jake said, “There’s no way I’m doing this.”
The lights flashed off and on again and Jake was facing a wall of balloons and three darts were placed in front of him.
“What? I have to pop three balloons?” Jake questioned, “That’s the best you’ve got?”
He picked up the first dart and threw it at the blue balloon to the left of the wall.
Jake smiled, “One down, two more to go.”
He picked up the second dart, this time he was a little more nervous. His eyes concentrated hard as they moved from the sharp, metal tip of the dart to the yellow balloon on the back wall.
“Alright, one more balloon. Is this a joke?” Jake smiled as he picked up his last dart.
He took a careful aim at the red balloon right in the center and inhaled deeply. His arm cocked back and threw towards the wall. Just as he released, Evan’s face replaced where the red balloon was, right in the path of the dart.
“No!” Jake yelled.
But there was nothing he could do. He watched the rusty, metal dart plunge itself deep into Evan’s eye.
Evan released a blood curdling scream.
“That’s not fair! This game is rigged!” Jake protested as Evan’s screams filled the room
“Sorry, but you both lose,” a raspy voice came from beneath the cloak.
Before anybody could move, the figure grabbed Jake and Evan and it was dark once again; this time for a longer period of time. The screams of Evan and Jake pierced everyone’s ears until it was completely silent. A faint chuckle was heard from the corner of the room.
“You sick freak!” yelled Cole, “What’s wrong with you?”
With that, the lights turned on again, Evan and Jake were nowhere to be seen and the figure stood alone, covered in blood. Tim noticed he was tying two more shoelaces to his wrist. He then pointed to Cole to come forward. Cole’s entire body trembled as he took small steps closer to the cloaked monster. The lights shut off again and when they turned on, two water guns pointed at each other across the room. The figure also gestured to Nikki who let out a squeal as she stepped forward. Cole and Nikki looked at each other confused.
“Are we having a water gun fight?” Cole mocked.
Cole and Nikki took their seats on opposing sides. The lights shut off again and Tim stood by himself this time. His gut sank and his palms moistened with sweat. Each second spent in the dark seemed like minutes. A cold breath came down his neck as he felt the cloaked monster pass by him.
“You’re next,” the raspy voice whispered.
Chills jolted down Tim’s spine and only intensified when he heard the muffled screams of Cole and Nikki. The lights turned back on. Tim looked up and froze. Rusty metal rings pried Cole and Nikki’s mouths opened and wires fastened their thumbs just above the triggers on the guns.
“The one to fill their opponent first,” hissed the figure, “gets to prolong their pathetic life a few moments longer.”
Cole and Nikki’s eyes widened with fear. All Tim could do was watch his friends sit there in absolute terror, trying to decide what to do next. Neither of them could push the trigger.
“Is it too hard?” the voice asked, “Let me help make the target a little bigger.”
The contraptions on Cole and Nikki’s mouths creaked and spread their mouths open even wider. They both screamed with fear. It was enough to send Nikki over the edge. She pushed her trigger down and water shot from her gun down Cole’s throat. Cole reacted quickly and pushed his trigger down as well and the two fought to keep from drowning. The cloak figure snickered as his victims struggled. Cole’s thumb let go of the trigger and choked up all the water.
The lights turned off again and Cole’s gargled screams lasted for only a short while and the lights were back on. Nikki coughed up water as she gasped for breath and ran back towards Tim.
“I’m so sorry,” she cried.
The figured stood in front of them tying another shoelace to his wrist.
“Alright,” Tim tried to sound confident, “What do you have for me?”
The lights once more turned off and when they came on again, a mallet laid on the floor next to a tall tower with a bell at the top. Tim knew what to do. He walked over and picked up the mallet and sized it up, shifting it from hand to hand. His eyes followed the towering pole to the top where the bell waited to be rung. Tim brought the hammer above his head and hit the base as hard as he could muster. The hammer snapped from the force of the strike and he looked up and watched the metal ball speed to the top.
It slowed down and stopped just short of the bell and fell back down.
“Looks like it’s game over for you,” the figure chuckled.
The lights turned off again, but Tim was expecting it. He ran to the other side of the room and hid behind a pillar. The red eyes glowed in the dark.
“Come out and play!” the figure pleaded.
Tim hated this more than anything. He closed his eyes and waited in the corner. As the figure searched for Tim, he banged on the walls trying to find him. The percussive crashing of the walls filled Tim’s ears.
“This can’t be happening. It couldn’t be worse than this,” Tim thought.
Nikki’s screams added to the noise.
“Come join your girlfriend! It’ll be fun!” the raspy voice teased.
Tim froze. His eyes opened and searched for the red glow, but darkness occupied the room. Tim slowly crept across the floor until he felt the cold breath run down his neck again. He turned around and grasped the figure’s wrist. He pushed Tim down, but as he fell to the ground he grabbed one of the shoelaces and it became untied. The lights flickered back on again.
“What are you doing?” the figure asked surprised.
Tim looked down at the wrist of the monster to see that blood started to seep through. He pulled another one off and the bleeding increased.
“Stop!” the cloaked figure bellowed as he threw Tim across the room.
Tim landed on something sharp. It was the splintered hammer. He picked it up and sliced off the rest of the shoelaces that lined the monster’s arm. He screamed as he fell apart piece by piece, only being held together by the tattered shoelaces. Tim raised the jagged handle one more time and severed the rest off. The cloak fell in a heap on the floor. Tim took a closer look and realized that the monster had been a real-life Frankenstein; the body parts of his victims held together by their shoelaces.
Nikki ran to Tim and broke down in sobs.
“Let’s get out of here,” Tim consoled her.
She nodded and as they exited the building, Tim heard a tapping sound echoing against the walls.
“Shh,” he whispered to Nikki.
He listened carefully, but heard nothing.
“What?” she asked.
“It was nothing I guess. It was just in my head.”
The two turned their backs towards the building and went to the car. As they hurried away, the tapping that echoed in the room started up again. It became louder and louder. A hand crawled toward a mound of scrambled bodies.
It held on to one shoelace, and began to tie.