Ray's turn with the Chance card.
Gerard woke up that morning well before the others. He lay there on his tiny patch of ground, staring up at the sky which was a delicate, china blue today with dashes of marble cloud skimmed across it. It was the kind of sky which made one feel guilty about having negative thoughts, the exact kind of thoughts nestling in Gerard’s brain.
Just the idea of what had happened in the heavenly glade had kept him awake all night long. Even in the brief snatches of shallow sleep he had managed to steal it plagued him in his dreams so that he woke up again and instantly felt a surge of icy shame charge through his body. He tried to reason with himself, saying that he had no control over what he dreamt and that he couldn’t help it but then he would smile at the memory of the kiss and feel guilty all over again.
That was the biggest problem, really. The fact that he had just cheated on his wife by making out with his best friend and fellow male was an issue in itself, however the worst part was that he had absolutely, completely enjoyed it and wasn’t sure he wished that it had never happened. This realisation just caused him to recede deeper into depression but once he had planted the idea it began to grow and grow uncontrollably until he was thinking back with a sort of desperate yearning to how soft yet powerful Frank’s lips were and how easily they had fit against his as if they had been built for each other. He remembered that passion he had felt as he yanked at handfuls of Frank’s hair, a passion that LynZ hadn’t stirred for God knows how long.
He heard someone stir behind him and he squeezed his eyes shut, as though afraid Mikey would be able to read his thoughts just by looking once at his face. He heard him whisper a “good morning” to Alicia who kissed him back softly in reply and he felt his body tense. What’s wrong with you people? he scowled bitterly. Can’t you see I’m in the middle of a very difficult sexual dilemma? However, it appeared that his brother and his wife were not gifted in the arts of telepathy and so Gerard yawned very loudly and very pointedly causing them to turn around to look at him.
“Morning,” Mikey greeted. “You look like hell.”
“Thanks,” Gerard replied sarcastically. “You’ve got the spiders, snakes, clowns and krakens to blame for that one.”
Mikey grinned and aimed a sharp kick at Ray’s side. He opened his eyes and sat up at once, groggily murmuring a “fuck you” in retort. Frank also arose, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and Gerard’s stomach did a funny little back flip at the sight of him.
“So,” Mikey leapt to his feet and held out a hand to pull Alicia up. “Which way?”
“It doesn’t matter where we go,” said Gerard dully. “We’ll still end up finding something we don’t want to.”
“Yeah, but if Christa’s there then what does it matter?” Ray scrambled to his feet eagerly. “And don’t you want to find LynZ?”
Gerard nodded but he couldn’t help wondering whether he’d be able to face his wife once he’d found her. Ignoring his silence, Mikey, Ray and Alicia started walking in a forwards direction. Frank, however, fixed him with a curious gaze.
“What?” snapped Gerard savagely.
Frank looked taken aback. “Nothing,” he shrugged. “Couldn’t sleep last night.”
“Try counting sheep,” Gerard turned his back and made to march away after the others but Frank grabbed his arm before he could take a step.
“Hey Gee,” he said. “We should talk about this.”
“What’s there to talk about?” Gerard replied, throwing him off and stuffing his hands in his pockets.
“Well, last night for starters-”
“-Nothing happened last night,” said Gerard, looking away sharply. “You said it yourself. It didn’t mean anything. A je ne regrette rien kinda thing.”
“Yeah, sure I may have said that before-“
“-And nothing changed,” Gerard cut across him, feeling his face grow rapidly hotter. “I’m still married, Frank. And I still don’t love you.”
And with that he marched away, not looking back to see the bewildered and hurt expression on his friend’s face.
The field of long grass continued for quite a while before the terrain began to grow steadily rockier and rockier until suddenly they were walking across a rough, green moor; watching the ground carefully to avoid sinking into the marsh. Gerard led them this time, mainly because he didn’t want to be stuck behind everyone else with no choice but to stare at the back of Frank’s head. By setting a fast pace for all of them, the others were constantly working not to lose him. There was no time for sentimental discussions.
A harsh chill was beginning to lace the air and Gerard, Frank, Mikey and Ray were resigned to untying their jacket sleeves from around their waists and putting them back on. Alicia, still in her party dress, shivered in the cold, goose bumps erupting up and down her arms. No one was talking. No one was in the mood.
Ray was also in a hurry to get to wherever they needed to be. He kept tripping over rocks and his own feet in his haste, finally slipping and tumbling backwards into the heather.
“Ouch,” he winced, rubbing at his lower back.
“What’s up?” asked Mikey.
“Tripped on a rock or something,” Ray replied, looking around for thing at fault. “See, that thing. There.”
He pointed at something set deep into the ground. Gerard, Mikey and Frank crouched down to examine it. It was made of wood and a heavy iron handle had been fixed to the lid. Mikey looked at Gerard quizzically.
“Inside?” he asked.
Gerard sighed. “Apparently.”
He held onto the iron handle and lifted the lid, revealing a flight of steps leading down. One by one they disappeared down the hole in the earth, closing the door behind them.
It was very dark and very cold inside. In fact, it reminded Gerard strongly of the snake tunnel where they had discovered Alicia and noticing her tense beside him told him that she was thinking along the same lines. However, the steps ended quite quickly and torches burning with bright yellow flame glowed in their brackets, leading them on through the tunnel.
There were doors set into the stone as well, huge wooden doors with heavy iron bolts, like the ones from a time period long passed. They opened each one warily and they hung back in case something jumped out at them...which it never did.
“Geez,” said Frank, wrapping his arms around his torso to stop him shivering. “This place is like something out of sci-fi movie!”
“How?” asked Ray curiously.
Frank gestured towards the torches and thick lock. “Well, the kind of sci-fi movie when they go back in time to the medieval period.”
“So...not like a sci-fi movie at all?” Mikey raised an eyebrow. “More like a historical documentary or a costume drama or-”
“-Guys, shut up!” whispered Gerard. “I think I heard something move behind that door!”
He was standing in front of a door identical to the dozen others they had passed since entering the tunnel. Frank, Mikey and Ray took a step back and Gerard stretched out a hand to open it carefully.
A flash of colour and Gerard was lying on the floor, blood streaming out his nose and screaming “sonofabitch! Sonofabitch” to no one in particular. Standing in the doorway, fist raised and a “just you try and fuck with me” expression on her face was Jamia.
“Gerard!” she gasped, the determined expression immediately replaced by worry. “Sorry, I didn’t realise it was you!”
“So who did you think I was?” Gerard touched his nose gingerly. “Or did you just decide to hide behind the door and try to murder whoever opened it?”
“I didn’t try to murder you,” Jamia rolled her eyes. “I just hit you.”
“Hell Jamie, you could have broken his nose!” said Frank, helping Gerard to his feet. “Don’t you ever think before doing things you’ll regret?”
She turned on him and there was a furious glint in her eye. “Don’t ever call me “Jamie!” You lost that right months ago! And how was I suppose to know it was Gerard, huh? One moment I’m hiding behind a door waiting for someone to attack me, the next I’m being attacked! You have absolutely no right to penalise me for that, and-”
“-I’m sorry Jamia, I can’t hear you,” Frank cut across her with a mock-concerned look. “I think your mouth is moving. You might wanna have that checked out.”
He turned to face Gerard before Jamia had time to think up an angry retort. “Onwards, then?”
The others, who had been watching the scene with a mixture of amusement and exasperation nodded and they continued down the tunnel. Jamia said nothing and neither did Frank. It was as though they did not trust themselves to speak.
Soon they stopped in front of another door. It was no different from any of the last ones but for some reason Gerard felt more drawn to this one than the others. He opened it and they stepped inside, shielding their eyes from the sudden brightness of the electric lighting. The door shut with a thud behind them.
“Oh, I forgot to ask,” spoke Jamia suddenly. “What the hell is going on?”
“We’re stuck in a board game and we all face our fears or we die,” recited Gerard dully. “Basically.”
Jamia raised her eyebrows. Mikey and Ray nodded for clarification. Frank looked the other way. She didn’t say anything. She just fell silent.
“Eugh!” exclaimed Frank. “What the hell is this stuff?”
They all looked down and released similar exclamations of shock and repulsion. They were standing knee-deep in, no other word for it, shit. The room was filled with a glutinous, slippery liquid and among it various different objects were floating: microwaves, printers, half a fridge. All of it looked broken or obsolete and they allowed the slimy substance to carry them around as though this was their life. It was quite depressing to look at.
“We should get out of here,” said Jamia. Her voice shook.
“How?” Gerard shrugged. “No door.”
They looked to where they had come in. Sure enough, the door had vanished. It was then that they realised the walls were no longer stone. They were a hollow, rusted metal.
“So you must be Jamia?”
Jamia was the only one who jumped at the sound of the voice. The others just turned around, slowly, expectantly.
“Hey Sara,” Frank greeted.
“Hi Frank,” she waved a hand at the others standing behind him. “Hello boys.”
“Who are you?” Jamia frowned.
“She’s just Gerard’s psychotic ex,” explained Frank casually. “She’s a little bit bitter so she’s decided to make our lives a living hell.”
“That’s really harsh,” Sara pulled a puppy-dog face which caused them all to shudder suddenly. “I’m helping you, aren’t I?”
She handed the Chance card to Ray who expected it cautiously. “Same question,” she grinned. “Tell me something I don’t know.”
Ray groaned. Gerard turned to her, arms crossed protectively across his chest. “Seriously Sara, that is so unfair,” said Gerard. “What could we possibly know that you don’t?”
“You flatter me,” Sara replied. She was smiling but it didn’t reach her eyes. “But it won’t work a second time. Tell me something I don’t know.”
Ray stared at the card for a little while. Sara surveyed the room as if it were a vaguely interesting museum piece. Jamia scowled in the corner with her hands on her hips. At last he lowered the card and chuckled.
“Something I don’t know,” he said.
Sara raised an eyebrow. “What?”
“The answer is “something I don’t know”.”
Sara shook her head. “No dear, that’s the question.”
Ray shoved the card in her face. “The question was “tell me something I don’t know”. So I’m telling you. Something I don’t know.”
There was a few seconds of silence whilst the bizarre reasoning was calculated around the group and then they all burst out laughing. Sara looked as though she had been hit in the face with a brick.
“That doesn’t count,” she said quickly.
“You never said that,” Gerard replied. “Ray answered the question correctly. You just didn’t...phrase it correctly.”
They laughed again but stopped at one look at Sara’s expression. The fire in her eyes was white hot and for the first time in a long time she looked as though she had absolutely nothing to say. So she clicked her fingers and disappeared, leaving the card in Ray’s hand.
“Genius Ray,” grinned Frank. Even Jamia gave a reluctant smile.
“What am I supposed to do with this though?” Ray slid a finger along the card’s edges. The others shrugged.
“Give it to Jamia,” Gerard told him. “She hasn’t faced her fear yet.”
So he handed it the card to Jamia who took it from him. The moment it left Ray’s hand a humming noise sounded from somewhere, echoing off the metal walls and causing them all to look around for the source. Then a clanking sound followed and the humming grew louder. It sounded like a giant machine.
“Oh God,” whimpered Jamia. “I know what’s going to happen.”
“Care to fill us in?” whispered Mikey.
She pointed to the walls. As if some kind of lever had been pulled they were beginning to move inwards, slowly but surely and crushing the rubbish floating around in its path.
“Oh shit,” exclaimed Ray and Alcia.
“Fuck,” said Gerard.
“Sonofabitch,” groaned Frank.
Jamia, however, didn’t say anything. She pressed herself up against the wall, clutching the Chance card in a marble-white fist, in a desperate attempt to stop the walls closing in. The guys followed her lead and pressed hard upon the walls but to no avail.
“This is Jamia’s fear?” Gerard shouted over the humming. “Being crushed to death in a garbage disposal?”
“She’s claustrophobic,” explained Frank.
Gerard looked over at her. She was indeed becoming increasingly pale and she was shaking violently.
“Jamia,” he said loudly and clearly. She didn’t look up. “Jamia, listen to me. Listen!”
He yelled the last word violently. She jerked her head up at the sound. “We have to find a way to make it stop, okay? We can do this. You can do this.”
“Whatever you’re gonna do, do it fast,” gasped Ray. He pointed at the slimy liquid beneath them. It had now risen to waist height.
“There’s got to be something around here which can turn it off,” Mikey mused, looking around desperately.
There was a long metal pole sticking out of the water. Mikey picked it up. “This could do it.”
“Too easy,” cried Alicia who was sinking deeper and deeper into the swamp.
The walls were coming closer. Jamia screamed and covered her face with her hands.
“Jamia,” shouted Frank, wading over so that he was crouching next to her. “Jamia, Jamie, look at me.”
She moved her hands slightly from over eyes. “I know you’re scared,” he spoke in a soft, gentle voice. “But we have to move quickly, okay? Come on, you’re tough! You’re a fucking psycho bitch most of the time! Nothing fucks with Jamia! You gonna break that streak?”
Jamia shook her head. “Well alright then,” said Frank. “There’ll be some kinda remote or leaver or something that stops the walls closing in. We just gotta find it.”
She nodded and pointed. It was high up, too high up to reach but it was there. A leaver sticking out of the wall.
“Hey guys,” Frank called. “Guys, help lift up Jamia!”
A makeshift ladder was propped up against the wall, compromised mostly of household kitchen equipment. Jamia climbed gingerly atop of it and reached for the leaver.
“It won’t move,” she cried desperately, yanking on it. Peering closely at it she saw that it was covered in mould.
“Hurry Jamia!” screamed Alicia. Mikey was holding her around her waist, using the pole to try and stop the two walls from advancing. But it merely snapped with the pressure.
Then Jamia remembered the Chance card. She frantically held one edge to the leaver and scraped off as much off the mould crowding it as she could. She tried to tune out her friends pleas for help, looking down she saw Gerard and Frank, their backs pressed against the wall while Ray, Mikey and Alicia were using their feet. They were inches apart. Praying hard, she pulled the leaver down...
...And it stopped.
Ray’s feet slid off the wall. Gerard fell against it in relief. There was sweat glistening on his upper lip.
“You did it!” cried Frank. “I told you that you could!”
Jamia gave him a shaky smile and allowed him to embrace her. She was still shaking. Gerard watched her shuddering subside as Frank took her in his arms. And he felt the smile slide off his face.
Phew. Well that didn’t take me long at all. (Sarcasm heavily implied.) Gerard’s jealous of Jamia. LOL!!!
Next chapter up Monday.