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message 1: by Haley (new)

Haley Another Chapter One. Figured I might as well put a few on the site, since I know most of my topics are the same story and it's hard to sit down and read five continuous chapters. This too, is rough, I know, but it's another plot/story that I'm thinking about working on. So, once again, any and all comments and criticism are welcome!

Today what wakes me is the sound of heavy metal music tearing through the house. I know it’s Liam— everyone else hates the stuff— and it sounds like he’s set the speakers to turn on in each room, one at a time. That way the noise actually sounds like it is moving through the rooms of the mansion, slowly but surely. If anyone else had still been sleeping, they are awake now.

Sure enough, seconds later I hear the door to one of the rooms swing open with enough force that it crashes off the wall. Accompanying the bang is Danny's voice, echoing down the hall. "Liam, if you don't shut that music off right now I will come up there and make you!" he shouts.

"Idle threat Danny-boy," Liam says over the intercom, his voice cutting through the noise. I groan. Not only do I have to listen to his music, but now also his voice? And it isn't even noon yet. I slam a pillow over my head and hide under the covers. But I can still hear him. "You know that I could take you. Anytime, anywhere."

Footsteps that I'm sure belong to Danny march past my room.

I count backwards from thirty under my breath. At "zero" there is a muffled thump from the intercom and the music is cut off in mid wail, followed by Danny telling Liam, "Not if you can't see me coming you can't."

Despite my annoyance, I giggle. As I’m about to get up, sleep now being impossible, a dead weight sails onto my bed and collides with me, knocking my head with its. The lump proves to be a blonde fifteen year old girl, her hair forming a golden halo around her head as she sits up. She laughs when I scowl at her.

"What? Time to get up! Didn't you hear Liam calling?"

"Oh I heard Liam alright. I heard him get his butt kicked by one 'Danny-boy'." I smile at the fond memory. Then I frown again. "How did you get in here? I thought I locked my door last night."

She grins mischievously. "You did." She holds up a hair pin, blue eyes twinkling. "The thing about living in a house full of trained thieves is that locking your door just isn't going to do it."

This is Ellie. She’s my stepsister. She’s lying. We aren't trained thieves. We’re trained, sure, but not necessarily for thieving. We actually don't know what all the training is for. Every few weeks we all sit down and guess. After all, the hard work and secrecy has to be for some reason. Our conclusion this week is that we are all going to be super-bandits.

I snatch the pin from her and toss it across the room, hoping it will get lost in the piles of things covering my floor. One hairpin down. Despite the force of the throw, it doesn't even hit the far wall. Not because I’m a bad shot or because I’m weak or anything, but because the room is so big only Liam could throw a tiny hair pin with enough strength to clear it. And, the thing is, this is hardly the biggest of the rooms in this house. Everyone but William has chosen a large room to sleep in. My king-sized bed only takes up a fraction of the space in my bedroom. The rest is filled with bookshelves, a desk, chairs and a couch, bean-bags, and what we call a "media-center"- the computers, TV, and projector and screen. We all have a media center, though I am proud to say mine is the best.

Ellie whacks me with a pillow. "C'mon, Lyla. Get up! Before the boys get Kitchen so overloaded that there's no breakfast left."

That gets me out of bed. Ellie and I sprint for our closet to get dressed before we rush downstairs. Yeah. Our closet. We share it with each other, and Charlotte, which normally wouldn't be a good idea, but the closet is about the size of my room. Racks of clothes and shoes are everywhere, with hundreds of accessories to match. Ellie skips through the aisles, running her hands through the fabrics and pulling out brightly colored clothes at random, which she will later form into an outfit that actually looks pretty cool. I contemplate for a moment, then walk over to Dresser. I thumb the keypad and ask for black jeans and a green, long-sleeved shirt. After a few seconds I open the drawer below the keypad and pull out the clothes I’ve asked for. I throw them on. They fit perfectly, like always.

We’re high-tech in our mansion. Ellie and Charlotte prefer to pick their clothes by hand, and I do too sometimes, but usually asking Dresser saves me a lot of time. When I turn around, Ellie is eyeing what I have picked out.

"I really wish you would let me dress you Lyla," she tells me. "We have aaaaaaall of this," she motions the closet with her hand, "to choose from, and you pick that?" My fashion choices are the bane of Ellie's existence. I shrug. She sighs and steps in front of me, dropping her pile of clothes in Dresser's drawer and thumbing the keypad. When the drawer opens again the clothes are Ellie-sized, and she combines them all into a summer-y, flowery, fashion show of an outfit. It looks good though, so I give her an approving nod before we race downstairs to Kitchen. If you slide down the banisters and can run as fast as we can, getting to Kitchen takes a full minute. If you don't, it takes five. We run.

I almost crash into William as we round the corner to Kitchen, but stop just in time to avoid getting his plate of syrup-covered waffles down the front of my shirt.

"Morning, Will," I tell him, backing away. "Where are Liam and Danny?"

William looks at my outfit. "Didn't let Ellie dress you today?" he asks, raising one eyebrow over his hazel-green eyes.

"Does it look like an Ellie outfit?" I answer. Then I realize he hasn't answered my question. "Will! They're not already at Kitchen, are they?" I dash away, already knowing the answer.

Sure enough, when I swing the door open Liam and Danny are leaning back in some chairs, lazily making demands of Kitchen, who can't spit the food out fast enough to keep up. I walk over and thwack Liam over the head. He just looks at me.

"Good morning to you too, sunshine," he said.

I pull a face at him as I respond. "Would you quit messing with Kitchen? The rest of the house has to eat too you know."

"...and German apple strudel. With ice cream," Danny finishes his breakfast order. Without turning to face me, Danny waves me away. "Cool it Ly. Liam and I will bring something out for you and Ellie. And Charlotte if she ever shows."

"By ”something”, I'm going to assume you mean something edible and which I will actually enjoy eating this morning?" I clarify.

"Yes. Something you can actually eat will be on your plate."

I contemplate for a moment before deciding that I can probably trust him, this time. I follow William into the dining room where he is already eating. Ellie is seated next to him, chatting away about something or other.

Our dining room, unlike most of the house, actually resembles what we imagine other, more normal dining rooms to be like. This is solely based off of magazines and TV though. We don't get out much, but I feel like we got this one just about right. A huge crystal chandelier pretty much is the ceiling, hanging directly above a large redwood table with chairs for six, three on each side. Across from one table end are the double doors to Kitchen. The other end faces an immense screen that either plays TV shows or our latest directions from Von. At the moment however, it’s blank. We know most dining rooms probably do not have this last feature, but it’s necessary for us. The other thing most dining rooms probably don't have is a different type of chair for each family member. When we’d designed it, the table had come with six matching chairs. They had been stiff and uncomfortable, so we each made our own, all perfectly proportioned so we can still eat meals at the table with ease.

William is sitting politely in his chair while he wolfs down his meal. Will had kept his redwood chair, but he had added arms to his where there had been one before and memory-foam-quality padding, so it now feels like a large lounge chair. William is the most down-to-earth of all of us. He's always focused on whatever he is doing, and he is loyal and kind to a fault. He's just fun and easy to get along with, and he feels more like my sibling than anyone else does, not that I love anyone less because of it. Everything from his steady hazel eyes to his thick brown hair makes him seem solid and grounded, something the rest of us need.

Ellie had chosen one of those huge bowl-shaped seats for her dining room chair. It is big enough to sleep in, and she had the material tie-dyed so it matched her flamboyant clothing. She is curled up in it now, talking up a storm to Will, her blonde hair spread about her face. Ellie’s the most eccentric in her tastes. She's loud and outgoing and likes her possessions to show it. She is also super sweet to everyone; even when she acts frustrated, it's only an act. Ellie is just innocent, like, little girl innocent, even though she's fifteen. Her kindness and bright personality turned her more into my best friend than my sister.

I settle into my chair, opposite William. I had chosen an enormous leather swivel chair to eat in. It’s comfortable and cushioned and I change its color most days, so it never gets boring. Not to mention that I simply enjoy swinging back and forth in it.

After I sit down, Ellie pauses in her speech to look at me critically. "Wasn't it that color blue yesterday?" she asks me about my chair. It’s been the same cobalt blue for a day and a half now. I kind of like it. "Make it green. Not lime green, but like summer green. To bring out your eyes." Ellie tells me.

"Because there is nothing I want more in a chair than for it to bring out the color of my eyes," I mumble. Ellie hears me and nods, like this is a sensible statement. "All right then." I stand up and eye my chair. Then I roll it a few feet back to a large gray square, out of place on the light blue tiled floor. When it’s situated I tell the house, "You heard the lady. Summer green." Yes. I tell the house. Slowly, the blue fades out of the chair and bright green replaces it. When the transformation is complete I roll it back to my spot and sit down again. Ellie and William nod their approval.

"Have you always enjoyed having your furniture and clothing match, or is this just a phase?" Liam enters the dining room, lugging a cart of food in behind him. "I kind of like it. Very L.L. Bean."

I roll my eyes, making sure Liam sees. Like he knows a thing about L.L. Bean. He shrugs and sinks into his black Lay-Z Boy recliner, his dining room chair choice. His seat is on the same side of the table as mine, at the other end. "I wouldn't be so critical if I were you," he tells me. "Did you forget that I am the source of your breakfast for the day? Don't push your luck."

"Lyla! You let Liam pick our meal? We're going to have to eat bugs!" Ellie complains.

"Relax, El. I let Danny pick our meal. I would never trust such a thing to Liam alone." I smirk at him. He slides plate after plate of food down at me, and I slide every other one down to Ellie. "What is it, carbo-load time?" I ask Liam.

"Yes, as a matter of fact. You forget we have a game today? Eat up while you can," Liam responds.

message 2: by Haley (new)

Haley I had forgotten actually, so I proceed to take his advice. Knowing Liam, he has been waiting for this game since its announcement two and a half weeks ago. Liam is the super-jock of the gang. All six of us have muscle, but, while the rest of us are lean, Liam is built more broadly and taller. He has short black hair and eyes that are almost black to match. Liam treats a lot of things as a joke, but when it comes down to it he can be more serious than anyone. He also takes everything as a challenge, and most of the time he feels the need to prove how wonderful he is. It’s kind of wearing, to tell the truth, his cockiness. But it’s very Liam, so we love him for it.

Charlotte flounces in just as Ellie and I begin to eat. She already has her hair done up and makeup on, but she hasn't changed out of her lacey (and I'm sure Victoria's Secret) pajamas yet. She looks good though. She always does.

"Not that I am not a huge fan of your musical taste, Lee, but next time could you wait until somebody actually asks to hear your music before you play it for us? Please and thank you." Charlotte tosses her thick hair back from her face and grabs three plates from Liam before she sits down, not even bothering to check what’s on them. She ends up with chicken tenders, an ice cream sundae, and a plate of Rice Krispy Treats. She slides the last one back toward him.

I stare at Liam. "Have you ever heard of breakfast food?" I ask him.

He widens his eyes and shakes his head, looking confused, pretending he can't imagine what I’m talking about. I throw a handful of mashed potatoes at him, frowning at my plate when I realize there are mashed potatoes on it. My throw is fast, but Liam is able to duck to one side and avoid it. Instead, it splatters inches away from Danny's head as he enters the dining room. He pauses to look at it, then his eyes flash immediately to where I am trying to inconspicuously wipe mashed potatoes off my hand. I point at Liam without a word. Danny raises his eyebrows, knowing I’m lying. Then he walks to his seat, balancing at least seven plates along his arms.

Danny and Charlotte are twins, the only blood relatives among us as far as we know. But blood is about all they share. Sure, both of them are tall and lean, but so are the rest of us. Charlotte is dark, with deeply tanned skin, thick waves of dark brown hair, and big, dark eyes. She’s beautiful, knows it, and never fails to act like it. I would call her stuck up if I didn't know her well enough to know she isn't always. With her long legs and hair that falls almost to her waist, she doesn't just walk places— she swaggers.

Danny on the other hand, is reserved. He always knows what’s going on and what to say, but he isn't necessarily outgoing and he definitely doesn't waltz around like Charlotte, even if he has every right to. He has a strong jaw and tanned face and dark brown, feathery hair. His eyes are the real showstopper though. You'd think we’d be good with unusual eye color, since mine are a fairly bright green and Liam's are black. But Danny's are turquoise. An actual, bright, unheard-of-as-an-eye-color turquoise that stands out from his tan skin, even when they’re partially covered by his long hair.

Just about as soon as Danny is seated in his massage chair and Charlotte is on her throne (a literal throne, by the way, is what she had picked to sit in for every meal), the screen at the end of the table flickers on. Von's face appears.

"Good morning! I assume you all slept well and are rested for this afternoon?"

In sync, five heads turn to look at Liam, who glances every which way, pretending to look for the person we’re staring at. I turn to Von's image. "Yes, very well rested thanks. And we even got a special sneak peek at Immortal's latest album."

Von's steel gray eyes smile in understanding. He is our trainer, our guardian, our father. He knows each and every one of us, our oddities and tastes. So when everyone looks at Liam and someone mentions the band Immortal he knows that we had, against our will, listened to heavy metal music this morning, courtesy of our brother.

Being who we are (and no, I don't no exactly who we are either), we don't leave this house— mansion, I suppose, is a much more accurate term— too often. We have toys and tools that I'm not sure exist outside of here, therefore most people wouldn't want to leave. We, on the other hand, have never been outside of it. There are windows, but we can program to see whatever scene we want and it will come out so life-like you'd think you were there. Because of this, we don't even know what the ground right outside our front door looks like. Von comes in and out, and brings the occasional expert to help teach us, but they have to enter through two sets of doors— the first of which shuts before the second opens. You may be thinking, despite the fancy gadgets, that our lives must be awful if we've never even been outside. The truth is, we kind of have been outside. For the game. It just isn't the great outdoors as everyone else may know it.

Anyway, because we haven't left before, our interaction with other people is limited to Von, his guests, and each other. So seeing this man pop up on screen in the middle of a meal isn't all that unusual or frightening. In fact, it’s welcome. He is safe and familiar and is the only outside contact we have.

"I would like you all in the Entrance Hall at about 2:15 this afternoon," Von told us. "I would suggest you go early and rummage around the Changing Room before you enter. Since we've been working with weapons, you will all be allowed three of your choice for the duration of the game. These will be attained in the Changing Room, so practice, and choose wisely. I will be in the Hall when you come, and I will finish going through the details there." He runs a hand through his salt-and-pepper hair, something we know means he’s thinking, making sure he hasn't forgotten any instructions. When he smiles at us, we know he hasn't. "So!" he cries, clapping his hands together. "Rest up," he eyes our plates, "eat up, and I will see you this afternoon." With that, the screen goes blank again.

The six of us exchange glances, shrug, and then finish whatever is left on our plates in silence. We stack our dishes on the left side of the Kitchen "sink", a hole in the counter that looks like an average sink, but the bottom will drop out of the left side and send the dishes through to the right, cleaning them in the process. Later we will return to put them in the "cabinet", an actual cabinet from which Kitchen takes the plates it needs for our next meal. We’re just so homey here with all of our futuristic appliances.

From there, most of us retreat to our rooms again. I can’t have been in mine for more than five minutes before Danny knocks, and then enters without waiting for a response.

"No, please, I insist, come in. Don't be shy." I’m lying in the middle of my bed, staring at the ceiling, willing the colors and patterns to change, which they do. The side of Danny's mouth quirks into a grin. He walks in and slides onto the bed next to me, staring at the ceiling too. I change it from a pattern of swirls to rolling storm clouds, complete with lightning. Danny rolls over to face me.

"Impressive. Have you been practicing?"

"Of course," I tell him. "All those days when you all think I'm off doing something important, I'm actually laying in here, trying to perfect my artistry."

His eyes smile, and, like I have been everyday for the past sixteen years, I’m shocked by their bright color. Seriously, turquoise eyes? And he doesn't even care!

I look hard at my ceiling for a moment, then bring up an argyle pattern and made it the same blue-green hue. Then I sigh, wave my hand vaguely, and replace the pattern with page 323 of Ender's Game.

"Interesting choice," Danny tells me, eyes scanning the page quickly.

"It's a gift," I reply. We lay there for a while, both knowing the other is nervous about the upcoming game. Sure, we have one every few weeks, but you never know what this next one will be like, what scenario Von will throw at you, and even knowing it's a game doesn't stop parts of it from being downright terrifying.

Eventually, the rest of my family trickles in, one by one. None of them say anything when they enter; they just lay down. Ellie joins Danny and I in the middle of the bed. Liam and Will grab cushions and beanbags from around the room, and Charlotte collapses onto the couch. All of us watched the ceiling, and I continue to change it, once even playing a movie clip, something I haven't been able to do before.

This isn't some special ability of mine, mind you. It’s a feature of the house. I only designed it.

Danny begins to compete with me, throwing his own designs up on the ceiling, and I counter with different ones. The rest join in, and we play to see who can run their color across the entire ceiling without being overshadowed by another. We all know who is who up there, even though no one says a word. It is a feeling, a deep knowledge of each other. I can feel Ellie's shower of newspaper articles straining against Charlotte's desert storm, and know it’s William's picture that shifts from a cascade of shooting stars to a dark ink blot. The six of us are that in tune to one another. That feeling, no matter what form it comes in, is something that doesn't get old, even after sixteen years.

Slowly they all fade out, until I’m the only one left. I bring back my lightning storm, this time I add thunder, and then I leave it at that. The rumbles shake the room, but they’re calming. Soon we all sit up, knowing why we’re in here, though I doubt anyone had called the meeting. It is purely habit now, something we don't think about. We had to decide how today's game was going to go down.

"So..." Charlotte starts when no one else says anything. "Weapons. What'd we think of that?"

Liam answers first. "Weapons! This game'll be the best one yet! I mean come on. With three weapons each, who cares what Von gives us? We could fight anything off!"

"I think Liam's right. Six people, three weapons we've been training with for weeks? We've got this game in the bag," Ellie tells us.

"Sounds easy, yeah," William says next, "but Von always gives us something we weren't expecting, something we can't just fight off. We've played enough of these to know that."

I nod, and feel Danny doing the same next to me. "I'm with Will," I say out loud. "Von knows us, he knows what we're thinking, what we can and can't do. He's guaranteed to come up with something challenging. Like always."

"Maybe challenging, but I still say we'll be able to fight it off with eighteen weapons between us," Liam responds.

"You would say that," Charlotte tells him.

Danny speaks next. "Okay guys, let's face it. We never know what's coming. These meetings work great for pep talks and for throwing around ideas and making us feel like we'll have a general idea before we go in there, but we're never right. We're never prepared for everything. Anyone could be right. We could rock this game because we've got weapons this time, or we could lose because we think that. Point is, we'll do well, because that's what we're trained for, that's what we're good at. That's what we do. Let's cut the meeting. Let's go practice."

Liam grins wide and leaps to his feet, striding over to clap Danny on the shoulder. "Man of action! That's what I'm talkin' 'bout Danny-boy!"

message 3: by Haley (new)

Haley William levers himself off the floor, and Charlotte rolls off the couch. Danny stands too, and offers a hand to Ellie and I. One at a time we exit the room and begin jogging down the hall. The Game Room is on the top floor of our five-floor home. My room is on the second. And the position of the staircases change with each floor, so that it is on the far end of the hall on this floor, above my room (at the other end of the hall) one floor up, and so on. I don't know why. The one thing House won't do is move the stairs around.

What begins as a single file jog down the hallways becomes a game between the boys. The girls hang back and watch. Liam sprints forward and William hurries to catch up and overtake him, just to slow suddenly when he’s in front. Danny follows behind and leap-frogs over William when he slows. They all leap to touch the ceiling, stop and somersault or cartwheel forward, and generally look foolish. Ellie laughs or claps her hands at a good trick, but Charlotte and I view in smiling silence.

Three flights of stairs and three hallways later, the six of us are standing in front of the large metal doors that mark the entrance to the Changing Room. We look at one another, then we step forward in unison. From right to left, we are in a straight line, Liam, William, Danny, Charlotte, Ellie, and I. There are three pads on each of the doors so we can palm our way inside. We do so, the boys placing their left hands on the pads of the left door, and the girls placing our right hands on the other door, all at the same time. With a faint grinding noise, the doors swing open.

We call this the Changing Room for two reasons. One, we literally change in here. Von always has the clothes we’ll need to wear for our game laid out for us when we walk in. This time is no exception. In a small chamber before the actual room, six sets of clothes are set up for us. Each of us has loose jeans, a dark, tight-fitting, long-sleeved shirt, and a gray or black thick hooded jacket. To top it off, we are each given a pair of hard soled combat boots. We pull a folding screen down the middle of the room and change quickly. Ellie twirls in her outfit, and then whips out a tie-dyed scarf from her pocket to tie around her neck.

"Ellie?" Charlotte says, eyeing the accessory. "It kind of looks like we're trying to be stealthy here. Don't you think that scarf is a little... ostentatious?"

Ellie smiles and twirls again. "We'll see won't we?"

"Maybe we really are being trained to be thieves," I muse, looking down at my own clothing.

"Whatever Ly," I hear Liam say. "You think Von is some kind of bandit? Have you seen the guy? Not exactly the thieving type."

We have about two seconds warning before he pulls the screen back. Just enough time to compose ourselves and look bored.

"You guys finally done? Jesus." Charlotte brushes past the boys and into the next room. Liam looks after her, while Will and Danny smirk at Ellie and I where we are sitting, backs to the wall. I yawn and Ellie stands up lazily.

"Funny," Danny says, eyes glimmering. I shrug in return.

The rest of us then follow Charlotte in the next stage of the Changing Room. Now, for the other reason we named it what we did. It actually changes. Depending on what game we’re playing and what skills we’re using, the items in the room change. Once it was filled with survival equipment, once with costumes to make disguises, and once it had been a horse stable with twenty horses we had to choose from. Today, it is a thirty-five foot chamber, lined with weapons.

There are racks of swords, rows of spears, quivers, daggers, and even a mace present, among other things. Charlotte is already back examining knives. William walks back to her. Liam whistles and grins. He immediately strides toward the largest weapons in sight. I stroll along the aisle, running my fingers over all of them. The right choices are important, but I have time to find them.

Though we enter the Changing Room just after noon, we barely make it out the final door by 2:15. There is far too much to choose from and to practice with to make a speedy exit. Just as we are lining back up, Von strides in through a small side door. This chamber is the last before the Game Room. A double door faces us again, this time made of wood rather than metal, and without the pads. We can't palm our way in. Von has to open it for us. He’ll spend these last few minutes giving us final instructions for the game ahead. This time, he first stops before each of us to view our final choices.

"Really? Two broadswords? I had you pegged for a flamethrower at least," Von tells Liam.

Liam hefts the large hammer in his hand and rolls his eyes at me. The swords are strapped to his back "I was leaning toward the bazooka, but Ly here outvoted me."

I shrug modestly. "I took it from him and threw it behind a curtain. I wasn't going to wait for him to lug that thing around later."

Von's eyes crinkle into a grin as he moves on. Charlotte is next. She twirls a half pike spear in her right hand. There’s a whip tied around her waist.

"You are allowed three weapons this time Charlotte," Von informs her. She pulls up one leg of her jeans to reveal a throwing dagger strapped around her ankle. Von nods and steps to the next in line, Ellie. She smiles and stands at attention for him. A small kris is in her belt and she grasps a winged spear. Lining the rest of her belt are chakrams- small, disk-like weapons that Ellie had learned to throw with deadly accuracy. We had wondered if Von would count this as too many weapons, but, without saying a word, Von grins again and moves on to William.

"Interesting. Very interesting. May I?" Von holds out his hand, and William passes him the axe he’s holding. Will had found a small version of a battleaxe head, and he had removed it from its former handle to a smaller one, allowing it to be easily maneuvered from hand to hand and slung into his belt. Also, an axe is just a good thing to have around. William is practical that way.

"Very innovative, William," Von says approvingly. "Well done." In addition to this, William also has a bolo knife, a bow, and a quiver of arrows.

Danny is next. He has a knife to match Will's, and he has a javelin. His best and most interesting weapon is the spadroon in his belt. It is a thin, light sword with a fancy handle that has to be mastered before it's truly effective. Danny is the only one of us that has it down to an art. Von looks pleased to see it.

Last is me. I, like Charlotte, have a dagger strapped to my calf. I also have a staff and an estoc, either of which I can use in a fight. I have a sheath on my back for the staff when I don't need it, and one on my belt for the estoc. The estoc is a sword that isn't necessarily sharp-edged, but it is sharpened to a razor point that can pierce through anything. You just can't hack people down with it. Von looks surprised to see my choices, but his face easily clears and he smiles at me too.

Von finally makes his way back down the line, then turns and steps back so we all can see him clearly. "You may have noticed that I did not give you the option of firearms in the Changing Room."

Liam nods, but the rest of us stand still. We had noticed, we just hadn't given it much thought. Liam had scoured the room for them.

"There is a reason for that. I know that I trained you all to use them, but they are only for the most desperate times, and only when you can find them handy. There are other reasons, reasons I won't go onto now, but I will tell you that these weapons you have chosen are more practical in every way. So use them well.

"Like all games, this one will be slightly different than any you have had before. I can tell you that you must stay alert, from the moment you enter until you leave. You have your weapons for a purpose. You will not be the only living things in the game, nor will you be the only ones armed or dangerous. Keep your wits.

"Finally, the object of this game."

All six of us stand a little straighter.

"You all are aware that these doors here are on the north end of this room?" We nod. Von continues, "Good. You will continue north until you reach your destination. I am trusting you to know the building when you see it. It will remind you of your last assignment. Inside the building, somewhere, there is a small gray button. If any one of you pushes this button, the game will end. Your exit will appear and all other motion will cease, allowing you to exit swiftly and safely."

Von claps his hands together once, loudly. "So good luck! Work with speed! Pay attention to everything and do not forget any of your past training. Apart from that, enjoy your game!"

We stand, ready to enter, and with a flourish Von reaches into his pocket and takes out a small silver square. He places his thumb in the middle, it scans his print, the doors rumble, then, with a creak, one cracks open. Von gives us a small smile before disappearing back through the door he had entered from.

I exchange glances with the group, and see Liam grin in anticipation. Each of us has a smile to match. William is the first to reach the door. He slides his fingers into the crack and pulls the door open further. Inside, it is black. Will looks back at us and shrugs. He holds out his free hand, axe still clutched in the other. Ellie takes his offered hand, then reaches back to take Charlotte's, who grabs Liam, who takes hold of me, and I hold onto Danny. He keeps his javelin handy. With hesitant steps, we all enter the darkness. When the doors swing shut behind us we can see nothing, only feel the pressure of each other's hands, assuring us that we won’t lose one another.

It’s game time.

message 4: by Christa VG (new)

Christa VG (christa-ronpaul2012) Oh man that is so cool. You should definitively write more of that!

message 5: by Haley (new)

Haley Thanks :)

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