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Fantasticoe 2000 Contents


The Game

Anna Klug

Part I
 
     Tired and hungry from a long day at work, I flung my keys onto the nearest table. The keys slid in slow motion and stopped just before falling off the end. I flung off my dress shoes and pushed the little red button on my answering machine to check my messages. The machine beeped twice at me, in response to my actions. The first message soon followed.

     "Madaline this is your mother " there was a moment of pause as if she was waiting for someone to suddenly answer. " I haven't heard from you in awhile and I just wanted to see how things are going. Maybe you have met a nice young man that you haven't told me about yet? Well give me a call when you have time. I love you sweetie." There was a click and the first message ended.

     "Sorry mom, no man yet. Maybe that is why I don't call you anymore." I said in the direction of the answering machine as if I was talking back to her.

I began to unbutton my blouse and with my other hand I threw my pantyhose onto the bed.

There were a couple of beeps and then the second message came on.

     "Madaline," a deep mysterious voice began, " In your bathtub there is a dead man. He was killed this afternoon." I stood frozen as I listened to the rest of the message. "It is all part of the game. And this dear is only the beginning. You too are now part of the game. Your life is no longer yours. You are another piece of the puzzle, a very important part."

     "What am I suppose to do now?" I asked speaking again to the machine.

     "You want to know what to do next, I assume." The message continued,"you must fly tonight to New York. You must take flight 132 and then go directly to the Marriott Hotel near the airport. When you arrive there, you will have a note on your bed with further instructions of what to do." The voice began to crackle as though the connection was being lost. "If you don't follow these instructions you will die." The words echoed over and over again.

     Silence. Complete silence entered the room, and I was too afraid to move. I looked down at my hands, and they were shaking. I felt my heart beating fast. I didn't know whether I should call the police or go to the bathroom to see if there was really a dead man there.

I picked up the phone, it was dead. I held it in my hand, still shaking softly. My throat became dry and my feet unstable beneath me.

     I decided to go to the bathroom. Maybe this was all one big joke. A stupid joke by some teenagers, trying to scare someone very badly. This is only a joke, I told myself as I made it to the bathroom door. Seconds later my hand grasped the handle and I slowly turned it. The handle was made of silver and was very cold. As soon as I opened the door a foul smell rushed out. I closed my eyes and turned on the light.

"Ok, you can do this, you can do this", I said reassuring myself. Head down, I opened up my eyes and saw a flood of blood streaming around my feet. I jerked my head up, and there he lay. He was an older man, probably late 50's. He had dark brown hair and his almond brown eyes stared at me. He looked terrified. There he lay naked, covered only by his own blood. He was a hairy man. On his right hand he had a large snowflake like tattoo. And in the middle was the letter D.

     I began to feel faint. And in a matter of seconds, the world around me became black. I didn't know how long I had lost consciousness, but what seemed like a couple of minutes later I woke up. When I had fallen I struck my head on the hard cold floor and the pain rushed to my senses as soon as I looked up.

     As soon as my brain acknowledged the body in front of me I became frozen once again. It was not the same person. And, as a matter of fact, it was not even the same gender. I closed my eyes and reopened them again, hoping, praying that when I opened them everything would be back to normal again. My bathtub would be empty, and the only message on my answering machine would be from my mother.

     I slowly opened my eyes and there she lay, in the same exact position that the male had been in. She looked younger than the man did, maybe in her early thirties. Her hair was a soft blonde, a shade that could only be created with a little help from a box or a salon. She was skinny and tan and her appearance was very pretty, but she seemed very fake looking, like the kind of girl that you might see at a bar. She laid naked, with and identical wound and dried blood that surrounded her. I looked at her hand. I touched it, it was cold, and she was definitely dead. As I went to release her hand, a dark ink color caught my attention. I turned her hand over. There was the same snowflake tattoo with a large D in the middle. I dropped her hand immediately, as though I would catch something from her if I got any closer.

     I ran out of the room crying and shaking. I was scared and confused, upset and angry. Who was doing all of this to me? What kind of sick people were in charge of this, and what did they want with me? Was I next? Was I the next character to play dead in someone's bathtub?

I went to my answering machine and fast forward to the second message. After a couple of beeps there was a loud click. Some one had hung up, before leaving a message. And the creepy message that I had heard earlier was gone.

The words, "If you do not follow these instructions you will die," ran over in my head again and again.

     I threw some clothes into a large bag. Too shaken to drive, I picked up the phone to call a cab. The phone worked and as I hung up I remembered how earlier it had been dead. I picked up the phone once again and it was silent. I tapped the on and off button multiple times, but still the phone remained dead.

     I waited outside with my large black bag in hand. I wondered who was watching me. Who had planned my next step? What was the next part of my game?

      The cab arrived shortly and I stumbled inside and mumbled to the cab driver, "To the airport please." without looking at the him. After my bag was situated I looked at the rear view mirror to see the driver. My heart began to beat fast, I gasped for air but my lungs denied me the oxygen. My hands became sweaty and I immediately wanted out. I tried to speak but my lips remained silent.

     There he was. The same man that I had seen dead in my bathtub less than an hour earlier. He was driving me to the airport. I studied his eyes and face. Every detail remained the same. I shifted my weight to the edge of the seat to look at his hand. There was the tattoo. The dark blue snowflake was permanently in my memory.

     "Where are you taking me? I know that you are one of them." The words escaped my mouth even before I allowed them to.

     "To the game." His voice was deep and dark. He never looked back at me; his eyes were always on the road.

     I heard a large beeping sound Beep..Beep..Beep..Beep..Beep! I turned to my right there was my alarm clock. The red number flashed 8:00. I looked down; my covers were wet from the sweat that surrounded my body. My head ached in pain and my right hand throbbed.

     It was all a dream, I thought. "It was only a dream!" I screamed out loud in happiness.

     I stretched my arms to the sky, and every muscle in my body awoke. I hopped out of bed and something dark caught my eye. I slowly lifted my right hand up to my line of vision.

     There it was. A large snowflake tattoo with the letter D was engraved on my hand.

     I was next.Part II

     Softly I brushed my fingers over my right hand. Still swollen with pain, I rubbed it harshly, but the dark ink tattoo remained. I sat upright in my large bed staring at it for a couple of minutes. The snowflake had four points, one at the top and bottom and one at each side. Within the outline were triangles that connected the to a large D in the center. What did all of this mean? There had to be some kind of explanation for such a design.

Warm tears rolled down my face and I closed my eyes, trying to push them away. My head throbbed with anguish and exhaustion. I can't do this anymore, I thought to myself; this game has to end.

      But it was far from over.

     Out of routine, I went to the bathroom first, to brush my teeth and wash my face. Seconds after I stepped behind the heavy wooden door, flash backs of the images that I had seen in the bathtub the day before flooded my memory. I took a deep breath, I was stronger now, and nothing could frighten me unless I allowed it. I turned on the light, and the bathroom remained empty. The whiteness of the bathtub shone, almost mocking me. I searched the floor and tub area not a trace of blood was found. Had it all been a dream? No, it couldn't be, I thought. The sour smell of the blood, the blonde haired girl without a pulse. It was too real too real to be fake.

     I went on with my normal morning routine, eating breakfast, reading the paper, and getting dressed for work. I questioned everything, and I felt paranoia take control of my every action. I pulled on my black pumps and headed out my door to the elevator. I paused for a moment while locking the door. Looking up I noticed something strange; the peephole on my brown wooden door was gone. Instead a small round black object replaced it. It was smaller than a size of a quarter. I tried to pull it off, but it remained tightly glued to the frame.

     And then it hit me, hard and rapid, like when you've just figured out who the murderer is on a scary movie, it was a very small camera. Someone was watching me, my every move. I wondered just how many of these had been placed in my apartment. A cold chill swept over my entire body. I continued down the hall, passing decorated doors and welcome mats. A young woman stuck halfway out the door her lips attached to a half naked Italian man she pulled away and said something softly in his ear. I assumed that it was "I love you." The love scene left a lasting impression. That's weird, I thought to myself, I had never seen either of these two on my floor before, when had they moved in? I reached the end of the hallway and pushed the round metal button on the elevator waiting anxiously.

     "Hey Madaline, how are you this morning?" an older male voice shouted after me. I spun around immediately. It was only my next door neighbor, Mike.

     "Good, thanks." I replied lying. The elevator door opened and I was relieved to see that I was the only one to occupy the small cubicle.

     "Everything is going to be ok." I said out loud reassuring myself.

     "It's good to be positive." A man replied. My head turned instantaneously to my right. A large man with a beard smiled at me. He was somewhat overweight, and with this he carried great power. He wore dark sunglasses and a black leather coat. His appearance gave off a hidden secret, one that only he had the answer to.

     I tried to remain calm, but my heart began beating at an incredible rate. I took in long, deep breaths of air in attempt not to pass out. After I caught my balance, the question began.

     "How did you get here? You weren't here when I got in." I studied his face and he made no expression. With his large round finger he pushed stop on the elevator.

     "Your game is not over,"he began, "To find out what your role is, you must go to New York today. When you get outside there will be a black Cadillac. You must get into that car, and you will be escorted to the airport. You then will get on flight 132. When you get off your flight, you will have further directions."

     "Why?" were the only words that escaped my mouth, I was full of enquiry

The elevator door opened and people stood waiting to get on. I paused for an answer from him, but he stood silent. I stepped out of the elevator and people crowded on. I spun around and he was gone. Frustrated I took one step back blocking the elevator from fully closing its doors.

     "Did you see him? The man that I was just talking to in the black leather coat?"

An older woman nodded in disagreement, her husband replied, "No." Just as the door were about to close I caught a glimpse of the old mans hand. The same snowflake design stood permanently atop his right hand.

     I walked out, through the doors and onto the sidewalk. The breeze cooled my hot face. It was a mild day for the city of Chicago. People buzzed around me, not noticing my moment of hesitation.

     I looked across the street and saw the black Cadillac. The driver was a woman. I studied her face, she looked familiar, but I didn't know where from. She wore a dark navy cap that covered her long brown tresses of hair, curls trickled from the back. Her eyes were a reddish color of brown, almost the color of an almond and her pinkish hue brightened her whole face. I closed my eyes trying to think of where I had seen her before. Eyes frozen on her, it came to me. She was the woman that I had seen in my hallway this morning, she was the woman who was so passionately kissing the man. Had that been fake too? I began to count all of the characters that I had met in this game so far, the dark man, the blonde woman, the couple in the elevator, and now this woman. It was all planned out, every detail done by timing. My life was no longer mine, but a mere part that I played to complete this game or mission.

     I crossed the street, and cabs honked at me in annoyance. I ignored them and opened the back door. The seats were leather and warm air flooded from the vents around me.

     I said nothing on the car ride to the airport. I refused to ask more questions that would not be answered. I was petrified and hostile at the same time. And as the drive slowly drifted by I searched for answers. I questioned my family, my friends; maybe it was my work. I had only worked at the firm for six years now, but there were new people every year. I didn't know them, maybe they were part of this. Maybe I had done something in the past to make someone incredibly angry or jealous and this was their revenge.

      I looked down at my hand, the tattoo was as vibrant in color as I remembered it. The Game, I thought to myself. What piece of the puzzle am I?

     I reached the airport and the female driver sat with me until my flight was called. I stared at her, but she refused to acknowledge my attention. I examined her hands, both were unmarked. Somehow she was not part of it. Why would they use her?

     "Do you know where they are taking me?" I asked expecting no reply. After a couple of minutes, she looked around. I watched her eyes study a policeman with chestnut hair and a strong body. She looked at her clock. The clock struck ten and the policeman left the area.

     "It's easier if you do what they say."She said in a low voice, looking away.

     "Are they going to kill me?" I whispered to her, also looking in the opposite direction. I could tell that she was not suppose to talk to me, and was taking a risk to answer any of my questions.

     "It's easier if you do what they say." She repeated. And with that I was silent.

     "Flight 132 to New York." A woman called over the intercom.

The woman escorted me and handed over my ticket. Still, showing no emotion she stood. I walked away and took a quick look back. Her eyes were watering, like she would cry. The policeman that I had seen earlier took her by the arm and they left.

I sat by the window on the plane and as drained as I was, I couldn't sleep. Memories ran through my head, the last time I saw my mother, and the last time I went on a date, the last time I talked to my best friend. Would I ever be able to do these things again? Would I live to fall in love one last time? There were so many things that I wanted to do before I died. I wanted to get married and have two little girls named Erica and Katie. I wanted to travel, I wanted to see the world, and I wanted to fly to Paris for any reason other than work. And I wanted to sleep all day and party all night without feeling guilty because I had a case to work on that word hover over me until the paper work was done. The plane ride soon ended and my emotions turned to a cold hopelessness. Before landing, I prayed that this would not be the end.

By the time the plane landed I was very tired. With so much emotion running through my veins I felt powerless. I remembered the first time that I had flown to New York and I was terrified of flying. Now years later, I loved to fly, and yet I felt the same terrified hopelessness as I got off the plane. People rushed passed me, talking, laughing, a baby was crying. There were people everywhere. I looked everyone in the eye, waiting, watching, and hoping that I would catch them looking back at me. They were everywhere and yet I didn't know which ones they were.

     A tall man in an expensive olive coat took my arm and began to walk fast. He had brown hair with light blonde highlights, and a freshly shaven face. He was handsome and smelled of spicy cologne. I said nothing in simple fear for my life. I began walking with him, walking briskly, until we took a side exit. Outside a red jeep waited for me, with another male driver. I got into the back and looked up at the driver, it was the man from the bathtub. The same man that had driven me in the cab before and then drugged me.

     We arrived at the hotel an hour later. Still sleepy, my senses awoke as soon as the door opened and the cold fall air flowed through. I followed the two men into room #59. I sat down on the large bed in the middle of the room. Up against the wall to the left was a table with pictures of people, maps, and receipts. I could wait no longer. I was tired, hungry, and impatient. I had waited too long for the answers that remained unsolved.

     I looked up and saw the two men discussing quietly in the corner. One of then pointed at me and the other one nodded his head.

     "I would like some answers." I stated loudly. "I think that it is time for you to explain the game to me. I would like to know what this means." I said pointing to my right hand.

     The man with the soft brown eyes from my bathtub stepped forward. "The game is an undercover project that was started by the secret service six years ago. It began as an experiment. But today, with its great success, it has become all too real." He stopped for a moment, searching on the table for a picture in the large pile. He pulled one out, it had an older man with white hair in a gray suit sitting, at a large desk.

     "This is where the game began, with a man named Alexander Haly. He wanted to create a group of undercover terrorists that would take out the chosen ones in the world."

     "The chosen ones?" I asked.

     "The chosen ones are the people that were created with superior intelligence. Before birth their parents signed an agreement that testing could be done on their unborn child in order to make them more intelligent, live longer, and to be more productive." He went on, "Alexander didn't believe in this. He thought that it was changing the genetics of a baby and that it would alter the effects on the whole civilization. Soon everyone would be altered, because you couldn't keep these tested children apart from the rest of the world, there was just too many."

     "So what part do I play in this game?" I asked becoming more concerned by the second.

     "You are not one of the chosen ones. You are one of the few real ones left." the man replied, sitting down on the bed next to me.

     "How do you know?" I asked.

     "You can tell fantasy from reality. Everything is a question to you. Everything has to be explained. When you see one thing you can remember it. And if it changes, but is identical in every other way a few seconds later, you know the difference. The chosen ones don't know the difference. When their brain is altered, so is their sense of reality. And so when things change, their brain accepts the new information so fast that the old is deleted before they can notice. This was originally invented so that they could learn new things faster than humans could, but in the end it only backfired on them."

     I pointed at my hand, "And this?" I asked.

     "Only a sign to show that you are not one of them. The D stands for deliverance, and the snowflake design is the different parts of the game. The triangles make up the secrets of the game. The main point of it is purely for your protection, so that the members of the game know that you are now one of us."

     "What am I suppose to do now?" I asked looking at the man in the corner. He was sitting at the desk now, looking at a file. I looked over at the paper and saw my name and picture on the front page.

     "Your life is no longer yours " The man sitting at the table looked up at me. "It is us against them." Hesitating for a moment, he made eye contact with me and smiled. "Welcome to the game."

     Acknowledgments: First I would like to thank my older sister Elisabeth for her great inspiration , she gave me great ideas for the twists in this story. I would also like to thank my parents for their support and patience, and I will be forever be thanking my mother for her talent of proofreading . And finally I would like to thank Terry Heller and all of my classmates for their great input and guidance, because without them my story would be even more confusing than it already is.



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