SIDE ONE, TRACK THREE: GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
“Hey, Andi? It’s Benjamin.”
“Oh, hey! I wasn’t sure if you were going to call.”
When the guys said ‘Randall’s house,’ they never actually meant the place where Randall slept, ate, played Go Fish with his kid brothers, and frequently argued with his parents. Randall’s mom and dad had never even heard of Voidville, and if they had, they’d have shipped him off to a monastery before they let him play it for even a second.
When they said ‘Randall’s house,’ they meant his home away from home.
“So I’m still kinda freaking out about this. I want to be honest with you. I don’t have the slightest idea what to expect.”
“Well, I was thinking…maybe that’s for the best. Maybe you could just, y’know, go into it cold, with no –“
“Benjamin. No. You’re going to tell me what I’m getting myself into, or it’s not happening. You hear me?”
“Okay. Okay…the basics. First, you need to pick a monster.”
In fact, no parents were involved at all when the game was played at Randall’s house. Everyone took their bikes, Benjamin’s hauling a makeshift wood-wagon trailer to carry the book, the box of props, and all the rest of the gear. The hitch on the trailer, and the shoddy way it connected to his bike, equaled a long, hassle-filled trip to the outskirts of town.
“You’re sure you’re not just tricking me into doing extra math homework? This sounds like math homework. All the statistics and calculations and…”
“Well, yeah, there’s math involved, but it’s…I mean, there is such a thing as fun math.”
“I believe in that even less than I believe in monsters.”
Biking on the short stretch of highway before reaching Randall’s house was the most treacherous part of the trip, as pickup trucks had great sport blowing by bicyclers at a great rate of speed, trying to knock you over with their slipstream, or emptying their spit-cups out the window to splatter you, or just blasting you with aspersions on your sexuality in general.
“And that’s the gist of it, more or less. So…are you still interested?”
“Ha-ha-ha! I can practically hear you crossing your fingers over the phone, Benjamin. Yeah, of course I’m still interested! Nothing this crazy is worth missing. So…where are we meeting?”
But after that half-mile or so of the highway gauntlet, you reached your destination, and it was all worthwhile.
“Wait, hang on. Say that again. We’re meeting where?”
The lettering of the sign had faded over the years, but you could still spot it from the road:
FFA STUDENT PRACTICE FARM
And below that, a sign that never faded, as it warranted regular re-painting:
They ignored that one, though, as they were only partially trespassing. Randall was a member in good standing of the Future Farmers of America, not to mention the Junior High FFA President, so he had not only a key to the gate’s padlock, but an ostensible reason to be there.
Plus, they’d gotten away with playing there a half-dozen times before, which lent them a certain sense of invulnerability, so why not shoot for a seventh time?
The rest of the boys were there by the time Benjamin pulled up, huffing and puffing, his trailer only having detached three times on the journey over. They ran up to meet him, all anxious.
“Where’s Andi?” at least two of them said at the same time. Cy glanced back at the trailer, as though there were room for her to have ridden back there with all the junk packed in.
“Figured you two would pull up on a bicycle built for two,” Eddie said, unloading the prop box. Benjamin, still winded, flipped him the bird. He’d called and updated Eddie, Randall, and Cy before he’d ever called Andi, just to get their reactions. Randall’s “the hell you say!” was a highlight.
“Hold up,” Cy said, shading his eyes, looking up the dirt driveway into the farm. “Red hair, twelve o’clock.”
The other guys — Jason and the Mummy Scout — walked up as Andi approached. Each guy ran fingers through his mop of hair, tried to brush the road dust off their clothes, and generally made fools of themselves.
She pulled up with a grin, her bike kicking up a little cloud of dirt as she maneuvered to a stop. “Morning, boys,” she called, and dismounted. All the guys returned her greeting with an abundance of enthusiasm.
“So,” Andi said, pulling a little bag from a wire basket mounted between her handlebars, “this is where the magic happens, huh?”
“Welcome to Voidville,” Benjamin said. “We’re just getting into costume.” As one, the other guys took the hint and busied themselves with the big wooden box, pulling out their various outfits and retiring to the showers to change.
“Cool,” Andi said. “I’ve got my stuff in here.”
“Did you pick a monster?”
“Are you filling in as the big tongue?” Jason asked, looming over Benjamin’s shoulder. He had his mask on and his machete at the ready.
She looked back and forth from him to Benjamin. “Er…?”
“Never mind,” Benjamin said, stepping forward to walk her into the farm proper. “So, yeah, did you make a choice?”
“Sure did,” she said with a proud smile. “I’m a banshee!”
“Oh, cool!” Benjamin said, impressed. “Great choice.”
“Well, I was thinking about all the stories Gran-Da used to tell us about the old country. Banshees, leprechauns of course, selkies, the cait sith…”
Cait sith? What in the world was that? Benjamin thought he knew everything there was to know about monsters. And yet she continued, listing off creatures he’d never once heard of.
They walked toward the shower room, where all the guys had finished getting ready, leaving the whole thing open for Andi. She hefted her bag and smiled. “Back in a minute.”
Eddie nudged Benjamin in the ribs after the door had closed behind Andi. “Dude. Pick your jaw up off the ground. I know she’s a fox and all, but –”
“It’s not that,” Benjamin said.
“Then what? You’re all, like, shell shocked.”
Benjamin turned to face him. “…Cait sith.”
Today’s Words: 1035
Total Words: 6535
Notes: Nothing much to mention today. I thought I had a continuity error yesterday, but was able to patch it today without having to go back and edit Day Five.
I’m attempting to write a Halloween-themed horror novel in October! Visit Day Zero for more information or Day One to read from the beginning, and check out Countdown to Halloween for more blogging that’s altogether ooky!
(And the cat is Valentine — I figured the presence of a black cat would make things that much more Halloween-y!)