In the end, he should have brought a camera and taken pictures. Memories gathered by the dozens never last — there’s just too much to take in, too much to store and prioritize in an already over-stimulated brain. And as for capturing memories in the book, that too was an inexact science. Too often, Benjamin would write down an idealized version of what happened in a game session, rather than the full story.
It had always seemed more important to maintain the mythology of Voidville than the reality of kids who were “too old,” by society’s unforgiving standards, to be playing make-believe.
But today…even as they packed up their gear after today’s session; even as Andi, followed by Benjamin, took turns changing out of their dress clothes…
Today should have had all its memories captured.
Even as he struggled out of his suit and took a wet-nap to his face, Benjamin struggled to recall everything that had happened. The snapshots were all in his mind, and they were fading fast.
The Banshee, introducing herself to the other monsters with just the right mix of hesitant camaraderie and menace…
The Mummy, going down in a blaze of glory and shredded toilet paper against the evil warlock’s Soul Engine…
The Wolfman and Frankenstein, back to back, firing their machine guns at the advancing hordes of foes…
And the amazing shock of looking around for the Banshee as the warlock’s skeleton troops approached, only to see she’d somehow climbed on top of one of the barns, staring into the distance.
“There’s thousands of them!” she shouted, pointing at the empty field…
Andi ran up to Benjamin as he walked out of the shower room. “That was sooo fun!” she said, cheeks flushed. “I haven’t had that much fun is so long, thank you!”
“You’re welcome,” he managed to stammer, still stunned by how much fun she’d been to play with, and how well she’d fit into this tightly-knit group.
But was she willing to continue to fit in?
“We play almost every day,” he said, trying to get his spiel out as quickly as he could. “Afternoons after school, when we can get away on holidays, every Saturday, most Sunday afternoons…”
Andi smiled and held up her hands, the expression on her face like she’d asked for an ice cream cone and been given an entire Baskin-Robbins.
“Whoa, whoa!” she said, laughing. Benjamin was suddenly aware that the rest of the group was out of range, but still watching the two of them. A heat crept into his cheeks.
“Benjamin,” Andi said, “I had a blast. And I definitely want to do this again. But I’ve got flag practice most school-day afternoons. I’ve got church, I’ve got student council, I’m on the committee for the Halloween dance, UIL is about to start up…”
She trailed off, looking at him then glancing over at the others.
“…You’ve got to stop looking like I kicked your puppy,” she said in a softer voice. “Come on, now. Didn’t you hear the first part — that I wanted to do this again?”
“Okay, then. Next Saturday?”
“That’d be great,” he said, voice as soft as hers. “Maybe…the Banshee can go off on a recon mission or something. I’ll let you know what she’s been up to.”
“Sounds good,” she said. She paused for a second, as though thinking about saying, or doing, something else, but the moment passed. With a quick nod, she put her bag in her bike basket, mounted the seat, and gave everyone a hearty wave. “Bye, y’all! See you later!” With a push of the pedals she was off, down the dirt track to the gate, quickly gone from sight no matter how Benjamin tried to keep focus on that beacon of red hair.
Randall came up and clamped a furry glove on Benjamin’s shoulder. “We gotta lock this sucker up. You all set?”
Benjamin said, “Yeah.” A sigh entered his voice, despite his effort to stop it.
“You want to come over after? Dad just brought home ‘Bibleopoly’. It’s like Monopoly, except you’re, I dunno, a real estate developer in the Bible.”
“Yeah, I know, right? I had to fight Caleb and Carson for the privilege of tearing off the shrink-wrap.” He gave Benjamin’s shoulder a squeeze, then turned away. “Time to head out!” he called to the others, who mounted their bikes and set out in a wobbly caravan to the highway.
The ex-Mummy paused by Benjamin. “Dead for good?” he asked, and Benjamin could hear disappointment fighting with relief in the scout’s voice.
“Yeah, sorry. We can bring you back as another monster, if you want. Even another mummy.”
“…I’ll let you know,” said the kid, who pedaled away.
Benjamin set out himself, catching up with Cy and Eddie, who’d paused by the gate. As Randall brought up the rear to lock up, Eddie squinted against the sun to look at Benjamin.
“You want me to recruit some new players?” he asked. “Only I think I’ve tapped out the scout troop. I could ask around the weight room at school…”
“No, that’s okay,” Benjamin said.
“…put up fliers in the cafeteria…”
“I think we’re all ri–”
“…spray paint one of the billboards on I-30, burn a want ad in the grass of the football field…”
“Eddie,” Benjamin said. His friend would go on and on if he let him.
Eddie grinned, an expression those who didn’t know him always found menacing. Before they became friends, Benjamin had felt the same way.
“Your girlfriend did good today,” Eddie said. “Not too shabby. I’ll knock a few sessions off her probationary period.” With that, he stood on his pedals and pushed off onto the empty highway.
Randall and Cy flanked Benjamin, ready to go. Cy watched Eddie’s figure diminish in the distance. “Future President or serial killer?” he asked, and the other two, as usual, had no answer.
They bid Benjamin goodbye and took off. With one last look over his shoulder at today’s battlefield, he did the same. He thought of the massive writing job he’d have when he got home, already lamenting how much of the day’s activities were blurring together in his head.
In the end, Benjamin really should have taken pictures and preserved every second of the day.
Especially since it would be the last happy day he’d ever have in this life.
Today’s Words: 1067
Total Words: 8625
Notes: Posting times will be a little off from usual today, Friday, and Saturday. Real-world plans are encroaching on this fictional universe…
I need to take twenty-some-odd more pictures of a cat who hates having her picture taken. This, more than the novel, will be the biggest challenge I face this month…!
Also, a little verisimilitude I’ll need to go back and put in after the fact: why there were no animals at the practice farm. (Answer: because the weather is getting colder, and they’ve been moved to actual farms around the county for full-time care.)
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!)