It sounded like a rusty harp, SWWRRRINNNNGGG, and she stopped halfway along and dropped to her knees under the window. The whole neighborhood had to have heard that.
Above her, a series of small motion-sounds. Then, at the window, her friend’s whisper:
“It’s me,” she whispered from her crouch, then slowly stood.
“Omigod,” he said. “What are you doing here? It’s,” he paused, and she could see his silhouette behind the screen turn, “…past three!”
“I had to talk to you. I’m sorry, Benjamin, but I just had to.”
“Benjamin…who is Jason?”
“Jason…from the game, Jason? He’s from Eddie’s scout troop.”
“No he isn’t.” Andi felt exposed out here. Her scalp tingled with anxiety and she reached a finger under her toboggan to scratch. “Eddie thought he was Cy’s friend, and Cy thought he was yours.”
“You talked to the guys?” Any sleepiness in Benjamin’s voice vanished. “How are they? Did they say anything about Randall?”
“Benjamin,” she said, “focus. You’re not listening. Some guy, this Jason…nobody knows who he was. Your sister vanishes, and so does he. Was he even there when the police came?”
“Well…he had to have been, right? Where could he have gone?”
“Where could Eury have gone?” Andi itched again, then stopped at Benjamin’s silence. “I’m sorry,” she said at last. “I didn’t even ask how you were.”
He was quiet for a few seconds. “We’re not good,” he said. “Not good at all. I think the cops finally stopped suspecting me of abducting Europa, but now they think my parents had something to do with it.” He paused and let out a sigh. “It’s a good thing you didn’t scratch on the window beside mine. That’s Europa’s room. Mom’s been sleeping in there.”
Andi felt a return of the earlier chill up her back.
“And Dad,” Benjamin said. He paused again. “Hear that?”
“Yeah. That’s him on his typewriter. Morning, noon, night. Before, he couldn’t get two words out in a day. Now just listen to him go, tap-tap-tap.”
She held up her hand and pressed it to the screen, feeling the cool metal mesh on her palm. A moment later, and he did the same, although the screen was too cold for any warmth to pass between them.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “God, Benjamin, I’m so sorry. Are you –?”
He pulled his hand away slowly. “I’m losing my mind,” he said, and she could hear the beginnings of tears in his voice. “I don’t know. Andi, oh God, I just don’t know. I think I hallucinated at Randall’s house. I think I went crazy because I looked at Eddie and thought I saw –”
“Lightning coming out of his hands?” she put in. Benjamin’s nascent sobs gave way to a gasp.
“How? How in the hell –?”
“Because the last time I talked to Eddie, he told me the same thing. He saw the same thing. How can two people imagine the same exact hallucination? And I’ll tell you something else, Benjamin. You’re not the only one who saw things that day. I could swear on a stack of Bibles my hand passed through the damned wall, just like I was a real ghost.”
He was silent for so long she worried he might have passed out, but then: “It has to be connected. Europa, the things we all saw, the house getting trashed. Andi, how can it not be connected?” He fell quiet a bit longer, then: “But how is it connected? What does it mean?”
“All I know,” she said, “is how real it all seemed. I mean, the first time I played with y’all, I had a blast, and I totally got swept up in it. But this…”
“It was the same for me,” he said. “I get consumed by the game all the time, so strong sometimes…”
That reminded her to ask about Lloyd. But not now. It felt like they were on the verge of something, so close.
Benjamin kept talking. “But this last time, I felt like…oh, Andi, I felt like God. I felt like I had power over life and death, and that all of you were puppets strung from my fingertips.”
Something in his voice gave her pause. He wasn’t expressing fear…it was pleasure.
But just as quickly, he came back to his old self as he uttered a cryptic word: “Logopolis.”
“Log – huh?”
“It’s from Doctor Who,” he said. “Do you know Doctor Who?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Okay, well, it’s…” but he trailed off, as though realizing he was falling into infinite digression. “Okay. As long as we’re talking insane things.” He took a deep breath. “The basic idea is that if you describe something in enough detail, you eventually create it out of nothingness.”
“What does that have to do with…”
“I don’t know,” he said. “My book, where I keep track of and detail everything in the world…?” Then, after a pause, “Look at it another way,” he said. “Faith can move mountains, right? So maybe we all believed in the game so much that Voidville manifested itself in reality. We became our characters. We transformed, wrecked the house, and…”
“Eury?” Andi said, her voice the softest she’d ever heard it.
She could see his silhouette nod. “Voidville is full of monsters; not just us.”
She thought, for the first time in a couple of days, of the rat-thing in the pantry, and her gorge rose.
“Are you okay?”
After a respite of deep breaths, she could speak again: “I’m okay. But if this faith or Lego stuff is true, then where is sh–”
Benjamin’s door swung open and the lights switched on. Andi dropped to the grass with ninja reflexes, only afterwards realizing the tapping noise had stopped.
“Heeyyy, son,” slurred a deep male voice. “Oh! You’re up! What’cha doin’ up, buddy?”
“I was…praying,” Benjamin said.
Mr. Vail sniffed once, twice. “That’s good. Yer a good boy, Benny. I don’t care what these turds in town say. You’ve always been a good boy. Hey,” and Andi heard his voice get closer, “you wanna drink? Yer old enough now. And it’s good, Benny, it’s reallll good. Make you forget everything. Thass what we need, isn’t it? Forget everything.”
“No, thank you.”
“…Suit yourself,” Mr. Vail said, with not a small amount of wounded pride. “Go on. Get yer ass in bed. Tomorrow’s another day…” With that, the door closed.
Andi crept away until she reached her bike. As she did, the light in Eury’s room switched on, and she turned back to see a figure staring out the window.
Not caring who heard the noise, Andi mounted her bicycle and pedaled, legs spinning like a dervish, until she was home.
Today’s Words: 1128
Total Words: 28079
Notes: The four of you who have been reading these posts will notice this one is a day late. Well spotted!
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!)