Author’s Note: This was written live on stream, with the tone being determined by the numbers under minesweeper tiles. The audience could bid tokens earned in stream to reveal random tiles. A mine hit results in the death of all characters, unless they are temporarily saved by a lump sum of tokens. If characters make it to the end of the stream, they survive to be seen another day. Join us at twitch.tv/blainearcade if you wish to participate.
1-peace 2-alert 3-escalation 4-action 5-tragedy 6-world-changing
The pips have rolled again. The Minefield now connects the Trap to a new world. Three enter, seeing only a shredded sky in the distance: Chris Handsome the pervert-catching reporter, Bulbon the python-necked robot lamp, and the sisters Caw: three crows holding up a raincoat and hat.
None of them knew it, but the speed of the Minefield had increased slightly as of late. It may have sensed the hunger with which the survivors of the Trap awaited new recruits. The three that entered would all be willing, they were all fierce fighters, but they had to make it across first.
They had escaped a riot at a news station, out into the Minefield, and during an interview no less. That was why Chris Handsome was on edge. He so wanted to finish that segment on the sexual abuse of non-human entities. The ratings would’ve been gold-coated chocolate.
His subjects were right behind him: a lamp holding an artificial intelligence, slithering around on its banded metal neck like a python, and three intelligent crows holding up a human silhouette as they flew composed of a raincoat and an old floppy hat.
2 + 1 = 3
“So what would you say was the worst of your experience?” Chris asked the sisters Caw as they flew along beside him.
“The… interview… is… over,” the crows squawked in response, taking turns with each word. Human language was difficult for them, and talking about their abuse was even harder.
“Journalism is never over,” Chris said with a snort. “I can still write down everything you say from memory. I don’t have a photographic memory, but I do when it comes to scumbags.” He made a gesture with his hands like firing two pistols and blowing the smoke off them. He might’ve kept going if Bulbon, the lamp, hadn’t slithered up his body and wrapped around his neck to rest.
He didn’t mind the lamp being there, but he did mind the sudden beam that shot out of it, straight up through the goldenrod clouds. It temporarily blinded him and he fell into the grass. The light almost screamed in its intensity.
The beam bounced off something in the sky, past the clouds, and returned with deadly force. It blackened the grass in a line and swiftly approached the sisters Caw. They were forced to drop their hat in their hurry. It went up in a flash when the beam crossed over it.
“That… was… an…. heirloom!” they protested.
“Turn off your light!” Chris demanded, slapping at the metal shade of Bulbon’s head. It was scalding to the touch. The beam came for him next and he barely rolled out of the way in time.
“I can’t,” the lamp whimpered, the first words it had spoken since before their interview started. “Something’s pulling it out of me!” The lamp’s silvery serpentine body shuddered and rattled. The discharge seemed to sap its ability to resist at all.
Chris Handsome did the only thing he knew how to do; he hopped to his feet, brushed the grass off his blazer, and pulled a microphone out of his pocket. He held it up to the sky and offered whatever was up there a chance to explain itself.
“What are you trying to do here today?” he asked. The beam screamed closer once again, but died an inch from his boot. The poor lamp went limp and was picked up in the talons of one of the sisters Caw. The reporter fought back his concern for the machine. The crows seemed very understanding and nurturing.
(Chat-Determined) mine! (Chris and Caw saved)
Little did they know, the lamp had not simply run out of power or passed out. It was completely and utterly dead, all of its energy stolen and redirected by the entity above the clouds. It tried to kill them, but apparently it did not want to pass up the opportunity to explain itself. It broke through the clouds and descended slowly.
The object looked like a solar panel at first, but Chris soon identified it as a crumpled piece of aluminum foil, much too large for wrapping a leftover piece of cake or anything you might actually use one for. Its glint demonstrated its reflective qualities, though not half as well as the beam it had produced.
When it reached microphone level they saw the creature that rode atop it; it looked like a pony-sized rabbit made entirely of dust and knotted hair. Its eyes were dark indentations in its material and its nose hung off in tatters rather than twitching like its long-eared brethren.
“My name is Just Dust,” the creature declared into the microphone. “I am new to life. I was nothing out there past the Minefield.”
“Some… kind… of… golem!” the birds guessed.
“A dust bunny from the world above,” Chris said into the microphone even though it wasn’t attached to anything. “I guess the lamp’s life force was siphoned so that you could have one.” He looked down at the aluminum magic carpet.
3 +1= 4
“I’m sorry I killed your friend,” Just Dust added. “I had no idea what was happening.”
“That’s… okay…” the crows agreed, nodding their beaks at each other. They flapped a wing, throwing an understanding sleeve over the dust bunny’s shoulder. The aluminum foil, just as alive, was not interested in making amends. It dumped the bunny, light as air, onto the ground. Then it crumpled and flattened into the shape of a saber and nearly as tall as Chris.
It must’ve had some kind of survival instinct that it couldn’t articulate, for it immediately swung at them and cut Chris’s microphone in half. The others, stunned, backed away. The blades spun between them, its point trying to choose a target.
“Explain yourself!” Chris demanded, drawing the blade’s attention. Without his microphone he was just a man rather than the prosecutor in the court of public opinion. That angered him enough to pick a fight with the thing, and it was happy to oblige.
It flew toward him with disturbing speed, cutting through the air with a whistle. The sisters Caw dropped in front of him, unwilling to watch any bloodshed on what was supposed to be their most cathartic day, and caught the blade in the raincoat. Two of the sisters emerged from the sleeves, grabbed them, and wrapped them around. All three pulled up, forcing the blade over Chris’s head.
They dove, forcing it into the ground where it stuck. Chris ran up behind it and stomped on the hilt, flattening it. Once they were certain it held no more life, the sisters reclaimed their torn coat and donned it once again.
“I’m sorry, again,” Just Dust told them, ears drooping as if sopping wet. “I know it’s a lot to ask, but can I join you on your journey? There’s no wind to blow me, so I have no idea where I’m going.” The other two nodded and the trio resumed their trek across the shifting land.
“Should we finish your interview?” Chris asked the sisters Caw as they walked. “I bet they still have television on the other side of this place.”
“No… we… just… want… closure,” the crows insisted. “Leaving… is… good… enough.” They turned their beaks toward Just Dust. “Interview… him.”
“I think I will,” Chris said with a click of his tongue. “So Dusty, do you mind if I call you Dusty? What’s it like experiencing the first moments of life at full intelligence? Traumatic? Painful? Frustrating? Tell the public every detail, by telling me of course.”
“There’s not much to me,” the dust bunny explained. “All I have is the knowledge of the things I drifted around in the other world. There was a young man named Jeremy.” All of them stopped as something like a chill passed through the air. It wasn’t cold though, more like a wave of static passing by under their skin. That name had power.
“What else do you know about this Jeremy character?” Chris asked. For once in his life he felt like he wasn’t supposed to say the thing that had just come out of his mouth. He already knew who Jeremy was. A cheater. A god with sticky fingers.
“He’s headed this way,” Just Dust said, empty eyes staring off into space. “Others out there will try to stop him, but they won’t be able to. We have to do it.”
“What’s… he… going… to… do?” the sisters asked. One of them had a sleeve scratch the collar to suggest they were deep in thought.
“He has a glass of water,” the dust bunny said, hollow eyes now widening as if he viewed the horror firsthand. “He will pour it on all the games. All the world’s. Water damage on cardboard turning to apocalyptic floods on these lands. Nothing will be left.”
“And to think I spent my time on reporting in diddlers,” Chris said with a snort. “This Jeremy is the guy who needs to be investigated. Well, don’t worry. I’m on the story.”
The trio was already nearing the end of the Minefield. They could see the tatters of the sky that separated it from the Trap and the beasts of Danderlid fluttering about around it. There was a dock as well; the structure was firmly rooted in the Trap, but extended far into the Minefield. There was a staircase at the end of it that didn’t quite touch the rushing ground.
Chris hopped up on it when they reached it, with the others not far behind. There were signs proclaiming safety was at the end, but warning them of the toll they would have to pay. Apparently only one in every three lives that entered the Trap were allowed to roam free. The other two would have to be comfortably imprisoned , at least until all this Jeremy business was settled.
“But… the… three… of… us… are… one…” the crows pondered aloud. “So… how… many… must… be… caged?”
“It’s an interesting question,” Chris admitted. “There’s three of us, so one has to go. Yet, there’s three of you, so one has to go. In total we are five, suggesting we have to give up one rather than two, but is one crow a full one? I might need some graph paper for this one.” Just Dust nodded. It was very confusing, but that’s the way board game rules were sometimes. You just had to swallow your complaints if you wanted to have any fun.
(Chat-Determined) mine! (Just Dust saved)
The question, intriguing though it was, was of no consequence. They couldn’t see through the clouds overhead, but Jeremy was already there, being held back by the others who didn’t want their games destroyed by his impending water damage.
They fought, but the glass was already in his hand, already over the Minefield. One drop was loosed and came crashing down. The flood obliterated the dock and most of the ground connecting the Minefield and the Trap. Lives on both sides were immediately snuffed out.
The sisters Caw and Chris Handsome were smashed along with very atom of the ground. Their lifeless bodies swirled alongside short-circuiting chaos mines. There was only a thread of land left that held the two worlds together. The Minefield shook back and forth like a hanging splinter of wood.
Just Dust was not lost. He was used to the air around great motion, and this was no different. The force took him just before the drop stuck, tossed him into the Trap where it was safe. He hoped the breeze would put him down near the survivors he’d seen as he drifted over. He could tell them the weaknesses of Jeremy.
Minefield traversed! Just Dust will join in the final story ahead.