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 connects the Trap to a new world. Three enter, seeing only a shredded sky in the distance: Gates and his endless bag of random dishes, Mr. Gerrymander the manipulator, and Jamboree the opera-singing porcupine.
They’d heard tales of the Minefield from those that returned, usually with missing limbs or parts of their souls bitten off, but the newest trio of refugees was confident that they could handle it. Out came Gates, a nervous middle-aged man with a large plastic bag over one shoulder.
He was followed by Mr. Gerrymander in his immaculate maroon suit. His age was impossible to place, and he was the sort of man who appeared in the corner of most photographs but was never center stage. That was why he walked in the middle of their procession.
The rear was handled Jamboree, an effusive female porcupine, of a rare and large subspecies with a savant-like tendency to break out into an emotion-wrenching operatic singing voice.
Their journey got off to a rough start, as something followed them through the portal and onto the moving grassy ground of the Minefield. They knew a giant monster when they saw one, but its exact nature was unclear. It looked like a piece of farmland had molded itself into the rough shape of a gorilla. It bounded toward them, roaring and spraying dirt from its mouth. Small silos and sheds broke up and fell away as it drew closer.
“Oh shit,” Mr. Gerrymander muttered. “It’s Broward County. Better run!” His shoes were much too nice to run in, but he didn’t have much of a choice. For once in his life he took the lead. Gates was right behind, digging around in his bag in the hopes of finding something helpful.
4+1=5 (Jamboree chosen)
Gates’s bag, a powerful purchase from the haunted home shopping channel that only existed in the world for roughly a week, magically contained every piece of dishware ever crafted. The only problem was that any attempt to pull out a specific item produced a random one.
While he wanted a weaponized plate with a sharpened edge, he instead got one that emitted electric shocks to anyone with poor table manners. It zapped his hand, forcing him to toss it away. The plate struck poor Jamboree and sent her reeling. The monster that Mr. Gerrymander called ‘Broward County’ scooped her up and immediately attempted to squeeze the life out of her.
The woodland creature knew she was doomed, so she hit the ultimate high note in her final song. The pressure created by the sound destroyed her body, but also sent all of her quills flying at incredible speed. The many needles broke up the monster’s dirt-clod-based body and made it collapse.
The two fleeing men thought they were safe thanks to the porcupine’s efforts, but the heart of the county was still alive enough to chase them. It broke free of the rest of its body as a bedrock golem some thirteen feet high. Its rage had not abated in the slightest.
In their flight they ran into another traveler, just as confused as they were, who was forced to run alongside them. She was a filthy young woman covered in gray dust wearing nothing but a vacuum cleaner bag.
“What are we running from?” she coughed out.
“It’s a district I may have manipulated in the last election,” Mr. Gerrymander admitted. “It hasn’t taken kindly to my very effective efforts.” He pulled out a stack of cash, a few bills escaping and blowing away. “I’ll gladly pay one of you ten trillion or so if you get that thing off my back.”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to do!” Gates hollered, but the only thing that came out of the bag was a magnetic gravy boat.
“Don’t know what good money is out here,” the vacuumed-up woman said, “but I love a good fight.” She shook hands with the sprinting Gerrymander. “My name’s Dyjess by the way.” She turned to attack the Broward county golem, lunging with unexpected distance and ferocity.
(Chat-Determined) Mine! (Gerrymander and the bag saved)
Sadly the fight did not go well. The county golem wasn’t even defeated, just slowed down, and in the process it bashed and buried the life out of both Gates and Dyjess. They only succeeded in giving Mr. Gerrymander some distance. He did pick up the bag full of random dishes of course, as it might have come in handy.
He met up with two more travelers and decided to not reveal his pursuer until it became an issue. His new companions were Matt Smatlass, a man who could adopt any title and associated talent, and Senator Pawtickle: an extremely intelligent kitten fresh off his first elected term in Feline Land.
They didn’t have long to get acquainted, as they had to quietly move through a field full of the same soil, grass, and concrete giants that now seemed to characterize the early part of the Minefield. Each and every one was a county disturbed by the last election, eager to move on from their world.
Mr. Gerrymander didn’t recognize any of these new ones as victims of his expertise, but he snuck through them stealthily anyway and ordered his companions to do the same.
“Just don’t rile them up,” he whispered, mopping at the sweat on his brow with a monogrammed kerchief. They passed under one of the giant’s legs as it sobbed into its hands. A sign sticking out of its shoulder marked it as Hatrock County.
“Why would these things make you nervous?” Senator Pawtickle asked in his perfect human accent. He passed under Mr. Gerrymander’s legs as he did the same to Hatrock. “Counties are inherently peaceful creatures.”
“If one of them gets upset, I can just become County Commissioner Matt Smattlass,” Matt offered. He was feeling quite bored, having not adopted a title in over three hours. If this kept up it might lead to some dreaded introspection.
“Look, that’s my business,” Mr. Gerrymander said as he adjusted his tie. “I just don’t like them is all.” The light found them again as they left the shade of Hatrock behind.
“You look familiar,” the senator noted, tail curling into the shape of a question mark. Where had he seen him before? Was the man a lobbyist? He looked the type.
“Oh, I can figure it out!” Matt cried. He pulled a deerstalker hat out of his pocket and donned it. The rest of his clothes changed in an instant to match. A pipe sprouted from his mouth. “Now I’m Detective Smatlass; let’s have a look at you.” He produced a magnifying glass and came uncomfortably close to Mr. Gerrymander.
“Don’t get so close!” Gerrymander demanded. He reached into the bag in the hopes of finding anything long enough to push Smatlass away, but out came a serving platter with a spiked edge. Smatlass responded to the perceived threat by hopping back and adopting the title of Commando Smatlass. War paint streaked across his face.
“I remember!” the senator kitten bristled, blocking off his other escape route. “You’re one of the ones who rigged the election for the herald of Jeremy! Do you know what he’s doing to Feline Land as we speak?”
“Hey fellas,” Gerrymander pleaded, though he swung the spiked plate as he spoke. “You don’t want to fight around all these counties. You might get yourselves buried.”
“I’m a good kitty!” Senator Pawtickle declared in his loudest howl. “I don’t fear my constituents or their property. Hey counties! Listen up!” Giant stone heads turned their way. Their chlorinated swimming pool tears stopped falling. Silence. “This man’s an election fixer!”
“Aw crap,” Mr. Gerrymander grumbled as the giant rose to her feet and closed in. All he had was the bag, and one pokey plate wasn’t going to do it. Not only was he about to get stepped on, but Commando Smatlass had produced an assault rifle and had it aimed. There was only one thing to try, and that was hopping in the bag itself in the hopes that its seemingly infinite space would accept him.
(Chat-Determined) Mine! (Senator Pawtickle and the bag saved)
Mr. Gerrymander’s plan worked, but only in a sense. He was allowed to retreat into the bag, as was Matt Smatlass who dove in after him. The only trouble was that the bag could only hold dishware. IN order to account for the difference, the bag automatically squished both the humans down into the shape and size of the average milk saucer.
This had the effect of squeezing out most of their blood, flattening their brains to the thickness of toilet tissue, and instantly killing them. The bag sensed they were not satisfied with this outcome, so it spat them back out. Senator Pawtickle could’ve gloated by drinking something out of Mr. Gerrymander, lapping it up slowly, but he just wasn’t the sort of cat to play with his prey, especially the pathetic kind. He just moved on and left the counties to their sadness.
The kitten was also quite savvy, and so decided to bring the dish bag along. He worried it would be too heavy to drag, but the bag adjusted its own weight for his little teeth. Even though it was more than ten times his size it carried just like a dead skink.
Eventually he met up with two other animals who were happy to have a leader among them. They both knew of the senator and proudly stated that they voted for him. His constituents were Sarah Sahara the generally disinterested camel, happy to serve as a steed though, and Lorp the garden slug: a creature that often turned his eye stalks inward as if each one had a personality of its own and they needed to confer with each other before any decision was made.
“The political landscape sure did go to hell in the last round, huh?” Sarah stated.
“Oh it didn’t go to hell,” Senator Pawtickle insisted. “It came here. I just passed through about forty migrating counties. Battled a gerrymanderer too. Thought he could slip by me.”
“That’s why I voted for you,” Lorp said. “And me too.” His other eye swiveled around to join the first. “Do they have voting where we’re going now? I had to leave before even knowing what was on the other side of this thing.”
“Us political types did manage to get some messages back and forth,” the senator explained. He stepped up Sarah’s forward-most hump to check the path ahead. It looked relatively clear, and it seemed they were nearing the end. “The other side is called the Trap. There’s an army growing there. They’re going to mount an offensive against the dreaded Jeremy.”
“The hand that smacks the worlds!” Lorp exclaimed, eye stalks twisting around each other and pulling. “I didn’t think anybody could even touch him; he doesn’t live in this reality!”
“Lucky him,” Sarah mumbled.
“They have materials from his world,” Pawtickle whispered. He nestled down on top of the dish bag. It was time for a nap. “When I get there I will fight alongside them,” he yawned. With a little beauty sleep he would be ready to meet the great army of Danderlid.
The Black Lab was there to meet them at the falling edge of the Minefield. It walked forward slowly, like a pet on a treadmill, and there were two decks added to its back loaded with a welcoming committee of dozens of different lifeforms. They all waved at the approaching menagerie.
“Please take us closer Sarah,” Senator Pawtickle asked. He licked himself once on each side to create a standing fur collar. It was the image that had adorned all his campaign posters, that created the endless aaaaawwwwwwwws that got him elected.
(Chat-Determined) Mine! (Senator Pawtickle saved)
They were so close, but not even those accustomed to Minefield could stop it from reaping chaos on occasion. The Broward County golem, lost in rage after finding Mr. Gerrymander’s body and not being able to take its revenge, instead went after the senator and the bag that it recognized.
Sarah could not outrun it, nor reach the Black Lab in time. The dog-shaped building leaned its head down for them to leap into the mouth, but only the senator and his bag made it before the golem tackled the camel. Both buddies tumbled away and got caught in the tide of the falling Minefield. They were lost to the chasm between worlds, and poor Lorp was stuck on a hump with them.
The senator shed a tear because he couldn’t protect them. That wouldn’t be the case for long, and he didn’t even care if he had to best Jeremy from the back of a mangy dog.
Minefield traversed! Senator Pawtickle and his bag will join in the final story ahead.