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: Egola the half-elf, Giml the half-dwarf, and Errant the detached time traveler.
Cards Mooning Decency was collapsing. The dreaded Jeremy had spilled water upon and started a great deluge. Even the cards were not immune. The last three being to escape didn’t even escape wholly. The destruction of their world took pieces of them.
There was Egola the half-elf, a left-half-elf to be specific. He was divided vertically down the middle, but nimble enough to hop on his remaining leg. The destruction had claimed his other half, just as it had claimed the left half of his companion: Giml the right-half dwarf. She was less coordinated on a single sole, so they leaned against each other to make something like a full being.
With them was Errant. The fall of CMD had removed his ability to remain fixed in time, so the young man flicked in and out of reality, occasionally coming back in different garb or as an older man or boy.
Only the strangest and deadliest creatures had tried to make the Minefield their home, but their efforts were doomed to fail. The sopping fall of CMD spread to the bridge itself and started eating the ground, shorting out the chaos mines beneath.
The trio was forced to run for their lives, but they had to find something helpful before they ran out of stamina. Countless things passed by, but nothing inviting: a giant skull still holding one active rolling eyeballing, a red tower that fired cannons at them even as it fell off the world, and a giant tea cup with an ornery sea serpent inside.
“This is all stupid garbage!” Giml huffed.
Their salvation came in the form of an eyelash, though, being the eyelash of a god above, it was more like an airborne ship to the lowly chewed-up beings below. It swooped in from beyond the destruction, riding wind currents they couldn’t comprehend.
Confusing as it was, they still hopped aboard when it was close enough. They were so small compared to it that they could interact with all the things beings their size had carved into it: stairways, halls, dungeons, and even cathedrals. All they could do was hope its flight would take them fully to the other side.
The shiplash, as they called it, shut out a surprising amount of the sound outside. They could barely hear the world turning into an avalanche. The material of the walls, floors, and furniture, like fine-grained black wood, was clearly very flammable, so the chambers were lit by small electric lights connected to various produce batteries: mostly lemons and potatoes. That made the shiplash smell of citric acid and soil, which they all agreed was better than the smell of hair.
“So are you two stuck together forever?” Errant asked the half and half. He had just popped back in wearing a pirate’s hat, with no idea of how he’d acquired it. Perhaps it was a sign that he was to captain this ship.
“I don’t imagine so,” Egola said, grimacing slightly. He was rather vain, so didn’t fancy the idea of being forced to accessorize with a dwarf unattractive even for her own kind.
“Once we get where we’re going, I’m sure we’ll find something to take the place of each other. I think my other half’s gonna be a motorcycle,” Giml suggested. The time traveler laughed so hard that he flickered a year forward and back, but he realized a moment later that the dwarf was serious.
“It does make a certain amount of sense,” he was forced to admit, “especially since it has wheels. What about you elf?” Egola split away, forcing Giml to lean against the wall. He hopped away from the both and examined carvings on the wall. He’d apparently deemed the question not worth answering.
The elf ran his hand across some pictograms as large as himself. They depicted four gods marching against a fifth. The fifth was a truly horrid creature, even flatly represented. He had wild hair with a life of its own, eyes and nose dripping slime, and crooked teeth.
They knew little of the dreaded Jeremy, but they knew it was his destruction in their wake. The pictograms confirmed the rumors, showing every little piece that fell off him turning into a weapon or minion of some sort. To the gods above their worlds were just games, and Jeremy drove the others away, declared himself the winner, by flipping games, breaking them, or flicking his own excretions onto them.
“So that’s him,” Giml commented. “He doesn’t look so tough.” She pulled a knife from her belt and tossed it, knocking herself over in the process. The throw was perfect though, striking Jeremy in the eye. The impact cracked him, a crack that traveled up to the ceiling and across the floor.
“Be careful you fool!” Egola warned. “This place might have been solid when it was still attached to a god’s eye, but now it’s just a husk of its former self. Not unlike me.” He turned to look at Errant, but the man was gone, off to some other age for a while. The crack moved under the elf’s foot. “We should keep going.” The half and half reunited and left the room, heading for what they believed to be the root of the eyelash. If anyone still piloted this ship they would surely be there, in its lighter-colored materials.
Next they reached a series of massive halls with plentiful columns, but no ceiling. The fresh air rushing by above was a welcome relief, until a gust descended and blew the dwarf and elf apart. They looked at each other and concluded that that they couldn’t keep together in such high winds, so they would have to crawl.
This slowed their progress greatly, but gave them plenty of time to discuss things. They were in agreement that there wasn’t much to miss at all about their old world. It was mostly cruel jokes and doors slammed in your face. The new one on the other side had to be better.
“What do you hope to find?” Giml shouted over the wind, clawing her way forward.
“A real other half,” Egola answered. “A wife. You?”
“Motorbikes and tunnels. Nothing better than driving underground, wondering when the world will try to stop you with a cave-in. I remember the great granite freeways of my people: the asphaltians.” She chuckled as she reminisced.
Egola was about to lament the loss of his own clan, but Errant finally faded back into their time. He was atop a riding lawnmower and covered in grass-infused sweat stains. The vehicle nearly sucked Giml up into its blades, but its driver swerved just in time to only cause a mild concussion, which to a dwarf is hardly more than being pecked by a crow.
“I was almost done with the lawn,” Errant complained. There were stripes of gray in his hair now, suggesting he might’ve spent a good ten years somewhere else. Perhaps he’d started a nice suburban family, thus necessitating the grass cutting. “Well, since I’m back, you two might as well hop on.” The two halves peeled themselves off the floor and sat on the back of the vehicle, letting Errant’s shoulders block most of the wind.
They didn’t make it far before the crew of the shiplash finally revealed themselves. Cracks appeared all over the floor, and out crawled dark figures with eyes that swirled all over their faces like tiny marshmallows in hot chocolate. They brandished flexible pieces of steel somewhere between a saber and a loose hair.
They offered no quarter, immediately charging the mower and slashing at those atop it. Egola and Giml were each lucky enough to have their weapon sides, so they each pulled out a sword and fended off the attack while Errant drove.
“We mean you no harm!” the time traveler shouted, though it was harder to justify the statement when one of the figures slipped, had its foot pulled up into the blades, and was quickly shredded into a hundred pieces of black and brown cloth.
These fiends had to be mindless, as they paid no attention as to how their emergence destabilized the floor and columns. Perhaps they were a divine immune response to any attack the god’s body sensed. The mower bucked and jostled as pieces of the floor broke away. The immune response idea had occurred to Egola, and it gave him an idea with enough chance of success to make it worth trying. He only had half a throat left, but that was enough for a decent glob of spit. The real problem was aiming it with only half a mouth. On his first try it simply dribbled down his chin.
“Curses,” he growled. “Giml, we must join. I need your other cheek.” The dwarf had already sustained a cut to her one remaining leg, so she was willing to try anything. She leaned over, allowing him to press the two sides of their heads together. Once combined they had a complete mouth and tongue, allowing him to aim his expectoration.
It was difficult not to gag as the dwarf’s saliva mixed with his own, especially since it tasted of turnips and chewed fingernails. He just pretended it was a very bad kiss and forced his mind back to the situation. Huack-tooie!
The half-dwarf and half-elf spit bomb successfully landed behind them. The crew-things of the shiplash were immediately distracted by it, crowding around and stabbing it like a cockroach that had just announced its plans for world domination. The half-elf’s logic had proven sound. Since it was an immune response, it responded the same way to any and all foreign materials. The spit was en equal threat to all three of them. They were off their tail, but the floor was still collapsing under them, the second kind of ground to chase them that day already.
“We need to get out of here!” he shouted. “Errant, can you take us to another time? One where everything’s not collapsing preferably!”
“I can’t control it!” he shouted back.
“Try!” the dwarf screamed in his ear, loud enough to convince him to go for it. Errant shut his eyes and thought only of newspaper dates that he’d never actually seen on the paper. Nothing happened. Then he imagined all the paper crumpling up and being kicked away.
Silence. No, not quite silence. There was the sound of an eye opening and closing, but it was so huge, so integral to the ground they stood on, that was simply like the breath of an entire planet under them. They stared out at a sky they couldn’t comprehend. There were objects in the distance, but they couldn’t even decide on things like shape and color.
“You did it,” the half-dwarf marveled.
“What time are we in?” Errant wondered aloud, stepping off the riding mower and stretching.
“I think this was when the shiplash was still connected to a god’s eye,” Egola guessed. “This could be before all this trouble started.”
“I feel like a parasite,” Giml said. “We’re definitely not supposed to be here.”
“I think I can take us back,” Errant suggested. “I just have to do what I did before.” He closed his eyes, but Egola clapped his hand on the man’s shoulder to stop him.
“Wait a moment,” the elf cautioned. “We want to be precise if we can. If we land on the Minefield simply around that time, we could land on nothing, be swallowed by the abyss.”
“Right,” the dwarf agreed. She spoke slowly and her pupils were growing. She couldn’t tear her eyes from the world the god watched. “Find a time where we can be on the shiplash, not surrounded by those things, near the end… of the… Minefield.”
“And do it quickly,” the elf said, his hand acting as a blinder for his eye. He only had half a brain left, and he wasn’t going to let it spill meaninglessly, into that glorious realm like pollution.
Errant closed his eyes and focused. He found the date. He scribbled an exact hour, minute, and second on the end of it. He crumpled the paper and kicked it away.
The trio was back, but the shiplash was no longer riding the wind. It was already at the edge of the Trap, held firmly in the mouth of the Black Lab like a stick. Its orientation had been reversed, so the refugees plunged toward the chaotic ground as the another chasm devoured it.
Giml grabbed the edge of the ceiling. Egola grabbed Giml’s ankle. Errant grabbed Egola’s. The chain of incomplete beings hung there, clinging for dear life and screaming for aid. The building had ears, but they didn’t perk up at the sound of their cries.
(Chat-Determined) Mine! (Errant saved)
In its life as a shard of Jeremy’s chaotic tantrum, the Minefield had claimed thousands of lives. Even in its last moments, it claimed two more. Giml had only half the strength of a dwarf, so she couldn’t hold them. Her grip failed. The two halves and the time traveler fell to the darkness below.
It was only ignorant fate that saved Errant. He vanished from that time at the last moment and found himself inside the Black Lab’s head at another later one. There were tears in his eyes and his heart was pounding.
All sorts of warriors, scholars, and creatures surrounded him, staring. Each and every one had made the same journey and suffered similar losses. They knew that look in his eye, one as timeless as the man himself. They consoled him as the Black Lab leapt back into the Trap. The last boulders of the Minefield, the last blinking mine, disappeared into nothingness.
The game was over, but the judgment was yet to come.
Minefield traversed! Errant will be the last to join the final story ahead.