“Diana?!” Paul said in surprise. The authoress stepped down into the middle of the staff, looking around at all the faces, both familiar and unfamiliar.
“Guys? What’s going on, where are we?” she asked, directing the question to Paul, presuming that he was in charge.
“We have no idea,” Paul told her. A suspicious look formed on his face. “This isn’t another one of your stories, is it?”
Diana frowned. “Very funny. No.”
There was a period of uncomfortable silence with everyone looking at the ground, until Paul couldn’t take it any longer. “Diana, what is that?” he asked, gesturing at the iPad she clutched to her chest. Was this the information the notes promised?
“Oh, this?” she replied, holding out the device. “I’m not sure. I used it to solve a puzzle to get out of my room, see?” She turned it on, revealing a complex Sudoku puzzle, solved perfectly. Everyone crowded closer to look at it.
“F-five minutes?!” Paul spluttered. “It only took you five minutes to solve that?!”
Diana looked a little surprised. “Well, yeah.”
“I do these kinds of puzzles in my spare time, I’ve gotten pretty good at them.” Diana pressed the home button. “But there isn’t anything else- hey, what’s that?” An app appeared to be installing on the home screen. The picture was an ominous blue digital 10. As it finished, Diana tapped it slightly nervously. “I’m getting a sense of déjà vu,” she muttered as they waited for it to open. Paul, Michael, Jeddy, Nathaniel, and Christian nodded in agreement, while everyone else looked a little confused.
Finally words typed themselves across a black screen in blue digital style font.
To ensure that all players are present, please press your hand to the screen in the order of bracelet numbers, 1-10.
“Okay, who’s one?” Paul called, and there was a flurry of activity as all ten people (including Paul) checked their bracelets.
“Oh, I am,” Daniel said after a few seconds. Diana held the iPad out to him and as he pressed his hand to it, a blue line traveled the length of the device, scanning Daniel’s hand. As the line completed its course down the screen, his bracelet flashed, the digital number one on his bracelet glowing an even brighter blue.
There were collective oohs and ahhs from the staff as the line faded and more text appeared.
Player 1 Confirmed: Daniel Castro
“Okay, number two, go!” Paul commanded, trying to look like he was in charge again.
“Okay, okay, I’m coming,” Michael said in exasperation, pressing his hand to the screen.
Player 2 Confirmed: Michael Gray
Michael backed up and Christian stepped forward. “I’m three, guys. Like pi, you know, 3.1415-“ He was cut off as everyone behind him shoved him forward to the iPad. He scanned his hand and more words appeared.
Player 3 Confirmed: Christian Porter
Christian moved back, still looking proud about his pi reference. Jeddy pushed through the rest of the staff. “Sorry guys,” he apologized quickly, pressing his hand to the device.
Player 4 Confirmed: Alex “Jeddy” Jedraszczak
There was a pause. “Five?” Diana said curiously.
“Yeah, who’s five?” Paul asked in irritation. Everyone shook their heads and Paul looked down in confusion and frustration, catching sight of his bracelet in the process. “…Oh.” He shuffled forward and scanned his hand.
Player 5 Confirmed: Paul Franzen
Jeff moved to scan his hand next, glancing at Diana as he did so. “I said I wanted to be a handsome innkeeper, not in potential danger with a bracelet stuck on my wrist,” he told her. She flushed bright red.
“I already told you, this isn’t my story. It’s happening on its own.”
Player 6 Confirmed: Jeff Day
“My turn, I guess…” Nikola said, stepping forward and extending his hand to the screen. The blue line ran over it and more text appeared as he stepped backward.
Player 7 Confirmed: Nikola Suprak
“Eight?” Paul called as Nikola tried to back up without stepping on the rest of the staff, who was moving closer to the iPad with each hand scanned.
“Oh, that’s me!” Nathaniel realized suddenly. He stepped forward confidently. “In these troubling times, someone needs to take charge,” he told the rest of them as the blue light traveled under his hand.
Player 8 Confirmed: Nathaniel Hoover
“I’m nine,” Matt said, pushing forward, resulting in a few glares. “That’s easy to remember, it’s my birthday.” He pressed his hand to the screen of the iPad.
Player 9 Confirmed: Matt Jonas
“And I guess that leaves me,” Diana said, awkwardly extending her hand to touch the device.
Player 10 Confirmed: Diana Gray
The blue line folded over itself and blinked out of existence while the players anxiously awaited the next step. Soon more words began appearing, still in that ominous blue font.
If Paul forgot the information in his room, press YES, and the game will be explained.
Everyone gave Paul an accusing look. Diana touched the square with YES and text scrolled across the screen.
Please hold the iPad horizontally.
Diana held it flat on the palm of her hand and there was a flash as a blue holographic hooded figure flickered into life above the screen. She jumped, almost dropping the iPad in surprise, but regained her hold on it. The figure slowly began to turn, apparently observing the staff and the authoress.
“Good evening, GameColers.” The voice was deep, clearly using a voice distorter, but there was an element to it that was somehow strangely familiar. The person paused, apparently waiting for a response. A couple staff members muttered responses and the voice continued. “You’re probably wondering why you’re all here. That… will be revealed in time.” The person (it was impossible to determine their gender because of the voice distortion) chuckled evilly and everyone looked at the ground uncomfortably. “Oh, but silly me… I forgot to introduce myself. …I am your worst nightmare.”
The GameColers exchanged nervous looks. The hologram chuckled again, apparently expecting this. Or perhaps it could see them, maybe it was live and not a prerecorded message. No one was really sure. “But you can call me Zero. Zero-Two.”
“‘Zero-Two?’ Like the Zero in 999?” Nikola asked in disbelief.
“I’ve invited you all here to play my game, to test your strength, and, like I promised you, Mr. Franzen, to build your team leadership skills. The challenge is simple: find the way out. You have 10 hours in which to do so. Behind each door lies a different challenge. Some are suited for certain people, some for others. But regardless, there will be no exiting doors or switching of any kind. There most certainly are measures to prevent that in those bracelets that you’re wearing.” A holographic picture of one of the bracelets appeared in the air, slowly turning still. The person continued speaking, unseen. “The game seems simple, yes? But there are a few rules I must set down.” The person paused, seemingly for effect, then continued. “This device must stay with Miss Gray at all times. If it goes with anyone else, there is a detonator inside it that promises instant death to the fool who broke this simple rule.” A little holographic demonstration of this occurred and everyone winced.
Diana looked surprised and nervous as everyone stared at her as the holographic carnage disappeared. “I don’t know, guys…” she murmured, frowning. The hooded figure reappeared and the voice continued immediately.
“I assume that Mr. Gray and Mr. Suprak got my notes, correct?” They nodded. “Then you have the instructions on how to get through the doors in this room. Three of you must lead a group of either three or four through a door. I will let you decide amongst yourselves who will lead, and who will follow. The rest is up to you. So, GameCola staff… seek a way out.”
For more of Diana’s fanfiction, check out her FanFiction.net page here