Phantasmagoria

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The Wretched Geists

''New challenge!'' we see written above Saya's head when we hear her voice all of a sudden. What challenge is it now?

I look up quickly at the hand, still unsure whether or not it could still squash me. But I breathe a sigh of relief as soon as I see it ascend rapidly towards the sky and disappear out of sight. When I look back down, I notice that all the cards have also gone from under our feet. We all look to see Saya has hitched herself a ride on a snowmobile. Or desertmobile.

Whatever.

It looks like she's getting ready to move.

''What's the new challenge?'' Vaughan shouts over to her. This guy seriously wants to win. All he wants to know is what the next challenge is. Saya revs up the desertmobile, and looks behind her at us. Her face bursts into a wide smile.

''Escape from the Wretched Geists!'' we read her answer. Before we can react, Saya drives off at high speed away from us.

Why is she running...

''Uh...guys...?'' I hear Drew say. I know when someone says something in that tone of voice, it usually means something bad is sure to follow.

And I'm right.

''Oh, boy...'' I hear Pete say as we turn around and see the bandaged men coming toward us. Even though I can't see their eyes, they have a menacing look in them. They have a killing intent as their aura. I focus on one who is heading straight towards me. He looks as if he is gliding towards me. Nothing is stopping him.

''Nash, what are you doing? Run!'' I hear Pete shout. I snap back into reality, or game 'reality', and realise that almost all of the other participants are gone. I run towards Pete who has a concerned look on his face.

''Sorry, Pete, I spaced out for a moment,'' I say to him as we run.

''I don't want you to lose to Vaughan already,'' Pete muses.

''Yeah, he would love that,'' I respond. He would really love that. While we run, I can see some participants are using other methods of transport to run away from the Geists. I see some have taken a leaf out of Saya's book and are using desertmobiles. I glance behind me and see the Geists have already caught up. In the corner of my eye to my right, I just catch a glimpse of a participant who has fallen behind and is getting taken by one of them. Me and Pete hear him scream for his life as more Geists pile on top of him, suffocating him in darkness.

''We can't help him now,'' Pete says to me as I focus on running away again.

''It's like we're back in Afghanistan again,'' I say aloud. It does feel like that. Like the battlefield. Running away from gun-toting insurgents. Now we're running away from artificial killers.

''Help me! Help me!'' another participant screams to the left of us. He seems to be sinking into the sand. Has the desert turned into quicksand? Me and Pete are still running away just fine. Maybe it's the Geists doing? I look to the participant, and he has been swallowed by the desert. All I can see is his hand sticking out, slowly going down.

''Hurry up, we need to get away before the time runs out!'' Pete reminds me. Oh yeah, I forgot about the time. I look to the sky and see it has gone down to 3 minutes.

''3 minutes?!'' I say in disbelief. I can't believe how fast time has gone by. Just a moment ago it was 15 minutes.

''When will this end? I mean, is there a finish line or something? We can't keep running forever,'' I say to Pete.

''I don't know, Saya didn't say anything other than escape,'' Pete says.

''Well, we must finish soon. We have only got under 3 minutes left,'' I say to him. We're running away at top speed, but the Geists are still on our tails. We surpass a participant on their desert mobile, which has ceased to work.

''Why doesn't he just imagine it to work again?'' I wonder aloud as we watch him get set upon by the Geists, and his screams are drowned out by a low humming sound.

''What on earth is that?'' Pete asks as we both turn to look at the Geists. They are all bonded to each other, all conjoined. They are moving as one now, and the ominous humming sound that seems to be coming from them is getting louder...and louder.

''I can't hear myself think!'' Pete says as he puts his hands over his ears.

''I know. Let's keep going!'' I say to him. We can't lose focus now. If we successfully escape from these things, we get to go to the next level. The weather isn't helping, though. The backwards snow has now turned into a torrential blizzard, caused by the Geists, I think. It's also quite hard to run in sand. I keep thinking I will lose my footing, but I imagine myself as if I am running on air. Pete might be thinking the same thing. As we look ahead of us, we see Saya standing in the midst of us. She opens her mouth to speak, but we can't hear her. On top of her head I start to read what she is saying.

''Come up with a method of transportation to ascend to the next level,'' it says. Me and Pete look at each other.

''So...we got through?'' Pete asks me. I think we have, but the Geists are still after us. They don't look like they're stopping from chasing us at all.

''We have to leave now it seems,'' I say as I take a look at the timer. 30 seconds left. I have to get out of here in 30 seconds otherwise I'm definitely going to be a goner.

''See you at the next level, Nash,'' Pete says to me as he salutes me good bye.

Wait, where is he going?

Pete suddenly opens up a large black umbrella, which I had not seen him conjure up, and begins to float up away from me. I watch in awe as he leaves me standing by myself.

''Hurry up, Nash!'' Pete shouts down towards me as he ascends further and further upwards. I turn to see the Geists are coming up within 5 metres of me. I'm running for my life now. I don't know what to do. I can't copy Pete's idea otherwise I won't get high points. But the Geists are coming... I look up at Pete once more before I see him vanish.

10 seconds.

Think of something, Nash!

9 seconds.

Pete's flying, so...

8 seconds.

I should fly too!

7 seconds.

A hot air balloon. A bit too much I know, but-

6 seconds.

Get in Nash, get in it!

5 seconds.

Blowing up the fire now.

4 seconds.

I'm up! And away from those damn things!

3 seconds.

Higher, come on, higher!

2 seconds.

Hah! Can't catch me suckers!

1 second.

Wait...who is that-


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