Phantasmagoria

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Cascade Continuum

''Why have you stopped? She 'asn't run out of scorpions, yuh know,'' Amber says to me. I know that. The Never can just imagine more scorpions, and imagine for the howitzer to never stop firing. Is that why they are called Nevers? Because they can never stop?

I think the howitzer is never-ending, not the cascade.

The Scorpion Howitzer Continuum.

''I haven't stopped, I'm just...thinking of a plan,'' I reply. Which is a lie. I have no plan whatsoever. Nor am I able to come up with one.

''Ho, ho. Me can't wait fi see dat,'' Amber says. Yeah, I bet you're just dying to see me fail.

''So...am I to expect more waterfalls then?'' I ask her. It's a stupid question. I don't know why I just asked it. There will be more waterfalls.

''Yuh know dat already, cha! Asking silly question when yuh know de answer,'' Amber says while she folds her arms and kisses her teeth. Wow, she reminds me of Hannah so much. Even the way she kisses her teeth.

''What are you waiting for? Carry on!'' Amber shouts at me. I think this girl definitely is bipolar. She was dancing just a few moments ago. Ah, that reminds me. What's the time...?

12 minutes!

Man, I've got to hurry up! I need to think of a way to catch that damn Never. I go back to swimming once again as I see the Never propping the howitzer into its shooting position while she floats backwards to run away from me. I swim as fast as my arms can move as I avoid the scorpions. Which reminds me, why do I have to avoid them?

What happens if I get bit?

''Argh!'' I scream out in pain as a scorpion manages to bite my foot. I see the Never stop shooting and hover over me. I anticipate what's going to happen next, as she readies the howitzer and lines it up over my head.

''Oh, boy,'' I say to myself. Amber hovers over to me and stops next to the Never.

''Oh, poor Mr Williams. Looks like you got a likkle bite,'' Amber says as she smiles. It's not a 'likkle' bite, it's a big one. I nurse my toe in the water as best I can and see that it has swollen up to a big size. It doesn't hurt so much, but I don't think I can swim any more. However, my toe doesn't seem to be a pressing problem to me right now. The Never and Amber are looking at me with cunning malice. This is a tag team of doom.

''So what happens now?'' I ask her. I restart the level, don't I? Another pointless question, I guess.

''It's up to the Never to decide,'' Amber answers.

What?

The same Never that has been terrorising me with that annoying machine gun is going to decide? Now I'm really at her mercy.

The Never smiles and begins to power up the howitzer. She's going to kill me with a thousand stings from the scorpions I bet. I see the howitzer beginning to revolve in a circle, getting faster and faster. I begin to close my eyes-

No.

No more.

I don't want to close my eyes any more.

I want to face her head on. Look at her as she does it. I won't cower away. I feel my breathing increase rapidly and my heart thump against my ribcage. The howitzer goes round faster and faster. Any moment now, hundreds of scorpions are going to be the last thing I see.

But...they're not coming?

The howitzer is still going- no, wait. The howitzer gun barrels...they've morphed into a big wide hole. What's going to happen now?

''Why, you seem to have been knocked down a peg or two,'' Amber says to me. What does she mean by that?

Wait.

Why does her voice sound louder?

And why does she and the Never look...so big all of a sudden?

I feel...weird. My body...it's...

Oh.

No.

I've been shrunk.

I've been shrunk to a miniature size.

Her stupid howitzer was a shrinking me the whole time. I didn't even know I was getting smaller until I saw Amber and the Never getting bigger.

''Well, at least you don't have to restart the level,'' Amber says as I struggle to keep my head above water. It's hard to adjust to a tiny body. I just get the hang of it before I notice the Never changing her howitzer back to how it was. Guess the game is definitely still on then. I wonder how the other participants are faring. I hope Vaughan is out.

The Never readies the howitzer over me once again as Amber flies off somewhere. I hear the sound of Billy Ocean's 'When the Going Gets Tough' as I swim with my little body. It seems she loves her 80's music.

I swim my hardest with my little body and I try to avoid the scorpions. The good thing about this tiny body is that it's harder for the Never to find me, and easier for me to get out of the way of the scorpions. But it's harder to navigate and tell how long I've been swimming. It feels as if I'm swimming forever. This definitely is a cascade continuum.

''Ach!'' I say before I realise I've come across another waterfall. This time, I don't make much of a splash as I hit the bottom of the waterfall. Because of this, I see the Never is having trouble trying to keep an eye on me. Even though she has none.

She canvasses the area where I fell, but she seems to be unable to find me. She shoots her howitzer nonetheless, seeing if she can get me with a scorpion. I wait a while under the water, observing her movements carefully. She looks as if she's having a hard time finding me. Teaches her for making me a midget.

Wait a minute.

Since she can't see me...shouldn't I do something?

Yes!

This is the best time to catch her!

Yes, this is the best opportunity I've got. And I've got to make it count.

Ugh, but what can I do in this small body?

Aha! Let me think of...

A giant shark!

A giant shark comes up from under me from nowhere. I quickly hitch a ride on it, and order the shark to ride to the surface. The Never has her back turned, and won't be anticipating the attack.

Good.

I need to make this moment count. It's the only shot I've got, and I've got to take it. I ride the shark higher.

Higher an higher.

Higher!

I rise out of the water on my flying shark, and I order it to open its big mouth so it can get her. Yes, I can almost feel it!

Nearly there!

Nearly!

In one second I will be...!

SPLASH!

What...on earth...was that?

The Never...is gone...

But my shark didn't get her.

No, me and my shark fell back into the water. We fell into it just after we witnessed...I witnessed...about 5 Wretched Geists take her in a split second...

''What...just happened?'' I ask myself as I look up at the place where the Never just was. There's nothing left of her. They took her without warning. Why would they do that...

''Oh for goodness' sake!'' I hear Amber shout angrily above me. She's stopped the music. I think she stopped it around the time her Never got taken, but I wasn't paying too much attention.

I look up at Amber, and she's looking extremely upset at something. Something across the water.

Wait, I think I can see a person. A man, I believe. A man...

He looks like...the man I saw just before I left Saya's level.

Oh...my...

It's him.

It's him! The same man.

But...who is he?


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