Phantasmagoria

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The Andromeda Dreadnought

''Here you go, Mr Williams,'' Cara...says to me...as she hands me a...weird looking bean...

''What...is it...?'' I manage to...ask her.

''It's like one of those beans Goku and his friends use,'' Cara responds...nonchalantly. She makes it...sound like she...knows them...personally.

''What...do I do with it?'' I ask.

''Eat it of course. It will make you perk up in no time,'' Cara replies...as she...she grins at me.

''Sure...it won't kill me?'' I muse. I'm eating...imaginary beans now. God knows...what it can do.

''Hah, I don't think I would get rid of you with a bean, Mr Williams. After all, you have faced 4 level keepers, vengeful participants, imaginary mummified killers and harsh climates and terrain. Want to add a 'villainous' bean to that list?'' Cara says...sarcastically. No, I guess not. I might as well...eat it. With the last of my strength...I swallow the bean whole.

''See? That wasn't so bad was it?'' Cara says to me...as I feel the effects of the bean...refreshing me.

Wow.

Wow!

I feel...rejuvenated!

Revived!

Revitalised!

Now that's what I call a bean! I immediately stand up and look around me. The surroundings are now back to normal; the colourful array of dripping paint encompasses the sky once more, the cascade continuum is...still continuing, and I see that we are on the pillow I conjured up previously.

''What was that?! I feel great!'' I say to Cara. I sound...more enthusiastic than usual. I wonder if I've been given drugs? Well, whatever, I don't really care what it is; it works!

''Told you it would work. Now let's be going now, Mr Williams, you've been awarded your points, so we can go,'' Cara says as she turns and walks to the edge of the pillow.

''Wait...where's Amber?'' I ask her. I didn't see what happened to her after the last battle.

''She's alright, you don't need to worry,'' Cara says with a smile.

''OK. So how many points did she give me?'' I ask again. Cara looks at me.

''She gave you 900 points,'' Cara answers. 900? So, somebody got higher than I did?

''No one was awarded 1000 points. You all did equally well on this level,'' Cara answers my silent question.

''That can happen in this game? The level keeper can decide whether or not they can award the highest points?'' I ask her. That's strange; I didn't know that the level keeper doesn't have to award 1000 points to anyone.

''It's always up to the level keeper; they decide whether your performance was better than someone else's, but if it's not, then she can award however many points she feels like you deserve,'' Cara explains further. I nod after Cara explains everything and ponder over the points that I got. Since Vaughan, Drew, Pete, the other guy and I all got below 1000, I wonder what places we are in on the leader board. I wonder if they are still in the game...

''Cara, how many people are left in the game?'' I ask her. Did we all survive? Thanks to Saya's ability, we can't see each other. I wonder if she will do the same in the next level.

''There's 3 participants remaining in the game,'' Cara reveals.

3...participants?

Who came out?

Was it Drew and Pete? Or Pete and the other guy? Or the other guy and Drew? I sure do hope Vaughan is out. That guy was so annoying.

''Mr Williams, what means of transport would you like to use for us to get to the next level?'' Cara asks me. What means of transport? That's a good question, I hadn't thought of that. I'm so busy trying to keep up with the statistics of the game I hadn't realised the time. What should I come up with...

''Well, I've had a bicycle, a train, a roller-coaster and a hot-air balloon...I haven't had...a ship...'' I say as I think of a ship to use. I turn to my right and begin to imagine one has come up from the water; a great big, metal grey ship that looks like the size of the Titanic.

''Wow, that is big,'' Cara says as she comes closer to where I'm standing to get a better look of it.

''Want to go on it?'' I ask her, motioning her forward.

''Yeah, of course!'' Cara says immediately, and without a moment's notice, she floats aboard the ship and waits for me to follow. I jump off from the pillow and fly over to the deck of the ship and settle down next to her.

''Now we can leave,'' I say to her as I head over to the steering wheel.

''This is its maiden voyage. Before we go, shouldn't you give it a name?'' Cara says to me. A name? It's just a ship. Why would I care about naming it? It's only going to be used for a while and then shipwrecked or something. It's only a means of transport from here to the next level. Why does she care about naming the ship?

''So you can remember it,'' Cara says, as if to answer my quiet thoughts. So I can remember it? OK...whatever she says.

''I don't know what to call it. Do you have any ideas?'' I ask her. Cara thinks for a while as she looks at the features of the ship. She bends down and strokes the deck floor and then stands up again. What did she do that for?

''...Andromeda...,'' I hear her say. Andromeda?

''Andromeda?'' I repeat. Why give it that name?

''I like it...Andromeda Dreadnought,'' she says.

Andromeda Dreadnought?

I roll my eyes and sigh heavily. I don't understand this girl at all. And I don't even want to begin to. I carry on walking to the wheel and begin to operate the ship.

''I'll work the sails,'' Cara says as she skips across the deck to man the sails.

''OK,'' I say. The ship begins to move slowly through the water as soon as we get it to move, rocking up and down smoothly. We sail for a few more moments before I remember that we are still on the cascade continuum.

''We're going to be coming up to some water falls, so be careful,'' I say to Cara. She doesn't look like she's listening. Does she even care?

''I feel it,'' I say to myself as I notice the ship starting to go forward at an angle. I think quickly about what I should do when we impact, so I imagine the ship...is as light as a feather. I feel the ship float down slowly as a feather would in the wind, and I sigh with relief as I feel the soft impact of it when it hits the water. We carry on sailing and I do the same thing every time we come to a waterfall, but I wonder...

When is it going to end?

Down...

Float...

Down...

Float...

Down...

Float...

Down...

Float...

Down...

''Hmm?'' I make a noise, realising I've been spacing out. I move the wheel, but it doesn't seem to be...moving. The sails...aren't going either. We're...stuck.

Stuck?

When did this happen?

''Cara? Cara?'' I call out to Cara, who seems to be daydreaming or something. She hasn't moved from there for a while. What's wrong with-

''There will now be a 2 hour break from the game. Please enjoy your afternoon,'' I hear a woman's voice say as the game visor pulls away from my head and the sight of being inside the game is changed to the sight of being inside the cubicle. That was abrupt.

I sit up and blink down hard a few times.

''Wow, that's the time?'' I say to myself as I see on my wrist watch it is only 2pm.

2pm?!

Feels like I've been in there forever. Feels like a never ending dream. I rub my face with my hands to try and wake myself up.

''Agh!'' I let out as I feel a small prick in the side of my neck. I go to touch my neck to see what it is. Maybe it's a small insect or something...feels like a slight bump.

What is it? It feels weird. I think it is just an insect bite.

Yeah, it is...

''Hello Mr Williams, I hope you had a fun time. We will be having another short break for two hours before continuing with the game. Congratulations on making it to level 5 by the way, and I hope you've had fun playing Phantasmagoria,'' the same lady that serviced me before comes into my cubicle and announces. She sounds like a robot.

''Yeah, thanks,'' I say as I rub the side of my neck and begin to get up from my seat. The lady gives me back my phone and leaves the cubicle at once, leaving me on my own.

''So back at 4pm,'' I say aloud to myself as I glance at my phone. I've got two hours to-

BRZZZZZT! BRZZZZT!

My phone goes off in my hand. I check to see who it is, and I see that it's Hannah ringing me. I wonder what it is she wants?

''Hannah? Hey, honey, what's up?'' I answer the phone. I'm glad Hannah's phoned me. Her voice keeps me sane.

''Hey...um, can you come home now please?'' Hannah says to me in a slightly upset voice.

''Hannah? What's wrong? Is everything OK?'' I ask her quickly. What's going on? Why is she upset? I'm getting quite worried now.

''I've got something to tell you,'' she says. Something to tell me? What could it be?

''I'll be right there!'' I say into the phone quickly before I hang up, rush out of the cubicle, out of the Game Emporium and run all the way home.

Hannah...

Please be alright!

Please be OK!

Please!


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