Outside the front door, the pizza-delivery guy continued ringing the doorbell. He wore a red buttoned shirt with the company name sewed on the left side with long tan pants held by a black belt and he baseball cap which also had the name.
"Hello," The pizza man called out. "Hungry Howie's! Anybody home?
"What's up?" Dan replied.
"Hey, uh, you guys ordered another pizza, right? Bacon and pepperoni?"
"Yeah…" Dan answered, nervously. "We ordered… That… Recently."
"Is everything all right in there?" The pizza man asked, suspiciously. "I heard some screaming and… Did I just hear a lion?"
"Lion?! What, no! No, no! No lions here… Actually, we were just… Watching… 'The Ghost and the Darkness'! Yeah, really good movie. Severely underrated, in my opinion, you should rent it sometime."
"O… Kay. Well, no offense but the volume seemed awfully loud."
"Yeah, well… The TV's been having some audio issues. We had to turn it up because we could barely hear the lines. But we'll definitely turn it down."
"Probably for the best," The Pizza man nods, handing the pizza. "That'll be $8.99."
"Thanks," Dan replied, handing twenty dollars. "Keep the change."
Before the pizza man could reply, Dan shut the door on his face, leaving him standing there and hearing some commotion in the living room. Preferring not to investigate, with a few deliveries to attend to, he turned around with a shrug, stuffed the twenty dollars in his pocket, opened the car door and sat down while closing the door behind him.
"Suburbs are weird," The man replied, starting the ignition.
Suddenly, he caught a glimpse of something falling, looked up, and… CRASH! He barely had time to cover his face when a giant hail stone crashed from out of nowhere, shattering the front windshield and sending tiny shards flying out all over the seats. Lowering his hands, his eyes widen at the giant hunk of ice that destroyed his car.
A while later, the gang had since sat in the living room together in near complete silence. The pizza box sat in the middle of the table, all the kids having finished off the pizza all the way to the last crust sitting in the corner. In that time, no one said anything, but still their thoughts raced on what transpired within that short period of time. But then Heather cleared his throat, breaking the moment of peace.
"So…" Heather started off. "This happened."
"Mmm…" Dan muttered, chewing a slice. "This sure is good pizza. Nothing weird about that."
"Oh yes, it's all good here," Luke replied, snarkly. "Nothing like a homicidal lion, that just happened to be summoned from the jungle, roaming around in my house. Everything's just great."
"Of all the things from the jungle I could've summoned, why couldn't it be a friendly lemur or Tarzan," Heather added. "A very 'chiseled' Tarzan."
"Just a roll of the dice, I guess," Logan considered, looking at the ceiling. "At least he seems to have quieted down."
"Good…" Luke answered, dryly.
"But what I wanna know is… How is all this happening? I mean, where did the game come from, and who the hell made it in the first place?"
"Didn't you say you found it at the beach, yesterday?" Heather asked.
"Well yeah, that's where I found it, but it was in some crate with French writing all over it that had washed up on the shore," Johnny admitted. "Though I doubt whoever made it was French, because all the writing inside is in English."
"Maybe the best we can do is examine the facts," Dan suggested. "I mean, the game is clearly built and designed with some form of African jungle theme, next thing we know every creature we've encountered are those we'd find in the jungle, and even the little game pieces. What if it's just possible that maybe that's where the game comes from?"
"Yeah," said Luke, "Like maybe it was made by some African witch doctor who placed a curse on it or something. I don't know, it's the best explanation I can come up with!"
"Then just how did it get to France, genius?" asked Heather.
"Maybe," said Johnny, "We're not the first ones to have played it. Maybe the people who had played it before put it in that crate…to get rid of it."
"Johnny, you don't just play a game like this and expect to ship it to America!" Heather argued. "Don't you think we'd have heard of something like this on the news?!"
"You know, now that you mention it," said Luke, "I do remember hearing something on the news a few days ago about a cargo plane from Paris crashing into the ocean."
"Yeah," replied Dan. "Me too. It was struck by lightning during a storm that was said to have appeared out of nowhere."
"A lightning storm," Johnny pondered. "That would explain why that crate was floating on the beach. But I didn't really pay attention to all the details."
"You don't watch the news at all, do you?" Heather asked, folding her arms.
"Excuse me if I was too busy preparing for my college career."
"You guys think that game caused that lightning storm?" Luke questioned. "Like it knew it was being gotten rid of?"
"I do know this," Heather added in, pointing toward the board game. "Whatever it is or what it's doing, that thing is 'not' a game."
"Hell," said Dan. "Who's to say that whoever sent it in the crate were the first ones to play it either?"
"Dan might be on to something," Johnny admitted. "If whatever's happening now was undoubtedly as bad as it was back in France, there could've been other players that went through the same thing. It was probably worse in the town before that and the town before that. Why this remained unheard of, I can't say for sure. Maybe the game wiped out everyone else's memories like it never happened, or perhaps only the game's players would remember, figured no one would believe them. Whatever the case may be, it's all the same scenario: The game will only get worse and worse for everyone in this town, until we finish it and it all disappears."
"Well, shit," Luke spoke, which was all he could said.
Just then, a loud roar caused the four to turn upstairs as they could hear the lion stirring a commotion.
"Oh boy, he's awake," Johnny pointed out. "And he sounds hungry."
"I got it," Dan sighed.
Lifting off the couch, Dan made his way into the kitchen as the other three looked on. He soon emerged with a whole raw chicken from out of the fridge, put a finger to his lips to silence them, and slowly walked up the stairs as the others remained on the couch.
"That was tomorrow's dinner," Luke replied.
"Oh, get over it!" Heather retorted.
Upstairs, the lion was roaming around in the bathroom, scratching his paws against the tiles. Just then, the doorknob inside the bathroom slowly turned and caused the lion to turn curiously. The door slowly pulled open causing a light creek as it's eyes saw a raw chicken squeeze through the crack.
"Dinner's served!" The lion heard a voice shout.
Before the Lion could move, the chicken was tossed toward him as the door quickly closed. From the other side, Dan quickly stepped back as he heard the lion ravenously devour the chicken. Taking a deep breath, he walked back down the stairs and into the living room casually taking a seat with the others who sat silently.
"You know, he's not so bad," Dan replied, looking up the stairs. "I think I'll call him Bernard."
"Oh, dude, you don't just name these things," Luke groaned, holding his head. "Once you name it, you're going to want to keep it! And I don't think my superintendent's going to be happy if he found out we let a lion spend the night in the bathtub!"
"Luke's right, so don't get too attached to it," Johnny suggested. "Anyways, it's your turn to roll."
"Oh all right," Dan sighed.
Dan reached over the coffee table, grabbing the dice in his hand. He shook his hands and made to roll when Luke suddenly stood up.
Dan paused as Luke lifted his hammer over the game. Johnny took out a metal baseball bat sitting in the broom closet while Heather pulled out a sharp kitchen knife that was stuck on the kitchen door. Dan suddenly got the idea and made for the study, pulling out a poker from the fireplace.
"Everybody set?" Dan asked.
"Mhmm," The three nodded simultaneously.
"Okay… Let's get this over with."
Dan finally rolled the dice, which lands to add up to 5. They watched with their weapons raised as Dan's token moved. As it slid the final three spaces, another riddle formed within the crystal ball.
"Though small and slimy, they're no joke," Dan read. "Touch their skin, you will croak."
The four kids turned to each other wondering what that meant. Just then, a small creature hopped onto the coffee table alongside the board game, startling the group. It was a frog with a red body and black spots, it's eyes darting toward the four as its throat puffed out making a creepy 'croaking' noise.
"What the-?" Johnny peered.
"It's a frog." Heather said.
"Better than what's happened so far," Luke concluded.
"Yeah…" Dan replied nervously. "But who's to say it's just the one?"
Just then, a small blue frog hopped onto the table besides the red one, followed by a yellow frog. Dan leapt off the couch to avoid touching a green frog that hopped on the arms of the couch.
As the four friends huddled together, they suddenly saw a whole swarm of multi-colored frogs, hundreds of tiny creatures surrounding them. They crawled through the cracks of the door, climbed along the walls, even emerging from under the couch cushions. The whole room was alive with the slimy creatures, their croaks echoing in the room and their eyes never leaving the group.
"Brilliant, my turn comes around and I bring the Plagues of Egypt!"
"Goes to show that even God can't stand you!" Heather retorted.
Suddenly, one of the frogs hopped onto Heather's shoe. Startled, she kicked her foot up, sending the frog hurling in mid-air and sending it toward the window.
"Oh, hell no! These boots were made for walking, and I'm not about to have traumatic memories on them!"
Heather was just about to reach toward one of the frogs, when Johnny grabbed her wrist.
"Heather, don't touch 'em!" Johnny shouted. "Remember what the riddle said? These are obviously poison dart frogs! We touch them, we're dead!"
"Will it kill us if we just squashed them with out feet?" Luke asked.
"We squash these little buggers, it's gonna be like a Quentin Tarantino film in here!" Dan pointed out.
"Then how the fuck do we get rid of these bastards?" Luke asked, anxiously.
"I know what to do!" Johnny lifted a finger.
Johnny ran up the stairs, barely stepping over the frogs and refraining his hands from the railing where the others were crawling. He pulled open the broom closet and gathered several brooms, one of which he held and swept off the frogs that blocked his path as he made his way downstairs.
"I saw this in an arcade game; we'll sweep 'em out!"
"Great, an excuse to do Luke's housework!" Heather commented, snarkly.
"Stop whining and sweep!" Dan shouted, grabbing a broom.
Dan started sweeping the frogs aside, many of whom slid along the floor or smacked against the walls. The others each grabbed a broom and swung against any frog they came upon, while blocking the few that hopped towards them.
"GET OUT, YOU LITTLE BUGGERS!" Luke shouted.
"Don't you mean 'froggers'?" Heather corrected, jokingly.
"Buggers, froggers, whatever! JUST GET THEM OUTTA MY HOUSE!"
Heather made Luke duck as she batted away the frogs that hopped toward them, their legs clutching the glass on a mirror stand. Luke turned toward the mess, then back to Heather.
"You're lucky you little shits are cute!" Heather shouted.
"On the couch!" Johnny shouted.
Johnny swept the couch cushions, pushing all the frogs aside with the broom. All around, the frogs hopped and croaked around the floor as the gang kept their distance using their brooms to sweep them aside. Meanwhile, more frogs kept making their way into the house some of which starting to emerge from the pipes in the kitchen sink.
"There's too many of these fuckers!" Heather shouted. "We gotta find a place to store them!"
"There's my pool out in the backyard," Luke added. "It'll be big enough with enough water to keep them occupied."
"Sure, 'cause their happiness is suddenly so integral."
"As long as it gets them out of our hair," Dan added in. "That's good enough for me."
"Quick, open the sliding door!" Johnny shouted.
Without a second though, Luke worked his way towards the sliding door almost slipping on some of the frogs that got under his sneaker. Luckily, he grabbed onto the door handle, retaining his balance. With a heave, he slid the door open, ushering the frogs to the pool.
"Come on, get outta here, you little creeps!
"Shoo, go away!" Johnny barked, sweeping the frogs. "Get in that water!"
"Piss off!" Dan shouted, ushering another batch.
Soon enough, the four kids managed to sweep all the poison dart frogs out of the house, sliding a few into the cold water in the pool. They quickly made their way back inside, sliding the door closed just as the frogs hopped along the glass.
"Let's hope they stay there," Heather hoped, sighing in relief.
"Just until this bastard game is over," Dan added. "So… Who's up for a turn?"
"That'll be me," Johnny answered, examining the floor. "But maybe we should clean the living room. I don't know if you noticed, but those frogs were spraying all over the floor!"
"Urgh, gross," Heather groaned.
"Got any Flash, Luke?" Dan asked.
"Just a few cleaning stuff under the sink," Luke pointed out. "Provided there aren't more of those buggers in there."
Some time passed, wearing gloves for protection, the gang were furiously cleaning the living room removing anything the frogs left behind. They wiped the windows and mirrors with glass cleaner, mopped the floors with floor cleaner, and absorbed the remains of the spray with paper towels and squeezing the rest out of sponges into the sink. Finally, as they removed the gloves, they took their seats back on the couch staring at the game. As Johnny grabbed the dice, he stared at the game as if it seemed to be mocking them waiting for them to roll.
"Weapons at the ready?" Johnny spoke.
"If it's smackable," Luke answered, readying the hammer. "I'm ready."
"Do it," Dan orders, aiming the poker.
Johnny rolled the dice, but sighs when he sees the dice roll a two. As the token made its move, a riddle formed within the crystal ball once again.
"They grow much faster than bamboo," Johnny read. "Take care, or they'll come after you."
"That's not very hard to riddle out," Heather retorted.
Suddenly, they heard a noise and slowly turned as a power socket shook on the wall. It suddenly shifted loosely as a long green vine emerged through the holes and cracks, growing larger while sprouting big leaves. As they looked around, they noticed more vines growing inside. They pushed through the floor, extending along the walls, and wrapped around the ceiling. Sure enough, they wrapped around the furniture as the four kids found themselves surrounded.
"Luke, please tell me you have an axe," Heather spoke.
"I'd be lying if I said I did," Luke responded. "But I wish I had one."
"Everyone stay together," Johnny ushered. "No telling what these things are capable of!"
As Dan looked around nervously, he felt something slither against his left leg. He slowly looked down as a vine winded it's way around from the ankle of his feet up along his knee.
"OH SHIT!" Luke shouted.
Luke started smacking the vine with the blade portion of the hammer. After a few stiff hits, the vine severed off as Dan picked it off his leg casting it aside while the remaining half pulled back and sunk into the floor from whence it came.
"Ya know, I think I'm getting pretty jaded by this," Heather replied, slicing an approaching vine with her knife.
As Heather hacked all the vines that got in her way, a large purple flower bloomed from one of the growing vines right in front of her face. She merely glared with annoyance and flipped the bird towards the flower.
"Oh, come on, Heather," Dan responded. "It's just showing its affection."
Just then, the flower shot four sharp barbs at Heather, who quickly ducked as the barbs pierced the wall a short distance behind her. Dan's eyes widened when he saw where the barbs were shot.
In response, Heather sliced off the flower with her knife. She looked down as the flower withered beneath her feet. She simply lifted a foot up and crushed it, as she turned toward the vines.
Unbeknownst to Heather, another vine appeared and swiftly wrapped around Heather's foot as she crushed the flower. Before she could react, it tightened it's grip and dragged her across the floor causing the others to turn.
"I REGRET NOTHING!"
"Heather!" Johnny shouted.
"Hang on!" Luke added.
Desperate, Johnny leapt over to Heather and grabbed her by the arm. She looked up to see Johnny trying to pull her back.
"Don't worry, I got you!"
"Just hang tight, Heather," Dan shouted, grabbing the other arm.
Suddenly, from out of the nearby wall, an enormous yellow pod emerged taking the group back. It opened it's petals revealing insect-like mandibles while it's tongue-like vine pulled Heather towards its large thorn covered mouth. Having dropped the knife a few spaces away, Heather was caught between the carnivorous plant and two of three friends pulling her back.
"HOLY SHIT!" Johnny shouted.
"OH CRAP!" Dan added.
"Great, I'm about to get eaten by Audry II," Heather retorted. "Except I don't get a song before I die!"
"Not on my watch!" Luke shouted.
Luke rushed toward the pod, while the others held onto Heather. Using his hammer, he smacked the back end against it's mouth. But no matter how hard he struck, the pod stubbornly refused to let go.
"Let go of my friend, you vore-trap twat!
"Hold on, I got this!" Johnny shouted, letting go. "Dan, don't let her go!"
"Do I really have a choice?!" Dan asked sarcastically.
Johnny quickly made for the metal bat that he cast aside and ran toward the carnivorous pod.
"This is how you do it!"
Quickly, Johnny proceeded to whack the pod with the metal bat over and over as Luke backed away. After several beatings, the pod drooped to the floor and slowly crushed to the death as it's vine released Heather, causing her and Dan to fall back first toward the floor. After one final swing, Johnny loomed over the crushed, dead pod as slime oozed it's way from it's mouth.
"Luke," Johnny spoke, between breaths. "I think… You should hire… A maid at this point…"
"Yeah," Dan agreed, before looking down. "Heather, you should get off me before people start getting ideas."
"They'd have to be pretty 'stupid' ideas," Heather answered, letting go and standing up.
"And I thought… Plants vs. Zombies… Was hard…" Johnny continued, breathing heavily.
"When this is over, I'm completely scrapping vegetables off the menu," Heather declared.
"Good idea," Johnny nodded.
But as they noticed, the group did not have time to celebrate for long. As they looked around, more vines proceeded to grow from underneath the floor and through the ceiling. More purple flowers bloomed from the vines and before long the entire living room began to transform into a giant jungle, much to the chagrin of the already exhausted kids.
"Okay…" Luke spoke, taking it all in. "What do we do now?"