"...What the... you're number's much lower than mine." It's then that I noticed that there was somebody standing RIGHT next to me, leaning in extremely too close for comfort.
"Eep!" My face heats up, and I almost fall backwards in surprise, but this space-invading stranger was, at the very least, nice enough to grab my arm before I fell.
"Chill... no, seriously, you need to calm down. I'm Thane." I take a closer look at him; he's rather tall (or, at least, taller than me), his hair is a deep blonde, tan, and he's wearing glasses and a striped shirt. I have a secret thing for glasses-guys, and stripes are my favorite pattern. All in all, he's pretty good looking.
He coughed slightly, and I was suddenly reminded that I was practically gawking at him, not even engaging in the simplest of formal exchanges.
"O-Oh, I'm Jade." I pause, "Are you... stuck here too?"
"Yep." Thane's tone was rather nonchalant.
"Have you been here long?"
"I think it's only been a few hours."
"Really? I just got here."
"I kind of figured, I could hear you shouting. Why were you even yelling in the first place?"
"Oh... Well, I came here with my friends for opening day, and we were leaving. My friend dropped his wallet, so I came back to get it... and now I'm here. What about you...?"
"I was working in the arcade, just about to leave because my shift ended... and then everybody disappeared." He stared at me, and continued speaking, "...It's kind of nice to be talking to someone right now."
"Yeah... Do you think we're the only people here?" Thane shook his head.
"No, I ran into this other guy, but he just shouted obscenities at me and ran." Thane looked at the glass dome, "I went all the way around the whole park, and it's all encased in this glass. He's probably still around here somewhere."
"Maybe he was just freaking out? He can come find us when he's calmed down, I suppose." I smile.
"Yeah, maybe... Anyway, I saw the number on his phone; it was 22. Yours is 12, ten less than his... but both are lower than mine. I wonder what decides the value of these numbers. Do they change? What even are these?" I have to force myself not to laugh at how serious his rant is; I've never been too good with listening to my friend's long rants about various weird things that she takes way too seriously.
"We can figure that out later, we've got time." Thane sighed.
"You know, you're right. You sound kind of tired, you can go on ahead to the café. I'll meet up with you in a bit." He turned to go, but I, in my moment of cliché shoujo manga situations, grab onto his shirt, preventing him from leaving.
"U-uh, I'll go with you." He turned around, and stared at me blankly.
"...Are you scared of being alone?"
"It'll be okay. I'm not going to disappear on you."
"I wasn't worried about that... Just let me come with you." The horror-esque movie plot came back to my head, and if it actually happened, we'd have a better chance in numbers.
Thane sighed again, and put his head in his hands. "Oh, geez... This is going to be awkward..."
"...Actually, I need to go to the restroom..." My face reheats, and I take a small step back, covering my face with my hands in embarrassment.
"Well, you made me say it."
"I-I'm sorry...! I-I'll go wait at the café.." I turn and run right into the fountain, splashing a whole bunch of water on my hoodie. This is even more embarrassing, because he's right there, and he just SAW me do the worst thing I could have done in that moment! I take off in the direction of the café, ignoring his attempts to ask if I'm okay.
I walk into the café, and the little bell chimes. I was pleasantly surprised to see two more people in there; both turned to me as I entered.
One of them was extremely tall (how do guys get that tall?), male, had brown hair, green eyes, and a rather nerdy sweater vest. The other one was actually a girl. She had short blonde hair (which reminded me of Kat, I hope this girl isn't an asshole like her), blue eyes, and a huge magenta hat.
The guy smiled widely at me, "Hi! My name's Bryce. What's yours?"
"It's nice to meet you, Jade. I guess you're stuck in here too? The situation's not too favorable, but it's a good thing you're here. The more the merrier!" His cheeriness momentarily stunned me, rendering me silent. My eyes slowly moved over towards the girl, who was just quietly watching us.
"So... who's this?"
Bryce shrugged, "I don't know, she's been here since I arrived, but she won't talk to me. I hope I didn't do something wrong..."
"I could try to talk to her, maybe she'll talk to another girl." I approach her in the booth by the counter, but I get instantly shy and shit.
"Uh, um... hi." No response. She's not even looking in my direction.
"What's your name?" Again, no response. But thing time, I stand there silently, staring at her. This always worked on Kat; when she tries to ignore you, all you have to do is stare at her for a little, and she'll get super uncomfortable, and start talking nonstop, even if it's just to tell you you're 'creeping her the fuck out, stop that shit'.
The girl tugs her hat down, and looks down at her feet. "...Lena."
This catches me by surprise, and I look at her, thinking that I imagined it. "What?"
"O-oh, I'm Jade. Nice to meet you, Lena." Lena nodded, and turned back to the window, refusing to speak anymore. I go back over to Bryce.
"She stopped talking."
"Well, you did loads better than me. She actually acknowledged your existence, and even talked to you." He sighed, but then smiled again. "Man, it's been an exciting day. I'm going to sleep super good tonight!" I raise an eyebrow in confusion.
"How are you so calm in a situation like this?"
He rubbed the back of his neck, "Actually, I was freaking out earlier, but now I'm not alone, so I can relax. It's better to cope with other people in the same situation than by yourself. We can get through this, right?" Another large smile. Wow, what a friendly guy.
"Y-yeah," I paused, and then repeated with more confidence, "Yes, we will."
Bryce was about to say something else, but then we could hear somebody yelling.
"LEAVE ME ALONE ALREADY!"
"Why won't you listen to me?!" Although it was an angrier tone of voice, I could identify that as Thane. He probably found that guy he mentioned earlier. Damn, he sounds angry.
The two of them crash through the door, almost taking it off the hinges. The boy that Thane had been chasing had brown hair like me, a rather nice green jacket, and... gray eyes? It's a wonder this boy isn't blind (he was able to navigate the park, so it's probably safe to assume that he can see).
"I don't need your damn help!" He seethed. What a charmer. Thane ignored him, and noticed me standing off to the side, watching. He pushes up with glasses with his pointer finger, and talked to me casually.
"Oh, Jade. You feeling better?"
"Oh, uhm, yeah... What are you doing?"
"I was chasing this nincompoop." Thane pointed towards the angry unknown guy, who got even angrier after that comment.
"Who's a nincompoop?!"
Again, Thane ignores him, and notices Bryce standing behind me, still smiling (again; what a guy). "Who's the sweater vest?"
I step aside, and gestured to Bryce, "This is Bryce."
Bryce waved a hand, still(!) grinning, "Yo!"
"So... who's this guy?" The three of us turn towards Mr. Anger Issues.
Thane shrugged, "Beats me."
It seems that Mr. Anger Issues finally realized that there were more people in the room, because he flipped his shit. "Who are you people?!"
Bryce suddenly looked so pumped, "Name listing, go!"
It took us by surprise, but Thane responded super seriously. "Thane!"
This mood was so infectious, "Jade!"
"...Lena..." We momentarily turn our attention to Lena, who has been sitting in the booth this entire time, but she just sits there, hat tugged over her eyes.
We turn back to Mr. Anger Issues, who shouts his name just like the rest of us, but he sounds angry. "Spencer!"
Even though I already introduced him, Bryce still shouts out, "Bob!"
We stand there in silence for just a quick second, but then I find my voice. "That's not your name!"
He started laughing, and I then started to wonder if there was something wrong with him.
. . . .
"So, we all got the same creepy message, and all of our phones display a number instead of the time now." Everyone looked at their phones in unison, and murmured in agreement.
Bryce listed off our numbers, "Thane's number is 29, Jade's is 12, Spencer's is 22, Lena's is 20, and mine is 17. Excluding Jade, we're pretty closely knitted together number-wise."
"Why is my number the highest...?" Thane voiced his inner thoughts.
"Why is my number the lowest..." I grumble.
Spencer completely breaks the tension by yawning, "Sheesh, why am I so tired? It's still light out..."
"I'm still kind of tired too." Thane looked at me out of the corner of his eyes.
"Maybe you guys are sick or something. I worked all day long, and I still have a bunch of energy."
"You must be a damn alien." Spencer frowned as he looked at his screen, "Shit, hold on, my phone's dying." He went over to a conveniently placed outlet, and plugged his phone in, tapping his foot impatiently as he waited.
"I feel fine too." Bryce hummed. Lena stayed silent (if only Kat could meet her, she might learn how to shut up).
The tapping of Spencer's foot stopped. "I just realized something odd...Our numbers add up to 100."
Thane looked momentarily surprised (I think he was just surprised that Spencer said something intelligent), but agreed. "Yes, but does it mean anything?"
"Of course it does. It has to!" Spencer looked really overconfident, so Thane just had to burst his bubble.
"You can't just assume something like that." Spencer seemed to be hurt (?) by that, but he just brushed it off; by getting angry.
"I don't care what you think!" Bryce could apparently sense the tension, because he started playing the peacemaker.
"Hey, hey. Let's calm down. We should go find a place to sleep at, and we can continue thinking about this tomorrow." Spencer looked confused.
"Why would I go sleep right now? There's still daylight outside."
Now Bryce (as well as everyone else) was confused, "...But didn't you say that you were tired?"
Spencer knitted his eyebrows, seeming to remember that he did, in fact, say that. "...OH!" He turned to his phone, which was now alerting everyone that it was fully charged. Damn, that was quick.
He and Thane seem to have some sort of psychic connection, because Thane sounded just as surprised as Spencer. "Really?! Are you serious?!"
"That's way too freaky!" Finally, I decided to take this chance to voice my stupid confusion.
"What are you guys talking about?!" I wanted to yell 'SPEAK ENGLISH', but that's something that Kat would yell (amongst some other things), so I didn't.
Spencer turned to me, and held out his hand. "Jade, let me see your phone real quick."
I have not had very good experiences with things that start with 'let me see (insert expensive object here)', but I decided to just go with it; I'm stuck in an amusement park, what's the worst that can happen (besides a fucking fight to the death- which I hope doesn't happen. These guys seem like good people).
"Sure." I lightly toss it to him, and he catches it easily. He changes my phone for his (apparently we have the same type of phone charger), and turns back to me. We all stand there in a short burst of quietness, but then Spencer decides to break it. Sheesh, can he not stand silence? That's two people who are Kat-like. I don't like this.
"...Well?" A weird tickling sensation creeps over my body, and I shiver slightly.
"I feel kind of weird." He nodded his head, seeming to be pleased by this.
"What about your energy? Do you feel less tired?" I stare at my feet, going over all my mental checklists. Tiredness is not checked.
"..Oh my god!"
Thane sighed, "Alright, so the battery life of our phones correlate with our own energy."
"That's so scary... It's a good thing my phone didn't fall in the fountain earlier." It was then that I remembered that my jacket was soaking wet. I took it off, and let it fall to the ground with a loud, wet plop. Now my black-and-white striped shirt was visible to everyone, as well as my AMERICA shorts.
Thane picked up my hoodie, and set it on the counter, "Uh, yeah. We should probably be more careful with our phones... and that means not taking any trips into the fountain."
"Wow, no shit." Return of the Mr. Anger Issues. I attempt to derail the argument that I assume is coming eventually.
"Well, it's a good thing I kept my phone charger in my bag."
"Yeah, but I'm out of luck, I didn't think I'd get trapped in an amusement park today, so I didn't grab mine." Bryce sighed for the first time since the moment I met him (although it was only around ten minutes ago).
"Well, they sell them at the cinema." Thane offered. I wonder why they sell cell phone chargers, when they don't ALLOW cell phones in the theater!
Apparently, Bryce is just as surprised as I am (but happier, of course), "R-Really?! That's rather fortunate."
"Yeah, but you might want to have the correct amount of money for it. I tried stealing some popcorn from there earlier, but the doors kept me locked in until I put money on the counter." That's... odd, but I guess that when you're suddenly stranded, you probably try to get food supplies first thing.
"What the hell's wrong with this place?" Spencer grumbled, "Let's just focus on trying to find a way out of here. We don't seem to have anything to worry about other than making sure our numbers don't drop to zero."
Everyone agreed, and split up.
I spent the next couple of days just wandering around without a destination. Today, as I was nearing the arcade, I took a quick look at my phone, and then promptly did a double-take.
Somehow, my number had already dropped down to one! How the HELL did that happen?! I haven't even done anything!
I was mumbling to myself, when I bumped right into somebody: Thane. I quickly, but indiscreetly, hid my phone in my pants pocket (my hoodie was still drying).
"Uh, hi Thane. What are you doing?" Thane sighed.
"I was checking to see if this place still held my clothes, because I find this uniform kind of lame. It didn't, though. I'm almost desperate enough to go buy a t-shirt from the gift shop."
"Really? I think it looks good on you. I really like stripes." Thane fidgeted, but I think it was the heat getting to him. He's wearing two shirts! (Another thing I love: layers)
Thane coughed, "...You're... weird."
"Well, I'm not as bad as others, I hope?" Lena and Spencer came to mind.
"...I suppose." Thane suddenly shifted gears, "I really don't see what's so great about these roller coasters and rides, other than keeping these parks in business."
"Well, it's more about the thrill!"
"See, that's just it. I don't understand how people can feel that 'thrill', but maybe it's just me." I almost want to tell him that two of my friends have that same problem; but that's no fun.
I yawn, and notice that my phone is only one bar away from dying. Also, my number went up to eleven(?), which was great and all, but I wonder how that works.
"I'll see you later, Thane. My phone needs to charge." I wave at him as I walk inside the arcade. As my phone charges, I decided to play around with the arcade games. The prizes looked pretty cool when I was here earlier, but it was packed, so I wasn't able to play. What a shame, if only I had the (brainless) courage Kat has. She just shoved everyone out of her way, and used Mel as a shield against unhappy gamers (that didn't do much, I must admit. She only bought enough time to play the games, but not get her prizes).
I bought a super pack, which had fifty tokens. Not too shabby. After some deciding, I cross out playing pinball. I'm fucking terrible at it. It's a mix between the claw machine, and the shooter game, but I decide to choose the claw game just once, to see if I have a knack for it. I fucking messed up the timing, and only got one Pacthesis coin; five tickets.
After that, I choose the shooter game, which, in retrospect, I should have done first, since I'm pretty good at those survivor-horror games, which primarily consist of shooting. I only managed to shoot one coin the first time, but when I play another round, I shoot all of them and get fifty tickets. I look at the prizes, and see that at the moment all I could get were either a 'Cashy' plush doll (the hell is a Cashy?), or a dog tag chain. The doll gives me a weird feeling, so I choose the dog chain instead. It's pretty nifty; they even have a section of the shelves devoted just for the various names people could have. I get the 'Jade' one, stuff it in my bag, and walk out.
By now, it's dark outside, and kind of cold. It's probably not helped by the fact that I am wearing just a t-shirt and shorts (maybe I should go see if my hoodie's dry? It's been a couple of days, after all). I decide to walk over and check it out, but I run into Thane by the pool, distracting me from the task I was doing.
"Hey, Thane!" I greeted him, and saw him twitch. Maybe he was in the middle of thinking of some way to get out of here? Man, I feel pretty bad now. "Uh, if I'm disturbing you, I could leave..."
"No, it's fine. It's actually thing that you came by, I was getting rather bored. I mean, I know this is an amusement park, and that people are supposed to go on the rides and stuff, but why aren't there at least a few magazines lying around for people to read? What about workers that get bored? Or teens that get trapped in the park?"
I laugh, "Well, if we get bored enough, we could all have a chair fight at the café?"
Thane sighed (he sighs a lot), "Is it bad that I can actually see us resorting to that...? We need to get out of here."
"Well, at least if we did, Bryce would be the main target? He's pretty tall, and kind of stands out." Thane frowned, and spoke in a strange voice.
"...You're kind of...different. The girls I know are constantly complaining and talking about things that don't even really matter."
"Wow, they sound super rude." I cross my arms, annoyed by just merely thinking about them.
"Yeah, it was almost so bad that I believed for a long time that all girls were as annoying as them." I raise an eyebrow, perplexed.
"How long ago did you realize that was wrong?" Thane didn't respond, and looked away, changing the subject. Wow, suspicious?
"W-Well, my favorite mascot here is Coffee-kun." Kind of random, but I guess I could just go along with it.
"Yeah, it's a shame they don't serve coffee here." This seemed to set Thane off, but he got kind of grumpy (but not as grumpy as Mr. Anger Issues).
"Geez, isn't that the most ironic thing you've ever seen? The café theme is all about coffee, but they don't serve it! There is no coffee anywhere in this park!... But, I guess that's not a big deal since we don't even need sleep anymore, since now we only have to charge our phones to gain energy. It's pretty nice, and only takes a small amount of time to charge, rather than hours of sleeping."
"We're not robots, y'know."
"Right... I guess I do miss dreaming. It's pretty important for our brains to take a break. Though, I did daydream while I was standing here before you got here."
My curiosity levels were now peaking, "What was it about?"
"Well, it was RPG-style, and we were all on a journey. Bryce was a wizard, Lena was a Cleric, and Spencer was just a villager that tried to help out, but he kept messing things up." I couldn't help but give a little laugh at that (I tried to hide it, but I think he noticed anyway, because he smirked).
But... "What about me?"
"You were a warrior. Pretty strong too, actually. You led the group all the way to a crystal castle, but then I heard you coming."
"That sounds really cool!" Then, I noticed that he didn't say what he was. Was it embarrassing? "What were you?"
Thane looks away again, "I didn't get to see myself, it was in first person."
"Oh... Well, I think you'd have been a thief, since you did try to steal some popcorn." I laughed again, but stopped when I heard my phone alert me that it was dying, and looked at Thane, "Shoot, hold on. I'll be right back."
I ran to the café, and plugged my phone in with the other charger that I remembered that Kat had given to me to hold for her (something about her not wanting to hold it; that lazy bastard). It was way faster than mine, which makes sense, since she tends to be impatient; it only took five minutes. I cheered quietly to myself when it finished, and ran back over to the pool, where Thane was waiting.
He raised an eyebrow at me, "Why didn't you grab your hoodie? Aren't you cold?"
Shit! I knew I was missing something. That was even the main reason I came over here in the first place! "W-well, this place has nice weather, right? If I keep my body temperature lower, the summer heat won't bother me as much."
Thane looked up at the stars, "Yeah, I should've brought a hat to keep the sun out of my eyes during my breaks. Would have been pretty handy. It's especially annoying when you have non-tinted glasses."
"Hey, don't complain about nice weather! It's better than rain, right?"
"I can't help it, I'm probably slowly losing my mind from being here. But you're right; we'd actually have to stay inside if it rained, since they don't sell umbrellas here, and staying in a place with Spencer for a prolonged period of time doesn't sound too appealing."
I imagined the two of them getting into a fight while Bryce and I play cards (I kept them in my bag, just so we could throw them at people from the roller coaster. It was hilarious), maybe Lena would play too(?), or just watch. I laugh at the thought.
"How are you still in a good mood?" I look at Thane, who's watching me in some kind of amazement.
"Well, I guess that it could be worse. When I got here, I thought it was going to be like in the horror movies, y'know? All that fighting to the death, killer rides, rabid mascots, etc. I'm really glad to have other people around. More safety in numbers, right?" Thane looked at me weirdly, and then mumbled something about having to go charge his phone. I watched as he stumbled away awkwardly.
That was odd, but it was nice talking to him.
Somehow, my phone had almost died again, but I was so tired that I didn't use Kat's charger. I plugged it in with mine, and took a little nap in the café. At least it had a heater, so I was kept nice and warm.
When I woke up, I took a walk around, but I couldn't find anyone. When I got to the Alix the Cat gift shop, I could hear voices coming from the bathroom area. Thinking that it was a fight between Thane and Spencer, I jogged over to the direction of the voices. They, along with Bryce, were standing in front of the girl's restroom, which is pretty weird in and of itself, but there was also a weird... thing lying on its side that I had never seen- wait. That thing looks like the plushy in the arcade! What was the name?
...I don't even remember. Whatever.
Thane heard me coming towards them, and turned around.
Thane and Spencer spoke at the same time (psychic connection?).
"Oh, it's you." Thane glared at Spencer, and vice versa, for speaking at the same time as him.
"What is that thing?" Thane stopped glaring at Spencer, and put his hands in his pockets, turning back to me.
"Dunno, but it's probably some kind of machine." I put a hand on my chin.
"Do you think it can be fixed?" Thane stood up straighter, and crossed his arms, speaking with his eyes closed.
"I could probably fix it. I was in the robotics club at school, so I know the basics of electrical engineering."
Bryce grinned, seeming to be amused by something, "That's pretty impressive, Thane."
Spencer huffed, "Tch, all high school robot clubs are for nerds and wannabes."
Thane narrowed his eyes at Spencer, looking slightly angry. "Are you trying to pick a fight?"
Bryce the peacemaker arises again, "I say we fix it. We don't really have anything to do, since we don't have a plan on getting out of here yet."
"I guess that'd be a good idea. Is the damage bad?" I tilt my head, looking up at Thane. I don't really know shit about assembling things, so this sounds pretty rad.
Thane looked away from me, "This seems like it's an easy fix, but it looks like some parts are missing... around six, I'm guessing."
"Why bother trying, then? It's not like the missing parts will be just conveniently lying around..." Spencer grumbled, but nobody listened to him.
Bryce looked around, confused. "...Has anyone seen Lena?"
Spencer continued to grumble, "She's probably just hiding. She seems like she's the loner type."
"But I was just talking to her a few days ago, and she did most of the talking!" The three boys looked at me with different levels of surprise (Bryce looked kind of sad, poor guy). "Maybe she's just shy around guys. Don't take it to heart, Bryce. You're a good guy."
Bryce grinned, but for some reason Thane and Spencer looked kind of irritated? Weird boy stuff, I guess.
"Well, we should look for her too. It's safer to stick together; more power in numbers." I think Thane glanced at me, but I'm even more sure that he just quoted what I told him yesterday. That's... kind of flattering, to be honest.
Everyone agrees, and we, yet again, scatter. When I walk in front of the Alix the Cat gift shop, my phone buzzes, signaling that it has received a message.
"What the..." I take out my phone, and see that it's just another text from the unknown number.
When falling damp tree unveils ghost
"...The hell? This doesn't even make sense." Whatever, I can just discuss this with the others later. Right now, I have to go find those robot parts.
I looked in the places that had mechanical rides first: the ferris wheel, the roller coaster, and the carousel.
The ferris wheel didn't have shit, just some balloons tied to a cart. What a letdown.
Luckily, the roller coaster proved to be more useful, since I found a part just lying on one of the coaster's seats. That's a really odd place to find one, how the hell did it get there?
Lastly, I went to the carousel. It also had a part, put this one was lying on the bottom of the ride (not on the ground, but on the part where the poles go).
After that, I walked over to the café, and saw another part just lying on the ground next to a lone empty chair. As I was walking away, I spotted the dark blonde hair I have grown familiar with, and jogged towards Thane before he could walk away.
"Hey! Thane! You found anything yet?" I was kind of hoping he hadn't found anything, so that I could (maybe?) impress him with the fact that I'd found half of them; but at the same time, what if that came off as bragging?
He sighed (not gonna lie, that sigh is starting to sounds adorable) and ran a hand through his hair, "Nope. I don't even know what they look like, all the parts in the robot looked pretty questionable, but then again, this whole thing is pretty questionable. I mean, they say 'seeing is believing', but to be honest this whole situation feels more another dream than reality..." He trailed off, getting oddly quiet. I decided to skip over the topic of finding those parts.
"...Well, I think that this is reality. I'd be pretty sad if it turns out this is all just a dream, and you guys aren't real... this whole thing has been pretty fun, even if it's only been a week at the most." A ghost of a smile flickered on Thane's face for a fraction of a second, but I still thought it was... I don't know. I feel odd. Maybe I caught a cold from that fountain?
"I suppose dreams can't be as coherent as this. Usually, you don't get hungry in a dream, and like you said, it's been around a week."
We discussed various dreams back and forth for a short amount of time, and somehow we made it all the way to dreams about future careers.
"I'm not the only one who sometimes dreams about being a rock star, am I?" I look at him for a short minute. He doesn't look like the musical type.
"...You play an instrument?" Thane let out a short laugh, before getting all serious, as per usual.
"Ha, no. But it's just a dream, and it's not really something I see myself doing in the long run. You need luck for that kind of thing, I think."
"Or an obnoxious amount of money, mixed with some type of drug addiction." I offered as some kind of comfort (I must admit, I don't think I'm quite cut out for that).
"True, I hadn't thought of that. Maybe it's better that I'm not able to pursue that career." Thane looked somewhat amused, and we parted ways, deciding that we had spent enough time taking a break.
I went south to the pool house (I think it's the 'official' place for getting into the pool, since there seems to be some kind of barrier around the pool that prevents us from getting in), not really expecting much; but it couldn't hurt to be thorough, right?
Surprisingly, there was a tiny part right between the pool and the pool house, just lying on the ground. Well, this only leaves the front entrance, the arcade, and the cinema, so they have to be there somewhere, right?
When I went to the front entrance, Bryce was standing there, looking in the fountain. Maybe he thought it could be hidden under all those coins that my group had thrown in (somehow they had also traveled here. Is this a parallel universe?), which is actually a pretty good idea. I decided to leave him to it, and continued on towards the arcade.
When I got there, I found (who else?) Thane standing with his back to me, just staring at the wall of the building, not seeming to be doing anything. I decided to strike up a conversation with him. After all, we're friends, right?
Before I was even able to say 'hello', Thane whipped around, seeming to have heard my footsteps. He looked rather startled, along with something else that I can't quite put my finger on.
"...Jade?" I put my hands on my hips, wondering what the hell he's doing when we're supposed to be looking for those robot parts? It was his suggestion, after all.
"What are you doing, Thane?" Thane looked at the ground, and kicked a stone.
"...Nothing much." He got really quiet, so I took a step forward to see if something was wrong, and his face suddenly got all red for some reason. He tried looking everywhere but at me. "Soo... uh..."
"What is it?" He looked pretty flustered. I wonder if he caught my cold? I hope not, I'd feel pretty bad if he got it just because I talk to him a lot.
"Well, it's just that... I, uh..." He paused again, and the redness of his face got even darker. "N-nothing. It's nothing."
Not convinced, I tried to push a little, "Are you sure? You can tell me, y'know. I think I'm pretty good at listening."
Thane sighed, and looked slightly better. "Sorry, it's just that I haven't been able to focus lately... I think my head is too busy flying in the clouds."
I laugh, and take a few steps back, no longer needing to use intimidation (not that I'm even intimidating, really. I'm five feet tall, for gods sake). "Well, that can't really be helped. This whole thing is rather... cloud-worthy, isn't it? Pretty mystical, it's almost like time has stopped... if the sun didn't set, that is. Not that I'm going to complain about that, the park gets rather beautiful at night." This didn't seem to do any good for Thane, because he suddenly started making an excuse to leave.
"I-I should get going- I have to go charge my phone...!" He tried to run away, but he managed to trip over that stone he was kicking earlier, and fell rather hard. Well, at least he managed to prevent his face from hitting the ground, but he looked pretty mortified.
"A-Are you okay, Thane?!" I reached out to touch his shoulder, but he just got up quickly, said "I'm fine!" and ran off.
"...What was that all about?" I turned around, and noticed another robot part STICKING OUT OF THE WALL OF THE GOD DAMNED ARCADE! It wasn't there when I came here yesterday, so that means that they must have been spread throughout the fucking NIGHT!
...I wonder if this was what Thane was looking at. If it was, why the hell didn't he get it? He's taller than me! I had to get a stool from inside the arcade to reach it, but that only left the cinema, if Bryce hadn't emerged from the fountain victorious (I doubt it, since I have not heard anything). Still, can't help to make sure.
When I walked over to the cinema, I wasn't able to immediately find anything, there was too much shit lying around. There was a Saki Dance game right in front of the cinema (weird. Shouldn't that be inside the arcade?), but even when I looked all around it, I didn't find anything. I walked around the cinema itself, and it was only when I had nearly gone the whole way around that I found the final part. It was hidden behind the shoe of that stupid statue of Mr. Antitouch!
Having gathered all the parts, I made my way back to the girl's restroom (which seemed to be our meeting place now), yelling to everyone that I got the parts.
"What? How did you manage to find everything?" Spencer sounded quite puzzled. I'm pretty sure I should be taking offense to that.
"I just had to look really hard." I didn't know if I should have told the group that this shit somehow happened overnight, but I decided not to. Might cause either distrust, or anxiety.
"Anyway, good work Jade. It should work properly now." While Thane worked on the machine-ish thing, I noticed that Lena was standing slightly to the right of Spencer (conveniently as far away from Bryce as possible). Birds of a feather flock together? It'd probably work better if Kat was here.
"Oh, hey Lena. Did you get lost?"
Spencer huffed, "Yeah, I had to find her and tell her about the meeting since Sweater Vest couldn't do it, and you two were busy looking for parts... or, at least one of you was."
I don't think Thane heard him, so I skipped over that. "What do you mean 'couldn't'?"
Bryce looked kind of depressed, "She always runs away from me whenever I try to talk to her..."
Lena remained silent, and pulled her hat down. Bryce sighed, and decided to go onto the next topic. "Anyway, since we're all here, did anyone else get another weird text?"
I took out my phone, and looked at the text I received earlier. "Did it say something about a 'falling tree and ghost'?"
Thane paused in his work, and got up, fishing his phone out of his pocket. "I got that too. Was it a bad case of auto correct?"
Spencer looked at him like Thane was some kind of idiot (I think Thane was joking), "What are you, stupid? This is obviously from the person who sent us the first text, since we don't get any service here... but what could it mean?"
Bryce tried to placate Spencer before something dumb happened, "I'm sure it means something, Spencer. Maybe we're supposed to read it a certain way?"
I took my chance at it, even though I'm not too good with puzzles. "Ghost unveils damp tree falling when...?" Nah, didn't make any fucking sense.
Bryce went next, "Falling tree ghost when damp unveils...?" Didn't make any more sense than mine.
I tried again, "Unveils damp when ghost tree falling?" Fuck!
Thane and Spencer started speaking total gibberish. I think they were saying the words backwards, but that didn't do shit either. All it accomplished was a bunch of crazy nonsense. Lena, of course, said nothing.
I groaned, "You guys aren't even making any sense!"
Spencer sighed (he is the new Thane, due to psychic connections and shit), "Let's just table this for now, and get back to this stupid machine."
Thane looked annoyed, but he got back to work. After ten more minutes, Thane fixed up all the wiring, put the wheels back in place, and set it up straight. Now it looked exactly like that stupid plushy (which, I checked back on that doll. It's name is 'Cashy') in the arcade.
Thane got up, and wiped the oil and grease on his pants. It... looked pretty cool. "All right, that should do it."
We stood there for a few seconds, before Spencer just decided that it was a total waste of time. "See? What did I tell you?! It's not working. This was a waste of time."
I look down at 'Cashy'. "Maybe we should kick it?"
Thane stopped me before I could do it, "Wait."
Right after that, the eyes of Cashy lighted up, and his machinery started working. "The name's Cashy! Nice to meet y'all!" Oh, lovely. It's a hick.
I'm pretty sure I heard Lena call it "cute". Odd tastes, that girl.
Spencer, seeming to have silently taken back what he said about Cashy being useless, looked at Cashy with some level of interest. "So.. what does this thing do?"
Cashy then proceeded to spin around in circles, "I eat, sleep, drink, and party all night long with the most beautiful women!... That one over there isn't too bad!" Cashy was looking in my direction, and I swear I saw Thane get angry, if only for a moment.
Cashy let out a mechanical laugh (which sounded REALLY creepy), "Nah, I'm kidding. I wish that was true. I'm just a robot that stores and deposits money."
"Oh, that explains the name. So, you're like an ATM? Pretty cool that you have awareness, Cashy." Cashy looked at me with some creepy kind of smile. It was sort of unnerving.
"That's right, Cutie! Just hook me up with your charger, and I'll give you some cash in exchange for some of your phone's battery like." Thane gave it an odd look, seeming puzzled.
"I don't remember finding any money inside this thing..." He paused, "...Oh, so that's why there was a safe with a security code."
Cashy spun until he was facing Thane, and looked at him menacingly. "You're the one that repaired me without my permission?"
"...What." Cashy rolled even closer to Thane.
"You didn't get my permission to look through all my private parts, did you?! Therefore, you are a criminal!"
Bryce giggled (oh my god), "Gosh, Thane, he's right!"
Thane didn't look like he even knew what to say, so I stepped in and crouched down next to Cashy, who immediately turned to me with that weird smile. "I was the one who asked him to fix you... sorry."
Cashy spun around a few times, "Oh, is that so~? It's okay then, I'll forgive a cute gal like yourself. Well, I have stuff to do. Tally ho!" With that, Cashy rolled away, but not before he purposely ran over Bryce's foot.
Bryce is quite manly, if I do say so myself in a platonic way. He didn't even swear, just said "ow". What a guy.
Everyone stood there, wondering what the fuck just happened, until we all heard Lena whisper.
"...Cute." I think I heard Spencer face palm, but it could have been Thane too (not Bryce, he's too nice... haha, that rhymed).
Another sigh escaped from the Thane clone, "We spent all that time fixing the thing and we still don't know anything."
I almost wanted to punch him. I got the parts, and Thane fixed it! He did not do anything!
...But, I should calm down. I think Bryce was able to somehow SENSE my masked anger, because he changed the subject entirely.
"Well, I don't know about you guys, but I'm pretty hungry right now." There was some agreement from the other three. It might be the only thing Spencer and Thane will ever agree on. "Well, there was a seemingly endless food supply available at the café. Based on Thane's popcorn experience, we'll probably have to have the money for it, or else we'll be locked in. Though, I do wonder what would happen if we had no money, but went in and ate something anyway. Would we just be locked inside forever...?"
"We don't have time for the 'What if' game, Sweater Vest." Spencer snapped.
"Well, I can go. Just tell me what you guys want." I grin, thinking of using a certain somebody's wallet.
"Are you sure?" Thane looked surprised, as did the others.
"Yeah, it's no problem. I can just pay my friend back later." Or make up a lie about how it was already like that when I found it, whichever works.
I gather their food preferences, and was about to leave when Cashy came rolling up to me again.
"Hey, Cutie! So, how's it going for 'ya?"
"Well, I was about to go get food, I guess." Cashy made a 'clicking' noise.
"Making the girl do the errand running, and even footing the bill, eh? Oh how society has fallen." I started waving my hands back and forth.
"It's not a problem! I'm the only one with money on hand right now, so it's fine, honestly!"
"Well, if you say so deary. I'll see 'ya around. Tally ho!" Cashy spun off into the distance, to go do god knows what.
I shivered; Cashy is really fucking creepy. I'm kind of glad I didn't pick up that plushy now.
I decided I've wasted enough time, and jog over to the café. Standing outside, of course, is Thane. He greets me as I get closer.
"Hey, Thane. What are you doing over here?"
"Well... I thought I'd help you carry the food over, if you need help."
"O-oh, it's fine! I can carry it myself...!" I put my hands over my cheeks, trying to cover up my blushing. It's really nice to offer help! "Uhm, uhm, uhm, but thanks for offering! Uh, here! You can have this!" I take off the dog tag I was wearing, and hand it over to him.
He takes it, and looks at the name engraving...weirdly? Why does he look confused? ...WAIT.
MY NAME WAS ON THAT- OH GEEZ, THAT'S REALLY EMBARRASSING.
"...I've always thought these were pretty cool. Thanks." He just casually put it on, and tucked the tag underneath his striped shirt.
"U-uh, n-no problem! Well, I'm going to go get the food now... s-see 'ya!" I ran inside the café (tripping over a chair in the process. Oh my god, coordination. I don't have it).
I bought all of the food available, but it regenerated after I took it. Creepy.
I walked outside with my hands full of the two bags that I had managed to split them into, and heard my phone buzz. Great timing! I wasn't busy or anything. I set the bags on a table carefully, and took out my annoying ass phone.
"W-what?!" On it, my number had somehow dropped from the 21 I had when I went into the café, to a 4! A sudden drop by 17 for no reason!? Well, it's kind of scary, but it's better than the time my number dropped to 1, I guess?
When I looked up, there was a weird boy standing ten feet away, just staring at me like he couldn't believe I was there. "A-A person...?!"
"U-uh..." This guy... I've never seen him before. Where did he come from?
He suddenly started skipping forward with a super happy look on his face, and I took a few steps back in cautiousness, but he stopped a few feet away, then skipping closer until it we were only a foot apart. This guy has space issues.
"What's your name?" Well... he was certainly friendly. Maybe I can trust him after all?
"I'm Jade." He grinned even wider now, and I almost wondered if this guy was related to Bryce in any way.
"Oh, that's such a great name! I like it! I'm Arlo!" I tried to smile back at him, but it might have looked awkward.
"N-nice to meet you, Arlo?" I fidgeted, "...So, uh, when did you get 'here'?"
He was quiet for a moment, but then he sounded unsure, "Uh, not too long ago, I think. This place is really big! I got lost the second I got here!"
"Oh, so you're trapped here like the rest of us?" He looked even more surprised at this revelation.
"Th-There are other people here too!?"
"Yeah, of course. I can't eat all this food by myself, heh. You can come with me, we were about to have lunch. They're all pretty nice." Except Spencer, but... this guy looks pretty dense, maybe it won't bother him.
He looked kind of scared, but also happy (what an emotional roller coaster this guy is), "Phew! I was freaking out because I couldn't find anyone! I thought I was here all by myself!...Hey, Jade. Will you be my friend?"
He just sounded so weak, I couldn't bring myself to turn him down. "Sure, Arlo."
"Really?" He looked super pumped.
"Well, why not? You seem like you're a good guy, Arlo." I smile more confidently this time, but that all disappears the next minute, because Arlo suddenly has be in a bone-crushing hug.
"I like you, Jade! You're really nice!" I struggle for a few moments, before he seems to finally realize I cannot breathe, and lets go.
"C'mon, let's go. The others must be getting really hungry by now. I'll introduce you to everyone." I picked up the bags, but then Arlo took one of them.
"I can't just let you carry everything!"
When we get inside, Spencer starts bitching about almost dying as Arlo and I set the food on the table. Thane calls him a drama queen (hehe!). Spencer gets all butt hurt. I turn to Arlo, and he's just standing there, grinning like he's the happiest guy ever.
"So, uh, this is Arlo. He just got here. I met him a few minutes ago when I was leaving the café."
Arlo waved enthusiastically, "Hi!"
The others introduced themselves (with the one mishap of Bryce trying to trick Arlo into thinking his name is Bob. I lightly punched his shoulder).
Bryce laughed, rubbing his arm slightly. "So, Arlo. Where are you from?"
Arlo looks more comfortable with this question, "I live here in East Cigam."
Thane raises an eyebrow, looking intrigued. "Really? Me too. Wonder if we've passed each other before."
"Well, I live in South Cigam," Spencer butted in, "and I'm just gonna guess, but Sweater Vest is from West Cigam, am I right?"
Bryce looked pleasantly surprised, "Huh? How'd you know?"
Spencer looked away, "...Just a lucky guess."
Bryce seemed to realize what Spencer was implying, and looked kind of sad. "You think I'm weird?"
Spencer mumbled in between coughs, "'Weird things happen in West Cigam'."
I attempted to save Bryce from the bullying he was getting, "Well, what about you, Lena?"
Lena looked away from everyone, but then stood up and looked me right in the eyes. "North Cigam."
"Whoa, that's freaky! We're (almost) all from the different parts of Cigam!" Geez, Cigam is pretty damn big.
Thane looked at me confusedly, "...Wait, Jade, where are you from?"
"Oh, Central Cigam for me." For the first time, Spencer didn't speak rudely.
"Seriously?... What's it like living there?" I shrug.
"Just kind of normal, I guess?"
"Really?" I was starting to get frustrated with his weird new tone.
"Well, what did you have in mind?"
Spencer sighed, "Well... I don't know. I've never actually been there, that's why I asked."
"O-oh... sorry." Thane stared at Spencer, but then looked to Arlo.
"So, Arlo. What's your number?"
"Huh? You mean my phone number?"
"No, the number on your phone." Bryce took out his phone, and showed it to Arlo. Everyone else (including me, I guess, but I was careful to make sure that nobody else could see it) followed his example.
"Well, our phones display a number instead of the time now." Arlo didn't really look surprised, but tried to look like it anyway?
"Really?... Uh..." He went through all of his pockets, "...Um... where'd it go?"
Spencer snapped his head up, "What?"
"I-I think I dropped it somewhere when I was running around. Well... this isn't the first time I've lost it, I'm pretty good at losing things." God, that's the third Kat-copy. It's starting to get really creepy.
Spencer walks up beside me, and stares at Arlo, slightly panicked. "This is bad..."
"What is? I'll find it eventually..."
"You're not going to be able to charge your phone if you don't even have it..."
Arlo tilted his head, and laughed awkwardly. "Well, yeah, I guess not...?"
Spencer sighed, "Shit, that's right. You're new to all of this." He took out his phone and shoved it into Arlo's face. "It appears that our energy is directly connected to the battery life on our phones. If we don't keep charging them, we'll become exhausted."
This did seem to surprise Arlo, "W-What?! Really? That's odd... oh, this is bad, isn't it?"
Thane tries to get in on the conversation, "Well, we could try calling your number as we walk around the park... unless you left it on silent."
Arlo sighed (IT IS BECOMING A VIRUS), "I-I did... b-but my phone has a pretty long battery life, so maybe we'll find it before it runs out?"
Spencer nods, then looked over at me for some reason, and saw my phone. "Huh? W- Jade, what the hell happened to your number?"
God damn it, now everyone knows my number dropped super low! Thanks a bunch, Spencer!
"Oh, I-I don't know. It just dropped suddenly."
"B-But Jade, your number is getting dangerously low..." Bryce frowned, worried.
Thane sighed, "I thought I was getting onto something about our number patterns..."
Spencer snorted, "Remember that one time when everything made sense? Yeah, me neither."
Bryce put a hand on my shoulder, "Do you think there's something that you did that could have caused this?"
"Well... I can't think of anything. Maybe my phone just hates me. I was at the number 1 just yesterday." And sHIT WHY DID I TELL THEM THAT!?
I follow up quickly, "But it went up by 10 after I talked to Thane."
Thane looks vaguely angry. I did not handle that right.
Spencer looked contemplative, "...Don't you think our social interactions affect our numbers, then?"
"Maybe. Now we just have to figure out how that works." Thane sighed.
Arlo whined, "My head hurrrrts!"
I stood there silently, watching them bicker and banter. I really don't want to cause this much trouble...
"...It's okay if my number drops to zero." Everything turned dead silent for five minutes straight, with everyone staring at me and I fiddled with the bottom of my shirt.
Arlo was the first one to speak, "What?"
"Well, I mean... once it drops to zero, I'll be able to leave, right? Then I won't have to worry about this whole mess anymore..."
"Nope." Spencer grumbled, "You don't just get to leave like that. Things can't be that easy. That... would be too unfair for the ones left behind."
It was honestly the nicest thing he's ever said to anyone so far. I was touched.
Thane raised a hand up, "I agree with Spencer. We only have each other right now, we shouldn't try to give up."
Lena tugged her hat down, but looked up at me with a small smile. Bryce gave me a sad smile.
"Please try to be just a little bit stronger? For us?"
Arlo walked up behind me, and crushed me into another hug, rubbing his head against my hair. What the hell is his body made of? METAL? "It's okay~ Everything will be all right, Jade~!"
Ignoring Arlo's physical contact problem, I moved my head higher up so that I could speak. "But what about Arlo's phone? And-"
Thane seemed to be glaring at Arlo, but he spoke to me calmly. "Let's focus on one problem at a time, and try not to get overwhelmed."
"Aw, don't worry about me, Jade. I'll probably find it sooner or later, it always shows up."
"O-oh... okay." I sunk my head down so that nobody could see my face, because I was blushing pretty hard right now.
It's nice to have so many strangers care about you...
"... Arlo, when are you going to let go of Jade?" I looked up slightly to see everyone staring at Arlo. Thane looked pretty angry now.
"Don't friends give each other hugs? Jade's my best friend now~" He squeezed even tighter, and I had to struggle now, because I couldn't breathe.
"...I think you're depriving your 'best friend' of oxygen." Spencer grumbled. Arlo let go of me completely, taking a step back with his hands up.
"Oh my god! Are you okay, Jade? I'm sorry!" I have to crouch down to catch my breath properly, but I get up afterwards and smile at him. He's a sweet boy, just has some personal space issues.
"No, I'm okay. Thanks for the hug, I guess." He grinned, and started jumping around.
"Let's go on a tour of the park!" Arlo brought out a map out of his hoodie (what the hell, didn't he say he got lost?), and pointed to the roller coaster. "Let's got here first! Meet you all there!"
As soon as everyone left, I walked out of the gift shop, and saw that Thane was just casually standing outside. I had the slightest suspicion that Thane was stalking me, but that's crazy.
"Hey Thane, weren't you going over to the roller coaster?" I looked up at him.
"Yeah, I was... but... then Cashy came by and threatened me to stand here. I don't think we should trust it at all, it doesn't even seem like Cashy can help us."
I shivered, thinking of what Cashy has said to me all day. "Y-Yeah, who knows what he's thinking behind that smile..."
"We should be careful around it." I blinked, and thought I saw Cashy hiding behind a trash can, staring at us. S-Shit, did he hear us? I hope not.
"W-Well, the others are waiting for us, let's go.." I grab Thane's arm, and drag him over towards the roller coaster.
"Yay! Thane and Jade finally caught up!" Arlo cheered, skipping in place. Thane was starting to lose some color in his face, and looked pretty uncomfortable.
"A-Are you guys sure you want us to go on this thing? What if it's not running properly because of our situation?"
Spencer grinned, and mocked him. "What, are you scared?"
"Of course not."
"Then it'll be fine if you ride on it! There are just enough seats for the six of us! How convenient!" Bryce grinned.
Arlo squealed, "This is going to be sooo much fun!"
Bryce set up the seating like this:
Back: Arlo and Bryce (HAPPY ALL THE TIME)
Middle: Me and Thane (still not looking too good)
Front: Lena and Spencer (Seemingly kind of friends?)
As we rode on up, I tried talking to Thane, since he wasn't looking so hot. His face was deep pink, and he had his eyes shut tight.
"So, this is the only roller coaster in the park, huh? Usually amusement parks have quite a few."
"Oh, we're almost at the top. That was quick." I was kind of disappointed. It's kind of nice to sit next to Thane, and chat with him, without any interference from the others.
Thane didn't respond for a few moments, but then he spoke so quietly, I almost didn't hear him over the wind. "...Jade."
I felt a tight pressure on my left hand, and looked down. "A-are you... holding my hand?"
Thane ignored me, and took a deep breath. "Every-Everything's going to be fine. It'll just go in a few circles, and then we're done."
He turned to me, and opened his eyes, staring into my eyes with serious written all over him. "Jade, there's something I should tell you..."
"What is it?"
"I-I'm-" Thane was cut off as we suddenly reached the top, and zoomed down the track, doing three full circles. I think he was screaming, but then again, everyone else was too. I managed to take my hand out of his when the ride came to a stop. When I looked back over to see why Thane hadn't gotten out, I saw why it was so easy; Thane was unconscious.
"Th-Thane?!" I heard Spencer snicker behind me.
"He seriously fainted? Wow, that's pretty lame." I ignored him, and reached way over to shake Thane's shoulder.
"Hey! Wake up, Thane!" After a few minutes, he stirred a little, and his eyes opened, making his poker face immediately return.
Spencer sneered, "If you don't like roller coasters, why did you even get a job at an amusement park? You make no sense at all."
Thane responded very maturely. "Your face doesn't make any sense either."
Arlo grinned, "Let's go again!"
Thane glared at him, "How about no?!"
Bryce laughed, "Okay, what's next Arlo?"
"The ferris wheel!" Arlo skipped away, and the others shrugged and followed, leaving only Thane and I behind.
"Are you ok, Thane?" Thane sighed.
"Yeah, I'm fine. It's nothing. I'm fine." That wasn't at all suspicious, Thane. Very original. I decided to just forget it, and ask what I really wanted to ask.
"What were you going to say before?" Thane froze, and looked away, his face suddenly looking incredibly flushed.
"I-I don't remember. F-forget about it, it was probably nothing." He turned and ran away towards the others. I slowly made my way over to the group. Arlo was skipping in place again, but Spencer looked grumpier.
"Riding the ferris wheel with Jade~" Arlo sang incredibly off-key.
"Arlo, we have to split into groups. One cabin can't hold all six of us." Thane rubbed his eyes, not making eye contact with me. What's his problem?
Bryce, standing off to the side, grinned for some reason. "Well, Thane's going with Arlo, I'm going with Spencer, and Lena wants to ride alone."
Lena was quiet for a few seconds, before she tugged her hat down. "...No. I'll go with Jade, if she wants to."
Bryce looked depressed again, "Oh."
Arlo grabbed my arm, trying to tug me along (but not really). "Jade, you should come with us~!"
Spencer grumbled, "Geez, at least let her make her own decisions."
"Thanks Spencer, but I don't mind going with Thane and Arlo." I have a hunch that Thane's afraid of heights, so I should go with, as his maybe-best friend.
Thane had us sit in a certain way: Me on the far right, Thane in the middle (but mostly shifted towards me), and then Arlo on the far left. This was a suspicious set up.
"Aww, how come I don't get to sit next to Jade?" Arlo whined. Thane didn't look too good again.
He started stuttering again, "Th-there will be too much weight on this side if you sit over here."
"Then let's switch seats! I want to sit next to Jade!" Arlo grinned, and it looked like he was about to move, but Thane spoke quickly before he could do so.
"No-No no no, the cabin will rock violently if we move too much, and what if we all fall through this door if it opens?" Arlo looked shocked, and stopped moving at all.
"O-oh... okay." Instead, he shifted so that he could look out the glass... but he suddenly stood up, and started jumping up and down. "Wow!"
The cabin started tilting back and forth, and the two of us who were sitting were jumbled around like two marbles in a five-gallon jug.
Of course, Thane started freaking out immediately, "Don't stand up!"
"Everything looks so pretty from up here!"
"Look! Look, guys! I can see the café, and the pool, and the pool house-"
"Arlo! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" Thane was starting to get extremely nervous, and was shouting, "ARLO! STAHP!"
"Thane, you're not making anything better by freaking out!" I was slightly freaked out myself, but Thane needed help right now.
"B-but... w-we're so high up!"
"If you're that scared, why'd you get on?!"
"No! I'm not scared!" He was getting even worse than when we were on the roller coaster.
Meanwhile, ARLO IS STILL JUMPING. DOES HE NOT HEAR US AT ALL?!
"Alright then! Just calm down! I'll fix this." I patted him on the head in my weird way of trying to comfort him. I'm not good at it.
"Ooh! Look, it's the carousel! I wish we could go on it, but it's not working." Suddenly, Arlo just stops jumping, and turns back to us, standing on his seat. "Are you guys seeing all this? You're missing out on all the fun!"
"We wouldn't be missing anything if you'd sit down, Arlo." Arlo looked confused for a moment, but then he saw Thane (who was now having a silent meltdown), and seemed to understand.
"O-oh... Sorry, guys." Arlo sat down, and folded his hands in his lap.
"H-high... so high up..." Thane whispered, slowly sinking in his seat. "No, oh geez, we're going to die...!"
By now, he was curled up in a ball, with his arms over his head. That didn't look too comfortable, so, without even thinking it through, I pulled his head onto my lap, and started petting his hair. Arlo looked solemn, but he didn't say anything.
"Calm down, you'll be fine. Are you really that scared of heights?" Thane didn't even seem to register what I was doing, because he was still freaking out.
"No, I told you! I'm not scared!"
"Then what's wrong?"
"I-I... I'M NOT SCARED AT ALL!"
"Lies! Everything is lies!" I put him back onto his seat. If he's going to be like that, I won't provide any comfort!
"Arggh... I want to be back on the ground...! What if Arlo's rocking made the support frame weaken, and the cabin detaches?! What would we do then?!"
Arlo grinned, "Well... we'd be back on the ground of course!"
"Don't joke about that or it will really happen!" Thane shrieked quietly.
I sighed. Maybe I should have rode with Lena...
"A movie~! We're going to watch a movie~!" Arlo sang in that wonderfully off-key voice, skipping all the while.
Spencer groaned, "Do you get excited everytime something happens?"
Arlo ignored him, and cheered. "I want to sit in the front!"
Bryce smiled, "Anywhere is fine for me."
Thane looked at me, appearing to be feeling better from earlier. "Well, where do you want to sit, Jade?"
"I'll sit in the front, I guess."
After some decision making, we came up with this order:
Front: Arlo, Bryce, Me.
Back: Lena, Spencer, Thane.
Right as the previews were rolling, Spencer started to complain.
"Why did I have to get stuck behind Bryce? Why did we even sit Bryce in the front?!"
"O-oh... should we switch seats?"
"No, it's fine. Spencer, do you want to switch seats with me? This screen is closer than I thought, so I should probably sit in the back."
"Oh... Thanks Jade." Spencer and I quickly switched seats, just in time for the movie to begin. Arlo started to complain right after that.
"I don't like this seat!" Bryce looked over at him, confused.
"What? But it's in the front just like you wanted, right?"
"This seat's too far from Jade now!" I ignored his cries, and offered to share my large tub of popcorn with Lena and Thane, but Lena declined, and excused herself to the bathroom.
"Well, this is a nice movie, right? Perfect amount of action." I grin as I whisper to Thane, so as not to disturb the others.
"Yeah. It's okay... I guess. Sometimes I'll watch movies, but none of the one's I've seen have ever been that great."
"I know a few good ones?"
"Oh, really? Maybe I should rent those titles when we leave here..." He mumbled the next part, "...and, uh, maybe we could watch them together?"
Spencer looked back and hissed at us, "Shut up Thane! I'm trying to watch the film!"
I smile, and whisper, "That sounds like fun."
Bryce got to choose are next destination: the pool. Everyone cheered and stampeded over there, but I hung back and took my time so that I wouldn't be caught in the fight to get inside the pool house. When I get there, I see (OF COURSE) Thane, just standing outside, with his back to me, looking at his phone.
"...Thane, what're you doing? Aren't you going to go get changed?" He looked startled, but relaxed when he saw it was just me.
"I'm waiting for Bryce to change. There's more than one stall, but I'd rather not be in there with Bryce, he sings like there's nobody around, and it's almost as bad as Arlo."
"Oh... So, what are you looking at?" He puts his phone away, keeping his hands in his pockets.
"Well... I was just thinking. 'When falling damp tree unveils ghost' has to mean something, right?"
"Maybe it's symbolic?" Maybe a tree will save us?
"Well... if it is, I hope that doesn't mean that one of us is going to die."
"What?... O-oh, geez! Don't say that! Nobody will die!"
Thane watched my reaction, and frowned. "How do you know?"
"W-well..." I sigh, "...I guess I don't. Maybe you're right..."
Now, Thane turned his head to stare at the pool. Lena was the only one in the water, and she was watching us silently.
"Well, we have to be careful."
I nod, "...It's actually pretty scary, isn't it? This whole situation... what if we never get out of here?"
Thane was mute for a long time, but then he finally turned back to me. "...Are you scared?"
"Well... yeah..." I muttered, and turned my eyes to the ground. Thane took a step forward, and tilted my chin upwards with his hand.
"Then I'll protect you."
I looked at him, eyes widened, extremely caught off guard by his sudden change in attitude. My face gradually became a bright red.
"W-what?" I stutter.
"Well... while I can't exactly promise you that we'll get out of here anytime soon... I can, at the least, try my best to help you be comfortable, right?" W-Where's this coming from?! I must have looked confused, because he started panicking, "I-I mean.. th-that is... i-if you... uh... N-never mind." He turned, and tried running into the pool house. I say 'tried', because he ran right into the door, and then he opened it, running inside.
I looked back over towards Lena, who I swear was smiling in amusement. I really hope she wasn't able to hear us.
I must say, I am rather fucking pissed. Apparently, one of my friends switched out my green one piece for a bikini sorts (at least it was green too, I guess)! . . .Was probably Jay, that fucking bastard. May the rats eat her eyes!
I look over at Thane and Spencer, who seem to be having a few words.
"What's wrong with you? You didn't bring your swim trunks? Did you not know this park had a pool or something?"
Spencer spun around to face the other way (which is towards me, who's just standing there watching), "Well... I wasn't planning on going to the pool."
"Hey... it's okay if you can't swim." Thane sounded amused.
"I can swim perfectly fine, thank you very much!" Spencer snapped.
"...Really?" Thane walked closer to Spencer, took Spencer's phone, and... shoved Spencer right into the pool. The second Spencer hit the water, he started struggling, and looks absolutely furious.
"IDIOT...! YOU BASTARD, I'LL FUCKING KILL YOU!" He screeched, "Come down and fight me like a man! I'm going to break your stupid glasses, then hold your head under water until you DROWN!"
"There we go, that's the spirit I wanted!" Thane tossed the phone over to Bryce, who caught it without even opening an eye. Impressive. After that, Thane did a dive bomb into the water, and the two of them started have a fist fight in the pool.
Bryce laughed, "Play nice, you two. No blood in the pool."
I decided that I had to see this, so I lied down on my towel and watched the two of them go at it. After thirty solid minutes punching each other, they finally got exhausted. Thane hopped up onto the rim on the pool, next to where I was lying down, and asked me to hold onto his glasses, but Spencer spoke before I was able to obtain them.
Spencer sighed, and glared, "My shoes are probably ruined, you jerk."
"All you have to do is leave them in the sun to dry, it won't even take a day."
Spencer repeated, "My shoes are probably RUINED, you asshole!"
"So what? You're not a princess, and there's not even anything sharp in this place! You'll be fine if you just walk around shoeless until they dry!"
I pipe up, "Won't you get a cold?" The two of them jumped a little, almost as if they just now noticed I was there.
"No, I won't! It's summer, I can't catch a cold!" Spencer paused, and then started looking around in a panic, "H-hey, where'd my phone go?"
"I gave it to Bryce. Don't worry, it's safe." Spencer looked pretty damn angry.
"What if it had gone into the pool with me?! What would you have done yet?! Did that thought even occur to you!?"
Thane huffed, "I made sure I was careful. I'm not stupid."
"Could've fooled me. You just don't listen, do you?"
I rested my head on my arms, watching them bicker. "Heehee... you guys are good friends, huh?"
The two of them stopped what they were doing at once, and stared at me (Spencer looked like he had no idea what to do).
"Didn't you just see us fighting? Are you blind? Maybe you should be the one with the glasses." Spencer grabbed Thane's glasses, and put them on my face. My vision was pretty blurry, but I could still make the two of them out.
"Gee, thanks Spencer, I can see perfectly now!" I rolled my eyes.
"He's right, maybe you should wear them instead of me." I could hear Thane laugh, and I was frustrated that I couldn't see it for myself, so I reached over and shoved Thane back into the pool.
The next day, when I walked over to the arcade, I could hear some shouting coming from the inside. It doesn't take a genius to know who it was, so I walked in.
"What's goin' on?" Bryce turned to me, smiling widely.
"I believe that those two are having another battle for dominance. It's quite common for young teenage males, which might explain why they grate on each others nerves so often."
"...Bryce, you're not that much older than the rest of us." He laughed in response.
"Well, to be honest, Lena's the oldest." Lena was actually standing right beside him, actually.
"What. Really?" Suddenly, the shouting between our favorite duo got a bit more heated. They seemed to be fighting over... video games. Wow.
"There's no way you could ever beat me."
"Oh yeah? Do you wanna try?"
"I've told you several times that this one isn't like the other shooters. The controls are completely different from the others." Spencer growled.
"Don't talk big like you know everything! You only worked here for one day!"
"...Are we going to play or not?"
"Fuck yeah we are. Let's go." Before they were able to get to the machines, Lena grabbed the hem of Spencer's shirt to get his attention.
"...Can I...?" Spencer looked taken aback, but even Mr. Anger Issues himself seemed to know that you shouldn't turn her down, with how little she interacts with the group.
"Well... yes. Of course you can. C'mon, let's get started."
Arlo cheered, "Yay! Good luck, everyone!"
The three of them started playing, with Thane and Spencer giving it their all, while Lena just stays silent and plays calmly.
In the background was just me and the ever-happy duo. After several moments of silence, Bryce was the one to break it.
"So... who do you think will win?"
"Hmm... I don't know." I hummed.
"I hope they all win~" Arlo's eyes sparkled with innocence. I guess he's never seen a competition before.
"Arlo... if they all won, there would be no losers... which means that nobody would be a 'winner'."
Arlo grinned childishly, "Oh yeah..."
"Mmm~ But they sure look like they're having fun. Maybe we should have a little bit of fun ourselves?"
"What kind of fun are you talking about?"
"How about... a little wager?"
"Ooh! Me! I wanna gamble!... Oh, but I don't have any cash.."
"That's okay, we can just wager something else!" Bryce turned to me, and spoke quieter, so that just the two of us could hear him. "How about the winner... gets to kiss our little Jade here?"
"...Alright!" Arlo cheered, making Spencer snap at him to shut up.
"And, if Jade wins, she can pick which one of us you want to kiss!" I really wonder if he meant 'one of us' as in all of the members of our group, or just the two of them.
"Uh... no thanks. I don't think a kiss is something you should gamble on."
"Aww." Arlo whined.
"That's... rather smart, Jade."
"WHAT?! DAMN IT ALL!" We turn back to the gamers to see Spencer smashing his head against a wall. It's most likely safe to assume he wasn't the winner.
Thane gazed at Lena, seeming to be quite astonished, "...Lena, you're... really good at these kinds of things, aren't you?"
Lena fiddled with her skirt, and pulled her hat down. "...Th-Thanks..."
"Oh, Lena won? It's a good thing we didn't make that bet then, I was going to bet on Thane." Bryce laughed. The unsuspecting three (well, two. Lena probably didn't care) stared at Bryce, trying to figure out what it is that he meant. It's better if they never find out.
I quickly escaped from the group, and saw that it was already evening. I decided to take a little stroll around the park before I turn in for the night. Even though we only have to recharge to get energy, I still like keeping the habit of actually sleeping. After a half hour or so of walking, I ran into Thane (gasp!), who was hanging around the gift shop again.
"Hey, Thane! Wanna hang out?" Thane looked quite startled.
"W-what? You mean just the two of us?"
I shrug, "Well... yeah. Is something wrong with that?"
"No... it's just been a while since I've 'hung out' with somebody before."
I can't help but giggle at how he worded that, "Heh... indeed. You don't seem like you'd be the most social guy around."
He sighed, "It's not like I don't like other people... it's just that they make me uncomfortable. I suppose that I just don't like the idea of other people getting to know me."
"What? Why not?"
"I-I don't know. I'm just normal, so people aren't interested in me anyway, so..."
"...I would like to know you better." He was quiet, so I kept speaking, "You'll never be able to make friends if you never try to open up to anyone..."
He remained silent, so I sighed, turned away from him, and crossed my arms.
"...Sometimes it just feels like you're ignoring me..." I muttered under my breath, not thinking that he heard me; I was pretty surprised when he suddenly grabbed my shoulders and spun me around, keeping a firm grip on my arms.
"I do...pay attention... I've always been watching you, Jade. The movement of your fingers, where your eyes are gazing..." He stared at me, "...I'm weird, aren't I? Do you really want to get to know a person like me...? I'm not comfortable with telling other people about myself... but it's worse with you. Half the time, I'm scared to say anything to you at all, because all I really want to tell you... is my feelings. I... don't know what to do. But why am I scared? You've been nothing but friendly to me... but maybe that's just it. Maybe I'm scared that you don't feel the same way as I do, that you just see me as a good friend?...Geez, I've never been so afraid of losing something important. "
He took in a deep breath, "Just so you know, I'm always watching you... I completely lose my cool around you, because my heart just can't stop pounding... I... I've liked you since I first saw you in the arcade on the day this whole thing happened. I was going to try and offer you some help, since you looked pretty unsure of what to do, but then you dragged a wounded guy out, and I thought he was your boyfriend, so I gave up. But... after I saw you standing at the entrance, the feeling got stronger. I was actually able to learn more about you, and you were... absolutely wonderful. So... these are my feelings, Jade. This is 'me'."
I wasn't even able to say anything back, I was too stunned that he suddenly went on a long tirade. He sighed sadly, seeming to misinterpret my silence.
"The real me... really sounds that pathetic?"
Finally finding my voice, I shake my head rapidly. "No-no, not at all! I... really like the real you."
"W-what?" Thane's face flushed a deep red, his eyes slightly widened.
"You don't sound pathetic at all! It takes a lot of courage to honestly tell somebody your true feelings." I pause, and look down at my feet, getting embarrassed when I suddenly realized how close we were (oh my god, I hope nobody sees or hears us!). "U-Um... the real you is a great person, Thane."
Even though I had been intently listening to what he's been saying, what he said next really surprised me.
"...How much can a person love another person?"
Not knowing if he was just stating a rhetorical question, or actually wanted an answer, I just replied anyway. "Um... I think you can never truly reach a 'limit' to how much you love somebody. There will always be something new that you'll find out about them... and then you'll just keep falling..."
"That must be true... because I just keep falling more and more in love with you..." He tilted my chin upwards, but I already knew what he was about to do... so, I let him kiss me.
It was... sweet, to say the least. If I had to describe it, I might be talking all day. After that... wonderful experience, Thane just buried his face in my shoulder. I thought he was emotionally drained, and/or was overloading, but he suddenly started mumbling. I wasn't able to understand what he was saying, my hoodie (that I grabbed yesterday after I got out of the pool, thankfully. It is getting pretty god damned cold!) was muffling his voice, but I did sense that he was saying something important.
He slightly lifted his head, and hugged me. It was looser than Arlo's death-hugs, but it was also warmer.
"Can I stay with you like this, Jade?"
We spent the next week glued together... but then Spencer suddenly called for a meeting underneath the roller coaster. Oddly enough, he neglected to inform Arlo. Somehow, he had managed to solve the puzzle that we had received before we met Arlo.
When falling damp tree unveils ghost turned into giving up all self worth means the end.
"Wow... it was just as simple as this." Big talk coming from Spencer, since it took him 8 whole days to figure it out. Then again, I'm not one to talk.
"So it was an anagram..."
"Okay, so what does this mean?" Thane looked at Spencer, not even putting up a fight. It's weird, they just suddenly stopped fighting a few days ago. I wonder what caused that? It's rather nice, though.
Spencer turned back towards the wall, looking over his writings. I must admit, there's quite a bit of detail. "...If I'm right, the numbers represent our values and dignity. The more selfless we are, the lower our number gets. And vice versa."
Bryce still managed to get confused, "...What?"
Spencer turned around just to glower at him, "Don't 'What?' me! You're into psychology! You should know exactly what I'm talking about!"
"O-oh! You're talking about giving value vs. taking value, right? Giving value makes other people feel better about themselves; giving compliments, gifts, and being friends are an example of such." Suddenly, Bryce took on a more serious tone, "On the other hand, a person with low self-esteem may try to take value from others to make themselves feel better instead. In short: bullying... but in this situation, we don't have much of a choice but to take value sometimes. As you are surely implying, I think that when we take value, we drain it directly from the one who gives it to us?"
Spencer looked shocked that Bryce was able to actually keep up with him (honestly, I am too. I was starting to think he was a flunking student), "...Yeah."
Bryce frowned, "That explains why Jade's number got so low that one time. She bought everyone lunch."
"Are you absolutely sure about this? What if this was just a coincidence?"
"...All this time, I've been trying to figure out the basic concept of our numbers. I was certain that it was interactions that affected them, I just didn't know how. It might have taken me a while to clear everything up, but it was because I wanted to make sure I had everything straightened out. I'm positive now though, I tested it out on you guys. Whenever I did something for the sake of somebody else, my number lowered... and it would increase when somebody made me feel better about myself."
I stare at my feet, "...Yeah, I think Spencer's right. If that's so, then it makes sense why my number increased from 1 to 11 after I talked to Thane."
"Let's say you're right... how do we get value without taking from others?" Bryce started fidgeting. I don't think he was responding well to this serious atmosphere.
"I don't think we can. The values are like energy and matter; they can't be destroyed or created. They just keep being exchanged amongst us. I did all the math, our numbers always add up to 100 exactly... If I'm correct... one of us could be stuck here forever."
Everyone grew silent... but it was I who broke it with my knife this time. "I think I know what you mean, Spencer. If all but one of us has our values drop down to 0 and leave, there will still be one person let with the 100... and nobody for them to exchange values with. I wonder what would happen after that..."
Spencer grimaced, "The real question here is what will even happen to us when our number drops to 0..."
"Well... we'll either 'leave' and go back home, or..." I trailed off as I could feel Lena hugging my arm. I think she was remembering the two times I nearly dropped to nothing.
Bryce mumbled, "D-don't say it. We... we know what you mean."
"It's similar to death in the normal world, nobody knows what actually happens to the person that dies, and nobody is willing to test it themselves." Spencer sighed.
It was then that I remembered the one person who was not currently with us.
"... What about Arlo?"
Bryce rubbed his chin in contemplation, "If the five of ours numbers always add up to 100, then does that mean Arlo doesn't give or take value?"
"You know... my number has never changed after I've interacted with him."
"Mine either... Not to mention the fact that Arlo hasn't charged his phone in 8 days. There is no way his phone could still be alive, and he hasn't tried looking for it all!" I rub the palms of my hands against my cheeks, "...Should I... just say it...?"
The others got silent, but then suddenly, some kind of weird shit happened! The entire park turned radically different colors, and some things became see-through.
"Eep!" I clung to Thane's arm in my moment of fright... it's rather embarrassing to do that in front of the others, but Thane wouldn't let me move away. Of all the times he could have chosen to be stubborn...!
Bryce didn't seem to care at all (except for a small twinge of amusement that flashed across his face for just a second), "What's going on?"
"This has to be Arlo's doing...! I don't know how he's doing this, but we can't just let him continue." Spencer nodded in agreement.
"There are five of us, and one of him. We should be able to pin him down quickly if we all search in different areas of the park."
"I-is that a good idea? Shouldn't we try to stick together?"
"Well, even though staying together is a good way to stay safe, we still need to hurry up before something really shitty happens. We'll cover more ground if we split up. Let's go!" Spencer, Bryce, and Lena took off, spreading out into different parts of the park. Thane locked eyes with me for just a moment before he followed suit, but I could already tell what he meant; 'Be careful'.
I looked EVERYWHERE. LITERALLY, EVERYWHERE. There are numbers that are starting to fall from the sky... but... there's none falling at the entrance anymore? It was just a second ago...
I ran to see what was going on, and of course, I find...
"Arlo!" Arlo turned around to look me in the eyes. I jogged closer to him, "...It's really you... right?"
He just stood there for a bit, not moving or talking (and I think he wasn't breathing either).
"...Sorry, Jade. I'm... really sorry about this mess."
"What happened? What's going on?"
"Um... this place is just a little unstable at the moment. Don't worry, I just have to sort some things out. You're safe here, Jade. I can't let anything happen to you, you're my first and best friend..." He paused, "I... was kind of hoping that you guys would never find out... but..."
"...I don't know what I should do, Jade. You tell me, what should I do?"
"Telling the truth would be a good start, probably."
"Yeah... I guess that would be the right thing to do.. right?"
We didn't have to do anything, because eventually everyone else caught up with us. However, getting things started was another thing. Nobody said a single thing for quite some time. I wouldn't be surprised if half a day had passed by the time Spencer spoke up.
"So, Arlo, mind telling us what these numbers are about?"
He gave us a sad smile, "...They're happy points. You give them to someone when you make them happy, and you get points when you are made happy by someone else. Some people give more than they take..." He gestures towards me, "...others take more than they give..." He looked in Thane's direction. I'm not sure how to interpret that. "However, I think that the best relationships are when people both give and take. I wanted to be sure that you guys would all get along... so that's why I assigned you guys those numbers."
Thane took a step forward, "...What are you?"
"I'm a hamadryad." I had no idea what that was, so I kept quiet.
Lena sounded amazed, "A real one?"
Bryce did too (I'm starting to feel stupid. What is a hamadryad?), "So you aren't like us after all."
"S-sorry guys... it's all my fault..." Arlo sniffed, "...that you guys are all stuck here... This is my 'home'. I based it off the real amusement park... but I was lonely. I wanted to have a real friend..." He sniffed again, "Th-thank you guys... this has been the most fun I've ever had. I-I...I..."
Arlo burst into tears, "I-I love you guys! B-but now, you all h-hate me, because I lied. I'm a liar! All the f-fun we had together made me really happy... but it was all built on th-the lies I told. I-I'm terrible! Horrible, even!" By now, he was just blubbering all over the place.
It was quite impossible for me to be angry at Arlo when he's just crying his eyes out. "Arlo... it's okay. We...don't hate you... Right?" I turn, and look at the others for support. There is none.
Spencer (as usual) was first to break the group's silence. "I'm fucking pissed. We've probably been trapped in here for like, two weeks."
"I would have stayed." Spencer grumbled, "Arlo, if you had just told us up-front that you just wanted to get to know us and be friends, I would've stayed. Even if this whole ordeal is pretty odd... You didn't have to use a giant glass dome and crazy numbers. Real friends trust each other."
"I-I'm sorry... you're right, Spencer."
Thane gave a deeper sigh than usual, "But... real friends also forgive each other."
Bryce grinned, "Yep~ Be more honest with us, and we should have no problems in the future."
"Well, now everything has all been dealt with."
Arlo grinned, and tears streaming down his face. "Th-Thank you..."
There was a flash of bright white light, and then everything returned to normal (or, at least, the park turned back to it's correct colors).
"It's alright now. When your happy points drop to 0, all of you will go home... So... you can leave if you want."
"W-wait. Won't somebody be left behind with all 100?" Geez, Spencer is just the chatterbox today. Maybe I'll change his name to Sir Talks-A-Lot.
"Don't worry, I'll send the person left behind back home, safe and sound."
"Wow... all 100 happy points... that person would certainly feel special!" Bryce grinned. Arlo returned the gesture.
"Yeah, but the best thing about the happy points system is that even when you give them away, you can still feel happy." Arlo sighed, "Again, sorry. If you guy will ever come visit me ever again, I promise I won't use the happy points system anymore. It's just that I was afraid that nobody would try and get along if I didn't use it, but I realize that's wrong now. Incentives weren't needed after all."
He skipped towards me, and leaned down to plant a kiss right on my forehead. I can practically HEAR Thane grinding his teeth, even though his face remains calm.
"Wh-what do you think you're doing, Arlo?!" Thane screeched.
Arlo stuck his tongue out at Thane, "Jade gets a special thank you kiss! She's the one who found me when everything was getting pretty out of control, and she helped me decide what to do!... But, you guys cheered me up too, so maybe I should give everyone a thank you kiss?!" Arlo made one step forward, and Spencer ran away.
"DON'T EVEN COME NEAR ME!" Next was Thane, who promptly grabbed my arm and dragged me away.
"You don't understand modern culture at all...!"
By the time Thane stopped running around, it was nightfall. He let go, and had to lean over to catch his breath.
"Wh-what the heck, Thane? What's wrong?" Thane froze, but then slowly took out his phone, and put it right in front of my eyes.
"So... my time here's about up." On his screen was the number 1 displayed prominently. My eyes widened; this was not what I had been expecting... at all!
Thane stared at the ground, as well did I. "I'll be going back to the real world, huh?"
"...Y-yeah..." He must have noticed my sad tone, because he didn't reply. "...S-sorry. I just... don't know what to say... Um... I-I'll... miss you..."
He still didn't say anything. "..Uh... y-yeah... that's it..."
I swear I could hear some sad music playing in the background. If I find out that Cashy is behind this...he better be praying to the elder gods.
"... It's just... I've fantasized about taking you out on dates... sending you cheesy texts messages... and all that stuff... but, it's stupid, isn't it?"
"Well, it's because once you go back to your old life, you'll probably forget all about me."
I felt overwhelmed by how utterly STUPID that is, and I told him so. After I smacked him, that is.
"Why would you even think that?! I could never forget you... or any of this, even if I wanted to... and I don't!" Thane held onto his now sore cheek, and that seemed to be the only acknowledgement he made towards me smacking him, because he spoke quickly, voice totally serious.
"Then... can I wait for you?"
"Once I go back... I'll wait right here until you return, so that we can be together in the real world... I-if that's okay with you, that is."
"...You're willing to wait just for me...?" Thane put his hand against my cheek, and I slightly leaned into it.
"If it's you... I don't mind waiting forever. I'll still welcome you back with open arms, even if you take a hundred years..." He paused, gazing into my eyes, "...I have to give away one last happy point before I can go... I guess I can give you my heart, because I love you, Jade. So don't forget... that I'm waiting for you."
And just like that, he was gone. My cheek had never felt colder.
I managed to see the others off with a smile, even though I'm pretty sure Bryce and Lena could see through my facade (Spencer... while he's smart, he's also stupid), because they gave me rather flattering compliments as their parting gifts. Spencer just told me that I was the only sane person, and that we should hang out sometime, if we ever meet again. For some reason, he didn't think of exchanging phone numbers, which would make 'meeting up' a hell of a lot easier. Oh well.
Now it was only me and Arlo.
When I found him, he was standing underneath the lights of the carousel. It was the next day, and quite early, but he still turned the lights on. Not that I'll complain, they look quite lovely.
Arlo swung around to me, with his arms opened wide, grinning just as big. "Congratulations, Jade."
"All 100 happy points are yours. You deserve them, too. You deserve all the happiness in the world!... But, it's time for you to finally go home now. It's kind of hard to say goodbye, but if there weren't any 'goodbye's, there would never be any 'welcome back's or 'hello's, right?"
"I'm glad that I got to say hello to all of you guys... I hope that someday I can get to say 'welcome back'. You guys can come back anytime you want... don't be a stranger, okay?"
"I'll make sure I pass that message on to the others. I can get in touch with them via the internet, since I know their names, where they live, and what they look like."
"Thanks, Jade. You're really my best friend." He smiled one last time, "...It's time to go. Goodbye Jade."
When I came to, I was standing back at the fountain, where I had been when this whole thing happened in the first place. A staff lady of the park was running over to me.
"Hey! You! Don't you dare throw anymore change into the fountain, young lady!" Kat and Jay suddenly came springing out of nowhere, jumping at the staff lady, no doubt to restrain her. Those two... I swear, they're not right in the mind. Of course, eventually back-up staff arrived, and they took hold of the two, dragging them away. They seemed to have forgotten about me for the moment. I'm pretty certain that they started laughing, but I could be wrong... but on the other hand, I could also be right. You could never be quite sure about those two.
Remembering where I was, I decided it would be best for me to flee the scene before that staff lady remembered me.
. . .
I ran up towards the restrooms, but started silently sneaking up on Thane when he came into view. I'm apparently really shitty at it, because he turned around at just that moment, and stared at me for several short periods of time.
For the first time since I actually met him, Thane smiled a regular smile. "Welcome back, Jade."
I wasted no time in jumping into his waiting arms, "...You... You're really here..."
Thane chuckled, "Of course I am. I did say that I would be waiting, didn't I?"
We separated, and Thane continued speaking, "It doesn't appear like we were gone that long."
"Yeah, no kidding. I was almost jumped by the staff for 'almost throwing more change into the fountain'. Luckily, my two oddballs came to distract them... for some reason." I laugh.
Thane sighed, and looked up at the tall attractions, "I don't think I could possibly work here another day without remembering everything that happened over and over. It'll feel... weird, to say the least."
"Oh? Are you still going to work here, then?"
"Yeah... I want to be able to reminiscence about the memories I made there with you... and the others, of course."
"Well, I could come visit you while you work?" Thane's face flushed a bright pink.
"R-Really? You don't have to go through all the trouble..."
"It's no trouble, I want to spend time with you. Plus... I need a tag with 'Thane' on it, since you have one with my name."
"Uh... I can call myself your boyfriend now, right?" I was about to say 'of fucking course', but he suddenly started berating himself. "W-wait, no! I have to take you on an official date first, since that one before was technically just 'hanging out'."
"Yeah?" I grin.
"W-will you... go out with me...?"
"...Of course. You didn't even really need to ask, to be honest."
Today, I had (for some reason) followed the advice of the evil two, and wore my hair in those derpy pigtails, along with wearing a green-and-red striped shirt, and a pair of black shorts. They also made me bring this medium-sized flower ornament, insisting that it's 'for my hair'... but I was pretty sure it was a spying device, and smashed it before Thane arrived.
Speaking of which, Thane has been staring at me for the past couple of minutes.
"What is it, Thane?" He jumped a little, seeming to have only just realized that I can, in fact, see him staring at me.
"U-um... it's just..." He turned around, embarrassed, "Youlooknicetoday."
Shit, now it looks like I might have to actually THANK those fuckers on our next Saturday night Game Night!
"...Thanks." He spun back towards me, panicked.
"Oh geez, that must have sounded so lame... b-but I meant it!" He stopped, just so he could (of course) sigh, and put his face in his hands, "... This has already become a train wreck. I was barely able to sleep last night. I couldn't stop thinking about today, and what we should do, and-"
I decided to cut him off before he went into another long tirade, "Thane. Stop worrying so much, I'm actually having a good time."
He looked at the ground, and calmed down before he looked me back in the eyes.
"I'll try to do my best... no, I will do my best."
"Do your best to what?"
"I'll do my best... to make sure you're happy."
Now it was my turn to blush like a baby. "Oh... Th-thank you. I hope that I'll be able to make you happy too."
"You've already... made me happy. Just by being with me. Just like you said, now I can spend the rest of my life finding out new things about you one piece at a time, falling even deeper in love with you all the while..."