Provided by @conradt
Image courtesy of @rocking-dave
“You don’t have the balls, Tyler!” Travis mocked him.
“Chicken! Chicken! Chicken! Chicken! Chicken!” All four of Tyler’s friends – Travis, Molly, Sarah and Billy – mocked him and cackled like hens around him, even physically imitating chickens with their hands at their chest and fluttering their elbows up and down.
“Fine! I’ll do it!” Tyler finally gave in, and the crowd immediately went completely silent. “Well, come on!?” Tyler was already walking toward the Dark Woods – the section of the Arala fun park dyed fully in black and dark purple, with numerous trees and spooky rollercoasters and escape rooms – while the other four didn’t budge. The Dark Woods section was true paradise for teenagers, either to prove they have the guts to go for a ride and not scream, or to just enjoy the wind in their hair on one of the fastest rollercoasters in the country.
Nobody expected Tyler to agree to it – nor did they really want him to. They just wanted to mess with him, but Tyler caved in, and now no one knew what to do. “You don’t have to do it, Tyler. I won’t call you names anymore, and I won’t be mad. You know I like you just as you are, Tyler. Don’t do this.” Molly leaned on his shoulder and tried to talk him out of it.
“I said what I said, Molly, and I’m a man of my word.” Tyler tried to play it cool, but he could feel the drops of sweat forming in his armpits and on his forehead.
“Yo, Tyler, seriously, let’s just catch the Purple Stinger and then head home, alright? You’ve proven your point, man.” Travis also got worried and tried to take back his words as they were nearing the tri-bush in the Dark Woods.
But Tyler was still playing tough and ignored him. When they got to the dense tri-bush, Tyler looked both ways to make sure no one was watching, then snuck himself into the hidden corridor behind the leaves and branches.
His friends hesitated at first, looking at each other, confused. They thought that if they didn’t follow him, he would just come back and everything would be okay and all of it would be forgotten. But a minute passed and there was no sight of Tyler. Nor a sound.
“Tyler, dude, you’re scaring us! Get back here!” Travis called in the direction of the tri-bush, but got no answer. “Oh, fuck this! I’m going after him!” Travis also made sure nobody was watching and then followed Tyler into the bush.
“Molly, you stay back. If he really does it, … you might not want to see that, okay?” Billy told Molly when he and Sarah also made their way into the hidden passage. Molly wanted to protest at first, but Billy was right. She had a crush on Tyler, and the last thing she would want to see was Tyler risking his life playing “Killer Clowns”.
“There you are! Tyler! Don’t do it!” Travis shouted, but it was already too late.
Tyler had just extended his hand onto the old and dusty arcade game and touched it. That arcade game didn’t require any coins or tokens – it required you to insert your soul.
The entire machine glowed a bright green when Tyler touched it, and the area between Tyler and the machine distorted in a way that it seemed as if Tyler was being sucked into it. The three friends froze in place and just watched the machine suck the soul out of their friend. At last, with a bright flash of white light, the glowing stopped altogether, and the machine powered up like a normal arcade game, playing the same stock horror music that all machines in the Dark Woods played – only there was a very subtle green link between it and Tyler.
The newest edition of Whack-a-mole!
or lose bigger!
Pick up the mallet to begin
Tyler looked back at his friends, his face completely drained of blood, and terror in his eyes.
“What did you do!?” Billy shouted.
“I… I… I just touched it.” Tyler stuttered. Not him, nor anyone else could believe he had actually done it.
Pick up the mallet!
The lettering on the machine turned red and spread through the entire screen.
“I have to play now, there’s no other way.” Tyler looked at the nine holes in the machine covered with red plastic. *”I can do this!” he tried to calm himself down, then picked up the mallet at the arcade’s side.
The song shifted to another default one, and slowly, one by one, little plastic clowns were popping out of the holes in the arcade, which Tyler hastily knocked down again with the mallet. Every time he knocked one down it made an overly high pitched “ha” sound, trying to resemble that of a clown. Tyler had no trouble hitting every clown as it rose up – the game was still going slow.
The song changed to a different, much faster one and the clowns were popping out of their holes faster than before. With each one he struck down, the next one raised faster and Tyler started to sweat as he now had to be really quick to strike each one down before another one raised. Yet, still, he completed the level.
Pick up the mallet!
Tyler was confused, after all, he already had one mallet in his hand. He waved it in front of the arcade, as if to show it he already has one, but the writing on the screen didn’t change. He looked around and in the same spot he found the mallet he had in his hand there was now another, new one. He picked it up and now held a mallet in each hand.
This time when the music changed the clown dolls were raised in pairs – two instead of one, and Tyler had to strike them both down at the same time. The game started slow again, but quickly gained pace and the laughing sound of whacking the clowns now developed into a full out evil laugh. At first the arcade was only springing up the clowns that were next to each other, but as time went on, it raised them in all possible combinations. Tyler, now drowning in his sweat, was doing everything he could not to miss any one of them. ”I either win this and get rich or die. There is no inbetween,” was all that was going through his mind while whacking the clown dolls back into their holes.
Then, when the music was really fast and nearing its finish, the arcade cheated. It springed up first three, then four, then all nice of the clowns, giving Tyler no chance to strike them all down.
“No! No! You’re cheating! That’s cheating!” Tyler shouted at the arcade and kicked it. “Did you see that? It cheated! I won!” He looked back to his friends, still standing safely about 15 feet away. “Don’t just stand there! I won! Tell it I won!”
Instead of saying anything, the three were just as white in the face as Tyler, and only lifted their hands and pointed behind Tyler. He turned, and noticed the link between him and the machine was now red and strengthening.
“No! I won! You listen to me! I won!” He kept on kicking and punching the arcade game.
The machine played the clown’s evil laugh once again and the link between it and Tyler now glowed a bright red and Tyler collapsed onto his knees, facing the machine. The glowing didn’t stop for a solid minute as the arcade was sucking the remains of life out of Tyler, and the three friends only watched with open mouths – incapable of saying anything.
When the beam suddenly disappeared, Tyler lifelessly fell to ground and the machine displayed a “You lose” message for two or three seconds, then shut down and went back into the same state they found it in.
Travis rushed to his friend while the other two were still frozen in place, but when he touched him, his body just disintegrated, and all that was left of his friend was a thin layer of ash on the ground.
Sarah shouted at the top of her lungs and all three of them sprinted away from the arcade game and back to Molly. They rushed out of the hidden passage at the tri-bush and ran toward the exit of the fun park, and just dragged Molly along with them.
She knew what had happened at the sight of them.
Terror in their eyes and fire at their feet.
She instantly knew Tyler was dead.
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