Game Over - Flash Fiction
“Benny. Hey, Benny. You’ll never guess, man. You’ll never guess what I just saw.”
Benny chewed on a sigh. Not another one of Frank’s tall tales. Last week it was that he saw a cat as big as a German shepherd. The week before, he was telling of how his great auntie was a cannibal for a week or some shit like that. Sometimes the tales were entertaining, but other times they were just irritating. And right now, as Benny stared at the 8-bit yellow ball munching on 8-bit tiny dots and the 8-bit numbers in the corner signaling how close he was to a new high score, he didn’t want to hear any stupid stories.
Frank waited for a response, for Benny’s attention to turn towards him in full, but all he got was the sound of the joystick bumping around. “Benny! Benny, I’m serious! There’s something out there!”
Frank emphasized his last words by slamming a palm down, only it landed on a button of the console. The button caused something on-screen that Frank wasn't in position to see. The only thing he saw was surprise, then rage lighting up his childhood friend’s eyes.
“Dammit! Are you serious? Goddammit, Frank! What in the hell’s wrong with you!”
Frank ignored the question and grabbed at Benny’s jacket. One of the buttons slid painfully under one of Frank’s nails and he winced. It was like when someone who thought they were dreaming asked to be slapped in the face, or to be pinched, or anything to be woken up. The button was Frank’s pinch, only he didn’t wake up, and that meant what he saw must’ve been real.
Something in Frank’s eyes made Benny release the ball of his fist that he was getting ready to throw towards Frank’s stupid shoulder. Instead Benny slapped Frank's hands away and adjusted his jacket. “What, you freakin’ idiot? You better not be fucking around.”
Frank stayed silent, which was of great significance by his standards, and grabbed at Benny’s jacket again and jerked him towards the arcade door. They pushed through and their heels slapped on the recently-rained-on, neon-soaked streets of downtown.
Benny didn’t know what he was looking for, but he did know that he wanted to get back inside. Quick. Something about the cold gray sky above, moonless and menacing — something about how quiet the usually-bustling street was — turned his blood cold and his mouth dry.
“Okay, Frank. What did —“
Frank was staring at him wide-eyed with a finger smushed against his lips. His arm pointed down a nearby alley. Benny looked.
Later on, back inside the warmth of the bar, Harold put them to work. “If you’re staying the night, might as well be of some use to me,” he said, and left them alone to wash the countless glasses and small dishes that carry the patrons’ something-to-get-in-my-stomach-before-I-drink-too-much things.
Benny put his hand under the warm running water and tried to let it wash away the goosebumps that had taken over every inch of his skin. An infestation of fear.
“Benny,” Frank said, bottle of dish soap in his hand. “Benny, whadoo we do? What if that thing’s still there in the morning?”
Something told Benny that the horror only came out — to feast — at night. But he didn’t know if the something that was telling him was something to be trusted. Still, there are some things that sunlight gives life to, and it couldn’t — oh God, it shouldn’t — be anything as dark as what he and Frank saw in the alley.
“I don’t know, Frank. But come daylight, if that thing is out there, I’m running. I’m running as fast as I can out of the city. And if you’re smart, Frank — and you better be fuckin' smart, Frank — then you’ll do the same.”
Frank looked down, but his eyes didn’t register the dish soap leaking from his limp hand.
The sound of shattering glass and a scream erupted from the front. Frank and Benny locked eyes, a silent but emphatic understanding passed between them. In that same second, they turned and bolted, the back door suddenly the only thing that mattered anymore.
Frank slipped first. His back foot sliding out from under him in the puddle of liquid soap. His knees went crashing into the tiled floor. Benny followed, his momentum rendering him helpless to stumbling over the flailing body of Frank.
When the Horror came through the kitchen’s doors, it looked on two sprawling, pathetic figures that would be its easiest victims on a long night only just beginning.