Game Over

Game Over by Andrew Klavan Read Free Book Online

Book: Game Over by Andrew Klavan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Andrew Klavan
quickly toward a horrible living death. But Mariel had hope. Her hope was Rick. She believed he was a hero who had come to save her. She believed he had been sent to rescue her from her dying Realm life. She didn’t realize that her Realm life was the only life she had ever had, the only life she was ever going to have. Bring her out of the Realm, and Mariel would be nothing, some electronic impulses, some numbers flashing in a box. Nothing.
    Rick went on gazing up at the guard tower. He didn’t want to face his father. He didn’t want his father to see the pain and misery in his eyes. He gazed up at the guard tower, and slowly, something occurred to him . . .
    The soldier. The pacing soldier. He had come to the glass window again a few moments ago. He had looked out and paced away again out of sight . . . and he had stayed out of sight. He had been gone a long time now. Too long. Rick kept looking up there, waiting for him to pace back into view, and he didn’t. Seconds went by and more seconds, and he didn’t reappear. Rick murmured, “Where is he?”
    He heard his father say, “What?”
    â€œThat soldier,” Rick said, his voice still low. He was thinking—thinking fast—trying to figure it out. Maybe it was a change of shift or something. Or maybe the guy had paused to get a drink of water or a snack. But something deep down inside him told him it wasn’t that. It was something else. Something wrong . . .
    â€œWhat’s the matter?” his father asked him, following his gaze to look up at the tower.
    Rick shook his head a little. “Nothing, I . . .”
    Before he could finish, he saw a movement in the high booth. A reflection on the glass. The soldier was moving back into position.
    There he is! Rick thought with relief.
    The soldier came into full view, looking out through the glass of the booth. And all of Rick’s relief vanished.
    Because it was not the soldier anymore. It was not even a human being!
    It was a giant humanoid Boar! It was one of the soldier Boars from the Realm, a great hairy, tusked pig standing tall on two legs. And dead. He was dead, like the Boars in Rick’s dream. A dead soldier Boar from the Golden City, his pig face half rotted away to reveal the skull beneath.
    Rick stared up at the tower booth, thunderstruck. The dead Boar peered out at the compound through the glass, grinning its skull grin. Then it lowered its eyes. It looked down. It looked directly at Rick. Its grin grew even wider.
    Then it vanished. Melted into air. Gone.
    â€œDid you see that . . .?” Rick’s father began to say.
    But Rick was already running past the trees toward the tower.
    His mind was racing as he ran. His sneakers smacked the frozen earth as he broke out of the low branches and headed for the tower base. Images from his nightmare rose up before him. The Golden City. The Boar Soldiers comingto life. The skeleton Cobra Guards rising up to bare their fangs. The rotting Harpies swooping down on him from above . . .
    Was this a dream too? Was he in a nightmare right now? Or had his nightmares invaded reality?
    He reached the base of the tower. He reached the door. He grabbed the handle, pulled it open.
    He froze when he saw the rifleman standing just inside. Another Boar?
    No, a soldier. Assigned to guard the tower elevator and staircase, the soldier also started in surprise when he saw Rick. He clutched his rifle more tightly, butt and barrel. But his eyes were not afraid. Like everyone else in the compound, he knew Rick. He recognized him.
    â€œWhat?” he said, confused. “What do you want?”
    â€œThere’s something wrong in the booth,” Rick said breathlessly. “There’s someone up there who shouldn’t be.”
    The soldier shook his head, uncertain. “That’s impossible. I’ve been here the whole time. No one could’ve come in without my seeing them.”
    Rick didn’t wait around

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