Author: SilenceInHonour PM
Lacey Gregor played the game for sixteen years, then it ended for everyone in a violent tragedy, leaving its players in the public eye, disgraced and avoided. But Bolt-hole, Hideaway, whatever you want to call it, is a game you cannot not play, eventually it will all start again, and this is why.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Tragedy - Chapters: 2 - Words: 6,519 - Updated: 02-11-13 - Published: 02-10-13 - id: 3099923
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: New short story. Will probably end up at about 30k and should be updated every one or two days, my deadline is Tues 19th Feb. Have you ever wanted to play a game like this?
We have been playing this game every summer for as long as I can remember. It is fun, it is scary, and maybe it is also a little bit dangerous, sometimes. We call it either Hideaway or Bolt-hole, depending on our mood. To explain it is difficult for me to do, to explain it I would have to show you, and I don't think you would appreciate being thrown into the chaos of blind panic and adrenaline. You are reading a book because you are too frightened to go out into the world to create an emotional roller-coaster like this. You crave the rush, but not the danger.
As children, we must have craved both.
We started developing the game between the ages of four and seven, at a time when even the simplest games made everything magic. It was simple, in the beginning. A game very close to the much-loved 'hide-and-seek'. You hid, you tried to stay hidden and if you were found? You ran, ran as fast as you could go, ran away from everyone and everything. If you were caught, you could surrender, in which case you lost and you took yourself and your bruises back home. Or you fought. Fighting became the staple, the regular occurrence. We came from families that didn't mind if we roughed each-other up. It was good for us, character building.
It certainly was.
If you fought, won, forced the other to surrender, or back off you could run again, hide again, or carry on running, if you preferred. The game ever ended, really. You just got tired and found your way home, battered, bruised, sometimes broken. Always frightened, wary and scared, but amazingly alive.
It was a game that held our minds more than our hearts, a game that gripped us with fear every time the season drew near, but one we could not not play. Every time we gathered we looked at each other like: Are we going to? Can we? Should we play again? The answer to the questions should have always been no, but we could not stop. It is the feeling of wanting to prove you are alive and if anyone did not want to play… well. It was alright, but they would never quite shake the stigma.
And so it became a thing for our town. For us kids to play this game over and over and over as long as the season held. Some of us got good at it. Some of us hurt ourselves, some of us tripped and fell down sharp inclines that threatened more than cuts and bruises. Some of us broke bones. Some could never play again.
Some could never not play again.
It is addictive, playing games of any kind. You have to be careful you do not overdo yourself, get hooked on the adrenaline rush and the fear.
Our parents never knew about the game as we were growing up. We never felt the need to tell them. Most of them cared, a few made their children stick close, especially the younger ones. But most eventually got caught in the snare.
I was one of the founders. Five at the time of the first game. Trying to play with the big boys when I was a small girl. They laughed and the game was born, try and hide from us girly, try and run and see if your little legs can keep up. It was the singular most terrifying experience of my life, even now, after all of this. I didn't win, but I cheated and I fought like a waking wildcat. I went home crying, with bruise the size of fists. They went home grouchy that a girl got in the way of their play.
Next week they sought me out again. Come play that game with us again. What? Are you too scared? Cry baby! Cry baby!
I played again. And then again, and again. I got friends involved, as they got theirs. Now we are firm friends, outside of the season. We grew up anticipating the long days of summer where you can just survive and survive and survive.
We never planned holidays with our families, and when they did for us we waited for the years when we could opt to stay at home. Old enough to look after ourselves, still young enough to play the game.
I don't know when horses, or cars, or motorbikes became part of the norm, but it was somewhere around the time that I was thirteen. By that time I had been riding for ten or so years, since I had been able to say "I want" and "horsey" in the same sentence. It was also around this time that we started branching out. We would find a deserted house, or an old factory, or a woods in relative travelling distance and made our way there, the oldest ones driving, wildly, with the stupid pranks and speed of youth.
The set up was basic: Home Stop, where everyone who was out of the game gathered. Neutral Zones, places where you could not be attacked, because we all needed those from time to time, especially when we were injured, but didn't want to pull out of the race completely. A 'Ghost' or two, because sometimes you needed help and sometimes people wimped out, ghosts were neutral guys who did not feel up to playing the full game, but wanted to be a part of it anyway. They were generally made fun of by the rest if us.
Then there were the supplies. You were responsible for your own, your food, water, ammo if you were a good shot, hand made smoke bombs (of varying degrees of success) and any miscellaneous things you could think of. You had to carry everything yourself, although the Game Master did go out beforehand and place some helpful things in random places. Usually if you found anything you knew you were in an undesirable place though, so they didn't help much.
The longest game we ever played went on for three days. By the end of it we were all so tired that a collective text and answer was sent between all us asking (and agreeing) to just go home and rest.
At times I think it was stupid that Cassie, the dark haired, blue eyed queen introduced horses into the mix. It made the game so much harder in so many respects, but the faster you could go the better when you're running. There are pros and cons. Lots of them. Her idea, since so many of us had at least been around horses for a long time, caught on. It didn't surprise me, the game was starting to get old, the thrills and the danger less. We were used to running and hiding and fighting, it was part of who we were. We were not, however, used to looking after another whilst we were out there.
Newbies were often allowed to go in a pair with someone, but usually by the end of it everyone was on there own. You never knew when someone was going to turn on you, you expected it at every turn. You could not work on a team, it was impossible.
And so the version of the game with horses, arguably called Bolt-hole more often than Hideaway for obvious reasons, was born. In all games you could ride if you wished, but it was far more dangerous to the horses when you got caught up in the fact that you might encounter someone with a car or a tractor - which has happened before. So only the hardiest, stupidest of us rode in the normal games, the rest waited for a Bolt-hole game. It was impossible to play these at home, you ended up covering far too much ground, the nearby moors were also out, it was too open and exposed. We had few places near us that were good enough, but after one of us travelled twenty miles away from our main area on their horse one year we imposed an area ten miles in all directions from our start point that we had to stay inside, or at least near.
At the start of every game we drove around our boundaries, making sure we knew roughly where they were and where to stop and turn back the way we came.
Most of us would also scout the area, note the hiding places, the non-ridable paths, the fences we could get stuck behind, the fences we could jump. We would calculate the closest Neutral Zone from random points, just so that we were used to finding them. The game became big. It started to take a month of planning rather than a few hours, enough extra food had to be left at Home Stop with the Ghosts, blankets as well, along with water and spare mobiles and first aid kits.
The game consumed us.
You might wonder what kind of story I am going to tell you, what place all this explanation has, but it is important you know the game well. When I am running and I cannot catch my breath I will not have time to tell you that you can call a Ghost if you break your neck and want out, that there is a Neutral Zone up ahead, if only you can get there before they catch you.
We do not play this game any more, but even thinking of it, even putting the events into words, creates a tension in me. My one track mind cannot focus on the fact that I am only telling a story because I have trained myself to play this game and my body knows what to do, even if I am so tired I can barely walk straight, or stay on my horse, or eat.
I have been in that place so many times that it is auto pilot, a way of survival. I will wake up from a dream about it and feel exactly the same as I do after a two day race. I will write a memory down and snap my eyes open an hour later, with half a dozen scenes of my life already written. I cannot stop, but rather then being sorry for events, or afraid of living, or paranoid, I am simply alive.
Half of my friends do not even know about this game any more. We shut it down, you can see why, of course. It is dangerous, frightening, probably illegal.
But I cannot stop playing.