Chapter 3: Rest Period

There was a news story going on in Lyle's house. It was done by some anchorman on the television screen. It covered two people that were found dead in some ditch. Reports had it as mutilated bodies done by a wild animal. There were some theories that this was a serial killer since a few other bodies were found in a similar way. Lyle frowned.

"Other bodies, other games," Lyle said. He wrote this down on a composition notebook he had with him. He stared at the clock, it read 9 PM. It would be one more hour before he slept and eight more hours after that before he would get to school for Monday.

He picked up his card. It still showed his glowing picture and the same two words on the back. It showed something new though, a series of numbers that were counting down. It would be about a week before it would hit zero. He knew what happened at zero.

In the morning, he walked to school and sat at a cafeteria table inside. He was usually among the first to come to school. He sat there and looked at a composition notebook. It was the same one from last night.

"Stats seem to change natural traits. Currently upgradable by points," Lyle muttered. "Inquiry: What can points be used for? What stats are there? What are credits for?"

He kept muttering like this for a while before he heard a sound. Someone sat at the nearby table, it was Lynne. She did not look well at all. It looked as though she was about to have some sort of panic attack. Lyle turned back to his notebook.

He heard another sound as Alice sat at Lynne's table, this time around she had a flute. She played a few notes on it and started to talk to Lynne. From the looks of Lynne's face, it was a comfort talk. David joined them a few moments later, talking as well. Emma ran to the table after that. Soon, Zack was there and Sadie and Joseph and Sam. Finally, Lily came as well.

'They all came early for some reason,' Lyle thought before he turned to his notebook.

"So, what do we do?" Joseph said.

"We tell the authorities," Lily stated. She stared at Joseph like he was mad.

"But would they really believe us?" David said. "Oh officer, we are being forced to join some sick game of running away from these crazy beasts by a robot. Oh, we can also use points to boost our stats."

"Yeah, that would sound like we were playing some crazy video game," Alice said.

"Well, we can't do nothing," Sam stated.

"Maybe we do just that, nothing," Joseph said. "I mean, the robot didn't exactly force us to go on the blue circles."

"That sounds like a plan," Zack said.

"Yes, sound perfect, no violence needed," Sadie said. "We will get off scot free."

"Won't work," Lyle said. Everyone's head whipped around to face him. It was as though he appeared out of nowhere and not from the nearby table.

"Eh, why won't it work?" Joseph asked.

Lyle said nothing as he walked away. There were a few notes of silence as everyone stared at him moving out of sight.

"Freak," Sam said.

"Sam, be nice," Sadie told him.

"Well, it's true. I mean, he hasn't said a word in this whole school year and now he starts speaking?" Lily said.

"And he does seem to know a bit about this game. Maybe too much?" Zack muttered.

"Ah come off it," Alice said. "I mean, it's not like has that feel of crazy guy."

"He is a nice person, maybe, I mean he did save me," Emma said.

"Yeah, then he made you run into a lion's den," Lily said.

"To save us," Joseph replied.

"Yeah, he seems like a nice dude. Otherwise he wouldn't have saved Lynne either," David said.

"But you heard what Lynne told us after he left. He just wanted some people to hide behind as he runs away," Lily countered.

There was an awkward silence after that. The bell rang soon afterwards and everyone left for classes. When first period ended, Lily was pulled back by Joseph.

"Lily, what did I say about being nice to people?" Joseph asked.

"But it's Lyle! I mean, he's always been a bit creepy. He just walks around and stares at you and disappears without warning just to reappear as quickly. He's like some crazy ghost or something," Lily said.

"Lily," Joseph said sternly.

"…Look, I just don't trust him is all. I mean, we could die Joey. Did you see what happened to those people? They got ripped to shreds," Lily cried hysterically, tears running down her face.

Joseph held her to him. He said in a soothing voice, "It's alright." Over and over. When she finally calmed down, he told her that they would survive.

At lunch, Lyle wandered over to his usual corner. No one sat there and he could eat undisturbed. Well, he used to, but now he found two new people at his corner: Lynne and Alice.

"Oi, Lyle, come take a seat," Alice yelled. He looked as though he would spontaneously combust.

Reluctantly, he sat down across from the two. Observing them, he saw that Alice was simultaneously eating and playing while Lynne already finished her food and was reading a book. He ate quickly and, when he was done, started to leave.

"Done?" Alice asked. He nodded. "Care to keep us beautiful ladies company?" He shook his head. "Well, off with ya then."

He nodded his head again and left the table. Alice hummed a few bars of some song before turning to Lynne.

"You know, I have to say, Lily's a bit right here. He is kinda quiet," Alice said.

"Well, maybe he's just a bit shy," Lynne said.

"You are the shyest person I know and even you aren't that quiet," Alice said. "Come to think of it, what's your name again?"

"Lynne," Lynne said. "Um…If you don't mind me asking…Why did you drag me here?"

"Oh, I just thought you could use the company. I mean, all I've ever seen you do is read books all by your lonesome. So, how is the company missy?" Alice asked.

"Oh, perfectly fine," Lynne said. "You seem…nice."

"Oh, don't be that way. I know me and I know of is that I am not too careful with my mouth here. I do tend to spat at people once and a while. Not nearly as bad as Lily mind you, but there is a spout," Alice told her. Lynne giggled a bit.

"No, you are nice," Lynne replied.

"That a girl," Alice said. "Stick it to this standoffish bitch. Now stick it to that bastard coming this way."

Lynne saw that David was walking towards them. He sat at the table next to Alice and slumped over. It looked as though he was sleeping.

"Oi, when are you going to get a life?" Alice asked him.

"When I get some motivation for it," David replied. "What's it to you, when are you going to get a band like you keep saying you are."

"When I can have people keep up dear," Alice retorted. "And have them not full of lazy bums like you."

They continued to argue like that for a while before Lynne started laughing. They looked at her, then at each other, and they started to laugh too.

"Oh, this is the most fun I've ever had, maybe, that one book was pretty thrilling," Lynne told them.

"What? This? We get into arguments like this all the time. That what I do with my friends," Alice said.

"Oh, that would explain it, I don't have any friends to argue with," Lynne said before she clasp her hands over her mouth. An uncomfortable silence covered the table.

"Sorry," Lynne said.

"Nah, don't be," Alice replied.

"Yeah, I mean, we're friends now aren't we?" David said.

"We are?" Lynne asked.

"Yeah, bonded by trauma," Alice joked. "Maybe we could get that Lyle to come over to the friend side as well. We do have cookies."

"Eh? Didn't you just say that Lyle was creepy?" Lynne asked.

"Well, yeah, but not bad creepy. Besides, I believe someone here has a bit of a crush on our young Lyle," Alice said smiling.

"Eh?" Lynne asked.

"What, you don't think I've noticed that you are the only one who seems to notice him? I mean, you saw him gone from his seat, you saw him sneak away from that good old name calling we did, and you sat near his table in the morning too. And besides, that 'dashing hero who saves the maiden' effect is sure to come up onto you any time," Alice said. Smile turning to a giant grin.

"Eh, but I really don't like him. I mean, I don't even know him that well," Lynne said, blushing a bit.

"Ah, that's ok. We just let that thought stew around your pretty head," Alice said. "We don't want to scare the poor guy."

"But I don't," Lynne cried. "I really don't like Lyle."

Alice just laughed this away and played on her flute.

Later, Zack was at a friend's house. He was playing some game with him. His friend's name is not really important, so let's just call him Bob.

"Hey Bob?" Zack asked.

"What?" Bob replied.

"What do you do when you are forced into a game and the GM won't tell you how to play and is probably trying to kill you?" Zack asked.

"Eh? Who's the GM," Bob asked.

"Dunno," Zack said.

"Then how did he get you to play the game?" Bob questioned.

"Damn it Bob just answer the question," Zack demanded.

"Well, I figure if he is being unfair, then just go munchkin and cheat," Bob said.

"…I see," Zack replied.

"What? No good?" Bob asked.

"No, good, decent at least," Zack said.

About an hour later, Zack left the house and ran into Joseph. They nodded to each other and started to walk the same way. After a while, Zack broke the silence.

"This card, it's pretty interesting," Zack said.

"Yeah?" Joseph asked.

"Yeah, you know that "profile" button it has?" Zack asked.

"Yeah," Joseph replied.

"Well, it shows us our hp and stamina apparently. That's these red and yellow bars. It also seems to tell me what I have on as 'items' but for some reason, it only tells me I have glasses, a shirt, and pants. It now shows our stats too. It even has the definitions that Lyle got from that robot," Zack told him. "But it seems different somehow."

"Really?" Joseph asked.

"Yeah, didn't tell me a thing about the intelligence or analysis stat," Zack said.

"Hm, maybe it doesn't say because you don't have them?" Joseph answered tentatively.

"Maybe, probably. Lyle had them so it makes sense. This just makes it worse you know," Zack said.

"Worse how?" Joseph asked.

"Well, I thought we could get a clue by reading the stats, but if you need other stats to know all of what the stat does, well it feels like I'm playing a game that I don't know the rules of," Zack complained.

"Ah, don't worry, we'll make it," Joseph comforted.

"Maybe," Zack said.

"Hey Zack, I have a question for you," Joseph stated.

"Shoot," Zack said.

"What do you think Lyle meant when he said that our plan 'won't work?'" Joseph asked.

"Don't know," Zack answered. "Maybe we should ask him."

"Know his classes?" Joseph asked.

"Does anyone?" Zack asked.

"No, I suppose we don't," Joseph said.

After their talk, they parted ways. Joseph was still thinking about what Lyle said and Zack still thinking about how to get out of this game. They didn't get much sleep that night.

In the morning, Lyle was scribbling in his notebook when Joseph walked up to him.

"Hey," Joseph said.

Lyle nodded to acknowledge his presence.

"Um, Lyle, what did you mean when you said our plan wouldn't work?" Joseph asked.

Lyle turned to him and looked at him with slight confusion. He tried to say something, but it ended nothing more than a bunch of odd sounds. Lyle grunted and took a deep breath.

"Robots have more time than us," Lyle said finally.

Lyle walked away, leaving Joseph to think about what he said. He pushed it aside when people started to gather. He went to where his friends were and talked and ignored that impeding sense of doom.

Over the week, the players handled themselves differently. Lyle was Lyle and did nothing out of his ordinary. David and Alice were repeatedly getting late to class up until they stopped going entirely. Lily took up to screaming at people again. Sam worked out like crazy while Emma started to run even earlier in the mornings. Joseph started to help everyone out like he was some student messiah. Zack stayed up late at night playing all sorts of games. Lynne read every book she ever wanted to read and more. Sadie just looked dead, but whenever someone asked what was wrong, she would shoo them away kindly.

Finally, the time came. It was a Monday and the timer counted closer and closer to zero until everything froze again.