There she was, standing on a hill in a landscape so familiar yet so foreign. George and Rupert couldn’t believe their eyes. Marnie was gone, but there she was! She was dressed oddly and the frightened look on her face as she turned to them made them feel ill.
How did she get there, into the game? How many hours had they been gone looking for the talisman?
It had all started with the the video game. They thought getting into the spirit of it by pretending would be a lark, but now they were in it for real. They picked up the console, hoping they could somehow bring Marnie back to their safe living room.
Thinking it might work like a ouiga board, they held the console together and asked Marnie to return. Instead of her coming back, the boys also found themselves in the game. But not on the hill with Marnie. They were in a cave of sorts and surrounded by wizards and wormholes.
“I see you’ve been playing my game” one of the wizards said. The boys mumbled something unclear. Clinging to each other in fright, finally realizing where they were, Rupert spoke up quite bravely.
“We’re here to get our friend Marnie back”.
George, not wanting to appear cowardly, also spoke. “That’s all we want, to get Marnie and go home”. They stood up and dusted themselves off, remembering the brave characters they were in the game.
As they began to play the game in their minds, they thought they could outsmart the wizard as they had done when playing the game. They needed to be the characters, not the boys. George checked his outfit and felt the sword he had on his back. Rupert also realized he had secret weapons that might defeat the wizard if need be. Rupert just had to believe it.
Turning to leave the cave and find Marnie, the two noticed a pile of items on the cave side. Giving each other a knowing look, thinking the same thing, stopped. “Are these items to be used in the game?” Rupert asked.
“Yes they are. What items are you wishing to purchase?”
The wizard laughed, “that will cost you a fine sum! Twenty gold pieces.”
The boys searched their clothes and found each had the quarry from their last game–the one before Marnie had to be rescued. They offered the coins and the wizard let them have a piece of the Isinglass. Setting out to rescue Marnie, they left the cave.
Outside they recognized the land around them, knew Marnie must be along the nearby hills. Getting used to their game personas, grew confident they could manage this quest. The magical Isinglass would rescue them all.
As soon as they spotted her, they realized she was no longer alone. Not being held as captive, but trying to blend into a small camp of nomads.
As soon as she saw Rupert and George she ran to them. “What happened? I was waiting for you to come home from the library so we would know how to fight with the talisman. I picked up the console. As soon as I did I was transported into the game! How did you get here? I want to go home!”
“We only have this day left of the warlord’s challenge. Whatever we do we have to be quick or we’ll be stuck in this game forever!”
The three devised a plan to meet the warlord and then offer the Isinglass for safe passage back to their home. As they approached, they saw the wizard by his side.
The warlord seemed friendlier than in the previous meetings, and they took that as a good omen. “Have you enjoyed your game playing, taking advantage of our world?”
“Yes my lord, but we want to return to our home. We didn’t mean to cause trouble.”
“It is only a charmed few who experience our real world here. I expect you’re ready to go home.”
“Indeed they are my lord”, the wizard added.
“Do you have the talisman?” Rupert pulled put the Isinglass and handed it to the warlord.
As soon as the warlord touched the Isinglass, the three teenagers found themselves at home, in their living room, dressed in their regular clothing.
It only took a few seconds of realization before they retrieved a box and locked up the video game console, never to touch it again. Years later the box still remains buried in the attic covered with dust.