“Charlie.. is the popcorn ready?”
I swear my friends were nothing but lazy. That was easily the dozenth time they’d yelled out to me while I was down in the kitchen, the rest of them watching Mean Girls in my bedroom. Although the boys hated it; Tori and I had convinced them constantly to watch it - to the point where they could quote the movie word for word. I guess that’s what friendship is built on; watching movies you’d rather not to keep those around you happy.
“Almost done!” I called back up. The final ting of the microwave brought a joy to my ears that no one would ever understand. Pulling out a bowl from the cupboard and pouring the hot contents of the popper bag out; I rushed back up to my room, hopping on the bed and squeezing into my spot between Niall and Tori.
“What took you so long?” Tori asked, a mouth full of popcorn in her hand.
“You mean what took me 3 minutes, 12 seconds?” I laughed, “Oh you know.. no one wanting to help me.”
“Shhhhh...” Liam protested, “The plastics are about to get introduced.”
“Yeah..” Louis laughed, “One time, Regina George punched me in the face.. it was awesome.”
“Louis, shut up!”, Tori argued throwing a pillow at him.
“Hey, don’t be mean to Louis”, I told her giving her a look; eyebrow raised and a half smile on my face.
“You’re lucky you’re my bestie Charlie”, Tori responded, hand going back to the bowl of popcorn.
“Niall.. you have anything to say about this?”, I asked him; knowing his eyes hadn’t come unglued off the screen. “Niall… Niall.”
“Huh?”, he let out snapping into reality, “Sorry.. got caught up in the movie.”
Not 25 minutes past before the popcorn had been polished off and the boys were growing restless rolling around on my bedroom floor. Tori had made herself comfortable beside Liam who was now in a tickle war against Louis and Niall and I were playing handball with the bowl.
“I say we start telling each other spooky stories”, Louis came up with out of no where.
“Like horror stories?”, Liam added.
“Yeah like you know.. a group of friends go wandering in the woods and never return.”
“Louis.. shut up”, I protested, “You know I don’t like those kinds of stories.”
“Oh come on Charlie…”, Tori tried to reason with me, “It could be fun.”
“We should do this outside”, Niall suggested.
“Brilliant idea!”, Tori, Louis and Liam said in sync.
I sighed, annoyed at the fact the group knew I got scared easily and still wanted to go through with this. Shaking my head in response, 4 sets of eyes pleaded with me against the comfort of my own room.
“Oh come on Charlie.. live a little”, Louis teased.
“Yeah, come on Charlie..” Tori tried to appease me, “We can go to the old treehouse in my backyard. Just like we always use to.”
“Will we fit?” I asked.
“Of course” Liam announced, jumping to his feet. “C’mon. No time to waste.”
Little did I have to do before we were sneaking out my bedroom window in the hopes of not waking up my parents and crossing the street over to Tori’s parents house and through to the backyard we’d spent so many summers together in. The treehouse was our first major project, something that we were proud about no matter how bad the peachy pink colour was or the rope stairs to get up. Following as the mother and father of the group took lead; Liam boosted Tori up and followed by a quiet Niall, playful Louis and finally myself, we all managed to squeeze in.
“Okay, maybe you were right..”, Tori acknowledged, “It is a bit of a tight squeeze.”
“Nothing wrong with that,” Liam whispered, more than likely not wanting to be heard by everyone but failing. The two shared a smile which I made a mental note to myself to harass her about later.
“So.. stories..” Louis reminded us clapping his hands and rubbing them together.
“Do we have to?”, I groaned.
“C’mon Charlie..”, Niall pointed out, moving around to get comfortable, “What better things are there to do when you’re this close to.. arggghhhhh shittt!”
“Niall are you okay?”, I asked him, offering a hand out after he’d tripped over a box which was in clear view and plain sight.
“Yeah, just clumsy”, he laughed off. “Stupid box.”
BEAT. BEAT. BEAT.
“Did you hear that?”, Tori asked, the 5 of us sharing looks and glances around the circle we’d created. The sound of tribal drumming was soft, slow, almost non-existent.
“Hear what?”, Louis tried to laugh off.
BANG. BANG. BANG.
“It’s probably just the wind”, Liam nodded, trying his hardest to convince us.
“The wind?”, I half screamed annoyed. “Louis, I told you your dumb ideas weren’t brilliant.”
“C’mon Charlie.. relax. I’ll save you if anything goes wrong”, he convinced me, wiggling his eyebrows.
“You two”, Tori cut in.
“What?”, Louis and I both asked in sync.
“Nothing”, she smiled.
BANG. BANG. BANG. The noises began to grow louder. We all swallowed hard before Niall took a seat on the box he’d previously tripped over and fell through it, breaking the sides.
“Way to go fatso!”, Liam cheered in humour.
“It’s not funny”, Niall laughed, pulling himself up. “There’s something hard in there.”
“That’s what she said”, Louis interjected.
“LOUIS!”, I yelled at him - his comments not making the situation any easier for me.
“Hey check this out..”, Tori grabbed our attention again, pulling out the board game Niall had fallen onto.
“Embarcadero..”, she muttered out.
“Stupid name for a game”, Louis added shaking his head.
“You’re stupid for a person but we don’t complain”, I hassled him, elbowing his sides.
“Let’s play”, Liam suggested.
“You drag us out from Charlie’s room, and want to play a board game?”, Tori questioned him.
“Yeah.. we could have done that back at my bed”, I said, realising and adding a clause, “and Louis.. don’t even comment.”
“No comment”, he let out, raising his arms in defeat.
“So game time?”, Niall asked, rubbing his hands together.
“Game time”, we all agreed.
Opening up the box and laying the board out flat; 5 game pieces travelled to the start position alone and and centre dome began to cloud over. Liam throwing the rules over to Niall began sorting out cards into decks and Niall sped read all the small white piece of paper could offer him before picking up the dice.
“Okay Embarcadero, a game for those who seek to find; a way to leave their world behind.. the rules are: one roll per player, no cheating, you must do exactly what the cards tell you or face consequence. First one to the end has to shout out ‘Embarcadero’, and once this happens, things should return to normal.”
“Return to normal?”, I asked a little worried.
“That’s what the game says”, Niall stated handing over the rule sheet to me.
“Okay… let’s play. Who goes first?”
All a little hesitant, Tori picked up the dice and rolled.
“A six”, she let out. Her game piece, a camera moved by itself.
“Whoa…that’s cool”, Niall exclaimed.
“That’s creepy”, I added.
“Must be magnets”, Liam tried to calm the situation down with, “Tori.. take a card.”
Reaching over and grabbing a card from the top of the desk, we watched her eyes run over the words before she smiled.
“It wants me to sing the national anthem otherwise a swarm of bats will appear.”
“So sing damn it, sing..”, I begged.
“Charlie.. it’s a game. I don’t have a good singing voice you know that”, she laughed.
“Who cares..”, Niall agreed with me, “If you deafen us, we’ll have to like it anyway because we can’t hear”, he joked. Tori punched his arm lightly before beginning to pull out a chord.
“God save our gracious Queen…”, she got out. We all began cheering and chanting. “Okay that’s enough..”
“Oh come on Tor..”, I pleaded.
“Maybe later”, she offered, “Okay who’s next?”
We all became hesitant again.
“I’ll go”, Louis offered, grabbing the dice and rolling.
“A 4”, Liam called out again.
“Thank you captain obvious”, Louis remarked with a smirk reaching over to grab a card. In a few seconds after reading he scoffed, shaking his head. “Here guys.. get this.. ‘kiss your true love who is near, or forever disappear’.”
“True love?”, Niall joked with a laugh.
“I know right.. funny..”, Louis added.
“Well then..”, Liam croaked, clearing out his throat with a cough.
“What?”, Louis asked, raising an eyebrow and shrugging his shoulders. “It’s just the girls that are here.”
“So..”, Liam pushed.
“So what?”, Louis argued.
“Kiss one of ‘em.”
“I um.. forfeit this challenge”, Tori announced, hands up in the air and then down to clutch Liam’s.
Louis spun to turn towards me and I shook my head, worried about what the group might do or bully me into.
“Louis, I’m not kissing you”, I stated, blushing a bright red at just the thought.
“See Liam..”, Louis argued once again, “My true love mustn’t be nea—.”
“FUCK!”, Niall yelled at the sound of screeching and wings, “BATS!”
“Arggghhhhhh!”, came out various times in different tones from the lot of us as they swarmed the treehouse.
“Tori, I told you to sing damn it”, I yelled, reaching out to grab Louis’ hand… but there was nothing there.
“Louis.. Louis?”, I called out. “This isn’t funny you brat.”
A white, misty fog filled the treehouse in one thick layer - making us struggle to breathe before we escaped down the rope stairs.
“Louis?”, I called out again.
“He’s probably just playing games with us”, Liam stated, nodding his head.
“Louis?”, I sounded like a broken record.
“Maybe he’s hiding?”, Tori suggested.
“Charlie.. calm down”, she tried to sooth me, rubbing my back gently.
“I can’t calm down.. where the hell is he?”
Climbing back up the rope, Niall checked the treehouse but with no avail, shook his head and grabbed something before he shimmied down.
“Not up there..”, he let us know, shoving his hands into his pockets.
“This is not cool”, I stated nervously, my hands shaking and knees feeling like they were about to cave in.
“It’s fine.. he’s just..”
“He’s been sucked into the game”, Tori let out with a laugh.
“Tori, this is not the time to joke”, I squeaked, “Be serious.”
And with that, more bats came flying towards us, almost in an attack and we ran our separate ways..
A 'Jumanji' meets 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' adventure! It's only the start but let us know what you think xoox