Chapter no 13 – PLAYING FOR PRIDE‌


Fuchs activated the first large-screen television embedded in the wall of the theater. The screen depicted the children of the imprisoned parents releasing their childish energy like they never had before. The angles being recorded rotated. Some were far-off shots, some from a bird’s eye, and others were intimate close-ups.

The parents were too frightened to register what was happening on the tube. Lacey’s motionless corpse and the mass of bloodshed that painted the room were the more pressing distraction.

Tom looked over at his wife. She hadn’t stopped crying and shaking since the unexpected violence. He did his best to comfort Molly. Every so often, he squeezed her hand and whispered promises he wasn’t sure he could keep.

“Don’t worry, it’s gonna be alright,” Tom said.

They’d been together long enough for Molly to know that the tremor molesting his cadence indicated otherwise. Tom’s words were a sweet and loving gesture, but a flimsy one, nonetheless.

Greg was still sporadically shrieking at the top of his lungs. He would calm down for a moment and then start up again. The panic left him like a lost child.

Every so often they grabbed at their collars as if they couldn’t believe it was real. The action was futile, but desperation had equally clouded each parent’s judgment.

Fuchs just stared at Greg as he weaved in and out of his mental breakdown. He’d said nothing to any of them since Geraldine had left the room.

They all wondered where she had gone.

The mystery was about to be solved as the sound of footsteps in the hall grew closer and closer.

“The command center is ready,” Geraldine announced. “Wonderful,” Fuchs said.

The chaotic panting and slobbering that was Greg’s only form of expression irked Geraldine. He’d vomited shortly after Lacey’s neck came undone. Chunks of off-white and yellow liquid ran down his neck and clung to the front of his shirt.

“Silence! I don’t want another word out of any of you! I’m only going to tell you what’s about to happen to you and your children once, so I suggest you listen carefully,” Geraldine warned.

The audible horror Greg and Molly were expelling fell in volume drastically. It wasn’t nonexistent, but low enough that Geraldine felt comfortable continuing.

“I regret to inform you, but all of you have chosen to enter my estate today under a false pretense. There will be very few winners today, if any. The sooner you choose to accept that, the easier it will be for you. The playground that you viewed outside is not the one your children will be playing in. They may be right now, of course, but soon that will change. Then where shall they play, you ask? Well, you’re just going to have to watch and find out.”

Geraldine gestured to the many screens inside the wall behind her before reengaging.

The horror seeping to the surface was otherworldly.

Tom and Molly were controlled enough to remain quiet, but their facial expressions screamed. Their gaping eyes and sudden shift to a pasty pigment said it all.

“To be frank, most of the details you absorbed in the brochures my associate gave you were lies. I do represent a charity, but this has little to do with that. However, amid the many falsehoods, there was one truth. As promised, your children will be afforded the opportunity to test out a playground like no other. A particularly vast playground with much diversity within each respective area. It’s a linear journey, which makes it sound simple, but rest assured the various entertainments within each should be… unique, to say the least. But the hope is to have them try

everything. And who knows, with your help, you may be able to see them play just a bit longer.”

“What—What do you mean, with our help? Why should they need help?” Molly stammered.

Why isn’t for me to say. It would spoil the mystique of it all. But I can tell you that the reason they’ll require help will quickly become very obvious to you. But on a more positive note, let’s talk about one way you can keep your children alive longer—”

“Alive?! Why would you—”

“If I were you, Mr. Grimley, I wouldn’t interrupt! Now that you’re aware of the stakes, I wouldn’t want you to miss something.”

Tom quieted down.

“Smart man. Now, on each of the collars around your necks, you’ll find a small circular button. Those buttons will all be activated shortly after we leave this room. When pushed, a microphone will then project your voice over a PA system where your children are playing. You’ll have just a few critical seconds to relay a message of your choosing, but a few seconds is better than nothing, I suppose.”

A hideous smile blanketed Geraldine’s face. She was so proud of herself.

“Additionally, each button will only work once for each of you. So, pick your spots and choose your words wisely. They’ll undoubtedly be your last.”

“You’re—You’re fucking insane!” Greg yelled.

“Wait a minute, please! Why are you doing this? What did we ever do to you?” Tom asked.

“The reason isn’t important,” Geraldine replied. “If it’s not important, then why not tell us?”

Tom was trying to do anything to access the human side of her. If she offered him something, he might be able to dispel whatever notion she’d become fixated on.

“I appreciate your interest, Mr. Grimley, but I’m afraid it’s all very complicated. It may not even be germane to you as an individual, but let’s just say you have something I want. A privilege of sorts. And since I can’t have a child of my own, then why should you?”

Geraldine brandished her dentures proudly.

The wheels were turning in all their heads, but the one with the dead hamster inside spoke first.

“Jesus fuckin’ Christ, lady! You can adopt! You killed my fuckin’ wife because of that?!” Greg bellowed.

Molly broke down, pleading with Geraldine through her tears. “Please, you can do whatever you want to us, but just let the children be! I’m begging you! I’ll do anything! Anything!”

Geraldine’s shrewd wrinkles flattened out as she considered Molly’s wish. She looked back at the screen displaying the children playing merrily. Suddenly, an idea popped into her head. Geraldine lit up with a big, toothy smile as a genuine surge of excitement hit her.

“Remind me, dear, which of these girls are yours again?!” Geraldine inquired.

“What?” Molly asked.

“What do they look like?”

“They’re the two small blonde girls, they—they look like twins almost.” “Mr. Fuchs, go to the control room and give me a close-up, quickly!”

“At once, my lady,” he replied, disappearing through the doorway seconds later.

Geraldine began racking her brain. She couldn’t be sure of their appearances until she saw them with her own eyes, but she did her best to render an image of two young girls hovering around Molly outside of her estate.

She lingered in front of the screen anxiously, arms folded at her sides. “There we are!” Geraldine said.

She pointed at the image of Sam and Sadie seesawing on the screen. “These two?” Geraldine asked.

“Y—Yes,” Molly replied.

Molly’s face maintained a grimace—she was unsure if the answer she’d given was what Geraldine was looking for.

“Why they look nothing like you!” She switched her stare and fixed it on Tom. “They don’t look like either of you for that matter!”

“No, I suppose they don’t…”

Geraldine looked back at the screen in disbelief. “And the two of you made them together?”


Tom nodded after Molly spoke but remained silent.

“But how can that be? They—They don’t even have your hair color.”

“Variations can be passed down from prior generations. My dad was blond. It’s rare, but not unheard of.”

Molly didn’t even know what she was trying to convince her of anymore. Geraldine’s behavior seemed even more bizarre than before.

“I have one last question then,” Geraldine said. An odd, hopeful inflection hung on each of her words.

Molly was afraid to ask. “Okay…”

“How do you know they’re yours?” “I don’t understand—”

“How do you know?!”

“They—they came out of me? I watched them take their first breaths.” “But imagine you hadn’t seen that. How could you possibly be sure?”

Molly was beginning to sweat. The conversation spawned a suffocating sense of paranoia in her chest.

“I—I don’t know.” “Think, damn it!”

Geraldine’s impatience was on the brink of exploding. “We act the same?”

As Molly made the statement, she watched a disturbing grin replace Geraldine’s scowl.

“Thank you! I thought you might say that!”

Geraldine rejoiced, throwing her arms in the air. It was as if she’d been playing a verbal game of charades, unbeknownst to Molly.

Looking back at the screen, Geraldine glared at the two young girls. Between the close-up of Sam and Sadie, she watched Tanya step into the background. Tanya eyed the girls with envy as the seesaw rocked back and forth.

Geraldine started to think deeply about her sexual fixation. For the first time, the prior conversation triggered a question she’d never thought to ask.

Did her attraction lie solely in the flesh?

She wasn’t sure, but there was no reason not to find out. A newfound opportunity suddenly dangled before her. The mere possibility of expanding outside her carnal desires was provocative. Could her lust be contorted to conform to behavioral tendencies rather than physical features? If she was

able to identify someone that acted enough like her, could she relish in those old feelings of sinful succulence?

Rock had been such a massive disappointment. There had never been an inkling of curiosity around the topic since he’d been brought into the fold. But with so many new faces, the odds had suddenly increased.

“My beauties,” Geraldine mumbled.

Her wrinkled hand glided over the bodies of the three girls in frame on the tube.

“She’s lost her fucking mind,” Tom whispered. “We have to try still,” Molly said.

She shifted her focus back to Geraldine. “Please, just don’t hurt our children.”

Geraldine spun back around, with a new pep in her step. “I’ll tell you what. I can promise you I’m going to be watching all of these children very closely. Examining their attributes, and how they think and act. Maybe, if they make it out of the playground, and I see enough potential in one of them, just maybe, I’ll take them under my wing.”

Geraldine’s nefarious leer upset Molly deeply. From what she knew of the woman, that might be a harsher sentence than death itself.

“And just to make things interesting,” Geraldine said, “there’s one other final stipulation I had already planned on offering. But again, this reward is also contingent upon the children making it through my entire playground. Should any of them make it to the other side, I’ll afford you the opportunity to see each other one last time before… before we do what we must.”

“This is really happening,” Tom said to himself.

The shock and disbelief were beyond anything he’d felt.

“Although, we may want to keep them away from Mom here,” Geraldine said, pointing her thumb toward Lacey’s blood-soaked body. “That could be… traumatic.”

The comment lifted Greg back out of his trauma trance. Like Tom, he had to pinch himself to believe it.

“Evil fucking bitch! I—I promise you’re gonna pay for this!” Greg screamed.

Geraldine giggled.

“What do you mean? I already have! And just wait until you see what I’ve invested in.”

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