The sign on the door simply said ‘The Ball Pit.’ The door had been bolted shut and then locked over with chains.
Vicky stared at the door, puzzled, “we have a ball pit?”
“Apparently so,” Kyle said.
“Guys! Doesn’t this look one of those legendary Pandora Books?” Avera came running over carrying a massive metal bound locked book. She hefted it so they could see.
“Those are just stories and probably, I never saw one,” Kyle said.
“What are we looking at?” Avera dropped the book. It thumped solidly to the floor, her attention refocused to the door.
“A ball pit, apparently,” Vicky said.
“A place I haven’t found, heard of or been to yet? That needs fixing.” Avera rolled up her sleeves and started pulling on the chains.
“Maybe we shouldn’t, it’s chained up, probably for a very good reason.” Vicky said.
“Vick, if they didn’t want us to find a ball pit locked away under the food court, they should have hidden it harder.” Kyle gently pulled Avera off the door and then gave it a good yank. The door popped open. Stale cold air drifted out of the blackened room.
Avera put her hand up in the air and after several seconds, glowed. A pale yellow light seeped into the darkness, illuminating a few feet into the room. “I like it already,” Avera grinned and stepped into the room.
Kyle followed while Vicky stood outside. “Do locked doors mean anything to you two?”
OH YOU FOUND IT. I WONDERED WHERE THE ROOM HAD GONE TO.
Mercury vapor lamps clicked on in rows, spreading out into the darkness like an array of evenly placed tiny blue stars. Each passing moment they glowed just a little bit brighter as the lamps warmed to operating temperatures.
WELCOME TO THE BALL PIT.
“That’s what it said on the door,” Vicky said dryly.
BUT NOT JUST ANY BALL PIT. THE BALL PIT.
As the lights warmed and changed to a white light, they began to see further and further into the room as it stretched into the fading darkness.
FLORENCE CHADWICK CROSSING RECORD HAS YET TO BE BEAT.
By now, the lights were fully on and they could see a vast expanse of brightly colored red, blue, green, yellow and orange balls as far as the eye could see. They swirled around in eddies, currents and small waves. There was a dock lined with twenty runabouts that bobbed at the closest edge to them which was separated by a wire mess wall they had to walk around that served as line control.
They had to pass a rather large plaque on the wall.
“What kind of ball pit is this?! ‘Hereby honor those that have died ‘at sea.’’ ?” Vicky had to stop to read the plague.
“That’s quite a bit of names on that sign.” Kyle said as he came up behind her.
“You mean there’s body’s in there?” Avera ran up to the edge of the dock and picked up on of the balls.
A DISTINCT POSSIBILITY.
“So what do we have to do?” Avera jumped into one of the boats.
RACE TO THE OTHER SIDE.
“That’s it? Sounds boring.” Avera slumped in the pilots chair as Vicky and Kyle made their way onto the dock.
IT IS ANYTHING BUT BORING.
“Avera, this was locked up for a reason, probably has something to do with all those deaths.”
ACTUALLY YOU HAVE TO TRY TO CROSS NOW.
“Why? The door is right,” Kyle pointed back towards the door, “…there.
IT IS IN THE RULE BOOK.
“It is not!” Vicky threw one of the plastic balls out into the open sea. “I read the whole thing!”
I DO NOT HAVE THIS AMENDED RULE BOOK.
Vicky looked over at Kyle for help, but he was already settling in on another runabout. She ran her hands over her face. “Why do I even bother sometimes.”
“What’s the worst that could happen, Vicky?” Kyle undid the mooring lines and was showing Avera what to do.
“The wall of dead people?” She pointed back towards the plague. “That’s not a small number of names on that thing.”
I AM ROOTING FOR ALL THREE OF YOU TO WIN. I THOUGHT YOU WOULD LIKE TO KNOW.
“Greaaat. Can you help?”
THAT WOULD BE CHEATING.
“Argh!” Vicky stomped over to another boat and climbed in. “If I die, I hate you all. And that I blame you, Avera.”
“I accept this responsibility.”
RACERS TO THE STARTING LINE.
They each fired up their little boats and maneuvered out into the open ball pit. It took several minutes for each of them to figure out how best to pilot their runabouts but got themselves more or less lined up.
A console panel flipped open on all three of the boats revealing a staggering array of buttons and switches.
“I’m excited, are you excited?” Avera called to the other two.
“No.” Vicky yelled back.
“I hate this part.”
They each gunned the engine as the boats dug into the brightly colored balls and surged forward. Avera pulled ahead to the lead and carved back and forth, leaving a a strange wake as the balls rolled around. Vicky hit the wake hard and bounced through it.
“What are you doing?”
Vicky mashed buttons on the console. A net launcher rose out of the bow and fired aimlessly out in front of her. The large net landed flatly on the top of the balls forcing Vicky to swerve around it or get tangled in it. “Of course. It’s a death trap.”
Kyle swooped in and fired a large blue ball that rolled along the top of the balls, chasing after Avera. She arced around in time to fire back a defense of small mines that exploded on contact with the blue ball. A spray of multi-colored balls shot everywhere with astonishing velocity cracking the side of Vicky’s boat.
Vicky pulled far out of the way of the other two and gunned the tiny craft forward. She felt something slam into the bottom of the craft, throwing her sideways as she spun out of control to a stop. There was a long series of metal clacking noises.
OH NO. YOU ACTIVATED A TRAP.
The three speed away in different directions as geysers everywhere shot up towards the ceiling. Lights shattered under the onslaught dimming areas of the sea entirely. The balls rained back down with the force of rocks at them.
Kyle deftly dodged geysers as they appeared. Each spot would bubble first before an eruption, giving him time to react and steer away. In the distance, he heard Avera giggling. He looked towards the direction of the giggling to see her bearing down on him, twin Gatling’s spooling up.
He gunned the boat as a spray of webbing filled the area his boat had just vacated. The balls had been glued together forming a pack that someone could probably stand on.
“How about we try to make it to the other side without attacking each other?” Kyle called out to Avera.
“There’s so many buttons to try!”
“You’re both going down!” Vicky crested a wave and flew threw the air. Her tiny boat had a giant slingshot armed with goat shaped pillows. The first goat launched into the air and slammed into Avera’s boat, crushing the starboard gunwale. The slingshot reloaded and fired another goat.
Kyle got out of the way as it splashed harmlessly to his port. A ball hit him in the face.
The three pulled away again before looping around for another round of attacks.
Vicky found a ram hammer and advanced on Avera.
Avera found a sonic disassembler and bore down on Vicky.
Kyle aimed between them with a spiked submarine mine. His hit the orbs of plastic first and detonated. A shock wave burst out throwing boats and balls away to the far corners of the sea.
Vicky’s boat spun around in circles for a time, engine dead. She couldn’t see any of the walls to orient herself. She tried to restart but the engine wouldn’t catch. She sat there, bouncing in the bob of the balls. “So, this is how I die,” she said to herself.
A RESCUE PARTY WILL BE DISPATCHED IF REQUIRED.
“I don’t know how I feel about that, actually.”
Presently, Kyle came puttering up. “Do you require assistance.”
“I thought I’d have a picnic out here in the middle of this ball pit. Yes.”
Kyle tossed her a rope and they got under way. It was slow progress under the added weight.
It took another ten minutes to reach the far side of the ball pit. Avera was lounging on the shoreline. “There you guys are, I was getting worried.” She helped them tie up the boats and come ashore.
“So, how did we do? Now that we’re all here.”
YOU DID NOT BEAT FLORENCE CHADWICKS RECORD.
“That is unfortunate,” Kyle said
“At least we’re not dead.”
THIS PLEASES ME THAT I DO NOT REQUIRE CONSTRUCTING NEW FRIENDS.
“That’s a relief. I was worried,” Avera said.
A door opened up.
“Oh good, the way out. Lets never come back here.”