Andy listened for the sound of Emily's car driving away before he dared to move again. The gnawing frustration and uncertainty he felt deep within his gut was unfamiliar and horribly unpleasant. The games weren't supposed to end like this--there was supposed to be the overwhelming feeling of power that only comes from crushing the weak completely.
He suspected part of what he was feeling may have been guilt, and he didn't like it at all.
Andy: "All the more reason it was time."
He was frustrated with himself for letting things go on too long this time--he'd have to be more careful in the future.
There wouldn't be any more of this--it was time to move on to bigger and better things. There were better games to be won, bigger prizes to be had. Glass and Jade had managed to nearly complete their work--it was only a matter of weeks now before they would have a 'finished product' for him.
He absentmindedly carried his now-empty glass into the kitchen, rinsing it out in the sink before placing it on the counter. Wisps of doubt floated through his mind, never fully settling yet never fully leaving either. He wondered if he'd acted too soon, if he should have kept her around just a little longer. Surely there wouldn't have been any harm in having a warm body in bed with him. Was it possible he'd panicked? It had been more than a bit shocking to hear that she'd stood up to that goon of an ex-boyfriend, and he certainly didn't want to run the risk of her finding out his game and turning on him.
With a frustrated sigh, he pushed the fragments of doubt away. What was done was done, and there was no going back now. What he really needed was a hot shower and some mindless entertainment before a full night's sleep. In the morning all this would almost certainly seem silly.
He walked down the hallway and into his bedroom, glancing briefly at the perfectly made bed and brushing off another whisper of doubt. There had been perfect moments spent lingering under the covers hiding from the early morning sun, her hair tickling his face as he'd kiss her neck.
Andy: "It was her or me."
He quickly went into the bathroom, absently turning on the shower while he tried desperately not to look too closely at any one place for any length of time. He stepped into the shower and was startled by the onslaught of a memory of her laughter echoing off the cold tile walls, how she'd been startled by the chill of the marble floor on her bare feet.
Andy: "One or the other."
He hurried through the rest of his shower, desperate to find a distraction from the creeping madness. He dressed quickly, hurrying out from what was supposed to be his innermost sanctuary and back into the living room. Everywhere he looked he saw her ghost: here in the bedroom where she'd cried in his arms at Christmas, turning herself over to him fully; over there, by the front door, where she'd come in to take care of him after he'd been jumped by that experiment-gone-wrong; now here in the living room where her presence was its strongest, where he'd shattered her very existance, the pain in her eyes burning stronger than he'd imagined was possible.
He'd pushed all the right buttons, manipulated all the players with deadly precision. They'd done exactly what he needed them to do, as if they had no free will of their own. They'd turned into their own worst enemies, doing more harm to each other than he could ever do to any of them. Each of them had played their part as if following a script--his script. It should have been his greatest triumph, yet all he felt was this rather unpleasant nagging in the back of his head.
Up the stairs now and past the game room where everyone had gathered for an inexplicably short and tiring party. He felt the pull to have her stronger now than ever, to get her back, lock her away and keep her forever. It was disconcerting and made him feel slightly out of alignment with the rest of the world. He looked away from the room quickly, and with his head down continued on.
He sat heavily down on the plush overstuffed couch, turning on the TV with a quick push of a remote. He pondered his sanity for a moment as he found himself wishing for a "Three's Company" marathon to be playing. After all, it didn't get much more mindless than that. There was comfort in the predictability of TV sitcoms and the flimsy worlds in which the characters lived, where all of life's problems could be solved in a half-hour's time.
The television flickered to life, casting an eerie bluish glow to the room. Rod Serling's grim voice began to echo off the walls. It was miles from mindless entertainment, but Andy felt compelled to watch.
Rod Serling: "Beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone."
Andy: "Twilight Zone indeed, Mr. Serling."
Andy found his eyes slowly beginning to close as familiar stories played themselves out on his TV screen, a series of foreboding images in black and white. The actor's voices became a bizarre lullaby, sounding out a rhythmic drone that was oddly soothing.
Chris Miller: "What is it?"
Bill: "The opening."
Ruth Miller: "To what?"
Bill: "I think... to another dimension."