MINDLESS GAMES

The sun shone bright in the sky. Birds twittered and a gentle breeze rustled the trees and plant life. It was serene bliss. A peace that would never be shattered. However, a few minutes later, there was a war cry, resulting in the birds taking flight and the plant life being rustled vigorously from the stampede, which jostled the plants.

This stampede had been caused by three children, one of them being the source of the war cry. As the three children raced forwards, each of their eyes lit up in glee. Their prey was in sight.

Up ahead, in the centre of the field, were three children. Boys, to be exact, and they were the prey of the female trio who were sneaking towards them, their feet barely touching the ground as they crept up behind their prey.

The source of the war cry halted behind the boy in the middle, shot a grin at her teammates, then lunged forwards, stabbing her plastic spear into the boy's arm.

"OW!"

As the boy fell to the ground, Ingrid Smith put her free hand up to her mouth and proceeded to imitate a Native American war cry, Mandy Fletcher and Dinah Hunter joining in.

Lloyd Hunter and Ian Robinson shared a surprised glance, before helping Harvey Hunter up, the former rolling his eyes when Harvey began to whimper from the sore spot on his arm, where the spear had been 'stabbed.'

"Oh grow up, H! The spear's plastic."

Harvey stopped whimpering, stumbling to his feet upon being lifted up by the two older boys. Once free from their grip, he dusted the dirt off of his checked shirt and spoke in a Southern drawl.

"I know, don't y'all shout at me."

Ian scoffed. "But we're not shouting at you, mate. Just stating that the spear is plastic, so you shouldn't be crying out in pain."

Harvey inclined an eyebrow at the tall boy. "I was not crying out in pain! Besides, why would I be voicing my pain? Cowboys are meant to be tough!"

Dinah snorted and muttered in a tone that was very uncharacteristic, for her. "So why are you a cowboy then?"

As Harvey shot her a hurt look, Ingrid scowled at Dinah. "Why did you say that?! Jeez, Dinah, all day you've been acting like a bitch!"

Dinah clenched her fists, barking: "I am not! I just don't want to play this stupid game!"

Whilst Ingrid's eyes narrowed to slits, Mandy aimed at Dinah. "Oh yeah? Well when we were sneaking in the woods, towards the boys, I didn't hear you complaining."

Dinah sneered. "That's because I wanted you to think that I was enjoying it! And being the idiots you are, you all fell for it!"

"Now hold on a minute, why are we arguing? It's just a stupid game."

Ingrid whirled around to face Ian, snapping: "So, I see that you side with the bitch! Well, Ian, if it's such a stupid game, why are you here then?!"

As Ian attempted to form an answer, Mandy folded her arms over her chest. "Yeah…. Why are you here?" Suddenly, she cooed mockingly:

"Does Ian have no other friends? No other people to tell crap jokes to?"

Lloyd bristled, incensed over the argument that was erupting and stamped over to Mandy and Ingrid. Dinah and Ian beside him, Lloyd promptly tore into the eldest female member, a full blown fight breaking out, minutes later.

Harvey watched all of this, silence still washing over him, mouth agape. It had all happened so quickly. One moment, they had been playing Cowboys and Indians, boys as the former and girls as the latter, and the next, his friends were all out brawling.

Astounded at seeing two Cowboys and three Native Americans wrestling on the floor, Harvey withdrew his plastic gun from the holster and twirled it round on his finger. However, he dropped it abruptly when a tall, menacing figure emerged from the woods, the Headmaster, clad in his familiar gown, striding towards him.

Harvey could only gape as the Headmaster halted before him, looming over him as his stern face flickered into a feral grin. Harvey trembled as the Headmaster started to croon.

"Your friends have had a bit of a… falling out, haven't they? Such a shame."

He chuckled sinisterly and Harvey shivered, the small boy inhaling a sharp breath as the Headmaster's hand shot out and gripped his chin, a smirk replacing the feral grin.

"Yet you, Harvey, you are not involved. Why not?"

"I-I-I don't know, S-Sir."

"You may not know, but you do realise that this argument started, because of YOU. Everything is your fault, Harvey. Everything that befalls this group is on your head. Whenever your group fail….. It is all down to YOU."

"B-But we don't f-fail! We d-defeated you!"

He squeaked as the force on his chin heightened, the Headmaster hissing: "Do not test my patience, little boy. You may have defeated me, but your luck will soon run out."

Breathing frantic now, Harvey eyed the Headmaster observing the fighting children and shuddered as the man chuckled again, crooning in that chilling tone.

"All this fighting…..and you were simply playing a game only minutes before it all escalated."

He sneered. "A game, which requires no thinking ability at all."

Harvey thought to pipe up how stealth was needed and logic as well for the planning of the ambush of the rival team, but wisely kept his mouth shut. The Headmaster focussed all of his attention onto Harvey's outfit and he let go of Harvey's chin, purring:

"My, aren't you the perfect little cowboy? With your toy gun, heeled boots and hat."

Harvey bit his lip, anxious about where this was going. To his utter shock and relief, the Headmaster barked one last comment, before spinning on his heel and striding back towards the woods.

"Enjoy your little game, my boy."

Harvey rubbed the back of his head, barely noticing when Lloyd and Mandy rolled past his feet. His vision inspected the 'wound' from the spear attack instigated by Ingrid as he pondered:

'Maybe that spear caused me to hallucinate? I mean, I MUST be hallucinating?! That was so random!'

"Oi, cowboy!"

Hearing a familiar voice, Harvey hunched his shoulders till his neck was non-existent and turned round, only to be confronted with Jeff Morgan in a replica of Harvey's cowboy outfit, except Jeff's one was made up of darker colours.

As Harvey went to run, Jeff pulled out his own toy gun from his holster. Yet, his one was not a toy.

Bang!

Eyes creeping down, Harvey gasped as a patch of blood spread wide over the middle of his checked shirt. Blood pooled between his fingers as his eyes rolled to the back of his head, body falling backwards and head slamming against a rock.

Jeff smirked, blew the smoke from the gun out, holstered it and swaggered past his dying victim, cocking his cowboy hat to the wrestling SPLAT members. Lying on the ground, Harvey's eyes slid shut as he thought about how HE was the sole reason for all of SPLAT's past problems.

The other members of SPLAT broke up their fighting upon Harvey taking his last breath and they rose to their feet, Lloyd and Ian withdrawing their guns, which were no longer toys, and the girls preparing their own weapons.

A spear for Ingrid, a bow and arrows for Dinah and a dagger for Mandy.

All of which were no longer plastic.

As they raised their arms, preparing to strike their friend's corpse, Harvey awoke. Eyes bulging in terror, mouth stretched open in a silent scream, sweat stuck to the sheets and tangled between his legs, Harvey clutched his chest, panting.

In the dark, he spotted the outfit hanging on the back of his door. His cowboy outfit, all ready for tomorrow. Shaking his head, Harvey reached a decision.

Tomorrow, he would be returning the outfit and not joining in with the SPLAT game. Plus, he would run away upon first glimpse of either the Headmaster or Jeff, (which was something he had been doing for years, anyways.)

Heartbeat finally settling, Harvey decided on another solution.

Burn the outfit and stay indoors all of tomorrow. That way, his nightmare would not come true.