1. The Bandit

I broke my bow in half because it lost its magic and wouldn’t shoot. Crunched it in the middle, jagged where it broke, but the pieces looked like scimitar handles. I got an idea. I thought hard about magic blades, and magic blades shot out, solid blue flames. It was an easy way to make swords, but I had to think about the blades to keep them going.

I saw them in the dressing-room mirror, so I took a better look. I was badass in my armor. Shiny black bug monster stuff. I tried different poses and found a couple that looked best. I kept trying new ones, but after awhile I got bored of that. I checked the fridge, but it was empty. I wondered why Dasney was gone so long. I went out looking for him.

In the hallway, I found a dead clown with a monster face. Its eyes were gone, like someone had torn them out. Later I found the stage where they shoot Jeopardy! There were two people in there already. Or one person and a being made of light. They were at the podiums for the contestants. The person was Taylor Swift, and I knew then it was fate. She was dressed like a superhero.

They were standing there, and the monitors were flashing a blue happy face. I figured this for the quiz show that Dasney meant, so I went in and stood by the empty podium, the one in the middle.

I said, “Hey, girl, glad you’re alive,” but Taylor just stared at the happy face. I said it again and snapped my fingers. She looked, then looked back at the monitors. I didn’t know what to do. My heart was fast. I tried one of my poses for the next time she looked. I stood that way for a long time, and she didn’t look. The being of light was ignoring me too.

I said, “You met the skeleton.” Later I said, “I wonder where that skeleton is.”

Taylor finally said, “Dasney has been gone a long time.”

I said, “Yeah, at least an hour,” and she made this tired laugh that scared me. I tried another pose and said, “When’s he coming back?”

She said, “Soon,” but didn’t look at me. She said, “The TVs are on.”

I said, “Yeah, for the quiz show.”

She said, “And I ate the last Lunchable.”

My poses weren’t working, so I turned on my swords. That got her attention, but it was hard to keep them turned on for long. She looked at the happy face on the monitors, then looked at me. She asked, “Are you a clown?” That was brutal.

I started screaming. I didn’t know why. Taylor was screaming too, and so was the being. We all kept screaming for a long time, and I started to think I was screaming at how horrible it is that we all die. Then I thought that the screams weren’t mine. They were the being’s. It was screaming through both of us. I turned to look, and the being fell over.

I jumped to catch it, but mid-blink Taylor was between us, crouching with her bloody hand out to stop me. I think she teleported. She looked exhausted out of nowhere, maybe like she was older. We were still screaming, but she stopped to yell at me.

“Don’t hurt her again!”


I was trying to say I didn’t touch the being when Dasney showed and we all stopped screaming. He was in front of the monitors, which were all on, that solid blue, and the studio was full of cigarette smoke. The doors shut.

He said, “Let’s begin. You’re playing for your lives.”


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