I was dumped, soaking and shivering, onto a platform near the top of a very, very high room. I sighed. Why couldn't I just have a simple challenge? One that involved brain work and thinking. Or just one that didn't involve heights.
I laid down flat on my stomach and peered over the edge. The platform moved upwards so that I wouldn't be able to stand up again. Not only did I almost have a heart attack, but I think I uttered the most profanity I had ever spoken in my life.
On the floor, a large -4 was painted in red.
"Minus four?" I asked no-one in particular, my shaky voice sounding quite annoyed and shocking me. "Since when does snakes and ladders have a minus four?"
"Contestant," the voice said, yet again making me jump out of my skin. I screamed so loudly that the echo made me miss some of the next bit. "- the other side of the room without falling. The ledge will rise and drop in a random formation. You must jump from the ledge and catch the metal bar above you. Once you have remained holding the bar for fifteen seconds you will be pulled up into the next room. You may take as long as you wish, but you only have one attempt. If you miss you will be eliminated from the game."
A leap of faith. Far, far too much faith.
"What!?" I demanded frantically. "What!? No!"
My heart was thumping so loudly I could barely think. I had not heard one word about how I would be saved from death if I missed the metal bar. I mean, seriously, there was no way anyone could survive a fall from that high up onto solid concrete.
I looked at my hands. They were wet, of course, and since the water had gone through this room before rushing off to the left, so was everything else. Heights were not my strong point, and I hated surprises. When I applied for this, they made me write down a list of my phobias from strongest to weakest, and now it seemed as though I was being presented with all of them. What chance did I have of completing this?
"How am I supposed to-?" my own high pitched yelping cut me off when the platform dropped about thirty feet without warning, accompanied by a the loudest nails-down-a-chalkboard scraping sound I had ever heard.
My grip tightened on the edge and I pressed my forehead against the surface, bracing myself. Quite rightly, too, as not a second later it shot right back up and stopped when there was just a few centimetres between my body and the ceiling.
"Oh god, oh god," I whimpered. "Oh god."
I was so scared, all I could do was count the seconds until something else happened.
... One hundred and thirty four, one hundred and thirty five, one hundred and-
Suddenly I was halfway down the room. There was another kind of ruler thing painted on the wall right next to me. Not that it helped me to know how high up I was, but it certainly helped to terrify me that little bit more as the number whizzed past.
My whole body was shaking violently. I was gripping the ledge so tightly that my knuckles might have broken through my skin if I had the strength to grip any harder.
Back up to where I started.
Think, Lily, think.
I'd have to get out of here somehow, and it was blatantly obvious that whoever was running this thing had only supplied one way.
Drop. Drop. Drop.
"Oh christ, oh christ that was scary," my words were almost impossible to understand because of how much my voice trembled, but it's not like there was anyone there to hear it.
Or was there? Where were the cameras?
I shook my head to clear my thoughts. What I needed to do now was stand up. There was absolutely no chance of reaching the bar if I didn't stand up. So I braced myself and turned so that I was laid on my back.
Bad move. The ledge fell downwards so fast I was sure I was going to fall, but I didn't. Now I was too terrified to even speak. There was no denying I would fail this.
A door opened near the top of the room, and a figure swayed on the frame before saving themselves when they saw what they would be stepping down to.
They peered at me as the ledge shot up, and I got a full view of their face. Alex.
"Lily?" he asked, shocked and confused.
"Help me," I begged desperately, and I was dropped again.