“Spin the wheel, win a prize!”
Beej was pretty sure there hadn’t been a man in a multicoloured suit standing outside the Moonbase when he’d taken the industrial-size crate of noodles out of his trunk, but there was one now. He was standing next to a gigantic wheel. Each pie-shaped wedge promised a different prize, from fidget spinners to bubble wands to boxes of Magic cards.
“What say you, chap? Give the wheel a spin!” The man gave Beej a winning smile.
Beej did like prizes. He grabbed the wheel and gave it a huge push. The colours blurred together. When the wheel finally came to a stop, an arrow pointed to a thin golden wedge.
Beej smiled. “Jackpot? Sweet! What’d I win?”
“A twenty-four hour all-expenses-paid trip to The Gates of Hell for you and all your friends.” The man was speaking with a showman’s bravado.
Beej shook the wheel owner’s hand. “Thanks. When does the trip start?”
“Now.” The man snapped his fingers.
Beej felt dizzy; he had to close his eyes. A moment later, he was distinctly aware of a warm wind. His feet were no longer on the ground. It was like he was falling through space and time.
Something slammed into his back. When he opened his eyes, he was right in front of a massive set of iron gates. He couldn’t see through them at all.
There was definitely a boss on the other side of those gates.
He heard yelling. Spinning around, he spotted several other people and what used to be the chair for the editing computer. That man really hadn’t been lying.
Graham was the first to stand up. “What the hell was that?”
“Wormhole, probably.” Paul shrugged like he’d seen this a thousand times.
“And falling through a wormhole means I don’t have to edit anymore!” Kathleen grinned.
Cori flexed her foot before standing. “Beej, what did you do?”
“Spun a wheel. Won a trip to the Gates of Hell.” Beej tried to smile, but it felt forced. “We’re here for a day.”
“That sounds like a bad thing,” Graham pointed out.
Kathleen looked at the massive iron gates. “I dunno. Feels homely.”
“It does?” the others said in unison.
Kathleen started wandering around the area. It was surrounded by cliffs on all sides. The wind seemed to be coming under the gates. Besides that, the only things to look at were cliffs. Dread started to creep up her spine. This was not going to be a comfortable place to stay.
Paul held his cell phone up like he was Rafiki from the start of The Lion King. He couldn’t get a signal.
Rocks began to fall from one of the walls. Everybody sprinted away as they broke against the ground. There was a hole in the cliff face, and there was a person inside the hole.
The person blinked slowly as he walked into the light. He was tall, and his black suit was neatly pressed. He wore an eyepatch over one eye. Something about him seemed familiar.
When this stranger saw the group of comedians, he waved to them. “Guests! We haven’t had guests in so long. You won the prize?”
Beej grinned, a bit sheepish. “I did.”
The man turned around. “Martha! We have guests for dinner.”
“For dinner?” Graham looked uneasy.
“We don’t eat people.”
“So, you’re a demon,” Cori said matter-of-factly.
The man shook his head. “I’ve been cursed as the Prize Master. I have to stay here until the end of time. When somebody wins, I get to entertain them. I hope you like Dungeons & Dragons. I’ve been making my own homebrew variant.”
The smell of freshly-baked cookies filled the air as they entered the cave. A small fire crackled in a coal-burning stove. Martha greeted each guest as soon as she saw them. This would certainly be an interesting vacation.
Heather walked briskly to the Moonbase. The man in the colourful suit waved to her, imploring her to try her luck with the wheel.
After a moment, Heather stopped. “Hey, Gordon.”
“Oh, shit.” The man whispered.
She adjusted her grip on her backpack before walking over. “What did we agree about multi-dimensional pranks?”
“I put in the directions for Crystals, Crystals. The MDGPS said it was right here!” He pointed to the ground for emphasis.
Heather turned the man to face the building. “Read the sign.”
“‘Loading Ready Run’. Well, then.” He snapped his fingers. “I’ll make a note that this place doesn’t exist anymore. Thank you so much for your time and your help and your not turning me into some sort of Caviidae.”
“Don’t mention it.”
The man disappeared, leaving a puff of smoke in his wake. He wouldn’t be back for a while. Heather would make sure of that.