As soon as Rachel entered the green hallway, David ran to her and grabbed both her hands. He studied her intently. "You're okay."
She giggled nervously. "Yes! I told you that on the phone."
"But I needed to see it for myself." He looked relieved.
Then Daphne made her grand entrance.
"Look!" She said. "No bug bites. The dreams aren't real!"
"That doesn't prove anything," Rachel said. How could Daphne be so irrational?
"You were bit!" David looked shocked. Angry. She thought back to their conversation and realized she had never actually told David what had happened in their chute.
Daphne laughed a wicked laugh. "Oh yes. And it was all very painful. Your little girlfriend was suffering, and you didn't even try to save her."
"Daphne!" Rachel tried to act angry and humiliated, but she couldn't help loving the girlfriend word. Although she understood how untrue that word was.
"Eddie," David said in an I-mean-business-tone.
Eddie completely ignored him. "You guys have only two more games."
"Eddie!" David tried again.
"What?" Eddie said, clearly exasperated.
"What you did to Rachel--"
"Relax." He said. "Look at her. She's fine now. No lasting damage."
David looked like he might explode.
"I'm fine," Rachel assured him. "Really."
"What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger," Eddie said. Then to Daphne, "Right?
"Whatever," she said.
"Anyway, David and Jason went down the good chute. They earned you guys 40 points, minus the 14 you girls lost. All together the four of you have 36 points.
But it should be 35. Because Daphne had made them lose a point.
Rachel almost spoke up, probably to impress everyone with her amazing math skills. But then she decided to keep quiet. This wasn't like telling the cashier they gave you the wrong choice back. This wasn't the time to be honest.
"You need only 4 more points for one of you to get your wish come true," Eddie said. Thirty-six more if you want all your wishes to come true."
"Do we have a chance?" David asked.
"No," Eddie said. "At least I seriously doubt it."
"I'm sure that breaks your heart," David said. There was a coldness in his voice.
"Maybe it does," Eddie said.
They both glared at each other. Rachel glanced at both of them, and felt a deep chill.
Daphne started to hum...maybe to ease the tension. Or more likely--deepen the tension.
Finally, Eddie spoke. "Let's play the next game." To Rachel he said. "I promise this one won't hurt."
"Thanks," she said.
He instructed the four of them to sit down. Slowly, they followed his directions. He sat across from them.
"It's just a trivia game," he said cheerfully. He snapped his fingers and a can of soda appeared out of thin air. He opened it and drank some. "This is how you play. I ask each of you three questions. For each one you get right, you receive one point. For each wrong answer, you lose a point."
"I lose everything," Jason said, staring off into space.
"Jason!" Eddie said. "You can go first!"
"Okay!" Jason said. "All right!"
"Eddie reached into his ear and pulled out a piece of paper. It was slightly yellowed with wax. Gross. "What is another name for the disease rabies?"
"Old Yeller had rabies," Jason said.
"Yeah, so did Cujo." Daphne said. “And that raccoon on Little House on the Prairie.”
"I don't want to know who had rabies. I want to know another name for the disease. Jason, can you tell me?"
Rachel found herself biting her fingernails and quickly stopped. Fingernail biting was one of the few embarrassing habits she had never been guilty of. Why start now?
"Jason?" Eddie said.
"Hydrophobia," Jason said.
"Excellent!" Eddie said. "You get one point!"
"Go Jason!" David joined in the enthusiasm.
Jason looked very pleased with himself. Rachel thought it was nice to see him looking happy.
"Next question," Eddie said. "Which State was Bill Clinton born in?
"California," Jason replied and he sadly looked ready to be praised again. The really sad thing is the only reason Rachel knew he wouldn't be praised was the disappointed look on David's face. She herself had no idea where Bill Clinton had been born. Well yeah, California didn't sound right. Was it Kansas?
"Sorry," Eddie said. "You lose a point."
"Oh well," Jason said.
"Ready for the next question?”
Jason nodded with an obvious loss in confidence. "What is the nickname of Tennessee?
Volunteer state," Jason said.
"Right," Eddie said! "Congratulations. That's another point. Total at 37."
"That's good," David said. "Sort of."
Eddie smiled at Rachel. "Your turn, Sweetheart."
She nodded. Waited.
"How many candles at Chanukah?"
"Nine." Rachel said.
Nope," Eddie said.
"Yes, there are," she said. "Eight candles and then that special candle to light the other ones." Or maybe she was wrong. Maybe she was making a fool of herself by debating this.
Eddie looked at the back of ear-wax coated card. "Ah, you're right. My bad."
"But it's different each night," Daphne said.
Eddie looked at her. "Look, we can't talk about this all night. We have to move on. Do you guys want the point or not?"
"Yes!" David said before anyone else could answer. Then to Rachel he said, "Good job."
Eddie pulled out another card from his ear and read it to Rachel. "What kind of animal is an orangutan?"
"Monkey," Rachel said. Easy.
"Wrong," Eddie said. "The answer is ape."
"Are you sure?" David asked. "You did get the last one wrong."
"Positive," Eddie said, but he did look at the back of the card. "I'm right."
"Sorry," Rachel said to David.
"Don't worry," he said.
"That's minus one point," Eddie said. He got out another card. "What actor stars in The Pirates of the Caribbean movies?"
It seemed to Rachel she was getting a sympathy question. Who wouldn't know that? Well, maybe Jason.
"Rachel?" Eddie said. "We don't have all night. Or maybe we do. I guess I do have the power to keep you here as long as I want."
"Johnny Depp," Rachel said.
"Good," Eddie said. "Congratulations. You have earned one point."
"My turn?" David asked, looking eager.
"Yep," Eddie said and this time didn't reach into his ear. Instead, he reached into his nose. He pulled out a snot drenched piece of paper.
"You are so disgusting," Daphne said.
"Thank you," Eddie said as he unfolded the paper. "What a sweet compliment. And I didn't even have to fish for it."
Rachel looked down at her hands in her lap, tried not to look up at the snot.
"What is the capital of North Carolina?"
"I know this," David assured everyone.
"Well?" Daphne said. "Shower us with your brilliance."
David gave Rachel an apologetic look. "I forgot. Sorry."
"Have to start deducting points now. Your total is now 37 points."
Eddie took another paper out of his nose. This one had a little blood on it.
"You're sick," Daphne told him.
"What year did Hawaii become a state?"
"1958?" David seemed to be just guessing.
"Close." Eddie said. "But Wrong."
David looked embarrassed. Rachel felt sorry for him, but a selfish part of her felt a little relieved. He couldn't expect her to be perfect if he wasn't perfect himself. Could he?
Eddie asked the next question. "Who does the voice of Apu on The Simpsons?"
Rachel knew that.
"Wrong!" Eddie said.
"Shit!" David said. "I meant Hank Azaria. I really did."
"Sorry," Eddie said. "No take-backs. " He reached into thin air and took out a calculator. "You now have 35 points." He took another paper out of his nose. "Daphne's turn."
"Go ahead," Daphne made sure to sound extremely bored.
What is the capital of North Vietnam?"
Daphne rolled her eyes. "Of course my question has to be about Asia."
"Just answer the question," Eddie said.
"Make me you racist pig."
"The questions were chosen randomly. I promise you." Eddie said. "Do you know the answer? Or not?"
"I do," Daphne said. Then she directed a wicked grin at David. "But I'm not going to tell.
"Daphne!" David said. "Please!"
She just laughed.
Rachel decided to try. For David's sake. She used her sweetest voice possible. "Please?"
"Shut up before I hit you," Daphne replied.
"Thirty four points now."
"I really don’t care," Daphne said.
Eddie picked out the next paper from his nose. He read it. "Who wrote the book Dandelion Wine?"
"Ray Bradbury." Rachel was surprised Daphne knew the answer and even more surprised she was willing to give it up.
"Thirty-five points," Eddie said without much enthusiasm.
"Thank you," David said.
"Shut up," Daphne replied.
"What is the nickname of Georgia?" Eddie asked after pulling the next paper out of his nose.
"Peach state," Daphne said.
"Good job," Eddie said in a bored monotone voice. "You're back at 36 points. This whole game has brought us nowhere. It was a complete waste of time."
"Well, I guess it's time for you guys to wake up." Eddie said. "I got stuff to do." He paused thoughtfully. "Or maybe I just want to get rid of you."
"Thanks," David said.
"Some of you drive me nuts all of the time," Eddie said. "And all of you drive me nuts at least some of the time."
Rachel waited to find herself back in bed. She wished she could stay a little longer with just David...the two of them without the others.
"Wait," Eddie said. "Before you go. Just to let you know. Hey! That rhymes!"
The dreamers waited, some more patiently than others.
"Thursday night is our last night together."
Rachel suddenly felt sad. And anxious. She didn't want it to end...even though part of the experience included being attacked by wasps.
"And tomorrow night we'll get another glimpse of your wishes."
Oh great. Now Rachel really felt sad. Maybe depressed would be a more precise term.