Chapter 1:

♕Day One - Part I: Happy Surprise Tours♕

Game of Mass Destruction

"You must remember, my dear lady, the most important rule of any successful illusion: First, the people must want to believe in it."

Libba Bray

Just play along. Pretend you haven't got a clue what's going on! Once you're at the airport, find the silver bus that says Happy Surprise Tours. Don't worry, if you can't find them, they'll find you."

Her mother's words had burned inside Yuzuko's brain. Game of Mass Destruction was a crazy show. People believed that the game was a hoax and that all the family stories were nothing more than fake news. She knew it was real, and the fact she was nominated just solidified the fact. Sweat poured from her forehead, swerving her shoulders to get through to her suitcases.

"Sakura?" Yuzuko noticed her girlfriend was leaning towards one side. It was the first flight that the two of them had taken outside of Asia. London was their number one choice for a honeymoon, but the dream had been corrupted.

"Oh!" Sakura straightened herself up. Her long hair slapped Yuzuko's face. "I'm fine, just jet-lagged. Plus, looking at that wretched woman's face makes me want to puke."

The wretched woman was non-other than Sia Bucks. Her grandfather told her bedtime stories as a child. Sia was the wicked witch in every single story. Yuzuko would fight online trolls daily, although Sakura urged her to just report them and move on. With no father figure in her life, her grandfather was her rock.

In the airport she could see how her grandfather's work had influenced the world; people were checking in and out with their phones, rings, watches, even fingerprints. His iconic jog plastered on advertisements. Although older generations claimed he stole the routine from a footballer called Peter Crouch.

Drones carried advertisements for Game of Mass Destruction. Posters of Sia Bucks plastered all over the walls. Every half mile had fans of the show fighting against protesters with the police struggling to maintain the peace.

Yuzuko was about to walk past it until she heard a familiar voice.

"Will they ever shut up about Game of Mass Destruction?" She couldn't mistake that loud voice for anyone other than Todd Patrick, the British gym junkie from one of the game servers.

"Hey!" Sakura said, taking selfies behind the Union Jack flag. "Those guys sound familiar. I think that's Todd and Bobby."

"From the Choco Donuts group chat?" Yuzuko asked.

"Let's go and see them."

Yuzuko and Sakura approached the two men who appeared to be having a general banter. Todd was looking over at Bobby, who had his head stuck in his console. "Are you still playing that stupid Chocolate Donut game?"

"I thought you liked that game!" Yuzuko interrupted them. Sakura lept up and surprised Todd by covering his eyes.

Yuzuko could only see Todd's back but could tell from the upbeat voice that he was glad to see them. "Sakura! Yuzuko! What are you guys doing here."

"We're on a trip to the UK."

Bobby looked up at Todd when Sakura opened his eyes. Taking no notice of the bustle. "For the record Todd, I think the story behind it is a masterpiece. It's so addicting. Got pretty much all the merchandise for it." He smiled at Yuzuko and Sakura. "It's good to see you two as well."

"You mean in that pink room?" Todd mentioned. Yuzuko remembered the room Bobby saved for his daughter from pictures. "You really do need to get out more."

Bobby shrugged his shoulders, pointing at his suitcase. "I'm outside now. This is my first holiday after all."

"You've got to be joking?" Todd yelled outside the checking point. Papers trapped between his fingers. "Don't tell me you've never been abroad on holiday?"

"Not everyone has parents you know; let alone rich ones." The crowds and multiple checkpoints must have sent Bobby's anxieties off the scale. Yuzuko was so proud of him, knowing he'd been through. "I did not remember going on holiday when I was younger."

Todd patted Bobby's shoulder. "Wait, you went to Amsterdam last year. That counts!"

"That wasn't a vacation." Bobby bit his lip and turned away. "I really don't want to think about that day. So... can we please just forget about it? Anyway, which gate do we have to go to?"

Todd smiled as he marched forward towards the exit. "Well, you'll be in for a treat."

"Guys," Yuzuko butted in with Sakura pacing behind. It was amazing how Bobby and Todd were exactly the same online as they were in real life. "Where are you guys going?"

They skipped past several tour groups and oncoming human-traffic to catch up with Todd. "It's a surprise."

"That's his way of saying he hasn't got a clue!"

Todd pointed to the front page of his leaflet. "It says we've got to look for a silver bus."

"Silver bus?" Yuzuko froze on the spot. Stomach-churning, she tried to convince herself that it had to be just a coincidence. It can't be? Todd and Bobby were going to be part of the show as well. What were they thinking? It would kill Bobby with his mental health issues.

"What's wrong?" Todd asked, bringing Yuzuko back to reality.

"We've got to get a silver bus too." Sakura saved Yuzuko from an awkward moment. "A company called Happy Surprise Tours."

"That's our bus too!" Todd explained.

"Well, now we know why we had to get the bus from the airport." Yuzuko sensed the sadness in Bobby's eyes as he spoke. The way he shook as if he was out of his comfort zone. She wondered if Bobby was in the know, whilst Todd was oblivious.

"No idea," Todd admits. He seemed none the wiser. He pointed at Bobby and showed the papers. "I know that we've won this holiday and we've got to wait around here."

Bobby sighed. "It sounds overly complicated. Are you sure it isn't a scam?"

"They had a website in Japanese," Yuzuko lied. "Mother paid for ours. You two are lucky that you won. My mother said it cost a lot of money."

"Well then, it can't be a scam then." Todd folded his arms.

Oh dear Todd, Yuzuko thought. Her head sunk into her neck. She rubbed her eyes and yawned. You have no idea what kind of shit you're going to get into.

"What makes you so sure?" Bobby asked.

"Cause the bus is just parking up." Todd was right. A silver bus was parked right outside. "By the way, have you been getting those weird emails from RHF Corp?"

"Of course," Yuzuko replied. "My grandfather runs the company."

Bobby shrugged his shoulders. "I deleted it. Just assumed it was spam. Did you read it?"

"Of course I did," Todd said.

"You really shouldn't. That might be why you get so many viruses on your laptop."

"Hey!" Yuzuko yelled. "My grandfather doesn't make viruses. He's the best of all men. RHF stands for Robots have Feelings." There was more that she wished to say, but knew she couldn't. She wanted to tell Bobby and Todd to go back home but feared the consequences.

"Really?" Bobby said, chuckling. "It sounds like a pitch for a video game."

"Now you're interested." Todd went to one of the vending machines behind him to get a drink." Well, it's urging people not to support that TV show, Game of Mass Destruction and not to be afraid of robots."

"I've never watched the show, Game of Mass Destruction. There's an old PC game called Mass Destruction with tanks, is it related to that?"

Todd collected his can. Dropping his voice tone down a pinch, he said, "You've never watched it?"

Bobby shook his head. "No. I don't watch TV. I've only installed Netflix for you."

"It's only the most popular show since Disney did the Game of Thrones remake."

"That show is terrible, but not as bad as Sia's game! It's the worst show in the world!" Sakura screamed.

"It's a disgrace!" Yuzuko folded her arms. "I hope they shut it down for good."

"So, what's it about?" Bobby asked.

"Mainly robot slaying. But I'll be honest, I like it more when they've got lesbians in it."

Bobby pulled his crucifix from out of his top. "Now I know what you do at night."

"Gross!" Sakura wiggled her shoulders. "You're such a pervert."

"Not like that, I just happen to think it's a great show that has something for everyone. It's so real with the sex, killing and everything!"

"I don't think they'll ever broadcast it if it was real. The Pope would forbid it. Surely these TV production companies have standards. It must be staged."

Bobby has such a pure mind compared to the filth that came out of Todd's mouth. Yuzuko wondered how the two got on like a house on fire.

Todd carried on waffling on. "The Pope has no power over TV."

"Sometimes I wish he did." 

"So, we can hear songs of praise every morning? No thanks, Bobby."  The interior of the bus had more sunshine then the skies outside with its floral curtains and plush leather seats. The bus driver's disgruntled face stood out from the flamboyant colours. 

Sakura and Yuzuko listened, dreading how Bobby and Todd would react in the game. Todd's gameplan would involve pulling his pants up and down like a yo-yo. Yuzuko knew that she would be safe with the two of them around. Bobby was a devoted priest, thus would have no interest in killing or sleeping with anyone.

It's the others she had to be worried about. Once everyone took their seats, a woman dressed in orange steps into the bus as her voice boomed into the microphone. "Hello and welcome to Happy Surprise Tours. My name is Lisa and I will be your tour guide today." Lisa did a headcount. "Great! There's twenty of you."

Yuzuko didn't know how much longer she could pretend to act. Seeing Bobby and Todd was bad enough. To see her online friends from Seoul, Sook-Jo and Chang-Hoon as well as her friend from Shanghai, Yanyu and her Uncle Fan thrown into the mix made her sweat. To make matters worse, there was a man from America panicking, suspecting that they might be dragged onto the Isle of Hakai to play the game and that Lisa was non-other than the vile Sia Bucks herself.

Lisa butted in on the couple's conversation and smiled at him "Let me reassure you that you are all safe. Our first stop will be near the beautiful beach with green pastures and delightful waters."

"Devon or Cornwall I reckon," Todd belted out.

Lisa smiled. "You'll see."

The bus made several detours for scenic drives stopping at Birmingham, Oxford, Bournemouth and Portsmouth. The occasional stops left enough time for bathroom breaks, selfies and snacks.  By the time the bus drove into a ferry in Portsmouth, the moon was already up when the bus converted into a ferry. 

Yuzuko was so happy to see more of her online friends but wished that she had the guts to tell them it was all a trap and hatch a plan for all of them to escape. By doing that, she feared she'd do more damage than good. Yuzuko had visions of Sia dropping bombs. Because God knows what Sia Bucks had in store for them should she rebel.

Lisa helped the bus driver on with a gas mask. Yuzuko noticed that a lot of the other passengers were still asleep. When she looked at Sakura, she found herself yawning and drifting off.

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