Ricky knocked on the door and waited while the door opened of its own accord. Darkness. At the back of the room, a faint glow illuminated Kalila and Nevin at a table, hunched over something he couldn’t make out while Vic looked on.
“Ebazimt,” Kalila said. She selected the appropriate tiles and placed them on the board.
Vic wrote something on a piece of paper. “Two thousand and fifty-three points.”
“I object,” Nevin said. “Ebazim has two Zs.”
Ricky crossed the room while Kalila peered at the board in concern. “You’re right.” She waved a hand and a second Z appeared.
Vic gave a little nod of approval. “Three thousand and twelve points.”
“What the hell?” Ricky examined the board. It looked an ordinary Scrabble game, except that the words were ones he had never seen before. “Uptuu?”
“That was mine, Nevin said. “Quintuple word score.”
“There’s no such thing.”
“There is when we say there is. Placidly, he laid down his tiles, displacing three of Kalila’s in the process. “Bsaugxe.”
“You can’t move her tiles,” Ricky said. “That’s against the rules.”
Vic looked up from calculating Nevin’s score. “Rules are for mortals, although I realize it’s your human lack of imagination that makes you think otherwise.”
“Don’t patronize me,” Ricky said, as Kalila vanished one of Nevin’s tiles, changed the color of the board squares, and spelled the word, “Ghrtt.”
“Is that even a language?” Ricky asked, but she ignored him.
“What’s the score now?”
“You’re at two million, six hundred fifty-three thousand, eight hundred and fourteen,” Vic told her. “Nevin is at two million, nine hundred thousand and forty-one.”
“Damn.” She grabbed some new letters and pondered them while Nevin giggled and spelled “Szbeharr.” For good measure, he changed the numbers on Kalila’s tiles so that they all read zero.
Ricky opened his mouth to protest, but Kalila slapped him on the hand. “Will you just let us play our way? Everything doesn’t have to work by human rules, you know.”
He looked from her impassive face to the others and felt his sense of outrage weaken. What did it matter, really, if they spelled words like “eidhthrgt,” vanished each others’ tiles, and added 10,000-point bonus squares to the board? At least they weren’t up to any mayhem, and they seemed to be enjoying themselves. He glanced at his watch. “Just remember you’ve got a gig tonight and you need to be on time.”
“Of course, Ricky.” Kalila dismissed him with a wave of her hand and bent back over her letters, frowning.
As he left the room, Vic called after him, “Next time, don’t be such a vundrandvl!” Ricky kept walking. He didn’t want to know what that meant, and he had a feeling it didn't mean anything at all.