Radar, Quill, Nemesis, and Squirrel departed the warmth and comfort of the house for the frigid Minnesota outdoor evening. The sun was setting, darkness casting a shadow over the white snow. All of them were bundled up in full winter attire--snowpants, boots, scarves, gloves, hats, coats...the works.
Of course, a large part of that was because they were wearing shorts and t-shirts.
Their dad had kindly built the Midway girls a fully insulated and powered playhouse that summer, with the Midway boys helping on the condition that they got to use it on occasion. (Since Radar and Nemesis were 12 and 8, respectively, any "help" rendered was probably not actually useful, but their dad was gracious enough to let them help.) Dad had also gifted them with a heater for the winter months, so that when their mom was tired of them trashing the house, she could order them outside without even a slight twinging of the conscience.
The playhouse was a marvel, as would be expected of the product of an engineering mind. It was about ten feet by ten feet, with a front porch (rendered useless at the moment by the Minnesota winter) and a second story loft that took up half the inside space. The result was one and a half floors of fun. Radar, of course, disdained the convenient ladder/trapdoor rig in the corner, preferring to jump for the railing and bodily haul himself up. (Or just jump down, depending on what direction he was going.) This, of course, was probably why he was the one who proposed the game of tag, figuring his daring would give him the edge.
Snow gear piled in the corner, the siblings voted on who would be "it" first. The honor fell to Quill. Radar scaled the loft, crouching in the far back corner, while Squirrel hid on the ground floor directly beneath him. Nemesis ran up the ladder, closed the trapdoor, and sat on it, leading to a brief discussion of what constituted "fair." Radar argued for an open-trapdoor policy (since it didn't bother him any), Quill argued that a closed trapdoor meant a very one-dimensional game with her and Squirrel, and Squirrel (who did not want to be it) sealed the vote with a cry of "Get off it, cheater!" Nemesis yielded to the vote, and the game began--
--after Radar activated the boombox with their favorite soundtrack of Pirates of the Caribbean...and turned off the lights to give the game the proper ambiance.
The move, daring as it was, was initially met with protests before everyone realized that their odds of hiding just got a lot better.
Quill opened up the round by flying up the ladder after Nemesis (or Radar; she wasn't real picky). Nemesis retreated towards Radar, demanding to know why she wasn't going after Squirrel. Quill pointed out that Squirrel was "too easy" as Radar departed the loft over the railing. Nemesis swung a leg over to follow Radar, desperation making him bold, but was tagged by Quill before he had quite gotten up the nerve. Since a ten-second no-tagback rule was in place, he opted to exit the loft via conventional means to pursue Radar.
Radar planted off the small toy stove and re-entered the loft. Nemesis settled for Squirrel. Squirrel scurried up to tag Quill, but both Quill and Radar jumped over the railing to the main floor. (Quill remarked that the technique was actually not as bad as she'd previously thought.) Squirrel saw the veritable buffet of tagging options on the ground floor and slid back down the ladder with a haste that led Quill to believe she'd fallen off. She ran up to see if her younger sister was okay and got tagged for her pains.
By now, Radar was back in the loft, so Quill cornered Nemesis. Nemesis charged for the ladder; as soon as he got out of sight under the loft, Radar jumped back down. Nemesis almost tackled him, his charge for the ladder having merely been a feint. Radar wasn't it for long; throwing out a hand, he tripped Quill. Since that technically counted as a tag, she tried to get Nemesis, but Nemesis had already vanished up the ladder into the loft. Quill followed him up, so he jumped over the railing, emboldened by his siblings' prior successes. Quill jumped after him, so he ran up the ladder. The chase continued in that vein for almost a minute before Quill reversed thrust and was waiting for Nemesis when he jumped over the railing. Nemesis, furious, tagged his incapacitated brother, whose laughter wasn't so pronounced that he forgot to immediately pass the designation of "it" off to Squirrel, who was laughing right next to him. Squirrel got Quill, who tried to get Radar--but Radar was long gone, having scaled the loft via railing moments before.
Quill tagged Nemesis. Nemesis went after Radar again, trying to pull the same feint he'd used before. His older brother, however, was too wily to be taken in by the same trick twice, waiting until Nemesis's head poked into the loft before jumping down. Nemesis went back down; Radar went up. This continued until the ten seconds were up, at which point Nemesis tagged Quill, since she was considered to be the more accomplished at nailing the oldest. She shot up the ladder. Radar jumped down--
--and almost landed on his dad, who had just opened the door and walked in.
Dad flicked on the light as everyone froze in instinctive guilt, before remembering they weren't in the "real house" and thus punishments for banging around would not be forthcoming. Dad noted that a) it was dinnertime, b) the loud music had apparently deafened them to the dinner bell, and c) that it was probably 97 degrees in the playhouse and that they could probably turn down the heat.
Now that their father had mentioned it, they were all pretty hot. Slipping into their boots, they scooped up their clothes and bolted for the house before their astonished dad could point out that summer clothes probably would result in frozen kiesters....
He didn't rat them out to Mom, though.