It's morning, and Zach's dad is just getting home from the restaurant where he works. He's limping and grease-soaked, but satisfied—the restaurant was busy, which means his job is safe.
Zach and his father are awkward around each other. Zach's dad left his family three years ago, but returned three months ago; to say that Zach hasn't quite forgiven him yet would be an understatement.
Zach feels like his father doesn't like anything about him, except maybe the fact that he plays basketball. But Zach doesn't care. Or that's what he tells himself, anyway. He fully expects his father will abandon the family again.
Zach walks to school with a guy named Kevin; once there, Zach and a teammate discuss their upcoming game against another school.
After lunch, Poppy passes Zach a note. The note is part of something that he, Poppy, and Alice call Questions. Questions isn't quite part of the game, per say, but it's not real life, either. It's somewhere in between.
Here's how Questions works: One person writes questions about the game, and whoever gets the Questions has to answer honestly. The answers don't affect the game play.
Zach finds Questions exciting, but also risky; he'd die if anyone outside of the game ever found one of these notes.
Poppy's questions are about William the Blade, including whether he thinks that Lady Jaye likes him—you know, romantically.
Zach writes a reply, focusing on William's worst fear, which is being buried alive.
Apparently Zach hit a growth spurt this past summer, and things feel different now. The guys are friendlier, the girls are weirder, and Alice… well, Alice has been awfully giggly lately. Zach has no idea why, though, because he continues to be oblivious.
Walking home alone after school, Zach gets such a serious case of the creeps that he breaks into a run.
Back home, his mom is making dinner. Zach heads up to his room to start his homework, and on the way, he has yet another awkward conversation with his dad.
In his room, Zach thinks about how he wants to watch TV instead of eating dinner with his family. And then he comes to a terrible realization: William the Blade is not where Zach left him this morning.
Zach frantically searches for William the Blade, but the toy is nowhere to be found. This makes Zach nervous because William is his favorite character, and he, Poppy, and Alice are at a really exciting point in the game.
It's impossible that William is missing… but what if William is missing? Zach is really freaking out.
He runs downstairs. Zach's mom isn't too worried; maybe William is under a pile of laundry or something.
But William is not under a pile of laundry. And then Zach's dad confesses to throwing away all Zach's stupid baby toys.
Zach goes bananas. He is furious.
Zach's dad is also furious, until he begins to realize the extent of Zach's freak-out. Suddenly he seems less sure of himself; he apologizes for throwing Zach's toys in the garbage.
Zach goes bounding outside to the garbage cans, but alas, they're empty.
Defeated, he goes back inside. His father apologizes, but Zach isn't having it: "Don't bother trying to be my father anymore," he says. "It's too late for that."
Zach's dad is bummed, but not as bummed as Zach, who is so upset and angry that he skips dinner and sleeps in his clothes.
In fact, he's so angry he's almost physically ill—Zach realizes, though, that he doesn't want to tell Poppy and Alice what happened. Instead he decides to just end the game without telling his friends what's up.