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April Mid-Month Rolls
As much as I wished I didn't have to, Melissa Li is dead over here.

Now to wait for V5.


I Will Follow You into the Dark
'What the heck is that?' Melissa thought to herself as she saw the weird looking mess of...stuff that Nick was hurriedly making in his hands. Wires, tape, batteries...they were all mashed together in some sort of hodgepodge gizmo that one would expect to see at a swap meet, sold by some unsavory mad scientist-type character. It was one of those things you'd seen in the movie that with one push of a button, you'd find yourself in the future with no way to get back because your time-traveling thingamajig had malfunctioned (all because of a single hair from your family dog).

But this was no time to contemplate the amazing movie scenes that could be crafted from the thing that Nick held in his hands. He was excited...more excited than Melissa had ever remembered seeing the boy. His hands were shaking. He was happy. Probably running on adrenaline or something like it. She felt her heart pound in her chest, wondering just what it was that was so important. The energy he was giving off was contagious and when Nick finally revealed what he was holding in quick, rapid-fire bursts of words, she couldn't help but feel a surge of glee.

This could be it. Their escape. Their chance...if Nick was right...and he had to be pretty damn confident for a 95% chance although she would have preferred full 100% confidence. She knew what the collars could do. She had seen Kayla's neck after hers had exploded and Melissa had no desire to come out of this in the exact same shape.

But imagine what they could do if Nick was right. They were free...well...as free as one could possibly be. They could help the others. Without the threat of death looming around people's heads...it'd be easier, so much easier. It was an ideal solution. One she hoped would work.

They had no time. Nick was motioning with the thing urgently and she tossed a quick look at Jennifer before stepping forward, giving him a quick nod. She didn't even know why she was volunteering her head first. It seemed kind of selfish, actually. Freedom! A chance for actual, blessed freedom from this game and here she was, stepping up first and taking away the chance to let Jennifer be the first to achieve it. But something was bothering her...

Well, it was obvious. It was that 95%. Even if he was 95% certain it would work, what was that 5% then? An error, a failure? Would it not do anything at all? Would it trigger her collar? She didn't want to think about that...but perhaps it would be best. Just to make sure that it worked before letting her friend take it. So she closed her eyes as she saw Nick approach her, that...that contraption of his coming closer to her neck.

What the fuck was she doing?

This was Nick Reid, accomplished killer, fighter, and now makeshift inventor? She was pretty certain they never covered "How to disable the explosive collars in Survival of the Fittest" as a part of their physics class or chemistry class or any class back at Bayview. Why was he so confident? Did he actually know how the collars worked or was he just tossing ideas to the wind, hoping that the theory of "Shooting electricity at something electrical will totally disable it"? Melissa felt her muscles tense...she had to restrain herself from breaking away as she felt Nick's magnet come close to her skin and then brush off.

She wanted to run. She was getting scared. Nothing happened after that pass. Was it not working? Was it all a failure?

The second pass.

Still nothing. What the hell was going on? Shouldn't it have done something now? She really wanted to bolt. Just to take a step back and say, "Yeah, looks like it didn't work, let's just move on, shall we?" Just wanted to...she didn't know what the hell she wanted now. Why was it taking so long? Was Nick taking longer just to increase the tension? Make it more dramatic for the people at home? No, that was a dumb thought and Melissa felt irritated just for thinking it. He wouldn't do that.

Her eyes squeezed shut tighter as the machine came back again. Seconds seemed to lengthen into minutes as thoughts raced in her mind. She had promised to stick with Jennifer for as long as possible. That's why she was here. Because she was Jennifer's friend, Jennifer was counting on her and she was counting on Jen. That's the way it worked. Friends helped out friends. Friends stuck together. Even in something like this...yes, that's how it was supposed to be.

Her hands clenched into fists.

Third time's the charm.

Right?

G098 - Melissa Li - DEAD

She never did get to return Felicia's yearbook.

I Will Follow You into the Dark
Melissa shot a look of surprise at Jennifer when her friend suddenly spoke up, giving Nick a chance to delay his explanation...perhaps put it off forever. She hadn't expected that...definitely hadn't expected that at all. It wasn't that Jennifer was stabbing her in the back or anything. To call it that would be a grave over-exaggeration and really would be a disservice to all of them. Maybe she felt a little bit hurt...just enough that her mind immediately worked on trying to find reasons on why she wouldn't feel hurt at all. But it was fine. It wasn't like Jennifer was telling him it was okay to never talk...that they didn't want to hear it. Now that...that would have been a bit more upsetting.

Fortunately for her curiosity, Nick decided to just say it straight out and began a fragmented summary of the events. Melissa watched him silently, feeling a bit more respectful towards him as he explained what happened in a straightforward, matter-of-fact tone. It was nice. Refreshing. No dancing around the topic of the death and the way he finally got to the kill, after a brief history of "This is why I could do this", it was quick. That was it. She felt a bit envious of Marty...to die quickly without much pain, who wouldn't want something like that?

Melissa definitely did. She just wanted to delay the death part for as long as she could.

And then Nick was done. The explanation finished and now he was...he was doing something and Melissa had no clue what it was. She heard a spark, saw nothing else...and then he told them to get up and over so he could show them something. She looked at Jennifer curiously, wondering why she hadn't thought about that little thing in his hands earlier. It could have been a weapon or a gun. He could have just as easily turned a weapon towards them...threatened their lives and Melissa didn't even think about it at all.

Was it trust in Nick? ...No, of course not.

But she trusted Jennifer and Jennifer trusted...cared for Nick and that's all Melissa needed. A friend of a friend...was a friend.

So she got to her feet and walked over to Nick's side, curious at what sort of modern marvel he was going to put on display. "What're you doing?"

I Will Follow You into the Dark
Melissa remained silent a Nick said that he was willing to talk about the announcements. That was cheering. No "Go away." or "Shut up." A...weak admission, sure, but an admission nonetheless and he wasn't really being...well, he wasn't really doing anything, to be honest. Not that much sorrow, not that much anger, not that much denial or justification...perhaps at this point, it was just a fact of life. Something that happened and could be dealt with rationally and calmly like it was just another thing. Melissa could understand that.

She couldn't help but wonder if the people back home could understand that. They had seen everything had happened, of course. They had seen every single detail and event in this through their televisions, their streaming video, their...whatever. She still didn't know why they wanted to watch it. Morbid curiosity? Watching a relative or a friend struggle? Placing bets on who would win? Melissa hoped it wasn't the latter...to have something like that occur would just...just show how far on the moral compass humanity had fallen.

But even if they could watch it...did they understand what was going on? They weren't here. They weren't on the island. They saw it across a screen, a barrier that separated them from the emotions and feelings that ran rampant through the place. And that...well, that was probably okay. They needed that. Imagine if they didn't have that barrier separating them emotionally from everything...life would be a lot more interesting, to say the least.

"Um...well..." She began, looking at Nick somberly. "I just want to know what happened and why...that's all."

April Mid-Month Rolls
I'm...pretty certain that Melissa's death won't be finished in time so requesting a brief extension.

I Will Follow You into the Dark
Jennifer seemed fine with meeting Nick again, offering him a bottle of water with a slightly shaking hand. That was good. There wasn't any yelling. No crying. No shouts of betrayal or accusations of murder. Perfect. That was the Melissa wanted it. That was the way she liked it. It was easier to talk like this. To understand each other and understand the situation. Nice and peaceful discussion....wasn't that always the best way to resolve disputes? Even disputes that involved murdering your own classmates?

Nick took the bottle after a cough, gulping it down before offering an answer to her question. Melissa remained silent throughout, just listening to him as he stammered and stumbled awkwardly to the finish line. He kept it light. Airy. Didn't have that much substance in it. A summary of a summary...he left out the part where he had killed someone as well. That made sense. At least it showed that Nick wasn't proud of his feat. That he wasn't willing to go "Oh yeah, there was this kid. Killed him. It was fine. No problems."

Still...to leave it just at that was unsatisfying. A silence fell among the group and Melissa fidgeted a bit, wondering who would be the first to break it. To her, the subject of the announcements hung in the air like a bull in a china shop. You knew it was there but you just wanted to pretend it wasn't and that it wasn't just ruining everything and destroying all the pretty little plates and dinnerware because they were just so pretty and something so nice should be destroyed.

"So..." The word slipped out of her mouth before she knew it. "We've uh...we've been fine. Yeah. Just walking. Talking. Thinking about things. Waiting for friends, you know. The like. Just heard the announcements too...actually."

I Will Follow You into the Dark
"Ah...you're telling me." Melissa said with a sigh as she continued to rest, casting a tired glance in Jennifer's direction. "Everything sucks. The food, the weather, this whole thing sucks." She laughed a bit. "Sorry...sometimes I can't help but ramble...it's like...you're so tired that the controls you impose on yourself just pop open and you just let whatever exit your mouth. I'm sure it's something like that..."

She was all set to fall silent again and just go back to minding her own business when she heard a somewhat familiar voice. Turning, she saw the last person she had honestly expected to see again. Nick Reid was standing right there, looking dumbstruck and no worse for the wear. Although considering that he had already looked like shit, adding a few layers of dirt and other crap didn't really make him looking much different. 'Well...at least he's safe...I'm sure Jennifer will be happy.'

Melissa looked over at her friend. Now that she thought about it, was Jennifer happy? After all, Nick had been on the announcements just hours before...but Jennifer still had wanted to wait. Well...she was sure things would still be fine. So she gave Nick a small smile and a quick wave, just to make sure he knew she was there as well.

"Hey Nick. Had a hard time...huh?"

I Will Follow You into the Dark
(I am so late. Melissa Li continued from And A Buck Short.)

Melissa hated mountains. Oh, she hated them before. She hated them ever since she had come across a mountain...this particular one, actually, earlier in Survival of the Fittest and had to climb up it. Mountains were tall, had little shade, and because a mountain is a mountain, they were always an uphill climb and that was tired and made her body hurt like all hell. If she had a choice...if she somehow obtained the power to manipulate terrain at will, she would cast down all mountains like an angry, vengeful god and laugh as all the little mountain people begged for her forgiveness. They would cower before her, the Cruel One, as she struck all mountains (even Mt. Everest) from the world and laid bare the land.

Melissa paused for a moment, blinking as she wiped away the sweat from her forehead. 'Okay, that was kind of weird.'

Her breaths were coming out in hard gasps as she lugged her pack over her shoulders. It had been...hell, she had lost track of time since they had left the groundskeeper's hut and they had taken very little in the way of breaks along the way. She didn't know how Jennifer or herself could keep such a grueling pace, but somehow they had done it and they had arrived at the mountain...somewhere. Waiting...for Nick or something. She was tired, she didn't really care why they were here on the mountain, a pair of insignificant specks that were waiting for yet another insignificant speck.

But at least they were alive. Tired, hot, thirsty, but alive. Melissa dimly heard Jennifer ask if they could take a break and she nodded, dropping her bag before letting her legs collapse beneath her. She landed on the ground, groaning as she tucked in her legs. "Ah...damn. Remind me...if I ever get kidnapped for Survival of the Fittest again? Remind me to like...never get anywhere near another mountain. For as long as I live. Mountains are just bad luck. They're Satan's horns, you know."

She gave a weak laugh, closing her eyes and resting her head against her knees. She was tired. There was no other explanation for...what just happened. She wasn't the type of person to joke like that, but there it is. Melissa groaned, just taking this time to suck in a few precious gulps of air.

"I hate mountains..."

And A Buck Short
Melissa smiled broadly as she heard Jennifer return the promise and she gave her a nod, hefting her pack over her shoulder. She took in a deep breath and let it out slowly, wondering if they'd come across anyone on their way to the mountains. Maybe they'd get lucky and run into Nick along the way and then they could have that talk that Melissa had always wanted. It'd be a nice, peaceful talk...just an exchange of information, of reasons, of ideals. She could almost imagine it...although the imagination was somewhat happened by the image of a bruised and bloody Nick bleeding all over the mountain so maybe it wasn't the best thing.

She quickly shook the sight out of her mind and walked after Jennifer. They still had a future. They still had hope. All they had to do was keep walking, keep living, and keep out of danger.

That's all it'd take.

It was good enough for her. She took another deep breath. They'd been lucky so far. There was no way the streak could end now.

(Melissa Li continued elsewhere.)

And A Buck Short
Melissa nodded silently when Jennifer mentioned moving again. Their next destination bothered her, though...she didn't have many good memories of the mountain. Not only was it annoyingly hard to climb, but the fact that Samaya's body was probably still there...she quickly brushed that thought aside. Maybe they'd go to a different area of the mountain and not find her body at all. That would be nice. The last thing Melissa wanted was a reminder of the past when she had traveled with the other girls...she was with Jennifer now and things were peaceful...less rigid and more just...just living.

It sounded ridiculous when she said it in her head. That what she was doing now was living when compared to everything that had happened before. She didn't exactly even know why...maybe it was the fact that earlier with Aislyn in the lead, everything came down to survival and every moment was laced with a heavy dose of fear and us above them mentality. With Jennifer though...it was a lot more just...sitting around and waiting. Waiting for friends or to hear or see something good or to just talk philosophy. It was pleasant...almost like being at school again. Maybe that's what she meant by living.

She began climbing down as well, letting out a soft "Oof" as she landed. She blinked and looked up at Jennifer at the question and she blinked a couple of times before letting out a short laugh. "I don't mind...after all, we're on Survival of the Fittest. It's not like we can really be in even more danger, you know? But anyway...you're a good person, Jennifer...and a great friend. And I like doing things for my friends so..."

"So just don't worry about it, okay? I'll stick with you for as long as it takes, promise."

April Mid-Month Rolls
Wow. Well. That's just depressing.

Welp! All I've got to say is that I really hope someone heroes Melissa. It's not like I can really offer anything since I used my own hero already :V

OUT OF THE GOODNESS OF YOUR HEART.

And A Buck Short
"Thanks." Melissa said as she let out a deep sigh, shaking her head one last time. She didn't look at Jennifer as she laughed a bit, holding up her knees tight against her chest as she looked out at the world in front of her. "I...sorry, it's just...I dunno, I thought I was prepared for the announcements but I guess I wasn't, huh? I guess that's a good thing, though...right? It'd suck to be at a point where hearing about your friends killing and dying doesn't make you feel anything. I'm um...I'm sorry about Nick...and all. I'm...I'm sure there was a good reason for what he did."

She fell silent afterward, just rocking back and forth as she let her mind dwell on the past and the future. She didn't know what else they were going to do. After all, they were waiting for Nick and now Nick had gone and killed someone else again and Danya wasn't even kind enough to say where the kill had happened. At least they'd have a clue to his location...but once again, they had nothing but...but nothing. They were just wandering...letting their whims carry them wherever they wished.

"So uh...what do you wanna do next? Keep waiting?" Melissa asked. "Either one is fine with me...I mean, who knows, maybe someone's already found the note in the Hall of Mirrors and is coming to meet us here or something..."


And A Buck Short
Melissa smiled and nodded as she listened to Jennifer's stuttering aspirations and she let out a snort when she Jennifer mentioned that she wouldn't be too good. The Chinese girl just shook her head and gave Jennifer a challenging smile, giving her a playful shove on the shoulder. "Don't be modest, Jennifer. Saying you wouldn't be good at therapy or in fashion? Don't be silly...remember what I told you at the Cinema? I liked your work...and I meant it then and I still mean it. I mean...even if there's practically little chance of that happening now because I think I lost my wallet somewhere..."

She tried to laugh at her joke, trying to avoid the real reason why that exchange never would really happen. She didn't want to say it, even though the both of them knew it. Still, she felt a heaviness in her heart and the rumble of that annoying voice in her head coming back so she quickly powered on, trying to ignore the feeling. "And as for therapy...don't you remember what you did on this island? You...You're probably the kindest person on the island here. You stayed with Nick Reid even though he was a killer and...and you believed in him. Not everyone can do that, right? So that means...no matter what the person, I'm sure you'll be able to listen to their problems and understand. Isn't that a basic skill that all therapists need?"

Melissa smiled as Jennifer continued and like her, she stated that she'd like to be something different now that they had the experience on the island. Her smile grew as she thought of Jennifer as a school counselor and a light blush graced her cheeks when she heard her friend's compliment. She shook her head ruefully. "I dunno...I doubt I'd be as good as a teacher and you would be a counselor. Who knows? I'm sure we'd try our best though...right? Maybe Bayview would have to give us both Best Teacher Awards, huh?"

She grinned and turned her attention back to the scenery, her grin fading away as she closed her eyes, letting her thoughts just drift away. She was getting tired...maybe her body needed a rest after all that talking...adrenaline and fright weren't driving her at the moment. She was calm and...maybe not at peace, but definitely more content than she had ever been. She yawned, covering her mouth with a hand as she looked at Jennifer. "Hey...now's the perfect time to get some sleep, huh? Let's just alternate watches and we can both get in some shut eye."

And with that, the night passed smoothly and uneventfully. It wasn't a comfortable rest...after all, what rest on a roof is? But it was rest and Melissa smiled as she looked at the scenery that was illuminated by the rising morning sun. She gave the sleeping Jennifer a shake and murmured, "Hey, it's morning...wake up."

She winced as the ever-familiar crackle of the speakers started up and she immediately wished that she hadn't woken up Jennifer. It would have been better for her to sleep through it...but what was done was done. Melissa closed her eyes, breathing softly as she listened to Danya's gloating, sickening voice echo through the air. 'Twenty-nine...Twenty-nine kids killed in one day. Impossible...I can't believe that's even possible. I guess he's just proving more how bloodthirsty humans can be...'

She just hoped that none of her friends were on that list...and had that hope immediately shattered when Nick Reid's name graced the announcements yet again. She quickly looked at Jennifer, hoping that somehow her friend was drowsy enough that the name simply passed by her and she didn't recognize it. Melissa remembered the look on his face as he had ran away from the Logging Road...it wasn't a look that said "I'm going to kill someone else now." Yet there it was...Nick had sent another student to his death and she couldn't even tell if it was because Nick was somehow trying to protect them or just...wanted to notch another mark on his belt. 'Nick...you bastard...why? Does it give you a thrill? Jennifer cared about you...wanted you to be peaceful...not a killer. And yet here you go off, the moment she's not looking you murder someone else. Bastard...!'

Next up was Robert Jenkins and she let out a pained grunt as his name was read out, covering her face with her hands. She coughed, trying to ignore the sharp pain in her heart. She knew he had killed...but either way, he had been...was her friend and now she didn't even know why he had killed in the first place. Now he was just another corpse amongst the fallen. 'One more kill before you died, huh, Rob...? Why...did you do it? Self-defense? Just wanted to pad your count? Dammit, dammit, dammit...'

But Danya wasn't done. As quick as a one-two punch came the news that Sapphire MacLeod had died and Felicia...Felicia Carmichael had killed. Sapphire's death didn't hurt as much as she had expected...Melissa thought she'd feel more for the girl, but then again they didn't really have that much contact. She had known the girl though...had seen her just hours before. That had been enough to wedge the knife in deeper.

What really hurt...what really just felt like a punch in the gut...was the fact that Felicia had killed again. 'Was it the same sort of circumstance? Was she tried to protect herself and others just like in the Infirmary? Please...please tell me that it was. Please don't tell me she had killed out of spite...out of rage, out of despair. I can't...I don't want to accept that.'

Melissa remembered the shock on Felicia's face as she shot Sebastian...remembered the shaking of her hand as the corpse had fallen on her. Felicia hadn't seemed like a girl who would want to continue killing unless necessary and she had faith in her friend that Felicia was just going to keep trucking along. Just...find her way and not become a killer. She wanted to hope so hard. But although she hoped that it was just...a mistake or something that was necessary, in her heart, Melissa couldn't help but feel like there was a chance that Felicia had just...lost it. It was possible that the loss of Aislyn had pushed her over the brink.

No. That was wrong.

That was all wrong. She couldn't doubt Felicia.

She wouldn't doubt Felicia. Until she saw it in front of her eyes, she wouldn't doubt.

She sniffed, trying to stop the tears from falling. She felt so guilty. Guilty for believing, even for a moment, that Felicia could have been a cold-blooded murderer. Guilty for just letting Felicia go where she wanted...for leaving her alone. She choked on her tears, quickly wiping them away and shaking her head. Crying wouldn't help solve anything. She needed to stop that. It was sad, yes, but she didn't need to cry all the time. And besides, it wasn't like she was the only one around...

She shook her her head again and looked at Jennifer, her eyes slightly red and bleary. She raised a hand...paused...and placed it comfortably on Jennifer's shoulder, giving her a few pats. She wanted to say something cheerful...some dumb joke that'll raise their spirits. She still hoped that her friend hadn't heard Nick Reid's name.

But she didn't have anything. She gave her one last pat and...just let her hand fall away.

She looked out at the scenery...the trees, the flowing grass, the dead bodies littering the ground, the warm morning sun at her back and casting her shadow in front of her.

It...was so beautiful.