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Lone Wolfe
Caleb let out a breath he'd been holding in and smiled. Of course, the smile was hidden behind his grotesque Nixon mask. If he was the type to laugh, he might have laughed now. They were totally scared shitless, which was hilarious.

Caleb stood up, still keeping most of his body behind the door frame due to the presence of the crossbow. He knew them both vaguely, more so Rene who liked video games, but not the ones he liked. Still, he'd see her around sometimes.

He lifted the mask, wiped his eyes clumsily with the back of his hand and took a drag of his cigarette. He let the smoke out shakily, still smiling just a tiny bit, mostly in relief now.

"Hi," he exhaled, along with more smoke.

Lone Wolfe
Caleb continued to sit with his back to the metal door, smoking from behind his mask. He heard them faintly discus him. It didn't seem all that different than regular life. He was aware of how he came off to others and promoted it to some degree.

He pushed that line of thought away for now. Nothing good was going to come from going down that road. He took another drag off his cigarette and held the smoke in his lungs for a moment.

He didn't know who was on the other side of the door. The voices weren't clear enough and didn't sound familiar. If he were to assume that the voices belonged to some of the students that he'd seen around but didn't know well, then what? He didn't like most people, so these unknown entities were not starting with good odds. Part of him wanted to be left alone forever. If he had to die, the thought of staying in his room alone for as long as possible was appealing.

He let the smoke out. Some of it caught behind his mask.

Thinking about his general distaste for most people made him consider the people he did like. He thought about Kimiko and started to feel guilty about staying in his cell. Did he have any obligation to seek her out?

Maybe. The answer wasn't clear.

Caleb tapped his cigarette to shake loose the spent tip.

The sick, light feeling was starting to return. If it came down to the two of them would he be willing to die for his friend, Kimiko? Yes. It was a much easier answer than the first one. Back to the first question. Was Caleb obligated to get up and go find his friend to help her either survive or make her last days as comfortable as possible?

Caleb bit his lip. No, he was under no moral obligation to do this. He sat for a few seconds. Caleb grabbed his duffle bag, slung it over his arm and still sitting on the ground, slowly pushed open the door. He poked his head out to look at the two people. He slowly brought his hand out next to his face and formed a V-shape with his index and middle finger.

Lone Wolfe
Caleb sat with his back to the scratched-up door. There was no noise. He brought his thumb to his mouth and bit it slightly with the nail facing down. The only light coming in was from a window opposite him with bars set into the frame. The light cast from the window formed stripes in the room.

He heard his heart beating, but nothing else. He reached down and unzipped the duffle bag at his feet. The zipper crackled. Still no noise. Maybe whoever was here had left. His hand poked around and felt familiar textures like bottles of water and food bars. He pulled a first aid kit out and inspected it, then put it back. What he wasn't ready for was a clammy rubber feel.

Caleb's mouth pulled into a cynical half-smile. It was a mask of the head of the 37th president of the United States. He put the mask on over his whole head, including his beanie. There were holes for the eyes and a hole for his mouth, though it included Nixon's large teeth as if he was in the middle of a sentence.

"I'll sell our children's organs to zoos for meat," said Caleb in his best Nixon voice, shaking his head to see if the mask was appropriately jowl-y. He was even more hopelessly fucked than before, but it cheered him up a little. Finding his hands had stopped shaking somewhat he pulled out a cigarette from his pocket and successfully lit it, pushing the plume of smoke through the mouth hole in the mask.

Lone Wolfe
((Looks like I got skipped. I guess this will be new posting order))

Caleb took a few deep breaths. That morning he hadn't said good bye to his family. He and his brothers had been out skateboarding the night before. They were almost home, when James bet Andy and Caleb to a race down the steep hill leading to their house. Caleb wouldn't take the bet, but Andy did. They took off fast. Andy hit something, a rock maybe and was flung off the board. A sickening squelch happened and he lay on the payment with an unnaturally twisted arm. It was broken. Andy was taken to the hospital and both his parents stayed overnight. He took James to school and boarded the bus for the field trip.

"See what you did, you retards."

Those might have been his last words to them. He had always been the unlucky one and he thought this time he'd escaped trouble. It turns out he just wasn't thinking far enough ahead.

Caleb continued breathing deep. He still felt like hot garbage. His stomach was flipping, his heart felt weak and he was still dizzy. All in all it reminded him of the similar effects of listening to Skrillex. He got up on all fours and shuffled to the bed. He grabbed the partially rusted metal frame until he was standing. It was then he noticed that the door to his room was wide open.

He heard another door nearby slowly creek open and saw the bag on the floor. He lurched forward, grabbed the bag's handle and dragged it along the filthy ground until he got to the door. The door had scratch marks on the inside and what looked to be like a piece of old, cracked, yellowed finger nail stuck partially in it. Caleb slammed it shut and then sat down next to it and his bag. He imagined the areal view of the area, imagined looking down on numerous similar holding cells with other kids from his class bouncing around like a scientist looking down on a bunch of rats.

Lone Wolfe
Caleb calmed down a little. He felt very tired, like he'd just hiked for hours. He stared straight ahead in something like a trance.

He remembered coming down the stairs at home, his right hand in an itchy cast. He came down second, he was always second. The living room was all fucked up. Drawers were open, loose wires splayed and the outlines of where objects once were in dust.

He blinked slowly. He remembered his twin, Andy. He remembered palling around with him and sitting on the couch.

"Did you hear that thing Kanye West said or whatever?" he said, hanging upside down on the couch.

"No," responded Andy hunching forward to see Caleb. "What did he say?"

"Dave Chapelle says he was hanging out with him and the phone rang. All he hears Kanye West say is 'Hello. Huh? What? Uh uh, I can’t. I can’t. Cause, I’m at Dave Chappelle’s show watching sketches that nobody’s ever seen before.'

And then he says, 'Cause my life is dope, and I do dope shit,” and then he hung up.' "

Andy burst out laughing in a high sort of cackle totally different than Caleb's.

"Cause my life is dope," said Andy.

"And I do dope shit," finished Caleb cracking a rare smile.

Caleb would never be happy again and he would die for nothing. Life wasn't perfect, but he put in an effort. He had tried and it was all going to fall apart. He was dizzy now. There were two noises from different directions. His hands weren't shaking as violently as they had been. He scrambled, trying to wipe the tears and distress from his face.

Lone Wolfe
((Caleb Diamond: start))

Caleb was curled up in the corner of the room near a cot. His breathing was shallow and he felt queasy, thirsty and weak. His eyes were brimming with tears, but he wasn't crying just yet.

"How is this ? How is this ? How is this ?" he muttered to himself.

How was it fair? They were being punished for what? Why? Everyone saw the same thing that he did. He didn't trust them. They were his friends out there, but he couldn't trust them no matter how much he liked them. He squeezed his eyes shut and a few tears dripped down.

He felt his heart beat rapidly as he hugged his knees. He'd never thought about trust a great deal. If you'd have asked him about if he felt he could trust his friends the day before he probably would have shrugged and said "Maybe. I guess." It was hard as it was for him to have faith in people being decent to other people when he saw how easily someone could flip given the right motivation in person. They would break any trust he had left, probably within a few hours. Caleb didn't think of himself as a naive person, but now yesterday's Caleb seemed hopelessly glib.

Caleb swallowed hard. He tried to stand. His legs gave way when he tried and he collapsed onto the floor next to a crusty and ancient brown stain. Blood or shit from a crazy person who probably died in this building just like he would. He reached into his pocket for a lighter and a pack of cigarettes, they were the only thing he could think of that might calm him down. It was no good. His hands were shaking so much he could barely hold the crinkled package. The more he looked at his hands the sicker he felt. There was no way he'd be able to work a lighter in this condition.

He wasn't sure if it was fear or anger that paralyzed him. He hated with every inch, from his heels to his hands. He contracted into himself, laying in a fetal position.

How long am I going to have to wait to die?

He would have preferred if they could have just shot him in the head on the bus. He'd never been thirstier in his life, but he couldn't un-tense himself. The blood rushed to his ears, making all he heard around him white noise. Caleb felt like he would probably faint any second from the shock. If he was lucky someone would shoot him in the head after.

Caleb had been standing for one moment with Kimiko and Maria. Suddenly they were joined by another body. He winced slightly just at the sound of her voice. He knew Irene from school the sort of hazy way you know a distantly mutual friend that you make a concentrated effort not to know better.

Irene had money for Maria, never mind that it was in a quantity and denomination that made him seriously think she may in fact be pushing on the side. Whatever, none of his business.

Maria left them, leaving Kimiko and Caleb alone with Irene. He scanned discreetly for an escape route. When he looked back Irene was so close to Kimiko he thought she might try to make out with her. Kimiko was a big girl, she could deal with that if Irene tried. However, she had now referenced him, though had not directly addressed him until the end when he was graciously included in with Kimiko as a possible ice cream recipient.

He didn't like this girl staring at the two of them with something approximating mania and her general demeanor made him feel like a headache was coming on.

Caleb slouched away, walking to the cash register where Maria was. "Two mediums. I'll have Cookies and cream and vanilla. Give the Asian one whatever she wants," he said, handing over his card.

Caleb winced at the first loss. That was ok. He could still pull this out.

Then he lost again.

"Mother fucker" he mumbled.

"Alright, alright, alright" he said with arms crossed, rolling his eyes as Kimiko did her victory moves. "No way am I doubling down. You fuckin' cheat. You used mind control or hypnosis or whatever to make me lose. Go pick your flavors."

Maria came up to them and asked if they had change for a $50. Caleb pulled a face of disbelief.

What do I look like, a drug dealer? Who the fuck has change for a $50? Who the fuck has a $50?

Seeing as he did not know this girl well and she seemed somewhat pretty, he managed to keep those thoughts just as thoughts for once. He looked in his wallet. He had a $5 bill and 82 cents in loose change. Normally he didn't even have that on him. He paid for pretty much everything with a debit card, as did everyone in his family what with his father working at Bank of America. He only had cash because he wanted to go to the news stand and get a paper later, so he asked for $5 back at CVS the other day. He intended to pay for his (and now Kimiko's) ice cream with the debit card.

"Uh...no?" he said, looking up from his wallet.

He was frankly taken aback by being spoken to by this girl. It wasn't a common occurrence for people to randomly speak to him. He scratched his head through his beanie and looked to Kimiko.

V5 Epilogue: Desiderium
Mara sat at the kitchen table staring at her iPad while Rebeca sat nearby sketching. It was afternoon about one month after her return.

The two girls had been sitting like that in complete silence for 2 hours, engaged in their own activities without acknowledging each other. Rebeca’s eyes would flicker up from her drawing towards her sister and then flit quickly back down, but her glances were infrequent.

Mara was dressed in a clean cut, body-hugging, white Tom Ford mini dress with shoulder cut outs outlined in thick black bands and a thick black band encircling her neck. A silver ornament pulled back the hair on the right side of her face while the left half, and her scar, were semi-obscured. Rebeca wore nearly the opposite in color and silhouette. She was dressed in a modest, black, 1950’s inspired belted Ralph Lauren dress. Mara sighed deeply and shook her head with her eyes closed as if suddenly jolted by electricity.

“Are we getting ready to go?” asked their mother walking in briskly.

Rebeca put down her pencil and opened her mouth to respond.

“I’m not going,” said Mara firmly, without looking away from her tablet.

“We are all going. We always go to the Robin’s dinner and I don’t see why this year should be any different,” replied their father, walking past the table while working on tying a necktie.

“I don’t want to, alright?” said Mara, speaking slightly louder. Being with large groups was pretty much the last thing she wanted. Everyone reacted to her in a way that made her very self-conscious since her return. From people she knew before, it was usually pity or some grotesque false compassion as if how much sympathy they could show was directly tied to how good of a person one was. From strangers it was sometimes like people were seeing a tiger being walked on a leash. She was constantly reminded of her experiences wherever she went and she had barely the capacity to deal with her own issues. To Mara, people stopped treating her as a person and treated her as the experience. With the nightmares and occasional flashbacks that left her crying and shaking, huddled against a wall, maybe they were right and that’s what she was.

“I am staying here,” said Mara.

Her mother put her hands on her hips and seemed to be thinking the situation over. “Well…” she wondered aloud.

“Well what? That’s not fair!” yelped Rebeca, shooting out of her seat.

“Shut up,” grumbled Mara.

“Rebeca stop it,” warned their mother.

“See? She just told me to shut up and all you did was yell at me. It’s been like this since she’s been back! And don’t tell me that we need to be ‘understanding’ or something because she was like this before, only now no one says anything!” shouted Rebeca. “So what, two weeks erases being a bitch for her whole life? You’ve always been a bitch, but now people don’t say anything!”

“You’re a sniveling idiot and people have been tolerating you your whole life,” spat Mara, standing up as well.

“Did I hurt your feelings? Do you even have feelings? I guess I just can’t understand what it’s like to be you, Mara,” said Rebeca in a mock-concerned tone.

“Shut the fuck up.”

“Or what? You’ll kill me? Are you going to kill me?”

A sharp crack rang out in the kitchen. Mara slapped her sister as hard as she could. Rebeca lunged at her and within seconds the two girls were on the cold, stone floor of the kitchen. The sisters were quickly a tangle of arms pulling at fabric and hair. The bottom drawer of cabinet of kitchen tools flung open and spilled measuring cups, graters and whisks onto the pair. Mara caught Rebeca’s hand as she stabbed at her with a vegetable peeler that ended in a pointed edge. For a moment they struggled with the tool until Mara overpowered her, slapping the peeler away. Mara wrapped her hands around her sister's throat and began to squeeze. Her face flushed red and her mind was blank.

The next thing she felt was being lifted up and away from Rebeca though the first attempt was only partially successful while her sister still had a handful of her hair. Her father and a cook had been summoned to the scene and separated them. Mara leaned over, panting. Rebeca looked so much like her, it was like looking at herself cough and sputter.

Guilt and horror rose up from her stomach. Survival of the Fittest had an end. On the island she always knew that within a matter of days or perhaps moments, it would be over. Life in the real world had no end and stretched out as an infinity of suffering before her. She wrapped her arms around herself and screamed a guttural half scream, half sob from the back of her throat. Mara elbowed the cook. She ran past everyone, grabbing a bottle of whiskey from a shelf in the living room on the way out. Mara sprinted up to her parents’ bedroom, locking the door behind her and collapsing in their bathroom. She opened the bottle and chugged. Her eyes watered.

I can’t hack it out here. Danya was right. I’m a freak.

Mara thought about running away, but where would she even go? She had no idea.

She pulled herself using the sink and opened the medicine cabinet. Her mother’s sleep medication.

She took a drink.

Maybe I should just-

She took a pill.

Maybe I should-

She took several more. The pill label began to blur.

I should have shot myself after Joey died, They would have been able to get to Hansel in time, they would have saved him and he would have won. How could I have been so wrong about myself all that time? I’m stupid and weak and….what have I done? What did I do…?

Her head began to swim and she felt warm. She hugged the bottle and lay on her side, curled around it. She stopped crying.

"If you're eating ice cream, you've pretty clearly given up the illusion of health. Go all the way," he said out loud.

He looked at the flavors for a moment while considering Kimiko's question.

He sighed. He was still recovering from a bit of a mood. Johnny's cracks about his brother were tolerable some days, but it had soured him today. The door jingled again like it had when he walked in and when Kimiko followed after. He bit the edge of his thumb in a way he often did when preoccupied.

<Chocolate. Maybe > he signed.

<Make [it] interesting? Rock, paper, scissors. Loser buys.>

Some simple tune was playing faintly in the background of the store. He noticed some movement coming towards them and turned to look. It was Maria, a girl from school. He didn't know her very well. Caleb dimly remembered she talked about cooking once while he was nearby maybe. She waved at them. He looked at Kimiko as if asking if this girl was waving at her or him.

He turned back to Maria and gave a short wave in response with a neutral expression on his face.

Caleb felt his phone shake slightly. He pulled it out of his pocket and looked at the message. It was dumb, but dumb in a way he appreciated. He looked around the shop for a moment and saw Kimiko. He made a show of looking at his own eye level while walking towards her, stopping a few feet in front of her. Caleb looked down and feigned surprise putting his hand over his mouth.

He signed hello and signed for the word "short" followed by a y.

<Hey shorty>

He wasn't any kind of sign language master, but he knew enough for daily conversation. It had taken a few years of study in his spare time, but it was kind of fun. He turned to the ice cream case, then turned back to Kimiko and raised an eyebrow. He folded his arms and looked at her.

(( Caleb Diamond continued from Pizza Rats))

Caleb glided along the sidewalk at a leisurely pace, smoothly dismounting and flipping his skateboard into his hand. He landed at the front door of the Diamondback Ice Cream Parlor. He tucked the board under his arm and opened the door. A blast of cold air and a faintly sweet smell smacked him in the face.

He went over to the glass case and started looking down at the various flavors. He consulted a display that showed how big the different cone and cup sizes and then looked down at his pocket to check the time on his phone. Caleb pursed his lips and continued looking down at the glistening, bright containers of ice cream as if he were thinking very carefully about the decision.