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A World Of Sadness
Penelope jumped back slightly when she heard the thunk of a leg against wood and the whump of a bag hitting the floor.

Penelope sat and listened to the boy hiss and moan slightly for a few seconds, before hearing the gym door open. Penelope turned her head towards the source of the noise and saw a girl standing in the doorway, light pouring in and obscuring her visage. Penelope froze, staring at the girl for a solid six seconds, before pulling herself into the changing room with the boy and closing the door behind her. She had no idea who that girl was or what she was doing here, but Penelope didn't want anything to do with her. It's one thing when she has the opportunity to approach someone on her own terms and tell them that she's no threat, but it's another thing entirely when she's caught completely flat footed.

Penelope glanced around the now almost entirely dark changing room, the only light coming from underneath the door she had just closed. She might as well call out to the boy that's in here with her. "Hello? I heard you hit something. Are you okay?"

Penelope shuffled slowly around the musty room, feeling her way slowly around the walls until she suddenly jumped back, right after bumping into the boy she was looking for.

The Calm Before the Storm
Isabel glanced between Clarice and Maria as she listened to them speak.

Isabel didn't know what to think about the plan Clarice suggested. Try to gather everyone together and make a stand to not fight? There are only two outcomes to this kind of thing. Either the group gets together and then they get slowly picked off by the students that are okay with killing until the group dwindles or scatters, or they manage to get everyone together and then after a day goes by where nobody kills anyone else, everyone goes boom. Everyone from their class dies.

Isabel sat in silent contemplation. Isn't everyone dying objectively worse than one person being able to survive the ordeal? Sure they'd be going along with what the terrorists want... but isn't that still better than trying to take a stand and having everyone die when it could've otherwise been averted, at least for one person? Isabel never thought that those people under oppressive regimes who tried to peacefully protest and then got themselves killed were right. She just thought they were stupid. Better to do something else, anything else, than just stand there and get killed like lambs to the slaughter.

Isabel shook her head, she might as well weigh in. "No, Maria. I think Clarice will ultimately get exactly what she wants if she rings the bell in the bell tower." Isabel stood up and dusted herself off, while she continued talking. "Sure the crazies might come too... but it's the first day. We all know that people do snap when they're put in this game, we've all seen SOTF on the news... but people still take time to snap."

Isabel adjusted her posture and stuck her flail in her pocket. "The earlier she does it, the better." Isabel picked up her bag and slung it over her shoulder. "That being said... I'm not interested. Maybe I'll show up at some point, but for now... I think I need some time to think about everything."

With that, Isabel turned away from the group and walked off. She didn't want to be around them anymore.

Did Isabel actually mean anything she just said? No, of course not. She thought Clarice's ideas were too idealistic and ultimately misguided. Even if her idea did work out the way she wanted it to, everyone would just die anyway. There was no real point to it beyond sending a message. What would that message even be? Killing is wrong? Everyone already knows that already. Everyone gets told that all the time when they're young.

And it doesn't stop people from doing it anyway.

((Isabel Ramirez continued in Rückenfigur))

The Calm Before the Storm
Isabel's mouth pursed as she considered the last thing that Clarice said.

Isabel had only heard the very last sentence she said, but thankfully it was clear enough to let her respond without looking like an idiot. "Sure, I'm up for that, grouping up seems like a good idea. Gather a big herd together and flock around the island!"

Isabel wanted to continue with "...and then get picked off slowly by the wolves." but she kept that bit to herself, no need to offend the people that were more than capable of murdering her a lot more quickly than she could murder them. Isabel stretched her arms out. The best thing she could do right now is keep Conrad and Clarice happy.

Isabel looked up at the sky before hearing a faint 'hey guys' a little ways away. She turned her head to the source of the noise only to see-

Oh, this bitch, Isabel thought to herself.

Maria and Isabel had a fairly long and rather one sided history. For some reason, Maria didn't even seem to know that Isabel even existed, despite the fact that she was one of the most popular girls in the school. Maria constantly acted oblivious to Isabel's presence, prompting Isabel to spread rumors about Maria whenever she could. In spite of all that, Maria still didn't even seem to notice, and Isabel wasn't sure if Maria was extremely stupid, just that oblivious, or intentionally trying to annoy her by not acknowledging her. The mere sight of Maria's face made Isabel want to take a swing at her, preferably with her makeshift flail.

Isabel realized that attacking Maria in front of everyone else would likely result in her being attacked herself, so she kept her cool and quietly smoldered without saying a word instead.

A World Of Sadness
Penelope came to a halt as she saw someone peek around the edge of the door frame before quickly retreating back into the room at the sight of her. She called out to them. "H-hey! Wait! Come back! I don't bite!"

It was obvious to Penelope that whoever it was, it wasn't Samuel. She sighed before she began moving towards the door again. At least she was right about someone being in there, similar to herself. Even if it wasn't Samuel, maybe it was someone she knew? She could really use some company, and even if it wasn't someone she knew, Penelope was always up for making a new friend, death game or not. And if the person wasn't going to come out to her, she would go to them.

Penelope stopped moving again. What if the person she was moving towards was dangerous? What if they had a weapon more than capable of serious injuring and killing her? She could be walking into a trap. Or maybe the person wasn't dangerous but instead scared, and scared of what she might do to them in turn? What if they attacked her not because they wanted to kill but out of fear for their life?

Penelope pushed the thoughts away. She'd clearly announce her intentions, slowly and calmly. That should make sure the person doesn't attack her out of fear. Although that still left the concern of being attacked out of malice. Penelope stood still and considered things for a bit. All of them had just woken up recently from being unconscious. People might be scared, but there's no way that they'd gone completely crazy. Humans are good, and humans liked thinking of themselves as good people. She refused to believe that anyone would let violent urges take over so quickly. People usually do evil not out of malice, but stupidity. Unless this person tripped and shoved a dagger into Penelope's heart, she would probably be fine.

Penelope shuddered at the image of a grizzly seen like that. The blood, oh the blood.

Penelope shook her head and pushed the imagery out of her mind for her own sanity, before continuing her walk towards the doorway of the changing room. She called out. "Hey, just so you know, I'm not going to hurt you! I don't want to hurt anyone! I promise!"

Penelope stopped just short of the doorway before saying, "Please, if you're thinking about it now... don't hurt me."

Penelope carefully leaned her head around the doorway, peering into the darkness of the changing room in front of her.

The Calm Before the Storm
Isabel breathed an internal sigh of relief, letting her muscles relax as the tension evaporated.

Almost immediately Isabel went back to her normal casual nature. Slinging her makeshift flail over her shoulder, she cocked her head slightly and responded "Yeah yeah, of course that's fair." while gesturing with her hand. Isabel walked up the small hill towards the others before stopping and sitting down a few meters away from them.

Isabel let out a sigh of relief at finally sitting down. She had been walking for a long while. Her endurance was great, but her muscles still needed breaks. "Anyway, I hope we can put stuff in the past behind us. I may or may not have said nasty things about the both of you while we were in school, I wouldn't remember." Isabel shrugged. "But now none of that's important. What's important now is surviving."

Isabel paused for a moment. "So, what are you guys up to?"

Isabel didn't really listen to their answers as they responded. Instead, she began to think and consider, while keeping her eyes on the halberd that Conrad was holding. She didn't expect him to use it, since putting on a casual facade and sitting down should make the both of them consider her a non-threat.

The crashing waves were just as loud up here as they were lower down the hill she came up from. Isabel listened to them as she thought. Maybe, instead of focusing on how she's certainly going to die, she can pretend that she's definitely going to make it to the end? That's the only way that she could possibly get out alive and regain control of her life. The worst would then ultimately be behind her.

But... if she did get to the end, she would have had to kill someone. Otherwise she gets thrown back into the next game. It would be an awful shame if she somehow managed to outlast all of her classmates only to not get a kill in the end and have all their lives be wasted for nothing. She needed to make sure she got at least one kill, and soon.

Isabel blinked. No, no, what was she thinking? Killing is wrong. Any victims would have wanted to live just as much as she did. She bit her lip slightly while she looked between Conrad and Clarice. Still, one of the kidnapped students had to make it out. Why couldn't it be her? Better her than some raging psychopath that would go home and get themselves killed shortly after returning like that Rizzolo guy or whoever. It would just be one kill, then she could just hide out and wait for everything to blow over. One kill and she could rest easy knowing that if she made it out she'd be free and could go on with the rest of her life, free of her parent's tyranny.

Isabel adjusted slightly, wanting to hit herself. Really, what was she thinking? She was trying to justify murder. If she could put her face in her hands over her own stupid thought processes, she would, but she didn't want it to be obvious to Clarice and Conrad that she wasn't listening. Best not to think about it right now. Isabel pushed it out of her mind and started actually listening to the two of them. Best not be too obvious about everything, no?

Still, the thought crept back into her mind. Murder isn't right. What would her parents think if they found out she killed someone?


What would they think...

A World Of Sadness
((G013 - Penelope Fitzgerald, Start))

The changing rooms were dim, cold, damp, and smelled. Recently disturbed dust slowly filtered through what little light was making it into the dark changing room, having been kicked up by the room's first occupant in a long, long time. The sounds of sobbing echoed around the walls of the dark room.

Penelope sat curled into a ball in the inky blackness, her arms wrapped around her legs, tears staining her leggings. Why did things have to end up like this? Her life was so happy, she was so happy. Her parents had enough money to buy everything she could possibly want and live comfortably while doing it, she had a great boyfriend, nice friends, she was well liked, she was doing well in school, she had started developing video games casually... she had everything she could possibly want as a sixteen year old girl. Now all that has been taken away from her. A group of terrorists stuck her and her classmates in a game and are forcing them to murder each other. Rather than having the common decency that other terrorist extremists have where they just kill their victims quickly with either bombs or bullets and minimize overall suffering, these terrorists stick them in situations where the suffering is maximized but act like it's okay because they dangle the carrot of survival for one lucky person.

One lucky person that couldn't possibly be her. She wiped some of her tears away. All the crying she had done has made the residual mascara that she had put on before the bus was attacked streak down her face.

She had no chance of possibly surviving. She had a crippling fear of blood and was a devout pacifist- she wasn't about to let this situation break her moral code. Even if she somehow did make it to the end she would just be kidnapped again and thrown into the next game that the terrorists put together. Plus, would she even want to survive all the way to the end? Most of her classmates and friends would be dead. Her boyfriend, Samuel, would be dead. Was that a world that she would be okay with living in? A world where almost everyone she loves is gone?

Penelope tugged at her skirt, mindlessly wanting something to fidget with. No chance of survival, no chance for happiness even if by some miracle she did survive. All she could hope for was a potential rescue but the terrorists have no doubt learned from their mistakes in the past. She knew for a fact that their fifth deadly game went off without a hitch, and everyone save one girl died.

Penelope couldn't take this. The crying wasn't enough to alleviate the knot in her throat, the butterflies in her stomach, the tingling of nerves. She wanted to scream, vomit, hit something. She had never felt more hopeless in her life. She saw her favorite teacher, one she shared so many school afternoons talking to, die right in front of her. Now she was doomed to die with him, along with her friends and boyfriend while some random kid that breaks and goes completely psycho gets to go home. And what about all the people she leaves behind? Her parents will never be able to recover. The internet communities that she was so popular on and knew so many people from would likely be torn asunder with the news of her death. She squeezed her head with her knees.

Penelope released her head from her knees and decided to tug at the collar around her neck. She knew how these things worked. Tug too hard and they explode, killing whoever was wearing it instantly. That would probably be better than getting shot or stabbed multiple times and dying alone, in pain. It would be like how a regular terrorist attack would have been. She would be dead, and she wouldn't even realize it because her mind and consciousness would be gone forever. That's how it should be. Her hopelessness took over her hand as she tugged harder on the collar until-

G013 - Penelope Fitzgerald: Deceas-

-the collar beeped. Her hand stopped tugging on the collar. Just a little further and it would be over. Just a little further and she'd never have to worry or feel this hopeless or sorry for herself ever again.

But Penelope couldn't tug any further. She relaxed her hand and gently put the collar back in resting position. Despite everything that happened, despite the fact that she should have already been dead, Penelope was still alive. And as a living creature, Penelope was still too scared to die. She sat relaxing her legs a bit and staring at the barely visible floor, her crying having ceased for the first time since she awoke. If she was going to die, she needed to find Samuel, she told herself. That way they could have one last night together before dying in each other's arms. It would be poetic that way, and it'd be the ultimate way to stick it to the terrorists that did this to them.

Penelope slowly stood up from where she was sitting and picked up the duffel bag she had been given, the number thirteen emblazoned on its side. She checked the contents by feeling around inside the bag, making sure they were all there. She felt the book that she had been given as a "weapon" and pulled it out, gazing at it for several moments before putting it back inside and zipping up the bag. Despite how useless her weapon was, any weapon she would have gotten would have been a useless weapon- she would have never used anything that she got. A book might be useful for the future regardless, so better keep it safe and sound for now. Penelope walked towards the door of the changing room and opened it up, emerging outside into the gym.

The gym was significantly less dimly lit than the changing room that she had just been in, but was just as dusty. She sneezed from all the dust she was kicking up with her movements, shortly before recovering and looking around the gym to see if anyone else was there. The only things that greeted her were the sounds of the outdoors and her own sneeze reverberating around the room. She looked over towards the changing room on the opposite side of the gym. Maybe someone else had been placed in there, just like how she was placed in a changing room? Maybe it was even Samuel, she thought to herself. Penelope slowly trudged through the dust, carefully trying to avoid stirring up as much as she could manage, towards the changing room on the opposite side. She needed to sate her curiosity, she had to.

She had to find Sam.

The Calm Before the Storm
((G046 - Isabel Ramirez, Start))

Isabel walked slowly towards the northwest cliffs, running the padlock that she had been given as a weapon across the chainlink fence as the sea roared against the jagged rocks below. The clinking and clanking of the padlock against the chain links was keeping her calm, even if it announced her presence to her classmates. She had woken up just an hour or two earlier, or at least she thought she did, she wasn't entirely sure of the exact time frame that she woke up. Isabel figured that most of her classmates would react with shock, sadness, and panic upon waking up in their dire circumstances. Isabel didn't care about that though, she had already gotten through all of that the second she woke up to her science teacher being executed.

No, Isabel, more than anything, was just angry.

Isabel had screamed in frustration when she woke up. She had spent her entire life up to this point doing exactly what her parents wanted her to, whatever she could do to make them happy so they wouldn't mistreat and punish her. She had barely been able to live a life of her own. All she had was the books she read in the one or two hours of peace she would get a day. Sometimes she wouldn't even get that. It was driving her mad, sometimes she didn't even sleep because of all the stress that she was experiencing. She was so excited that high school was drawing to a close; she finally had a chance to get away from her parents and start living her life the way that she wanted to, not the way they wanted her to.

All Isabel wanted was some control over her own life- over something. She always felt like she was just a passenger along for the ride, never the driver allowed to make her own decisions. She felt like vomiting.

But now any chance of Isabel having any control over her own life had been taken away from her. Now a group of terrorist extremists with no known goal had decided that she and her classmates were going to die in a deadly game, and the terrorists were going to force them to do it to themselves. She realistically had no chance of ever making it out. Someone was going to kill her, she might even kill herself. She was doomed the moment her class was picked to be the latest victims of survival of the fittest.

Isabel stopped her movements, the clanking of the padlock against the fence stopping with her. She pulled the sock that had formerly been on her left foot out of her bag and slid her padlock back into it. Not much of a weapon, but an improvised bludgeon was all she could manage with such a poor excuse for a "weapon" that the terrorists have given her to survive. She kept the key she had been given in her pocket. Perhaps she could stab someone's eye out with it if she needed to.

Isabel stopped when she heard a loud scream. Someone was shouting at the top of their lungs. Maybe they just woke up and were angry like her, maybe she had stumbled upon a kindred spirit. Or maybe she had just stumbled into a murder scene. Either way, against her better judgement, she kept trudging in the same direction she had been heading: towards the source of the noise. Her mind was blank as she listened in the direction of her movement. Two voices, talking. Probably not a murder scene then, unless it was two kids double teaming some poor schmuck. She kept walking, listening. The voices grew less indistinct as she approached. Eventually she rose above a hill crest and finally saw them. Clarice and Conrad. Isabel knew them, and she knew they were dating before all this happened. She also knew that they probably weren't too fond of her given her love of spreading rumors and verbally abusing her classmates.

Isabel froze, not knowing what to do, not knowing if she should just call out to them or stand her ground or run away. She had no idea how these two would react to seeing her. They were maybe ten meters away, it was really easy to see her. She swallowed the spit that had been building up in her mouth, not moving, not thinking. Only staring.

Turtle Draws Things

I did some digital draws. I thought you guys might appreciate seeing them.