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Tomorrow is the most important thing in life.
Hansel watched as Joe lunged, and the world seemed to slow to a crawl - like Theo, lunging across at him to strike and slap and lash out. His adrenaline spiked, pulse thumped, vision shortened until all he could see was Joe and his leap towards him, hands stretching out to grab at the archaic firearm.

He had ample time to lift the gun, pull the trigger, even move it back to contest the grab.

But he didn't.

He released the Garand as Joe lunged for it, meaning that the boy grabbed it away from him with ease. Slowly, carefully, he raised his palms in the air.

"Sure," he said, thinking that there was no way in fuck he was doing that. He had enough on his plate without injecting more people's rules into his survival.

"Kuh-heep the gun. It'll puh-hoot you on even g-ground next time. You know the way out."

Tomorrow is the most important thing in life.
Hansel watched Joe, silently, for a few moments, allowing the stammering, nervous spiel to float alone in the room. He found himself doing it not because he was afraid of his stutter embarrassing him, or being ridiculed for his opinion. Now, he just enjoyed the silence, thought carefully about what he was going to say next.

The idea that he was going to do a favour for Joe was laughable, but he nodded, waved his hand, motioning for the other boy to continue, lifting the M1 Garand in his hands, tilting it to examine it, then placing the butt against his shoulder, the barrel now at Joe's eye level.

His right finger comfortably curled around the trigger.

Tomorrow is the most important thing in life.
Hansel nodded along with Joe's fragmented thinking, then lifted a shoulder.

"The correct answer is who gives a shit."

He straightened the gun, keeping the barrel pointed at Joe, his gaze steely. "Nobody out there kuh-can judge what we're d-doing here. So that kuh-kind of thinking - that there's morality in this puh-puh-place..."

The tone trailed off, gaze sliding to the side of Joe, a frown coming upon Hansel's face.

"Nobody's good here, Joe," he said, almost to himself, "just varying duh-degrees of bad."

The gaze snapped back to Joe, then, tilting his head to the side.

"Say I was. You guh-gonna let me?"

Tomorrow is the most important thing in life.
Hansel leaned back, shifted so that he was a little more comfortable. The conversation reminded him of the lunch room, Garrett and he debating philosophy, religion, getting worked up and passionate.

It all seemed stupid, now.

But he focused in on one statement Joe made, one particular sentence.

"None of us are avoiding Hell. Not after all of this."

He rolled his shoulder - slowly, tenderly, feeling the stretch of pain from the bullet wound. Grim reminder of how he had spent his time on the island, a constant symbol of how far everyone was willing to go. He hadn't traditionally been big on speaking, but maybe he was changing, too.

"I'm nuh-not sure what you want from me, or what the puh-hurpose of this is," he began, "b-but I envy you a little bit for b-b-being able t-to still thuh-hink that way. You still kuh-kuh-carry the idea that some of this - any of the puh-hast eight days - can b-be exp-plained by morals."

Hansel shrugged, tugging at the Patton girl's M1 Garand, rotating it so the barrel pointed at Joe, the stock resting on his thigh.

"I kuh-hilled Theo," he said, keeping his eyes on Joe's, "and he killed others. Am I a buh-hetter person?"

Wild Childs
Hey, Jess. Got a proposition for ya.

hey, honey! shoot!

You have Gavin Hunter, right?

i sure do! he’s not looking like a good pick, though. looking to trade him, actually!

How about you try to make sure Ray doesn’t get him?

oh? thinking he’s a winner?

Could be. Not sure yet.

no problemo, sweetie. i’ll do my best. :)






hey fucknugget guess what i got now

Herpes?

real funny you fucking cunt
had to go through that bitch like six times but i got him
b051


Is that supposed to mean something to me, Ray?

yeah your internally screaming
fuckin snatched your secret winner
going right to the top this time faggot
fuck you and fuck nana


Hope that works out for you.






He ran his fingers along thighs, silky smooth against rough calluses, seeking and searching until he found nothing but her. She gasped, a little, soft sound into his ear, followed by a chuckle - a pained one, sounding like her throat was raw. He wanted to sooth the scars he found at her neck, ran his tongue along them, murmured into her ear as she twitched and sighed, a slow, sly smile creeping across her lips.

“Thank you for believing in me, Bill,” she croaked.

He woke up.

The sheets were sweaty.

He was still alone.

Tomorrow is the most important thing in life.
That got his attention.

Hansel gently, carefully laid the sketchbook to the side, equally careful to not let Joe see what was drawn upon the page, as his gaze held the other boy's. Deliberately, he lowered his eyes to raise an eyebrow at the Scythe, then lifted his glance back towards Joe's face.

Explain?

Joe wanted - what, a bullet list of why he had done what he did? Was he looking for Hansel to excuse himself, give neat little reasons, tidy justifications and rationale for why seven people were dead, and he lived?

Well, nine now. Joe'd apparently lumped the dead Pattons into the list attributed to Hansel's name.

That didn't bother him.

He wanted to laugh, kind of. He wanted to painstakingly break down the fact that Joe's morals - Joe's reasons and rationale and reference of right and wrong - had no place here. Eight days on the island had turned them all into animals, boiled down to the most basic instincts - fight, fuck, eat, sleep, survive.

He wanted to shake Joe for being naive - oh, so naive - after eight days. He wanted to be furious with him for being shielded from the same events he'd been through - escalation resulting in murder, overreaction resulting in violence.

If he was more verbose, more word inclined, he would've said these things.

Instead, he slowly shook his head, asking without malice, without sarcasm - just bald curiosity.

"Why do you kuh-care?

Tomorrow is the most important thing in life.
Hansel kept sketching as the boy sat down across from him, listening to the declaration - the stuttering declaration - as he laid the melee weapon in front of him. The weapon itself wasn't a big concern - there were probably fewer people without weapons at this point, by his assumption - and Joe didn't look like someone who was looking for trouble.

But the tremor in his voice was still there.

"Yeah, okay," Hansel said, making short, consecutive lines, shading, smudging.

After a moment of only the rasp of charcoal on paper to fill the silence, Hansel spoke again.

"Are you af-fuh-raid of me, Joe?"

Tomorrow is the most important thing in life.
The sketch paused as Hansel looked up, hat throwing his face into shadow as he carefully observed the other boy.

Joe. Joe Carrasco.

A name that Hansel hadn't heard - or really thought about - in eight days. Back home, in Aurora, they had been... could he have called them friends? How could he be friends with someone when he didn't even really know who - what - he was?

Joe looked good, though - skinny, dirty, but outwardly undamaged. It was the shake in his voice that had Hansel's attention and interest, that slight tremor signifying that Joe wasn't seeing his old not-friend Hansel from church.

He was seeing murderer Hansel.

And Hansel was okay with that.

So, instead of respond, Hansel continued to watch Joe's approach, eyebrows raised. Better to let him set the pace of their evolved relationship. Better to let him make the first move.

Tomorrow is the most important thing in life.
It had only been eight days, but it felt like years, since his hands had done this. The way the paper felt gliding against his palm, the smudging and smearing of charcoal on his hands, the smell - earthy - of a new sketchbook. The paper was weighted and wonderful, the pain in his left arm minimal, and though the drawing wasn't great - wasn't even good, really - the principle of it, the making of it, was honest.

That's all Hansel wanted, right now.

Honesty.

((Hansel Williams, The Faster The Treadmill))

He'd been lying to himself - about himself - for as long as he could remember, forcing himself to think and feel along certain lines, context that only applied to specific, exact circumstances and situations. He'd hated homosexuals because Dad hated the faggots, and God did, too. He'd hated the pro-choice debate because Mom had always turned off the radio when it had come on, and God didn't like it, either.

All of those thoughts, all that rationale, didn't leave a lot for honesty. For Hansel.

And all it had taken was Logan Caddagon's glassy eyes, Daniel Whitten's permanent half smirk, and the words "our resident cowboy" to have Hansel see it.

So, he sat, knees bent upwards, sketchbook resting against it, charcoal in his hand. He sat, gray smudged on his cheek, right hand dark with the stuff, FAMAS leaning against his thigh. He sat, amidst the chaos of two dead bodies he'd barely glanced at beyond separating the weapons and dragging them towards his little hideout - an act that had become natural, instinctive. See bodies, take their shit, move along.

He sat amidst so much destruction, death, violence.

He sat.

He created.

The Faster The Treadmill
Hansel narrowed his eyes as Chris swung his weapon back towards him, apparently satisfied with whoever-it-was' response to his rampant gun-waving. He was standing there, the gun at his feet, with two separate people pointing guns at him and having disarmed a second person, and all he could think was it had been seven days.

It had taken seven days to do this to them, to the point of not listening to reason.

There was no place for him here. Not among people who still squabbled and pecked in the sand. And as he watched Chris, the way he switched targets, shifted threats, he didn't believe that he was going to shoot him.

So he leaned forwards, reached towards the FAMAS with his right hand, two fingers extended. He snagged the strap, was about to lift it -

The sand exploded at his feet as he leapt backwards, falling to a knee on the beach as Maddie's gun arm jerked backwards. His right hand scrabbled for purchase, now - grasping the strap and hauling it with him as he regained his feet, taking all of his concentration to not snap the gun to his shoulder and fire back. Instead, he stood still, his gaze tracking from Maddie's weapon to Chris'.

"Yuh-hoo st-till think I'm the threat here, Jack?" he asked, gesturing to his wounded arm, the gun slung over his shoulder and pointed to the ground, the disturbed sand at his feet.

"Fuh-huck you both. You can shoot me in the back."

He turned, pulse racing, and strode away from the group - his gait a little too fast to be cool, legs a little to weak to be completely steady. His eyes turned towards the sunset - the explosion of colour, disappearing behind the ocean waves, casting a radiant display across the water, the clouds, the sky. He walked, waited for the sound of the gunshot, waited for this to be his last image before death.

Decent way to go.

When he got fifty feet, he considered it a successful called bluff.

When he got a hundred, he started to breathe again.

((Hansel Williams, Tomorrow is the most important thing in life.))

Seven years ago today...
A toast to you, the best of my lesbian SOTF friends!

The Faster The Treadmill
"Everyone, just kuh-calm the fuck down!"

It came out a lot louder than Hansel wanted it to, and he was momentarily taken aback at how loud his voice carried over the wide open space. But the words were out there, and if he wanted to leave this place, he needed to lower his threat level quickly.

Maddie pointed her weapon at him, and he wanted to squeeze his eyes shut. He didn't turn to look at the kid that new guy - Rick? Chris? - was pointing the gun at - just turned to Chris, addressed him. He seemed to be running the show.

"Wuh-heer all t-tense, and it's buh-been a ruh-ruh-rough week for all of us, buh-hut pointing g-guns at each other isn't going t-too undo the past wuh-hee-heek."

He took a step away from the FAMAS, backing slowly away from it. "Look. Look, I'm buh-hacking away from mine. I've guh-hot some lasagna in m-muh-hy bag. We cuh-han split it, a-and muh-hoove along. Nuh-hobody needs to die here."

Roll Nulls
I guess I approach this as someone who just read bits of V4 without delving into the OOC side of things too much, but I'm not really seeing Roll Nulls as a necessity to the game's mechanics, at all. Roll Nulls, for me, belong in the same spectrum as Hero Deals in that space where it was super cool to examine the history behind them and what led to their creation and their exorcism from the official rules, but also they don't really perform a service that I can see as core to the SOTF experience.

We have a hero card and a swap card for quality control and that feeling of saving a character/kid we like at the expense of a kid we don't like as much. It's a sacrifice, something that holds way more weight, and is a lot more personal and requires a ton of thought. Roll Nulls don't carry any of this besides being 'earned'.

So I can't really get behind the 'Roll Nulls for V6' movement, because it's just added clutter and doesn't add anything to the game, nor does the absence of them take anything away.

Wild Childs
Day Two
1:12:30 into broadcast


TERRORIST-GAME BETTING RING RUMOURS RESURFACE
SOURCE SAYS AS TERRORIST RING RE-EMERGES, SO DO DEGENERATE GAMBLING CIRCUITS
By Joan S. Withers


Bill drank his coffee slowly, reading the paper thoroughly for any sort of clue as to the identity of the source, as the Hub’s chatroom raged and rampaged about B027 versus B076 and G054 versus B040. They voted on who they thought was hottest, what the odds were at for each stream, how long until there was fifty left, thirty, ten, five.

On the news in the corner of his hotel room, images were shown of the mass funeral for the Aurora High students a month ago, undercut with grainy images pulled from the livestream - images that were a quarter as clear as the actual streams themselves.

He wondered how newsmen slept at night when they took images of dying kids, added more film grain, and slapped it on the news.

He wondered if wondering that made him a hypocrite.

His phone bleeped twice - text message - and he finished his coffee, not in any hurry to answer it. Ray had just traded up in the world - got himself B01 for a trade with a casual gambler - and he wasn’t in the mood for more gloating, cunt-calling, and general dour attitudes.

Ever since the third time it happened - and the first version of the Hub had arrived - Bill and Ray had never seen eye to eye. Ray drew Riz, and Bill had thrown his lot in with Trish, putting the two pretty well at odds for the majority of the betting process.

Last time, Ray had bet on Nagazawa.

One eye on the scrolling chat, trawling for any data he’d missed when going to the bathroom, Bill lifted his phone, glanced at it.

hey babe. missed u. coming home soon?

Bill fingered the phone, rotating it between his hands, pondering a reply. He watched as someone stated how sickening this practice was to them, watched as someone else called them a nigger, another calling G01 ‘the dumb slut’. He closed his eyes, rubbed his temples, stared at his phone.

No.

He paused. Typed some more.

I think we’re moving a little too fast. I’ll call you.

Bill set the phone down on the counter, slid it away from his laptop. Clasping his fingers in his lap, he watched intently as B079 travelled through the forest. His phone bleeped twice.

He ignored it.

Wild Childs
0:2:30 into broadcast

Bill’s phone rang as he was brushing his teeth.

“You must be fucking joking me, Billy,”

“‘Lo, Jahh,” Bill said, not bothering to spit the mouthful of Mint Explosion into the sink.

“You picked Cooper? Mara Eye Candy? Fucking Maynard Hurst?”

“Besht Pihs oo o’ tha lisht.”

“Jesus fucking christ, Billy. Jesus fucking H Christ. I thought you knew how to pick ‘em when you snagged up Raider or whatever last time, I really did. Even though Polanski never worked out, I got it - sort of a crazy survivalist, which I really could dig. But you’re picking eye candy and fucking wimps out of a pot of gold mines. Check this -”

Jack paused, affording Bill the time to spit the green shit into the sink, move to gargling as Jack yelled something at his wife.

“Sorry. Look at our roster, Billy. Football players, gun nuts, one survivalist chick. Christ, we have one hardcore bitch who got a Scythe, and she ain’t bad to look at, either. The deaf kid got a fucking automatic shotgun.”

Jack paused at the lack of reaction. “A fucking automatic shotgun. The very same one the Ruskie got last time. Do you know-”

“I’m not trading you my picks, Jack.”

Jack paused, before bellowing a cackle into the phone, forcing Bill to move it a good six inches away.

“I like you, Billy. Fuck, but you have spunk. If one - no, scratch that - if any of your scrawny cast of freaks makes it past the fifty mark, I’ll personally give you a hundred bucks.”

“Per kid?”

“Sure! Yeah, I’ll give you a hundred bucks a kid if they make it that far. Fuckin’ Hurst. Jesus christ. Boy will get eaten the fuck alive.”

“Just remember the hundred, Jack,” Bill said, and hung up the phone.

He looked at his list of four, scrawled on a piece of lined paper, hanging from his mirror.

Maynard Hurst
Amaranta Montalvo
Cooper Komorowski
Phoebe Cho


He placed a fingertip to it - for luck, for strength - and remembered another time, when only one name on there mattered.

Another time, when he knew she was going to kill herself, hurt others, in her quest to break free.

Another time, when he could only watch, stricken, when she failed.

“There isn’t a Liz here,” he said, softly, trailing his fingertip down the paper.

He left the bathroom.

Wild Childs
0:01:02 into broadcast


His phone bleeped, breaking him out of his reverie of watching closely, memorizing movements, names. Observing past injuries, weighing mental health, dismissing or moving kids from definitely not to maybe columns. He worked with a pad and pen, an extra tucked behind his ear, dressed only in a T-shirt that hung off of his thin frame and sweatpants that were stained with cheese and coffee, sweatpants that seemed to live on him the past few weeks.

He checked his phone, found an AOL Message from XRay99:

Hey fuckwit watching streams?

Yeah. Some good candidates this time around.
You watching, or still having phone problems?


you always were a cunt


Bill snorted, crossed B076 off of his list. Unhinged and shot didn’t bode well for the future. He pursed his lips, moved B040 from ‘no’ to ‘maybe’ as he challenged a girl with a gun. Boy had stones.

Another bleep.

why even do you try
the closest you ever got was with the chinese kid
hub still hates u for polanski


He wasn’t chinese

whatever the fuck
asian
something weird
your just gonna screw it up again


Don’t hate on me because chuck fucked your phone up, Ray.

nah didnt slow me down
i got my picks already


Bill tossed the phone aside again, moved B044 to the maybe pile when he snagged a hedge clipper. Considered, then added G003 to his maybes when she fired a crossbow at him.

Eliminated everyone who had anything to do with the complete clusterfuck of the girl hanging from the cliff.

trying to ignore me?
cute.
wont work though fag
got this in the bag already
picked Riz out of the gate, won
picked the russian out of the gate, won there too


You didn’t. You won the consolation prize.
Nanahuro picked Nguyen and won last time.


nanas a faggot
youre a faggot too
betting against a bunch of faggots


You’re not going to distract me, Ray.

picking another suicidal maniac?
trying to ruin the bets for us again?
whos gonna escape this time you cunt
better pick them and ruin the rest of our fun


Goodbye, Ray.


Bill switched off the phone, checked the time. Over an hour until the betting opened, and he had to narrow down to four out of 37 picks.

He tapped his lip with the pen, watched the 37 streams, calculated.

Then, he crossed off some names.

Wild Childs
Day One
0:00:04 into broadcast



“Bill?”

His alarm clock - red, angry digits - glared at him, spelling out 4:17, one little red light flickering beside the AM on the side of the clock. He rubbed his free hand over his four day’s growth of stubble, bringing thumb and forefinger to rub at tired, shadowed eyes as his other hand clutched a cell phone to his ear.

“Muh?”

“Dude. Wake up, man.”

“Chuck?” he asked blearily, blindly searching for his bedside lamp. Fumbling, he managed to flick the switch on, sit up in bed, rub his hand over his face again.

“This had better be really-”

“Shut up, Bill. Have you checked the hub?”

A pause, as Bill eased the knot in his right shoulder, frowning at the ceiling. The words meant something to him, woke an anxiety, a fear, in him that had long remained dormant.

He stilled on the bed, his voice strained. “Not since the end of the last time.”

“Check the hub. It’s started again.”

Bill stared at the phone. His clock. His hand.

“How?”

“Fuck if I know. But the betting’s opening in two hours, and the streams are-” key tapping sounded through the phone, a few clicks - “live for five minutes and thirty two seconds.”

Bill remained silent, his fingers tightening on the phone.

“Bill, seriously man. You need to get in on this. You need to make up for-”

“I don’t need to make up for shit, Chuck.”

Chuck paused, and Bill could almost see him stepping back, circling, looking for a new angle of approach. “Okay, fair enough. But you know people on the hub still blame you for Polanski, right?”

“Yep.”

“Look, I know it wasn’t your fault that you bet on a losing horse, and it wasn’t yours that she got everyone else’s horse blown to shit. But you need to turn it around, now. Think of the cash to be made, man. Think of Ray’s smug fucking face when you beat him this time. You know he’s still gloating over picking the Russian out of a fucking hat?”

Bill scratched his ear, sighed. Threw the covers off of his legs.

“Does Ray know?”

“He’s having phone trouble - apparently some genius hacked his Android, made it so he doesn’t get Hub updates.”

“Would this genius also have happened to give me advance notice?”

“The very same genius, as a matter of fact.”

Bill made his way to his laptop, booted it up. “I’ll have my picks to you in an hour.”

“Six thirty, the betting opens. Chat opens up at seven. I’d take a look at stream B040 - kid’s fucking huge.”

“One hour, Chuck.”

Bill hung up his phone, opened up his browser, typed in an IP address, a username, a password.

The Hub suddenly flared to life on his monitor, the screen filling with live feeds. In the corner, a chat room blinked past, rapid fire discussion ranging from sympathy to anger to excitement to despair. Someone asked how they could live with themselves - how they could gamble on children’s lives.

Someone else allcaps’d that they were going to hell.

Bill minimized the chat.

Slipped on his glasses.

Cracked his knuckles.

Bill got to work.

The Faster The Treadmill
Shit.

"Alright," Hansel said, lifting his left hand higher - too high, wincing at the sharp reminder his wound gave him at the muscle strain - and lowered the FAMAS to the sand, crouching down to do so. The grains parted as the butt of the gun hit first, waves of tiny little specs that undulated outwards, leaving a light dusting on his boots, the bottom of his jeans.

His right hand was in the air, too, his gaze serious, focused on Chris.

"It's.... d-huh-d-d..."

Swallow. Start again.

"It's d-down."

The weight of the gun, a familiar thing, had always been somewhere on his body. Over his shoulder, hanging off of his right hand, firmly in his left and right grip, pressed against his right shoulder.

Kicking back in his grasp.

Now, it lay on the sand below his feet, and he felt the nakedness steal over him, the awareness, amplified by the gazes of Maddie and Chris, increased exponentially that he was unarmed, alone.

But it didn't matter, did it? They were all going to die here. It was only a matter of how and when.

Hansel nodded his chin towards Maddie, keeping his eyes locked on Chris'. "What now?"

LoL Thread, PRESEASON edition: MORE DOTS MORE DOTS
Five Shaminion games.

Five Shaminion wins.

Thanks to Deamon and Toben for coming on and helping me make people irritated. Shaminion is brought to you by EroticDiscoHeat for giving me the idea and the Dominion Queue for allowing me to be able to order a pizza and eat it in the time it takes me to find a match.

The Faster The Treadmill
Hansel's vision seemed to blur at the edges as the new voice spoke, sending a little jolt of surprise through him as Chris' command reached his ears. The FAMAS, pointed in Maddie's general direction from his hip, raised a little more, was held more comfortably.

His thoughts raced as he weighed his options - if he moved the gun from the girl to the new threat, he could catch a few bullets. If he didn't move the gun, kept it pointed at the girl, he may buy himself some time, keep everyone tense and frigid.

But he'd also be stuck in a two against one situation, and he didn't like the odds.

So, he took a third - lowered the muzzle to point at the sand, stepped back with his left hand raised upwards, and turned so that he could fit both Maddie and Chris into his vision. The FAMAS was held loosely in his right hand, fingers curled around the grip, trigger finger held straight and away from the guard.

"Easy, now," he said, just as loudly and a lot more solidly, his nerves too frayed to reach his voice after seven days of jump scares and death defying.

"Cuh-han't be too careful, is all. I don't wuh-want t-trouble."