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Grim Wolf
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(Tara Behzad continued from Prepare to Burn)

So, Tara Behzad: what does it mean to die happy?

It's a question she can't shake, no matter what she does. That sense of mad purpose is fading fast. The pieces don't seem to be lining up, the way they did when she woke up and saw the ocean and saw her flashbangs. She's stumbling through the dark of the labyrinth and the string she's clutching in her hands is unraveling. Or maybe it's her fingers that are unraveling, her self. Her pretensions of understanding.

Cris hadn't asked himself the hard questions. Cris had been baffled--maybe even horrified--by the idea of asking them. Of coming to terms with this place, and what it could do to you. Cris had-

And he had sounded so fucking happy.

She felt that old anxiety, like an itching in her blood that spread to her skin and to her thoughts, so her mind crackled with static and nothing felt still or stable. She felt like gasping. She felt like crying.

So Tara leaned on old habits, while she still had them, while they still mattered. Tara ran.

She took off at a hard pace, her bag bouncing against her back. She adjusted the strap so she was shouldering the weight, steadying it against one hip so it turned and chafed but didn't bounce. She wove her way through the strange compound, surged past the radio tower with barely a glance at the strange structure (she wondered how many poor fools would look to it as some means of escaping the trap, would believe that their captors would possibly leave such hope, if they didn't appropriate it for their own purposes). Her breathing became heavier, until her throat and lips felt parched. She knew there was water in her bag. She wouldn't reach for it.

She was in control. She was. Not of this island. Not of the others around it (control of others, ha, let their captors cling to their own illusions and think they were all dancing on their strings, she knew better she knew they were just one element amidst the chaos, playing their own fool roles). She was her own master. She controlled how she felt, and how she acted. She would not drink because she was thirsty. She would not eat because she was hungry. She would not rest because she was tired. Her body did not dictate terms to her. It didn't. It wouldn't. She was in control. She was in control.

If she wasn't in control, how could she die happy?

She zigzagged up the slopes, sometimes following the natural paths, sometimes plunging up the climbs so that her thighs ached with the strain. So tired, so thirsty, so afraid even now. She felt her wild notions fading as she saw the ocean, so vast and so remote and so indifferent. She felt-

She felt loose ground give way beneath her feet

She slipped and fell. But did the slip cause the fall? Or did she lean into it? Did she feel her balance fading, feel her control fading, and take the plunge? If you walked the plank, was it better to jump, or to be pushed?

When the fall is all that's left

She fell. Or jumped. Or slipped. Or tripped. She fell, hard. Her hands and feet scraped and scrapped and scrambled and could not stop her. She hit the small of her back against a small stone. She caught her collar on a patch of ivy so it almost choked her, before it slipped away and she was falling again.

She briefly took her feet, struggled to keep her momentum, found it slipping away from her and she was plunging down again. In that moment, she thought she saw two human figures down at the base of the slopes.

Down again, rolling on her side. She slowed to a gradual stop, a threshing mess of aches and pains where her senses barely made sense to her.
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V6 Players

Tara Behzad: "They don't get to decide how I die."

Lizzie Luz: "I don't want to go."

Alex Tarquin: "No more masks."

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The World Turned Upside Down · The Slopes