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A Delicate Machine
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Asha absently nodded at Wayne, still contemplating the problem of the taser. If they wanted to actually practice all the love and death she was preaching, it'd be best to leave soon; but she found herself strangely reluctant to be the one to take the first step, for once. It felt as if they'd taken two wrong turns towards a right, found a small pocket of the island that was untouched by time. They were alone, they were safe, they could stand against the wind and hear the ocean waves it blew below.

This pretense died as Dorothy spoke, reaffirming that even while time passed them by, it could still be claiming the ones they loved.

"I'd like to think not, but... dunno. Depends how much faith you got in our classmates, I guess," Asha said, running names and faces through her mind. She couldn't imagine any of her friends killing, or even the relative strangers she sometimes spoke to in the halls. But that was the purpose of the game, wasn't it? Showing how anyone could be reduced to a twisted husk of themselves, driven by nothing by hate and momentum, taking and taking from others just to breathe a few more pained breaths.

If the terrorists were trying to make a point about humanity, they were going about it the entirely wrong way. If you took a hammer to enough of a man's bones, he would eventually break, nothing but a crying and writhing mass of blood and flesh. Did that mean he was weak, could've survived if he'd only been a bit stronger? No. It was the same with the oh-so-fragile human psyche. No one who deserved a heart could look at kids who had been put through every kind of hell imaginable and truly blame them for whatever they had done. You couldn't just write it off as the murderous terrorists being murderous, crazy terrorists either. You didn't survive being the world's most wanted criminals for over a decade without being frighteningly sane.

No, they knew exactly what they were doing. This had to be someone's idea of entertainment, and in a way, Asha could understand that. Humans were an infinitely deep and interesting species, after all. It was fascinating to think about what makes an individual work, try to understand their hopes, their tics, their perspective on life. What they feared. Figure out what buttons to push to make them decide to bathe themselves in blood or jump off a cliff. Repeat for hundreds of other unfortunate subjects. You'd never run out of material.

That was exactly why Asha liked horror. How her comic, The Wonderful Death of Us All! had started. She had come up with a cast of characters, thought about their thoughts and tried to make them come alive inside her head, poured her heart into them. Invented an endless line of horrors and torments to parade them through. Had a blast deciding who'd die first, who'd snap under the pressure, who'd live to the end this time. Bring them all back to life for the next arc. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Kept it fun by keeping everyone cute and smiling, by prettying up and abstracting any gore.

Oh, Asha knew she wasn't the same as the people who watched SOTF. She knew there was a line. The death she created had been constrained to pixels on her screen, wrought by nothing but her stylus and tablet. She knew that horror was only wonderful when everyone was in on the joke. No one deserved to live their lives in fear. No one deserved to suffer.

Still, though. Their pastimes were all coming from the same place, the same desire to watch people unravel before their eyes.

God, she wanted to puke.

"...Let's not waste our time trying to guess. Please. It won't help anyone." Asha hoped she didn't sound as disgusted as she felt. She forced a smile, knowing it wouldn't fool anyone. "So! Got anywhere in mind for us to go next?"
a tribute for the dead and dying

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Time steals us all away one day, does it not? · Northwest Cliffs