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Pippin
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party wurmple never sleeps. only dances.
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((Astrid Tate continued from Smoke Screen))

“Got somewhere to be?”

Luck came in many different forms. A blood-covered girl with a similarly bloody pickaxe and an eyepatch was, admittedly, not the form of luck most people would first think of. But for Ben, the sight of Astrid striding down the beach towards him was undoubtedly lucky. It had to be.

After all, if they’d both been here a day later, she would have been attempting to break his skull open with a pickaxe.

The walk from the asylum to the shoreline had given Astrid even more time to think, especially when she’d first been attempting to leave the building. It had taken longer than she’d have liked, adapting to walking with her stomach wound, her footsteps jolting the dull pang in her abdomen into genuine pain every now and then. The journey back down to the ground floor had been a stuttering affair, Astrid needing to pause multiple times to rest and gently massage the bloody reminder of her earlier misstep.

It was good to feel the salt breeze on her skin now, though. The chill from the coast made her unbelievably grateful for her jacket, but it was still much preferable to the stifling air of the asylum. She’d spent far too long in there already, and she’d almost certainly have to return there at some point in the near future, but for now, it felt almost good to expand her boundaries and wander the rest of the island.

And she could go into this encounter with Ben with none of the trepidation and doubt in her heart that had plagued her last two meetings with people, because she wasn’t going to harm him.

Another day, she had told herself. Another day before she did anything. The announcements would tell the entire island of what she had done, and the fourth, or maybe even fifth one, would be the only time that would happen. No doubt those who had intentionally killed would kill again, and it would be those names that would stick most prominently in her classmates’ minds, those who had cast their morals aside for whatever inane justification they had. A single girl with a single kill to her name would get lost amongst the bright, neon lights of the multi-killers and the players.

There was also, of course, the aspect of procrastination. Just one more day for all of those reasons, she told herself, just one more day for your own safety, to be smart, to put as little a target on your back as possible, a target that you can easily lie about to diminish. Just one more day, in reality, to put this thing off for as long as possible, and to totally prepare yourself for what you have to do.

Astrid stopped short a few feet away from Ben, letting the pickaxe drop to her side, the weighty head sinking an inch into the sand with a muted thump. She had absolutely no idea of who this boy was. If she had seen him around school, he’d made no impact on her, and for a few seconds she was convinced the terrorists had abducted the younger classes from school as well.

“What’s the rush? It’s not like anyone you’ve got to meet is going to escape.”

It was pure luck that Astrid’s line of questioning fitted neatly with Ben’s unheard statement. It wasn’t hard to tell he was planning on leaving, though. He was alone on the beach, with a bag on his back and a clear intent to head off. Most people were so easy to read.

Astrid left one hand resting on the handle of the pickaxe, and the other on her hip, as she stared Ben down.
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A sea view to rest the soul. · Shoreline