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Pippin
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party wurmple never sleeps. only dances.
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There were a lot of things one could say about Astrid Tate, and a lot of things her classmates did say behind her back. A lot of negative things, remarks about her arrogance, her ego, her personality and her attitude. Things that ran the gamut from being steeped in truth and validity to exaggerated, malicious rumours. There was one thing, however, that couldn’t be ignored; Astrid wasn’t stupid. She was intelligent in many ways. She learned.

She felt like she had total control of this situation, but she’d felt the exact same way when she had been with Al in the library. She’d thrown that control away by underestimating him and losing sight of her goal, and it had cost her. The constantly present pain in her forehead and stomach was evidence enough of that.

She wasn’t going to let that happen again. She was clearly in control here, holding all the cards in front of Ben with nothing he could do about it. Nothing, of course, that she could actually see. So, she wasn’t going to drop her guard. She wasn’t going to let up with that control. Just in case he had his own trump card in his back pocket. Just in case he had a bookcase of his own.

Moving his bag onto his shoulder was an obvious movement, his shift in posture and subtle twitches were not. It looked like he was getting ready to run at the drop of a hat, and that wasn’t really what Astrid wanted. She wanted him to stay, just for a few minutes longer. Just one last meeting on this island with no threat or pressure lingering over her. One last meeting that wouldn’t end in confrontation.

Ben should have been grateful. This would likely be one of the last opportunities for civilised conversation before he died.

Body language wasn’t limited to just Ben, though. So Astrid hefted the pickaxe up out of the sand and swung it up so it rested on her right shoulder. The weight of the thing always took her by surprise, but she tried not to let it show as it pressed into her skin.

“Can’t say I blame you,” she said. “I think anyone with half a brain should be worried about her. Anyone who gets multiple this kills this early is almost certainly ‘playing’. It’s not a smart tactic. They just want to hurt or kill in order to fulfil whatever sick justification they have.”

Astrid rolled her neck to the left until it clicked, then took a single step forwards.

“Let me rephrase my question, though. Who do you care about out here? Who do you want to find so desperately?”

Astrid looked straight into Ben’s eyes, a smirk on her face. She gave it a second. Then the smile fell and her eyes turned cold.

“Unless both answers are the same. Then we might have more of an issue.”
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A sea view to rest the soul. · Shoreline