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Who is this sassy lost child
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((Skipping with permission.))

“What’d you… have to go and do this to me for?”

Everything had stopped. It was impossible to say how long Jae stayed curled around Asha’s body like a protective cocoon. It was long enough for her blood to soak into his clothes and cake into his hair and onto his skin, and for the coppery smell to fill his senses. He couldn’t bring himself to move.

“I tried, alright? I didn’t… didn’t mean to…”

Maybe he’d tried praying, or raging at the powers that be. Either or. His voice was raspy, startling whenever it broke the silence. He was probably losing his voice, after all the yelling and screaming he had done in the past few days.

“What the fuck do I do now?”

The powers that be didn’t answer. They never did. And Asha remained silent in his arms.

Time passed, maybe.Thought gradually came back to him as he stared into the darkness. Whatever witching hour had settled over the island sat heavy and timeless around him, but the wheels started turning again eventually.

“You were a good friend. Dunno if I ever told you that.”

No response.

“I’m sorry.”

No response.

“I’m sorry for... for everything." Everything he had done before and everything he would do after this that would disappoint her. Because he would disappoint her. Too hurt to say for sure that he really wanted to live anymore, too full of fear and spite to die. Instincts telling him he should live, heart uncaring if he did.

"What do I do now, Asha?"

His voice was really going now, barely more than a rough whisper. Talking to your friend’s corpse wasn’t healthy in numerous ways, it turned out.

Asha still didn’t answer, but she probably would have agreed.

The night passed, somehow. The sun rose, though it had no right to.

Jae could see somewhat when he opened his eyes again at least, and for a moment nothing made sense. For a moment-

God, for a moment he forgot.

He opened his eyes and became aware of Asha pressed against him, and he started to sit up, started to ask what the hell had happened for them to end up in this position and-

And Asha peeled away from him, mostly-dried blood and bits of skin and sinew that had cemented them together pulling apart as her head hit the floor, the wound in her throat gaping like a screaming second mouth. Her eyes were still open.

Jae gagged again. His eyes stung, but he was out of tears. The only warmth left in Asha was what her body sapped from his.

"Why..." His voice was barely there.

The powers that be didn't answer.

They never did.

Jae worked his zombie limbs up from the floor, up away from Asha's empty shell, away from Dorothy who he was sort of aware of but couldn't bring himself to care much about. Stumbled to his bag, to the crossbow. He'd hit Isabel. He hoped she would die from it. Sixteen bolts left.

Halting, shambling, mindless, he went away again.

((Min-jae Parker continued in The Scarlet Garden))
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."

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Flowers Hurt · Intensive Care Wards