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A Delicate Machine
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Was Cass going to die here? Cornered and helpless for the crime of wanting to do more than just survive? For not being jaded enough to want to get comfortable around a corpse?

In the end, it was the uncertainty that cut deepest, that controlled them now. If they had known that nothing they did would save them, Cass could have made certain that they would not die as they had lived; nothing more than scenery. But they didn't know, and so they suppressed the urge to edge away from Isabel as she sat down next to them; too close even for someone who wasn't stained by death. Managed to hold their breath instead of hyperventilating.

For if they ran, if they broke down and begged and screamed for their life; Cass knew it would be over. Maybe one of the two girls would draw a hidden gun and shoot them in the back. Maybe they'd make a game out of hunting them down. It was like pretending to punch someone in the face so you could laugh as they flinched; except you had placed a bed of spikes behind your victim's head. Maybe you got to see them die; maybe you got to see them desperately fight to keep their composure; do anything to play along so you wouldn't get bored and finish them. Either way, you won.

Cass had never really been bullied in school. They had been quiet, but not in any particularly weird or attention-grabbing way. (Besides, if anyone had, Clarice would have likely taken issue to it. They fantasized for a moment about their friend coming to their rescue, now; kicking in the door and bodily throwing Isabel out a window.) People were more likely to forget that Cass existed entirely, more than anything else. They guessed that Isabel was making up for lost time. Maybe all of her favorite victims were already dead?

Lily only reinforced this impression, throwing down the wicked sickle as a crimson gauntlet of challenge; wordlessly daring Cass to say something about the unmistakably fresh blood that it tracked across the floor. All they could do was play along, and wait, and rely on the tenuous mercy of a spree killer for being a "good sport."

"I don't, uh, got much of an appetite at the moment. Thanks for offering, though," Cass said, acutely aware of both how meager their remaining supplies were and the likelihood of Isabel's snack having been pried from someone's cold fingers. Metaphorically, unless she had literally murdered someone for a ration bar.
a tribute for the dead and dying

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The World's an Ugly Place, but I'm Still Afraid to Die · Art Therapy