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dmboogie
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A Delicate Machine
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"...Thanks. I am, too," Cass said, choking up for a moment. Sympathy was a strange thing to receive when everyone still alive had to have someone to mourn, just by the sheer weight of the dead. The simple humanity of Jae's sentiment had caught them off guard; reminded them that normal people felt things other than numbness and fear. Reminded them that even though everyone else was suffering, too; that didn't make Cass's grief any less valid.

Unfortunately Cass was too fucking tired to really do anything with this reminder except to try and commit even a single detail of it to memory as it flew by, so they instead picked themselves off the floor and settled down in a chair facing opposite Jae; vaguely glad that he had put his shirt back on. They wished that they had known him well enough to offer a condolence in kind, but they didn't, and a generic 'Sorry about... everything?' would have felt artificial, no matter how warranted it was.

Sitting down had been a mistake, Cass realized as they struggled to keep their eyes open. They had started coming down from their adrenaline high when they had first recognized Jae; and in its place there was nothing left but a pressure behind their eyes trying to force them to let themselves relax and sink back into blissful darkness. The chair was more comfortable than they had bargained for, and their wrist still ached and they couldn't find the willpower to stand up again.

Cass was no stranger to going to bed later than they should, but that had always come from some sort of purpose. When they were immersed in painting and it would be physically unbearable to tear themselves away from it for another night and day, to spend their school day with their brain stuck back on their canvas at home, living with the rest of their life out of focus until they returned. But there had been an end in sight; a definite point in time where Cass knew that their sleepless trance would be over and they could safely pass out in bed. But now, they would keep going until they either passed out where they stood or died. It wasn't sustainable, but they could think of no alternative. Not when their final conscious moments were at stake.

Silence was dangerous now. Empty spaces were an invitation to drift away; and thoughts and willpower just weren't enough anymore. Cass began to ramble.

"Does it, uh, ever freak you out that you can't remember falling asleep? Like, you can remember being tired and in bed and you can remember waking up, but everything in between is just kinda... gone. Or it's filled by hallucinations but you're never sure how or when they started? Like, it's such a big part of our lives but it's just like, fundamentally something we can't do. You can't be conscious about being unconscious. And it's just, like. Shit, man. Is that what fucking dying feels like?"
a tribute for the dead and dying

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I know my soul's freezin', Hell's hot for good reason · The Hunting Cabin