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don't take no guff
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((Wade Cartwright continued from No More Predation. (Please.)))

Once again, Wade's movements slowed as he left the asylum. But this time, with careful deliberation and intent. He was following a plan of action and paying attention to his surroundings instead of nervously jumping at shadows and moving every few hours. It was invigorating to move dynamically. The fear of death lurked behind it all, but this time it seemed to fuel his advance and sharpen his senses rather than paralyze him. After all, potential death really did lurk behind every corner he didn't check, every piece of furniture he didn't inspect, every room he didn't go into. It was terrifying, but this time... the euphoria and excitement of actually following through, being what he wanted to be, doing what he wanted to do at heart eclipsed it all. Every time he stopped, his situational awareness would kick into gear. Every noise, every shadow, every nook and cranny would fall under his scanning gaze. Then check, carefully, quietly, against cover and with the needle against a vein so he could pop it in fast in case someone tried to assail him.

Sounds and noises would come to him often. But fainter, scarcer, less frequent than before. Once he got outside and started moving there, it was apparent to his eyes and nose why. But within the grim realization that half of his classmates had fallen, there was hope. Even if a selfish hope, for himself.

This was, indeed, how he'd choose to act in those worlds of obscuring long grass next to open sidewalks and prowlers with a license to kill if he could survive long enough to get his mental act together. His shirt reminded him. If he were a carnivore, of course, he already knew that the ethical contradictions and guilt would eventually drive him to madness, despair, anger, and suicide.

Maybe murder-suicide, but not here, not now, not in the place where he only had to take one life. Yes, one. That was all the terrorists asked of him.

Would the 'prey empathy' overtake him when the moment arrived? Perhaps. But it would only be just that once, and then he never had to again -- decidedly unlike the situation of those characters.

Stop, see, move. Stop, see, move. At some point after leaving the asylum, he made up his mind to cross the bridge. That made things go smoothly; he had a clear view of everything.

His conviction to find a herd - no, group - and stay safe with them wasn't forgotten, but... all the figures he saw moving in the distance didn't seem talkative.

Stop, see, move. Stop, see, move. It might have been okay to be prey. He might eventually have come to terms with it there, where the threat was constant and faint, but not here, where it was all thrust in his face instantly in a tidal wave which would - almost certainly, his heart of hearts knew - get him killed. But stay focused.

The compound seemed a decent place to seek shelter. Darkness was equal, and he might even find some instrument to use if he actually got in a fight. As he approached, he saw the radio tower. There were bodies strewn all around it. Well, there were bodies strewn all around the island, but the especially unpleasant state of one of them made him avert his eyes.

There was a commotion inside the garages nearby, and he fled to the quiet warehouse.

Much to his disappointment, the musty and dark space contained mostly household supplies instead of tools. Maybe if he searched harder.

Eventually, the deathstink became potent. He stumbled across a somewhat rigid object.

Another corpse, noticeably bloated and decrepit. Bleaugh. At least it might deter predators from entering, he reassured himself. Might. But he figured he wanted a comfortable place to rest this time around, and none of the spots seemed to fit that bill.

Wait, there were towels all around this place, weren't there? A few dust-laden containers and many desperate attempts to avoid sneezing fits later, he had a few. It was kind of an inappropriate use, but he'd probably never get the opportunity to get wet here. He'd already lost that when he split with the group.

A few of them, carefully bunched up next to a container shelf, made a good impromptu blanket. If he closed his eyes long enough, he could even believe he was back home.

He was slightly nyctophobic himself, but with the calming noise of the waves and knowledge of all-too-real threats out there, his imagination had no potency. The enclosed, dark spaces were safety, as far as he was concerned.

It was uneasy to think he could be murdered in his sleep, but hopefully the would-be murderers' prod to make sure he was alive would rouse him just in time to react. But these bags came with flashlights, right? They did, so no matter. Just make sure he was in a not-obvious spot, like behind this.. alcove? right here, under one of the shelves. Hold breath. Clean the dust. Hunker down for awhile. Put some extra towels over his head to prevent them from seeing him instantly. It would be safe. Relatively.

And all that only to hear noises. In the direction of the area from which he'd entered some time later. (No way to be sure.) Brace your limbs to react, he told himself. Brace them for a fight, as meager as they were.

His fists slowly balled up.
2015: V6 Incident
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