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dmboogie
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A Delicate Machine
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Two sharp cracks would have fit the narrative better, wouldn't they have? A familiar leitmotif, ushering the ghost of Trav's demise back into Cass's mind even as they tried to recapture his life; unwelcome but not alien.

But no, instead someone had fired a fucking automatic shotgun at them - twice - and generally ruined every bit of serenity the quiet scene had scrounged up.

Cass started and shrieked, sending their pencil rolling across the floorboards, instinctively clutching the notebook to their chest for several seconds of wide-eyed panic. The material world had long since faded out of focus, and it took them far longer than advisable to remember that their invisible assailant could still be around, scrambling back into the nearby bedroom to take cover, neglecting to slam the door behind them because holy shit there wasn't much a door could do in that situation.

They pressed their back against the wall, checking themself for shock-veiled injuries before realizing that, just judging by sound, that hadn't been the sort of gun you can get hit by and still have the luxury of suffering from it later. It would have been prudent to dramatically snick Jae's gift and wait for the shooter to enter the room, but it was still where they left it, leaning against the armchair.

Hiding wouldn't work. Only so many places in the lodge to check, and the bed was too low for Cass to fit under. All it came down to was whether the shooter had made the conscious decision to hunt and kill Cass or if they had just... not thought a lot?

"Jesus fuck, please, hey, I'm not a threat or anything, alright?" Cass called out with ringing ears and a quivering voice. "I don't have a gun or a knife or anything like that so just - so just like - I've got two bags out there and they've both got stuff in them and you can like, take the stuff if you want it, I'm not willing to die for it or anything! I'll just, stay in here and not hurt you and you can stay out there and not hurt me and then you can leave with all my stuff and..." They trailed off, realizing that there hadn't been any response yet. Any footsteps, any dramatic gun-cocking noise that you'd probably have to make in order to fire your gun again? Cass didn't really know how they worked.

Their ears had been kinda fucked, but the ringing was slowly starting to die out. Still nothing. Cass tentatively waved their injured hand in front of the doorway to check if anyone was waiting with a twitchy death finger, but seconds passed and they still possessed all their limbs. Next they carefully peeked around the corner. Everything was exactly the way they had left it, other than all the new holes that had appeared in one of the walls.

Trying not to think about how easily that could have been their head, Cass waited a few more minutes, just to be safe. No response, no shooting.

They went back out into the living room and closed the front door. They spent an annoying amount of time trying to find their pencil again. They dragged the armchair into the bedroom, then closed that door. They tried to complete Trav, but found that their heart was still racing and that they were glancing back up at the door every few seconds.

At this point, they honestly weren't sure whether they were more terrified by how close they had come to death without any warning or realization, or more annoyed by how random and inconvenient it had been.
a tribute for the dead and dying

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Rivers of Sadness and Mutual Need · The Hunting Cabin