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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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((Enter Everett Taylor))

It was the worst day of Everett's life. The absolute worse. That was saying something, too. Still, nothing, no sleepless nights of studying, no embarrassing yearly physical, no bout of depressive self-loathing, could ever even begin to approximate this. He remembered it all. He'd passed out on the bus. Thought he was just tired. Thought it was just too hot. Then, suddenly, he was in a room. Tied to a chair. Watching.

He watched, as the video played. He remembered the name John Rizzolo. He remembered the blood. The blood from the teachers. From Mrs. Bishop, who was always late for class. English class. English class seemed so far away now. Everything did. Everett was sweating, his nice pants covered in dirt, his shirt plastered to his chest. It clung in a way that showed off, very clearly, his unimpressive physique.

He almost wanted to give up and die. He was lying by a path on a mountain. All around, there was fascinating scenery. He'd never been somewhere quite so beautiful. It would be a fine place to die. The question was, if he was going to do it, then how? He rolled onto his side with a groan. There was the daypack. Just like they'd said. He dug into it. The zipper was a bit tricky, but relented soon enough. Inside, he couldn't see anything except yellow rubber. Yellow rubber? What on earth could he have been assigned? He dragged it out, watching the duffel bag collapse in on itself. Before, it had been stuffed full. Whatever it was, it was big.

It was a raft. An inflatable raft. Did that mean he could escape? Could... blow it full of air and paddle away or something? Wait, no. There was a cut in the side of the raft, clearly put there by intent. A nice, foot long slash. His weapon was a busted raft. He was going to die.

At least it could be over quickly. He could shove his head into it, and smother himself. That was it. Suffocate. Of course, wouldn't that be painful? He thought of the few times he'd tried to work out, that awful burning and shortness of breath. No. That would be a terrible way to die. What, then? What could he do?

Then he heard the shout. Someone from higher up was calling. Calling a friend. Maybe... maybe people would team up. Yes, team up. Make a concerted effort, like the teachers had done. Find some way out. Maybe they weren't all killing. Maybe he could escape!

No. Everett wasn't right for escaping. He looked up the mountain, and realized he wasn't even right for hiking. Still, he pulled himself up, leaving the raft lying abandoned, and hoisted his packs. Then, he began to shamble uphill. In two minutes, he was breathing heavily, panting almost. All the stuff in his packs was heavy. Too heavy. Still, he had to keep going. Had to...

Then he was there. And there was the boy. Josh? Was that his name? He'd seen him in school, maybe shared a class. He had a second of fear, of doubt, wondering if Josh would kill him. Then he realized he couldn't stop him, and so simply wheezed out, "Hi."
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
Library Vee
Misty Browder drawn by Ryuki
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Dude, how come I feel like i'm not in Kansas anymore? · The Mountain