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Rattlesnake
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Now you may be wondering, who was wearing the bolo tie? Me or the shark? Answer: YES!
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"OI!"

G090: Start

Kari Nichols broke into a run. She grabbed the gun thumping against her chest, finding purchase for her fingers on the folding stock and wrenching it open. She directed her flight towards a ridge of rock that obscured her view of whoever was screaming and, feeling a little bit heroic and a large bit foolhardy, made a giant leap off the ridge towards the beach.

Just over an hour earlier, as judged by her digital watch, Kari had pushed herself out of a heavy dream and into reality. There was no stewing in uncertainty, no slow realization for her. She had woken cursing her unconsciousness and cursing the terrorists. Her landing had been the best she could've hoped for, she thought as she surveyed the rut left in the sand by her tumbling body and got to her feet. First order of business was to check her surroundings for hostiles.

Second order of business was a few solves of her Rubik's Cube. She couldn't resist, and besides, she mused, pinching the stop timer button on her watch, it served as a useful metric.

"Twenty-one and a third seconds. Man, am I ever nervous."

A few runs later, she opened her bag and stowed the cube, then turned her attention to her standard-issue daypack. Immediately after undoing the zipper, a thrill ran up Kari's spine, followed by a renewed sense of shock and dread. A gun with two uncomfortably long clips lay on top of everything. She examined it. There was no question that the weapon meant business. There was no polished cherry stock, no foam rubber contoured grip, no ergonomically designed trigger; just death stamped out of sheet metal. Removing it from her bag revealed an owner's manual, from which she discerned that it was called a Madsen M50, that it shot a 9mm slug (Was that good, she wondered?), and that yes, it meant business. The whole thing, apparently, was so simplistic that she little doubted her ability, had she access to a good wrench to work off the barrel locking nut, to remove every piece and reassemble it in perfect working order.

The rest of the contents were of little interest to her at the moment, but she dumped them (minus Mr. Danya's Guide to Survival) into her own bag. The guide and her "personalized" pack could burn, for all she cared; she wasn't G090. She was Kari Nichols.

The next order of business was to thin out her bulging bag. Extra jeans, out; you could wear a good pair for weeks if you really wanted to, anyways. Most of the rest of her clothing was also tossed, barring the undergarments, which were a more integral part of personal hygiene and comfort - not like hygiene was a realistic goal in this place. Once she was happy, she set off to wander. Destination: unknown.

Not long after, the glint of a camera caught her eye, and she turned to face it as another hot jolt of realization flashed through her, just like the one the M50 had sent. She was on TV. Of course she knew the whole thing was a TV show, but catching sight of the cameras - it must be something you really had to see for yourself to understand. Millions of people could be watching her, maybe betting on her lifespan or commenting on the length of her sleep. And, she realized with another jolt, that meant that people much more important to her were watching. Dad's watching me, she thought. And Stephen and Charlie and mom. They can't see me die. They won't see me die!

At that point, she unshouldered her pack and retrieved the submachine gun, snapping a long clip into place and looping the strap around her shoulder. She decided then that it would be her constant companion. She needed to be ready, because if she was caught unaware and unarmed, she didn't like to think of what awaited her. She couldn't stand the thought of dying in this place, but even more so, she felt almost sick at the thought of leaving behind a corpse armed to the teeth.

If I die in this place, I promise that there will not be a single round left in this gun, a single blade left unblunted, a single fingernail not broken and bleeding from their broken grip on life. If the Reaper's gonna collect me, he better prepared to take me by force.

Back in the present, Kari looked at her feet, trying desperately in her short, rapid flight to find good purchase for her feet. She landed a bit roughly, stumbling slightly on the rocky section of the beach.

"Hey!" she bellowed, "Leave her!"

And then, peering around for the altercation, she spotted Carol, and understood. It was tough going over the rocky detritus that seemed eager to twist and snap unprepared ankles, but Kari worked her way onto the sand, then jetted over to where Carol lay. "Carol! Don't worry," she panted, extending her hand downwards, "It's OK."
VeeFive


V4


NO. THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE. FOR YOU, THE CAKE IS OVER. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF CAKE.

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Under The Sea Is Where No One Wants To Be · The Beach: North