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God was telling you "not yet".
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It was cold. No, wait, it was warm. No, hang on - what the heck was wrong with this place? Trent felt uneasy as he bobbed along the river of darkness; his blood flowing throughout the black of his surroundings like every pore in his skin was gaping wide open. He felt like he'd died a thousand times and yet there was a gentle ease to which he accepted his new home. The shadows crept along his body, poking at him with their pointy sticks and speaking in a dialect he knew he'd never understand. That was okay though, this was fine. He liked being here for some reason, as though he felt safe inside this world, sheltered from the struggle beginning to take hold of the island outside of this cocoon.

Recalling what events had brought him here was an impossible task, as though his memories were hidden away in a secret place guarded by the very demons now examining the inside of his chest. They clicked their shadow tongues as they prodded his beating heart - it almost tickled as they pierced it with their tiny spears, watching hungrily as the blood began to bubble forth, seeping over the lungs and muscle below. He gave a weary laugh, his head lolling from side to side, but he did nothing to stop them from carrying on their work. This was their world, after all, and he was just a guest.

As they continued down the river for what seemed like days on end, they finally reached a blank television screen, suspended in the air by the darkness itself. Coming to a stop, the river dried up beneath his body and he fell to the ground with a silent thud; the demons now finished with their examination quickly left the scene, leaving Trent alone and bewildered as the screen flickered into life. Static crackling wildly above him, he could have sworn he saw sparks hit the blackened ground around him, but there were far more pressing matters at hand. Squinting his eyes, he thought he could make out the shape of someone's face amidst the frenzied pattern, but when the static began to dissolve he wished the face hadn't been so familiar.

Danya. That man from the video, the one in charge of every game he'd seen. Sure, everyone had watched at least one episode of SOTF, right? Everyone talked about it, didn't they? About Dodd, about Bryan, about Riz? He couldn't have been the only one, so why was he seeing that man's face now, like some sort of divine entity about to pass the harshest judgement ever conceived by his tiny little mind. "B044. Trent... Savage? Am I saying that right?" Mouth hanging open, he simply nodded in disbelief, his natural responses slowly returning to him as he watched on. "Oh, Trent... Trent, Trent, Trent. You've been a bit stupid, haven't you? A bit forgetful."


"Don't make that face at me!" The screen roared down at the boy, engulfing the world in a hellish fire as he glared right into his conscious, deep into the heart of his memories. "You've been awake for a while now, and what did you do? What was the first thing you did?" Trent broke away from his gaze, desperately grasping at an answer. "The girl! You've forgotten THE GIRL." His eyes widened. How could he have forgotten? He'd been so busy - no, so selfish, that he'd forgotten all about the one person in the world that he actually liked. He'd forgotten about his best friend. He'd forgotten about-

"Violet! I-I know, I-" His voice cracked as he answered, the pressure building as the screen looked down impatiently. "I-I should- I shoulda tried to f-find her! I-I'm sorry! I'm sorry- please!" The face leered, it's portly chin rolling around as it began to break a terrible grin.
"Oh yeah, Violet. How could you forget about her, Trent? The only person who's ever understood you. The only girl you've ever-"
"Sh-shut up! You shut up now, y'hear?!" And it did. With a grim bellow of laughter, the screen faded out of existence, permitting Trent the time he needed to fully process what had been said. It was all too much, however, and as fast as he'd fallen asleep the real Trent began to wake, though not blessed with the same tranquillity that came with floating along the dark canal.

It had been a few minutes since Craig had headed up to the cabin on the other side of the small clearing, and now the boy began to stir out of his maddening dream. "Ugh... my fuckin' head." He mumbled as he spit the dirt from his mouth and wiped his drool away with his sleepy hand. The pounding in his head was a harsh reminder to never again try something so stupid, and he took a good few more minutes of rest before attempting to get to his feet. He had to wonder though, about his sleep. What had happened just then was something he could never try to remember, and half of him wondered if he'd even dreamed at all, being so close to killing himself as he had been.

Never doin' that kinda shit again, right? Never again?

Nodding woozily, he lurched forward with a groan, his head still spinning from the impact of his head against the rocks. It was lucky for him that the damage done hadn't been more severe, though if anyone tried to convince him the pain now was a miracle he'd surely launch a groggy punch their way. And so he moved, slowly, and not so surely, over to the ranger's station, forgetting all about the duffel bag he had left in the bushes behind him.
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One of Three · The Ranger Station