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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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((Isaiah Garvey continued from Reconstitution))

The announcements had hit Isaiah hard. He wasn't sure what he had been expecting, but it wasn't nineteen dead. Wasn't a large list of killers. He had gone through them, trying to match names to faces in his mind. Most often, he couldn't. Alex Rasputin he knew of, of course. Janet Binachi, too. Isaiah had always paid attention to his fellow runners, though he did not compete in their specific areas, being more of a sprinter. Rob Jenkins, another killer, played basketball, and was excellent at it.

The first shocker, and one of the earlier ones announced, was Clio Gabriella's murder of Chris Davidson. Both of them were Christians. Sure, they weren't from Isaiah's circles, but it shook him deeply to think that his fellows could have turned on each other so soon, like a pack of jackals. He had never put much stock in GODspeed, Clio's Christian club, viewing it as too much of an establishment sort of thing. The members were the sort who went to church to fit in, or because their buddies did, or because their parents told them to. Most of them didn't seem to have much faith, at least, not of the sort he prized. He had still expected more of them. Expected them to at least try to hold true to their espoused values.

But what really threw Isaiah for a loop was the announcement of the death of Brent Shanahan at the hands of Staffan Kronwall. Brent had been one of Isaiah's baseball teammates. Not his best buddy of all time, by any means, but a presence in his life nonetheless. And Staffan... everyone in Bayview knew Staffan Kronwall. For him to have done something like this was nearly unbelievable. Isaiah gave a wordless prayer, for their souls, and those of all the others on the announcement, the killers and the killed.

Of course, there was that niggling voice in the back of his head. The one which repeated Exodus 20:13, again and again. Thou shalt not kill. Surely among the most famous phrases in the Bible. A dozen of his classmates had broken that commandment. Part of him screamed that they deserved to be punished.

But he was able to quash that with the realization that, if they deserved punishment, it would find them, in this life or the next. It was not his mandate to enforce God's justice. To think that was arrogance of the highest order. Thou shalt not kill did not include exception clauses making the slaying of killers alright, or justifying revenge.

So he had wandered, lost in thought, searching for somebody else, for something to do. Originally he had headed for the parish, not consciously realizing it, but upon seeing that building in the distance, he had changed his course. It would simply be seeking a place of comfort, shirking his real duty. The sun had come up more fully, and now, having ambled aimlessly, he was at a beach. Sand stretched out to the distance, and the sea as well.

There were forms down the beach from him. One moving. Another on the ground, a little ways away. He picked up his pace. Nothing violent seemed to be going on, but he couldn't be sure, and he couldn't let anyone get killed while he watched. The metal bar swung from his hand in a loose grip. He wouldn't be killing, but beating someone off a victim was surely justified, right? He'd just have to aim well, make sure he didn't do worse than break an arm. No blows to the head. No risking lives.

But it wouldn't be necessary. The moving one shouted out. Then he tripped over the fallen form. He didn't seem to be attacking, though, so Isaiah slowed again. The figure who had tripped moved towards the sea, to another still form, one Isaiah hadn't seen before. The figure hoisted this new form up, shook it, spoke to it, though Isaiah could not make out the words. It took him a little while to figure out what had happened. When it came, though, it was one of the worst moments of his life. The figures on the ground had to be dead. Had to be. He sped up again, pausing fifteen feet away as the living boy turned and spoke to the air. Isaiah glance that direction, and could see nothing, nothing except the first figure, the corpse of a rotund boy, his head blown off. The other corpse was in comparatively excellent condition, his blond hair shining in the sun.

It was just too much. There was no biblical quote for this situation, no magic words to make things alright.

Isaiah stood in silence. The bar dropped from his grasp, to land quietly in the sand.
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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Milk of Human Kindness · The Beach: North