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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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It had been a good moment. For just a few minutes, everything was ok. He'd come across a nice girl, one who wasn't interested in playing at all. They'd overcome their fear. Began talking. Displayed their trust. It was easy to believe for such a short time that everything would be ok in the end, that maybe everyone didn't have to fight and kill and yell and scream and promise and betray and blame and accuse. But then (I should have known, nothing good ever lasts here) it all came tumbling down around him. It didn't matter if the people fighting up ahead weren't named Alex White or Maxwell Lombardi. It didn't matter that they weren't determined to see him exterminated once and for all. What mattered is they were armed, and it was unlikely that everyone would return from the inky blackness into the sunshine.

His impulse was first and foremost to run. Running kept him safe. It kept him alive. Surely nothing could be of any higher virtue than that in this place. Altruism had its limits; as much as he envisioned a heroic martyrdom, as much as he dreamed of going down in a blaze of glory surrounded by spent shells, dying enemies, and weeping maidens, when push came to shove, he doubted he could do it. Heck, he'd already left Andrea to deal with Alex back in the forest. But, he thought, but there was something else about running. It kept him fearful. Cowering, looking around the corner not for opportunity but for danger. And when his race was run, he'd only die tired. Something had to be done about that. Something had to change.

With every faculty of his mind screaming for him to run away, he glided over to the rock where his flashlight lay, picking up the light and joining its beam with that of Jennifer's. It was in full swing one boy charged, and the other handled his weapon like a fool. Longing gripped his heart - a new desire joining his wish for an infinite moment of time. That sword... If they were fighting, maybe one of them would drop it, and he could snatch it up. And then he needn't run any more. Nick Reid with a sword - a sight to strike terror in the hearts of his classmates. If he couldn't have any peaceful moments, why should anyone else? They could take a turn running for a while. But he wouldn't pursue them, oh, no, he would wriggle out of this trap like a teenaged Houdini. You couldn't make Nick Reid do what Nick Reid didn't want to do. And Nick Reid did not want to die on this island.

He stepped forward.

Now's no time for bravado, this isn't what I meant when I said don't run...

Can it.

This was the most dangerous thing he'd probably ever done on purpose. The flashlight beam trembled as he fought to keep his stand somewhat steady. His legs turned to jelly and his mind darted a thousand ways at once. He'd likely just die a fool - but was that any worse than dying as a hunted animal?

Slowly, unsteadily, he edged towards the combatants.



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Spelunking · The Tunnels