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Cannon Fodder
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((Haruka Watanabe continued from The Man-slut, the Cocktease and the Lover))

Dreams of darkness, stale air and dust. Damp, jagged edges and the distant echoes, growing louder and closer. Sharp points rising out the ground or hanging from the ceiling, as if to impale clumsy tresspassers. The blinding darkness, an infection, consuming everything. Things scuttling about in the dark, monsters, predators, people...Forever lost in the bowels of some mountain demon, never to escape.

Haruka had finally found her way out, away from the dark, the bad air and the unknown. Away from the strange group of people she had encountered, bloodied bandages, uncontrollable tempers, blistered palms, stumps for fingers, open wounds and the mask and aroma of death. It was like a grim, dark portrait of what hospitals were like before Florence Nightingale upped the standards.

The fresh air had gradually seeped into her lungs as she drew closer and closer towards the exit, an addictive drug, causing her tired legs to walk faster and faster to the source. She had ran through the dim caves and slipped, threw her hands out to protect her face and cut them against the rough floor. She feared an infection but eventually, she stumbled out into the light.

It had hit her eyes like a raging solar flare, the darkness had taken its toll and she was sure that her vision was fading as she drew closer and closer towards the sun. Fresh air, sunlight, grass and the promise of life once more. She ran to the river, dropping her back and kicking off her mary janes. Wading into the water, her troubles seemed to fade away, if not for a little while.

Away with the dust and grime, Haruka had hoped she had washed away her anxiety. There was that nagging feeling that she should have stayed in the tunnels and trusted Duncan, but with company like Ethan, Feo and Frankie Fiametta, she told herself she was better outside. Better in the open.

The open... A sitting duck, an easy target, Haruka's curiosity of the mysterious message on the wall and what could have been withered away like a shrinking flower. She dashed to the bank, pulling her bag over her shoulders and putting her shoes and socks back on. Perhaps if she hadn't had that rash idea to relocate to the secluded south eastern woods, maybe somebody could have found her. Maybe she could have been added to Danya's list?

Hours spent wandering through the woods had taken its toll. Fresh cuts and patches of irritation were etched into her shins and calves as she staggered through bambles and the occasional cluster of stinging nettles as daylight faded out overhead. At first the idea of seclusion in the woods appealed to her, hiding out like some furry forest rodent but as night approached, her opinions changed.

The strange and somewhat attractive beauty of willowy trees bending and bowing and the leaves forming an arboreal canopy made the location seem less threatening. The fantasy and intrigue, the ideas of woodland creatures puttering about whilst sylph like dryads floated between trees captured her. A storybook setting, refuge from the dangers and destruction happening around her. A storm of blood, fear and hatred.

But then she thought of the caves again, becoming lost in the darkness and forever stumbling about, hoping for freedom until she collapsed, dehydrated and worn out, food for the critters. She'd never find her way out of the woods come nightfall, and the idea of camping there in the forest sent chills down her spine.

Serial killers in the woods, grizzly bears, the fog rolling across the floor as zombies reached through the ground, climbing from their graves. The slithering and scuttling of macabre insects and bugs. Haruka had driven herself into a state of paranoia. The search for where the trees stopped became desperate until she finally found her way out as the sun began to set, she could have sworn she'd hug the first person she saw out of relief, regardless of whether or not they held a bloody dagger in their hands.

Nightfall, each relief had been shortlived, turning into another paranoid struggle to find somewhere even safer.

The mines had promised an intricate hiding place, but turned into a catacomb, waiting to become Haruka's tomb.

Fresh air and sunlight at the river brought comfort and reassurance, until she saw herself as a target on the range.

The trees promised seclusion and safety, but soon turned into a maze hiding numerous nightmarish foes.

She had finally made it into the clear again, her energy drained and fatique pulling her down. Eventually, after passing the detailed outline of the residential area, she sank down into a soft bed of flowers. She had scared herself to the brink of exhaustion. She curled up into a ball, too drained and tired to care if anybody was to stumble upon her and take her life in the night.

The dreams had visited her again her sleep, what she had hoped would be the one break from the relentless terror that hounded her mind, making her constantly watch over her shoulder or seek a place to hide. And then the wakeup call, Danya. She hadn't quiet caught the entire list of those who had died, being halfasleep when they were broadcasted, but she caught the dangerzones, counting them on her fingers and feeling relieved that she had headed north, rather than south.

Finally, she felt at peace. Her luck seemed to be returning (she hadn't been physically attacked, but was one act of violence worse than perpetual paranoia and fear?) she bowed her head, staring into her lap. Her fringe hung over her eyes, a veil, and her fingers dug into the soil of the flowerbed she had slept on.

Her white socks had grass stains and brown smears, and her mary janes had been scuffed beyond repair. Her palms were cut and her legs not much better, but at least she was alive and not in any serious danger. She had no weapon to defend herself with, and her flashlight had ran out of power. She felt a constant pang of thirst as she rationed her water, but she felt good. Lucky, blessed, safe, alive.

She sat up and rubbed her dirty hands down the front of her pink argyle sweater, the soft morning breeze met her face, welcomed and appreciated. A thin smile formed on her face and she looked up to the sky, gazing at the fluffy cottonwool clouds floating high above. And then she turned her head out of curiosity, and she wished she hadn't.

Her eyes were frozen like fixed bearings, her jaw dropped and that familiar uncomfortable feeling rumbled in her belly. Her wrists started to shake and tremble, and she thought her arms would turn to jelly and she'd fall to the ground. Haruka Watanabe had company, two boys, one big, one small and she could do nothing but assume the worst about them.

Did they see me?
x 1 oz. Rat PoiSon
x 1/2 oz. Meta-cyanide
x 1/2 oz. Fex-M3
x 1 cup Tiberium

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