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So much noise. The cracks and gurgles of broken humanity. The screams that drowned out all other thoughts, all other sensations, all other memories. Mary Ann could not see, or speak, or feel. Try as she might to do something, anything else, the only thing Mary Ann could do was listen to the brutal murder that rang through the tunnels.

Almost at once- she didn't even notice at first- it stopped. Silence left the scene completely still, and only at that point did Mary Ann realize that she was standing. She'd been slowly backing away, clutching the jacket to her face to avoid the smell of blood.

Later, she would chastise herself. She would call herself weak, a coward. She would wonder if she could forgive herself for failing to do anything in the face of danger. She would apologize not only to R.J., but to the young man who'd attacked them... if either of them had survived. There was no way both of them had gotten out of that, after all.

Of course, this was the part where Mary Ann was supposed to call the police and the hospital. Or, since those were unavailable, she was supposed to approach the scene itself. Put band-aids on the cuts and bruises. Clean off the blood. Bring the criminal to justice (this one she skipped past, however, to avoid the debate over who was really the criminal here).

But she couldn't bring herself to do it.

More than ever on this trip, let alone her entire life, Mary Ann was afraid. R.J. could be dead. She would be left empty, more alone than ever, and she would meet her inevitable death several days later by the hand of Kris Hartmann, or Reiko Ishida. Or he could be alive, and they would probably have to live with the fact that he killed someone else- and for her sake.

Those three words shook her more than any she had ever heard (except for maybe last night, but that was different); in fact, they alone were all it took to freeze her in the spot.

Until she heard the footsteps.

Plip. Plop. Plip. Plop. Just like before. But it couldn't be him, he wasn't standing.

She felt along the cave wall, finally finding the sword that had followed her so unapologetically until she found R.J. My turn.

She held it with both hands, trying as hard as she could to keep it off the ground and to make as little noise as possible. She might not have known how to use it, but she was going to look like she did. For everyone's sake. She didn't know who everyone was, exactly, but she walked forward, not towards the bodies, but towards the footsteps.

Suddenly, one of the bodies rose, answering one of her questions and forcing a startled gasp from her lips.

Not alone, but never forgiven.
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It Knows Nothing of Whim · The Tunnels