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Rattlesnake
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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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An hour flashed by in disguised as a few seconds. Or was it a seconds as an hour? Time seemed to have simply given up and wandered off for a smoke. He'd just stand there in the darkness until it made up its mind. Unless this was it, the end of time itself, where nothing even meant anything any more. Or maybe he was dead and this was purgatory or an island existing a a tangent to time, heck he was probably about to show up as a special guest on Lost or something-

All of these thoughts flashed by in a handful of seconds that he would recall as having lasted much longer than that.

But before that, he was fighting. Again. He'd never gotten into a fight in his old life, but his new life seemed to be just an endless chain of them, connected by brief periods filled with dread. Because he knew it would happen again. Heck, he was going for people. Dangerous people. Murderous people. What kind of strategy was that? But you needed to get the players early, kill-

Kill. His forehead made contact with David's nose. He felt it break, felt it shatter, felt it collapse. Crumbling inwards with a sound not unlike rubbing gravel together, leaking, gushing, spewing red all over his forehead and all over his face and all over his shirt. Nick felt his opponent go limp; he released his grip, and the kid collapsed on the floor in a heap.

Dead.

Another human life, gone. No, wait, maybe not. Yet, at least. The headbutt left a terrible pain between his eyes, but that was nothing compared to what he'd dealt. Maybe he wouldn't die right away, but there was no doubt the winner wouldn't spend a week roaming the island with his nose transformed from an "outy" to an "inny."

Nick turned to find the sword. He wasn't a cruel man. Proud sometimes, maybe, and a bit of a short fuse when he was so tired and so irritable. But really, who wasn't? Society, the media, hounding people the public disliked, beatifying those they liked, it was nothing more than a giant contest where the guy with the biggest ego wins. But he, Nick, he had reason to be proud. The only person you could ever rely on was yourself, and his self was competent beyond everyone else's wildest dreams. Surely nobody else would have the decency to do this, be so helpful to his classmate during his last moments on Earth, Calm, cool, collected, finish the job. Finish murdering his classmate for shining a flashlight in his eyes.

No, wait-

WHAM

The first thing he thought was that maybe the boy was dead, and his vengeful spirit had just delivered a haymaker. The second thing he thought was that time seemed so distorted, maybe it had stopped.
His third thought was that something had just hit his face-

His first thought was that time seemed rather distorted. Then the punch, and then the vengeful spirit hypothesis. That seemed to be right. Stupid chronology. He returned his thoughts to the situation at hand within a second that-

He returned his thoughts to the situation at hand.

There was someone else in the tunnel, unless vengeful spirits were in the habit of putting on flashing explosive collars. That someone was holding him up against the wall. As Nick's bruised head screamed a bubbling, roiling scream that echoed throughout his body, half-furious, half-pleading, because there was no way he'd die like Tom, smashed open with his glorious brains spilling onto the floor, the best brains in his class - screw that, in the school - splashed across cold, uncaring rock with wild abandon. Cruel ironic retribution from a universe that wouldn't stop teasing him and from classmates that wouldn't stop hounding him even after they were dead, because if ghosts were real, there were two of them that needn't travel far to dash his head to pieces in revenge.

The student spoke. Not student, figure. Shadow, form, phantom, something he didn't have to feel so bad about killing because it was telling him it would kill him or something, and he'd have to fight back. He couldn't die like this. He wanted to see death coming, feel it, meet his new friend by looking him in the eye, and he couldn't do that if he was trapped. The indignity of it all, trapped in a cave on an island he hadn't yet figured out how to flee. He didn't care what they wanted, he just wanted out. He spat, trying to find purchase with strangling hands, trying to wrench himself out of the newcomer's iron grip, trying to drive the kid's testicles into the roof of his mouth with his knee.

Just trying to survive.
VeeFive


V4


NO. THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE. FOR YOU, THE CAKE IS OVER. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF CAKE.

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Carpe Noctum · The Tunnels