"We tried to be better, but we aren't. I don't think anyone could last more than a week here if they weren't willing to do bad things." - Alba Reyes

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Liz stumbled forward.

She was hitting cameras, knifing them, keeping herself in constant free fall as she moved towards the tunnels. Her throat burned. She was resolving not to listen to anything else Danya said; dead students, no, torturing Mr. Kwong, no. She had to win. Losing was not something Liz Polanski stood for.

There were better ways to do this, she knew. Finding friends. Using hand signals. Doing something subtle and people-smart. But Liz was not subtle or people-smart. She could hope that people wouldn't murder her on her feet, but in fact, she didn't know. And certainly going up to the first person she saw and trying to talk them into helping her--for some definition of talking--wouldn't work.

So she was smashing cameras, zig-zagging, taking care to black out promising nooks and crannies, hiding plans in them, plans and aluminium cans--she couldn't hide matches, she couldn't hide fire, hopefully people would be smart enough to make their own fire, do it without getting blown up. You've got to have more faith in other people, Mr. Kwong had said. Well, she was having faith in them. Faith in their intelligence, at least.

Blackouts. The terrorists can't see you. I hope you use these, other people.

Dark spots and plans. Plans in plain sight, and plans hidden. One-oh-three plans. That's a lot of paper.

But the dark spots were best. Maybe other people had their own collar-disabling plans, less harmful ones, that they could do in the blacked-out corridors of the island. I'm helping. I'm helping. Really.

Don't think about the kids who died.

Danya, you fucker.

Don't think about your throat burning. The way your eyes ache. Death. Just smash cameras. Smash cameras and leave plans. Mechanical and easy.

Dear fuck.

Fuck crying. Fuck pain. Pain is just a message. You can ignore that message.

You need to have more faith in other people.

She hated doing this. Leaving a trail of plans like Hansel and Gretel. Hoping people would find them. Be smart enough to implement them smartly. Hoping she had said enough, all one-oh-three times she had copied it down. Leaving things to intuition and chance made her sick.

Hush up. You're sick already. Trust things to work out.

Things never worked out.

Liz stumbled through five zones this way.

Inland forest. Ranger station; Ethan Kent was propped outside, some girl was inside. That was a no go. Detour to the Southern felled forest. The crevices of the mountain. The destroyed cell phone tower. Falling down into the mines, knifing the cameras in the miner's shack. Her energy was unhealthy.

Then to the tunnels. The tunnels, so fast.

She collapsed.

Open your eyes. Close your eyes. Open your eyes.

It wasn't the worst place to collapse. She was in a rock-spiked cavern, big and open, spotted with moonlight and water on the floor. The stones beneath her were cool. The problem was, she couldn't move. Her muscles had given out. Dead. Done. Her throat was ragged.

With some effort, she could twitch her fingers.

Well. She needed a drink of water. With some effort, she cupped her hands and stretched out far enough to grab water from the nearest puddle. It trickled through her fingers. Again. She saved enough to drink. It tasted organic and disgusting.

Drink more. It will keep you going.

She cupped her hands, and drunk more effectively this time. Got her left arm rotating. Splashed her face. Cool water felt good. Licked her salty lips.

Come on, drink more. Ignore the pain.

She pulled herself up onto her knees--she felt like an old woman now, bones creaking. Joints ached. She dumped water onto her face, drinking whatever came into her mouth. Again. And again.

Ignore the pain.

She ignored the pain, and let water trickle down her face. Her senses were dull, now.

But her eyes felt bruised.

Everything was heavy. She fell over again, from the effort of lifting her arms.

Sleep.
--------


Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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Blackout · The Tunnels