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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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Three pairs out, looks like six left. Eighteen batteries, that's two stacks of five and two of four. Just go with 16 and make it even?

He wasn't, of course, rewrapping his arm.

Three dissected flashlights lay in front of him, with another six waiting to be gutted. The confines and limited visibility of the bag worked to impede his progress, but at least he was safe - for the moment. Long-fingered hands moved like a pair of dancing spiders, grabbing, twisting, sorting, spurred on by a rising feeling of hope that clashed with creeping paranoia. He was directly underneath a camera. And he had some pretext, some concealment, the advantage of surprise. Maybe they couldn't see what he was doing. Maybe they wouldn't blow his collar even if they could. It was all chance. Something that had kept him alive so far.

He hated chance.

And, of course, they wanted to talk. Or at least Melissa did. Jennifer wanted - what, really did she want? Fine with her if he didn't go all the way with the issue, let it fester in the air between them. Fine with her if he bowed out, pretended like nothing was the matter, postponed the moment of judgment. She, again, just wanted to lift the burden, try to make his life a little more bearable. But it hurt enough already, and there was nothing they could do to make it hurt any less. What could he have done? He could've run away, taken the note and gone off in the opposite direction. They wouldn't have to hurt each other any more, but uncertainty and loss would make it unavoidable in the end. But meeting up, trying to comfort each other... the deeper the bond they formed, the more they supported each other, the deeper it would hurt when that bond was forcibly, inevitably shattered. It would break them along with itself.

"No," he said. "No, it's fine. That's just - it's like putting a band-aid over a gunshot or something. It doesn't really help at all. You can just pretend like it does and, um, you're still bleeding and crap. Or something."

"But really, it's well, not really simple. I just don't want to sound like, some horrible whatever, but it's gonna happen anyways." He turned away from his work momentarily. Fragmented explanations rolled through his mind, all potentially damning.

He turned away and kept his back to them, concentrating on keeping his face straight for absolutely nobody in the world. "I'll just be flat-out plain here. I happened upon a girl. Anna Chase or Anna or Chase or whatever you guys call her. So she was a little freaked out I wonder why, and then the guy - Marty just bumrushed, totally went nuts at me, with this."

He pulled out the Jutte, turning just long enough to check for comprehension on their faces. The next part would be important. Looking at the little dagger in his hands, seeing it coming at him in Marty's hand, spinning, reaching, hammering the point home with awesome, perfect, impeccable aim...

"...and then, well you know, or maybe you don't, I know I've talked about it, but I do heavy fighting. SCA. Some other stuff too. Well, I did, I don't think now I could ever -" He cleared his throat, trying to flush the lump away. "That doesn't really matter, it's just, I don't think he even felt himself hit the ground."

He took a couple deep breaths. Tried to calm himself as he peeled the insulation down from the ends of the wire-

Oh please no.

He froze completely. Even his breath caught on its way out. Four stacks of four batteries each lay wrapped in medical tape in front of him. Alternating positive and negative, so if he peeled the wire back and laid it down in a winding pattern, he could hit all of the terminals. And that wouldn't work. He needed - he counted quickly - one, two, three connections besides the main wire to get the correct current pathways.
Improvise, improvise...

Another second of deer-in-the-headlights shock, and then his hands and his mouth moved at the same time. "But it was just so fast, he attacked and I reacted and one of us was going to die and I know this probably sounds so bad but I know he didn't suffer and can - could you really wish for more on this island?" His face flushed, sweat moistening the grime on his temples, hands wrenching away in a frenzy, trying to twist a little medkit-issue pair of scissors apart. He was on shaky ground. Maybe past the point of no return. But really, was it so bad? He'd died so quickly, so peacefully...

He broke one of the stacks in half, strapping one onto the end of two of the three remaining stacks. The last two batteries he fished for, wrapping them quickly and completing the third stack. Three stacks of six. Eighteen batteries. Twenty-seven volts. Who knows how many amps. Checking the line with his finger - positive, negative, flip, positive, negative - he strapped down the broken scissors, one on top and one on the bottom. Heartbeat rising with anticipation, he taped down one end to the free negative terminal, and then, scarcely daring to believe it, stretched a piece of tape across the bare wire, moving it to touch the positive end...

Sparks popped. Metal melted.

"Look. I'm the same Nick Reid that stepped onto that bus a week ago. And this is really freaking important, because Nick doesn't try things, he does things. And if you wanna see that in action, you better get over here."

"Right now."
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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