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Who is this sassy lost child
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
In a room just down the hall from Alvaro, someone screamed, loud and long and full of wordless rage.

((B001 Min-jae Parker Start))

Really, it was just like picking up where he’d left off when he lost consciousness. Give or take a few hiccups, like waking up in the fetal position underneath someone’s bedside table and then bumping his head on said bedside table and the confusion and the realization and the choking horror that gripped him and wouldn’t let go.

Jae’s hands were shaking. He couldn’t stop shaking, had been shaking since he’d first woken up strapped to that chair, with some smarmy fuck at the front of the room like this was some kind of seminar, all part of the trip. He’d screamed then too.

When they shot Mr. Graham, in the split second before the horrible silence that descended, he had been one of the people screaming the loudest.

His first few minutes of consciousness in whatever fresh hell this was, though, were silent. He was curled up on his side, cheek pressed to a wooden floor. It was dusty in here, hadn’t been cleaned in way too long. His throat was dry, and he was stiff from laying in one position for so long on an uncomfortable, dirty floor.

So he sat up and knocked his head on the underside of the table, elegantly breaking the silence with a thump and a well-placed “Fuck!”

He crawled out from under the table, keeping his head low until he was clear of it. There was a bag nearby, with a number on it: B001.

(Haha you’re number one, congratulations you dumb fuck.)

Jae sat on the floor staring at the bag for a while, almost feeling like something in it was watching him as intently as he was watching it. There was nothing there of course. No movement from the bag, no mysterious voices or anything like that. No horror movie scenarios here except for the one he’d woken up in. He felt oddly detached from everything, floaty and numb.

To distract himself from the bag, he glanced around the room he’d found himself in. It was sparse; bed frame, bookshelf, that fucking table. Smelled musty, the wood of the furniture was probably halfway rotted. Some faded photographs stuck to the walls that Jae didn’t care to look too closely at. Looked like a hospital, maybe.

When he ran out of things to look at, Jae reluctantly turned back to the bag.

As it turned out, there was nothing particularly horrifying in the bag once he looked inside. Not much of interest at all besides the metal… stick thing. Telescopic baton, a piece of paper stuck to it said. It extended with a snick when he flicked his wrist, like a version of those plastic lightsaber toys at once infinitely more boring and more threatening.

Also, they’d taken his phone but left his headphones, presumably just to add insult to injury.

So that was the situation. One minute you’re on a bus sitting next to your maybe-girlfriend, the next you’re-

Oh God. Hazel.

It was a good thing Jae was already sitting, because the sudden wave of dizziness that overtook him would have brought him to the floor anyway. With one stray thought, the floaty, dissociative feeling dissipated and the full reality of just what was happening hit him. He was here to die. Everyone else in his class was here to die. They’d fucking shot Mr. Graham and threatened to do the same to anyone else who stepped out of line.

Jae was suddenly very, very aware of the oppressive band of metal encircling his neck.

It took a good while for the dizziness to subside. When it did, Jae pulled himself to his feet using the table leg to support himself. It definitely had the slightly-spongy texture of partially-decayed wood, and his nose wrinkled up in distaste.

He just stood there for a minute, bag and baton at his feet, not looking at anything in particular.

Survival of the Fittest, he thought, and then the last bit of numbness fell away and Jae screamed, pouring out his anger and fear and frustration at the unfairness of it all into a long, mindless animal noise of fury. Moving on autopilot, he grabbed the edge of the small end table and overturned it, saw one leg give and break off as the rotted wood impacted the floor.

The bookshelf was next, its small, musty collection flung across the room with little care, one striking the wall and causing a photograph to come loose and flutter to the floor. The bookshelf broke much more satisfyingly than the table had when tipped to the floor, and Jae gave it a kick for good measure. In all the cacophony, the soft creak of a door opening nearby was lost on him.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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