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As she sat on her hands and knees, eyes clenched firmly shut and a thick string of spit dangling from her open mouth, all the thoughts and fears she’d struggled to hold back came rushing forward. She found herself dry heaving as she imagined Bryony and Clarice dead, their bodies bloody and their eyes hollow. Then the one person she was trying her hardest not to think of, because she knew what’d happen if she focused on him for more than a second, flashed through her mind.

She forced her eyes open, tried to find anything else she could focus on as a rough sob escaped her lips. Tears began to well along her vision, fogging her lenses, but she choked them back. She couldn’t afford to cry again today.

Then the distraction she’d been hoping for finally arrived as Jordan approached her. Not dead, as she’d initially feared.

But in a few days, hours, minutes?

She shook the thought away, instead focusing on recovering some of her composure. She couldn’t afford to be a mess for much longer. A weak, snivelling crying girl was either an easy target or someone to protect in order to fulfil some hero complex, and neither of those were roles Hazel was eager to take. She was fine with being a damsel-in-distress on stage, but in reality? Not so much.

“I’m algood,” she replied to Jordan’s query, wiping away the line of drool that clung to her face. “Just needed to get it out, you know? What about you?”

She pulled herself out of her half-crouch and into a standing position – though Jordan’s lanky frame still towered over her petite one.

“So, got any ideas on how we can be less-fucked?”
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Tristan O’Hara
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The World Turned Upside Down · The Slopes