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Topic Started: Nov 10 2006, 01:22 PM (3,878 Views)
I'm a Cactus
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do you want to go to war, balakay?
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Well, guys. It’s finally here. This is Endgame – the final act of Survival of the Fittest, V1.

For a long time, everyone’s been wondering what the fates of Cody Jenson (B#50), Adam Dodd (B#77), Jack O’Connor (B#80) and Sidney Crosby (B#87) were. Well, now, it’s time to find out.

I really hope you enjoy it.

Remember, when it is finished, there will be 11 posts in this topic.
The Future

The Past

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I'm a Cactus
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do you want to go to war, balakay?
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Four Students Remaining.

So this is it. I...I can't even believe it, myself. I'm here in the final four, and everyone else is pretty much armed to the teeth. Wonderful.

As Sidney Crosby stepped over what he had guessed to be the dividing line between the Warehouse and the River, he heard his collar 're-activate' itself with a resounding beep, one that send a shiver down his spine. Once he'd heard the device somewhat deactivate himself, he'd pondered trying to take it off, but just because Danya had deactivated the danger zone part of it didn't mean that he'd deactivated the whole 'take it off and your head explodes' part. So when he stepped into the River for what would likely be the last time, he shivered involuntarily. With all that he'd been through, he figured that it was only natural.

Stepping into the outskirts of the River, he glanced down at the map in his hands. The River was a fairly large zone on the island, and in fact ran the entire length of the river itself, with a portion jutting out into the clearing and the small bridge that found itself near to the warehouse, where he'd first encountered - of all people, Adam Dodd and Cody Jenson. Strange, he figured, how the two people who I first met up with at the river, under completely different circumstances, are now coming back for one final showdown - at the very place that our 'fates intertwined'. Shaking his head, he nervously checked his pistol again.

He had four clips. He'd managed to grab a few off of some corpses that he'd discovered along the way, but it was still rather unsettling. He knew that Jack probably still carried his original weapon - the knife, and whatever weapons that he'd managed to scavenge from the terrorist he'd killed. Adam Dodd was armed to the teeth, especially if what he'd heard on the announcements was true about him having the largest kill-count. Cody Jenson was a predator if he was armed or not - he'd seen him kill a girl with his teeth, and the memory still gave him shivers down his spine.

That memory was something that he'd never forget for as long as he lived - as long or as short a time as that may be.

"How am I doing? How am I doing!?" Sidney's voice raised a few octaves at the question.

"Cody, you just...you just raped and murdered someone...how the hell do you think I'm doing?"

"I would say, that you're ready for evening tea."

Cody then began laughing, his form shaking in its prone position. This caused Madelaine's body to shake a bit, creating a surreal scene. He then stood up and zipped up his pants, wiping off his mouth with the back of his hand.

"She was good, a real spinner."

This brought another smile to his face, which was still covered with blood.

"I just figured I would enjoy myself, seeing as we're all stuck here. Plus, she gave me this."

Cody gestured to the still bloody wound on the back of his head.

Shivering again, he replayed the scene in his mind's eye. Madelaine Shirohara had been alive and well moments before, and then when Sidney Crosby had wandered off, he'd made the grisly discovery that had haunted him since he'd seen it. He'd never, at the time, guessed Cody Jenson for a rapist. Not at all! As he'd thought at the time, he'd heard the rumours about how Jenson was a locker-room cancer, and how most of his coaches hated him, but ... he'd never known how true that it was until that moment where the two had come face to face. And the revulsion that Cody had spoke with, the anger that had laid upon his face at simply seeing him - it frightened him. It frightened him a lot, because he'd never really known Cody all that well. And if the boy hated him that much...he had figured himself to be in serious trouble (as if he wasn't already).

So here he stood, one member of the final four. He'd outlasted over one hundred other kids to get here, one hundred other people and he was in the final four - and so was Cody Jenson. Sidney wasn't a big believer in fate. He never had been. He always had figured that people created their own destiny. Nothing was ever predestined. But he'd be damned if he didn't find himself rethinking his own philosophies. To be here in the final four with those specific three people raised a lot of red flags - for instance: Adam Dodd had saved his life, very recently, and apparently been raped for his troubles. Adam Dodd had also sworn that he would hunt down and kill Cody Jenson if it cost him his very life - the two girls that Cody'd killed were apparently close friends of his. Cody Jenson had issues with Sidney Crosby, and also with Adam Dodd - though if he knew that he had problems with Dodd was debatable. Then, there was Jack O'Connor. Jack didn't fit in much. Sidney had issues with Jack, stemming back to Jack being such a prick at the warehouse, and threatening him when he'd opted to leave (a move that had likely saved his life). And here he was in the final four as well.

One would think that it would all be predestination. That those four specific people, all with ties to one another, would end up in the final four?

As he thought about it, something became frighteningly clear to him, and it caused him to shiver again (internally, he wondered if the shivering was actually from the wound on his foot, but he pushed that thought into the back of his mind). All of them had specific ties to him, and not necessarily to everyone else. If the four of them faced off, would all three of them go for him first?

I suppose, we'll have to make sure that something like that doesn't happen.

Glancing around, he saw that the area beside the river was surrounded by quite a few sturdy-looking trees. If he could manage to hide in one, and emerge when the big battle was over, he might stand a decent chance of coming out alive - especially if the three others did battle. Hiding, at this point, might be his best perogative.

As he strode into a familiar area - the one that was stained with dried blood, and contained three telltale lumps in the dirt - quite evidently three gravesites, he recalled a tree that he'd slumped down beside. It was well-sheltered, and overlooked the whole valley. If he could manage to climb up there, odds were that he might be able to outwait the big fight. Walking over to the tree, he looked up.

Climbing would prove to be very difficult, and he hoped that he'd be able to manage. Grasping the sides of the tree, Sidney began to shimmy up, very slowly. Much to his surprise, his method, while slow, was working.

I can't believe this, it's almost like it's too good to be true...

He winced as soon as the thought passed through his mind, as a small insect of sorts landed on his face as he looked upwards. Being about six feet off the ground, Sid couldn't help but let out a small little shriek, reaching to brush off the bug, but at the same time losing his grip on the tree and falling to the ground, landing head over heels. As he landed hard on his rear, he managed to dislodge the insect, but fell in the dirt.

Damnit! If anyone heard that and they're anywhere close, I'm a sitting duck.

Sitting up and stretching his neck, Sidney pulled himself to his feet to try again. He'd have to get up there relatively soon. Night was quickly approaching and it was beginning to get cloudy. In a few hours, light would soon be a privilege that they would soon lose, which would make any wrong moves even more deadly.

The roar of the engine of Loretta echoed throughout the entire island as Cody traversed the turns, dips, and uneven terrain of the island. The wind blew wildly in his short hair, which had grown out quite a bit from the barely-there haircut he had adorned during the hockey season. He felt completely free as he glided carelessly across the island at full-speed, hitting bumps and ramping into the air on the rough terrain. For once in his life, Cody Jenson felt something he had never before experienced; Cody felt liberated. Grinning wildly, Cody gunned the engine of the motorcycle and went sailing full-force over the ledge of the lookout point... and for a moment, he genuinely felt as though he was flying.

During the short distance he had walked between the ravine and his final destination, Cody Jenson had been daydreaming. He had been thinking about a time that never was and an event that would never occur. It had all happened when the confining silver collar that encircled his neck had made an awkward beeping noise back at the ravine, signifying that for a short period of time, the collar had become dormant. Never, not once, did it occur to Cody that perhaps he could remove the collar and escape this came. No, Cody Jenson never had any intentions of escaping. Never any intentions of walking away.

A haunting and crackling tune echoed out from the depths of his dehydrated body through his chapped and peeling lips as he strolled haphazardly through the desolate wasteland that the island had become during the past week and a half. The entirety of the land mass was littered with the rotted and half-eaten corpses of the dead, and the stench could only be described in one word: inhumane. The smell of dried blood and rotten carcasses filled Cody's nostrils and he fought back the urge to vomit up the meager portion of food which he had devoured not long before.

As the blonde-haired boy exited the dense thicket of trees he had been wading through and entered the clearing near the river, his eyes widened and he stopped a moment to catch his breath. This place... it seemed like so long ago now that Cody Jenson had been here. This was the place where it had all began. This was the place where he had enacted his retribution against Madelaine Shirohara, and this was the place where he had first smited Adam Dodd. This was the place he had encountered Sidney Crosby after the brutal rape of Madelaine Shirohara. It was at this moment that they all saw Cody Jenson for what he truly was, and the threat that he would surely be.

It all happened here.

"We're going to play a game. Here's how it works. If you scream, you die. If you bite, you die. If you poke, or squeeze, or claw, or don't cooperate, you die. Sound fair?"

Looking out over the horizon, the entire area surrounding the river seemed to have been colored orange by the evening sky. From his position concealed halfway in the thicket of trees he had wandered out from, Cody could see three lumps of fresh dirt rising up from the ground surrounding the river. A sinister smile crept onto his lips as he spotted them. Surely, three freshly buried bodies lie buried beneath the earth for the worms to feast on. Surely, Cody Jenson was responsible for the deaths of two of the three corpses buried in the shallow and poorly-crafted graves.

"I just wanted to let you know... I never planned on letting you go.

He remembered this place, these events, almost as vividly as the day he had lived them. He had relived the moments again and again in his mind, from his brutal rape of Madelaine Shirohara to his encounter with Sidney Crosby to the stray bullet that resulted in the death of Adam Dodd's one true treasure. Even now, as he stood there gazing out into the silent and seemingly unoccupied river, he recalled these events with stunning clarity. Somehow, though, it all seemed so surreal. Like a dream. Maybe... maybe everything was just a dream? Perhaps none of this was real.

"...Cody? Cody, what...what are you doing? I..."

No, this was real. This was fate. This place, this event, this moment... it was all fate. Cody had been playing into the hands of destiny this entire time. Everyone here had been playing right into destiny's greedy palms. Only Cody knew, though. He knew even then what the events that had transpired would result in. Now, as he stood on the river which had once before been a colossal battlefield, he couldn't help but smile to himself. It was only fitting that the last battle be fought in this place. There had been many before this, but this one... this one would be the battle that would end the war. This battle would determine who the one true winner of Survival of the Fittest was. This battle, an epic collision between Gods on this island, it was predestined. Now, Cody Jenson was on the brink of war.

"It's no wonder you never made the junior team, because all the coaches knew you were fucking bananas!"

Finally venturing out from his hiding place in the thicket, Cody reflexively let the shotgun he had acquired from Clemence drop to his side, instead removing the smaller firearm he had tucked away in the front of his pants. After turning off the safety, Cody proceeded into the nearby area of the river, his knuckles clinging so tightly to the small firearm in his palm that his entire hand had begun to turn a pale peach, almost white, in color. A solitary bead of sweat trickled down his forehead, eventually running in between his eyes and the length of his nose before finally dropping off the end and splashing down onto his bare chest. Cody didn't care about that, though. All he cared about was finishing this game once and for all.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw something moving. Someone was already here. Perfect. His eyes darted around wildly as he slowly stalked toward his prey at a silent pace, and then, Cody Jenson began smiling. It started out as a lop-sided smile that formed on only one corner of his lip. Eventually, however, the smile grew until the corners on both sides of Cody's lips were raised into a sinister arch. The smile only grew from there, Cody's lips parting to reveal the pearly-white teeth that lay behind them. The very person that he saw scurrying desperately up the nearby tree was him. So it really was destiny, after all.

"Sidney fucking Crosby!" Cody shouted with glee.

Raising the small handgun up to within aiming distance, Cody pulled the trigger, sending a solitary bullet flying toward Sidney. Luckily enough for Crosby, Cody had purposely missed, and the bullet embedded itself in the tree just above Sidney, sending wood chips flying from the century-old tree bark as it pounded into the tree, embedding itself inside. The maniacal smile never left Cody's face as he looked at him, his gun still pointed high in his shaking hands.

"It really is destiny, you fool! It really is! You'll meet your end, Sidney Crosby. You'll meet it by my hand!"

Stalking forward a bit, Cody fired another bullet wildly, not taking the time to even properly aim his gun. He wasn't looking to take Sidney Crosby out with the small firearm he currently wielded. Oh, no. Sidney Crosby deserved a fate much worse than a quick and painless death. Sidney deserved to be tortured. He deserved to have his body hacked limb from limb with the hand axe Cody currently had strapped to his back. Cody would make him suffer. He would make him pay for the constant upstaging, the constant outdoing. Cackling softly, Cody continued to stalk toward his fellow hockey player.

"Always better than me. Always trying to outdo me, Crosby. Trying to prove you were better than me. You're NOT better than me! Do you hear me?! You're not better! I'm the best! I'm better than you could ever dream of being! I'll prove it, Sidney Crosby. I'll prove it here and now! I'm better than you, god dammit! I'm BETTER!"

Firing off another round toward Sidney, Cody flicked the safety on swiftly before shoving the handgun down the front of his pants. In one swift movement, he had undone the hand axe that had been tied to his back and now wielded the blood-covered weapon in his hand. A menacing gleam passed over Cody's glazed-over eyes as he looked at Sidney Crosby. Before him stood a man he'd hated for years. A man who upstaged him at every turn. A man who surpassed him at every corner. Now, Cody had the chance to prove to Sidney Crosby, to himself, and to the entire world that he was better than the sniveling coward before him. Now, the tables had turned. Now, they were playing by his rules. Now... was his time to shine.


The single word echoed throughout the clearing as Cody Jenson took off in a full-on sprint from where he had been standing. Wheeling the hand axe back in the air as he ran, Cody never faltered. His vision focused purely on Sidney Crosby, and he saw nothing else. Crosby would die a slow and painful death at his hands. This was how it was meant to be. He would eliminate Crosby from the final four before the other two contestants ever arrived. You can't be late to a competition, you know. That's how you get disqualified... taken out of the running. In Sidney's case, he should've probably been late. Without any hesitation or remorse, Cody Jenson swung down wildly with the axe he wielded in his hands, hoping to connect with the form of Sidney Crosby.

It comes down to this... I'll prove I'm better than you, Sidney. I was always better than you.

When the bullet had exploded above him, sending wood chips down onto his head, Sidney Crosby had jumped with a start. He'd been naive to think that the others wouldn't be around until far later - most had probably hurried to the River to get a tactical advantage on the others, which Sidney now realized that he'd wasted. He'd had the advantage, and he'd spent the time climbing up a tree.

Fucking stupid, Sid!

Of course, as the second shot went a WAY wide of him, Sidney finally looked up into the face of his assailant, who was quickly walking towards him from the other end of the valley. Sid wasn't surprised to recognize him - for at this point, he knew all four who were still alive. It was, of course, the dread that had been in his stomach that had risen up though, when he saw that it was indeed Cody Jenson who was striding towards him with a pure look of hatred on his face. He was shouting things, too, but since he was relatively far away, Sidney couldn't quite understand him. Of course, the one thing that he DID understand was when Cody began to sprint towards him, waving a hand axe, screaming "DIE" at the top of his lungs. For a moment, he froze. The fear was nearly overpowering, and he basically watched the other boy run towards him, clearly intent on lopping his head from his body. As Cody got closer, Sidney simply sat, gaping, until a little voice in his head that had been screaming at him to get out of the way finally took full control of his body and sent him diving out of Cody's way.

Pulling himself quickly to his feet, Sidney was filled with a sense of fear. This was it. He'd have to kill Cody Jenson, or else he wouldn't be going home alive. Backpedaling a bit, Sidney fumbled getting his gun out of his pocket. Finally managing to extract it, he thumbed off the safety and pointed it at Cody.

"F-fuck you, Cody! You have such a...an inferiority complex! It's not my fault that I'm blessed with hockey talent! You've just got to accept that there are going to be people who are better than you in this world. So what if I'm a better hockey player that you are? You still had the talent to be one of the best in the world! You would've made the NHL, no problem! But you always had a screw loose, Cody! You always had issues, and that's why you were never as good as your potential said!"

As Sidney was yelling at Cody, he was stepping back some more, until he backed into a tree.

"But I guess I've got some good news for you, Cody. I can tell you what you're definitely better than me at. It's not hockey, though. I can say with all certainty that you're a better psychopath than I'll ever be! You're a better rapist than I'd make. And you'll definitely look better as someone's bitch in a prison cell than I ever would! You know that, right Cody? If you ever get out of here, they're probably going to arrest you for rape! Jesus, I hope that they lock you up and throw away the key. You can kill me, but if you get out, you're only postponing the inevitable anyways."

After his long speech, Sidney gulped and raised his pistol at Cody's head. He'd figured a new tactic, trying to convince Cody that death was only a matter of time for him, and maybe, just maybe, he could convince Cody to kill himself.

"So...y-you know what you should do? Just...put your pistol to your head and end it all! That way, people will remember you not as Cody Jenson, the rapist, but Cody Jenson, the victim. The sad little boy who got taken to SOTF and couldn't handle it, so he took his own life! T-then your legacy won't be so ...tarnished!"

It was his best hope, and Sidney had no idea if Cody was buying it. Internally, he knew that he wouldn't. The problem was, Sid didn't know if he'd be able to actually pull the trigger.

Fight or flight, Sidney Crosby. Fight or flight. Which will you choose?

A disappointed sound escaped the lips of Cody Jenson as his foe, to no surprise, chose the option of flight. An expression of mild annoyance formed across Cody's features as Sidney managed to scramble past him, completely avoiding the blow from the hand axe. Instead, the axe had embedded itself in the tree that Sid had been climbing from the sheer force of the attack. If Cody had managed to hit him, he might've split Crosby in two. Cody smiled inwardly at this knowledge. But, the fact was, he had missed. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Sid backpedaling in the other direction and fiddling with his gun. Cody, meanwhile, braced his foot against the tree, yanking with all his might and finally managing to remove the hand axe.

He watched the metallic object grasped tightly in Sidney's palms with mild curiosity. Had he been thinking rationally, he would've completely discarded his hand axe and blasted Sidney Crosby into the beyond with the shotgun that currently hung from his chest. All sense of rationality, however, had long since escaped the confines of Cody's mind. Rationality, clarity... terms such as these were long forgotten in this place. Only two things prevailed over all else: the will to survive and basic, primal instinct.

As Sidney backed away from Cody, all the while pointing that menacing metal object toward him, he began to speak. The stuttering, sniveling wimp that was Sidney Crosby had finally begun to grow some balls... at least, that was the front he was pointing on. Cody saw right through his facade. The fact remained, Sidney was scared shitless. Even someone as unobservant as Cody Jenson could hear it in the hockey player's voice. Still brandishing the bloody hand axe he'd carried for the better part of his time on the island, Cody began to stalk toward his arch-rival.

Sid's words were lost upon him. All Cody saw was a whiney, sniveling baby, trying to fight a physical battle verbally. Sidney Crosby was a coward. He always had been, he always would be. Right up until the time of his death, which Cody assured himself would be very, very soon. As Sidney stumbled backward into another tree, Cody smirked. How had this clumsy fool ever been the "best"? How had he ever become the "next big thing"? Ludicrous, all of it! As the sniveling, condescending little coward continued his verbal tirade upon Cody, all he could do was smile that sadistic smile and continue to stalk ever closer to his victim.

As Sidney's words rang out in his ears, Cody stopped momentarily, mere feet away from Sid. His head cocked to the side lightly, and the smile vanished from his lips momentarily. Within seconds, however, the smile had reappeared, and the hand axe he currently wielded was once again ready to attack. End his own life? Why would he do a thing like that? He hadn't fulfilled his destiny yet, Sidney Crosby and Adam Dodd were both still breathing. Before it was all said and done, both of those men would die by his hand. That was the one certainty that remained in Cody Jenson's discombobulated mind.

"They'll lock me up, eh?" he muttered at almost a whisper, the hatred he felt for Crosby evident in his words, "See, Sid, that's where you're wrong. You assume too much, and that'll be your undoing."

Smirking slightly, Cody sidled up toward the tree, keeping his eye on Sidney Crosby. The hand axe currently rested at his side, but at any given moment, Cody had the ability to swing his arm around and hopefully embed the sharp object into the flesh of his nemesis.

"What makes you think I wanted out, Sidney? What makes you think I ever had any intentions of winning this thing? You're no better than me, you filthy coward. I've heard your name in the announcements. You've killed people. Face it, Crosby, you're no better than I am. No better than everyone else on this island. We're all the same. We're all murderers. Do you think, even for one second, that if you ever went home, they'd praise you as Sidney Crosby, sole survivor of that terrible game? Of course they wouldn't, you idiot. It'd be Sidney Crosby, the next big thing... he was such a good kid, a friendly kid... but he murdered those people on the island. He murdered them in cold blood so that he could survive."

Cody's voice had taken on an almost mocking tone as he spoke. Stopping momentarily, Cody began to heave, the presumed internal bleeding that had been going on for a long while now once again threatening to tear its way up Cody's throat and through his mouth. Fighting back the coppery taste that once again filled his mouth, Cody spit a globule of the red mucus-like substance out on the ground in disgust.

"So Crosby... maybe you should take your own advice. Maybe you should put that gun to your head and pull the trigger... that is, if you even know how to fire it correctly. My guess is that the two people you managed to massacre in this place were purely dumb luck on your part," the sly smile once again returned to Cody's lips, "And I'm willing to bet that I'd be right, wouldn't I? Do you really think you could kill me, Sidney? I'm right here, you coward. Pull the trigger."

At the range from which Cody stood, a bullet coming from either of the boy's guns would surely be fatal to the other. Cody, in his apparent insanity, insisted upon taking Sidney Crosby down with the bloody hand axe that had sent many an islander to their grisly demise. Not once did he seem to take into account that Crosby could, in theory, pull the trigger and end his life before Cody ever even got close enough to swing the axe. It never crossed his mind. Cody wasn't worried about it, though. People like Crosby, the only reason they'd ever managed to get a kill under their belt was pure, unadulterated dumb luck.

"Fight me, you coward!"

Cody's voice raised an octave as he shouted out the command. The hand axe was once again raised into an attacking position as Cody stepped back a few feet. The look of raw hatred had once again overtaken Cody Jenson's features as he clung tightly to the axe with both hands, the ferocity with which he held the weapon apparent in his white knuckles and trembling hands. Once again, without even really realizing what he was doing, Cody was charging at Sidney Crosby. A primal scream erupted from his lips as he thrust the axe toward Crosby wildly. As he charged, he recalled Sidney on the hockey rink, that ever-smiling, ever-dopey look plastered to his face after the game. Cody resented him. He resented everything about him. Now, it was his turn to upstage Sidney Crosby. It was his turn to take away Crosby's most prized possession: his life.

The blood drained from Sid's face as he realized something that terrified him beyond all words: Cody Jenson was right. He HAD been a coward here in Survival of the Fittest. He'd hidden behind people that he'd called friends - when the truth was, that he was no friend. He was simply a scared teenager who tried to brandish a gun to get his own way. He'd whined, complained, and tried to stick to large groups, in the hope that when it came time to run, Sidney wouldn't be the one at the end of the line, the one who ended up falling because they just weren't quick enough.

And if it's true, Sid, it makes you no better than him.

Setting his jaw, Sidney got pissed. It wasn't enough that Cody Jenson had revealed that he had a serious hate on for Crosby. In fact, if Crosby'd originally known Cody to be on the island, he would've felt safer, as though he had a serious ally. But then he found Cody, raping and murdering an innocent girl. Hell, would it have mattered if she wasn't innocent?

And here they were, the final four, and Cody Jenson, of all people, was calling Sidney Crosby a coward. No matter how true the words might have been, Sidney knew that hearing that from a person of such reprehensible character as Cody Jenson was not something that he was prepared to accept. So putting on his best stone-faced glare, he fired back at Cody, his words sounding more defensive than anything.

"Wel-I...f-fuck you, Cody! What the hell do you know? Those two kills were accidents! Chance, he...he was being attacked and she threw him in the way, and...the other one, I just had a knee-jerk...well fuck you, then! Your name's been on every announcement for the last few days! You RAPED someone, Cody! You didn't even care, you just...took what you probably couldn't have gotten even if you tried! Is that why you did it? She turned you down, so you took it anyway? You make me sick, Cody!"

The hand holding the gun trembled slightly as he fired back his last insult before Cody came rushing at him.

"I'd bet Danya himself would kill you if you won the game! You're just a waste of space, Cody! You'll never be as good as me, even if you kill me! You'll always be second-best!"

As Cody came at him swinging the axe, Sidney nervously squeezed off a shot from the pistol, a shot that went nowhere close to Cody. Being so scared had reduced Sidney's hands into quivering masses, and the gunshot went off to the right. As it did and impacted into the bushes, he saw a little squirrel run up a tree in fear.

Odd, that's the first animal I've seen this whole time...

Cody slammed into him, swinging the hand axe viciously. Sidney felt a stab of pain as it cut into his arm, the blood running down his arm as he tried to push the boy off of him. Finally getting angry enough to fight back, Sidney gave Cody a shove, and fired back with a few punches to the abdomen.

Second-best? Always... second-best?

Cody Jenson may have shown no physical acknowledgement of the spiteful and bitter words coming out of Sidney Crosby's mouth, but internally, that word hit him like a bag of bricks. It was the very reason he'd resented Sidney Crosby for so long. Sid was better than him. He was better at hockey, he was a better, more likeable person... he'd always been just a step ahead of Cody Jenson. He'd always managed to take away Cody's hopes, his dreams... and all the while, the fool never knew. He never knew what he was doing. He didn't care that he'd upstaged Cody and taken what was rightfully his over and over and over.

He was snapped back from his reverie as he felt his own body collide with that of Crosby's. He had instinctively swung the axe toward his foe once again, and this time Cody Jenson grinned with sheer glee as he felt the sharp object enter Sidney's arm. His face contorted into a sinister grin as he heard the slicing of human flesh and saw the bright red substance that oozed from the newly-attained cut on Sidney Crosby's arm. For a moment, he was all but mesmerized by the red waterfall cascading down Sidney's arm. It had begun. The moment he had fantasized about many sleepless nights was finally upon him. He could finally get his retribution!

And I'll make you bleed out, Crosby. Slowly. Painfully. You'll feel it... till your very last breath.

It was at that moment that the unexpected happened. Sidney Crosby actually decided to fight back. Cody found himself unwittingly stumbling backward as his rival shoved him away. Within seconds, an immense pain gathered within his abdomen. It took Cody a few moments to decipher what had just happened in his mind. He replayed the incident mentally within a matter of seconds, not sure when or how Crosby had decided to fight back. All Cody Jenson knew was that currently he was on the wrong end of the stick, and Sid's punches had impacted him directly in the stomach.

The blows to the stomach that Crosby had dealt out caused Cody to release the hand axe in surprise, sending it flying off behind him somewhere. Growling slightly at the loss of his favored weapon, Cody stood doubled-over for a moment, hands placed on his knees, looking directly at the blood-stained grass on the ground. It wasn't necessarily that the punches incurred by Sidney had done all that much on their own. It was the fact that the coppery, metallic taste of blood had begun to fill Cody Jenson's mouth once again when Sidney had decked him.

He closed his eyes for just a second, immediately opening them again and rising to his full height. The pained expression that had overtaken his features in that instance immediately returned to the sinister glare that he'd taken on only moments before. Once again, a wide-lipped smile past over the boy's features, only this time, when he grinned, the pearly-white teeth he was once owner to shown a reddish-brown in color from the blood that had washed from his stomach into his mouth.

"That's more like it," Cody whispered as he spit another mouth full of blood to the side.

As much as he hated to admit it, his time on the island seemed to be running short. His body had grown weak and fragile over the course of the past few days, now even so much as that the punch Sidney Crosby had dealt out had once again spurred the internal bleeding that was happening inside Cody Jenson. Or maybe it was like that all along. At this point, the boy didn't really know. Sighing a bit, Cody made no attempt to retrieve his hand axe, nor did he go for the shotgun slung around his chest. He wouldn't shoot Crosby, not unless he was forced to. He wanted to make Sidney suffer. He wanted to take the things away from Sidney that Sidney had viciously taken from him again and again.

"You'd know all about taking things, wouldn't you, Crosby? Taking things that aren't yours... that's what you're best at. You took everything from me! My glory, my fame, my pride... my dignity... my career! You took it all! Taking and taking and taking! Never giving anything back! I hate you, Crosby! I hate you, do you hear me?!"

Cody once again lunged at Sidney, this time stealthy raising his knee in an attempt to hit his arch-nemesis in the groin and take him to the ground. Almost immediately, without even checking to see whether or not his hit had connected, Cody Jenson's bloody hands were reaching out, attempting to wrap themselves around Sidney Crosby's neck and slowly choke the life from the other boy. Cody's strength was wavering, however. He could feel it. Forcing back another cough, Cody closed his eyes and let out another primal yell, not sure if he'd even grasped Crosby in his clutches at all. Now, he wasn't sure of anything. Only one word rang out in his mind.


Sidney couldn't believe the words that were coming out of Cody Jenson's mouth. Of course, now that he realized what those words were, and they took a split-second to settle in, Sidney could not but come to one very simple, and very basic conclusion.

Cody Jenson's fucking crazy. He's always been fucking crazy. He was always the best at hockey and once he got into the same league I was in, he wasn't the best anymore, and that drove him absolutely fucking nuts. Jesus H. Christ.

The more that Cody talked about Sidney taking things that supposedly belonged to HIM, the more that the look on Sidney's face became a look of almost pure pathetic pity for this poor boy. He was so desperately disillusioned, it was a wonder that he hadn't started killing people before Survival of the Fittest. Shaking his head for a second, Sidney fired back a reality check right back at Cody.

"Things that I've taken from YOU? Are you kidding me? What the hell have you even had that I've taken from you? You think I took places from you on teams? You're nuts, Cody, nuts. I'm a CENTERMAN, you're a fucking defenseman! Get it through your head! I haven't taken anything from you, I've worked as hard as you have to get to where I was, and I tried not to do it at the expense of anyone else! Jeez, you're mad at me for all these things, taking your pride, your dignity?"

Sidney looked him dead in the eyes, and said the last thing that he would say before Cody caught him square between the legs with a knee, fighting dirty like always.

"How can I take something from you that you didn't even have in the first place!? You're a pathetic excuse for a human - you always have been, and you always will be! That's why you didn't get anywhere, Cody - it was your own damn fault, not mine! It's not my fault you IDOLIZED me!"

The knee caught Sidney unawares, and his faced paled a shade of green as the blood rushed to his face and his groin brought him to the ground. He hardly had time to moan in pain when Cody grabbed Sidney's throat and began to throttle him. Sidney felt the air began to squeeze out of his lungs. Trying to bat at Cody's sides, Sidney failed miserably, his injured arm essentially out of commission due to the pain. As Sidney choked and his eyes bugged out, he continued to try and fight Cody off, to no avail. As he felt the black spots begin to cloud his vision, Sidney couldn't help but wonder what the hell the deal was with people trying to choke him to death.

Cody Jenson's partially glazed-over eyes rolled down to look at the face of his arch-nemesis. Sidney Crosby, once considered handsome by many the rabid fan girl, no longer had those award-winning and charming features. His eyes were bugged out, causing him to look like some strange and foreign insect. His face was turning a sickly blueish-purple in color and soon enough, Cody assumed, the blood veins would be bursting and leaving Sidney's face in that swelled-up and unearthly state for the short remainder of his life.

Not so pretty now, are you? Not hot stuff anymore, are you, Crosby? You're nothing. No one. Just another body on the burn pile. Just another body!

Cody's eyes rolled back in his head as his grip tightened around the hockey player's throat and a twisted and demented expression overtook his already sinister-looking features. The blonde-haired boy grinned in unadulterated pleasure, as though he were getting off on slowly strangling the life out of Sidney Crosby. Indeed, it felt good. It felt very good. Cody had wanted this for so long... he'd wanted Sidney out of his life for good. He'd wanted to wipe Sidney Crosby off of the face of the planet himself, and now he was getting his chance.

He continued to wring his hands around Sidney's neck, putting an immense amount of pressure on the windpipe his thumbs were currently forced into, and the glazed-over expression completely overtook his features as he listened to the involuntary gurgles and gasps for air that were emitting from the dark-haired boy he was slowly but surely strangling to death. However, somewhere inside the sinister mess of madness that was Cody Jenson's mind, something was a bit off-kilter.

He'd wanted this for so long. He'd dreamed about this moment, fantasized about it. So then... why didn't this feel as good as it was supposed to? The intoxicated pleasure and sense of fulfillment that he had gotten when he'd maliciously executed Elsie Darroch and Clemence de Rousseau... it wasn't there. It wasn't supposed to end like this. It just wasn't. Sidney Crosby was supposed to be tougher than this. He was supposed to go down with a fight, not like a baby unable to fight back.

Keep going, you fool. Kill him. KILL HIM! This is what you wanted, Cody! You've fantasized about this moment for years, and it's finally here. Kill him now, before the others come! Eliminate him from the competition. There are bigger fish to fry, you shouldn't waste your time on this worm. Do you think he'd waste his time on you?

Despite himself, Cody felt his grasp on Sidney's throat beginning to waiver. It was too easy. It wasn't supposed to be easy. The momentary ecstasy that Cody had felt as he had begun to choke the life from his foe was now gone, and all he could feel was a deep sense of remorse. Not remorse for the fact that he was attempting to brutally strangle someone he'd played hockey with since practically childhood. No, not once did Cody regret his attempt to end Crosby's life. What he did regret was that Crosby hadn't suffered.

No, Cody. Make him suffer! You don't want it to end this way, you know you don't! You want him to fear for his life. You want him to beg you to spare his life. You want him to experience all the mental pain he caused you for years, and you want him to feel it physically! Don't strangle him to death. Make him suffer, teach him a lesson. Make sure that Sidney Crosby remembers you from here into the afterlife! Make him experience pain and suffering like he's never felt before!

The voices wouldn't stop. They grew louder and louder, arguing amongst themselves within the confines of Cody's mind. The insanity that had overtaken him was at war with his rationality. On the one hand, it was only common sense to eliminate Crosby from the competition before the others got there. Cody could still his weapon, he could hide, and he could gain the upper hand on Adam and Jack before they ever arrived. If he did that, he might actually stand a chance at winning this thing.

Then again, why bother? Cody had no desire to win this competition. The moment that Cody Jenson had waited his entire life for was finally here, and Sidney Crosby's fate rested in Cody's sweaty and calloused hands. For the Pittsburg Penguins star player, Cody Jenson would be the judge, the jury, and the executor. And the torturer. A sick and twisted smile once again formed on Cody Jenson's lips as insanity vanquished its more timid and merciful counterpart.

In the blink of an eye, Cody Jenson's hands released their death grip on Sidney's neck and slammed it backward into the grassy earth surrounding the river. Sidney Crosby would feel pain like he'd never felt before, and he'd feel it at the hands of Cody Jenson. Cody watched on with mild curiosity as the life slowly seeped back into Sidney's lungs. Sidney had been on the brink of death, Cody was sure of it. For the length of time he had undergone asphyxiation, it was bound to take a while for Sidney to regain any strength, any ability to counter or fight back to what would happen next.

One hand found itself firmly planted upon the forehead of Sidney Crosby, effectively forcing his head back into the dirt. Cody's other hand slowly crept down his exposed leg, into the boot which he adorned. From within his sock, the bloody dagger he had used to brutally stab Clemence to death emerged, its blade gleaming as menacingly as ever. Cody brought the knife up, inspecting the dried blood that covered the blade. Still using one hand to force Sidney's head back, Cody twirled the blade around, studying it carefully. It next found its way up against the base of Sidney's throat, and Cody's features once again alit in that sadistic smile.

"You don't deserve death, Crosby. You deserve a fate much, much worse."

Slowly, carefully, Cody ran the knife across the base of Sidney's neck, watching in mild amusement as the small cut formed across Sidney's throat and the bright crimson liquid inside began to ooze slowly from the wound. It was a minor wound, at best, but this was only the beginning. Cody wouldn't give Sid the satisfaction of having his throat slit. Not yet, anyway. It wasn't painful enough. No, Sidney Crosby would undergo ungodly torture before his execution, and Cody would see to that. Bringing the knife up to his mouth, Cody slowly ran his tongue across the crimson-stained blade, savoring the taste of Sidney's blood as it filled his mouth.

"You don't know how long I've waited for this moment, Crosby. I've lived and breathed this moment for years, and now it's finally here!"

With the flick of his wrist, the knife Cody wielded only moments before found itself embedded in Sidney's hand. Grinning wildly, Cody looked down into the face of his nemesis once again, the smile adorning his face growing ever wider. Cody's hands wrapped around the wrist of the hand that only seconds before was subjected to the brutal knife injury, and Cody looked at it with curiosity. Clutching Sidney's thumb, Cody began pulling backward, harder and harder, until a sickening crack was heard from the digit. At the noise, Cody shuddered with delight.

"If you do make it out of here somehow, you'll never play hockey again. I'll make sure of that. I'll take it away from you, just like you did from me."

Cody grabbed Sidney's index finger, twisting and pulling, grinning all the while, until another audible crack was heard. Satisfied with the grotesquely mutilated finger, Cody moved on to Sid's middle finger, then his ring finger. Upon hearing the audible snap of Sid's ring finger, Cody allowed the deformed hand to drop. He continued to straddle Sidney, his eyes still in that glazed-over state that they'd locked into, and his hands slowly crept backward to the tire iron that had been slung over his back like a sword. It would've been easy to place the shotgun to Sidney's stomach and blow his organs across the ground, but this wasn't the time. Not yet. He hadn't suffered enough yet. Cody absent-mindedly felt the cold metal of the tire iron as his hands grasped a hold of it. In mere moments, it would be pulled from its harness and would be slammed into the face of Sidney Crosby. At least, if Cody had his way.

They won't even be able to recognize you by your dental records when I'm finished with you, Crosby. You won't have any teeth left for them to identify you by. I swear it.

This time, it was Cody Jenson who never saw it coming.

Out the door just in time
Head down the 405
Gotta meet the new boss by 8 a.m.
The phone rings in the car
The wife is workin' hard
She's running late tonight again

As Cody had choked the life out of Sidney Crosby, who'd felt the black spots come over his vision as he was strangled, he had gotten quite incredibly involved in killing his arch-rival. With every snap of bone and every wound that he inflicted upon Sidney, he felt a sick sense of satisfaction and glee - that much was evident on his face. Crosby moaned from the intense agony in his hand, and as Jenson broke his fingers, he screamed in pain as much as his injured throat would allow. The grimace on his face showed how much pain he was in, and as he got a glimpse at his mutilated and broken hand, he felt his hockey future shatter.

God, I'm going to die, and this crazy psycho is going to kill me...I never figured I'd go out like this...

So as he saw Cody Jenson raise the tire iron high up in the air, Sidney did the only thing that he could do to save himself at least some pain in his final moments - he shut his eyes and refused to watch Cody Jenson ram the tire iron into his face.

Of course, if Sidney Crosby had kept his eyes open, he would have seen Cody Jenson bring down the tire iron that had once belonged to Madelaine Shirohara as hard as he possibly could, only to be stopped by a phantom hand that seemed to emerge from the shadows. The hand grabbed Cody's arm, and stopped the tire iron from getting any closer to Sidney. Much in surprise, Cody looked up at Sidney's mystery saviour, and almost couldn't believe his eyes. It was much like a two for one deal. Of course, he didn't have much time to react at all.

"Cody!" The smiling face of Adam Dodd greeted him with a sarcastic-sounding greeting, before he was met with a very solid blow to the face; courtesy of one of the heavy Mag-Lite flashlights that they'd been assigned, sending Jenson sprawling off of Crosby and to the ground.

I know what I've been told,
You got to work to feed the soul
But I can't do this all on my own
No, I know, I'm no Superman
I'm no Superman

Since he'd left the waterfall, the morphine still running through his system, Adam Dodd had taken his time making his way to the River. It was probably the last place that he'd wanted to make a return to, and as he figured that he'd already spent days in the place - which had proven to be more than hellish, he had planned to use up every inch of time that he had to avoid it until the deadline. He'd taken the roundabout route to the River, and had done a bit of scavenging for ammunition. Truth be told, he hadn't found much. Mainly a few clips from the bodies that he'd found as he passed by them. One thing of interest that he had found as he went through the bodies was found at the Makeshift Hospital.

He'd been wandering around, checking the bodies around the area for weaponry and ammunition, reflecting upon when he'd first stopped here almost ten days prior, and had discovered the body of Helena van Garrett. It'd been such a shock to him - having seen bodies before, it wasn't what disturbed him, but rather it had been KNOWING the owner of the body that had really shocked him. At that point, him and Alan Shinwrath had been trying to get the drop on Hawley Faust, who'd barricaded himself inside. He'd shot at Hawley and skimmed him. Ironic that he'd first met up with the boy by shooting him.

But now they're all dead. Alan, Hawley, Helana...all of them. All except me, Cody, Jack, and Sid.

As he'd scanned the corpses amongst the hospital, he'd looked over one that belonged to a boy that he knew from school and had met briefly on the island - Chance Burton. It looked as though his collar had exploded, and the boy's once-mysterious gleam had all but vanished from his dead eyes. Adam had tried not to look as he'd gone through Chance's bag, feeling ever-so-much like a grave robber. He hadn't found any ammunition, but when he went to inspect his pockets, he found something cradled under his arm - a small book, one cover missing, a watercolour painting on the back. It looked like such a serene book, yet it looked like something that a girl would carry. That wasn't what got Adam's attention.

It looked like something he'd seen before.

So that he could tell himself he wasn't insane, he picked it up and looked at the first page. It wasn't a usual sort of notebook, and appeared to be a diary of sorts. It had pictures all over the front page, and an identification stamp inside that had the information filled in. According to the diary, it belonged to one Madelaine Shirohara. The pages were yellow and looked as though they'd been wet, and Adam gaped as he pried the small book out of Chance's dead hands. Flipping to the first page, he read the quote affixed upon it:

It's the same life whether we spend it laughing or crying.

I can't believe it...

A small shiver went up his spine as he stood up, placing the journal quickly in his bag, along with his rather large supply of weapons, ammunition, and personal effects. He felt it odd that he'd have found something that belonged to someone who he had become so close to on the corpse of what appeared to be a random kid, but Adam knew better than to question fate.

It's dealt me one fucking hell of a shit hand already, who the fuck am I to question it? What'd even be the point?

Adam had stood up and moved on.

You've got your love online
You think you're doing fine
But you're just plugged into the wall
And that deck of tarot cards
Won't get you very far
There ain't no hand to break your fall

So here he was, standing up above the broken and battered form of Sidney Crosby, who - despite Cody Jenson's best efforts, appeared to be alive and recovering from some sort of throat injury. Jenson, who was just coming around from the blow that he'd sustained courtesy of Adam's heavy flashlight, was now bleeding profusely from his nose, and had what Adam thought to be a positively evil grin on his face as he began to get up. Adam, of course, didn't feel that letting Cody to his feet was a courtesy that he deserved, so he let him know it, while delivering a harsh kick to the midsection.

"Cody fucking Jenson, how about that!? Man, you really had me! I was RIGHT THERE. You could've killed me, and I would've been none the wiser. But you didn't. You helped me out, rebandaged my wounds, and let me go on my merry way. Y'know, I don't know if that's your sick little way of trying to, oh, I don't know, ensure that karma doesn't bite you in the ass too much, but from here on, it doesn't matter. Karma can do whatever the hell it damn well pleases. It can let you be...it doesn't really matter. You know why, Cody? Because I'm here now, and I'm going to kick your ass no matter what. I'm going to kick it, and then I'm going kill you, so you know what my fucking friends felt before you fucking killed them!"

As Cody had gone down, Adam stomped at his midsection a few more times, before delivering a swift kick to the head. Cody's neck snapped back, but he grunted and tried to roll out of the way of the kick. As the boy became slightly out of Adam's reach, he didn't try and lunge towards him but instead took the flashlight he'd been holding and whipped it towards Cody's head, the heavy light striking the boy directly in the face, sending him sprawling backwards.

"Karma? Karma wasn't the one you had to worry about, Cody. I was the fucking one that you should've been worrying about!"

I know what I've been told
You gotta know just when to fold
But I can't do this all on my own
No, I know, I'm no Superman
I'm no Superman
That's right

Spitting onto the ground in front of him, Adam watched as Cody Jenson groaned a little and coughed up blood. As he began to try and bring himself to his feet, Adam kicked him in the face again, and watched him go down, this time his body becoming limp, Jenson's blood smearing Adam's shoe. Glancing at Cody, he backed up and stepped over to where Sidney was trying to catch his breath, and painfully looking at his mutilated hand.

"You all right?"

Coughing, Sidney managed to shake his head, and held up his hand for Adam to see. Adam winced at the sight of Sidney's hand, and glanced back over at Cody's unmoving body. Looking back at Sidney, Adam set his pack on the ground and opened it up, rifling through it, and pulling out a familiar little bottle. He hadn't used all of the morphine up in the waterfall, and while he knew deep down, in the back of his mind, that stopping to help Sidney was stupid, he couldn't help it. The boy was clearly not a murderer, nor was he a legitimate threat to win the game. As such, Adam felt obligated to help him out, being as he was a fairly normal human being, as opposed to being a psychopathic person who was trying to kill him. Loading up the needle - the last needle that he had left, he quickly gave Sidney the shot, and tossed the used hypodermic away.

"There, man. That'll help for the pain. I'm not even going to try to do anything about those fingers, but...the pain should disappear in a few minutes. Just hang tight, okay?"

Nodding weakly, Sidney opened his mouth to try and say something. Adam stifled him.

"Nah, man. Don't talk. Just...as I said, hang tight, wait for it to kick in."

Sidney shook his head.

"N-no...this...important. Cody...he thinks that he's...some sort of larger than life..." Sidney coughed and tried to clear his throat. "...he's convinced that I've taken something from him - that I ruined his career. He thinks...that I stole his dignity, that I stole from him. He'll...kill me if he gets the chance. And you...he's mentioned you at least once...sees you as some sort of...I don't even know."

Adam held up his hand and interrupted.

"Sid. The guy's a fuckin' lunatic. Come on. You know the world of pro hockey as well as I do. Hell, you're in it. Every fucking scouting report on that guy said that he was a fucking dressing room cancer, and when he blew his knee out, people said that frankly, he probably wouldn't have made it anyways, not with his mindset. You stole shit from him. Nothing. He's just fucking crazy. Besides - he stole my girlfriend's life, and the innocence and life of one of my close friends, so he's the one who's got some fucking owning up to do."

Sidney shook his head.

"All...all I wanted to do was play fucking hockey."

Adam shut his eyes for a moment, and sighed slightly, looking back at Sidney with a fierce determination in his eyes.

"All I wanted to do was live past age fucking twenty, man. Now...just sit down, I'm going to go put an end to this son of a bitch."

You've crossed the finish line
Won the race but lost your mind
Was it worth it after all
I need you here with me
Cause love is all we need
Just take a hold of the hand that breaks the fall

Standing up, Adam left his pack on the ground beside Sidney. He figured that if he'd misjudged Sidney, all that the boy would have to do was pick up a pistol and shoot Adam down. Though with the way that his fingers are looking, I doubt he'll be doing any shooting of any kind in the near future...

So now that Sidney was out of the equation, Adam knew that it was time to finish off Cody Jenson. The one guy that he'd devoted his time to finding and killing. It hadn't been hard - the finding him. It had taken awhile, but all he'd had to do was outlast mostly everyone else (the actual hard part), and he'd finally found him. So as he turned back to where he'd left Cody, he pondered to himself - how would he actually do it? Would he make him suffer, like he'd done to Madelaine? Or would he do him quickly, just to get it over with? Adam hadn't made the conscious decision to kill anyone in cold blood while he'd been here - most everyone he'd killed had either been attacking him, or a friend. Actually killing someone in cold blood would be difficult, and Adam knew that he likely wouldn't be the same afterwards. Though...it had to be done. Of course, that might prove to be easier said than done, as Adam gasped, pistol in hand, as he turned around to face the body of Cody Jenson.

The body which was nowhere to be found.

Looking around, a half-frantic, half-angry expression on his face, his eyes darted back and forth. Cody's body had evidently gotten up and walked away, or was hiding somewhere, without even a trail of blood to lead him. Glancing quickly around, Adam took a few steps forward, and looked deep into the woods, his back turned to the other side of the woods.

Where again, Adam Dodd would just not see it coming, although he should have.

Well I know what I've been told
Gotta break free to break the mold
But I can't do this all on my own
No I can't do this all on my own
I know that I'm no Superman
I'm no Superman
I'm no Superman
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It was all Cody Jenson had seen when the mysterious enigma that had spared Sidney Crosby's life grabbed a hold of his arm and prevented him from delivering a deadly blow to the skull of his nemesis. Cody had looked up in awe and sheer astonishment at this last second interference, and the only thing he saw was the blunt end of a flashlight as it cracked into his nose with a sickening thud. The next few moments were a complete blur to Cody. All he saw was red. The red that covered his entire face and spilled down his bare chest in torrents, the red that covered his arms and hands as he lay in a fetal position on the ground holding his face in sheer agony. Red where the body of Sidney Crosby lay in its prone position. Red where the mystery figure that had been revealed as Adam Dodd stood. Red everywhere.

His glazed-over eyes rolled about in his head until the figure of Adam Dodd came into view. Cody smiled that sadistic smile as he watched Adam from the corner of his eye. In a place and time where survival was the name of the game, this far into the game, with the end on the verge of the horizon, where only one would ever see the light of day again, leave it to Adam Dodd, saint of saints, martyr or martyrs, to extend his hand and help someone who would surely shoot him in the back given half a chance. Did he not realize that when it was all said and done, either himself or Sidney Crosby would have to die?

Cody vaguely felt his body rise from its fetal position on the ground and into a staggering standing position. As he stood up, the entire world seemed as though it were spinning at an uncontrollable pace. Taking a moment to regain some sense of normalcy, Cody's eyes focused on the redhead currently nursing Sidney Crosby's wounds. As Cody's vision finally came back into focus, he grinned sadistically and reached down to once again grasp the tire iron he had attempted to end Sidney's life with only moments before.

You really are a fool, Adam Dodd.

Slowly, quietly, Cody Jenson crept into the nearby shrubbery, his stealthiness attributed only to the last shred of sanity that remained within the confines of his mind. Clinging to the now bloodied tire iron tightly, Cody stared out into the sanctuary of the river, a place that now reeked of death and destruction. Now was the time to add two more bodies to the half dozen who already called this place their grave. Silently, Cody crept through the dense shrubbery circling the river, a quiet shuffling forming the only audible noise as he did so. All the while, Cody never took his eyes off the duo who sat in quiet conversation amongst themselves for those few brief moments.

As he came up behind the two, out of the view of either, the shuffling noise stopped and the words being exchanged between Adam Dodd and Sidney Crosby became clearly more audible. They were talking about him. Cody's eyes narrowed in anger as the vicious and hurtful words spilled freely from the redhead's lips. How dare he! What did he know? He was nobody, nothing! Just some sappy high school student who got thrown onto this island and never had a real chance at doing anything anyway. People like Adam Dodd, they were better off to die here. That boy was a festering nuisance upon the bowels of humanity, and Cody Jenson would see to it that he was eliminated from this game, and all others, permanently.

But then... then there was Crosby. Fate had dealt him quite the hand here and had served up both of those that he had sworn to terminate at the same time. Herein was the problem. Who to dispose of first? Cody couldn't make out the harsh rasping noises coming from the throat of Sidney Crosby. He could, however, hear the audible and booming voice of the redhead quite nicely. Cody gritted his teeth in anger as Adam continued his tirade, never knowing that his words were being taken in by the man who had sworn to bring his life to an end. Reaching up, Cody absent-mindedly pulled himself up onto the lowest branch of the nearby tree with quite a bit of effort. His struggle was made that much harder by the tire iron still being clutched tightly in his hands, but inevitably, he made his way into the tree.

Here, he had the perfect vantage point. Neither Sidney nor Adam seemed to have noticed him, despite the ruffling noise he had made when he'd attempted to climb into the tree. Cody grinned with glee at this fact. His eyes focused in on Adam Dodd as he finished his quiet chat with Sidney and stood up. The baffled and befuddled look that passed over the features of his foe as he suddenly realized that Cody had vanished from plain sight sent chills up Cody Jenson's spine. As Adam looked around dumbfoundedly for Cody, his grip on the tire iron tightened. A sick and sinister grin once again overtook the features of the blonde-headed boy as Adam drew ever closer to his hiding place.

And once again, there was red. Anger, resentment, hatred, jealousy, all boiled up to one culminating point as Adam Dodd approached Cody's private sanctuary. As he raised the tire iron up into the air to prepare for his strike, all Cody Jenson saw was red. In one fell movement, Cody Jenson sprung from the greenery of the tree he had stationed himself in, tire iron held high in a sword-like fashion. Cody fell through the air with what could only be considered some amount of grace, the sinister grin leaving his lips just long enough for a primal scream to emit from them as Cody fell, tire iron held in a position which he hoped would completely bisect the foe who stood beneath him.

Seein' red again...

Stepping backwards for a moment, Adam felt a serious sense of dread fill the back of his throat, and as he stopped to ponder that feeling, he felt something heavy collapse on top of his shoulders and back, followed by the stinging pain of something heavy and metallic hitting him in his injured shoulder. A split-second before this heavy object collapsed on top of him, Adam heard the infuriated scream of what could only be Cody Jenson. Falling to the ground, pistol falling away from his body as he hit the dirt hands first, he tried to get up but was stymied by the boy who had landed on top of him. Grunting loudly, he tried to roll Cody off of his back, and managed to partially succeed, though the other boy was grabbing onto his shirt like it was a lifeline. Ramming an elbow into his gut, he heard a loud 'oof' and managed to roll away. As he began to get to his feet, Cody lashed out and kicked him in the knee, sending him tumbling back down to the ground.

Son of a bitch...

Again trying to bring himself to his feet, the pain evident in his kneecap now, he came face to face with the enraged face of Cody Jenson, who was in the midst of picking himself up. Growling at Adam, he swung a quick left hook towards Adam's jaw, which Adam managed to block, only to be greeted with a hard punch to the stomach. The wind knocked out of him, Adam was then knocked back by a small uppercut, which sent him staggering backwards, and let the blood flow freely from his newly-split lip. Blinking a few times, Adam looked up only to see Cody striding purposefully towards him, a sadistic look spread upon his blood-streaked face. Much to Adam's surprise, he didn't aim his attacks for his face, but rather, he kicked him in the shin, sending Adam stepping backwards again. Cody then took a run at Adam and tried to tackle him over. Expecting the move, Adam tried to maneuver himself back so that his back braced against a nearby tree, but the impact hurt just as much as it would have if he'd been thrown to the ground. Cody Jenson might have been crazy, and a murderous rapist, but he was also well-built and had the body of an athlete. Grunting in pain, Adam responded by trying to hit Cody with a poorly-aimed punch to the face. Cody anticipated this, and blocked the fist, punching him squarely in the throat. As his throat closed up on him, Adam coughed hard, and let himself be caught in the side of the head with another hard punch that sent him to the ground yet again.

Damnit! I've got to get some offense against this motherfucker or I'm dead!

As he spit blood into the dirt, Adam attempted to regain his breath, but grimaced in pain as Cody delivered a swift kick to his ribs. As Cody kicked him in the ribs, he laughed, a sound that was most unpleasant. As he laughed, he began to taunt Adam, occasionally pausing to kick him in the side again.

"I don't think you realize how much I've been waiting for this moment. You see, Adam...you and me, we're not so different...and our paths have been set, ever since I first ran into you on this island..." He stopped and delivered a fierce kick to the midsection that sent Adam sprawling and gasping for air. "...ever since the warehouse, when those girls said your name with such...awe. Since then, I've known, that you and I? We were destined to meet up. We were destined to face off. More so that Crosby. More so than anyone." As Adam attempted to crawl away, Cody kicked him again in the chest, sending him rolling around in agony.

"...in fact, some might say that it was destiny. This whole...scene. It was destiny. Our meeting in the river, it was destiny. You know, Adam...you said something about me killing your girlfriend? Well, I've got to tell you, she was a great kisser...and your friend? A demon in the sack. Especially with all of that blood..." Cody launched another kick at Adam, who this time was ready for it, grabbing his foot and sending a punch squarely towards Cody's testicles.

Surprised as he was to see that his kick had been blocked, Cody was even more surprised when white-hot pain erupted through his body and sent him keeling over, tears coming into his eyes as he attempted to overcome the shooting pains that Adam had caused him. For his credit, Adam was simply trying to put some distance towards him and Cody, so that he could regain his breath.

Goddamnit, this asshole may be a psychopath, but he's strong. I'm no pro-athlete, I don't know if I'm going to be able to do this...even IF I keep sacking him...

Pulling himself to his feet, Adam spit out more blood from his split lip. His ribs and chest were quite sore, and his muscles screamed at him. While the morphine hadn't worn off completely, it was dulled, especially now that he was in such a battle. His emotions, especially. While for the last few moments, he'd been in a primalistic-survival mode, Cody's words began to sink in, and his anger brimmed to the surface. Turning to look at the boy who was just getting to his feet, he reverted back to the pre-'fighting to the death' days and decided that one very simple option was in order. It seemed silly, especially with what had transpired in the last few days, but all in all, it seemed right.

Adam took one look at Cody, and flipped him off.

"Y'know what? FUCK YOU! I’ve never been this angry, this aggravated at somebody before. Hell, I’ve never even thought that I would actually KILL them if I got the chance! But you, Cody? You just take the fuckin’ cake! I mean, you have got to be the most evil fucking person on this entire island – dead OR alive, with the possible exception of Danya. An’ for fuck sakes, man, you even give him a run for his fucking money!”

Stepping towards Cody despite the protests of his aching ribs, he walked right up to the boy and grabbed him by the scruff of the neck, pulling him to his feet and looking him right in his eyes. Without saying a word, he cocked his fist back and swung at Cody, who just watched as Adam’s fist impacted right into his nose, sending even more blood down his face and onto his chest. Much to Adam’s surprise, Cody then did something that he couldn’t possibly have expected – he grinned a big grin and began to laugh a maniacal kind of laugh; the kind that would give children nightmares. Taken aback, Adam flinched and loosened his grip on Cody's neck. This gave Cody the opportunity that he'd been looking for. Still in a daze himself, Cody rammed his head forward, taking Adam directly in the face, sending him sprawling backwards. Shaking Adam's hand off of his collar, he punched him in the kidneys, and then as Adam involuntarily bent over, Cody delivered a fierce uppercut that split his lip open even more, and sent Adam again to the ground. Blood was now freely flowing from both combatants, and Cody couldn't help but remember the last time he'd felt so alive, so energized by a fight. It had been during a hockey game, and if he recalled correctly, had been one of the defining moments of his life.

It'd been back in the previous winter, during a hockey game that he was playing against London. Cody'd been on a tear during the game, and already had two goals and his fair share of defensive plays. He had been sitting on the bench with about ten minutes to go in the third period, and Cody was feeling pretty damn good about himself. The team was up by a goal, and Cody knew that the next ten minutes would be very important, especially because his team was in the midst of a fight for a playoff spot. London, of course, was the team to beat in this particular year, and would go on to become the Memorial Cup champions, as well as setting a record for going undefeated. At the time, Cody didn't know that - of course, because it hadn't happened, but if he had, he wouldn't have cared. In his mind, he was the kind of player who could change the outcome of a game, much like Wayne Gretzky, or Mark Messier could. In fact, in his own mind, he believed himself to be the second coming of Bobby Orr. Forget all of the hype around Crosby - the kid was a snot-nosed punk who didn't deserve to be on the same ice with him. As Cody lost himself within his own delusions (or dreams, depending on the perspective), the rest of the players on his bench watched as the winger on Hartford’s top line gave London star Dave Bolland a huge whack across the shins, sending the referee’s hand to the air and upon the touch of the puck, sending that winger to the box for two minutes. Upon receiving a tap on the shoulder from his coach, Cody had snapped out of his daydreaming, and leapt over the boards and onto the ice to play defense on the penalty-kill. Penalty-killing had been one thing that the Hartford team had been forced to work on; more specifically, Cody himself, as during the game prior, Sidney Crosby had made a mockery of it, scoring four times on the power play, and deking Cody a few times as well. This was one instance where Cody was intent upon proving that he would not be embarrassed like that again.

Lining up on the side of the face-off circle, next to Bolland, who was one of London’s top scorers and a threat himself upon many an occasion, Cody knew that he would have to shadow his man almost exclusively on this PK, because Bolland himself was gunning for the hat trick, having scored twice during the game as well. As they both waited for the linesman to drop the puck, Cody glanced at Bolland and couldn’t resist making a remark. Anything to get the other player off of his game – something that Cody was pretty decent at doing.

“Hey Bolland, you might want to take a few acting lessons after the game, because that was fucking awful!”

Bolland looked back at Cody with a look of distaste. “Go fuck yourself, Jenson. You’re the one who needs the acting lessons, then you can learn how to act like a REAL defenseman…”

Cody glared back at Bolland, and gave him a swift cross-check as the linesman dropped the puck. The two centermen jostled for position, and Cody again shoved Bolland, who was trying to get to the front of the net. The puck squeezed out from between the two players and was picked up and fired away by one of Cody’s teammates. Unfortunately for Hartford, the puck was kept in by Steve Ferry, one of London’s younger defensemen. Ferry dished it off to the other defenseman on the line, whose name Cody didn’t know. That player held it and drew one of the penalty-killing forwards over to him, then passed it off to Ferry again, who was quarterbacking this particular power play. Cody had never had too much respect for Ferry, who’d badmouthed him during a game earlier in the year. Cody had been astounded. Who the hell did he think that he was, trash talking HIM? He hadn’t figured to give him the time of day, nary the respect that Ferry THOUGHT that he deserved. Cody was supposed to be the next Bobby Orr, and Ferry? Not even close. Hell, Ferry’d be lucky if he ever made the NHL, according to Cody.

Getting his head back into the game, he saw that Ferry was quickly examining his options and dished the puck on the side boards back to another London winger. Bolland moved over to the side boards, leaving Cody to defend the space in front of his net. The winger passed it back to the point again, and the defensemen cycled it up near the point, trying to catch the Hartford players out of position. Finally, Ferry dished it off to Bolland, and Cody saw his opportunity. Leaving his position in front of the net, he lowered his shoulder and as Bolland began to skate towards him, Cody lunged towards him, attempting to catch the winger’s left shoulder, which would send him tumbling to the ice, and hard. What actually happened left Cody confused for a split-second, and then fuming with white-hot rage the next. Bolland, seeing Cody’s check coming, slipped the puck ever-so-slightly between Cody’s legs, and ducked under and around him, maneuvering so that all Cody hit was air, and he fell flat on his face. Bolland then picked up the puck, faked a pass to the centerman that had collapsed inwards and was just right of the left post, and smoothly picked the top left corner with a wrist-shot that seemed almost effortless. From his prone position on the ice, Cody heard the loud siren and almost instantaneous roar of the London crowd that signaled a goal had been scored. Growling, he pulled himself to his feet and looked over at his net, where the goaltender was angrily fishing the puck out of the net. He then glanced over at the celebrating Knights players, when the crowd broke up and Bolland skated by him, a big grin on his face, laughing.

“Oh SHIT, looks like you’re still recovering from getting deked the fuck out last week!”

As Bolland skated away, Cody simply stood, a blank look on his face. Something snapped within him, and Cody skated up behind Bolland and, without any warning at all, dropped his gloves, ripped off Bolland’s helmet, and began to pummel the player with punches. To his credit, Bolland tried to fight back, but Cody’s surprise attack let him have the upper hand. That, and the fact that Cody was in a frenzy. All that he saw was red, and he just kept pummeling Bolland in the face over and over again. Even when he knocked the other boy out, he kept on punching. He kept on punching even as the referees pulled him away. He even kept on punching as they threw him out of the game and he walked down the hallway. He just kept on punching the wall, still seeing red, his fists becoming bloody and red. But Cody didn’t care. Cody was happy. He wore a grin that seemed to spread from ear to ear. He was happy, because Bolland had made him look like an idiot, and he’d made him pay. Just like, he vowed, he’d make Crosby pay. It was, in fact, that moment in time, that Cody Jenson decided that he would make Sidney Crosby pay. He’d make him pay for making him look foolish. He’d make him pay for bumping him off the Junior team. He’d make him pay for everything that he’d ever done to Cody, real or imagined. That decision, that of course, was the easy part. The hard part was figuring out how. But Cody simply smiled as he walked into his dressing room. He’d have years to figure out how to do that. Their fates were aligned. Cody and Sidney were both slated to be drafted as top draft picks, and if their paths crossed in the NHL…Cody would wait, until Sidney was on top of the world, and then…he knew what he would do – he would ensure that the smarmy little bastard never played hockey again.

So here he was, and in an oddly roundabout sort of way, he’d managed to fulfill that little goal. Sidney Crosby would undoubtedly never play hockey again – and at the very least, if he somehow managed to live and escape Survival of the Fittest, he would be a marginal player at best. The pleasure that Cody’d taken in breaking each one of Sidney’s fingers had been unmatched by anything else in life – well, perhaps raping Madelaine Shirohara, but he shrugged that off. Crosby had been his mortal enemy for as long as he could remember, always one step ahead of him, always making sure that he was ‘the best’, stealing Cody’s thunder. He had always sworn that he’d make the bastard pay, but the best part was that now, he’d be able to kill him, too. At this point, he knew that the odds of him living much longer were slim, but as long as he was able to kill Crosby, his goals would have been reached. Of course, the small problem that was Adam Dodd had interjected itself right in the middle of the entire situation. Dodd was an interesting problem that Cody had. He’d had an epiphany while on the island that Dodd was in fact that one who he’d REALLY been fated to meet. The way the girls had spoken of him, the way that people had respected him and listened to what he had to say…the fact that he’d killed more people than anyone else…Adam Dodd was the one that he was supposed to match up with. In his old life, it’d been Sidney Crosby, but now…now, it was Adam Dodd. He was the one that was standing in between Crosby and him now, and it seemed fitting that such a ‘larger than life’ figure was being protected by somebody that was supposed to be a ‘nobody’.

My, how the roles have changed…

Now, however, Cody turned his attentions back to Adam Dodd, who was picking himself off of the ground with a groggy glaze over his eyes. Dodd hadn’t been looking for a head butt in the face, but he’d undoubtedly managed to find one, courtesy of Cody, and that made him smile even more. As Dodd finally dragged himself to his feet and shook his head to try and clear out the cobwebs, Cody stepped towards him and jabbed him sharply in the throat. Adam’s breath again left him, the boy gasping for air as he stepped backwards, going on the defensive. Cody, of course, would have none of that, and he ran at Adam, tackling him back overtop of a stump, knocking the wind out of both boys.

Across the valley, Sidney Crosby was staring at the mangled wreck of his hand, almost oblivious to the battle that was being waged around him. Adam Dodd and Cody Jenson were battling it out, and Adam Dodd was essentially getting his ass handed to him, but all Sidney could do was selfishly look at his own wounds, almost mystified by the feeling that the morphine injection had given him. He felt no pain, only a sense of detachment, as he tried to wiggle his fingers and saw only parts of his fingers actually move. A sense of awe enveloped him as he slowly realized that with such an injury, if he were to ever get off of the island, he’d probably never play hockey again. A career-ending injury, especially if surgery couldn’t reconstruct the broken bones in his fingers. Career-ending. The words seemed to shout at him, and a feeling of malaise fell over him. His hockey career, all thanks to Cody Jenson, would be over. All thanks to some psychopathic OHLer with a bum knee, who had an inferiority complex and a creepy obsession with him. Fame, of course, was not all that it was cracked up to be – that much, he knew. Media following you, stalkers, and the like. So if he were to live, all he’d be known by was ‘Sidney Crosby, former pro-hockey player. Irreparably scarred for life by Cody Jenson.’ It was odd, in a way. Sidney surmised that Cody wanted to harm Sidney so that every time somebody thought of Sidney, they’d immediately bring up Cody’s name too. It was like a tattoo, it wouldn’t go away, and it’s mark would always be left upon you.

Or like a cancer.

Lowering his hand, Sidney watched as the two boys brawled all over the small clearing. Sidney knew that if he were to jump in and help Adam, the odds that the two of them would manage to subdue Cody were a lot higher, but Sidney stayed right where he was. No matter how much Adam had helped him, and no matter how many times he would save Sid’s life, it was every man for himself. A fight to the death. Sidney wanted to live, and he was counting on the fact that in the end, Adam would probably manage to kill Cody and probably Jack, too. Then he’d probably just sacrifice himself, because he’d be so torn up by that point. Which, of course, was what Sidney was counting on. He hadn’t, of course, counted on how the morphine would make him feel in the next few minutes.

As Sidney watched, Cody managed to drag himself up off of the ground first. Adam, who by this point was beginning to weaken, swung a weak punch towards Cody’s leg, connecting but doing next to no damage. Cody just kicked out his leg and knocked Adam back to the ground. Spitting out blood, Cody looked over the area, and his eyes settled upon the gun that Dodd had dropped much earlier in their battle. He was getting tired off this back and forth. Undoubtedly, he was more wounded than Adam Dodd was, and undoubtedly he had internal injuries which would eventually end up slowing him down, enough so that he wouldn’t be able to finish off both Dodd and Crosby. The gun gave him an idea – simple enough, but an idea nonetheless. The time was nigh that he would shoot them both, starting with Dodd, then Crosby, and then, he would finish off with the grand finale of all – himself. Nobody would get the privilege of killing Cody Jenson, and everyone would know that the only person who outlasted him did so because he killed himself. Smiling, Cody walked towards the pistol.

Dragging himself off of the ground, Adam Dodd knew that he was in some serious trouble when he saw Cody Jenson eyeing the pistol that he’d dropped before during one of Cody’s attacks. Cursing under his breath, Adam spit blood – mostly coming from his lip, onto the ground, and dove to tackle Cody as he turned his back to him. Succeeding in bringing the boy down, Adam knew that he would have to get to either his pack or the pistol on the ground before Cody did, and if he could do that, he’d probably be able to take care of Jenson. As Cody went down, Adam launched a few punches at the back of his neck. He knew that if they landed, Cody might stay down long enough for him to grab the pistol and gain the upper hand. His punches did indeed land, but Cody was in enough of a rage that he managed to shrug them off, and rolled over, trying to get Adam off of him. This move surprised Adam, who threw Cody off of him, and lunged at the pistol, which was about seven or eight feet away. He fell about a foot and a half short of the weapon, and Cody, seeing this, threw himself at Adam, sending him sprawling to the ground to the right of the weapon. Picking himself up, Cody ran over and grabbed the pistol, just as Adam grabbed a hold of Cody’s arm and forced it upwards, the two boys grapping over the weapon. Cody tried to fire it a few times, to release Adam’s grip, but the two boys were locked in a mortal struggle for the weapon.

If he gets the gun, I'm fucked. That's all there is to it...

Adam knew that one way or another, things were going to come to a head. He hadn't even thought much at all about what this meant, and was still running on adrenaline, the morphine still slowly wearing off, so with each punch and kick that Cody gave him, the pain was becoming more and more evident. Soon, his body would start to ache and likely begin to give out. As such, he used all of the strength that his bruised and battered arms would allow him to try and keep the gun out of his face, trying not to let the weapon's gaping maw get into any place where bullets would strike his body. Cody, of course, was fighting equally as hard, and while Cody was definitely the stronger of the two, his internal injuries were causing him some difficulty holding onto the gun, so the fight was fair, and even.

From his position a short distance away, Sidney Crosby watched as the bullets went off into the air, and the two boys struggled in near-silence over the pistol that could end up being the end of one of them. It was odd, to Sidney, to be witnessing something that almost seemed epic in its proportions. This was the final four of SOTF, the worst (and possibly last) ten days of his life, and here he was, sitting around, like a coward. Like the coward that he'd known he was since about day six. He thought about it for a moment. If Cody got the gun, it was all but over for him. He alone wouldn't be able to defeat Cody, because Cody had already injured him enough. Cody would torture him, and kill him, and what was Sidney even doing to try and stop that from happening?

Nothing. That's what, you stupid fuck.

So Sidney Crosby watched, as finally, the gun was wrenched free, and the loser was pistol-whipped to the ground, falling and rolling a few feet away. As the boy got to his feet and looked at the other boy holding the gun, Sidney again chastised himself.

You've done fuck-all this entire time. Sidney Crosby, the next big thing, has been the next little pussy. You didn't even help Dodd when you could, you didn't do anything for him at all. Cody broke your fingers, and all you could think about was whining to yourself about your hockey career. This is your life here. You've done nothing. Jenson was right. You are a coward, and a waste of space. This entire ten days, all you've done has been think about yourself, and you haven't given a fuck about anyone else. If Dodd hadn't stopped and literally been tortured and humiliated and almost killed for you, you'd be dead at this point. And what the fuck have you done for anyone else?


It was then that Sidney realized truly, what was going on. Cody Jenson was the one with the gun, and Adam Dodd was the one without, slowly climbing to his feet, a look of sarcastic defiance on his face, shaking his head. Cody aimed the gun at Adam's chest, and grinned that evil, sadistic grin that he had constantly found himself sporting.

"I told you that you were a fool, Dodd. You think that you can kill ME? Your two whores are going to go out with more dignity than you will. Them? They didn't have a chance. You? You had a chance, and you fucked it up. You failed, Adam Dodd. You failed at life. So now, you're going to die, a failure - always to be remembered as the guy who couldn't pull it off. And what do you have to say for yourself, failure?"

Still shaking his head, Adam looked at Cody real hard, and with a defiant look in his eyes, slowly raised his right hand and extended his middle finger.

"Two words, real simple: Fuck. You. Heh. A failure? You've got to be kidding me. Even if I die right here, right now, I'll still be more of a success than you'll ever be. My middle finger has more dignity than you'll ever have. And you know what's great? People are always going to remember you as the guy who stalked down Sidney Crosby. How he was your own personal little obsession. I hope that feels great, man. I really do. When they tell your life story, and really elaborate on the part where it tells about how you had a man-crush on Sidney Crosby, and when he rejected your advances, you killed him in a jealous rage."

Scowling, Cody cocked back the chamber on the pistol. "That's not true, and you know it, Dodd."

Smirking, Adam shrugged slightly. "Nah, maybe not. But that's the glory of it all, Cody. You and I both know that you probably won't survive too much longer, not with the way that you look, or how you were coughing up blood a few days ago. And so when you die, nobody's gonna know. You know who writes history, Cody? The winners. Or, in our case - the survivors. You die, and you never know...all history'll ever know of Cody Jenson was that he was some failed hockey player who wanted Sidney Crosby's cock. So...what d'you have to say for YOURSELF, failure?"

Adam essentially spit the last sentence at Cody with a venom in his voice that transcended expression, and hit Cody full on, angering him to no end. All that Cody did was scowl at Adam Dodd, and raised the pistol towards him.

"It's time for you to die, Dodd."

Cody depressed the trigger, sending a bullet flying towards Adam Dodd's chest. Adam looked at the bullet flying towards him in almost what appeared to be slow-motion, almost in a state of awe at the fact that here, and now, he was actually going to die. He was actually going to lose to Cody-fucking-Jenson, of all people. That, of course, was the last thought that Adam Dodd actually thought...

Dropping his pack on the ground, Adam didn't have enough room to unsling the shotgun from around his back as the terrorist jumped up at him with a look of fury on his face. As such, he just grabbed the strap, and swung the large gun around, driving the barrel of the gun into the man's gut, causing him to grunt and leap back. Taking a step back himself, he saw Sidney out of the corner of his eye, pulling himself to his feet, rubbing his throat and grimacing. Against all better judgment, he glanced at the boy, and with surprising authority, he bellowed orders to the kid.

"Get outta here, Crosby! Save yourself, man!"

Sidney glanced at Adam Dodd, somewhat in shock at the fact that he wasn't dead, thanks to oxygen deprivation. He hadn't seen Adam since his friends had been killed at the river days before. Thinking back to it, Sidney realized with a start that of everyone who'd been standing in that River, they were all likely dead, except for the two of them. At Adam's insistence to run, Sidney needed no instruction, for he turned, and began to run quickly away from the scene of what was likely to be a fierce battle.


Surprised at hearing his name again, he stopped in his tracks and again looked at Adam, who was eyeing the terrorist, who was still getting to his feet, keeping his distance from the red-head. Adam then turned his head and looked directly at him, meeting his eyes in a gaze that would chill him for the rest of his natural life.

"You owe me."

The blood drained from his face, Sidney felt as though he were staring into the face of death itself. Of course, thanks to some ridiculous stroke of luck, he would live to tell the tale. Nodding almost vacantly, he held the gaze with Dodd for a split-second longer, and then turned and bolted from the area as fast as he possibly could.

...before he felt himself tumbling to the ground as an impact blew into him that literally sent him flying. As the breath again was knocked out of him, Adam wondered to himself if this was indeed what death felt like. He wondered if this was actually how Amanda had felt, how Hawley had felt, as their lives slipped away from them.

Is this all how it's really going to end? Fucking SHIT!

Adam gasped for air, and coughed harshly to himself as the air began to return to his lungs. Frowning, he was confused. Generally, when one dies, they don't lose their breath and regain it again, do they? He hadn't ever seen it happen up to this point, so-

It was then that he finally managed to sit up and look down at his chest, which was free of any holes. The Toronto Maple Leafs crest was still fully intact, which was where the bloody hole would have been if Cody's bullet had pierced him. Instead, he was sprawled out to the side of where he'd been, instead of being thrown backwards. That, of course, could only mean...Adam looked up at Sidney Crosby, who was standing with an odd sort of expression on his face, looking into the woods. Adam's eyes widened as he saw the ugly hole that had blown through Sidney's chest, which was now beginning to ooze black and red blood.

Cody, for his part, was shocked, as he had NOT seen Sidney coming.

With a sudden feeling of urgency, Sidney lunged towards Cody and wrestled with him for the gun, snapping Cody back into the real world. As the two wrestled each other for control of the weapon, Sidney grimaced and turned his head to look at Adam, who was on the ground, shocked at Sidney's selfless act. He smiled slightly, and his voice was even, almost as if he knew that he'd just signed off on his death sentence.

"I guess we're even now, huh?"

Sidney's smile was cut short by Cody regaining control of the weapon and shooting him again in the stomach, the morphine the only thing that was letting him retain his footing. As Sidney looked down at his stomach, he yelled out one final thing to Adam.

"Now RUN!"

Adam didn't need a second warning. Sidney Crosby had taken a bullet for him, which was more than he could say for Sidney's last ten days, and that was incentive enough to try and take a new lease upon life. Jumping to his feet, Adam scrambled into the bushes and began to run down the length of the river, scooping up his bag as he passed it. He needed to move to a new area, somewhere that was of a better tactical advantage, and while the river wasn't the biggest area, and the small clearing was the only place that didn't have a large blockage of trees, he knew that he'd have to find somewhere that was at least out of sight. As Adam disappeared from view into the bush, Cody pelted one last bullet into Sidney's stomach, causing Sidney to stagger back a few steps, and shakily look at Cody one last time.

"I'll always be better."

Using seemingly the last of his strength to utter those four words, Sidney Crosby collapsed to the ground, consciousness quickly leaving him as quickly as his knees were to hit the ground. For someone who'd been a self-labeled coward for most of his life, Sidney Crosby had made the ultimate sacrifice, had made the ultimate selfless decision, and it had cost him his life.

Do you think about
Everything you've been through
You never thought you'd be so depressed
Are you wondering
Is it life or death
Do you think that there's no one like you

As he scrambled through the bushes as fast as his tired legs would carry him, Adam Dodd found that he had come to a crossroads. It was, in fact, quite an important set of events that he had to make a very important decision about. It was something that, if he made the wrong decision, would likely be something that he'd look back on and curse himself for, at least up until his untimely demise. Looking at the path in front of him, he thought for a split-second, and made his decision. Summoning his strength, he leapt over the small stump and managed to clear it, coming down with a thumb and maintaining his speed. It's kind of fucked up, he thought, that at this point in my life, the difference between jumping over a stump and going around it can mean the difference between taking another breath of oxygen and getting shot in the face!

Wiping the sweat off of his brow as he ran, Adam followed the river downstream a bit, occasionally glancing behind him to see if Cody was following him. Undoubtedly, the boy wasn't too far behind. The fear that had risen in his chest as Cody had shot at him had all but vanished, and yet seemed to be replaced by a strange sense of sorrow. The words that Crosby had said to him with a strange little smile were still resonating themselves throughout Adam's brain, and he couldn't help but hear them, over and over again.

"I guess we're even now, huh?"

Out of all the people on the island that he'd helped, Sidney Crosby had been the one that had directly affected him the most. Of course he hadn't known Sidney before the game, not directly, anyways, and like most people, was at least slightly jealous of the ridiculous talents that he seemed to be able to maintain in hockey, but when he'd seen that Sidney Crosby was in trouble, he'd jumped to the boy's rescue. He knew that Sid had killed a couple of people himself, but Adam almost felt that he...owed it to Sidney, at the very least for taking out his rage upon him once he'd found the carnage that Cody had left behind him. He'd been so torn up inside that he'd literally picked up the teenager and shaken him against a tree, half-unaware of what he was doing, running on the base emotion of anguish. At that point, he'd been a lot more 'together' as it was. At least, that was how he looked at it now. Things had, in his view, degenerated quickly from that moment in time.

I guess that was sort of the 'fuck-up' point of my week, that's for damn sure. Losing my friends...not the best point of the day, that's for damn sure. And here I am, fighting for my life like some kind of animal, against the biggest animal I've ever met.

Stopping suddenly, Adam realized quite quickly that he'd made a very fatal mistake - one that he likely wouldn't have been able to avoid, but a mistake nonetheless. He'd run in the wrong direction. Granted, he'd been running for probably almost ten minutes as fast as he could, but he'd reached the edge of the danger zone. There was nowhere left for him to go. Looking around with concern, Adam considered his options.

Okay...fuck. Maybe I can lure him here and toss him into the danger zone? Nah, that's WAY too risky. I can sit here and die. Oh, that's a FANTASTIC idea! Why didn't I think of that one before? Shit!

Narrowing his eyes, he glanced at the river itself. At this point, it seemed to come together relatively closely at one specific point about two feet in front of the danger zone marker. Frowning, Adam knew that realistically, he might not have much of a choice in his options. If he didn't at least attempt to cross the river, Cody would be upon him shortly, and he would have lost his advantage.

Of course, if I fuck it up and fall into the river, then I'm done for, because that current is pretty strong, and it'll push me right into the danger zone. Which would be almost as bad as getting killed by Cody.

Shaking his head, he knew that he'd have to try it. There really was no other option, aside from going back the way he came, which would be leading him right into a potential trap that Cody would have had all the time in the world to set for him. No, there was most definitely no other way. Adjusting his pack so that it was tight against his back, Adam looked around to see the best place for him to attempt to jump the river. There was one area that seemed to jut out a little further than the other places along the riverbank, and it seemed as good a place as any. Taking a few steps back, Adam inhaled a deep breath. His chest didn't hurt as much as it had moments before, but he was certainly winded - the only reason that he'd been able to run away had likely been the adrenaline that was working overtime to try and ensure that he didn't collapse. Summoning all of the strength that he had within his body, he took a running start at the river, and once he got to the edge, he took what he could only think of as a major leap of faith.

We are
We are
We are
We are the ones
We get knocked down
We get back up and stand above the crowd

The river stretched about four and a half feet across – so it was not that long at all, however because of the fact that Adam had been suffering for days from various wounds, was malnourished, and had slept a grand total of once in the last ten days, his energy level just wasn’t as it used to be. If he were healthy, it wouldn’t be a problem at all to clear the river and still have room to spare as he landed on the other side. Of course, now, thanks to his weakened state, Adam BARELY caught the edge of the bank with his feet. Teetering on the edge, he threw himself forward and landed on the ground, just outside of the danger zone perimeter. Dragging himself to his feet, he wiped the sweat from his brow with an exhausted sigh. The morphine, while still active in his system, was undoubtedly wearing off, and the aches and pains that his body had been going through were becoming more and more readily apparent. The bloody stump that existed where his ear had been was still numb to the pain, and the wound that he had on his arm was a constant throbbing that he was almost used to at this point, but the wound that was really beginning to hurt was the gunshot wound that Peri Barclay had given him before he’d stumbled and been killed. The bullet had gone all of the way through his shoulder, and while the impact had been sudden and hadn't even begun to hurt until moments later, it was now proving to be the most alarming wound that Adam had suffered up to this point.

Walking purposefully along the bank of the river, Adam began to retrace his steps. This side of the river bank was relatively shielded from sight; the trees and foliage granted him at least that solace. The problem that he saw was that if Cody Jenson had also crossed over to this side of the river, Adam might not even see him coming until it was too late. All Cody would need to do would be to hide in the thick brush to his right, and then pop out as Adam came by. Mentally, he cursed himself for not thinking about the danger zone boundary. He'd managed to get a new lease on life thanks to Sidney's sacrifice, but he'd managed to fuck it up completely, and now he might have given away every advantage that he might have been able to gleam from the situation.

I really didn't have much of a choice, though. I had to get my pack, otherwise I'm defenseless, and anyone left would have an easy time just picking me the fuck off. I guess that the only solace to that is that if anyone's going to pick me off, it's either going to be O'Connor or Jenson. Which...really isn't much solace at all...

As he retraced his path back to where he'd come from, Adam suddenly had the eerie feeling that he was making a very grave mistake. Shaking the feeling off, he glanced slowly across the river, looking for any movement in the trees. He found none, and a small shiver raced down his spine. The silence in the air was deafening, screaming alarm-bells at him with every single beat from his heart. Cody Jenson had somehow managed to blend in with the trees, and he was doing a DAMN fine job either tailing Adam without being seen or heard, or had wandered off in a different direction altogether. This disturbed Adam, for he had no idea if Cody was anywhere even near him, or if he'd come up behind him with a piano wire, slit his throat and cackle while standing over his own corpse.

Cody's a sick fucker, but he wants to inflict as much damage as possible upon me for whatever reason. He's probably injured so much that he won't survive too much longer, and he knows it. Just wants to live long enough to do me in and then revel in it for however long his body lets him last. Well, I'm not going to let that shit happen, no fucking way.

As he walked along the river back to the final resting place of Sidney Crosby, Hawley Faust, Amanda Jones, and Madelaine Shirohara, Adam's mind essentially blanked itself out. He'd done so much thinking during the past ten days that he was mentally exhausted, and his mind kept blanking out at times, undoubtedly exerted almost to its breaking point. That wasn't to say that Adam would lose his mind. In fact, he half-wondered if he hadn't already. He just figured that the second that his mind gave out, he'd probably just pass out from fatigue. Perhaps he'd have an aneurysm, or something.

Heh, yeah, well...that's always how I figured that I'd go out...fact, it's pretty much the first thing that I thought when I woke up in this godforsaken place. That I wasn't going to die of any brain aneurysm in my nineties. I didn't realize at that point, that I'd likely die of a gunshot wound, or perhaps blood loss at the tender young age of sixteen. Fuck, sixteen. How's that for shit luck. I'm not old enough to drink, barely old enough to drive, and I'm not even legally recognized as an adult. Nobody should have to die before they're at least able to walk into a bar and order a pitcher of beer for him and his friends.

Though, I guess that'd be different, depending on what country and/or state you live in...Canada, the legal drinking age is 19, except in Quebec, where it's 18. Here in the States, it's 21, but in some places, it's lower. So that means that nobody should die until they're ABOUT nineteen, and in most places, twenty-one. Fuck, how's THAT for logic?

But, of course, once again, Adam had to remind himself that people WOULD die before they turned that age, and people already had. Of his class at Barry Coleson High School, every single person who'd been on the plane for the end-of-year field trip had died, save for him, and Jack O'Connor. Two, out of an entire plane-load. That included all of the teachers who'd come along on the trip, and that one kid that they'd executed on the plane. The kid with the hat.

God, I'd known him, hadn't I? I think I had...fuck, what was it? I think it was Comm. Tech with him. Shit, that's right. Kiel Zigelstien. That was his name, right. Danya shot him because of the fact that he was a punk, and no other reason, and Kiel wasn't even that much of a punk. He wore his hat sideways, but that was it. Fucking hell. Kiel hadn't had a chance to survive, like everyone else had. It was bullshit, too. Kiel was a decent guy, maybe a little ADD at times, but you can't hold that against him...he always meant well, and he was always happy. And Danya shot him down for wearing a hat.

Adam sighed, and continued on down the path, still seeing no sign of Cody Jenson.

Maybe Kiel was the lucky one. He died quickly, and as painlessly as a shot to the head can be. He never had to go through this emotional hell. So...maybe he was the lucky one. Ah, fuck, who am I kidding? All of us have been damned from the beginning. Even if we're the last person standing on this island, we're fucked. Mentally, and maybe even physically, depending on how badly you get torn up. Even if you don't die, you're still at least a little dead inside.

At least, that's how it feels to me.

But hey, I'm physically alive, and while I wouldn't go as far as saying that I'm okay, I'm doing a hell of a lot better than anyone else on this island. Everyone's been torn up a little, but I'm still breathing, so that's got to count for something...

We are one
We are the ones
We get knocked down
We get back up and stand above the crowd
We are one

As he walked, he looked at the river flowing calmly in the other direction. He'd all but lost his sense of direction (what little he'd had to begin with) and he was basically just following the river, hoping that it hadn't broken off at some point without him noticing. If that were the case, he could walk into a danger zone without even realizing it. Of course, the terrorists had "kindly" set up markers that denoted the danger zones, glowing a dull red on the side of the marker that was not to be entered. They weren't easy to miss, but if one were preoccupied enough, or perhaps running for their life from a psychopathic OHL player, it was very possible. Sighing softly, Adam glanced up at the sky. The sun was beginning to set, and the sky was a deep orange. The light would soon be gone, and to fight in the dark would be perilous. Adam didn't want to have to deal with Cody in the dark. While he was insane, Cody was still a formidable adversary, still having the presence of mind to trick Adam into believing that he was 'Andrew Stewart', and then planning several sneak attacks on both him and Sidney during their encounters before. Cody had been training to be a professional athlete, and in essence, he was probably a lot more prepared than the overweight Adam Dodd had been. Cody had been able to hold him off more than once during their last encounter, and that was with internal injuries. Thankfully, those injuries gave him a serious weakness that Adam would have to exploit as much as he possibly could.

Maybe if I kick him in the stomach enough times, he'll cough out his internal organs and that'll be that? Just like in bad horror movies? Shame that this isn't one big fucking horror movie. I'd kill to have a director pop out of the bushes and scream 'cut!' and then have everyone get up off of the ground and go grab lunch.

Finally, Adam arrived back at the clearing where he'd just fled from. This time, though, he held the shotgun in front of him as he entered, prepared to shoot anything that moved. That, of course, was the only logical action that he could take. He was in a fight to the death, and there were only two people besides himself remaining alive. He'd have to shoot anyone that he saw, if only to save himself. It was no different than what he’d been doing for the past couple of days, anyways. While he’d been with his friends, he’d been almost a different person, not capable of hurting anyone intentionally, only in defense…it had never been a ‘shoot first, don’t bother asking questions’ kind of mindset that he’d been in, not until now. He’d been mindful to ensure that he followed his own moral code – which of course, had been skewed during the course of the game. However, at this point, it was almost a moot point. If he didn’t kill them, he would die himself.

I hate this fucking game.

Much to his disdain, there was absolutely nobody in the clearing at this point in time. The telltale lumps from the graves that had been dug sat pointedly at the edge of the area, and (somewhat surprisingly) it seemed as though Sidney Crosby hadn't actually died when he hit the ground. His body was now a few feet away from where it'd been before, a trail of blood following him to the point where he'd finally collapsed. Taking a step over towards Sidney's body, Adam couldn't help but wonder if the boy was even still alive or not. As he neared the body, he grimaced at the ugly wounds in Sidney's chest, three gunshot wounds marking the Pittsburgh Penguins logo in his jersey. As Adam leaned over, his hand extended to take Sidney's pulse, he heard a cracking noise come from behind him, and then a brutal laugh.


Straightening up, Adam sighed to himself, and slowly turned around, being careful not to make any sudden movements. As the other part of the valley came into view, he was greeted with a sight that he'd rather not have seen - the bloody grin of Cody Jenson, pistol raised in the air, pointed right at Adam's head. Cody stood about ten feet away from him - long enough that Adam might have a stone's throw of a chance to escape a bullet wound to the brain, but short enough that a second shot would likely find its mark. Cody grinned at Adam, an almost gleeful expression on his face as he pointed the pistol at Adam, rendering him in an unenviable position. Adam kept his eyes on the pistol as Cody cackled again.

"I've really got to hand it to you, Dodd. I never figured that - after all this time on the island, you'd actually manage to do something for me, after all that I've done for you!"

"Don't read too much into it, really."

Cody grinned a sadistic grin. "Oh, believe me, I won't. It took everything that I had to restrain myself from killing you when you compared me to Aki Berg, of all people. But you really redeemed yourself, Adam. You know how?"

"No, I can't even begin to imagine."

"You made sure that Sidney Crosby died. You ensured that he died. I was going to save him for last, but you know as well as I do, Adam, that I'm probably not going to last much longer. I hadn't thought about it - what if I died before Sidney, himself? Then he'd go on living, and I would have failed. But you...YOU made it all possible."

Adam's eyes narrowed as he moved his glance from the gun to Cody's face. He shook his head slowly, and an incredulous look passed upon his face. "Me? I made it possible? Cody...you fucking shot at me. I don't have any mind control powers, nor do I have a Crosby-magnet in my chest. You shot at me, and for whatever reason, he took a bullet for me. I didn't make shit, possible, Cody. You shot at me, you shot him, and that's that."

"No, Adam, you're as responsible as I am. You've played the game as hard as I have, and even though we're both playing for different goals, it's brought us both here. Sidney Crosby's death was a masterful collaboration between the two biggest players that this game has ever seen..."

Adam dropped his stoic visage and instead looked at Cody like he'd suddenly sprouted a second head. Shaking his head, he surprised Cody by taking a step forward, momentarily forgetting about the pistol that the other boy held aimed at him.

"No. No fucking way. Collaboration? Fuck that shit, Cody. This whole time that we've been on the island, I've been doing two things - protecting myself, and protecting my friends. I managed to do one of them a hell of a lot better than I did the other. People attacked us, I'd fight back. You know, the ol' urge for self-preservation? We were doing all right, until a certain small-cocked rapist came along and eradicated my group of friends. You know who that is? I won't give you a hint, but I'll say this - you know him well. Since then, I've been wandering around, looking for you - looking to do one very simple thing: commit cold-blooded murder for the first time during this game. I'm not proud of myself, but you RAPED my goddamn friend! You raped her, goddamnit. Do you even have any idea what that does to a person?"

"My guess, is that it turns them into a submissive little fool. Just like you've become. Oh, that's right, YOU were raped, weren't you?"

"Raped? Yeah, I was. It humiliated me, it made me feel like I was a worthless piece of garbage. Y'know, I almost died, Cody. There was a point that I wished I had. But once I got out and thought about it, I was glad that I hadn't. You know why?"

Cody smirked at Adam. "Enlighten me."

"I realized that I'd been given a second chance, to make things right. Not for me. But for Madelaine Shirohara. You know who that is, right? Do you?" Cody shook his head, though he knew the answer already. "That was the girl whose throat you ripped out with your teeth. That was the girl who caused you to lose your rights as a human being. That was the girl who I promised that I'd protect. That was the girl that's going to, the end of it all, cause your death."

All throughout his speech, Adam was taking small steps towards Cody, causing the boy to back up a little bit each step. Cody figured that as long as he had the gun pointed at Adam, he would have control of the situation, for he had the gun. Adam knew that in about two steps, this likely wouldn't be the case. Cody was slowly backing towards the graves that had been dug for Adam's late friends.

"As big a figure as you are, Adam Dodd, you aren't the one with the gun. All I have to do is pull this trigger, and you're dead. If you don't have any other 'special powers', you certainly won't be able to outrun bullets. You are worthless, Dodd. As worthless as Crosby, but even more so, because you don't have any discernable talents. You aren't a hockey god like me. You are nothing. A nobody. You always have been, since your birth, and you will be, until your death."

Suddenly stopping, Adam just smiled back at Cody, and shrugged.
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
"That's where you're wrong, Cody Jenson. I do have talents. I'm loyal to my friends, and I follow through on my fucking promises. So now, you have to die, and go to the hell to which you belong!"

The life I think about
Is so much better than this
I never thought I'd be stuck in this mess
I'm sick of wondering
Is it life or death
I need to figure out who's behind me

As Adam essentially shouted the last bit at Cody, he lunged forward, causing Cody to take a giant, unbalanced step back. Eyes widening, he tripped back over the grave of Madelaine Shirohara, and his hand released the pistol as he toppled backwards over the mound of raised soil. Seeing his opportunity, Adam dropped his pack on the ground and tackled Cody as he tried to pick himself up. The two hit the ground hard, rolling overtop of the grave next to Madelaine's (that belong to Hawley Faust) and onto the ground. Disengaging himself from Cody, Adam wound up and leveled a big punch at the boy's face, striking him and crushing his nose even more so than it already had been. Seeing Cody recoil, Adam wound up and punched him again. As Cody's head bounced back against the ground, the boy winced, but came up and spat blood into Adam's face, causing him to recoil, his eyes burning with the crimson liquid. Dragging himself to his feet, Cody leaped for the gun that was off to the side of the graves. At about the same time, Adam rubbed the blood out of his eyes and saw Cody's intention. Seeing the urgency of the situation, he dove into the bushes beside the river, concealing himself. Seeing Adam do this, Cody raised the pistol and opened fire into the brush, wildly shooting left and right.


Hearing the bullets whizzing past his prone form, Adam stayed in a missionary-position in the dirt. As a bullet skimmed his left buttock, Adam grunted, more with anger than pain. Bringing the shotgun around on its sling to the front of his body, he raised it and began to shoot into the clearing, unaware of even where Cody was. As he did this, he tried to crawl along to the river. He'd stupidly dropped his pack, where Cody would have easy access to it. Granted, he still had the two pistols in his pockets, the shotgun, the sword strapped around his waist, and the knife that he'd concealed on his ankle, but all of his extra ammunition was in that bag, along with the Uzi that he'd gotten from Peri Barclay.

This is exactly what I was hoping that it wouldn't become - a shootout, and me without my fucking ammo. If he thinks to look in that bag, I'm a fucking dead man. I could very well be a fucking dead man anyways!

As he returned fire with his shotgun, Adam's mind returned to a time that he had been so close to avoiding this entire situation. At the time, the alarms in his head had gone off, but he'd tried to keep from making harsh judgments. Truth was, he probably should have just killed the kid and kept on moving.

But those are the actions of a paranoid delusional sociopath, and I'm not one of those. I'm just a scared kid trying to get out of this shit with his life, and I'm not going to go around just murdering anyone I see. Well, at least, not at that point...what had it been that he'd said? Almost like he was playing with me...?

"Don't you see Adam? This game is not going to end on its own."

Cody was seized by a fit of coughing, and after wiping the fresh blood from his mouth, he continued.

"We have to end it. That's why we are here. Either we die, or we kill. That's the decision. Now unless you have some vigilante plan to deactivate your collar, run off and kill Danya when you don't even know where he is, much less be able to find a way off this island without one of their boats or another student killing you, be my guest. Be my fucking guest."

"I have to go find a girl, and end her life. The reason I have to do this is that she betrayed me. I also have to find a certain other person, and end his life too. These are both things that are very important for me to do before I die."

Cody grinned, which came off rather spooky due to his missing teeth and blood-filled mouth.

"...and then, I have to find and kill one more person. Perhaps the most important person on this island."

Cody chuckled. "Let's just say he has just as good of a reason to want to kill me."

Adam shook his head as he felt the bullets flying past him in all directions. Evidently, Cody had his own supply of spare ammunition, and seemed to be emptying it into the forest. Leaving the shotgun in the bush, he removed the Ballestair-Molina pistol that he'd begun the game with, and began to fire it back towards the clearing. The old pistol boomed as it fired, and Adam continued his crawl towards the river. He might be able to catch Cody by surprise, though to get into the river, he'd have to stop firing his gun, so that Cody would think that he was either dead or wounded. Evidently, though, Cody hadn't figured out that Adam was staying low to the ground, or else he might have already been shot, and not allowed to get this far. Though, there was one thing that he did remember about Cody.

He's a gamer. Cody Jenson is a gamer, he's been playing with me since the first moment that he saw me, collapsed in the woods. Ever since he did that, he's been trying to fuck with me, trick me, and whatnot. He befriended me under a false identity, and fucked around with my mind a little bit, with my emotions. Even here, when we've been fighting for our lives, he's been toying with me, laughing at me, trying to fuck with my head. Even if he knows I'm by the ground, he doesn't want to kill me with a stray bullet. He'd be gleeful to wound me and then strangle me with his bare fucking hands. Me? I just want him dead, by my hand. So maybe...I can use that to my advantage...

Glancing down at his waist, he unclipped the saber that he'd been carrying around his waist. Unsheathing it, he dropped the sheath on the ground, and, aiming closely, threw the sword in an arc, hoping to land it in the valley somewhere at least close to Cody Jenson. Waiting for any screams of pain or at least any reaction at all, Adam couldn't help it when a grim smile made its way to his face as Cody reacted to his unorthodox move.

"Adam?! Did you just throw a sword at me? I admire your tenacity, but you can't beat me. I'm going to kill you, and then, I will finally be the best. There is no way around it, Adam!"

Fuck you, and go to hell, you fucking bastard.

Finally reaching the flowing water of the river, Adam crawled past the end of the bushes, discarded the old antique pistol, and removed the third weapon that he had in his other pocket; Andrew Lipson's Mauser M2. As he did this, he essentially jumped into the mud that the river-bank created. At this point in the river, the flow wasn't as harsh as it had been at the point that Adam had tried to jump across earlier, but it still required at least a small effort on his behalf. The shooting continued at the bushes behind him, but since Adam hadn't started shooting his pistol again, Cody was still focused on the bushes, not realizing that Adam was now wading through the water, which shocked him awake, as it's temperature was relatively cool. Wading against the current, Adam slowly made his way down the river, listening to the gunshots that Cody continued to shoot into the woods. Finally, the shooting stopped, and Adam quickened his pace through the river. He wanted to put as much distance between him and Cody as he could, while still managing to get to his pack so that he could get his spare ammunition and Uzi. Hearing Cody's footsteps traipsing off into the bush, Adam seized his opportunity. As soon as he heard Cody push through the tree-line, he himself dove out of the water and into the valley, essentially switching sides with Cody. This, of course, disabled his cover, but gave him access to his pack, which was lying on the ground on the other side of the valley. Glancing at the sword that he'd tossed at Cody, which had oddly enough, ended up sticking right out of the ground on the other side of the valley, Adam made a run for his pack.

We are
We are
We are
We are the ones
We get knocked down
We get back up and stand above the crowd
We are one
We are the ones
We get knocked down
We get back up and stand above the crowd
We are one

Having only the one chance at the pack, Adam sped towards the small bag that held all of his ammunition and the rest of his weapons in it. He bore down and reached out for it, but had to jump out of the way as he heard gunshots coming out of the bushes. This time, Cody Jenson himself stepped out of the area where he'd just walked into, an angry look on his face, likely about having to move about to try and kill his prey.

Prey? Fuck that shit. I'm nobody's prey! In fact, Cody Jenson is MY fucking prey! What the fuck am I doing? I'm running from him like he's been the one chasing me for this entire time! But he hasn't! He's tried to fuck with my head on every opportunity, and it looks like he's done just that! Fuck it, you're the one who's vowed to kill HIM, not the other way around!

As he realized that, the figurative 'light' went on over Adam's head. The light bulb was on, and Adam realized what he was doing wrong. The entire fight had been spent on the defensive, while Cody Jenson attacked him relentlessly. Instead, Adam would need to take to the offense, and put CODY on the defensive, and see how he reacted to it. Odds were that Cody, a person who was quite good at attacking people, likely had at least a slight weakness when it came to defending against attack, and Adam intended to expose this.

I just hope that I'm right - he's been pretty fucking solid at defending against me so far...I guess I'll just have to wait for some moment where his attention is somewhere else, and then do something that he just isn't going to expect. Who knows whatever the fuck THAT'll be? But in the time being, I'll just shoot at him!

Raising his pistol, Adam knew that exposing a potential weakness of Cody's would be difficult. Cody was a well-rounded fighter, and while the glaring weakness would say that his internal injuries could be used as something, Adam didn't see what. Cody had done as good a job as anyone he'd ever seen getting over those, and while his time on the island might have been numbered as a result, he didn't seem to care, and likely it wouldn't have mattered one way or another. Scrambling up, Adam pulled the trigger of the pistol and squeezed shots off towards where Cody was standing, dropping and rolling as his opponent shot bullets towards him as well. Neither boy seemed to be doing that great of a job hitting the other, as bullets flew everywhere, partially due to their awful aim, partially due to the effort that each boy was doing to avoid getting shot. It was almost like a macabre dance around the pack on the ground, though Cody hadn't looked at it yet, and was instead glaring at Adam Dodd, grinning like a madman and managing to look psychotic at the same time.

Finally the bullets stopped as both boys turned to face one another, standing about twelve feet apart, guns held at the other. Cody continued his grin, while Adam had a look of pure exhaustion on his face. Without any hesitation, Adam pulled the trigger on his gun, only to have the blood run from his face as he heard a loud 'CLICK', signifying that the gun was empty, and Adam had no more ammunition. With that grin still pasted on to his bloody face, Cody looked at Adam, and pulled the trigger, a loud 'CLICK' coming from his pistol as well. The lump in Adam's throat which had jumped to the top of his head when Cody had pulled the trigger settled back down, but now the two stood in a standoff, pointing two completely empty pistols at the other, each waiting for the other to make a move.

Figuring the idea to be a good one, Adam tossed his pistol at Cody, catching him off guard, and running towards him in a high tackle. Cody, surprised by the attack, recovered enough to see this coming, and bent over and essentially 'hip-checked' Adam, a move wholly reminiscent of Sidney Crosby's attack on Elijah Rice back in the Woods. Adam didn't expect such a move, though he should have, and as such, he was sent flying through the air, overtop of Cody and falling hard onto the ground, rolling past the prone body of Sidney Crosby, and coming to a rest beside the sword that was sticking out of the ground. The wind knocked out of him, Adam winced on the ground, grimacing at the pain that his flight had given him. His entire body was aching now, and the morphine, which had been dulling his pain, seemed to have stopped.

The life I think about
Is so much better than this
I never thought I'd be stuck in this mess
I'm sick of wondering
Is it life or death?

As the wind came back into his body, Adam rolled over and groaned. His landing seemed to have dislocated his shoulder, which was hanging limply at his side, causing agonizing pain to flow throughout his body. Clenching his teeth and trying to see through the tears caused by the white-hot pain, Adam was able to see Cody laughing at him, and then taking a spare cartridge out of his pocket, loading it into his pistol, which he checked, and then walked over and stood overtop of Adam.

"So this is how it's going to end, Dodd. It's almost ironic, isn't it? Your life, as you know it, felled by a simple thing that you really should have seen coming. I mean, come on, Adam! You claimed that you're such a hockey fan, how could you have missed that I was going to hip-check you, of all things? You were supposed to be number one, Dodd. The best. You were the one standing in my way to becoming the best, not Crosby, not anyone else. And here it is, that you've become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's your own damn fault, Adam Dodd. You missed what should have been really obvious to a HOCKEY fan, of all things, and you ended up with what? A bruised ego, a dislocated shoulder, and a bullet in the brain for your troubles. I'm really going to enjoy killing you, Adam Dodd. I'll complete the hat trick. First I killed your bitch, then I killed her friend, and now, I'm finishing it off with you..."

Cody's pistol was pointed squarely at Adam, who could hardly think through the pain that he was feeling thanks to his newly-dislocated shoulder. Still, though, he heard what the boy was saying, and swore to himself that he wouldn't go down without a fight. As such, he tried to rise to his feet, and only got a part of the way up before Cody, who intended to inflict as much pain upon him as he could before he shot him, booted him hard in the shoulder, sending him flying to the ground again. Much to Adam's surprise, though, the pain in his shoulder ceased as soon as Cody's boot kicked him. That momentary shock was again dulled by the impact of his back upon the ground, but he knew exactly what Cody had just done - he'd re-set his shoulder back into place. It didn't seem like he'd be able to do much about it before he was shot, but if he could somehow distract Cody...

What the hell would distract Cody enough to get him to look away, so I could pull this sword out of the ground and ram him with it?

Grimacing again as Cody looked at him, Adam opted to continue with the facade of the shoulder injury, as Cody likely wasn't aware as to what he had done. Scrunching his face into a pain-filled mask, Adam tried the only thing that possibly came to mind; the only thing that might possibly save him from the imposing visage of the most immoral, psychotic person still left alive on the island.

"C-Crosby! He's right...he's right behind you! He's...alive!"

Adam managed to spit that phrase out, before realizing how stupid that it sounded. Crosby was indeed behind Cody, yet he was lying dead on the ground, a victim of several shots to the chest. Cody knew this, as he had been the one who'd killed Sidney, who'd shot him several times, and had enjoyed it immensely. To his credit, Cody didn't buy Adam's tactics at all. Instead, he raised one eyebrow, and really sarcastically glanced down at Sidney's corpse on the ground below him. Snorting, he put his hands to his face in mock fear.

"Oh no! Not Sidney Crosby! What is he going to do, kill me with his smell? Did you really think that I'm that stupid, Dodd? Did you really think that you'd be able to fool me with that? You're pathetic. More pathetic then that dead bitch of yours, and more pathetic then that other one that showed me so much of a good time. Oh, and Adam...before I kill you, I should really tell you - she begged for me to give it to her before I tore her throat out."

We are the ones
We get knocked down
We get back up and stand above the crowd
We are one
We are the ones
We get knocked down
We get back up and stand above the crowd
We are one

As Cody raised his pistol to aim at Adam Dodd, Adam's shoulders sagged. He had nothing else up his sleeve, no weapons hidden in his pockets, and the closest thing that he had to a concealed weapon was the knife that he had strapped around his ankle. He was done for.

And this is how it's going to go. Cody Jenson will shoot me to death, and I'll have let down everyone else. Man, I really fucking suck at keeping promises...

Looking right into Adam's eyes, Cody smiled as his finger tightened around the trigger. What happened next shocked every single person who would ever watch the ending moments of Survival of the Fittest, that people would see and undoubtedly wonder how such a thing was even possible.

A hand reached out from behind Cody Jenson and grabbed his leg, causing the boy to turn around in absolute horror, staring at what looked like a very dead Sidney Crosby grabbing on to his leg, a venomous look in his eyes. Cody was so frightened at that moment in time that he literally wet himself. Crosby stared up at him and said one thing, that chilled even the veins of Adam Dodd, who watched the exchange with a sudden shock.

"You can't kill me, you stupid fuck! I'm Sidney Crosby, and you're a fucking nobody!"

We stand above the crowd
We stand above the crowd
We stand above the crowd (Crowd)
(We stand) We stand above the crowd
We stand above the crowd (We Stand)
We stand above the crowd

Cody, so horrified at the fact that Sidney Crosby had seemingly come back from the dead, turned around completely and pointed his pistol at the zombie that latched itself upon to his leg. In actuality, Sidney Crosby was not actually dead, nor had he died when he'd collapsed before. Instead of dying like Cody had intended him to, Sidney had bled internally for a few moments, waking up sporadically, trying to drag himself around the valley - thus leaving the bloody trails in his wake. He'd finally collapsed in his present position, simply waiting for death to overtake him, when Cody and Adam had began to brawl around the area. During their standoff, Sidney had felt the clutches of death begin to come for him, and when he'd glanced up to see the outcome of the battle, and seen that Cody was the one who'd held the upper hand, he pushed all of the strength that remained in his body to trying to bring Cody Jenson down.

Cody, still entranced with the feeling of horror, aimed his pistol with two hands, and shot Sidney square between the eyes, blowing half of his head clean off.

Kicking Sidney's now-dead body off of him, he shook uncontrollably, and shot at Sidney's corpse again and again, trying to kill he who cannot be killed. At least, according to Cody. After reducing what was left of Sidney's head into jelly with his pistol, Cody screamed at the boy's corpse.


Still shaking, Cody turned around just in time for the business-end of a sword to pierce through his chest and run him back and into a nearby tree.

(We are the ones) We stand above the crowd
(We get knocked down get back up) We stand above the crowd
(We are the ones) We stand above the crowd
(We get knocked down get back up) We stand above the crowd

As Adam had watched in horror as Sidney Crosby had seemingly managed to come back from beyond the grave and interject himself upon the proceedings, he quickly realized that NOW was in fact the only chance that he would have to turn the tides in his favour. Cody Jenson was stronger than he was, he was more agile, faster, and at this point, had a better weapon than Adam had. Adam knew that if he did nothing, he was all but dead. So when Cody turned around and began to scream at Cody, he reached around and with all of his effort, ripped the saber out of the ground. As he climbed to his feet, he heard the gunshots that Cody was firing at Sidney's body, and he run at Cody, holding the sword like he'd seen so many movie characters do. Cody turned just in time for the sword to plunge through his chest, sending the gun he held in his hands falling to the ground, and sending Cody himself back into a tree, which Adam ran towards with all of his might, finally falling backwards when the sword impaled itself (and Cody) on the thick tree that they'd fallen back into. The wind knocked out of him again, Adam tried to shrug it off, and climbed to his feet to survey the damage. What he saw seemed to lift a gigantic weight off of his shoulders.

Cody Jenson was pinned to the tree, sword sticking right through his chest, blood running down his body and pooling at his feet. Cody, who was still alive, looked at the sword sticking out of his chest, and seemed to have a puzzled look on his face. Moving his eyes from the sword to Adam, who was standing in front of him, Cody tilted his head, and began to try and force himself forward, off of the sword so that he could get at Adam! Adam took a step back, surprised at the tactic, and looked at Cody for what he hoped was the final time. His words seemed hollow, and he hoped that he'd be able to speak them for the final time.

"You can't fucking admit when you're beaten, can you? Y'know what, Cody? In another lifetime, we might've been friends. You liked hockey, so did I. You seemed like a decent enough guy in the woods when I met up with you. Really, I mean that. I wouldn't have given you a second glance in this game, Cody. I was too busy trying to survive, with my friends. Friends who YOU took away. And for what purpose? To establish yourself as a better...killer than Sidney Crosby? Was that it? Or did you just have enough of an inferiority complex that you had to try and rape your way to the top? You didn't even know who it was that you killed, Cody. Madelaine Shirohara. Amanda Jones. You want to know why it is that you're going to die, Cody? You REALLY want to know? Those four words, those two names. Madelaine Shirohara, and Amanda Jones. They'll live on forever, and a scumbag like you? You'll be forgotten, Cody Jenson. You'll be forever known to history as a pathetic loser who wasn't worth remembering, and I'm glad that I could be the one to make that happen for you."

Suddenly retaining a burst of strength, Cody pushed himself forward on the sword, making a last grab at Adam, to try and choke him to death. Instead, Adam kicked him back to the tree, where the blood began to flow even more. It seemed as though the sword had now cut through an artery, and the next thing that Cody Jenson experienced would be death. Looking at Adam with a puzzled glance, he half smirked, and said what would prove to be his final words.

"You...you compared me to Aki Berg..."

Smiling now, Adam laughed out loud as he watched Cody Jenson die.

"You're damned right that I did. Aki Berg is twenty times the player that you'll ever be, Cody, and five minutes from now, you'll be dead. I hope you enjoy your eternity of damnation in the lowest cesspool of hell, because that is where you fucking belong. Words cannot express how fucking much I hate you, Cody, and as you die, the last thing that I want you to feel is me carving your legacy into your flesh."

Reaching down, Adam grabbed the knife from within his ankle-sheath. Extracting it, he grabbed a hold of Cody's shirt and cut it wide open, exposing a well-toned body, black and purple from the various wounds that he'd received, with a sword sticking out of the upper half of his chest. Taking the knife, Adam then proceeded to carve one word into Cody's chest, taking great pleasure in the boy's grunts, and enjoying the agony that he was causing the boy.

Cody Jenson died as Adam was carving the 'P'.

As he finished carving the one single word into Cody's Chest, Adam sighed, and looked back at the gory visage of what had used to be Cody Jenson, the word 'RAPIST' carved into his chest. Replacing the knife back into his ankle-sheath, Adam took one look at the corpse of Cody Jenson, and for the first time in over ten days, smiled a smile of pure joy. He'd done it. Adam Dodd had killed Cody Jenson.

Striding back over to his pack that was still sitting on the ground, he finally grabbed it again, and opened it up. Rummaging through it, he grabbed out his Uzi, as well as the Colt .45 pistol that he'd found somewhere along the line. He also reached in and grabbed a bottle of water, downing the entire thing in mere seconds, which gave a slight solace to his pounding body. It was almost like his entire body was hurting in unison, that it was one big wound. Dropping the empty bottle on the ground, he checked the Uzi to see that it was loaded. It was. He then took a look around and surveyed the area. On the ground was the body of what used to be Sidney Crosby, multiple gunshot wounds in the chest and his entire head essentially shot up. Stapled to a tree was Cody Jenson, a sword through his chest, and 'RAPIST' carved into his chest. Alive, slinging his pack over his shoulder, was Adam Dodd.

"Well, that's three of us accounted for...now where the fuck is Jack O'Connor?"

As he readied his weapons, Adam looked up at the darkening sky, and sighed deeply. Here he was, this was it. The final battle.

From one-twenty-three to two, and here we go...

We stand above the crowd
We stand above the crowd
We stand above the crowd

It's so damn quiet out here.

This rather trivial fact was what Jack O' Conner noticed as he strode his way quickly and steadily along a bend in the path. Though truly, perhaps it was necessarily trivial, for the quiet atmosphere could mean that he was completely alone, which in turn meant that he likely wouldn't receive any direct trouble from the rest of the final four. Though then again, it could possibly also mean that whoever could be around was lying well out of notice, which in turn meant that if there was an ambush lying in wake for any the unwary wanderer, Jack was thoroughly fucked.

Fact remained though, that the island had seemed to have fallen into relative silence. Other than the sound of his dirt-stained heels striking the rough path as he hiked on, other than the ambience of open air, other than the sound of flies humming in the air as he passed the occasional corpse, all was quiet.

During this ten-day vacation trip turned nightmare on a nameless island far from home, far from all that was once familiar, Jack O'Conner had grown sickeningly accustomed to frequently catching the sound of a gunshot resonating from some distant part of the island, perhaps hearing human shouts or screams on occasion. And now that it seemed that the island was almost completely void of any human inactivity, and had fallen into nearly complete silence, Jack O'Conner found the silence more unsettling than peaceful.

Perhaps it was also due to the fact that he knew better than to let his guard down, particularly at such a critical point in this game. The point known as the Endgame. Right now, elsewhere on the island whether nearby or far off, three others like him were no doubt preparing for what was to be the final chapter in the game of survival known as SOTF. Three other ordinary students were all heading to the River, the setting for what was to be the final and most decisive battle.

He'd lived through ten days of death and killing. He'd listened helplessly as Danya announced the death of his teammates one after another, and had even witnessed the death of teammate Jason Andrews at the hands of Adam Dodd. He'd been there when his group was eradicated, all killed within a span of four minutes by practically one person alone. That person, the female terrorist, he had killed himself out of self-defense, something that lingered at the back of his mind like a dark shadow. Using his wits and pure will to fight and survive, Jack O'Conner had gone this far while one hundred and sixteen students fell behind.

But it wasn't over yet.

Against staggering odds, three others like him had survived this long to be granted access into the next and final stage. Three others like him had been through much like Jack had done, had committed sins of their own, and still lived while everyone else lost their lives. They were murderers all, no doubt left by the announcements. They were a disgrace to mankind, no longer deserving of their rights as humans. They were a stain upon the world like all murderers were. And because of that, Jack knew that there was no way he could ever accept it if any of them were allowed to return home to normality.

Himself included.

Though in all honesty, his one kill seemed to pale in comparison when he considered the kill counts of those who were still wandering the island. Adam Dodd for one, whom he had aurally witnessed kill Jason Andrews in cold-blood, even as the former baseball team member begged for his life. Though fact remained that Jason had been intent on killing the group when he'd arrived, that didn't change the fact that the once cheerful and easygoing redhead was now a cold killer of not only Jack's own teammate, but at least nine or ten others as well. By now it was quite obvious that Adam Dodd was contending for the win, which meant he could possibly be given the chance to return home. No doubt he would stop at nothing to go that far.

We should've shot him there and then, Jack thought bitterly, knowing that it was too late for such thoughts. I don't care about the reasons, he's a killer. But I guess it's up to me to do what should've been done on Day 7.

That was the day Jason Andrews had been shot to death by Adam Dodd. And though Jack had wanted nothing more to do with Adam, despite his reasons, at this moment he could not help but recall something Adam had mentioned that moment before he left.

...along with my love for life, my love for my friends is just as big. So...that's kind of how I justify going after Cody. He wronged my friends, and now I'm going to kill him.

Though really...how a killer like Adam could possibly claim any real regard to friendship after all he had done, Jack had no idea. But that was beside the point. Cody Jenson was thus far the only one of the final four that Jack had not met before, or during the game of SOTF. Therefore, there wasn't anything personal that Jack held against Cody Jenson... though Jack had noted with interest the level of notoriety he had gained over the past ten days, not only as a recurrent killer, but a rapist as well.

Though his kill-count, though noteworthy wasn't nearly as high as Adam Dodd's, Jack saw all the more reason why Cody shouldn't be allowed to leave the island alive. He'd raped someone, a crime against another human that, like murder, didn't deserve to be let off so easily. And Jack was willing to accept the responsibility to ensure that.

If Adam Dodd doesn't find him first, anyways... Jack thought to himself, knowing that such an encounter between these two particular students would only end in death for either or both parties.

And then there was Sidney Crosby, whom Jack regarded in his mind with gritted teeth. Celebrity or no, the hockey player had been nothing but a thorn in his side and another potential threat to worry about for all the time they'd been on the same team, forming a shaky truce of sorts. Though now Jack O'Conner felt nothing but regret having not killed the fucker or at least turning him away from the group for being a killer himself.

And for trying to run away, not only is he a killer...but a coward as well, Jack thought with a grim smile. At least there would be some score he'd like to settle with someone at Endgame, whether he made it out alive or not.

Which in all, left himself, the final of the four. As much as he was judgmental, Jack hated seeing himself as a hypocrite, and it was because of this that Jack was forced to reflect on not only the sins of others, but his own as well. His only comfort in the fact that Angelina Kaige was a terrorist, a representative of the organization that weaved this nightmare to begin with, which was reason enough for her to be a target of wrath for the students. Furthermore, he'd killed the allies he'd gained over the course of SOTF, as well as the teammates he regarded as brothers. He had every right to anger and grudge against the terrorist, for all she had done and what she represented.

That, however, didn't change the fact that Jack was now a murderer. He had committed the ultimate crime, the destruction of another human's life. It was an inerasable sin that would stain his slate for as long as he would live, however long that would be. It was something he knew he'd never be able to live with if he even survived this game, no matter how hard he tried to blend back into normality. How would he face the rest of his family at home? His friends? His teammates, Brian and Mark? The rest of the world?

And that was why Jack O'Conner resolved from the aftermath of his crime to do one thing. The right thing. The only thing. He would make sure that none of these murderers returned home, himself included. He would personally make sure that every last of these vermin were exterminated, and was prepared to do so by his own hand, whatever the cost. Whether he would be the one to kill them or not, all that mattered was their deaths. And then he would pave the way for justice by taking his own life. Even if it meant he'd burn in hell for all of eternity, perhaps he could at least forgive himself by doing the rest of humanity a favour by ending the life of another murderer.

In any case, it's the only thing left to do now, Jack thought to himself in grim determination, And with the array of weapons I have with me, I definitely have a winning chance. His lips tightened into something of a bitter smile as he gripped the strap of the Ingram slung over his back.

He was weary and jaded by the gruesome events of the past ten days, but his motivation to live long enough to fulfill this goal kept him going with some amount of vigour. It was a twisted sense of justice that he was trying to fulfill. Twisted, and almost borderlining on insanity in a way, yet it made so much sense to him. He could not possibly see this game ending any other way. Of course, his role in the play was to ensure that everything would go as he'd foreseen it.

Feeling satisfaction at the security of being well armed, he strode over the boundary that marked the separate areas, ears pricking slightly as he heard the collar at his neck beep once at his arrival before it fell silent again. This was it, he'd entered the last stage. By now, Jack had all but forsaken his anti-killing sentiments, as well as his original plan to escape. Though really, it seemed a bit of a shame, as it had seemed to go so well until the point where everything collapsed, and all hope of escape blew apart like the grenade that had taken the life of his comrades...

"That's in the past. Escape is no longer an option. At least that virus would at least give hell for the terrorists in a sense, though I'll be damned if they don't deserve worse..."

The silence that had befallen the island grew all the more ominous as Jack coursed near the treeline that bordered along the riverbank. All that he could here now was the rushing of water, as well as the flies that were now feasting on whatever discernible remains of Rais Sekth. Just as Jack leaned over to inspect the corpse of Rais with a degree of disgust and sick fascination, he suddenly jumped in surprise as the resonating thunder of a gunshot suddenly ripped through the air.

Jack froze, immediately gripping the Ingram that had been slung over his shoulder. Judging from the volume of the gunshots and the way they resonated through the open air, whoever had fired was no doubt in the same area, but was much too far away for Jack to see at this point. Nevertheless, Jack ducked low into the brush, leaning up against the shelter of a tree.

There, he waited.

The idea was to wait until the gunshots ceased, for it usually meant that the skirmish had ended, and likely someone had been killed in the action. It was then that Jack would be able to head straight for the location of the skirmish, and finish off whoever was left. Likely he would be wounded, or at least fatigued from the battle, which Jack could use as an advantage given his relatively uninjured state. Furthermore, it was just an effective defensive strategy to lie low while the enemy’s attention was elsewhere.

In any case, how ironic it would be to come this far and end up getting stopped short by a stray bullet. Here, I have plenty of time….

A second gunshot ripped through the air. Jack waited. He remained well hidden behind the tree, hearing and watching for any sign of one of the players approaching.

It wasn’t long until he heard footsteps of a single person running along the length of the river, as though in pursuit. Cautiously, Jack leaned his back against the tree, clutching the ingram’s handle with one hand and supporting the barrel with the other. Slowly, ever so slightly, he turned his head to direct it towards the area beyond the brush.

With his blue hockey jersey and coppery red hair, Adam Dodd was a form that was unmistakable and recognizable even at this distance. Jack instantly recognized him with widening eyes as the redhead barely managed to leap clear over a stump as he ran along the path, as though racing for dear life.

Which may not be too far off the mark, considering the circumstances.

Gritting his teeth slightly in a silent growl, Jack tightened his grip on the Ingram and watched as Adam came to a sudden halt, having reached the boundary marker, beyond which Jack knew to be a Danger Zone. At this, Jack could not help but click his tongue slightly in grim amusement.

Damn, would have been ridiculously convenient for him to just run into the Danger Zone, he thought to himself. What are you doing to do now, Dodd? What are you going to do now that you are being hunted, likely by the one you’d sought to hunt?

At this point, Jack contemplated the idea of just outright mowing Adam down with his Ingram and putting the boy out of his misery, though at this point, Jack was unsure just how much damage he would be able to do as this distance. This was what made him tentative, and so he continued to wait and observe Adam at a distance.

He stiffened as Adam began to look around, as though he were looking for something, or as though he had seen or heard something elsewhere. Perhaps he sensed Jack’s presence, who was not too far off from where Adam was standing aside the river, glancing at in on occasion.

Shit! What if he knows I’m here? Though, I have the advantage here. He doesn’t know exactly where I am. I have the element of surprise. All I have to do is watch and wait.

Still creeping low against the tree, Jack O’Conner continued to crouch behind the line of brush, watching and waiting. Sure enough, Adam continued to walk along the river bank as though looking around for something. The distance between Adam and where Jack remained hidden was rapidly shortening…it wouldn’t be long until Adam would be in perfect range.

That’s it…get closer so that I can gun you down, you killer! This one will be for Jason!

Jack knew that the moment was his when Adam stopped just in front of his hiding place, only a scarce few yards away. Noticing the back of his unwary opponent turning towards him, Jack readied himself for the kill, about to emerge from the brush with his ingram in hand ready to end Adam’s life before he would even knew what was happening.

He stopped short as Adam kicked off the riverbank, leaping clear into the air over the stretch of rushing water. Though it looked as though he were about to falter in midair, he manage to make the opposite bank, just barely, catching his feet against the side of the bank and falling forward.

Jack’s gun arm faltered, and fell completely. He could only watch silently, completely out of notice, as Adam slowly dragged himself to his feet and wandered back the direction he came, disappearing in to the brush…

It had caught Jack completely off guard, for he had not expected Adam, wounded and no doubt weakened as he was, to leap clear over the width of the river itself. Either way, it deprived Jack of his one opportunity to eliminate another player from the game, leaving him with utter disappointment. But Jack couldn’t beat himself up over it now. No matter what happened, he had to make sure justice was done.

As more gunshots shattered the tranquil ambience of the surrounding environment in the direction Adam had disappeared, Jack continued to wait. By this point, it was likely that the other three finalists had bumped into one another, and were battling amongst themselves in an all-out fight for survival. Jack wondered briefly if someone had fallen by now, and who. Though more importantly, Jack thought over the possible survivor of the skirmish. By now, he had a feeling that soon, all would end with him and just one other person fighting for the surviving position, the winner’s place. Though all in all, it was a gut feeling…but Jack could not help but wonder just who would he be up against.

Who would be my final opponent, I wonder? Out of Sidney, Cody, and Adam, I will end up having to face one. Who will be my second, and last kill?

Either way, it was at that point, that Jack knew that the end of his story was drawing near. Everything would go the way he had planned since the time he’d killed the female terrorist at the open field. The game would end by his terms. And most importantly, justice would be served.

The gunshots finally ceased. Jack saw the silence as a cue to enter stage, and play his part in this game. Tightening his grip on the ingram with renewed resolve, he emerged from his hiding place, looking about cautiously as he did so, striding straight towards the direction in which the gunshots had come from. He cleared his mind of the allies he’d lost, his dead teammates, the sin he had committed in the open field. The end was near, and all he had left to do was to see it through.

It was odd, really. At certain times in one's life, there are moments that make you cock your head to the side and wonder 'are you serious?' Moments that occur that seem to be too carefully planned to be mere coincidence. Sometimes, things happen that seem as though fate is indeed out there somewhere, carefully planning out the outcomes of different situations, not leaving anything at all to chance.

The latest few moments, of course, had seemed to follow that path, and as Adam Dodd mused to himself that now, it seemed time to find out where Jack O'Connor had gotten to, it seemed almost appropriate that Jack O'Connor saunter out of the woods to the north, almost directly in front of Adam.

Almost as if he were waiting for his cue...

Taking the stage analogy with a slight smirk, Adam raised his Uzi and aimed to squarely at Jack, who, as he saw Adam standing across the field from him, did exactly the same thing. A thin line became the expression across Adam's face, for as he'd felt such rage when he'd been fighting against Cody Jenson, he felt almost nothing as he stared across at Jack O'Connor. In fact, in a way, he almost felt...wrong.

The entire ten days of SOTF, from the first morning of Day One to the evening of Day Ten, Adam Dodd had only killed when the person he was fighting was fighting him, or had done something to him or one of his friends. Essentially, retribution in most every case - sans the case of Marcus Roddy, though that was more a sympathy-kill if there ever was one. Adam had nothing against Jack O'Connor, knew him from around school, and whatnot. He'd seen him when he'd gone with Amanda to watch the baseball games at Barry Coleson High School, mainly to try and win the girl's affections, as opposed to an outright interest in baseball. Jack and him had spoken briefly a few times, and they'd had one class together, but never really socialized. As such, Jack was pretty much an enigma to Adam. He didn't know what he'd done (or hadn't done) to survive on the island, and while he hadn't heard Jack's name over the PA for killing anyone but Kaige, he knew that the boy had more than likely gone through as much as he himself had.

But it doesn't feel right. Can I really kill someone who I have nothing against, who hasn't attacked me, or done anything to me? Someone I knew, somebody that seems like they've avoided most of the conflict on the island? Shit.

As he aimed the Uzi at Jack and watched as the other boy did the same, Adam wondered if Jack was having any preconcieved doubts about his current situation. Sure, it was down to them, and Adam knew that in order to survive - in order to do the ONE thing that he'd been focused on since he got here, he'd have to shoot down Jack O'Connor, but even still, even after all of the killing that he'd done, this one seemed...different, in some way.

Not knowing really what else to do, and unable to read the stoic glance on Jack's face, Adam tried to cut through the tension in the air, not even thinking for a second of lowering his weapon, but finally breaking the tense silence that hung through the valley.

"Jack O'Connor...s'been awhile, man. You look like you haven't suffered a scratch. Good for you, man. It's...it's just down to you and me."

Adam guestured with his head at where the corpses of Sidney Crosby and Cody Jenson lay, Sidney sprawled out, head destroyed, the only way that you'd know it was him by the jersey on his back, and Cody, essentially stapled to the tree with a sword, the word 'rapist' carved in his chest and a pool of blood at his feet. Adam kept his eyes locked on Jack, not looking away, knowing that if Jack was or had become a cold-hearted killer, the slightest glance away from him could be Adam's last.

Now that Jack thought about it, out of the one-twenty players who had taken part in this game of survival, it could have been any two people who could have made it to the final stage of SOTF. Had things turned out differently, chances are he wouldn't he standing here right now, awake and alive, and it would be no doubt be some other person who would take his place as one of the two finalists. Had his reaction time back at the open field been a split second too late, Terrorist Angelina Kaige might have been standing right here, right now, and Jack himself would be rotting in the wake of destruction back at the helicopter crash site. For all he knew, if fate had decided any differently, Jack could have ended up having to face off against one of his own allies...or perhaps one of the very teammates he considered brothers. For all he knew, he might not have had a chance at all, and in a different reality, he might as well have been the first one killed.

Just who decided what scenario would unfold when all other scenarios were just as likely? Just who wrote the plot in this intricate story? Who decided what would happen, and more importantly, who would happen? Did luck just roll a few dice and drew names from a hat? Was it out of pure luck that his own name, along with just one other, was drawn? Or did fate determine this from the start? Was he destined from the beginning to stand here, this very moment, to fight out the final chapter of this manmade nightmare?

What if this happened...what if that hadn't.... so many 'what if' scenarios ran through Jack's mind as he gazed coldly and steadily towards the redheaded form in front of him, uzi raised just as Jack's was. In the moment of tense silence that followed, Jack couldn't help but wonder if fate had to do with anything at all, even.

If everything was predetermined, then string puppets were all the two of them were. Everything had been decided, planned, the script drafted and painstakingly perfected until fate decided that this was what would happen, no questions asked. He and Adam were meant to face off.

But in turn...what did that mean? Would he kill Adam at last as a way of delivering justice and exacting revenge for killing Jason? Was that what fate wanted for him? Or was it he who would be shot down in this moment? Who of the two of them would ultimately emerge the victor over all? Who would live to see the end of this story?

Jack knew, that he, Adam, and the rest of the world would soon find out.

As Adam finally spoke, breaking the silence that had once again enveloped the island, gripping the atmosphere like a tightening vice, Jack kept a stoic, emotionless expression, keeping a careful aim straight towards Adam. At the same time, his mind was fully aware of the uzi that was pointed squarely towards him. At the corner of his vision, he registered the headless corpse of Sidney Crosby lying upon the ground, as the sight of Cody pinned to a tree with a sabre, the unmistakable word, "RAPIST" cut deep into the surface of his chest as though burned in red ink.

"Indeed," Jack replied curtly. "Though I can't imagine you're doing as well as I am what with the way you look right now. But since you're still alive, I suppose that's all that matters."

The ingram in his hand clicked slightly as Jack adjusted his grip for better comfort, at the same time narrowing his eyes towards Adam Dodd.

This was the guy who killed Jason...

"I see you've gotten your revenge," he remarked calmly. "And then some." He seemed to shift his head in Sidney's general direction, what was left of the former celebrity hockey player. Looking back towards Adam, never faltering in his stance, nor his aim, he cleared his throught slightly before letting out what he meant to say.

"You should know that it'd be a relieving sight to see you on the ground with your chest riddled in bullets," he told Adam in a frank voice. "I can't let you kill me knowing that you killed my teammate Jason Andrews. And I'll be damned if I let you off this island alive knowing of all the people you've killed in cold blood. You're ten...no, twelve times a murderer, Adam, and you know it. You don't deserve to go home. Maybe Amanda. Maybe the one you wanted to avenge. But not you."

He paused for a moment, looking to make sure that Adam heard each and every word he uttered. But as he contemplated his next words, his expression seemed to unharden itself, as though in an expression of unease, or perhaps remorse.

"Though by this point, I'm not really that different from you anymore," he said quietly. "I'm a killer too. I shot that...bitch, that terrorist, Angelina Kaige. She raped you, right? Even if you're happy to know she's dead now, it's hardly something for me to be proud of."

His expression once again hardened into what appeared to be anger, anger towards someone who no longer existed, or perhaps towards something on which he could never incur his wrath, because it only existed metaphorically, or perhaps it was simply beyond his reach.

"She killed my allies....Martyn Ferdinand, Jill Gatling...our plan to escape was going so well until that bitch turned up! She killed two of my teammates, and thanks to her, I'm the only one left. I thought that I was doing the right thing, killing her out of revenge...but now...."

It was then that the aim of his ingram faltered slightly in unison with his confidence at the moment. "It's just a crime that I can't shake off. I've despised murderers all my life, and now I've become one. Nothing can change, or pay for what I did. I am what I despise the most now."

He directed his gaze towards Adam once again, eyes flaring with a wrath that was cold and icy, a stoic expression turning his face to stone once again.

"Tell me, how do you do it?" he asked Adam. "How do you manage to keep from kicking yourself over the fact that more than ten people died by your hand? How do you manage to override any remorse you feel over the crimes you've committed? Or do you simply don't feel guilt anymore? Cody Jenson wronged your friends, and for that you sought revenge. Did it ever occur to you that others may come hunting you down, seeking revenge for the friends you killed?"

His voice lowered into something of a murmur as he finally lowered his ingram, allowing his arm to fall to his side.

"I'd like to at least know why you did it. Tell me, Adam. How does one choose the path of a serial killer? You've been playing that role longer than I have, you chose that path and you stuck to it. So....why?"

Jack's words were almost like a slap in the face to Adam, who felt as though he were hearing the words for the second time. Adam remembered having a similar conversation with Jacob Starr, of all people, before they'd fought for the last time.

But I've gotta ask you, man. How do you do it? How'd you go off and decide to start playing? It took the death of all my friends and essentially a sense of vigilante justice to make me say 'fuck this, I'm going to go kill me some motherfucker'...but you, you just started from the beginning playing the game.

So I guess, I really just wanna know one thing, man...


Staring at Jacob, he gazed intensely into the boy's eyes. Jacob listened intently as Adam started to talk, only breaking eye contact to nod gratefully and take the cracker, eating it hungrily. He was surprised when Adam told him about the deaths of his friend (though he smiled knowingly when Adam mentioned David's death) and looked at him curiously when he was asked why he decided to play. Looking up slightly and sighing, he started to reply.

"To be honest, fear and the desire to survive. When I woke up, I realized that I had done very little living for myself, I was always living to help others or silently going from class to class. When I was told I'd have to kill my classmates, I wanted to live so badly that I would've killed my brother if he had been on this island, let alone my schoolmates. And now that everyone on the island that's still alive knows I'm a murderer, I don't have a choice. Now I'm damned to keep killing until I either win or get killed myself." he finished with a sigh as he looked back to Adam.

Jacob had basically been so afraid to die that he'd opted to try and take as many people out before him as he possibly could. Adam, of course, had thought that he could go through SOTF without killing, trying to escape somehow. He'd failed at that, and was now the person with the highest kill-count on the island. Hell, he was one of two people still alive. Many of Jack's words seemed to ring true to what Adam himself had gone through on the island - though the two boys had undoubtedly taken different paths through the game. Shaking his head slightly, Adam felt the need to try and justify himself, for what seemed like the unpteenth time.

"No...not twelve...I think it's more like eleven. I didn't kill Crosby. Cody did...twice." Adam blinked as he realized that what he said wasn't possible, but judging by the circumstances, it seemed appropriate.

"Jack, I...I don't really think that you realize what's going on here. Yeah, I've killed people, I'm the first to admit that. But you think that I'm PROUD of that fact? FUCK no. I've been saying since Blaine Eno died that if I ever got out of here, I'd be in therapy until the day that I died, and that I'd happily bill it to Danya or his corpse. But you...you think that I'm a serial killer? Maybe in the base definition of the term, but...frankly, you can't label me that unless you've been by my side for these last eleven days."

Adam cleared his throat, and spit blood from his lip onto the ground. He imagined that with his bruised and bloody appearance, he probably looked none the worse for wear.

"I don't think I need to run it down for you, Jack. In fact, I shouldn't be justifying myself to anyone - and yet, that's all that anyone who I've come upon has asked me to do. Everyone; hell, even Cody Jenson himself, the biggest scumbag on this island has been demanding that I justify myself - well you know what? I'll do it one last time, just to hammer my fucking point home."

Keeping his eyes on Jack's gun, Adam walked a few paces over to where the three graves of Hawley Faust, Madelaine Shirohara, and Amanda Jones lay, the makeshift tombstone that Adam had made for Hawley days before still standing upright, by some miracle.

"Blaine Eno died because if I hadn't killed him, he would have killed me. I have a nice scar on my arm to show for that, Jack. He almost killed Amanda AND Madelaine, and if I hadn't shown up, I would have arrived to two bodies a hell of a lot earlier than I did. Marcus Roddy was a casualty of Cody Jenson, who put him into a coma, and I put him out of his misery so that wild fucking animals wouldn't come and eat him while he was still alive. Jacob Starr followed me around the island for two days trying to kill me and Hawley Faust, and in an indirect sort of way, he fucking did half of it. We fought, and again, I defended myself as best I could. Shoar Wilson was strangling the life out of a kid that I knew - hell, you met him, didn't you - Gilbert Archambault, and I shot him before he could finish the job."

Adam stopped, and shook his head, the memory slightly painful.

"Gilbert got dealt a shit hand in life, he was smaller than most kids, he got picked on, he moved around a lot, he had a fucking bitch for a mom...so I took pity on him and tried to help him out. I saved his life, and then your little buddy Jason Andrews came along and shot him up. I don't think I should remind you that if I hadn't come along when I did, you, Gilbert, Martyn, and Jill would've been fucking corpses on the ground thanks to him. As it stood, he managed to kill Gilbert anyways. Jason killed people himself, Jack, and I don't know if you were too fucking stupid to realize it yourself, but if he'd walked out of those bushes, he would've shot you without a second thought. I think you know it as well as I do, so stop your holy crusade."

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Adam paused, trying to recompose himself, before he went on. "Lamika tried to rape and murder me. Kind of fucking weird that that seemed to happen a few times while I was here. So I barely managed to escape and beat his fucking head in. I...I don't know if you've noticed, or anything, but I don't exactly hold rapists in high regard." He glanced over his shoulder at the corpse of Cody Jenson.

"Jamie Robins and Kaleigh Jones attacked me, one with blow-darts, and the other with a fucking bag of sawdust. Both attacks hurt, and both times it was just a knee-jerk reaction that saved my own ass. Peri Barclay, who, I might add, was one of the biggest killers on the island, shot me, and then had the misfortune to trip over a rock as he came to finish the job, so I finished him instead. Then, you know the story with Rice, the terrorist. Like you, I didn't have a fucking choice, because you know as well as I do that if I hadn't, I wouldn't be standing here. Oh, yeah, and I think I recall saving Sid Crosby's ass during that little scrum that ended up with me getting raped and almost killed by the terrorist that YOU killed. Which, I have to say, many thanks for."

Looking down for a second at Hawley's grave, he looked up at Jack with a newfound fire in his eyes. Adam wasn't pissed, he looked almost offended, and he took a step toward Jack from the graves - not enough to get close, but enough that the distance between them significantly decreased.

"So what the fuck, Jack? I'm a serial killer? Fuck you. All that I've been doing is making sure that if somebody has to leave an area dead, it isn't going to be me. I'm sorry if that makes me a bad person, but like you said - you're as guilty as I am, so you've got no fucking excuse. Granted, I stalked Cody Jenson around the island, but as I said, I don't hold rapists in high regard, and he DID kill two of my closest friends. The fucker got what he deserved. Sorry if that makes me a bad person, Jack, but really, who the fuck do you think that you are to judge that? Who are you to judge what I've gone through? I've lost people too, Jack. I've lost friends too. We've all lost people - hell, we're the LAST TWO PEOPLE LEFT ALIVE, Jack. Everyone that went on the trip is dead. All of them, except us. So who are you to judge me on my conduct, Jack? I don't want to die, and I've done my damndest to try and make sure I stay alive. You can't prosecute me for that."

As Adam made his lengthy, not to mention heated reply to Jack's insinuating questions, the other boy fell silent, expression unreadable behind his glasses(though he stiffened ever so slightly as Adam moved towards the three grave-like mounds on the ground unexpectedly) After all, simply listening was all he could do, having made his prosecution of sorts against Adam Dodd, who was in turn justifying himself as though trying to prove a point. It seemed as though Jack's remarks, admittedly somewhat accusing, had offended Adam to some degree, possibly even angered him somewhat, judging by the way he broke into a rant of sorts.

Jack kept silent as he listened with an emotionless expression as Adam began explaining himself, each and every kill he had to his name, his reasons for doing what he did, and the circumstances he had been in at the time. As Adam recalled each of his kills aloud, able to refer to all of his victims by their full names, remembering exactly how and why he had killed them, Jack narrowed his eyes slightly. He had to admit...given that Adam was being honest with him (and why wouldn't he be? At this point in the game it was far...far too late for gaining someone's trust to be any real advantage), Adam had really for the most part only killed to protect himself or someone else.

Which only made more sense than not in these kind of circumstances. In a game where it is simply put, every student for himself, the instance in which one would be forced to defend their lives at one point in the game was inevitable. It was simply a means to survive. Jack himself should have known. He killed Angelina Kaige purely to save his own life. And undoubtedly in several instances, Adam Dodd seemed to have had to make many the fateful decision that would determine who would move on alive, and who would fall. And it was a given that he would rather that someone else died instead of him.

Even as Adam mentioned his justifications for killing Jason Andrews, Jack grudgingly, bitterly, couldn't help but admit that Adam was right. That didn't stop his free hand from twitching ever so slightly at what Adam had to say about Jason's death, which Jack found scathing. He simply found it the hardest thing to believe that his own teammate would ever consider trying to kill him, they had been like brothers with the rest of the team. Yet Jack found himself unable to do anything else but admit that Adam spoke the plain and simple truth. And it remained a plain and simple fact that Jason had been a killer, like Jack was now.

As Jack listened to the end, his expression remained unchanged. In honesty, he still couldn't bring himself up to see Adam as little more than just another killer, a common criminal of the worst kind, but at least he wasn't trying to deny it. If anything, he at least acknowledged the fact that he'd killed simply by making the effort to justify himself. At least he wasn't running away from the fact that he was a killer.

A stretch of silence lingered in the atmosphere as Adam ended his rant, defending himself to its end. His words seemed to resonate in the air between them, despite the deafening silence that had befallen the environment once again.

At last, Jack let out a sigh, almost uncharacteristic of the stoic disposition he had put on, which now seemed to have fallen into an expression of weariness.

"I see your reasons," he said finally. "In the end, you simply did what you simply had to do to survive. It's as plain as that. You were able to do that, which was how you managed to come this far. You wanted to survive, and I can understand that. But it doesn't change all that you've done. People have died by your hand. Eleven people. One with cold blood, even." He nodded towards the mangled corpse of Cody Jenson, still pinned against the tree.

He put his free hand to the rim of his glasses, adjusting them slightly as he continued with a rather thoughtful tone. "And you're right, Adam. I'd be a hypocrite if said that I was different from you. I'm not. I'm a killer just like you. Although, your kill count eclipses mine several times over, we're both killers all the same. No reason, no justification, no end can erase or alter that fact. We've both taken lives. You and I are the same...except for one difference. I'm not playing to survive this game."

He slowly lifted the ingram again, though not to aim at Adam this time. Though he held it by the handle, it was held across his chest, its barrel lifted up by his other hand for him to examine thoughtfully. "The way I see it... justice needs to be done. And like I've said before, I can't let you leave this island, no matter what. The outside world doesn't need killers and murderers like you and I. We've sunk to the lowest point. Could you possibly see yourself facing your old friends, your old family when they know...when you know....when the entire world knows and has seen all that you've done? Do you think society could possibly look at you as a normal human being like everyone else? Could you ever look at yourself the same way? I know I couldn't do that."

"Which is why I want nothing more than to see you dead before I turn the gun on myself," Jack said calmly, suddenly lifting the Ingram higher, though rather than pointing it straight as Adam, he aimed it straight into the side of his head. "There won't be a winner, Adam. There will only be justice. Justice will ensure that no killer escapes this island, no killer will return home to infect society. I'll end my life on this island, after ensuring that there's no escape for you. Believe me, justice will be served. All I need to do now is to kill you, and the rest is easy."

Once again, he turned to aim his Ingram once again towards Adam. "But I guess this is the part where you have to try and stop me, Adam. It's up to you now. Am I going to save your life? Or am I going to end it?"

Tensing up when Jack raised the gun, Adam couldn't help but do a bit of a double take when he placed the muzzle against his own head. Eyes widening in surprise, Adam listened to Jack's intentions. As Jack revealed the plans to kill Adam, and then himself, something struck Adam as being rather odd, and he decided to call Jack on it.

"Hold the fuck on, here. Did you just...say that you weren't playing to win? That if you do, you're going to make sure I'm dead, then blow your own fool head off? You've got to be fucking kidding me! Jack, tell me this. Am I seriously the only person who's been going along with the hope of going home again? That's the biggest thing that's been motivating me through all of this - that I want to go home. I want to get back to my life. I want to get married, have kids. I want to go to university. I want to go to all of the expensive therapy that I'm going to essentially fucking demand that the US Government pay for. I want to see my folks. I want to move back to Canada so I can escape all of the bullshit that the United States has essentially become. I want to get on with my life, and die as an old fucking man at the ripe old age of 135. And yet...what's weird - is that every other person in the final four seems to have accepted the fact that they're not going home again."

Adam paused for a moment, and looked at the Uzi in his hand. The fully loaded weapon had been one of the few that he hadn't used at least somewhat, and Adam had to admit that after this, he'd be pleased if he never saw another weapon again.

"I talked to Sidney Crosby really shortly before he died, and while he was wounded, still recovering from Cody Jenson almost killing him, he had this resignation in his eyes that told me in spades that Sidney believed he would die. He said otherwise, but his words were those of a person who didn't believe a fucking word of what they were saying. Sidney expected to die, almost as if he knew he was the weakest of the four of us. He died saving my life...twice. However the fuck that worked out. But you catch my drift."

I still don't even know how it was possible that he managed to get up, but good ol' Sidney Crosby proved to be one tough SOB.

"Crosby was tougher than he gave himself credit for, he could have made it if he believed in himself. But that didn't change the fact that he gave up on life. Cody Jenson was the same. Granted, the guy was a twisted psychopath, but he said almost the same thing. That he'd kill me, kill Crosby, kill you, and kill himself. Or kill himself and leave you the winner. To which apparently you would have killed yourself too. It doesn't make any sense. We're fighting for life, and everyone else has given up on it! Well let me tell you, Jack; I want to fucking live! I WANT TO GO HOME! I hate it as much as you do, but the only person standing between me and a potential ticket out of this hell is you. I am prepared to go through you, I'm not just going to sit down and let you kill me. But..."

Adam trailed off, an idea forming in his head. He wanted to avoid another firefight, and he had an idea of how to do it.

"...but the thing is, Jack...I have a lot of respect for you. You're obviously a really moral person, someone who, y'know, knows the difference between right and wrong - so much so that you're willing to die for it, because you feel that you're in the wrong. So...I propose to you that we settle this, instead of one big firefight, with ...sort of something out of a John Wayne movie. The old..."ten paces" thing. Ten paces, out loud, then we turn and fire. One person'll probably end up dead, really whoever's got the quicker shot. There's only the two of us, and...well, it just seems like it's fitting, don't you think? End this horrible competition with honour? What d'you say, Jack?"

Adam looked at Jack with as normal a face as he could manage, given the circumstances. He was bruised, bloody, and a lot more learned, especially in the last few days, but Jack knew that Adam Dodd was a person who was a good guy, a person who liked to be honourable about things. If he could do things fairly, he would. This proposed idea, for Adam, was his way of trying to do this as fairly as possible with someone who he respected.

And then when I get to four paces, I'll turn around early and shoot him in the back.

At least, that's what he would hope that Jack would think. It was a sinister plan, and Adam knew that Jack would fall for it. He was going on pure instinct now, pure adrenaline, and he knew that this was it. Jack and him would line up for ten paces, and on four, Adam would turn, and do the dishonourable thing and shoot Jack in the back. There'd be time for remorse later.

He'd never see it coming. No one would.

Jack only looked on with a calm, unwavering gaze as Adam expressed just what he had to say on Jack's plan to make sure justice prevailed at all costs. If anything, Adam reacted with incredulity and disbelief, which didn't surprise Jack in the slightest. He might have seen this sort of reaction, for he didn't expect Adam to understand his reasons. Though as Adam spoke his turn, Jack couldn't help but allow himself to be somewhat struck by the words of the redhead standing before him.

Adam wanted to survive. He had fought so hard, been through much to get this far. But to only get this far simply wasn't enough for Adam. That wasn't what he wanted. He wanted to go beyond that. He wanted to survive this game as the winner and return home, even if it meant mowing down Jack with the uzi he held in his hand. He simply wanted to live.

Since the death of the Terrorist Kaige at his hands, Jack was simply unable to deal with the fact that he now had blood to his name. He had snapped at that point, nearly broke down at this point, before he decided how he was going to end this game. He would make sure that he was the last one standing...and then take his own life. If he were able to do that, than at least perhaps he would be able to look at himself as a human being again.

But before....before that happened, Jack had wanted nothing more than to live, to escape the island and return home. He'd worked so hard, toiled alongside Martyn and Jill on the plan that had been doing so well until everything fell apart. They might've escaped. They wanted to escape. That was all that was on his mind, to escape, and also to survive long enough to do so. He had nearly forgotten about all that since the aftermath of his first kill, only to remember again, listening to Adam as he made clear his desire to go home and live out his life whatever the cost. And for a moment, he suddenly realized, that a part of him ...One small part of him that didn't care about morals, that didn't care about justice, and only cared about himself and his own well being...there was a part of him that just wanted to go home.

And he was so close. What if he didn't want to die? What if instead...he wanted to live? If he wanted to, if he truly wished for it, there was a chance that he could go home, and maybe put all of the events of the island behind him. The only thing that was standing in his way now was the sixteen year old boy before him. Only one of them would get that choice. Only one of them would have the opportunity to go home. Only one of them would return to normality to live the rest of their life...

As a killer... Jack's more rational, calculating side thought bitterly. In an instant, all the hope that had gathered inside him the moment Adam reminded him of his desire to go home dissolved to nothingness. He now remembered what he had become now, and that home was no longer a place for him.

Jack tensed himself, ready for the final shootout of the game, hoping that whatever happened would be quick with the least amount of trouble as was possible. But it was then that Adam surprised him yet again, coming up with a suggestion as to how to settle this once and for all.

As Adam explained the rules of the game, Jack couldn't help but twist his lips in a thoughtful smile. "John Wayne. Interesting."

Though in fact, Jack could not help but regard Adam with something of a look of suspicion and mild distrust. Though the idea seemed like a more 'honourable', and quicker way to put an end to this, there was also a chance that either party might forsake his honour. And considering what was on the line here, Jack already knew just how far Adam was willing to go to survive this game. Even though Jack knew Adam wasn't evil for all he had done, he had no way of telling by expression or speech alone whether Adam placed his honour beneath him.


".... Alright then. Seems like at least a decent, and quick way to settle this," he replied, keeping his tone even and calm, though he could feel his free hand behind him shaking. There was no way he could mess this up, no way he could lose this opportunity. He had to make sure that he was the one who emerged the victor. "That means, that we're going to turn around then. At the same time."

I'll get him at five steps...

He moved slightly to turn, waiting as Adam moved to do so. Cautiously watching Adam with a wary glance as he pointed his weapon towards the opposite direction, he met Adam's eyes with his own, nodding once in a silent affirmation.

No...third or fourth step would be better.

They turned in unsteady unison, backs facing eachother. Jack gripped the handle of the uzi with his right hand, the barrel in the other, already planning just where he would aim and at what speed he would turn. His index finger rested firmly against the trigger as he gazed into the woods beyond. His heart began to race. This was it. This was the decisive battle that would determine who would live to see the end of this. He began to clear his mind of all distracting thoughts....the names of his fallen teammates as they were announced into the open air...the sight of Martyn and Jill lying dead in the wake of a grenade explosion...the sight of Kaige with a gunshot wound in the centre of her forehead...

It was all forgotten. The last thing Jack ever said to Adam, before falling into determined, grim concentration. "I wonder if we might have been friends if things had turned out differently. In any case...I can say it was alright knowing you."

His slight smile faded as the stoic, unreadable expression returned to his face. His jaw set in grim determination, unwilling to let anything at all go wrong.


Listening to Jack's final words, and watching him nod in agreement with what they needed to do, Adam almost felt guilty. This entire plan had been set up so that Adam could do something so unbelievably out of character for himself - break an agreement and shoot someone in the back, and while he was fully intending on carrying it through, he didn't feel the same about it like he had about killing Cody. That was a completely different matter. Cody had been a murderous psychopath who'd wronged him in so many different ways. Jack...Jack was simply standing between him and freedom. That was it. Nonetheless, as both boys turned around and stood back to back, Adam checked his Uzi one more time to ensure that it was in proper working order (he'd never actually fired it), and listened to Jack's last comment.

Yeah, maybe if things had been different, we'd have been friends. As it is, it doesn't help that I know him, went to school with him - his parents live in the same town that mine do...we're so similar, we've both lost people, but...now, it all comes down to this. Ten steps away, and at four I'm going to turn around and blow him away.

At that thought, Adam's hands began to shake a little bit. Part of it, he figured, was likely out of fear, the other out of the pain that'd finally set in completely, thanks to the effect of the morphine wearing off. He felt every small movement that he made, and everything from the slightest twitch of a finger to the bending of an elbow seemed to hurt him. The consistent pain in his body only reminded him even more of how much he'd been through here to lose now, to go out fighting now.

I can't allow myself to lose.

Adam grimaced to himself.

Problem is, it isn't even up to me.

"Alright, Jack. This is it, man. it's...well, it hasn't been fun, but it's been...something, all right. Pardon me if I don't exactly wish you good luck, or anything, though. Ten paces, and then that's it. Count your paces out loud, eh? Let's do it."

From the moment he'd turned away, Jack thought for a near-paralyzing second that Adam would instantly whirl around and gun him down from behind. Yet the bullets never came, and so the ringing silence that had filled his ears remained unbroken, as did the tension that now held a grip on his form as he contemplated just exactly what he would do within the mere minute that followed.

This was it. This was the decisive moment. This was what would determine whether or not Jack would live to see this through and end things the way he wanted. Never in a million years would he have forseen himself at the start of the game standing in this position, right here, right now. All he had wanted to do was to escape. All the work he had put into was for this purpose alone, and now that it had been laid to waste, it changed the way he looked at the game, as well as himself. And it was because of that, that it became all the more important to leave absolutely no room for error.

He was going to kill Adam. He knew this. He would win SOTF and forfeit his own life, ending everything not on the terms of the terrorists, but of his own. He would beat the game. It made so much sense, and he couldn't possibly see the course of fate turning towards any other direction.

And now, as Adam wished him good luck and gave the cue to begin, Jack nodded slightly to himself. "Right, then."

He could not help but smile to himself slightly as he adjusted his grip on the ingram, ready to make his move. It was funny in a way. Trust had never been a real option for survival in a game like SOTF. It was just as the name implied, Survival of the Fittest. There was no way that overrated, overdramatized concepts such as love or friendship, let alone trust could possibly override the most basic and most selfish instinct, the human will to survive. In fact, trust would only meant death for the naive in this game, as Jack had seen for himself.

But what was funny was the fact that he was counting on Adam's sense of honour (existant or not), because that was what he needed to get through this alive. He was essentially placing all of his trust on Adam to walk the entire ten steps, so that Jack would be able to get an early shot at him, ending it all sooner than Adam would ever anticipate. And Jack knew, honour or no, that Adam trusted him in the same way. Right now, these two students, having fought a desperate ten-day battle for survival, were now trusting one another to do the right thing, and let fate decide.

As it would turn out, fate would leave one utterly, and miserably disappointed.

Sorry, Adam....but you know I have to do this. I don't think you have the right to blame me for what I am about to do.

Jack set the heel of his runner against the ground, tensing his grip against the handle of the ingram.

At that, Adam took one large step in front of him. Due to the sloping of the ground, Adam adjusted his pace to the side a little bit, taking him slightly towards the edge of the river, and towards the three graves that had been dug ever-so-long ago (or so it seemed).

Jack nearly froze, and was almost unable to take the first step for all the tension in his form. His limbs were stiff and almost sore from the sheer pressure of it all as he took the first step away from the boy behind him.


Taking a second pace, Adam's mind was racing with questions. What direction would he turn, where would he aim, and how fast would be pull the trigger? He knew that with an Uzi, it was better to fire in short, controlled bursts, and as he took his second step, he hoped that Jack didn't know that, so his fire would go off and to the side.

The second step was easier than the last, though by now, the pace of Jack's breath had risen considerably at the very anticipation of it all. This was only half way through. It would be the next, and the last step that would decide it all...


Jack's voice lowered considerably as he announced his next move, ever calm and ever casual as though it were all a simple game to him.


The open air of the surrounding area seemed to freeze itself in a gripping silence as Jack moved to take his next step...

He pivoted, and instantly, his form had twisted a full 180 degrees so that he was facing where he remembered Adam had been standing. The Ingram in his hands rattled in a successive fury of mechanically shot bullets that ripped through the air.

Jack fired blindly, the thundering shots that burst from his gun nearly rendering him deaf as they filled his ears. And despite all that was happening, he could only stare ahead, his eyes widening slightly. He could hardly believe he was actually happening.

He was still living. The plan had worked perfectly. No doubt Adam had already fallen, taken off guard from the back by Jack's tactic. Jack could feel the sheer force of the rapid fire in the hands, no one could possibly survive this sort of power! No doubt by now he had already won...

He released the trigger and waited for the environment ahead of him to fade back into recognition, and for the vision in his mind to return to clarity. He waited, eager to see the confirmation of his victory.
The smile on Jack's face faded ever so slightly, before it faded into a sudden frown. It wasn't long until the nonplussed expression on his face suddenly faded into a look of utter shock, almost something of pure terror on his face. His form suddenly felt as though he had been deprived of all strength, and his blood ran cold at the shock of it all. The hand that gripped the handle of the Ingram faltered, and shook.


Adam Dodd was no longer in front of him. Unbeknownst to Jack, Adam had moved off to the side as he walked away, for there had been a slope before him. And Jack...Jack mistakenly thought the other boy had remained directly behind him, and had missed. And now...

Jack's eyes met those of Adam and they locked together for a split second. It took Jack what would prove to be a split second too long to snap out of his shocked trance, and readjust his aim so that the ingram directed itself towards Adam this time.
But as Jack's grip on the Ingram faltered, there was a small part of him that knew that it was much too late.

As Adam took his third step, he tried to stifle the almost obscenely loud sound that his heart was making, beating in his chest. He was nervous now, for it was almost time for the biggest betrayal that he would likely ever have to perpetrate. As he took the fourth step, he began to call out what would be the last step he planned on taking, but was rudely interrupted by a sound that shocked him.


The wild sound of gunshots spraying out of the barrel of an Uzi exploded in the air around Adam's left side, something inside of him instinctively knowing that it was over. But much to his surprise, as he whirled around to try and face Jack, to see the expression of the boy who had somehow managed to outsmart Adam at his own game, he realized that none of the bullets had hit him.

This seems oddly like something out of Pulp Fiction, where Jack's the guy in the apartment, and I'm Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta rolled up into one, getting shot at by that dude who came out of the closet, or kitchen, or whatever...


As Adam's eyes met Jack's astonished glance, he knew that his own face was holding a clear look of absolute and utter astonishment. Jack O'Connor, he who had been so obsessed with the concepts of right and wrong, had beaten him at his own game of betrayal, and Adam couldn't help but feel as though he'd been beaten. Of course, Jack had (somehow) missed, and Adam could feel the heart in his chest still beating as hard as it probably could without exploding. It was that pounding in his chest that kept him from gawking in absolute shock, and as he saw Jack falter with the Uzi, his next move came almost instinctively.

I can't fucking believe this...

Raising his own Uzi, he quickly depressed the trigger, still with an expression of shock on his own face, and sent four bullets into Jack's stomach, sending the boy tumbling backwards onto the ground. Still looking with an air of shock around him, Adam's thoughts began to race, as he tried to figure out how it was that Jack had missed. He looked around at the area, glanced at his own gun, and then realized that the one thing that had saved his own life had been something that he'd never even figured before. The ground, which had sloped down to the right, had not been on an even plane for Adam when he had started doing his paces. As such, when he'd tried to correct and get himself on even ground, he'd strayed to the right and had inadvertantly put himself out of Jack's direct line of sight from when he'd started. The move would have likely saved his life no matter if he'd turned at four paces, or at ten. Adam still looked on, shocked, as Jack lay in a prone position on the ground.

So...is this it, then? Survival of the Fittest is over? Is it really over?

Looking at his Uzi, Adam instantly felt as though the gun itself had some sort of parasites on it, as he felt dirty simply holding it. A look of disgust crawling across his face, he tossed the submachine gun into the river, and watched as it sunk to the bottom. Shaking his head, he sighed a very deep sigh, and slowly walked over to where Jack's body lay, almost unbelieving of the fact that he was the last person standing.

For a moment, all that Jack could hear was the utter silence of the area once again, though this time the silence was mixed with the voice in the back of his mind hissing frustrated curses as he fumbled to properly grip the handle. Form shaking, he turned his attention once again towards Adam, face contorted in utter frustration and dismay, until his finger once again found the trigger.

Damn it all! I can't lose! I've come so far, worked so hard to reach this point up until now-

His thoughts were all but evaporated as the deafening rattle of successive fire pelted into the air once again. Though this time it wasn't his own Ingram that was being fired. His mind lapsed into stunned shock as his mind suddenly froze, along with his form, unable to react in time to what was happening all too quickly.

In an instant, an almost invisible force seemed to collide into him in a near-paralyzing impact, and in the split second that followed the first rhythm of successive fire, Jack found himself thrown back into the air, hit full-force by the sheer impact. His form collided numbly into the hard ground. His shoulder clipped the earth as he was thrown back against the ground and he rolled once twice before finally coming to a stop.

His eyes snapped wide open as his mind struggled to register exactly just what had happened. In time, the effects of adrenaline and panic wore off in his mind, and that was when he felt it.

For all the ten days he had spent on the island up until now, Jack had been proudly able to say that he was keeping up an uninjured streak. For all the destruction and injury that was being dealt...had been dealt among those who were forced to participate in this game of death and violence, Jack had never had a taste of any the injuries that essentially everyone else had been dealt with, let alone a gunshot wound.

And now it was then that he remembered what it was like to feel pain, and as though to make up for lost time, it wracked his fallen form. Just the sheer pain from the bullets that had plunged into his stomach and now resided inside him was enough to paralyze him numb. It surprised him, sent him into a momentary state of shock, for never did ever come close to imagining what it was like to be struck down with a machine gun.

But it was the sheer pain of it that was enough to knock him out of his trance-like state, and so his mind finally cleared up enough to think coherent thoughts, despite the agony the injuries were causing him.

I'm still alive...

He was still alive. And the ingram was still in his hand. Fate had given him another chance to set things right. And hearing the sound of a splash something striking running water as Adam threw away the machine gun in disgust, he knew that there was no way he could possibly mess up again.

God damn it....I'll kill you, Adam, if it's the last thing I'll ever do.

Jack had fallen completely still as soon at he had been gunned down by Adam. But no sooner had Adam only started to simply walk towards the fallen boy did Jack's form began to stir. As though on the verge of rage, he extended an arm and slammed a palm into the ground, struggling to heave himself up to his feet. On the ground he struggled, putting all the force of both of his hands into the ground in order to support his body. As he lifted himself onto his knees, blood dripped freely from the soaked, thick, mass of red that covered the front of his torso onto the ground.

It caused him enough pain just to lift himself up, but amazingly, he struggled upwards, pausing to gasp for air at several intervals. It took a good fifteen seconds before he could muster the strength to lift his hunched form onto his feet in a kneeling position. His form shook, threatening a collapse upon the hard ground once again, but with all the resolution of his being, Jack's injured body held that position.

And all the while....all the while, as he fought against excruciating pain to stand up once again, he was casting a look at Adam, one of the purest venom.

His form hunched over, wincing at several intervals from the sheer pain of the open wounds on his stomach, he pressed a hand against one knee for support and, with uneven gasps for air, lifted the ingram yet again to point it towards his enemy, the one who had caused him these grievous injuries.

For a moment, all that could be heard was the sound of his rapid, heavy breathing and the slight rattle of the machine gun in his hand as his arm shook badly. He continued to glare resolutely towards Adam, and paused his rapid breaths for only a second to swallow roughly for a moment. As he did so, he could taste the metallic, sharp tone of blood welling up from the depths of his throat.

For a good, tense moment did he do nothing but simply point the ingram towards Adam, though it seemed as though his aim were faltering yet again. Perhaps it was simply the exhaustion from the pain and loss of blood that was hindering him, but for some reason, the look of resignation that gradually began to replace the glare on his face seemed to hint otherwise.

Then, slowly, his gun arm began to lower slightly as what hate he had on his face seemed to fade completely. Not long after that, his arm dropped completely. The ingram that he held fell limply at his side before dropping to the ground, striking it with a brief clatter.

“Well, fuck….you know what? I’m just fucking tired of this all. It doesn’t matter anymore, Adam. It looks as though you’ve won. I even tried to cheat you out of the victory that was yours to begin with, and just look at me now. All war is deception, and deception got me killed.

Rather than giving Adam time to reply, he was instantly hit with a series of coughs. Immediately, his form crumpled up in pain as he clutched his stomach with one hand, his mouth with the other. Through the fingers covering his lips seeped blood. Dark red, and dripping. Even as blood welled up in his throat, he continued to speak, voice raspy and faltering at several intervals.

“…Though admittedly…I’m just glad it’s finally ending…. Of course, not the ending I’d anticipated, but an ending nonetheless. I was just getting so damn sick of everything…”

A harsh cough tore from his throat, and in an instant he was on the ground again just as a swell of blood grew in his mouth and burst from it. He choked and coughed out the red mess, looking as though he no longer had the energy to rise from his feet. To be honest, he was surprised that death was taking his time on Jack, and that though his body was wracked with pain and lost all strength, it still had plenty more time left before it finally gave out. Which was what motivated Jack to say to Adam what he needed to say before his time was up.

“…I….I have something I need to let you know…” this he said in a low, rough voice that faltered. Despite his pained expression, he forced an ironic smile of sorts. “Those damn terrorists…the real enemy here…they’re likely going through hell fixing up the mess I made for them as I speak. …The database…we hacked them. I got through security… The virus… to mess up their database.”

Jack gradually felt his strength waning further and further the more he spoke. But the more words that came out of his mouth, the more relieved he felt, for he knew that as the winner, Adam at least deserved the right to know that the students themselves had done their fighting part against the true enemy, Danya and his organization.

And finally, at the point in which he could only gasp for deep, coarse breaths, his strength finally failed him as he swallowed hard once again, a line of red coursing from his mouth. The pain in his stomach had been reduced to a dull ache, for his body was running cold and numb, a sickening feeling that sent his mind into a clouded daze.

It was then that Jack spoke, yet again, in a voice barely audible this time, as though he was taking all the strength he had just to utter them.

“Now…now that you’ve won Adam… end it. …You… you have that right… shoot me now, and make it quick this time. I’m just tired of it all. Just… kill me. I’m pretty much dead here anyways…”

He forced a grim smile towards Adam as he lay on the ground. With his skin paling to a bluish-grey tone, and blood lining his mouth, eyes clouding over, it made the sight look as though the one grinning was the vision of Death himself.

“And…if you have the chance…give Danya my regards.”

Adam Dodd, frankly, had no idea what to say.

When Jack O'Connor had pulled himself to his feet, bleeding profusely all over the ground, the blood had run from his face, and he imagined that with how pale he likely looked already, he'd turned an even duller shade of white. He'd tossed away his weapon, and he'd failed to even think about whether or not somebody could survive several gunshots wounds to the chest. Usually, they died instantly, when a bullet pierced some form of internal organ, some crucial blood vessel, something to that effect, and they died quickly. Judging by the amount of blood that had come out of Jack, quickly forming a pool around him as he'd lay, Adam had assumed that the same had been true. Though, as he'd walked towards Jack's body - which very shortly proved not to be a body at all, he knew that he'd made a very serious mistake.

Of all the idiotic things to do in a situation like this, tossing away your gun was probably at the top of the list...

As Jack stared at him with the venemous expression that befit a stone cold killer, as opposed to a young baseball player, the expression on Adam's face was one of disappointed surprise. His plan had failed. He was going to die here, and so was Jack, which was what Jack had wanted seemingly from the get-go. But as Adam made this analysis, simply staring at the end of the Uzi that was pointed directly at his face, he followed it as the arm began to sink. Glancing up at the face of the person who'd bested him at the very end of it all, he noticed that the face, which seconds before had held such animosity, seemed to be at war with itself, and was losing the battle on all fronts. Finally, Jack's expression settled down, and his arm slowly lowered until it slapped down at his side, leaving the two boys staring at one another, no one prepared to make a move, knowing that even the slightest movement could result in death. Adam thought this, anyway, and he wasn't prepared to move until he could figure out just what was going on.

When Jack finally opened his mouth and said his piece, Adam's mouth slowly dropped open, too shocked for words. He wouldn't have time to think of any, either, as Jack began to cough, and, upon spitting blood all down the front of his chest, collapsed to the ground. Adam's eyes widened, and he finally moved, taking a step over to Jack, almost with a subliminal concern. Adam knew the odds here, he knew the stakes, he'd even been the one who'd shot Jack, but he couldn't help feeling concerned for the boy.

Even though I'm basically hoping that he dies...

As Jack coughed again, and struggled to maintain his life, he gathered his strength and used it to speak one more time. Death was certainly being a bitch to Jack O'Connor, and was putting him through all kinds of agony that Adam could only imagine. But Jack was determined to survive, it seemed.

Or is it just his body that's trying to live...?

“…I….I have something I need to let you know…” this he said in a low, rough voice that faltered. Despite his pained expression, he forced an ironic smile of sorts. “Those damn terrorists…the real enemy here…they’re likely going through hell fixing up the mess I made for them as I speak. …The database…we hacked them. I got through security… The virus… to mess up their database.”

With Jack's words, Adam's eyes opened in shock. If Jack had planted a virus in the system, the odds were that if it weren't activated now, it probably would be soon. What that'd mean for him, he didn't know. He had no idea what Jack's virus would do, and asking him to explain it didn't seem like the kind of action that Jack would be capable of doing. Indeed, his voice got more hazy, and he mumbled something that Adam could hardly hear, but it sounded like a plea for death. Death hadn't arrived for Jack yet, and Adam was positive that the pain that he'd been feeling was nothing compared to what Jack was going through.

I have to...

As Jack mumbled something almost unintelligibly under his breath, Adam stood up slowly, and almost numbly reached into his pocket, fishing around for the one pistol that he still had. He'd discarded all of his others in the fight against Cody Jenson, and this one was barely loaded at best, he knew. But now, it was going to be the tool to his salvation, and in a way, Jack's. Pulling the slide of the pistol back, Adam checked to see that there was indeed a bullet in the chamber. There was. He raised the pistol slowly, and looked right at the almost death-like face that belonged to Jack O'Connor. Grimly, Adam aimed it at a spot underneath Jack's nose. Adam knew that there were several places that, if shot, would cause instantaneous death. The small spot right underneath the nose was a spot that snipers used to instantly disable their victims, preventing them from squeezing off a final shot. The bullet would go through nasal column and right into the brain stem, causing instantaneous death.

Adam figured that Jack had earned that much.

Aiming carefully at that small spot underneath the boy's nose, Adam looked into his eyes, which were half glazed over, and bit his own lip, as he spoke in a voice that sounded a lot calmer than he felt.

"Take it easy, Jack...you've earned it."

With that, Adam depressed the trigger.


Standing in line
To see the show tonight
And there's a light on

Madelaine Shirohara: she'd been a friend of his since he'd met up with Amanda and David at the small house a few days back. Madelaine had been one to always keep hope on any situation, and it was in that that Adam took solace. Trying to survive in this environment was hard enough when you were surrounded by people who had given up all hope on surviving. But not Madelaine; never Madelaine. She had always smiled kindly and talked sense into anyone who was losing hope, Amanda, Adam, Hawley...whomever. And now...now that smiling face, those insightful, cheery eyes were dull and lifeless. Adam's body felt so numb that his pistol clattered to the ground as he stepped towards Madelaine's body, his eyes nearly popping out of his skull. It would seem that Madelaine had died in a most painful way, and...

...the bile stuck to Adam's throat as his eyes scanned over the corpse of Madelaine. Her clothes were torn away, and her most private areas were exposed for the world to see. Madelaine Shirohara, one of the most positive and upbeat people he had ever known, had been raped, and then brutally murdered, it looked as if her throat had been torn out by a wolverine.

It would have to have been an animal...

Heavy glow
By the way I tried to say
I'd be there... waiting for

It was Martyn who finally gave away the answer to the question that nobody wanted to answer, and as a deep pain seemed to lodge itself in Adam's belly, it was indeed an answer that needed no words to express. Martyn moved towards the body of Madelaine and, using his jacket, covered up her desecrated remains, made the sign of the cross and said a small prayer before removing his tie and heavy-heartedly stepping off towards the foliage slighly behind and to the right of where Sidney was kneeling. His mouth dropping, slightly shaking his head to try and convince himself that the voice in the back of his mind that was telling him exactly what was going on was lying, Adam lurched off behind Martyn, where he nearly ran into the boy as he draped the tie over the head of another corpse, lying at the edge of the woods, shotgun at its side.

It was undoubtedly the corpse of Amanda Jones.

At this discovery, Adam failed to lapse into the same sense of shock that the horrible discovery of Madelaine's body had given him. Instead, he was tossed full-force out of his previous shock and into a state of nearly unbearable agony. Hands shaking, tears running freely down his face, Adam gently shoved Martyn aside and cradled the dead body of the one person in the world who he had sworn to protect, the one person who he had promised that he'd let nothing happen to. The agony that was going through Adam's entire body was evident, and the screams of a broken heart echoed throughout the entire river area for all to hear.

"Oh, no, no, no...God NO...Jesus fucking Christ no..."

Dani the girl
is singing songs to me
Beneath the marquee... of her soul

Bringing himself from his world of thoughts, Hawley couldn't help the tears flowing much at all now... and forced himself to slowly rise up from his spot curled into himself looking at the two that stood most near him once more.

Summoning up all that he had left in him, he forced himself to talk. "I don't know if you understand... how much... your friendship really... means to me.

For as long as I can remember, I've been alone. Only allowed to trust myself... I couldn't allow myself to live in the world outside my own dark one.

But you've allowed me to do so... so very much. I've never been able to tell anyone how I was feeling, or all I've been through before... not til now. And in the end, now... I still trust you all with my very life and soul. I always figured... when this all started... I'd die alone, or finish the job on my neck I started... but you... all of you have proven to be that my life does have some meaning.

I'm not worthless... and I don't have to prove that to anyone otherwise. I was able to make friends anyway... I not -- and I never will be alone anymore.

And I thank you --- all for giving me that." He said, finding words fading quickly as the blurry vision of his eyesight was now being given away to simple darkness.

Turning to look at Adam the best he could, blood on around his mouth and eyes wet from crying he found the need to speak again as he lifted his clean hand placing it on his shoulder.

"And I have you to thank the -- the most for all this... if I hadn't met you... I don't want to think of the kind of person I would be right now... And if there's one thing, one thing you can do for me... get off the god damn island... ple --"

Words ended as another attack came on, and more blood spilled but as this one ended he found that everything just seemed to almost start shutting down. Almost like a computer... first his sense of taste, smell, hearing, sight... and in the end he just found himself falling forward where he sat, hand slipping off Adam's shoulder and back to his side as he finally just closed his eyes.

By the way I tried to say
I know you
From before

To his surprise, he saw something on shore that he hadn't taken notice of before. It seemed that something had washed up on shore on the other side of the red canoe. Adam hadn't seen it before, as he had come in from the other side of the canoe and as such hadn't seen the object. Diving back in the water, he swam back to shore, making sure that the pistol and the ammunition didn't come loose. The gun probably wouldn't work very well wet, so he'd have to wait a little before he was able to fire it - if he even needed to. The swim wasn't as long as Adam had thought it would be, as the wind was blowing with him as he was able to successfully make it back to shore. Stepping over the mushy areas on the sand, he put his socks and shoes back on and grabbed his knapsack and shotgun before wandering over to the shape.

As Adam got closer to the shape, its features began to come into focus.

No...no, it can't be...

As Adam's pace slowed, he looked at the shape beside the canoe, which had come into full form, and full detail.

Adam had found his best friend, Andrew Lipson.

At least, what was left of him.

Andrew's dead face was a pale grey, and almost seemed to be a shade of green. His eyes were open in a last look out to sea, and his cell phone...his cell phone was fused to his hand, which looked to be burnt beyond all recognition. Looking at what used to be his best friend turned Adam's stomach. Falling to his knees, he covered his mouth with his right hand, stumbling backwards.

Unlike at the house, where Adam had done his best to keep his feeling inside, things finally caught up to Adam Dodd, and for once, for the first time in this game, in this sick, demented game, Adam Dodd wept freely.

Standing in line
To see the show tonight
And there's a light on

Adam sighed, and nodded to Hawley.

"Yeah, I do. My brother was always kind of fucked up...like not in the sense that he wanted to be, just in the sense that he was. He was depressed, suffered from treatment-resistant clinical depression and so most every day was hell for him, just because none of the medications that they prescribed for him seemed to work. Plus he's one of those people who keeps shit inside, so when he flew off the handle, he punched walls, raged...it was scary shit, man. It was tough seeing him go through that shit as every day went on...and for me and my other brother to be just normal, everyday kids, well...I don't know...I guess he kind of resented me for it. I...I never really knew how much until last year..." he trailed off, shaking his head. As he did, he kicked a stone in the path, and paused for a moment.

"So I came home from school after hockey practice one day...as I'm sure you guys can figure, it'd usually go till about 5:30ish. On Wednesday nights, my little brother has piano practice from five-thirty to six-thirty, which my mom takes him to, and my dad works two hours later so he doesn't get home until seven-thirty, sometimes even eight. So my brother is usually just home by himself from then, which isn't usually a problem, 'cause he usually just watches TV or whatever. So I come home and he's smoking a joint in the living room, he's got this big bag of pot and he's lighting it up. And I mean, he's a year younger than I am, so what the hell is that, you know? So I come in and I'm just basically asking him 'what the hell are you doing' and shit, you know? He gives me some obvious bullshit excuse and then starts basically being a typical jackass. So I start reaming him out, telling him how he shouldn't be doing all this shit, and whatnot, and how mom and dad are gonna fucking kill him when they find out and shit..."

Adam grimaces again, the painful memory being a little too much to handle. He composes himself and continues.

"So like...without warning, the guy picks up the closest thing to him - an X-Box controller, and pitches it full-speed at me. Fuckin' thing hits me in the head and knocks me right onto my ass. Guy can throw, I'll give him that. You've gotta keep in mind that yeah, he may be grade 8 then, but he just had a growth spurt so he's like, six feet tall and like two-fifty, three, you know? So I'm cursing like a sailor, calling him every name in the book. and I didn't mean to say it, but it slipped out...I called him fat. He's pretty sensitive about that, and so he just snapped. Grabbed me by the throat, pulled me up, gave me a big punch in the face. Now, I'm no pushover guys, but fuck, I tell you...it was almost lights out for me after that. The next couple of minutes were a blur. I can tell you he tossed me through a glass door, a window, and our table...basically whatever he could find. I end up on the floor of the kitchen, bleeding all over our nice white tile floor, and next thing I know he's sitting there with one of my mom's sharp kitchen knives pressed up against my throat. I'll never, ever forget what he said to me, too. He goes....

I'm going to enjoy cutting your throat, making you suffer. It's always Adam that's the perfect son, Adam that's happy. Adam that gets to live the normal life. And you rub it in my face. Well I'm not going to take it anymore from you. I hate you.

And he raises this knife, basically getting ready to widen my smile a bit, and I hear what sounds, in my delerious state, like a cannon. And suddenly he's not there anymore. And I'm just lying there, bleeding on the floor, when this face comes over me...I passed out right then, woke up in the hospital."

Adam nervously rubs a scar on his wrist. and continues after a pause to collect himself yet again.

"As it turned out, when my brother had tossed me through the window, and come outside to pick me up and toss me back through, our neighbour had been out watering her garden, and called 911. The cops heard the commotion, broke down the door, and shot him before he got the chance to...yeah.

My brother ended up in an institution in Canada, because he remembered nothing from the time he threw the controller at me...apparently the marijuana decreased the effectiveness of the antidepressant medication that he was on, which wasn't working that well to begin with, and his white hot rage wasn't even him, he wasn't in control. Doctors felt it was the best option. He felt absolutely horrible about the whole thing. Problem is, I never forgave him. Whenever we goto visit, I...I can't bring myself to go. I just can't. The things he said, what he did...I never could bring myself to go and visit him, to forgive him for what he did."

A single tear rolled down Adam's cheek, which he quickly wiped away and looked at the ground. His voice, which had been shaky up to now, hardened suddenly.

"But I guess it looks like I never will, and because of my selfishness, my poor brother will never be able to know that I do forgive him for what he did."

Adam spit into the dirt, and then said nothing more.

Heavy glow
By the way I tried to say
I'd be there... waiting for


As he stood up suddenly, the gunshot having sobered him up quickly, he took a step back and looked at the corpse on the ground in front of him.

Jack O'Connor was dead.

Thoughts and faces flashed through his mind, almost as though his life were flashing before his eyes. But instead of his entire life, all that he saw were five moments. Five faces, five names. Upon first glance, they wouldn't have much in common. But to Adam...but to Adam, they all had something very crucial in common with one another. For Adam Dodd, those were the most important people of all.

Hawley Faust...Madelaine Shirohara...Amanda Jones...Andrew Lipson...Luke Dodd...

I did it for you guys...I tried my hardest, and the whole time...it was all for you...

Looking around and blinking through his tears, Adam could have sworn that for a split second, only the faintest of instances, he saw Andrew Lipson, smiling at him from the forest, then ducking behind a tree. Of course, Adam Dodd knew that such an event wasn't possible. It was, in fact, impossible, and there was a very good reason why.

1 Student Remaining

That reason, was that Adam Dodd was now, officially, the only living person currently remaining on the island.

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do you want to go to war, balakay?
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]

You’ve got to be shitting me…

None of it really seemed real to him, not even at all. The events of the past hour and a half just didn’t seem as though they had actually happened and his mind was still trying to come to terms with it. Throughout the last ten days, Adam Dodd had sworn up and down that when all was said and done, he’d be standing tall, ready to stick it to Danya to make up for the hell that the man had put him and all of his peers through. Now…ten days later, Adam was standing, the last person alive on the island, almost as though some sort of sick prophecy had been fulfilled. And Adam was at a loss for words. He’d been at a loss ever since he’d looked down at the corpse of Jack O’Connor and had seen the blood pooling from underneath the boy’s body, Jack’s face and skin taking on the sickly pale colour that everyone else who had died had assumed.

It’s finally over…

No sooner had the words popped into his head when Adam realized that he was wrong. His own personal hell that had been nicknamed ‘Survival of the Fittest’ was NOT over, not even at all. In fact, while he’d managed to outlast one hundred and twenty-two people in a glorified game of last-man-standing, he couldn’t help but notice that he was still holding a weapon, he still had an explosive device around his neck, and he was still on the island of death. Things were not over, and Adam had no idea what was even going to come upon him next. Would Danya swoop down in a chopper and gun him to shreds with a gatling gun? Would the US Military intervene and save the day, much too late for everyone else? Perhaps an army of pirate ninja monkeys would descend upon the Earth and kill everyone, leaving Adam as the lone survivor, stuck on the island because of the accursed collar on his neck?

The one possibility that Adam knew was probably more likely than anything was that Danya would simply leave him on the island, and drop another group of unsuspecting students in on him, leaving him to the same fate as the winner of the first Survival of the Fittest…Sydney Morvran? Had that been his name?

It seems like so long ago that I was listening to that first announcement…the poor bastard had already died, and Danya made some joke about him and his friends…? God, I can’t remember, I think I woke up to that very announcement…

Stepping back from Jack’s corpse, Adam tossed the pistol on the ground. The gun felt like it weighed one thousand pounds in Adam’s hand, and seemed as though it were a foreign presence in a place that it was certainly not welcome. Glancing around the area, almost as if to check and see if there could be anyone watching him, Adam slung the backpack off of his shoulders, and sighed a deep sigh. His body was sore from the relentless battling that he’d been doing for days, especially the brawl that he’d engaged Cody in before he’d managed to kill him. His face was black and blue from the punches that had sent his ears ringing, and he had a few wounds on various body parts that were still bleeding.

But he was alive.

He definitely had mixed feelings about that, for certain. For one, he was glad to be alive, glad to feel each and every bit of throbbing pain that echoed throughout his body, from the top of his head to the tip of his toe. But at what cost had this come? Adam glanced back at Jack O’Connor again, and he knew that he’d never forget the cost. The cost had come at thirteen people that he had been forced to kill, with his own bare hands. Adam would never forget this, as his ‘freedom’ had come at a cost. Freedom that he didn’t even know if he was going to receive as of yet. Sighing to himself, he bent down and unzipped his knapsack. The pack was filled with different kinds of ammunition, most for pistols and automatic submachine guns. Adam took all of these out and tossed them on the ground. Without a pistol in his possession, Adam had no use for all of the extra ammunition. He knew that he could just retrieve one of the many pieces of weaponry that was scattered throughout the area, but at this point, Adam wanted to lighten his load. He’d discarded or used most of his accumulated weapons, and frankly, his back was killing him. Adam figured that along with the items that he actually NEEDED in his pack (the food, water, his own wallet, two diaries that had belonged to two of his close friends, and his out-of-batteries cell phone that had probably died in the rain), he had enough strength to carry one weapon, and the ammunition for that weapon. Of course, Adam knew exactly what he was going to choose. Dumping the rest of the ammunition on the ground, Adam looked in the bag and saw only one kind left – shotgun shells.

The shotgun had been the one weapon that Adam had enjoyed ever since he had played Doom when he was a little kid. It was easily the most effective weapon against the monsters in that game, and Adam had been a big fan of it in most first-person shooters that were available on the gaming market. So when Hawley Faust had requested that Adam swap weapons with him, pistol for shotgun, Adam hadn’t had to think twice about it. The shotgun was indeed one of the most powerful weapons available in the Survival of the Fittest competition, and to have it gave Adam a sense of security, even if at first he hadn’t exactly planned upon using it.

My, how things managed to change in that respect, didn’t they?

Stepping away from the large pile of ammunition on the ground, Adam walked around to the bushes where he’d hidden from Cody Jenson as the latter had stalked him around the valley. Adam had recalled that he’d put the shotgun underneath a bush, primarily because he’d run out of ammunition; the rest of it had been in his pack that had been across the valley. As such, discarding the shotgun and using the pistol had seemed like a better course of action. In the end, it hadn’t mattered, for Cody had died thanks to the saber that Adam had taken from the body of Peri Barclay, and not by any gunshot wound. Reaching underneath a bush on the right-most side of the area that bordered the river, Adam felt the familiar feeling of the stock of the shotgun underneath his fingertips. With a smile, he removed the gun from its hiding place and quickly loaded his shotgun. His fingers shook a little as he slid the shells into the shotgun, remembering that the last time he’d done this very action, his life had been in imminent danger. That feeling hadn’t seemed to go away, and Adam still found himself looking around in fear of somebody popping out of a bush, or jumping out from behind a rock. Of course, in the back of his mind, he knew that it just wasn’t going to happen.

Everyone was dead but him.

Shotgun in hand, Adam turned around and again surveyed the scene where the final battle had played out. In this area, especially, the ground was littered with corpses. In his immediate viewpoint, he saw at least three above ground, three below, and one stapled to a tree with a sword. He knew that if he looked on enough, he’d be able to find another corpse, that of Blaine Eno, and there were more, some that he couldn’t recognize. So many bodies and all he could do was just sigh. Taking one last look at the one place that he hoped that he would (finally) never have to visit again, Adam turned around and walked out of the clearing, stepping into the woods, where he’d fled from Cody Jenson. This time, instead of running down the path beside the river, the calmly walked it, shotgun still out in front of him as though he were going to encounter someone who he’d missed, someone who was alive.

So now what? Do I just wander around aimlessly until I have to resort to cannibalism? Is that the big fucking prize that I just won? Out-lived over a hundred people just so that I’d have some food to eat until the government of the United States figures out just where the fuck I am? Or did they flee shortly before the sun began to set, leaving us all to kill each other for no reason?

Looking up at the sky, Adam saw that it had turned a deep red, the sun already settling so that the moon and the stars could emerge from their slumber. In another life, it seemed, Adam would feel so calm, and relaxed by the setting sun, knowing that soon, he’d be peacefully sleeping in his bed, ready to greet the oncoming day, probably grumbling about waking up, but ready nonetheless.

Now all of that security, it’s gone, and I highly doubt that I’m ever going to feel safe again.

Striding down the path, Adam wondered what he would do when he came to the border of the river area. The last time that he’d been here; when he’d jumped over the river itself on what was likely a lot more adrenaline than acrobatic skill, he’d taken sharp notice of the flashing red beacon that had indicated the edge of the area. If he’d chosen to foray any further along the path, he’d have exploded, thanks to the horrifying effects of the explosive collar around his neck entering a danger zone. It was a thought that he didn’t want to think too much about, especially because now that he was the sole survivor, to die via collar explosion would be almost anti-climactic.

When I first came to this island
that I called by own name
I was happy in this fortress,
in my exile I remained
But the hours grew so empty
and the ocean sent her waves
In the figure of a woman
and she pulled me out to sea

Adam found himself taken quite aback when his collar crackled to life and began to speak to him, absolutely out of nowhere. The voice coming from the mike on his collar didn’t belong to Danya, but rather to a tired-sounding male who Adam placed to be in his early twenties. This new voice surprised Adam, who stopped in his tracks to listen. The message was very simple, but Adam couldn’t help but be surprised.

“Winner, please report to the Eastern Shore for extraction.”

Blinking suddenly, Adam shook his head a bit in a sense of near-wonder. His emotions had almost shut themselves off by this point, and he simply felt numb. No excitement, no anger, nothing. Just a sense of numb feeling. Looking down at the muddy shoes on his feet, he blinked.


The voice came through again, still sounding tired, almost as though it were a recording. Adam would have figured it for a recording if the person on the other end hadn’t coughed slightly after they spoke again.

“Winner, please report to the Eastern Shore for extraction.”

“The Eastern Shore…” Adam’s voice almost had a sense of confusion in it, which seemingly annoyed the voice on the other end.

“Yes, the Eastern Shore. You do know how to get there, correct?”

Adam nodded to no one in particular, and still in a state of shock, his eyes narrowed and he felt the feeling of skepticism rising into his body.

“Yeah, I know how to get there – but the entire island is filled with danger zones. How d’you expect me to get over there without blowing myself up, asshole?”

The voice on the other end of the collar seemed to sigh in frustration, grunted a little, and replied. As he did, Adam heard the distinct humming that the danger zones made when they powered themselves down.

“There you go. But we’re keeping an eye on you. Straight to the Eastern Shore, or we WILL detonate your collar.”

The crackling sound the collar made when someone was speaking through it disappeared, and Adam again found himself alone on the island, with no voices to guide him through it. No friends, nor enemies – simply, himself.

When you come down to take me home
send my soul away
When you come round you'll make me whole
send my soul away


The word seemed to have so many different meanings to Adam, and he could only imagine what inane definition the terrorists may have cooked up. It was very possible that they would remove him from the island, torture him until any information that they might have wanted to gleam from him had been given up, and then kill him. Then again, extraction could mean the very thing that he hoped it did – that all of his fighting had been FOR something, that he would actually get to go home again.

One could only hope that I’d be that lucky…though, with my track record as of late, I wouldn’t put money on it, that’s for sure…

Knowing that now, he really hadn’t much of a choice in the matter, he figured that his best bet – his only bet, really, was to see things through, and to do what they said. Grabbing the map out of his pocket and unfolding it for what seemed like the thousandth time, Adam looked at his current position and saw that the Eastern Shore wasn’t as far a walk as he figured that it was. It would certainly be easier while he still had daylight left, and if he were going to be shot down right there, he figured that he’d much rather see it coming (so that he could aim at somebody, at the very least). Sighing to himself, he glanced back at the River, and left the area behind.


"Oh god..."

The confused mumble was all that Adam Dodd could do to keep from screaming out in pain. The throbbing between his temples was fading in and out at a steady pace, and if there was one thing that Adam hated more than anything else, it was headaches. Ever since he had been little, he had been plagued with side-splitting migraines, pains that would force him down onto the ground and incapacitate him so much so that his parents would have to lift him into bed. It was as such that Adam figured that one day he would eventually go out with a brain aneurysm or something like that, just to do the world some poetic justice as he left.


His eyelids tried their damndest to snap shut, as Adam slowly realized that he was not at home in his bed, and not living down the effects of a killer headache. Perplexed, Adam finally forced his eyes open, letting his pupils adjust to the light that flowed in from the sky. Blinking a few times, Adam pulled himself to a sitting position, and beheld the site of the entire island. His mouth gaped open and he took a moment to compose himself.

"What in the hell...?"

Mister Danya...

Oh God. The events of the past few hours came flooding back to him, so much so that he had to shut his eyes to really believe that it was all coming true. The plane, the video, the senseless murder that Mr. Danya had ordered. Who was the face? Adam didn't know. As his mind formulated its way around his current situation, Adam's stomach took a tumble. Here they were. Simply put, in a glorified game of Last Man Standing. Problem was, these were his friends, for god's sakes. Could he kill them?

Sighing, he pulled himself to a sitting position once again. Adam opened the bag that he had been assigned. Quickly, he looked over the food and water. It would be valuable to save that for later. Next, he pulled out the instruction manual. At this he cocked an eye. He'd have to flip through it, but first he'd want to find out...

What the fuck?

In his hands, Adam held (thankfully) what appeared to be a pistol. It did, however, look like an antique. He hefted the old Argentinian pistol in his hands. While it looked as old as perhaps both of his parents put together, he hoped that it would work well if he needed to use it.

...to do what, to kill someone?

Sadly, Adam sighed to himself, he may not have much of a choice.

Adam felt as though it were some sort of inane urging from his own memory to recall the events of the last few days, almost as though they had been from a trip that he wished wouldn’t be ending. Of course, reflecting upon that certain metaphor, Adam knew that the exact opposite was true. He’d been anticipating a good time, a nice, relaxing, end-of-the-year trip to a place where he could relax and sit on a beach, and instead he got shoved right into a war. A war where there would be only one survivor, where hundreds would die, and only one would live – and of course, as fate had it, that one person ended up being him.

That’s right, folks. Yours truly managed to make it out, and damned if I still can’t seem to wrap my fucking head around the concept.

As he entered the Eastern Shore, stepping haphazardly around what looked to be a body part that some animal had likely dragged over from a corpse in the area, Adam glanced around the area. Since it was getting darker by the second, he couldn’t quite see down the entire length of the shore, but he remembered a lot of it from memory. He’d been to the shore several times over the course of his stay on the island, and all of those times had done a lot of looking around. The very first time that he’d stepped foot in the area, he’d been searching for his best friend, hoping to find him after being separated from his group and then cut off from Andrew while miraculously managing to reach him through a phone call. Much to his disdain, he’d been successful, first swimming out to investigate the wreckage of what looked like a wheelchair, finding a pistol, and then stumbling upon the body of his friend. Adam’d been torn right up, and had wrecked a significant number of cameras in his rage. He’d left, vowing to find his remaining friends and stand by them until the end, no matter what it took. He’d later return after those aforementioned friends were all dead, a solo wanderer, mainly trying to survive on his own. He’d heard a scuffle down at the beach as he had passed by, and curious to a fault, had peered in to check it out. As it had turned out, Adam had managed to stumble upon an acquaintance of his getting strangled by another student. He’d stepped in and shot the attacker three times, pausing only to nod to the acquaintance; Gilbert, before moving on. The final time that Adam had return to the Eastern Shore had been when he’d been shot by a tranquilizer dart and had hallucinated speaking with his dead friend as he’d dragged his friend’s corpse up on shore. Very little time had passed before Adam’d been attacked by a crazy girl, who he’d quickly shot to protect himself.

There’s been so much fucking killing and I’m basically desensitized to it…thinking about it, I hardly feel anything anymore…

On the altar of a sunrise
was a wedding in the waves
And inside her shown a young light
from her labor I was saved
Though I've traveled long in darkness
in her harvest I'm embraced

So it was that Adam knew the area relatively well from memory, though this time, there was undoubtedly something that was different. The canoe that had been shattered by gunfire between his visits to the shore seemed to have drifted into the water, as the shoreline was now relatively clear of debris; wooden, human, or otherwise. Straining his eyes to glance down the shoreline, he saw something that peaked his interest, as it hadn’t been there during ANY of his visits. Down at the end of the beach, dragged up onto the portion of the sand that the tide wouldn’t get to was what appeared to be a relatively large pontoon boat. Made of what appeared to be likely a type of aluminum or metal, the boat had enough seats to seat probably about fifteen people. Adam couldn’t quite tell because of the rapidly decreasing light, but it appeared to have a cage surrounding it, likely so that those sitting in it wouldn’t fall off. The front of the boat had a steering wheel and a ladder/ramp that seemed to allow for easy access on and off the boat, but Adam again wasn’t able to tell if it were a ladder or a ramp. Perplexed, he walked down the shore, looking at the boat with an intense scrutiny.

Perhaps because it was the first thing that he’d seen that hadn’t seemed to belong on the island of death, or because it was something that hadn’t been here during any of the other times he’d been in the area, but ideas began to populate themselves inside of Adam’s mind. When the terrorists meant extraction, did they mean that they were simply going to give him a boat and let him ride off into the sunset? It almost seemed too good to be true. Adam’s hopes rose suddenly, but he then dashed them almost as quickly as they had risen.

The fucking collar! God damnit! If this stupid fucking thing wasn’t still wrapped around my neck, that’d be a perfectly fucking plausible option! Unless there’s something on that boat to help me get it off, I don’t see me being able to get anywhere! Maybe that’s the big joke. They give me a way off, but if I decide to take it, or get too over-zealous and jump on right away, I get my head blown off for my stupidity. Fucking assholes, I’ll show them where to take their fucking charity…they can take it and stick it right up their own asses!

Incensed as he finally came to a stop in front of the boat, Adam scratched his neck with the tip of his shotgun. It didn’t seem to all add up to him, but he assumed that since he was here, he might as well at least take a look on the ship to see if there was anything of use on it – like a device to remove the collar from around his neck.

Suddenly, without any warning at all, they were everywhere. Adam took quite a few steps back in absolute shock, and held the shotgun up, pointing left and right, trying to determine how in God’s name he could have been so blind about it. The boat had worked it’s magic perfectly, and all of a sudden, Adam knew just what was going to happen. As he’d taken a step towards the boat, soldiers had seemingly stepped out of the shadows, all masked, assault rifles at the ready, all pointing towards him. His already-pale face became that much paler as he glanced around at all of the guns pointed his way. If the plan was to lure the winner here and kill him or her, Adam knew that he was already dead. The bright glare of their shoulder-lamps made his hand come up to shield his eyes, and the area, at least, where he was standing, was instantly lit up.

“Drop the shotgun.”

Adam’s eyes darted back and forth between the different terrorists. He couldn’t tell which one that it was who demanded him to drop his weapon, but the man (whoever he had been) sounded like he meant it. Adam didn’t know if he was in much of a position to argue with these terrorists, thanks to the amount of ammunition that he knew would likely be pumped into him if he disagreed.

“If it’s all the same to you, I’d really rather not. Something about wandering around unarmed…I dunno, the last ten days seem to have really drilled that into my head as a BAD fucking idea.”

The lead terrorist stepped forward, gun still pointed right at Adam’s head. The tone in his voice suggested that he hadn’t appreciated Adam’s sarcasm very much.

“Drop the fucking gun, or you’re as dead as the rest of the corpses on this island.”

Sighing a bit, Adam looked over the shotgun in his own hands. It had been through a lot while on the island, almost as much as he himself had been through. Starting out as the assigned weapon of Boy #22, Hawley Faust, it had switched hands several times, going from Hawley, to Adam, to Amanda Jones, and back to Adam upon Amanda’s untimely death. Adam had dropped it when he’d been fighting Cody Jenson, and then had reclaimed after everything was said and done. To leave it behind almost seemed criminal, as though he were leaving behind a close friend, and Adam shut his eyes and sighed again before dropping the weapon in the sand.

When you come down to take me home
send my soul away
When you come round you'll make me whole
send my soul away

Nodding slightly, the man who had moved ahead of the group gestured to another terrorist, who walked quickly over and retrieved the weapon, unloading it and then quickly tossing it into the darkness. The man then moved back to his position alongside of the others. The lead terrorist spoke up again, this time issuing another instruction.

“Now empty out all of the weapons and ammunition that you have on your person into the sand.”

Adam shook his head slightly, knowing when he was beaten, and removed the pack from his back. Opening it up, he dumped the contents into the sand, and then bent down to pick up the things that he hoped they would let him keep – his wallet and cell phone, along with the two diaries that he’d picked up that he’d shockingly found out belong to Hawley and Madelaine. Stuffing them back inside of the pack, he zipped it up, glancing down with a half-smirk at the bullet holes that riddled the sides of the pack, remembering those instances where he’d been shot in the backpack and not stopped to realize how lucky he’d been. Slipping it back over his shoulders, he glanced up to look at the lead terrorist, unable to resist the sarcasm that gripped him.

“Man, you guys just don’t miss a beat, do you? If you’re wondering, the only things that I have left have sentimental value to me, so unless you feel like being complete fucking assholes who want to dehumanize me along with forcing me to fight a war with my friends; I’m not giving them up.”

The lead terrorist’s eyes glared into slits, and he stepped forward, his voice even sterner than it’d been before.

“When I said ALL of your weapons, I meant it, dipshit! I know that isn’t it!”

Blinking in surprise, Adam wondered what the man meant. All of the weapons that he’d been carrying had been in his pack; he hadn’t had anything else…

Does he know about the knife? Fuck! I thought that I had that concealed well enough! Adam’s fingers slipped into his pockets, almost upon instinct, and his eyes widened when he realized what the terrorist had ACTUALLY been looking at. Inside of Adam’s pocket was a device large enough to cause an imprint in the pocket of his jeans. It was, in fact, the taser that he’d grabbed off the body of some kid long ago, and had only used to stop himself from getting raped by Jonny Lamika in front of the helicopter crash.

Clinging to the hopeful thought that the terrorists didn’t know about his concealed weapon, Adam slowly brought the taser out of his pocket and dropped it in the sand below. Exhaling, he brought up his hands in a gesture of futility.

“All right, man. That’s it. If you’re going to fucking shoot me, why don’t you just get on with it, instead of making me feel any more like a prisoner than I already do?”

Gesturing with one hand to the man beside him, several of the terrorists lowered their weapons and hurried over to the pontoon boat, taking positions near the front of it in order to push it into the water. The main terrorist ignored Adam’s question, and simply kept his weapon trained upon Adam. He watched as the terrorists eased the pontoon into the ocean, one extracting a key from a pouch on his vest, unlocking the gate to the boat and lowering what Adam now saw was neither a ramp nor a ladder, but in fact stairs. Three of the men quickly made their way onto the stairs, one going into the presumed pilot’s area and starting up the boat. The motor made a whirring noise as it started up and began to run smoothly. Two of the men that were still standing behind the main terrorist made their way over to where Adam was standing and stood behind him, their weapons still drawn.

“Step onto the boat.”

Glancing around, Adam knew that with all of the guns pointed at him, his options were incredibly limited. In fact, they were essentially limited to one thing, and one thing only: complying with whatever these men said. It didn’t, of course, mean that he had to like it.

“You guys know that if I get on that boat and you go too far away from the island, you’re all going to be covered with the contents of whatever I ate for lunch today? So, like…mushy crackers and my own blood?”

The man just glared at Adam.

“That will be taken care of. Just get on the boat.”

Now the spires and the gables
grow in orchards to the sky
And the blessings on my table
multiply and divide

Slowly, Adam took a step forward, bracing for the impact of bullets that never came. Shoulders slumping, he began to walk towards the boat, the aim of the two men behind him almost burning a hole through his back. As he stepped towards the boat, he finally came to the realization that he was stepping off of the island, likely for good.

This is the one moment that I’ve looked forward to since I woke up ten days ago, and for some weird reason, I’m almost apprehensive. Maybe because of the fact that I don’t know how long I’m going to live past this point, but for some reason, it seems as though I’m leaving something important behind. It seems odd, but I’ve almost become accustomed to the island, as though it’s something that is so important to me that I can’t leave it behind. If I do manage to live to be an old man, like I’d thought, these few days are going to undoubtedly be some of the most defining moments in my entire life. Maybe it’s just that I know I’m leaving something behind that has changed me so much, and altered how I look at things, and how I’m going to live my life. Could it be that I’ve gotten used to be running for my life? Can someone ever actually get used to that? I suppose…

…I suppose I’m about to find out…

As he neared the edge of the beach, something caught his eye. It wasn’t anything that hadn’t been there before, yet it was undoubtedly something that he probably would have noticed quite quickly, especially if it hadn’t been for the boat sitting on the shoreline. Stopping suddenly, he looked over at this object, lying beside a tree, and something inside of his mind screamed at him that he needed to make sure that he returned this object back home with him. Walking over to the object, ignoring the surprised shouts of the terrorists who’d been ‘guarding’ him, he thought of the best way that he could possibly manage to do this. Grimacing, he leaned down, and picked up the object, straining a little bit under its weight.

As he turned around, the lead terrorist was almost shocked to see that Adam had picked up, in a classic example of a fireman’s carry – the corpse of Andrew Lipson, and intended upon bringing it aboard the pontoon.

Walking towards the pontoon boat, Adam struggled under the weight of the corpse, but had a determined look on his face that threw all of the terrorists off their guard for a moment, which let Adam walk right past the surprised ones on the ground. The leader was the first to regain his composure, and shouted out immediately.

“Put that down, you can not bring that with you!”

Adam ignored him, continuing on until he hit the water. Not bothering to hesitate at all, he walked into the water, the cool water splashing into his shoes and waking him up a little bit. Grunting, he struggled over to the stairs, where a terrorist was standing at the top, slack-jawedly blocking the way. The lead terrorist again shouted out to Adam.

“Can’t you hear? I said – put it down!”

This time, Adam turned towards the terrorist leader, and looked him dead in the eye, exchanging cold stares with him, and then grunting out his response.

“It’s my…best…friend…you fucking asshole! He…deserved…more than…this!”

The solider just looked Adam dead in the eye, raised his weapon, and took a very careful aim, speaking very slowly and very clearly so that Adam could not help but understand him.

“If you do not put that fucking corpse down right now, I will shoot you where you stand. Danya said that you were not to be harmed, unless you put up any resistance. But do not be fooled, I will not hesitate to kill you. Now…put it down.”

As Adam heard the man’s utterly serious words cut right to the point of the matter, he realized that he likely wouldn’t get anywhere trying to bring a corpse aboard. He had no bargaining power, as there was a multitude of ways that the terrorists could likely arrange to kill him, most of which would likely be immensely painful. Head sagging a bit, he slowly shifted and let the corpse slide off of his shoulders and into the water, without so much as a splash. Adam’s eyes held to the water, as he watched his friend’s body drift away in the waves.

“Goodbye, dude…”

When you come down to take me home
send my soul away
Yeah when you come round you'll make me whole
send my soul away
Yeah when you come down to take me home
when you come round you'll make me whole
Yeah when you come round to take me home

Adam’s moment of solitude was almost rudely interrupted by the prodding of a rifle at his back, intended upon relaying the rather clear message that he was to walk up the stairs and get onto the boat. The metallic railing that surrounded the stairs was cool, and to the touch it seemed like an unfamiliar sensation against Adam’s calloused hands, that seemed so used to carrying weapons. There had been guns, knives; baseball bats…Adam had essentially been holding a weapon for the past ten days straight, hardly stopping to put them down, knowing that if he did, it could mean the difference between life and death. So as he pulled himself up onto the stairs, his dripping feet leaving wet trails on the steps that he slowly walked up, almost having to pull himself onto the pontoon. The two soldiers who’d been following him continued to do so, and the lead man, who was already on the pontoon gestured to a seat right in the middle of the boat, which Adam slowly walked over to and sat down on. As he sat, he was facing towards the back of the boat, giving him a look at the shoreline. His eyes scanned down the length of the beach once more, only half-listening to the footsteps of the soldiers as they all boarded the pontoon. Adam found himself relatively surprised that he wasn’t handcuffed, but truth be told, all thoughts of escape had pretty much left themselves on the ground of the island, along with the pile of weapons that he could see sitting on the shore from when he’d emptied his pack. There just didn’t seem to be a point to even attempting anything at all. He was surrounded by terrorists with assault rifles, and the only place that he could attempt to run to was the island itself, a place that frankly, he’d be happy if he never saw again.

I’ve lived a lot of places in my life – two different houses in Canada, one in the United States of America, and then this island, my home for the last couple of days. It’s really a crapshoot where I did more growing as a person – here, or Canada. It’s unfortunate, but I’d almost have to go with here. Ten days of my life, and it honestly seemed like a fucking year. But while I’d love to go back to Canada, this fucking place will be the bane of my dreams, the place of nightmares for me likely for years to come. And what’s next for me? Fucked if I know. They’re taking me to a place that I don’t know of, for a purpose that I don’t know about. Apparently Danya wants something with me. Hopefully it’ll be to toss me on the next plane out of the shithole, and not to toss me back into whatever diabolical fucking scheme that he’s plotting now that this is all over. Maybe if I get the chance, I’ll do what I said I would do. I’ll kill him, and when the guards shoot me, my death won’t have been in vain. I suppose…I suppose we’ll have to see what happens now.

As the boat began to move away from the island, Adam got his first look at the beach from afar. As he looked down the entire beach, using what little light there was left to take a look at the full extent that Survival of the Fittest had done to the once-serene landscape. Corpses lay strewn amongst the beach, and Adam could now see that there were far more than he had realized. Perhaps he’d been blocking the sight of them from his mind, but there seemed to be at least four corpses lying in various places on the beach, blood staining the ground in some areas, what seemed like a haze of destruction surrounding the area. Feeling his mouth drop open, Adam couldn’t help but mutter at the sight.


As he gaped at the landscape before him, he failed to notice one of the soldiers come up behind him and jab some sort of device into the collar around his neck. A loud beeping noise sounded, and Adam’s eyes went wide with horror. Had the soldier just activated his collar? The beeping noise sped up as the seconds passed, and Adam’s horrified look could likely only be matched by anyone who’d been in a similar situation. Bracing himself for the inevitable explosion, Adam only had seconds to think about what his last thoughts would be, and from his perspective, they weren’t exactly the ones he’d been intending to have.

I didn’t even get a proper last meal…

Of course, as the beeping got to its apex, and Adam clenched his eyes to brace himself for the feeling of having his head blow off of his shoulders, he was incredibly surprised as the beeping collar suddenly stopped, and simply fell off of his neck and into his lap. Opening his eyes in surprise, he stared at the collar that sat in his lap, the one restraint that had prevented him from escaping the island. How many times had someone said something like ‘we’ll be fine if we can get these collars off’? Adam knew that the phrase had come about quite a bit – in fact, he’d said it himself, and after all of it was said and done; his collar was lying dormant in his lap. Not wanting to let it lie near his genitals any more than he absolutely had to, Adam picked up the collar and, without thinking about any possible consequences for his actions, tossed it overboard and into the water, where it quickly sunk away from sight. He then put his hand up to the skin on his neck that had previously been encased by the horrific device and rubbed it tenderly. One of the terrorists behind him burst into a chuckle, and Adam slowly turned his body around and stared the man right in the face. On one hand, Adam could not believe that the man would be making light of such events, but knowing that he was likely one of the ones who believed in whatever sick cause Danya had set up for Survival of the Fittest, he couldn’t exactly be all that surprised that he was laughing. Being the one poor bastard who got to survive through their hellish plan, though, Adam wanted to shut the man up, as the laughing was making him nauseous.

“What the fuck is so funny? I’ve had explosives strapped to my neck for the last ten days, and the second that someone takes them off, you’re damn fuckin’ snappy that I’m going to toss it into the ocean. What, you don’t think so? Here, we’ll do this, then. You give me another collar, get one of your little buddies to strap it to your cock, and then we’ll make it beep a few times – then see who’s throwing what into the ocean.”

The man’s expression instantly hardened, and his eyes became flush with embarrassment. Glaring, he shot back with a retort.

“How about you turn the fuck around, or I’ll toss YOU into the ocean. How’s that sound, smart guy?”

Adam smirked, his sarcastic side coming to the forefront. His smirk turned into a slight grin, which he quickly hid from the terrorist. Through it all, Adam was glad that at the very least, while he’d lost almost everything else – he still had his sense of humour.

“Sounds like a piss-poor excuse for a comeback, but hey. You’re the man with the REALLY big gun…but, I’ll shut up.”

Slowly turning around, the smirk still retained on his face, Adam heard one of the other terrorists unsuccessfully stifle a chuckle. Good. Any victory against these guys is huge, even if it’s just a small moral victory for me…God only knows I could use any kind of moral support right now… Tuning out the terrorists, Adam looked back again at the island. Since they were far enough away, Adam was able to see the other parts of the island, like the Lookout point that he’d first started on, and the Lighthouse that him, Hawley, and Alan had been attacked at. Seeing these places from a distance just reminded him more and more of memories that seemed to have taken place so long ago…

But they’ll always be fresh…no matter if it’s two hours, two months, or two decades from now…I’ll always remember…always…

Sighing to himself, Adam simply watched the distance increase between him and the island, getting lost in his own thoughts, and his own memories, with a small fraction wondering just what would happen next.

Send my soul away
Send my soul away
Send my soul away
Send my soul away


To Adam, the hours had melted away as though they were layers of an ice cube, finally becoming so warm that the final layer dissipated into moisture. Of course, time couldn’t actually be compared to the burning of an ice cube, but his damaged mind was finding all kinds of odd metaphors that he’d never thought of before. Upon the pontoon boat reaching its destination – a large ship that looked a lot, to Adam at least, like a battleship, it docked with the large ship and he was ushered aboard. It took Adam a lot more energy then he’d figured to climb up the rope ladder onto the ship, and it was then that he realized that his body was a lot more damaged than he’d originally assumed. Upon getting to the deck of the ship, which was rather sparsely populated, two of the terrorists marched him into the interior of the ship and into what seemed like an infirmary of sorts. Adam had reflected at the time that it doubled as a prison, as there was undoubtedly no way out of the large room, nor was there anything in it he could possibly use as a weapon if he were thinking of escaping. As he sat on the examination table in the center of the large room, he observed his surroundings with a sense of awe. Nobody seemed to be coming into the room with any urgency, so Adam assumed that he was basically here to wait until they got to whatever destination they planned on heading to next. Adam was a little surprised that he was feeling as emotionless as he was, but he attributed it primarily to shock. That and a rather large feeling of fatigue. He hadn’t slept much in the last ten days, and what little moments of sleep he’d had were barely enough to keep him from going insane.

Adam had sat on the bed for what seemed like an hour before a man had come into the room, accompanied by a terrorist, who was still masked. The other man, however, was a thin man, unmasked, whose facial features were primarily punctuated by a thick mop of brown hair that sat upon his head in a style not unlike a surfer. His dark eyes betrayed a thick intelligence about him, and Adam couldn’t help wondering what kind of sinister ideas this man had in store for him. What Adam didn’t expect, of course, was the man to instruct him not to move, telling him that if he did, he would be shot. The man then ordered Adam to remove his shirt, which Adam gingerly did so. The man took one look at the condition of Adam’s chest and arms, and his eyes widened a little. Sighing, the man then ordered Adam to lie on his back, to which he did. What happened next, Adam wasn’t exactly sure, as when the man reached over and began to pull out the stitches in Adam’s axe wound, the pain was so great that he passed out.

Adam woke up much later, in a different room, shirt neatly folded in a corner. The room was again a nondescript room, the metallic walls the exact same as the infirmary walls had been. Still shirtless, Adam managed to take a glance down at his arm and realized that his wound; formerly adorned with pink stitching thanks to the late Hawley Faust, had now been professionally stitched up and affixed with a brand new bandage. Ditto was the gunshot wound in his shoulder, and all of the other various gashes, including a bandage on Adam’s ear that didn’t stifle him enough from hearing anything, but was enough to cover the ugly hole that Kaige had blown in the side of his head. Wearily, Adam grabbed his shirts off of the ground next to him, and while they were covered in blood, dirty, and stunk to high heaven, he opted against going shirtless, especially around these men, who Adam knew were as brutal as they come. Hearing footsteps at the door, Adam quickly patted his ankle, and much to his surprise, the concealed combat knife still rested on his ankle, the strap holding it in place. Adam had no idea if it would come in handy at all, but having it made him feel all the more secure, especially in the situation that he now found himself in. Snapping himself out of his own thoughts, he looked up as the door to the small room opened, and a terrorist filled the doorframe, weapon pointed at Adam. The man had ordered Adam up, and once Adam had lazily complied, his arm was grabbed, and he was rather violently lead down the hall and tossed in another room.

So it was here that Adam Dodd found himself, looking again with confusion at the third room that he’d found himself in, again with the nondescript metallic walls that seemed to stretch on without any meaningful texture at all. Scratching the stubble on his face (which at this point has almost turned into a full-out beard), he looked around this new room that he’d found himself in. It was a very simple room, and apart from the metal on the walls, the only furniture – in fact, the only things in the room at all were a wooden table and two chairs, one on either side. It reminded him quite a bit of an interrogation room. The only difference that Adam saw to that of a normal interrogation room was that there was no two-way window, and there was another door on the other side of the room.

Yeah, what the fuck is this shit? I feel like I’m in some episode of Law and Order, or CSI…who’s going to pop out of that other door? Gil Grissom? That fuckwit David Caruso and his ‘I’m just going to try and talk like a badass, because that’s the same way I act in every movie’ character? What about Andy Sipowicz? Maybe it’ll be like Family Guy, and he’ll just show me his ass and I’ll tell him anything he wants to know. God, what the FUCK is with all of this cliché cloak and dagger crap!? They’re carting me from one fucking room to another, saying nothing, and just waiting for me to snap.

“This is fucking ridiculous…”

Adam was only able to mutter that one thing before the door opened on the other side of the room, and he twirled instinctively to avoid being caught off guard. Said door opening was committed by someone who had abandoned all shreds of identity, had abandoned all form of humanity (at least for this very moment). This man, looked like he had gone through hell and back, but much to Adam’s surprise he couldn’t be more than in his mid-forties. The brown hair that adorned his head had wisps of grey and the cool brown eyes that found themselves staring right at Dodd seemed to hold a mixture of laziness and interest in the boy. The mans face however betrayed said eyes, as he was wrinkled and all around a bit ugly, the brownish mustache and goatee covered with a bit of liquid that had to be either saliva or sweat, but as the man approached the two chairs lazily Dodd finally got view of the rather stocky figure before him.

The man was big, not fat, but stocky. Yes, stocky would describe the man perfectly, the so called appearance of largeness that he conveyed was betrayed in which the speed that he walked, over all showing that the man was too fit to have wasted away his body due to a lack of exercise. He stared at Dodd and a small smile approached his face.

“O’ Canada, eh?”

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The voice was sarcastic, yet instead of the booming mockery that hundreds had been accustomed to for ten days; it was softer, more humorous. Perhaps this figure didn’t feel the need to taunt Dodd, perhaps he had felt the feel of success and would let Dodd go without much discussion. Yes, and all of a sudden you’d find Adam Dodd waking up and finding out that he was now three hours late for school and had just had the most in-depth dream in all history, meaning, no that wasn’t going to happen.
But, still the man stared at Dodd with a gigantic smile on his face, before continuing on with his speech.

“Adam, I know that your greatest wish right now would be to kill me and I’ll tell you that mine would also be to have these terrorists shoot you, but before we do all of that final confrontation between good and evil crap, let us have a talk…it seems that judging by your morphine induced rants, you have a lot to say to me.”

The look on Adam’s face could have told a blind man that Adam was absolutely taken aback by the appearance of this new man, this man who needed no introduction – as the booming voice was enough to identify him. Caught completely off guard, Adam absentmindedly took a step backwards, but composed himself and shut his mouth. It was then that Adam did something that likely caught the man in front of him off-guard as well.

As he stared at the man in front of him, Adam Dodd began to laugh, first a small laugh, quickly building until Adam was laughing near-hysterically, giving the impression that he was some form of mental patient that hadn’t taken his medication for the day. Taking a moment to calm himself down, still laughing a little bit, Adam shook his head at the man standing in front of him.

“Dude…hah…wow…fuck you, man. Fuck you. You want to have a talk? Fine. We’ll talk. What shall we talk about? The weather – it’s not so bad out today. A little windy, but hey, who’s complaining? Or maybe we can talk about, oh, I don’t know, sports, or something. You got any favourite sports teams? I’m a big Leafs fan, could you tell? Or, uh, oh, I don’t know, we could get into the tiny little matter of you being the bastard who decided it would be a fun little idea to play a novelty game of human chess with the lives of me and my classmates. Y’know, we could talk about that too. But fuck, I’ll leave the discussion open for you, MISTER DANYA. You want to shoot the shit? Honestly, I’d much rather just shoot you instead, but since I’m weaponless, gunless, and I’m no Bruce Campbell and I can’t chainsaw you to death, I guess I’ll have to suffice with a little talk. So…what can I do for you?”

The sarcasm was evident now, and Adam’s tone suggested that he almost couldn’t believe that this moment was finally happening. Danya simply smiled at Adam’s laughing spree, seemingly disinterested. When brought up to the discussion of what to talk about, Danya thought for a moment, and it seemed that he wouldn’t say anything for about ten seconds, before he finally spoke.

“Well we could talk about what great jerk-off material Maddie’s rape was; forgive me for that pet name, but I won’t hesitate to admit that I felt her up while she was knocked out. Oh! I know what we can talk about, Amanda’s tits, nice firm ones, really great to feel…mmm…we could talk about how everyone saw your inch worm, not once, but twice…really Dodd, you ruined quite a few fan fictions out there.” Danya smirked as he looked at Dodd “Or we could talk about how you are without a doubt totally gay for me! I mean seriously Dodd, was thinking about me what caused that hard on when Kaige fucked you? Because if there is one thing that had been a constant through this crazy journey we call Survival of the Fittest, it was you thinking about me, and really Dodd, I’m touched, but I have a wife and kids, y’know…I can’t deal with lumberjacks who fuck beavers in their spare time.” he paused “Besides I heard maple syrup was a very bad lubricant.”

Adam scoffed at Danya’s attempts to rile him up, though he had to admit, the subjects he mocked were sensitive ones.

“Oh wow, look at you! You can whip out Canadian stereotypes! Good for you! Is that all you’ve got? Come on! I expected more out of you, Danya! Shit, you’re the one person whose name I’ve been cursing up and down the island for the entire stint – you’re the one that every single person who died out there feared in some capacity, and the best you can do is remind me of shit that I already knew? Yeah, I knew that you liked to jerk it to the rape of little girls. Yeah, I GET it – you like young girls. But the best material that you can come up with is some lame shit about me being a fucking lumberjack? Go to hell. You don’t know me at all. You don’t know what it was like down there. You said coming in to this that the winner would be the ‘Survivor of the Fittest’, basically the one person who would outlast everyone else and prove that they deserved to live. Well, Danya…here I am. I won. I’m the last one left. Doesn’t that…grind your gears, a little? That I said I’d win, and I’d stand in front of you at the end? I mean, don’t tell me it didn’t get under your skin at least a little bit…”

“Not really. I actually was betting on you; doubt you could’ve done it without me. I mean besides that you wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for me, but really, that’s just going on details alone. Now, Dodd, I’ll admit that maybe the last few words were uncalled for, but what the fuck? I’m a busy man, can’t go around spending my time talking to kids, figured I’d get you to jump at me and let the terrorists kill you before we started this discussion, was that so wrong?” Danya said, but he didn’t allow Dodd to answer.

“No Dodd, don’t answer that. But, seriously, you DO want to talk to me. You DO want to get home, imagine how horrible it would’ve been if all that hallucinating you did on the island was for naught and you just died right here, right now.” Danya then looked at Adam and said surprisingly calmly “I’ve asked you to kill your friends and you did that. My next request is something a lot harder to do, and that is to talk to me in a civil tone, can you do that Adam?”

Adam grimaced and bit his tongue, taking a second to compose himself.

“Well, that is asking a bit much, but I think I can probably…attempt it. If for no other reason than I don’t feel like getting shot at again. But...all kidding, sarcasm, and anger aside…Danya…I battled through your fucking game for ten days. I lost pretty much everyone I cared about, everyone I knew from school, and most of the people in my fucking grade. I saw countless people die, I killed like, something ridiculous like fourteen people myself, and I basically went through a war, simply for your game. So…I’ve got to ask you…why?”

Danya sighed at Dodd and looked at the boy with a really deep form of regret, really if the mean Danya that everyone had come to hate existed, he was gone in that one moment replaced by a man who was without a doubt going through something human-esque like remorse. As Danya stood there for a good minute he then looked at Dodd in the eyes and said calmly.

“I can’t tell you that Adam, but I’ll tell you that injustice is a horrible thing and that sometimes you need to sacrifice something inconsequential to prevent injustice, said injustice being the United States, and something inconsequential is your life.” Danya paused as he looked at Dodd, “A few years ago, I met a kid, real smart kid, we went into a coffee house and we started talking about terrorist attacks against the U.S. and this kid gave me an idea. Columbine, as you know, was two American children killing thirteen other kids, and it brought the nation to its knees, so we decided to do it on a larger scale - hundreds of kids killing hundreds of kids. The number goes to about 200 if you count the kids from the last game. Does the name Sidney Moravan ring a bell? Yeah, he was the survivor from the last game, died on day one in this one…we planned that if we reproduced Columbine, kids killing kids, we’d bring the nation to its knees.” Danya sighed.

“And I’ll be frank, what you’ve survived today is a turning point in America’s history, and Dodd, be grateful that you survived this, be grateful that you’ll get to see it unfold.” Danya smiled “Because I guarantee you, it ain’t something you’re going to want to miss.”

Adam’s face scrunched up as he listened to Danya’s story, to the explanation that hadn’t at all been what he was looking for. Shaking his head a little, he asked again.

“But…see, Danya – here’s what really fucks with my mind a little bit. As you’re aware, I was down there for the whole ten days. I met a lot of people – who are, of course, all dead right now, thanks to you. But…here’s the weird part, Danya – and let me throw some names at you, here. Japan. England. Russia. France. Canada. And, like…Andrew Lipson. Cody Jenson. Sidney Crosby. Adam Dodd. Gilbert Archambault. Martyn Ferdinand…”

Adam trailed off, and then shook his head again.

“Danya, none of those names I said to you were Americans! If you meant to bring the American nation to its knees, why would you involve Canadians, Brits, Japanese, and whatnot? If you’re so hellbent on bringing the U.S. down, doesn’t it piss you off just a little bit that your little competition was won by a Canadian?! In fact, the final four – three of us were Canadians, man. Like, it can’t just be that, because you guys went out of your way to get a diverse group of people! You kidnapped a fucking handicapped kid from his house – see, that’s the big thing, too. What the hell, man? You had to know that he had no fucking way of surviving this – and he died here. Andrew Lipson was my best friend. You kidnapped him from his house, and you brought him here to die. Where’s your justice there, Danya? Where’s your turning point? Okay, I understand Crosby – here’s a big sports figure that’s still just a kid. But Lipson? Doesn’t make any sense, man. Maybe my life is forfeit to you, but to me it means a hell of a lot, and it makes me really wonder who the hell you think you are to say who lives and who dies.”

“Who is god?” Danya said with a small smile “Dodd, I’ll be frank, that’s all I’m telling you, I don’t need to be bothered as to why I picked these people, I mean honestly, it spiced things up a bit! It tested you guys! It’s easy to kill a regular kid, but what kind of sick fuck messes with a handicapped dude? And the answer is once again, GOD! Lipson didn’t get killed by SOTF, he got killed by a fucking lightening bolt – fuck, you were talking to him! I mean, let’s be rational here, it’s one thing to blame me for bringing Lipson here, another thing to say he died because of me, it could’ve happened to him anywhere, besides, I’m sure that Lipson dying here gave you some motivation! Nothing like the avenger, nothing like it, and it gave you enough adrenaline, I would say more than anything…in fact I’d go as far to say that Lipson’s death is what you’ll never get over. You killed Jenson…but who’s left to murder, Dodd? Who are you going to kill to avenge your wheel chaired bound companion? No one. Shit happens.” Danya sighed “Is there anything else that you wanted to talk to me about, besides of course all of your friends that died? I get it that you’re pissed off about it, but seriously Adam, stop with the pity party…”

Adam scratched his stubble. “Pity party? Y’know Danya, for an old fucker like yourself, you certainly have the vocabulary of some lame fucker who watches Will Ferrell movies and jumps for joy whenever he tries to be funny. I think that I’ve earned the right to stand here in front of you and bitch and complain about whatever the fuck I want to. Remember, I won your little game – I won your little competition. So if I want to talk about Andrew Lipson – you know what? I’m going to. He was my best friend – me, him, Adam Amato, Andrew Panturescu – we were tight, man. We had a fucking tight friendship. The kind of guys you would trust with your life. Lipson and I got shit on by some big company, they moved our families to the States, and then this shit happens. You came along. Andrew was the one guy I’ve known forever that I was able to talk to about anything, y’know? He was my best friend. And who messes with a handicapped dude? You do, man. You do. As much as I may be pissed about you being responsible for the death of my friend, I’m not even touching the other names that I’d love for you to disrespect – Amanda Jones, Madelaine Shirohara, Hawley Faust…I’m sure you know who THEY are. They’re all people who had better character in their short lives than you ever will in yours.”

Adam took a step towards Danya, a scowl on his face.

“So what now, jackass? Do you toss me back into your next game? Is that what you’re going to do? Is it some sick little thing that the winner doesn’t actually win? Syd Morvran sure got the shit end of the stick, what’s there to say that you aren’t going to show it to me, too? I’ve been hell-bent on getting to the end for one reason – so I can go home. That’s the one thing that motivated me, really, it is. I wanted to go home. I wanted to take my friends with me, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. But here I am, just me, standing here before you, completely defenseless, covered in bruises, cuts, and wounds, staring up into the face of pure evil. What’s next? Hm? What ends up being next for the winner of Survival of the Fittest? What ends up being the next step for Adam Dodd, eh, Danny?”

“I was actually hoping for tea, but y’know Dodd, you can get your little wish to go home. It really doesn’t matter to me, but know of course that it is difficult. You know, that whole ‘getting you into the country’ thing. But, whatever you wish, it doesn’t matter to me.”

Danya sighed “I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t make fun of Will Ferrell, he’s a genius, and I mean Anchorman? Fucking awesome.” he sighed, “but that is neither here nor there. I ask you, Adam…are you fucking finished? Really? I made you kids kill each other, we get it! We in here were subjected to every one of your tiresome rants. I ask you Dodd as we stand here right now… now what do you do? What is your plan? I mean, I see a spark in you, Adam. I could let you be my terrorist. You did kill with such heartlessness, how would you like to hijack the kids for the next game? I mean wouldn’t that be all sorts of fucked up, put a collar on you, make you subject kids to the next game…or maybe you can become me, sort of like ‘the new Danya’…that would be pretty kick ass. As you can see, I’m old, and I need an apprentice…but...then again, I could just kill you now. It would make things a lot easier, don’t you think?”

Adam’s face hardened, and his eyes went cold as marbles.

“You know something, Danya? This entire time, you’ve mocked me relentlessly. You’ve basically enjoyed what you’ve done here. I can see it in your eyes. But you weren’t the one who went through all of this. You didn’t play in your own game. Probably smart of you – with all of that fat, you probably wouldn’t be able to waddle away from anything, let alone survive. You talk like you own the world – and maybe, in your own sick, twisted mind, you do. You could kill me right now, but then you’d be defeating yourself. Instead of proving a point, you’d basically just be labeling yourself as a mass murderer. If there isn’t a survivor, then you don’t win, Danya. Do you get that? If you kill me, then the US has no reason not to hunt you down as relentlessly as they did Saddam Hussein. You have to leave me alive, Danya. Which for you, is a shame. Y’know why?”

“No, but somehow I feel like you’re about to tell me. So spit it out, Dodd, tell me what have you learned in these past ten days that should make you value human life? Tell me why, after killing over 200 kids should I even care? The point is made, the American people SAW you kill the kids, and your survival means nothing except that they have some strain of hope. But for the sake of dramatics, please, tell me why you need to live?” Danya said with a gigantic smile of his face.

Adam simply shook his head. “If I die, you fucking idiot, then you have nobody to believe you. For all the public knows, we’re all actors on some sick new reality show that the US government is putting on to garner support to attack some third world country somewhere. You have to let me live, because as the winner, as the survivor, I give you credibility. It’s credibility that you don’t even come close to deserving, but it happens. Also, Danya, it’s credibility that you won’t be around to see.”

As Adam was about to make another point, the lights began to flicker, and a sound that seemed to indicate a massive power failure could be heard all around. Adam blinked once, before slumping in his chair, letting his confusion sink in. As he wondered what could be going on, his eyes immediately widened, as he knew exactly what was going on.

It’s Jack O’Connor’s virus!

As he saw the confused look on Danya’s face, that was the opening that he needed. Bringing his leg up to his hand, he quickly grabbed the knife from the holster that he was wearing around his ankle, and hid it underneath the table on his lap. He managed to do this in one fluid motion; so much so that Danya wasn’t able to see him do it, as he had began to look around with confusion at the flickering lights. Adam simply grinned at Danya, whose attention immediately went back to Adam, who had begun to talk again.

“You want to know what I’ve learned in the past ten days? I’ve learned a lot, Danya. And at the end of it all, you know what I’ve realized about myself? Get ready for this – it’s completely your fault, too.”

Adam looked at Danya, straight in his beady little eyes, and smiled a small smile.

“I’ve got nothing left to lose.”

It was then that Adam took Danya completely off-guard, flipping the wooden table up towards Danya, who, instinctively put up his arms to shield himself. Jumping up out of his chair with more speed than he figured he had at that moment, Adam gritted his teeth and slashed upwards towards Danya’s face. The knife ran itself all the way from the lower-left bottom of Danya’s chin to his upper-right temple, spilling his blood onto Adam’s sleeve. Screaming in surprised pain, Adam quickly brought the knife down and stabbed Danya right in his large gut, twisting the knife as it stabbed into the man’s chest. Danya went down quickly, and Adam gave him a big kick in the gut as he did. Blood began to run down the blade of the knife and onto the ground as Danya writhed in agony. Adam gave him another kick to the stomach, and began to yell loudly at Danya as he kicked away at him.

“How the FUCK does it feel, Danya? HUH!? How does it feel to spill your own blood for no good reason?! How the FUCK does it feel!? All of those rants you mentioned – they weren’t tiresome – they were a whole bunch of fucking warnings! I TOLD YOU that I’d be here, being the one person who would be responsible for your death! I fucking told you that you’d be the last person I’d ever fucking kill! SO HOW DOES IT FEEL, DANYA!? HOW DOES IT FEEL TO FEEL LIKE I HAVE FOR THE LAST TEN DAYS? YOU STOLE MY FUCKING LIFE, DANYA! YOU STOLE IT, AND FOR THAT, YOU HAVE TO DIE!”

As Adam gave Danya one big kick, both doors burst open and terrorists with guns instantly swarmed into the room, obviously set off by the virus and wanting to protect their leader. As soon as they saw that Danya was on the ground, and bleeding, Adam felt a powerful punch hit him in the jaw, and he went sprawling back into the wall. This let two of the terrorist grab him and fully restrain him, his jaw throbbing from the punch. Spitting blood onto the floor, Adam watched as a few of the other terrorists helped Danya to his feet. One of them, who Adam recognized as the lead terrorist from the pontoon boat, motioned to Adam with his gun.

“Should we kill him, boss?”

Adam simply looked defiantly at Danya with a bloody smirk.

“Shit…” Danya groaned getting up slowly, “You got me Dodd, you got me good. There is no way…not allowing laptops on the island next game…then again, what does it matter? Flicker the lights a little bit? Was that the best you could do?” Danya rubbed his gut. “Fuck, Adam. What were you trying to do, kill me? Did you really think that you could do that and get out of here alive? You kept saying that you placed such a premium on survival.” Danya asked slowly, probably not realizing the irony of his own words.

“Well, I’ll be honest, I thought that you were just a fucking useless little kid, but you’ve got some fucking balls!” Danya said in amazement before looking at the nearest guard.

“Did you see that? Kid kicked my ass! And wouldn’t you know it, Jack O’Conner deserves some fucking respect, I thought that he basically did nothing. Hey, Johnson! Go get his skull, I want it to be a paper weight.” Danya said laughing wearily, his face turning a sickly colour.

“Well, Adam, that was pretty good, and I’ve decided that I’ll go through the tedious process of sending you home. Oh, and if you ever want to take me up on the terrorist offer, fuck…you might not make that bad of a terrorist with moves like that...” Danya got up and sighed “You stay frosty, Dodd…that was pretty awesome.” and with that the juvenile response, Danya rubbed his face “Let’s get out of here…I need some medical attention…and I believe that Dodd has given me an idea, after we drop him off…let’s just go home, I think we all deserve it after this ten day roller coaster…” and with that, Danya got up, rubbed his face and left the room, most likely leaving a few stunned terrorists in his wake.

Adam himself was rather surprised at the response. He half expected his body to be pumped full of bullets, and when Danya decided that he would actually send him home, Adam’s mouth dropped. As he watched Danya walk out of the room, he couldn’t help but wonder if the other terrorists were as stunned as he was. It seemed as much, anyways. Adam simply kept looking at the doorway, not wanting to make a move, nor wanting to break the silence. Instead, one of the terrorists did it for him.

“Well, you heard the man…”

That was the last thing that Adam heard as something large and heavy slammed into the back of his head, and he collapsed into a heap on the ground, knocked completely unconscious.


As the world came back into some semblance of focus, Adam Dodd had no idea if he were even alive anymore. The throbbing in the back of his head seemed to be completely concentrated in one very specific area, and he felt as though he had a complete lack of balance. Adam also felt quite groggy, and his mind didn’t seem to be working properly yet as he fought to regain consciousness. As his mind came around, the first thing that he realized was that he was lying down, and everything was black. Groaning a little, he tried to roll around, quickly realizing that his hands were bound. Panicking a little bit, he tried to move his head around, but came to another realization – his head was covered in a black hood-like object, something he assumed was like that seen in crime films, whenever someone is taken hostage or kidnapped, to prevent them to see where they’re headed. Coughing a little bit, Adam’s head began to take in more of the sounds around him, as he finally began to retain his full awareness. It sounded as though he were in some sort of vehicle, a fact that was confirmed by the occasional bumping and grinding of what sounded to be an axel underneath him, along with the stopping and starting that would match up with him being in some sort of automobile.

I think the big question would be…where the hell am I?

Attempting to listen to the sounds around him, Adam simply managed to focus in on his throbbing headache some more. The bruise on the back of his skull hurt like hell, and judging by the fact that Adam had managed to go up against what he figured had to be the personification of Satan himself, and somehow managed to live to tell the tale, he felt pretty good about that. Though, he couldn’t help but think to himself that he had no idea for even how long he would be alive at this point, being as that he was bound and essentially shut out from the rest of the world. Danya had said that he would send him home, even after Adam had attempted to kill him, and he had no idea if the man were being truthful or if he were just getting his men to toss Adam from a cliff. All Adam really knew right now was that he seemed to be in a car of sorts, his head was absolutely swimming, likely from the beating he’d taken from the soldiers, and he could feel that he was still wearing his knapsack. Attempting to scratch an itch on his leg, he flexed his hands out, testing the strength of the ropes that bound his limbs. They seemed to be attached rather firmly.

So here we are, at the end of the line, one way or another. It’s sort of like the endgame of Survivor, the time when the jury asks you questions to determine who they believe should get the million dollar prize. If you’re at that point, you know that there’s nothing more that you can do for yourself. It’s what Probst always says: ‘now the power shifts to the jury’. Only this time, there’s no jury of my peers, this jury is made up of stone-cold killers, none of whom know me nor give a flying shit about me. I have virtually no say in what’s going to happen to me – do I win the million dollar prize, or do I have to settle for the runner-up prize? I guess I’d have to admit that I’m pulling for one over the other. How can I not? The winner gets to escape with their life; the runner up doesn’t get anything but cold death. And maybe that’s how it’s all going to end – with no winner at all, only runner-ups. I can’t say that I’d be all that pleased – in fact, in the moments before I died, I’d be downright pissed off, but I guess the positive would be that I could say that I fought all the way through it, and never gave up. Not like anyone would ever know, though. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see where this car ride takes me.

Moving his neck to one side, Adam winced as it cracked rather loudly, the sound echoing in the interior of the vehicle. Adam did the same thing with the other side of his neck, trying to loosen his muscles up, a solitary thought in the back of his mind wondering why he was so stiff to begin with.

How long have I been unconscious for…?

Adam hardly got the chance to think it over any further before he felt the vehicle slow down a little bit. A voice spoke out – apparently, he wasn’t alone in this vehicle, though Adam couldn’t hear what it was that the man said. Someone else replied back to him and again, the words were incomprehensible, thanks to the black sleeve around Adam’s head. Adam heard the sound of what he thought might have been a door opening, and without any warning, he was wrenched to his feet. Dazed, his legs feeling weak, Adam struggled to maintain his balance as he felt arms holding him upright. The vehicle was still moving, causing Adam to wonder what exactly was going to happen to him. Someone grabbed his hands and dragged them upwards, running something along the length of rope, causing it to become slack and nowhere near as tight as it had been before. Adam was surprised, but even more surprised when a pair of hands impacted against his chest and sent him sprawling backwards, out of the vehicle, and flying through the air. Adam seemed to hover in the air for a second, and with an impact that knocked the wind right out of him, Adam Dodd landed on solid ground.

It's the perfect time of year
Somewhere far away from here
I feel fine enough, I guess
Considering everything's a mess.

Grunting as the air passed from his lungs, Adam rolled around on the ground, feeling grass beneath his fingertips as he struggled to find his breath. Managing to do so after a moment, he tested the rope that had been restraining his hands, and found that as soon as he put pressure on the rope, it snapped apart, falling to the ground and letting him flex his wrists and stretch his arms, the joints popping as he flexed them out. Finally, Adam brought his hands up to the black sheet that was overtop of his face, and pulled it off, his eyes instantly shutting tight as the bright sun slammed onto his face. Recoiling a little, he blinked several times, trying to let his eyes adjust to the new conditions that he had been thrown into. Finally, Adam opened his eyes and looked up, and what he saw hit him as hard as a slap in the face. Slowly, he scrambled to his feet, letting the knapsack slide off of his back and hang in one hand, gaping at the sight in front of him.

Barry Coleson High School, on a normal summer day, would likely be looked at as an upper-class high school, for it was a large school and had an air of superiority about the building itself. The school and both of its floors stretched a wide expanse of area, and the parking lot would sit beside it, ordinarily filled with cars of all different types and colours. Behind the school was a track, as well as a football field, both so that the school’s various athletic teams would be able to practice for any upcoming games or competitions. What satisfied the requirements that Barry Coleson High School needed to become a state-of-the-art, middle-to-upper class high school was the flag that stood in front of the school, proudly displaying the American flag for all to see.

Well, here it was, a normal summer day, and Barry Coleson High School looked exactly as it should, and exactly as it probably would on any other day of the year. The parking lot looked a little fuller than usual and Adam saw that there seemed to be at least six police cars parked in it, and the flag that stood out in front of the school was at half-mast. Everything else looked exactly the same. His mouth still agape, Adam looked around, taking in the sights that seemed to have been familiar in another lifetime. The neighborhood around the school, the sidewalks, and the parks – they were all there. Adam couldn’t believe it.

He was home.

Adam glanced down at himself. He still looked as he had on the Survival of the Fittest island – clad in his customized Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, underneath it his green Audioslave t-shirt, with his usual jeans and black Nike Shox. The Leafs jersey had holes in it thanks to the various battles that he’d been in, and it was a mess, covered in dirt and blood. His jeans were ripped at the knees, also having various splotches of blood staining them. His black shoes didn’t even seem to be black anymore, but stained with blood and dirt, seemed to be a dark purple. Adam knew it, he looked like hell, but he was alive, and he was home. The self-imposed silence that he’d taken was shattered by a familiar sound of the school bell going off, signifying the end of one period, telling the students to head to their next class. Eyes going wide, Adam felt a strong sense of familiarity making its way back into his head, struggling to remember where he’d likely be heading to at this very moment.

There's a restaurant down the street
Where hungry people like to eat
I could walk, but I'll just drive
It's colder than it looks outside.

Taking a step towards the school, Adam then instantly turned around and threw up all over the sidewalk. Mostly bile and water, Adam couldn’t bear to take a step towards the school. Outside, it was deserted, so he knew that the likelihood of class going on right at this very second was rather good. As much as he wanted to walk inside of the school, he couldn’t bring himself to take another step towards the building. He didn’t know what would occur first – the horrible feelings that all of his friends were never coming back there or a mental breakdown when he was assailed with questions. His stomach growled fiercely at him, and he realized that if there was one place he needed to go – it was home. His family would likely be worried sick about him, and probably going through various stages of anxiety. He needed to go home, and reassure them that he was all right, even if it were only a half-truth. Physically, he assumed that after the patch-job Danya’s cronies had given him, he’d likely survive. Mentally…that was a different story. Though, at this point in time, the shock of being free and alive was causing his emotions to be rather dulled. Pulling himself up, he turned away from the school and began to walk down the sidewalk, towards his house.

Adam didn’t live too far away from the school, and usually walked to school on most days that it wasn’t blizzarding, unless he had some obscenely large project to hand in, or something like that. It was about a ten minute walk, but it wasn’t a bad place to live, all things considered. It was close to his school, and in the distance between his school and his house, there was a small shopping center, with a few fast-food places, a supermarket, video store, and other essentials. Feeling the warm summer breeze on his face, Adam turned and began to walk in the direction of his house.

The real world just doesn’t seem so real anymore. There is so much that we, as a society take for granted in our day-to-day lives. From being able to pop into the supermarket and grab a couple of pizza pockets for dinner, to crossing the street safely. There’s just so much shit that goes on in this world that none of us realize how lucky we are to be living in a so-called ‘safe’ society. The last couple of days, they’ve really been a wake-up call, if nothing else. If I can take one slight positive; one silver lining away from this motherfucker of a storm that descended upon us, it’s that I certainly know how lucky we are to be able to live the way that we do. Without people shooting at us when we go out to grab the morning paper. Without bombs dropping upon our houses in the middle of the day. Without being forced to enlist in the army upon your sixteenth birthday. It’s kind of fucked up, that we live in a country that so many people have such strong issues with. Canada – it’s the same. People in both countries think that there are so many different problems that we have that – if they aren’t fixed, it’ll be the end of the world! Well, y’know what? We’ve really got it easy. You can’t help but realize, especially when you basically live through that kind of life – not knowing who’s out to kill you, or if a bomb is going to go off at any second. That’s a lot of what the last ten days taught me, if nothing else. Was the lesson worth it? Was it worth killing twelve people, losing all of my friends, and basically living in a war-zone?

Fuck no.

But it happened. There isn’t much that I can do to change that, and really, I have to take out every positive that I can from it. At this point, I can’t allow myself to grieve; I have to shut off the emotions. I know that if I turn them on again, I’ll break down. I need to be strong, for my family, for those whose brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, girlfriends and boyfriends all perished in Survival of the Fittest. It’s sort of like when you’re the captain of a hockey team, and you have a losing record. You need to be strong, stand up to the media, and be the face of the team. Well, this time, instead of representing a team of hockey players, I’m representing someone completely different.

This time, it’s almost one hundred and twenty of my dead peers.

It's like a dream - you try to remember but it's gone...then ya
Try to scream but it only comes out as a yawn, when ya
Try to see the world beyond your front door.
Take your time ‘cuz the way I rhyme's gonna make you smile, when ya
Realize that with a guy my size it might take a while, just to
Try to figure out what all this is for.

Adam stopped in front of a large building that seemed to ominously loom in front of him. He’d been walking with his head up, his eyes constantly scanning the streets in an almost paranoid manner, but his brain has essentially been tuned out. As such, he’d ended up at a place that he hadn’t been anticipating on heading, but all the same, he was most definitely glad that he was here. It was evident to him just which part of his body had been guiding him, and as he put his hand out and pushed open the door to the local McDonalds, Adam mused softly to himself that he hadn’t eaten anything aside from stale crackers for over a week. Stepping inside of the fast-food establishment, he saw that it was basically empty, save for a few elderly ladies having a lively discussion at the front of the restaurant. The smell of grease wafted into his nostrils, and Adam had to admit – as much as he knew the fast food was horrible for him, it would probably be the best damned meal that he’d ever tasted in his life. Wandering over to a table on the side of the restaurant, Adam removed his knapsack from around his shoulders, and set it down on a chair. He hadn’t even taken a look inside of the back – he’d hardly realized that he was wearing it when he’d been tossed out of the vehicle, and he’d just gotten up and began walking. Half-wondering if the backpack would contain some sort of weapon that would get him arrested when he pulled it out, he reached in and searched around for a familiar leather pouch – his wallet that he’d kept on the island, and not discarded.

There was no good reason to keep it, but I did anyways. Maybe it was some sort of subliminal effort to keep my prior life intact. Then again, I don’t really like to throw shit away, and losing my wallet is always a pain in the ass...

Taking his wallet out of the decrepit brown pack, Adam slowly removed his debit card from the front slot of the wallet. It felt weird that he was taking out his card again, after almost consigning himself that he’d never be able to do it again. Of course, Adam’s emotions were dulled due to the shock, so as he wandered over to the short line-up in front of the counter, he was unable to feel any of the lingering nostalgia that he had. The smells of the greasy food had awakened the sleeping giant that was Adam’s appetite, and his stomach growled quite loudly, so much so that the man standing in front of Adam did a half-look back at him. Sniffing, he curled his nose and glanced back up, walking quickly to the register at the far end of the counter. Adam figured that he smelled horrible. He was covered in blood, sweat, and dirt. He hadn’t showered in days. And here he was, standing back in the real world, where people were going to look at him in disdain because he smelled awful. Adam grinned a little. Being as he’d just fought for his life and essentially won, he couldn’t give two shits about the way that he smelled.

Blinking once, the older woman at the cash registered beckoned to him, as the cash register was free, and Adam stepped up to make his order. Glancing up at the menu, he felt an odd inkling to order what he normally would in such a situation, but somehow, it seemed…that his normal order wouldn’t be sufficient.

“Can I get…one twenty pack of Chicken McNuggets, a large chocolate milkshake, a super-sized fries, and a bunch of sweet and sour dipping sauces?”

The clerk stared at him for a second like one would stare at an old homeless man or a weed junkie looking for some snacks to satisfy a craving. Adam didn’t bother to stare back at her, but simply opened his wallet and produced his debit card. He supposed that in essence, he probably looked the part. His formerly blue Toronto Maple Leafs jersey was stained with dirt and blood, causing it to look a dirty brownish red in spots, as opposed to the deep blue that it’d been before. There were holes in his clothes in many a place, from his shoulder where he’d been shot to the knees of his jeans, which were both ripped, his knees skinned from some encounter that Adam couldn’t even remember occurring. He was certain that his ear probably looked none the worse for wear, either, and he couldn’t help but wonder just what Danya’s doctors had done to that. He hadn’t shaven in at least eleven days, and while Adam had no way to tell what day it was, or how long he’d been out for, he could feel the facial hair on his face that told him that it’d at least been two weeks.

Two weeks, eleven days, six months, fifteen years…time is starting to seem like it isn’t so relative after all. In fact, it’s just seeming that every minute is ten times LONGER than it’s supposed to be.

Handing the clerk his debit card, Adam gazed around the restaurant once more. The man who’d been in front of him had gone and sat down in the back of the dining area, and the elderly ladies had stopped their lively conversation and were staring right at him. In fact, now that he actually realized it, everyone in the restaurant who was within view of him was staring directly at him. The clerk slowly handed back the debit pad, and Adam focused really hard to try and remember his PIN number.

It’s…jeez, it hasn’t been that long, has it? Seems like another life that money was ever an issue…

Punching in a number that he guessed was his PIN, he handed the debit pad back to the clerk and waited to see if the little green screen on the front would deny him the meal of his lifetime. It did not, and Adam’s shoulder sagged a little, as though some weight had been lifted off of him. The clerk gave him his receipt, and then stepped over to the milkshake machine to begin to make his meal. Still, the drive-thru attendant, the ladies at the table to his right, the man who’d been in front of him, and the kitchen staff who weren’t making orders still kept staring at him, almost as though they’d seen a ghost. Scratching some dirt off of his hands, Adam called out to the clerk in a soft voice.

“Excuse me…ah, I have two questions…first of all, what day is it today? Like the exact date?”

The clerk swallowed as she turned back to Adam, setting the milkshake down on the tray in front of him.

“It’s July 1st.”

It's the perfect time of day
To throw all your cares away
Put the sprinkler on the lawn
And run through with my gym shorts on.

Adam’s eyebrows lifted in surprise. It hadn’t been all that long, then, that he had been knocked unconscious from the ship to here. Surprisingly, it had taken them a day or two to get him back to the United States, and here he was, standing on American soil, in one of the original American establishments – McDonalds. Of course, that wasn’t that went through Adam’s mind first, when the woman said that to him.

July 1st? Well fuck me, it’s Canada Day.

In what was somewhat of a tradition for Adam; at least as long as he’d lived in the United States, on every Canada Day, he would light off fireworks on the night of Canada Day, and him and his family would travel back to Canada and visit with all of the friends that they left behind. The holiday wasn’t much more than an excuse to go back, but it was because of that fact that Adam treasured it so much. It was, therefore, ironic that today, of all days, was one of his favourite days of the year. Nodding, he asked his second question.

“Cool, thanks. Uh, it looks like you guys might take awhile for my food, so, um, since you didn’t have any other customers, do you mind if I sit down first? I want to go wash my hands.”

The clerk nodded vacantly at him, then caught herself staring, and nodded more assertively. Nodding back, Adam sauntered off, slowly moving around the corner towards the men’s washroom. As he’d picked at the dirt, Adam knew that what he really wanted to do was wash everything away. The grime, the dirt, the blood. All of SOTF; he wanted it all washed down the drain in some small McDonalds in upstate New York. Entering the washroom, he looked around, and stepped in front of the sink. As he did, he was looking into the mirror, and was absolutely taken aback at what he saw.

Being as Adam hadn’t had any access to cleanliness during the past eleven (now thirteen) days, he hadn’t seen himself in a mirror, and hadn’t seen the physical toll that Survival of the Fittest had taken on him. As he stared at his own reflection in the mirror, his mouth stared at the mirror, gaping as though he’d seen the reincarnation of Jesus Christ himself.

The boy staring back at Adam was not the same slightly overweight, happy-go-lucky boy who’d left to go on the trip. At first glance, Adam saw that he had in a very short time lost an almost unbelievable amount of weight. His face was noticeably thinner, and he wondered how much weight he’d actually lost. The Leafs jersey was stained all over, and amongst the holes and blood stains that he’d seen before, the jersey was noticeably too big on him, much like his jeans. Thanks to the invention of the belt, Adam hadn’t noticed too much that the jeans had become too large for him, but as he looked at himself in the mirror, it was very noticeable. Lifting his shirt up, he saw that his chest was blue and purple with bruising, and it looked like he’d burnt off quite a considerable amount of fat from his midsection. Letting his shirt fall down, he turned on the tap with the red handle, hoping to get the water so hot that it would scald him. Squirting some soap onto his hands, he rubbed it in furiously, so much so that the viscous liquid turned a gritty reddish brown. Waiting a few seconds for the water to heat up, Adam sighed. He still felt a dulled feeling of self-awareness, and at this point, he wasn’t feeling any emotion at all. He couldn’t say that it felt good to be home – because it didn’t. It didn’t feel bad, either. It didn’t even feel.

I believe this is what they call ‘post-traumatic stress disorder’. Army dudes get it a lot after they go through a big battle.

Plunging his hands into the scalding water, Adam’s eyes opened wide as the familiar feeling of pain zipped through his hands and activated the pain sensations in his brain. Gritting his teeth, he kept his hands under the water, forcing the dirt and grime off of them, immersing them completely. Only able to keep this up for about ten seconds, Adam turned off the hot water with his elbows, his hands shaking from the scaldingly hot water. Shaking his hands off a bit, he grabbed some paper towels from the dispenser and dried himself off. His hands now looked an almost ghostly white, a stark contrast from the rest of his exposed skin, which was tanned with grime. Painfully making a fist with both hands, he sighed, and walked out to the table that he’d left his pack at, slumping into the seat and sighing softly again. It wasn’t long before one of the staff came and deposited the tray onto his table, softly murmuring “enjoy your meal” before quickly making his way away from him.

Take a drink right from the hose
And change into some drier clothes
Climb the stairs up to my room
Sleep away the afternoon.

Adam stared at the meal in front of him. He hadn’t eaten anything but crackers and water for the last eleven days, and this was the first ‘real’ food that he would have. Adam’s mouth had been salivating almost since he’d entered the McDonalds, and this was indeed the pinnacle of what he’d been waiting for. It was the feeling of normalcy, as slight as it was; of sitting in a McDonalds munching away on some McNuggets. Slowly, Adam opened the McNuggets and picked out the first one that he saw on the top of the carton. Holding the small piece of chicken in his hands, he smiled a sad little smile, and took a big bite out of the nugget.

It would prove to be the best damned meal that Adam Dodd had ever eaten.
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As Adam walked up the driveway to his house, he couldn’t help but wonder what kind of a reception that he was in for. He’d pondered it since he’d left the McDonalds. His parents would have undoubtedly taken this very hard, especially his mother. Adam had faith in the fact that his dad would probably be playing the role of the shoulder for her to cry on, all the while silently stewing and wanting to take some sort of harsh action. He was almost certain that his dad would be pissed off; not at him, but at the whole situation. His little brother, Oliver, who was 7, would likely be confused about the situation. Oliver, however, was basically a genius, and could understand concepts that some teenagers still had trouble grasping. However, he wasn’t emotionally mature, and that would likely hinder his understanding of what had happened. And as for Luke…Adam grimaced. Luke was somewhere in Canada in an inpatient psychiatric facility after he’d lost control of himself and attacked Adam, nearly killing him. Adam hadn’t spoken to his brother since that time – he’d stupidly held a grudge for the whole incident. He’d never let himself completely forgive Luke, even though the doctors had said that what had happened was an adverse reaction to the medication that he’d been mistakenly prescribed for depression. It was a stupid thing to be angry about, and his parents had said that even Luke had no memory of what had happened, or what he had said, but Adam did. Which, of course, was the problem.

It's like a dream - you try to remember but it's gone, then ya
Try to scream but it only comes out as a yawn, when ya
Try to see the world beyond your front door.
Take your time ‘cuz the way I rhyme's gonna make you smile, when ya
Realize that with a guy my size it might take a while, just to
Try to figure out what all this is for.

So as Adam slowly walked up the concrete stairs leading to his front door, he wondered what kind of reception he would get from his family. Who knew if they’d watched the program, but Adam privately hoped that they hadn’t. He’d definitely done things that he had not been proud of – such as killing fourteen people, and getting almost raped, and then actually raped. He’d lost his temper on more than one occasion, and had cursed enough to make most sailors wince. All in all, he couldn’t say that he was proud of his conduct, but he knew that it was what had to be done for him to survive. All of the killing, all of the swearing – it had been necessary for him to be standing here, at his own door, at this very moment. Stomach full from the McDonalds that he’d eaten, Adam raised his fist to knock on the door, and then stopped.

I don’t…I don’t know what it’s going to look like when I get in, so…maybe I just want to go and sit down on a couch. That green one in the living room. God, damnit, I love that couch. But…I don’t want to make a big scene before I step into the door…

As per his decision, Adam then just pressed down on the latch to his door and pushed a little. The door, much to his surprise, opened with very little noise.

His house was almost exactly as he’d remembered it, right down to the same pile of CDs that he’d left on the floor next to the long table in his hallway. In fact, it was almost TOO similar to how he’d left it. The feeling was almost eerie. Stepping in, he closed the door behind him and removed his shoes. Leaving his pack on the bench beside his door, Adam slowly stepped into his own house, almost as though he were a stranger there.

“Hello? Anybody home?”

There was no response.

“Hey! Mom? Dad? I’m home! Oliver? Anyone?”

Still, nothing.

It was here that Adam got a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. Maybe, somehow, Danya had gotten to his family, too. It was a bad feeling, and it was a thought that Adam didn’t want to think about, but as he wandered into the kitchen, it was a thought that seemed to be gathering steam the more time that it remained in his head. The kitchen definitely did NOT look the same as it had been left. Usually, his kitchen was in various states of disrepair, usually looking like a family lived there and had only sporadic bursts of time to clean it. Instead, the kitchen was spotless, the only blemish being an empty pizza box sitting on the kitchen table, next to a pile of papers. Curious, Adam wandered over to the papers, and began to read them to see what they were. Most of them seemed to be bills and a few letters, but one smaller piece caught his eye. It was a list, in his father’s writing, that seemed to be a to-do list. On the list were usual chores, like ‘get beer, buy light bulbs, gas car’, but one made him raise his eyebrow in surprise. ‘Call Connie + Oliver + check on them’ was an intriguing item on the list, and made Adam wonder just what had happened to his family. He saw checkmarks on all the items on the list, sans the first three, and Adam assumed that his father must have been out doing those at this very moment. Sighing, Adam sauntered out of the kitchen. Looking at his clothes, he knew what he’d have to do next. The shower was something that he’d sorely missed, and now that his hands were clean, it only made sense that he should follow suit for the rest of his body.

I think that I need this moreso than I may even realize.

Pinch Me
Pinch Me
Cos I'm still asleep.
Please God
Tell Me
That I'm still asleep

It took Adam about an hour in the shower to scrub off all of the dirt, blood, and grime and he took another five minutes to shave completely, leaving a gaunt-looking face underneath all of the bandages. Adam had seen his ear earlier at the McDonalds, and it seemed as though Danya and his doctors had simply stopped the bleeding, but not done anything other than the basics. A trip to the hospital would undoubtedly be in order. As he stepped out of the bathroom, feeling more refreshed than he had in two weeks, Adam stepped into his own room, clad in only a towel, all of his other clothing sitting in a ball on the floor of his bathroom. Carefully opening his drawers as though he were afraid of a bomb going off in them, he chose out a pair of boxer shorts, some pajama bottoms, and a big, comfortable orange sweatshirt that was at least three sizes too big for him. Putting on the new clothing made him feel good, and he ran his hand through his now-clean hair. Aside from the various wounds and bruises all over his body, Adam couldn’t help but feel peaceful. He certainly didn’t feel good, and he was definitely still in shock from the whole thing, but feeling was beginning to return to his body, and his mind.

Moving back to the bathroom, he looked at the heap of clothing on the floor. It was stained in blood, sweat, and grime and all were basically ruined. Looking at them closely for a moment, Adam then picked them up, an idea forming in his mind. He knew what he was about to do would probably be viewed to some as reckless and/or idiotic, judging by the amount of money he could likely sell these clothes for, but Adam just didn’t care. He wanted to leave SOTF behind completely, and expel it from his life. It would be his own little way of taking his life back, even though he knew that such a feat might not be possible. Walking downstairs, Adam entered the family room, the area that had his television set and some other couches, along with his fireplace. Tossing the clothes on the couch, Adam knelt down (all the while, grimacing in pain) and opened the doors to the small fireplace. He reached over to the wood box beside the fireplace and grabbed out some kindling, placing it around the bottom of the fireplace. It hadn’t been used in quite some time, due to it being summer, and Adam knew that a fire in the middle of the summer might be looked at as unusual, but he didn’t care. He wasn’t doing it to keep warm, that was for sure. Grabbing some paper from the box, he tore it up and layered it around the kindling. Satisfied, he reached over and grabbed his jeans, which had been through so much. Emptying the pockets of his wallet (he wouldn’t want to have burned that); he folded the pants up and placed them into the fireplace. He did the same with his socks and Audioslave t-shirt, hesitating for a moment on his Leafs jersey. The jersey had cost him over two hundred dollars, both for the jersey and to get his own name put on it. But it was also a reminder of SOTF, of his dead friends, and of the killing.

“Ah, fuck it. I’ll buy another one.”

Sighing, Adam folded it up so that the number (77) and name (DODD) on the back were visible to him, almost as a way of watching SOTF burn away. Adam contemplated throwing his shoes in there as well, but decided against it, as the fumes would likely make it rather unpleasant within his house. Satisfied with his makeshift burial ground for his clothes, Adam reached up to a cup on top of the fireplace and removed a matchbook. Without any hesitation at all, he lit a match and set fire to one of the papers on the side of the set-up. The paper, to its credit, burned quickly, and it quickly caught fire with Adam’s pants and spread to the rest of his clothes, which made strange sounds as they burned.

It’s almost symbolic, as if I’m letting spirits out as I burn my clothes. Well, my friends…I hope you rest in peace.

As he watched his jersey burn away into ash, Adam nodded at the fireplace, satisfied at the job that it had done. He closed the doors on the fireplace and then stood up and walked into the next room.

On an evening such as this
It's hard to tell if I exist
If I Packed a car and leave this town
Who'll notice that I'm not around?
I could hide out under there
I just made you say 'underwear'
I could leave but I'll just stay
All my stuff's here anyway.
It's like a dream - you try to remember but it's gone, then ya
Try to scream but it only comes out as a yawn, when ya
Try to see the world beyond your front door.

Settling in on the aforementioned green couch, Adam pressed a small button on the side, and the end of the couch reclined, so that Adam could put his feet up. It felt amazing. Amazing to not have to worry about anyone shooting you, amazing to not have to be running for you life or shooting at anyone. For the first time in almost two weeks, Adam relaxed. He was completely alone now, and there was nobody to try and kill him, or taunt him.

That, of course, was when the door to Adam’s house opened, and a man stepped inside, carrying a shopping bag and a case of beer. Adam sat up quickly, and looked at the man, who closed the door and turned around before he spotted him. Instantly, the man’s eyes went wide and he dropped both the case of beer and the shopping bag, the sound of beer bottles breaking echoing through the hallway. As yellow liquid began to leak out from the case of beer, Adam weakly stood up and looked at the man, who was looking at him as though he’d seen a ghost.


Adam nodded, a few slight tears in his eyes as he looked at the one man who he considered to be his ultimate hero; the one man who he’d looked up to for his entire life, the one man who he’d kept in his thoughts and tried to emulate when he’d been fighting for his life.

“Dad…I’m home.”

Adam struggled to keep it together, as breaking down in front of his father wasn’t something he wanted to do – just yet, anyways. He’d vowed to keep it together for his family, and here was his father, looking at him with an incredulous look on his face as he slowly stepped forward.


Adam smiled slightly, an honest smile, and he knew that the internal battle not to break down sobbing was going to be one that would be more difficult than his fight against Cody Jenson.

For Paul Dodd, seeing his son sitting in the couch in his family room was absolutely the last thing that he anticipated upon seeing when he arrived home from his errands. For the final battle of SOTF, the feeds had cut out, and Danya had come on the screen and promised that when it was all said and done, we’d see the final battle. “In due time”, he’d said. This, of course, had almost driven Paul mad. He’d been almost fanatically following Adam’s progress, watching over him at every second that he could, almost trying to make up for some perceived failure as a parent to watch over their child. Of course, Paul hadn’t failed at all, and it was only because of terrorists that Adam had been kidnapped. That hadn’t made it any easier for him.

So to see Adam here, in the flesh, meant only one thing: Adam had won SOTF.

For almost two weeks, Paul had been the anchor of his family. He’d stood by and consoled his family when everyone had found out about SOTF, and had been acting like a pillar, not showing any emotion. Paul wasn’t generally the type to show much emotion as it was, but he knew that the time that he’d be spending while Adam was fighting for his life would be some of the most important days of his life. Because of that, Paul had been as stoic as he could, simply watching, and hoping.

So as he saw Adam standing in front of him, Paul’s shields fell. Without words, he dashed over to his son, and grabbed him up in a furious bear-hug. Paul wasn’t a big man, probably about 5’9, but the hug he grabbed Adam in was as fierce as someone who stood at over six feet tall.

It was then that Paul Dodd did something that Adam had never seen him do, not once in his entire life. Paul looked at Adam, looked into his eyes, and broke down, sobbing guttural sobs that echoed throughout the house. Adam was, at first, unsure of what to do, but then just hugged his father closer. He didn’t really know what to say, but then again…

Take your time ‘cuz the way I rhyme's gonna make you smile, when ya
Realize that with a guy my size it might take a while, just to
Try to figure out what all this is for.
Try to figure out what all this is for.
Try to see the world beyond your front door.
Try to figure out what all this is for.

He didn’t need to say anything. He was home, and that was all that mattered.


July 4th, 2005

In a small, quaint neighbourhood that felt unknown and foreign to Adam, a row of aged and run-down houses, small in size, stood together near the edge of an arterial freeway that flooded what might have been a relatively peaceful atmosphere with the needless clamour of traffic. Within the living room of one of these quaint homes, Adam Dodd waited patiently, his right arm down at his side, almost as though he were trying to blend in with the wallpaper. If not for the white bandage on his ear and the cast on his left arm, he probably would have managed it. From where he was, the rest of the living room, tiny and modestly kept, was in full view.

Like the rest of the house, the room was rather plain and appeared to be decades old, its whitewash walls stained and faded in colour to a dusty colour. The carpet was also faded, and worn to barely more than a mere fray in several places. However, it appeared as though the particular family living in this house have had struggled in order to make the best of their quaint living space. For one, the room, though modest was tidy and well-kept, and had a rather accommodating feel to it. From where Adam waited, he could see the various frames and photos of the same people adorning the shelves, walls, and cabinets...

...A young couple waving excitedly to the anonymous photographer on the surf of a beach.

...A small girl proudly holding a plastic watering can at a park fountain.

...A smiling woman holding a sleeping infant.

...A small girl playing with a tiny boat at the edge of a fish pond, with an even smaller girl at her side.

...A couple, an adolescent girl, and a small girl standing together and smiling together in front of a view overlooking the ocean.

All of these pictures, everyone’s so happy. There’s no war, no fighting, and no thought of worry on any of their faces. It reminds me so much of my family, way back in the day…

Looking around towards the other side of the room, his eyes came across a corner where an open-fronted display cabinet stood, looking out of place in the living room as though it had only recently been placed there...

Set upon the selves of the cabinet were a small number of items that Adam could see, all placed purposefully in an uncluttered and tidy arrangement. For one was an armful of lilies gathered in a glass vase, now wilted yellow and on the verge of shedding their darkening petals. Other than that, there was little else than a small candle that was half-spent...as well as a particularly large frame that contained what appeared to be a school photo of a young girl with dark eyes and dark hair, wearing a tidy uniform.

A once-living, now-dead Madelaine Shirohara seemed to look back at Adam and smile gently as his eyes met that of the photo.

Adam continued to wait in uneasy silence, fully aware of the ever present feeling of tension within his surroundings. What might have been a peaceful and warm atmosphere inside this modest, yet snug home was harrowed by a dark and forlorn cloud, and the vaguely distinct feeling of emptiness and loss. From where he waited, Adam could hear the sounds of movements, furtive and nervous, coming from one of the other rooms. Along with muffled footsteps were the barely discernable voices of a man and a woman, murmuring together in secret.

The broken phrases and questions that sounded through the thin wall that separated the kitchen and the living room were full of anxiety, and formed a conversation that was barely coherent.

"...what should we do?"

"...should we tell him to leave?"

"...what if he won't leave? Should I call the police?"

"...he says he wants to talk. He says he's a friend of..."

"...what if he does something...?"

Without warning, the small head of a small, auburn-haired girl poked into the living from behind the wall. Large, hazel eyes stared up towards where Adam was sitting. It was difficult to tell whether she were scrutinizing him or merely observing him curiously. Shedding her initial timidity, the small girl wandered innocuously into the living room, making her way to the cabinet where the framed photo of the late Madelaine Shirohara stood. The small girl didn't look older than three or four, and there was a minimal amount of resemblance between herself and the much older girl in the photo. Though she pretended to mind her own business, it was clear that she couldn't help but steal a curious glance or two at Adam every so often.

My god…she has Madelaine’s eyes…they’re the exact same eyes…wow. She reminds me so much of her, it’s unbelievable…not even in the way that she looks, but just…in her spirit…

It was not long until a young, somewhat nervous-looking woman made her way into the room with a tray laden with mugs and a small teapot. Her tired-looking face, though young and good-natured, was darkened with lines of anxiety and a sense of joylessness. She also appeared to be quite nervous, quite fragile, as though the slightest mishap might shatter her.

The very sight of Adam seemed to do little more than dismay her further, and even the sight of her own young daughter within a two metre vicinity of him did not seem to help her unease in the slightest.

She quickly opened her mouth. "Miram, your juice is in the kitchen. Go get it from Otou-chan, okay?" Her words, though calm in a sense, held a trace of unsteady resolve. The small girl looked towards her mother, before looking towards Adam again with a taciturn expression on her face. Only a few seconds later did she run out of the room to obey.

Only with her daughter out of the room and out of hearing range did Shoko Shirohara seem to calm down, ever so slightly. With an unsteady grasp, she set the tray down on the coffee table between Adam and herself, settling herself on a couch opposite to where Adam sat.

"I made us tea," she informed him absently. It was apparent that she was struggling to sound gracious.

Even the small metal tea kettle on the tray looked as cold as stone. Two of the three mugs laden on the tray each had names on it, "Jase" and "Shoko", respectively.

A man of his mid-thirties entered the room, just as Shoko Shirohara was unsteadily pouring tea into the nameless mug in front of Adam. Unlike his wife, Jase Shirohara didn't look as though he were about to drop into a faint any second now. Nevertheless, his anxiety was clear in spite of his effort to maintain an even and reticent expression. His dark eyes were hardened and harrowed with something along the lines of either distress, or perhaps even sadness.

He settled down next to his wife as Shoko poured a mug for him, and then for herself. In a slight jolt of nervousness, she held the kettle tipped over for too long, and a line of tea ran down over the edge of her overfilled mug to spill slightly at its base. Looking greatly embarrassed, and even more dismayed, Shoko whispered an unheard apology and hurriedly went ahead to wipe the mug clean...

...until she saw that there were no napkins to clean the tray with. So resignedly, she left the mug as it was without drinking from it.

Jase looked briefly at her silently, as the vaguest expression of pity on his face. However, it vanished the moment he glanced to look at Adam. He opened his mouth to speak, then closed it for a moment, wallowing in indecision. In the end, he decided that the only thing was to do was to get straight to the point as quickly as was possible. This meant that he would have to ask something Adam, and in turn connect himself and the rest of his family with this unknown stranger whom he wanted nothing to do with, and nothing more than to put more than a thousand miles of distance away from his family.

It was his sense of reason and tolerance that allowed him to say otherwise.

"Why have you come here?"

Adam grimaced a bit at the question and felt really uncomfortable. Here he was, intruding in the house of someone who he considered a close friend. It had been probably almost a week since Madelaine had actually died, and her family was likely deep in mourning. Adam couldn’t keep track of the days. On the island, time had lost quite a bit of meaning. He could blatantly see that his presence unnerved her mother and her father seemed, at times, to be staring a hole right through his forehead. That seemed to be happening quite a bit more as of late – the staring. People who passed him on the street seemed to gaze and him and weren’t able to look away. It felt intrusive, but then again, intrusive was what he was doing here, right now. Sitting in the living room of a family that he didn’t even know, bringing up memories of their dead daughter.

Smooth, Adam. No matter which way you slice it, it’s an awkward thing to do, especially since only one person came out of the event that their daughter died – you.

Staring at the floor for a moment, he thought very hard at what he was going to say, and finally looked up and stared Madelaine’s father in the eyes.

“I wanted to talk to you … a little bit about your daughter. When we…uh, when the, um…well, I think that there are some things that you probably need to know, and some things that I need to say.”

All that came as a response to Adam's words was a long stretch of hesitant, uneasy silence. Both mother and father looked at Adam in slight surprise as he spoke those words, though they had expected him to say something along those lines before their discussion began. They looked at one another, either unsure of how to take Adam's offer, if they were even to take it at all.

As they fell silent, the buzz of a bicycle chain could be heard, approaching then disappearing, along with the laughter of children. Somewhere from the kitchen, a muffled voice, electronically distorted as though coming from a decade old television set, spoke primly, while being interrupted at several intervals by interference. While most geese mate for life....minority who will often divorce and find another mate.... contrary to other nesting birds such as duck.... both parents protect the nest and their young ....results in a higher survival rate for the goslings in order to offset the small number of offspring...

Jase found this as an opportunity to break the silence, along with some of the tension. "Miriam, could you please turn down your nature program a bit?"

"Okay," came the simple reply, followed by a dampening of the electronic voice.

"Thank you."

Settling back down, Jase lifted a hand to his face, pushing narrow and rimless glasses half an inch further up the bridge of his nose, as though to mask his unease slightly.

"I see."

His voice was quiet and simple, though with an undertone of some vague and ambiguous feeling. Beside him, Shoko played with her pale hands in her lap nervously, as though deliberating to herself, fighting some impulse to say something out loud. When she didn't say anything, the father continued.

"I suppose then that means you knew her. You knew our daughter in some way, then. What relation you might have to her, I would not know." He took in a deep breath, as though to ease the tension he felt.

"If you have anything at all to say, then say it now. We're listening."

But it seemed impossible to miss the look of apprehension and distrust on the faces of both mother and father, as though they somehow feared the very explanation that Adam offered to give them.

Adam nodded his head a bit, and then began what he knew was going to be a very difficult thing to say.

“You’re right, I did know Madelaine. It’s weird, though – how we met. My, um…my girlfriend, Amanda…they were friends, of a sort, I guess. How they met, I’m not really sure, but I met Madelaine when Amanda and I got together on the island. There were five…six, I guess, if you count Marcus, who were a really tight-knit group. I hardly knew her from school at all, but on the island…well…we were close, as odd as it sounds.”

Adam scratched the side of his face, and continued.

“But I’m not here to tell you about how I knew your daughter. What I am here to tell you is what kind of a person she was. In my experience, you see the true side of people when they’re at their worst, under really intense pressure. As I’m sure you can both imagine…Survival of the Fittest really fell into that category. So those of us that were with Madelaine, we saw her for what she truly was.”

Adam paused, and nodded slightly, almost as if he were verifying what he was saying.

“Your daughter was in every sense of the word, a hero.”

Following Adam's words came another stretch of silence. Both mother and father had long since fallen silent. At Adam's words, their reactions differed. Jase's hand moved up yet again to adjust his narrow glasses, but the way he held it there for a moment longer than usual made it look as though he wanted to cover his face for some reason. Beside him, Shoko's head bowed to gaze her hands in her lap, though not before a flash of tears could be seen in her dark eyes. Neither spoke a word for the moment that followed.

Even from the kitchen, not a single noise or voice could be heard.

Jase was the first to compose himself. As always, he was the one to speak while Shoko remained silent, as though unwilling or too uncertain to speak.

"A hero," he repeated quietly. He looked into Adam's eyes, as though trying to discern whether Adam was truly sincere or was merely mocking them. But as always the more calculating, suspicious side of him resigned to being overshadowed by empathy and tolerance. "Madelaine...she stayed strong the whole time, didn't she? She'd always been like that, always knew what was best for herself, and for others. No, she never cared what happened to her, it was always about others...us, and Miriam..."

He looked towards Adam calmly. "It's kind of you to call her such...but that is the person we've known Madelaine to be ever since she was born. Even if she is a hero...first and foremost, she is our daughter."

The phrase was not one meant to show contempt, or to invite an quarrel. It was simply a statement, one that sounded as though Jase had the need to make clear. And only by making such a statement did Jase appear to relax, and look slightly more accepting to Adam's presence, in spite of the fact that he was the only one recovered in one piece from the very thing that stole their daughter and destroyed her.

"She had friends."

Shoko spoke now, her voice barely a murmur, more to herself than anyone. "She had friends with her. She must have felt safe with you people, or else she wouldn't have trusted you so much... Who knows, maybe she was even happy."

She coughed slightly, choking in her tears while her husband looked on in concern, though he knew not what to say while she continued.

"You say you were close to her...that you were her friends, and were with her while she was still alive."

It was then that she lifted her head to stare at Adam, tears welling up in her eyes.

"Then why did she die? She should have been safe with you. You said you were close to her, but still....still she ended up...she was..."

She cut herself off, a pale hand lifting to her mouth. Beside her, Jase had taken to staring out the window, where a number of crows conglomerated on a lawn near the street, pecking at the dirt.

Tears were now running down Shoko's face as her voice rose slightly. "We moved here to escape it! We risked everything, our belongings, our freedom, and our lives to come here, because we wanted our children to be safe from the Act... We didn't want to see our children killing or ended up being killed by other children just because of some totalitarian government law. It wasn't supposed to happen! We gave up so many things just for our daughters...but it happened to her anyways. The program took her when we thought we could escape it..."

"Dear..." Jase started, fearing for his wife, but Shoko continued relentlessly.

"But still....she should have survived. If she had truly been close to friends, she might have lived! Weren't you with her? Wasn't anybody there to stop it from happening? Weren't you with her when she was... Or was it you?"

Shoko's voice fell sharply into a whisper as she stared at Adam, her red eyes searching desperately for an answer. "Were you the one who killed her and took her from us...? Is that how you won? Is that why you came here? To apologize for killing her?"
As Adam listened to Shoko’s anguished words, his eyes moistened and a tear ran down his face. Quickly, almost so much that neither of them would notice, he wiped it away and shook his head very slowly. He looked at the floor, and mouthed the word no. Taking a second to compose himself, he shook his head again, his voice almost a whisper but regaining its strength a second later.

“N-no. I didn’t kill her. When Hawley died, I…well, Madelaine was the one who managed to keep our spirits up. Of our little…motley crew, I guess you could say that I was the leader. I made a promise to them all – to Madelaine, to Amanda, to David…I promised all of them that I would do my best to keep them all safe, and to try and figure out some way of escaping from it all. And y’know what? I tried. I really, truly did. It really all boiled down to one thing. It was one moment, I guess. We stopped…we stopped to rest at the River, and I took a moment to myself. I took one moment to think and just be by myself.”

Adam shook his head again, obviously very affected by this whole thing.

“After that moment was over, I then realized that I’d messed up. I slipped, and now, after taking the moment to be by myself, I had no one. Where was I when she…when Madelaine died? Where was I? I was sitting on a rock, not one hundred meters away, and I had no idea what was going on. I kicked myself from the moment that I found out. I did more than kick myself. I hated myself. So…if you accuse me of being the one who killed her…I didn’t perpetrate it, but…I let her down, so I’m no better than the scumbag who did.”

Adam paused for a moment, and let his thoughts settle into place.

“I came here to let you know how important your daughter was to a lot of people. All of us, from Hawley to Amanda, we all cared for Madelaine a great deal. We knew her only a few days, but we knew how wonderful a person that she was. Her death…would have hit us all really hard…”

He paused.

“…if anyone else had been alive but me.”

Adam grimaced, and cleared his throat.

“I felt so guilty after that. I basically wandered the island with no purpose for a day and a half with no friends, no one to talk to, no one to look out for. It’s the worst feeling in the world to know that you’ve let people down, especially good people like Madelaine. It’s what they call ‘survivor’s guilt’. You could say that I wished it had been me instead of her. In fact, I’d give my own life up in one single second if it could bring them all back to life. I’d do it in a heartbeat. It may seem like a stupid, or even inconsiderate thing to say, coming from me, but I promise you, that’s the truth.”

Adam glanced out the window at the birds, and sighed a little.

“I’m not going to lie to you both. I did things on the island that I wasn’t proud of. I’m not going to pretend that I lay back and let everyone else die around me. I fought, tooth and nail for my own life. I fought for my friends, and I promised them that I wouldn’t let anything happen to them. It…it was a promise that I couldn’t keep. And I am so goddamn sorry that I couldn’t bring your daughter back to you alive and even moreso than I couldn’t stop her final moments from being what they were.”

Both mother and father could do nothing else but listen to Adam yet again as he spoke, explaining everything. All they could do was stare in silence as everything was unfolded before them, the very circumstances and the very events of the tragedy from Adam's point of view. It was as though they, themselves were reliving all that had happened not to them, but to their daughter, and the people she had been with at the time.

Neither Jase nor Shoko had never watched a second of SOTF in their life. Only through the very premise and the very concept could they possibly have any idea of the atrocity it truly was...yet somehow it felt as though simply the hearing the tale of the one who survived SOTF being told out loud before them had affected them more than any clip, recording or footage ever could.

Jase was the last to break. Though he was probably the most level-headed and most rational member of the household (aside from Madelaine, perhaps...but that was in another lifetime), it happened anyway. Once again, he lifted his fingers to the rim of his glasses, this time holding it there, head bowed and face out of clear sight.

Shoko, on the other hand, had bourne more than enough strain, and was well beyond the limits of her own self-control.

"...What makes you think that you have the right to say any of that?" she asked Adam, her voice once again in a trembling whisper. "I don't know who you are, or where you came from, or how you survived it all, nor do you know us, or even Madelaine all that well. Yet given that, you went through all the trouble to find us anyways, even though you and I are complete strangers. And now you're here if only to tell us that you feel guilty, and that you would have given your life for Madelaine if given the chance. You, a complete stranger and one who had only met Madelaine for little more than a few days, would have the contempt and the gall to somehow believe that you have the right to say any of that?"

Before Jase or even Shoko knew it, the woman, no older than maybe thirty three, had risen to her feet, her voice rising into a shrill, anguished tone.

"Did you think it would ease our loss? Did you think it would comfort our pain, even? Or did you simply wanted to let us know just how much you cared for her safety and well being, even though you let her down? Did you?"

By now, Shoko was in a state beyond any sort of self control, all of the pain and anguish gathered up inside her surfacing at last to make how she truly thought and felt about the entire tragedy apparent.

"Our daughter didn't have to suffer the way she did. She deserved none of it! She has done nothing to merit such...such horror... Our daughter, she didn't have to go through any of that. Yet nonetheless, as fate would have it, there was someone out there the world who for some reason beyond any comprehension...somehow saw her fit for shame and torment. He broke her and then he killed her, stole her life and all the dignity and innocence that she ever had! It wasn't supposed to happen, yet someone...somehow...."

It was then that Jase suddenly winced, as though he had not at all expected any of this to come from Shoko. Grimacing, as though he had caught sight of something that he wished he never saw, he turned away, covering his mouth slightly as Shoko continued.

"Our daughter...she deserved better... more than the life we left behind, and more than the way she died. Even if she wouldn't have survived either way, she didn't have to suffer. She might have died peacefully, or quickly, or at least for the sake of her friends. I know, because she is my daughter, and I know her better than you ever could have. And that is why that I know...

"...that if she truly felt that she was with true friends during that time, and if you were one of the friends she trusted like you say you were, then she would have gladly given up her life for them. Even yours."

The mother's pained words seem to resonate through the empty air, in spite of the silence that followed. Following her outburst only came stunned silence, from Jase, who still covered his face as though ashamed of revealing his emotions, and from Shoko herself, who only now seemed to realize what she had just said and suddenly become more aware of herself.

Immediately, she cringed, as though in shame or embarrassment, and lowered her head, whispering shakily.

"I...I'm sorry...I didn't mean..."

In that moment of sudden self-awareness and reflection, tears came again to Shoko's large eyes, and this time, they overflowed. Soon, her cheeks were dripping with tears as they fell to the fraying carpet between choked sobs. Pitifully, Shoko was forced to cover her soaked face with a hand, wrapping her other arm around her form as though wanting to comfort herself.

"Excuse me...I have to..."

In mid-sentence, she had already fled, disappearing from view as she turned a corner.

The sound of an aged door closing shut could be heard, followed by the muffled sound of a running tap.

Adam had to admit that he was completely taken aback by the ferocity of Shoko’s intense anger. He understood completely as to why she was as angry as she was. It only made sense. Madelaine had been her daughter, a person that she had likely tried to bear in her own image, and she had obviously loved her quite a bit. Adam knew this, but her words stung all the same. It brought up a sense of guilt in Adam that he hadn’t felt as intensely since directly after Madelaine and Amanda had died. She was right. Who was he to come in and tell them things about their daughter – things that they likely already knew, and things that they probably didn’t want to hear. Was it for his own sick satisfaction? Or was he really doing it for Madelaine…? The answer was unclear, but he just sat there and took it. He found some way in his mind to justify it, some way to convince himself that he deserved her anger, even though, deep down inside, he wasn’t all that certain of anything anymore.

Left alone to tend to the visitor sitting before him, Jase sighed heavily, removing his hands from his face and quickly working to regain his composure, though his eyes too were moistening rapidly. Not knowing what exactly to say concerning the matter, he turned his attention to the window, decorated with plain, worn curtains that hung limply at either side of the cracked frame.

Outside, the crows had long since scattered.

It wasn't long until he slowly turned to gaze back towards Adam, looking at him thoughtfully before offering an apologetic smile.

"I didn't....I never realized she knew that much about how Madelaine....about what happened to her," he remarked offhandedly. "We never watched SOTF, because of..."

His head gestured meaningfully towards the kitchen.

"So instead, we asked people. We asked whether or not she was still alive. No details, none at all. We thought that all that mattered was whether or not she was dead...but then..."

Jase drew in a deep breath, leaning over to fold his hands between his open knees.

"Then I heard...that she had died. And only then did I start to wonder... who would do such a thing? Madelaine had never done anyone harm, or wished anyone ill will...so who would have the nerve to take the life of someone who was so harmless, so innocent, and so kind to everyone? Who would be so willing to forsake their honour to commit such a crime, to murder someone like Madelaine? It was then that just knowing she was simply dead wasn't enough for me to know anymore, in spite of the state of shock I was already in."

His face hardened as he uttered his next words, gripping his hands together tightly.

"And because of that, I found out what happened to her...that before her death, our daughter...had been brutalized. All it did was hit me harder, and make me continue to wonder more and more.... Who could possibly do such a thing?"

It was then that Jase looked at Adam directly in the eye, the first time he had ever done so, ever, since he had stepped foot into the household and asked to talk. Jase's grey eyes squarely met Adam's brown ones, as the young man, barely in his mid thirties, for the first time made a genuine and sincere attempt to see eye to eye with the one who had survived the very ordeal that had killed his daughter.

"Tell me...Adam, was it? Were you there when she was killed? Or perhaps after she was killed? Maybe...just maybe. Perhaps you would know...perhaps you are the only one who knows just who would have the nerve to do such a thing to her. And perhaps you would even know...if there could possibly be any justice done for our daughter."

By this time, Adam’s hand was pressed against his chin, giving him the impression that he was deep in thought. His eyes, however, expressed that he was listening loud and clear to the words that Jase was saying, and each and every question was taking a little bit out of him. It was indeed a strenuous activity for Adam to be sitting in this room, speaking with the parents of someone who had died while he had lived. He’d already been suckerpunched by the policeman father of Jacob Starr while in a police station, and he knew that some parents likely wanted to do the same, if not worse.

But while some were angry, Jase Shirohara seemed to have a fire in his eyes, an almost quiet fury, that as he looked Adam in the eyes for the first time, seemed to demand answers. So, forlorn and speaking quietly, Adam gave them to him.

“His name was Cody Jenson. He was an OHL hockey player, who played defense. He was a high-ranked prospect and was a person that a lot of people said would go places. Far as I could tell, he had a very serious handicap that would have prevented him going anywhere. That being that he very deeply disturbed. I…I wasn’t there when Madelaine died. It’s something that I have been kicking myself for since the day that it happened. I stumbled upon the scene…maybe about ten minutes after it was all over and done with. It…it happened so fast. Even…even Crosby, who got there sooner than I did couldn’t do anything. I thought exactly what you probably did when you heard – why her? Of all the people, why did that have to happen to the nicest, kindest, gentlest person on the entire island? Of all people, Madelaine was the best. She had such a good heart. Even when…when Nanami…when that happened, she still tried to make things right, even when it was too late…she was the best person on that island, bar none, sir. Bar none.”

Adam hesitated, and put his head down for a moment to compose himself. There was a moment of silence between the two, until Adam put his head up again. This time, instead of the forlorn expression, there was a darker one, an expression of hatred and despair all rolled into one. Voice even, he continued.

“And justice?”

Adam hesitated for a moment.

“Sir…you never watched a bit of Survival of the Fittest, and for that, you are in a very lucky minority of people. I will tell you what befell Madelaine’s killer, but … I need to know that you want to hear it.”

As Jase took in Adam's words, and what he was describing before him of the one who had taken the life of his eldest daughter, he fell into silence yet again. But unlike before, when his state of silence had been due to awkwardness and indecision, there was an expression on his face that was unlike any that had been seen since Adam entered the household. Though unreadable still, his expression seemed to reflect a hidden, controlled feeling of cold indignation as he took in Adam's description of his daughter's murderer.

As he listened, Jase automatically moved his hands to where the tea mugs stood, still untouched and full, curling his hands around the base to find warmth...

...only to find that there was none. The tea, which had been only lukewarm to begin with, had fallen to a stone cold state.

Jase withdrew his hands, just as Adam made his offer to tell him what exactly happened of the very person who saw fit to shame and murder his daughter before the entire world. Though he seemed inclined to listening to what Adam had to tell of the matter, Jase looked as though he were deliberating carefully, placing the curve of his finger to his lip as he frowned in deep thought.

He turned to glance briefly towards the other end of the room.

The tap in the bathroom continued to hiss with running water.

From the kitchen, an electronically distorted voice sang in a mournful lilt, while the voice of a small child attempted to sing along with it,

"With every new day
Your promises fade away
It's a fine day to see
Though the last day for me
It's a beautiful day

Jase deliberated further, but this time he did not ask his youngest daughter to turn down the volume. Rather, he turned back to Adam, once again regarding him with the most serious and most even of gazes.

"Then I'll tell you this. I want to hear it. I'd rather hear the story from someone who had been there than from anyone else, or from some television program. I want to hear it from you, the truth, your story, everything. I want to know. So please, tell me."

Adam nodded grimly, and looked Jase right in the eyes, and did not move his gaze until he was completely finished speaking.

“I stalked him around the island for four days straight.

After Amanda and Madelaine died, I had nothing left. I freaked out, and went off on my own. I was…well, I was in a bad place because all of my friends had died. I had nobody left. My whole group, plus my best friend, who I never got to meet up with had all died, and all of their deaths felt meaningless. I guess, in the end, it boiled down to me wanting to give at least someone the proper respects that they would never get in that sick competition.

So I stalked him around the island for four days straight. It was difficult – I had no idea what he looked like, or even what he was wearing. All I knew is that I was looking for someone named Cody Jenson, and when I found him, I was going to inflict upon him the kind of hell that he inflicted upon my friend. I looked high and low, everywhere on the island, and frankly, in a sad sort of way, it’s what kept me alive. I chose not to stay with any group, even those that had people I knew and trusted. I chose to stay on my own, because I knew that I couldn’t have anyone else with me. He had ruined an innocent life, and now I had taken on the responsibility to ruin his.”

Adam stopped for a moment, collecting himself, ceasing the budding rage from getting any further. Just the thought of the boy made him queasy.

“I actually found him once, and it was under the strangest of circumstances. I’d been shot by a tranquilizer dart and was basically passing out, and he, for whatever reason, bandaged me up and stayed with me until I woke up. He then told me that he was someone named ‘Andrew Stevens’ and this other crap that wasn’t true. He seemed really off, and while I had alarms going off in my head, I did nothing and he left. He seemed to know who I was, which scared me a little, but I was convinced that I needed to find him. I had to make him pay for what he did to Madelaine.”

Adam then put his fist to his mouth, looking down with a look of absolute shame on his face. Shaking his head a little, he looked back up at Jase.

“And then something happened which intensified things even more. On the second-last day of it all, one of Danya…he was the one who organized the entire thing, the man whose name I cursed right up until I met him and then some…one of his terrorists that he’d put on the island for some stupid reason…attacked me, and in saving a friend’s life, I got…well, I…”

Adam’s eyes filled with tears, and he brushed them away.

“…she raped me, and shot me in the head. I don’t know how, nor why, but she completely fucked up, and blew my ear off, but didn’t kill me. When I recovered from the whole thing, I…I guess something in me had snapped, because all that I could see was…Madelaine…and knowing what she’d gone through…the shame of the whole thing…it infuriated me.”
Shaking his head a little, almost as if to shake the memories out, he looked back up at Jase with cold eyes once more.

“Sooner than I could realize, it was the final day, and it turned out that there were four people left alive, and Cody Jenson happened to be one of them. I found him when he was attacking Sidney Crosby, the famous hockey player – who he had some grudge against for God knows what reason. It was then that all the anger I had within me poured out and probably got the better of me. I came very close to dying, if it hadn’t been for Crosby. He took a bullet for me, and let me get away. Cody and I fought some more, and then it ended quickly.”

The silence in the room was almost deafening.

“I stabbed him through the chest with a sword, which stuck right into a tree, and then I carved the word ‘rapist’ into his chest with a hunting knife. I assume that when he died, he was in an excrutiating amount of pain, and he felt the humiliation that I know he caused Madelaine. Mr. Shirohara, I made it my goal on the island to find Cody Jenson and make him pay for what he’d done. I found him, and I made him suffer like no human being should suffer. Especially not your daughter. I took his life in cold blood, which is something that I hadn’t done. I’ll be honest, I killed twelve people last week. Most of them, I killed to save someone else’s life. Madelaine was one of those people. In doing so, I left a big part of my humanity on that island. But when I killed Cody Jenson, in cold blood…what scares me the most, is that I didn’t feel half as bad about it as I hoped I would. But…I think that it’s because I felt that he deserved it. For what he did to Madelaine. Nothing else. So is that justice? I don’t know if she can ever get justice for all that happened. The best someone could do is bring down Mr. Danya. I tried and failed miserably…well…maybe not miserably, but I still failed. But justice for Madelaine? The way that I see it, sir? There were two killers at work there. One, I made pay for what he’d done. The other…I don’t know if anyone will be able to do that.”

Adam stopped, and finally looked at the ground. For what seemed like a long three minutes of silence, Adam looked up again, his eyes damp from the emotion of what he’d been through.

“I understand if you don’t think much of me, for all of that. To be honest, I don’t think much of myself right now. But I want you to know that Madelaine meant as much to me as pretty much anyone on that island. She was an incredible person and she had everything stolen away from her that she deserved to have with her – her life and her dignity. I could not, and would not let that stand. So I did something about it in the only way that I could at the time. I know it’s probably not what you would have done, but I hope that you can take at least some small solace in knowing that the son of a bitch suffered ten times more than your daughter did when he died.”

In receptive silence, Jase waited and listened as Adam, as asked, made his explanation. Along with it, as Jase soon found out, came his confession. During the moments in which Adam told Jase his story, the entire truth, Jase could only stare at Adam, looking almost shocked and horrified, yet compelled still to listen to the entire tale at the same time. Gradually, the father's expression changed into one of mixed emotions, and by the time Adam finished, he looked as though he were in tumultuous conflict within himself.

The side of Jase that was rational, but more calculating than anything when under strain, could do nothing else but see Adam as a killer. That much was apparent, the way he simply stared within the moment that followed at Adam with the look of utmost fear and even revulsion upon his face. But aside from that, there was another part of Jase that somehow felt compelled to call compassion and sympathy to his aid. So, in spite of all Adam said he had done, in spite of the fact that he was a murderer of twelve and had killed one of those twelve in cold and hateful blood, it was that aspect of Jase that could do nothing else but simply acknowledge Adam as simply a fellow human being. Like Jase, and any other typical human being, he lived on the same earth and breathed the same air, and was driven by emotions ever inevitable, be it anger, hatred, fear, or pain. Though it seemed unthinkable to even attempt to condone all that Adam had done...Jase knew that the one who destroyed his daughter's murderer was still only human.

And it was the first time that Jase could ever bring himself to acknowledge such simple fact since he appeared at their doorstep one quiet, cloudy day, claiming that he knew their daughter during the last moments of her life.

Having taken in Adam's entire tale, his entire truth, Jase looked suddenly weakened, almost weary, as though the truth had been forceful enough to drain the little energy and conviction that was left of him. For a moment, he said nothing, instead listening to worn down voice of the television speaker as it sounded from the kitchen. All that could be heard was a baroque piece on strings, its soothing melody frayed and crackling due to the constant influx of interference and a bad signal.

Jase finally spoke, his voice sinking low into a murmur.

"You killed him," he said, his voice plain and simple. "You took it in your own hands to find justice...to find it for our daughter. And you killed him, coldly and painfully."

From the expression on his face, it looked as though Jase found it the hardest thing to believe the simplest truth even as he spoke it for himself.

"I don't know...how you could do such a thing...to human being, someone about the same age as you. Much less how you could possibly make sure that he died painfully in the end, by your own hands...and much less how you could take the lives of several more, and find the courage to face yourself when all is said and done, and you are announced the survivor. Just how? How do you learn to live with that? I just don't know. I don't understand."

For the several seconds that followed, Jase refused to even look at Adam, either unwilling or unable to, for whatever reason. Just looking at the one who had just confessed that he had killed, and had killed in the coldest of blood, seemed like the hardest thing to do at the moment.

The hardened expression that had formed on Jase's face suddenly softened, if only slightly.

"Our daughter...Madelaine must have been that important to you if you were so driven enough as to put such a responsibility into your own hands. Yet you say you only knew her for little more than a few days, that you only met her on the island. Still, you would risk your life and give up humanity for her? For someone who was a complete stranger only a day or so before?"

The young father's head bowed, his youthful features suddenly returning to view, for a moment overshadowing his adult appearance, as though he was reverting to the former energy and spirit of his younger years, if only for a moment. After all, while he had been a father for essentially half of his life, he had only been an adult for a smaller, much smaller amount of time. It was the same with Shoko. From the way the world saw it, they had still been very young when they suddenly became parents. And because of that, they were not yet old enough to forget the strength and aspiration that was so common among the youth and the young.

It was then that Jase said, his face suddenly alighting in what appeared to be cold indignation, almost anger. "I...I'm sure, that if I were in your place, I would have wanted to do the same. There's just no way I could have let such a crime be left ignored and unpunished. He took away my daughter. He made her suffer and killed her. If I knew that person was still alive, and had I been in your place, I'm sure that I would have wanted to do the same to him, to make sure he regretted what he had done... Why, if he had been the one to survive, instead of you, I don't know what I would have done....I wouldn't have been able to stand by and let him live his life peacefully. I would have wanted justice for the daughter he murdered, my daughter."

It was a heartfelt declaration of his own conviction, though naive in a sense, it reflected the youthful side of the father that still knew the strength of hope and the power in one's beliefs for what is right and what is the most important thing. It was a side he had not quite forgotten or outgrown, but never fully relived until now.

But it was not long until the father's expression melted back into one of wearyness, and he returned to the role of the adult he was now, too jaded for hope, too weary for dreaming.

"But... even though I would have wanted to do it...I don't think I could have brought myself to do the very thing you had done. Even if I had the chance...even if fate somehow gave me the opportunity to make things right again...I could never do it. I just can't. No matter how much I wanted to...to do such a thing, is just something I could never do..."

He shook his head, realizing all that he had said and becoming more aware of himself, looking somewhat awkward now that he had revealed that part of himself. For a moment, he seemed lost for words, not knowing what else to say on the matter...

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He did however, take a moment to look towards Adam for a moment, noting quietly the more obvious signs of the injuries that the young man had collected, no doubt from his ordeal. As much as he tried to refrain from doing so, Jase's grey eyes fell upon the marks on Adam's hands, the outlines that hinted of hidden bandages on his shoulder arm, and finally the bandage covering the left side of his head, where his ear would have been.

"So in that respect...." Jase murmured, in an almost resigned voice. "I suppose I should at least acknowledge the fact that you managed to do something that I could never have done for the life of me...no matter how dear Madelaine was to me, and how I had known her for a longer time than you. You're the one who took it in your own hands in the end, and saw it through. And I suppose...from what you've told me, in a way, you had a right to that responsibility. Though you and Madelaine were essentially strangers before such an ordeal...somehow, you earned the responsibility to make things right again."

He paused for a moment, as though to recollect his thoughts, and his resolve for what he was about to say.

"However... what did it achieve in the end? None of it changed anything, and still the real criminal behind all of this is still at large. Though the one who killed her has been brought to justice...in some way at least... what good could it possibly do for Madelaine now? It pains me to say this, but now that I think about it...justice is all and well. Had I the strength, I could even thank you for what you've done, but....I don't suppose it could possibly bring Madelaine back, could it?"

It was a question that needed not an answer, for the answer was already known. Jase left the question hanging, for he did not see the need to press Adam for an answer to such an inquiry. The sudden change in his expression signaled that the subject was to be dropped entirely. And that was when he looked towards Adam suddenly, an expression on his face that had a hint of pleading on it.

"Please...don't tell Shoko."

Adam stayed very silent as Jase spoke, the pain and anguish apparent by the weary expression that the young man wore on his face. Quite evidently, Madelaine’s death was in the midst of destroying her parents. Adam saw this, and opted not to speak on any more about what he had done to Cody, seeing the points that Jase made for what they were: virtual truths. The man was quite correct in a number of things that he said. Adam would have a very difficult time retaining his humanity, this he knew for a fact. But at the man’s last request, Adam nodded, an understanding having come upon his face.

“No, I promise you, I will not. I guess…I guess that’s really it. I came here to let you know what kind of a person your daughter was in the darkest hours of her life. She was sweet, kind, and smart. She kept us all up when we were feeling down, and we looked to her when the going got rough. I may not have known her for very long, but at the end, it felt like I did. It’s sad to say that a lot of people are probably going to forget all about what happened here, but I never will. I will never forget her. And…if there’s one thing that I can ask of you…it’s this: please remember Madelaine for who she was, and what made you so proud of her. Don’t remember how she ended up, but remember every bit of good that she stood for. When you think of her, please…think of how it was you felt when she spoke up, told a joke, or just sat in a room with you. If you remember all of that, then maybe…just maybe the pain might be a little more tolerable.”

Adam slowly stood up, and sighed a little. As he opened his mouth to declare his intentions upon leaving, his eyes went wide, almost as though he’d forgotten something – which he had. Reaching into his pocket, he fished out what looked to be a small book. The book was missing both of it’s covers, and was filled with writing. The pages were curled, obviously from water-damage, but the letters and words were still very legible. Adam took a look at the book, and then held it out in front of him, towards Jase.

“Oh. I…I found this on the island, clutched in the hands of a dead kid. I don’t know what he was doing with it, but …the important thing is that I found it, and I think that you should have it. I think it’ll end up being more important to you than it is to me.”

In Adam’s outstretched hand, he held the remains of what had been Madelaine Shirohara’s diary, filled completely with the writings of a girl who had touched the lives of so many in her short lifetime. Adam gestured for Jase to take it.

In response, Jase cast an inquiring look towards Adam, frowning somewhat in confusion as Adam handed the book, at first not at all recognizing it exactly what it was in its current state. Still, nonetheless, he was compelled to take a closer look out of curiosity, and took the small, worn book into his own hands. It was about that moment that Shoko finally emerged from the bathroom, tears gone, though her face was still red and tired. Returning just in time to see Adam hand the book to Jase, she wandered over for a closer look.

"What's that?"

In the meantime, Jase looked towards Adam with a questioning expression upon his face before turning back to the small book, about to turn a page. His hand stopped as his eyes caught what words were still legible, spared from water damage, upon the stiff, wrinkled page. His hands shook slightly, as though deliberating on daring to look further. In the end, his need for confirmation drove him to sort through each of the pages of the small notebook, all the while a look of realization gradually formed on his face...

"Oh...it's her..." Shoko's voice dropped to a barely audible whisper, not daring to believe it.

But it was not long until an object was loosened from among the pages as Jase flipped through the book. In the moment that followed, what appeared to be a small photo suddenly slipped out of the notebook to slide onto the tray, where it landed face up, floating on the small puddle of tea that Shoko had accidentally spilt earlier.

"It's her diary," Jase said simply, though with incredulity at the very realization.

"That's right....she always loved writing. She'd always carry a notebook with her all the time, and write whenever she could," Shoko said, as though only making an oddhanded remark, trying to sound as though everything was still alright, trying for just one moment to pretend that their daughter was not dead but somewhere out in the world, and that everything was the way it should be. But as slowly it had taken for Shoko to control her tears, her eyes quickly welled up once again.

"She always wanted to become a writer...no, she wanted to become so many things. She always wanted to travel and see the world...meet new people, but at the same time she said she wanted to live with us when she grew up...and even then she said she wanted to marry and have a family of her own. She wanted to live a simple, ordinary life...but at the same time one that was beyond simple, beyond ordinary...a happy life with the people she loved. That was all she wanted."

It was at this point, the time in which Shoko reflected on a life that their daughter would have wanted but would never live, that the father's composure finally shattered completely. His face contorted in an anguished expression as he removed his glasses with a hand, covering his face with the back of it, his back shuddering slightly as tears could be seen running down the contour of his face.

Next to him, the mother turned away completely, her back facing Jase and Adam, for now simply covering her face with her hands simply wasn't enough to give her the privacy to let go of the sudden emotions that had suddenly resurfaced there and then.

Neither of them spoke a word in the moment that followed, for there was not a word that needed to be said. All that could be heard was the silent tears of two grieving parents, mourning the loss of one who was their own, now taken most unnaturally, most forcibly from this world, and leaving them with a loss...an empty void that could not be filled.

Adam watched as both adults in front of him visibly broke down as a result of the diary that Adam had managed to rescue from the island.

Instead of their daughter, they had only been able to rescue a part of her from the island…her thoughts, dreams, and emotions.

Now, he figured, was the perfect time to make an exit. A silent one, at that. Madelaine’s family had a lot to deal with, and Adam assumed that this was the best time – frankly the only time he would likely get to silently slip away. The discussion had been harsh, and Adam had quite a bit to think about, himself – Jase’s words stung him like a slap to the face. Unfortunately, Adam knew that they were all true, and it would be something he’d struggle with for the rest of his natural life. Not knowing what else to say to Madelaine’s parents, he simply informed them of his decision.

“I’m going to leave you all be, now. I’m…I’m sure you probably want to be alone. I’m sorry if my visit has caused you any grief. Goodbye…”

With that, he slowly turned around and headed towards the front door.

Before two parents deep in sorrow, Adam was left forgotten even as he discreetly made his way towards the door, preparing to leave the household, as well as the family to mourn their loss. Neither mother nor father seemed willing to discuss the matter further in their current state, nor did there seem to be a need to. All that Jase and Shoko Shirohara could think about right now was the loss that would never be filled, the wounds that would never heal, the rift between the family that would gradually break them, and finally, the daughter that would never return to them.

As he stood and began to walk slowly towards the front door, something made him stop. Perhaps a subliminal feeling, perhaps a residual effect of the island, but he felt as though someone was watching him. Slowly, as not to induce any sort of threatening gesture, he turned around and looked at the person who was watching him.

The small, auburn-haired girl who had been in the kitchen for all this time, distracted by the decade-old television, now stood by the wall that divided the living room from the kitchen. Her large eyes looked directly up towards Adam in a quiet, non-threatening, yet somehow scrutinizing gaze.

Shoko noticed her first, and then Jase when Shoko quickly grabbed his shoulder to turn his attention to Miriam. Both reacted with alarm, possibly even with fear.

"Miriam, please go back into the kitchen," Jase started helplessly, moving towards his daughter and gesturing in an attempt to divert her attention away from Adam. But he knew that it was too late, judging from the way the three-year-old simply looked back at him with an almost defiant expression on her face. It was almost childish, the way her lips were drawn into a pout, her shoulders rising stiffly as she stood her ground. Even so, it was soon made clear just how strong her resolve was, even for a small preschooler.
Due to her height, she had to break into a run to cover the distance between Adam and herself, at whom, upon coming to a stop before him, she began bombarding with questions of her own.

"Where's Maddie? You're Maddie's friend, right? Do you know where did she go? Where did Maddie go?"

Her voice was shrill and plaintive, with nothing atypical of an ordinary three-year-old pelting an adult with endless inquiries in a futile search for the simplest answer.

"Miri, he's leaving. Just come here, okay? Don't bother him..." Shoko's voice trailed off, knowing full well the futility of the effort to divert her youngest daughter's attention from her relentless interrogation.

The world seemed freeze over as Miriam latched her hand onto the knee of Adam's jeans, continuing to ask in a voice that was pleading, and pleading desperately for a straight answer. And the more questions she asked the more it seemed that she would never stop asking until someone told her. Whether the truth would be happy or sad, it seemed as though there would never be an end to asking as long as those she asked denied her an answer.

"What happen to Maddie? Is she okay? Did Maddie get lost? Did she get hurt? When will Maddie come back? Why does Otou-chan and Okaa-chan look sad when I talk about Maddie? Are you going to tell me anything? How is Maddie right now? Does she miss me? Is she sad or lonely? Do you know? Do you?"

Adam was taken aback.

It was one thing dealing with a pair of heavily distraught parents who likely held an internal hatred for everything that Adam now stood for – being Survival of the Fittest’s only survivor identified him as something that they probably should dislike, and the intense conversation that he’d had with Madelaine’s parents had been difficult, if nothing else. But what he hadn’t anticipated was taking pointed questions from a little girl. As the little girl bombarded Adam with questions, he was at a loss for words. Dealing with kids hadn’t been something that he was all that good at, primarily because he wasn’t used to it. Nonetheless, he figured that he’d better try his damndest to at least give the little girl some sort of answer. Grimacing for a split-second as he knelt down to at least be able to look the child in the face, he thought long and hard about what he would tell her. As he opened his mouth to speak, he forced himself to smile, even though his eyes looked sad.

“Well…you must be Miriam…Madelaine talked about you a lot. She always talked about how proud of you she was.”

Adam’s eyes fell, and he forced himself to turn into a pillar, for breaking down in front of the girl would do nobody any good.

“Maddie…she’s gone on…a trip. I promise you that she’s not lonely at all, and she does miss you very much. But…she told me to tell you that she’s going to be gone for a long time, but even though she’s gone away, she’s always going to be checking up on you when you’re asleep. She said that she wants you to make sure you always make sure you try hard in everything, because then you can grow up to be really awesome, just like her, and just like your mommy.”

Adam sighed a little, and stood up. There wasn’t much that he could say to the girl without flat out telling her that her sister was dead. The pointed questions the girl asked made him realize that her parents hadn’t told her the truth, and Adam decided that he was sure as hell not going to be the one to break it to her.

All that time, Miriam gazed at him wide-eyed in rapt silence, taking in all that the tall, strange man with bandages on his ear and cuts on his hands was saying to her. With ever that childlike look that seemed to hunger for answers, it was hard to tell at first whether the answers Adam offered her were satisfactory for her at all, or whether her young mind could comprehend all that he was saying to her.

But because she was still but a child, with a naive outlook on life with a trusting nature towards the most simplest of answers, she was not yet old enough to understand just how complicated even the simplest truth could be to explain. Though it was clear she did not completely comprehend what Adam was telling her, the fact that he at least gave her an answer seemed truth enough for her, and it satisfied her.

"Oh, okay!" Miriam said, nodding vigorously to show she understood. "I'll work hard and make her proud, and I'll be good too. Maddie wants that, right? I think she does."

She turned a heel to run back to her parents, who were by now ill with apprehension at the sudden encounter between Adam Dodd and their youngest daughter. The look of relief was all too clear on Shoko's worried face as Miriam ran over to her to stand next to her and grasp onto the worn hem of her mother's dress. Less noticeable, yet apparent nonetheless was the look of the slightest gratitude on the mother's face as she turned her gaze back towards Adam.

Crouching slightly, Jase placed his hands on his daughter's shoulders, as though he sought security for the only daughter he had left. Three pairs of eyes turned towards Adam as he stood before the doorway.

"I suppose...I suppose that you're leaving now," Jase murmured slightly, as a simple statement, not knowing what else to say. He and Shoko fell silent together as they looked towards the one who survived the very experiences and ordeals that their daughter could not, unable to think of a suitable farewell for this stranger. Their minds and hearts were weary and strained from the weight of their grief, as well as the discussion that had been brought up by Adam Dodd, who had seen fit to intrude into their lives out of the blue....though if only to apologize and explain everything. It seemed inappropriate to bid him to "Have a good day" given what he'd been through, and a simple "Thank you" didn't seem like the right thing to say as such a time either.

But it was Miriam who took the burden off of their shoulders and spoke out in a friendly voice towards Adam as a way of bidding him goodbye.

"Take care, okay? Say hello to Maddie for me."

As he looked over the three remaining members of Madelaine’s family, the last words from Miriam hit him hard. Biting his lip to keep himself from breaking down, Adam smiled weakly at the little girl and flashed her a ‘thumbs-up’. Silently, he then looked both at Jase and then at Shoko and nodded to them, a sign of respect for a family that would undoubtedly be reeling in the coming days. Turning around again, Adam moved towards the front door. Slipping his shoes on, the same, stained shoes that he’d worn on the island (he hadn’t though to buy new ones yet, though he’d vehemently cleaned them off), Adam then pushed the door open and exited the house without a second word. He knew that he’d likely been the cause of distress, and in a way, he was going around, bringing up bad memories, but it was something that he had to do, lest his peace of mind might never return.


July 8th, 2005

Stepping up onto the porch of a small red house that he’d never even seen before, Adam Dodd wondered just where his travels were going to lead him next. The past month had been chock full of emotion for him, and at times, he missed the feeling of how it had been to be a typical suburban teenager, not having to give a crap about anything except getting his homework done and waking up on time for school every day. There were times that he wondered if there would ever be a time that he would be able to go back to the life that he’d left behind; though in his heart he knew that it would never be the case. Survival of the Fittest had seen far-reaching implications for everyone involved – from all of the dead students, to the terrorists who were all now on the FBI and Interpol’s most wanted lists, to the families that had lost someone, to the lone winner himself. Even the politicians in the United States hadn’t been spared, as Adam knew that there was about to be a large swing as far as the political structure went, thanks to the horrific events of June of 05. So for Adam Dodd to want his old life back, to have forgotten all about SOTF and still be sitting in class, telling a joke to Andrew Lipson and tossing a pencil at River Garraty, all the while being teased about his crush on Amanda Jones by the gruff voice of Eddie Serjeantson, it just didn’t seem like it was possible.

No, it’s NOT possible. War changes people, and as much as it wasn’t really a war as much as extreme emotional trauma, it still had the same aftereffect. It fucked me, and good.

So as he stood on this strange porch and half-wondered what he was even doing, or if he even had the right house, it was easy to say that Adam had a lot on his mind. Ever since he’d recovered from the initial shock and taken a day or two to recover, sleeping the majority of the time away with nightmare-infested dreams, Adam had been deciding what he needed to do. There had been promises that he’d made on the island to people who he considered friends, and he’d made a list of things that he had promised himself that he would do.

It’s not even a promise. It’s something I will force myself to do, even if it were to somehow end up in my death. I can’t do otherwise, I owe it to my friends to do it, since I couldn’t keep ‘em alive…

Looking at the address on the paper he held in his hand, he looked at the house in front of him. It seemed to be the correct address, so, sighing ever so slightly, Adam put his hand onto the doorbell and rang it, awaiting an answer.

It seemed it was the middle of any typical day in the Judah household, least to Edgar - his dad was at work, doing whatever he did for those twelve hours he was working, his mother was in the living room watching one of her many day-time TV shows that she watched, and he, he was stuck doing the dishes, but like he said, this really was all per usual it seemed. Least as normal as it got, this past month had been a weird one, what with all these visits from people he didn't know that had come to visit his mother from New York, not to mention there was just his mother's overall sudden change in behavior, she didn't seem like her old always cheerful self, always being the bright spot in amongst there small little family.

In fact it seemed as if she was slowly becoming a shell of her former self, and he just didn't understand what was happening anymore, or he didn't want to understand. The blaring TV brought him some removal from his own thoughts, it wasn't the usual Soap, or random day-time show, by the sounds of it, it sounded to be one of the new broadcasting that had been running day and night since that… that Survival of the Fittest that had ended some time last month. To say you hadn't heard it, meant you had probably living under a rock, as a majority of the students where kidnapped only one state up in New York, the kids in the surrounding cities, as well as flooding the heightened security into New Jersey. His middle school had more or less turned into a high security prison, and soon after this happened and it became available for everyone who wanted to view it, could - it almost became like the latest card game for children, everyone talked about it and that's almost all there seemed to be too talk about.

Did you see the latest episode?

Did you see how so-and-so died?

I bet…

That's all it seemed to be to everyone, one big game, and for awhile - it seemed as though that's all it was to him, a game, he didn't believe they'd allow something like this to happen. So it had all had to be some joke, right? But when the local stations started reporting on all that was happening up in the city that a majority of these kids had came from in New York, he slowly found that unable to just put it off as some silly game. And found himself to continue to watch it, though that quickly ended on the third day when his parents forbid him from continuing to watch it - it was around then, he remembered, that his mother slowly began to become withdrawn from her family, and focused solely on the news.

Edgar found a slow sigh escaping him as he placed the last of the dishes away to dry, rubbing his hands against his jeans as he shut the water off and moved away from the sink, wondering off toward where the where the sound of the TV was blasting from, standing in the small doorway leading in the living room. Eyes scanning over the new reporter, speaking to a crying woman as her husband, boyfriend… whoever hugged her close, it seemed as though they where interviewing more parents of the kids who had died in that horrible game. Ed couldn't understand why, why anyone would want to be spoken to, let alone talk about something that had ended his or her child's life.

"Finished already?"

Blinking himself out of thought, he turned his head toward the source of the voice finding himself looking at his smiling mother, resting the folded shirt down in her lap. An older woman now, 37 to be right, her long red was tied up in a loose bun, strands of it falling about. She was simply dressed for a Saturday afternoon, not having to work at the hospital and just trying to find some relaxation in what little time she had off as of late. Freckled face, and hazel eyes musing back at her 13-year-old son, so simply sighed again at this question as he nodded his head, "Yes ma'mm."

Lillian Judah mused another smile, glancing back at the TV, the smallest flinch of something - sadness, anger, Edgar couldn't tell from where he stood flash across her features before she sighed and returned to her folding, the young red head who had more or less took his looks from this woman tilted his head ever so slightly, this was bothering him more than anything, all this emotion that spiraled around and always came back to this Survival of the Fittest. "Hey, mom?" He voiced out before he even had much thought as too how he was going to go about asking this, his mother blinking and glancing back toward her son, looking thoughtful. "What is it sweetie?"

"Well - um," Before he even had the chance to ask the question, the doorbell coming alive throughout the house interrupted him, he leaning out of the doorway leading into the living room and glancing toward the door, "My, who could that be? Are you expecting anyone Edgar?" Lillian questioned, glancing a bit from her spot.

Edgar shook his head, "No, probably just those bleeding witnesses again. I'll handle this."

Reaching the door, he sighed, already thought out what was going to be said - but when he opened the front door of their home he found himself blinking a slight at the sight. As almost if a wave of odd familiarity washed over. Brushing some of his red hair from his eyes as he looked out at the person currently standing out on their porch. "Can I help you?"

Adam blinked in what was almost surprise. As the door opened, Adam almost did a double-take at the teenager who’d answered the door. If he hadn’t known better, he would have mistaken the person standing at the door for the late Hawley Faust.

That would raise questions in itself, though…jeez, redheads, they’re everywhere. What is it Hawley would’ve said…oi?

Composing himself and realizing after his slight surprise that the boy standing in front of him was quite definitely not his dead friend, Adam reached into his pocket and removed a picture. It was the same one that Hawley had kept on him, in his wallet, the entire time that he’d been on the island, and that he’d shown to Adam shortly before his death. Glancing at the small photo of the red-haired woman, he softly rubbed the bandage over his ear, as though it had started itching. Quickly flipping it over, he looked at the back to see if there was a name written there (he couldn’t recall checking while he was on the island, or even after). There wasn’t. Furrowing his brow, Adam looked back up at the kid standing in the doorway.

“Yeah, um. I hope. I’m looking for this woman. I was given this address and told that I should be able to find her here. Um, do you know her, or where I could find her?”

Adam handed the boy the small picture.

Edgar found himself blinking a bit more at the other went on about all but staring, perhaps it was some random crack-head that had wondered up, that wouldn't be surprised namely the area that they called home. But there was still that sinking feeling setting over him that he knew this person from somewhere, but he found he just couldn't put his finger on it no matter how much he pushed himself to try and remember. Then again this just proved how horrible he was at remembering people's names, faces rang clear in his head, but goodness forbid.

As the other went about removing what seemed to a picture of sorts from his pocket, Ed furrowing his brow at this, watching in a slight manner as the other went about flipping the picture over, he only catching a small bit of it before it was flipped over again and the older boy began speaking, saying he had been given the picture in his hand and this address in an attempt to find someone, he not explaining as too why he was looking for this person but as the other handed the picture over to him he couldn't help the slight flash of confusion.

There was no mistake to it; it was his mother, much younger in this picture than most they had around the house. Though what bothered him the most was that though she was pregnant, from all the pictures he had seen of her when she was pregnant with him it had been shortly after she had cut her hair short, and in this picture her hair was as long as it was now, and the lack of a wedding ring on her hand brought even more confusion on him. This really wasn't making any to little sense…

"What… what is this about?" Ed questioned, flipping the picture over himself. "Who are you? And what do you want with my mum?"

Adam lightly scratched the back of his neck. He was definitely glad that he’d come to the right place, but it seemed as though this teenager was of the nosy sort, and of course, with the way that Adam looked, all beaten up and whatnot, it only made sense that he’d be a little hesitant to let him in. Sighing slightly, he looked at the boy.

“My name’s Adam Dodd. I’m, uh…I’m here to speak with…your mother, I guess, about…a kid named Hawley Faust. Is, uh, is she here?”

"Hawley?" He repeated, the name bringing back a flash of another familiarity, glancing downward a slight bit as he glanced over the picture again. Survival of the Fittest… that's where that Hawley name rang familiar, and that meant… "Oh, damn." Edgar sighed, pinching and rubbing the bridge of his nose lightly.

He really didn't know what he should do, though glancing off toward where the living room was from over his shoulder he turned back of this Adam Dodd and stepped aside, opening the door the rest of the way. "Come on in…"

It was around that time when Lillian's curiosity had got the better of her, wondering away from where she had been sitting on the couch, pile of folded towels in hand. As she stepped out, she took a glance toward what had taken Edgar's attention for such a while, finding herself looking at an older boy that she didn't know, blinking some at her son. "I thought you said you weren't expecting anyone Edgar."

"He's not here for me, he's here for you."

Lily didn't say anything to this, just simply watched, moving to place the pile down in the small hamper that set at the entrance of another hall. Turning back to the door and smiling at the other male. "Well, please, come in then. What is it you need?"

Adam sighed a little as he stepped within the house. Although the neighbourhood had a bit of a silent feeling to it, the house itself had a very warm and cozy aura, and Adam felt comfortable as soon as he stepped inside. That comfort soon vanished, though, as Adam’s mind remembered the burden that it was carrying with it, and his neck began to stiffen up, as it usually did when he was nervous or anxious about something. Standing in the doorway of the house, he looked at the woman who he had promised Hawley that he would find. She was indeed, as beautiful as he had inferenced when he’d spoken about her. Her red hair reminded him quite a bit of how Hawley’s hair had looked, and Adam could see right away that he’d found the right woman. The woman in front of him shared a few facial features with his late friend, and if there could have been any doubt in his mind between the picture that he’d had (there hadn’t been) and the woman standing here in front of him, it would have all been erased.

As it was, Adam stood in the doorway of the house, feeling oddly like someone who was about to deliver bad news to a good person. In his head, he recalled the words that Hawley had said, back on the island, in the lighthouse as they sat, recovering from a fierce battle. Adam had remembered it before as being on the dirt path, with Alan, but now that he had eaten and slept, he recalled it as it had been, back at the Lighthouse. It was, in fact, a memory that he likely wouldn’t forget. None of it would be forgettable at all.

Glancing at the pictures again, he sighed. “I never saw my real mother after she was kicked out of the house that day… After I found out who she really was, I always used to wonder what she doing now. Was she thinking about me, did she still even care… guess I’ll never find out now.”

Adam couldn’t help but wonder if the red-haired woman had thought about Hawley at all. He wondered if she checked up on him at school, or if she knew about his involvement in Survival of the Fittest. At the very least, it would be an awkward conversation between an emotionally devastated teenager and a woman who meant a lot to a person she didn’t even know. That, of course, was likely the best-case scenario. It involved the least bit of emotion, and Adam would be able to let the woman know what Hawley had wanted her to tell him. Though, after the visit he’d had with Madelaine’s family, he knew that the odds of that happening were very strongly against him.

“Well…I would like to talk to you about… a friend of mine. A…uh…a person you may, or may not know…uh, my name is Adam Dodd, and I’d like to speak to you about Hawley Faust.”

Edgar slowly closed the door as the other made his way into their home, the young teenager's eyes never drifting that far away from him. He noting as the other went about repeating words to his mother that he had spoken to him not moments before, his mother reaction seemed to be very different from the one he had given the other male, it was the same expression she wore every time those people from New York had come, and every time she had watched the news about Survival of the Fittest, Lillian's eyes trailing away from their visitor and toward the floor, before a smile - hugely forced - came up, and she turned on Edgar himself.

"Edgar, why don't you go to your room while Adam and I talk, alright?" She spoke slowly, the reaction of what almost seemed to be tears appearing in usually happy hazel eyes. Though he was tempted to reject the request and kick this person out of the house, he found himself clenching a fist where he stood by the door, simply nodding his head and moving past both this Adam guy and his mother, and into the hall, partly shutting his door rather loudly once inside.

Lillian watched this, before turning back toward Adam, forced smile focusing on her lips again. "You'll have to excuse Edgar, and you'll have to excuse me as well." She said as she brought the cuff of the long-sleeved shirt she was wearing, and dapping at her eyes a bit, "Here, why don't we sit and you tell me what you have to tell."

Moving away she moved back into the living area, grabbing the remote and flipping the TV off as the Survival of the Fittest report on the news channel continued on. Lillian taking a seat where she had formerly been sitting, sighing lightly, "It's odd really I've come to notice." She began softly…

"Ever since he was born, and when I gave him up to Jason because I knew they'd be able to take of him more than I ever hope too, give him what he needed. Protect him… Ever since I decided this, I have missed him so much, there hasn't been a day I haven't gone without thinking about my son." She said, clutching hands together slightly. "When Edgar was born that helped eased the pain and loneliness that had settled in over me when I finally came to notice… that… I'd probably never see Hawley again. But Jason kept me up to date, least as best as he could, It's just… I never figured that when I'd actually start hearing about him more was because he had died."

Adam had followed Lillian into the living room and had sat down on the couch as she did, listening to what the soft-spoken woman had to say. As she revealed that she had thought of Hawley often, almost every single day, Adam had to bite his lip. This was absolute torture that he was putting himself through. And yet, it was so very necessary.

“Yeah, it’s…kind of messed up. You…you’re probably wondering what kind of stake that I had in this. Well…in case you hadn’t guessed by the bandage on my ear, the two black eyes…or just the general sense of recognition…I’m Adam Dodd…I was the only person who walked out of Survival of the Fittest, where Hawley died.”

Shutting his eyes for a moment, Adam wondered if he’d ever be able to stop introducing himself like that.

“Hawley and I didn’t really know each other before Survival of the Fittest, but he was one of the first people that I ran into on the island, and…well, we just sort of hung around after that. I can’t believe that I didn’t meet him beforehand, because he was a great guy. He was a little misunderstood at times, and he definitely had a bit of a problem with depression, but he was a great guy, he really was. I trusted him, and he was my best friend on the island. We watched each other’s backs, and we both tried to last as long as possible, to make it out…you know, make up some kind of plan.”

Adam hesitated a little bit, and arranged the words that were blustering around inside of his head.

“I don’t know if you knew what kind of person your son was, but…Hawley died because he spent too much time looking after everyone else and not enough time looking after himself. He had … a burn that he let get infected, because he forgot about it. He was too busy looking after people. He saved my life, actually. It got infected, and…he died. I can’t say that it wasn’t painful for him, because…his last moments weren’t pleasant for any of us. He really was, in the truest sense of the word, a hero. He was a hero to me, anyways. He was one of two people that I really looked up to while I was there. He, uh…he didn’t really share much with anyone but me, and so...I guess it’s kind of weird that I’m standing here right now…”

"I figured you must have something to do with it, it's not everyday I have cases such as yourself show up on my doorstep." Lillian said in a fond manner, watching as he made a seat on the couch as well, and began speaking, speaking mostly of the time spent with her son - and the reason as too why he died - frowning slightly as he finished.

"Though that's another odd thing Adam." She began lightly from her position, drifting her attention downward to her fingers as they went about curling and uncurling about the fabric of the shirt she wore, breathing in after a moment and returning her attention on the sole survivor of that horrible event that those men had called a game. "You are right in saying that I don't know the kind of person my son was, and though you only spent a short amount of time with Hawley, those few days t - that is more than I ever got too while he was alive, and even more you probably knew him better than anyone, including his family, ever knew."

She sighed lightly at this, smiling softly ever how sadness was also forced down upon it. "His older brothers were the ones to tell me… they came here, shortly after it happened. They explained to me that they had watched it since they had been told about it, since they where visited by what I guess I could call a representative of the man that ran Survival of the Fittest. They went through the story to the best of their abilities, from the start all the way until he died… I - Jason never told me everything I suppose, he never did explain to me about, just how upset Hawley was, They also told me that even though the worst that could happen was happening, his brothers told me that he was so -" The sentence was cut off a bit slightly as a she let out a long breath, trying hard to stay composed, turning her full attention on the bruised and bandaged boy she was sitting with.

"That he seemed so happy, for the first time in a long time, when he was there… when he was with you and the others. That it was all of you, his friends, that gave him what every person needs - someone that cared, something we as his family didn't."

She tried hard to keep her smile at this, though it soon faded as a choked sob racked over her and she shook her head, burying her face a bit in the palm of her hands. "I promised myself… I wouldn't cry, not anymore. That I had to stay strong for Edgar, but…" She trailed off, looking toward Adam in a lightly manner as she slowly shook her head. "Never once. I never once did I ever get a chance to speak to my son, or hold him since he had been born, just… be a mother for him." She choked out, shaking her head once more as she brought her hands to cover her face.

From his position alongside the doorway leading into the living room, Edgar figured perhaps it would be best to return to his room like his mother had told him - but having stood here and listened to the exchange of words between the two, never once had he heard any mention of his mother having another child, he didn't know… any of this, and know all of a sudden he had an older brother and the survivor of something more than half the world had their eyes on sitting on his living room couch. None of this was making sense, he couldn't take hearing his mother cry and wondered if throwing this Adam Dodd out would be for the best, but before he had a chance to do anything, something broke through into his world of thoughts.

"For so long - I've wanted to say that I was sorry, for how things happened - I just wanted him to know though I hadn't been there for him, I still cared and what I did was in his best interest… I just wanted him to understand, and know that I did love him."

Adam listened to Lillian speak, and listened to how things had gone from her end of the spectrum. When she mentioned how happy Hawley had seemed, Adam nodded and scratched the back of his neck.

“We talked at length when we were on the island. I mean, when you have people wandering around trying to kill you, it’s hard to trust anyone. Once you do, you…you share things, you share stories. Anything to feel normal again. I’d never known Hawley much, nor did I ever see him as one of the talkative ones around school, but he opened up to me…he told me about how he had brothers, and showed me a picture of his family. But…there was one instance…after we’d just finished fighting for our lives, that he showed me that picture, and next to it was one of this woman. She had red hair, more like Hawley’s shade of red as opposed to mine. She was pregnant, and she was definitely a beautiful woman. Hawley…he spoke of her. He said that he found it in his parents’ room and that he often wondered who she was, at least, until he found out.”

Adam stopped, and tried to remember what Hawley had said.

“Hawley wondered if his real mother thought about him a lot, and whether or not she still cared about him. He thought about her all the time, even though he’d never really met her. He said that he wished he had known her, and he often wondered if he’d have fit in better with his real mother, because he never fit in well with his adopted one. He said that she hated him for not being a biological child…and he just wished that he would have gotten to know his real mom. Which…I guess, was you.”

Adam glanced down at the floor.

“As he was dying, he asked me if I would do him one last favour…he asked me to get out of there, and…” Adam choked a little bit. “…and I promised him that I would…I’d get out, and I’d find you, and let you know…just how much you meant to him. Even though you weren’t there…he always carried this with him…”

Adam indicated the picture.

Lillian found herself able to smile slightly through the tears, listening to the words that Adam was speaking - glancing the picture over a little as it was made mentioned of, reaching out slowly to take a hold it and look it over fully before a full grin mused of her features. "My sister took this picture about two weeks before he was born, I suppose I remember it well because he did nothing but kick the whole last two weeks. I'm surprised that this was kept, I gave it to Jason because we hadn't seen one another since I moved to another town in New York - hmm." She said softly, hold kept on the picture as she rested it down in her lap.

"But. As I told you, I have always wanted to make up for what happened, I remember I tried to take him back at one point, after I had married, had Edgar and had a stable life - he was around nine, if I'm not mistaken. First time I had seen him since he had been about two, it was Abigail - his stepmother - who wanted nothing to do with it though, she was the one that wouldn't allow me to take him, let alone see him. Though I suppose that it was for the better in some way at that time, he seemed happy and they had been the ones to raise them and I had no right to take him away, no matter how much I wanted too."

She smiled again though, glancing toward the picture once more. "I'm just happy to know that he knew who I was, though he might not have known how much I did care and that I wasn't there for him, I'm still glad he knew I was out there…" Lily said, brushing her hand under her eyes as she sighed.

Adam nodded once again, confirming what Lily had said.

“If nothing else, he definitely knew who you were. Y’know…there’s something that I said to Hawley on the island. God knows that I can’t remember when, but it’s something that I know I said that stuck out to me, and I truly believe it. I told him, and I think he believed it too, because it put him at a lot more peace than he’d been in than I’d seen him, really…ever. I told him that the old saying is true – we can choose our friends, but we can’t choose our family. That’s how important family is. But I think that it goes beyond that. I think that no matter where your biological parents are, be they living in a different city, a different country…living in the same house, or even six feet under the ground, they have an impact upon who you are and who you end up becoming. Hawley always regretted that he was never able to contact you – again, as you said, his step-mother wouldn’t allow it. But I believe that even though he never knew you; the part that you passed to him, the genetics, which creates a special bond between mother and child, that part of you was always in him and with him. I said that even though he never knew his real mother, she still had an effect on who he was, because that part of her was within him, and vice versa. I know it sounds like a lot of spiritual garbage, but it’s what I believe.”

Sighing a little, Adam thought back to Hawley’s death. It had been an emotional time, and only Madelaine had witnessed it, and barely. Adam had been sitting with the boy when his injuries had caught up to him, and it was a moment in his life that he knew he would never forget, even if he became a demented old man who couldn’t remember what he enjoyed eating for breakfast. If he were doomed to repeat any memory in history, it would be that one.

“At the bitter end…Hawley confessed to me that he had wanted to do so much more, and had wanted to show people that he wasn’t like how they thought that he was. Y’know what I told him?”

He paused, the memory a lot to handle.

“I told him that he was exactly how people thought that he was. He didn’t need to prove anything, to anyone. In our eyes, in the eyes of his friends, he was redeemed for whatever he thought that he needed to redeem himself for. Out there, he was my best friend, and I felt absolutely alone when he was gone. I told him that in my eyes, he was a hero, because none of us would have gotten that far without him. And I think…that in the very end…he realized it. He realized how much he meant to all of us, and I think that for the first time in a really long time, he was at peace with himself. He told me that he had me to thank for it, but…I don’t think that’s true. I think that all he needed was a few friends along the way to help him believe in himself again. We believed in him, and he believed in us…”

Wiping some moisture away from his eyes, he looked up at Lily.

“So I guess that’s why I’m here. To tell you about your son. To let you know that he was one-of-a-kind. He was a stand up guy, and he was a person I felt privileged to call a friend…and as I said before, he’s one of the few people in that game that I felt that I could call a hero, in every single sense of the word.”

As Adam's speech came to an end, a period of silence followed over as Lillian sat and allowed the words to sink in, each and every one striking a small cord with the woman. Hands clutching the picture in a small manner, as she looked it over, sighing lightly as she turned her attention faintly on the picture and then on the boy sitting near her. "And… I am glad you came here today Adam, you really don't know how much this means to me. I - I always regret that I was never able to truly be a mother to my son, and that I never once told him how much I cared, how much I loved him."

Lillian sighed again after this, working herself up onto her feet and padding slowly across the room as she glanced outward slightly of the only source of natural sunlight in the room. "I'm happy to have known what a good person he turned out to be even though I wasn't there for him, even though I wasn't there to hold his hand and help him on through life like any mother should. I'm glad to have known in some way… some how that I -" She muttered, choking a bit on fresh tears. "That I in some way, ever how small it might be affected him to allow him to become the person you where with when he died."

Folding hands over the picture, she glanced it over once more.

"But, even though he isn't here anymore, I'll always have him you see? Because he was my son, my child - and I'll forever have him. Whatever better place he might be in now… but I do still have Edgar here, and I have to carry on strong for him - do what I can for him that I wasn't able to do for Hawley."

She smiled at this, though slight concern crossed her features. "But what about you? I've been so kind as too have come out, here - is there anything I can do to help you in return?"

Adam shook his head slightly, but smiled softly.

“No, but thank you. I appreciate the offer, I really do. What…what happened in SOTF is something that’s going to be with me for a long, long time, and I don’t know exactly how long that it’s going to take me to get over it completely. Or, if I ever will. But…I do appreciate your kindness. I know it’s not easy to take in what I’ve told you, and I hope that it doesn’t cause you any undue grief. But…I guess as something that you can take solace in…if nothing else, anyways, it’s the knowledge that you and he had a connection that stretched through a lot.”

Adam stood up slowly, wincing as his knees stressed from the movement. Ever since the island, where he’d run a lot, and put intense pressure upon his knees, they’d hurt quite a bit. The doctors had set up an appointment for a few weeks from when he’d get them scoped, but until then, Adam was in a constant pain when he moved them.

“I’ve definitely taken up enough of your time, but I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me. It…it’s nice to speak with friendly faces rather than ones who are sneaking up and trying to kill you every five seconds…” Adam’s voice trailed off as he remembered something.

“Oh! Right. There’s one more thing. I know that you didn’t know Hawley at all, but…maybe you can get a sense of the person that he was…from what I’ve told you, and from this…”

Adam removed a small book from his pocket and set it down on the table in front of Lily.

“…it was Hawley’s journal. He wrote in it all the time, from what he told me, and I saw him doing it quite a bit during our down-time in SOTF. The damn thing’s nearly full, so maybe it’ll give you a bit of an insight as to who he was…”

As Lily sat, staring at the book on the coffee table, Adam nodded to her.

“Thanks again for seeing me, Mrs. Judah. It really means a lot to me – I made a promise to Hawley and I’m glad to be able to keep it.”

Lily watched in a defeated manner as the other young man declined her offer for any type of help, it made her feel almost as if she was letting someone else done. Here this boy - probably a few years older than Edgar, closer to Hawley's age, had went out of his way after being trapped in a horrid game of life or death for ten days - and after losing so much he had found it important to keep a promise to a person he had only truly known for a few days, a promise to meet a woman that the other in question hadn't even truly seen or been around since the day he had been born - 16 years it would be in a little more than three months.

It was almost - heartbreaking in every sense of the world to watch Adam stand and ready to take his leave, she had found a connection to her dead son through this young man, he had known Hawley at his worst, and his best. Leaving the older woman at an slight sense of - ease in a sense, since she had first spoke to his brothers all that time ago.

"Well, though I am unable to help you - I must thank you Adam." She said moving to sit back down on the couch, shaking her head slightly as if disagreeing with a thought that happened to cross her mind. "You have given me solace in this - it… it means so much to known that though I wasn't even worth a mother to him, yet he still… he still cared enough to think of me, this has brought me some closure."

She watched, a bit slightly confused, as the young man went about removing something from his pocket, a small book of sorts that looked almost full to the brim of things. Lily casting it a light glance as he placed it on the table, before turning her eyes on Adam asking for an explanation that he was quick to give. Once it was clear to what it was, she reached out, taking a hold of it and looking it over, placing both it and the picture in her lap. She let out a jagged sigh, the faintest hint of tears visible once more.

"And once again, thank you so much Adam. This really does mean a lot to mean as well, though do remember if you do need anything - your welcome here," She said faintly, "I'm sure Hawley would have wanted it." She finished clutching at the journal in a meek manner.

As he said that, he nodded once more at the woman, and smiled a kind smile at her – as best as he could muster. With that, he turned around and walked out of the room, past Edgar, who was still listening in on the conversation, and right out the door, only stopping to put his shoes on. As he left the house, he felt a sense of contentment. That visit had not been nearly as emotional as the one to Madelaine’s parents and for that, Adam was slightly glad. It had taken him a few hours to recover from that one, but this seemed quite a bit different.

And Hawley’s real mom was such a nice lady; too…she really reminded me of him a lot…I guess it explains a bunch.

With that, he sighed to himself, and took off walking down the street.

As he left she didn't truly move from her place, listening lightly as the old door creaked open before snapping shut again. Just simply finding herself staring at the object she held in her lap, a smile finding her features slowly as the tears that she had fought hard to hold in the rest of the time Adam had been there slowly starting to fall, in the midst of this she hardly noted the other form entering the room. Mixed feelings of anger for what was making his mother upset, and sadness because she was upset slowly churning through Edgar as her stood in the doorway and watched his mother cry from her position on the couch. He wanted to say something, anything - but what could he? Though he hadn't listened to the words that had been spoken clear as day between them, he couldn't allow himself to understand them.

So… he simply stood, and watched unable to utter a sound to announce his presence to his grieving mother, the best actress in the world at that, he wondered if Adam had truly sensed how upset she was? He could tell even without seeing her, just by her voice - because it wasn't how she normally sounded - she sounded almost as if, all of this that had happened, all of this that had happened to this Hawley - she sounded as if it was tearing away at her from the inside, eating and raving on every shred of happiness she held dear…

He supposed, somewhere lost in his train of thought, she must of felt him watching because when he glanced back - her eyes where on in, red and puffing from crying, though trying, fighting to bring that everyday smile to her features. But… it just wasn't cutting it, the smile she wore was a mask of sorts, something to tell him not to worry, everything would be okay. And perhaps for a mere moment he thought that might be the truth of it all, but it all proved false far to quickly for any of them to grasp, and before he knew it, before he could understand. Edgar, too, was slowly finding his world turned inside out, and found the one person he thought could over come any problem that came into view - that person, was slowly falling away and he found her couldn't stop it, no matter how much he begged, cried, and prayed for it all to stop.
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July 14th, 2005

"Good morning Denton! Its 15 minutes till 10 this morning on a beautiful July 14, the day will begin clear though as we go into the afternoon expect showers --"

The voice on the radio was all that he seemed to hear, though his father was standing right in front of him talking, Edgar's mind seemed to lack any ability to focus - listening to his dad one minute, the radio, the beeping of the machines that filled the hospital, one thing after another.

"Did you hear me, Edgar?"


"Yes sir." He muttered slowly, eyeing his dad - dressed in his police uniform, dark eyes staring a bit down at him in a manner which he couldn't tell if it meant his dad was upset to see he wasn't listening at this moment, or perhaps it was all that was happening around them - like some twisted cyclone that was destroying everything it touched.

"I'll be back to pick you up later, if not - I'll get your grandmother to come get you alright?" David asked his son, watching as the smaller male slowly shook his head, eyes drifting off again, he lightly sighing as he rested a hand a top the boy's head, ruffling hair as he had done when Edgar had been a lot smaller, though now that seemed so very long ago. And with a curt nod, began down the stale white halls of the hospital, heading toward the elevators at the end of the hall.

Though his eyes where focused toward where his dad was heading at the end of the hall, he was hardly watching him, instead focused somewhere else. Though as thoughts slowly came into focus, and he took note that his dad was no longer there he found himself at an end. Pushing slowly off the wall that he had pressed himself against, and moving to push open the cracked door that he stood close by, glancing a bit toward the room sign as he remembered that his grandmother would be calling later to check and see so if she ever had to come get him, though staring at the plate, blue and white in color - he slowly went over it in his head…

PICU - Room 304
Judah, Lillian

Making note of this he slowly moved into the room, though it was bright out being close to ten, the room itself was as dark as they could manage to get it. Rather small, a bathroom to the right as you walked in before you walked into the main area of the room - radio humming as song he didn't know, the beeping of machines distracting him even further, though slowly eyes found the reason he was here to start with. His mother sleeping soundly, well as soundly as she had in almost a week, but that was the wonders of modern day medics, they could put the worst to sleep in less than half an hour if they tried hard enough.

It was awkward, to stand here in watch his mother like this…

All hook up to machines, an IV and breathing machine hook up to her, the nurses having to sedate her twice since they arrived at the hospital late last night, being moved from a regular hospital room to the PICU - so they could keep a closer eye on her, make sure she didn't do anything. They called it a harsh case of depression, harsh wasn't the start of it - since that Adam Dodd had visited them, everything seemed to go downhill from there. It was mostly crying at first, carrying that small book - had Adam called it a journal? - Everywhere, she had locked herself in her room after a few days and just cried - his father trying everything, but she just continued to cry.

It wasn't until last night that things had taken a true turn for the worse…

It had to have been close to eleven when it had happened, Edgar sitting up and playing one of his games, as summer break had came and he was trying to get the most out of it as he could before he had to start high school - a grade higher than his friends, and in a newer school, the combination of a Catholic school his parents wanted him to attend, and another school they didn't know much about. Though from what he had heard hadn't been the best of places to attended…

It was around that time that he had heard something shatter, his dad yelling and something he had grown used to - his mother crying, though it wasn't till his dad called out for him that he figured something might be wrong, as he hopped up from his spot on the floor of his room to rush into the living room to find one of the lamps broken, and his mum's hand bloody, still using her arm to tightly clutched that book to her chest as his dad was trying to get her on her feet.

Things just seemed to get force when they got to the hospital, he wasn't allowed in the room for a long while - waiting out in the waiting room, but even there Edgar could hear her screaming, causing the young teen to slowly try and block it all out and focus on his thoughts, and too what caused all this - and memories of that visit six days ago where renewed fresh in his mind.

"It's both of their faults that this happened… if he had never came, if he hadn't talked to you… this… this wouldn't have happened." He found himself muttering to his sleeping mother, caring less if the woman was able to hear him or not - though the tears that he tried to rub away spoke different, choking out a single phrase between the tears.

"… It's all their fault.”


July 16th, 2005

Adam Dodd sat at a small white table, surrounded by a room of crazy people.

To him, it wasn’t all that surprising, that his comfort level now was incredibly low. As a matter of fact, he wanted to bolt right out of the room, this very second. Of course, that was impossible. Mental institutions weren’t places that people wanted to be in, and Adam Dodd was undoubtedly no exception. Unfortunately for him, he had to be here, and there was no way around it.

It had been just over two weeks since Adam had returned from Survival of the Fittest, and it had been a whirlwind two weeks. After getting out of the hospital, he’d payed visits to both the houses of Madelaine Shirohara and one Lillian Judah, the biological birth mother of Hawley Faust. Adam had felt that he owed it to his two close friends to fulfill the promises that he made to them when they’d been on the island. The visits had been emotional and taxing, but in the end he was glad that he’d made them. He’d also tried to contact Steven Jones, the former VP of the United States, but the man had just about gone into hiding after the death of his daughter, Amanda. Prior to his visits, he’d visited the police and given official statements to them; being punched out by the unstable police-officer father of the late Jacob Starr. Adam had declined to press charges, knowing that the man was undoubtedly not in his right mind. Time had passed, and the ending of Survival of the Fittest had aired on television like Danya had promised, a day that Adam had tried to make himself as scarce as possible.

After that day, the phone calls had begun to pour in, from every major media outlet and talk show host in the United States of America. Everyone from CNN to Dr. Phil had wanted to speak to the winner and only survivor of the worst terrorist attack in United States history. Adam had denied almost each and every single one of them. So many of them had been like rabid dogs, trying to score what the newspapers were labeling ‘the interview of the decade’. More than anything, it saddened Adam a little bit. Instead of mourning, the media was jumping all over it, glorifying it in a way that they hadn’t even come close to doing to 9/11. It had sickened him. In the end, he’d actually sought out one of the few talk shows that hadn’t asked him for an interview, and made it very clear that he’d like to do an interview for them and them only. The talk show had been that of Ellen Degeneres, a female comedian who Adam had always enjoyed and found amusing, and at the same time admired her ‘real-ness’. The interview had gone quite well, and Ellen had made Adam feel very comfortable and had empathized with him quite a bit. The interview had gone on to be the highest segment in the new millennium when the majority of the country tuned in to watch what Adam had to say.

He’d primarily spoken of his dead friends, and had used the time to let the world know just how much his friends had meant to him. He’d detailed some of his time on the island, and had made sure to strike the point home that SOTF was not something that should be glorified. After the interview, the New York Times had blasted many of the major media outlets for their near-blasphemous coverage of SOTF as a reality television show, instead of a major terrorist attack. Much of the world’s outlook on SOTF changed very quickly thereafter.

So as Adam Dodd sat in a mental institution; the white walls causing his pupils to dilate because of their brightness, he thought of all that had come and gone. He’d had such an eventful life, and in such a short span of a time. It almost seemed like he’d lived more life than a lot of sixty-year olds had, and that was a fact that he almost couldn’t believe. The initial shock had worn off, but Adam was still haunted by the incident. The nightmares were a constant thing for Adam, who was a person who’d ceased having nightmares when he was six years old. They were awful, and sometimes he awoke not knowing if he was still on that dreadful island or not. There were days that he felt detached from everyone, and he startled quite easily, at every little noise. Gunshots would cause him to become a mess, shaking and quivering with no stop to it. The doctors had diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder, and he was being actively treated for it, but it didn’t make the life after SOTF any easier to deal with. His emotions had returned to him, along with his sarcastic sense of humour, and while he was becoming adept at masking his bad feelings and coming off as reasonably well-adjusted considering his circumstances, everyone who knew him well knew that he was having a hard time.

Adam’s time on the island had led to a lot of thinking on his behalf – both about how he would survive, his life before, and potential life after the island. A lot of that thinking had made way to a list of things that Adam had promised himself that he would do before it was too late – meaning before anything were to happen.

If there’s one thing that I do know, it’s that life is short. Things happen at the worst fucking moments, and things get taken away from us with absolutely no warning at all. It’s fucked up. It really is. It’s a damn shame that there are people like bin Laden, Hussein, and Danya out there who think that it’s just their business to play God. These fuckers really have no idea how their actions are impacting other people. Well…either they don’t know, or they don’t give a shit. People say that there is a hope for concepts like world peace…but I don’t think there is. Maybe that’s a ‘glass-is-half-empty’ way to look at things, but as long as you have people like Danya out there somewhere, that concept will not hold. When Danya dies out, there’ll just be another like him, somewhere in the world. It’s a shitty cycle, but it’s the truth, and it’s tragic. They say that the United States Marine Corps are searching for that island, so that they can go and hunt for any clue to whom or what Danya is. Well, that and so they can bring home the bodies of all of my peers for their loved ones to grieve over. Truthfully, I don’t think that they’ll ever find it. I really don’t. Danya picked a place that isn’t easily found – he’s a smart son of a bitch, and what’s scary is that he’s still out there. The odds are, he’ll do it again. I’ve told them as much. They didn’t say it outright, but I think they’re inclined to agree. Nobody knows where he went, or even where he’s from, and all that I know is that he looks like a fat Christopher Walken who isn’t half as funny or charismatic as the man himself. It was actually Walken himself who said that “at its best, life is completely unpredictable”. Well, he’s right. But when life is at its best, or its worst, you never know what’s going to happen. So you’ve got to seize hold of all the time that you think you have, and make use of it to the best of your potential. At least I know that now. Making a list of things that I was obligated to do was a good idea, and it’s helped me get over what SOTF did to me in a lot of ways. I guess that this…this is the last item on the list, and frankly, it’s the hardest one for me to do…
Adam’s eyes perked up as he saw a woman walk towards him from the other side of the room. Exhaling sharply, Adam quickly rose from the table and looked towards her with a look chock full of nervous energy. The woman was a nurse at this mental institution, and she nodded to Adam as she stood in front of him.

“He’ll see you now, Adam.”

Adam grimaced a little, but knew immediately why he wasn’t with the nurse.

“Not here?”

She shook her head. “No.”

Adam sighed a little bit, and stood up, wincing a little, as his body was still slightly bruised from his experience. Some of the tendons in his knees had been damaged from all of the running he’d done, and he was occasionally wearing knee-braces to curb the pain. Unfortunately for Adam, he wasn’t currently wearing them. Straightening out, he nodded to the nurse, who began to walk through the room back in the direction from where she’d come. Adam followed her, thankful to get out of the room full of crazy people. As he followed her through the narrow corridors of the hospital, he felt a growing sense of unease. Adam didn’t like to be kept under lock and key under any circumstances (a residual affect of SOTF and its explosive collars), and every second he spent in this institution was another second he wondered if he’d be progressing more towards insanity than mental health. As he followed the woman through another set of doors, he almost wondered if she was taking Adam to meet with him after all. Perhaps there was another sinister plan at work, here. Perhaps Danya had returned, and gotten to him after all…

No, Adam. Danya doesn’t give a shit about you, anymore. He’s too busy fellating his dog or whatever stupid thing the criminally insane do for fun. You have to stop thinking about that fucker. You have him a parting gift to remember you by, so even if you don’t remember him – he’s gonna have a souvenir to remember you.

He’d thought that for a split-second when he’d returned home, and the thought had been terrifying to him; thinking that Danya may have had his family. Of course, as it had turned out, his dad had simply been out for beer, but regardless…it was a frightening thought.

Finally, the nurse stood in front of a door that was marked ‘conference room’. Adam raised his eyebrow, as he didn’t anticipate having his meeting here. He supposed, though, it made sense, to get him away from all of the crazies who lived in this place. Sighing, he straightened out his blue sweatshirt and brushed off some dust from the arm of his shirt. Fidgeting with the ‘VISITOR’ pass around his neck, Adam looked at the nurse.

“He’s inside.”

“Thanks, I’ll…I just need a second.”

She smiled at him with a knowing smile.

“I understand, take your time.”

Grimacing, Adam knew that he could not turn away. This was the last item on the list of things that he’d promised himself that he would do, and to turn away now would mean that Danya had won. Survival of the Fittest had taken away the fear of death from Adam Dodd, simply because he’d felt it so often and so hard that after a while, he became dulled to it. So it felt odd that now, here he stood, afraid of a simple door.

It’s a door. What do you have to lose? You’ve already lost most of the things you treasured in life, anyways. It’s only upwards from here, motherfucker.

Nodding to himself, Adam grasped the doorknob and tossed the door open without leaving himself any time to stop.

The conference room resembled every other conference room that Adam had ever seen, on television, in movies, and in buildings all over the place. The ornate table sat in the middle of the room, having a black glass surface and reminding him a little bit of the conference table from Star Trek: the Next Generation. The chairs were a cushioned red, and the blinds were drawn but allowed lots of light to sneak into the room, giving the room a hazy, surreal effect to it. The walls still bore the sanitary white of the rest of the hospital, and aside from the windows which gave way to a beautiful view of some trees and a pond behind the hospital, there wasn’t much to look at in the room. It was the occupant of the room, though, who drew Adam’s attention, and as he looked at the kid sitting in the chair at the far end of the conference table, he was amazed at how different he looked since the last time he’d seen him.

Luke Dodd had taken a growth spurt at a very young age, and so when he turned fourteen, he was already standing at a height of six feet, one inch, and due to his medical issues (depression), he had developed horrible eating habits and had put on quite a bit of weight, weighing almost four hundred pounds since Adam had seen him last. He hadn’t spoken or seen with his brother in about a year or so, since the ‘incident’, and to see him today, Luke looked a LOT different. Clad in the pale blue clothes that all of the patients in the hospital were in, Luke still looked tall, but his body shape had completely changed. It looked like he’d dropped almost two hundred pounds, and he now looked to have a similar body type to what Adam had – not lean, but not obese, either. His hair was no longer dyed, and yet in the same length that he’d kept it before, now having a long blonde ponytail. He still had no discernable facial hair, but had the same blue eyes that sparked with intelligence and a mischievous streak like no other. He wore an expression on his face that seemed to combine sadness and hope. He was undoubtedly not the same person that Adam had lived with a year or so before. As Adam shut the door to the room, he turned around and looked at his brother, not saying a single word. In fact, Luke beat him to it.

“Adam…wait. Don’t say anything. I know you’ve probably got a lot of anger pent-up inside of you, and I need to say something to you first, before you say whatever it is you need to say.” Luke scratched the back of his head and cleared his throat a little, as though he’d practiced saying his a thousand times over.

“That day, Adam…I don’t remember a thing. I don’t remember it at all, but they’ve told me…the things that I said, what I did…I don’t know why those hateful words came out of my mouth. I’d take every single one of them back if I could. You weren’t a bad brother, you were far from it. You and I had such good times when we were kids, and I treasured all of those moments. The truth is, I looked up to you a lot when I was younger. Hell, I still do. I know you’re probably feeling a lot of resentment from what happened, and I get that. I really do. I just…I need to tell you how fucking sorry I am, Adam. My God, I’m so sorry. I wish that they’d never put me on those fucking pills…”

Adam looked at his brother and stayed silent. Luke continued.

“Now…I’ve heard what happened to you just recently. I don’t know specifics, because they won’t let us watch the news or read the newspaper in here – which frankly, is a fucking pain in the ass. But all that I know, Adam…is that whatever you’ve been through and whomever you’ve lost...you just need to remember that you’re a stand-up guy. People have liked you since you were a little kid, and people have supported you every single step of the way. You’re always the one who’s lightening people up, cheering people up. Hell, how many times did you brighten everyone up around the house? From Mom and Dad’s phone calls, from what they’ve told me…Adam, I know it’s going to be hard, but you need to leave it all behind. You need to let it all out. They tell me that you’ve been almost emotionless at times. You can’t do that to yourself, Adam. I did that to myself for a month after …well, after what happened. It almost tore me apart. Even if you leave here, and you and I don’t talk anymore…I just want you to know that no matter what, I support you, and I love you. I always have, and I always will. No matter what happens, you’ll always be my brother, and I’ll always stand by you.”

Adam looked at his brother very carefully as he spoke, studying him. Luke was undoubtedly sincere, and what had happened between the two of them had obviously taken its toll upon Luke as well. Their relationship had frayed to this point, and Adam knew that this was likely the turning point to where his relationship with his brother would go. He found himself remembering back to when he had been talking with Hawley, back on the island, which never seemed far from his thoughts.

Whenever we goto visit, I...I can't bring myself to go. I just can't. The things he said, what he did...I never could bring myself to go and visit him, to forgive him for what he did."

A single tear rolled down Adam's cheek, which he quickly wiped away and looked at the ground. His voice, which had been shaky up to now, hardened suddenly.

"But I guess it looks like I never will, and because of my selfishness, my poor brother will never be able to know that I do forgive him for what he did."

Adam spit into the dirt, and then said nothing more.

Thinking back to that very conversation, all rational thought seemed to fly out of the window. All that he could think about was that one moment, speaking with Hawley and speaking those words. His eyes teared up and he slowly stood up and walked towards his brother, who also stood up.

Adam Dodd had held it all in, for so long. Ever since he’d awoken on the sidewalk at Barry Coleson High School, he’d vowed that he would keep his emotions in check, and be the strong one through the ordeal. He had told himself that he would not, under any circumstances, let himself break down.

Without any warning, Adam grabbed his brother by the shoulders and looked right into his eyes. Luke had a surprised expression on his face, and he would admit later that he thought that Adam was going to hit him. Instead, a tear ran down his face and he finally got off his chest what he’d been waiting almost a year to tell his brother.

“Fucking hell, Luke…I’m so fucking sorry…my god, I forgive you, man…how can I not? You’re my brother…”

As he hugged his brother close, feeling safe for the first time since before the fateful trip, the tears began to roll freely down his face. Six days after he returned from Survival of the Fittest at its only survivor, Adam Dodd broke down and finally began to cry the tears of everyone who had died so that he alone could escape.

Adam knew that he would never forget any of them, especially his closest friends who had perished – Hawley, Amanda, Madelaine, David, and Andrew Lipson. Each one of them, they had lived in a nightmare and it had ended up killing them all.

On July 16th, 2005, for Adam Dodd…the nightmare was finally over.

Just like a rescue of a stray dog in the rain I was
Hungry when you found me
And you could tell by my tail and my rib cage what was
Once around me

I've been chased by a rain cloud
I was lost and nearly drowned and kicked around
But now I'm found and I won't run away

Bless your heart you gave me a home and a new start
And I will leave you never
Sleep at your feet and stay guard at you're front door
I will keep things together

I've been chased by a rain cloud
I was lost and nearly drowned and kicked around
But now I'm found and I won't run away

I killed myself, threw away my mental health but nobody was blinking an eye
Backyard, basement, falling on the pavement
Nothing Left to Say But Goodbye
Nothing Left to Say But Goodbye

It's true I ran away before but be sure
I am no tail-chaser
I know a good thing when it throws me a bone
I'm you're best friend forever

I've been chased by a rain cloud
I was lost and nearly drowned and kicked around
But now I'm found and I won't run away

I killed myself, threw away my mental health but nobody was blinking an eye
Backyard, basement, falling on the pavement
Nothing Left to Say But Goodbye
Nothing Left to Say But Goodbye

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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Well, folks, it’s been a long (really fucking long) road to the end, but this is finally it. SOTF V1 has come to an end. I’m sure that a lot of us have sort of mixed feelings about the whole thing, but most of us are glad to see it go. This obscenely long document is what I feel does justice to as much of V1 as I could – mainly I tried to tie up as many loose ends in the story as I possibly could – right down to some character stuff for Adam (well, mostly character stuff for Adam) to some other small mysteries like ‘who was the kid on the plane who got shot’ and other little things like that.

I truly hope that you all enjoy(ed) Endgame, because I DID work my ass off on it, if nothing else. If you don’t feel like reading the whole thing – I’d recommend, at least skim through it. Because of how long and how much effort that I put into this, it would mean a lot to me if you at least read it. Even if you didn’t follow V1, if you hated Adam Dodd, or whatever. It would just mean a lot to me as a person if you would all read it and tell me what you think.

I know not everyone’s going to like it, and I respect that. I just hope that the majority will enjoy it.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t have some people that I needed to thank, because without them, I’d probably still be working on it.

Firstly, I’d like to thank the original handlers who RPed with the characters that were in Endgame – mainly guitarjack and another handler who doesn't want to be named or thanked...*shrug* Why, I don't know, but I guess that's his choice, for whatever reason. But many thanks to guitarjack for creating the character that became the most hated V1er.

I’d also like to thank Megami for helping out once the activity level dropped a bit, she was a huge help in getting it off the forum and onto my word document, where it stayed for what seemed like forever…

I’d like to thank the artists whose music I blatantly stole during Endgame – primarily Three Days Grace, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Barenaked Ladies, Lazlo Bane, and of course, Audioslave.

I’d also like to thank the three who helped out with the actual ending portions of it. Firstly, Slacker, who helped out when it came time to write Danya’s part (who I was admittedly a little stuck on). Your help was quite appreciated.

Riserugu, thank you very much for your work on one of the scenes that we wrote. It turned out well and I’m very glad that you were able to help out with it. It seems fitting that you were one of the people I RPed with most and I’m glad I could share it with you and tie up Hawley’s storyline in a way that would do him justice.

Finally, LadyMakaze, who helped me a shitload with the motivation part of it, along with helping get it off the forum and onto the Word document as well. She ALSO helped by helping write a scene for me – which is frankly a really nice deviation from my style of writing. I still maintain she’s one of the best writers on here. Aside from Riser. But anyway…

One last thing – I’d like to thank everyone for waiting patiently for me to get this done. I know it’s been a real pain in the ass waiting for this to get done, and wanting V2 to start, and whatnot. It’s been tedious, but I REALLY appreciate you all bearing with me while I worked on this hellaciously long piece of writing.

So there you have it, guys. V1 is officially over, and we can fully move on to V2. Hopefully V2 will prove to be as interesting as we all found V1 to be, and more! Oh, and one last note: after approximately a year and a half or more playing Adam Dodd, I can say this: that is SO it for him. Game over, man. Game over. :)
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