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We Are The Sleepyheads; "People Look At Us And Think We're Doing Fine" [Topic Closed]
Topic Started: Aug 8 2010, 07:48 AM (1,990 Views)
Mimi
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Sierra Manning, Female student no. 007 Start

Even now, as she numbly maneuvered up the slick, dew-laden grass, Sierra Manning—otherwise known as G007—hadn’t been able to fully comprehend, or rather accept, her current situation. Even now, as the last of her chemical-induced drowsiness had begun to wear off, Sierra Manning wouldn’t believe that she was expected to kill her classmates. Or die in the process.

Her fingers explored the constricting metal collar softly, wearily, knowing full well that bad things would happen should she tug even the least bit too hard. Her eyes were red and her cheeks flushed and tear stained from an earlier episode. She hardly remembered crying, to be honest, and even less about waking up. Just Josie shaking her and their promise. And now… this.

She could feel hot tears welling up in her eyes once more as she looked up at Josie, who was carrying both of their duffel bags on her shoulder, a map in one hand and, more or less, Sierra in the other. She was so… worthless. She couldn’t even manage to climb a hill without Josie so much as dragging her up it. Wiping her eyes with the sleeve of her jacket—which she didn’t remember putting on—, Sierra managed to croak out an offer.

“Joze, I can ta—,”

“No.”

The stony response caught Sierra off guard. Attempting to stop the quivering of her chin proved to be a futile effort and before long hot tears rolled down her face. She could feel Josie’s hand tightened around hers, probably with realization. She looked back to face Sierra and spoke softly.

“Sorry… I just….”She paused, “I’ve got them, okay? Let’s just keep moving.” Josie smiled quickly at her, though it was visibly forced. Her eyes darted to the map in her hands and her face paled. The soft cries of the seagulls and the distant crashing of waves explained her pallor. Wherever they were going was close, probably right over the hill that they had once again began climbing up. Butterflies began to form in Sierra’s stomach.

The great blue ocean greeted them once the hill came to an end and cold as ice wind taunted them, cutting at them like daggers. A chill ran the length of Sierra’s body, though she couldn’t tell if it was due to the frigid wind or the sudden terror that engulfed her. Josie dropped the duffels with a thud and grimly announced “We’re here.”

A surge of butterflies erupted in her stomach once more, threatening to devour her sinking heart. She glanced at Josie quickly, who was staring blankly at the open horizon with glassy-looking eyes. It wasn’t normal for Josie to cry, Josie never cried.

But there was nothing normal about this.

Creeping cautiously to the edge, Sierra peered down the length of the cliff. A lump formed in her throat and her heart beat against her eardrums. It wasn’t every day you looked at your final resting spot.

But now, as the morning wind and the fingers of Death danced upon her skin, Sierra Manning realized that there was no escaping it. But now, as the waves crashed upon to the suddenly inviting rocks, Sierra Manning realized that she was probably going to die.

“Are you sure you… wanna do this?”

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Staring at the rocks below did little to subdue the growing uneasiness that had taken hold of Sierra. Her stomach refused to cease its somersaulting and her head raced with memories from her past. They say that before you die, your life flashes before your eyes. Sierra could see why now. Everything that she had ever done was suddenly so important, now. The people she met and the relationships she cultivated over her eighteen years, would they miss her if she was gone? Her mind, as if acting on it’s on accord, instantly went to her Mom. Her chest tightened and her mouth went dry. She bit her lip in an attempt to fight the oncoming torrent of tears, but she knew she couldn’t stop them once the world around her turned to a blur.

She’d never see her again. It didn’t matter if she decided to jump or not, some loony-toon with a gun would fill her full of bullets or maybe she’d get tortured or worse. It was inevitable, she couldn’t win—there was no way. But she did have a choice. She had to be the adult that she desired so much to be, she had to be mature and save other people’s feelings rather than worrying about her own. All her life, she had let her emotions get the best of her. She was the girl who cried at the drop of a hat, the one who relied on everyone else to take care of her. Now she could do the same for Mom and Bubba and Omar and spare them the grief of watching her die horribly.

“Yeah…I’m thure,”

It was supposed to sound strong, but the desperation lacing her voice was hard to cover.

The wind’s frozen touch whipped at her face, creating an uncomfortable symphony between the still wet tears on her face and the burning of her cheeks. Lingering thoughts of Omar pricked at her, telling her – warning that that maybe, just maybe this wasn’t the best idea. He’d be hurt and she’d be the cause of it, but…

Every breath introduced ice into her lungs, sending chills of pain to the rest of her body. Josie’s arm wrapped around her shoulder’s and pulled her close. Close enough that she could feel the palpating of Josie’s heart against her arm and feel her quick breathing on the top of her head. “Turn around, Sierra,” Josie had said, but her voice was lost in the howling of the wind.

But… there’s only one winner.
Salty mist from the violent waves below stabbed at every inch of exposed skin, causing the back of Sierra’s neck to go numb from the cold. The wind was ripping at them relentlessly, pushing at their backs with all its might. A dull ache of regret and loss erupted within her once Josie removed her arm, extending a trembling hand in exchange. Sierra took interlocked her fingers with Josie’s and clenched her eyes shut, letting the tears prickling at the corners of her eyes run free. Her whole body shook with the wind and her face twisted with anguish.

Sierra’s whispered good-bye was dissolved by the unyielding wind.

Her hopes, her dreams, and the future she worried about relentlessly remained planted in the spot that she had previously occupied. Survival of the Fittest made her nothing but another casualty of war, not concerned with who it uprooted. It didn’t care that she had a family she loved, nor for the budding relationship that had been cut short. And it’d continue to crush lives and families until only the last survivor of the Bayview graduating class was left, then it’d move on. Just like that.

In the time it took between the uncomfortable weightlessness to engulf her and the sickening thud of her body smashing against the rock, Sierra realized that she made a mistake. Living is what would hurt the people she loves the least. But, as Josie’s hand slipped out of her own, Sierra desperately wished she could reverse time and do it all over again—she’d make the right choice. But, as a spray of Josie’s blood and gore coated the left half of her body, Sierra knew full well it was too late.


***
---
***


“Are you… sure you wanna do this?”

Sierra nodded her head in the affirmative, though the curious feeling of dread in her abdomen didn’t seem to agree. Diana Manning leaned against the doorpost, her arms crossed against her chest and her brow furrowed softly. A gap-toothed grin curled across Sierra’s face as she messily shoved a couple of folder into her bright pink Jansport. Five, four, three, two, one…

“You kidding me? I’m giving a twelve year old a one-day only opportunity to skip school and she’s not taking it?” Sierra had to suppress her grin, lest her mother call her out. Once again, she shook her head—though this time in the negative, “You sure? You can help Bubba and I unpack, it’ll be really fun,”

Sierra sighed softly to herself and stood up, shouldering the backpack and eyeing her mom. Yeah, she knew parents worried and stuff, but she was fine now. Really. And, to be quite honest, she was actually kind of looking forward to her first day of high school. New school, new Sierra. She didn’t need to be, like, a little kid or anything anymore. She could be a mature adult.

“Yeeeeth, mom, I’m thure.”Sierra said with a flourish, holding a pinky by her face to solidify her claim, “I promithe!

Diana removed herself from against the doorway and, with an exuberant clap, shuffled over to Sierra, “Whelp, get your stuff then, kiddo. Bayview here we come!”



***
---
***


Sierra’s brow twitched, her forehead creasing as horrifying pictures flashed through her mind. Her heart raced a mile a minute and the hairs on the back of her neck stood at the ready. At first, only a small sputtering escaped her lips, but before time, she was full-blown bawling.

“I-I.. can’t do it, Joze,” She sobbed as Josie wrapped her arms around Sierra’s neck, “I d-don’t wa-ha-ha-aant to die!”


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The wind didn’t seem as frigid, the soft crying of the seagulls less intense. But, even as Josie reassuringly wrapped her arms around her and lead her away from the edge, Sierra couldn’t drive out the silent doubts swimming around her head. What if it was a kiss of death, trading in this death for more gruesome and painful ones down the line? Every minute was a war fought with the reaper, fighting just to survive one more precious minute.

Nothing made sense. She wanted to live, but she wanted to die. She wanted to see Omar, to hug him and feel safe, but it’d be just another person she had to say goodbye to—another person she had to lose. Her mind felt like a warzone, ideas and thoughts and hopes and fears flying every which way, all completely out of her reach. A dull throb formed in the back of her head, spikes of pain tearing through the rest of her head with every beat of her heart. It was hopeless. They condemned themselves the minute they stepped on that bus, they were already dead.

No hope.

Sierra stared at the daypacks lying inconspicuously on the dew-y grass where Josie had left them earlier, one marked ‘G007’ and the other ‘G060’. She already knew which one was hers, as ‘G060’ had visibly been rummaged through and hastily half-zipped. The lump in her throat refused to be swallowed, her hands shaking violently as she crouched over the bag, silently trying to will whatever weapon inside into a coupon for a free ride home or something. No hope. Her small hands pushed past the myriad of survival items, morbidly curious as to what she was expected to protect herself with.

“It’th…”Sierra pulled out a cylindrical tube from the pack, her fingers rolling it around despairingly in her hands a few times before proceeding, “It’th pepper thpray or thomething…”

Sierra’s fingers danced across the tube, as if trying to force it to feel right. It felt so… foreign, it wasn’t like spraying hairspray or silly-string or anything like that, this was a weapon. She was expected to use it on her friends, to hurt them. The tightness in her chest constricted even more, achingly so. This was all too much, there was no way she could do it. She just wanted to go home.

“I have bad aim,” Sierra said softly, half-heartedly tossing the pepper spray to Josie. She didn’t know what else to say and she could tell Josie was trying so hard to keep some level of normalcy and make her feel better, but it wasn’t working. She was useless. Omar was probably out there alone and scared and she wasn’t able to do anything to help him. It was the opposite, honestly. She had just tried to abandon him, all because she couldn’t be strong. So. Useless.

Sierra swallowed hard, once again trying to fight the onslaught of tears as she moved past her daypack and on to her personal duffel bag. She didn’t hesitate to unzip it and tear past her articles of clothing, things she’d never need again. But she did need something; she needed the one thing that could give her the companionship that even Josie and Omar couldn’t.

Skanky. New tears pricked at the corner of her eyes as the blanket came into view. She pulled it out wearily and wrapped it around her neck—like she always did at home. Home. Sierra inhaled deeply, letting herself—even just for that split second—forget all about SOTF and be buried in memories of the far-gone past. She silently prayed that she’d wake up on the couch, her Mom sitting next to her watching bad Lifetime movies. She’d rub Sierra’s head and tell her everything was fine. Or at least give her just one last hug, one last time to tell her Mom how much she loved her. Just one more chance to make it really matter.

Please.

She just wanted her Mommy.

Please.

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Was it completely disgusting that she didn’t want the pepper spray back; that she unintentionally made Josie shoulder all the responsibility without a second thought? …Was is unintentional? Or was there a part of her deep down that knew Josie would fight with everything in her to protect Sierra’s well being? Did she do that so she didn’t have to come out of her own little dream world, where Survival of the Fittest wasn’t real and she was at home in her warm bed? She liked to believe that she was better than that, but… who knew? Maybe she was a bad person. Were there bad people? Or were they just misunderstood? Was she misunderstood? Or was she just a crap excuse for a human being, nothing to misunderstand.

“Thankth,” Came the barely audible response as Sierra stood up and retrieved the pepper spray, letting it linger in her hand for a moment before shoving it into her jacket pocket. It felt heavy in her pocket, her fears and hopes all resting in the miniscule tube. Accepting it from Josie was a step; a big one. It was forced her to acknowledge that she was given a weapon—something that could hurt another human being. But it also gave her a chance to be brave, to prove to herself that she wasn’t as useless as she thought she was. Or maybe the opposite. She wouldn’t let Josie carry all the responsibility, though. Not anymore. And besides, she couldn’t exactly do much with a birthday card.

Sierra pulled tightly at Skanky-Blanky, wrapping it even closer around her neck—like comforting arms. Her chest mimicked the action and tightly squeezed at her heart. She probably should have been lamenting the fact that she’d never have a birthday again, but that wasn’t what got to her. Birthday’s only meant having to grow up, anyway. At least she wouldn’t have to grow up, now.

The dissipated lump in her throat began to flare up once again.

Bubba was what was tearing at her heart, tugging on it relentlessly as it tried to force tears to the surface. Bubba wasn’t as young as she liked to think. And when Sierra was… gone, Bubba was all that her Mom had left. She tried not to think about Bubba passing on back home, but on an island where death was a stone’s throw away, things had a way of sneaking in. She’d die and then Bubba’d die and Mom would be all alone. And she couldn’t do anything about it. She wouldn’t make it. She’d never see her Mom again and there was nothing she could do to change that, she was going to die. People she loved would be with her when her time came though, Josie and…

Omar.

Josie had said the words that were already dancing on the tip of Sierra’s tongue. They could find Omar and they’d all be together again for one last time. He was afraid of the dark, even more so then she was. She couldn’t imagine how scared he was, or how lonely he must’ve felt.

“C… can we jutht find a houthe or thomething after we f-find him and thtay together u-un…”

She couldn’t finish the thought before her soft sobbing drowned it out.

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The bitter cold of the morning wind had lost most, if not all, of its former oomph as the sun lazily drifted higher in the sky. It was beyond pretty and the warmth was a welcomed relief for her frozen nose and in a different life she probably would’ve been able to appreciate it for what it was—but, more than anything, it frightened her more. What if that was the last sunrise she’d ever see? What if this was the last time she’d ever see Josie, the last time she’d ever talk to her? It didn’t help that she was hardly able to talk to her without wanting to bawl, she wasn’t strong enough to look her friend in the eye and still have hope for the future. Not when the only thing you picture is your closest friend dying and leaving you alone.

She didn’t want to be alone.

Sierra smiled half-heartedly at Josie, though she was sure it looked as forced as it was. More than anything, she wanted to be able to joke around with her and laugh and just be them again, but it was hard for her to hide her emotions. Especially when she was feeling as helpless and useless as she did at that moment, she couldn’t. Josie could tell, too. It was always so weird to see her being serious, but it never failed to surprise Sierra how mature her friend could be—but the situation kind of called for it, huh? Especially when someone she cared about greatly was still out there, probably alone and scared out of his mind.

That’s how Sierra knew she was a weak person. She wasn’t actually alone and she still couldn’t be brave. Omar was out there by himself, hopefully still alive. And she knew for a fact that he was holding himself together, he was just that kind of guy. He was brave and so compassionate and he always made her feel like a princess, even when she didn’t deserve it. She didn’t. He deserved the world, not some blob of puddy like her, he deserved so much more than her and it killed her that he wouldn’t ever get to experience that.

At least she’d die knowing someone cared though, right?

[[Sierra Manning continued in It's hard to walk tall when you're small]]
Edited by Mimi, Oct 8 2010, 08:09 PM.

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