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Dude, how come I feel like i'm not in Kansas anymore?; B10 Start
Topic Started: Aug 8 2010, 12:57 PM (4,666 Views)
MurderWeasel
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((Enter Everett Taylor))

It was the worst day of Everett's life. The absolute worse. That was saying something, too. Still, nothing, no sleepless nights of studying, no embarrassing yearly physical, no bout of depressive self-loathing, could ever even begin to approximate this. He remembered it all. He'd passed out on the bus. Thought he was just tired. Thought it was just too hot. Then, suddenly, he was in a room. Tied to a chair. Watching.

He watched, as the video played. He remembered the name John Rizzolo. He remembered the blood. The blood from the teachers. From Mrs. Bishop, who was always late for class. English class. English class seemed so far away now. Everything did. Everett was sweating, his nice pants covered in dirt, his shirt plastered to his chest. It clung in a way that showed off, very clearly, his unimpressive physique.

He almost wanted to give up and die. He was lying by a path on a mountain. All around, there was fascinating scenery. He'd never been somewhere quite so beautiful. It would be a fine place to die. The question was, if he was going to do it, then how? He rolled onto his side with a groan. There was the daypack. Just like they'd said. He dug into it. The zipper was a bit tricky, but relented soon enough. Inside, he couldn't see anything except yellow rubber. Yellow rubber? What on earth could he have been assigned? He dragged it out, watching the duffel bag collapse in on itself. Before, it had been stuffed full. Whatever it was, it was big.

It was a raft. An inflatable raft. Did that mean he could escape? Could... blow it full of air and paddle away or something? Wait, no. There was a cut in the side of the raft, clearly put there by intent. A nice, foot long slash. His weapon was a busted raft. He was going to die.

At least it could be over quickly. He could shove his head into it, and smother himself. That was it. Suffocate. Of course, wouldn't that be painful? He thought of the few times he'd tried to work out, that awful burning and shortness of breath. No. That would be a terrible way to die. What, then? What could he do?

Then he heard the shout. Someone from higher up was calling. Calling a friend. Maybe... maybe people would team up. Yes, team up. Make a concerted effort, like the teachers had done. Find some way out. Maybe they weren't all killing. Maybe he could escape!

No. Everett wasn't right for escaping. He looked up the mountain, and realized he wasn't even right for hiking. Still, he pulled himself up, leaving the raft lying abandoned, and hoisted his packs. Then, he began to shamble uphill. In two minutes, he was breathing heavily, panting almost. All the stuff in his packs was heavy. Too heavy. Still, he had to keep going. Had to...

Then he was there. And there was the boy. Josh? Was that his name? He'd seen him in school, maybe shared a class. He had a second of fear, of doubt, wondering if Josh would kill him. Then he realized he couldn't stop him, and so simply wheezed out, "Hi."
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Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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As Everett spoke, Josh plummeted to the ground. That was a shock. For just a second, Everett was afraid he'd scared the boy to death. That would be... he didn't know if it would be horrible or wonderful. Everett didn't want to die. He was going to, but he didn't want to really. He couldn't kill anyone, though. Not only did he have no desire, he simply knew he was too much of a screw-up to ever succeed. He wouldn't even bother considering the path of the killer. It was pointless.

Then Josh got up, and said he'd been scared. Everett responded, cautiously, hoping he sounded sufficiently apologetic. "I... I'm sorry. Are you okay?"

He seemed fine. Introduced himself and everything. It was so strange, etiquette in this situation, but it helped keep things a little more real. Joshua (Everett wouldn't abbreviate without the boy's permission; some people hated that) launched into a little spiel, explaining that the game was sick and he wasn't going to be hurting Everett. That nearly brought tears to the heavyset boy's eyes. He wasn't going to be killed yet. Oh, sure, it would happen soon. Most likely, he and Josh would both be gunned down together by somebody who knew what they were doing. But for the moment, he could just hide behind the friendship it seemed he was being offered and pretend everything was going to be fine.

Then: the explosion.

He jumped, and let out a little shriek. Luckily, Joshua drowned it out with his own shouting. What was it? What had happened? Everett didn't want to know. So why was he heading that way? Why was he jogging, even though he was winded and his bags were heavy?

"This way," he called to Joshua. "And you don't have to worry either."

Maybe he was still having thoughts of suicide. Maybe he was trying to get shot, and save himself later pain. Really, though, he was probably just curious. It was probably that same instinct that led people to stare at car crashes as they passed by. It only took a couple of minutes for him to reach the source of the sound, and then he stopped.

There was a body. A headless body. In its hand, a twisted piece of metal that had once been a knife of some sort. It looked like the boy (it was a boy; the build wasn't right for a girl) had tried to use his weapon to pry his collar off. Everett had forgotten the collars. His hands went to his. It would just take one good yank, and he'd be like that too. It was horrifying. The blood. The death. The stench. He had no idea if Joshua was with him. His vision had narrowed. He could focus on only one thing. The corpse. He couldn't even tell who it had been.

Then he toppled to the ground, scraping his hands, and threw up. The odor of vomit mingled with the odor of death, as Everett crouched there, beginning to sob loudly. It was so real.

They were all going to die.
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Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
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Josh said something about moving. Everett couldn't even pay attention. Every facet of his being was focused on rejecting the horror in front of him. This was his new reality, though, and boy was it grim. Sooner or later they'd all end up like Remi. They'd all be dead, stinking up the air. Everett didn't know if he believed in an afterlife. He hoped there was one. That meant, when this was all over, he'd have somewhere to go, something besides nothing to look forward to.

He sort of doubted it, though. No deity, well, no good or kind one, would have allowed Remi to be lying there headless.

Various fluids, primarily tears, spit, and puke, were oozing down Everett's chin. He couldn't focus on anything. He was trying to push himself out of this place, retreat in his mind to somewhere better. He could be back at school. At school, waiting for Mrs. Bishop.

Wait. Wait, she was dead. Dead, just like Remi. Oh god. Oh god. Dead like Everett would be soon.

What could he do? There was nothing. Not a thing. He just stayed there, heaving again and again as the smell of blood assailed him.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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Death. Death was right here, in front of Everett. Something he had never been faced with before. A human. Dead. It was so different from all those history books and novels. Those could make him feel queasy, but real, actual death staring him in the face? The horror was indescribable. And that was what awaited him. He would be just like Remi soon. Dead. Bleeding out. Stinking. Wait, no, he already had that down. He was pouring sweat, from fear and exertion.

But Josh was talking. Explaining things. Everett just listened. The boy speaking to him was right. He was actually right. Bayview had its share of jerks, but no remorseless killers. Remi... Yeah, he'd been dumb. Really dumb. He'd tried to pull the collar off. They'd been told not to do that. It would have been a pretty awful thing to bluff about. Someone was sure to try it. Of course it had happened. It might again. But really, all they had to do was keep moving, dodging the danger zones. One person had to die each day, right? That left them nearly a whole year! Surely someone would find them and rescue them by then.

"Yeah," he managed to say. "Yeah, Josh. You... you're right."

They could also fight the system. Bayview had its share of geniuses. They'd always bugged Everett so much. Now, though, he really, really wanted to see Peter McCue. Someone had to know enough about electronics to get these things off. And then, once they were free, they would just wait. Someone would come rescue them, catch the terrorists, save the day! Right on!

Everett stiffly straightened up, and said, "I'm with you, Josh. I'll help you. You... really think we can beat this?"

Yes. Yes, they would. They'd get out of here. Him and Josh and everyone else they could find. And people would only die if they got stuck in danger zones or freaked out or ran out of food. Oh. Right. Food. They'd have to do something about that. But surely there were some hunters in class. They were from Minnesota, after all. It'd be like Survivor or something. They'd be fine.

He knew it was a lie, but he could pretend, at least until someone started shooting.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
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Josh was keeping it together. Keeping calm. Staying focused. It was impressive, very impressive. Something Everett wished he could be. He'd never been tough. Never been all that smart. Never been athletic, or talented, or anything. All he had was his stubbornness, his determination to make something of himself and drag himself up to the level other people naturally held steady at without the slightest modicum of effort. Now, even that was worthless. Sure, he had a good GPA, but what did that matter here? He was no survivor. His weapon had been a pathetic joke, and even had it not been, he'd never have had the guts to use it. No, Everett tried to imagine himself competing on this island like he had in school, and it was laughable. The thought of him wheezing and puffing as he slowly jogged after a fleeing figure, machine gun slipping from his clammy hands as he tripped over some loose stone, was not pleasant. There was no way he'd have been able to ambush people, either. He was not a small person, not the sort who could blend into his surroundings. Especially not in his white, fancy shirt.

It was way too hot, the shirt. He was suddenly very glad he'd lost his jacket. It was still back in Saint Paul, somewhere, with that boy he'd lent it to on that rainy day. Sean. He'd looked for him on the way to the buses, to confront him and retrieve the article of clothing (he needed it for graduation) without luck. Everett blinked. That... that gave him an idea. Something to be sure to do before he died.

Because, despite his optimism of a moment ago, he suspected at least one person would be up for this crazy game. That, or he'd be the one to kick it from thirst, or starvation, or something dumb like that. Didn't the fat guy die first in movies, or something? He didn't run quickly. As soon as the danger zones were announced, he could be royally screwed. He couldn't focus on that now, though. He needed to keep his spirits up. Abstractly, he realized that, bad as things were, he was being overly pessimistic. It was from the stress. His self-esteem, tenuous on the best of days, was already a casualty of this game. After all, what could a fat boy with good grades possibly do in this situation?

He could try. There was nothing more. He could do his best, help Josh as far as he could. It would have to be enough.

"Yeah," he said. "That sounds good. We could... get a better view of this place or something. And maybe see if we can see anyone else, to help us."

It wasn't much. Really, just something to do, to kill time. He was not looking forward to the hike back up the mountain. He really, really needed a rest here soon. Something to eat and drink. Wait, no, not near the body. Oh god. How could he even think of food near the body? That was horrible. No, he had to keep going for a little. Food and drink could come later. Away from this nauseating odor of death and vomit.

He had to start pretending again. Keep his spirits up. They'd be fine. Just fine.

"So," he said, with as much forced cheer as he could. "Shall we begin our merry adventure?"

The words were strained, even to his own ears.
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Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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At least Josh wasn't calling Everett on the flatness of his words. They were going to keep on truckin', pretend things were fine. He could work that. Better than mind-wrenching terror. So up the mountain they went once again. It was sheer, undiluted hell. Everett had had more exercise in the past thirty minutes than in most entire days. That, plus the sudden emptiness of his stomach and his emotional fatigue, had him on edge. The only thing letting him keep a grip on himself was that Josh was being a sport and waiting up. The boy was being so kind and considerate. On the one hand, it made Everett happy to know that someone cared. On the other, it made him feel awful for being a burden. Without him, Josh would've had an easy time, gone racing ahead or something.

The boy quipped about the difficulty of the climb, and Everett managed a weak, wheezing chuckle. Yes. It certainly was harder going up than down. Especially going up a second time. Everett was pretty sure Josh was playing up his own exhaustion, trying to make him feel better. It was a nice gesture.

Moving steadily uphill, he forced himself to focus. One foot in front of the other.One step at a time. Exercise wasn't the worst thing in the world. After all, anyone could manage, if they just had the willpower. Memories came back to him, walking behind the Promenade, encountering Laverne Falciander. She was a girl who knew determination. He blinked. Was she here, too? He hoped not. He'd never managed to catch up with her after their brief encounter. Never managed a kind word or something to the large girl who was the butt of so many jokes. Then again, that was who Everett was. He wasn't special. Wasn't smart or skilled or charming. All he had was his own determination, and even that was not so much, in the grand scheme of things. He'd probably have been dead already if he hadn't met up with Josh. Probably have done something dumb like Remi.

Remi. He still could not believe the boy was gone. How had it happened? It seemed too sudden. Too shocking to possibly be true. The memory of all the blood made Everett woozy again. He had to distract himself. Had to focus on getting to the top. And then he realized that he was there. He'd managed to detach himself enough, send himself far enough into his own mind, to make the exertion tolerable. That was a useful skill. He wished he'd discovered it about a decade ago, back when he'd still had a chance to change his body shape, still had a chance to improve his path.

Had he kissed his mom goodbye? It was a strange thought, jarring. Coming out of nowhere. He cast about, trying to remember, finding himself unable, trying to puzzle out why he'd just now thought of it. Oh. Josh was kissing some metal stick. That was why. He glanced at Everett, and, apparently concerned about his thoughts, started justifying or explaining or something. A mad impulse hit Everett, the sort of thing he'd never done at home, and, without cracking a smile, he puffed out, "Nah, it's cool man. You don't have to apologize for your girlfriend. You're doing better than me. I've got no clue what she is. Maybe Chinese?" Well, it sounded dumb. He had no joking capability, but he'd tried. That was something. Hopefully not a sign of insanity.

Josh asked his opinion on where to go, and Everett considered. He looked around. It was nice here, on top of the mountain. Nice and cool. All too exposed, though. He dug through his bag and pulled out his map. Tried to sync it up to what he could see. No luck. He was hopeless with maps. Hopeless with compasses and wilderness survival. Just plain useless. At least he could see some buildings, off in the distance. Maybe that was the way to go. Maybe, if he had to die, he could at least do it on a comfortable bed or something. He gestured vaguely in their direction and said, "I don't know, maybe down there? We could find some people or something. Get some supplies, for when we find our crew."

He waited for a couple of seconds, but then realized that he'd be better off getting a head start. He started moving again. Always moving. At least with the exercise and starvation rations, he might actually lose some weight on this island. That was funny. SOTF combined with that reality show about getting skinny. Who'd have thought?

So, once again, down the mountain he went.

((Everett Taylor continued in Regrets))
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Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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