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Somewhere That's Green; TOPIC CLOSED
Topic Started: Aug 27 2010, 09:59 AM (1,641 Views)
MurderWeasel
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((Jennifer Perez continued from Shelter From the Storm))

The endless expanse of fallen trees was not that far from the old bar and the residential zone, though the journey felt like it had taken a long time. That was not a bad thing. Jennifer was in no hurry. She had moved with as great a degree of stealth as her brightly colored clothing had allowed, and took several rests. She had moved when the world sounded normal, ducking into cover whenever she heard sounds that could belong to people, or when the ambient noise went silent. She did not want to deal with another group. Another bout of high-tension, armed paranoia was the last thing she needed.

Then there had been the bang. It had been early in her journey, and it had come from the direction that she saw, looking at her map, seemed to hold the sawmill. It was a place Jennifer had already decided to avoid, and the noise simply reinforced that idea. It had also driven her to ground for half an hour. If somebody was out there throwing around grenades or shooting a rocket launcher, she wanted no part of it. The whole thing was just too much. She wanted to be away from people. Wanted to be at home. Wanted to be doing something stupid and mundane, loitering at the Promenade, window shopping, spending time sitting in the park and staring at the night sky. Anything but this.

There was no anger left in her. That had bled out, as it so often did, once she was alone. She didn't like the situation she was in, but she just couldn't bring herself to rail against the heavens or Danya or anything like that. What would it change? What would it accomplish? Nothing.

The one thing that was worrying to Jennifer was that her priorities were not complimentary. Avoiding people was all well and good, but it would make finding a specific person very challenging. She also didn't know how long she'd have to track him down. He was one of the few genuinely good people she knew, one of the few who were everything she pretended to be. Much as she hated to admit it, that probably meant he wouldn't last that long out here. The sort of person who worried about total strangers in a car crash was not the sort who would be able to kill his classmates. Maybe not even defend himself or bring himself to believe that anyone would kill. Remaining optimistic was the worst possible thing someone could do out here. It was a perfect route to death. It meant trusting the wrong person at the wrong time. It meant getting shot in the back.

That was not a fate Jennifer wished on anyone. Not even Clio Gabriella. The video back in that auditorium, after... no. She couldn't think of that. Anyways, the video had been a perfectly illustrative example of the follies of trust. Even those you thought you knew, thought you could follow anywhere, could turn around and kill you with no hesitation. It was a clear lesson. It gave her pause. Made her wonder, made her hate herself for doing so. Someone who worried about strangers... Could he hurt someone? Well, yes. Clearly yes. Hadn't that been the cause of the situation where they'd met? But only by mistake. And anyways, it didn't matter. Jennifer was not going to win. She was not going to be able to kill her way to the top. She was going to die here. If she was betrayed, that would not be a pleasant death, but then, could any death be pleasant? It didn't seem like it. It was a risk worth taking. There would be no happy ending for her, for her few friends who were here. They would all be gone, soon. Nothing but flesh and bones, rotting in the sun, being picked clean, inside and out, by animals and insects. With the size of the class, it would be a miracle if the whole island didn't contract terrible diseases a week in. There were going to be a lot of corpses.

She looked at her hands. Something so simple. A part of her body. More than that, a part of her. The same hands she'd had her whole life, the ones she'd used to hold a doll when she was five years old, the ones she'd held a pencil and a needle and a magazine and a bottle of beer in in the years since. When she died, when she ceased to exist, it was likely her hands would still linger for a few days. It was strange, imagining being parted from them. And what was death, anyways? Heaven? Hell? She couldn't believe it. Had never been religious. Now didn't seem a good time to start. Then what? Nothingness? She couldn't even consider nothing. Could only picture black, or white, or emptiness, but emptiness was not nothing; it was an absence of something. There was something that could fill emptiness. Nothing could fill nothing. No, death was an eternity without anything, even the ability to know how long had passed. No thought, but no thoughtlessness, either. She simply couldn't imagine it. That made it terrifying.

And now, Chris knew. Chris, and probably someone at the sawmill, and probably a dozen others by now. They had experienced it. It held no more mysteries for them. Was that something to be envied, or pitied?

Jennifer was no longer happy being alone. She needed someone, anyone, to shake her out of her state of mind. She needed something to distract her, to force the unpleasant thoughts away, to pull her back down to reality. Was this the start of going insane? It sure felt like it. She'd thought all these things before, of course. She would often think about the world, even at home, but meditations on death were easier to shake off, to disregard, when the likelihood of ceasing to exist was far away. She'd always planned to live forever, on some level. To live until she was at least eighty, and at eighteen, that was close enough to an eternity. Her short life felt like, well, a lifetime. She had done, seen, experienced so many things, and it was just a beginning. Only now there would be no end. Now there would be nothing. It was only a matter of time.

She wanted to smash her head against something, to hit something hard, drive the thoughts away with pain. She kicked a log with all her strength, but it was old and rotten, and crumbled and splintered and flew every which way, but did not even grant her a hint of agony. The movement did throw her off balance, but she instinctively flailed her arms, managing to stay upright. Her body was made for this, to keep itself intact. Only her traitorous mind desired to damage herself.

And then, she paused. She had been walking while thinking, though she had not realized it. Walking without watching where she was going, in a daze, a haze of thoughts, not registering anything at all. The world was silent. The sun was high in the sky. Around her, as far as she could see, were stumps and fallen logs. Grass and tangled weeds grew everywhere. Some fungus dotted some of the stumps. And up ahead, a good ways ahead, was a figure, sitting and staring the opposite direction. A person. Someone she knew? She was too far away to tell. Right now, though, she would take anyone. Anyone to provide a distraction. Jennifer picked up her pace, stumbling slightly as she made her way through the weeds and across the loose rocks and branches, her feet occasionally crushing dry plants and threatening to upset her balance. She was closing quickly. Wait, better to say something now, right? Better not to surprise someone dangerous. Even if it could be a relief. Even if the adrenaline rush of a life or death struggle could be just the right thing to carry her away from her musings. She had to be strong. She had to be strong for everyone else. Her family. Her friends. Easier to remember now, with another person in sight. Easier for her to pull herself back together. It was an interesting revelation. Jennifer wanted to stay herself, and she had thought that other people imposed false selves on her. Now, though, she wasn't sure. When she was alone, she wasn't sure she was anyone at all.

"Hello," she called softly, pausing about twenty feet from the person. A huge girl. Someone she'd definitely seen around. Someone intimidating. Didn't matter. At the moment, anyone was a blessing.
V7:
Juliette Sargent
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MurderWeasel
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The girl spoke. It was not a conclusive response, not a greeting or a threat. A nothing. The sort Jennifer uttered all the time herself. Reassuring, somehow. No prepared speeches. No eloquent greetings. Just the girl. The girl and the bat.

Well, okay, the fact that this huge girl had a bat was somewhat intimidating. Then again, could Jennifer really talk? She was armed, too. Probably more usefully than that girl. When a heartbeat passed without any further comment, she nearly went for her icepick. Just for defense. Just to catch the bat if the girl swung it at her. But no. That would escalate. That would be the worst possible thing to do here. She had to bring the tension down, not ratchet it up.

And then, the words. The real introduction. The release of fear. Jennifer could smile about how foolish she had almost been. And, better still, they had never met before. It made sense. Of course she hadn't known Deidre's name. And Deidre didn't know hers.

"I'm, um, Jennifer. Perez not Romita."

It had become a mantra over the years. Why she clung to it now was beyond her. Who cared if someone mistook her for Romita now? Being thought promiscuous was the least of her problems.

This was instantly proved correct, as Deidre inquired about whether or not Jennifer was playing. That caught her by surprise, and then tripped her up. Playing? Playing what? Did she mean killing? Talking like this whole thing was just a fucking game? It set her on guard. Made her wonder just how stable Deidre was. Almost made her turn tail and slip off again, like she'd been doing this whole time. But no, the girl had set the bat down while talking. It clearly was a question born of fear, not malice. It was not pleasant, not polite, but the time for niceties was gone. This was sheer survival.

At least, it was for Deidre. Jennifer had to keep herself herself, though. So she didn't snap back, didn't give a curt reply. She started walking towards Deidre, smiling.

"Um, I don't think it exactly counts as playing. More like, um, well, murder, I guess."

Wait. That had come out all wrong. It made it sound like that was what she was doing. Fuck. This whole scenario was not going how she'd hoped. She was walking closer, grinning, icepick maybe visible behind her back, talking about murder. Maybe being herself was a mistake at this precise moment, because she was not eloquent or particularly good at communicating what she meant.

"Um, uh, not that I've killed anyone, or, um, or would ever want to. I don't. I, um... I'm just sort of scared and I've been alone for a while. I just want to, I don't know, um, not be alone for a minute, but, um, I can leave if you want."

What a disaster of a speech. She'd messed up about as much as possible. She'd tipped her hand, fumbled her introduction, and possibly made herself seem insane. This was just getting better and better. Maybe she should run. It wasn't too late. But no. What would that accomplish?

It was just too confusing. Too much to deal with. Her emotions were all over the place. She just needed to sit down and sort herself out.
V7:
Juliette Sargent
Alton Gerow
Lavender Ripley
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MurderWeasel
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Before Deidre had time to respond, the situation became even more complicated. A boy called out, and Jennifer spun to face him. This had the unfortunate effect of clearly revealing to Deidre the icepick in the rear band of Jennifer's skirt. Combined with her lackluster introduction, she was afraid she really was going to look like a psychopath, and a bad liar to boot.

Those thoughts vanished as the image of the boy in front of her clicked. Bill something-or-other, his name was. Big guy. Tall, heavy, muscular. Football team. One of Maf's teammates. Someone who could maybe help her find him, help her say her little goodbye, or whatever it ended up being. Normally, the association would've been enough for her to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Normally, Bill would not have been holding a large gun.

Jennifer knew nothing of guns, but she suspected that rifle sorts were more dangerous than pistols. She'd seen how erratic people got here. Carla's departure had shown her clearly that weapons did not make for level heads. All it would take for everything to end would be for Bill to decide to kill her. It was really that simple. A tug of the finger on the trigger, some sort of internal process, the expulsion of a large piece of metal. Curtains.

Not quite how she'd imagined her life ending.

She was laughing nervously again, stepping sideways. Deidre behind her, Bill in front. Deidre had seen the icepick, knew that Jennifer wasn't entirely stable or coherent at the moment. There was a very high likelihood of this going poorly. Had she been an outsider, a third party, perhaps she could have talked them down, could have explained. As the focus of their attention, there wasn't a chance. Her palms were sweating. She was glad she hadn't set her bags down yet. Glad she hadn't gotten comfortable. Being with people seemed so overrated, now. It was just too much.

Her laughter abruptly stopped. Everything seemed clear. She could hear a cricket chirping, somewhere. Feel the breeze from the sea tugging at her clothes. Watch Bill's chest rise and fall with his breath.

"I'll just be going," she said. "I still need to find somebody."

The tension was running high. Then again, maybe it was just her. She wondered whether she was the escalating factor in this situation. The others seemed calm enough, but she'd done too much wrong for them to possibly trust her. She'd fucked up fairly brilliantly. The stress had her hands shaking. It took conscious effort to keep them from drifting to the back of her skirt. That would be a fatal mistake. She felt like she was about to burst from nervous energy, like she had to run, run and not look back. But not quite yet.

"Bill, if you see Maf, tell him to keep an eye out for me, please. I'll try to check at, uh..." She couldn't remember many of the landmarks. Only the sawmill, where that horrible explosion had come from; the residential zone, where she'd already seen there were too many people; and some sort of carnival, with rides and a mirror house. That last one gave her the creeps, but it also seemed least likely to have a large group hanging around.

"I'll check by the house of mirrors. I'll try to go by every day or two."

They hadn't shot her or beaten her to death. That was good. Maybe her speech had given them some reason to trust her. She couldn't chance it, though. She had to get moving, get out of here, regroup and try again. It was the only reasonable choice. Maybe she'd be lucky and they'd find Maf, and tell him. Maybe not.

Did it even matter in the long run?

She inched her way to the side, and, after a few quick glances, took off again, the bags and icepick thumping awkwardly.

((Jennifer Perez continued in Spelunking))
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