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If That Looking Glass Gets Broke; open
Topic Started: Sep 8 2010, 10:34 PM (3,170 Views)
ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
((Dominic Stratford continued from Everybody's Changing))

Hush, little baby, don't say a word
Momma's gonna buy you a mockingbird...


Time had passed.

Dominic wasn't sure how much. Time was continuing to slip away from him, faster than he could hold onto it. He thought it had been hours, but it could have been minutes. Days. Or maybe not days. There had been no nights, that he could remember, and when he tilted his head back he could still see the sun. So hours. Or minutes. Time.

His chest hurt, in a vague and far-away way. A stitch. He had run between stumps, hopelessly turned around, found a road and eventually followed it. And after that he wasn't entirely sure. Landscape had passed, his feet carrying him, and then this unsettled ache had begun and he had found himself sitting under a tree. He didn't remember sitting. But he must have, because here he was.

He wondered how long it had been. Since it had started - a long time. There were gunshots. There were gunshots, and screams, and shouts, and time passing. And the tree. A huge tree, old-growth with spreading branches and Old Man's Beard hanging from its sides like a tattered dressing gown. Cut down, the rings would number in the hundreds. But it was still standing. The loggers who had left the bare and battered stumps behind had not yet gotten to this one. And they wouldn't. The tree was safe.

He leaned his head back against it. Cut him open, and find eighteen rings. Chop him down. It would happen. It would have to happen. That was simply the way things went. Perhaps he would die here, and he would rot slowly until his bones and muscle and skin gave nutrients to the tree to spread its old and tired branches even closer to the sun. That would be - good. It would still be dying. But better. Better to go that way. Food for the detrivores. And he wouldn't have to fight. He wouldn't have to see anyone. Yes. Better.

"You're not scared, huh?"

Dominic's eyes opened slowly. He was somehow not surprised to see Abigail, sitting a few feet from him with her legs crossed and her chin resting on her hands. She was wearing the tie-dye shirt he'd made for her birthday and the jeans with the silkscreened patterns of leaves and trees. Her dark eyes were frank and honest as she stared at him, mouth working as she chewed her ever-present gum.

"They...got you too?" Words were difficult. His mouth was dry, lips already cracking, body too tired for conversation. Words rose unbidden in the back of his mind, the many times he'd passed Abby a metal water bottle and told her drink if she didn't want to get dehydrated. Water. It sounded nice. "Do you have...anything to drink?"

"Sorry." She continued to stare at him, expression unreadable. "You dropped your pack. Back with Tiffany."

"Oh." He remembered that, sort of. Phil Ward punching him. A gun, William Hearst. Yes. He'd left his pack there, hadn't he. His stomach sank, but he had long since exhausted his tears. No more crying. "Okay."

"You said you'd look after me, you know." Her tone was almost accusing, dry leaves crackling under her as she shifted in the undergrowth. "Remember? You said it all the time."

Dominic remembered. At night, before bed, brushing a fond kiss across her hair. I'll look after you. Before school for the first time. Sleep-overs. Through fights with friends, the first tentative flirtatious moments with boys. I'll look after you. He turned his head away from her, not wanting to see her eyes, not wanting to see the face that would all too soon be bloated and blue with death.

"I'm sorry."

"I still need you." His head, moving back without input from his brain. She had moved closer. One arm curled around him, smooth skin, the scent of conditioner from her hair. "Dee, I still need you. I need you now."

Dee. She'd called him that as a baby, the first syllables she'd learned to pronounce. Dee. And then Dommy, later. And Domni when she teased him. He wrapped an arm around her, slowly, wincing at the pull of fresh bruises. As she snuggled down into his lap, he saw how young she was. She couldn't be over ten. How could he have made a mistake like that, thinking she was older?

That was okay, then. She was ten, and he was thirteen and he had a job to do. Protect her, just like a big brother always would. He would protect her for now. That would be easy enough. He carded his fingers through her long hair, settling his back a little more comfortably against the wood as she closed her eyes.

Humming softly. Time passing, not fast, not slow. Just passing.

And if that dog named Rover won't bark
Dee's gonna buy you a horse and cart
And if that horse and cart fall down


Shots, in the distance. Abby curling a little deeper into his lap. The dry taste of dust in his mouth.

Time.

You'll still be the safest little girl in town.


marc st. yves


light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire


lydia hausen


if you don't look down you don't have to fall

sebastian conway


everything will be okay in the end


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
When Alexander rounded the side of the tree, he wasn't exactly being stealthy and Dominic's head jerked up at the noise, one hand lightly covering Abigail's ear in hopes that she wouldn't hear. She was asleep, now, in the dead bracken with her upper body curled in his lap, but she was a naturally light sleeper. Always had been. Couldn't the other boy see that? With his stupid questions...was he still alive? Of course he was.

"Shhh." He directed a small glare over his shoulder, continuing to stroke Abby's hair with his free hand. "She's sleeping. You'll wake her up." Shifting his legs slightly, he jerked his head in the direction of the ground next to him, relatively free of brambles or sap. He kept his voice low, almost a whisper, as he spoke. "Dominic. Dom Stratford. What're you doing here?"

To the onlooker, the tableau would look...strange, to see the least. Dominic's arms, curled around what he believed to be his sister, rested in midair. His eyes were glassy, lips cracked, and face stained from mud and dirt. But odder still was the expression on it - bizarrely open, and unfocused. It didn't look like the expression of an eighteen year old, it looked more like a child, lost and confused. He stared up at Alexander with idle puzzlement, no fear, no desperation, no paranoia. And even his question didn't sound fearful, just curious.

Lost in his own mind, Dominic watched Alex Seymour, hands moving over Abby, wondering idly as to what the other boy was doing in the woods looking so disheveled.


marc st. yves


light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire


lydia hausen


if you don't look down you don't have to fall

sebastian conway


everything will be okay in the end


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
"You can sit here." His quiet acknowledgement of Alex's words seemed to come too late, as the other boy had already sat down. Dominic mulled over his other comments, not moving his hands from Abigail's body. One set of fingers still covered her ear gently, hoping to let her sleep through the interruption, and as such he kept his voice low.

"I'm okay. But I...I guess I'm lost. I'm not sure. I don't really know where we are." Nor did he particularly care. Trying to think on where they were, what was happening...it made his head hurt. And he didn't want to think about it. Every time he did, every time his mind skated near the thoughts of felled forests and guns, he knew just as sure as apples were apples that he didn't want to think about it. So he simply wouldn't. He didn't have to. Just him and Abby, and Alexander, now, and that was okay. Sooner or later Abby would wake up and they could go home and everything would be okay again because when it was just him and Abby everything was always, in the end, okay.

He still whispered, nervous about waking her up. "It's okay, though. Do you want to sit with us for a while? You don't need to worry about anything."

Who needed to worry? It was peaceful. The noises were going away, no sharp cracks like fireworks anymore. No voices. He breathed softly, in and out, head resting against the rough bark behind him. Plenty of rings in that tree, not many in him, not many in Abby, not many in Alex. But he'd never see them. It was a stupid thought. Nothing was going to happen to them. They were totally okay.

He smiled, absently picking loose hairs from his sister's head. "If you're lost, you can wait here with me. If neither of us can find the way, my mom'll find us. It'll be fine. You'll see." Believing it totally and completely, secure and calm in his knowledge that there was nothing that was going to hurt them because nothing was allowed to hurt them. They were in a forest, that was all. A beautiful one. His father, smiling crookedly, telling him to live each day and moment like his last-

-but not his last, not his last, this was just a forest and this was just a day and nothing was last, here, he had his whole life and Abby's whole life and they were just going to sit until she woke up and then them and maybe Alex would all go home and there'd be dinner on the stove and his mother turning around to hug him smelling all sweet and the dog and the cats twining around his legs and-

Dominic barely noticed the soft hum escaping his lips, nursery rhyme tunes from long ago. Hush little baby, like his parents would sing, and everything, everything would be okay.


marc st. yves


light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire


lydia hausen


if you don't look down you don't have to fall

sebastian conway


everything will be okay in the end


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
Alexander seemed...anxious. It was strange, and Dom didn't like it. He didn't want things to be anxious, to be nervous. He hated that. His arms tightened on Abby, and she stirred, blinking up at him in confusion as Alex got up. She didn't speak, though - just stared at him. He wondered briefly how he could have ever thought she was younger, could have gotten confused about time because she was obviously just Abby, Abby like he'd seen her the day before he'd left on the school trip when he'd ruffled her hair and teased her and she'd told him not to drink too much and then he'd gotten on the bus and then...

And then.

No. No no no no no. Not thinking about that, not thinking about that at all. Just thinking about him and Abigail and Alex and the forest and why was he in the forest? Why was Alex telling him to go? What was - he didn't understand. His head hurt. God, it hurt. His mouth dry, pasty, the bruises along his ribcage screaming at him and he couldn't remember how he had gotten them or how he had gotten here but it was all. Going. To. Be. Okay. Because it had to be. Because it was him and Abby and...

Abby.

Where was she?

Alex was speaking, but Dominic couldn't hear him over the sudden pounding of blood in his ears. She had been here. She was curled up in his lap she'd been sleeping and then she'd woken up and now she was gone, somehow. His eyes scanned the forest desperately until he caught a glimpse of dark hair, saw her standing some feet away, back to him. Relief exploded through his middle, and as Alex extended his hand Dominic reached up and took it, stumbling to his feet and bracing himself against the tree as his head spun.

Alex was saying something about things not being real. That was right, wasn't it? Being on an island, this wasn't - people weren't killing each other. That was ridiculous, and impossible. This wasn't real, it couldn't be. He was just confused. His head hurt - maybe he was sick. Or maybe Phil had gotten in a kick to the back of his skull too. Didn't matter. That hadn't happened. Things weren't real and everything was going to be okay.

He stumbled a step forwards, catching himself with a hand on Alex's shoulder. Trying to focus, trying to breathe, trying to make everything make sense again. "It's okay. It's - it's okay. It's not real. I know." He smiled faintly, trying for reassuring. "We should. We should try and get outta here. I kind of, uh." Blinking hard, the world confused around him. "Kind of want to go home."

He'd go home, and it'd all be cool again. Not a problem. One hand on the tree, now, using it for support, he turned to where Abby was standing next to a tree, back to him. "Abbs? Abigail? C'mon, it's okay. Alex is gonna - he's gonna help us get out of here. It's okay."


marc st. yves


light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire


lydia hausen


if you don't look down you don't have to fall

sebastian conway


everything will be okay in the end


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
Dom followed hesitantly, casting an uncertain glance at Abigail. She hadn't acknowledged him at all yet, remaining with her back to him and her head bowed. Her posture was classic angry Abby, but he didn't understand why she would be mad. They were going to get out of here, right? Find their way back home. And Alex was going to help them, since Dominic wasn't entirely sure what was going on right now. He knew some of the things he'd seen weren't real, and that...that announcement, that couldn't be real. So that was okay. Maybe they'd gotten separated from everyone else?

"Hey." Reaching forwards, he plucked at Alex's sleeve, trying to get him to turn back. "You gotta wait. Abby's not - hang on." Breaking off from their straight path, he moved to just behind his sister's dark form, placing a hand on her back, squeezing her shoulder gently.

"Abigail?"

She pulled herself loose from him, turning around, leaning back against a tree with her arms folded. She certainly looked angry, eyebrows creased together in a frown and the corners of her mouth drawn downwards. "What?"

Blinking in surprise, Dominic took a step backwards. "We're...we're gonna get out of here, Abs. Go back home. C'mon, Alex is going with us."

"No." Her voice was flat and toneless, not even affording him irritation. "I'm not going anywhere. Dom, we gotta stay here. Let him go, okay?"

"What's wrong?" He moved forwards, shooting a quick apologetic glance over his shoulder at Alex, hoping he'd understand. Abby was just stressed out, that was all. And nervous. He didn't blame her. What was she doing on this trip anyhow? It was just for seniors, wasn't it? Maybe that was why she was upset. Maybe she'd snuck onto the trip and didn't want to get caught. That would make sense. It wasn't really like Abby, but puberty made everyone bizarre. That was something he'd just come to understand. "Hon, we've gotta go. C'mon. I'll buy you a Coke, okay?" He figured the promise of her favourite drink might help convince her. "Don't worry about getting in trouble. I can talk to the teachers. It'll be cool."

"No!" She drew herself in close, arms wrapped around herself. It was funny, he wondered why he hadn't noticed the bruise beginning to show up along her face. It matched his own, the one from Phil. He rubbed it unconsciously. Yeah, the teachers would have to know about that one. It was ridiculous. What had started the fight in the first place? He couldn't even remember. Couldn't remember much, just something about Tiffany and him getting all upset and crying. Weird. But now Abby was the one who was upset. "Don't go with him. You can't trust him. How do you know he won't hurt you?"

"Don't be ridiculous." Dominic smiled, stretching out a hand to her. "Alex isn't going to hurt anyone. He's not that kind of guy. Now, are you going to come along or am I going to have to put you on a leash?"

Turning back again, he offered an apologetic grin to Alex. "Sorry. Abby's having a shy moment, I guess. She's kind of freaked out about being lost. Can you give us a sec?"


marc st. yves


light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire


lydia hausen


if you don't look down you don't have to fall

sebastian conway


everything will be okay in the end


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
"No..."

Dom's voice was soft, a whisper, nothing more, as he stared at Alex in confusion and mounting horror. That didn't make sense. It didn't make - it didn't make any sense. He turned, one hand coming up to scrub at his forehead, the other hovering at his side as if uncertain what to do. None of this was...he didn't understand. And his head hurt. Fuck, it hurt. He squeezed his eyes shut for a bare moment, opening them again only to start backwards. He hadn't heard her move, but Abby was standing in front of him.

She looked...different. There was a bruise sharply highlighted on her face, in the same place as his own, and her expression was twisted and ugly. Her clothing was dirty, ripped, smudged with blood. Had she always been like this. He didn't think - but his mind was hazy. Nothing was...things were too confusing. He didn't, he couldn't. He started to back away, stumbling slightly over his own feet, holding his hands out in front of him.

Abby followed, but even her walk was wrong. Stalking, swaggering, angry. It reminded him of someone, but his mind wouldn't retrieve the memory. Her voice hissed between her teeth, berating him, more angry than he had ever before heard. "He's lying, Dom. You can't trust him. Don't listen to him. He'll hurt you. He'll kill you."

Dominic shook his head, backing up another step. His back connected with the tree, giving him no other option but to stop. His voice shook as he spoke. "I don't...Alex, what's going on? What - what do you mean, she's not..."

"He's lying!" Her voice was a shriek, now, hysterically high-pitched, face screwed up in fury and fear. "He'll kill you! He'll kill you! You are going to die!" Her face contorted, stretched, melted like warm taffy. Tiffany Baker stood in front of him with a bullet hole spilling blood and grey tissue down either side of her face like macabre clown makeup. Her voice was deep, distorted. The forest around her blurred. "You can't save anyone. You couldn't save me." A smile split her face in two, flesh cracking and peeling until Philip Ward smirked at him, teeth crooked and sharp. Silver claws grew from his hands, shining dully in the light. "Can't even save yourself, you fucker." Coming ever closer, reaching up the blades to rip them down his face, pulling off chunks of skin like string cheese, underneath it an all too familiar face.

Dominic made a soft, helpless noise in his throat as he stared up at himself. Battered and bloody, clothing ripped and liberally soaked in crimson, he had a gun in one hand and Philip's claws in the other. The severed, dripping head of Alexander Seymour hung off of them. The dead boy had a faintly surprised look on his face. "One way to survive," the other Dominic said, smiling even as blood bubbled between his teeth. "One way to be saved."

Dominic shook his head, back sliding down the tree until he sat in the dirt at its base. "No. No. Not real. He said..." He couldn't take his eyes off the head, swinging back and forth. The rest of the world was blurring, spinning, canting crazily around him. "He said it wasn't real."

"Oh, bucko," the other Dominic said, and then he was reaching a hand out to roughly grab Dom's face. His teeth clicked onto his lip, sending a wash of copper into his mouth, and the other Dominic smirked as he smeared the blood with his thumb, pulling it back and licking it thoughtfully, "This is as real as it gets."

And then he was gone. But Dominic didn't notice, eyes screwed shut against the sight, sobs catching in his throat, confronted once more with the reality of the world around him, ironically delivered through his own fevered mind.



marc st. yves


light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire


lydia hausen


if you don't look down you don't have to fall

sebastian conway


everything will be okay in the end


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
((ack SORRY SORRY SORRY ILU))

"No...no, please. Please."

It was only now sinking in that Alexander was leaving. Dominic had barely heard his first few words, absorbed as he was in the panicked images his mind was giving him. But for whatever reason, the fog of confusion had briefly lifted, leaving him lucid and seeing the world for what it really was for the first time in many hours. And he didn't like what he saw. Alex, backing away, looking afraid. Afraid of him? That didn't make sense - but neither did anything that had happened since he'd first woken here.

"I'm sorry, I really - I'm not - I'm not going to hurt you, I just. Please. Don't go."

He rolled onto his knees, stumbling to his feet and catching himself on the nearby tree, holding tight to stave off the inevitable head rush. When his vision cleared, he took a step forwards, and then another, frantic now at the thought of being left alone, with not even the hallucinatory figure of his sister to keep him company. Truly deserted. "Please, don't leave..."

Another step forwards. Another. Another. Reaching out for Alex, higher-level thinking deserting him in the rush of panic. "Please! You can't!"


marc st. yves


light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire


lydia hausen


if you don't look down you don't have to fall

sebastian conway


everything will be okay in the end


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
 
ifnotwinter
Member Avatar
half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
It was bad luck that Dominic was moving forward at the exact moment Alexander lashed out, worse luck that he was staring beseechingly at the other boy's face, unable to understand the anger he was hearing. This wasn't like Phil. This couldn't be like Phil...

The blow caught him high on the cheekbone, momentum and the loss of balance caused by exhaustion and dehydration sending him hard to the forest floor. His head snapped back, bounced off the ground, making tears spring to his eyes as he yelped and scuttled backwards. What the...he didn't understand. Why had Alex hit him? That made no sense - at least with Phil, there was something of a reason, he knew it was simply a part of what Phil was like, could understand the circumstances, but here Alex had been soothing. Calming. A friend.

Had it been a trap all along?

He pulled himself warily to his feet and inched forwards again, hands held out to his sides. As real as it gets. The bloody faces of Abigail, Tiffany, Phil Ward with teeth like a shark, Dominic's own face grinning at him. This was the game. Kill or be killed. But he hadn't thought anyone would play it. People couldn't. They wouldn't...

He moved towards Alex, faster this time, grasping for him.

"Please..."


marc st. yves


light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire


lydia hausen


if you don't look down you don't have to fall

sebastian conway


everything will be okay in the end


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
 
ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
The next punch landed just under Dominic's ribs, in that soft fleshy hollow of skin and fat and muscle and organ. It drove the breath out of him with a surprised whoof, left him choking on nothing as he tried to drag in oxygen, feet still inexorably dragging him forwards. His words were gone with his air, but his lips still moved, mouthing desperate pleas, eyes wide and dark with the pupil swallowing up the brown.

The punch after that swung wild, knocking his shoulder and sending him staggering, off balance. The one after that connected neatly with his ribs so that he half-fell, dull ribbons of pain twining around his midsection, forward motion finally arrested and the single shocked scream of WHY repeating itself in his mind, his lips forming the word over and over and over until a heavy blow to the side of his head knocked him into the dirt, dead leaves, rotting things invading his mouth and making him spit.

After that, he lost track.

Alexander's shoe made bright starbursts of pain, thudding over and over into his body. The occasional difference was a fist, or open-handed slap, but they all ran together. His eyes were closed now, rolled up into his head as he fought to curl into a ball. Once in a while, he cried out, the abrupt sound of an animal being stepped on. When he heard the crack, felt two ribs buckling under the assault, giving way to curl around his lungs. When the toe of a sneaker connected with his lower back, once, twice, three times, until his world dissolved in white-hot sparkles without pity or sympathy enough to bear him away on wings of unconsciousness. When his glasses shattered, and glass splinters bit deep into his cheek. When he ran out of air to vocalize, he buried himself in his mind and prayed.

To what?

He wasn't sure anymore.

Just as he wasn't sure how long it had been when he finally registered that the blows had stopped raining down, leaving him in a broken bundle on the forest floor. He started to uncurl, stopped as white-hot knives buried themselves in his sides, suns exploding in front of his eyes, fingers refusing to listen to his order.

He opened his mouth to cry out, to heave great dry sobs the way a child would, frantic for their mother, but all that emerged was a tooth. A canine, coated in blood.

He probed the inside of his mouth with a tongue that felt like it had gone through a paper shredder. Two molars slid out with just a little prodding, the incisor taking a little more work before the root ripped free of the pulped gum. It didn't particularly hurt. The little nuggets of enamel dropped from his lips, one by one, and when he opened the eye that would still open and saw, blurry and indistinct, the teeth lying on the ground, he vomited.

It hurt almost worse than the beating, and he lay shaking long after he had finished. There seemed to be altogether too much blood dripping from his mouth, but that somehow didn't feel important right now. What was important was Alexander.

Alexander. Had done this to him - but no, that was impossible. He wouldn't. No student would, no one in Bayview, not since Pondsworth had gone, and that left the simple, easy to understand concept that someone else, some sicko, perhaps the same one who had dreamed up this game, had done it. And Alexander was gone. Perhaps to find help? Or he was scared. Dominic could understand scared. He was scared too. It ran deep, still waters, current humming through him, but he forced himself to ignore it.

Alex could be hurt too.

He should (kill him) find him.

Find him.

Yes.

Raising himself on his hands made him feel like there was something hot and fiery inside of him, lava, slowly running through his veins. Achingly sharp, burning him from the inside out. He made one abortive attempt to get to his feet, but his knee buckled under him and send him shrieking back to the ground, a thin, high noise that sounded like the keening of a dying animal, one of the many he'd tried to save. Eventually, he made it back to his hands, planting one after the other, dragging the injured leg behind him in an awkward half-crawl. Each movement made fresh explosions go off dully in his organs. He spat blood. Some from his mouth, cut as it was, but some came from deeper, hot and fresh.

But he had to keep going. He knew that much.

Barely able to see, barely able to crawl, barely able to talk, Dominic Stratford dragged the bleeding, broken heap of flesh he had so recently called his body forwards, following footsteps which weren't there, the last vestiges of adrenaline propelling him into the trees.

((Dominic Stratford continued in No Valhalla For Pacifists))


marc st. yves


light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire


lydia hausen


if you don't look down you don't have to fall

sebastian conway


everything will be okay in the end


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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