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The Cries of the Voiceless; PRIVATE: Mary Ann Warren and RJ Lowe. Approx. 4AM in the morning that will become Day 3.
Topic Started: Oct 2 2010, 04:09 PM (2,841 Views)
Stark
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Nuts.
[ *  *  * ]
((R.J. Lowe continued from Clap For The Killers))

At first, everything was beautiful. The sun shone bright in the cloudless sky, meadows of pure green stretched as far as the eye could see on both sides, and not a single car obstructed the highway as R.J. and Elizabeth tore down the road at top speed. Her engine roared with the fury of a raging lioness, but to R.J.'s ears, she was purring like a kitten. This was the feeling he truly lived for. This was what freedom truly felt like. One man, two wheels, and no obstacles.

Then, off in the distance, to the left, a lone tree stump. He thought nothing of it initially, simply driving on past it. He thought not much of the one he passed on the right shortly thereafter. I
t was only as the bare stumps and dead logs began to dot the landscape that he took notice, and it only grew thicker with them the farther he went, until he was eventually driving through a vast, dried up elephant graveyard of trees, the verdant, full-of-life meadows now just a fleeting memory. Above him, clouds began to form, white and wispy at first, but quickly expanding to a thick, black mass of vapor until the sun vanished without a trace. He looked down from the darkening sky, only to discover that the landscape had changed once more. The world around him was littered in corpses. Corpses of everyone he had ever known, all in various states of decay, splayed out across the felled forest. And straight ahead, standing in the middle of the road, was a girl, her skin pale, blood staining her pure, white dress as it dripped from a hole in her gut. A girl named Eva Lancaster. He tried to stop, but the brakes wouldn't budge. He tried to turn, but Elizabeth wouldn't let him steer. All he could do was stare helplessly as he awaited the inevitable impact, before he awoke in a cold sweat, shooting bolt upright from his makeshift bed on the forest floor, the taste of bile heavy in his mouth. Stumbling over to one side, he proceeded to cover a nearby stump in water, wheat, and stomach acid.

Only by virtue of spending two days awake and moving was R.J. able to sleep at all that night. Thoughts of what he'd done had continued to haunt his conscious mind. Thoughts of what could make a girl like Kris Hartmann a murderer. His own murderous rage at Staffan Kronwall. The fear of his own inevitable demise. Everything about his situation conspired to keep him from sleeping peacefully, and the conspiracy had thus far succeeded. For a moment, he thought about laying back down and trying again, until a new circumstance presented itself. A voice. A girl's voice, specifically. One that sounded oddly familiar, but that he was still too tired to recognize. More importantly, it was disturbingly close. He speedily grabbed his gun and his flashlight, having kept them close at hand as he slept, in case of an emergency. Shining the light in the direction the sound came from, the beam illuminated the figure that stood no more than 20 yards ahead.

...Oh my god.

Mary Ann Warren was the last face he'd hoped to see. Not because he didn't like her, of course, but because he really, really did. He hadn't been able to find her when they were getting on the buses, so he'd hoped she'd gotten lucky and not been able to come. Not only that, but now he had to be reunited with the girl he lovreally, really liked as a killer, something she'd inevitably find out about for herself.

Why... why couldn't you have just stayed home...

It was all he could do to helplessly drop both the gun and the light to the forest floor, simply standing there, nerves freezing him in place.
<Mimi>: You are much nicer than I thought you'd be!
<Stark>: Shut up, fatty.
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Stark
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[ *  *  * ]
She didn't need to stagger far. Tears welling up in his eyes, he closed the distance as quickly as his feet would carry him. He didn't give a damn how dirty she was, or how red her eyes were. She was the most beautiful sight he could have hoped to see, simply because of who she was. If she absolutely had to be in this godforsaken hellhole, there was no place he'd rather she'd be than in his arms, safe and sound, the one place he knew no one could hurt her. Immediately, he wrapped his arms around her, embracing her with every ounce of energy he had left. He sniffed. If Mary Ann hadn't cleaned herself in the previous couple of days, she needn't worry, as she was getting a shower right now.

He had so much he wanted to say to her. He wanted to confess what he'd done. To explain why he had to do it. To ask if she could ever forgive him, if she could ever see him the same way again. He wanted to tell her it would all be okay. That he would stay with her to the end. That he wouldn't let anything happen to her. That if he had to, he would give his last breath in the hopes that she made it home safe. That god dammit, forget what he'd thought earlier, he did love her, and nothing would ever change that.

That he hoped she would please just stay with him.

That he just didn't want to die alone.

He almost tried, too.
<Mimi>: You are much nicer than I thought you'd be!
<Stark>: Shut up, fatty.
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Stark
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A notebook. He could work with that. Not as fast as typing on his PDA, sure, but they'd taken that from his bag. And even if they had light, it was still faster than writing in the dirt. Which reminded him... the flashlight might help about now. He raised his index finger, signaling that he'd be back in a second. He ran back to his own supplies, retrieving the gun and flashlight he'd dropped, tucking the former into his pa- no, best to put it in the bag. At least for now.

It didn't take more than a minute to gather his things and return, and fortunately, Mary Ann hadn't gone anywhere. Using his shoulder to hold the light in place, he searched her bag for writing supplies. The notebook was easy enough, sitting right on top of everything else. Pencils or pens, however, were less readily apparent. He started to carefully sort through her things, scanning between the rations, the first aid kit, her extra clothes, her - oh dear. Those were... those were polka dots, all right. R.J.'s cheeks went red as he proceeded to gently tuck those in a far corner under everything else. Just keep on looking, keep on looki- aha! Fresh, unopened package of pencils. He pulled one out, before taking a seat on a nearby stump and starting to write.

He knew what he wanted to tell her, but he had a bit more trouble knowing what to say. Obviously, a simple "Hey, I killed a girl" wouldn't exactly cut it. Then again, what could? He'd done the unthinkable, and he wouldn't blame Mary Ann if she never wanted to see him again. He had to try, though. He had to tell her what he'd done. Lying by omission was still lying.

"You know that I would do anything to see you go home safe, right?"
<Mimi>: You are much nicer than I thought you'd be!
<Stark>: Shut up, fatty.
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Stark
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[ *  *  * ]
She could tell. Shit. Was it that obvious? He wasn't about to lead off with the big reveal. He needed to ease her into it, so she could understand why what had happened had happened. That he knew he'd made a mistake. That it was safe for her to stay with him. That, frankly, he needed her to stay with him. That he had nothing else left to keep him from losing his mind, as far as he knew.

Gulp. He probably should keep that last part to himself, actually.

Still, this next one could take a minute.

"Then please, promise me you'll stay with me. Whatever happens, you're going home." You, not we. He wasn't going to promise her anything he only might deliver. He glanced around for cameras, pulling the notebook close as he wrote. "You, and anyone else we can help. I don't know how yet, but the means don't matter. Only the end. You'll see your family again. I promise you that. Just stay with me. Please."

He paused, before adding in one more sentence.

"I love you, and nothing that happens here will change that."

There were better times to let that out, but for all he knew, he'd never get another chance.
<Mimi>: You are much nicer than I thought you'd be!
<Stark>: Shut up, fatty.
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Stark
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Well, he couldn't say he'd expected that answer. He hadn't expected any answer in particular, so whatever she'd said, even nothing at all, would have caught him off guard. But realistically, this was pretty much exactly what he should've seen coming, and as he thought about her answer in the ensuing silence, that much became clear to him. They'd only been seeing each other - if you could even call it that - since February. Saturday, February 23rd, to be exact. He'd have laughed at that in any other situation. Remembering the anniversary of their first date, him, of all people, and she probably didn't think of them as dating. It'd been months and they'd never actually slept together, so maybe it was a fair assumption on her part. Still, he'd dated his share throughout high school, and this was the first time he'd said those words to anyone outside his family, insomuch as he could say them. Like he thought when they talked for the first time that day in the library, there was something special about her. Maybe this was it.

Whatever. He didn't need her to reciprocate. Just to know what he felt. He smiled back, albeit a bit weakly.

"That's fine. Just being able to tell you is all I need. That you'd stay is more than I could've hoped for."

There was a pause. He was avoiding the primary issue. Eva.

"There's something else, something you deserve to hear from me, rather than when it's announced in the morning. I owe you that much."
<Mimi>: You are much nicer than I thought you'd be!
<Stark>: Shut up, fatty.
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Stark
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He already knew where he was going with this. He had to. He'd already opened the door.

"Her name was Eva. I was with a group when we were shot at with a crossbow. No one was hit, but I panicked, and shot back. I didn't miss." He sighed. It was obvious he was ready to cry again, but by now, the tears had dried up. "Looking back, she probably wasn't a real threat. She seemed just as scared as I was. I just made a stupid mistake, and someone's dead because of it. The Lancasters will never see their daughter again, and it's my fault." Again, a pause before the last couple of sentences. "I don't expect you to forgive me, and I won't blame you if you change your mind about staying. I don't deserve any sort of sympathy."

While it was true that he didn't expect her to stay by his side, he knew she was the only thing anchoring him right now. He knew that if she did leave, things would only get worse. His temper never was one of his best qualities, and he'd killed once already. For all he knew, she was the only thing standing in the way of him going the way of Reiko Ishida or Alex Rasputin. Before he'd come across her, he was already on his way there, had he run into Staffan Kronwall first. Already out for revenge. Already just like Kris. Mary Ann didn't need to see him like that. She deserved better. She deserved to be at home, with her family, maybe a nice guy, someone better for her than he'd ever be. The need to protect her was the only thing that tethered him to the morality he'd held dear only days ago, and he knew it.

He needed her.
<Mimi>: You are much nicer than I thought you'd be!
<Stark>: Shut up, fatty.
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Stark
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[ *  *  * ]
That voice again. That smug, self-satisfied voice that R.J. had come to hate in so short a time. What he wouldn't give to put that bastard on his level, rip his vocal chords out of his throat with his bare hands.

Yeah, always the goddamn quiet ones. Eva, meanwhile, barely warranted a passing mention. A person, with a family that would never see her again, who was cut down vastly before her time, and she was just another number to this douchecannon.

Twenty-one more dead. Steve Barnes, another teammate, among them. Beheaded. Was that even possible in self defense? More killers, too. Some of the same killers, even. Reiko Ishida, who R.J. could've snapped like a twig, was now a murderer four times over. Rachel Gettys, evangelical Christian. He didn't know her personally, just knew of her. Most people did. She'd killed too. Somehow, he wasn't surprised. Suffer not the unclean to live, right? Seemed like just about her approach to religion. He couldn't stand people like that. People who'd twist religion, especially his, into something that promoted intolerance to serve their own little agendas. Far as he was concerned, that was the ultimate form of blasphemy.

Eve Walker-Luther. Definitely not someone he knew personally, but he remembered when she'd gotten pregnant. Not something you don't notice, after all. And this asshole had the gall to mock some little girl who'd grow up without a mother. Now that made him seethe. And even still, for all the names he couldn't put faces to, they were still people he'd passed in the halls every day, people he knew, whether he really thought of them that way or not. Forty of them were dead now, more still were murderers, himself included. Whether he delivered on his promise or not, things could never go back to the way they were. Dead or no, their lives were already over.

It made him sick. He could just taste the bile lingering in the back of his mouth.

"I..."

But he couldn't let it get to him. None of it. For Mary Ann's sake, he had to stay strong.

"I'm still too scared of being alone to leave... I just wish it didn't have to be like this, you know?"

I know. Better than I hope you ever have to understand.

Gently, he placed a hand on her head, slowly running it through her hair, hoping that simple act of compassion could reassure her at least somewhat. In a way, he hoped that moment would never end, just the two of them, together, holding each other close.

In a much bigger, much more dire way, it couldn't end soon enough. They had to find a way home.

Together.

You don't have to be scared. You don't have to be alone ever again.
<Mimi>: You are much nicer than I thought you'd be!
<Stark>: Shut up, fatty.
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Stark
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[ *  *  * ]
Just wandering, huh? Guess that made two of them.

He'd already tucked the notepad away safely, leaving only their weapons and the map out of place, the latter of which was already in use. It seemed the best idea for now would be to head someplace with a roof. The parish was the closest, but... well, R.J. wasn't exactly sure a house of God would be the most welcoming place for him, at least not right now, all things considered. There was the sawmill he'd been at yesterday, but someone was probably still lingering there that would know his face, and as he recalled, it wasn't in very good shape. The town was even more likely to be harboring people who recognized him, but there were more than enough buildings that he might not run into any of them. There might be salvageable supplies, too, if they were lucky.

Didn't take him too long to come full circle, did it?

The town was straight off to the east, which meant walking directly into the sunrise. The trek would be a little sketchy due to the resulting visibility issues, but the sooner they walked, the sooner they got there. He folded up the map, tucking it away into his bag, between the first aid kit and a crude instruction manual on how to hit someone with a shepherd's crook. Zipping that up, he picked up the gun, double-checking the safety just in case before stowing it in the usual spot. Silently, he offered to carry her sword - he hesitated to call it a sword so much as a 25 pound, double edged cricket bat - to which she replied with a nervous nod. "Th-thanks." He understood why she might be hesitant, but really, it was 1) much too heavy for Mary Ann to carry; even with his own upper body strength, R.J. doubted he could effectively wield it, and 2) best to keep it out of the hands of anyone who might misuse it. He couldn't exactly vocalize as much, of course, so the best he could manage was just to extend his free hand to her, with the best smile he could muster in this situation.

Just hold on tight. If only so you know you're not alone.
<Mimi>: You are much nicer than I thought you'd be!
<Stark>: Shut up, fatty.
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