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High Tides and High Hopes; A late night, an early morning. [Day 3 -> Day 4]
Topic Started: Nov 1 2010, 04:22 AM (1,301 Views)
Rattlesnake
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Now you may be wondering, who was wearing the bolo tie? Me or the shark? Answer: YES!
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Kari Nichols continued from Missing Those Lost))

Kari was exhausted. There was really no other way to put it. It was now nearly three whole days since her last meaningful human contact. After the incident in the felled forest, she'd kept searching, telling herself that everything was fine, that Carol and Simon and Rein would be just around the next corner, that they weren't the unseen group near he explosion. But the more she searched, the more her hopes seemed to crush under the weight of reality. Parish? Empty. Well, nobody capable of holding a conversation - or breathing, even. The little town? There were almost as many ways to get herself killed there as there were places for the group to be hidden away in. She couldn't stay long where her footsteps crashed loudly and died on stark, unfriendly facades. Screw it, she'd said after that. I don't owe them nearly enough for a wild goose chase. And that was that.

Or, at least, she wished that that was that. She didn't need to care about them. She didn't need to relive her ill-fated impromptu land survey in her head, regretting every step. She didn't need to feel indebted to Carol, to Simon, to Rein, to the people who should be in her debt.

She didn't need to, but she did.

And to convince herself of that, she'd set off in the opposite direction to where she knew they - no, where she knew their corpses - were. First order of business: get a plan. That wasn't too hard. Survive. Simple enough for a girl with her resources. But where to go, who to search for, when to talk and when to just slip away, all of that had to be played by ear. She'd seen other students in the distance, gotten glimpses of hoodies and bags and in one case what had to be a sword. That didn't help things at all.

As night fell, she'd journeyed to the seaside. It wasn't really as great as people always said it was. Real life ocean breezes weren't really something you'd want to put in a bottle for people to smell. They smelled like dead fish and rotting seaweed. All the same, it was quite an amazing sight, so mind-bogglingly vast, so flat, so blue. And the rhythmic waves, those were nice. They would've been something good to fall asleep to, if only she'd been tired at all. Watching the stars inch across the sky, she got a sense, really, of time. It was one thing to say that it was late night of day two, but it was quite another thing entirely to watch it all happen. Foregoing sleep, the night ticked on resolutely - no force in the world could stop it. She couldn't quite put her finger on it. Of course time always went on and on no matter what. But to live an entire day uninterrupted by unconsciousness really drove that point home, somehow.

And so began another day of Hell. The announcements came. Carol wasn't listed. Neither was Rein, or Simon. So they were alive. But they didn't need her, and she didn't need them. She could strike off on her own - and that's what she did.

And now here she was, watching the sun go down once more, brushing the tiredness out of her eyes, off her face. Someone swore loudly. There were no gunshots, though. No screaming. Her first thought was to move off silently. Her second thought was that that idea could go shove it, and that she'd had enough sneaking around in the shadows. She could still acquire a target just fine in the gloom. And if they were friendly, maybe they wouldn't make her keep watch all night. It seemed like a nice payoff. Thinking for a moment, she made her introduction.

"Hey! It's Kari here. You're not playing are you?"

VeeFive


V4


NO. THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE. FOR YOU, THE CAKE IS OVER. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF CAKE.

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Rattlesnake
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Now you may be wondering, who was wearing the bolo tie? Me or the shark? Answer: YES!
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
So, so tired...

But she could push through it. It was now what, 40 hours since she'd slept? She was reaching the point now where her body was begging for sleep, getting down on its knees and pleading for a nice soft warm bed, kicking and screaming when none was available. She felt so, so tired when she'd tried running. She shivered against warm air. Her mind swayed like broken swing, twisting this way and that and never actually going anywhere. She felt awed by the ocean and its vastness, and then she felt crushed by its stark immensity. The gun hanging off her shoulder was comforting and reassuring, except when it was horrible, nasty, ugly, heavy, and brutal. A wave of general malaise swept over her, and she really thought that she'd literally kill to get some rest, if that even made any sense.

It was with immeasurable relief to her that the pair beckoned her over. With lightness in her heart and a knot of fatigue in her chest, she made her way over.

She recognized them both. Tiffany, the cheerleader, alternating between sickeningly and infectiously cheerful. William, the murderer, was in a few of her advanced classes.

Wait...

She should have pulled the trigger then and there, taken both of them out, made off with the spoils. Another weapon or two (wait, what had William used? She could only remember something about a collar...), more food, clothing, medical supplies...

No, she told herself. He's probably like Simon and Rein. Too many nerves and too much ammunition. And something about a collar, maybe it was an accident?

She might have turned back had she slept the night before (pulling the trigger, she wouldn't admit, was right out), but in her present condition... Honestly, she thought she might share a campfire with Reiko if she had a spare blanket. Nonchalantly handling her weapon, she hoped to reach a sort of tacit agreement to shove thoughts of lethal force and enjoy their time left.

The night wore on, and evening gave way to true night, leaving only the blaze of their little fire for light. They were talking like any group of people sitting around a campfire, and for just a while she could almost pretend there was no collar around any of their necks, no guns at their sides. She toyed with her Rubik's cube, taking comfort in finding patterns in the shifting colors that moved too fast for an untrained eye to comprehend, applying the correct algorithms, laughing as she mixed up blue and green, red and orange due to the fire that bathed everything in its monotone glow...

It was hypnotizing, looking into the crackling flames, watching the wood evaporate with the same deliberate inevitability that spun the stars above her head. Huddled in her hoodie, she barely remembered her determination to keep an eye on William. He was so nice, and she was so tired...

Finally, after that hideously long stretch of wakefulness, she slept.
VeeFive


V4


NO. THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE. FOR YOU, THE CAKE IS OVER. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF CAKE.

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Rattlesnake
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Now you may be wondering, who was wearing the bolo tie? Me or the shark? Answer: YES!
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
"And I didn't even wake up until, like, the third night."

"That's one long dream."

"Yeah, it was kinda like - what is it, Devil's Arithmetic? that we watched in middle school. Where the kid drinks a bit too much booze and spends like a year in their magical concentration camp dream, and-"

"Hey, did you kill anyone?"

"No, I didn't. I did have a big heavy gun, though. It was kind of funny-looking, I wonder if they make anything like it in real life?"

"Heh, didn't think you'd have hit the scoreboards."

"I-Hey, what's that supposed to mean? I totally could have, you know. I was too busy saving people and stuff."

"Come on, Kari."

"What? I totally woul-"

"Kari, wake up! It's time for the announcements!"


"...Whaaa?"

For a moment, she wondered how she'd suddenly fallen asleep. She fought to return to the dream world, to reveal the collar and the gun and the island and the G090 to all be fake, to be the dream she'd woken from, to be something she could sit around a fire and laugh about with her friends on the class trip.

But she couldn't.

Slowly she sat up. Looked up at William. Bent over, hugged herself. Shivered. She felt horrible. It was (she counted off on her fingers) the fourth morning? Her hair was starting to clump a bit from all the grease and dirt and grime. She was dirty from lying on the ground, and probably didn't smell to great either. Resentfully (why did he have to wake her up so early?) she ran her tongue over the scum building up on her teeth when the announcements came on.

She didn't want to hear any of it. It was enough to be carrying around that gun, to be in a situation where she had to consider actually using it on other people, but hearing the fat man rattle off friends and classmates with indecent glee was just too much, especially for the mood she was in. Trying to block out the noise, she tried focusing on the barrel of the M50. Too macabre. Maybe a random bit of ground would do. She focused with all her might on ignoring the game, but one hand reached up absentmindedly to her collar...

BEEP

She almost screamed. For one terrible moment, she thought she'd set it off somehow, that she was going to die, or that she'd already died, or something. And then it became clear that both of those were wrong - no, one of them was wrong but the first one was true if she didn't high-tail it.

"Ready to run?"

You bet she was. In the space of a moment, she was collected and ready, stumbling into a run after William and Tiffany. The morning's grumpiness seemed to just melt away, replaced by pumping adrenaline and a determination to reach the border of the dangerzone. Feeling the light thrum that accompanied every beep, hearing it so viscerally, right under her chin, so blatant and so personal, she stared at William's running form and thought - what would have happened if he hadn't been there to wake her?

A killer just saved my life...

((Kari Nichols continued in Ghosts))
VeeFive


V4


NO. THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE. FOR YOU, THE CAKE IS OVER. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF CAKE.

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