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Ghosts
Topic Started: Nov 9 2010, 02:10 PM (3,061 Views)
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[ *  *  * ]
Her clock was so off she slept at noon, under a windy, weedy overhang coming off the side of the mountain. When she woke up, Zach was still there. He had been with her like an old, mean dog; the hours when she slept, he might have guarded her or curled up next to her. All she knew was when she woke up, he was standing outside the overhang, knives in his hands, as the sun began to set.

They ate food then, hardly talking, ripping pieces off their respective baguettes. The mountain was full of sounds and hollow light, birdsong and wind and the pink air of sunset. Mizore spotted a cavern in the mountain then; a bubble in the tunnels, it looked natural-made, a cavern of shallow, fresh water a few feet within the rock. Of course the mountain had natural caves--the fresh water on the island must come from somewhere, and an underground lake would explain the crux of the three rivers--but this particular cavern was still surprising, lit from above by a chink in the mountain, and roughly, mistily from the outside. Pillars of rock came from the shallow water, rippling, wraithlike and tall.

"Don't you think it's a little too late to be painting?" Zach said.

But Mizore was already peeling off her stockings, replacing them with a pair of loose, painted patchwork jeans, stuffing her tights and her skirt in the rucksack and bringing out a couple of safety pins to pin the legs up. She stepped into the cold water, barefoot, and waded shallowly over to the first rocky pillar. Started to paint.

"... yeah, go have fun." Zach resignedly sat down at the pool edge.

Several hours later, the pillars were covered in painted ghosts.
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Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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"Is this what you did back home? You a graffiti artist or something?"

Mizore was almost done. She added a bit of red shadow to the rocks, and put down her spraycan.

"Yup."

"Why'd you say you were famous?"

Mizore pulled her ruined pencil out of her pocket. Sucked her lips in. Began her signature. "Radio Asuka. Some semi-famous graffiti artist. Was me." Oh God, the English language hated her. "Got into Bennington off it. But now I'm here. I guess it's better for me than most people. I can still draw 'till I drop. And most of my friends aren't here."

A twist of the wrist. End of the signature.

"You?"
--------


Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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"Coward…" Mizore licked her lips. "I don't believe it. I figure it's got to take a lot of bravery to kill someone, although perhaps it takes more strength of will to not pull out a weapon when things get really rough." She shrugged. "I just find the urge to kill--to play--foolish. Trying not to come to terms with your own death. If Danya had said everyone was going to die, then we'd all be spraypainting rocks or whatever, maybe killing a chump a day. But because he said that one person would survive--well, now we're all killing people. As if we think we'll be the lucky ones. It's like putting a conscience round in a firing squad. Suddenly everything's a lot more vicious."

She flopped to the ground. "But maybe I'm wrong. And needless to say, I'm glad you're not playing."
--------


Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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Mizore saw Zach sneer, and thought grimly--he thinks I just called him a coward. Does he ever listen?

He went on. "Foolish? I just call it dumb. Even if you were big enough to go killing people that you know, you'll find a target the size of a tire painted on your back. I mean jesus, it's common sense. The fat fuck goes on and on about each death every day so someone's got to be eating up every word he spews. Some asshole's probably got a blackboard and some chalk, making complicated equations about each murderer, thinking that's how they're going to live when it's all about not being stupid."

You think they're stupid. Also, dumb. In other words, foolish. Which is what I was saying. If you didn't yap so much, I'd say you were deaf.

But she couldn't be too snappy at Zach now. The rocks around her were ghostly in the moonlight, spattered, gleaming red. Beautiful.

"What, are you glad that I'm not playing because you like me? Or glad because I won't try to knock you off?"

Zach's voice knocked her back to reality--he didn't stop talking--and yes, now she was snappish for real. Nothing to do with him, poor boy, other than the fact that he was talking. But because she had just spotted the loudspeaker, glinting darkly in the corner of the cave, and realized that announcements were coming soon.

Not Raidon, not Raidon, not Raidon, not Raidon…

And bam, like that, she was cold again. And this puddle she had her feet in on the bottom of the cavern was slick with streaks of algae.

And Zach was clicking his tongue, waiting for an answer.

And she snapped at him.

"Because I like you? You're fishing for compliments now? I thought you didn't care what people thought of you, Zach Jamis." She laughed, and put her head back. She should really get her sleep schedule back on her track; she didn't like the darkness that was in her now. "Isn't the fact that you're not killing me good enough? I'm not ready to die yet."

Pah. And she was supposed to be ready to die. She was cracking like an egg. Little spidery cracks. All because of Raidon. Stupid Raidon.

Yeah, it would be easier if she just liked Zach Jamis. Fell right smack in love with him. At least he shared her views on playing. She could live with him for her last days of island life. In peace, because it was foolish to go to war.

Foolish to fight. Nothing left fighting for.

And that, that made her bitter.

Mizore, pacifist to the core, had always had something to fight, or fight for. A piece, a cause, a counter-protest, a personal demon, an ugly world. But now, here in this cave, her feet doused in algae water, spraypaint used, she felt empty.

Danya had won. There was nothing left to fight for anymore.
--------


Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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"Hey," Mizore shifted her legs under her and crooked her hand in a proto-wave.

The girl who just entered shone with exhaustion. Mizore remembered her name--Kari Nichols. She had noticed her in class, red hair, green eyes, sketched her surreptitiously once, for the color contrast. She also did speedcubing, which was cool.

And apparently she'd been given a machine gun.

Shrug. That would be interesting.

But she didn't look like she would be mowing them all down, which was, Mizore supposed, a relief. She looked tired and pinched and cranky and possibly unnerved by the red ghosts. But non-Zach company would be nice. She was a bit sick of confrontations for today.

"Ghosts are not real. I've just been painting." Nice way to state the obvious, Mizore. "You can sleep here, if you want. We're not playing, and one of us will take watch." Her body clock was so screwed up that she probably couldn't help but take watch. "Announcements coming soon though."

Not Raidon, not Raidon, not Raidon…

Agh, Raidon. Once upon a time, Mizore had been careless and unbreakable. The island hadn't mentally shook her, not more than death usually did--she knew she would die one day, and then, when she had been put on the island, she knew it would be sooner. It was even a relief in some ways, to know that she didn't need to do anything else but draw, find paints and draw, sketch ghosts and learn the lines of death. Her friends were elsewhere, in a commune, in Saint Paul; the only person she had to care for was herself. And she was pretty low-maintenance.

But then Raidon had come, and now she was cracking. Little spidery cracks in her mind: she could feel them. She needed to meditate again. She needed something different to happen. An escape plan, a breakout, a bit of bloody hope, because suddenly it had seeped into her bones, it wasn't just her death she cared about. Zach was here, for all his annoyance, a boon companion, and Zach's friend Samya, and Raidon, Raidon…

She swallowed. She needed to find Raidon again. Something would happen, then. She'd stay with him. She'd insist on it. She'd be an utter and complete bitch if she had to.

Yup. Things had been much simpler when she just wanted to paint.

The Nichols girl took a cautious step into the cavern, and Mizore remembered one more thing.

"Watch out. The middle of the floor is covered in water."
--------


Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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"Think this stuff is safe to drink?"

Kari Nichols dipped her water bottle into the stagnant water at the bottom of the cave. Mizore winced before the lip of the bottle touched the surface.

"Don't do that." She made a motion with her hand as if to block the curve of the bottle. "That water's been likely sitting here for weeks." She rummaged through her bag, found her remaining water bottle, and rolled it toward Kari. "Have mine."

She could likely pick up another bottle from a corpse around here. There were corpses near here, right? How many people had died?

Some shuddering to think of it.

And I have been so safe this whole time. I was rude to players, almost put myself in the middle of a murder, and yet I've seen the minimum of actual violence.

No shootings, falls, bloody scalpel-cuts. Just shadows. Raidon's bloody resolve, clutching his gun, Janet's justifications, Samya crying in the recreational center, and now, redheaded Kari Nichols who wouldn't let go of her gun.

How long before the violence comes to me?

There was an odd edge of almost hysterical excitement in that question. Mizore wanted to know how she'd react to actual violence. She'd been brave in the face of protests turned violent, police raids, and anti-graffiti sweeps, but SOTF was different.

Because no one expects me to live.

Kari Nichols was looking cockeyed at the water bottle. Paranoia Mizore was lucky to be without. "If you want me to take a sip to prove it's not poisoned or something, I will."

I've been lucky.
--------


Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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[ *  *  * ]
(Sorry I'm replying to myself...this is an exitpost)

Kari drank, and slept, a relieved, desperate sleep. Zach snerked, and then settled down too--Mizore's suspicion that he had not slept as much as she when she had slept under the mountain ledge was apparently right on.

She stayed up, and fixed herself. She undid her hair, brushed it, rebraided it with the dingy ribbons that she smoothed out and scrubbed in the pool. She changed her foul shirt for a clean purple one, sparingly rhinestoned, which made her smile. She unpinned the hems of her jeans.

Her spray paint was almost done, so she refused to use it anymore. Instead she stayed by the smooth, water-worn walls, using the best-preserved of the wax pencils; she refused to be disciplined, use the worst first anymore, when it was likely that all of them would only be crushed further the next time she moved.

The next time she moved, she was finding Raidon. It was an ache in her throat.

Her hand drew whorls on the cave walls, twists and vines, all black, shattered by swords and consumed by curling fire. The wall was smokey, deeply lined, and her pencil clung to the scars and cracks. A lantern swayed, a rope, a noose. Spike-leafed flowers and bleeding thorns. She licked the walls and scraped the wax to make the shapes savage and perfect. Am I drawing Hell?

But hell would never be so alive. And this place, whatever she was drawing, was paralyzed, terrified by life. Wild and human things became animate, alive, under her hands. Her tongue was black, like a parrot's, covered in bitter wax.

I can't go on like this.

It wasn't even a guess. It was a fact.

She had to put down the pencil now. It was worn to a nub, callousing her fingers to draw.

She was tired, drifting, dreamy. Maybe half-insane.

She took the map out of her pack, held the last remains of the wax pencil, closed her eyes and pressed down. When she opened her eyes, she had worn a black dot into the Parish. The church. Of course.

She smiled and put the wax pencil back in her backpack. She used the disinfectant solution in there to scrub off her hands and her face.

Now there was only a note to write.

Pen and paper out. Chewing on the pen cap to figure out what to say.

GOING TO LOOK FOR NAOKO RAIDON. APOLOGIES FOR ABANDONING YOU. GOING TOWARD THE PARISH.

THANK YOU FOR STAYING WITH ME.

Yeah. She liked Zach, despite his snerk. And she liked Kari Nichols too.

She hoped she saw them again.

Tucked the note under Zach's arm. Shouldered her daypack. Closed her eyes.

And Mizore Soryu was gone.

(Mizore Soryu continued elsewhere)
--------


Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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