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Alone in the Dark; A camping trip, indeed.
Topic Started: Feb 6 2011, 07:47 AM (1,036 Views)
Dr. Nic
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How cute.
[ *  * ]
[Boy #14 - Alex White. Continued from The Magi.

One-shot thread. This is... really long.]

It had been a while since Alex entered these tunnels.

When he first came across them, he camped out at the entrance. He built a fire and prepared some torches, planning his trip into the darkness. He didn't know how much time he would spend inside the tunnels but he knew enough to be prepared for whatever came along. The smell of rot was strong at the entrance, so he expected to find someone dead in here, but he didn't quite expect as many as he encountered. Death was something that was hard to deal with up close. Back on the logging road, he was willing to kill Ray and his group. He'd been willing to kill someone for a while now for any number of reasons, but the main thing was that he was actually willing to kill. He'd made up his mind about it.

But he'd never actually thought about the other people.

After he left the logging road and headed back into the felled forest, looking at his map and following any path he could to find the entrance to the tunnels, he was focused on the hunt. He was focused on finding his quarry and ending her life, claiming his rightful prize for doing so. Liz had a bounty out on her head and Alex was intent on cashing in on that bounty, but as he wandered that desolate wasteland that was once a healthy, vibrant forest, he came to encounter death first hand.

Amber Whimsy.

He knew the girl, once upon a time. She was popular enough back in school, always tried to keep on the good side of everyone she met. Kind of shy though. Cute, but she was one of those bouncy girls who got annoying fast. But looking at her lifeless corpse, half buried in dirt and absolutely stained with blood with such a pained expression on her face... it was something else. He couldn't look at her like that and once the smell hit him, the smell of a dead body a few days past its expiration date, he couldn't keep what little was in his stomach from coming up. As he wandered around in the dark of the tunnels, he could still taste the sick in his mouth when he thought about it.

Such a cute girl in school and now she was nothing but worm food.

But no matter how hard it was to look at her corpse, he had to be thankful that she was dead. When he came across her, half buried there among the stumps with a gunshot wound in her chest, he had to be thankful. The bag he saw her with on the bus was gone, but her day pack was still lying nearby. And on her head was some sort of helmet, dirty and a little bloody and gruesome to remove from the corpse but he did it anyways, keeping his arm over his mouth to keep the smell out and the sick from rising again. Everything was still in her bag, the bread, the crackers, the water and even her flashlight. His had died a long time ago and he'd tossed it somewhere, opting for torches instead. But a flashlight would be a welcome addition to his growing supplies.

"I'm sorry."

He spoke to her body as he took her few remaining belongings, taking the hat from her head. It was the least he could do, but Alex knew he could have done more if he was so inclined to remain there for longer. He could have buried her or said something besides that half-hearted apology over taking her day pack. He could have done something more but he didn't, and now it was too late to do anything but think back on what she was like before this game got a hold of her.

But here he was, alone in the dark with more corpses. That's all he was going to encounter here in these horrid, dark, dank tunnels. That was the only company he would have during his time wandering in the dark, his path lit by the flickering flames of some makeshift little torch instead of by the reliable light of a flashlight. He just made things harder on himself and he knew it, but this is a smell he would have to get used to. This was a sight he would have to get used to. Dead bodies and rot.

Tony Russo.

Rekka Saionji.

Sally Connelly.

Cyrille LaBlanche.

Alex knew each and every one of them. He spent time with them outside of school at one point in time or another. Ran into them at the mall or went to a party they were attending. He had classes with each of them at some point, may have even discussed the assignment with them out in the halls of the school. He didn't think he would run into any of them on the island and yet, here they were. His company in the darkness of the tunnels. He spent the entire day wandering these tunnels, hours and hours of endless walking. He didn't have an appetite after the first corpse, couldn't even stand the thought of eating after the second and by the time he found the third, he wished he would have been afforded the luxury of being without a sense of smell.

Finding Rekka made him wish he was blind.

But when it came down to it, Alex proved to be all kinds of heartless as he knelt beside each and every corpse. Not to offer up prayer or give them some sort of closure, but to take anything of value off of their lifeless bodies.

They didn't need it anymore.

He repeated that phrase aloud and in the silence of his mind every time he searched the bodies, taking wallets and watches and whatever lay nearby. He took their belongings, their personal bags and their day packs if they remained, rooted through their spare clothes and took solace in taking their food and water and assorted supplies.

"They didn't need them anymore."

He repeated aloud as he walked on through the pitch black and pulled another bundle of sticks, leaves and slivers of sap soaked pine from where they sat in his bag. Every time he found a day pack, he emptied it of all useful contents and stuffed the empty bag into one of his own. Even their spare clothes were deemed useful as Alex dug through their belongings and took everything. By the time Alex had come to the last body, he didn't even care enough to guess at the name of the person he was stealing from. He'd become numb to the sight of the dead body and didn't even bother to cover his mouth or nose.

Alex got his wish as the smell faded from thought, then.

By the time he was finished with his trip through the tunnels, he'd emerged elsewhere on the island to find that the sun was going down again. His last torch was finally beginning to die and as he scrambled to make camp once again, he didn't even notice the building in the distance. He was focused on building a fire and making himself comfortable instead of on the more important things such as where he was or where he was to go. He just found a place that was out of the way and set up his camp. Another night under the stars on this island would be welcome.

"Time to get to work."

Once his camp was built, Alex made himself comfortable and spread the various bags before him, taking out the clothes he'd gather as well as his own and set them down in a pile next to him. He took a moment to strip down to his scivvies and gather something new, something clean, to change in to. A new pair of jeans and a clean shirt were called for by now. Five days in the same shirt and pants left them smelling more than a little ripe, but he hesitated to waste his water on bathing, especially after what he went through to get those bottles of water.

A liberal amount of deodorant and cologne would have to suffice for the moment.

Standing as close to naked as he had gotten in almost a week, Alex took inventory.

"Enough bread and crackers to last me three days. Enough clean water to last two, at least. More if I don't clean."

He absolutely reeked of cologne now to cover up his own stench, so cleaning was something he'd need to do before he slept.

"More than enough cloth to make some decent rope. No new weapons, besides this thing."

He tapped his fingers on the helmet that sat nearby.

"More bags than I need, but they'll be useful for scrap."

Alex let out a long sigh as he stared at everything in front of him. It had been a while since he ate, but he lost his appetite when he started to find those bodies. Now? Now he was starving and his throat felt like it was filled with sand, his tongue an ill carved piece of wood. He'd dabbed a bit of cologne under his nose, hoping to drive off the smell of rot when his sense of smell returned to him. But it seemed that the first thing to return to him after that trip through the tunnels was his appetite. Alex turned his attention from his belongings to his body as he gnawed on the stale bread and downed as much water as he could afford to use.

He was a wreck.

The bandage on his leg would need to be replaced, but the one on his arm looked to be in much better shape. Still, he'd have to clean and re-dress his wounds tonight. Whatever wasn't stained with dirt and sticky with sweat had long since changed colors, a depressing shade of blue and black and purple combined. Bruise upon bruise covered Alex's legs and arms, chest and abdomen. If he could see his back, he'd likely have a few there as well. The one at his side, another little gift from his chosen quarry, hadn't changed much since the first time he'd examined it. At least nothing was broken. Then again, he had to thank his brother and father for his pain tolerance. If they hadn't been so hard on him, if he hadn't spent so much time getting his ass kicked at one point or another, he'd be in far worse shape by now.

These bruises just reminded him he was still alive.

"I'm alive. I'm alive, and over a hundred other people are dead."

Alex was proud of that fact. He was tougher than they were. He was a survivor.

"And a hundred more will die before this is over. But I'm a survivor. I'll stay alive."

Grabbing another bottle of water or two and his personal supply of hygiene products, Alex started to clean. Not one to waste water, he focused exclusively on the so called sweet spots. And before he got dressed, he cleaned and tended to his wounds, making sure they were properly dressed before he even put on a new pair of boxer briefs. He wouldn't linger there for long, however. He didn't want to be caught so off guard. It didn't take him long to get dressed.

"And before this is over, I'll have a kill to my name. If not more than one."

Alex muttered to himself as he dressed, a new shirt and a new pair of jeans, a new pair of boxer briefs to replace those he'd worn for some time. If he weren't fighting for his own survival, he never would have gone so long without changing his clothes. He'd never gone more than two days without changing his clothes, so going five almost six days without doing so was strange. The clothes he'd been wearing for so long certainly smelled of it, gathered there in a little pile. He didn't want to bother carrying around useless, soiled clothing, but perhaps some of it wasn't quite so useless. Sitting down next to the various piles of clothing, men and women's clothing alike, Alex took the Goedendag and the glass shiv and set them down next to him. Those were his tools. For hours, he would work on slicing up the clothing. Every pair of jeans was cut to ribbons, every shirt sleeve was torn off and opened at the seam.

Working long and hard, Alex focused on the task at hand. Just as he had done back on the logging road, he was putting his knowledge, his skills and his new tools to good use. Long strips of cloth, almost an inch in width, were laid out and stacked up nearby. Groups of three and four of equal length were stretched out together, and it continued like that for some time until all he had left was his own spare clothing, the last shirts and pants and boxer briefs he had packed, which he left alone and put back into his personal bag. Underwear and socks were the only pieces of clothing that were not sacrificed for scrap but even so, they did not escape his notice. The waistbands of the underwear were cut off and the rest of the cloth discarded, while the socks were filled with rocks and dirt, stretched out to their limit and tied off.

Liz had given him an idea, back in the swamp.

Alex certainly looked strange there, cutting up stolen clothing and organizing every stolen supply item in front of him, all sitting nearby a small, flickering fire. He was alone at his campsite, but he didn't mind. Being alone was perfectly fine in this place, a welcome feature of fighting for their lives. He didn't have to look out for anyone else or pick up the slack for someone who was falling behind. Doing the work by himself, with so much work to be done, was something he took solace in. He didn't need to rely on anyone else, didn't need someone to help him survive in this place, to thrive where others could not.

To him, it was something he had grown to love. This place just reminded him of camping with his father and brother, with William or...

"It seems he didn't need me to protect him, after all."

Alex mused to himself as he wove the strips of cloth together, turning a handful of long strips into one single, braided length of cloth. A simple little rope, stronger than the individual bits of cloth. But this was mindless, repetitive work, and Alex's mind was allowed to wander. The island, the game, the players. His friends. The people he once called friends, brutally killing one another in the name of survival. The others being brutally murdered simply because they weren't willing to join in and follow the rules, or perhaps because they were deemed unfit in this Darwinian game. Alex's thoughts wandered to the one he sought to protect so early on in the game, the one he had been looking for. Yet on the second day, he had gone and killed that boy, Trevor. It seemed that William didn't need anyone to fight for him. He was capable of fighting for his own survival here.

"Peter and Colin, too. Neither of them seemed to need any help fighting for their survival."

Alex started on the next length, pinning down each end of the finished sections with rocks to hold them together. Once three or four sections were completed, he began to splice them together, the same way his father had taught him when he was younger. Who needed the boy scouts? Alex and his brother certainly didn't. Anything they would have learned there they learned with their father, along with a number of other fun facts. How to disarm an armed opponent or how a kevlar vest actually worked. How to start fires with flint and steel, a pair of glasses or even a shotgun shell. How to use pine sap as fuel for torches and tinder for fires.

Even how to use a slingshot to catch a dinner of squirrel or random bird.

"...slingshot. Now that's an idea."

He certainly had enough elastic to make one, if he was so inclined. The waistbands he took from those stolen pairs of underwear would work perfectly, if he had enough of them and they were strong enough. Alex finished splicing together his sections of rope and began wrapping them up, coiling them around his arm before setting them off to the side. He sighed as he looked back to the rest of the cloth still sitting nearby. Maybe he could use a little help.

"Dad, Mike... I can't tell you how much I miss you right now."

He knew exactly what they would have to say right now. Not just about his campsite or his slow creation of tools, but about his state of mind and the fact he had given up on 'doing the right thing', as they would call it. But what did they know? Were they stuck on an island, forced to deal with the death of everyone they called a friend? No, they weren't! Were they being forced to watch people die on a daily basis, forced to hear some sick bastard call out their friends name and thoroughly enjoy the fact they were dead? No, they weren't! But he was! He was stuck there on the island with murderers and psychopaths. He had to fight for his survival. He had to do whatever is necessary in order to survive. If that meant he had to kill someone who was causing trouble, he would do it.

"You told me once before, when I was younger. I asked you why you did what you did, why you put your life on the line for others. You told me it was just what you had to do, that you were proud to do it. And I asked about those times you had to use your gun, those times where someone had to die in order for you and your partner to survive. You told me it was just what you had to do. You didn't say you were proud of it, but you still said it was what you had to do."

Alex was caught up in talking to himself, to his father. His attention wasn't on the cameras or even being wasted by staring off in to space. Alex just spoke while he worked. If anything, it seemed to help his concentration as his pace quickened in weaving the cloth pieces together.

"No matter what you may have expected of me, I want you to know that this is what I have to do. This is what I have to do in order to survive. I'm not exactly proud of it, but it is something that I deem necessary. I'm sure you've seen far worse if you are watching this. I'm sure you've seen every last horrific thing that they have done. I'm not saying I haven't done anything that was terrible either."

His fight with Jimmy and his fight with Nick. Both of those were terrible things to do, looking back on them. Threatening that crying girl and that fool Micheal back on the beach, that was another terrible thing. Brandishing a weapon and threatening to kill Ray, Bobby and Neill. That was a terrible thing.

"But I am saying that everything I do from now on is something I deem to be necessary. If I have to kill, I have to kill. If I have to fight, I have to fight. If I have to do something terrible in order to survive, I will do it."

Alex looked to the weapons that sat nearby. The Goedendag and the shivs he had made, the sling and the pouch of rocks and glass. The weapons he had yet to make, still nothing more than plans in his head.

"I know some of the people here are doing nothing but fighting for their own survival, just as I am. I know that not everyone whose name was called out on the announcements is as bad as they are painted to be. But I also know that some of them are. People like Clio and Maxwell, that little asian bitch Reika. Reiko. Whatever. The people who have been killing more than anyone else."

The name on his wrist.

"People like Liz Polanski as well. The ones who don't care about the well being of anyone else on the island as long as they make a statement, as long as they get to do whatever it is they want to do. They need to be stopped."

Alex swallowed and peeled his tongue off the roof of his mouth. He needed another drink. He needed something more than bread and crackers to eat. Hell, he even needed to have the luxury of brushing his teeth. If it weren't for the cologne dabbed under his nose, he expected his breath would smell as bad as the tunnel did.

"And in this game, the only way to stop someone is to kill them. I may not have a gun, but I have the knowledge that you gave me. I have the know-how of spending eighteen years listening to your stories, of experimenting with Micheal out in the backyard despite your warnings. I have the training that you gave me to protect myself and others, and I have the less than savory training Micheal gave me as well. I may not have a gun, but I can kick plenty of ass without one. I think you said it before, once or twice. You don't need a gun to do the right thing. You don't need a gun to fight for what you believe in."

But a gun would certainly be a lovely addition to Alex's slowly growing arsenal.

"I know that they all have families back home, but I also know that some of these people cannot be allowed to return home. And I know that when this is all over, I probably won't deserve to come home either. But it's a sacrifice that I deem necessary. Just like you and Micheal, I'm doing something that... that I can be proud of. But... but it may not always seem that way."

Alex swallowed hard again. This time, he choked back his anxiety and forced his next statements to come out, no matter how much he wished to avoid it.

"I'm... I'm going through withdrawal, and I know it. I've known it for a while. I've tried to fight it, but it's not something that was ever going to be easy. I've been on amphetamines for a while now. A year, maybe two. I don't know anymore. I... I started taking them when I was falling asleep in class, or when I just didn't have the energy for everything I had to do."

Alex grabbed a bottle of water and choked down almost half the bottle in one go. He was thirsty, sure, but it was more to give him a moment to compose his thoughts. It was a moment he could use to make spitting out those words that much easier.

"And when I woke up here, the first thing I checked my bag for was my pills. I didn't even think about my cellphone or anything else, I just wanted those pills. But they were gone, and I knew they would be. I've been wandering this island, but every chance I get, I've been looking for those pills. I looked in Jimmy's bag after I knocked him out cold, you probably saw that."

By now, Alex had stopped his work with the cloth, and just stared at the fire as he spoke.

"I thought he might have something I could use. I mean, it was Jimmy Brennan, he had problems back in school and I thought he would have certainly been on Ritalin or Adderall or something. But I was wrong. Ha. Who would have thought Jimmy Brennan wasn't on pills. That... that's surprising."

But the only laughter Alex could muster was a short, dry laugh.

"I know Andrea has some, Andrea Raymer. But I don't know where she is. I wish you could help, I really do. But it seems I'll have to keep looking. But I'm sidelining my search for her. If I find her, then that will be great... but I'm not going to waste time looking for her just to get the pills she has. I don't know what I would do when I found her. If... if I'm worse than I am now by the time I find her, I might do something I'll regret."

Alex looked down at his arm and his leg, at the bandages.

"I've already done a few things I regret... but probably not for the same reasons. Sometimes, I wish I wouldn't find her. I know what I might do, and when my head is clear like this, I get scared. For her, for myself, for what it means. But when things are back to the way they normally are, when I'm sweating and almost shaking from the need... I can't do anything but think about her and those pills."

Alex slipped one hand over the opposite wrist, rubbing idly.

"Heh... sometimes, I think I'm going to end up like that Renton guy from Trainspotting. The idea that I'm just going to start hallucinating wildly... see fucking zombie babies and game shows starring my family."

Despite the fact it was said as a joke, that he even laughed for a moment when he thought about it, a chill went up Alex's spine. Whoever was there to beg, he begged them not to let that happen to him. Withdrawal was bad enough without fucking hallucinations. The irritability, the time spent sleeping, the anxiety and paranoia... he could handle all of those and more, but fuck hallucinations.

"Huh, looks like I'm almost done."

Alex turned his attention back to the cloth and the rope he was making, then to the rock filled socks and every other little thing he was preparing. Some of the rope was being spliced into the main coil, but there were at least six sections set aside near the socks.

"Saw these in a movie once. I think you rented it for us one weekend. Studying for history class or some bullshit thing like that, that's what you told Mom. But really, it was just an old movie you liked and wanted us to see."

Alex picked up a section of the rope, at least two and a half feet in length, tied off at the ends to hold it together. It was strong and it would see quite a bit of use if Alex had his way. He took one of the socks and started to tie the two together, weighing down one end of the rope with the bundle of rocks and dirt. Alex had to guess it was about a pound or two of weight being added to the end of the rope, and that was perfect for what he was going to use this little pet project for.

"I'll need to practice, that's for sure, but these should help immensely. What did you call them?"

Bolas.

"Bolas, that was it. Took a while to remember how they looked, but I figured this would work well enough."

With one section done, Alex began working on the second section. A length of rope, equal in length to the first, was tied to another sock. A third section was soon to come, but this time, Alex chose a length of rope slightly longer than the first two. About three feet, maybe a few inches longer, and a sock that was lighter than the first two. By the time he was done, all three sections were tied together and Alex tested it by pulling as hard as he could on one end while holding the others in place with his foot. The connections were strong, even between the rope and the socks.

"I feel a little like David, going up against Goliath. I've got a knife and a sling, and nothing but rocks to work with. Going against the bigger, badder opponents with many kills to their names. Perhaps I shall be the one to bring the head of the philistine to the king of this game."

Beheading Liz. Now that was a thought. Speaking of thoughts, Alex's turned to the list with the names of every one who had killed and everyone one who had died. The ones he had labeled with the name 'Goliath' sat somewhere on the page with more than a few tallies next to their names. Maxwell, Reiko, Clio, Nick. Liz had a number of tallies next to her name as well. After all, she was responsible for those deaths, one way or another. He had to wonder. Did she feel remorse for them, any at all? Alex shook his head and turned his attention back to his campsite. Thinking back on what he had to come through to get to where he was now, he couldn't help but laugh. An actual, full fit of laughter, brought about by some random thought that came from nowhere. It lasted for a while, but when he was finished, he honestly felt better than he had in a long time.

"Ha... I came through the valley of fucking death and referenced David and Goliath on the other side. Two bible references in one day. Sounds like a good day."

In a lighter mood and done with the majority of his work, Alex turned his attention to the other ideas that sat in his head. Improvised weapons abound, but only a few of them were feasible with the tools he had. When the idea came to tools, however, he looked to his weapons and then to the pile of rocks that encircled his campfire. Some of them were decently sized and certainly looked to be of the right material to make something useful out of. He still remembered, if not very well, some mention of stone tools and explaining how the Native Americans made their arrowheads and things like that. Some more bullshit history lesson to justify teaching Alex and his brother how to make verifiable weapons. Fun times, fun times.

Looking at some of these stones, he started to run through the ideas and motions in his head before he ever picked one up.

All he really needed to do was get a good sized chip off of one of the bigger rocks and then work off that one to make something sharp. Well, sharp enough for what he needed it for, at least. But then, he could make something else. As he sat there alone at his campsite, Alex found himself spending plenty of time just thinking about what he could make with what he had on hand, something that may have seemed strange and out of the ordinary for him to do back home but now seemed to be the most amazing thing ever. Some of the ideas were a bit twisted and some others were simply over the top, but a handful of them were plausible. Those were the ones that got fleshed out on paper.

"Got plenty of sticks and stones, so I could do this..."

He muttered idly as he worked pen on paper and scribbled away. A list of supplies he had and items he'd need was compiled next to each item on the page. Some required far more time and energy than even Alex was willing to invest, but others required only a few moments to actually make. Things like the little flint knife or another weapon utilizing one of his sections of cloth rope.

"What do you think? Should I stay up longer, make anything I can while I have the energy?"

Alex asked the fire as he stared off into space, pen tapping against his scruff covered chin. Of course, he paid no attention to what the time was or how long he'd spent sitting at his campsite, working on all these little projects. It had been a long time since the sun had gone down and the moon had become his main source of light outside of his lonely little fire. If he had to guess, he would wager it to be somewhere around midnight, but that didn't matter much to him as he sat and stared off into the dark night, his mind wandering wildly into the depths of his imagination, dredging up every little thing he could possibly make. The things he was taught to make by his father and the things he learned to make through trial and error of wanting to make something 'cool' when he was a kid.

Slingshots and arrowheads, little things that little kids with more knowledge than necessary would make. Alex had broken more than his fair share of windows with the things he would make, the things he thought were so amazing. None of them would be useful now, save for the slingshot which still sat on his mind, something he so wished to begin work on. It would let him actually hunt for his food, for game that scurried through the forest floor and flew through the trees. The Goedendag, the so called spear with the over-sized shaft, was useless to him unless he was looking to take down something bigger. But in this place, he would be lucky to catch a rabbit, but that is exactly what he wanted to catch.

"Mmm, rabbit..."

Rabbits and turtles and little crayfish from whichever river or creek they had found while hiking, they were all things his Dad had cooked up when they went camping. Not that he really enjoyed it back then, being made to eat things he thought were cute and cuddly and wanted to keep as pets. Alex learned quickly that whatever they managed to catch, by fishing or by trapping or even by simply stepping into the wrong little hole underneath the water, they were going to end up eating. It became a regular thing and bursting into uncontrollable laughter at the faces they made was something that Alex's father had grown to love.

"Y'know, I should probably be thanking you for that too. Making us eat whatever we managed to catch. If we didn't put effort into it, we were going hungry or were being forced to eat bugs. Now... I wish I had paid a little more attention."

Alex didn't have the details on how to build the traps or follow trails, but he certainly remembered how to make a fishing spear or tie a string to a pole and call it a fishing rod. He remembered watching his brother use a slingshot to take down a bird or watching his Dad use a .22 to get a squirrel. It was the closest he ever came to big game hunting, but he didn't complain when it came time to eat. As long as he didn't pay much attention to what it was they were eating, at least. Suckerhead soup and roasted rabbit. Every now and then, they would find a wild pheasant or even a turkey if they were extremely lucky. It was thanksgiving but they had one hell of a feast that night. The things that ran around wild in Minnesota, it was surprising. How he wished he was back there and not here. He knew what to expect back home.

He didn't know what to expect here. Talk about uncharted territory.

But he did know what he could do. He knew what he could and couldn't eat, and he knew how to catch a meal when he needed to. It was just a matter of getting in to the proper mindset. Paranoid, possibly delusional and more than a little starving seemed to be the right mindset for Alex. As his thoughts drifted back to his empty stomach and slowly growing appetite, Alex tore into some more of the stale bread and crackers, chasing it with gulps of water. He was going to be suffering from such a lack of food and he knew it. Starting in the morning, Liz Polanski wouldn't be the only thing he would have to begin hunting. Pine needles were all well and good to stave off the ill effects of not getting enough vitamin C, but he would need to supplement his diet of bread and water soon or he would start wasting away. Already, he could tell it was having an effect on him.

"Stop whining and start working, that's what you would probably say right about now. If you want to eat, you have to catch your own dinner. Fish it out of the river, dig it out of the ground or catch it with your bare hands if necessary, but get your own dinner. You used to be such a hard ass."

Alex couldn't resist the urge to smile. If he was back home, he would have gotten smacked for saying that. Even if it was in good humor, he would still get smacked.

"I wonder if Mom knows about everything you taught us."

A wicked grin came to Alex's face.

"Like, how to gut a rabbit and prepare it to be eaten that night for dinner, or how to scrape the scales off a fish and scoop out the guts in the same motion you cut open the fish with. I have to laugh every time I see that scene from the Simpsons."

Holding up his hands, Alex made the motion of stabbing into an imaginary fish and scooping out the guts as he spoke.

"Knife goes in, guts come out."

He snickered and sighed. Happier times, happier times. Without paying much attention, Alex tossed another decently sized stick into the slowly dwindling fire, smiling as it spat embers and cracked loudly.

"You remember that weekend up by the lake? When the fog rolled in around five in the morning and we were up to watch the sun rise? You made mention of some crap about spirits back then, but hell, I didn't pay much attention to it at the time. But now... now, I'm hoping you're right. That there are spirits in everything from the trees to the rivers to the fire that lights my camp. It makes me feel like I'm not really alone out here."

Idle talk of spirits. This is what Alex had turned to once his mind drifted from work and his projects. He could be spending this time doing something useful but he was just staring into his campfire and talking, once again. How long would he be this time? How much time would he waste there by himself, musing to his father who would never answer him. Musing to him as if the man was dead and not sitting at home in front of a TV, watching every horrible thing happen and hoping, praying that his son made it out alive, sane and in one piece.

Well, two out of three wouldn't be too bad.

"Well, let's see what all I've managed to do here. Back at the road, I made these shivs and this sling. A decent haul, if I say so myself. I even managed to get pretty good with this thing."

He palmed the makeshift weapon for a moment with a smile.

"In the however many hours I've spent sitting here, I've managed to make... maybe thirty feet of rope? Fifteen, maybe twenty in the coil over there and the rest sitting as spare. I've made those bolas, though they won't be of much use to me if I don't find time to practice tonight or tomorrow morning, perhaps during the announcement."

Alex ran his hand over each item in question as they were mentioned, still speaking to himself.

"I've chosen my targets, as well. Maxwell Lombardi, Clio Gabriella, Reiko Ishida, Liz Polanski and Nick Reid."

Each name held something different in Alex's mind, each name had a face tied to it, some memory of a time before the island and a memory of a time on the island. He had yet to encounter the first three, but the last two he remembered quite well. Liz, the bitch from the swamp. Nick, the bastard from the woods. Both of them went on to take the lives of so many other people after Alex encountered them. He didn't bother to beat himself up over letting them get away now, but he did swear that the next time he found them, he would do everything in his power to make sure they didn't get away without injury. He would kill them if he could. Leave them wishing they were dead if he couldn't.

"I'll have to come up with something more than this if I want to contend with either of them by this point in time. I know Liz had a knife when I caught her at the swamp, and Nick had a few more molotovs. Who knows what they've got by now."

Liz fucked her collar. Alex would have to remember that. She fucked with her collar somehow, so maybe she came across some tools. There is no way she could have done anything with just a knife, and that little math bitch wouldn't have the knowledge that Alex did. She would have needed help too. He had to be sure he was ready to fight more than one person.

And a gun?

A gun would be bad... but he could work around that possibility.

"Guns don't kill people. People kill people. But guns help. I think that's the saying. It'll be a bitch to take them down if they have guns, but it didn't sound like either of them were killing people with guns. Hell, Liz hasn't even killed someone with her own hands. She got someone else to do it for her. When push comes to shove, would she even be able to pull the trigger or use that knife of hers?"

There was a thought. Something to mull over while he planned.

"I highly doubt it. She's fucked in the head, that much is certain, but not enough to have gone out and killed someone. Either she isn't that hard, or she isn't strong enough. She's wounded, as well. That little stunt in the swamp will have cost her."

Alex mulled over the extent off her wounds. Even if she had incurred no other wounds since then, those burns would have to be absolutely horrible by now. There was no way she could treat those properly out here, not if she was as ill equipped as Alex had been, but even if she had the skills or supplies to keep those burns from getting infected, there would be plenty of them.

"And just think about what what swamp water would have done to those burns."

Murky, muddy and filthy water from the swamp, crawling with god knows what kind of bacteria. Alex had to shudder at the thought. It was why he didn't follow her when she took her little swim. He had open wounds and wasn't stupid enough to dive into filthy water as long as they were still prone to infection. Alex was no genius but he knew better than that.

"You know, this stuff may have been over the top and kind of pointless when we were kids, but I'm really glad you taught me everything you did, Dad. I know you wanted to give us the scout experience, but I think you did one better. I doubt I would know half of the things I do now if would have joined the scouts or neglected my studies."

Alex had to thank his father for a lot of things. In fact, Alex had his father to thank for his continued survival in this game. It was his teachings, his knowledge that kept Alex alive. He was the one who managed to keep Alex on top during the fight with Nick and the fight with Jimmy. He was the one who taught him first aid and how to handle cuts and bruises and every other little injury a child was prone to get. He was the one who taught him how to make something from nothing and how to thrive in a situation where just surviving would seem hopeless.

"Thank you, Dad. Really. I owe you my life."

For better or worse... Alex uttered his thanks.

"I owe you my life. I owe you my strength. I owe you for the knowledge you gave me and the skills I needed to get through this game. No matter how you may feel about it, it's thanks to you that I have a chance at surviving this."

It was getting far to late to remain awake any longer. He wasn't getting anything done, hadn't for a while now. His time would be better spent sleeping, and he knew it. With his personal bag as his pillow, filled with his spare clothes and whatever remained of the spare bits of cloth and useful bits of cord and rope, Alex lied back on the ground and stared up at the stars until it came time to finally sleep.

"It's thanks to you that I have the strength to do whatever is necessary."

With what seemed like the world on his side, Alex smiled before he drifted off for the night.

"Thanks, Dad."

[Boy #14 - Alex White. Hunting in Camping in the Woods.]

[End of thread.]
Boy #??? - Joshua Edwards
Hanging out somewhere, playing his heart out.
Writer and local retail slave at the comic book store.

Girl #??? - Viktoriya "Vika" Starikova
Floating in the void, unfinished and half-formed.
Hot headed member of the soft ball team, secretly wishing she could fly.

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