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A Day Late; Open, Day 7
Topic Started: Mar 15 2011, 01:29 AM (2,677 Views)
MurderWeasel
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((Jennifer Perez continued from Keep On Smiling))

Jennifer and Melissa had traveled towards the house of mirrors, but not at the pace Jennifer would have liked. There were always distractions, stupid things like needing to eat and sleep and cry. Things like worrying they'd be shot from ambush in certain areas with poor visibility, and taking the slow, stealthy way around. They'd made it, though. They'd finally made it.

The only thing putting a damper on Jennifer's enthusiasm was the announcements. Bill Davis was dead. Apparently he'd been stabbed after murdering two people. Just fucking wonderful. That meant he'd flipped. She had to hope he'd found Maf before then, relayed her message. Had to hope he hadn't come and then left again. Fuck. Setting meeting places through intermediaries was the worst idea ever. She should have been smarter. Shouldn't have been so optimistic.

The self reproach could wait, though. For now, Jennifer was standing outside the house. It had seen better days. Part of the second floor had been blown out. There were bodies around. She could recognize some of them. Weren't those the Kronwalls, both together there on the ground? It made her shiver. This wasn't a good place. It was sick, twisted. How many of her classmates had met their ends on these premises?

She'd gotten a bit ahead of Melissa. She'd feigned excitement, like she was just glad to be here, but it ran a bit deeper than that. It could be really fucking dangerous inside the maze, and she wasn't about to risk one of her friends' lives without testing the waters first. If she got ambushed and killed, well, hopefully Melissa would be able to get away.

She stepped past the bodies. She considered closing eyes, crossing arms, showing respect for the dead, but that didn't matter anymore. They were things. Things like Guthrie. Things like Phil. Things like she was. The only difference was that electrical impulses still coursed through her brain, still fired through her nerves. She was still conscious of her fate, still able to feel sadness and pain.

Not for long, of course.

It was silly, really, that she was still alive and unharmed. Better people had died all around her. Half her graduating class was dead, and she had a rash on her leg, an upset stomach, and sore muscles. Some fucking justice there. She hadn't done anything to deserve her existence. She'd hadn't done anything at all worth noting. Fuck, all she'd done was fulfill her original goal, the one she'd given up on: be so boring as to deny Danya much of a show. Calamity followed her, but she skirted its edges, always ducking out right before everything went to pieces.

She wondered if there were others like her. Probably. Maybe laying low. She'd traversed this whole island, spent time with three separate murderers. No, wait—four. Four. Bill had been killed by Rhory. That's why the name had struck a bell. Rhory. The girl she'd given water to. Rhory was off getting some prize to kill more people. Maybe that gift of water would come back around to save her life. Maybe, if she ever met Rhory, the girl would hesitate before putting a bullet through her head.

Small comforts.

She sighed. Tried not to think too much about it. Tried not to think how that other killer, Alex Seymour, was dead too. Everyone Jennifer had met in the first few days was dead now, everyone except Carla and Nick. Fuck.

She stepped into the hall of mirrors. Glass crunched beneath her feet. So many broken mirrors. She flicked her flashlight on. Melissa wouldn't be far behind. Time to spring any trap.

Her face stared back at her from all sides, from a thousand points on the floor, some reflections distorted, some perfectly clear. She'd seen better days. She'd not had a whole lot of extra weight on her before a week of near-starvation. There was still blood on her clothes. Her pack was battered, covered in swamp muck. She still had it with her. A week, and she still couldn't throw away a bag of clothes she'd never fucking get to wear again. She felt stupid. Not enough to change, though.

She did take the opportunity to remove her earrings and drop them to the ground, to land amidst all the other sparkling detritus. If she was going to die, she might as well not do it with a torn earlobe. She'd minimize the pain, for herself and everyone else.

She had no idea where she was going in the house. Before long, though, she found herself at the foot of a staircase. As she started up, the familiar smell intensified. There were bodies nearby. No, there were always bodies nearby; specifically, there were bodies very, very close to her current position. She stepped over one. A girl. Shot, it looked like. A glance revealed her identity. Marion. Nothing else with the name, except a vague impression. Yearbook? The paper? Who had killed Marion?

That was answered pretty fucking quickly. There was Bill. His face was crushed, but she could recognize his build and his clothes.

"No."

The word, spoken in a firm yet quiet voice, still managed to echo. She hoped Melissa wouldn't hear, or at least wouldn't get scared.

Bill was here? What the fuck was Bill doing here, in the very place where he had been supposed to bring Maf? Had he met up with his teammate? Had they been waiting here? Had they been ambushed? She couldn't say. Maybe some CSI team could reconstruct what had happened here, but Jennifer didn't have the slightest fucking clue. The worst thing was, every single viewer back home knew exactly what had transpired. Fuck, it felt like one of those game shows. She wished she could phone a friend right now, ask them if Maf had been here.

Or maybe just say goodbye.

She'd considered a farewell speech a few times, but decided against it. She wasn't going to give anyone that satisfaction.

She trudged back down the stairs, found a relatively clear patch, and listened for a moment. No one else in the building, from the sounds of things.

"Melissa," she called. "I'm, um, down this way."

This was a huge fucking waste of time. Maybe Nick would show. Maybe Maf would return. She wasn't counting on either, though. No, they would just wait.

Some days, there wasn't much else to do.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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Tythanin
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(Melissa Li continued from Keep On Smiling.)

Maps were liars. That's what Melissa had decided upon sometime during the journey to get to the Hall of Mirrors. It had seemed so short and easy when she had looked at it with her compass...sure, there was a scaling problem but damn if they didn't just go south and skirt the mountains to the side. But things seemed to take so much more...although it didn't help that every little cracking branch seemed like the prelude to an ambush by one of the feared killers on the islands. But their paranoia kept them safe and they were even able to grab some shut-eye along the way, staving off exhaustion for a bit longer.

The morning of the 7th day on the hellhole that was the island brought a lifting of spirits...at least momentarily it did, until the now-familiar crackling sound of the speakers resonated in the air. She was prepared to brush it off...after all, she already knew three names that would be on it and she had been lucky enough that none of her friends had been pronounced dead. Felicia had a gun to defend herself, Aislyn was strong solely on inner spirit, Aileen, Peter, and Rob...well, they hadn't gotten in trouble yet, why start now?

In fact, out of all the people she knew...Aislyn was easily pegged to be the one on top. There was no way she would go down before the rest of them. She was the strong one, the leader, the one with the will to survive and the drive to do anything to achieve her goals. But as the last of the announcements rang in the air and Aislyn's name pounded in her ears, Melissa found that she was still standing. She was still alive.

And Aislyn, the strong one. She had died.

What did that mean for all of them? That it didn't matter that you were strong or weak? That it didn't matter who you were...that everything was just left up to God's dice to decide it for them? What the hell kind of lesson was that? It made no sense at all. Was it luck that truly determined everything? That if you are lucky enough, no one could touch you? That you would live even though so many more capable people suffered and died? That wasn't right.

She was bewildered...she wanted to cry...to mourn Aislyn's death, but she couldn't even bring herself to summon the tears needed. She was in a daze...barely able to think about anything. She had barely even registered that Peter had somehow tallied up another kill in his column...she'd really need to have a talk with him about that whole killing thing someday. Jennifer had said something when the announcements were over...she had looked depressed too...maybe someone she knew had died too.

Melissa, herself though...she had just smiled her little smile and shook her head, saying "No, it's fine."

She wondered how Felicia was doing. Was she hunting down Aislyn's killer? Probably.

But while she hoped Felicia would be safe, her thoughts weren't on Kimberly. No...she only wished that things hadn't ended so badly between them all last time. The shouting, the arguing...to have that as the last memory of Aislyn? That was her gift, wasn't it...her reward for being who she was. A weakling...a follower. If she had been there...if she had been as strong as Aislyn, would her friend still be alive?

And so in a daze, following but not really registering things, Melissa arrived at the Hall of Mirrors. And it was sickening. So many bodies were lying around...abandoned by their killers to lie and rot in the sun. She knelt next to one...recognized him as one of the Kronwall brothers...and the other one was lying nearby. What had happened? She didn't know...just like everything else in this game. She held none of the answers she wanted to have.

Didn't Socrates say that only people who admitted they knew nothing were the wisest? Melissa certainly didn't feel anything like that at all.

She got to her feet and walked past the dead bodies. Maybe later she'd find the energy to bring them inside or do something nice for them. For now, though, she just wanted to rest...rest and talk with Jennifer. Talk about what had happened, find out who the hell Nick really was, and just...talk in general. She headed into the building, hearing the crunching of glass under her shoes. Jennifer's voice called out to her a short distance away and Melissa went to the voice.

She found Jennifer standing alone in a relatively clear area of ground and Melissa smiled and shrugged at her. Jennifer looked like hell. Melissa guessed she didn't look much better...hell, she hadn't even changed out of her bloodied shirt. "Better than nothing, I guess."

She groaned, letting her bag slip off her shoulder and fall to the ground with a soft thump. Her sword quickly followed it, clattering onto the floor. Melissa followed it to the ground, sitting down next to it and hugging her knees up close to her chest. "My feet are hurting like hell..."

She laughed. "Odd, isn't it? So many of our classmates and friends are lying dead and yet here I am, talking about my feet." Her laughter quickly faded away and she just looked up at Jennifer with a soft, caring smile. "Hey. Come on...take a load off. We've got time to rest. Things'll be fine...I'm sure of it. I mean...come on, if anything...China Woman will save the day, won't she?"

She couldn't help but snort. That sounded so lame. But her smile was still there and with any luck...Jennifer's would be joining her.
"Oh god dammit, I lost my sense of humor around here. Someone help me find it."

---

Approved V5 Pre-Game Characters:

Faria Young - Generals of Elysium (The Waterfront)
Annabelle Summers - Where Is My Muse? (Lunch Room)

"And who the hell came up with this play?! "Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet" ...Dude, THEY ALL DIE!"

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MurderWeasel
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Melissa found her, found her way to her, didn't die. Small comforts. Jennifer was ready to take anything she could get. Right now, that meant a lack of killers, a lack of fear. So be it. Melissa seemed ready to take a rest, sitting down with a comment about her feet. Jennifer nodded assent, sitting down herself, briefly pausing to make sure that she wouldn't end up with glass stuck in her legs. Most of the time, skirts were superior to pants in every way, in her opinion. At moments like this, though, she really regretted not just throwing some fucking sweats into her pack. It always paid to be prepared. She knew that now, not like it would help her in the future. She'd never pack a bag again.

At least the stench wasn't too bad here. Jennifer remembered a science experiment from middle school, something with a strong-smelling chemical. The experiment had been designed to demonstrate the human brain's capacity to filter out consistent sensory input, so as to better pick up changes to the status quo. That would work in her favor now, with the decay all around them. How long had it been for the smell to go away? Fifty-five seconds? This would take longer, of course.

Melissa had continued speaking, ending up stating things in the same vein that Jennifer had found her thoughts tracing earlier. It hurt, hearing Melissa thinking those same things, facing those same facts. The other girl didn't dwell on them, though, didn't sink into a depression. She managed to pull things back to a happy place, smiling and getting brighter and sharing their joke again, the one from the day they'd met.

Jennifer couldn't help smiling and laughing, her first genuine, non-crazed laugh in this place. It felt good. Felt fucking normal for a change. There was no tension. Melissa didn't look the greatest. She had blood on her, just like Jennifer did. The topic hadn't even come up. Jennifer didn't fucking care what had happened, what Melissa had done. She knew from the announcements that her friend hadn't killed. That was enough. More than enough. She'd have welcomed Melissa with open arms even if she'd been a murderer. It was stupid and naïve, but she didn't care. She just wanted to be around good people, friendly people. It wouldn't really be that much worse if she was murdered by someone she thought was a friend than if she got killed by a total stranger.

So she replied in kind to Melissa's quip, trying to seize another few minutes of happiness.

"You know, um, she can control time or something, right? I, um, I think I have a recommendation for, um, for a bus that could use some flat tires about a week ago."

Probably not the best thing to joke about right now. Fuck. She quickly plowed on.

"I'm, um, I'm glad you're okay. I just... so much has happened."

Great job spreading the fucking levity. She twisted her skirt a little, glancing around the hall of mirrors, hoping she hadn't fucked up yet again and caused more damage to her friend.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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Tythanin
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Jennifer began laughing after her dumb little joke and Melissa's smile widened happily. It felt good hearing normal laughter...she couldn't even remember the last time she had heard someone laugh. Certainly not on the way here and definitely not in the infirmary...maybe in the swamp when this game had first started? She couldn't remember. The past couple of days had just melded together in a mix of bittersweet and bad memories and it was beginning to be hard to separate them. 'Genuine, pure laughter...it's like getting a little bit of heaven. ...Hee, that sounds kind of dumb.'

Jennifer continued with the joke, mentioning China Woman's ability to control time and referencing the bus that had contained all of them...heading for their senior class trip. Melissa's smile faltered a bit, the reminder ringing hard in her mind as she fell silent and looked at the ground, running a finger across the ground as she tried to think of something to say. It would have been great to actually...have China Woman exist. To have an actual heroine that could have saved them all from danger...but that's why China Woman was only a joke...a fantasy. Heroes didn't exist. There were no such things as heroes in the world that they lived in now.

Her friend continued on and Melissa nodded in response. "Yeah...I mean...things have been so crazy. It's really...not right at all, you know? How everything is happening...can you imagine that just a little over a week ago we were...just living at St. Paul?"

She let out a depreciating laugh. "...But I'm glad I found you, Jen. Definitely glad to see you haven't changed...this...travesty has messed so many people up that just seeing the normal you is like a blessing."

Melissa dug into her bag and began drawing out some of her rations. Thanks to Aislyn and the leftovers from the infirmary, she still had quite a few snacks left at her disposal. She took out her camping stove as well, laughing a bit as she showed it off to Jennifer. "Look what I got from the terrorists. A stove. At least they were kind enough to put the instruction manual, right? I've never been camping, so I've never had to do anything like this..."

She laughed again as she began laying out some bread, crackers, and her water. "Dunno how good a stove would be with this...but I guess we could try toasting some of the bread? I think I just read it in a book or something...but warm food just...feels better, doesn't it?"

She wondered if now would be a good time to ask about Nick. There had to be a reason why Jennifer had been hanging out with him, after all...and it was probably a good reason, since Melissa was pretty certain Jennifer wouldn't just be all buddy-buddy with a killer. Her right hand clenched as her thoughts drifted back to Sebastian...

"Hey Jennifer..." She started off. "That person you were hanging out with when I saw you uh..." She tried to sound non-chalant. "Nick, right? Um...which...Nick was he? Nick Reid or Nick LeMonde? I mean I..." She trailed off and finally just decided to drop the pretense. She looked seriously at Jennifer, her lips pressed in a thin line. "Whoever it was...Why? I'm not saying it was bad or anything but either of 'em...they're murderers, Jennifer. Unless they were all in self-defense I mean I just can't really..."

She fell silent. She felt bad...going from jokes to talking about warm food to talking about killers but...she had to know.
Edited by Tythanin, Mar 17 2011, 10:21 PM.
"Oh god dammit, I lost my sense of humor around here. Someone help me find it."

---

Approved V5 Pre-Game Characters:

Faria Young - Generals of Elysium (The Waterfront)
Annabelle Summers - Where Is My Muse? (Lunch Room)

"And who the hell came up with this play?! "Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet" ...Dude, THEY ALL DIE!"

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MurderWeasel
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Yup. Sure enough, Jennifer was bringing Melissa down. Fuck. She was some sort of contagion vector, bringing infectious gloom to those who remained. Melissa started talking, though, before Jennifer could get too down on herself. She talked about how crazy life was now, how much the world had changed. She mentioned the week before. Saint Paul. Home. The real world.

Jennifer couldn't even remember what she'd said to her parents before setting out on this trip. It hadn't been much. They hadn't been worried. Neither had she. She was just going on a camping trip. The Badlands were pretty safe. There were supposed to be tons of faculty members around, so any really problematic stunts wouldn't be possible. Most of her friends, at least the irresponsible ones, weren't old enough to come, so she wouldn't be pressured into anything too bad. She'd really just planned to take life easy for a bit, enjoy herself. Maybe... no, for sure talk to Maf.

And now, she was going to die.

She didn't cry this time.

And Melissa said how good it was to see her. How good it was to know she hadn't changed. But was that true? It was strange. That had been her goal. She wouldn't change, and she wouldn't be a show. She'd been so sure she'd failed both, but maybe she'd been wrong. Maybe she was wrong about everything. It wouldn't be the first time. It wouldn't be a surprise. She stayed silent.

Melissa was now talking about her assigned weapon. She'd pulled a stove. She offered to toast them some bread, said a little warm food would make them feel better. Jennifer smiled, nodded, said, "Um, sure. That'd be great."

She twisted her skirt a little as Melissa started on her next line of inquiry. Jennifer had known this was coming. Of course it was. It was worse than she'd expected, though. It was made fucking awkward by the fact that there was apparently some other Nick out there, who had also killed. Jennifer could vaguely remember him. He'd only come up once, though, right? She was stalling. Distracting herself. Trying to spare the pain for an instant longer. This was going to be fucking awful. She was about to blow everything up in her face again, shatter every illusion Melissa had left. She was going to hurt her friend, and was probably going to be abandoned. She was going to show just what a terrible person she was, all because she didn't want to lie, didn't want to forestall the inevitable.

She wondered what Maf would say, if she ever saw him again. Wondered if he would leave her too.

She took a deep breath after Melissa trailed off, and looked around. The hall of mirrors was dark. Shadows lurked in the corners. She realized the smell had gone away, and just like that, it was back. Fuck. She shifted her feet. She hadn't taken her shoes off in a week. She probably had blisters or athlete's foot or something.

She was avoiding the issue.

No more.

"It was, um, that is, um, he's Nick Reid," she finally got out. That was the easy bit. Now for the painful part. After all, Melissa had asked why. There was a lot to that.

Time for the hard part. Time to lose a friend.

"Melissa, I, um... It wasn't self defense. Not all of it. Not from what I heard, or, um, what I saw."

He's a murderer.

"He... we met in the tunnels. It was, um, it was early in the game. He'd only killed, um, one person. He said it was an accident."

Of course it was an accident. Nick would never lie, right? He's clearly a fucking bastion of moral decency on this island.

"I, um, he was hurt, so I, um, helped bandage him."

He was pitiful, scared, lost.

Was?

"We were surprised. Attacked by, um, by that guy. The second one. Nick, um, Nick killed him. He knocked him out and then he kept hitting him until he died.

"I yelled at him. Um, I... I just lost it. I yelled at him and I told him, um, I told him he was a worthless killer and to, um, to go die, and I told him to kill me if it was so easy, and I threw him my weapon."

Here, Jennifer pulled her bag over. Somehow, the icepick had migrated into it during the walk. She couldn't remember putting it away, but her hands knew where to find it. She unzipped her pack, showed Melissa.

"And, um, and he just walked away. And he left me my weapon, and he left me a note."

He called me an angel.

"And that was it, only I, um, I heard his name on the announcements afterwards. And then we met again. And Melissa..."

Don't cry.

"It's my fault, Melissa. I threw him out. I, um, I told him he wasn't worth anything. I branded him a killer, so he killed. And when we met again, he, um, he didn't kill anyone. He tried to be good. He ran away rather than fight those people at the truck. He's... I don't even know, but I don't think he'll kill anymore. I think if I stay with him, maybe... I don't know."

Stupid. She was deluding herself into thinking she could change him.

In a small voice, she continued, "But, um, but mostly he's just a friend, and apart from you he's the only friend I've had."

And it didn't matter how hard she tried not to cry.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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Tythanin
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Ah...It was Nick Reid, then. The one with more kills...although that didn't really make a difference in Melissa's eyes. She gulped, looking at Jennifer seriously as her friend began to explain what had happened in the past. She could feel her heart pounding in her chest as every explanation and rationalization washed over her and when Jennifer was finished, Melissa was left feeling just a bit...dull. It was obvious that Jennifer had trouble saying all of that...one glance was enough to figure that out. But the way she had said it...the way she had stayed with Nick throughout all that had happened. Melissa wasn't sure what to think.

'What am I supposed to say? She isn't a bad person...she just wanted to help someone out, didn't she?' Melissa thought dismally to herself. 'Any good person would lend a helping hand to someone who was suffering, killer or not. Wasn't that what it meant to be a good person? To offer aid regardless of circumstance? To even offer help to someone who you should be afraid of...I can't fault her for that, can I?'

'But he was...he is a killer!' Melissa thought to herself, playing the other side of the argument. 'She knew about that when she first helped him! How do you know she hasn't done anything else? Why does she still stay with him? It's enough to have just helped him once, but now they're traveling together and doing...what? Is he protecting her or something? Trying to use that to atone for his killing? There's no way to atone for murder...'

'I can't paint the two of them with the same brush. Let's pretend that Felicia had somehow killed Kimberly and she told you all about it. Would I condemn her for getting revenge on Aislyn? No...I wouldn't...hell, I might even cheer...' The thought was saddening. 'I need to find out why...I need to talk to Nick Reid. If I can just get the whole picture, maybe I can decide on something for real but for now...I can't...I mean, Jennifer's my friend. And unless something drastically changes, she'll always be. I can't toss that aside just because of a situation that I don't have full grasp on...'

A pit formed in her stomach and she shifted uncomfortably, the silence feeling almost like a blanket that smothered everything else in the area. She had to say something...had to say something to reassure Jennifer and...something. Melissa didn't know. But she had to say something.

"Hey...it's...fine." She managed, a shaky smile on her lips as she tried to put her thoughts into words. Nick was a killer, yes...and apparently one who actually killed for the sake of killing, but...no, Jennifer had faith in him and by extension, Melissa would put a little bit of faith in him. Just a little bit...until she could speak to him face to face and find out...find out what made him tick. Made him do the things he did. It was too much to judge on Danya's words and a few moments of interaction. To condemn him with only that as her information?

No, that was impossible. Isn't that why she had wanted to talk to Peter? To talk to Rob? To find out why they had done the things they had done. She had known them in school...had known they were nice, kind people at Bayview. The only difference was that she didn't know Nick...but Jennifer did and if she had spent as much time with Nick as it seemed then...well, Jennifer's opinion carried heavier weight than her own.

And that was it. The twisting in her chest began to unravel and her smile became a bit more steady. It became easier to talk.

"It's...fine, really. Jen, don't worry about it...I'm not going to do anything stupid or yell at you or anything. I'm not my parents." Melissa began, a choked laugh coming out at the end of the joke. "If you have faith in him...if you think that you can...make him stop killing then..." She nodded. "Then I'll believe that too. I just hope you're right..."

She sighed and shook her head. That...took a lot more energy that she had expected, compacting her disjointed thoughts into words that could properly convey what she thought about the situation. She lifted one finger, a slight, comforting smile on her face as she wagged it in Jennifer's direction. "Don't...don't say that he became a killer because you called him one, though. Don't...don't put his crime on your shoulders, Jennifer. That. I...you know, that will just crush you. Your words may have had an impact, yes, but do you think things would have been so much different if you hadn't said it? I mean...I don't know...but...you shouldn't feel guilty over someone else's actions. In the end, we're the masters of our own destiny...at least we should be, right?"

She let out a short giggle, began rubbing at her eyes as tears began to form at the edges. She didn't even know why she was crying but just saying all that...it was like all the pressure that had built inside of her was bursting out and causing all her emotions to go out of whack. "But...but I hope he manages to find us. I...want to talk to him. Talk to him and talk to Peter and Rob and...just find out why they did what they did. There are so many things I want to talk to about..."

She looked over at the pot, poked the piece of bread that was inside. It was probably dumb trying to toast bread using a camping stove meant for making soup or boiling water, but at least it was kind of warm at the moment. She poked at it and flipped it in the pot. Still soft...not toasty at all. She gave Jennifer a weak smile, trying to change the subject to something more cheery. "Heh...doesn't seem like we're gonna be getting hot toast anytime soon. Danya could have been at least nice enough to give me ramen noodle packs with the stove, right?"
"Oh god dammit, I lost my sense of humor around here. Someone help me find it."

---

Approved V5 Pre-Game Characters:

Faria Young - Generals of Elysium (The Waterfront)
Annabelle Summers - Where Is My Muse? (Lunch Room)

"And who the hell came up with this play?! "Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet" ...Dude, THEY ALL DIE!"

Cosmosphere - Now Serving as a Crappy Writing Blog
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MurderWeasel
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Melissa said it was fine, and that was just crushing, because it wasn't. It wasn't fine, and Melissa knew it, and Jennifer knew it. If it had been fine, Jennifer wouldn't have been crying. If it had been fine, there would have been no need to reassure her. It wasn't fine, because Jennifer had allied herself with someone who was doing bad things. She'd been trying to hide from it. She'd been trying so hard to justify, to obfuscate the truth, but at the end of the day, four people had lost their lives to Nick Reid. At least two of those had been unnecessary, and those were the first two. She had no idea what the other circumstances had been. Probably not very different.

The worst of it all was that Melissa believed her. Melissa had faith in her, thought she could stop Nick from killing. But how could she, when she didn't know where he was? How could she, when she didn't even understand why he was doing what he was doing? It was stupid. She was scared, and he was a friend. He was someone who cared, someone decent, but he had a bad side. It was a bad side that had led to four deaths. Was it fair to just push that aside?

And Melissa wanted Nick to find them. She wanted to talk to him. She also wanted to talk to Peter and Rob. Rob? A killer's name, right? What sport did Rob play again? Basketball? And Peter, it had to be the Peter who had killed. Melissa had friends who had killed too. Maybe they all did. It had to be, by now. Friends who killed. Friends who died. All around them, a battle, a destruction of all they had been, and Jennifer and Melissa were sitting in a mirrored charnel house, trying to make toast on a camp stove.

And for the first time in days, Jennifer felt pretty fucking good about herself.

She tried to force it down, of course. It wasn't a good thing to be smug that she hadn't yet succumbed to the game. It especially wasn't good when she couldn't even say for sure that she'd made the right choices. After all, she'd let the winner of the Best Kill Award walk free a few days ago. Brennan had been crazed. He hadn't listened. She'd extended her hand to him, offered him the chance to reconsider, and he probably hadn't even heard her.

And who was she to dangle the promise of redemption? Perhaps she'd taken Nick's note to heart a little too much. She was no angel, though. No savior. No bringer of mercy. She was who she was, and right now she was sore and scared and tired and hungry. Right now she was just hoping to keep on living, day by day. She didn't know what she'd do at the end. If she was one of the finalists, she'd surely die, unless she could just wait on the sidelines and let them finish each other off. She didn't have it in her to kill.

She'd tried to come to terms with her inevitable death, but just couldn't make sense of it. She wasn't sure what came next, but she was in no hurry to find out.

Time to push these terrible musings away. Time to focus, to keep on, to stay alive as long as possible. To keep Melissa safe. To help the people who needed it.

Melissa was having trouble with the toast. She said she wished she'd been given some ramen. That got Jennifer smiling a bit again. The stove was also giving her other ideas.

"Um, yeah," she said. "We could, um, we could also maybe boil water from, um, from the creeks. That might help us, um, not get sick."

Of course, it was probably too late for that. Jennifer had gone through a couple bottles of creek water already. Likely, the only reason she hadn't contracted Giardia or tapeworms was that there was nothing in her for parasites to feed on. At the rate she was going, there wouldn't even be enough meat on her corpse to make her worth a scavenger's time.

That was a good train of thought to abandon.

"So, um, what have you been doing since, um, since we got here?" Jennifer asked.

Something to take her mind off death.

She'd probably picked the wrong question.
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"Yeah...I was thinking about that, actually." Melissa nodded at Jennifer's suggestion to boil creek water to get rid of things like bacteria and germs. The thought had lingered in her mind...but then she had looted some water bottles from the people at the infirmary so it'd be...at least a while longer before she'd have to resort to something like that. "I still have some bottled water left. ...Maybe I should just turn this off so we don't waste fuel..."

But she didn't. It just felt nice getting some use to the thing she had been lugging around for a week. Even if it was a use that probably wasn't going to get them anything at all, the soft sound of the burning flame was kind of soothing. In a whole campfirey outdoorsy type of way...when you ignored the fact that the both of them were inside a hall of shattered mirrors. She blinked when she heard Jennifer's question about what she had been doing on the island and Melissa offered a weak smile, rubbing the back of her head as she tried to think of the best way to put it.

"Well...I woke up in the swamp and um...found one of my friends." Melissa began, wondering if she should just leave out names or whatnot. It wasn't like she had hung out with any killers so there was no reason to hide it, but...she felt uncomfortable. She didn't want to burden Jennifer with her own problems and experiences...after all, her friend was already going through way too much as it was. She decided to just give names in the end. It'd make the whole thing easier to say. "We met up with another two girls...oh, my earlier friend was Aislyn...Aislyn McCreery. She uh...got announced this morning."

"Anyway um...we met with two other girls. Felicia Carmichael and Samaya...I can't really remember her last name." Blinking, she dug into her duffel bag and brought out Felicia's yearbook. A sad smile crossed her face as her fingers brushed against the cover...she wondered if she would ever be able to bring it back to the other girl. She brushed the thought aside as she cracked it open and began flipping through the pages. "This is her. Samaya Boen-Hilstrand. They were both really nice girls..."

"We kind of just...wandered around. Aislyn took charge...she was the one with the plan and all and she was trying to watch out for us, so I guess she got...kind of brusque and blunt at times, but she wanted what was the best for all of us, I'm sure." Melissa explained. She wondered why she had to add that last part. Maybe it was to convince herself of that as much as it was to help tell the story. "We went up the mountains and uh...that's when Samaya uh...she...somehow died. I...have no clue how it happened. It was just one moment she was fine, one moment she was on the ground."

She sniffed. Had it already been so long after Samaya's death? Actually...it hadn't been that long at all. She shook her head and continued on. "A-Anyway um...we kind of moved on after that. I mean...there wasn't anything else we could do, was there? So...we just moved onto the infirmary and met up with another one of Aislyn's friends. Samya. Uh...lemme find her..." She flipped through the yearbook again. "That's here. Samya Franklin. She was nice...somehow had managed to get trail mix with her."

She smiled at the memory. "Anyway...things kind of just started falling apart. We got into an argument with Aislyn and she stormed off and...uh..."

Melissa looked down at the yearbook, her finger tracing across all of the smiling pictures of their fellow classmates. How many of them were dead? A lot, she knew that...Felicia had wanted to cross out names. To mark everyone who had died in Danya's experiment. "Anyway um...actually you probably heard Felicia's name in the announcement too, right? That was um...it's complicated. But Felicia was trying to protect all of us from Sebastian...and she was forced to shoot him. He had already killed two people in front of us...and he was going to kill again, it was obvious..."

"I can still hear the sound of her gunshot...and the sound of that girl's collar exploding. It's a sickening sound, you know that?" Melissa said, blinking rapidly. She brought her hands to her eyes and began rubbing at them, soft self-recriminating laughter escaping from her lips. "S-Sorry I didn't...after that happened, I promised myself I would be stronger. We uh...me, Felicia, Samya...we just went our different ways, you know? Bad memories and stuff. And I told myself I would be strong enough to survive in this living hell. I would find a way to just live and protect the things precious to me but..."

The tears began coming out in earnest and Melissa futilely continued wiping at them, sniffing. "I don't even know why I'm crying! But I mean...I met so many new people and even in a dumb stupid crazy thing like this, I even made some new friends. And then they just disappear and just things happen and people change and...it's really not fair, Jennifer. How can people keep doing this? How can all those people in Danya's organization go out there and kidnap teenagers and tell them to kill each other? And why do the teenagers listen to him?! So many people die and they just keep killing and killing! Do they think they're having fun? That they're showing that they're superior to the rest of us cause they can kill?"

"Oh god...I'm ranting..." Melissa said, sad laughter still escaping from her lips. She reached in her bag again, pulling out one of her spare shirts and began cleaning her face. "I'm so sorry, Jennifer...I didn't mean to do this. You have your own problems and your own worries and I shouldn't burden with you with mine. It's so selfish...it's just that talking to you...you're the first person I can talk to like this and it just feels good, you know?"

She sniffed again. "I'm so sorry...I'm so sorry, Jennifer..."

She felt the tears again...tried to will them to stop. "God...I think I'm going crazy. Hahahaha...I'm supposed to have better emotional control than this. Oh god...I feel so stupid."
"Oh god dammit, I lost my sense of humor around here. Someone help me find it."

---

Approved V5 Pre-Game Characters:

Faria Young - Generals of Elysium (The Waterfront)
Annabelle Summers - Where Is My Muse? (Lunch Room)

"And who the hell came up with this play?! "Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet" ...Dude, THEY ALL DIE!"

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Melissa told the story of her time on the island, and Jennifer sat and listened. It was one of the things she could do forever. It sounded like Melissa had had a fairly rough time. One of her friends had died in front of her, without any apparent cause. That was worse than seeing a friend murdered, Jennifer imagined. With a killer, there was a chance for closure, for revenge or forgiveness, for acceptance and glee as they, too, were inevitably listed on the announcements.

And then, Melissa's other dead friend was Aislyn. Jennifer could vaguely remember what the girl had looked like. Her killer, on the other hand, was something of a mystery; Jennifer hadn't been paying much attention, and the name had stood out only as sounding strange and foreign.

As Melissa spoke, she showed Jennifer the pictures in a yearbook. Jennifer hadn't gotten around to picking hers up yet; they'd been delayed and come out the day of the trip, so most of the Seniors hadn't had time to grab them. Seeing the faces pass by was almost too much for Jennifer. A good number were dead. Others had killed. Even those still alive would probably never look that nice and polished again. then there were all the people who hadn't made it to the trip. Fucking lucky, the lot of them. She had to work to avoid screaming.

And Melissa's other friend, Felecia, another person Jennifer could sort of recognize, had killed Sebastian, who she had no clue about. There had apparently been a big fight. Melissa had seen this all. It had scarred her.

Melissa kept going, talking about how it wasn't fair, how it didn't make sense, questioning why people still went along with the game, why Danya's people kept kidnapping students. All throughout, Jennifer bit back on the answers to Melissa's rhetorical questions.

People killed because they wanted to live.

The terrorists kidnapped students because it still worked.

But she didn't say anything, because Melissa was working herself up into some sort of frenzy, apologizing, breaking down. Jennifer knew exactly how she felt. She'd been there herself, again and again. So she didn't say anything at first, just scooted over next to Melissa and pulled her into a hug. Suddenly, she was in the position Nick had been in back on the logging road yesterday.

She tried to find something to say, but there were no words for this sort of situation.

"It's, um, it's okay, Melissa," she finally managed. "It's okay. We'll, um, we'll stay together, and we'll find somewhere to just stay safe for a while, and, um, and you aren't going crazy, and you're strong, and, um, and you're not stupid, and just, um, just... I'm glad we found each other."
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Melissa stiffened as she first felt Jennifer's arms around her in a gentle hug, but she began to relax when she heard Jennifer's shaky reassurances enter her ears. Melissa began to laugh...a helpless, sad laugh, but a laugh nonetheless as she wiped away the last of her tears and allowed Jennifer to comfort her. She fell silent, enjoying the comfort of the embrace and letting the silence surround her...until a hiccup broke it.

A hand flew to her mouth as another hiccup came after and she began to giggle, an embarrassed blush appearing on her cheeks as she quickly reached for a bottle of water. "S-Sorry...*hic* I guess it's cause I was *hic* crying so much. Hahaha..."

She unscrewed the cap and began to drink, hoping to somehow drown out the hiccups. After draining maybe a third of the bottle, she put it away and took a few deep breaths. No hiccups yet. It seemed to work, so Melissa put the water bottle aside as she separated herself from Jennifer. She looked away, still a little flustered from her whole ranting and crying spree. "Sorry about that I guess...I guess I just got kind of frustrated. I'm...I'm really lucky to have you here with me, you know. Hah...I'm really glad I met you outside that cinema."

She fell silent, her gaze focused on the ground as she fiddled with the bottom of her shirt. "Hey...Jennifer, what do you think is gonna happen to us? Do you think we have a chance to live? I mean...look at us. We have a sword and an icepick and...I know neither of us wants to kill anyone. But...what if it becomes necessary? What if someone like...like Maxwell comes after us?"

"What are you going to do, Jennifer?" Melissa said softly. "I...I would fight. I know that...I would fight him and I wouldn't...feel an ounce of regret if I had to kill him. People who kill like him...indiscriminately and without reason beyond their own selfish goals and desires? They...they aren't people anymore. They're monsters..." Her hands tightened into fists. "They're monsters who think only of themselves...do they think they'll come home heroes? People are watching us. Watching them. Everyone knows...and frankly..."

She gulped and shook her head. "The worst thing is...I don't think they care anymore. Why do people even watch this dumb...dumb thing? Maybe it's like...other reality shows or stuff like that. People can take happiness knowing that out there...there are people who are in a worse situation than they are. It's sick if you think about it that way...the human spirit that allows it to just...not give a damn anymore."

She chuckled. "I...um...read somewhere. On the internet when we were back at Bayview. That people...as we are, we can only care about so many people in our lives...that beyond that limit, people just become another blank face. They called it uh...what was it? The Monkeysphere or something? It...it was a nice article. I liked reading it. But I doubt anyone at home watching really cares right now, huh? And they're okay with that..."

"But um...back...back to the point." Melissa sighed and raised a trembling hand to her hair, brushing it back a bit. "I...don't want to die. But if someone...if someone tries to kill me just because they think they need to in order to escape then...then screw that. I'm not going to lie down and die. I decided that when I saw Sebastian kill Kayla in front of my eyes...that if I was in that situation, I would do the same thing Felicia did. I'd fight...and I might even kill to protect myself."

"And...I don't want to have to ask you this...but I hope you'd do the same." She mumbled. "I want to survive. I want you to survive. I want my friends to survive...I'll do whatever it takes to achieve those goals...without mindlessly killing."

She looked helplessly at Jennifer. "Do...Does that make me a bad person? Am I a hypocrite? Is something like that even possible in this?"

"Heh...you probably think I'm crazy for talking about all this gloomy and depressing stuff...I'm sorry. If...if you want me to leave..."

Melissa felt miserable. After Jennifer was nice enough to try to reassure her and cheer things up, she had decided to go ahead and mess that all up by continuing to talk and probably say things that made Jennifer hate her. Well, as things stood...at least it couldn't get worse.

*hic*

'Dammit...'
Edited by Tythanin, Mar 21 2011, 01:41 AM.
"Oh god dammit, I lost my sense of humor around here. Someone help me find it."

---

Approved V5 Pre-Game Characters:

Faria Young - Generals of Elysium (The Waterfront)
Annabelle Summers - Where Is My Muse? (Lunch Room)

"And who the hell came up with this play?! "Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet" ...Dude, THEY ALL DIE!"

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The hug lasted for a while. It was good. It was nice to just be close to a friend, to feel safe and happy, even if it was no more than a fleeting illusion. Jennifer knew that someone could turn the corner at any second and open fire. She and Melissa could be torn apart by death at a moment's notice. Even worse, someone could figure out a new exploit in the system, and they could begin anew the torturous process of determining whether the troublemaker would be cowed by Danya's killing of random students. Jennifer had been trying to avoid being too exciting. This was a bad survival tactic where detonations were concerned. She was surprised her collar hadn't been blown in the first round of example deaths. She strongly doubted she'd live through a second.

They were living moment-to-moment, all of them. Jennifer managed by trying not to allow the reality and meaning behind her thoughts to sink in. Anything else would lead to insanity or depression.

Melissa was talking, crying, hiccuping. Jennifer wasn't sure what to do, except to simply be there for her friend, to try to be as comforting as she could.

The words were about the past. They were about better days, and Jennifer nodded and said, "I'm, um, glad I met you too."

And then, the conversation turned dead fucking serious, because Melissa started to talk about what they'd do as the game wore on. It wasn't a new topic to Jennifer. It was something she'd thought about again and again, something she'd worked and reworked in her mind, trying to find a satisfactory solution. In the end, though, she knew. She'd known since the beach. She decided to hold her peace until Melissa finished, though. It gave her time to steel herself, to prepare a little, to plan her words. This was not a topic to stumble her way through.

She parsed things, sorted them into the key questions, prepared them in her head. Readied them all to deal with in turn.

And when Melissa fell silent with a final hiccup, Jennifer spoke, slowly and carefully.

"I, um, I don't know what's going to happen to us. But I... maybe we have a chance to live. But, um, not much of one."

Too blunt. Too horrible. Too true.

"If... I don't know what I'll do. And, um, I don't know what I'd do to Maxwell. Melissa, I, um, I didn't get to tell you this, but..."

Fuck. She'd just strayed from the script, wandered off into an unpleasant little diversion. She'd set it up too much to back out now, though. Best to muscle through it.

"I, um, at the beach, I was with, um, with Phil when he... when he died. I got, um, distracted, and Jimmy Brennan murdered him. And, um, and I lost it. I went after Jimmy. And, um, and he came after me, and I, um, I disarmed him, and I knocked him down, and... Melissa, I could have killed him. But I... I just let him go. And he won Best Kill for that, and, um, and he could be out there killing more people right now.

"I don't think I could kill Maxwell."

That was probably sounding pretty fucking self-righteous. On to the next part, then. This was the part where she sounded like a monster instead.

"But, um, but I wouldn't think any less of you if you did. I... I, um, I don't even know what's right and wrong anymore, Melissa. I... with Nick... I don't even know if he's wrong. Isn't that twisted? I can't even tell if killing people is wrong, because everyone's just trying to survive. All I know is it scares me, and, um, and I don't want to kill anyone, and I don't want to be killed, but I can't do anything about it. I just want to go home, Melissa, but I can't kill anyone, and, and I don't want you to, and I don't want Nick to, but I'll still care even if you do."

She'd messed things up badly, gotten lost in her own words. She was sure she'd missed a bunch of important things. It would have to do for now, though. It would have to suffice.

"I don't want you to leave.

"I, um, I want to be with friends, and if... and when I die, I want to be with friends, and I want you to, um, to keep going, okay?"

She wondered if she was making a mistake in taking it for granted that Melissa would outlive her simply because of her friend's willingness to fight. People died all the time, now, including the strong ones, the fighters. There was no guarantee at all that Jennifer wouldn't find herself in the finals somehow, still unharmed.
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Melissa kept silent as Jennifer began speaking, a hand covered over her mouth to stifle the sound of the occasional hiccup as she listened to her friend's words. She made no move to interrupt to argue...just listen as Jennifer had done for her. It was only common courtesy and besides...it's not like Jennifer was really saying anything that needed to be commented on. Jennifer recounted a bit of her time on the beach when someone else...a Phillip, had died in front of her and then went on to say that she couldn't bring herself to kill Phillip's murderer.

It made sense, in a way. It was one thing to say that you were willing to kill and another completely separate thing to actually do the deed. Jennifer simply was unfortunate enough to have the chance to do the latter while she...well, Melissa still had to see if she would actually do it if there was some killer standing in front of her. It was just one of those down to the wire things. Like the climax to some great book or movie...although if Melissa had her way, she'd rather leave the choice off in some sort of horrible cliffhanger.

Jennifer continued speaking, expressing her confusion and fear over everything. Her desire to get home safe, to not be a killer, to see her friends survive...it was all there and Melissa couldn't help but smile at her friend's words even if it was such a morbid topic. It was really what Melissa had expected out of the kind-hearted girl. It was almost saintly, her attitude towards everything, although her remark of when she was going to die stung. It felt too much like setting yourself up for death...if you had already given up, there was no point to going on, was there?

Melissa couldn't help but feel a bit hypocritical about that last thought...after all, she had given up too, hadn't she? Back at Bayview, she had just let herself be guided through her life by her parents, not actually taking charge of her own life and doing what she wanted to do. It was easier to just accept it and move on, but now...when faced with impending death...something like that just rung hollow in Melissa's ears.

She let out a tiny laugh, tracing a finger on the floor and nodding. "Thanks...thanks, Jennifer. We've...both had it pretty rough, huh?" She smiled. "Do you think that...Nietzsche quote that everyone tosses around applies to something like this? That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger? If so, then we must be pretty strong, right?"

"What I don't understand though is..." Melissa trailed off as she decided against her next words. She was going to ask again why people would kill to survive. After, the only true danger on the island were the dangerzones. It's not like anyone was actually forcing them to kill each other. It was simply the fact that someone would snap first and begin the wave of death. Short of commanding the terrorists to kill people or detonating things at random...Danya really had nothing on them. And besides, it's not like Danya would rely on either of those methods. They were boring. They weren't dramatic, they weren't sensational. And considering he was showing it all to the viewing public...why the hell would they want to watch that?

They were already eating up Survival of the Fittest at home so...if enough students had realized that at the start, maybe something crazy like no death happening would have been possible. Now? Probably not so much. And as for killing...well, if you thought about it correctly there...really was no punishment for returning home a murderer, was there? She could recall that the past three winners of the game had returned back to the US to some fanfare and the last one probably became loaded from all the TV deals and interviews he had done.

So really...not only did the winner get to escape the island, but he or she got to land a whole pile of cash in return.

In essence, it was win-win. All it took was to throw away your humanity and kill for the hell of it. A perfect deal from the devil. Fame and riches for your soul.

And definitely not a deal that Melissa wanted to accept. She shook her head and gave Jennifer a weak smile, trying to explain away her sudden silence. "Sorry...was just thinking about something. It's...it was nothing important. I um...wish you wouldn't be so...adamant about your death though. I...I mean it's...a possibility. But anything's possible, right? I mean...Aislyn was probably one of the strongest people on this island and she...well, you heard on the announcements. I guess...really, it all comes down to being in the right place at the right time?"

"So um...at least. At least have a little faith, why don't you? I'm...I want to make it. And you want to make it. But...if you already assume you're dead, doesn't that just compromise your...I guess, spirit?" Melissa said, frowning for a bit. "I...can't think of the right word. But...whatever happens. Whatever happens in this game um...no matter what. I'll stick by you, Jennifer, I promise. You're my friend and um...I will never abandon my friends if I can help it. Trust me. If...if the worst should happen, I'll be with you."

"Always."
Edited by Tythanin, Mar 23 2011, 02:28 AM.
"Oh god dammit, I lost my sense of humor around here. Someone help me find it."

---

Approved V5 Pre-Game Characters:

Faria Young - Generals of Elysium (The Waterfront)
Annabelle Summers - Where Is My Muse? (Lunch Room)

"And who the hell came up with this play?! "Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet" ...Dude, THEY ALL DIE!"

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They'd both had it rough. Yeah, that was the fucking understatement of the day. Jennifer nearly smiled again. Melissa then asked a rhetorical question about that old phrase about things that don't kill you making you stronger. Jennifer hadn't known it was a Nietzsche quote, but wasn't too surprised to find out. From what little she knew about the philosopher, he was dark, depressing, grim, and convinced that nothing meant anything. He was also apparently wrong a lot of the time. Jennifer wasn't feeling stronger for not having eaten a proper meal in a week. She wasn't feeling stronger for having the blood of a friend on her shirt. She wasn't feeling stronger for being unable to stop a boy from killing, for being unable to even keep track of him.

Melissa started another train of thought, but quickly trailed off. Jennifer waited in silence. It wouldn't do to pressure her friend into saying something she wasn't prepared for, or into thinking too deeply about any of this. This was a situation where thought was a good way to lose the will to live.

It seemed Melissa was thinking the same thing, only she was worried about Jennifer. She didn't like that Jennifer was talking about her own death like it was a certainty, even though it was. This was part of pretending, though, part of maintaining the strength to go on. It didn't make anybody feel better to just wave the fact that they were all going to die in their fucking faces. Never mind the fact that that had happened every other time this program had been conducted. Never mind the fact that Jennifer was pretty sure no one with a single-digit kill count had ever survived.

Melissa questioned whether Jennifer's spirit would be compromised by assuming she'd die. The implications were clear: wasn't that a self-fulfilling prophecy? Likely it was. Jennifer had known since the start that she wouldn't make it, though. She'd nearly killed herself back on the first day. Searching back, she found she couldn't really bring to mind why she hadn't. There had been some good reason, she thought. Now, though, she was living out of habit and fear of the unknown. She was living to seize every little worthwhile moment she could before the end. It was funny. She'd been here a week. Back home, weeks had slipped through her fingers, lost to school and friends and long walks. She never thought about the time she spent. This last week, though, had felt like a year, had felt like a whole other life.

Almost like it would never end.

Maybe it wouldn't.

"I, um, thanks," Jennifer said. "But, um, but, Melissa... if, um, if it's safe that's fine but, um, but if something happens and it's not, I, um, I want you to get away. Don't risk yourself to keep me comfortable."

I've been alone before. Dying alone wouldn't be so much worse than dying with friends, right?

"And, um, maybe you're right. Maybe I'm being too much of a pessimist. But, um, I guess, um, it's just easier, you know? Maybe, um, I'm afraid if I get my hopes up it'll just be worse."

She sighed.

"But, um, but don't worry. I'll be doing my best to... to stay alive, and to, um, to keep you alive too.

"And, um, I'll... stay with you too."
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[ *  *  * ]
"I'll um...I'll see what I can do...when it happens, I guess." Melissa responded, a little uneasy. It was kind of hard to formulate a response to "If I die, I want you to leave me.". After all, wasn't that kind of a loaded choice in the first place? Well, right now it didn't matter. Melissa didn't want to think about it and so she just shuffled it to the back of her mind as she gave Jennifer a nod. "Yeah um...we'll both do our best. But um...let's um...let's worry about that when it actually matters, I guess."

She fell silent and poked at the portable stove, looking at the bread inside. She shook her head and let out a soft snort as she picked it out. It was warm, but definitely not toast-like in quality, so she just decided to give up on the endeavor and turned off the gas to the stove. She hoped she hadn't used up all the fuel inside...after all, it could still be useful somehow if they ever ran out of water and needed to purify stream water or something like that. She tore the slice of bread in half and handed one half to Jennifer, smiling a bit. "Hey...it's not much, but it's warm. Better than nothing, right?"

She laughed and shook her head before beginning to chew on the bread. Warm and tasteless, it didn't really do anything for her besides sate a little bit of the hunger inside of her. She reached for a cracker, popping that in as well and chewing thoughtfully. She swallowed, making a face as the mush went down her throat. "Every time I eat...I miss my mom's cooking. Heh...I'd kill for an actual cooked meal, you know? Even a greasy McDonald's hamburger. They already have McDonald's and Starbucks everywhere else in the world, you'd think they'd be smart enough to have some branches here. Imagine the chaos...everyone scrambling for a coffee or something."
"Oh god dammit, I lost my sense of humor around here. Someone help me find it."

---

Approved V5 Pre-Game Characters:

Faria Young - Generals of Elysium (The Waterfront)
Annabelle Summers - Where Is My Muse? (Lunch Room)

"And who the hell came up with this play?! "Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet" ...Dude, THEY ALL DIE!"

Cosmosphere - Now Serving as a Crappy Writing Blog
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MurderWeasel
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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
The assent to Jennifer's proposal was rather halfhearted, but that was to be expected, given the circumstances. Melissa suggested they worry about things when they became relevant. It was as good a plan as any. No reason to dwell upon inescapable death, right? After all, who knew? Maybe they would get out of this somehow. Maybe they would be rescued at the eleventh hour, or maybe no one would notice them and they'd just be ignored until the finals. Then at least one of them could live. Almost certainly Melissa.

Melissa handed her half the lukewarm bread, with a vague apology. Jennifer took it, took a bite, then realized she hadn't replied. Swallowing too quickly, she coughed, then said, "Um, no, it's good. I never, um, thought I'd eat warm food"—don't say 'again'—"here."

That was an acceptable save, she supposed.

Melissa continued to discuss food. She said she'd kill for a home-cooked meal. Jennifer let the unfortunate figure of speech slide. Seemed she wasn't the only one who fucked up sometimes. Then Melissa talked about Starbucks and McDonald's, and Jennifer just had to smile some more.

"Um, yeah, that'd be really interesting," she said. "Lots of, um, potential for, um, drama and merchandising and stuff. And, um, yeah."

She lapsed back into silence for a moment, considering things. She was starting to come to a realization, though: every time she stopped to think, she remembered the smell. She was breathing the decaying particles of her dead classmates. The remaining chunk of bread in her hand didn't look so good all of a sudden, never mind the fact that she was still starving.

This was all fucking ridiculous. Maf wasn't here. Nick wasn't here. Bill Davis was dead. The message hadn't been delivered. It was time to move on. They'd find Nick somewhere, or leave a note or something, but for now, Jennifer was feeling awfully claustrophobic.

"Hey, um, Melissa," she said. "I know we, um, just got here, but, um, can we maybe... go somewhere else? I don't think, um, they're coming, but we'll leave, um, a note or... something."
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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