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Throw It On a Fire; early morning, day viii
Topic Started: Mar 27 2011, 11:55 PM (1,300 Views)
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throw that pussy like i'm famous
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Violet Druce & Michael Moretti continued from Tactic Static))

He was exhausted and his back hurt.

Those were really the only two things Mike had to focus on. He was sprawled out over the crumbling ruins of a beige-and-red tile countertop, head turned towards a doorless exit. It was still dark but he knew it was morning. He should have switched with Vi hours ago. He’d gone to, once. She was laying in the corner of what was probably once a living room or parlor, back to him, tucked under a large bay window. Her things were lined neatly against the far wall. Her camera was out, as it always was when they stopped for the night. The tapes where nowhere to be seen. He’d eyed her bag. He’d seriously considered slipping them out and tossing them in the overgrown backyard. Instead, he’d returned to the kitchen and carried out her first shift himself.

He stayed through his second shift.
And then, her second one too.

He liked to imagine it was a favor to her. It wasn’t entirely untrue. He was riddled with guilt over the the scene at the beach two mornings ago. He’d hurt her. Worse, he’d scared her. For all their talk about how they should stick together and the unsaid understanding that what that really meant was that they needed each other, he’d almost ruined it all. He’d almost left her alone. Taking that bullet wouldn’t have saved her. As much as her harshness, her ungratefulness had hurt, he understood it now. He hadn’t admitted as much to her. Bits of baseless anger still floated around them. But, he understood.

That wasn’t why he let her sleep, though. He just couldn’t sleep himself.

They’d been stopped at one of the arms of the island’s rivers when the last announcements sounded. They’d both made token attempts at bathing. It was past the point of mattering, really. There was no way to feel clean here. He had made an honest try. He’d stowed away the grimy and tattered remains of the Revolver shirt from under his blue sweatshirt and traded it for the bright turquoise one with Brand New embellished across the chest. He’d tried to remember the concert as he’d slipped it on. Nothing had come. He’d wondered if those pathways in his brain had just grown over or cauterized after having to be like this for so long. He’d wondered what the hell this game was doing to him. He’d wondered if he’d ever be able to function outside of here like a normal human being. He stopped wondering. It was too fucking scary.

They’d waited silently after. Most of the previous day had been silent. Words were shared when necessary but the words never really shared much of anything. Nothing but flickers of anger and frustration and hurt, at least. So they’d just been silent and they’d waited. It was better to wait at that time of morning. It was hard to move much with the weight of the announcement looming over. Eventually, it came. The names had been largely inconsequential to them. That fact itself was horrible if they thought too much about it. So they hadn’t. They’d just packed up and kept moving north.

Something did bother Mike, though. There were plenty of names whose absence he’d been grateful for. But one in particular just unsettled him.

Why hadn’t he killed anyone?

Mike puzzled over it. Ever since their meeting, Ilario’s name had been a crushing constant on the announcements. Not that morning. Why? Had he just stopped? It should have been a pleasant thought, but it wasn’t. It meant he’d given up. It was so much worse. They’d had the chance to help him back at the station. They could have done something. They’d fled instead, and he’d started killing. That kind of blood on Mike’s hands was enough. But now, Ilario himself? It was painful. They’d failed him. They’d had so few chances to help anyone but themselves, and the single moment they could have prevented absolute goddamn tragedy they ran from. He felt like trash. He tried to convince himself it wasn’t true. There were other possibilities. It was just a day, a single day. He could be just fine. He was just fine.

Still, Mike struggled to keep from admitting to himself that part of the reason he was still awake was to hear Ilario’s name on the announcements. It was sick. He realized in a vague sort of way that it was so entirely sick. But it gave him hope.

There was another reason, though, why he hadn’t awoken Violet. That reason was those fucking tapes.

Vi had led the charge up through the woods past the river. The goal was shelter. Preferably something off the map, if such a thing existed, but the infirmary would do if not. They were too tired to be afraid of it anyway. If there were bodies in there, so what? They were everywhere now. Killers? Just as ubiquitous. They’d caught glimpses of some. They’d heard them more. Murder was the kind of noise that carried. They weren’t shocked by them so much anymore. Just exhausted, a little bit more each time. So the infirmary would be fine. The infirmary would be just dandy. Mike kept thinking that right up until the building came into view. Then he remembered the tapes and he knew they couldn't stop.

He’d panicked quietly behind her. If they stopped, she’d watch the tapes. He couldn’t stop her. Sure, maybe for a while, but Violet wasn’t stupid. She’d find a way. He knew that. She would have chucked the evil little things miles and miles ago if she hadn’t the intention to watch them. She’d had them all along. That terrified him. If they’d stopped there, she would have watched them. So they couldn’t have stop there. He’d needed to buy time.

They’d stopped on the threshold of the dark little building. Mike had a bad feeling about it, he’d told Vi. A convenient pang in his gut. They were in no position to question hunches, they both knew. Mike had the map. He’d offered to lead them somewhere less ominous. She hadn’t argued.

Over those next few hours he’d become quite adept at pretending to read a map. It had been a hard thing to do with no real destination. He’d weaved them through woods and beach and anything away from shelter. Anything but a place to rest. Violet might have argued with him any other day. But the hurt and frustration and guilt still silenced both of them and sapped their energy. She’d been too tired to argue. She’d just walked.

The charade had lasted until mid-afternoon. Mike knew he’d finally lost when the town had come into view. Vi had taken the lead almost as soon as she’d spotted it. A deflated Mike had dragged himself listlessly behind her. They’d penetrated the outskirts cautiously, slipped through the darkest yards and alleys. They’d taken turns scouring the houses when they’d reached them. They’d been looking for safety. Supplies, too, if they could find them. They’d both meant corpses when they’d said supplies but the word “supplies” was easier to get out. Mike had been slow on his turns. He’d always had a talent for wasting time, and he’d used it to its fullest. They’d combed through about ten empty and decaying houses in all. Finally, they’d reached this house. Mike had hardly finished his sluggish search before Vi had appeared in the empty back doorway. She’d decided they would stop here. It hadn’t been a suggestion or request. She’d asked to sleep first. Mike had agreed. He’d dropped his things along the worn kitchen floor as she’d assessed each room until she’d finally chosen the room with the bay window. He’d waited for a bit. He’d expected to hear the muffled, horrible sounds at any moment. They’d never come. He’d paced around the kitchen and thought too much until his turn to keep guard had ended. He’d slipped into the room. He’d seen her asleep, with the tapes nowhere to be found, and he’d had to stifle a groan of relief. He’d decided to let her sleep. He’d stay awake for days if it meant she wouldn’t watch those tapes.

The relief hadn’t lasted long. Finding things to worry him was another talent Mike had always possessed. He’d worried all through the afternoon and morning. Finally, he’d decided to turn his focus on absolutely anything but worry. Which left him here. Sprawled across a countertop, sore and exhausted. With a grunt of effort he swing himself upright on the edge. He cracked his neck and back and stretched each arm in turn over his chest. He felt like he was falling apart. Maybe he should have slept, he thought. Maybe he should have tossed the tapes when he’d had the chance and then let Violet take her own turn being sleepless. But he knew it hadn’t been a possibility. Even now, he knew he couldn’t sleep.

Especially not now. Not with the telltale click and slide of plastic that burst suddenly from the other room.
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