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Everybody Knows
Topic Started: Aug 31 2011, 11:21 PM (1,859 Views)
MurderWeasel
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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Kimberly Nguyen continued from Burn On))

They'd made their way down the mountain, out of what soon became a danger zone that spanned the majority of the island. Kimberly almost regretted not burning everything. It wasn't like it could hurt, not when the area was rapidly becoming deserted. It was a chance to leave a mark on the world, some sort of permanent reminder that she had been here. That wasn't so important, though, not anymore.

Now that she had a partner, Kimberly had more important shit to do than simply running around and finding people and fucking up their days for kicks. She had more important shit to do, like, for example, coming to terms with everything that had happened, with how very differently things had turned out than she had imagined they would. She couldn't quite wrap her head around the fact that she was even still alive this late in the game. Living to the final hundred had felt like a joke. Now, there were less than thirty people left on the island. In a way, she felt strangely privileged and vindicated. Sarah and Bridget had thought she needed to be coddled and protected, and look who was laughing now?

Not that she wouldn't have traded places with either of them in a second, or, fuck, sent Erik instead of one of them. He was probably more deserving. After all, he hadn't killed, hadn't completely fallen into the insanity of the game. He knew that, sometimes, no one gave a fuck who was stronger. Perhaps he could still unlearn everything he'd been taught here.

It was just so strange. Two weeks ago, she'd been worried about what she would do after graduation. It hadn't been a big worry, not really. She'd known that she would find her way. Now, though, now she knew the same thing but the stakes were so much higher. In a way, it didn't even make sense. Death was a timer ticking towards zero. The island had done nothing to change that; it had simply stolen the majority of her remaining time, making her actually realize how little of it she had always had.

And there were so many better things to do with it than worry. Kimberly laughed a little, as she approached the damaged building they had been heading towards. Why not laugh? Why not enjoy every last second? And now, now she could do so in a positive way, with a friend. Now she could find something worth doing besides hurting people.

Kimberly paid perfunctory attention to her surroundings as she moved, not too worried about an ambush here and now, but not totally at ease, either. As they entered the building, she saw a large smear of dried blood off to one side. Death was everywhere, it seemed. Not surprising, not anymore. She wondered what happened to all the bodies when the game was over. They had to deal with them in some way, make sure nobody had played dead or something. Probably they burned them all. It was strange, realizing that she was going to be burned like garbage and dumped into the sea. It was just the smallest bit upsetting.

She didn't dwell on it. Too much to do and to not do.

"Well," she said. "It looks like we may have somewhere to stay for a bit. Looks like something out of a horror movie, though."

The scattered furniture, damaged walls, overturned saws, the whole thing was a mess. Good. The world was a mess, these days. No reason for it to try to pretend otherwise.
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Juliette Sargent
Alton Gerow
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
"Given the large quantity of horror movie my life seems to be exhibiting at the moment, I think I can take it." Erik's wry smile eased the harshness of the words even as he leaned back against the non-bloody wall and allowed his long legs to fold, carrying his body slowly to the ground. One hand remained pressed over the still-leaking wound at his side, while the other rested in his lap. He squinted up at Kimberly from that position, not able to resist sweeping his eyes over her in a quiet check for injuries.

He'd been silent most of the walk (or stumble, to be perfectly honest) down the mountainside. There hadn't been much to say, it seemed. Kimberly's quiet speech about Frankenstein had occupied his mind along with the lingering pain and shock that came of being shot. Both subjects were ones that his mind continually poked at, like a child worrying a loose tooth with their tongue. He wasn't exactly sure how to respond and had settled with just plain not responding at all.

He'd always figured on redemption. There would always be a good path, a just path, and there would always be ways to redeem oneself and atone for one's mistakes. You could always learn. You could always change. If you just, if you just believed hard enough and wished on a star or a fairy or whathefuckever, everything would be okay.

But he couldn't think about that. Wouldn't. Had gone back and forth so many times that his mind was a jumbled mess and once or twice he caught himself digging slippery fingertips into the rip on his side just so that the spiking pain would pull him out of all that goddamn navel-gazing. Now, out of harm's way, seemingly alone, he spoke to try and ward off the intrusive thoughts for just a little longer.

"You holding up okay?" Not thinking she was weak. The opposite. It was always the strongest things that broke the hardest, at the worst times.


marc st. yves


light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire


lydia hausen


if you don't look down you don't have to fall

sebastian conway


everything will be okay in the end


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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MurderWeasel
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Kimberly could laugh again, in genuine amusement rather than at someone else's pain. It felt nice. It felt absolutely amazing to talk about horror films and being okay and things that weren't a competition, that weren't about one-upping each other.

When Erik asked if she was holding up, she just nodded and said, "Yeah, I'm fine for now, I think. Tired, but who's not?"

She took a moment to assess him, then, seeing just how he was doing. His side was still bleeding a bit, it seemed. That wasn't good. Kimberly knew all about lingering wounds, and how much of a pain they could be. She didn't want to see Erik hurt, didn't want to see him killed by negligence. The fact that he was still alive was a total blessing, and she didn't want to see that changed any time soon. In fact, she was starting to think that maybe that should be their goal, just to stay alive as long as possible. They wouldn't win. There was no provision for two people to live, and, to be completely honest, she doubted either of them was the sort to last through this all. She'd made her peace with that a long time ago. There was something to be said for maximizing what was left, though, for clinging to everything that made life worth living for as long as possible.

She couldn't even begin to figure out how to frame that philosophy without sounding morbid. Maybe it didn't matter. Maybe they were beyond morbidity. It was something to think on later.

"How're you?" she said. "I think we need to give that cut a look. Don't want you ending up like me."

Here, she shrugged her bad shoulder, just a little, and it only ached a bit. She could still wiggle her fingers. She suspected that her arm was fucked up in all kinds of new and exciting ways by now, though. She hadn't done much of anything with it in nearly two weeks, so her muscles had probably atrophied to some degree. She hadn't set it or even figured out exactly what was wrong, so her joints had probably begun to heal all wrong, too. It was almost certainly nothing a good surgeon and physical therapist couldn't fix, but that didn't matter because she would never get to see either.

She wanted to whip out the first aid kit, to march over to Erik and force him to take care of himself, force him to do a better job than she had, but she understood that it was his choice. If he wanted to die slowly for some reason, well, it'd hurt, but it wasn't her place to deny him that right.
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Juliette Sargent
Alton Gerow
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
For a strange and liberating moment, he wanted to say no. Did it matter? He knew he'd be dead soon anyway and maybe without even hearing the bullet this time, just a quick burst of black and that would be it. Or worse still, he'd be alive and everyone else dead, with nothing to look forwards to but a lifetime of knowing that no matter people said time would never be able to heal all wounds. Here and now, with scarlet trickling gently over his fingers, the pain almost felt good. The punishment for remaining alive while others couldn't, for failing Brendan, for failing his family.

He wanted to. Maybe it crossed his eyes when he looked at her. Maybe not. Still, it was a beat too long before he offered up a soft "Sure." Scootching slightly closer to her, he gingerly peeled the fabric away from the shallow wound, hissing between his teeth and shaking his head to dislodge the last lingering dark thoughts which slipped around the edges of his mind like hungry ghosts. No time to think about that now. No sense in it, either. He couldn't leave Kimberly alone.

He couldn't help but grimace when the full extent of the damage was revealed. An ugly tear into the muscle, thankfully stopping short of bone, crossed his ribcage. The swollen edges opened into what looked disgustingly like raw meat, and he had to look away and swallow hard. Once he'd regained his composure, he offered up the ghost of a smile.

"At least it missed my face. Can't have an abundance of brains considering I missed the boat off this stupid island, so my looks might just be all I've left to go on."

He leaned back against the wall, silently giving her whatever room she needed to work. Staring at the ceiling he continued to speak, distracting himself from the fact that parts of his body never supposed to see the light were currently out and about. "Can't promise...luck either, given that I'm pretty sure that was supposed to be a warning shot. Really, don't know...why you stick around. Must be the winning personality. Or some kind of irresistible gay beam."



marc st. yves


light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire


lydia hausen


if you don't look down you don't have to fall

sebastian conway


everything will be okay in the end


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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MurderWeasel
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Kimberly chuckled along with Erik's comments as she searched through her belongings to see what she still had to patch him up. She was pretty well out of disinfectant after the time he helped her change her own bandages. At this point, of course, infection might not even have time to set in. That was an unpleasant little thought.

"It's the personality," she replied. "Trust me."

She still had some clean water, at least, in one last, unopened bottle. It would be better used here, for sanitation; she could drink creek water and be fine, but it wouldn't do at all for cleaning wounds. She cracked the seal on the bottle, dug out a few antiseptic wipes, and went to work doing what she could to clean Erik's wound. The good news was, she was fairly sure it wasn't going to kill him, at least, not in the immediate future. She wasn't a particularly able nurse, since it was hard to handle things with only one hand, but she was pretty sure she at least wasn't fucking things up worse than they were at the start.

"You know what's funny?" she said, trying to keep his attention off his wounds. "All this crazy shit, it's the sort of stuff they never teach you about in school. It's like, this first aid stuff would have been lot more useful to learn than fucking trig. I can calculate how wide a lake is if you give me the angle of the sun and a pad of paper, but I don't have a clue how to do stitches or whatever."

Kimberly was starting to realize that she was exhausted, not thinking perfectly straight. She'd just taken the conversation in the exact opposite direction she had intended. It was time to let Erik take the lead again, then. Time to focus on what would actually help him.
V7:
Juliette Sargent
Alton Gerow
Lavender Ripley
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
"That'd be a good class." His eyes were squeezed shut, a combination of pain and not wanting to see what she was doing. He'd never really been squeamish but somehow it seemed different when it was his own body, his own nerve endings laid bare. "Survival Triage 101. We could practice on Monty Pondsworth's latest victim." Kind of figured that the notorious bully wasn't even on the island. No one had ever expected him to be -- broken the rules a few too many times to ever be allowed on a class trip (or out of detention) -- but he thought there would have been almost poetic irony for him to be here, finally allowed to open up his murderous tendencies.

Or was that irony? English had never been his strong suit. Not that he was thinking particularly straight anyhow. Whatever she was doing to his side stung like one hell of a bitch. He kept talking, hoping to distract himself from the pain -- and to some degree, distract her. It wasn't fair to her, after all. Already wounded, killed someone, probably amassing more trauma than the average child soldier, and she was having to patch him up. She was a high school graduate for Christ's sake, or almost. She should be ogling boys or putting on makeup.

It was all just so fucking messed up.

"Or self-defence. Something like that. Hey, so, there's this instructor and he's teaching self-defence, right? And one day he has the whole class together and he wants to see how much they've learned. So he asks the class, "If you were alone and unarmed and someone was coming at you with a gun, what steps would you take?" And a few people put up their hands, and one of them is a boy who doesn't ever seem to pay attention. So the teacher, all excited that the kid learned something, picks him. And the kid says "Big ones, in the opposite direction."

The joke all came out in a rush, but Erik laughed at it all the same. Maybe it was stupid to laugh at your own jokes, but he figured he deserved it.

Kimberly was still working with the water. Erik hesitated, then reached out and caught her hand. "Hey, uh - it's okay." Awkward now that he wasn't making jokes, or telling stupid stories, and he hated it. "I don't think - um, it might not have much time to get infected. It's not. It's not a big deal."

A half smile, curving at the edges of his mouth. "Uh, laughter is the best medicine anyway, right?"


marc st. yves


light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire


lydia hausen


if you don't look down you don't have to fall

sebastian conway


everything will be okay in the end


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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MurderWeasel
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
The jokes were strained and not all that funny, but damn it felt good to laugh. At this point, any release was acceptable. Kimberly was just pleased that Erik hadn't dropped the ball, hadn't let them fall into the morass of depression that threatened. Angst had seemed such a delicious emotion back at home, but now Kimberly could tell that it was vastly overrated. Despair and gloom was fun only when it wasn't for keeps. Now, with death imminent, all she wanted was to grasp the moments of joy, to take what little good she could find and run with it.

Even though Erik closed with a grim reminder of his situation, of his probable death, Kimberly wasn't about to let it break through her smile, not when it was something she had already thought of. In a way, she had come full circle, back to the forced optimism of her first few minutes on the island. The difference was that she was no longer deluded. She no longer held any illusions that everything was going to be alright. She just didn't particularly care anymore.

"You don't know that," she said. "You might be the lucky one, and are you really gonna trust the people who put us here with your health care?"

She smiled as she spoke, trying to turn it halfway into a joke. Sure, there was truth underpinning it. Of course, they would want the winner alive, unless everything had gone far more wrong than Kimberly could imagine. No winner meant no visible motivation to coax the next sorry batch into murdering. Kimberly was actually a bit surprised that this still worked as well as it did. She'd heard very little about the survivors of past games, but the news of SOTF wasn't really something her circle cared about. It wasn't like the first run, where it had been omnipresent and inescapable. She suspected some people in isolated parts of the country still didn't know that another batch of students had been kidnapped. Even calamity could become old hat with enough repetitions.

"Hey," she said, "I don't suppose you have any bandages left? Or anything we could tear up to make some?"

Worst case, Kimberly had her sweater. She didn't really feel like losing it, not with the sometimes cold nights and the pain that would be removing it or cutting it off, but Erik's life was more important than her comfort. She could survive in a t-shirt, or, at least, it would not be what killed her. That said, her sweater was nowhere near hygienic. It would be a worst case measure to stop Erik's bleeding, nothing more.

She had taken a spare shirt from her things back on the beach, specifically planning to use it for this sort of situation. She couldn't remember what had happened to it. Had she lost it somewhere, dropped it or thrown it away or burned it or cut it up? It was immensely frustrating. She felt her temper threatening to spike, and took a deep breath, forced another smile as she awaited Erik's answer. They were probably both tense here. She'd just have to cope. For once, she wanted to make very sure she didn't blow up on someone.
V7:
Juliette Sargent
Alton Gerow
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MurderWeasel
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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
It was a vast difference from the attitude she was used to. In a way, it felt almost like she was lying, to herself and to Erik. She'd told white lies in her life, of course, but had always found them a little uncomfortable. She decided that it was acceptable here, though. Anything was alright to make the world a little more tolerable.

She had torn the shirt up. She remembered now, in a little flash that transmuted the irritation into something else. She'd torn it up on the mountain, and Erik had bandaged her arm with it, and she'd probably left all the fucking spare cloth on the bench or something when she went after Kris.
V7:
Juliette Sargent
Alton Gerow
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
His face fell almost immediately after the question. "Aw, shit--." he said, and "No. I dropped my pack somewhere. Crap." His fingers clenched convulsively, short nails digging into his palms. He'd berated himself a couple of times already for losing it, mainly when hunger and thirst started to creep up on him. Shock was taking care of that now, and keeping the pain at bay but he knew that covering it would reduce the risk of infection by a fair amount if he was going to keep traipsing around in this decidedly non-sterile environment.

Crap.


"Um. Okay, well...the shirt? It's pretty much a loss anyway, I mean, it's not that clean but it's gotta be better then nothing, right?" His battered LBGT tee was crusted with mud in places and -- well -- didn't exactly smell like roses if you caught his drift, but it wasn't bad. Well. Not horrific. "I thought that was our plan anyway. Shirtless man, distraction, wasn't there something like that?"

Humor wasn't working as well as it had. He took a deep breath, flinching as it pulled at newly raw flesh, and let it out as calmly as he could. Anti-stress strategies. The therapist had taught him that. Separate into negative and positive, into things he had control over and things he didn't, things he could be okay with and things he needed to deal with. Alright, so he'd been shot. So he was on an island full of dead classmates and, scarier, killer classmates. He'd just watched people die in front of his eyes and he still didn't have any way to defend himself even if he thought he could. That was bad. That was all pretty bad.

But he was alive. And he was with Kimberly, she who listened and laughed at his bad jokes and okay, she had killed some people but she wasn't going to kill him and he sure didn't think she was going to kill anyone else. He was alive, and with someone, and there'd already been one rescue boat and that meant people knew they were there and were probably going to come back.

Make the positives outweigh the negatives. Breathe. Live in the moment, her voice in his head stern and unyielding and refusing to give into his panic, Erik, breathe. You can't waste your life terrified of what's around every corner. The therapist's voice, or his mom? You can't live that way. Brendan? No, Erik had been the one to say that to him, outside the doors at prom. And then the feeling, the familiar feeling he'd learned to find at the cliffside, the feeling that was open air and sky and cormorants and each painful breath began to steady until there was just peace, warm and familiar, lulled by shock, wrapping around his limbs.

He opened his eyes and smiled, reaching out for her hand. "Hey," he said. "It's gonna be okay."

Edited by ifnotwinter, Sep 30 2011, 11:00 PM.


marc st. yves


light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire


lydia hausen


if you don't look down you don't have to fall

sebastian conway


everything will be okay in the end


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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MurderWeasel
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Kimberly laughed at his jokes again, laughed at the mention of running shirtless to distract people. She wished she had it in her to come back with something, something about how it'd be quite a change for someone besides a girl to strip in front of her, but she just couldn't. It was hitting her hard, for some reason. It was hitting her hard that they didn't have any more bandages, that they were just so worn down and battered and broken. It should have been different. They should have been celebrating still being alive. She was losing her grasp on what she wanted. She was losing track of her goals, losing her place in the moment. She wasn't happy, and it fucking sucked that she wasn't happy. This whole thing, it was starting to almost feel too much for her again. She absolutely could not let it overwhelm her. She couldn't let this spiral out of control. It was supposed to be simple.

And Erik told her it was going to be alright. He told her it was all going to be fine, and she didn't believe him, not for a second, but she knew that they'd fake it, just fucking pretend it was going to be cool, just act like everything was okay until it wasn't anymore.

Something was wrong with her. She was all over the place, flitting from rage to despair to apathy, chasing herself around and around. She tried to remember when she had last eaten, and found herself entirely unable to do so.

Fuck it.

She'd do her best. It was the only choice, the only thing she'd ever been able to do. She'd do her best, and she'd be happy with that. She would make it enough.

Erik was reaching out to her, and she clasped his hand with her one good one.

"Yeah," she said. "Yeah, it'll be alright. This game, all this shit—





—we'll make it our own."

It was enough to tell him all he needed to know. He leveled the pistol and opened fire.

((Aaron Hughes continued from Whistling in The Dark))

Aaron had heard only the tail end of the conversation. He had approached the sawmill carefully, slowly, and he had made sure to note everything that had changed. It was surprising, how many things were different now. The most telling was the new body, some guy Aaron didn't know, lying on the ground right outside one of the side buildings. The body was still relatively fresh. Perhaps he could have gotten a rough estimate of the age through comparison and observation, but that was wholly unnecessary. It told him a killer had been here fairly recently. it told him there might still be one around.

The urge to avoid conflict had told Aaron to leave, to walk away. The urge to put a round in Raidon before the finals had overruled it. The plan was very simple. First, Aaron would scout the perimeter. He would make sure there was nobody following him, leave some opportunities for any shadows to tip their hands. Then, he would check each building, would find out if anyone was hiding. If he encountered someone decent enough, he would play the savior, coming to rescue them from the gore and terror, recruiting them for his cause. If he found a killer, he would gun them down, add a notch to his belt, and enhance his credibility as a roving vigilante.

There was no way he'd lose out.

And so, everything had gone just fine until he reached the third building. There, he had seen the two of them, seemingly engrossed in tending the boy's wounds. He had found himself totally unable to recognize the boy, though his height was formidable. The girl, though, he could recognize. Kimberly something-unpronounceable. She would have been wholly unremarkable, except that she had finished off Kris Hartmann. He remembered that very distinctly. He made sure to track the people who were killing the killers. They were all at least somewhat dangerous, if they could take on the big opponents. He was pretty sure she'd killed a couple more people, too.

But it was her words that convinced him these two were playing, that they were responsible for that new body baking in the sun. It didn't matter who the boy was, whether he was a full-fledged partner or a simpering accomplice, though Aaron was going to assume the latter, was going to assume he had been injured in the fight and was now having doubts. He was still a threat. They were a partnership, and they were playing to win, and two-on-one was terrible odds. Better to narrow them here and now.

Thus the gunfire, six shots, enough to put a lot of lead in the air and to leave Aaron with some backup in case they survived and came after him. He wasn't going to stick around to admire his handiwork, not after what had happened with Raidon. The announcements would tell him if he'd been successful. In the meantime, he was going to make tracks back to the more open areas. The sawmill was a good location, but not one worth risking death for.

And so he ran.

Nobody pursued him.

((Aaron Hughes continued in Finalizing Plans))





She never even saw the responsible party, never registered anything beyond the sudden shock of gunshots. She wasn't hit. Somehow, she hadn't been hit in the assault.

That should have been a greater comfort than it was. Right now, though, she didn't fucking care. She could have been dying, could have been bleeding out, her guts spilling to the floor, and she wouldn't have given a shit. She wasn't important, not at all. There were other things to do, other reasons to worry.

"Erik?"

She was still holding his hand.
V7:
Juliette Sargent
Alton Gerow
Lavender Ripley
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
He almost didn't recognize the gunshots.

Fireworks, he wanted to say, who's setting off fireworks? Who would -- but they were gunshots cracking through the air so fast he couldn't tell how many, just a cacophony of noise that sent birds screaming up into the air so that for one perfect moment the cordite air was filled with the sound of wings. And then it was over. He could heat crashing footsteps over the terrified rush of blood in his ears but they were moving away, getting quieter. Kimberly was staring at him. Her face was chalk-pale in the light. There was blood on it, a light spray decorating her cheekbone, a larger spatter on the front of her shirt. She was still squeezing his hand. She was saying something that he couldn't quite hear but that didn't matter because she was hurt.

"Kimberly?" He could hear himself only dimly, deaf from the shots and his heartbeat hammering too loud and too fast. She was hurt, had to be, the blood hadn't been there before the gun but he couldn't see where it was coming from. Oh God, he thought, God, how bad, and one hand came down to the ground to try and push himself upright while the other disentangled from her fingers and reached forwards, searching, desperate to find the injury except--

--except for the part where it didn't. Where it just twitched, fingers like limp worms in her grip and that didn't make any sense, didn't make any sense at all until he saw the blood pouring down his arm curving lines and channels through fine blonde hair and mingling in their palms and it wasn't coming from her, was it, no it was coming from his arm where a ragged channel spilled a crimson tide down the remains of his shirt.

Oh.

Oh.

Okay.

Okay, Erik, you've been shot again.

"Um," he said, "um, I don't think this was supposed to happen." Something twisted in his stomach and came out a hiccuping laugh, thin and high bringing blood to his tongue and his teeth so that it dribbled out of his lips. Ha. Figured. Fucking figured. Get shot once, turn into a, a bullet magnet. It was okay though. It was still okay. Kimberly needed to know that. His other arm still worked. Mostly. It grasped for fingers sticky with red, with his blood, hers was all on the other hand (ha), squeezed tight except tight wasn't really much but it was, it was just going to have to fucking do. "It's okay," he told her, another rising bursting bubble of blood had he bit his cheek or his tongue? "It's okay," he told her, the arm that had been shot lying like a dead fish on the ground not even a part of him anymore. "It's okay, Kimberly, it's okay, it's going to be okay," he told her, and his crotch was wet like he'd fucking pissed himself except when he looked it was darkwet stains all spreading out and there was a hole, ragged and burnt through his shirt -- he'd loved this shirt, fuck -- and that's where the piss was coming from so it probably wasn't actually piss. Holes above it too.

Oh.

Two holes above it.

So three in total.

Four if he counted the ruined arm.

And a lot of blood.

Oh.

That was probably four too many. But they didn't hurt. He couldn't breathe, exactly, it felt like only one half of his chest was even working and he was having to breathe past a choking mass of copper in the back of his throat but it didn't hurt. Shock, he thought distantly, a beautiful and wonderful thing because he had three holes in him and four if you counted the arm and there was a lot of blood on him and the ground and on Kimberly and the thought stole into his mind with the sound of wings and gunshots:

I'm dying.


Oh.

But that was okay. Somehow, it was okay. Saltmetal in his mouth and crimson everywhere he looked but it was okay, he was wrapped in the comforting embrace of cliffs and cormorant air and shock and it was okay. What wasn't okay was Kimberly in front of him, pale and wide-eyed and with his life drying on her cheeks, Kimberly who didn't deserve this, Kimberly who'd had everyone else die and who had agreed to be his partner and hauled him back into life, Kimberly who'd wasted her supplies on the rib graze and worried for bandages. Kimberly who'd killed someone too far gone to even be human and stayed human herself. Kimberly who was watching him die.

No. His other arm struggled for a moment, pushed him upright just enough so that a mass of something he didn't want to think about went down his throat instead of out his mouth. She wouldn't. Somewhere in the back of his mind panic was lurking, the screaming shaking desperation of I DON'T WANT TO DIE but hereandnow there was Kimberly and he couldn't, wouldn't do that to her.

(his mother thin and pale, sleeping her days away while Erik and Kimkim and Pierre and Morgan and Charlotte gathered and watched, the image of slow death etching itself into their minds and he would not could not let it happen again not ever--)

"Kimberly," he said, gasped, forced the words past a tongue tired of cooperating, "Please. It's okay. I'll be okay. I need you," tears he hadn't noticed making messy tracks in the ruby smears by his lips, "I need you to go away. Please. Please, Kimberly, it's okay, you need to go." Fumbling for excuses she wouldn't care about but he had to anyway, "He'll come back. I'll hold him off. I'll stop him, it's okay, just go."

Please God, please, this prayer answered.

Never again.



marc st. yves


light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire


lydia hausen


if you don't look down you don't have to fall

sebastian conway


everything will be okay in the end


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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MurderWeasel
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
And there was blood, and there was pain, and Erik was dying. Everybody was dying. Once upon a time, she'd prided herself on the fact that she was staying alive, that she was thriving while so many of her classmates, so many of the people she'd spent time with every day, were failing. She'd thought it maybe proved something. She'd thought it maybe validated her somehow. Here she was, with one arm fucked up beyond belief, and still alive at the halfway point, the final hundred, last fifty, twenty left. Now, right now, what mattered wasn't that she was still alive. What mattered was all those others who weren't, all those others who would soon be welcoming one more.

Erik wasn't making it. It was obvious to her. He spoke, he touched her face, he took his time figuring out what had happened, but Kimberly knew the whole time. She saw his arm, mangled beyond what had happened to her, and she saw his chest, with the bleeding holes, and she knew. It wasn't right. Whatever had happened, whatever had prompted this, it wasn't right. She'd lived longer than Kris, she'd fulfilled her purpose, and she'd found something else to cling to, and now, just like that, it was gone. She was adrift now, well and truly lost for the first time here. There was nothing to do. She had no idea who had murdered Erik. She wouldn't know until the next announcements, and by then, the perpetrator might also be gone. Besides, vengeance had lost its luster.

And Erik, Erik was on the floor, and he was panicking, and he had something important to say, but it wasn't some last second confession or final words of encouragement. He wanted her to go, wanted her to leave, to run, to be anywhere but here. He wanted to protect her. The comment about the killer returning, that was a lie. They both knew it. She didn't resent it. Everyone lied. Everyone tried to do what was best for those they cared about.

It was funny how rarely they knew what that was.

Kimberly didn't need protecting. Never had, except, perhaps, from herself. That, Erik had provided. Now, though, there was nothing left to worry about, nothing left to save her from. Things weren't going to get any worse.

"Erik," she said. "I'll... it'll all be fine. I want to help you, fuck, whatever that means."

"No," he said, and he squeezed her hand, squeezed it hard, so hard it hurt a little, but pain didn't matter now. "No, you don't — don't want you to see this, please, Kimberly, please, I don't want—" and he was crying now, was crying hard, and his breathing was all messy, and she couldn't even tell what he meant anymore. She couldn't tell what was lies and what was truth. "I don't want, don't want to hurt you. Partners don't, right, so please—"

Throughout it all, he never let go of her hand. He clung to her, and she was so lost and confused, and she couldn't even begin to tell what he wanted. She had to choose, had to decide whether to trust his words or his actions. Everything in her told her to ignore what he was saying, to assume he was lying. It seemed wrong, though. It seemed selfish. Kimberly rarely engaged in unnecessary duplicity. She had lived her life assuming that others were straightforward with her for the most part, and hating them when they weren't. To change now, to choose to prioritize herself, that would be the real lie.

And that was that. That was her answer, then. He wanted her gone, wanted to protect her from all the monsters she didn't believe in. And the worst of it, the thing that just fucking tore her up, was that she couldn't do anything to change his mind, couldn't argue him down, because there just wasn't enough time, because she would never have clarity.

She couldn't protect him, either. It wasn't her place to tell him he was making a mistake, to insinuate that he might spend his last moments some better way, that he shouldn't just lie there and die alone. It seemed awful, that idea. Dying was bad enough, but to feel the cold and the dark without anyone there to ground you, without anything to warm you up, that would be intolerable.

But it wasn't her decision, and so she stood, very slowly, her hand slipping from his, and she looked back at him, and she smiled as much as she could and she said, "Catch you later."

She walked towards the exit, made it maybe halfway.

No.

No, it wasn't right. No regrets. No more mistakes. And so she stopped, and she said, "Erik, I think we need to compromise."

She turned, and she walked back to him, and she sat down, but this time she didn't face him. She stared at the wall, straight ahead, and she reached her hand back and found his again, found the one that was still whole, and she squeezed it.

"I won't look," she said. "I won't watch. I promise I won't turn around unless you tell me to. But partners don't leave each other behind. Partners means we both have to deal with shit we don't want to sometimes, right?"

And she squeezed his hand again, and she smiled a little, smiled for real this time, even though he couldn't see it.
V7:
Juliette Sargent
Alton Gerow
Lavender Ripley
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
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She got up. Her fingers left his, not that it mattered because he couldn't feel them anymore could just see them lying askew on the ground -- but she got up, and she smiled a little, shaky and not real but it was still a smile and she said catch you later and her feet carried her away, slow footsteps the way he'd wanted because now she didn't have to see it. She could live without one more person on her conscience and that was -- that was okay, it had to be, it was what he wanted except.

Except for how she wasn't walking away any more, she was walking back and she was sitting next to him and he couldn't feel her fingers that well but he pretended he could all warm in his palm and she was staying. Kimberly was staying, not looking at him but holding onto him still and staying and maybe it was a loss, maybe it wasn't he wanted except for how he wasn't alone anymore and she'd been the one to make her own decision. He wasn't holding her here. They were partners.

"Yeah," he said, hard to hear through the blood washing around his teeth but still, "Yeah. Yeah. Right. Partners." He smiled. She couldn't see it. Didn't matter. "Okay. That's...that's okay."

And it wasn't, exactly, but it was going to have to be.



Erik drifted.

The pain came in slow waves that washed over his body. He couldn't quite breathe, anymore, each inhale and exhale was a painful struggle and more often than not he choked on thick coppery sludge inside his throat. He couldn't really see anymore. He'd spent a few moments looking for cameras, but had given up rapidly. There wasn't much point. He didn't think he'd be able to move any more even if there was one pointed at him.

He thought Kimberly was still there. He couldn't feel her hand at all now -- or, really, anything below the neck -- but he didn't think she would leave. Not yet. The tears had long since dried or maybe just mingled with the blood, but either way he was calm again. He drifted in memories of home, of his family. He imagined Kimberly's voice, his Kimberly with her firey hair and the way she'd tucked herself under his arm as a scared little girl. Pierre, dark eyes and soft words always so wrapped up in his own world, Pierre who'd been the one to train the dogs even though they were almost bigger than him. Morgan and Charlotte, alike and different and more like Erik perhaps than his other siblings -- they loved dance, excelled at it, and sometimes when he watched their bodies curve to the music he couldn't understand how lucky he was...

And his parents. The love and support he'd always gotten from them, his mom who'd dragged him to therapy and forced him to confront the demons he'd been so ashamed of, his father always busy but never too busy who'd taught him cooking and to never have regrets. Where were they now? At home, maybe, or at the restaurant. Not watching. Never watching. He couldn't imagine that. Not now.

His family. And his friends - beautiful Chloe so strong like her last name, more than she would ever realize, pretty Rhory who'd drifted apart and wrapped herself in her tumbling world somewhere he couldn't touch, the names and faces of each classmate who'd accompanied them on this trip floated lazily through his mind. So many dead. He'd almost made it. It was -- funny, in a way. Or sad. How close he'd been to the end.

And Brendan. Handsome Brendan who'd cried on prom night frozen on the steps while the blue corsage caught the light from the hall, Brendan who'd been someone special and who'd been in his life how long? Not long enough, Brendan with white face and scared eyes bleeding on the ground, holding Erik's hand. Who'd kissed him smelling like sweat and dirt and the sour smell of fear before leaving while Erik slept, stealing away while Erik dreamt himself away for the first time in days to a place where nothing could touch.

Brendan who had gone to the rescue boats, who the announcements said was dead. Who, in some selfish way, Erik hoped was dead because they'd never gotten the time they'd been promised and maybe in the world beyond there'd be laughing eyes and a rough Aussie accent waiting for him. Brendan, who he always figured would have been the one holding him as the world slipped back.

But it was Kimberly, now.

Partners.

His lips curled into an almost-smile. He wasn't sure if his eyes were open or closed, but he saw nothing but darkness. His body was numb. He couldn't hear his own voice when he spoke.

"Always thought...it would be...Brendan." Each breath seemed harder than the one before, but it didn't hurt. Nothing really hurt anymore. "But this. Partners." He tried to squeeze fingers that he couldn't feel. "It's...okay. It's okay...isn't it?" Another struggling inhale, exhaled her name. "Kimberly?"

And then there was no more breath.



Oh.

This is it?


Those were my last words?



I never got to say thank you




I never got





to say






goodbye



B009: ERIK LAURIN: DECEASED
Edited by ifnotwinter, Sep 30 2011, 10:58 PM.


marc st. yves


light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire


lydia hausen


if you don't look down you don't have to fall

sebastian conway


everything will be okay in the end


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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MurderWeasel
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And Erik, he said it was okay, and his fingers clenched, just that smallest bit, and he was asking her, asking her if it was really going to be okay. He said her name. It was what finally spurred her to speech.

"Yeah," she said. "Yeah, it's going to be okay."

Kimberly didn't even know if she was lying anymore. It didn't matter. Erik didn't hear her response.

She didn't get up, not even after she was sure there was no more reason to wait. She sat there, holding Erik's limp hand, staring at the wall in front of her. She couldn't even begin to deal with this. Everything that had happened, everything that she had done, all the death she had seen, and it was Erik's passing that finally broke through to her, that finally made her feel something besides rage and emptiness in response to a tragedy.

What she felt was tired, and scared, and lonely.

She sat there for a long time. She couldn't say exactly how long she stayed still, just that, when she finally tried to move, she couldn't feel her legs, and had to sit for a few minutes, just flexing her muscles and wincing at the prickles of pain that ran through them with the returning circulation. Even when feeling returned, she didn't turn around, just shifted into a crouch. Her right arm was sore and stiff. Her fingers were still clasped around Erik's hand. He still felt warm, even now, because her hand was in his.

It was a comfort. It made him no less dead, and, in a way, Kimberly felt that clinging to what she'd lost was doing him an injustice. For all of that, she didn't want to go. She'd been alone for a long time, and she'd been strong enough to deal with that, but it had taken someone just talking to her about stupid shit to help her be strong enough to open up, to accept kindness and caring even though she knew it was all futile. She wasn't sure she could maintain that strength now, wasn't sure she could hold herself apart from her fears and coping mechanisms.

At the end of the day, that was what it had always been about. This situation was insane. It had spiraled completely out of her control, and it had left her grasping at nothing. She had tried denial, had tried to make the bad things go away just by telling them to. Kris had put an end to that, and so she had instead chosen to hurt, to cause pain and discomfort and fear, to seek revenge and prioritize her desires over all else. It was the easy choice. It was what she'd done back home, when she knew her grandparents wouldn't say a word about it, unless maybe, just maybe, she finally pushed too far.

But in the end, it was about keeping the world at bay. It was about dying happy, but just maybe not satisfied.

She shivered. It was too much, too much to cope with and definitely too much to sort through while sitting here on the floor. She wanted to just let the world drift away for a little.

She finally let go of Erik's hand, then walked out of the sawmill, never looking back.





There were other things in the area worth investigating, of course. Before long, Kimberly had found several bodies. Next to one of them was a gun, a revolver of some sort. She stooped to pick it up, trying her best to avoid looking at the corpse, which had clearly been around for quite some time.

Kimberly didn't know what to do with the gun, didn't have any idea how to work it. It was totally different from the pistol she had left with Liz, and, with the advantage of hindsight uncolored by false confidence, Kimberly could say she hadn't even been particularly certain of how to use that weapon. The revolver seemed heavy, solid, and completely alien. She wasn't even sure why she'd picked it up. She had no intentions of going hunting for anyone, not even Erik's murderer. The game, she was coming to realize, had a fairly good self-regulation mechanism when it came to justice. One person would survive, which meant the odds of any specific psychopath making it to the end were infinitesimally small. She'd just have to listen, catch the name, and then...

And then she had an idea. She'd go, and she'd ask why, if she could. That was the question foremost on her mind right now. She couldn't even begin to fathom why someone would attack two largely-unarmed people, then flee before finishing the job.

The gun, that was just insurance. It was a tool, for self-defense. She wasn't going to shoot anybody with it. Perhaps she would just point it if she had to, or maybe fire a warning shot.

She pointed the gun randomly into the distance, pulled the trigger, and nothing happened.

That produced a frown. Kimberly tried to cock the hammer, like she'd seen in old western movies from time to time, and found that it wouldn't budge. A few seconds of fumbling, still awkward one-handed despite how used to the inconvenience she'd become, opened the chamber.

There was no hole for the bullets to travel through. The gun was a fake.

It was almost enough to make her laugh again. Had Erik been there, she'd have joked with him about it. Had Kris been there, she'd have pointed the gun and smiled and pulled the trigger and laughed and laughed. She was alone, though, standing alone in the middle of nowhere, like she'd spent so much time doing during this game.

With a sigh, she found a wall to sit against. It was the outside wall of the sawmill. For all she knew, Erik was right on the other side. She stretched her toes as much as her boots would permit, and tried not to think about the blisters and ingrown toenails she was probably suffering from. It felt like she'd been here forever, like there had never been a world apart from the island. Sooner or later, she closed her eyes, wanting a moment to just think, and before she knew it, she was asleep.





The announcements woke her. She'd managed to sleep through even the rising sun. Her throat felt scratchy and full of gunk, so she spat off to the side. She listened half-heartedly, noting that some girl called Ema Ryan had apparently precipitated a massacre, that Erik's killer was a boy named Aaron Hughes—a name which meant precisely fuck-all to her, except insofar as it was not one of the big killers; there went her chances of getting answers—and that Rhory Anne Broderick had shot herself in the head.

"You wanna kill yourself, be my guest, use my knife, whatever. I don't see any fucking reason I need to be involved, though."

Sorry, Rhory. Sorry, Best Kill. I hope it all was how you wanted in the end.

As the announcements had played, Kimberly had dug the shitty plastic lighter out of her pocket, where she had at some point moved it from her medical kit, and had started playing with it, flicking it and trying to coax a flame. She'd never been any good with lighters, had always preferred matches, and her success was not aided by the extreme caution with which she was treating the sparks, in light of the highly flammable materials she was carrying in her sweater and her backpack. She smelled vaguely of gasoline fumes now, and managed to chuckle a little at the thought of dying in an inferno because of her own restlessness. Yes, that was something to avoid.

Any sign of amusement was quickly lost, however, when her collar gave a beep. She'd only been paying half attention. Okay, time to think. She stood, shoved the lighter into her pocket again, stuck the fake gun in, too, and ran through the remaining areas in her mind. Swamp. She'd definitely heard the word swamp. They wouldn't push the remaining students there, not with only a dozen left. It would take forever for them to find each other. That meant she'd head the other way. They wouldn't close off the other large area. That meant back to town, and in a hurry.

Well, so be it.

She took off, jogging as quickly as she could given her injured arm and the balance issues caused by having the pack slung over only one shoulder.

She never doubted she'd make it in time.

((Kimberly Nguyen continued in We Can Live with the Sadness))
V7:
Juliette Sargent
Alton Gerow
Lavender Ripley
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