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Should've actually thought up some thread titles before flipping the switch; Open
Topic Started: May 29 2013, 01:44 AM (1,042 Views)
MurderWeasel
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((Enter Steven Salazar))

The world worked in mysterious ways. Uncertainty was the only thing that was ever really a safe bet. God had a plan, but damn if it didn't come off as a little perverse at times.

Steven Salazar had always wanted to make the news. Of all the possible ways he'd hoped and dreamed of that coming to pass, or even had dreaded in his more cynical moments, Survival of the Fittest had never crossed his mind as a real possibility. Yeah, sure, he knew about it. Everyone knew about it. The seniors of Aurora High had all been getting out of middle school last time it'd rolled around. Steven had followed it a good bit, simply by virtue of reading the papers. He'd watched the information as the events unfolded, the kidnapping and the deaths and the rescue and the return of the various survivors. Some of them had popped up again over the years, but he'd never really thought much of them. B-list celebrities milking a tragedy at worst, damaged kids clinging to the past at best, maybe with a legitimate axe to grind, but haunted by specters in any event.

Danya had been dead. It had all been over.

But that was clearly not true. Here he was, in the middle of nowhere, a metal collar around his neck and a bag lying next to him. His assigned weapon was spread in his lap. It was a hockey jersey, one from Bayview Secondary School, that school all those B-list celebrities and damaged kids had attended back when they were still normal people. He'd not really known why he was even opening his bag, but it sure hadn't been with the aim of finding an extra shirt.

Steven was someone who liked to act. He needed to be in the thick of things. It was why he interjected himself into his articles, why he so enjoyed the works of Hunter S. Thompson, in whom he saw a kindred spirit. And yet, right now, he'd have given anything to be nowhere near the middle of this mess. He wanted to be home. He wanted to be in an argument with his grandparents. He wanted to be in a full body cast in an intensive care unit, sure, that worked, hearing about all of this on the news while waiting for his bones to mend.

But he was here. He was here, and barely clinging to his self control, just sitting here on the pavement and looking at that hockey jersey. Slowly, he stood and shrugged it on, never mind that it fit loosely and clashed with his outfit. He was on a bridge, over a tunnel from which a tiny trickle emanated. There were buildings all around, and that was about all he could really take in. Everything else, the gunfire, the speech, it was all there, real and lurking in his mind, but there was no time to process it. There was no way to understand it all, none that presented itself immediately.

So Steven took deep breaths and fell into his old habits. He smoothed his shirt and the jersey he wore over it. It was important to make a good first impression, and in an unknown situation greater formality was the best bet. He rolled his shoulders, worked out a little stiffness. His right hand fell to his pocket, to switch on his tape recorder. After all, what else would a reporter do in a news-worthy situation if not give an unvarnished account of it?

Steven's wallet was there in his pocket, but that was it. His recorder was gone. And he wasn't a reporter anyways, not here and now. He was a kid about to die in Survival of the Fittest, just like the poor bastard whose jersey he was wearing, and there really was no dodging that.

He took a deep breath, really filled his lungs, and then let it all out in the loudest inarticulate cry he'd ever loosed.
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"You can't be fucking serious."

((Enter Sharon Elizabeth Austin))

Sharon had woken up, already getting over the initial shock that had overtaken her like a horror movie. However, this wasn't a movie. This was reality and she was in a situation that there seemed no escape from. She had opened her bag to check what her weapon was. What the madmen assigned to her. She had no weapon. Calling it a weapon would have the same effect as calling Glee a high quality television show. In other words, a complete and utter joke.

She realized that freaking out was not the best thing for this situation. Far from it. Freaking out and losing her mind would lead to disaster. It would lead to death, considering the nature of the game. Sharon never watched it. She always considered it something that was distant, separate, a whole reality away from her and her problems. She always found it vulgar, refusing to watch it and only hearing tidbits of information from rumors and the news. She didn't know a lot about it. She knew next to nothing. Only that it was a death game and that only one would survive.

Sharon hated that thought. She hated the thought of killing her classmates. Sure they were a pain in the ass, but never to the point of wanting to kill someone. Sure Travis had a perfectly punchable face and Ms. Pretentious was about as bearable as listening to the sound of a blackboard being scratched, but they were people. Her classmates, with dreams and aspirations of their own. Though Sharon didn't really care for most of their dreams, they were still people. They shared high school together. They lived.

The thoughts were starting to cloud her mind. They were overwhelming. Sharon felt fear start to seep into her. She realized that there was the potential for death. She wasn't stupid and she wasn't going to delude herself. After all, this thing had happened before and students have cracked under the pressure before. She wasn't going to take her chances at thinking that everyone was going to be peaceful. That was a delusion. She had to be rational. Killing and trying to survive were what those people wanted. The ones who came up with the game. She couldn't let them get the satisfaction.

"What was that?"

Sharon heard a scream. A loud one that reverberated around her ears and caused her to snap out of the pensive state that she was in. That sounded familiar. She couldn't really put her finger on it. She recognized the voice though. She didn't want to be alone. Especially considering the thing that she got. She needed to be with someone and hopefully, that someone would be someone she knew. Having to work with a total stranger wasn't her idea of a good plan, but it would be better than being alone.

She made her way over to the source of the sound, hoping to find something. When she arrived, a smile stretched across her face.

"Well I'm glad to see a friendly face around here." Sharon commented in a jaded tone.
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Steven wasn't sure how to follow up that howl. Maybe breaking something would've been nice, but there was nothing around to break. He wasn't usually the sort for physical methods of blowing off steam, but right now, there was nothing he could do, and a little power, even over something silly and inanimate, would have gone a good way towards letting him focus. Absent any opportunities for wrecking things, however, he just stared into the distance, eyes losing their focus.

Until, that is, a voice spoke behind him. Steven took a deep breath and turned, though he already knew who he'd find. The voice was surprisingly deadpan, but only because this wasn't a situation in which he'd expect his friend to keep a cool head. The comparison between their demeanors came crashing down on him, gave him a little perspective. He was out of control, and that had to change, for everyone's sake.

"Hey, Sharon," Steven said, turning. He dragged his left hand over his lips, cleaning off a speckle of saliva. His voice was a little hoarse, a little ragged. He swallowed. "Some vacation."

He wanted to laugh, but couldn't muster the energy. He was feeling a little better, just having a friendly face around, but the fact remained that he and Sharon were probably both going to be dead in the next week. It put a bit of a damper on the reunion.

Steven glanced around, keeping an eye out for anyone else. He didn't doubt that many others might be nearby, and while he did not expect most of his peers to turn to murder quickly, he knew a couple would, without a doubt. They'd made little changes to the rules, he'd noticed. He knew enough about the workings of Survival of the Fittest to catch that much. Now, daily murder was required for them all to survive, whereas before suicide had sufficed. He wondered what had prompted that, but didn't muse too much over it. There would be time later, perhaps.

He almost hoped there wouldn't.
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Sharon found herself chuckling quietly at Steven's quip. It was almost like they weren't in a situation where they had to kill each other to survive. Sharon wanted to scream like Steven and to just lose control and get angry. However, she had to keep telling herself not to. She needed to stay calm. Losing control, getting angry and everything like that, was just what the people wanted. She couldn't let them get that satisfaction. Hell no. She had more pride than that. She was Sharon Elizabeth Austin. She was not going to buckle just like that.

"I know, and here I thought we'd be going to Disneyland." Sharon replied in a snarky tone. She didn't really know what to do now. The most obvious thing was to survive, but the process of doing so? There was killing, but that was just stupid. If she were to kill, especially this early in the game, Sharon would be painting a great big target right on her head. It was also what these fuckers wanted. To see high school students killing each other. To see them break. She wasn't going to break. She was too strong for that.

Noticing his apprehensive behavior, Sharon decided to move next to him. She looked at the jersey that was laid on his lap. That was his "weapon"? This was a joke. Did any of them get serious weapons or were they just supposed to kill each other with Jerseys and DVD's? She let out a sigh as she sat down next to him. For a moment, she wasn't sure what she was supposed to say. The situation made it hard to talk about inane things without sounding out of touch. At the same time, if she was too serious, there was the risk of losing herself to the game. She gritted her teeth as she tried to think of something.

"I heard you screaming. Then again, I think everyone heard that." Sharon commented, a slight chuckle coming out of her attempt at humor. It felt extremely out of place on this island, but Sharon didn't want to lose herself to the game. She was better than that. She had to tell herself this. She wanted to get angry at the game and the people who chose their class. Yet she had to tell herself not to. She couldn't get angry. She couldn't lose control. Not this time.

"I know it's gonna be hard, but I can't be taken in by the game. I can't lose myself to them. That's what they want. I want to be the same person I was before all this fucking bullshit. However, I think I'll need help to keep it up. I don't know how to say this, but could you help me keep sane?" Sharon asked, getting embarrassed towards the end and blushing. It was so embarrassing to talk about. It was weakness, something Sharon was not accustomed to showing. However, the situation called for it. She had to swallow her pride and ask for help. She had to keep sane.
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Steven wanted to respond with something flippant, some quip or jab or other way to make light of the situation, because thinking about staying sane this early wasn't really what he wanted to do. No, he didn't want to be sane himself, so how could he possibly take responsibility for a friend's sanity? How could he take charge of one of the few tempers in class that ran hotter than his own? It wasn't right or fair. Sharon shouldn't have put him in this situation, not when she'd seen the way he was teetering on the brink, and he shouldn't accept, because he'd be making a promise he was destined to break.

"Deal," Steven said. He smiled and held his hand out.

Because what else could he do? Like he was going to tell her no? Like he was going to abandon a friend, one he was blessed to find in such trying times? Not a chance.

So instead, he'd do his best, and what was the worst that could happen? If he failed, they'd die, possibly horribly. If he didn't do anything, they'd die, possibly horribly. So he wasn't in any worse shape than before, and now he had something else to do, some sense of purpose. His missing recorder didn't bother him so much now.

It was all very artificial. He was setting goals so as to break the world down into small, bite-sized chunks, the same way he sometimes wrote his stories one painful paragraph at a time, forcing them out when the inspiration wasn't coming. It did nothing to the size of the overall project, but it let him better wrap his head around it, let him take it in stride. So his project was to keep Sharon sane, and to do that he would need to keep himself sane.

But that was only the start, wasn't it? Even when working a paragraph at a time, it was vital to keep the whole story in mind, and this was a story that ended with most or all of them dead.

So how best to make it from the hook to the concluding paragraph? How to end up with a satisfactory piece of work?

"Sharon," Steven said, "I'm gonna level with you right now. I don't have a clue what's going to happen here, and I don't think our chances are very good. Being honest about that's part of being sane, I think. And not changing, that's admirable, but I think I can do you one better:

"Not changing might be a false hope. Life changes you, no matter what. So let's say, if we've got to be changed by this, we make sure it's for the better."

And that was the start of a plan, the outline of an article. It could use a little spit and polish, but the skeleton was there, and with that, the situation made just a little more sense.
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Sharon shook Steven's hand, a wide smile on her face. Happiness was not something she expected to feel in this game. It felt foreign, but it still felt amazing and invigorated her. She wasn't alone and that was one of the most precious things she could have in the game. She needed to trust him with her life. After all, this was SOTF and there was no escaping that fact.

She was putting a lot of reliance on him, something she was not used to at all. Sharon was the type of person who kept her problems to herself and normally, she was able to do this. The situation however meant that she needed to resort to drastic measures and do some things she normally would be extremely hesitant to do. Her pride was going to get in the way, but she needed to swallow it for now.

When Steven spoke, Sharon nodded her head. It was for this reason that she really liked Steven Salazar. He was smart, rational and calm most of the time. She knew she could rely on him. His words carried a message that she might have been too naïve with regards to her not changing. Sharon considered this for a moment. Change was inevitable, that much she should've known. She could change for the better? In this game? How was that possible? Whatever. She'll think of something.

"Yeah. That sounds like a better plan than mine. Here I thought I was being smart." Sharon commented, criticism dripping through her words. She chewed her lip as she looked away, embarrassed by her naïvety. She wasn't used to these feelings, especially since they tended to show a sign of weakness. Sharon didn't want to be weak. She couldn't be weak. She had to be strong just like Melissa.

"So, what do we do now? I don't have a weapon, only some stupid DVD and you have that jersey. I really have no clue what to do." Sharon asked Steven. She felt very vulnerable and insecure due to the situation she had been presented. They had nothing to defend themselves and to the best of her knowledge, she and him were completely alone. She was not used to feeling so powerless, so pathetic. The feelings scared Sharon and she found herself clasping her hands together tightly in order to cope with the situation. What was she supposed to do? How were they supposed to survive? Were they just going to die?
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"I guess, now, we make a plan," Steven said. That much was obvious, but he was talking to buy time while he actually thought of something better. He wanted to come up with a brilliant plan to get them out of this situation, but the problem was there was nothing. The terrorists had spent a lot of time preparing this. The rescue last time had been primarily an external affair, an armed group of paramilitaries launching a raid, using some sort of insider knowledge. To the best of Steven's understanding, nobody had managed to do more than inconvenience the terrorists from inside a collar, and only at a steep cost. Was it worth dying to make some flunky miss a coffee break? That didn't sound like a very good deal.

No, Steven was going to drive a hard bargain for his life, and he didn't plan to have his final accounting measured in the pain he caused others. Two wrongs did not make a right, and if he had to remind himself of that sometimes, well, then that was what he would do. For now, the little paragraph of his story that he was working on was getting himself and Sharon somewhere safer.

"I think we should get out of the open," he said. "I don't think many people will freak right away, but it only takes one. We can try to find something to defend ourselves with, but that's a second priority."

He wanted some time to think about that. The key word there was defend; they didn't need lethal weapons, just something to make any assailants think twice. A big chunk of wood, maybe? A piece of rebar?

"We could either climb down and set up in the tunnel, or head into town. Personally, I like my clothes clean, so I'm up for finding a building. It's probably quieter down there, though."

He gestured vaguely off the bridge, towards the trickle of sickly water. Gonzo journalism was all about delving into society's dirty underbelly, but Steven really would have preferred to draw the line well before literally wading through the fossilized shit of a dead city. Besides, it was probably a health hazard down there. That was enough of a rationalization to write it off as a hiding spot, unless Sharon was really attracted to the idea.

And if she was? Now that he thought of it, Steven's job was to keep her sane. Maybe a quick reminder of that would get them back on the right track.
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This co-dependence was something Sharon felt uncomfortable with and she knew this feeling would only get worse as the game progressed. She hated having her heart on her sleeve and the inability to conceal her true emotions at times was going to make Sharon feel incredibly vulnerable. However, Steven was right. They needed to come up with a plan. She had nothing, so she was all for Steven coming up with the plan right now. She was going to have to make the plans eventually, but right now she was completely lost.

"You know, I love the outdoors and everything, but that water is probably a health hazard waiting to happen." Sharon quipped, trying to insert dry humor to make up for the negative atmosphere the game brought. She knew she probably should be more serious about the many possible hazards that the game brought, but she didn't want to think about that right now.

Sharon counted herself lucky as she noticed that she woke up near a city. She wasn't sure what else was here, but she had a feeling that the others were not as lucky as she was. An idea came to her as she remembered that there was something in the bag that could've come in handy. When looking for her weapon, she found a map of the island they were on. Having information about where they were was valuable, especially considering how easy it was to get lost while they were here. Opening her bag, she started to rapidly search her bag.

"Where is it?" She muttered to herself as she trolled through her duffel bag. It was in here somewhere. Where was it? She threw out the DVD, never thinking there was going to be any use for it. When would they get a chance to watch the DVD on the island anyway?

"Aha!" Sharon exclaimed, taking out the map and showing it to Steven.

"We were given a map to the entire area, something I think may be useful for planning out our movements and whatnot." Sharon explained to Steven as she started reading the map. A worried look spread across her face as she realized that there was more than one town on the island. That made this situation a little bit more harder.

"Well, we have a problem. Which town are we in?" Sharon asked Steven, realizing that he was relying on him quite a bit. At this realization, she bit her lip and hesitated, wanting to withdraw the map and try to find out their location herself. She stopped herself though. She needed to rely on him for some things, like this. She needed to accept that. She was finding it hard to swallow her pride though.
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Steven chuckled a little, more in relief than out of any humor, when Sharon came to the same conclusion as him about the water under their bridge. As she rummaged in her bag, he realized, a little sheepishly, that he was still wearing the jersey. He pulled it back off his head, stuffed it back in his own bag. Maybe they'd need spare material for bandages later, though he hoped that wouldn't be the case. There would probably be better opportunities to collect materials anyways, but at the moment he wasn't going to abandon any resources that weren't patently useless. He had to be logical, here.

It made it all the more embarrassing when Sharon produced a map from her bag. Steven hadn't really explored the contents of his pack beyond the jersey right up top, so he'd missed all the other useful stuff. They'd need to do a full inventory sometimes later, when they were safer. For now, he pushed the first aid kit aside, saw his own map and a few other loose objects, found some food. That was good to know about. He transferred four of the bars into his pockets. There was no guarantee he wouldn't lose his bag at some point, and he didn't really feel like starving because of that.

Then he turned his attention fully to the map. He bit his lip a little, looked at the key.

"I'd say we're either in the northern or southern town," he said. "It looks like there's a lot of overlap. This area looks too built up to be anything else, and I don't see anything that makes me think we're in the nuclear living area. Might be able to get something more in a second."

Shielding his eyes with his hand, Steven looked upwards, searching for the sun. There it was, nice and bright and cheery, still coming up. He was pretty sure it was rising, at least. That meant he probably knew the rough direction of east, which in turn would let him extrapolate the other cardinal directions.

Then he was struck by another thought, a recollection of something he'd just glanced over. He turned back to his bag and sifted through it. For a moment, he thought he might not find what he was looking for, that he'd been mistaken, but no, there it was: a compass. Consulting it, Steven saw that his earlier estimate hadn't been a particularly accurate one, except in the loosest of ways.

Of course, knowing the directions didn't really tell them anything about where they were. It was just a thing to do, a way to exert a little more control, in this case through the gathering of facts.

"I think we should go north," Steven said. "That way, the town butts up against the sea, so people won't be able to approach from as many directions. It'll limit our options if we have to bail in a hurry, but if it gets made a Danger Zone, everyone else there will probably have to run too, so there shouldn't be anyone between us and a way out."
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Sharon hung onto Steven's every word, hoping that his knowledge would allow her to gain some foresight towards where the fuck they were. She didn't want to be lost and just randomly wander around until they had some clue as to where they were. That would just waste energy. They needed to be smart and they needed to keep focus. The aim of the game was to survive and Sharon was ready to do that.

As Steven looked at the sun, Sharon looked at him perplexedly for a moment, before realizing he was trying to get his bearings. Since the sun was rising, it was located to the east. From there, they could locate the other directions such as North and South. However, Sharon couldn't help but doubt whether using the sun was a reliable resource for determining the direction they were going to go.

He then got out a compass.

"Well that makes things easier for us." Sharon commented in a deadpan tone. She had to be somewhat appreciative for the fact that they were given a map of the island as well as a compass. Sure the bastards did throw them onto the island in the first place and forced them to play a death game, but they were nice enough to provide maps and compasses. Sharon could only guess that everyone else was provided with one as well, so she doubted they had any significant advantage over them. Still, having a map was nice. Thank you, you motherfucking bastards.

"To the North we go then." Sharon announced, standing up and putting everything that wasn't the DVD or the map into her duffel bag. She stretched her body, getting rid of the numbing feeling of sitting down for a prolonged period of time. Turning to Steven, she held out her hand for Steven to use. They were companions now, whether they liked it or not. Sharon was thankful he was able to find Steven instead of someone else like Adonis or Travis. She had to be thankful of quite a few things, things she normally would have taken for granted like the map. Then again, she wouldn't need to have been thankful if they weren't kidnapped and forced onto the island, so she wasn't praising the people who kidnapped her. In fact, she wanted to punch them. Hard.
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"Alright," Steven said, taking Sharon's hand and pulling himself to his feet. He was glad to have found a friend so early. In fact, all things considered, his time on the island had gone as well as it really could have. He wasn't really sure if that was a good thing or not. Unless they got really lucky, the odds were high it was all downhill from here, a straight drop ending in a bone-crushing landing. Did Sharon realize that? Did she have any idea how ugly this was all likely to get? Did she know the depths to which people could sink when their backs were against the wall, the destructive and harmful coping mechanisms they turned to?

But Sharon was no idiot, and it wasn't really fair for Steven to think her so naïve. They'd both had their trials and tribulations in their lives, and if they were going to work together, they'd need to have faith in one another. It was like his relationship with the editors; they didn't always agree on everything, but they had enough respect for each other to know when to give a little bit. He just wished the consequences for a poor call here were as trivial as they were in school.

Steven took a deep breath, oriented himself towards the north, and started walking. He kept his pace nice and casual. No need to burn energy without reason. He also wanted to keep a leisurely enough pace to be sure he didn't miss anything on the way, since finding something more worthwhile to check out wasn't out of the question. He also made sure not to outpace or fall behind Sharon. Getting separated was about as wrong as things could go at this stage, at least, short of getting attacked. No way he was going to let it happen.

((Steven Salazar continued in The two people in the distance were Paulo and Becca))
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As Sharon helped Steven up onto his feet, the thought of how her luck had been with regards to the game seemed to be bright for now. She had found someone she could rely on and she wasn't suffering from any annoying people as of yet. Her weapon draw was rubbish to be fair, but at least she was still alive. Her luck may have been crap due to being in the game in the first place and getting such a stupid weapon, but maybe her luck was turning up.

Oh who was she kidding? Things were reaching their fucking peak right now. Trying to believe otherwise was delusional and wishful thinking. She was a rational person and she knew that things could only get worse. There were bound to be idiots around, thinking that playing killer was good for them. What they didn't realize was that killing, especially at this early stage, was akin to suicide as it made them a prime target. There was no point to killing, unless they had a death wish as well.

She sighed. She was probably going to die. The odds were stacked against her and Steven, especially since there was like 100 kids who went on this trip as well. Some may argue that her attempts at survival was pretty stupid. After all, she was just a statistic, a number in the eyes of the people who made this game and an unfortunate victim for those who were watching. She wasn't a person, only a thing. The objectification of the game made Sharon wonder what was the purpose of these games. She never understood it. Then again, maybe it wasn't her position to ask a question like that.

Whatever the case was, Sharon was not just going to give up. She had a life to live and she was going to live it. She was not going to be brought down by the odds. She was not going to die just like that. She wasn't going to quit just because of the bad circumstances. She was Sharon Elizabeth Austin and if she had to die, if she was forced to die, she would rather go down in flames.

((Sharon Austin continued in The two people in the distance were Paulo and Becca))
Edited by jimmydalad, Jun 11 2013, 03:16 AM.
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