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Dead Ringer
Topic Started: Jun 3 2013, 11:26 PM (627 Views)
Iceblock
Survivor
[ *  * ]
((David Cordell continued from Circle of Fifths and V5 Pregame))

David stared at the phone.

It was a wireless phone, black with a grey backing. Nothing special. It had been sitting in its charger all day, not doing much of anything. Partly because it was an inanimate object, partly because no one had bothered to call David.

He supposed he should have been glad.

He hadn't watched the game yet. No, the show. No. He couldn't wrap it up in pretty words and think that it was better. He hadn't watched the videos streaming online that showed how all of his classmates had died. Were going to die.

David didn't want to give up hope yet, but he had seen the essays. The treatises, the online news posts. The webpages they filled in in the places where Wikipedia editors had put the "citation needed."

Yeah.

Students from Aurora High School in Seattle, Washington were kidnapped by terrorists, citation needed. He remembered seeing that even before his mother had called him down to break the news. He'd thought it was a prank, at first. He wished he could have kept believing that, that all his classmates had really crashed into the ocean and perished instantly. End of story.

He was still staring at the phone. The slightly gray, slightly green screen displayed little. Just a battery meter, a small line of text that told him he hadn't received any messages.

Breaking his gaze from it for just a second, he glanced back at the screen of his laptop on his desk. It'd been thirty minutes since he'd heard the news. He'd brushed off his mom, come back into his room to... what? Somehow change things by looking up things on the internet? Invent a rescue mission when his friends and classmates were most likely already dead?

The phone rang for the first time, and almost without a thought, David unplugged it.

It kept ringing. All he'd done was unplug the charger.
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Iceblock
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[ *  * ]
He put his head in his hands as the noise stopped. Someone must have picked it up downstairs. His parents would know who had called soon enough. Maybe it was the school. Maybe it was the government. Maybe it was a family friend who hadn't heard that David had missed the trip. Either way, it wouldn't be anything good. He watched the screen of the phone until it told him the phone line was no longer in use.

One of his parents was walking up the stairs. His mom, probably, from the sound of the footsteps. David locked his bedroom door. Ignored the knocks. Ignored the David-do-you-want-to-talk-about-it's. She went away after a while.

He sighed, ran his hands through his hair, adjusted his glasses. It wasn't fair. Wasn't fair that he was the one that got to live, while his classmates...

His hand shot out, grabbed the phone.

Seriously, fuck all this. He'd been through all this before, when he'd first heard about the plane crash. This was just false hope before their second deaths, this was just the same crushing bullshit all over again. He needed to talk to someone. Someone his age. The pages of his brain turned, fumbling through all the phone numbers, all the people he knew.

A fellow band geek might be best. A senior. The other flutes, mostly girls, they were okay, but he needed someone who felt like he felt right now. There weren't any senior flutes except him left. Not many seniors in the whole band left. Daniel, Takeshi, Alex, Owen, Tim, Phoebe, Francis, they'd all gone on the trip. So many names. He shook it off.

Who was left? Genie and Cody had been suspended for the senior prank business, that's what he remembered. There were others too that hadn't gone on the trip, like the Larson guy. Two trumpets and a saxophone. Loud as hell.

He slumped in his seat, not even managing to smile at that.

None of them were like, best friends with him. They probably wouldn't want to talk. Not when they had their own friends to mourn. But he had to try. He dialed the first number on his list.

He heard a ring, a second ring, and then the sound of someone picking up.

"Hello?" David said. He hesitated. "It's David. David Cordell."
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BetaKnight
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In some cultures, what I do is considered normal.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
"Dave? Flutist Dave?"

Genie took the phone away from her ear and stared at it in shock. What was Dave doing calling her? They hadn't talked since graduation. Well, since he had graduated since she had been barred from the ceremony. She absently rubbed at the slowly healing burn on her hand.

"Uh, yeah, hi," she responded as she tucked the phone back against her ear. "How are you? What's going on?"
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[ *  * ]
He gulped. He'd forgotten, just for a moment, that she was one of the people who called him Dave.

Normally David didn't care what people called him. But in the thirty minutes past, from looking online, he knew at least one person was really, definitely dead. Dave Russell.

David was Flutist Dave. Not Volunteer Dave. Not Redhead Dave. Not Dead Dave.

He didn't need to be reminded.

"Yeah," he said. "Flutist Dave. I'm... Look, uh, Genie. Have you seen the news?"
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
"The news? No, I don't watch the news anymore. Not since they tried to interview us after...," she trailed off. Not since the day they held the memorial for everyone who died in the crash. Not since the day those damn vultures had shoved microphones at everyone, asking stupid questions like, 'How do you feel?'

How did they think she felt? Her friends were dead. Her bandmates were dead. Sean was dead. Dead because she thought she was doing the right thing by not giving up him when Freeman called them on the carpet. If she had just said, just opened her mouth and spilled all the details, he would still be here. Why hadn't she said anything?

Roughly clearing her throat, she finished her thought. "Not since after the memorials."

The fact was that Dave was making her uncomfortable and a little angry. "Why? Why are you calling to ask me about the news?"
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"It's... it's important."

A hollow feeling was forming in the pit of his stomach. She didn't know. Of course she didn't know. He'd been on the internet for hours and had only found out less than an hour ago.

David could hear an edge in Genie's voice already, and he was the bringer of bad news. The memorials for the plane crash had been depressing, but at least it had been an act of nature. Something that hadn't been anyone's fault. This was worse.

And he couldn't figure out how to mince the words so that it sounded gentler.

"It's Survival of the Fittest. It's Aurora."

The words were harsh, but his voice wasn't.
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
"What's Aurora?" She frowned as she reached up with her free hand to rub her scalp. She was getting a headache. This cryptic shit was starting to piss her off. Why on Earth did Dave call to talk about the crash? There wasn't anything more to say. Everyone was dead.

Gone.

No longer here.

Sean wasn't here because she didn't say anything.

The last time she talked to him, she laughed about not being able to go and how he owed her one of those stupid pirate-themed mouse ear hats for keeping her mouth shut. She actually told him that. That he *owed* her for keeping his name out of everything.

Her grip tightened on the phone as she fought down the swell of shame and regret. "What the hell are you talking about, Dave?"
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[ *  * ]
"Aurora," David said, his voice rising in volume and pitch. "Aurora High School! Our classmates!"

"There was no plane crash. It wasn't an accident." He was pacing now, roaming around his bedroom, frustratedly gesticulating with the other hand like a madman. "You remember Survival of the Fittest, when we were in middle school? Elementary? Back when you were still playing the flute? It's back."

And he'd just shot all that tact to hell.

He sighed, his voice dropping back to normal, only slightly more ragged than before.

"It's back, Genie."
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Genie listened in shocked silence, trying to process what Dave was saying. Survival of the Fittest was never something that was discussed in their house. She vaguely remembered what it was, but it was a forbidden topic around their mother. At the time, she and Matt had secretly complained that Mom was unreasonable, that there was nothing wrong with watching it. Lots of Matt's friends had seen it and that hadn't make them terrible people. Now, however, she understood Mom's stance completely.

"No," she said firmly. "No, Dave. I'm not doing this with you. They're gone. They've been gone. This is just a sick..."

She didn't know what to call it. A joke would imply humor and there was nothing funny about this. Pranks were like jokes. Pranks were her and Sean's specialty. "It's just sick," she snapped. "I don't want to talk about this! I'm hanging up now!"
Edited by BetaKnight, Jun 4 2013, 07:21 PM.
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[ *  * ]
"Genie!"

His breath caught in his throat, and he opened his mouth and closed it again. He just didn't know what to say. So he just started talking, hoping that he wouldn't hear the click on the other end when it came.

"Please, don't hang up."

David stopped pacing, slumped against a wall and began to slowly slide down.

"I think it's just as sick as you do. I didn't call, well, I didn't call because I wanted to play a stupid joke on you."

He closed his eyes halfway down the wall.

"They're gone. I know. But they're gone a different way now, and to tell the honest-to-god truth, I called because... because I couldn't take it anymore alone. But I'm calling now too because you need to know."

He hit the bottom.

"You can hang up now if you want," he said (she probably already had), "but I'm asking you to believe me. Please."

He listened in the silence.
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
She was practically shaking with rage. Who did this guy think he was?

Her finger hovered over the 'call' button, but the emotion in Dave's voice stopped her from disconnecting just yet. For a moment, she thought that maybe he was hurting just as much as she was. Maybe that's why he was calling.

'Did he kill his best friend like you did? Because then you two would really have something to bond over,' her conscience asked sarcastically. It was more than Genie would bear. Her knees buckled and she fell to the floor as sobs wracked her body. "What do you want from me? What am I supposed to say or do? Believe you that what?"

She curled up in a fetal ball as she cried, her free arm wrapped around her waist while she maintained a death grip on the phone. "They're gone. They're all gone." Without conscious thought, she began to rock herself.
Edited by BetaKnight, Jun 5 2013, 02:56 AM.
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[ *  * ]
Genie hadn't hung up.

David almost wished she had. So that he wouldn't have to deal with the consequences of his actions, coward that he was. After all, he had been perfectly willing to make the call when it was his own sanity, his own well-being that was on the line. What had he expected? Comforting words from someone that was reeling from the blow just as hard as he was?

Now, on the other side of the line from a crying girl, he felt like shit.

He knew he wasn't at fault for all of this, but it sure felt like he had some hand in it.

"Don't want anything from you." He hated how weak his voice was, how he was obviously starting to cry too. "I just- I just thought, misery, company, and..."

The phone slipped from his ear as he wiped the forming tears from his eyes with that hand. His glasses got in the way, and he shoved them down the bridge of his nose roughly. This wasn't happening. He wasn't going to lose it right now. Had to control himself, for both of their sakes. Then the tears started dripping harder, faster, pooling in the bottom of the frames and dripping down onto his shirt. He gave up.

God, if one of his parents was listening in on the phone line... Now was the worst time ever to wish for a cell phone.

"It's okay, it's okay, it's okay," he said (it wasn't, at all), and he was pretty much saying anything to stop the tears at this point, to stop her tears too, to stay strong, and he said, "We've been through this all before."

Wrong, all wrong. They were going to hear about his classmates all dying for a second time. The stark truth was that he was here, she was here, and pretty much everyone else they knew was dead. Again.

He completely broke down too, then, and had to stop talking for a while.
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
She lost track of how long she lay there and cried. It didn't matter anyway. Sean was gone.

He was gone and he was never coming back.

He was gone because she didn't say anything. She didn't say what needed to be said and now things were destroyed.

She thought there would be time. There was always going to be enough time. Right up until there wasn't and now she was alone.

Unbidden, the thought crept into her mind. 'You left me. Damn you, Sean. You left me. I hate you for this.'

'Because that's what's important, right? You being sad. Not that he's gone. Not that his family is hurting. That you're sad,' her inner voice viciously taunted her. 'It's all about how you feel, isn't it?'

Horrified at her selfishness, she sobbed harder as her conscience berated her for all of her short-comings. She couldn't stop herself. Even when she heard someone else enter the room, she could not get herself under control. Genie didn't even try to hold on to the phone as it was plucked from her hand. She was almost grateful when Matt clicked the phone off and gathered her into his arms.

He didn't even say anything. He just held her close and rocked her as she cried.
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Iceblock
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He sat there for a long time after the tears stopped flowing, after he stopped hearing Genie on the other end of the line, after he dropped the phone on the floor and slid even lower, so that he was just lying on the floor staring at the ceiling. He didn't even care that it made the tears on his glasses drip back onto his face.

David just felt drained.

He was a loser, to drop the news like that and not even manage to say anything of use afterwards. He'd just bailed and left Genie to cry. He hated, for a moment, that he had been the one that had to deliver the news. And then he hated that thought, hated himself and the self-pity that he suddenly felt, because his classmates were out there, no, had been out there fighting for their lives. He had to deliver the news, boo hoo.

They deserved something better than this, not him just sobbing in the corner of his perfectly safe home feeling like a victim. Like everything revolved around him.

He wiped his nose with the back of his hand, then let his hand fall back to the ground. The emptiness that he felt, the loss, whatever it was, it gnawed at him. He just... he wished there was something he could do, that all of them could do to fill the holes that had been left behind. Watching the video streams wouldn't be enough, maybe wouldn't even help at all, and he didn't have the heart to call anyone else, not now.

He would have to think, figure something out somehow. If he even could.

He lay there for a long time after, staring into space.

((David Cordell continued elsewhere))
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