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Huddle; CLOSED, Day Seven (formerly Day Six)
Topic Started: Mar 19 2014, 09:33 PM (2,859 Views)
Shangela
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Glitter, Whiskey, and a hefty dose of Harlotry
[ *  * ]
((Benjamin Ward continued from Fumble))
Ben's family could be considered lucky in some respects. Out of the entire extended Ward family, not a single funeral had happened in Ben's lifetime. Not even the family dog, Buck, had died within Ben's lifetime. They got that mangy Shepard-Retriever mix when Ben was nine. At the age of eighteen, both Ben and the dog were somehow still alive. Not even Grandma and Grandpa on either side of the family had died. Both sets of grandparents had his mom and dad pretty young. It must have been a trend, since Ben's own parents continued it too.

What that ultimately meant, was that Ben was really un-fucking-certified to be doing this. He wasn't a priest, a rabbi, or anything that would know how to do this. He didn't have catholic school training either. All Ben had to go on were reruns of those cop dramas that inevitably had these scenes.

"We are gathered here to mourn the life and memory of Oscar . . ." Ben took an awkward pause, fiddling with the wilted rose petals. They'd been sucked clean of any moisture. The roses were probably red at some point, maybe white. Now they just looked a dehydrated shit brown. "Oscar . . ."

Ben's voice again struggled to continue. Ben didn't even know the guy's last name. Ben wiped a regretful tear from his cheek but continued, this time a bit faster.

"Death has come to him, as it does to all of us." Yeah, by your fucking hand. A voice nagged at him while he did this. Not even his conscious would let him try to do one last fucking decent thing. "Death brings to our minds and hearts the common concerns and shared destiny of humankind."

Fuck it.

"Oscar. You deserved better. I took advantage of you so bad. Treated you like shit. I never let you know how useful you were." Ben knew how pointless this was for Oscar. Dead people didn't hear any of this. Funerals weren't for the dead's sake, but for those left behind. The dead were content to rot. It was the rest of them that needed this closure. "You probably died hating me. I don't blame you. I was such a fucking dick. You didn't deserve that. You didn't deserve to be here period. None of you did."

Ben's eyes looked up to the closest camera. The terrorists responsible were probably watching this with self-satisfied smirks strewn across their faces. Those bastards loved to watch them squirm and suffer. This was how they were getting off. Hard-ons for heartbreak. Fucking twisted.

What else could Ben say? Oscar's memory needed something final. Something that his parents could find comfort in. God, they must have hated him so badly. Or they would once they saw this stream online. He had nothing left in him to tell the cameras. No final goodbyes, no apology that could ever be worth a damn.

"Oscar. . . I'm sorry."

Oscar's body was swaddled unceremoniously in a blue bed sheet. Ben wasn't strong enough, nor willing to pick up the body and place it gingerly onto the sheet, so Oscar was lightly kicked until he flopped over onto the sprawled out sheet. Ben threw in the tattered remains of the roses in with him before he wrapped the sheet fully around. Where Oscar's feet slightly stuck out, Ben grasped and pulled at him; dragging him to his final resting place; the grocery store.

Ben returned to Linens and Things, accomplished in his goodbye. Out of the corner of his eye, he could still make out the pile of sheets that made up Janie's bed. He'd have to apologize when they got home. If Ben ever got out of jail for Oscar's murder, he'd do it in person. They might be forty by the time Ben got the chance, but he promised internally that he'd do it. Maybe in twenty-two years, Janie could forgive him.

Ben started to undress, leaving his clothes in the same pile as Oscar's discarded and still soaking clothes. A fresh pair of pajamas sat patiently to the side. He whipped off his Hollister t-shirt first. The last thing that connected him to home. All of the status, all of the coolness. It seemed like such a long time ago that the concept dictated his entire personhood. Back when his concerns were so trivial. Ben wished he could go back.

The blue pajamas weren't a masculine shade at all. They were marketed as powder blue, but they looked more like a baby blanket's shade. A part of Ben still cared, that was an undeniable part of his personhood, but the majority valued how comfortable it was. It also wasn't covered in the blood that he'd drawn.

The room started to get darker as night drew closer. The sun was setting, which was welcoming from a survival standpoint. It meant that Ben's risk of getting involved with another incident were dramatically decreased for the remainder of the night. Flashlights were a dead giveaway. Anyone with a brain chose to travel during the day.

Ben took the remaining fledgling moments of light to study his face in the full length body mirror. He'd managed to avoid getting too much of it on his face and hair, despite having to wipe a few tears off of his face. The few browned speckles were washed off with a conservative application of water from one of Oscar's water bottles.

As Ben wiped his face, his eyes locked with his reflections. For the first time in a few hours, he wasn't alone. "You killed Oscar. He's dead, and it's your fault."

Ben didn't sugar coat it. It was something that Ben had to admit bluntly and honestly. "What do you do now? Do you give up and pout? Get yourself killed off because you're sorry?"

"No. You're Benjamin Fucking Ward. You're better than this. No one gets to tell you when to fucking die. Not even you, dumbass."

When these tapes were released online, everyone would hate him. He'd just be another kid that lost his shit and killed someone else. Oscar's parents would hate him. His own parents would hate him. Elaine would hate him. Even back at school, it wasn't a secret that he was one of the most hated "popular" guys. Even his whole team could barely disguise how much they didn't like him.

But none of that meant that Ben couldn't love himself. Someone had to.
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-Credit goes to the lovely and talented Payouni of DeviantArt
Take another drag, turn me to ashes
Ready for another lie?
Says he's gonna teach me just what fast is,
Says it's gonna be alright

NOTE:I'm always looking for helpful critique on my roleplaying. If you see something you like (or don't like) feel free to PM me. I'll only get better with the more advice you all give me~

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Summer was dead.

And Aileen didn't give a shit.

[Aileen Aurora Abdallah, continued from Today I'm Dirty]

What was far more important for her and Owen was to find food. Maybe it would have been useful to study the map and just see where places might be who still could contain any edible materials. Of course, you'd need a map for that. Not that the lack of it mattered much anymore, because Aileen and Owen stumbled upon the shopping center.

To be honest, Aileen hoped for food to be found there, but a part of her didn't believe in it. Whether it was the result of some rational thought process or just plain pessimism was, in the long run, irrelevant.

Because there was food. Unlabeled cans, sure, but Aileen did not feel like that was the right time to be picky. Alas, another problem appeared in front of her again.

"Um, Owen. I can't open this thing."

Aileen threw the can she was holding through the store, creating a loud metallic scream as it slid on the floor. Still not open.
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Shangela
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Glitter, Whiskey, and a hefty dose of Harlotry
[ *  * ]
Before all of this, Ben was a social creature. He ran that school and everybody knew it. Ben was going out every weekend. Parties, dates, general douchebaggery by the harbor. Whatever. Ben wasn't ever on his own for very long; he intentionally avoided being home on a Friday night.

Now, Ben would kill for just a day without anybody. He didn't need Janie to look at him like a fuck up. He didn't need the terrorists to announce that his class roster was getting cut faster than an emo kid. He didn't need to walk into another situation like what happened at the clubhouse. Fuck, he didn't need another situation to up and walk towards him. Yet sure as fucking sun, it did.

Someone had the brilliant fucking idea to mess around in the supermarket. That was his. Didn't they see the trail of blood that lead into the store? Didn't they see Oscar's cocooned body, swaddled up in sheets, and laid in aisle three, right next to the olive oil and chicken seasoning? With Oscar's body, and the whole place rotting away, the supermarket couldn't have been any less inviting.

Ben's scythe sat upright against the mirror, it's sheen dulled by what Ben could imagine was a whole lot of activity. Sure it was a bit unwieldy, especially with it's weight and awkward length, but it was much better than that crap the terrorists pulled on Ben. At least with this, he could defend himself in the case of unwanted attention. Unwanted attention here meant fucking looters.

Before leaving, Ben made sure to hide anything of use. Ben and Oscar's bags were securely crammed behind the front desk. An office chair crammed up against them kept them from getting swiped by some greedy hands while Ben went to deal with his guests.

Aurora High wasn't exactly a tremendously huge school. Probably within the twelve-hundred range. Some graduating classes across the country were like, eight-hundred. Ben thought he knew most of the kids. The important ones, anyway. Ben was expecting to see someone he vaguely knew.

"Jesus fucking Christ, could you guys be any louder?" Ben lead himself towards the two looters. Ben made no effort to hide his new weapon, in fact, he lead with it. He didn't think he'd have it in him to kill somebody else, accidental or otherwise, but that didn't mean that they had to know that.

God, why couldn't he just be alone?
Edited by Shangela, Apr 16 2014, 03:56 AM.
Posted Image
-Credit goes to the lovely and talented Payouni of DeviantArt
Take another drag, turn me to ashes
Ready for another lie?
Says he's gonna teach me just what fast is,
Says it's gonna be alright

NOTE:I'm always looking for helpful critique on my roleplaying. If you see something you like (or don't like) feel free to PM me. I'll only get better with the more advice you all give me~

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Pippin
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party wurmple never sleeps. only dances.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
“I, uh, don’t think that’s the best way to open them...”

((Owen Kay, continued from Today I'm Dirty))

It had seemed so obvious now that they were here. The shopping center was specifically designed to contain food, so why had they pissed around in the amusement park for so long when it had stared them right in the face? Well, the lack of a map had hindered them, to be fair, but it would have been smarter to give the amusement park up as a lost cause and attempt to find somewhere else sooner rather than later.

Nonetheless, they were here now. Deaths had been called out on the way, and Owen had listened, keeping everything he heard inside of him. Summer had died, and Owen wished he felt worse about it, but the image of Naomi’s body was one thing that refused to leave his head. More important was Edgar, the boy he’d been talking with only... how many days ago, now? Not enough for the news to not hurt. And it turned out that everything he had heard about Travis had been right. People like Theo, Katarina and Summer had taken the spotlight, but Travis was definitely somebody to avoid.

It had taken a fortunately short amount of time to find a source of food. Owen had hoped that the place hadn’t been completely looted, and it looked as though life had decided to be lenient for once. There was only one problem; everything was held in cans. Owen had only just been able to open a tin of beans when tin openers were available, so he could easily understand Aileen’s frustration as he watched the can skid along the floor.

If Owen had kept a hold of his scalpel, then they might have had a chance of opening the cans here and now. But thinking about that made Owen think of the moment he’d handed his weapon over. It made him think of the announcement, and of how Travis had apparently killed Edgar. So he tried to keep it out of his mind.

Yet another thing to avoid thinking about. Soon, there wouldn’t be enough to distract himself from those things.

But for now, Owen tried to keep his mind on the task at hand; finding some way at getting to the food. He looked at the tin currently nestling in his hand. What exactly did it contain? Beans? Ravioli? Some sort of disgustingly slimy preserved vegetable? Even that sounded appetising right now.

“Look, Aileen... maybe if we can’t open them now... we can, um, carry some of them, try and find a bag, or... something. There were a couple scalpels back at the hospital... maybe they’ll still be there...”

It wasn’t much of a plan, but it was the only plan they had. It was also a plan that would have worked better if they’d left almost immediately. That way there was a greater chance the hospital would still have stuff left within its walls, and it would also mean their hunger was fought off sooner rather than later.

Fate, of course, did not let Owen and Aileen have things easy. An echoing voice was the first signal that they were not alone, followed shortly by a large guy holding an even large scythe. At least, that was how it seemed to be in Owen’s eyes. Ben Ward had never been a likable guy at school, but the weapon in his hands demanded respect. Respect, but not the right to stop them grabbing some food. Owen’s hands gripped the table leg tightly. Maybe behind that macho facade, Ben was willing to negotiate.

“We’re... we’re just ge-getting some food... that’s all!”

It was hardly a plan, but every success on the island required more than a small amount of luck.
V7 BAYBEE
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Frankly, the first thought Aileen should have when seeing Benjamin Ward standing there with a scythe should not be Oh look, maybe that'll do the job. Something more along the lines of Shit, someone dangerous is coming would have been more appropiate, but that is what desperate circumstances made necessary.

The point was, Owen's proposal to fetch some cans and get to the hospital was good, but that required some more walking and Aileen was really really tired of that. Now, there was some other guy with a weapon that looked like it might help here. Sure, seemed a bit difficult to open a can with, but there'd be a way.

"Alright. Our stuff was stolen, I was shot at, and now we are running for days around without any food and are fucking starving.

So, if you could please help and try to open the cans for us, we'd be-" Aileen's stomach loudly announced it's desire for food. "-we'd be more silent."
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Shangela
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There was something to be said about how transparent this situation made you. Back in the real world, everybody wanted something. Politicians bullshitted every damn second in order to support a second term. Attorneys helped murderers get off scott-fucking-free in order for a juicy paycheck. Of course, where this all got bred was right in America's academia itself. Everyone in high school was fake. Every relationship, every friend. Everything was for some motive or scheme. Even Ben wasn't exempt. Ben joined the debate and football teams for very specific reasons. He wanted to be the big man on campus.

All that complication, all that deceit was remarkably absent once things really mattered. Food. Shelter. Water. Weapons. When you removed society, everything that you needed for survival was so simple.

Ben rested his weapon downwards towards his side. These two didn't seem to be the type that would blindly pick a fight. And even if they did, Ben would easily walk out the winner. Bean pole was fighting with a hunk of wood. A table leg? The girl wasn't much more threatening. They could leave bruises, no doubt, but Ben could slice flesh. When faced with a gun, Ben was utterly useless, but now he regained an upper hand. He couldn't help but sneer.

"You know, I've been camped out here for almost a full day. I'm kinda commandeering this place, now." Ben casually flicked his fingers through his hair, tapering down to his neck. They'd been there almost a week. His stiff neck was starting to prove a testament to the amount of stress they'd been under. When a rescue copter came, they better have a full staff of masseuses aboard.

"So I'm guessing that all this food is mine. I may be a dick, but I'm reasonable. You guys look like shit." Ben chimed in bluntly. They looked like they hadn't had real food in days. Not that these questionable beans and fruits counted much. "So I'm gonna let you have some of this food."

Ben dug into the flimsy, thin pocket, whipping out the box cutter. He needed to find a better storage place for his weapon. The jagged textured plastic was pressing right through the thin cloth pocket. Ben could feel the ridges stroking the inner of his thigh.

"It's sturdier than it looks. It's what I've been using to open up some of these cans." He motioned for the girl, a vaguely familiar face, to take it, when he interrupted. "So what can you guys do for me, in exchange? Like I said, I'm a dick, but a reasonable one."

There was no such thing as a free lunch.
Posted Image
-Credit goes to the lovely and talented Payouni of DeviantArt
Take another drag, turn me to ashes
Ready for another lie?
Says he's gonna teach me just what fast is,
Says it's gonna be alright

NOTE:I'm always looking for helpful critique on my roleplaying. If you see something you like (or don't like) feel free to PM me. I'll only get better with the more advice you all give me~

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Pippin
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Owen hadn’t thought about asking Ben for help in opening the cans right here and now. Truth was, he was wary of the guy, in no small part due to his reputation back at school. Now that he had a scythe, the ground that they were treading on might as well have been made of ice. The man himself demanded fear, not respect. The weapon demanded both.

Aileen flat out told Ben the reason they were looting, however, and Owen honestly wished he’d done the same thing. Telling him that they hadn’t eaten for days was more likely to get results than just blindly saying “we’re just getting food”. Surely Ben could sympathise with that. He didn’t run this broken-down, abandoned shopping centre, after all.

Or so Owen thought. Ben seemed to have other ideas, as he claimed he had ‘commandeered’ the place. His tone of voice made it sound like he was being reasonable, virtuous. In Owen’s mind, forcing two starving people to work for him was anything but, and just for a second, the wall he’d raised around his mind crumbled.

“R-really? We’ve been stuck at the amusement park for about a day... do we own all the cobwebs and litter and shit there, then?”

Owen gritted his teeth, and scratched the back of his head, wishing he’d been able to stop the pressure building inside him from overflowing for just a few minutes more. That ice they were treading on was feeling even less secure now. They needed this food more than anything, and if Owen’s comment was the deciding factor between Ben helping and Ben abandoning them, then he’d have doomed himself and Aileen. After everything they’d been through, through Summer and Hansel, he was not prepared to let starvation of all things take them. Owen shook his head, and tried again.

“Sorry... Just... L-look at us. Y-you said it yourself: we look like shit. We’ve got no food, no supplies... only these things for weapons... So...”

Owen wracked his brains for an answer, yet nothing seemed to spring up. What could they offer Ben? Stall for time, that was all he could do. Turn it around.

“... What... what do you need? Tell us, and... we’ll see what we can do...”
V7 BAYBEE
Lyra Doyle-Let's live tonight like fireflies, and one by one light up the sky
Current Thread: The Glorious Evolution - "Sorry, that was a little weird, wasn’t it?"
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Aileen stared into Ben's eyes as she took the box cutter from him. There was just a little bit of reluctance in her motions, but she knew that neither she nor Owen were in a position to be picky. Besides, a little trade didn't seem to be that much of a bother.

Owen talked to Ben as Aileen used the cutter to open one of the cans. A crack later, and the can was open, revealing something that Aileen couldn't properly identify. It didn't smell all to bad, so she figured it was edible. She inspected the content of the can from multiple angles before she handed the can to Owen and looked at Ben again.

"What do you need? Protection? Someone to carry or move stuff? The promise that we won't kill you when we have the chance?"
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Shangela
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There were few times in Ben's life that he ever bit his tongue. Only two people were allowed to get away with lashing out at Ben, and having him roll over and take it like a bitch. His father was an obvious one. Coach Lomelli was another. No shit Ben had a temper, but unless he wanted his ass whooped, or wanted to run laps, Ben had to practice temperance. Ben knew that they were trying to teach Ben to be respectful and polite, but respect wasn't something that one just had. It had to be earned. Bean pole with his snark wasn't earning any fucking favors with Ben.

Coach would have been proud of Ben for not lashing out like he really wanted to. Pizza-face apologized for his little outburst. Somewhere deep down, Ben could understand. They were hungry. They were soaked from the rain. They looked scared shitless. Ben had been robbed. Ben had gone hungry. Ben could understand.

"I'd look in the back with the frozen food. The stuff inside has rotten, but they keep jerky back there." Jerky was Ben's favorite. The fact that he was revealing his little stash of quick protein meant that he really digging into his reserves of humanity. Though this humane act wasn't purely out of the sheer goodness in his heart. Ben wanted them as far away from Oscar's body as possible. That wouldn't help things at all here.

Ben nodded when the girl followed up. All of those things sounded really fucking good right now. Groups didn't work out in the long run. What was to say that these two wouldn't be Oscar and Janie all over again? But it was better than the alternative of sitting here alone and defenseless. His problem was that he cared too much. He shouldn't have cared about those two, yet their loss was fucking bitter to swallow. He didn't owe these two anything.

"I don't want to kill anybody. I think it's all kinds of fucked up that some people think they're gonna get a free pass just because those fuckers behind the cameras encourage this." Ben confessed. He pinched the bridge of his nose and squinted. Jesus this place stunk to high hell.

"I'm building this place up. Turning it into a fortress." If Ben kept everyone out, there'd be no chance of Hansel Williams ever finding him. Rescue would come long before that bible-thumping redneck ever got a chance. "I know how to keep anyone else from getting in."

Honestly, these two wouldn't even be here if Ben didn't need the time to get his shit together. He took too long to keep everyone else out. What was he hoping for? Janie to come wandering back in? Oscar to re-enter the door, missing a significant gaping hole in his neck?

"So basically, I could use a hand making sure that you two are the last people to come in and bother me for a while. Until rescue comes along it's merry-fucking-way, I don't want anyone walking through those two front doors." Ben thought he'd sweeten the deal. "When you're done, I'll let you grab some food. I'll also let you stay a little while."

"Also, not being murdered by you guys would be fucking swell. I have plans after all of this, and I'd rather not spend my prime years six feet under."
Edited by Shangela, Apr 8 2014, 04:29 AM.
Posted Image
-Credit goes to the lovely and talented Payouni of DeviantArt
Take another drag, turn me to ashes
Ready for another lie?
Says he's gonna teach me just what fast is,
Says it's gonna be alright

NOTE:I'm always looking for helpful critique on my roleplaying. If you see something you like (or don't like) feel free to PM me. I'll only get better with the more advice you all give me~

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Pippin
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Owen absent-mindedly took the tin from Aileen, not even checking its contents. Ben’s reply was more important right now, as strange as that sounded in Owen’s head. Sure, he had food right there in his hand. But Ben’s reaction would be the deciding factor between them getting more and this tin being their only source of salvation.

Thankfully, Ben seemed to have shrugged off Owen’s little outburst. He realised then that he’d been holding his breath, waiting for a response. He exhaled, looking down into the open tin as he did so. There was... some substance inside, with some form of sauce. Under normal circumstances, not the most appealing of ways to describe something. Right now, Owen was tempted to just pour the entire thing into his mouth.

Instead, though, Owen listened to Ben’s requests to him and Aileen. There seemed to only really be two things he wanted; help with barricading this floor of the shopping centre and for them to not kill him. Simple enough, the latter request in particular, but there was another thing that Ben said which stuck out to Owen.

Ben still thought rescue would be coming. His entire plan hinged on the belief that he’d be able to stay in safety, away from everyone else on the island, until rescue arrived to pick them up. Owen wished he could hold as much hope as Ben currently did. Naomi’s theory had pretty much knocked that out of him ages ago. If there was any chance of getting off of the island, it was either through escape, or...

So, which would be kinder? Letting Ben believe that rescue might still be a possibility and leaving him with some glimmer of hope, futile as it may end up being? Or tell him Naomi’s theory and prevent him from wasting the rest of his short life holed up away from anyone else?

“Alright... that sounds fine to me. Especially the ‘no killing’ thing. I, uh... I think we’ve seen enough of that for a lifetime...”

Naomi’s theory had never been made definite. There was still a chance, always a possibility of a miracle to occur, that rescue was right now speeding towards the island. It was a long shot, the longest of shots, in fact, and Owen wasn’t basing his entire plan for survival around it in the slightest. But that little glimmer of hope was trying to spark itself back to life.

“So... how’re we gonna get started? Moving tables, crates... that sort of thing?”
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Lyra Doyle-Let's live tonight like fireflies, and one by one light up the sky
Current Thread: The Glorious Evolution - "Sorry, that was a little weird, wasn’t it?"
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Rescue?

Now, the demands of Ben were... reasonable. Aileen would have to eat something first, but she thought it would not be much of a problem to turn this mall into a little fortress. Also, the whole thing about not killing Ben also shouldn't be something difficult.

Aileen opened the can and immediately smashed her face into it's contents. She knew how strong the temptation was just to tell how naive Ben's idea of rescue is, but that would not be the smartest thing to do. Thus the food (?) had to distract her.

"I think I tasted tomato. And something fishy."

The can clattered on the floor and Aileen reached for a second one. She licked the rest around her lips.

"Okay, how about we finish eating, and then we try to block all exits with massive objects. Then I'd say that... um, we should try and close off most of the windows? Yeah, but we have to careful to have an emergency exit."
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Shangela
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((Time Skippage approved))

Great. Everyone was onboard. Ben didn't want to admit it, but there were multiple scenarios in which this interaction could have played differently. Beanpole and the girl might not have been so willing to work for their reward. Ben's father always complained about the failures of social welfare programs. Lazy people who didn’t want to work were having their dinners handed over by the good tax payers of the good ol' U.S of A. Ben was glad to see that these two weren't the cautionary tale of laziness that his father and his tea party buddies liked to harp on about.

"Those kiosks can be moved up against the bigger doors." Ben stared the two of them up and down. Combined, the two probably had about as much muscle power as Ben had in a single arm. "Which I'll be moving. You guys can move some of those carts in front of the windows and side doors."

Ben tried to keep his mind off of the other two. They were doing their jobs as instructed, so Ben had no reason to pay them any mind. But something was just irritating Ben. They seemed so. . . happy. Not happy in the sense that Ben would have preferred; they weren't back home in Seattle. But he watched them with an unfamiliar twisting in his stomach.

What exactly was he feeling? He could feel his heart thumb aggressively; his blood pulsated in his temples. Every huff of breath exited through his nostrils angrily. However, mostly he felt sick to his stomach. Someone had wrenched his hollowed stomach and twisted it in their palm, contorting it into an unrecognizable sensation of discomfort. The boy, Owen as Ben came to know, shot a sincere smile at the girl, Aileen. This intensified the sickness.

Was Ben jealous?

Why the fuck should he care? Groups and friendships didn't mean anything here. Oscar had proven that when he'd raised the box cutter against Ben's throat. People used you. Used you until you weren't useful anymore. Hell, Ben was doing the same thing to these two. As soon as they'd done their jobs, he'd kick them out and relish in his fortress. He didn't need anyone else to stay alive.

"You guys can take the first shift." Ben announced curtly to the pair. By then, the sparse rays of sunlight, choked out by the thick grey clouds, had been fully drowned by night. Of course the clocks ceased to work in the mall. There was no way to reliably tell time, outside of the periodic announcements.

Shit.

The announcements. That fucking blabbermouth terrorist was going to broadcast Ben's biggest failure as a man. People already hated him enough, they didn't need more fire to that. Ben sighed heavily as he brought the heavy metal gate down over the Linens and Things store entrance. He could hear the two of them talking between each other. His stomach still ached.

----

Ben woke up as comfortably as he could in the circumstance. He laid sprawled out across piles of overpriced plush sheets with extraordinarily high thread counts. Ben didn't know what the term meant; it was something women, like him mom, were concerned about. It was probably some huge marketing ploy to get housewives to blow their cash on this "Egyptian Cotton." The tag, agitating Ben's chin, explicitly said "Made In China." Isn't everything?

Ben sat up at a very leisurely pace. For the first night, Ben could sleep. Everything had been so exhausting, that the second Ben's head hit the chemical scented pillows, he had conked out. He didn’t have cliché dreams about the day before. Oscar didn't come to him like the Ghost of Christmas Past, yelling at him for his murder. Janie didn't stare at him with those fucking hurtful eyes that conveyed a mixture of pure terror and disappointment. In sleep, Ben escaped all of that. He'd forgotten what he'd dreamt about. But in the end, it didn't matter. As long as he'd keep waking up here, those escapes meant nothing.

Ben stepped out, wearing a new set of pajamas. It was a luxury to have clothes to change into. Ben wouldn't have thought twice about the right to new clothes. Mom, or Elaine, had always done laundry. It was just a given that someone would put Ben's laundry basket of fresh clean clothes by the foot of his bed, and remove the football clothes marred with a horrid amalgamation of scents. Ben looked around to see if the other two were awake before he'd nuzzled the fuzzy cotton collar of the brown bathrobe on his face.

It was the small comforts.

Comforts that, with the exception of the other two, no one had. Ben wondered if Janie was somewhere nice. She'd run out in the rain. Ben couldn't stop her. He could explain things fast enough. She didn't deserve to be cold, sick, miserable. She was already so weak. If nature didn't get to her, someone out there would.

Fuck it. She abandoned Ben. Ben had just killed Oscar and sure as hell didn't know what to do with himself. He needed her. Ben confessed. He needed someone to care about him. Someone to tell him that it was a fucking accident. Ben wasn't the bad guy here. The terrorists were. He didn't need her anymore. He had his own base. He'd kick Owen and Aileen out. Then he'd be here all by himself until rescue came. It was much safer than trusting anyone else.

Ben fiddled with the scythe in his other hand. It was a heavy weapon. It was probably used for slashing at grain, or something. It clearly wasn't meant to be used for killing. Yet sure enough there was a body upstairs somewhere. The announcements would reveal a whole list of potential people. Would Ben even recognize most of the names? Probably not. Unless the name was someone on the team, or someone else on the council, he wouldn't recognize them. Unless someone got to Janie.

Janie was scared. She'd run out in a blind horror after watching their group unravel. She didn't deserve that at all. She was trying to be a good person. She worked right alongside Ben, obedient, supportive, always listening. She didn't know something though. She didn't know that Ben was just as fucking terrified as she was.

He wasn't going to let her be alone anymore. He was going to say what he should have said when she'd found Ben covered in Oscar's blood. "I'm sorry."

((Benjamin Ward continued in Siblings of War))
Edited by Shangela, Apr 16 2014, 03:56 AM.
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-Credit goes to the lovely and talented Payouni of DeviantArt
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"Calling dibs on this place?"

Thus, Ben went his own merry way. The reason was irrelevant for Aileen, because his departure meant that she and Owen had the bottom floor of the mall for themself. Oh, perhaps the entire mall, given that whoever was occupying the top floor left.

That was an amazing feeling. Almost as if she owned the whole place. Now, if they had real weapons and could stay here regardless of the danger zones, they'd have the ideal place to hold it out until endgame.

Of course, if she owned the place, she'd also have to clean it up. Oscar's body, for example, was moved to a nearby storage room, because she really could not stand to see Ben's work after a while. Then, she took some cleaning utilites and removed the blood. It was hard work. Really, really hard work. Seriously, of all the things Aileen did that pre-noon, that took the longest. Of course, part of it was simply a measure to distract herself, which it successfully did.

Furthermore, she also reorganized the various cans to have a steady supply of food at hand, but that was more of an afterthought.

"Now, if we could wash ourselves, this would be heaven."
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Working for Ben was not the greatest experience of Owen’s life. It wasn’t even that it was particularly hard work. Ben himself was hefting the largest items around, and it didn’t take as long as Owen had thought it would. If he had been in the same physical state as he had been on day 1, he was confident he too could have pushed the kiosks around, but the complete lack of food meant he was still pretty weak. Although the situation was slightly alleviated once he’d followed Aileen’s initiative and emptied a few whole tins into his mouth.

There was just something off about Ben. Owen wasn’t entirely sure what it was. A combination of things, really. The little glances he caught whenever he’d finished moving a cart from place to place. The blunt way in which he told them both to take the first shift. Little things that, when all put together, planted a little seed of doubt in Owen’s mind.

Then again, pretty much everything that went on nowadays was having that effect on Owen. In the end, the important thing was that he and Aileen were safe, that they had comfort, relative warmth and, most importantly, food. Maybe the morning would bring answers, maybe Owen wouldn’t want to hear them. For the time being, it was best to take what they had.




Owen sat in silence as the morning came and his suspicions were proven true. There was no sign of Ben. At some point in the night he must have skulked off. Good riddance, as far as Owen could see. If he attempted to come back in, they’d know. They’d be ready.

Ben’s handiwork, however, was definitely still here. Owen had helped to move the body, Oscar’s body out of sight. It was far from a burial, but there wasn’t much else they could have done. Aileen took it upon herself to remove the blood stains. Owen attempted to distract himself and his mind by wandering the bottom floor of the shopping centre.

It was rather surreal. Owen’s footsteps echoed and bounced around the empty, open space. Several times, he swore he saw figures moving to and fro, in and out of shops and sitting on benches. It just didn’t feel right. So much space, so much stuff, so normally filled with life; all of it now occupied by a boy and a girl.

Owen eventually made his way back to Aileen, still feeling slightly hungry. The contents of the tins he’d eaten the previous night had been stone cold, almost unidentifiable, and the best thing Owen had ever eaten. Still, it wouldn’t do to eat the entire supply in a single day, would it?

“Oh God, would it ever.” Owen muttered in response to Aileen’s statement. “Sadly, I don’t think many malls are in the habit of keeping showers dotted around the place. At least there’s plenty of clothes to change into around here.”

There was a smile on Owen’s face as he spoke. An old friend that he hadn’t seen for far too long. Their situation was far from perfect, but on the island, this base floor of the shopping centre was as close to perfect as they would get. He held up a couple of sturdy looking bags that he had found during his wandering.

“If the worst comes to the worst and something happens... this place turns into a danger zone, say... thought it’d be best to grab these for our food. Better, y’know... safe than sorry.”

The smile faltered slightly as Owen looked over at the main entrance to the shopping centre.

“You don’t think he’s coming back... right? Doesn’t make sense to barricade the place and just... leave it. I mean, uh, I hope he doesn’t, but...”
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She gave the bags Owen had an analyzing look. They were judged to be sufficient and Aileen nodded in approval.

"Mhm, you're right. We should prepare everything beforehand. Food, water, maybe even some spare clothes.

...and about Ben. Well, he'll have his reasons. Probably some unfinished business somewhere. I think he'll return once he's done with that."

Or he'd die. That'd be the preferrable option, because that made sure he would not come back.

"Oh, while we're talking about clothing..."

Aileen moved towards a door to grab a pullover hanging on the knob. She found it somewhere in the shopping mall and it's dark purple color and fluffy texture reminded Aileen of her favorite pullover. The one Hansel had now. She'd have to remember to get it back eventually. But until then, the one she found in the mall would suffice more or less as a sweet gesture of nostalgia. Sure, it was not the same, but it wasn't like anybody else would mind if Aileen pilfered the place.

"Don't you think that this one feels really cool? Two size too small, but I lost weight. Might be worth a try."

She moved the pullover for Owen to touch.
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