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She Spies Sharp Steel by the Seashore; BKA Retrieval
Topic Started: Jul 3 2014, 11:29 PM (565 Views)
Rattlesnake
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Now you may be wondering, who was wearing the bolo tie? Me or the shark? Answer: YES!
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Katarina Konipaski continued from Retrograde))

Katarina took a deep breath, sucking salty air through the swollen mess of her nose. Boots made for prancing on tarmac dug deep into the sand, and she fidgeted a little and ran her fingernail over the seam of her jeans in pattern defined by compulsion, and she marveled at how clean and pristine the world could be. The sea breeze was laden with things more odors than scents, the byproduct of things that lived and died and washed up or drifted away by the whims of the waves. Not a bundle of Sequim-grown lavender by any means, but none of her friends were rotting into pools of filth, and so the thick ocean air was light and refreshing in comparison.

She sniffed the air again and made her way to where it sat; a twisted, sun-bleached hulk of a log lay half-buried in the glittering sand, and next to it a slender crate in its own copycat divot. From twenty yards away her mouth began to water, and any pretense of impulse control melted away. Sand sprayed behind her in long rooster tails and soon enough she was perched lightly on the great hunk of driftwood, drumming her heels against the side and opening the box she'd hefted up beside herself.

The first thing that came to mind was that it looked like something straight out of The Princess Bride.

The second thing that came to mind was, wait a second, a sword?

And a dagger, too. Quite a funny-looking one. She reached over the foil-wrapped meal, letting fragrant steam flow around her wrist as she picked up the queer little weapon and examined it more closely. The hilt was wide and straight, and a little prong jutted up from one side of it. The sharp side, specifically; a good portion of the opposite cutting edge was carved into wide-spaced serrations like the top of a castle wall. Cutting power clearly wasn't the design there—no saw she'd ever seen had such wide, solid scoops at least—but nothing else came readily to mind. Perhaps, she thought, tracing her finger in one of the deep channels, to rip the edges of the wounds it made? Make them jagged, painful, more prone to infection and less prone to easy healing? There was a time now past where the very thought would chill her.

Her stomach cut in with a growl like a neglected cat. She'd puzzle out the thing in more depth later. For now, the more pressing mystery was just how good a simple baked potato could taste after a week of crackers and granola. She unwrapped it, balled up the foil and tossed the tuber in her hand. Warm and soft yet firm, it reminded her of Rosemary's body before she stretched and gathered herself and left it finally behind her as it grew cool in the late morning. She'd huddled against it as the night wore on and the day crept grudgingly over the island that didn't deserve a speck of it. A little ward against the chill, a guard against the lowest common denominator that might skip up a pair and search for simpler prey even if one girl's neck was growing a ragged band of black and purple. She licked her scum-slick teeth and sunk them in, and the warm flesh burst through the taut skin, and the answer she'd been looking for turned out to be absolutely freaking amazing.

She finished the rest in short order, even if it meant scooping and balancing her softening ice cream on the little knife that had belonged to Rosemary. Sticky bits of cream spattered onto her jeans and soaked through the fibers not already stiff with crusty blood. The apple juice, at least, she saved, or some of it, because her stomach had enough already to deal with. People could die from that, gorging on stuff too rich too soon after starvation, but she couldn't worry too much over that. It *had* been a good amount of calories she'd consumed each day, even if it was a bit lacking in variety.

How much time would they give her now? The people in charge clearly weren't keen on handing their favorite pick a shiny new toy and watching them screw around for hours in safety. But she looked over the water and she gave her sword a couple swings and it was just so fucking perfect. Was there even any other place on the entire island completely devoid of putrefying corpses? Even the rapier she could find some growing measure of admiration for. It wasn't quite the bullethose she'd paid for in Kelly's blood, but the lightness and the balance—it practically begged to swish and swing and pierce through flesh like little more than air. Sharp and slender and attractive as it was deadly. She knew someone who fit that description.

In a way, she thought, turning her thoughts back to the very same ocean that lapped the shores of Puget Sound, she was glad nobody had come. That there has been no rescue. So easy to say that as if it were already over, but could you look at that vast expanse? Really look at it, and see the shape of a ship or a helicopter cresting the horizon? She stabbed the sword experimentally into the sand, and in penetrated deep. She'd thrown her all into it, and it had paid off. The gamble that it would all mean something, that it would be luck and skill and fighting spirit and not some half-benevolent agent that pulled the last gasping bloody senior off the island. And the alternative—she could bear to contemplate it. Later, maybe. Because there were no more secrets for herself, no more taboos. Her fingers danced around the hilt in a pattern minted by compulsion and pulled the sword through the sand. She could dare to think it. That Ami Flynn was trapped on the island with her. That Mirabella strong had no escape.

She angled the sword a little bit, dragged it through the beach like a farmer's plow and carved a deep channel with a ridge of turned-up sand on the side. And if someone got to them first, well, sad day for them. Because they were next on the list. And whoever killed them, and whoever killed them, if there was time enough for the bloody dynasty to reach that far. She smiled a little and widened the vertical stroke. Something to keep her going. To make her mark, indelibly, on the structure of panic and collapse.

They wouldn't beep her out quite yet, would they? Because if she drew another line like that and stabbed the rapier back in next to the misshapen K she'd gouged out...

The letters formed more smoothly after that, a message on the last sane stretch of sand on the island of death. The R was a bit tricky, as it didn't lend itself to the angular, childlike script. She suspected it needed a little flourish for the round part, and flourishing wasn't a day one technique. Another A, and a pause and a space and then an L. She'd meant to make a W, but as soon as her makeshift stylus hit the ground she knew it was wrong. Actually, a little flourish with the V, because why not. She called it a decent job, if she could say so herself.

beep

And they knew she was done. She bounded onto the log for a moment and stared down at it, and she knew it was true and she knew she'd make it true. A giddiness took her, and she dashed to the water's edge and scooped up a little handful of brine. Sucked it down. Rosemary's map had told her she was the very last person with the privilege of dipping a toe into the ocean. The closest to touching home.

((Katarina Konipaski continued in Broken Hearts of Gold))
VeeFive


V4


NO. THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE. FOR YOU, THE CAKE IS OVER. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF CAKE.

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