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State of Shock; Open
Topic Started: Aug 13 2016, 09:04 PM (797 Views)
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B004 – JOSHUA BRACEWELL: START

Joshua Bracewell had stopped wasting time on tears.

From the moment he’d awoken in one of the asylum's corridors, he’d spent a good while curled into himself, drenching his sweater as his entire body racked with sobs. He didn’t want to think about what awaited him once he stood up and fully let the situation sink in. At that moment, the knowledge that he and his classmates had been stripped away from their families and thrown into some foreign place, without anyone to turn to for comfort.

That alone was a harrowing thought, without taking into account what they’d been demanded to do.

His parents would be watching. His brothers, too. His mother would’ve barred Philippe from catching even a glimpse of the footage, but his younger brother was both smart and curious, and there was no way he would let himself be restricted like that.

Joshua wanted to yell, to scream for them not to watch. He’d heard what sort of horrors these ‘games’ brought out of people. The notion of them being exposed to made him feel sick. He even went so far as to make eye contact with the steely gaze of the camera planted against the wall, open his mouth, and intake a breath in preparation for his cry, but caught himself short.

They could watch if they wanted. They didn’t have to worry about any seeing any horrors, after all. They were from Cochise High School, and the terrors that had plagued the previous iterations of this act would end with them.

It was then that he’d stopped crying.

He picked himself up and stripped off his soaked sweater before throwing it into his bag. A few trickles of water had matted his polo shirt too; he was thankful it was charcoal, and they didn’t show up too well.

After a minute’s walking, he turned the corner to find a familiar figure and the first soul he’d come into contact too on the island, sifting through the contents of her dufflebag.

“Bridgette,” he said, softly, not wanting to startle her.

He meant to say something else, some other form of greeting or comfort. But words failed him.

Instead, he simply burst into tears.
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For a moment, Joshua stood speechless. Bridgette’s recitation of his name hung in the air while he tried to formulate what to say next. A part of him wanted to rush forward and pull her into an embrace, but the other just wanted to stand there and keep crying. The former could be dangerous – he didn’t want to give her cause for alarm just moments into this game, and given the wide-eyed clutching of her bag to her chest, he feared he’d already done so. The latter meant not doing anything at all, which was an instant no-no in his eyes.

So instead, he went for a third option: apology.

“I’m sorry,” he said, wiping his eyes with the backside of his hand. “Thought I’d gotten it all out.”

Taking half a second to steady his breath, he conjured the courage to take a handful of steps forward. His heart was still violently thumping within his chest, but he found his voice was remarkably level as he continued to speak.

“If you want me to leave, that’s fine. I understand. I’m just so glad I found one of my friends, especially so early.”

He pivoted around as another figure entered the room: Keith Bauer. Another junior; another pianist. Yet another of his classmates trapped in this place with him.

“Keith… hey.”

Another person he had to save.
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A slight sense of foreboding crept upon Joshua as Keith’s eyes widened and his foot tapped against the linoleum floor. The curse that left his lips caused Joshua’s brow to crease and his heart to thump once more, as he remembered a situation all too similar.

He’d only been present to someone fainting once before. It’d been during his freshman year – though here it felt like a lifetime ago. His father had been out of town for the weekend on business with the company, and his mother had been on a brief getaway with one of her former co-workers from her modelling days. He and his brother, Philippe, had been home alone; Philippe in his room working on his paintings, and he studying for a Geography test. He’d found himself so caught up in revising sedimentary deposits and erosion theory to check the passing of time – or to prepare he and his brother food. It wasn’t until Philippe had stepped into his room, mumbling a complaint about headaches and hunger, that he’d even realised how much time had passed.

And it wasn’t until his brother had pitched forward onto the carpet that Joshua remembered how stubborn Philippe was about taking his insulin.

Philippe had awoken only half a minute later, back to his effervescent self and claiming to feel fine, but that thirty seconds of uncertainty and fear had left a mark on Joshua that was not so easily shaken.

Joshua let his dufflebag slip from his shoulders and land with a too-audible crash upon the ground, followed by his sweater. He couldn’t guarantee what Keith would do next, but given their situation he figured fainting wasn’t too far-fetched a solution.

He strode over to Keith’s side, motioning to catch him should his fears be true.

“Keith!” His voice shook as he spoke. “Keith, are you okay?”
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Bridgette kept away from him and Keith, and Joshua couldn’t blame her. Their interaction had already been thick with uncertainty, but the addition of Keith – whom Joshua was ashamed to say he didn’t really know all too well, all things considered – and his distressing behaviour could throw them into any manner of situations.

Keith began to shake, his hands tightening together like a vice as tears stained his cheeks. A muttering of curse words broke the silence, followed by a much louder cry. His words cut through the air like knives, each of them causing Joshua to inwardly flinch and send a surge of ache into his heart.

It hurt to see a classmate in such pain.

Not wishing to potentially distress Keith further through his sheer presence, Joshua opened the distance between them, backing away so that he, Keith, and Bridgette formed a haphazard triangle. As he did so, he realised that he had to take a stance now. To fully commit himself to the role he knew he needed to take from the moment he’d awoken, by vocalising it for them all to hear.

“We are not going to die. I’m going to make sure of it.”

As the words left his lips, Joshua realised he’d never been more sure of anything in his life.
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