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Little Pig; Start of G055
Topic Started: Aug 14 2016, 10:55 PM (1,066 Views)
General Goose
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Don't cast aspersions on my asparagus.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Kizi had never been a peaceful sleeper.

She was a deep sleeper, certainly. Dreams and nightmares alike never disrupted her gravely, or rendered a serene slumber impossible, even when they were at their most vivid and engrossing. What she did do was thrash and fidget and toss and turn with a liveliness that evaded her while awake. Making her bed in the morning had, for her at least, always been an arduous task, one that required her to engage with skills like planning and spatial awareness and critical thinking first thing in the morning. But hey, it was all worth it. She had never struggled too much, or felt restive and sleep-deprived the morning after, of course. She had always woken up well-rested.

So when she had woken up, from a placid and drowsy sleep, it was quite worrying that she had clearly not disturbed her environment at all, that her sleep had apparently been composed and calm to the outside world.

And when she was not well-rested, that was another jarring break from normalcy. She felt tired. Awful. To be expected, of course. It was likely the chemical-induced drowsiness, to which she reckoned she had been among the first to succumb to, was no substitute for actual voluntary sleep. At least for her.

She looked around, not lifting her head up, not wanting to unnecessarily disturb her still-untouched surroundings until necessary. Took stock of her surroundings. There was a fallen tree to one side, gnarled and weathered, and her body lay on and next to many paintings and drawings, forever crumpled by her presence. She grimaced, and felt bad for damaging the artwork, as eclectic and inconsistent in style and quality as it was. Kizi had never been much of an artist, something she regretted now, with mortality staring her bluntly in the face. It would have been nice, to find a creative venue of expression, to have become a more well-rounded person, to really make the most of the advantages she had been lucky to receive.

Kizi's sleep had been atypical. But what she did once awake, that was much more normal. She liked lying awake for a bit, embraced by the comfort of her bed and consciously resting her muscles, and though she lacked the luxury of an actual bed, at least she could just lay there. And rest. Wait. Hopefully another slumber would ascend upon her soon.

But nope. None came.

Well. Darn.

Instead, noise. First the sound of a loud clunk. Not a gunshot, she realised, or an explosion, and she released her breath. She hadn't even noticed she'd held it in fear. And then voices. Oh, voices. She missed them. Never mind the content, but hearing a familiar voice, one not promising murder and terror and brutality, that was a sweet reprieve she had not known she'd missed. She would never hear her mother's voice again, or her sister's or her brother's or Aunt Tolulope's or anyone else's, but she would take comfort in the voices of her friends.

Jennifer's voice. Jennifer was honest, smart, a good person. An aspiring journalist. No matter how small some perceived the stakes to be, Kizi always admired the journalistic instinct. Great journalism, real accountability, that always started at the bottom. It was good to hear her voice.

It meant she would die too. Die or become a murderer.

Kizi felt selfish now. Hearing Jennifer's voice was not a comfort. No. It meant one more good person destroyed by the traumas of this game.

And then Bart's voice. Bart was nice. Gentle. Talented. Promising. Promise that would never be actualised. Was she being pessimistic? Or a realist? She did not know. These two, they had done things with their lives.

They were writing club buddies, she had recalled. Well, the conversation would have reminded her of that fact anyway. Kizi should have joined.

She felt almost rude to disrupt them. Almost like an uninvited obstruction. But honesty was all Kizi had left. So she began to stand up, and announced her presence. "Hello?" Her voice was tentative, fearful, but better that than bold and dangerous. She was not a threat. She knew better than to give that impression. She ignored the shotgun and the duffel bag for now. Too much to think about. She was not a threat, even with them. "It's Kizi here. Kiziah. Hello guys. I can go if you want." She doubted that. Things looked heavy.
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
There wasn't really much for Kizi to add to that. She'd always struggled at small talk, and now? With death looming over their heads? It seemed like an even more difficult task.

They'd said everything that could be said, really. Sure, there would be the moments to turn to the cameras, say things to the family, pontificate on just how unfortunately placed they were, try and express this emotional burden in perhaps a more lucid and cogent way, try and throw some illumination on things for the sake of anybody willing to help. But Kizi wasn't ready to do that now. Wasn't ready to say the final words for her family.

That was closure, in a way. And it was too early for that. She hoped so, anyway.

And they'd said anything that needed to be said. Anything else was a redundancy, a truism, a superfluous murmur of agreement. It was impossible to believe this was happening, as Bart had said. And they sure hoped nobody around them would be going violent, as Jennifer had said. And what else was there to add to that?

So she just nodded. A sad nod, something oxymoronic she'd never done before. And she said all she could say. "I really hope this isn't real." She slumped against the tree, the closest thing to a chair there was, and buried her head in her hands. She couldn't even bear to look at the shotgun that had been assigned to her. That was what really made it seem real.

Kizi had been tricked by pranks before. She was gullible. Very gullible. She'd have liked nothing more than for this to be another elaborate prank, another funny way of pulling the wool over Kizi's eyes and having a laugh at her expense. More cruel-natured than normal. More audacious and over-the-top than usual.

She'd once been convinced into believing that you couldn't eat bananas for 24 hours before flying, because the potassium would set off the metal detectors. And that you had to talk really fast on planes, because the speed of the sound of your voice had to keep up with the speed of the plane. That was the sort of trick she fell for, that her friends and family pulled on her. Not this sort of thing.

And perhaps this was a hoax. It was an easy enough hoax to fake. Bart and Jennifer weren't the sort to plan such a hoax of course, and they were probably victims of the prank too.

But the shotgun? That made it all real. Yes, it was easy to acquire a shotgun. But it was another thing to so carelessly leave it lying around for the sake of a joke.

And whenever she looked at it, she was reminded of what had happened to Mr. Graham.

And there was no way that was a prank.
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Kizi listened, but really, there was nothing new to add, nothing new to say. They were all going over the events of the past few hours. Looking for who to blame, looking for morsels of hope, looking for some kind of rationalisation or justification or opportunity. Maybe she was projecting. That was what she was doing, after all. But what else was there? Casual smalltalk? She couldn't do that. She couldn't see how, at least for these first few tender moments, such conversation was conceivable.

She had her own demons, staring her right in the face. Her mother, her poor mother. She had faced so much, gone through so much trauma, climbed so many adversarial obstacles, all in the hope of securing a more stable upbringing for her children. And that had all been torn asunder. Kizi knew that this was not her mother's fault, not in even a convoluted or minuscule way. But she knew her mother, and knew her mother would be tearing herself apart at the news. The loss of her daughter would only further sting by the conviction that it may have been her fault.

But she did not voice that out loud. Did not want to detract from their own personal battles.

Instead, her mind went to the first comparison she could think of. She knew little about prior SOTF events. Well, not strictly true. But she knew what every fearful American schoolchild knew. No more, no less. Her mind went elsewhere, and without thinking, the thoughts soon came out of her mouth.

"In Chibok last year, Nigeria, there was that whole thing with Boko Haram abducting 276 girls from their school during an exam." She paused. It was a case close to her heart. Such atrocities always caught her sympathies, and it being in her country of birth added another sharp sting of pain. They were always prominent in her mind. "That Bring Back our Girls campaign, that was about that. They went into a school, posing as guards. Said everyone needed to be evacuated. It's just...so similar to what's happening here. They forced the girls into marriages, sex slavery, that kind of thing. It's just...it's just such a common tool of evil these days."

Perhaps she should have lied. Added a happy ending. A glimmer of hope, that the means of finding lost kids had progressed considerably since the last SOTF attack. But such a lie did not even occur to her. Instead, she realised she had shared another anecdote, another miserable reminder of the tragedy of their situation, without a point in mind. The most upbeat note she could end things on was barely upbeat at all. "The rest of the world has seen this kind of thing too. There's solidarity here. There's sharing of methods, of technology. Maybe it can help us out here?"
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Kizi was always awful at words of comfort, and at least that hadn't changed. She was still Kizi. Still completely guileless and witless, still in possession of the wisdom and acumen of a dead squid, still completely blind to social graces and proper protocols, yet not so blind that she couldn't see it. She looked down, at the artwork on the floor, perhaps in some vain hope that might inspire a burst of renewed confidence. Art was beautiful, inspirational, a reminder of the goodness in humanity.

And it had been torn and crumpled and vandalised by the terrorists. Just another reminder of how shit they were. Couldn't they at least have cleared the island of personal effects? Returned things home to their families? Allowed them to send a final video message back home? Any one of those simple gestures would have added some humanity to their conduct. Like offering a convicted prisoner a last meal. Still made the fate horrible, didn't relieve them of the burden of the acts of evil they were committing, but made things a bit more palatable.

Nope. Instead, the responsibility of softening the blow, of seeking silver linings, had been left to the kids themselves. And in Kizi's case, it was an act of niceness she wanted to do. Make things a little easier. Reduce the suffering a little bit. But she was unqualified.

She should have kept her mouth shut. She nodded as Jennifer brought up technology. Far more positive. Far more believable. A far more productive line of belief.

But then the bell rung, and Kizi immediately found herself having the wrong idea. She knew it was the wrong idea. Bart's caution was right. She looked down. Bit her lip. Waited a second before speaking. "I think we should." She decided not to elaborate her reasons why. For her sake and for their sake. They were probably grounded in some unspoken pessimism, some defeatist melancholy, that justified even the most illogical of risks. Best not to engage in that.
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Kizi seemed to have the minority opinion. Probably for the best, she realised now, with a second's contemplation. It was in all likelihood a trap, done to lure in the gullible, the credulous, the unsuspecting and the naively curious. If anyone was to fall into that category without outside intervention, it would be Kizi. She smiled at both Bart and Jennifer in turn, a tacit admission that yes, perhaps, they were right.

It would definitely be the height of selfishness to try to further convince them to join her on this little suicide mission. They were right, probably. Her internal instincts to follow the sound weren't budging, but hey, hopefully what little logical prowess she did possess would prevail.

She bent down to her bag - ignoring the shotgun - and pulled out the map. "Well, uh, staying here is definitely a bad idea. Because it puts us right in the path of any violent people heading towards the bell tower. That's bad."
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Well, it was set. They would move onwards. To somewhere. Kizi really didn't know what to say. She didn't want to exactly impose her preferences - as petty as they were, being merely desires for relative shelter and some chance of accessing indoor plumbing - on the others. They would likely have more strategic considerations in mind. Smarter choices. Cleverer options. She didn't want to undermine them.

And Bart's own suggestion proved that. She would have headed for the bridge, just like she would have headed for the bell tower. She really was out of her depth here. It was common sense, in hindsight. Just the most...basic thinking, the most rudimentary logic. She was doomed.

And then Jennifer had spotted a pretty concrete reminder of that fact.

Kizi would likely have forgotten the gun otherwise, had Jennifer not so accusatorily brought it into the public domain. Out of sight, out of mind, what you don't know won't hurt you, all of those old adages and idioms. Probably not the best sorts of philosophies to guide someone in this sort of setting, of course, but it was a smidgen smarter than relying on her own intuition. They must have become popular for a reason. Better to live by ill-fitting rules than trying to use her own instincts, as ill-attuned and poorly-honed for a terrorist attack as they were.

"Yes, I think I got rolled a gun," Kizi continued, unable to see how this could be anything other than a bad thing. A pretty decisive reason not to trust her. "Sorry. I'm really sorry." Her voice quivered, and even she was unsure if she was apologising for her assigned weapon or her accidental secrecy.
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Kiziah did not know why she had apologised. Had to stop herself from apologising for the apology. That was an unhelpful instinct.

And what had she done? Received a shotgun in the rolls. It was a stupid thing to apologise for, really. The luck of the draw, that's what it was. Outside forces, nothing she could be morally culpable for. And better the shotguns owned by those who were relatively peaceful and amicable than those students who would resort to violence - not that Kizi could imagine any of her classmates doing so.

"If one of you guys want the gun, that may be smart." She dropped the idea into the discussion before she could ponder the implications and risks of such a move. Probably deliberate, on an unconscious level. She would be useless with it. And not being useless with it? Actually having to use it? That was a burden that, perhaps selfishly, Kizi did not want to face.

"I think supply depot." She added her input to the conversation about directions with surprising certainty, a rather curt lack of ambivalence or equivocal hesitation. "The crematorium...well, would be a bit grim."
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Well, they were moving.

A part of her remained hopeful. A futile hope, maybe, but Kizi shook her head, dispersed that pang of fatalistic logic. She would take every opportunity for a spot of hope whenever it arrived. And as they left this room, maybe the environment would change from discarded artwork and crumbling architecture into something more mundane. The revelation of it all being a cruel prank, or the promising sight of a helicopter in the distance.

But that would have to wait.

Kizi smiled, a friendly smile, a smile of trust and loyalty, conveying understanding and agreement, rather than a smile of satisfaction. She bent down, to gather up her things. Looked at the shotgun, surprised she hadn't forgotten it. She hoped someone else would carry it.

She picked it up, with a grunt. It was heavy.

Followed Bart.

((Kiziah Saraki continued in So, so tired....))
Edited by General Goose, Oct 23 2016, 12:58 PM.
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