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The Gadfly Cometh; B026 Start
Topic Started: Aug 25 2016, 03:59 AM (1,116 Views)
General Goose
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Don't cast aspersions on my asparagus.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Bradley never really was one to sit about and ruminate.

But as he knelt down against the concrete wall of the docks, one foot in the path of the ebbing tide, chasing the congregated ants with the flame of his assigned lighter, one could be forgiven for thinking that was what he was doing. Contemplation, meditation, that sort of thing? That was the refuge of the thinker, not the doer, Bradley had always believed. But he couldn't help but engage in it now. As a prerequisite for action, he told himself. He blinked, trying to dislodge the last vestiges of drowsiness from his mind, trying to focus more ardently on the task of thrusting his own terror onto the panicking ants who had made the mistake of making this dock their home.

Bradley had often raised the prospect of some kind of medicinal sleeping aid to help counter his insomnia. But costs and his father's recalcitrance for seeing a doctor for such a "little thing" had meant he could not get a formal diagnosis, let alone actual professional help. That was partially what made the prospect of some over-the-counter kind of sleep-inducing dose quite tantalising. An end to the pain of his poor sleep schedule.

But over time, the thought became more of a joke, something only raised in desperation or in jest, yet another weapon in his irreverent arsenal of self-deprecation. Alcohol and smoking became efficacious yet imperfect substitutes for sleeping pills. Now, Bradley was quite happy his father, for the wrong reasons of course, had seen fit not to indulge his demands. For if the experience of the sleeping gas was representative of sleeping pills, and Bradley could think of no reason why it was not, then it was fucking useless.

Bradley was not well-rested.

Quite the opposite. And these hapless ants were paying the price. The flame danced across them, indiscriminate in collateral damage yet always soaring towards the ant most cognizant of the atrocity being reaped upon them. He chuckled. Ants weren't ethically valuable, weren't capable of deep emotional thought, were basically little automatons, but hell, the fear was just real enough to make this act of wanton cruelty seem daring and taboo.

Bradley chuckled.

He was wasting lighter fluid.

He placed a cigarette between his lips - the terrorists had not taken that smuggled in box away, they were murderers, not health Nazis - and brought the lighter up. Lit the cigarette.

Bradley's relief was audible. "Ah. Fuck. That hits the spot."

The relief of the ants was...less audible, but Bradley was sure it was there.
Edited by General Goose, Aug 25 2016, 04:01 AM.
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General Goose
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Don't cast aspersions on my asparagus.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Bradley didn't hear Steve approaching.

He had turned his attention to the natural harbour before his eyes, looking over the horizon with what he would never admit was sentimentality, an unguarded and unprompted appreciation of the natural world he would never vocally admit. He placed his hand on the fore grip of his M16, rested against the wall of the docks.

It was a pretty good placement for the gun - in easy reach, perfect for grabbing if any obnoxious thief tried making a run for it, or some sanctimonious prick tried using this as an opportunity for a vendetta against him. Although now he gave it a second's more thought, that latter possibility could be dismissed. Bradley highly doubted hatred against him ran that high.

He was pretty sure none of his classmates, bar friends or cousins (who hopefully had escaped), had wasted a second thinking about him. Bradley, despite his comically hyperbolic presentation of his own ego, was not so self-aggrandising to think he was so hated that people would actually actively seek him out in vengeance. The worst he'd ever done was a few witty quips that hit too close to home. There were more pressing reasons for seeking out revenge.

But then he heard the voice of a new arrival. Turned around, and was about to make a joke about how Steve's voice had suddenly become girly. And then, slightly afterwards, spotted the actual source of the voice. Alba.

"What a genius question, Alba!" Bradley made sure that his sarcasm wasn't too obvious. Would be far more fun for Alba to not spot it. "I for one have no intention of shooting your brains out, if that's your concern."
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Don't cast aspersions on my asparagus.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Bradley clicked his tongue, and swung his rifle over his shoulders, holding it behind his neck with one hand on each end of the rifle. "I got a rifle, guys, full disclosure. Like, if I was dangerous, you guys'd be fucked, but instead, hey, I'm an asset." He always believed in honesty. Duplicity was not a skill he had, and he had never sought to learn it. Sadly for the rest of the world, he considered tact and discretion forms of duplicity. Self-censorship was a sign of cowardice, and Bradley would not let up. He would be honest, and that included continuing his duty as the harbinger of uncomfortable truths. Bradley would not become a kind of bowdlerising manipulator.

He would be honest about how, in the weapon rolls, he had done well. He hoped the honesty would create a good first impression. Yes, Bradley was infamous. Perhaps it was too late for first impressions, but within the context of the island, people would be viewed in a new context. And Bradley wanted to make it clear to the world he was as candid, above board, and uninhibited as always. It would, hopefully, lower people's guards for him to be so forthright. It would be reassuring. Cancel out the fear factor the gun brought innately to the equation.

Less relaxing, perhaps, was his stance. His stance was casual, relaxed, nonchalant. A facade, of course. Nobody could be nonchalant in this situation. Indifference and apathy was always easy when hearing about terrorism or mass murder in the abstract, when it was happening on the other side of the world. But Bradley was staring death in the face. Holding a rifle in his hands. A proper rifle. An M16. One of those guns his dad always raved on about. True to the hillbilly stereotype, Bradley's dad was a gun nut. Bradley most emphatically wasn't. Considered it a bit nerdy. God, he regretted that choice of interests now.

"How are you guys holding up?" His smile did not waver, but it was sincere. For once, not a setup to some witticism.
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Don't cast aspersions on my asparagus.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Steve went. Bradley just sent a curt "yeah, see ya" behind him as he left. To be honest, they had nothing in common, no reason to stick together, beyond the accident of location. At the end of the day, accidents of geography were how most friendships started, but Steve didn't seem to want to take that chance, to probe further and try and find some chemistry. His loss. No point in running after him. That'd be kinda gay.

The juniors at Cochise, they were always weird around Bradley, taken as a collective amorphous blob, with a pretty tame disposition and unmemorable quintessence. Couldn't say he much cared for the esprit de corps of that grade as a whole. Let the juniors run off and do whatever shit they wanted to do. Except Alba. Alba, he could probably have some fun with. She was a prop at that moment, something he could use as a stepping stone in making jokes about the real source of humour here.

His sweet ol' classmate Bryony Adams.

Bradley had to admit, it was a special kind of shy that Bryony had. Like, shit, being fearful and diffident and apprehensive and all that stuff, in this context, was pretty forgivable. The mark of a psychopath if someone wasn't a little bit scared. But Bradley had the suspicion Bryony was still just straight up shy. And shit, he respected that. Girl stuck to her socially awkward guns, come hell or high water.

He took a step back, still devil-may-care and glibly flippant in every motion and movement, to get a fuller view of the sight before him. Alba was taller than Bryony, but she wasn't the impenetrable cover she was hoping for. If only their heights were switched. That kind of visual humour, that always made Bradley laugh. Mix that in with Bryony's hilariously determined bashfulness, and it would have been a recipe for comedy gold. Fucking shame that they were the heights they were. Oh well. He'd make do. "Well, come on out, Bryony. If you bundle too close together, you might make an easy target."

He bared his teeth in a grotesque display that was some caricature of a friendly smile. "For birds, you know? I'd wager the birds here are the shitting type."

"But, you know, finding shelter is a good idea. Unfortunately, I'm also kinda new to the area, so I kinda don't know anything about good places to chill." He shrugged. "I've just been around the docks this whole time. I'd wager you two have travelled a fair bit more than me." He clicked his tongue again to fill the silence. "Either of you fancy a cigarette?" Bradley had manners, after all. He wasn't not going to ask them that.
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General Goose
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Don't cast aspersions on my asparagus.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
It was for the best they didn't want to share in his tobacco fixation. More for him, of course, and he flashed them genuine smiles of obliged gratitude as they conveyed their polite refusals. He loved how semi-apologetic people could get when refusing a little cancer stick. They should be fucking smug about how they had the mental fortitude, the grit and mettle, the emotional wherewithal, to refuse a little indulgence, even in such stressful times such as these.

"Well, not like lung cancer is exactly something we gotta worry about." He clicked his tongue, again a filler as he thought of another witty one-liner, again wanting to keep control of the proverbial talking stick as he pondered what next to say. Had to maintain his comedic flow. The simplicity of not having to worry about the long-term was liberating, and Bradley intended to make the most of that.

"I mean, there's a lot we ain't gotta worry about now. Pensions. Game of Thrones spoilers. China owning everything. Global warming chaos. The end of free speech. Terroris-well, I guess we gotta worry about that one." He hoped that that list of threats would help convey to Bryony, at least, that he was keeping his same ol' impious, iconoclastic attitude. He was holding his shit together, he was still himself, so hey, less pressure on her to act tough. This shit was survivable.

"And sure, I won't smoke near the docks." He would interpret her literally. Why wouldn't he? Teach her a lesson about being exact. "Gotta say, it's an act of mighty selflessness that you're still worried about natural beauty, even though we ain't got future offspring to worry about passing it down to."

"Anyway, yeah, let's go!"
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General Goose
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Don't cast aspersions on my asparagus.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Bradley smiled. With a skip in his step, he threw a cheesy grin on his face, and made to follow Alba. Ah, she was sweet. Poor girl mustn't know his reputation. Everybody knew Bradley, Bradley was sure of that, so this girl probably had the social connections of an Inuit otaku. Not to intentionally sound egocentric, but Bradley loved the idea of someone not knowing who he was. Made him a blank slate. A tabula rasa.

And he would be honest. That was his virtue. He could just exploit their ignorance, hide the fact he had more in common with BoJack Horseman or Diogenes than some Pollyanna. It wouldn't be smart, anyway. Bryony'd probably blow his cover. Poor Bryony was acting all shy and meek, like she always did around him. Maybe it was her temperament, maybe it was the whole context of a death island (which, yeah, still hadn't sunk in it, his constant verbal banter kept it relegated), but yeah, he was pretty sure it was.

Throwing a smile over his shoulder to invite Bryony to follow, Bradley got going.

((Bradley continued in This Be The Verse.))
Edited by General Goose, Oct 9 2016, 08:55 AM.
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