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Call Me Maybe; trigger warning: transphobia
Topic Started: Aug 26 2016, 07:48 PM (1,673 Views)
Iceblock
Survivor
[ *  * ]
((Melanie Beckett continued from Nature's Predators))

She probably couldn't do this.

She'd forgotten to immobilize Cameron's foot, for one. After a lifetime of soccer, it wasn't like she'd never seen a foot injury before, and it sure wasn't like she'd never sprained her own ankle stepping in a divot or just landing on her foot at the wrong angle. So what she knew and should have known was that the first thing to be done was almost definitely to keep the foot tied up so it wasn't flopping around, but instead, she'd started Cameron moving almost right away.

No big deal, really. She didn't beat herself up about things like that.

But like, it didn't paint her in the best light as actually being a responsible individual. She wasn't about to let Cameron keep hurting just because her brain had been out of sorts for a while.

Mel had cracked open the first aid kit in her bag when she'd remembered and found some bandages. They had looked clean, and while she guessed she appreciated that and Elmo, it had seemed again a little wrong to feel grateful to the terrorists for providing her with free stuff. So she didn't. It was good that the bandages were there. Nothing more. They'd taken her cell phone and her mom's camera, anyway, so the trade sucked.

The only thing left to find had been something solid that she could use to keep Cameron's foot still inside the wrappings. She'd considered the flashlight (too useful), the tins of crackers (too unwieldy), Elmo (no), and just adding yet another item onto their list of things to find (that seemed like the best bet).

She'd been in luck. The B housing block had looked like a tornado had hit it. When they had reached it, she had eased Cameron into a sitting position against one of the walls and investigated the rubble strewn around. After finding a broken chair leg - one that hadn't rotted through completely with time - she had ground it against the wall until the broken end smoothed out a bit. Best not to have the splint splinter. Then she'd wrapped and bound the foot.

Well, she was no medic. Only thing to do was hope she'd done all right.

A glance through the broken windows had shown that there seemed to be no one there, though she couldn't have been sure that was no one still hiding in the other rooms or the hallway or whatever. She'd just have to check back later. They'd have to loop back around and cross the bridge eventually, anyway - there was no way they could make it down the slopes on the map in their condition.

The ocean would have to wait a bit, though. She had a good inkling of where to find ice.

They made their way slowly towards the pub, Mel still cushioning some of Cameron's weight. She wasn't liable to collapse or anything, but she was increasingly beginning to think that a makeshift cane or crutch would also be a great addition to the list. Struggling to get anywhere also tended to put a damper on any conversation, although she'd tried her best to make small talk (tattoos were still great; she sorta regretted not getting one now that getting a job was the furthest thing from her mind).

Seeing the back of somebody with a hoodie disappearing around the corner of the pub presented a dilemma. Figure out who that was, find ice, figure out that was... She shifted her weight a bit under Cameron's for only a moment of indecision before impulse took over.

"Hey!" she shouted, cupping one hand around her mouth, Cameron's pickaxe still in a loose grip in the other. "Coming in behind you!" Best case, she could do both.
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Iceblock
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[ *  * ]
Sardine?

Anyway, forget about getting shot for a second. Mel appreciated Cameron backing her up and even giving her a reason for doing what she'd done mostly on a whim, but having to think about every mundane action in the light of whether it would put her in physical danger or not was, again, what the terrorists wanted. Even if she'd tried to bury most of her knee-jerk rebellion under getting Cameron to a more stable state, she wasn't going to just roll over and let them win that easy.

Moving carefully more for Cameron's sake than in actual caution, Mel made her way towards the voice, around the corner to almost immediately come face to face with two others.

Oh hey, it was Enzo and Tessa. Enzo played soccer (like, on the actual team), and she'd always vaguely thought of Tessa as a kindred spirit in most of the ways that mattered. Definitely not the worst people to run into - the fact that she didn't have anybody in mind as terrible to run into didn't change that. Running into a terrorist on the loose, maybe. A wild terrorist, rampaging on the Serengeti.

Mel flashed them a grin, only muted a bit from her usual.

"This is a kinda terrible hiding spot if you're playing sardines." A short pause, as she remembered the obvious. "Plus, yelling."

She jerked a finger over her non-Cameron shoulder. Might as well launch into it. "We were just on our way to raid the pub. You two don't happen to have ice, do ya?"
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[ *  * ]
"Sure, don't mind if I do."

A heavy thump sounded as Mel thrust the flat top of the pickaxe into the earth and leaned a bit on the handle. It was far too short to be any real help, but at least this way, it was carrying its own weight. She'd have to give it back sometime. Maybe Vinny could hold on to it; it was Cameron's, after all, and the two of them seemed pretty close.

"I attacked her," she said in the cheeriest tone she had. "Yep, right when I woke up. I just started whaling on her with my bare hands, until I broke all sorts of things - all three of her ankles, my knuckles, all the bones in my hand - I'm in a full arm cast right now," she added, wiggling the fingers of her free hand at Tessa.

"Then she decided to come with me, 'cause, uh... it was a stick-up." Finger gun for emphasis. "And I took all her cash."

Mel paused, and the grin that had slowly spread over her face while she was talking faded.

"Not trusting each other when nothing's even happened yet," she said, "that's what they want."
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[ *  * ]
The mood had changed.

Mel had been about to open her mouth and launch into another spiel about who knew what - probably about what was in her control and what was not, what she thought about the terrorists versus what Tessa thought and whether that really mattered or not and-

And here came Vinny, picking up on something that she hadn't, in fact, even begun to consider, a blind spot that she now realized she wished had stayed blind. Even Cameron had hinted at it, under the guise of them using Elmo to commit a mugging.

It had always been easy for her to take responsibility and paint herself as a bad guy or an idiot's straw man; she had never cared much about the consequences, had never felt anything but amusement for Astrid's death glares.

She saw what Vinny meant now. That there was another idea that wasn't ridiculous in its maliciousness or incredibly dumb, an idea that made far too much sense - that maybe she and Cameron had been working together, were purposefully lulling the other two into a false sense of security, to strike at them when they least expected it. That they might have already done so before, with a small hiccup in the execution. That was... that was too serious. Too real. She had somehow picked the silliest interpretation impulsively and not even considered the rest.

All of her thoughts came together at once. She didn't want to act like this was real. That was the point. She'd succeeded in a way, up to now, to cocoon herself in enough disbelief that the darker possible implications of Tessa's words had passed her right by.

They were stranded on an island with explosive collars around their necks, their lives at the mercy of the ones who held the triggers. She was probably going to die. That was what she was willing to accept as real. The rest - the distrust, the mind games her classmates played or would play, the divisions they made amongst themselves - she refused. Despite Tessa's words, she doubled down. Acting like that was real made it real. Accepting what the terrorists had set up would lead to doing what she'd told herself they wanted her to do. Better yet, it would lead to doing what she didn't want to do.

Say she was wrong.

Say Tessa was right. Say the terrorists didn't care.

She was still going to give them the biggest middle-fingered fuck you she could.

Vinny had the serious stuff all about covered. Mel just scratched her head with her free hand, said "Sure" and shrugged and shot Tessa a small smile, because now she was sure what she wanted and, selfish as it might be, that was all that mattered.
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[ *  * ]
"I thought there'd be a chance of a battery-powered ice maker or something," Mel said lightly. "I say it's still worth a shot."

She wasn't an electrical engineer - didn't even really care about the programming side of things that much either - but maybe a few AA batteries from Elmo could power something long enough to freeze stuff. She'd seen old roads on the way here, too. Roads for cars. So if the first plan didn't work, car battery time. There could be at least a couple that hadn't lost all their juice yet.

As for Vinny and Tessa, that whole thing still seemed dangerously close to blowing up. Figuratively. Though the land mine didn't help. She figured she could at least try to defuse the situation a bit.

"Then we just put it down somewhere as a scare tactic. Y'know, half-bury it, dig up a bunch of empty holes nearby, fill them back in with dirt, then set up big picket signs and paint 'LAND MINES HERE' on them. All caps." She shrugged, then started slowly walking back towards the pub, letting the edge of Cameron's pickaxe drag behind her in the dirt. "Cameron's still down a foot - we going to actually do something about it or not?"

Didn't really feel right to jab at them like that, seeing as Vinny was the one carrying Cameron's weight now, the one who was actually Cameron's friend, and Tessa had at least pretended to care by supporting elevating the foot. But she had never really considered herself particularly patient, and she was beginning to get real tired of just standing around calling each other names. Best to get on with something that they could at least all agree on. Then maybe she'd get to figure out exactly how she'd do what she wanted to do, too.
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[ *  * ]
Although the picket signs and the rest had been silly exaggerations, Mel had meant what she'd said. If they were going to set up a mine, warning others seemed fair, and where Tessa wanted to warn people verbally, her own suggestion had been nonverbal.

As she walked, as Tessa talked, as the edge of Cameron's pickaxe hooked or bounced on one grass tuft or another behind her, she thought maybe what she'd meant hadn't gotten through. Maybe she should have bothered to choose her words more carefully, put a little more seriousness in them so that Tessa would have realized she was sort of agreeing with her. Probably wouldn't have made a difference, though. Easy enough to mess up and mess around with words no matter how much thought was put into them. They'd done that plenty already.

Fact was, it didn't matter. What was important was that Cameron had found a friend, someone who could be dependable.

She wasn't needed anymore.

She could stay with them for a while if they let her. Maybe she would. She'd try to find a battery-powered ice maker even if it might not even exist, because that was what she had set her mind on. After that, she could help out somehow. Checking Cameron's splint, making small talk, whatever, just doing what she could for the rest of the time she stayed. But she had other things on her mind now, other things that she wanted to consider alone. She didn't want to drag them into it if she could help it - didn't even think they'd particularly agree to be dragged into it given the chance.

Maybe she'd leave right after this, after all.

Her steps led her to the pub's entrance, and she pushed open the door. In a few hours, or even in a few minutes, she was sure she'd do the same, but heading out - a few people and a pickaxe lighter, going, going, gone.

((Melanie Beckett continued in Thursday's Child))
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