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Forget About What I Said; 'I'm older now and I know you hear me.'
Topic Started: Sep 16 2016, 12:15 PM (1,461 Views)
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((Ben Fields continued from Good Omens))

Ben looked like hell, especially the pits. Not much perspiration on the run, yet, but he took no pride in that. Problem was, it was like the old ‘spastically skip rope with your own two left feet’ routine for Ben. Running after guys like a fag, and nothing to show for it but a crushed bag of chipotle. That was all the problem. Here and now, it was time for the solution.

He’d been leery of the bridge, and of the tall buildings and wide open spaces beyond. Had half jumped when the bell had suddenly rung again. Like once wasn't enough and they were tying to start a damn cookout over there. He was leery of approaching the tower, and caution was a fair call from the playbook. Same old shit. Headbob left and right like he was the six year old crossing the street for the first time. Extra times each way, to be sure. Nobody around, though he occasionally swore he caught a whiff of a body and a gun. Nobody and nothing to see when he double checked. Just trees and grasses untrimmed since post the dawn of civilization.

His feet were beginning to canker and cramp up. Not so bad, but Ben still wanted to assume conserving energy meant something. No baseball field for miles in the thousands, but he needed himself a dugout. Had to be benches in that big ass building that was apparently the asylum, the heir apparent to the island. Had to be bodies too. Hopefully still like him, still warm and breathing. Still thinking and praying. One up to you, guy in the sky. He'd thrown ‘em all a curveball, these one hundred whatever assholes who had put themselves on buses to say ‘we who are about to die’. However that went in Latin, Ben couldn’t recall that one.

Halls and stairs were quiet. Nothing moved except him, even as his collective six senses told him there were a hundred shadows and a hundred rats and a hundred undead around every corner. Jerry Fury eat your dumbass heart out. Personally he was beginning to really get sick of all the adrenaline. Every few fucking minutes there was something for his heart to beat itself into submission with. Cameras up and down his ass too. Kept scrolling over him as he passed by.

Here, this looked like a good spot. Second floor, some kinda dark room with the doors ajar as if folk had been by recently. Ben advanced in, foraged for the lights all slow as molasses. Trip hazards, sharp objects, attracting unwanted attention. Lights... still off. Shit, no power.

Most of the doors were shut, and he quietly shut the sole open left one to give himself a moment’s warning if yet something else was on his ass. Stayed near it so a little light from outside could stream in. He cleared a little space on a shelf. Tested it a bit, shrugged off the subsequent wobble and flex from the metal sheet. Sat his ass down, right in front of a red-dot-in-the-darkness camera casually playing voyeur. Yep, take a look. Ben Fields, right here. The dude who was feeling a little bit of bigass weight on his shoulders that he was sure drooped them all unattractive-like. Shit like confidence was worn easy, was fashionable. This shit he had on right now? Probably dug up from a dumpster somewhere, the sort you found the homeless and prom babies in.

Alright. Clear it all, all those words he’d said for the cameras. Find new ones, better ones. And put his goddamn shoulders back up on the shelf where they belonged.

“Yo. Mom. Lana…” Hard to keep his chin up. But he kept his gaze right on that camera, and every pair of eyes that lay beyond. The two pairs he did cared about. “I… heh, fuck. Eh. Sorry ‘bout the cussing mom.” The breathy chuckle was forced, didn’t take an Enigma decode to intuit that one. “This ain’t some easy stuff for me to say. You both know it how it is. Really don't talk right unless the two of you are around…”

B036 : Benjamin 'Ben' Fields
Start


Ben drew a breath. Maybe he needed it, maybe he didn’t. What was it they had said about those broadcasts years ago? That they were released on a delay?

In his resting place it was only himself and the audience he didn’t have.
The Dies Before First Rolls Squad

The Nights
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No audience, no words.

That's how Ben had always felt on stage. Felt like something of a white trash douchebag if he was just blurting lines at the ceiling and the tiling and the three sets of bored eyes watching the rehearsal. 'Alas, Horatio, I knew him well'. Fucking Horatio wasn't even up there with him, busy playing hooky and letting down Denmark or Memento Mori or whatever it was Shakespeare had spewed. It had just been Ben with a sad, single spotlight to be clicked off when someone barged into the room and hit the wrong light switch. Shut him right up, that kinda thing did. Made the reading all cold and halfhearted and interrupted by lunch bell. No audience. No words.

He fucking needed some words though. If he sat still in the dark long enough and put the discount almost-expired cottage cheese he called a brain through the wringer...

... Then someone could open the door and Ben's face could suddenly ratchet away from Lana's.

The camera, of course, followed suit.

He had only caught the barest glimpse of a face before the door had swung back shut. Had to wonder how he looked now, gaping vacantly at a piece of wood with a doorknob attached. "Yo, I'm friendly. Come on in." He figured no guns were involved. If they were he'd be seeing holes and hearing bullets right about now.
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Back to reality. Would've continued to make an ass-looking idiot of himself if he'd been left in a blacked out closet, failing to murmur pointless shit at the sister he was likely never seeing again.

She'd be seeing him, though. One of those kinds of thoughts that made Ben's adrenaline prick at the bitty delicate nerves in his fingertips. But he held them steady. He had company, he had to keep all digits under control and all hands on deck... Hold up. That voice sounded familiar.

Yeah. Because familiar voices had certainly been harbingers of good news so far.

Ben almost got himself a flashbang to the face when the door opened, but he anticipated and blinked. For just a moment. Had to open his eyes quickly before a weeaboo sword was stuck halfway up his...

Nate. Hm. A spotlight with one of his old theater buddies. Nate was one of those sorta awkward needy talky types, but passably cool, and he put on some killer performances of the sort that had Ben thinking back then they didn't do this little dude justice with the casting. Little dude Nate was also one of the kids in Cochise that didn't have Ben beat height-wise. Winning out against the kid with bad genes was hardly something to be proud of, but with Ben's own genetic inheritance it was a take-what-you-get sort of affair. Other kid was a mystery. Matthew? They might have shared a class. They definitely shared an island.

Ben could smile, though it was hesitant, gruff and grinding up against the peach fuzz he'd been cultivating with long nights of practice out at Sumac. Ben was all about his history, and recent history had taught him not to take another face for granted. Let alone two of them. At least he didn't have to camp out behind a wall two inches from the other guy this time around. He could stand, meet his comrades with respect.

"Yeah, we were in drama together." Ben kept his tone and stance relaxed, his fingers resting on his jeans. Like this was just some after school shit. "Who the hell were you in Hamlet Sophomore year, Nate?" Shit, had Nate even been in that? Ben swore his brain had been all sluggish since he'd first been cocking up plans and taking no names. Maybe it was all the excess adrenaline. "Think we could keep the door open for a bit or we all hole up in the dark? And have you guys..." It only took him a moment, but he had to consider the question. If it would go over well, if it implied anything uncomfortable considering... Damn. Wasn't an easy question to answer.

"Seen anything bad yet?" Easy question to ask, though.
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Shit, that was right. Nate was just a junior and all. His brain really was on the fritz then. Memories and thoughts something of an afterthought.

"Huh, sorry. Could'a sworn for a second there that we were in the same grade." Dumb, only word for it really. Ben felt the familiar rush of busywork to distract himself from his own treacherous thoughts, though it didn't settle quite as easily over his adrenaline ravaged body. He swore he felt slower or something, like he had taken a quick shower in syrup before meeting the day forehead-on. Slower or not he was riffling through his bag, keeping all of the weapons he didn't have close as he dared. Nate wanted pills anyways, and Ben remembered that he'd glimpsed the familiar medical symbol in olive steel while searching for his map.

"Yeah. Nice to meet you, Matt. Or as nice as possible given the circumstances." Ben's hands closed over stale plastic. A flashlight. "Close the door behind you, Matt. Think we could hide out in here a bit, maybe."




Ben’s first assumption when he’d come to life was that he’d overslept. That he had to haul ass over to Lana’s room before she overslept even harder. There would be baseball practice today. He’d he’d have to finish up the post-trip report. But first he’d have to open up his eyes, ignore the grog, get right down to his day.




Didn’t last that long. About the few seconds of time it took for his eyes to unweld themselves and suddenly there he was. Laying prone in the middle of an abandoned asylum, ass aching from a few hour’s worth of cold hard floor.

A hand felt at his collar. Still there, just enough to be a reminder. First full day of Survival of the Fittest, and he’d lived to tell the tale. That meant something of course, but Ben wasn’t sure he wanted to spell out the obvious this time around. Even to himself.

They’d done their shifts, all three of them. Lot of talk but not much had really been said. Just like good old times back home. But folks had to sleep too, and Ben had spent a good chunk of the evening uncomfortably alone in the presence of warm bodies. Had probably stared at the camera soundlessly enough to be an extra in a low-budget horror film. He wondered who had been up when the nonexistent clock had struck midnight, thinking fragile and mortal thoughts alone in the dark.

Ben almost blurted greetings out, but something stopped him. Words on the tip of tongue. Good morning, good day. Thoughts holding ‘em back. This was the part where the terrorists started listing off names, right? His circadian was telling him that much. He lay there, still as the dead. Waiting for announcements for just a bit. Thinking only of an intercom voice, of having told Jerry an eternity and a day ago that Cochise names wouldn't ever be heard from terrorist lips... Maybe also the location of his bag. The location of a door.

The names that came up on that announcements could so easily, innocuously, have included either of the names he’d shared a room with that whole night.

Stupid thoughts. But he was thinking them all the same.
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Staring at the ceiling. Wasn't much else to do while he took it all in.

The terrorist dude didn’t even have the decency to sound like he'd been entertained.

Every name and face that the dude rattled off, Ben felt something burned into his brain. Scorch marks crusted into a pan. Jennifer. Florentina. Scarlett. Cristobal. Barry. Abigail. Harold. Rea. Joshua. Too many damn names. He couldn't dwell on it too much. There was no time. But here he was, fucking at it while his back continued to erode into fleshy chunks against the cold concrete floor. He'd set up plays on the field with Cristobal, they'd had victory huddles and IHOP after game dinners. He'd gone to Scarlett’s home, pitied her for having to deal with Beaks’ bullshit. He'd befriended Rea his sophomore year, kept her safe as he could, watched her meet the maybe teenage sweetheart love of her life. He wasn't going to write a damn eulogy for any of them. It was a moral obligation, but it wasn't going to be him. Words were wasted, here and now.

He'd called the others peers once. He'd known their names and faces, and yet.

They'd let the terrorists have their names. Names were all they were now. Isabel. Nancy. Kimiko. Alvaro. Conrad. Alex. Jasmine. For fucks sake. He could still recall Lana's love of Alvaro's cafe, protecting him from bullies like Darius, debate prep with Alex-

Words wasted, natch. Ben could feel adrenaline again, it was peeling his ass off the floor in a millisecond and locking his shoulders square into place. It was familiar this time, comfortable. No more words, not any more. He'd already tried words, failed words, and what the fuck was the famous quote? Insanity was doing the same thing expecting different results. Maybe Lana'd read him that. Ben's plans so far had been all words. High time for actions.

Time to move to Nate's side. Ben felt guilty, treacherous for having ever doubted either of the other dudes in the room. Quick to strong conclusions, but they hadn't yet been good ones. Ben scuttled across the floor, shot Matt a side glance. Seemed he was out of words himself.

"Hey Nate." Ben put a strong, firm hand over Nate's shoulder. No tremble to that cramped malignant tumor of a hand, he was watching it carefully. "It's alright dude, we're gonna..."

Hm.

"... Make 'em pay. We're gonna stop them from hurting anyone else. We're gonna try." Ben watched Nate of course, but he also had an eye on the bags. They had to calm down, take it all in. Get to the fight, after.
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Ben's shirt was a little briny, like the cheeky saltine kiss of the ocean that imprisoned the people he still called classmates or once had. Not Nate's fault, it was the shitty thin fabric. This rusty old shirt was one of those bargain bin fillers in the wardrobe. Perfect for day trips that would get hot and sweaty, definitely less so on islands that hadn't gotten almost summer memo. Global warming his ass. Shit. Just when he thought he'd at least had the decency of intellectual high ground over the school's faction of conspiracy nuts. Bring a snowball into Senate chambers and choke on it. Ben Fields after his first day of uselessly running around the premises of SOTF.

Ben sat near the flotilla of bags, watching his comrades. He could think of the three of them as something of a band of brothers, minus the guns. Most important part was the one missing. Ben could still remember. Orient the gun, flick the safety... Will. Ben couldn't imagine his friend's anguish, nor did he want to try. Guns, he could imagine. Guns in his hands, weighty and built for something like righteous justice. Ben couldn't do the dead justice with his words, but his actions? He could feel actions in the coagulated morass of his blood. Something hidden in that mess of clogged up piping, lurking under the surface. Something soon to come, as soon as the boys locked in their heels and marched.

So, time to get a move on.

Matt beat him to the punch by the hair of a trigger, and Ben nodded. Good someone else was thinking things along the lines of 'do'. They'd all rested on their asses long enough, been scared and helpless long enough.

"Yeah, I tried to ration my food but even with that I think it can only give us enough energy for a few days." Food was an interesting question. But there were more important ones. Lip service, pivot. Just like he'd learned in debate with a man he'd once called Alex Tarquin 'til terrorists had done the same. "When we head out we should be keeping an eye out. You know, for any trouble."

He glanced at one of the doors. Dark adjusted eyes picked out some kinda skittering thing dancing on the blurry line that marked light and shadow.

"Have to be ready to take action if we find that trouble."

Once more, he saw the bags.
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"Hm."

'You know'? Maybe. Maybe Ben knew shit, maybe he didn’t. He didn’t need to know. The snail slime that was his instinct made it simple enough. He was not a thief. Not an opportunist, not a vagabond. He wouldn’t entertain the option, wouldn’t let it cross his mind any further. Maybe Matt would, maybe he wouldn't. Maybe it was just words, those slippery tricky bastards. "Might still be supplies around to scavenge. No way just two buses of kids scrounged through every nook and cranny already." He hadn't seen any other kids, even. Just a handful of assholes at best, before Nate and Matt.

And now he could add one more kid to that count. Shit, he hadn't been keeping an eye out on Nate. Pipe dreams of weapons and adrenaline and justice and shit, it had tied his neurons into a couple of neat knots and a couple hundred Gordians for good measure. Fuck. A bag couldn't move, it couldn't give away a position. A person could. And Ben, of course, had been keeping his eyes on the damn inanimate object. Add that shit to the list of his good ideas so far. Ben immediately wanted to make up for his mistake. Get up, get out there, get Nate before he was possibly hurt. But Matt got his eye, just the moment before Ben's heel was about to take the brunt of his weight 'til it half shattered. Before he stood and interjected. Finger to the lips. The ol' shush. If it was the right call he didn't know. He didn't need to, because he paused just long enough and the answer became clear.

Ben had always thought that dude's voice was particularly ridiculous. Somehow managed to over-emphasize every single syllable at once.

"Yo, Henry." Spider, huh? So Ben's eyes were still that useful, at least. "Glad to see you're still okay dude." Ben stood up, put himself right into the light where he could be seen. Hiding from Henry Spencer was a no go. Jerry Fury, maybe; even Maxim whatever-the-fuck in context. But not Henry fucking Spencer. Ben had some dignity left, in whatever was left of his body.
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"Matt Moradi’s with us too."

Some kinda fleeting memory of bygone first days of class. 'I'm Matt Moradi, and.. I guess if I had to say it, I like not dying.' Fairly accurate high schooler sentiment, that. Ben was sure he'd heard that before, down in the trenches between the desks. Couldn't recall so well, but he was sure.

Hm.

Almost seemed normal. Only off kilter bit was the part where they'd almost been too afraid to let an awkward aspie kid through the door. Ben watched Henry as he walked inside. Straight for the bags. Hadn't seemed suspicious until Henry had opened his mouth. Ben knew a fake laugh when he heard it.

Matt said no, and Ben's thoughts went two ways on that. Selfish. But understandable. They'd even talked over the ration count. Only so much vittles to go around, and everyone in the room knew it. Least of all Henry, way he was all bent out of shape. Ben could see the desperation. At least he thought he could. It hadn't been long ago, probably, that Ben had read somewhere that dehydration was one of the worst ways to go. Hardly the sort of info Ben had needed a book to guess at. Matt was probably afraid of that nightmarish vividness where the stomach was digesting itself raw and bloody out of hunger. Ben understood the sentiment. He didn't believe it, but he got it.

"Guess you could take a few of mine, like we could split them part-ways or something. Should tide you over until we can scavenge some extra grub." Second later and Ben was also by the bags. A bit off to the side, where the camera was busy trying to grab his ass in the shot from behind a rack of mildew and cobwebs stacked this way up. He raised an arm, felt the creak of morning rust flaking off like skin dust. Waved over to Nate. Come on in. Ambiance is terrible, but stay for the company. "What happened to your shit anyways, dude? Anything we got to watch out for? Anyone?" Maybe the names he'd heard before. Maybe new ones.
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"Thanks guys, I really appreciate it."

"No problem, dude."

"Mind if I sit?"

The affirmative gesture followed on the bony pivot of Ben's wrist. Words not needed there. Shit, people had to ask about even sitting now? Used to be anywhere that wasn't an uninvited lap was free game for the old posterior. Hell, whatever. Ben wasn't gonna ask for permission to pull up a chair. One of the many nonexistent ones in the room. He sat himself next to his bag, the one slightly more wrinkled and stained than the other two.

He got quiet. Listening was easy. Room was just skull hollow enough for voices to carry.

He got mad. Thinking was hard. Wringing the lard out of the dishtowel brain.

But thoughts still came. The kinda thoughts where one imagined some innocent harmless dude with a dumbass dye-job running from people. The sort of people where one called them with a name once but then somewhere along the line a name was meaningless syllables for something no longer human.

"Yeah, we gotta watch out for them for sure. Maybe find them." There was some minuscule part wonder, reflection on how his voice couldn't have sounded this gruff, hastily dredged up from the phlegm of his chest if he'd just woken up and started shuffling for the nearest bathroom. Rest of the neurons were busy boiling away. The hell sort of degenerate lowlives put fucking Henry Spencer on a hitlist?

"We gotta move ASAP... Here. You can eat on the go."

Ben crammed a hand into his bag, felt around until an unmolested protein bar was in his hand. He snapped it in half so fast the wrapper was still there. Fumbling. He looked like an idiot. His fingers skittered like spider legs, scrambled. He eventually felt the crumbs of dusty amino acids into the grease of his palms, and he threw half Henry's way. Assuming the kid could catch it without warning. Fuck. Ben on point with the tactical foresight.

Boded well for what was to come.
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Crazy hair... Caedyn Miller. Henry described something along the lines of a dyke, so it fit. Yeah. It made sense. She'd been somewhere on the preemptive shit list, pulling some kinda rank. Now she was just a she. Just another target to be, of something along the lines of righteous justice.

"Yeah man, you can definitely stick around. Safety in numbers, that shit." They were moving. Unfortunately the weapons still looked less than ideal for the war that was to be waged. But what was it they said? Guns didn't kill people. People killed people.

Ben would have debated calling a killer anything along the lines of 'person'.

Nate and Ben also mobilized. There wasn't much left to say, after all this. Ben had spent long enough trying to talk, and he wouldn't let himself forget that. A bag on Ben's shoulder didn't weigh quite as much as his conscience. Thoughts felt heavy when they were of failure. But his feet felt light.

So march on.

((Ben Fields and Nate Turner continued in Coming Out Of The Closet))
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