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This Is Not My Country, This Is Not What I Believe; Private
Topic Started: Sep 24 2016, 12:21 AM (574 Views)
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((Clarice Halwood continued from By the time you hear the next pop, the funk shall be within you.))

They were back at the bell tower.

It wasn’t their first choice. But while trying to find a proper place—somewhere with a bed, and maybe some medical instruments, wasn’t this a hospital, there had to be something—Clarice had thought, up ahead, she’d seen a figure run past. Someone that looked like Nancy.

Clarice honestly wasn’t sure if she actually had seen anyone at all. Maybe it was just fear and paranoia speaking. But wheeling Harold right into Nancy would have made things worse, and then they’d gone down the stairs, and she’d thought of the bell tower.

There had been people at the bell tower. Good people that hadn’t attacked like Nancy had. Maybe one of them knew their medical stuff. Maybe one of them could help, could help and tell them that it wasn’t as bad as it looked. Tell them that Harold would be okay after some rest and orange juice.

The way there, Clarice kept alongside the gurney. Not providing most of the momentum, mostly just making sure it didn’t fall. Ty wheeled the gurney from behind. It was old. Not in good shape. Every second she was convinced it would collapse under Harold’s weight. But it didn’t. Small mercies, yet the biggest mercy they’d gotten on island so far.

Her good hand kept on the gurney, steering it. She kept an eye on Harold. She’d tried applying some dressings, enough to maybe keep him going until they found someone who knew how to help. There had to be someone who knew better, just… she didn’t know if she’d applied them right. Or wrong. Just that they were already stained.

The bell tower was deserted. Clarice reached out to steady the gurney before running ahead to the foot of the tower and sticking her head in.

“Hey! Jeremy! Barry! Other guy! You still there?!” she yelled.

Not a response, but as her eyes swept the bottom of the tower and came to rest on the floor she saw why. Barry was lying there, and there was a bloody splat and some scraps of what might have been the railing from the top. Clarice absorbed this in a brief moment, then she slammed the door shut and turned around.

"Not there!" she blurted out. Then she paused and said, slower this time, "There's... there's no-one there, we should... out here. Fresh air. Not there." Her voice shook a bit, but she tried to hide it.

They didn't need to see that. Not now. And she didn't need to see it, or think about it, or... god, Barry, he'd been alive last she was here, it wasn't long ago...

"Just… we can’t put this off, we’ll just have to… we’ll do what we can, right?” Clarice said to the other two, trying to forget what she saw. Just for now. She could... she could tell them later. Looking down at Harold, she said, “Hey, Harold? You still… you awake?”
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Clarice didn’t know shit about stab wounds. She hadn’t known shit about the gash in her shoulder, but that wasn’t nearly as deep as this. Didn’t bleed so much. Harold couldn’t even stand.

She knew what it meant. She was sure they all did. But no-one said it outloud.

Instead, she sat down and checked her medkit. Hoped she’d find something that would help. Hoped she’d find something she and Conrad had missed when she was patched up. But she didn’t. All they had was what was in their kits, and a now bloodstained gurney.

Clarice looked at Ty, then looked at the dressed wound. “If we’re going to sew it shut or… or something… then you’re going to have to do it. I can’t keep steady,” Clarice said quietly to Ty. She lifted her good arm briefly to show the consistent tremble that had hit it. She wasn’t sure if it was from blood loss, tiredness or just anger and fear. As for the bad arm, it would never have the precision even if she could move it without pain.

Harold said it wasn’t their fault. Goddammit, he’s bleeding and he’s worried about their feelings. It was so… Harold… that Clarice laughed. Only a moment, and it came out more choked up than she’d meant.

“Sorry,” she said. “I didn’t… I wasn’t laughing at you.”

She didn’t know what else to say, though. There was just too big a web of blame and guilt for her to untangle right now. She picked up the ibuprofen from her kit, looking at Harold. She wanted to shut her eyes. She wanted to run. But what kind of shitlord would she be if she did that.

“All I’ve got is ibuprofen. It might take some of the sting off, but… but I really don’t…” Clarice shut her mouth abruptly, aware that if she said another word she’d probably cry, and that was not what this situation needed.

She couldn’t keep up the chatter like Ty could. Couldn’t pretend like this would all be okay. She’d never been good at pretending. She tried to smile at Harold. She couldn’t. Instead, she just gripped his hand with her good one.
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Clarice didn’t let go of Harold’s hand for a very, very long time.

The sun crawled slowly across the sky. She soon had to squint to keep it out of her eyes when before she hadn’t. She stood there. And she waited. She hoped. Her mind drifted to wrestling practice, to the stories Ty had been telling Harold on their way over. But it always got pulled back to the present, no matter how much Clarice didn’t want to.

Harold’s hand went cold. Only then, did she slowly loosen her grasp. Looking at Harold’s face, waiting vainly for even a twitch, just a little sign of life. It didn’t come, so she put his hand gently on the gurney. She waited a few moments longer, her hand pressing down on his.

Nothing.

She let go, and finally allowed herself the luxury of looking away. She took a few steps away from Harold, looking at the ground. Everything seemed faint, even the constant throbbing in her arm.

She’d never lost anyone before. Always been lucky in that aspect. Hadn’t known what to expect. Right now, all she felt was shock. Disbelief. It seemed impossible that so recently Harold had turned up, friendly, bringing some hope that Nancy’s freak-out had been a fluke. Seemed so recently that they’d been at wrestling practice, mucking about during their breaks and trying their best to get better the rest of the time.

It was just supposed to be a trip to a museum. Not this.

It wasn’t her fault, Harold had said. Wasn’t their fault. And he was right. Ultimately, it wasn’t her fault, or Ty’s. Because it wasn’t her or Ty that had left them with no medical expertise or the supplies to make Harold better. It wasn’t them who’d decided to fight to the death. Not them who’d gassed the bus, who’d brought them here like the five classes before them.

She knew pretty fucking well who was at fault.

Clarice looked up. She saw, attached to the tower, another fucking camera. Its mechanical eye focused on Harold’s body.

For a moment, it felt like the world melted away. The tower itself, the island around them, the gurney, even Ty… it just didn’t seem to exist in that moment. Just Harold and that mechanical eye, staring like the people who crowded at the side of the road and tried to get a peek into a fatal car accident.

“Stop it!” she shrieked, the noise cutting through the silence. “Stop it! Stop it, stop it, stop it!” She hopped on one foot for a moment, yanking off her shoe. “Fuck off! Just… fuck off!”

She threw her shoe at the camera. It bounced off the bell tower, far off from hitting its target, but she was already trying to pull off her other shoe.

“Fuck off! Leave us alone!” she screamed, raising her arm to throw the other shoe at it.
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Ty caught her arm before she could throw the second shoe. She still wanted to throw it. So what if she pissed the terrorists off? She’d love nothing better than to make those assholes angry.

But it wasn’t just her she needed to think about here.

Clarice sighed and lightly tugged her arm out of Ty’s hand. After a few moments, she put that shoe back on her foot and walked over to where the other one fell. Her anger was still there, but simmering below the surface now.

“Sorry. Was… was stupid.”

She couldn’t be like that right now. She had to think about Ty. She looked back over to him. She wasn’t sure what she originally meant to say, but her eyes landed on Harold again and she turned away.

The dead had always made her a little… itchy, for want of a better word. The idea of ghosts, in particular. She’d never really needed to think too hard about it until now, but she had occasionally thought about it in those car rides with her mother. Going from Kingman to Kayenta. While her mother told her all she knew about the Diné.

It'd been harder to avoid the subject once she’d gotten Scout as a stepsister. Well, future stepsister. Scout loved ghost hunting. Clarice had tried to hide her discomfort about it, if only for the sake of her dad.

And now, the idea of being near Harold’s body even a moment longer was making her skin crawl. Already, the hand she’d held his with was itchy. She couldn’t help scratching, but it did no good. Even so… the idea of Harold being stuck here… with that metallic eye staring at him, broadcasting his body across America...

After a few long moments she said, “I can’t leave Harold here. There’s… there has to be some way to… just… the ocean isn’t far.”

She looked up at the camera again, hands clenching as she tried not to start yelling again.

“They can’t have him.”

She knew she couldn’t do this for everyone. The bodies would pile up the longer this went on. This island would be filled with the dead and there was nothing she could do about it.

But she would at least get Harold off this island.
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“You think those assholes are going to take us back? Even dead?” Clarice asked, her voice loud and watery. “I ain’t never heard of them taking bodies back, and they’re not gonna cart a pile of dead kids to Kingsman! They can’t… they can’t have...”

She trailed off, unable to be coherent. Did Ty really think that the terrorists would show respect to their dead? After killing them in the first place? That they’d take the chance of bringing the bodies back to Arizona? This wasn’t the fucking army, where Harold died fighting for some cause and would get treated with respect. He died in a stupid way because those fuckers thought snuff films about high schoolers were the way to do whatever they did, and he’d be lucky if the terrorists tossed him on a landfill. Harold deserved better.

Normally, she would have argued that. But she was tired. She needed rest. Just… rest. Although she doubted she’d ever find it while those fuckers were watching. She didn’t know if it was regular exhaustion or from the wound Nancy had given her, but…

“Fine. Fine…” Her voice was curt and bitter. “Not inside the tower. Barry’s… he’s in there, he’s… I didn’t want to say anything while...”

There were too many dead. How could there be this many this soon?

Clarice trailed off again. Without another word, she started wandering back towards the asylum. There was some vague thoughts about finding a bed there in her mind. Just somewhere she could vanish into until this was over.

She was done with the world for today.

((Clarice Halwood continued in In A World Of Shit.))
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