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Quickdraw; Bettin' Blind
Topic Started: Sep 27 2016, 01:34 PM (850 Views)
Pippin
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party wurmple never sleeps. only dances.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Astrid Tate continued from Thirteen Steps))

There was no point in leaving the asylum as far as Astrid saw it. Not yet, anyway. She didn’t have anywhere she urgently needed to go. There was nobody she desperately had to see. Quite the opposite, actually. Anyone she would have considered a friend back at school, she hoped would never end up finding her on the island. Having to be in close proximity with them and being reminded of just why she cared about these people, when she knew they would be dead in the next few days… Astrid didn’t think she’d be able to deal with that. It would be for the best if she never saw them again. Never saw Toby, or Mabes, or Jerry, or…

Melanie. Fuck.

Astrid hadn’t expected Mel to suddenly pop into her mind there. She’d compared the girl to an annoying puppy more times than she could count, always nipping at her ankles and saying exactly the right thing to get on her nerves. And yet, the more she allowed herself to think about it, the more she realised she was going to miss her. All that time spent together, whether willingly or unwillingly… Mel was probably the person Astrid was closest to.

She tried to expel that thought from her head as she trudged deeper into the depths of the asylum, down past the ground floor to the basement. It wouldn’t help her concentrate. Even now, some part of her brain wanted her to run back upstairs and go searching for her friends one final time. If she did that, though, she was as good as dead, even more likely to lose her composure and will to carry out this plan once she heard one of them had bitten it. Astrid soldiered on.

It was dark and still in the basement. In some ways, Astrid preferred it to outside. The wind flowing through her hair, the sky above her and the grass beneath her feet; it was too close to normal, too much of a familiar setting, twisted by the ocean surrounding them whichever direction they turned, trapping them in. Down here, she could close her eyes and everything would disappear and she could be at peace in her solitude.

Not right now, though. She needed to set herself up before she could do anything else. Astrid blindly fumbled around in her bag for her flashlight; by the time she eventually grabbed hold of it, her eyes had adjusted enough for her to see the outlines of the doorway to the Lobotomy Lab and a few items near the entrance of it. She flicked it on anyway and headed purposefully inside.

The cluttered piles of junk lining the walls, straitjackets and needles and other medical paraphernalia sticking out of it at odd angles, all surrounding the single operating table and tool cart in the centre of the room, sent a chill down Astrid’s spine. The outside world was a stifling cage of familiarity, but down here was an entirely different world, the implications of each room and all the devices within them sending horrifying images running through Astrid’s head.

Astrid worked quickly, doing her best to replace the sickening images of exactly what had happened on that operating table with what she needed to do to survive. There was an overturned table towards the far corner, resting on it’s side with the top facing the door, covered in old sheets and straitjackets, and nestled in between other piles of garbage. She grabbed the mishmash of fabrics in the hand holding the gun, bundled them up, and vaulted over the table, narrowly avoiding landing on one of the splintered-off table legs.

Removing her bag, and momentarily putting it on the floor alongside her gun and flashlight, Astrid replaced the sheets on top, creating a little hideaway. She sat down, knees tucked up against her chest, back resting against one of the piles of junk, turned off the flashlight and picked up her gun in both hands. Slowly, after being plunged into darkness, her eyes adjusted, and what little light had escaped into the corridor outside filtered its way through into the lab. There was a small gap between one side of the table and the pile of junk on the left, through which she had a perfect view of the entrance to the lab. Astrid took several deep, shaky breaths, before aiming the gun through the gap, both hands still holding it steady.

Now she just had to wait and pray her composure held.
V7 BAYBEE
Lyra Doyle-Let's live tonight like fireflies, and one by one light up the sky
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Pippin
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party wurmple never sleeps. only dances.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Astrid opened her eye, instantly greeted by a wave of discomfort and panic.

It was pitch black again, and she could feel a strangled scream rising up in her throat, terrified that somehow she had lost sight in both of her eyes. Only after she had blinked for a good few seconds and her sleep-clouded vision had adjusted to the darkness of the laboratory again was it stifled, as she remembered where she was.

A second wave of panic washed over her as she realised she must have fallen asleep somehow. She couldn’t feel the gun in her hand, and she looked around her little hideaway frantically. It wasn’t far, thank god, but it was lying in a pool of water a couple of inches away from her right foot, most likely having slipped out of her grasp whilst she slept. She hurriedly scooped it up, attempting to dry it on the sleeve of her jacket.

Astrid wished there was a way to find out if it still worked without firing it, but she couldn’t think of one, and she wasn’t going to pull the trigger until she absolutely needed to; this hiding place would work once, and only once, and she didn’t want to give the game up too early by alerting everyone in the vicinity to her location via the sound of a gunshot. If she knew a little more about guns, then maybe she could have dismantled it to make sure the inner workings still looked okay, but that absolutely wasn’t worth the risk of breaking her weapon in the process.

Once she felt as though the gun was sufficiently dry, Astrid got herself back into as comfortable a position as possible in such a cramped space. She shuffled slightly so she was facing the slight gap in her barricade, made sure her good eye had perfect vision of the door, and aimed the gun again.

“You moron, Astrid…”

It had been kind of a miracle that she’d even managed to fall asleep, honestly. Even now there was something unidentifiable sticking out of the pile of garbage poking into her that refused to let up no matter how much she moved to try and position herself away from it. Her lower body was completely sodden now, and she was beginning to shiver despite huddling against herself for warmth.

Astrid yawned as a chill ran up her back. Part of her hoped that somebody would wander in here soon.

Part of her desperately wished for anything but.

She had completely lost track of time now. She had no idea when she had fallen asleep, had no idea what time she had woken up, and had no idea how much time had passed since then, when someone knocked on the door to the lab and her entire body tensed up, ready and waiting for action. The sudden beam of light coming from the doorway momentarily blinded her, but she stayed still and silent, fingers coiled around the handle of the gun, index twitching slightly against the trigger.

Then she heard who exactly it was outside, and her heart sunk and her breath caught in her throat. Of all the people to walk in through that door, it had to be someone she actually liked, someone who she actually thought decently of, someone who actually had a chance of making it after their school lives were over.

Penelope pushed the door open, and Astrid realised that she’d unconsciously lowered the gun. She bit her lip, and raised her weapon again, holding it tightly with both hands, knuckles stark white. She had a perfect shot right now. The gun was aimed directly at Penelope’s heart. She wouldn’t know what hit her. It would be quick. Everything would be over before she could blink.

Astrid’s index finger twitched, threatening to pull the trigger, but not quite committing.

She couldn’t shoot Penelope. She didn’t want to do it. There was no way in hell she could convince herself this was the right thing to do.

But she had to force herself to do it. She had to.

Another second passed and still Astrid did nothing.
V7 BAYBEE
Lyra Doyle-Let's live tonight like fireflies, and one by one light up the sky
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Pippin
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party wurmple never sleeps. only dances.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Shoot her.

Just pull the trigger.

It’ll be done in a second.

Just fucking shoot her.

It didn’t matter what she had told herself. It didn’t matter how much she berated herself. It didn’t matter that she knew this was the only thing that would get her off of this island alive. She just couldn’t bring herself to pull the trigger.

By now, Penelope had moved further into the room, and all Astrid could see in the gap in her hiding spot was the silhouette of the empty doorway. Even if she could have found the willpower inside herself to shoot Penelope, she had no way of doing so now, aside from ripping apart her little base and completely ruining her element of surprise.

Astrid closed her eyes, breathing in and out through her nose, angry and disgusted at herself. It was pathetic. She was pathetic. She was weak as shit, not able to commit herself to a single act, an act that was the only thing standing between her and getting out of this hellhole when she was the last person standing.

But she simply couldn’t find it in herself to kill someone she considered a friend.

Astrid cursed under her breath, rapidfire style, then shifted herself a little, trying to get as comfortable as possible, now that there was no point in staying focused on her makeshift arrow slit.

Her back knocked against something in the pile and sent it tumbling loose, clattering down onto the floor with a metallic clang and a splash. Her breath caught in her throat, before she closed her eyes again and let out a soft, low, exasperated sigh. Well, this entire plan had gone completely to shit in the blink of an eye, hadn’t it?

It took a few more moments before Penelope ripped the sheet off the top of the hideaway to see Astrid’s huddled form, waiting patiently. She screwed her eye shut, blinking furiously as she raised her free hand up in front of her face to block out the flashlight’s harsh glare.

“Yeah, it’s me. Surprise.”

She didn’t have anything else to say yet. She would wait for Penelope’s inevitable questions before she explained herself. She slowly stood up, joints aching, and a sudden stab of pain hitting her in the back. Astrid rolled her neck from side to side, feeling the satisfying click, before she raised her arms up above her head and stretched them. Once she was done, she folded her arms, and fixed Penelope with her best attempt at an emotionless stare. Water slowly dripped from the hem of her skirt, splashing down onto the floor.

“Penelope.”
V7 BAYBEE
Lyra Doyle-Let's live tonight like fireflies, and one by one light up the sky
Current Thread: The Glorious Evolution - "Sorry, that was a little weird, wasn’t it?"
Katie Agustien-If you wanna start a fight, you better throw the first punch, make it a good one
Current Thread: V for Vend-etta - "Fuck off. Are you kidding me?"
FOLDER OF DESTINY

"bryony and alba would definitely join the terrorists quote me on this put this quote in signatures put it in history books" - Cicada Days, 2017
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Pippin
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party wurmple never sleeps. only dances.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Astrid was trapped.

It was ironic, really, for the girl who had been setting up a death trap of her very own in this exact same room a few moments ago to be feeling this way. But whilst it was painfully clear that Astrid wasn’t going to be able to shoot Penelope now, she had still, for several arduous moments, considered doing so. Hell, if she’d had a little more willpower or been a little more trigger happy, then Penelope would be lying on the floor unbreathing, blood mingling with the water.

But Penelope was sitting right next to her, completely oblivious of this fact and of their uncomfortable surroundings. She hadn’t questioned why Astrid had been hiding out behind a table for so long, or what she had been planning on doing with the gun in her hand. She had just been so happy to see a friend, so excited to see a friendly face in the darkness.

And Astrid simply couldn’t reciprocate those feelings, couldn’t even force herself to be happy to see Penelope one last time. Because if Astrid was going to be the one to survive on the island, then Penelope would have to die, and it was going to hurt and it was going to eat away at her from the inside when it did, and the longer they stayed together, the closer they got, and the more Astrid was reminded of why she liked Penelope, the worse it would get when her time was finally up.

Before she could even say anything, or even think of anything that would make sense to say, the sound of the announcements starting up cut across the entire island, echoing around the lab, as clear as if Danya himself was standing right in front of them. At least now Astrid knew roughly what time of day it was. Small comforts. She closed her eyes and braced herself.

It was just as awful as she’d predicted, but not in the way she had been expecting. Most of the names read out were either complete mysteries or people Astrid had actively disliked back at home. The one that hit her the hardest was Jennifer. She had seemed nice, innocent and smart back at home. Harmless. Potential for the future. Exactly the sort of person that screamed ‘first out’ but that still stung all the same. Even the unfamiliar names hit her like a sucker punch. It was just… unnatural. It was sick and wrong, these people who she had grown up around just being wiped off the face of the planet like this.

But the worst part about the announcements was Penelope’s reaction. She seemed absolutely distraught, a shivering, sobbing wreck, each familiar name bringing forth fresh tears. Astrid couldn’t bear to look at right now; if she had, then Penelope would have seen the intense look of guilt and self-hatred on her face. There was a knife in Astrid’s gut, twisting its way up inside of her, working its way up to her heart, because the most extreme reaction she was having to these announcements was that if someone was to end up killing Nancy Kyle after this, then no-one would be mourning her loss too greatly.

Finally, the announcements finished, and Astrid was left with a terrified, sobbing mess of a girl next to her. She felt awful. She didn’t want anything more to do with this. She wanted to get up and walk away and never have to see Penelope again, for both of their sakes. But she couldn’t just abandon a friend in distress. Not whilst one still existed. As softly as she could, she placed a hand on top of Penelope’s own and gently squeezed it.

“I’m sorry…” Astrid muttered.

Oh, how those two words held so much meaning.
V7 BAYBEE
Lyra Doyle-Let's live tonight like fireflies, and one by one light up the sky
Current Thread: The Glorious Evolution - "Sorry, that was a little weird, wasn’t it?"
Katie Agustien-If you wanna start a fight, you better throw the first punch, make it a good one
Current Thread: V for Vend-etta - "Fuck off. Are you kidding me?"
FOLDER OF DESTINY

"bryony and alba would definitely join the terrorists quote me on this put this quote in signatures put it in history books" - Cicada Days, 2017
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Pippin
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party wurmple never sleeps. only dances.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
If Astrid had felt trapped before, Penelope’s words and her terrified, heartbroken actions were akin to her locking her up and throwing away the key. She screwed her eyes shut, mentally berating herself over and over again, stroking Penelope’s hair like she knew she was supposed to. She’d never exactly been a ‘huggy’ person, not with her few friends, not with the fewer people she’d dated, not even on the soccer pitch.

She wasn’t going to just shove Penelope aside, though, although she knew she should. If they had been in a different time, a different place, she couldn’t exactly have described this as unpleasant. One final moment of comfort with one of her friends, before… well, before they never saw each other again. Not in the same light, at least.

Because that was the rub, wasn’t it? Penelope was assuming that Astrid was the same as her; scared for their lives and inconsolable over the loss of their friends. In some way, she was correct. In other ways… no. They couldn’t more different.

Penelope looked like she was going to keep on crying until there were no more tears left inside of her, and Astrid was about to break her heart even further.

“It wasn’t her fault,” huh? Maybe not this time. But just wait, just wait for the next few announcements, and she would hear Astrid’s name on it, not as the killed but as the killer instead. It would only happen once, only one time if she could help it. But she doubted that would make any difference to Penelope. Was her erstwhile friend going to regret caring about Astrid’s safety? Would she stop caring about her at all?

Would she die with hatred in her heart?

Astrid realised her fist had started to clench, holding onto Penelope a little too tightly, and she relaxed her grip a little. She was a terrible actor, but she didn’t need to fake the tears in the corners of her eyes. This was going to hurt. This whole fucking thing was tearing her up inside, but it was the only way possible to survive that she could see.

Everyone knew that when Astrid set her mind on something it was damn near impossible to change it.

“I won’t…” Astrid replied. Her voice was hard to pin down. It was quiet, almost as quiet as Penelope’s was. There was a catch to it as well, the telltale sign of emotions trying to be pushed down beneath the surface. But there was a hard edge to it, the spear point of her words.

“I’m not… going to die. I promise you, I-“

No. No promises. Promises could be broken oh so easily.

“… I guarantee I’m not going to die. I’m going to survive…”

Breathe in. Here goes nothing.

“Whatever it takes, I’m going to live.”
V7 BAYBEE
Lyra Doyle-Let's live tonight like fireflies, and one by one light up the sky
Current Thread: The Glorious Evolution - "Sorry, that was a little weird, wasn’t it?"
Katie Agustien-If you wanna start a fight, you better throw the first punch, make it a good one
Current Thread: V for Vend-etta - "Fuck off. Are you kidding me?"
FOLDER OF DESTINY

"bryony and alba would definitely join the terrorists quote me on this put this quote in signatures put it in history books" - Cicada Days, 2017
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Pippin
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party wurmple never sleeps. only dances.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
“No. I don’t want to do it. I especially don’t want to do that to someone I care about.”

Astrid spoke slowly and precisely, choosing her words carefully, trying to prevent any emotion from leaking into them, trying to further the divide between her and her friend. Penelope had figured out exactly what she had been trying to imply almost instantly. She wasn’t sure if that was a blessing or a curse. On the one hand, it avoided a lot more awkward discussion, stopped Astrid from having to outright say what her plan was, preventing her from hearing it come out of her own mouth.

On the other hand, it meant she had to watch her friend’s face shift from worry and fear for her safety, to confusion and anger.

Astrid folded her arms and let out a deep sigh. It shuddered. She really, really wished Penelope hadn’t brought up her friend’s death. She knew pretty much nothing about Cristo; the name was recognisable, but that was it, so she couldn’t feel too cut up about his passing. It was the reminder of how he died that struck a chord with Astrid, the reminder that she desperately wanted to avoid even thinking of happening, but now that it had been brought up it was impossible to remove from her mind. She didn’t want to think about what would happen if she botched the shot. She didn’t want to think about her victim slowly bleeding out, slowly growing colder, pleading, begging first for mercy and then to be put out of their misery.

She didn’t want to think about when that would inevitably happen to Penelope and everyone else she knew and loved.

“I don’t want to do this, but I can’t see anything else I can do, Penelope,” Astrid said. She had allowed emotion to enter the fray now, her voice mirroring Penelope’s louder, hardened tones. “If I could leave this place peacefully then I would, but that’s not a goddamn option.”

She ran her hand roughly through her hair. The three wastes of space upstairs hadn’t understood her point of view. Penelope was going to. She had to make sure of it.

“We all came onto this island on equal footing – well, most of us anyway – but you’re wrong in thinking I don’t mean more than anyone else now. I’m not out to kill someone who isn’t threatening me, not if I can help it. I see anyone whose name’s been on the announcements more than once, I’m gunning for them.”

It was a lie, a damn barefaced lie. Killing a player would, of course, be the most preferable option; if they were only looking to kill multiple people for whatever sick, twisted reason they could come up with, then it was highly likely they were planning on killing her too. She would be justified in that occurrence. But seeking one out for her, hopefully, sole kill of the game? No. She couldn’t lie to herself that that had ever been the main plan. She was going to find the first unsuspecting person she came across, and kill them without them ever knowing she was there.

“This shit has happened, what, 6 times now? You know how many times there’s been a successful rescue? One time. One time out of six, and they didn’t even rescue a quarter of the fucking kids then. There’s not gonna be a rescue, there isn’t gonna be some fleet of military boats sailing in over the horizon. Only way out of here is gonna be the last person standing. So, at one point or another… I’m gonna have to kill someone.”

Astrid fixed Penelope with a hard glare. Her voice had unintentionally grown louder as she had been talking, but now she dropped it to a tone barely above a whisper.

“If you’re not planning to kill, wouldn’t you rather see one of your friends be the one to survive rather than some murderer killing indiscriminately?”
V7 BAYBEE
Lyra Doyle-Let's live tonight like fireflies, and one by one light up the sky
Current Thread: The Glorious Evolution - "Sorry, that was a little weird, wasn’t it?"
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Current Thread: V for Vend-etta - "Fuck off. Are you kidding me?"
FOLDER OF DESTINY

"bryony and alba would definitely join the terrorists quote me on this put this quote in signatures put it in history books" - Cicada Days, 2017
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Pippin
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party wurmple never sleeps. only dances.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
“Y’know, I thought you were a lot smarter than this.”

Astrid’s glare had gone from being stoic and cold. It was straight up disdainful now. She had been sure, absolutely certain, that Penelope would have been able to understand her view, if not agree with it or want to do the same thing; she had always been rather delicate and innocent at school, after all. But apparently, there was nothing at all that would justify Astrid pulling the trigger. Not killing someone in order to live, not shooting down the murderer with ten kills to their name, hell, she’d probably get called a monster for shooting someone who was about to stab her in the throat.

She was fucking tired of all this. She didn’t need to be demonised, her mind was doing a stellar job of that already. She was sick of being ignored for whatever reason; she could scream at Penelope until she was blue in the face about how there was no other goddamn choice, but she was sure her ‘friend’ wouldn’t care. Her fingernails were biting into her arms as she spoke, voice even louder now.

“If you wanna paint me as the ‘bad guy’ in this because it fits your state of mind, go ahead, I’m fucking used to it. But it doesn’t matter what I choose to do, the terrorist don’t care. If I die because I decide I’m not gonna kill, then I’m just gonna be another number who’s shown them nothing aside from another way to die. If I try and be the last person alive then I’m forced into fighting people I’ve known my entire fucking life. And are they gonna fucking care if we all die? That’s just gonna let them show the entire fucking world they can kill off an entire class of people and no-one can stop them!”

Her temper was flaring, and all her composure was gone. She was working herself up with her tirade at Penelope, but she’d gone past the point of caring now. She stepped closer to the other girl, then closer still, uncomfortably so, before pointing at her eyepatch.

“You see this? You know how much fucking shit I’ve had to go through thanks to this? I had to restart my entire fucking life again after this happened. Everything I’d learnt up to that point, I had to teach myself again, all because of some shitstain with a future of living in his mom’s basement. All that time, I had to endure people calling me ‘cyclops’ and ‘a freak’, I had to ignore the people who tried to stop me from playing soccer, I had to deal with all the fucking people who didn’t think I’d succeed. Well, fuck that! I was gonna become a doctor, and nothing and nobody in that shitty little nowhere town was gonna stop me.”

Astrid took a step back from Penelope. She angled her neck and spat onto the floor, saliva dissipating into the water.

“Maybe you’re used to having done nothing with your life, but I’m not.”
V7 BAYBEE
Lyra Doyle-Let's live tonight like fireflies, and one by one light up the sky
Current Thread: The Glorious Evolution - "Sorry, that was a little weird, wasn’t it?"
Katie Agustien-If you wanna start a fight, you better throw the first punch, make it a good one
Current Thread: V for Vend-etta - "Fuck off. Are you kidding me?"
FOLDER OF DESTINY

"bryony and alba would definitely join the terrorists quote me on this put this quote in signatures put it in history books" - Cicada Days, 2017
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Pippin
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party wurmple never sleeps. only dances.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
For a brief moment, Astrid’s expression flickered. Her eyes widened, and her gaze flicked between Penelope’s face, fierce and unrelenting despite her shaking, and Penelope’s hand, holding the pistol against her own stomach. A few seconds passed as everything slowly sunk in.

Then her expression changed back, and then changed again, now to one of anger. How dare she? How fucking dare she? It was bad enough that absolutely refused to understand her point of view, for some reason couldn’t change her own one-note mindset to accept that Astrid wanted to live at any cost. It hurt, having someone she had considered a friend, calling her heartless, calling her a terrible person, but she’d heard it all before. Arrogant friendless Astrid. Maybe if she wasn’t such a bitch all the time people might like her. Same shit in a very different place.

But now, Penelope was acting as though she was worse than the people who’d put them in this situation. Two people. Two people was all she could stand to kill. One person to insure she could get out of this alive. If necessary, another person in the endgame in order to stay alive. Saying ‘every death’ was on her was asinine beyond belief, exacerbated further by Penelope’s sheer hypocrisy. She didn’t want Astrid to kill, but it was so very, very obvious she’d accepted her own death by now. Her comments earlier, her wish that ‘Astrid would outlive her’, and now this. She was prepared to die, prepared to let everyone she cared and loved to deal with the fallout of her death.

And yet Astrid was a monster for wanting to survive.

She could hear her heartbeat as she glared at Penelope. Sweat was beginning to streak down her face – at least, that was what she assumed it was. The gun remained fixed against Penelope’s stomach for seconds, seconds that passed like eternities, everything outside the room drifting away into so much nothingness.

Then Astrid ripped the gun away, turned, and walked to the other side of the room, angrily running her free hand through her hair. Strands tore away, sticking to her sweat coated palm. She rounded on Penelope, white hot fury on her face.

“There are no fucking winners, Penelope!” she spat. “Not here, at least! No winners, just losers. The terrorists are the only people who win in the fucking end, not me, you hear me?”

She pointed the gun back at Penelope again. This time, the barrel was aimed at her heart. She had to do it. She had to do it. She didn’t want to do it. She had to do it.

“We were friends, once,” Astrid said, voice softer but full of just as much venom. “But you’ve just fucking given up. I’m… I’d say I’m sorry, but I know you won’t believe me.”

Astrid pulled the trigger.

There was a gentle pop, and a gentler fluttering. Penelope stayed standing. Astrid blinked once.

There was no gun smoke trailing from the barrel. Just a white flag, still in the dead air, a cartoon explosion and the word “Bang!” written on it. Astrid stared at it, trancelike, as if the flag was just something from a dream that would disappear if she looked at it too hard. She jerked her head to look at Penelope, then back at the flag. It was too late to pretend that she’d known the gun was fake all along. A single glance at the expression on her face would be enough to dispel that lie.

It was so cold in here.
V7 BAYBEE
Lyra Doyle-Let's live tonight like fireflies, and one by one light up the sky
Current Thread: The Glorious Evolution - "Sorry, that was a little weird, wasn’t it?"
Katie Agustien-If you wanna start a fight, you better throw the first punch, make it a good one
Current Thread: V for Vend-etta - "Fuck off. Are you kidding me?"
FOLDER OF DESTINY

"bryony and alba would definitely join the terrorists quote me on this put this quote in signatures put it in history books" - Cicada Days, 2017
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party wurmple never sleeps. only dances.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
A bomb must have gone off nearby. That was the only rational explanation Astrid could think of to explain the buzzing in her ears and why every other sound was muted and dull. Penelope was speaking, and brief snippets of phrases would fight their way through the haze surrounding her, and into Astrid’s head, but nothing substantial. And either way, nothing she could say mattered right now.

The gun was a fake. A stupid, shitty little fake. There was absolutely no way she could have known; her knowledge of weapons was strictly limited to within the timeframe of Medieval to Stuart. Yet she still felt like a complete idiot. There hadn’t been any additional bullets, but then she had just dismissed that as another asshole move by the terrorists. There hadn’t been an instruction manual for the gun, and she had assumed it was the same deal on that end.

The sight of a gun had given her a feeling of power; it was as simple as that. It had been the catalyst that had enabled her to put her plan into motion in the first place. And all along, it had been some stupid toy prop. She’d been protecting herself with a fake.

If she’d shot at anyone besides Penelope, she would be dead right now, and the realisation caused Astrid to choke on the breath caught in her throat.

Neither of them were dead, not yet. But now Penelope knew that, when push came to shove, when faced with a stubborn, stupid, immovable force, then she would do what she had to in order to knock it down. Astrid had lost the trust of one of very few people who would care about her to the bitter end. Now, Penelope would die hating Astrid, and Astrid would leave the island knowing that.

It would be better for both of them, to sever ties sooner rather than later, but it was a truth that cut to the bone.

The world was falling back into place again now, and Astrid managed to break her focus away in order to hear the ending of Penelope’s spiel. A final plea. A final statement of defiance. A final hope. Then her old friend was gone.

Astrid waited until her footsteps had faded away, before hurling the gun against the wall, anguished cry echoing off the walls. She spun around, leaning over the operating table, hands pressed so hard against it she felt like it would break underneath her. She stayed like that for a long while.

Eventually, she turned to leave. The gun was lying against the stairs leading down in the lab, one corner of the flag touching the water. Instinctively, she picked it up again, rolling the fabric back up before shoving it back down the barrel. She stared down it for a few seconds. Then she left the lobotomy lab and didn’t look back.

((Astrid Tate continued in Smoke Screen))
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