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Quickdraw; Bettin' Blind
Topic Started: Sep 27 2016, 01:34 PM (849 Views)
VoltTurtle
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The girl who dreams on the back of a giant space turtle.
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((Penelope Fitzgerald continued from A World of Sadness))

Penelope walked down the fetid stairs to the asylum's basement, gagging on the stale air as she sunk further into the depths below.

After Penelope had left the gym, her day had been mostly unremarkable. She wandered around the facilities near the gym, looking for her boyfriend, or any friends she could count on. As she stayed on the move, she only saw unfamiliar faces of people passing from the different areas, on the move themselves. People she couldn't trust to join her in her plan without any sort of support behind her. So whenever she saw anyone, she hid. Often finding that they either didn't notice her or actively moved away from her themselves. Eventually, the sun started setting, and so Penelope hid in one of the staff housing blocks for the night, only to get back on the move as the early morning twilight peeked into the window nearby where she tucked herself away.

Soon after making it out of the staff housing block, she moved towards the connecting bridge while narrowly avoiding being seen by a short girl in a blood soaked pink sweater who had just crossed it, hoping that she might find a friendly face in the buildings on the other side.

So Penelope entered the asylum, before making her way towards the basement, where she was now.

Glancing down the dark and musty hallway of the asylum basement, Penelope's flashlight beam splitting the darkness, she saw before her three doors, spread out quite a fair distance from one another. One on the farthest end, one near on the side, and one halfway down the hallway on the other side. A sense of dread washed over her as she looked between the doors. She felt only despair hiding behind each one. Frozen from fear, from concern about what she could find on the other side of the doors, she looked between them, before turning to the nearest door leading into the lobotomy lab. Penelope moved towards the slightly ajar heavy door, before stopping as she reached the handle. Maybe she should knock first, announce her presence. One of her friends or someone she knows might be behind the door. They might be paranoid, scared. They might attack her as soon as she opened the door before even realizing who she was. She would die with no fanfare and they would feel guilty for the rest of their presumably short lives.

Penelope reached out her empty hand and knocked on the door, loud enough for anyone inside the room to hear, but not loud enough for anyone in the other rooms to hear. At least, that was the idea.

Penelope leaned her flashlight into the dark room, letting the beam fall on the wall, some cabinets, and a few boxes of junk. She spoke. "Hello? Anyone in here? It's uh... Penelope. Penelope Fitzgerald. I'm coming inside here, and if anyone is in here... I won't hurt you. I promise. So... please, don't hurt me. Please."

Then, Penelope leaned on the door, pushing it open.
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VoltTurtle
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Penelope stood in the doorway, flashlight scanning the room, waiting for a response to come out of the void of darkness.

But nobody came.

Penelope inched her way into the cluttered room, flashlight beam going from box to box, Penelope's eyes taking in the instruments and devices contained within each, slowly realizing the sheer scale of the horrifying things that had occurred in this place. She slowed her movements, carefully moving between the boxes, looking at each and every one before stopping in her tracks. "Man... this place is horrible."

Penelope bit at the nails of her free hand. This room was giving her the creeps. Not only was it dark and empty, but it was also an operating room for one of the darkest times in medical history. The sheer suffering that had occurred in this place was unimaginable to her. Penelope took careful steps towards the operating table, the centerpiece of the room, only to freeze in her tracks and stand completely upright as she heard a clatter come out from underneath the table.

Slowly turning her head towards the table that the sound came out from underneath, Penelope didn't know what was more unsettling; the thought that she was alone in a dark and scary room, or that she wasn't alone in a dark and scary room. Penelope's instincts screamed for her to bolt out of the room, to crash through all of the boxes and spill their contents on the floor, to just get out of the room as quickly as possible, but instead, Penelope leaned down to lift the cloth obscuring the underside of the table.

Slowly, her hand moved towards the corner of the sheet, before getting a hold of it and lifting it up abruptly, while shining her flashlight into the dark bowels underneath, leaning her head down all the while to get a look at the hidden boogeyman.

Penelope wasn't expecting to see the face that she saw.

"Astrid?"
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VoltTurtle
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"Yep, it's me!" Penelope chirped. "Hey, Astrid!"

Perhaps being excited to see a friend wasn't exactly an appropriate response to the situation at hand. They were in a death game, after all, and even considering her plan their best prospects were everyone dying. Still, enjoying the time they had left was important, even if they could only get the most basic enjoyment in a situation like this. Penelope tossed the corner of the sheet she had been holding onto the table, before sitting down next to Astrid, just out from under the table. "I'm so, so glad I found you. I've been spending so much time looking around for any friendly face I could find, but you're the first one I've actually managed to meet up with."

"So how hav-" Penelope flinched and stopped talking as she heard the sound of the announcements coming on. Turning her head towards the source of the noise, she motioned to Astrid to just sit and listen. Listening for the inevitable names of the dead. The killers didn't matter, she didn't care about who killed. She was certain that they were just scared, lashing out because they are afraid of dying. They might be dangerous, but as long as Penelope had friends behind her, she was certain she would be able to convince them, all of them, to change their minds.

As the names rolled off the tongue of the ringleader of these death games, Penelope looked at the ground illuminated by her flashlight beam. Some names she didn't recognize, but every time she heard a name she did recognize she tensed up, before shaking. Cristo, Abby, Harold, and Joshua. People she knew, maybe she didn't know all of them well, but she knew them. Faces she saw smile and laugh and frown and cry, voices she heard express thoughts and feelings, people with hopes and dreams and worries and fears. People she cared about, like everyone she knew. Lives that had touched hers, and lives that she had touched in return, even if only a little bit. Beautiful, unique little sparks in a cold, dark, uncaring universe.

Gone in an instant, with only a passing mention of the lives that had just lived.

Penelope brought her hands up to her mouth, balled into fists. "Oh god no. Please... why them... why anyone..."

It didn't take long for the tears to flow forth. Penelope whimpered pathetically as she sobbed, trying to think of a something she could do or say. Something to give life back to the dead.

But there was nothing, they were gone. Their last moments presumably painful and traumatic. They probably died afraid, just wanting to hold onto life just a little while longer, if not for themselves but for others.

She didn't deserve to be alive while they died. She wished that she could have given her life to save any of them. Even if her death would ruin any chance of her plan coming together.

As the announcements shut off and Penelope sobbed next to Astrid, the only thing she wanted was for things to be different.
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Penelope placed her hand on top of Astrid's, sandwiching her hand in between Penelope's own.

The tears were still flowing forth, but Penelope tried her best to keep herself stable enough to talk. "It's... It's okay." Penelope sniffed. "It's o-okay. It's... it's not your fault.,, it's not your fault."

Of all the deaths that were mentioned, the knowledge that Cristo was dead hurt the most. The others she didn't know so well, but Cristo was one of her friends. She had known him for a long time, they had spent a lot of time together. The sound of his voice echoed in her mind as she pulled her hands away from Astrid and covered her eyes as the sobs grew more intense. She would give anything to bring Cristo back to life. She would give anything to bring all of them back to life.

But there was nothing that could be done, they were gone.

"W...why did... why did this have to happen?" Penelope said, her voice breaking. "Why this... why them..."

Then, Penelope rushed forward at Astrid, wrapping her arms around the surprised girl as her flashlight fell from its resting place in her lap.

Penelope's crying continued for a few more minutes, her face pressed into Astrid's shoulder.

In a voice that was nary a murmur, Penelope pleaded with Astrid. "Please... please don't die. At least not before me. Please... I... I can't..."
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Penelope slowly took her arms off of Astrid and moved back slightly, her crying having stopped, if only temporarily.

Penelope looked between Astrid's good eye and the illuminated ground beneath the both of them. "You... what do you mean by that?"

Penelope swallowed as her throat tightened. She knew what Astrid meant by that. There was nothing else that could be meant by it. If Astrid wanted to survive, truly survive, then she would have to kill someone else. Before giving Astrid time to respond, she spoke up again. "You... I... I didn't mean... Astrid..."

"I... I know I said don't die but... you can't just..." Penelope's words stuttered out slowly as she tried to process what she should say. "You can't... can't just... just kill someone. If you... if you survived... that would mean... you... you killed someone. You... you can't leave unless... unless..." Her words stopped entirely as she uncomfortably looked between Astrid and the objects around them.

"You..." The tears started back up as it truly dawned on Penelope that her friend had just asserted that she was going to kill someone. Penelope's eyes stayed locked on the ground as her hands pressed into her legs. "No... no... you can't... you can't kill anyone..."

Penelope's head tilted itself back up towards Astrid. "Don't you get it?" She muttered in between sobs. "Almost everyone that died already died because someone else thought the same thing as you," Penelope shook her head as her sobbing grew louder. "That they needed to survive over everyone else. And in order to survive... in order to survive they had to kill someone." Her eyelids drooped as her voice grew even quieter. "But... there's no justifying it. Your life doesn't matter more than anyone else's. They deserve to live just as much as you do... And you'd take their life away... just to preserve your own? Even when they aren't threatening you in any way?"

Penelope's voice grew louder, managing a slight bit of anger, more than she ever normally expressed. "What do you think Cristo thought in his last moments?" She said, her sobs growing more intense for a moment. "He probably died in pain, possibly alone... Definitely afraid. All because some... some girl thought she needed to kill him. Sweet, lovable Cristo needed to die so she could survive." Penelope covered her face with her hands for a moment, before bringing her fingers down to just below her eyes, hands resting on her cheeks.

"...Do you really want to do that to someone?"
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"Not if my friend is a fucking murderer."

The hurt in Penelope's voice was plainly audible. Her voice cracked and wavered as she tried to hold back her tears and her anger. "Astrid..."

"None of what you just said justifies killing. None of it." Penelope sniffled, and nervously brushed her hair back out of her face. "It doesn't matter if surviving means you have to kill. It's better to die with your humanity and morality intact than live the rest of your life with blood on your hands."

Tears rolled down Penelope's cheeks. "Killing someone who killed other people doesn't justify it. Even if they've killed that doesn't give you a license to kill them too. Neither does 'just' killing one person." Her voice trembled. "It's all just as wrong. You aren't better than someone else that's killed multiple people. Taking a life is equally wrong, and you can't go back from it. Once you take away someone's ability to think and feel and hope and dream forever, you're a murderer. Killing more may give you a higher body count, but it's still the same. You've sinned, and you're no better than them. You'll all have the same blood on your hands."

Penelope wiped away some of the tears. "And it's not just the blood of whoever you killed. If you walk out of here alive while everyone else died, you have all of our blood on your hands. Your friends' blood, my friends' blood. My blood. All of us dying just..." She took a deep breath to calm herself. "...Just so you could have a few more years of life to yourself. And not even good years either. I mean... how many of the other winners are even still around? And of the few that are, are they happy? Of course not. They have massive psychological baggage. Because all of their friends died. Because they watched people die. Because they directly made the light leave someone else's eyes. Nobody can just live with that."

Penelope inhaled sharply, keeping herself from sobbing. "If you do this... if you do this you'll give them... you'll give them exactly what they want. So it's up to you. You can be the better person and accept the fact that you're going to die, like we all should have in the first place like in any other, normal terrorist attack. Or you can do what they want you to do and you'll never truly live another day in your life ever again."

Penelope sniffled again. "If... if you do what you're planning on doing... you may walk out of here, still ambulatory, still respirating, still metabolizing... But you won't be alive. Part of you will have died here, with everyone else, and you'll never get it back."
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"Tsk. And you say I'm the dumb one."

After Astrid's sudden display of aggression, Penelope's tear ducts had run dry and her distraught mood had been replaced by one of pure contempt. Astrid was just trying to use any means she could to justify the decision she made a long time ago solely out of fear. No matter how little logical sense it made.

"You think I haven't already done things with my life, and you think I don't want to be back home myself?" Penelope grabbed her hair with her left hand to keep herself calm. "I already have over 1200 followers on Tumblr because of how many people like the art I draw and the games I make, I've already done a lot in these sixteen short years I've been on Earth." Penelope looked down at the gun clutched in Astrid's hand, contemplating. "...And I'd like nothing more to be back home right now, drawing, coding, messaging friends, cuddling with Sam... but I'm not, and I know that being able to go back to any of that is nothing but a fantasy. It will never be the same, no matter how hard I would try to make it go back to the way it was."

Penelope shook her head, the flashlight barely illuminating her movements. "I'm not going to compromise my morals for a chance of having a shell of a life." Penelope turned her back to Astrid briefly, throwing her arms up in a pseudo shrug. "But I guess you really have no morals to speak of, huh?" She turned back towards Astrid and clutched her hair again, her tone growing somber. "You have to face reality that a good person doesn't hurt other people for their own gain, a good person doesn't negotiate the deaths of a hundred other people just to save their own skin. No matter how afraid they are."

Penelope closed her eyes for a moment, considering what she was going to do, what she was going to say. This was now or never. "But if you don't care about being a good person? If you don't care about the other people you'll hurt just because you're afraid and you want to show the world that it can't stop you? Then fine, go ahead, kill everyone you want. But... I don't think you have the guts. I know Astrid Tate, and Astrid Tate deep down doesn't want to do this. And if I'm wrong? If you really do want to do this?"

Penelope leaned forward and grabbed the barrel of Astrid's gun, trigger still clutched in her hand, and pointed it at her own stomach. "If you really want to do this, I want my blood directly on your hands." She gulped, mentally steeling herself. It was hard to suppress her instinctual fear, no matter how sure she was that Astrid wasn't going to pull the trigger. There was always that gnawing doubt that she was wrong, that she had made a huge mistake. "If you're going to win, and everyone else is going to die for you, you deserve nothing less than to know that every single death, including mine, is all on you. Not the terrorists. Not the other killers. Just you."

Penelope's breathing was heavy and fast as she attempted to stare stone faced at Astrid. There was no going back now. It was time for Astrid to choose.

"Well, Ms. Winner, you want to win?" Penelope asked, as her voice trembled slightly. "Then do it. Prove to me and yourself once and for all you're really winner material."

"Do. It."
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Penelope let out a small shriek and flinched backwards as Astrid pulled the trigger, only to look like a complete fool when all that came out of the gun was a small white flag.

Penelope shook from the adrenaline running through her veins. Astrid thought the gun was real too, as one could easily tell from that little show she made and the dumb look on her face when the flag popped out. Penelope couldn't believe that her friend had honest to god tried to murder her. She legitimately thought that Astrid was better than that, that she was just making a mistake out of fear. This was well beyond fear.

"You... you..." Penelope stumbled over her words. The shock from the fact that her friend legitimately tried to murder her made it difficult to speak. "You... tried... you tried to kill me. You legitimately... legitimately tried to kill a friend. Tried to kill someone that... was not even... not even a threat to you."

Handling this kind of information was not something Penelope thought she'd ever have to do. Astrid was obviously bothered by what she was thinking about doing, but still so unrepentant in her goal of surviving that she would do anything to complete it. "Was... was everything you said a lie?" Penelope's face contorted to show nothing but a horrifying sense of betrayal. "Don't... don't try to pretend like you knew the gun was fake. Your face... your face gave it away." Penelope shook not only from her nerves but a sense of disgust so strong that she could barely contain it. "You said you would only kill another killer or in self defense but... you just tried to kill me. I'm not a killer. I'm not a threat. You can't... you can't justify that Astrid. No matter how much you want to survive. Killing an innocent person for your own survival is sickening. Think of their family. Think of their friends. What makes you so much better than them? When they've done nothing wrong except exist in the general vicinity you happen to occupy?"

Penelope gulped, trying to weaken the grip of the knot in her throat. She still couldn't believe that had that gun been real, she would probably be dead by now, and Astrid probably wouldn't have felt a thing. "It's... it's obvious to me that... that you're beyond help. There's nothing I can say to change your mind... and yet I feel the need to try anyway. Because you're my friend... or, maybe, were my friend. Whatever we had before... we don't have now. Not after that."

Penelope brought her hand up to her face to calm herself, her words slightly muffled by her hand. "If you still think you're a good person after attempting murder... I really don't know what to say. I guess... I guess I'll just say this: It's not too late for you. Not yet at least, you're more lucky than I am that your gun was fake. There's still time for you to see the error of your ways."

"I hope you find Jesus or... something." Penelope gently bit her hand before releasing it. "Because if you don't... you won't survive out there. Not against the real monsters. You'll face down people that have killed a dozen others and you'll be nothing but another victim to them."

"If you change your mind, if you finally understand what I've been trying to tell you this whole time... come find me. I've got a plan that I think will show the terrorists that they can't just do this and expect it to work. And if you don't change your mind... you'll probably look like a huge idiot."

Penelope leaned down and picked up her flashlight, before shining it around the room again to get her bearings on how to leave. Then, she left, only briefly turning back to Astrid for a moment, to tell her one last thing:

"May you find peace, Astrid, whatever path you choose."

((Penelope Fitzgerald continued in Desolate Dreams))
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