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This Be The Verse; Open
Topic Started: Oct 6 2016, 09:34 PM (2,329 Views)
CrossbowPig
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[Arthur Bernstein continued from Self Doubts and Hurricanes]

It had been a very quiet day from then on.

Arthur knew that Coleen wasn't the most talkative of people, but he didn't think things would be as silent as they got. When he had caught up to her after leaving the shore the previous day, she was already well on her way back in the direction she had come before. Arthur had said hello, gotten a small "Hey" back, and the two went on their way together. When the time eventually came for the two to find somewhere to hide out, they settled on the gym building. The interior was not untouched: a mirror had been shattered prior to their arrival.

Arthur remembered only a few other things of note from the night before. He had eaten some of his crackers and drank a few gulps of water before walking around the gym, looking at the different equipment that had been left lying around. At one point, he picked up a medicine ball, walked over to a weightlifting bench, and put it down on the headrest, walking off for a little while longer before he returned to his makeshift cot to sleep. He soon found that medicine balls made awful pillows, rolled the ball off to the side, and went to bed in silence. He did not remember his dreams that night.

The first droplets of the day's light from the windows in the ceiling were what woke him up the next morning. He rose from the bench gradually and yawned, stretching his arms out widely to his sides. He scratched at his face as he looked around the room, confused, for the first few minutes until he saw his bag on the ground and remembered where he was. If he had been facing one of the many mirrors in the room, he would've seen some of the color drain from his face. Instead, he stared deeply into his hands, unsure what to do next. Arthur's stomach decided for him - he soon became overwhelmed with hunger pains. Clumsily, he reached for his bag, pulled it close by the strap, and fished out a loaf of bread for breakfast.

His thoughts, dazed and confused, had yet to take the shape of words in his head. Instead, he felt only discomfort in his own skin, stretching his limbs out the furthest they would go, over and over and over, until they felt like they would rip from their sockets at any second. His eyes found a camera in the corner of the ceiling, pointing at his face. With two fingers, Arthur gave a little wave in its direction, and turned his eyes toward the floor as he ate.

Then, he heard shifting somewhere behind him, and remembered he was not alone.

"Morning," he said, turning to face his roommate.
~~~~~ Creativity's Burning Pyre ~~~~~

NOW: V7

DEAD: V6

MAYBE: V?
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MK Kilmarnock
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((Coleen Reagan, continued from Self Doubts and Hurricanes))

Her eyes felt cracked and dried when she opened them.

Before the veil of night took the last few ounces of visibility in the already-dim gym from them, Coleen and Arthur had done the best they could to make themselves comfortable. The culmination of Coleen's efforts was, even to her own admission, not very good; she had found a nice corner of the floor that she could press her back into. After a while, sleeping while sitting up had grown highly uncomfortable, and she shifted this way and that until she decided on a position that had her head against one wall, her feet to another, and her butt in the corner with her hunched and curled at nearly a 90-degree angle. She had stuffed the daypack under her head, trying to find some sort of softness with which to treat as a pillow until the morning.

Needless to say, the night hadn't been a comfortable one. Coleen could recall waking up at several points of the night at the slightest creaking or scratching noise. Whether it was a rat running across the floor, somebody coming in to raid the place or murder them both, or just Arthur scratching his ass in his sleep, she was never able to tell. Each time she lowered her head back to her makeshift sleeping arrangement, she closed her eyes only to be greeted with pale-color dreams of wandering around the woods, lost. Something was following her in those dreams but she never felt in immediate danger or truly panicked. The danger kept itself far enough away that she was merely and perpetually in a state of anxiety.

That weight on her chest had hardly lifted when she forced her eyes open, shielding them with the side of her hand as the sun managed a trick shot through those high, dusty windows and aimed a sunbeam at her face.

Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun. It was dark to think, but Coleen counted herself lucky for getting to see a second one of those. She peeked under her hand to see Arthur close-by, eating some bread. He looked to her almost as soon as she had awoken. "Yeah... morning," she replied, knowing there were probably massive bags under her eyes. Coleen yanked herself up the rest of the way into a seated position and opened her bag, fetching the Drake and Josh DVD on one side. She didn't even like this show, so whatever sick joke this was supposed to represent in her receiving it was totally lost on her. However, opening the case and holding the DVD up to the back of her face served as a pretty good mirror.

True to form, her eyes definitely seemed to have bags under them. Her cheeks were puffy and the left side of her face was - imagine that - just as scarred as it always had been. She touched the tip of a single finger to her cheekbone. The skin felt dry and irritated... only made sense thanks to the salty ocean air, the wind, and the fact she wasn't able to properly moisturize. Try as she might to look through her bag, she couldn't find the cream anywhere, and considered if she had even remembered to take it on this trip. It was just supposed to be a science trip, after all. She packed an extra blouse in case her first one got dirty, an extra pair of socks thanks to advice she got from Forrest Gump, but no other clothes. No cream, either. They weren't supposed to be away from home any longer than that evening.

God, how she just wanted to be back in her own bed without some guy eating bread all awkwardly, without that damn collar reminding her she was in some sick Running Man game.

Her stomach growled, and Coleen had the thought to look through her bag for her own loaf of bread.

She found it.

She also found just what soft object she had been using for a pillow last night.

"... Oh."
Edited by MK Kilmarnock, Oct 7 2016, 11:43 AM.
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Arthur gulped down the last chunk of bread as Coleen woke up. She looked worse for wear than he did - even though Arthur hadn't given himself a good look in the mirror, he felt like he couldn't look too bad, being that there wasn't as much that could go wrong with features as average as his. As Coleen reached into her bag, Arthur put his own bread back down into his bag, zipped it up, and turned back to find Coleen gazing into her day pack.

"Hmm?" Arthur asked, tilting his head, "Something up?" From where he was sitting, he tried to get a better look at what could be inside the bag, but Coleen's frame blocked all angles he could've had. Besides, there wasn't much that could be going on in the first place. The worst thing that Arthur could imagine going wrong inside of a sealed bag is a bottle of water bursting, soaking all the contents inside. Now that would be a way to force someone to steal, or kill, or hunt for supplies. Pop their water bottles, just like they could pop their collars. In either case, a lot of liquid would be lost.

Arthur stood up from the bench and did some leg stretches, exercises he learned from playing soccer. Right now, there was nothing more satisfying to him than feeling his tired body and his tired mind come together in awareness and synchronicity like a finely constructed machine. He recalled a tidbit he read once about how older video games have input lag on newer televisions, meaning that the space in between, say, pressing the jump button and actually jumping was more easily perceivable. By stretching, Arthur imagined himself cutting out the input lag to his own body, hooking up to the proper hardware, so to speak.

He glanced over again at Coleen, and wondered if she would get up and do some stretches, too.
~~~~~ Creativity's Burning Pyre ~~~~~

NOW: V7

DEAD: V6

MAYBE: V?
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MK Kilmarnock
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"No, it's..."

Coleen sighed and closed the flap of her daypack, though she didn't yet zip it up.

"I slept on my bread. That's what I get for using my pack as a pillow. I guess."

She pulled her legs underneath her and sat on the floor, cross-legged. Her pant legs were coated in dust. Everything was coated in stupid dust, from the library to the gym to just about any other place that was inside. She bet that it was in her hair as well. Coleen was tempted to check out the showers on the slim chance they may function, even if that chance was next to nothing.

"Do you know what time it is?" She asked, immediately wondering if that was a stupid question. Her phone had been taken from her as evidenced by her searching through her bag after waking up in the library, but maybe Arthur kept a watch on him or... or something. She was immediately regretting not having worn one herself. Unless these terrorists took away the watches as well? She had no idea how any of this worked.

She sat with her chin on her hands, hunched over in the corner, allowing her eyes to adjust to the dusty rays of the morning sun that came through those windows. Her head was still fuzzy; a situation such as this one was nearly impossible to process.
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"You can have some of mine," Arthur offered habitually, before realizing what he was saying. At home, Marie would ask him to share food all the time. Even if there wasn't anything in particular about Coleen that reminded Arthur of his little sister, he felt the same level of care towards her. "I mean, if you want," He added. Arthur knew that offering something and then immediately taking it back would look suspect, and either way, he didn't think he'd run out of food anytime soon. The assembled rations in the bag seemed enough for him.

Then, Coleen asked him about the time. "No clue what time it is," Arthur said, shrugging, "But if I had to guess, I'd say early morning." He hoped he wasn't just restating the obvious, but given the situation, it was all the information he had. Silently, he wished to himself that he carried a watch on him. If he could find one later, then he'd take it, even if it was off of someone's co-

"Bzzzzt!"

Suddenly, the walls of the gym began to crackle, sending Arthur's eyes darting around the room frantically. He grabbed his bag off of the floor, unsure of what the new sound could mean, and walked over to the side of the room that Coleen was on. He felt, strangely, drawn to her, almost as if to protect her.

He had felt a similar pull to Jasper and Henry, but, obviously, one pull won out over the other.

"You heard that, right?" Arthur asked, as the static sound continued on.

Then, the static gave way to a momentary silence. Dust froze in mid air, and all seemed right again with the world.

Arthur sighed deeply, but all too early, as he was soon interrupted by a voice that made him wish he had the static back to ring in his ears.

"Good morning ladies, gentlemen and those of unspecified gender."

"Oh, fuck off," Arthur muttered, listening silently to the announcement.
~~~~~ Creativity's Burning Pyre ~~~~~

NOW: V7

DEAD: V6

MAYBE: V?
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Of course Coleen had heard it. She had the beginnings of a response cooking on her tongue when the loudspeakers cut back in.

She imagined it would have been cute to mush up some of the bread and jam it into her ears to form some sort of earplugs with them. The thought then occurred about how hard it might be to get all of the bread back out, and the thought swiftly became less entertaining. As the voice droned on with its introduction, Coleen pushed herself all the way up to her feet, her eyes locking in on Arthur. The guy had come over a little bit closer to her and while it wasn't like she was certain he was going to turn on her at any moment, leaving enough room between them for Jesus was the preferable route at every juncture for the time being.

Then he began naming names.

Jennifer. Tina. Scarlett. They went on and on and on, some of which she didn't quite recognize but most of them, she did. How and where they did was largely lost, fuzzy in her memory compared to those who had met their end. With one exception, she remembered nobody else.

Coleen swallowed hard and continued listening.

"The supply depot..." she murmured in repetition after the voice said that. The owner of the voice gave his little outro. He was a good public speaker, very professional - she was willing to give him that much, even pay him a little bit of envy that she'd never care to claim publicly. "Arthur, does your pack have a map?"

Coleen said anything to keep everything all business, trying and failing not to picture every dead classmate in her mind.
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The voice from the walls conjured up images of blood splatters and the sound of gunshots. No doubt about it, this was the man that introduced Arthur - no, all of them - to the game of death. The hair on the back of Arthur's neck stood on end as he listened intently to what he had to say. Coleen had stood up, fixing her eyes on him, and Arthur was unsure whether or not to draw back. He would say something, reassuring words for healing, not hurting, but he didn't want to miss anything important on the announcement.

He knew Jennifer as an acquaintance, and the thought of her dying so early on made Arthur's blood run cold. As the list went on, though, he realized that she had been the lucky one. His classmates had been brutally stabbed by each other, committed suicide by slashing their own wrists, making falling off of a bridge look like a slap on the wrist in comparison. Silently, he took note of the killers' names, checking them with what he knew of the faces they belonged to. He figured it would be easier to stay clear of all of them, not letting any exceptions through, but he didn't want to write off any potential allies, Kimiko in particular. He remembered her to be a Buddhist (or something like that, the exact words escaping him), so her having killed someone else just didn't click in his mind.

Barry's death hit him the hardest. He could remember Barry's smile, his relentless attitude towards life, his friendly disposition towards his teammates. The thought that the Iron Man could be one of the first to fall was not one Arthur wanted to sit with for very long.

Luckily, he didn't have to. Coleen asked him for something, pulling him out of his musings before they became too much to bear.

"Yeah, here," He said, reaching into his bag and pulling out the map. He unfolded it, placing his finger on the Supply Depot. "We were just over there, so we should be fine in regards to that," Arthur remarked, recalling Henry and Jasper and their departure in the opposite direction. Hopefully, they had been able to vacate the area too. Thank God their names weren't in the announcements, he thought to himself. He knew he wouldn't be able to live with the guilt if they were.

At least, given the circumstances, he wouldn't have to live with it for very long.
~~~~~ Creativity's Burning Pyre ~~~~~

NOW: V7

DEAD: V6

MAYBE: V?
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((Bradley Floyd continued from The Gadfly Cometh, GMing approved))

Bradley was far from the worst travelling companion.

Bryony and Alba could certainly have done worse. It wasn’t just that Bradley was not actively malicious. He was talkative, kept the mood light and genial, more about gossip and banter and chatting about TV shows and video games than anything potentially dreary, like life ambitions or philosophy. He was certain most people would, naturally perhaps, be drawing the conversation to those topics. It was all too heavy, too existential. There would be no point in making an echo chamber of misery. It was sorely tempting to try and use these final moments to say as many smart or poignant things as possible, but Bradley saw that instinct for what it was: letting the terrorists win.

Instead, he brought his best casual conversational game to the table. Not completely divorced from the reality they now found themselves in, of course. It would be psychopathic, not to mention eschewing a unique comedic opportunity, not to in some way confront Survival of the Fittest.

So he cracked jokes about the more vocal birds and more bizarre animals that inhabited the island, the speaking style of the kidnappers, the more eccentric weapon assignments, the permanent dangerous connotation given to science trips. It was perhaps risky humour, but not too dark. Playing into benign violations, showing that there were still things everyone could laugh about, that was one theory of humour Bradley was quite fond of.

The greatest gift about being with Bradley is he kept the mood high, at least by his own reckoning. Definitely prevented it from falling into morose self-pitying. But beyond that, he thought he was being a pretty decent travelling companion. He was considerate, sharing snacks and offering his thoughts on what they needed to do, making sure he announced every decision to wander off the beaten path or pull his gun into a more accessible position. Volunteered to stay on watch whenever necessary. He walked in front, made sure he would absorb any threats first. Real gentlemanly, very courteous and magnanimous. The little things like that, really.

Of course, his whole idea of keeping things light, of keeping things relatively relaxed, of demonstrating to the world that he was still the same old harmless guy as ever, would eventually include making off-colour jokes. That wasn’t the entirety of Bradley’s persona, he wasn’t quite so simple as to only make crude jokes to keep the mood light, but eventually, material ran dry, and Bradley wanted to make it clear that he was still the same old guy as he was back in Kingman. Some measure of continuity might perhaps make Bryony and Alba feel safer, was his not illogical thinking.

And when they reached the gym, Bradley was through his...twenty-fifth joke. Well, twenty-eighth if you count the anecdotes. He was being an equal opportunity offender, and self-deprecating to boot. That was his way of conveying that he wasn’t placing too much stock in these jokes.

“And the rest fit in the ashtray. Geddit? Anyway, another one. So, a Catholic Priest and a Rabbi are at the park, when this young boy-”

Bradley would have loved to tell that joke, but no. Cut off by the announcement. Bradley had, at some point, in a throwaway aside were he to be honest, proclaimed his intentions for the announcement. To add levity, to keep spirits high, he would make jokes. “Good morning ladies, gentlemen and those of unspecified gender”, began the disembodied voice of their captor.

Bradley managed to get in one quip before they reached the meat of the announcement. “Oh, it's good they remember those beyond the gender binary!”

Alba was surprised. Pleasantly surprised might be an overstatement, but there was a hint of appreciation in her voice. “Oh hey, they did.” Bryony, as always, was more phlegmatic, her words coming out in little more than a chain of stutters: “oh, um... I guess you're right, I didn't think-”

Bradley interrupted. Well, it wasn’t really interruption, considering Bryony was saying nothing but filler words. “See, they're not SO bad. Hitler wouldn'ta made that accommodation.” There was no time left to wait for their responses. His eyes fixated on a random point on the gym’s walls, between two cameras, as if expecting some sort of visual accompaniment.

Jennifer Su came first. Bradley furrowed his brow at the news. Hearing she had died was sad. There was no getting around. He had never really clicked with her, but still. He had made a promise, but he found himself unable to crack a joke about her gangly frame and social awkwardness. “Was that a suicide or an accident? These are the key questions you gotta ask. Can't assess things, or crack a good quip, without knowing the circumstances.”

Alba had remained silent, but Bryony was clearly in some state of distress. As was only her right. Shit. “No... No, she... she couldn't have... she wouldn't…” He felt bad for her. Jennifer meant more to her, that was obvious. Losing a friend straight out of the gate? That had to sting. It was evil. Really fucked up. Rather than giving him pause, it gave him confidence. Made him promise to be bolder with his jokes. If they were to direct their anger against him, or actually see the humour in his black comedy, then hey, things would be good.

He tried that with Florentina. The Luz family was a big thing around Cochise, but Bradley did not spend any time thinking about them, forced himself not to dwell on how they felt about losing one of their own. That would hit too close to home. “You snooze you Luz! Sorry, terrible pun. Not even Hitler would stoop that low.” It was a terrible pun, and it deserved the sole “um” it received from Alba. He tried not picturing Tina’s face. Made the jokes less personal, more restricted to mere wordplay, but it was easier.

The same tactic worked with Scarlett. He liked Scarlett. She spoke her mind, had a good personality. Didn’t want to think of her as dead. “See, McAfee always was shitty security software. Real talk, though, the guy who invented McAfee was a fucking nutcase.”

He turned around to face them, perhaps hoping to distract them from the announcement. Bryony seemed nigh catatonic, mumbling under her breath even more: “that's not... she doesn't... she doesn't deserve that…”

Alba, happily, seemed slightly more distracted, and it gave him some hope that his strategy had some viability. “Wait, what does that have to do with Scarlett? Does her family make software or something?” She seemed more quizzical than distraught, and that was a good place to be in.

Then came Cristobal Morales. Bradley decided to go back to the old comedic territory he had treated before. Focus on the context. Bradley never went for that ‘never speak ill of the dead’ form of self-censorship, but it felt a bit iffy regardless, considering that their deaths were hardly the results of their own actions. So he turned his attention first to Kimiko, advising his companions to “never trust a mute. Jason Voorhees, Oddjob, William the Silent, Helen Keller, now Kimiko.”

There. A good ol’ personal attack, mixed in with historical and pop-culture references and an irreverent and inaccurate description of Helen Keller. He didn’t actually know who William the Silent was. Probably some kind of Dutch Che Guevara. He then went back to the old fallback, of traditional demography-based comedy. “Sucks to be Cristobal, though, but good on him for uncovering the truth - is it just me, or are the Hispanics dying first? Sorry Alba.”

She awkwardly smiled. “Um… no offense taken”, she replied, her voice slightly more like Bryony’s than it had been before. A bad development. The quiet adding of “I guess” only further gave Bradley reason to think that quip had been a swing and a miss. No matter.

He went back to critiquing the announcer when the tragedy of Barry’s death came through. He could have made a joke about Barry causing an earthquake as he hit the ground, maybe finally being part of the team he so loved, but decided not to. It wouldn’t have been that funny, he told himself. See, there they tell you why and how he fell. They should follow that precedent."

And then it felt like he got hit in the stomach. Abigail was - and shit, he’d never said this to her - the closest thing he’d ever had to a sister. He had never seen her as much as he would have liked. Same with Brady and Darius, really. He had never been the best cousin, but now? Fuck.

He could imagine a world without all the others who had died quite easily, as harsh as that sounded, as tragic as their deaths were. But Abby? She was kind and generous and a good person, and she was able to put up with the jokes he made about her faith and her parents without disowning him and fuck.

Making it a bit easier for the rest of them? Bullshit. She coulda kept them all going. A very brief pang of anger flared up, wanting to blame her, but logic prevailed, after a deep breath. An unusual silence had followed. Maybe Danya had been quiet deliberately, to let it sink in. Maybe his sense of time had just slowed down.

He couldn’t be hypocritical, though. No double standards. Humour was the coping mechanism he had chosen, he had to stick with it. What came out of his mouth read more like a eulogy than a joke. “I-I mean, I guess he's right. She was always trying to make things easier for others.”

Alba continued to stutter in response. “I...I don’t think…”

Then came the news of Conrad and Harold. More bad news. Bradley’s comments felt perfunctory at this point. “See, Isabel's hardworking. This is why I'm pro-immigrant.” Alba rewarded his efforts with a nervous laugh.

He avoided any expectation to talk for the rest of the announcements by going up to the side of the gym and pretending to look for traps or cracks. A futile look, and Bradley had no idea what he was even looking for, but it was procrastination.

One of his talents. No comments about Rea, with her perfect little relationship with Will. No one-liners about Joshua, and his annoying good looks and tennis skills. No jokes about the good people dying first. He’d insulted them before, had enough ammunition to make a joke out of it, but no. His heart wasn’t really in it. He’d recognised all the names, had hated hearing each and every one.

The announcement came to an end, their deaths at least escaping commentary. The supply depot was a danger zone. Good thing they’d left it. Kim had won a weapon.

And it was Bryony, surprisingly, who broke the silence. “How can you... how can you be so... heartless about this? How can you still make jokes at a time like this?”

He shrugged. Not callously. Just out of ignorance. He thought he had been helping, in truth. Thought that, if nothing else, he’d been toughening them up - well, Bryony up. Alba had her shit together. If not that, giving them a distraction. “I'd be a better announcer than Danya.” That was the only defence he was able to say.

Alba then spoke up, and there was no doubt in Bradley’s mind that his iconoclastic brand of moral support was unappreciated here. “Um, I’m all for a good joke, but I don’t think this is the right time. I mean…how many people just died again?” Then she added that “also, I don’t think anyone would want to be the announcer for this. It doesn’t seem like a good job.”

Whoosh. The joke had gone over her head. He would have rolled his eyes, but they were too heavy. Couldn’t move them around too much. There was some water in the corners that threatened to spill out.

“Well, sorry.” The sorry was ingenuine, and no attempt was made to disguise it. No attempt was made to conceal it or sanitise it. It was aggressive. Accusatory. He felt bad immediately. “Sorry.” Softer this time. “Just my silly attempt to try and stay sane, try and use gallows humour for its intended purpose.” He grit his teeth, outwardly indignant that his efforts were unappreciated, inwardly angry at himself for being so dim as to think his coping mechanisms were to everyone’s tastes.

He pushed open the gym doors, and walked in. Spotted Arthur and Coleen immediately. He was good with faces, good with names. Probably something that was an advantage here. “Well, if it isn’t Leonard Bernstein and Sandra Clegane!” Bradley spoke loudly, to seize control of the room, dispel any notion he was a stealthy fucker, drown out the more dissonant thoughts.

“Don’t worry, I’m not a violent person, look, here’s the proof of that.” He motioned to Bryony and Alba. “Living proof of the fact I’m not a killer, keyword there being living. Of course, if I was a killer, I’d have been on the announcement just now, but…” He furrowed his brow. “I mean-”

He was about to say that the smart thing to do would be to keep someone clinging onto life until after the announcement, give a day’s respite from justice, but he realised that could sound like a threat.

“I mean, sorry to burst your little privacy bubble or friendship circle or whatever. Me and the girls here were just looking for a bit of shelter.”
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Humans...
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((Kimiko Kao continued from Room of Relaxation))

After running out of the staff dormitory, Kimiko had take a moment to get her breath and wits back. A quick drink and a couple of slices of bread. Nothing much but enough to make sure her throat wasn't dry or her stomach empty. She sat in the long grass against the wall of the building, eating and thinking, contemplating what could have happened to Cristo among other things. Eventually, night closed in and Kimiko's vision darkened as she passed out.

Waking up was a scary moment. She knew where she was. That wasn't the problem. The problem was her passing out in what was practically the open. Luckily as she franctically looked around no one seemed to had found her. Splashing some water on her face to wake herself up, Kimiko made a promise to herself to stay alert and aware at all times.

The first of her problems she was facing was that she needed to move and none of the staff housing buildings were attractive locations to her anymore. Instead she moved towards what the map told her were the staff social areas. She knew there was a pub, library and gym there, one of those seemed like a good bet for a hideout spot.

As she was crossing the flat paved yard area to get there though there was a static buzzing as speakers she couldn't see came to life. Kimiko crouched low and quickly moved to cover. Keeping herself down Kimiko sat and listened. Even through the distortion of the speakers she recognized the voice of the man who had given them that speech after killing Mr. Graham. Kimiko's heart rate quickened as her body filled with a nervous dread. She was going to find out Cristo's fate.

Kimiko made note of the killers and their victims, paying more attention to who was being read out as a killer, then she heard her name and she already knew what the man was about to say.

Cristo was dead. She had killed him. Kimiko felt sick. The spear was in her hand and she turned her head to stare at it. She felt like the right thing to do would have been to throw it away, get rid of the thing that had caused her to kill someone she went to school with. But instead, her grip remained. She kept the spear and continued to listen, even though she felt sick and wanted it to end. More names, more killers and more victims. She tried to focus on them only for the sake of having a distraction but it was tough. The moment she had stabbed Cristo kept replaying over and over again in her mind. The feeling of the glass entering his body reared its head again.

The supply depot was a danger zone, Kimiko quickly pulled her map out and made a note of what that meant for her. As she did so however her name was read out again. She looked up, not that it made a difference. There was nothing for her to see, but she did so anyway, a reflex, from back when she was normal.

There was a prize? And she had won? A look back down at her map told her that the helipad was in the supply depot. That...that was a bonus at least. She would be safe there and could take stock of her situation. After that she didn't know.

She knew she shouldn't have gone to get her prize, she knew was so far off the right path that it was hidden by the trees and that turning back might have at least given her a chance at redeeming herself. Kimiko couldn't bring herself to do it though. She was scared of what would happen.

Packing her map away after deciding on her route Kimiko stood up and headed towards the gym. It seemed big enough for her to be able to hide out inside of without alerting any other occupants. Kimiko didn't want to hang around too long. She had no way of knowing when her invitation to collect her prize expired but at the same time she wanted to sit a think properly and get her bearings. Slowly and carefully she stood up and moved towards the gym.

Spear gripped tight in one hand Kimiko pushed the gym door open as quietly as she could. The sun of the new morning spilled inside, illuminating the figures of five people. One of which she recognized instantly.

Of all the people she had wanted to see, Bradley was the last person on the list.
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Laurels
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Cause what you see isn't always the truth
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Alba Reyes continued from The Gadfly Cometh))

Thing had generally been fine since they left the Docks. Bradley kept the conversation going by talking about random things, and Alba was happy to join in. Granted, she didn't entirely get all of Bradley's jokes, but she decided to go along with them. It was better than being alone and scared, so she hoped it would keep the three of them together longer and help them get through this experience relatively okay. She didn't know if Bryony was as receptive, but she hoped she was.

It was when the announcement began to play that Alba was confronted with the reality of the situation. People were dying, and Bradley had some poor taste. He made references to Hitler and bad software in the midst of hearing about their classmates dying, which only served to make Alba a bit uncomfortable. It also didn't help her made weird comments about the Mexican students and one girl killing herself. Alba tried to remain calm, but the situation was becoming insufferable, so she merely kept a smile on her face and tried to steer things back when Bryony called out Bradley.

They had just arrived at the gym, and as they walked in, Bradley called out to kids named Leonard Bernstein and Sandra Clegane. They must have also been seniors, since Alba didn't really recognize them. Bradley wanted to use her and Bryony to show he was there in peace, so she waved and smiled at the two.

"Hi..." she softly said.

Before she could say anything else, the door opened. Alba turned and saw a girl holding a spear. This was a senior Alba knew about. After all, it takes one person to mention someone is a mute to remember them as the one mute kid in school. Kimiko Kao. Who, according to Bradley, was as bad as Jason Voorhees and Helen Keller.

Alba brought a smile on her face and waved to Kimiko.

"Oh...hi!" she said. "H-how are you?"

She really wanted to believe Kimiko wasn't bad. Especially with that spear in her hand. Was that what she used to stab Cristobal Morales? Alba hoped not.
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MK Kilmarnock
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Coleen reached out for the map and gave it a once over. Thanks to the clarity of the key and the labeling of the map, it didn't take long to identify the location of the gym as resting in the northwestern wing of the island. She followed along the inner coast of the horseshoe-shaped island to find the shore that she had been walking along just the other day. Just a little more south of that and they were gazing at the area designated as the supply depot. So that was the area they needed to avoid or... or else.

She swallowed, feeling the lump in her throat struggling against the warm band of metal. She lightly grasped at the steel ring, pursing her lips as she tried to control herself. She needed to stay focused on facts of the matter: they needed to avoid certain areas, and they needed to avoid certain people, dangerous people.

As if on cue, the doors were thrust open and a group of three people opened. The immediately-recognizable Bradley Floyd made no bones about making his presence known, which was of some small comfort to Coleen. If somebody was trying to sneak around that generally meant bad news for anybody else. She couldn't remember if Bradley was on the list...

All the same, Coleen remained within arms reach of the wall as, Arthur's map still in hand, the girl took a few steps away from the door. Bradley had called her something, 'Sandra Clegane'. She wasn't sure as to what the reference was, but this was Bradley - it was likely a joke in poor taste at something. She took a wild guess as to the easiest thing to tease about her and reflexively stroked her hair, making sure most or all of the left side of her face was hidden behind it. From the moment she touched it, the first thing on her mind was how much her hair needed brushing.

Coleen said nothing through Bradley's noisy introduction, instead focusing on controlling her breathing and trying not to show fear. She couldn't afford to trust anybody... not when she had only recently heard about classmates killing each other, doing what before she thought might have been impossible. The law of the land had been cast aside and remolded; they were now among killers. Maybe she couldn't remember Bradley's name on the announcements, or Byrony's or... whoever the third girl was, but there was nothing saying they didn't just have a late start.

Then, of course, a sixth person entered the gym, and Coleen's eyes, one visible and one not, widened.

Kimiko. There was a name she remembered, there was a name she had recently heard mentioned.

Oh god, no.
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General Goose
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Bradley found himself face to face with a murderer.

There was no other explanation, really. Self-defence, sure, that was a thing. Accidents, yeah, that too was an option. There had been billions of deaths throughout human history, and at least a few of them would be dark room-related mishaps. But he had a hunch, an intuitive suspicion, perhaps rooted in some unspoken prejudice or preconception maybe, that made him fear Kimiko was not exactly friendly in that moment.

Bryony had reasons to dislike him. So did Coleen. Arthur too, probably. But they didn't hate him. But Kimiko? He didn't know how far her dislike of him went. She couldn't exactly tell him that she came in peace. She didn't seem to have her phone on her.

"Hey Kimiko. Guessing they didn't let you keep a little gadget to write things down on? Because an internet connected device would be useful right now."

He paused, and bit his lip, and narrowed his eyes, adding a perfunctory chuckle. He hoped it would be interpreted as an ice-breaker. And hey, it seemed to be interpreted as such, for nothing suddenly pierced his skin or broke his bones or cracked his face open in the moments that followed. Perhaps that relative toleration, of what was a relatively tolerable remark, was mistakenly interpreted as a sign that things were as normal. That the low-stakes atmosphere of Kingman that Bradley missed so much was on its way back.

And so he decided to carry on, and spoke as if this was the Kingman gym, and this was just another little performance that would be gossiped about around the school. The stakes, in Bradley's mind, were comfortably low. He'd already forgotten about his initial, instinctive, fears about Kimiko's motives. Was quite relieving to forget about that.

"So, Kimiko, guess you're pretty deadly after all." He grinned. Placed his M16 on his shoulder, resting it there. A reminder of its presence, but not ready to fire. He was armed, but not psychotic, was the message his body language was conveying. Speaking softly and carrying a big stick, to invoke an idiom. "Silent but deadly."

Blew a raspberry. She was like a fart, was the joke.

"So, Jason Voorhees, glad you could join us. I was thinking some kind of safety in numbers thing, might be a good strategy." His eyes moved away from Kimiko, his calm attitude now restored, looking over the others in the room.
Edited by General Goose, Oct 11 2016, 08:54 AM.
V7 peeps:
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Ashlynn Martinek
Bill Winlock
Camille Bellegarde

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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Bryony Adams continued from The Gadfly Cometh))

It had not been a pleasant walk from the docks.

Bryony would have been perfectly happy not to talk at all, not least because she didn’t want to say a single thing around Bradley. Past experience had taught her that anything she said, he would find a way to twist and manipulate to his own ends and means, no matter how innocent or innocuous. Even a simple question as to where they were headed or a plea for rest so she could adjust her bag would most likely result in her getting insulted, or some unpleasant joke made.

On top of that she simply didn’t feel like talking any more. The positivity from meeting Alba had buoyed her so far, and was still there inside of her, but hidden now, buried under a layer of fear and anxiety again. She wasn’t about to bolt and go on her own way; she didn’t think she’d last more than a few minutes on her own in the current state she was in. But the mere presence of Bradley was putting her emotions on a knife’s edge, the gun only exacerbating that feeling.

And he refused to act like anything had changed from Kingman to the island. The entire walk, Bradley dedicated every single ounce of breath to cracking horrific ‘jokes’, just like he’d do at the back of class when he didn’t think the teacher could hear him. The more jokes he cracked, the more Bryony felt uncomfortable and sick, an unpleasant cocktail mingling with the terror and anxiety brewing within her at her situation on the island.

She had ended up mumbling under her breath everything she wanted to say to him, muttering about how unfunny his jokes were, how she wished she had taken his stupid packet of cigarettes back at the docks and chucked them back onto the beach.

How she was so scared of him that she only dared say these things in her head or when there was not a soul who could hear her.

So she had kept herself to herself, lagging slightly behind the other two, not even talking to Alba, until they had eventually wound up outside the gym, identifiable by the dilapidated sign hanging up outside of it.

Her brief hope that this would be a chance at some respite was almost instantly dashed by the sound of the announcement starting up, and, as soon as she realised just what the noise was, she felt like she had been punched in the gut.

The next couple of minutes had felt like some hideous fever dream. Names called out by the man who referred to himself as Danya, names of people that were apparently dead who simply couldn’t be, people like Jennifer, like Scarlett, like Conrad. Every now and then, Bradley’s voice would cut across the drone of the announcement, making some snide remark about each person who had passed. Bryony had felt something flare up each time, maybe anger, before it was instantly engulfed by the growing cloud in her mind. Her mouth had opened to speak every now and then, but she had no idea what had come out.

Bryony felt like she was spiralling into some dark, unfathomable void. She felt dazed. Nothing felt real. Each step felt like she was dragging along a bag of wet sand. She was feeling every emotion at once and yet none at all.

She didn’t even hear Bradley’s honest apology as she trudged into the gym.

There were two people inside already. Coleen and Arthur. Bryony saw her arm raise in a timid wave through her clouded mind.

Then another person made their way into the gym, and for a moment, the feeling of ice in her veins broke through the void she was falling into. Here was someone she was more frightened of than Bradley.

And it wasn’t fair, it shouldn’t be like this, because Kimiko was a perfectly lovely, friendly person normally. She wasn’t close with Bryony, but that was more due to their interests and circles being almost entirely opposites. But Kimiko had killed someone and Bryony just couldn’t shake the stigma that came with that and the petrifying fear that she felt at Kimiko’s mere presence.

Somehow, Bradley was still talking like he was back in the classroom, cracking jokes and making references. He clearly knew Kimiko so it wasn’t a lack of recognition, a failure to associate name to face. Bryony didn’t have a clue what he was trying to do, but all it was achieving was making her feel even more terrified at her situation.

“Bradley… you should… you shouldn’t…” Bryony said, eyes wide, voice barely a whisper. The void in her mind was starting to vanish. The realisation of the announcement was truly sinking in. There were tears in the corners of her eyes.

“Please…”
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[ *  *  *  * ]
It had all happened in naught but an instant. Bradley Floyd strode into the room with two girls behind him. He recognized one of them as Bryony, but the other he hadn't ever seen before, not even walking around town. As Bradley walked in, he saved Arthur the trouble of introducing himself, although he got his name wrong. Arthur's eyes narrowed, his brow furrowed. The girl he didn't recognize greeted him, offering a small wave of her hand and a whispered 'hello,' while Bryony just raised her arm.

"Not Leonard," he corrected curtly, "Arthur. My name is Arthur." He felt himself unconsciously taking a small step forward, putting himself in between Coleen and the others. If things went south, they'd be outnumbered, and Coleen didn't look like she was in any position to defend herself. He wasn't even going to start on correcting Bradley on his egregious error towards Coleen (What had he even said? Sandra something or other?) as he figured she'd correct it herself. Maybe that was assuming just a little too much of one of the shyest girls in the class.

It was strange to see Bryony and Coleen in the same room, for some odd reason. Arthur's mind wandered, a half-baked dream surfacing before his eyes. He imagined Coleen trying to talk to Bryony, but being unable to start the conversation. Bryony, being shy as well, was unsure what to do, and the two began to stutter at each other indefinitely in his mind. Silently, he pitied the meeting that had never happened. He wished he could write it down somewhere, and balled up his fist, his head still in the clouds. It could've happened, he posited, but he wouldn't have been around to see it either way. He preferred to spend his free time at home, and Coleen and Bryony probably did too. Still, the idea of the two staring at each other, silently, like two owls perched on the branch of an oak tree. Lost in thought, he imagined sitting underneath that oak tree, somewhere far away, and reading a book. He couldn't begin to fathom what he would give to be there right now and not here.

The door opened, snapping Arthur out of his flash delirium.

Speaking of silent owls...

Arthur opened his mouth to say something to her. The spear in her hands worried him greatly, the sunlight from above glinting off of it ever so slightly into his eyes. Before he could extend an olive branch to Kimiko, however, the girl he didn't know greeted her instead. At least she was being polite, he thought, relieved that things hadn't gone quite as bad as they could've. She was, after all, a killer, regardless of whether or not it was in self defense. At least Bradley hadn't been the first to spe-

"Hey Kimiko. Guessing they didn't let you keep a little gadget to write things down on? Because an internet connected device would be useful right now."

Arthur's jaw dropped slightly open as Bradley spat line after line at Kimiko, none of them in good taste. He wouldn't stop. Just when one line ended, another began, each one taking apart Kimiko's inability to speak further and further, as if she didn't need any more reminders. The already tensed fist by his side closed tighter around itself, and Arthur felt a quiet anger start to burn in the pit of his stomach. Bryony squeaked out a few words of protest to Bradley's side, but Arthur knew it wouldn't be enough to shake Bradley down.

"Enough," Arthur said, speaking from his chest and in a disciplinary tone, "Bradley, that's enough."

Just a few moments ago, he had thought about how it didn't make sense that Kimiko could've killed someone. Now, he was beginning to see what could've interaction could've egged it on.

And he didn't like it, not one bit.
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Fear.

Kimiko hadn't been expecting that.

Everyone showed some outward form of fear at her very presence it was weird. It made her uncomfortable to consider that they all probably assumed she had set out to kill Cristo, the annoucement did nothing to chance that perception. In fact it encouraged it. It was a classic technique regarding information, Kimiko was aware of it, Taiwan had been subject to it many times. The only real option she had to consider was that nothing she was told from the precise moment she found herself in onwards would be strictly true. It was more likely to be warped to give the effect the terrorists wanted or what her classmates wanted her to believe.

Of the five other people in the room only one of them didn't shown any outward signs of her presence causing any unease. The fact that person was Bradley didn't surprise her, she knew what he was like. He would much rather make a stupid joke than seriously consider his situation. Kimiko listened to what he was saying, her grip steadily tightening on the spear and her teeth grinding until he let up. It was the same thing he had done in the bowling alley. He must have remembered the effect it had on her.

The worst part was that just like the last time Kimiko wanted to retort but she had no ability too. No one else in the room knew sign language as far as she was aware and to properly communicate using it would have required her to drop the spear. She could see Bradley's gun. It wasn't a risk worth taking. The others for their part were trying to make him stop, but it was for selfish reasons. It wasn't because they cared about how his words made her feel but because they were scared of how she would react to them.

Kimiko stared daggers at Bradley, her eyes narrowed. She took a couple of deliberate steps forwards and looked over everyone in the room, taking everyone in. Arthur, Bryony, Coleen and the girl Kimiko couldn't quite place. Kimiko couldn't see any deadly other deadly weapons besides hers and Bradley's, although his was far superior. Typical. Doing her best to ignore Bradley, Kimiko nodded to each of the others individually and waited to see what they would do.

She didn't enjoy being treated like a monster.
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