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This Be The Verse; Open
Topic Started: Oct 6 2016, 09:34 PM (2,284 Views)
General Goose
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Don't cast aspersions on my asparagus.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((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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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
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.
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Truth be told, it was a little bit frustrating. Everyone was focusing on the way he said things, on the little throwaway comments he made, rather than the actually important stuff. He was being serious, introducing actual strategies into the mix, actually extending hands of friendship, propositions of camaraderie, to those around him. And he might as well have kept exclusively to humorous quips, for all the good it did him.

It started with Arthur, and his stunning ignorance of pop culture. He didn't remember Arthur being quite so uptight back in Kingman, but then again, Bradley had never really gotten to know Arthur that well. It was a shame, really, but in that moment, his predominant expression was one of irritation. It merited an eye roll and a sarcastic rebuke from Bradley, but nothing more.

"Yeah, yeah, that’s the joke, you silly aardvark. ‘Course I know. Learn some pop culture references while you’re here, ‘ll do you good." It was earnest advice, spoken as he made his way into the gym. It was quite shocking, actually. How did Arthur NOT get that joke? Had he never heard that end of the world song? It was apt right now, and Leonard Bernstein was the only lyric that was actually legible. An island deprived of internet connections was a poor place to catch up on common knowledge, after all.

But he was never one to back down. Self-censorship was a flaw he never succumbed to, a hubristic deficiency he would rise above. Wouldn't let the terrorists win by not being himself. He had to prove that, had to take charge of the situation, as no-one else was equipped to do so.

Yet upon Kimiko's entry, the scorn only continued. Bradley had actually introduced a plan, a substantive proposal, into the equation. Where people really still focusing on his remarks? His wit wasn't too acerbic in this moment, he thought. He actually was toning things down. He actually appreciated the gravity of the situation better than any of these other assholes.

Had anyone else here just lost a cousin? No. He was holding himself together. That was all he was doing.

And white knight Arthur continued his bullshitting, and Bradley turned to him, not bothering to hide his frustration. He was unusually agitated with this whole situation. "Hey, I’m the only one actually putting forward plans to survive here, buddy. I mean, Bryony and Coleen have crippling shyness and Kimiko is mute and Alba doesn't know anyone here because she's in the grade below us, but what’s your excuse?"

"I mean, shit, is anyone else actually taking this seriously?" Bradley, for once, spoke with no levity, but that may not have been obvious to those around him. "Seriously, guys, do we need pen and paper or something? Or maybe you'd rather write messages in blood and feces, whatever. Just stop getting all of your collective panties in a collective twist about fucking jokes."
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
"Yeah, Coleen, it's a reference." His voice was calm, his parlance jovial and relaxed, his tone as blissfully irreverent as ever, yet not quite descending into the acerbic mocking tone he was so experienced with. It was forced, but damn good acting, and that was really all he could do. "Sorry, but yeah, it's comparing you to a fictional character, and you can probably guess on what grounds. No hard feelings, though, you're smokin' hot."

He actually hadn't intended that accidental slip of the tongue at the end there, and verbally grimaced at what was a genuine faux pas, as rare as those were for Bradley. About the hot bit. Fire might be a sore spot for her. Even when he was trying to be nice, he still insulted people. Hopefully that proved his point to whatever cosmic observers were watching. He can't NOT be politically incorrect. It's a curse as much as it was a blessing.

He turned back to Kimiko, less cautious with his words than ever. "Okeydokey. Sad to hear a 'one group policy' isn't to your liking, but I hope we can eventually reunify. I mean, I extended the olive hand of friendship," he continued, with a deliberately comic level of pontifical pomposity, not at all fazed by his mangling of idioms. "I for one am quite content with, y'know, trying to be the same person as I was back home. Sorry if that makes me a bad person, for liking continuity, for trying to add a sense of normalcy, but I guess we can't all have the same coping mechanisms. I guess making some silly jokes makes me the worst person on the island."

It was not subtle, it was not eloquent, it was not punchy. But it was true. Bradley just couldn't see why people were so angry at him. It wasn't in his nature to be so thin-skinned. But the stakes were high, and this? This was petty.

"I'm sure Cristo would agree with that assessment!" He smacked the barrel of his gun against the palm of his hand, for emphasis, hoping this poor choice of prioritisation would be recognised by someone. He had just lost his fucking cousin. He had never denied people their eccentricities, their quirks, their own ways of coping with tragedy. Never.
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
It was left unspoken, an unconscious inclination more than anything else, but Bradley felt the brunt of Kimiko's thoughts. Could see the disdain in her eyes. It was infuriating. This was Bradley as his old self. This was Bradley at his most genuine, at his purest, at his most gentle and kind. Couldn't they see that? No. They just had to have a reason to get angry at him. It was pathetic, really.

She didn't need words. Her contempt was tangible.

And her body language. That was the definition of threatening, if he ever saw it. Bradley, too, was idly whacking the barrel against his palm, as if wielding a baseball bat. But he wasn't. He was wielding a gun. And the message was clear: Bradley knew that this was bubbling up, that some tension was approaching the surface. But he wouldn't be the aggressor. No.

"Can't say I like the way you're holding that spear, Kimmy. I mean, I can't speak sign language, but it looks like you're getting a wee bit aggressive."

He clicked his tongue. He wasn't sure how this had gotten so sinister so quickly. He spoke quietly, under his breath, their stares resembling a verbal Mexican standoff more than any other encounter in Brad's life.

"You got a problem, just say it. Oh. Sorry. Just sign language it. By fucking off. Go on, off you fuck."
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Kimiko accepted defeat.

It was a shame, really. He had been genuine in his offer, serious about rapprochement, sincerely startled by just how deep the antagonism towards him felt. Perhaps there could have been a better advocate for it than Kimiko, one who could have engaged him. They both had legitimate reasons for their actions, Bradley was sure.

But he didn't say anything like that. "Didn't have to be this belligerent," Bradley mused, quietly, almost as if adopting a different voice.

But Kimiko had already flipped him the bird by the moment those words had left his lips.

He raised his eyebrow. Like deserved like. An eye for an eye, and all that jargon, was perhaps poor form for actual crime and punishment, Bradley didn't know. But it worked well for verbal sparring.

"Hundreds of years of sign language wasted on you."
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Finally, Kimiko snapped.

How this bitch remained alive - had outlived Abby, for fuck’s sake - was a mystery to him. She was weak, emotionally. A crybaby. Couldn’t deal with opposition, and so attacked it in the bluntest way possible. Bradley, in that split second when it was apparent where the spear was going, just thought of her as pathetic.

And then Kimiko disappeared from his mind.

Bradley could have sworn that the sensations did not fade immediately. That he could feel the trauma in the parts of his body that had been decimated with an eery acuteness of feeling. A surprising amount of meat and flesh was moved through his body, torn away, shoved to the side and out of his back, by the force of Kimiko's spear. Connected only by the thinnest bridges of visceral matter. And he felt it. He felt the nerves and vessels stretch. He felt the parts of his gut, impaled on the spear, as they were forced out of his back, with only the metal holding them up.

It was cold. It felt exposed.

And then came the pain. That pain, it was for a second indescribable. But then his senses fully got to grips with it, all the ways his insides had been torn, all the ways his guts were irreparably mangled. And then too many descriptions, all rushing through, one after the after, as the sensations shot up his nerves. A throbbing ache along his spine. Felt only for a second before more acute feelings overwhelmed. There was a torturous turbulence within his gut. A searing pain cutting across his muscles. A harrowing loss of feeling where parts of his body had once been.

He crumpled onto his knees, the spear embedded in his gut. It had not forced through his back on first blow, he was pretty sure of that. But his body shook and quaked and quivered, and there was definitely now a hole there too. His hands gripped around the implement of death. It was the only comfort he could get at this point. Gave him some stability, stopped him from falling forward too much.

The far tip of the spear landed on the ground, and it pushed the blade forward an inch, and Bradley yelled. “Fuck, shit” might have been the intended exclamation, but it came out more garbled, more panicked, more strained.

Nobody could blame him for that.

Alba had rushed over. That was good. He dropped his gun, unaware he had been clinging to it so tightly. Hopefully she’d take it. Make something good with it. But she wasn’t doing that now. She seemed intent on helping him. Taking control of the room in a way that he hadn’t been able to. There wasn’t that stark reality of where they were before he got stabbed, that must have been it. Someone else had screamed. Multiple people? Bradley didn’t know. Didn’t much care. Screaming never really helped anyone, he wanted to say. Probably best that he couldn’t.

“Floyds...we die as we live…” It was not a lucid or unblurred statement, but the sentiment was obvious. “Darius...Brady…” They were in danger too, he realised. Not too late to save them. Hopefully Alba would pick up the message. Was Brady here? Maybe. Bradley could not quite remember. Should have kept better watch on them. Should have thought about them more. That guy who always hung around Brady, Enzo. They were probably on the trip. Bradley wished them luck too. But Darius, shit, his lovably weird cousin. He was tiny. Hopefully he could prank his way out of this. Maybe a pranking alliance with Isaac? That’d be funny. Was Isaac on the island? Bradley couldn’t remember. Hopefully not. Hopefully he remembered Darius being on the trip wrong. Hopefully he remembered Abby being on the announcements wrong. Alba. That was close to Abby. Something about A names had to make people more caring.

God, Bradley wished he’d done one of those gay sentimental ‘talk to the camera’ moments now.

But the few words that he did say were right. At least both of the Floyds had died as themselves. This shit hadn’t changed them. Hopefully that’d be a source of pride. A source of consolation. Something for the family to stick with, build on. Bradley had never become evil, never gave up on who he was. He could take pride in that, on a personal level. Kimiko’s parents, fuck. They couldn’t cling to that. Their daughter had changed.

He forced his head up, but she had already gone. His neck gave way, and he looked down again.

The pain was clearing. Well, he was getting used to it. Not used to it, that was the wrong word. It was less shocking. The fact it meant he was dying soon, he’d accepted that, refused to grapple with it, forced it to the back of his mind. As long as he hurt, he was still alive. He tried heavy breaths, to try and steady his concentration, to salvage some last coherent thoughts. His chest heaving up and down just moved against the spear, agitated it more, cut against more skin, made it harder for him to remain calm. Collected.

Heh. Collected. Unlike his blood. That was meant to be collected within the body.

He snarled at that internal joke, the closest thing to a smile he could manage.

Bradley had always hoped to die with gallows humour. A reference, maybe. Dying with a Futurama quote leaving his lips, that was the ideal. Cursing Zoidberg, or quoting Zoidberg. Failing that, a growled ‘fatality’ would do in a pinch. Enough to show to the world that he was as relaxed and impertinent as ever, as good-humoured about himself as he was about others. But no witty jests left his lips. In the moments where the pain subsided, some kind of coherent thought was possible, he failed to capitalise upon it.

In part, it was because when his thoughts were clear, he wanted to prioritise. The lofty shit, the important shit, the sort of thing dying people were meant to ponder. Think about others, if nothing else. He couldn't do anything for them, but he had friends and family. Innocent people. They deserved his thoughts, at least.

But it was still on his mind. Clouding his mind, really. It was one thing he could do, and he was quite preoccupied with it. One final parting gift to the world, become one of those protagonists of an anecdote about a stoic and deadpan maestro of comedy. But it was hard. Too many good ideas, too many references. A sharp retort from Kimiko, he could say, or he couldn’t stomach this, or some more general dark humour, or whatever. All very unoriginal and surface-level ideas. There were too many options to narrow down and refine one.

The opportunity was slipping away. Wasn’t too bad he wouldn’t get some jocular and facetious final words. He’d already, in casual and serious conversation alike, made many a suggestion for what could be falsely attributed to him, or at least put on his epigraph. Was it an epigraph? Or an epitaph? Fuck. He’d die with that bugging him.

“Is it...an…”

He stopped himself continuing. That’d be shit.

Endearingly shit. He carried on.

“Is it an epigraph or an epitaph they write on tombstones?” Those words out of his lips, the thought left his mind, and if he received an answer, he did not process it. He went back to grinding his teeth, clenching his fists, scrunching his eyes up, trying to stifle the flood of pain overwhelming his senses. The end of the spear had tapped against the ground again, the most minute of vibrations sending pain rippling throughout his body. Rippling. That was apt. His insides felt more liquid than solid at that moment. That was what he couldn’t stand. It didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel normal. Regular pain, that was something he could tolerate. But this? This just took his body and changed it. And that was new, and scary.

He gripped the spear tighter, pulled it away from him, trying to get it out of him.

Alba tried to stop him. She said words. He couldn’t process their exact form, and if they were well-articulated, his senses could not appreciate that. Yet he managed to grasp the gist of what she was saying, if by nothing else through her actions. Don’t pull it out. The spear’s holding in a lot of blood. Yeah, of course he knew that. He, uncharitably and unreasonably, for a split second wanted to mock her. That high-pitched voice, used to satirise moral guardians and those stating the obvious alike.

Then he realised that, no, that was a dick move to even think that. Not a funny dick move. Just a dick move.

Don’t pull it out, she was begging. You’ll bleed to death quicker. Something like that.

“That’s the point…” And he carried on pulling.

And then it clicked. “I guess I...I guess I got Kimiko’s point.” It made him chuckle. Inwardly. Chuckling was impossible physically. Maybe he was delirious. But it was funny. She’d made her point, and he’d received it. It was great. A distraction. He loved it.

“That’s the point. Heheh. Sorry. I got the fucking point.” His tone wasn’t aggressive, but slightly manic, channeling all his energy into this final task. The apology that had slipped in there wasn’t for the pun. Bradley wasn’t sure what it was for exactly. But he said it anyway, and he was happy he did. He continued mumbling, repeating that joke, every now and then another apology bypassing his filter, some other heartfelt murmur, but it descended into illegible jabbering, that one would have to strain to hear.

He kept on tugging, with all his rapidly diminishing might, hoping to dislodge the spear. He never succeeded in pulling it out.

B026 - BRADLEY FLOYD: ELIMINATED
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