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In This Starless Night; Open
Topic Started: Nov 3 2016, 09:18 PM (957 Views)
Grim Wolf
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
(Tara Behzad continued from St. Patrick's Purgatory)

Another day spent running.

No, that wasn't true, was it? She was lying to herself. Not a day spent running. A few hours spent running, as her arm throbbed with the pain she'd scorched into her flesh, as her legs ached and her head swam and her parched throat scraped and scratched so her breathing came to her in a rasp. It took her awhile to notice how much she'd slowed. To realize she'd stopped running, and that she'd slowed to a crawling shuffle, barely able to keep her feet.

She had to stop running. She had to stop moving. She curled up into a ball beneath a rocky overhang, and slept.

She awoke in the deep of the night, her stomach growling and panging, her breath whistling in her throat. She grabbed another bottle, chugged it in the black of the night. She broke off just a piece of the ration bar, ate it slowly because she'd pushed herself just as far as she could, because her head was swimming and she didn't think she could stand if she didn't eat.

Out of control. It was all out of control. Of course she'd go down swinging. They'd all go down swinging, dangling from the hangman's rope.

She rose to her feet and started moving again, wandering beneath the black sky. But even now, she couldn't run. It was all she could do to walk.

She walked along the beach as sunlight glazed the distant horizon. She heard the Announcements buzz to life, heard the names and closed her eyes. Alone, she sank onto the rocky coastline and shook her head. So many more lost. So many more dead. The game hadn't changed. They hadn't been beaten. All the defeats they'd suffered, but they still had control.

Not like her. She couldn't even run anymore. How could she even think of dying happy?

She found a small, hand-sized rock with a pointed tip, and tightened her fingers around it. She snapped it into her ribs, hissing at the pain. Then again, twice more. Control. Control. Control. If you cannot control yourself, you will control nothing else.

She rose to her feet and stumbled on, her ribs aching, her burnt arm throbbing. She needed to keep moving. She couldn't stop.

She moved onto the docks, and froze as a shadow moved in front of her. She watched nervously, her hands fumbling back for the flashbangs in her bag.

Then the man fell.

"You okay?" Tara called, without thinking.
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V6 Players

Tara Behzad: "They don't get to decide how I die."

Lizzie Luz: "I don't want to go."

Alex Tarquin: "No more masks."

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Grim Wolf
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Tara spoke without thinking, and froze like a deer in the headlights when she realized her mistake. Worse, there was movement: another voice, calling out from down the beach. Suddenly exposed, suddenly teetering. This was no way to die happy.

And then all of that faded to the wayside, as the man in front of her asked for fishing supplies.

She blinked. She opened her mouth, closed it, and blinked again. She nodded slowly. "I've got some string," she said. "Or...yarn, I guess. Does this work?"

She fished out the bundle she'd found--the kind you might give to a kindergartner, thick and blue. It had faded a bit, like a dusty carpet, but the color was still discernible.

"Sorry," she said, shaking her head. "I don't really know anything about..."

She trailed off, as her eyes found a fourth shape down the way, clutching what looked like a broken bottle in her hand. Bridgette. She recognized the girl from one of the writing workshops she was a part of.

"Heads up," she whispered to the man asking for fishing supplies. She raised her voice and shouted, "Nothing's alright! But I don't think anyone's gonna hurt anyone else right here!" She lowered her voice and directed it towards the woman standing farther down the way. "Are they?"
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V6 Players

Tara Behzad: "They don't get to decide how I die."

Lizzie Luz: "I don't want to go."

Alex Tarquin: "No more masks."

V5 Players


V4 Players
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Grim Wolf
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Tara snapped off several coils of yarn and handed them off to Henry. The other two women drew closer, and Tara ignored them both as she grabbed at the piece of loose wood Henry had tripped over in the first place, hefting it over one shoulder. "I'm taking this," she said. "Got my own plans."

But then the girl spoke. No, that wasn't right: Bryony spoke. Hesitant, and hungry. And Henry rushed to her, offering her his food.

"He's right," Tara said, smiling at the other man. "Here." She pulled out a ration bar, and then Tara's stomach rumbled, imagining what that brackish bar would taste like. She glared down at her stomach, hating herself for the moment's weakness.

"Sorry," she said, pushing the bar into Bryony's hand. "Sorry."

Weak. So weak. Nothing to be done, nothing to be gained, everything spiraling. Who was this man who just wanted to fish? There was a story there, and a damn good one. Fishing as the world burns around you. Way better than a fiddle.

But she had no time for fiddling or fishing. She had burning to do.

"Sorry," she said again, bouncing the piece of scrap on her should. "I gotta...I gotta go."

Too many confrontations, too many questions, too much doubt, and too many dead. Faces lingered in her mind. Jasmine and Jane.

"Good luck," she said, and her eyes lingered on Henry. "You, uh...you seem like you're doing good."

She was on the move again, heading off the dock and moving along the pebbly beach. Her ribs still hurt, and her stomach ached with hunger to the point she was almost nauseated by it, and all she could think of were the strange looks on the two girls' faces, so at odds with Henry's good cheer. So much strangeness on this island, and on all the islands before. So many ghosts, so many mistakes.

And she couldn't escape that cycle, either. Just one more repetition in an endless pattern. And here she was, reiterating herself, until her walking ghost became weary and faded away.

(or burned away to ash)

She stopped well out of sight of the others, staring out at the cool ocean. She dropped the piece of wood at her feet, and her ribs ached and her neck chafed beneath her collar and her bandaged arm burned.

Ropes, chains, strings leaving them bouncing in the sea. Everyone just baiting each other, as the predators lurked out in the deep water.

She sat down in the sand.

Again, the red nail polish: again, the best inscription she could manage. She tried to remember exactly what had been said on the announcements, but failed to come up with anything for Jane. She knew Danya had said something about Jasmine trying to win, but...

But did the Announcements matter? This wasn't like Cris and Abby. She'd known both these woman. Jasmine, the boisterous, bossy woman behind the stage, always good for a quick laugh or a quick joke, someone Tara had felt comfortable around. And Jasmine, a gossip who Tara would never have trusted in her wildest dreams, but whose death had had some dignity, or why would Danya have remembered her declaration?

In Memoriam: Jane Madison, who thought she could tell the world what to do.

In Memoriam: Jasmine King, who thought she could win an impossible game.


She lifted the makeshift plaque up to the sky. She showed it in front of her, then behind her: to the left, then to the right. It was all she could do, before she died. Before she burned.

She built another pyre, and the smoke rose, and she breathed in the toxic fumes and closed her eyes. Her other arm twitched towards the fire, but she didn't put it in. She needed her strength. Just for a little while longer, she needed her strength.

[Tara Behzad concluded in The Inferno.]
Edited by Grim Wolf, Jan 18 2017, 02:22 AM.
Want to buy my book? See my short stories? Read my fanfiction? Visit my website!

V6 Players

Tara Behzad: "They don't get to decide how I die."

Lizzie Luz: "I don't want to go."

Alex Tarquin: "No more masks."

V5 Players


V4 Players
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