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The Lagniappe; Private
Topic Started: Nov 5 2016, 03:42 PM (924 Views)
Ruggahissy
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Caleb Diamond continued from Robber Barons ))

Caleb was getting tired of so much running. He ripped off the stupid Nixon mask. He had stopped following Kimiko's trail and leaned against a tree, rubbing his eyes. He was pretty tired from the previous night. He saw a flash of blonde slip into the cabin up ahead. He took a deep breath and marched up to the door of the cabin. His heart was pounding so strongly he thought he might fall over. He wondered what he should say. What would be best?

He knocked on the door.

"PIZZA, M'AM," he said in a tone much lower than his natural voice.

Was that funny? Would she think it was funny? Caleb waited nervously for the door, listening intently for any stray sounds.
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Ruggahissy
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Kimiko ran at him and wrapped her arms around him, knocking the wind out of him. Caleb let out the breath he'd been holding and wheezed. He dropped his bag and returned the hug.

"It wasn't fuckin' easy to keep up with you. Grandpa smokes like a chimney."

He lifted her just barely off the ground while still in the hug, took two steps into the cabin and put her down so that they were inside. Caleb then kicked the door shut and shortly after, collapsed lazily onto the floor with his limbs sprawled out haphazardly.

"It's times like these that make me go 'Maybe I should quit smoking.' But then like, here we are. I think the chances of me dying from lung cancer are pretty Virginia slims. Eeeyyy?"

He looked up at her from the floor with an uncharacteristic big smile across his face and bright blue eyes that made him look much closer to his perennially cheerful counterpart. The cabin seemed small, but adequate. He was tired both from the activity and from having not slept, but was now enveloped in a pleasant coziness. Caleb was just happy that she was happy to see him.

<How are you feeling, shorty?> he signed sloppily without sitting up.

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Ruggahissy
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
The warm light broke through the windows of the cabin, illuminating bright spots throughout and highlighting drifting bits of dust that glinted and shimmered.

Kimiko sat down next to him and he rolled onto his side. He forgot everything that had happened before that point for a moment. She hesitated to answer and given how he was even able to find her due to collecting a kill award, it was easy to infer why.

"Don't tell me whatever happened. I don't give a shit," he said quietly.

<Ok, you're better. But how does that help ME?> he signed, making an exaggerated frown.

He stretched out, laying on his side and looked up at her with his arms dead out in front of him giving him somewhat the appearance of being a giant house cat. It was true, he absolutely didn't care who she killed or why and an explanation one way or the other wouldn't change anything.

"You'd tell me if you were really a Wolverine clone, right? You'd have this in the bag," he mumbled warily.

He wanted to say more to her. He wanted to let her know that he felt like his heart had been replaced by a rock ever since he'd woken up. Everything he did felt pointless. He was just a puppet that was prolonging his own suffering while dancing for whoever put them up to all of this. If he were braver he'd tell her how much she meant to him, but Caleb didn't think himself very brave. He didn't think himself much of anything remarkable. But like she said, for now, it was better.

In the middle of his musings his stomach growled loudly.

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Ruggahissy
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<Is my company not good enough for you?> she asked.

Caleb shrugged once. He shrugged a second time quickly after.

"How does that help me, huh? What's that do for me?" he said, pointing emphatically at himself. "I was like, fuck, it's Kimiko. I was just clearing my throat loudly while taking a stroll and walked into a clusterfuck. Who are you even? Kimberko?"

A moment passed and he sheepishly signed <Welcome>. She made a crack back at him about him not being much in the way of physical prowess except for his extraordinary ability to chain smoke. He laughed weakly and sat back up, scratching his head through his gray beanie and looking down. Caleb noticed for the first time that they were sitting on a tiger skin rug. Kimiko gave him a slice of pizza. He picked it up and made the sign for "thank you," moving his hand from under his chin.

He took a bite of it and swallowed. Caleb made a harsh gagging sound and looked at the pizza with suspicion.

"Is this vegan? Are you serious? You know how I feel about vegan cheese! I'd rather starve. Literally, Kimiko. We're really about to die here and I don't want to eat this. God, we should have a policy as America to turn away people who can't appreciate cheese. You wouldn't cut it in my America."

He stood up and stretched, looking around the cabin. There was a kitchen. Outside the window he didn't see anything besides trees, no other people. He put the slice of pizza on a counter and delicately touched a small collection of spoons that was hanging on a wall near the kitchen. They were covered in dust, but they looked like souvenir spoons his grandma collected.

He offered her a hand to help her up. It struck him that playing house in this cabin was a bit childish and stupid and he felt embarrassed. As soon as they stepped foot outside the illusion would be broken and even now, there was a wrinkle in the scenario. It would be extremely easy to be seduced by the situation and make believe that they were on a trip to the woods together. Easy, yes. Comforting, sure, but it would only make the shock of going back outside even worse.

"Did they give you that too?" he asked, regarding the big sword.
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Ruggahissy
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Caleb didn't realize he'd been smiling the whole time until Kimiko's smile disappeared. The corners of his mouth ached a little and fell too. He was fading in and out more rapidly now between happiness and dread. Every few seconds he remembered what their true situation was and he felt sick. Then he would forget and it would start over. It was a roller coaster ride he didn't want to disembark from because he didn't know what he would do if he was mired too long in their reality.

He didn't know what he would do. Caleb had only gotten up off the floor of that cell to look for Kimiko. He was scared and didn't know if he could hold together having experienced this illusory distraction and then having it ripped away.

Caleb noticed he had just been looking at her.

She was beautiful.

He immediately felt guilty thinking about that. She was a friend and she trusted him. The hints of his feelings had been there creeping on the edges of his consciousness even in regular life, but there was enough out there to distract him and push those back to the edges where they belonged. Caleb was sure that she didn't feel the same way. There was nothing about him worthy of it.

"Prize, huh?" he said, walking around the kitchen counter, hanging on to the edge and leaning back.

He walked to the front door, dragging a chair behind him and jamming it under the door knob to secure it.

"We can hunker down here for now. You can tell me the entire story of Transmetropolitain through interpretive dance until it's time for bed."
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Ruggahissy
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She’d been asleep two hours. In those two hours Caleb had walked the entire length of the cabin dozens of times. He’d gone back and forth, in and out, counting floor boards, looking at details in the dark. At least, he thought it was two hours? He had no idea how long it had been. He kept moving. He had to keep pacing quietly just to do something.

Caleb was looking for anything to occupy his mind and he was rapidly running out of things that would do.

He had held it together more or less for two days barring some outbursts here and there. Caleb had kept from becoming unglued because he had convinced himself he had to, but he was being held together with the psychic equivalent of paperclips and chewed gum.

In regular life he didn’t even consider himself all that “together.” Caleb paced up and down the stairs slowly like a video game character unsure of the next step towards progression. Of course he wasn’t the picture of mental or physical health even at home. It was put into even starker contrast against his fitter twin. A duplicate that was better than him in every way that also just had better luck.

I don’t have a chance do I?

He walked back up the stairs one more time and walked into a bedroom, swaying and lightly running into a wall. Kimiko had said it herself. It was a joke, sure, but she was right. What could he do? Nothing. He had nothing worth offering, nothing he could do to defend from something.

Why am I so worthless? Will anyone even miss me at home? Who would when there’s good version of you? He hugged himself and rocked a bit.
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Ruggahissy
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Some hours passed. Was it hours? Maybe it was minutes. Definitely some amount of time had passed that was between 1 minute and 3 hours. He’d been nearly continuously tortured for 2 days, going on three. To him it wasn’t just that. Without sleep to break it up the whole experienced stretched and warped to be one horrible, inhuman day.

He laid down on a bed of the upstairs bedroom and stared straight up. Outside all he heard were the usual sounds of nature. By all accounts someone would describe it as soothing, but it was terrifying to him. Lying on that bed in the silence with his thoughts ricocheting in his hollow skull, he felt it. The fear was oozing just on the periphery of his consciousness, held at bay weakly by his efforts to keep from panicking. Staring into nothing, doing nothing, being nothing, his defenses faltered and the fear struck him in the chest like sickening, cold lightening. No one was going to help them. They would die. There was nothing he could do to save himself or Kimiko. All was lost. Caleb imagined the terror and helplessness of being lost at sea, drowning for days rather than to be done with it. He rolled over onto his side and curled inward. Despair consumed him, ate his organs and crushed the air out of his lungs.

Evil has won, hasn’t it?

Shakily he got to his feet and made another trip downstairs.

Caleb was sitting back in the living room staring at his half-eaten piece of pizza. How much later, it was impossible to tell. It felt like years had passed. A prize. It was a prize they had given her. They gave her food and a weapon like a rich sorority girl tossing a treat to a shivering inbred dog on the floor.

The sludgy, wary, painful cogs in Caleb’s mind started to turn and click together.

I love her, don’t I?

A prize for a kill. An advantage in trade for a piece of your soul. What was his soul worth?

Not much, I’m trash.

Trash for supplies and weapons. A good deal. A total bargain on his part.
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Ruggahissy
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One minute later? Another hour later? He sat watching Kimiko sleep from the door of the room she’d chosen. He’d become obsessed with the prize for the “best” kill. Gazing at the girl, he felt that he was obsessed with her as well. His heart was pounding out of his scrawny torso. The more he considered it the more it felt like someone had reached in and scooped his insides out like a molded pumpkin.

Getting more supplies and maybe a gun would be a huge advantage for anyone. On top of Kimiko’s current weapons, it could be enough to boost someone to a win.

Part of him told him that it would be unspeakably cruel to do that to her. How could he do that to her? He would have to be a monster to destroy the peace that they had found. He bit his lip so hard it broke the skin and a pinprick of salty blood ran into his mouth. Caleb’s whole body shook with one hand over his mouth to cover the sound. Tears moved over and around his hand.

He got to his feet and silently walked over to her. His face twisted as he continued to cry and shudder.

I have to do this. I have to do this. I have to.

It was the best for both of them. Staying like this would only mean more attachments, better to sever them early and if it could be done in a way that would lend an advantage, all the better.

With trembling fingers he reached down to her throat and jerked her awake while squeezing.

Do it. Do it. Do it.
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Ruggahissy
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She did it.

The blade tore through in one swift streak across his throat. Caleb let go of her instantly as if he'd received an electrical shock. Tears ran over the sides of his blue eyes and he smiled widely, sadly. He blinked a few times and fell to the side on the bed.

He couldn't talk, only gargle around the blood. Caleb lifted up his hands and signed.

K-E-I-K-A-K-U

His body shook and seized but he managed through the blood and tears to wink at her. If he could, maybe he'd be laughing at her a little.


________________________


Caleb was waiting with Andy for him to purchase a new external hard drive. He fiddled with some of the junk from the impulse aisle while Andy was rung up.

"Oh. You get a free pair of headphones," the employee informed them.

Andy turned and elbowed Caleb to bring him to attention.

"Don't you need new headphones? This hard drive comes with a lagniappe."

Caleb scoffed. "That's an awful big word for bumpkins like us," he said, adopting an exaggerated accent.

Andy smiled and framed his face with his hands "I have book learnin'. It's when you get like, you know, a free gift with purchase or like, buy 12 donuts get the 13th free."

"Oh, so like when you buy stuff and then get a piece of shit you don't want and you feel too guilty to be like 'No, I don't need this piece of shit.' ?" asked Caleb.

"It's about your perspective. It's a bonus."

"Or it's a junk you got stuck with once you got the thing you really wanted," responded Caleb, looking directly at Andy.


________________________

Caleb knew that it would be extremely painful for Kimiko to do this and that it would be hard for her to be alone again, but it would have to happen eventually for her to win. Maybe this would even get her another prize. He could never in a million years have been the winner, he knew that from the second he woke up. This was all he could really think to do to help her, it was all he thought he was capable of.

It was a good shot too, he thought. The terrorists would eat this up. Betrayal, love, friendship, tears. They were entertaining as fuck.

He bit his lip and looked up at her trying how to explain what had happened as succinctly as possible given he didn't have a lot of time and his signing was somewhat limited.

<You would have had to do it sometime. Ask for real cheese next time. If lucky, you'll get a gun.>

He brought up his hand up and pressed it against his mouth. Caleb then put his hand up against her lips.

He sobbed, but tried his best to maintain his smile. The last thing he wanted was for her to feel bad about what had happened. Caleb wasn't upset about dying really, he realized that he was crying because he would miss her. As much as he felt the pain pouring from his neck, the ache in his heart matched.

<You're the coolest girl in the world.>

CALEB DIAMOND: DEAD
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