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Why We Fight
Topic Started: Nov 10 2016, 08:21 PM (1,209 Views)
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((Clarice Halwood continued from In A World Of Shit.))

Nothing else had happened the previous day. Clarice had needed time. But maybe… maybe that had been a mistake. Avoiding any figures in the distance. They could have been friends. Or they could have been Nancy. Or Isabel. Or Kimiko. Or Ty.

Clarice hadn’t been far from the supply depot when the next announcement occurred. She’d gone there afterwards. Now she sat on the rusted truck outside the storehouse. Staring ahead. Thinking. Trying to ignore the persistent itch in her shoulder. She’d tried changing the bandages, but it was difficult with one hand. She hadn’t wanted to look at the wound too hard, either. The job she’d done was probably worse than the one Conrad had done for her.

But… but there was a lot to think about. A lot more besides a bloody shoulder and… and Harold and Conrad and… she had to think of other things for now.

Names stood out on the announcements. Nancy, Isabel, Kimiko. They’d all murdered again.

Clarice wasn’t sure if she could call herself lucky for having escaped Nancy with her life, but… it was certainly something at this stage. And Isabel… well, what could she even say to that? Isabel was a murderer. Still a murderer. So were so many others, but…

And Kimiko. Kimiko had murdered Bradley.

Clarice had hated Bradley. Bradley had been a piece of shit who thought laughing at genocide was acceptable. Last time they met, she’d yelled at him and flipped his plate of nachos. She’d felt like shit after, since one of the employees had had to clean it up. Clarice could just see him doing something so stupid as to mouth off to a killer… but, fuck.

“Dumb shit,” Clarice muttered. Her words weren’t venomous. It was… fuck, she was weirdly sad about it. No matter what Bradley had been, he didn’t deserve to die. No-one here did.

She still couldn’t process Kimiko murdering someone. One person… maybe—just maybe—it could have been an accident. But… she wasn’t the sort who flipped out like that. She was the calm one. She hadn’t been the one flipping nachos at the bowling alley.

Clarice looked around. There would be a camera. There always was. A metal eye staring at her, recording what could be her final moments. Just like the one staring at Harold, still staring at him because she’d fucking left him there. Rotting in view of the world. She found the camera, glinting nearby, and stared at it.

They were dropping like flies. Harold. Conrad. Abby. Bradley. Nancy. Isabel. Kimiko. Clarice had never watched Survival of the Fittest, but she knew enough from some cursory wiki research. (From a purely theoretical standpoint, the concept was an interesting example of propaganda.) She knew that the rescuers from way back hadn’t taken killers. Nancy, Isabel, Kimiko… they’d all as good as killed themselves by murdering.

Not that it mattered if no rescue came. And if Clarice just sat on her ass, staring at walls and the ocean and being sad, how could she expect a rescue to happen?

She had to try something. Even if she couldn’t save anyone, she could do something. Fight back somehow. She knew laying down their arms and waiting for the terrorists to blow their collars… she knew that wouldn’t work. Not now. And even if it did… it wouldn’t hurt the terrorists. Not really. All they’d lose was a bunch of children who were going to die anyway.

But there had to be something.

There had to be.

“Fuck,” Clarice muttered. The anger wasn’t there like it had been yesterday. Frustration, mostly. Frustration that she wasn’t smart enough to find a way out of this. Every moment she sat here, with no ideas, was another moment where someone could die. Where someone could lose their head and doom themselves to dying on this island.

And even if she did figure out a plan, how could she do it under the view of the camera?

Clarice sat there, legs dangling off the edge of the rusty truck. She stared at the camera. And her mind ticked.
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Clarice hadn’t been paying attention to her surroundings. She’d been too focused on the camera, trying to figure out how to beat it. The sudden greetings—one hesitant, one stern—made her jump a little. Made her start to slide off the front of the truck—whether in preparation for fight or flight, she couldn’t be sure—before she realised no attack was coming.

She knew Bart and Jennifer in passing. In Bart’s case, it was admittedly because it was hard to miss him in a crowd, even with her eyes closed. She knew Jennifer to be pretty smart, and not afraid of telling people when they were fucking up. Clarice wouldn’t pick either of them for players. But what the fuck did she know about that so far?

“Jennifer Wallace,” she replied in kind. She looked at Bart. “Bart—“ She paused for a moment, trying to recall what Bart’s last name was. “...Bart,” she finished sheepishly.

She heard a scrapey, crumbly noise nearby. Faint, but still there. Clarice’s head started to turn in that direction, but movement behind Bart and Jennifer drew her attention back.

Now, Clarice wasn’t in the most trusting of moods. But there were things that could make her sure that someone wasn’t about to attack. And Kizi throwing her shotgun on the ground while running at her was a pretty big indicator that this wasn’t secretly some kind of ambush.

Even if it was a naive move. Even if it was just so similar to Harold putting aside his sword and Conrad picking it up—

A split-second of horrified panic crossed Clarice’s face when Kizi carelessly tossed her gun aside.

But that was Kizi. That was Kizi and it had been Harold and it had killed Harold. But Kizi was alive and Clarice wasn’t Conrad.

And so Clarice slid off the front of the truck, feet hitting the ground with a thump.

“Yeah. Same, just… god, same.”

Clarice reached out and gave Kizi a tight one-armed hug. That’s all she meant to do.

But she also started crying like a baby that had just realised Santa Claus was actually a burglar wearing a red suit and stealing all its toys. Clarice hated crying in front of people. She hadn’t done this since… since…

Well, since she was ten, that night she’d run off from her parents arguing and gone to Conrad’s house. And goddamn if that just didn’t make her cry harder.
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“How could anything be okay?” That had been what Clarice meant to say, but it came out water-logged and messy.

Kizi didn’t say anything, just hugged back, but already Clarice was starting to feel embarrassed. This was the exact sort of shit she didn’t have time for. She could cry and scream if she lived, but every moment she cried was a moment where someone else could die.

But stopping was hard. Near-impossible, in fact. Clarice couldn’t stop, until she heard Kizi speak to someone.

Kimiko?

Clarice turned a little to look, and sure enough. Kimiko. Blood on her face and a weapon in her hand.

Slowly, Clarice turned back. She still had a grip on Kizi, and she moved Kizi slightly so that Clarice was between her and Kimiko before letting go and facing her friend. As she turned back to Kimiko, she tried to catch the eye of Bart and Jennifer and jerk her head behind her. Trying to tell them, without words, that they should get behind her too.

She didn't know if Kimiko would attack. Maybe Clarice could stop her just by... fuck, appealing to friendship or whatever. If nothing else, Clarice could probably stop any of the three from getting stabbed. She wasn't going to watch anyone else die like Harold had.

Clarice wiped her eyes with her good hand, trying to stop. Maybe succeeding a little more, if only out of… uncertainty and fear and stuff about what would go down next.

She tried to sign, but just the attempt at lifting her arm sent a bolt of pain through her injured shoulder. Clarice looked at her one good hand for a moment, trying to figure out what she could sign with just one hand, before sighing and lowering it again.

“Kimiko.” Clarice took a deep, watery breath before flatly saying, “What the fuck?”

Maybe not the best way to ask ‘why did you murder two people?’
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Clarice heard movement, and turned her head to see Jennifer approaching the gun on the ground. Not picking it up, not quite, but… close enough to make Clarice nervous, enough to make her see Conrad picking up Harold’s sword.

“We don’t need to be like that!” Clarice snapped. “We’re all gonna be fucking civilized, alright? All of us!”

At Kimiko’s signs, Clarice had to stop. She looked at Kimiko, then looked away. Gnawing on the inside of her cheek as she considered it. She might have stopped to consider it longer, but then Kizi moved out from cover to offer Kimiko a tissue.

“Wait,” Clarice muttered.

She reached out a little to stop Kizi from moving forward. Then she turned all her attention on Kimiko.

“Look… Kimiko…” Clarice trailed off a moment before taking a deep breath. “Look, I… I appreciate that. That you wanted to help me, that’s… yeah. I mean, I’m thankful. Thankful as I can be in these circumstances, anyway.”

Maybe it meant that, despite what Kimiko had done, there was still something left of her old friend in there. But then there was the fact of… well, what she’d done.

“But… being angry? Being scared? Fuck, that doesn’t excuse anything. I’ve been angry and scared since I woke up, and I haven’t stabbed anyone. Jesus, I know Bradley was an irritating shitstain, but...”

Clarice glanced at Kizi, then at the tissue she was holding in her hand. Clarice lightly tugged the tissue out of Kizi’s hand before taking a step forward. She made a motion for Kizi and the others to stay back.

“There’s three multi-killers on this island. And I haven’t had good run-ins with the other two. So I can’t just… blind trust has already lost me too much.”

Another step forward, as cautious as if she was approaching a wild animal. Clarice held out the tissue to Kimiko with her good hand.

“But you know what? We’re going to be fucking civil. And even if I don’t trust you, I’m not gonna hurt you. Because that’s what those jackasses want, and I’m not playing their fucking game. Alright?”
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No-one made it worse. No-one opposed staying civil. Clarice was glad for that small mercy. She didn’t know either Bart or Jennifer well enough to know if they were the type to stay reasonable, but it looked like Kizi had picked the people she traveled with well.

Kimiko took the tissue. Wiped her face. Then suddenly moved forward and hugged her.

If Kimiko had been just a tiny bit slower about it, Clarice might have punched her on reflex. As it was, her hands were partway up when she realised what the intent was. Even then, for one chilling moment, Clarice expected Kimiko to stick something sharp into her gut or back. If ever there was a time, it would be now. Clarice shut her eyes tight for a moment. Waiting.

Nothing happened. No stabbing. It was just a hug, same as Kizi.

This time Clarice didn’t cry. She awkwardly patted Kimiko on the back. Still wary, still uncomfortable. After a few seconds she stepped out of the hug. She did offer Kimiko a tentative, awkward half-smile that didn't quite reach her eyes.

“Uh. Sooooo...”

Clarice shifted awkwardly before looking around at everyone. She swung her good arm awkwardly. It brushed the air freshener can sticking out of her belt. Clarice looked down at it with a frown before resting her hand on it.

“So. What now?”

Clarice knew what she wanted to do. But she didn’t know what they wanted. Or what sorts of danger they’d be willing to get into.
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Clarice didn’t say anything as Kimiko started to back away, although her mind was yelling a hundred different things at once. Yes. No. Stay, you’ll be safe with us. Go, we don’t want a murderer with us. Stay. Go.

But it wasn’t really her choice. What could she do if Kimiko wanted to leave? Trap her? Tie her up to make her stay? What good would that do anyone? And then Clarice would need to spend all her time keeping a watch on Kimiko, until someone else ended them both.

The fact was, there was more than her and Kimiko on this island. And Kimiko had thrown herself into this game. She’d made her choice, and doomed herself in the process. And Clarice couldn’t fully hate her for it (not like Ty, why couldn’t she forgive Ty? Why couldn’t she forgive Conrad?) but this was just how things were.

Kimiko told her ‘be safe.’

“You know I can’t do that.” She wasn’t even sure if Kimiko heard her.

Kizi asked ‘do you want to go after her?’

“I don’t know if I want to. But I can’t.”

Clarice turned back, away from Kimiko vanishing in the distance, to see Jennifer holding the gun. There was one moment of overwhelming fear. A rush of thought, an urge to tackle Jennifer before she could do anything with it. But then it vanished as suddenly as it appeared. Jennifer gave the gun back to Kizi, proving herself much better than Conrad had been. Clarice looked away and let out a long breath.

Her eye caught the camera, and the words caught in her throat. Talk of escape. If she talked of escape, she’d never live long enough to manage it. But she couldn’t… not talk about it.

“I need to leave,” Clarice said abruptly.

She looked at the others. At Kizi. At Bart and Jennifer, better-chosen traveling companions than Clarice had picked.

“Whether… whether any of you follow me, that’s up to you. But don’t expect safety if you do. It will be dangerous. And it probably won’t end well.”

Clarice turned away from them, away from the camera as well, and left. Not sure where she was going, but listening for footsteps behind her.

Her hand was still on her belt, one finger tracing the lid of her air freshener can. It almost felt like her mind was itching.

((Clarice Halwood continued in If It Bleeds, It Leads.))
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