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Haunted Reality; Continued from Desolate Dreams; Open
Topic Started: Nov 22 2016, 04:51 AM (1,141 Views)
VoltTurtle
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((Penelope Fitzgerald continued from Desolate Dreams))

Penelope curled her knees up to her chest and clutched them tight.

The lighting had changed in the hallways of solitary confinement. A few hours had passed. She had presumably passed out from hyperventilating and stayed asleep, only to turn the wrong way and begin suffocating on her bag.

Her knees shook as she clung tighter to them. She wished the dream she'd had was real. Nothing could make this better. She had already lost friends, and now she had lost the person that mattered to her more than anyone. Any words that anyone could say would fall on deaf ears. She just wanted to be dead. She felt completely empty, and nothing would possibly fill the void that had just opened up inside her.

The only way this could be made okay is if she did what she saw in her dream. All she had to do was get up and walk to the bridge, no need to bother with stealth. If she got killed on the way there then it would be the same ends for her. She just wanted to stop being able to think. Being able to think was what allowed her to suffer in the first place. She would would be better off never being able to think or feel anything again. All she had to do was get up.

She didn't move.
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((Ben Fields continued from Coming Out Of The Closet))

The camera considered him. He was probably something of an idle curiosity, like a mess of desiccated roadkill.

He didn't know what to say.

He didn't know how much time had passed. The sun had merrily taunted him every time he'd huffed and puffed his way past a window, in pink and yellow tone ribbons of sea to shining sea. At some point it had become a dour grumble of bulky thunderstorm heads and the tap of earthen tears against grimy glass. Probably more appropriate. Maybe. He didn't know. Really, he didn't know a damn thing. That much at least, he understood now.

Ben had bound the wound on his arm. Had just been one wound, as much as it felt like many. Even pain couldn't be trusted anymore. Pain melted his brain out of his ears, much like blood melted out of his wound and thickly soaked his clumsy attempts at first aid in a brackish strawberry jam. The ache wasn't dull more than it was impossible to describe. Words simply failed to make sense of the nerves of the limb he'd once thrown monster curveballs with.

They failed everything else, but that went without saying at this point.

So Ben just gaped at the camera like an idiot for a while before he fumbled a march onward. Left foot, left foot, and another fucking left foot for good measure.

The hall was just a line-em-up of metal doors. They looked heavy. Maybe once he'd have laughed at them for batting practice, but now the effort seemed a bit much. There was some vague stink in the area. Reminiscent of the corpse in the basement. He'd walk into it at some point.

Or at least walk past a door that was actually left open. If by a bit. He'd take it.

He could see a lot of black fabric, weakly trembling. Shaped like a person. Maybe was a person, but Ben was hesitant to be sure. If eyes were described as oceans and lakes his was the Dead Sea. Lifeless even before he'd found his game over. He could trust them as far as he could rip them out of his skull and throw them. So he had to be sure.

Ben pried the door open with a solemn carelessness. Good hand on the door, and a sort of halfhearted shove to make it's hinges obey his frail and irrelevant will. It was a person. Some girl, familiar in theory but not to his decomposed peat-fed memory. She was crawling serpentine, with something of a fetal flavor.

...

And Ben still didn't know what to say. He was going forwards, but it was sans even pretended assurance of a plan. He'd called in his brains for reinforcements, but the distress signal was ignored. That left Ben with chunks of a body and a clumsy mouth. Not much of an offering. And honestly, it wouldn't do. But here Ben Fields was, sitting his pasty ass on the ground beside the girl, just close enough that they could avoid each other's gazes, just far enough that it was awkward. And, oddly enough, Ben still didn't know what to say. Seconds worth of silence was all he could come up with. And the exit plan was several eternities additional. Mission fucking accomplished.

"... You okay?" Of course Ben managed to pick the vague coward question. Saying it in a weak tremolo that broke pitch as his arm sent him a neatly typed reminder of his agony in full triplicate 'fuck you'.
V7

V6 - Like you imagined when you... were young...
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Penelope was stirred out of her thoughts by the door to her cell opening.

She stole a glance at the face of the boy who opened it before he spoke. He looked young, barely taller than her. Stood up very straight, dressed generically. Probably one of the nicer sporty types from the senior class. She knew pretty much everyone in her year, and she knew how the various cliques presented themselves. He obviously wasn't a threat, given his concern for her well being.

Penelope slowly hoisted herself up off the floor, before returning to the fetal position with her arms wrapped around her knees, back against the wall. She answered simply. "No."

Silence echoed through the corridors of the solitary confinement ward as the two of them parsed what to say. Penelope reached down into her bag and pulled out the small makeup mirror she had brought with her on the trip, left behind by the terrorists. The extra light coming in from the open door let her easily see herself in it. Her mascara was entirely ruined at this point from all the crying she had done, marking her face with wide tear stains running all the way down her cheeks. A fitting look, given her current mood and desires.

Penelope halfheartedly dropped the mirror back into her bag before looking back up at the boy that was standing in the doorway. "So..."

"Are you here to kill me?" She asked. "Or are you about to tell me you killed someone? Or intend to? Or..." She stopped, catching herself from going on.

She didn't know this boy, and the fact that he hadn't attacked her when she was vulnerable was at least a sign that even if he had killed someone he's probably not intent on doing it again.

"I'm... sorry. I've gone through a lot just in the last two days." Her voice wavered. If she had the ability to cry any more than she already had, she would be crying right now too.

"I-If you don't mind me asking... what's... what's your name?"
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Silence reigned with an iron lockjaw. The girl tried to drag herself up. Failed. Somehow, Ben found that familiar.

"No."

Also familiar. She wasn't okay. Ben should have seen that coming. Why the fuck had he even wasted the breath on asking? He watched her examine her smeared, molten face in a mirror. Bold of her. Even a mirror was too much of himself to handle, there and then. More silence, more fucking silence. Ben's head was empty white noise and static. His head was a quiet morning's in his Mom's SUV, with the radio off and everyone busy with their own brooding thoughts. Peaceful. Like the eye of the storm.

And then the argument would break out, and Lana would start crying.

She'd asked a question. He hadn't even thought to respond until he was already seated. He was on autopilot. Without an actual destination. What was he supposed to say in response to that? Maybe the obvious? No, he didn't want to kill. Not her, not anyone. His damn intentions had been to save people. To fight the good fight. To march against an unbeatable evil. To go down with fists swinging and guns blazing. To be a man. That had been what he'd come here for.

Lies.

All he could answer with was 'no'. "No, it's not like that." Empty verbiage. That's what he'd really come here for. Something weak and powerless and pointless, like everything else he'd done.

"I'm..."

Silence. Loud, blaring numbness, like the rest of his blood and air deflated arm.

"Sorry. I've gone through a lot just in the last two days." That tremble in her voice said everything she hadn't actually said. Ben remained mute. He tried to nod, but the gesture faded away before the abandoned ruins of his neck had even begun to creak.

"I-If you don't mind me asking..."



"What's..."



"What's your name?"


"Ben Fields."

And before he could stop himself, the radio silence broke.

"What happened? You killed someone? Lost someone?" Her face reminded Ben of something. Crusty paste of dried tears, makeup running through yonder fields. Normally when a girl cried Ben would do something to stop it. Fix it. But he'd already failed to stop or fix anything else on this damn island. Same with this. He could only just watch her. Out of the corner of his eye. Mostly, he stared at the floor.
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Penelope stared at the ground, mouth slightly ajar, thinking of how to word her response.

"No I... didn't kill anyone. I couldn't do that. There's no way. There's no way..."

Penelope looked at the base of the wall nearby, the grimy padding giving away the building's age.

"My..." Penelope started to choke on her own words, a knot forming in her throat. "My... my boyfriend..." She couldn't stop the tears from flowing, as drained as her tear ducts already were. "My boyfriend... he... he..."

Penelope bit the side of her thumb, wanting to make everything go away, wanting to wake up and find out that this horrible nightmare was just a dream all along. "He's..." Penelope paused briefly to hold in her sobs. She needed to be coherent. "He's dead."

She slowly slid down the padded wall back down onto the floor, remaining in fetal position. Neither of them said anything for a moment. The tension and awkwardness in the air was almost palpable, it choked her under its weight.

There was nothing really more for her to say. Nothing to think about, nothing to do. Just this empty, unceasing moment that she was trapped in.

One last thing that she could say popped into her head. Breaking the silence, she spoke again, "My name's Penelope, by the way..."
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"No I... didn't kill anyone. I couldn't do that. There's no way. There's no way..."

It was just words, wasn't it? Prettier voice than his even when it was busily fragmenting into fragile porcelain shards, but words no different than the words he'd spoken once. The lies and empty promises. But no. That wasn't it at all. Ben could see her in a way he couldn't really see himself. He could see the honesty. Raw, exposed, naked honesty. It was a truth, but it was an ugly one that weakly trailed down the sides of her face, running like blood from the eyes.

He believed her. Yeah. So that meant it was all the harder to look her way. He kept his eyes planted, but it was like running right against the face of the wind and rain and bullets. He had to hear it for himself as she said it. Slowly. Tortuously. A few syllables worth of fucking knives. The sort of knives that filleted clean to the bone, like preparing bloody fish and meat for a tableside dinner.

"..."

Ben silently watched her melt back into the concrete.

Was silence really all he had left?

The stasis of his life held on his next breath. That breath only took a moment, but he'd swear it was an eternity's worth of decay and crumble. Swear it on the damn grimy pocket-linty bent copper piece of was what was left of his own worth.

Penelope. He didn't remember that name. Maybe he'd never known her until this moment, or maybe his brain was already dead and the rest of his body was just marching to the dirge 'til it caught up.

His chest deflated, popped like a balloon. Something spewed out his throat in a trailing hiss.

"You're still alive." It wasn't really an assertion, or an exclamation. Not a comment, or an entreaty, or a question, or an answer, or any fucking thing really. He just said it.
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((Will McKinley continued from The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead))

When he left Nadia at the cliffs, He didn't have time to think of home or any plans aside from one. Will figured it'd be best to cover as much ground as possible, even retrace old areas he's been in the last day to make sure, now that he no longer was distracted. He made his way across the bridge to the other part of the island, he'd seen the asylum on the map and figured Alex would make his way there, with the way he was acting all Phantom of the Opera back there with Rea. He'd definetly setup shop there.

It felt eerie standing outside the entrance. Like, there was a foreboding sense of danger about the place, Will had heard about the abandoned asylums they had in America, locked down and out of public eye for mistreatment of patients and general inhuman conditions they would have. It didn't look any better, fuck if what he'd heard on the announcments were true, then it was going to look way worse.

As he entered the building he noted it somehow looked worse on the inside. The outside looked stable to a degree, the inside was something else. It looked like a fucking graveyard, fitting.

Will decided to check the second floor first and work his way downward, he had his gun out at all times at this point. This was a risky endeavour he was on and any encounter could be a fight. Nobody was going to get the jump on him, not again.

He ascended the steps and looked around the top area. One that caught his eye was a particular corridor, he quickly went down it to find the gates to what looked like Solitary. The gates looked like absolute shite, and in the case of one rusted away. He made his way in.

As he walked down the halls he heard a familiar voice, He tensed up looking behind him as though someone was there before he hurried his pace over to where he had heard it.

"Ben? Is that you?"
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"Only for a certain definition of alive." Penelope said, her voice low.

Penelope turned her head slightly, looking more directly at Ben, but still averting her eyes out of habit. "Like... If you're asking if I'm still ambulatory, still respirating, and still metabolizing, sure I guess I'm alive."

Her head sunk back down to a complete resting position. "But part of me has already died here with my boyfriend and all my friends that have already died, let alone yet to die..." Penelope choked back sobs. None of this will ever be okay. "...and I'll never, ever get that part of me back."

"Plus," she continued, "I'm going to die anyway. That's for certain. We have virtually no chance of escape without them just blowing us all up, and there's no way that I'd survive all the way to the end. I wouldn't be able to kill anyone, and I'd rather die than be the person that everyone else I knew and loved died for. I just..." Penelope bit her lip hard. "I just..." A small, warm trickle of blood started running down her chin. She tried hard to ignore it. "I just wouldn't be able to live with the survivor's guilt."

"There were only two reasons I'm still alive in the first place. One was some... stupid plan that never would have worked even if someone with ten times my charisma tried to implement it. And even if that plan worked we would all die anyway. The other was... I just... wanted one more night with Sam. That's all I wanted. But he's dead now."

Penelope lay there, repeating those last few words over and over for several seconds, her voice only barely audible as she squeezed herself into a tight ball.

"..."

She relaxed her arms and returned to the fetal position, still averting her gaze from Ben's face. "Sorry..."

"Anyway..." She began again, "Before you came here I was getting ready to get up and go to the bridge and... jump off. I don't see any reason to continue living. Not in these circumstances. Not without my friends and the love of my life."

Not much time could pass after she stopped talking before a new person arrived at the scene, apparently being familiar with Ben.

"Go... talk to whoever that is. Don't worry about me."

She paused only long enough to give Ben some basic eye contact before averting her gaze to the floor yet again.

"I've got a lot of thinking to do anyway."
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She'd said it.

And said it, and said it. She had a way with words, somehow. 'Ambulatory', that was a new one. Ben was reminded that he'd never been the smart one. Maybe another thing to etch onto his gravestone at the end of the longest day of his life.

Her message made sense, Ben knew that. Or rather, he understood it. She'd lost everything and everyone. If not now, eventually. It was a pretty straightforward point. Stark, in time and space and the echos between Ben's pubescent ear hairs. He didn't want to agree. There should have been some way to debate her. To fight her, without guns and bullets but with words. But fuck, he somehow couldn't do that. He would try, to be sure. It was pretty damn predictable of him. But he already knew he had nothing to show this girl. He hadn't yet put up a good show. Or even a damn show in the first place.

But he's dead now.

But he's dead now.

But he's dead now.


Ben had gotten the point the first time, but he supposed even the basics warranted repeating to somehow stick. Scratch that shit into the chalkboard, all Simpsons style.

"Don't apologize." Ben didn't need to look her way to know neither of them were looking at the other.

Another voice broke the facade. This one, at least, seemed to have a bit of life or vigor or whatever it was to it. It was memories of the desert and the deceased.

"Will." Ben probably should have been excited. Maybe should have moved his ass off the wall, or his two left feet, or the now stone cold nape of his neck. Should have Will with a salute and something like a hand to the shoulder, or a brotherly hug. Something. Something in solidarity, or in recognition of Will's pain, or. Well. Ben did none of those things. He just stayed seated there, eyes as aimless as the girl's besides him. He almost couldn't look Will in the eye at all. But at the last second he managed a glancing blow.

"It's me, yeah." The punctuation for Ben's words was just deafening silence. "And Penelope." That name hadn't meant a thing to either man in the room even minutes ago. Maybe it was still meaningless. Maybe the only damn names that mattered now were the ones that the terrorists taunted them with. Rea Adams, for one. "I'm... I'm sorry, dude."

It was spilling out before he could stop himself. Not even a lot of it. Less a Biblical flood and more the kiddie sippy cup.

"I fucking failed, dude. You, and Penelope, and... I had a plan. Plans. They were all shit." Ben didn't know if it was surrender. If it was it didn't feel nearly as crushing as he'd thought it would have. He still had a chest, he still had lungs. He was still somehow speaking. Saying things. "Sorry. To both of you."

That left what Penelope had said. Ben wondered if Will had managed to hear any of it.

Maybe her words would somehow matter where his hadn't.
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He followed the voices to their location. Sounded friendly, but he didn't take his chances of anything. He kept the gun out, but pointed at the floor for now as he came closer to them.

When he saw him just standing there talking he thought for a second that Ben had gone crazy, but then he got closer and saw the girl in the room. It was a weird sight, a far cry from the talk he and Nadia had earlier, no concealed hostility between them, just two tired people looking for peace.

He looked over at the girl first, he remembered seeing her around school, but not much about her. Ben seemed cool with her, he was sitting with her, talking with her. That's as good as friendly at this point. She didn't look too good though, must have been through her own fair share of crap. For now he wouldn't bother her beyond a nod and turned his attention to Ben.

Ben was not in good shape, to say bluntly. He looked like shit and the words just came out of him, bottled up from days of avoiding death and carnage. "Do-don't man." He didn't know what he went through, he might have other regrets, but he wasn't going to make him feel responsible for what happened to her, it's least he could for his friend. "Listen, whatever happened, it's not your fault."

It was at this point he noticed something that caught him off guard, the shape Ben's arm was in. "What the fuck happened? Who did this?" He gestured at his arm, it didn't look good. He brought forward his own bag and started rummaging through it, he could have some of his supplies for that.
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Penelope curled up into an even tighter ball, the new boy that came up distracting her only company.

She was okay with that though, she didn't want Ben getting too attached to her. It would only cause more unnecessary suffering when she died, soon enough. She considered just standing and leaving, to get away from them. Prevent any more harm from being done. Make her way over to the bridge and jump off, like she did in her dream.

Penelope shook as she considered the endless oblivion of death. Not believing in any sort of afterlife had its downsides. She didn't want to stop existing, not now, not when she was so young. Not when she had so many people who cared about her. Not when she had so much she had left to do. Not that she would even be capable of caring after she died, but she just wished that the terrorists had killed her directly.

Her shaking stopped as she considered that line of reasoning. If she did something fragrantly against their rules, she could get them to just blow her up and kill her quickly, without a fuss. She could show them that she wasn't okay with doing what they wanted her to do, and that she didn't have to rely on anyone else.

Penelope raised her head slightly to look at the boys, before laying her head back down. She could just get up and go to a camera away from them and break it. She just needed to get up.

She did not move.
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Ben heard Will. It went without saying. The room was too quiet and everything up through Ben's pathetic, labored breathing stood out. His arm continued to uselessly remind him of facts established long ago. Ben realized then that Will had a gun. The sort of man you could trust with a gun, yeah. A man unlike Ben Fields.

"Don't. Not your supplies." There was nothing else to be said, about his arm. Ben clutched at it with enough impotence to force it to limp into his lap, with a hiss he carefully bit down on. Regardless, too much of that damned agonized sound escaped for his liking.

He could hear the fucking camera still clicking, watching without a word. He could also hear fabric rustling. Will?

Penelope.

...

So. Was that it? Was Ben going to sit against a prison wall until his ass refurbished the concrete? Nothing else had gone his way. So went the things he'd done, the thoughts he'd had. The words he'd said. 'Sorry'. Apologizing for letting them down. Or, at least, for letting them see. Of all the fucking useless words he had left in him, 'sorry' had been the one he'd picked. Was that it? All he had left, empty promises. Emptier excuses.

Didn't look so good on him. So he put his chin up again. It felt heavy, but inertia felt heavier.

Penelope had spoken about her plans at length, hadn't she? All of them, right down to the atrociously penned final act. Ben had heard every single word, committed it to his disintegrated memory. And he'd just sat there. Feeling sorry for himself. Saying things that didn't matter. 'Coward' was a word too good for him. But, he realized finally, it was just a word. It was no sticks and stones. Nor was it guns, nor was it bullets. Ben was a coward, with each leg shorter than the other and each inadequate inch of height barely scraped off the yardstick. Still had enough words in him to continue to make an ass out of himself. Maybe that was all he needed.

Ben jerked his head Penelope's way, for Will to see.

"Penelope." Ben cleared his throat to clear the last bit of his own pointless tears he'd choked down. About damn time his voice stopped drowning in itself. "You mentioned a plan." 'Some stupid plan, where we would all die anyway.' "Think we all should try to make it happen. Got any details for us?"
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Ben didn't want it, or rather like he felt he shouldn't take it. And he wasn't telling him what had happened to his arm. Ben could be stubborn about things to a irritating degree, even so, this felt like a far cry from the Ben back home. But! He is Will's friend, and he will be damned if he was going to let him get himself infected or killed.

"Ben, you need it more than I do." Something had shook him badly, obviously getting shot fucks you up badly, but there was somethig else. Something weighing him down. Will knew the feeling, a sense of failure that refused to leave. Ever growing and festering as the hours went by and more regrets added to it. Made you feel like utter shit, but he was going to stop that. He'd already lost someone to this horrible game, He wasn't going to lose more.

Ben turned his attention over to the girl, Penelope was her name. Will stopped rummaging through his bag as he listened to him speak. Talk of a plan, probably what they were talking about before he came here. Will had no interest in any plans escape or otherwise that was not the one he already had, but Ben obviously was and he wasn't going to leave him hanging. He kept quiet, waiting for her response.
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Penelope looked at Ben for a few seconds, wide eyed, before covering her face with her hands.

"The plan is stupid. It won't work, we won't be able to do it." She said, her voice riddled with despair.

"If you're really that persistent, then fine. I can explain it." Penelope let her hands slide off her face and onto the soft padding below, her eyes averted from the boys in the room. "I had an idea that maybe we could convince everyone to like... stop fighting? Not kill anyone?" She took a deep breath, relaxing herself. "And then... when nobody died in a day... the terrorists said that if that ever happened, they would blow us all up. Explode all the goddamn collars wrapped around our necks."

Penelope shook her head as best she could in the position she was in. "I guess the idea was that we could show them like... we were better than them. Show them that we wouldn't stoop to their level and play their damn game. Force them to be the ones who killed us, because ultimately every death is on their heads."

She sniffled, still recovering from her crying fits. "But that's stupid. Not only would they probably not care, but I'm willing to bet that at least one of the other students, maybe those three psycho bitches that keep appearing on the announcements, wouldn't go along with it."

"The plan's worthless," she began, "I let everyone down. I couldn't even meet up with my boyfriend before he got fucking murdered. I'm just going to die out here and my life will mean absolutely nothing to basically anyone."

Penelope turned herself over, facing the wall, before curling up again. "I can't believe I ever thought I'd actually accomplish anything. I'm fucking worthless."
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"Ben, you need it more than I do."

Nah, see. Bandages and stitches were for soldiers. Heroes. Boys and men who went out to the front and came back with medals and honor. Brothers who came home after baseball practice accidents still stubbornly clinging onto the groceries with what was left of their arms. Ben was none of those things. Not anymore. He refused to dignify himself with a single other word.

...

He'd need another word, though. A lot of them. It was a tall order. Eclipsed him by the heads of all the assholes in Cochise bigger than him combined.

The problem was Penelope. Her body language was also words, and they were pretty coldly bleak ones. To say nothing of the actual words she'd said. He didn't know what parts he agreed with or didn't, not at first. It was the sort of idealism that made great men, or maybe the sort that broke mediocre men over the knee. It was a plan that literally got them all killed. Ben had never even considered death an option, he'd tried to lead the battle cry and charge against it. Pickett's Charge, that first day, and every day after Ben kept waving the blunted bayonet until a boy with a real gun had made something very clear to Ben.

Death was very much an option. The terrorists mockingly reminded them of that. And the worst part was that people actually listened.

But no one had listened to Penelope. Ben himself wouldn't have back then, he'd honestly admit that. But he could listen to her now.

"I dunno. Sounds like a pretty good plan, to me." He didn't even know if he believed himself.

Contrails of dried tears were staining her face. He was reminded of how he was supposed to be the one drying tears when girls cried to him.

"I had a plan too, and it was shit." Ben needed to pick his words but there wasn't time to. "I let everyone down too, really. And I'm probably going to die..." The word 'too'. 'As well'. 'Also'. All good words in a certain time and place. Now was not that time, nor that place. "But none of that matters. It doesn't matter that people aren't going to go along. Those people are already dead, they just don't know it yet. Some people will go along, and for their sakes we need to reach them. Give all of us a better way out than dying alone and unmourned. We can still do that, for them."

Ben didn't know if he'd said the right thing. He'd never been one for the monologues. He was sure everyone watching at home was cringing or laughing right about now.

"If... your family and... your boyfriend watched you give up when there's... still work to be done, what do you think they'd say? ... You know."

Ben wasn't supposed to be 'that one'. The one that had to hold up a time out card, or wave a white flag to figure out how to to say the things that needed to be said.
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