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Haunted Reality; Continued from Desolate Dreams; Open
Topic Started: Nov 22 2016, 04:51 AM (999 Views)
VoltTurtle
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The girl who dreams on the back of a giant space turtle.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((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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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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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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"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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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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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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Penelope lay curled up, facing the wall, listening to their words.

Ben had a point. Will had modest words of encouragement, and was coming from a place of empathy.

If Will was able to continue on in spite of the loss of his loved one, why couldn't she? Ben was right that there were still others out there that would be willing to listen, others that cared for her and would likely stay behind her to the very end.

Penelope turned back over, almost as a signal to the boys that she was listening.

"Maybe..." She began. "...Maybe if we get a large enough group together, we'll be able to convince the others..." Penelope's thoughts turned to Astrid. "...that might not be so easily swayed."

Penelope swallowed. Those were the first truly coherent words that she spoke since the announcements. "There's... there's... Raina, Alessio, Cri-" She stopped. Cristo was already gone. It didn't feel real. "The... the robotics club members... I have senior friends like Jeremy and Serena... to name a few..."

She slowly hoisted herself up to a sitting position, her body language making it clear that she wasn't done. "You're right Ben, if... if I'm going to die, I want the people left behind to be proud of me. My parents, my friends who are still at home, Ems..."

Penelope looked Ben square in the eyes. Her confidence had begun to return, if only a little bit. "So... let's do it. Let's get everyone together. Let's show them that the kids at Cochise are not to be fucked with."

She took a deep breath. She still couldn't quite handle the fact that Sam was gone, that so many people - including her friends - had already died. But she had to be strong. She had to be the one to show the terrorists that they were wrong. It was the only way she could take all of this and make things right.

Penelope stood up, and extended both of her hands to Will and Ben.

"S-so. Are you with me?"
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And so Will was gone, Penelope not quite understanding his motivations.

She shook her head, lowering her now empty hand, before turning her head back towards Ben. "Guess we can't convince everyone immediately, huh?"

Penelope looked at the ground and pursed her lips slightly, contemplating, before she turned her head back up to Ben. "So... I think... I think the best thing we can do now is like... try to find some of my friends. They would probably be the most open to listening to my dumb plan... hopefully."

Penelope lowered her hand away from Ben's hand, their alliance already consolidated, before running her other hand through her hair. "The main thing I'm worried about is like... have they killed anyone yet? Like..." Penelope paused, breathing in and out to calm her nerves. "That's a cliff that you can't just... come back from. Once you've made the plunge, it's not going to be easy to claw your way back up."

Penelope hesitated, before putting both of her hands on Ben's arm and leading him out of the solitary cell. "Staying here won't do us any good," she said, before she went back in the cell to gather up her stuff. When she had everything collected and stood back up, Penelope turned to Ben, awkwardly running her fingers through her unkempt hair. "Is there... anything you want to say before we head out? Anything you want to talk about? Anything you want to know about me, or anything you want to be cleared up?"
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"My friends? How does one describe one's friends with just words alone?"

Penelope usually doesn't wax poetical, but she wasn't sure how to describe her friends to Ben. "LIke... huff, follow me. We can talk while we walk."

She took hold of Ben's wrist, leading him down the hallway, out of the still fetid and festering solitary confinement ward. "I guess... the best way I can describe my friends is that they're just... great people to be around. And I'm sure that they would listen to me when we get to them. They're better people than me, really."

Penelope knew that the answer she had just given wasn't going to be satisfactory to Ben. She needed an example. "The best person I can think of to talk about first is... well, Raina. She's probably my best friend in the whole world. The only person I would spend time with over her is..."

Penelope trailed off, stopping in the hallway before biting the side of her index finger. She released her finger from her teeth, taking several deep breaths. "I think... I think you... you know who... I'm... talking about," she forced out, her voice breaking.

They continued walking down the hallway, Penelope breathing deeply again and again. "Raina and I have known each other since elementary school. We've been together for as long as each of us can remember, really. She's helped me through a lot of tough times, even if she doesn't always know what words to say. I've helped her too, although part of me feels like I haven't done enough for how much she means to me."

Penelope looked at Ben, seeing his focus still on her and her words, before returning her gaze to the path ahead of them. "She's silly and funny and we've had so many deep conversations about the meaning of life and politics and shit like that." Penelope chuckled to herself a little bit, before continuing. "Given that you could probably call Raina a weeaboo you wouldn't expect that kind of thing out of her, but she's really smart and has everything 'there'... for lack of a better word."

She ran her fingers through her hair absentmindedly once more. "And she's got this cute little habit of playing with her earrings when she's nervous and she's so comfortable to nap on..." Penelope looked at Ben for a second before awkwardly stopping in her tracks and raising her hands up in front of her. "Wait not like that! I just... I don't have much of a sense of personal space and I'm sleepy a lot of the time, so I like falling asleep on my friends when I can get away with it."

Penelope rubbed the back of her head, sheepishly. "That... probably still sounds weird. It's not weird for me, though!" She waved her other hand in the air in a vague gesture. "She doesn't think it's weird or anything, she just gets that I'm, well... like that. I like physical affection, and I don't really know how to express the feelings of love I have for my friends any other way."

She motioned for them to start walking again, and Ben obliged, the awkward moment over. "It's sorta why I started getting all philosophical just after you asked. Wording these kinds of things is... hard. As you could... probably tell from how disjointed my thoughts are and how much I've been rambling."

"I guess, uh..." She searched for the right words. "Is that... enough for you, I guess?"
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"Y-yeah. We should."

Penelope looked out one of the tiny windows near the exit. The sky was gray, and rain spattered against the glass, the pitter pattering of the rain would almost be soothing if they weren't trapped in a death game. Silence echoed through the halls as they stopped near the gates leading out of the area. Penelope broke the silence. "I don't really know everyone who went on the trip either. I know most of the juniors, but I barely know any seniors outside the few I've become friends with. It... makes me feel horrible, really. I hear names that I don't recognize on the announcements and I just don't feel the same hurt in my heart as I do for the ones I do know."

Penelope shook her head, her eyes downcast. "I know that kind of feeling is unavoidable, though. We as creatures of blood and bone are flawed, and caring too much about people you don't directly know would hamper our ability to survive, so we just... can't."

She let out a small chuckle, remembering the jokes that the others in the robotics club used to make. "It's why we all need to abandon flesh and embrace metal. Robots are superior!"

Penelope looked at Ben and made a small smile, before turning her gaze back towards the ground. "Joking, of course. Or at least... half joking."

Silence once again followed as Penelope searched for words. "Let's just... get out of here, collect some rainwater, try and find others."

Penelope took hold of Ben's good hand with both of her hands, before raising his hand up to chest level. "But, before we do... I wanted to say that like... I'm really not sure what's going to happen next, or especially if I even believe we'll even succeed in this crazy mission of ours..."

Penelope glanced back up at Ben, her energy returning. "...But, that just means we'll have to believe in the world who believes in us. Together."

After a short moment of silence, Penelope quickly hugged Ben before he had a chance to stop her, holding the hug for several moments, before she let go and smiled at him once again. "Let's rock."

((Penelope Fitzgerald continued in See The Needy Greedy Me We Bleed To Feed So Easily))
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