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No One Gets Left Behind
Topic Started: Dec 4 2016, 12:14 PM (1,002 Views)
Deamon
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((Travis Lynch continued from They Stumbled Into Faith and Thought))

If the wards were anything, it was creepy. That was snap judgement Trav had made upon entering them and after spending a little while in them his opinion was unchanged. They were just empty rooms, ok so empty was incorrect. Some of them had personal effects in and that made it even creepier. People who were "insane", finger quotes mandatory, had been kept in the rooms. Judging from the way they had been laid out the person who had been in the room they were currently squatting in was basically normal. There was nothing Trav could see that indicated they had been deserving of being trapped on the island and in the tiny room they had to live in. He looked at the picture he had found once more. A group of three smiling people, two men and one woman. There were a lot of different permutations to which of them, if any, had ended up in the asylum and what their relationship to each other was. He had been trying to think through all of them but the amount of possibilities messed with his head. He was certain one of the three had ended up in the same room he was in now however.

Placing the picture face-down on the floor Trav looked over at Cass, they were still together and still out of trouble. It must have been a minor miracle. The worst thing they had encountered was the corpse of Jane. Still no sign of Noodle though. It was making doubt start to gnaw away at him and ugly questions were starting to emerge from the darkest parts of his mind to come to the forefront.

What if she's in trouble? What if she's hurt? What if she's dead and you just don't know yet?

As uninvited as they were the messages they gave him were important; until the next announcement happened he had no idea of what Noodle's status was. He helped keep in focus, but he didn't want to dwell on them. It was something to consider but he would drive himself mad if that was all he thought about.

Cass seemed to be doing fine which was good. If Noodle was No.1 priority, Cass had become a close No.2. He knew that when push came to shove he'd defend them.

Trav decided to break the silence. It was becoming suffocating.

"Makes you think about how people treat each other doesn't it?"

Really philosophy? That was the icebreaker he'd gone with?
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((Cass nodded.))

"They couldn't have picked a better place to throw us, really."

So in the end, they had fled back to the asylum after all, compelled by the already encroaching night. Cass couldn't stand the thought of it, of choosing to stay behind in a place that by all rights should have stank like death; even if those tragedies were long since faded like the memories of those who had "lived" in those sterile halls. It spoke to some sense of rightness that it had fallen into such disrepair, but Cass was hesitant to call it a victory without knowing its history. In all likelihood, it had simply stopped being profitable. They wondered what became of the patients who had seen the fall of their prison. Had they been returned to their families, to find understanding and healing elsewhere? A hopeful thought, at least until you considered who had committed them in the first place. Had they simply been shunted to another corner of the world, the only difference the alien soil they were eventually buried in?

The room they were finding brief requiem in had been someone's world, once; and Cass felt strangely like an intruder. They appreciated it when Trav turned the picture out of view, and hoped that none of its subjects had lingered on in the asylum. It was not a place to spend one's eternity.

They would have preferred the roof, but Irene and Wade wouldn't have understood; their one missing day of shared history a wide schism between them. Cass could have borne their return to the asylum if that was where they had ultimately set up camp, but they couldn't find any words to explain their feelings that sounded more than just pitiful sentiment. Nothing important, nothing worth anyone else hearing. Trav would have understood, but he didn't seem to care that much about their locale, either. They could only hope that this wasn't where they would die, hidden away from the sun and moon.

Cass turned to face their new companions. "So, uh... how are you guys holding up?"
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((Wade Cartwright continued from They Stumbled into Faith and Thought.))

Backtracking it again, in a more direct manner. It wasn't unpleasant this time; he was with companions. But he tried hard not to consider what would happen if they did get into a stand-up confrontation. The 'cowardly' choices he went over mentally made a strange, sick kind of sense that again raised the specter of psychopathy and like Hell he was going there willingly. Previously, before all this started, he would've regarded them with no trouble. Often, he'd see in it squeamishness, a reluctance to do what was necessary and obvious. But it was one thing to contemplate what he or anyone else would do in a dangerous situation and another entirely to actually be in the thick of it trying to make a snap decision; people in general were far more impulsive and emotional than they liked to believe.

That truth had never been revealed to him as deeply, clearly or painfully as in the past several days. He had vague thoughts of trying to approach the entire situation in a clever, thoughtful, coldly analytical way, as 'smart' people did in so many portrayals. But the world just didn't work like that. Or didn't feel like that. Whenever he got things right, it was this flow-like state of intuitive discovery that was hard to describe. Pieces just fell into place and arranged themselves into a whole that seemed coherent. Not knowing exactly how he decoded problems was itself a problem.

It was... some time during the night, Wade couldn't be sure when anymore. Still with Irene and the others. (There he went again, placing the familiar one first!) This room brought dark images of grinning, white-coated medics to the fore.

"Makes you think about how people treat each other doesn't it?" He would've responded, yes. Something to the effect of, 'oh, back then they didn't know, oh, lobotomy had its successes, they were duped, fooled, deceived themselves'... but it was held out. It seemed pointless to try and defend all present humanity against the charges of past atrocity. In general, everything felt.. not pointless, adrift. Like they were in limbo, or waiting for something. Almost unbearable in its own right, but it carried the promise of a better tomorrow, unlike many other moods that may have struck.

Then Cass, abruptly and without warning, made a small breakthrough.

"So, uh, how are you guys holding up?" And he felt compelled to respond. It stirred real emotion he could connect and respond to, as banal as it felt. A conversation really could emerge from that. He could start it off, even. Just had to focus. focus. focus.

"Doing great here, really. I'm curious, though. What's our next move?"
Edited by shotgunkid, Jan 8 2017, 03:59 AM.
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((Irene Djezari Continued From They Stumbled Into Faith And Thought))

Going back into the asylum made Irene uncomfortable. On top of the place being ripped from a bad horror movie and full of death, it was a stark reminder of her big failures. She'd left her friends behind to freak out and mope, and now...

She shook her head to try and get the thoughts out. Trav's question made her mind dart down another path and she chased it readily, anything to distract her from being a fuck up. Anything at all.

"Makes you think about how people treat each other doesn't it?"

The others were talking, but she'd latched onto the words so she was barely paying attention. A bad habit, especially here, but she couldn't help herself. 'cuz it did make her think. In fact she couldn't stop thinking about it. Now, the thoughts were spilling out in hushed tones from the back of the group.

"The killers...do you think they always wanted to hurt people?" She looked up at the three of them fervently for confirmation. The gears were spinning now, and she wanted to be right. Needed to be. "L-like, this whole thing, it's not making them is it? We're in it too, and we haven't hurt anybody, so they...they had to just be bad people?" Babbling out of nowhere wasn't a pretty look on anybody, but she couldn't help herself. It'd been rattling around her head, and now that it'd been stirred up again. This whole thing was crazy and didn't make any sense, but if they were just bad, if they weren't people, they were just them as opposed to us, it could all align again. It could all be okay.

If they were just bad people, she could hurt them to protect her friends, and she didn't have to think about it any further than that.
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Trav thought about Wade's question. In truth he didn't have an answer. There was no real plan. Just his desire to find Noodle. That was priority number one. He couldn't think of a good way of going about it, there were too many different variables. Trying to make a plan around it would on serve to drive him insane especially as there were so many chances for them to walk past each other with out realizing. Trav didn't dwell on it.

He just shrugged at Wade.

"Dunno man."

He and Cass had done fine without a plan so far, there was no need to spent hours trying to thing one up only for it to be rendered null and void as soon as the next announcement hit. It was better to wait and see what the next morning brought and figure things out from there, once they had an idea of the lay of the land.

Trav turned and looked at Irene as she spoke. He thought he got the point she was trying to make but he didn't feel inclined to say he agreed. Sure bad people existed, but he doubted or just didn't want to believe that some of his classmates had just been waiting for this opportunity. For one or maybe two people sure but for the rest, that didn't line up.

He shook his head.

"I don't think so, sure maybe a couple of them." He thought back to Vanessa, how she was acting, he could see that happening with much more tragic results. "I think it's just a group of kids stuck in a situation that no one can be prepared for and a lot of what's happened is the result of that."

Trav didn't know if he was attempting to convince Irene or himself.
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Wade wanted answers, results, a bullet-point list explaining how exactly they all intended to survive in their new corner. Cass sympathized, but they couldn't help. If he truly favored action over reaction, proactive planning over a wait-and-see until the roof collapse on their heads; he had chosen to hang out with the wrong people. Cass hoped, for his sake, that he could calm down. For the moment, all they could do was echo Trav's shrug. "Stay here, I guess. Try to get some bad sleep."

At least the addition of two new watchmen meant they could all spend a little more time lying down and failing to rest. It would have been nice if the bed frame had been supporting an accompanying mattress, but after years of disuse Cass wouldn't have been able to trust it to not contain more than the preferable amount of insects, anyways. Thinking of Mother Nature reclaiming her ground was only wonderful until you woke up with a cockroach on your face. At least the floor here was dry.

None of that mattered as much as Irene's question, though. Now there was something that warranted more than question marks and helpless apathy. She looked rattled, desperate for comfortable affirmation. Cass wished that they could have given it, but it would be doing the dead and dying a disservice.

"It's, uh, not really that simple," Cass hesitantly started. "I mean, what happened to Jane - that isn't right. That was deliberate, and I don't think that sorta malice just pops up overnight. But everyone else? Does panicking because you woke up in every high-schooler's nightmare make you a bad person?"

They pointed at Irene's shotgun. Illustratively, not accusingly. "You've obviously been responsible with that, but what if it was someone else holding it right now? Like, if they saw one of their friends getting attacked and tried to save them, or they just got startled or something, made the worst possible split-second decision, does that mean they'd be evil?"

Cass glanced at Trav, then looked back at Irene. "I'm not trying to single you out or anything. Like, me and Trav? Literally nothing has happened to us yet. Are we good people just because we've been lucky enough to stay out of the way of anyone who'd wanna hurt us? Because we haven't even had the chance to make any mistakes, yet? I don't know, and I don't really see the point in trying to figure that stuff out. We're all falling apart. If you gotta blame someone, blame the bastards who put us here in the first place."
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They weren't getting it. Cass was right. Nothing had happened to them, so they couldn't understand. This was different, it just was, it had to be. Cass especially was trying to moralize the whole thing away, but they couldn't really believe that, right? 'Oh, some people just make bad decisions,' like that's all the end of someone's life was? Or like people trying to save their friends lives were what they'd been hearing about for the last few days?

No. They were killers. People who did things like what she'd seen done to Tina, or to Joshua, or to Jane, they didn't just make a bad decision. Irene shook her head quickly and stared up at Cass. "It's not like that though!" The words came out more forcefully than she expected, but she kept going. "All those names...they weren't just protecting their friends. How many times are we gonna have to hear Nancy's name to get that? Or Isabel's, or Kimiko's? I mean, maybe a couple are mistakes, or just people trying to do the right thing, but most?" She was shaking now. Fear, rage, anxiety, take your pick as to why. "Don't l-lie to yourself, Cass," she stuttered.

Irene had had enough doubt about what was going on for everyone already. It seemed like everyone else wanted to do the same thing though, in one way or another. Somebody had to be honest about it. Somebody had to do something. She still didn't know what to do, but maybe if she could make them understand, they could help her.
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[ * ]
Listening in, Wade had been trying to compose an effective response. He felt their words bounce around in his head, fishing for little nuggets of meaning and understanding, then picking them out, composing a picture of what everyone else was trying to convey. Rapidly, as the back-and-forth started from Trav's previous comment, he realized why he felt strangely indifferent: the entire topic was rather tangential to the real discussion to be had. As a matter of fact, Cass had seemed to brush off this core: what his question was really getting at.

The real discussion wasn't why the killers were killing; there were plenty of potential motivations. Myriads given the complexity of human thought and the plain statistics of chance, and it seemed a bit dehumanizing to start writing a select group people off as some vague cartoon evil separate from the rest. Even as chilling as it was to accept that serial killers were on the loose on this island - terrifying given that they had come from the very same senior and junior class as himself - that was the reality they were grappling with. And the whys of it weren't all that important. The hows were. Namely: how they did so, and how this group were to prevent that from happening to themselves.

"Does it matter why they're out there murdering? One way or the other, they're all the same kind of threat. A-a hostile human. I-I could care less if they did it out of jealousy or hatred or any-any other kind of passion. They all pose the same danger. And we're not thinking about how to protect and defend against that danger, which is all that truly matters here. Killers will kill. And if we die, we die. It's irrelevant whether or n-not we know about their mistakes and motivations and whatnot. They'll do the same thing to us no matter what those are: kill. How do we protect ourselves from being killed?"
Edited by shotgunkid, Dec 17 2016, 07:24 PM.
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Trav was regretting even saying anything. He didn't want to contribute to it too much. He didn't have the argumentative ability necessary to convince people of his points or the desire to even do it. As far as he was concerned he had said his part.

Of course the discussion continued without him so he listened in, occasionally taking a sip of water or gnawing on a protein bar. If he had to choose a side he would have gone with Cass. There was probably some favoritism going on there, he was able to admit that. But to him it didn't really matter what the reasoning for the killers was, he just knew that when the time came he needed to step up and defend the people he cared about. Everything else involving the killers wasn't as important as that to him.

He looked up when Wade finished off his speech and grinned. He didn't know how much Wade knew about him but he was willing to guess not much based on the question.

"We're fine for protection." He nodded in the direction of Irene and her shotgun. "We have that which will put off basically everyone and if anyone does want to try their luck and have a fight I'll be able to beat them."

Trav wasn't exaggerating for effect. He believed in his heart that when it got down to it he would be able to beat anyone on the island in a straight fight. The only two people that were even close to him in his opinion were Noodle and Rod and only Noodle was on the island with him. On top of that, they were basically best friends so the chances of them ever fighting were nearly zero. That knowledge helped keep him relaxed, knowing that the only thing he had to fear was a gun. He didn't know how many people did have guns however but he imagined if a killer had one he would find out quickly. The announcements also helped give them information like that.

"Don't worry too much about this stuff. If someone does come after us with intent to harm we'll be able to either scare them off or incapacitate them. We won't even need to go further than that unless there's no other choice."
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Cass should've let the issue die with Trav. He was calm as ever, doing an admirable job at defusing the argument. Practically speaking, Cass agreed with him, too. All they would have had to do was nod like usually, mumble some vague affirmation and be content with that. However, for the first time in a long while, Cass felt irritated. Not the usual fear, or resignation, or self hatred; just a simple conviction that what had already been said couldn't simply be ignored and implicitly accepted.

They weren't even sure what it was that set them off. Maybe it was Irene's implication that Cass was anything other than totally aware of the reality of their situation. Maybe it was Wade's continual insistence to adhere to some sort of plan. Digging deeper, maybe it was the way both of them had already decided to start thinking in categories, not individual people.

"What's the point, Irene?" Cass snapped, instantly regretting their outburst but unable to stop themself. "Why do you want to think of people as evil? Like, humans are pretty shitty! I get that! But, okay, lemme follow you for a second. We're gonna listen to a guy who might as well have just blown our bus up and trust that he's telling the truth about everything. We'll take the names that he gives us and try to draw up a list of 'evil' people. The fuck happens then? Do we just assume the worst and shove a gun in their face because it's the easiest way to keep ourselves safe? Are we supposed to be judging people?"

Cass was trembling, now; with adrenaline and rage and no small amount of fear for what the immediate aftermath would be. Their eyes flickered back and forth between Irene and Wade, Irene and Wade, desperately shooting an apologetic glance at Trav and hoping he'd realize that this wasn't his fault, Wade and Irene, and thus Cass continued to rant, carried by momentum alone, voice raising to just below a shout.

"And - and what's the fucking point of planning all the time, Wade? You know there's only one way this is gonna end, right? You're not trying to be the last man standing, right? You do realize that if you wanna live, we're all gonna have to die, right? Then why are we sitting around and trying to guess what the fuck's gonna happen to us like there are any good answers? Why the fuck we trying to figure out how to stay alive when no one deserves to live any less than we do? When - we're going to fucking die, what's the point in taking it all out on the people who didn't have anything to do with why we're here? What, is it - is it just 'cause we can shoot them but we can't shoot the terrorists? Because it's easier that way?" By the end, Cass's voice was starting to falter and fade as the enormity of what they had just done caught up to them.

They looked around the room. Weren't sure what they saw on everyone's faces. Weren't sure what they wanted to see. They wanted to die. They wanted to run away and find somewhere where they wouldn't trouble anyone and shut their stupid mouth forever and just be forgotten, entirely. They hated that they were crying, now, collapsing back down to their knees, violently clutching their arms. Unforgivable. They didn't deserve to show any weakness, didn't deserve to be viewed with anything other than justifiable hatred. Didn't deserve to have any hope of being worried about when they were the one who exploded in the first place.

"What the fuck is the point?" Their voice was barely a whisper.
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"I don't know."

Her voice cracked as she spoke. Trav had almost made sense and pulled this thing back together, but after all that, the helplessness came rushing back in. What did blaming the terrorists accomplish? Sure, maybe it was "right," but did that help them at all? Could they do anything about it? There were people doing terrible things right in front of them, and they weren't doing anything about it, so what was the point?

"I don't know," she said again as she slumped down across from Cass. "I just don't want anymore of my friends to...and, and I can't do anything about the terrorists, but, but they're here..."

Something. They had to do something. How could she make them understand that?
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Wade's mouth stayed for a moment as Cass spat out the answer. It felt as though things were about to fly apart at the seams now -- strange, like some unspoken taboo had been crossed. It only took another moment to realize what it was: one of the things that simply couldn't be openly talked about on this island, he realized. Brute, painful fact that pierced through all the mental and verbal gymnastics they were doing to skirt around reality in a heartbeat. It instantly brought to the fore everything they were ignoring through omission, the longer term: namely, that there wasn't one. That faux pas could slip, though. Unconsciously, he had been preparing his own retaliatory misstep:

"That's not a given." It was already clear what he was talking about, but he refused to so openly vocalize it. "Remember the -- I mean, what happened in Vee Four?" Fairly transparent. But that was the intent.
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Trav looked away and busied himself with sorting his bag. He didn't want the conversation to keep going but it appeared that they had gone past the point of no return. Cass was laying into Irene and Wade, Trav agreed with most of her points but he didn't have as much as a vehement feeling on the subject. It was how he was he supposed, always relaxed, the fact he had come to terms with the most likely outcome of the next few days helped he supposed.

Irene wanted someone to transfer her anger at being helpless and lost on the island onto he would have said at a guess. He could understand it; it was what a lot of fighters did. They would convince themselves that it was kill or be killed and the person they were up against was their enemy who wanted to take everything from them. For some guys that was the only way they could bring themselves to even fight to begin with, of course once the fight was over they went back to being cool, well-adjusted, relaxed guys. But for that time preparing to fight and fighting they hated their opponent more than anything else in the world. Trav had fought a guy like that once, he convinced himself that Trav was some young kid wanting to jump him in the queue for a title shot. Not entirely wrong, and he hadn't been able to stop him anyway. Trav had beaten him and moved on but he still remembered the guys face at the stare down, pure hate and it was the same for the four minutes they spent together in the cage.

"I wouldn't try to reassert some control on the situation by taking it out on others." He said eventually, looking over Irene. "It sounds like a dangerous way of thinking."

Wade brought up one of the older Survival of the Fittest incidents. Trav wasn't that familiar with what had happened but he knew some group had rescued a bunch of kids. He didn't want to have to rely on that happening again though. He nodded though, silently agreeing with Wade that it was a possibility, as long of a shot as it looked. He appreciated Wade bringing it up though, a little bit of hope wouldn't hurt, as long as it was tempered with realistic expectations.

"There's no point to this whole thing." He said softly, directing it more to Cass than anyone else. "But right now, we're doing a good thing, we're not taking part. So they won't get any satisfaction out of us or be able to use us to prove whatever their point is."

It was as much as he could offer. It was hard to know what the right thing to say was. But he guessed reassurance was the best he could offer in the end.
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No retribution came for Cass, trembling and sniffling and making themself small. Only halfhearted voices refusing to resign themselves to doing nothing without offering any real alternatives. Cass caught their tone, but couldn't pay much attention to their words; still sobbing quietly to themself. No one seemed to notice or particularly care, which was for the best. What made Cass deserve compassion over everyone else in the room, all equally blameless? What part of Cass's blessedly quiet existence on the island gave them the right to break down out in the open, to expect concern or attention or even just a single fucking hug? When Irene was also slumping down in front of them, cracking voice sounding lost, all attempts at painting a target simply a desperate attempt to cope? When all of Wade's plans and strategies simply boiled down to the fact that he didn't want to die? Cass hadn't lost anyone, not like Irene. They hadn't even been shouted at this time, no screaming Vanessa on the roof, no, they had been the instigator this time; so that meant the fault was entirely theirs, right? They deserved to be an alienated island, isolated from everyone who could help, so barren and ugly that not even the carrion eaters would debase themselves to land long enough to eat the carcasses that would wash ashore, a speck of rocky gray in the ocean no cartographer wroth their salt would waste a drop of ink on, fundamentally and irrevocably useless, useless, useless

"Yeah," Cass said to no one in particular, looking down and wiping away their tears before anyone could notice; hoping everyone would just move on.
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Irene didn't have anything else to say. Trav was right. Nothing good could come from trying to take control of whatever this was. She just hated the helplessness of it all. If they couldn't do something, anything at all, then there was no point. Just keep going, cross your fingers, and hope for the best.

Cass seemed really upset. That was her fault too. She shouldn't have pushed so hard, or called them a liar, or stuck around them when she was just gonna be a basket case disappointment like this. Okay. That last shot was unfair. Even her Mad Max Wasteland of a self-image could see that. Still, they deserved better. "I'm sorry Cass," she mumbled, "I shouldn't have snapped at you..."

They were fucked. Totally fucked. On the bright side, at least they'd all seemed to come to a conclusion of getting fucked together.

...she was glad she didn't say that out loud to try and improve the mood. It needed rephrasing.
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