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No One Gets Left Behind
Topic Started: Dec 4 2016, 12:14 PM (899 Views)
dmboogie
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A Delicate Machine
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((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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dmboogie
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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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dmboogie
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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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dmboogie
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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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dmboogie
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Cass still wasn't okay, but they were starting to approach functional again. "It's alright," they said to Irene, still staring at the floor. "You didn't do anything wrong." She should have never had to waste her guilt on Cass, forcing apologies from her lips out of some twisted obligation to give comfort to the bomb that had exploded in her face. Their face flushed red with shame, intensified as they felt Wade's silent gaze.

There was no sympathy there, refreshingly enough. Cass was glad to know that they had managed to avoid dragging at least one person down with them into the perpetual churning cesspit of negative emotion. Still, they didn't understand why he was paying so much attention to them, and shifted uncomfortably in place as Wade shifted closer to them. He looked detached, analytical; a judge or a labcoat studying a particularly ugly specimen to figure out just what the fuck was wrong with them.

They were all too glad to accept Trav's offer of sanctuary, a brief respite from hurt and indifference. If he had been anyone else, Cass would have been sure that they had only disappointed him by falling apart again; but he was, as ever, collected. Trav held an admirable self-confidence, being unarrogantly secure enough in himself to be able to extend that feeling of safety to everyone around him. Despite everything, they found themself idly regretting that they'd never get the chance to paint him. Regardless, Cass shakily got to their feet, still avoiding looking at the others.

Both of them walked down the corridor, Cass trailing a few steps behind Trav. Once they were a safe distance from the room, Cass quietly said "Sorry... about, well. Everything."
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dmboogie
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"Thanks," Cass said, awkwardly rubbing the back of their neck. They didn't have the energy or the inclination to try to correct Trav's misplaced sympathy. They still reluctantly appreciated the sentiment, even if it tasted sour. It was hard to understand why he cared, but it had gotten through even Cass's self-defeating skull that he genuinely still did.

They couldn't help but smile at his plan, though. It wasn't a strategy. It wasn't a solution. It was more beautiful than all that - something to live for, even for just a while longer. "We signed up for a trip to a museum, and what did we see? We saw the sea."

As they walked, Cass saw Wade following them out of the corner of their eye and did their best to ignore him. They didn't dislike his presence and could understand his silence, but something about him was still discomforting. They pictured him with a labcoat and clipboard, furtively peeking behind corners. Subject has run away from another conflict instead of resolving anything. Subject is now making a pathetic attempt to socialize. Subject is beginning to become self-aware. Will observe until its status changes.

When they all returned to their room, it was a guilty relief to find that Irene was gone. Another person forced out of another safe haven just because Cass couldn't handle a little bit of stress. Worse yet, this time they had actively strung them along with their initial invitation of being good company. Still, their dynamic couldn't have gone on existing as it had been. For her sake, Cass hoped that Irene could find good, like-minded people; do something constructive with her ideals and injustice-fueled drive.

((Cass knew they wouldn't.))
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