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Collateral Damage; Always Trouble (Oneshot, set early in Day 4)
Topic Started: Feb 5 2017, 04:58 PM (79 Views)
Pippin
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party wurmple never sleeps. only dances.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Astrid Tate continued from A sea view to rest the soul))

Two people. Al had killed two people. If anything confirmed that he was actively playing and had no remorse for his actions, that was it.

More than ever, Astrid regretted not gutting him like a fish and leaving him to rot when she had the chance.

She slowly wandered up and down the dingy and dusty aisles of the storehouse, mulling over the names on the announcement she’d heard a few minutes previous. Kimiko and Isabel had killed again. Big surprise. They were total morons. She didn’t doubt that they were so wrapped up in whatever disgusting justification they had that they didn’t realise that everyone knew what they had done, everyone knew how many people they’d killed, and anyone with the capability to do so would be gunning for them. And when either, or both, of them fell, no-one would be shedding a tear. The only real surprise was that Nancy’s name hadn’t been on the list. A broken clock was right twice a day, of course.

Astrid let out a disgruntled sigh and lowered the pickaxe to the ground, the head hitting the floor with a dull clunk. Christ. It felt like every time she picked it up again it grew heavier and heavier. She inhaled and exhaled deeply and slowly, closing her eyes until she felt the pang of the wound on her stomach course through her body. Cameron’s blood was on the pickaxe, mixed in with her own. Maybe Henry’s was on there too. She didn’t know how busy Al had been before she’d caught up with him. She barely knew either of those two, but it still didn’t prevent the fact she’d had a double murderer right in front of her, and she’d just let him go. Never again. Next time, she wouldn’t hesitate. She wouldn’t let another Al happen.

She gazed off into the middle distance, a small shaft of light breaking through the gloom a few feet away, specks of dust dancing in the glow. There had been another name that had caught her attention. Tessa’s. Mabes had been someone Astrid had quite happily called a friend, and she wasn’t quite sure why. They were like chalk and cheese, really. Astrid couldn’t think of a single thing they had in common, whether it be personality traits or interests. And yet, she always enjoyed the other girl’s company, no matter the situation.

Destroying cameras had been exactly the sort of thing Mabes would have done. She couldn’t think of a better way for her to go out. It would probably have been over quicker than she could blink.

Astrid stared at the patch of light for a few seconds longer, before sighing again, and heaving the pickaxe back onto her shoulder, her arm already aching. She carried on walking.

She wasn’t quite sure what she was looking for, here. A chance to think, maybe? An opportunity to clear her head and think about what she’d just heard over the speakers? If that was what she was trying to do, it definitely wasn’t working. Thinking about Al and Kimiko made her knuckles turn white against the pickaxe handle, and thinking about Mabes hit her with a sharp pang of regret that she tried to instantly quash. She couldn’t think about her anymore. She couldn’t. It was making her soft. It was making her weak. If anything, she was trying to clear her mind of everything, forget about the announcements, forget about her past life. Isolate these past few days from everything else in time and space.

A person. That was what she was looking for. Yeah.

If there were any of her classmates in the storehouse with her, they were doing a fucking stellar job of hiding, though.

Astrid did a full circuit of the building without seeing hide nor hair of anyone. By the time she returned to the entrance, aimlessly walking down the first row of crates again, she was thoroughly annoyed. She’d known finding someone wouldn’t be a walk in the park; she wasn’t sure how many people the terrorists had abducted, but they could probably all fit into the asylum with plenty of rooms empty. It was just incredibly frustrating to see this put into practice.

She walked past a few more crates before making a groan of exhaustion and annoyance. She swung the pickaxe down, only just managing to prevent it from smashing into the floor, and leaned it against the wall of the storehouse. Astrid put her hands on her thighs, breathing heavily, before following suit, leaning against the wall and gazing up at the ceiling. She had been here for a good while now and she had nothing to show for it. She didn’t want to leave here empty handed, but what exactly could she do to help that?

Astrid sighed for a third time, tilting her head forwards, and as she did, her gaze locked onto the crate in front of her. For a few seconds, her face was blank. Then, slowly, it morphed into a look of resentment and resignation as she shook her head just as slowly. It was an incredibly longshot that there’d be something inside, but, fuck it. What did she have to lose? Worst case scenario, there was nothing useful in there. If she was lucky, there might be food, or some other useful supplies inside. Best case scenario? Something to replace this goddamn pickaxe.

Standing up, Astrid rolled her neck and shoulders, cracking her knuckled in preparation. She took hold of the pickaxe’s handle and dragged it over to the crate. She breathed in. Breathed out. Breathed in. Breathed out. Breathed in.

She swung the pickaxe up and over her head with a cry of exertion, and buried it into the top of the crate. There was a satisfying sound of splintering wood. Astrid smirked, and pulled.

Her smirk vanished instantly as she realised the pickaxe hadn’t budged an inch. She pulled again, and it shifted slightly but still remained steadfastly planted in the top of the box.

“Fucking worthless piece of shit…”

Astrid’s frustration was at a fever point. The announcements, the weight of the pickaxe, the complete lack of anything worthwhile in the storehouse, all of it was building up and overriding the logic that Astrid prided herself on. She placed one foot against the crate, grabbed hold of the pickaxe handle again, and, muscles straining, pulled once more.

There was a creak, and then a crack. The wood splintered further, shards of sharp wood flying out, one plank sticking upwards from the top of the box. Astrid fell backwards, the pickaxe slipping from her hands and hitting her knee with a painful thud as she hit the ground. There was a sharp pang in her cheek and her left hand, and the familiar feeling of warm liquid trickling along her skin.

Ignore it. Get this fucker open.

Astrid clambered up, grabbing hold of the pickaxe again, and with another cry of exertion and anger, slammed it against the crate, cracking it open further. She wrenched it out, and then swung it down again. This time was enough. There was a huge gap between two panels of the crate. Astrid threw the pickaxe to the ground, and grabbed hold of the crate, trying to force it open.

Near instantly, Astrid let out a strangled scream, stumbling backwards and clutching her hand. There had been a nail pointing upwards in the panel she’d grabbed hold of. She could see the dark sheen of her blood glinting on the corner of the crate, and on splotches scattered across the ground. Gritting her teeth and breathing heavily through them, Astrid winced and glanced at the palm of her hand. It wasn’t good. The puncture wound was small but, she assumed, deep; she couldn’t tell exactly, thanks to the amount of blood flowing from it, steadily dribbling down her wrist and onto her other hand.

Trying her best not to use her right hand, Astrid scrambled over to her bag, ripping it open and searching for her first aid kit. It was a familiar motion now; placing a cotton pad on her bloody wound and wrapping it in bandages. She secured the bandage tightly, stared at her palm for a few seconds, then slumped backwards, sitting against the wall, breathing heavily, sweat breaking out along her forehead.

A small droplet of blood splattered onto her skirt, a single crimson polka dot against the sapphire blue. Idly, she wiped her cheek with her less injured hand, leaving a bloody streak on the back of it. She slapped a Band-Aid on her cheek and left palm, then sat back against the wall again, and just breathed.

About fifteen minutes passed, Astrid sitting completely still, the steady pang of her three injuries her only companion. She breathed in and out through her mouth, slow and ragged. Finally, some otherworldly force prompted her to stir. She slowly, shakily stood up, instinctively reaching down with her right hand to pick up the pickaxe. The sharp stab of pain that caused her to recoil and the sudden cry of anguish told her that that wasn’t happening any time soon. Entirely left-handed, Astrid packed her first-aid kit up, throwing it into her bag, then throwing that on her back. She grabbed the pickaxe firmly, slowly levering it onto her left shoulder. It felt more than a little unsteady, but she wasn’t about to give her sole weapon up. She started to move off, then paused, and looked through the gap into the mutilated crate.

“Of fucking course,” she spat, then turned back again and walked away from the crate filled with clear bags of plastic fasteners.

She needed to forget this. Forget this fuckup had ever happened. She was going to move on. She was going to succeed. She was going to survive.

((Astrid Tate continued in End of the Line))
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