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Serenity Prayer; The house of God is still open!
Topic Started: Feb 19 2017, 10:32 AM (684 Views)
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Mr. Danya
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Nate Turner continued from A Light in the Dark))

Four days later, Nate was back where he started.

Of course the game was still going and nothing had changed; what had he expected to happen? Terrorists didn’t just stop what they were doing because you asked them nicely. It was a long-shot, and he never expected it to work, so why had he bothered in the first place?

Well, he supposed, he had to. Even if it was never going to work, at least he could say he’d tried. He knew he meant what he said, too: he hadn’t just been lying to try and trick terrorists into not killing him and all his friends.

He snorted a dirty laugh. A lot of good integrity was doing him now. He may have tried to convince himself that it was better than not having it, that at least he could still hold on to himself, but it wasn’t enough at all. There wasn’t much that would have been, really.

Sat on a pew, Nate’s legs were pulled up tight to his chest as he stared at the stained windows. The ghost of Matt coming through the door lingered behind him, as he thought back to that first day. He was still here, four days later, and nothing had really changed. He’d found friends, lost friends, lost supplies, found supplies, and done a whole lot of walking, but in the end, he was right back where he started. What had even been the point?

He’d been thinking, ever since he said ‘I’m probably dead by now.’ to the camera in the cave. What was he going to do until then? He was most likely going to be dead in the next few days, if not the next few hours, so how was he going to spend that time?

He didn’t want to die, and he didn’t want to do it to himself (he didn’t even want to think about that), but just because you didn’t want something that didn’t mean it would go away. He didn’t want there to be people at school who made fun of his dwarfism, or people who laughed about religion and said that it was for idiots, or for himself to have absolutely no confidence or use to anybody, but that was how it was, and that’s how it was going to be. The only sensible thing he could do, he’d tried to tell himself, was to accept the things he couldn’t change.

So, he continued sitting there in the silence of the chapel, trying to accept his imminent death, as he pondered just what exactly he was going to do.
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Nate turned around, half expecting to see Matt again. Enzo didn’t sound anything like Matt of course, but those memories had close enough to the surface that the little prompts brought them forth. There were worse people he could've seen when he turned around, though.

“Hey!” he replied when he saw who it really was. Something sounded off about that greeting. It was tired, weary. It lacked the same spark he’d always greeted friends with for as long as he could remember. It had the volume, but it was just a bit empty.

“What’s up, Enzo? Ho-how’ve you been?”

He was chuckling whilst he was asking a question that seemed misplaced, forcing a smile and trying to appear as upbeat as he knew he wasn’t, like he always did when he was feeling down. He still didn’t want to bring other people down to his level, even if it was more out of habit than intent at this point.

Nate was happy to see Enzo, that wasn’t the problem. Enzo was a cool dude. Or girl. It was a bit weird, and Nate didn't really understand it, but he didn’t like to judge and it really wasn't his place to. As far as he cared, Enzo was Enzo.

The problem was that being happy to see Enzo just didn't really seem to matter anymore.
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Nate laughed with Enzo, an awkward uncomfortable laugh. It matched the mood of the whole situation.

“How am I holding up?” he parroted, as if the question wasn’t understood. He laughed again, tilted his head up and looked at the coloured glass, gripping his knees tighter.

“I really don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing, you know? At first I was just crying all the time and hiding out with people, and I guess that was stupid but I wasn't dying or anything, so I thought it would work. I didn’t really know what else to do, and I knew so many of the people who were dying that I guess I just couldn't really think.”

He tilted his head back down again, resting his chin on his legs. He didn’t really want to look at Enzo, but he hoped they were still listening. It was easier to talk to them than Asuka.

“Then I met Henry Spencer, and I invited him to hang out with us, cause someone stole all of his stuff. But then the next day, he ran off and stole mine.” And then he died after a lot of cursing from Nate. That part didn’t need to be mentioned, he decided.

“And then I found Alvaro, and it was good cause he’s my friend and all, but I knew what he’d been doing. I thought maybe I could talk him down, like convince him to chill out, y’know? But then he just tried to shoot me, and I ran away and left my friends with him.”

His forehead was pressed into his legs by then, but he wasn’t shaking or crying. He’d gone over the story in his head enough times to stop being so bothered by his failings. There was only so much guilt he could inflict on himself.

"And after that I just kind of wandered around with Asuka," he didn't know her last name, he realised. "until I ran away from her, too. I don't really know why I did, but I think she was ok. Hope so." There wasn't as much concern in his words as there would've been a few days ago; that reservoir was running dry too.

“Sorry for spilling like that, but yeah. Hasn’t been great.”

He let out a long sigh.
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“Yeah you say that, but how long’s it going to last?”

He still couldn’t make eye contact with Enzo. He really did appreciate their efforts, honestly, but he just couldn’t care anymore. This was it. End of the line. No room for perking up, for getting a boost from your pal. Just a ticking clock.

“I’m going to die, and it’s probably going to happen soon. I know that sounds really messed up, but it’s going to happen, I know that. Only one person gets out of these things, right? That’s what I remember from the last ones, anyway.”

He’d never looked into SOTF, why would he? It was so far removed from his life, even if he was an American. It was horrible and tragic, but so were a lot of terrorist attacks and mass murders in his country. That didn’t mean they felt personal, not until now, so it was easy to keep your head in the sand as much as the media would allow. Maybe something to talk about in church or with your parents over dinner, but that was it. Maybe that meant he’d be fodder for conversation someday too.

“I don’t know what those people were like, but I know they weren’t like me. I mean, look at me.”

He finally did give Enzo a look back, cracking an actual smile. A heartbroken smile, but an accepting one.

“So, I’m not going to go home, and this is where I’m going to die.”
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“Maybe, maybe not.”

Nate may not have been an argumentative person, not naturally, but right now he just couldn’t give Enzo any ground. He wasn’t doing it deliberately, and he wasn’t mad at Enzo for trying, but they were wrong, and that was that. They might have been right about there being a tiny chance of survival, that maybe there’d be some hero riding up in a big boat who’d take the bombs off their necks, and suddenly make all of his friends who’d turned into killers see the error of their ways, and take them all home, but not without stopping at the Diamondback ice cream parlour for frosty chocolate milkshakes (he preferred banana splits, but again, he didn’t like to be contrary). Enzo might have been right, but Nate knew how ridiculous it sounded.

“It’s not just that, anyway.”

He was resting his head on his knees again, tilted at an angle but still looking Enzo in the eye. His smile had receded again.

“You knew Alvaro, you knew what kind of guy he was like. But now he’s killing people. It’s the same with Nancy, she was always really nice too.”

Not anymore, of course. This game turned people into monsters, after all.

“So...”

No more eye contact.

“What if that happens to me?”
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Enzo still might have been right, but Nate still couldn’t agree.

He couldn’t agree that Alvaro or Nancy weren’t the same people, or that they’d made a choice which put them on this path. Yeah, there were horrible people in the world, he knew that, but Alvaro and Nancy weren’t like that. The fact that the terrorists had put them in a situation where they felt they had to do what they’d started doing didn’t make them bad people, it just made the whole thing even worse.

So no, Nate couldn’t use them as a scapegoat. Whatever had happened in their heads to make them think that murder was the solution, there was no reason it couldn’t happen to him too. Maybe it was already happening, and he just didn’t realise it. Everything just felt like a matter of time at this point.

He looked up at Enzo as they offered their walk, and almost cracked a grin. It really was déjà vu at this point, leaving with a friend like he’d done with Matt just to calm himself down. Someone he trusted taking pity on him, trying to cheer him up like his friends always did. Better friends than he deserved, really. All they needed now was for him to have another panic attack and nearly blow himself up, and it'd be complete.

He shook his head turning to look back at the stained-glass window, no longer able to look Enzo in the eye.

"Thanks Enzo, really, but I don’t think anything can help anymore."

Thanks for trying, though.
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He didn’t reply.

He couldn’t reply.

He clutched his knees tighter, as he felt a tremor pass through him. He avoided looking straight at Enzo again, staring at another window, but he knew that this was it.

He finally got off the bench, reaching for his bag. Maybe Enzo was still trying to talk to him, but he couldn’t hear them anymore. He didn’t want to, it would be too painful. It was just easier to take his leave.

He was heading for the door, but he stopped and turned back. Took one last look at Enzo, and opened his mouth.

No sound came out, but he mouthed an apology all the same.

((Nate Turner continued in Where Will You Stand When The Flood Comes?))
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