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The World's an Ugly Place, but I'm Still Afraid to Die; Open, Day 5
Topic Started: Feb 20 2017, 12:46 AM (574 Views)
dmboogie
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((How many more times could Cass enter the asylum before the old beast finally woke up, noticed their intrusion, and claimed them as a wayward inmate; displaced by generations but still just as home?))

At least this time they had arrived with a clear purpose beyond the simple sustaining of the their existence in a dusty corner. Back when they had descended with Trav from the rooftop for the first time, (somewhere they could never return, now; nothing but the ghosts of good memories turned melancholic by time and tragedy) they had noticed the Art Therapy room; but hadn't been able to justify trying to convince Trav to make a selfish detour to explore it.

Now, with nothing left to them but the rest of their life; Cass had returned in hopes of finding any sort of art supplies. Any paint left behind would have long expired, condemning any future creations to be black-and-white depictions of a gray reality; but they would honestly take anything at this point. They would just have to attempt to replace physical color with brightness of expression and composition. Despondent they may be, but Cass refused to allow their current hopelessness to artificially bleaken their art. They had more than enough of their own even before being condemned to death, after all.

Of course, all that relied on Cass being able to enter the Art Therapy room without vomiting, which was an element they hadn't exactly been worrying about before they had arrived. It was darkly humorous that when you didn't know someone, their death could be an inconvenience more than anything else. Inconsiderate and heartless as that thought was, they had already spent enough time consumed by personal grief to be overwhelmed by general injustices. The corpse was older than any of the others they had already seen, and more confined, too; combining to make it generally unpleasant to be around.

Cass sat outside the room, door slammed shut, trying to take deep breaths to calm down while simultaneously not smelling too much of anything. They debated giving up, to leave and hope to find a stray pencil in an office somewhere; but there was no guarantee it wouldn't be even worse, there; and this room was almost certainly the best place to look.

Easy to say, but it'd still take some time for them to work up the courage to brave the stench again. Their bandaged wrist was bothering them, still; and it was difficult to resist the urge to touch it.
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((Isabel Ramirez continued from The Virgin Sea))

Isabel sighed, her joints aching and her wounds crying out in pain.

They had run for quite a while, only slowing down to a jog once they had gotten a significant distant from the shoreline, and only slowing down to a walking pace once they could see the asylum in the distance.

Exhausted, the two of them had entered the asylum and searched for a place to rest for a while. Enough time had passed between Asha's death and the present moment that Isabel wasn't worried about running into Asha's potentially murderous companions now that they had returned to the area.

Lily had been silent as usual, but Isabel hadn't actually bothered to start a conversation with her, partly due to her own exhaustion and partly because Lily could barely stand once they stopped running.

But now the two of them were relatively well, no longer breathing heavily and, in Lily's case, struggling to take another step. The two of them were in a relatively safe place once again, and Isabel could interrogate her friend over why she lied.

"So..." Isabel began, in her usual awkward manner of starting conversations with Lily. "About what Eliza said... I didn't realize you were a part of the Luz family..."

She let her words sink in for a bit, enjoying the potential fear that Lily would no doubt be experiencing.

"So I suppose that explains why you wanted to kill me so badly..." Isabel paused, considering exactly what she wanted to say. "It makes sense in hindsight, I guess. And if it makes you feel better, I'm sorry that Tina's death hurt you so much."

Isabel shrugged, her voice growing artificially melancholy. "But that's just the way this place is. Kill or be killed and all that. If you had wound up killing some of my friends, for instance, I wouldn't have had any hard feelings towards you. Heck, I've killed a few of my friends myself."

She coughed into her fist, her throat's ragged state catching up to her. "It's... it's really awful what this game does to people huh?" She began again, as they approached the entrance to the art therapy room. "Important to remember that the people who put us here are the bad guys, not any of us."
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((Lily Caldwell continued from The Virgin Sea.))

Lily sat on the floor, propped against the wall like a child’s doll, and just stared ahead for a bit.

Lily was tired in every way that someone could be tired. Even though she couldn’t close her eyes without seeing Lizzie bleeding, as if someone had carved it on the inside of her eyelids. All she wanted was to just lie down and pass out.

But of course, Isabel wouldn’t leave her be for one moment. She was already talking—talking AGAIN—about how she was sorry, like earlier that day she hadn’t been loudly declaring how fun murdering Tina was, and about how easy killing was. And pretending like she wasn’t the bad guy, when the words ‘Isabel is an abomination’ might as well have been written on the moon, they were so obvious.

So maybe Lily should have been afraid. Afraid enough to just go with it, like she had been with Lizzie—oh god, Lizzie, how could Lily have done that, but it still wasn’t her fault, it was Isabel, all Isabel—but she was just so tired. So she just turned to Isabel, staring at her with bitter rage.

“Isabel. Shut up. Just shut the fuck up.” These words were said with no heat. Exhaustion was evident in every word. But all she wanted right now was for Isabel to stop. Fucking. Talking. Right now, she would take cutting her own throat over Isabel saying one more word.
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Voices. Familiar, for whose wasn't, after years of classes and overheard bits of conversation at lunch and in the hallways; scattered pieces of other worlds that orbited far out of Cass's reach. Like peering into a dim gallery through a keyhole.

Still, vague familiarity that dragged vague memories of their wallflower youth along in its wake wasn't worth much. Neither voice was Clarice, and that was the beginning and the end of the list of voices that they would be actively happy to hear. They were too far away to make out any specifics, but neither girl sounded like they were about to murder one another. They didn't sound happy, either; but that wasn't exactly unexpected.

No reason to run away from them. No reason to go and say hello, either. 'Hi, I am very sad and I am looking for my friend.' 'Hi, me too.' 'Wow, same here. Also I am going to shoot you now if you don't mind.'

Maybe it'd be best if Cass just got what they came for and left to find somewhere they could exist for a while. They got to their feet, remembering just soon enough not to put any weight on their injured wrist. They stood up, walked up to the door, caught another glimpse of the corpse painting the wall with what had once been a consciousness. Lost their nerve. Sat back down again.
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"Hmph. Whatever, see you inside."

To say that Isabel was at all surprised by Lily's sass at this point would be patently untrue, but unlike the other sass which actually got on Isabel's nerves, a simple shut up was the kind of reaction that Isabel enjoyed getting. Putting her targets in a state where they have no clever retorts and can only tell her to shut up was practically what she lived for before the kidnappings.

Isabel rounded the corner to where the door into the art therapy room was and pressed it open, immediately noting the intense smell of rot filling the air, turning it rancid. She closed her eyes and gagged, before opening them back up and noticing that Cass Prince was sitting extremely still on the floor right next to her.

She sighed, pinching her nose with her fingers in frustration. She wasn't in the mood for yet another fight or yet another confrontation. It was fun to hear her victims cry out in pain as she killed them, but it was also incredibly tiring, and Isabel was already tired enough. She looked at Cass again, the fear in the other girl's eyes evident enough that she could possibly tolerate being in the same vicinity as her.

Isabel sighed again, releasing the hold she had on her nose and once again noting the smell before she spoke.

"So... sup, Cass?"
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Surprisingly, Isabel basically did shut up. She still talked, but she didn’t ramble. She just decided to go on ahead.

Lily stayed behind briefly. She was tempted just to walk in the other direction. But if she was going to do that, she’d missed her chance to do it with no blood on her hands. Now she had blood on her hands. Quite literally. Specks of Lizzie’s blood were dotting her hands and staining her dress, which had already been bloody since the first day. Since Mr. Graham, since Lily stupidly sliced her hand open… when had that been? It felt like an eternity ago. Lizzie’s blood was red against the older, browner stains.

Isabel was talking again, around the corner, and Lily almost snapped at her again to be quiet. Realising a split second before she did that Isabel wasn’t talking to her.

Oh god. Not again.

She could just walk. But that wasn’t really an option. Not now.

So Lily got to her feet and trudged along, following Isabel’s voice. Appearing behind Isabel and peering around her.

Lily didn’t know the other girl. That was the only good thing she could say about this.
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Cass had begun to regret every single bit of their thought process once Isabel had first come around the corner. Not a rare occurrence, though it usually wasn't prompted by a grim specter of death casually walking up them. For a brief moment, they had considered just booking it as soon as it became apparent that Isabel hadn't noticed them right away; but predators couldn't help but chase, slavering with sharp claws extended, when prey darted past their cat-slitted eyes.

Before the island, Cass had only known Isabel in the way that everyone in the girl's general vicinity knew Isabel. Popular. Not very nice. Which was a shame, because ballet was the purest form of aesthetic and Cass had never worked up the nerve to really talk to any of the school's ballerinas. Like, the goth chick seemed nice, but a very intimidating sort of nice? And also dead now, which brought them to the main point.

Heavily bandaged and covered with what looked like fresh blood, which unfortunately probably wasn't hers, Isabel definitely like the sort of thing Cass worried about when it was 2 AM and they were really thirsty but they'd have to go downstairs and pass pitch black windows to get a glass of water. Disdain and metallic edges combined to make you feel the need to apologize for having the nerve to breath the same air she did.

Jerry had been many things, but Cass hadn't been afraid of him, even after watching him kill Trav. Isabel managed to spark a mortal dread deep in their stomach just by standing there and greeting them. If Cass punched her in the face they wouldn't get away with just a sharp slap to the wrist. They'd just have to smile and nod, and be grateful that she hadn't killed anyone they loved, for even though Cass would never forgive her for causing Clarice pain by killing her boyfriend; that thought was born of exhausting principle and not driving anger. Selfish, but there was only so much blood they were willing to lose in a single day in the name of righteous fury.

"I'm... alive?" Cass said, not meaning to phrase it like a question but finding it difficult to keep a quiver out of their voice. It felt dangerous to leave it at that, like a challenge to make it very unambiguous, one way or another, so they continued "I was just gonna. Look around in there, y'know, but there's the... yeah..."
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"I see..."

Isabel looked back in the room, the stench slightly less overwhelming than when the door had been flung open initially. "If you wanted to check it out you could've just... run in there and opened the window? Oh except that window might not open... hum."

She shrugged her shoulders, relaxing herself somewhat back into the social persona that she had before the kidnapping. "Alternatively you could've just sat in there for a while and tolerated it. Your nose would start ignoring the smell once enough time passed... or at least I think that's how that works."

She looked back at Cass, seeing that same fear reflected in her eyes once again. Despite her obvious discomfort, she didn't seem to be in a hurry to run away. Perhaps if she decided to stick around long enough for Isabel to get her energy back then she'd make an easy kill. Or, alternatively, she could serve as a replacement for the unruly and dangerous Lily. Cass was one of the sweet types, and didn't actually try to kill Isabel, unlike Lily. She could make for a much safer ally.

"Food for thought," Isabel muttered mindlessly, under her breath.

She shut the door again, before sitting down next to Cass and opening up her bag with her free hand and flicking her eyes over in Cass' direction. "Say, want a snack?"
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She should shake her head or something to warn Cass. Don’t listen to Isabel. Leave while she still had a chance.

But what did it matter? If Isabel was going to kill Cass, there was nothing Lily could do. If she could save Cass, she could have saved Lizzie. And Tina. Or could have at least put Lizzie out of her misery properly.

Was she still lying there, slowly bleeding?

Lily realised she was still holding the sickle in her hands. It was coated red.

She didn’t even think about the ramifications of dropping a weapon near a stranger. She just let the sickle go, let it clatter on the ground and smear red across the floor. Then Lily, without a word, just took a couple of steps before sitting down.

Let Isabel do whatever she wanted. Lily was too tired to care.
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Was Cass going to die here? Cornered and helpless for the crime of wanting to do more than just survive? For not being jaded enough to want to get comfortable around a corpse?

In the end, it was the uncertainty that cut deepest, that controlled them now. If they had known that nothing they did would save them, Cass could have made certain that they would not die as they had lived; nothing more than scenery. But they didn't know, and so they suppressed the urge to edge away from Isabel as she sat down next to them; too close even for someone who wasn't stained by death. Managed to hold their breath instead of hyperventilating.

For if they ran, if they broke down and begged and screamed for their life; Cass knew it would be over. Maybe one of the two girls would draw a hidden gun and shoot them in the back. Maybe they'd make a game out of hunting them down. It was like pretending to punch someone in the face so you could laugh as they flinched; except you had placed a bed of spikes behind your victim's head. Maybe you got to see them die; maybe you got to see them desperately fight to keep their composure; do anything to play along so you wouldn't get bored and finish them. Either way, you won.

Cass had never really been bullied in school. They had been quiet, but not in any particularly weird or attention-grabbing way. (Besides, if anyone had, Clarice would have likely taken issue to it. They fantasized for a moment about their friend coming to their rescue, now; kicking in the door and bodily throwing Isabel out a window.) People were more likely to forget that Cass existed entirely, more than anything else. They guessed that Isabel was making up for lost time. Maybe all of her favorite victims were already dead?

Lily only reinforced this impression, throwing down the wicked sickle as a crimson gauntlet of challenge; wordlessly daring Cass to say something about the unmistakably fresh blood that it tracked across the floor. All they could do was play along, and wait, and rely on the tenuous mercy of a spree killer for being a "good sport."

"I don't, uh, got much of an appetite at the moment. Thanks for offering, though," Cass said, acutely aware of both how meager their remaining supplies were and the likelihood of Isabel's snack having been pried from someone's cold fingers. Metaphorically, unless she had literally murdered someone for a ration bar.
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"Alrighty. Suit yourself."

Isabel pulled out some of her bread and munched on it loudly, paying no mind to either Cass or Lily.

Unfortunately for her, it seemed that Cass was far too afraid of her to be swayed into being her morality-improving ally like Lily was. If Cass wasn't willing to stick around and make her look better, then she had no reason not to just gut Cass at the first chance she got. A bit of food and some sleep was probably all she needed to be ready to go again, in spite of her still aching wounds.

The room stayed silent for several minutes, except for the sounds of Isabel noisily chewing on her food. She absentmindedly looked over her fingernails, getting slightly annoyed at how long and unsightly they were getting. She would kill for a set of nail clippers and a file, easily.

Glancing over at Cass, she was tempted to ask if the girl had a set of nail clippers on her person, before deciding against it and looking back over at Lily. Ruminating as usual, with the bloodied sickle sitting on the ground in front of her. She smirked as she finished up the last of her meal, taking satisfaction in the fact that Lily would no doubt try to meekly justify that to the both of them later. There was nothing Lily could try to hold over Isabel's head now, and she no doubt knew it.

Isabel stood back up, nabbing her sickle from off the ground next to Lily, making it clear that she still didn't trust Lily with any weapons. She quickly cleaned it of Eliza's blood with her already-ruined sweater, before opening the door to the art therapy room and walking inside, doing her best to ignore the smell.

Flopping onto one of the couches in the room, Isabel called back out to the girls outside, her voice taking on a somewhat exhausted tinge. "I'm going to go ahead and clock out early, don't mind me."

With her weapons stowed and her arm around her bag, Isabel finished off one of her water bottles before quickly passing out from exhaustion.
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Lily didn’t move from her position. She barely blinked. She felt a slight pang of regret when Isabel took away the sickle. Of course Isabel didn’t trust her with it. Only trusted her with it long enough for her to do that to Lizzie. Now that Lily was on Isabel’s sick, alien level… well, there was no more reason for her to have that weapon.

Then Isabel left the room to go sleep.

Lily finally moved after that, if only to slightly shift her position because it was cramping her legs. When she spoke, her voice was flat.

“You don’t want to be here when she wakes up.”

Even just speaking those words made Lily feel dread, like Isabel would wake up just at the warning and appear and gut one or both of them. Or just leave. Leave and abandon Lily with only the knowledge that all Lily had done so far was for nothing.

Lily pulled her legs to her chest and tightened her grip around them, rocking back and forth. She didn’t look at Cass.
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After Isabel was safely out of sight, Cass finally began to breathe again. Took a moment just to clear their head, holding a hand against their racing heart. They had played dead for long enough for the predator to lose interest, after all.

"Don't need to tell me twice," Cass said as they got to their feet, adjusting the two bags on their shoulder. They were surprised that Isabel hadn't even tried to rob them. It would have been an easy segue, even. 'Oh, you don't have an appetite? There's no need for you to have all that food, is there then?' Not that they were complaining about it.

They looked at the rocking, nigh-comatose Lily for a moment. Reevaluated their impression of her. She wasn't like Isabel, not really - she was just smiling and nodding and killing when she needed to. Hoping for a killer's gratitude instead of mercy. It was easy to feel sorry for her, walking but still dead on the inside. It was hard to feel sorry for her, remembering the blood that Isabel had wiped on her shirt.

"Doesn't seem like you want to be, either." With that, Cass took one last wistful glance at the soiled art therapy room - lost to them for another day.

((Then they left.))
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...

Isabel opened her eyes, morning light peering in through the window.

She sat up, getting her bearings on everything around her. It was some time before the announcements, since they hadn't woken her up, and the objects in the room was completely undisturbed from when she had gone to sleep. Lily and Cass were nowhere to be found. Isabel wondered if Lily had finally lost her composure and run off, feeling the slightest twinge of regret at the thought of being alone yet again.

Isabel sighed and unzipped her bag, yanking out one of her calorie bars and a water bottle before munching away. The smell from the dead body made eating difficult for her, but she nonetheless made the effort to choke down the food. She needed the energy and nutrients to keep herself strong for the coming days.

She got up from where she was, still munching on the bar, before opening the door and glancing out into the hallway. Lily was sitting outside, seemingly not having moved from where she had been when Isabel went to sleep, and Isabel silently sighed a sigh of relief. Lily didn't even look in Isabel's direction, instead she simply clutched that notepad that she kept on her at all times tightly in her hands. Isabel occasionally wondered what Lily was writing down every morning, but ultimately didn't care all that much. They both just needed to know their respective places in their partnership, nothing more, nothing less. She shut the door behind her and left Lily to her devices, before sitting back down on the couch.

The announcements once again came on as they did each morning, just after she finished off her calorie bar. They announced the deaths of the day, which Isabel once again didn't pay attention to, and announced someone else as winning the best kill award once again. It was something Isabel expected at this point, as it seemed that someone in charge obviously had it out for her.

She shook her head, doing her best to repress her agitation at having lost BKA for the cameras, before leaning her head back against the couch, staring at the ceiling, contemplating anything that came to mind.

It didn't take her long to get bored.

Standing up and hoisting her bag over her shoulder, Isabel pushed the door open and bluntly told Lily that they were going.

((Isabel Ramirez continued in Paradies Naiv))
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The other girl left with an accurate parting shot. At least they were smart and took their chance, not like everyone else. Not like Lily.

Lily didn’t move from that spot all night. She fell asleep where she was, despite the inherent danger of sleeping in a hallway. She didn’t sleep well, drifting in and out of consciousness with Lizzie rarely leaving her mind for more than a few seconds. She couldn’t say where sleep began and ended, if it ever did.

She wasn’t hungry when morning came. She just picked out her notepad and waited, as per usual. This time with significantly more dread than normal. Isabel eventually emerged. She didn’t talk. That was a relief.

The announcements came on. Most of them passed over Lily, just notes to be jotted down as she waited for Danya to out her to the rest of the island. She almost hoped she’d hear Emma listed as well, just so she wouldn’t have to dread that possible reunion anymore, but the moment the thought occurred she felt ill.

Lily’s attention did get pulled in when she heard Alvaro’s name. She wasn’t really surprised. He wasn’t the only first-day killer to die, anyone who killed so early just had a target painted on their backs. And she couldn’t imagine him being as cruel and inhuman as Isabel was, which was starting to seem like the only way to keep a reputation like hers from killing her.

It was hard to feel sad at this stage, but… there was something. A vague sense of loss for the guy she used to play chess with, who had wanted warmth that Lily could never give.

And then there was Lizzie. To Lily’s surprise, the terrorists highlighted her intent pretty well. Made her seem well-meaning, if inept. It didn’t even sound like she was working with Isabel, just maybe that she’d happened along at the time. Maybe there was time to leave, after all.

But if she left, where would she go?

Isabel said where they were going. She always did. Lily was just a limb of Isabel now, with no agency of her own.

((Lily Caldwell continued in Paradies Naiv.))
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