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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 (603 Views)
dmboogie
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A Delicate Machine
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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.
a tribute for the dead and dying

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dmboogie
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A Delicate Machine
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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.
a tribute for the dead and dying

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dmboogie
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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..."
a tribute for the dead and dying

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dmboogie
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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.
a tribute for the dead and dying

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dmboogie
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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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