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Miss Atomic Bomb; 'You're gonna miss me when I'm gone.' (private)
Topic Started: Mar 29 2017, 03:26 AM (588 Views)
Cicada Days
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[ *  *  *  *  * ]
“I heard you the first time.”

‘Don’t like that plan’, words almost as wasted as Ben’s own. It was all a waste, really, Ben didn’t know how else he could possibly explain. Maybe there was nothing to explain that could be heard. Something was just fundamentally amiss, something unfamiliar looking back from the eyes of that man named Jeremy Frasier. Ben’s jaw began to firm into a frown, the sort that grit the teeth. A few of the fingers of his right hand began to tense and curl near his wrist. Not a fist yet, but it was a close run thing.

As each painfully slow second rolled by Ben began to understand he did not like what he was hearing.

“So you think there’s no point in not giving into the game and it’s rules? In holding your head high and being able to live with yourself?” If his hand hadn’t quite been a fist before then it was now, and Ben jerked that fist forward, gesturing at Jeremy with a bolt of aggression. “Dude, it’s not about the fucking terrorists. They can do whatever the hell they want, y’know. Like they’re already doing. This game was never about them, it was about the class of Cochise growing even half a damn spine and not eating the bullshit we’re being served.”

Ben was surprised that now disquietingly familiar breakage of flesh and bone on his bad arm wasn’t bleeding fresh blood. He swore he could feel it coursing, sloshing, outracing his heart as it boiled away into the ether.

“Maybe she is, maybe she isn’t. But… you fucking tell me what it is, Frasier. What the hell are you scared of?” He’d have stabbed a finger as if it were a dagger, if he had any ability to unwind his fist from the fleshy knot it had been tangled into. “You find your friends, you escape with them or you die with them. You already told me you weren’t going to survive this island, so why the hell are you rejecting the idea of a better way out then being some diaper-ass killer’s checkbox home?”

Ben’s tone remained even, never once was it raised or rushed. Some part of him wondered where the passion, the energy had gone. Maybe it was dead and waiting for the rest of himself to catch up.
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There was a feeling on Jeremy’s arms. In his core. Rising up. Bubbling. Going up and up until it couldn’t be held in anymore.

It was one he hadn’t felt for a long time.

There was a lot he could say. There was a lot of material he could have used to respond to Ben. He could have done it calmly. Rationally. Just stated why he disagreed with Ben in a manner that was convincing and easy to understand.

Well. He couldn’t, though.

Because Ben was dead wrong.

And Jeremy needed to make him understand that.

“I don’t think you understand, Ben,” Jeremy said, hand scraping itself over the baseball bat. “I don’t think you seem to know that things have changed.”

Teeth gnashing. Grinding. Eyes baring into Ben. Drilling.

“We’re not the class of Cochise anymore. We’re just participants. We’re just people forced to play a game and the people up top are the ones who control us now. Maybe what you’re thinking would have worked back home. Maybe it would have worked if it was someone like fucking Michael you were up against. It won’t now, because maybe you haven’t noticed this, but the people up top basically control us. We step out of line, we try to be bigger than what we actually are, and all the people up top need to do is to press a button and then this,” he swung the baseball bat up and tapped the steel around his neck with it, “will make sure we can’t do anything anymore.”

He didn’t breathe. He didn’t stop. He stepped forward. Kept going.

“So no. I don’t like that plan. I don’t like the idea of just sitting around and doing nothing while only being able to hope that a girl with no fucking clue what she’s doing can somehow just magically whim up a solution. I’m not going to think that everything’s going to be alright and that anything can happen so long as I just believe or something. I’m going to fight for it. I’m going to do something about where I’m at. I know it’s going to happen. I know that there isn’t a chance in hell of me getting off of here, so I’m going to make the most of that. I’m going to settle myself. I’m going to do what I know I need to do and I’m going to do whatever it takes to do that.”

He’d made his point a long time ago. He knew that he didn’t need to say anything else.

But there was a feeling. Within him. Rising up through his arms and his core.

He had to say one last thing.

He had to end this.

“And I’m sure as hell not just going to die sitting around and doing nothing.”
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Hm.

Ben was almost amused, almost amused that he wore his anger better than his counterpart. That boy he’d only too recently called Jeremy Frasier. Snarling, biting, twitching, flailing like some kind of rabid dog. The sort of shit Ben realized the grown adults of society had to put out of it’s misery, much as doing what had to be done sorrowed them. It looked fucking ridiculous, Ben didn’t need to be watching through the camera lens to know that. Even his form with the bat was cartoon villain.

Had to be that Frasier didn’t have a fucking clue. Didn’t know what it was like to have morals, to have honor. Didn’t know what it was like to step up when a mother had lost her husband and a sister had lost her father. Didn’t know what it was like to be a man. Only reason he’d spew that shit, whatever it was even supposed to be. Ben didn’t know, he didn’t listen even as he heard it. Only reason Frasier wasn’t meeting Ben’s good side, the side of Ben’s fist, was because he happened to have a gun as his ultimate childish retort.

So Ben kept his cool, much as he couldn’t say the same for the stick figure opposite him.

“You got me man. I dunno shit.”

Jeremy had stepped forward, Ben took steps to match. He was solemnly glad Lucilly wasn’t in the axis of their confrontation, wasn’t to be bothered or disturbed by the legendary showdown of cripple and retard.

“Except I do know that you’re a dumbass. What you’re trying to say I can’t even guess at, but I’ll make the effort.” Ben’s breath was quick, tempered, measured. “You’re saying that our plan isn’t going to accomplish shit. Hell, I’d be inclined to agree with you. But. You saying your ‘plan’ is any better would be a laugh if I had any left. ‘Fight’. ‘Do whatever it takes’. For what? For. Fucking. What. You’re going to run after your friends, fine. Spend your last moments with them doing… shit, the shit you always do? Talk, walk, piss your damn pants?”

Ben didn’t lick his lips even as they eroded away into bloody crags under the strain. He’d learned this one in debate. “But at least you’re doing it with a friend, whatever.”

“The fundamental damn difference here is that you don’t have an endgame. You’ve consigned yourself, and every other poor ass sucker you think you’re doing a solid, to die without those deaths meaning anything. People are going to die no matter what but the people in your so-called plan die without a chance for something more than the wonderful, fulfilling gift of talking with your ass one last time. It’s not our plan that’s missing the point, dude. You ever think it might be you? All this time while you were running around getting ready to waste everyone’s time pretending you have the moral high ground for having accepted that there’s nothing you can do when you didn’t even try in the first place? Word for that, I think.”

“Coward.”

Ben nodded once, to himself, and chased that angle of attack with the ferocity of the grand generals of yore. “I bet you won’t even see your own shit ass plan through. You’ll chicken out, make some excuse, play for the win. Fucking hell, you don’t have the guts. Tell me you can, no... Show me you can tell all this shit you just told me to Penelope. Look her in the eye and tell her, ‘yes, I’m going to go killing, I’m going to throw aside every possibility just so I can be selfish the final few days of my life’.”

Ben already felt cold, lifeless, even as his sharp tone carried the organic stench of his breath. He was a dead man walking, sure. But men like Frasier? They’d already been wrapped up limp and dry in the damn body bag.
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“Thank you for telling me the very definition of hypocrisy.”

Jeremy just smiled at Ben.

“Because, like, I dunno man. Maybe I don’t have the greatest plan. Maybe there are some things I haven’t thought of yet.

He paused.

“It’s still better than yours, though.”

Stepped closer.

“Because maybe it's bad that I have killed. Maybe it’s bad that I will kill in the future. Maybe you’re right, yeah. Killing here is bad. Still better than doing it to them after constantly leading up their hopes though. Still better than doing it after making them happy because you gave them a promise you’ll never, ever be able to back up. Killing them outright is still better than dragging it out, giving them false hope through the plans of someone we both know can’t do it and having a fucking hissy fit when it doesn’t work out and trying to get everyone killed. No. You’re killing people as well. You don’t have the moral high ground here.”

Showed his teeth.

“And you know what? Yeah. My plan is better, because I think I’m gonna make people happy. Believe it or not, there are people out there who like me. Who want me. What happens if I die before I get to them? They probably wouldn’t like that. Believe it or not, I’m not being selfish, and even if I’ve done bad things, even if I’m going to do bad things, at least I know that. At least I can try to explain it to them. How will you explain it to them when whatever ‘plan’ you have fails? How can you even try to do it without breaking all that hope you built up for them?”

Looked right into Ben’s eyes.

“And how are you even going to stop them from picking you off one by one? You’ve got nothing on you. You can’t protect them at all. Isabel. She’s killed, what, eight people by now? I’m betting at least one of those people didn’t just roll over and die when she showed up. If she pops up near whatever sanctuary you have, how are you going to stop her?”
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Ben stood his ground, kept his lips firmly sealed. It was getting a bit more difficult to keep his cool with an eyeful and brain full of bullshit bearing down on him. Ben managed.

“It’s not about hope.”

Ben faltered, surprising even himself. Whatever weapon he had concealed in his words, Jeremy had found himself a parry that even Ben struggled with. He knew Jeremy was wrong.

“It’s not about that at all.”

He just knew it.

Ben couldn’t let his convictions flag now, because even the whitest of flags would be stained crimson if Ben turned traitor to the greater plan. Ben’s body was failing, minute by minute, but it could hold him up head high for this.

“When karma kicks you in the ass you’re not going to be so happy anymore. Nobody ever said doing the right thing, doing the just thing, was easy.” Ben knew that all too well and he wore that badge with bitter pride on the scar tissue of his destroyed arm.

“See… I look them in the eye and I tell them what’s up, what’s at stake. And if they react like you, guess what? Fine by me. You can all do your own thing, and don’t worry about us. We’ll handle ourselves. Or die trying.”

Then, Ben finally let the anger tinge his voice. Pre-pubescent sort of voice crack, but down the octave as an abused and inflamed throat turned phlegm into coarse grit.

“So call it what you want, a spade’s a spade. You kill a person you kill a person, no ifs ands or buts.” Jeremy pushed forward from his trenches, Ben would meet him head on through the machine gun curtains. “Don’t give me that ‘better not to delay it’ crap. Difference between you and me is that I hand them the gun and give them a choice.”

And when he said that something occurred to Ben. Sorta something that was unthinkable, hadn’t even been thought until the last possible moment, until the unthinkable was already happening right in his face in an explosion of bad breath and wasted dreams. Until a man he could have once called a friend would be soon spinning the chamber on his bloodied revolver. Ben looked up the vast gulf of height between himself and Jeremy. He wondered, idly, if he was supposed to be intimidated. Too late for that.

“If you’re so much about letting the dice and bullets fall wherever they may, why not end me too while you’re at it? I’m apparently a threat to your plans if I’m offering people a better way out then the Frasier hype train, huh? Prove it.”

“Two options. Gun to my head, prove you’re a killer. No more bullshitting yourself.”

Or.

“One gun for each of us. All we need. Put one of us out of our misery.”

Maybe that would get the coward to fucking get it. If Ben forced him to shut up and let the gun do the talking.

There was no way he’d actually do it.
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
“Actually, I think I’m gonna take a third option.”

He turned around. Took his steps away from Ben.
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“I don’t think so.”

Ben didn’t know when he’d gotten to the door leading back down but he was suddenly there. Heels driven into the rough terrain of mossy shingles. Eyes set on Jeremy with the barest traces of contempt that he could spare.

“You’re not getting away from this.” Ben cocked his chin, hearing bone click as if he’d just reloaded a gun. “We’re gonna fight or you’re going to kill me in cold blood.” No way Jeremy could go through with it. “You’re going to put your money where your mouth is.” No way.

“If you’re not going to use that gun then you’re not. Just admit it. Don’t make this harder than it has to be.”

This had to be it. Jeremy would finally get it. Jeremy would put the gun down, would talk. Would hear Ben out, and actually fucking listen. There was no way it could be anything else. Ben knew it, even if his brain was going going and gone, even if he was just a hollow shell waiting for his peaceful exit from this earth, Ben knew there was no other way this could end.
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The answer to Ben’s offer was no.

No, he wasn’t going to do it. No, he wasn’t going to shoot him. No, he wasn’t going to listen to Ben’s fucking ridiculous proposal about how Jeremy should kill him for the sake of… whatever Ben’s point was, Jeremy didn’t know what it was. If there even was a point in doing it. Because no, there probably wasn’t. There wasn’t a point in shooting a classmate of his when he was totally defenseless. There wasn’t a point in having to do it. Not again. Not so soon. Ben wasn’t a threat. He wasn’t planning on killing Jeremy. He wasn’t planning on harming any of his friends.

There wasn’t a point.

But he had to do it.

Because Ben was in his way.

Because Ben wasn’t letting him leave.

And because Ben was right.

Because yeah, he was. Maybe his plan was stupid. Maybe Jeremy’s was better, but there was one part of Ben’s thoughts that Jeremy had to agree with. Jeremy had been saying his intent. To himself - at the gym, when he’d eaten and when he’d seen his new gun for the first time. To Alba - at the bridge, when she’d asked him who he was and what he was going to do from that point out. To Ben - right here, right now, when Ben had asked him if he was going to do it again. He’d said it. He’d told others that he’d do it again. He’d told himself that if anyone got in his way - if anyone stood to stop him from doing what he needed to do - then he’d shoot them. No questions asked.

But now he had to act on it.

Because Ben had gotten in his way. Ben was trying to stop him. Ben was challenging him. Saying that he couldn’t. Saying that he was too much of a chicken to even consider shooting somebody again.

And if he couldn’t do it here - if he couldn’t pull his gun on somebody who was telling him to do so - then how could he do it on anyone else? If Isabel was here, if she was threatening to kill one of his friends, could he do it? Could he shoot her if he couldn’t even do it to someone who was telling him to?

You have to do it, Jeremy.

Nut up or shut up.



The Raging Bull clattered to the floor in front of Ben.

“That’s your gun. Pick it up.”
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Ben would have kicked the fucking gun back. Almost did.

Now Ben finally looked like it had all gotten to him. For just a moment the veins of his neck, full as always of his useless blood, cut right into the surface of his skin. His teeth met and welded together until he could feel the enamel crack, a low growl hissed out. Somewhere under all that bad haircut and oily sweaty skin and undead eyes was a livid man, a man willing the other to just shoot him and be done with it.

Jeremy was honest to God going to do it. He was going to step up and kill.

The terrorists were probably so fucking proud of their little coward.

It was all too fast, Ben couldn’t keep up with even his own blur of angry manic thoughts as he stooped for the revolver that had skidded to a halt before his own foot. All Ben knew now- couldn’t even call it ‘knowing’, it was too primal- was that Jeremy had to be stopped. Something had to be done. Else, that gun thrown Ben’s way would become a gun pointed at the head of someone else on this island, someone else who could instead be saved if Ben stepped up and finally acted like a fucking man. Ben had stood by long enough, failed to make a difference long enough.

“Ten steps.”

Everything else that needed to be said.

Time to march it out.

The two men circled for a second, a particularly dumb ass looking dance of wills and to-come-kills. They centered themselves on the platform, for a brief moment in time close enough for Ben to be too far to go for a fist. Ben looked up into his other’s eyes for a moment. He didn’t see much there worth saving, but some part of Ben detached from the moment had to wonder if that was just some impulse, righteous and ill-advised.

The time for thinking was over. Ben had already had enough time to himself, to torture himself with his own thoughts. The rest would come in actions, step by step.

Ben and Jeremy both about faced in silence.

“One.”
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He could hear the music in his head.

It was something grand. It was something empty. It was like the music that played in the Westerns. Well, what Jeremy assumed played in the Westerns. He had never really watched any Westerns. Probably never would, at this rate. He knew what he was supposed to do, though. Duel at ten paces. Take ten steps, turn, and shoot. Winner lived. Loser died. That’s all it was. All he had to do was step forward. Then turn. Then fire. Then hope that he did so first. Hope that this would end up like Junko again. Hope that he didn’t end up like the corpse he could see in front of him. Hope that he somehow got to live another day here and that he got to see them again. Emma. Serena. Alessio. Clarice. They were important. He needed to-

Walk.

Forward.

Don’t think.

Just count, and hope to God that you’re the one who moves first.

He took a step forward.

“Two.”
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His foot made its way through in another step, in silence. He couldn’t even hear the sound of his own heartbeat anymore.

He only had one chance, he realized. He definitely had a better chance of landing a shot than Jeremy.

Turn, early.

Cheat.

Aim.

Fire.

For the legs, or the feet, or even for the tiling so it’d crack and put shrapnel in Jeremy’s ankle. He had to take Jeremy’s mobility away from him. Then rush in, grab Jeremy’s weapons. Confiscate them. Then Jeremy would have to come with Ben, with his defenses gone. They’d keep him on lockdown, the lot of them, until Jeremy would see reason. Penelope, Raina, Kizi, Lili, they’d all forgive Ben for doing what he had to do. For making sure their plan was safe, secure, even just that little much closer to being a reality.

Ben would succeed.

Had to succeed.

Nothing else to it.

“Three.”
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Jeremy Frasier was going to die on this island.

That was a fact that he had realised, five or six or seven or however many fucking days ago it happened to be. That was the ending he had figured out. Maybe the specifics were up in the air, but that fact right up there was what he knew it would all come to. He figured that he’d have fun along the way, just hoping that he could get as much done as possible before then. Just hoping he could get his last words, his last piece of impact out. Die happy. Maybe along the way he supposed he could play a game. Figure out how it was going to end. It was never really something he’d considered too much and it was never really something he’d thought about at all but it was there. In his mind. It was going to end one way or another, so who’d do it? Where’d they do it at? How would he die?

Well, he knew how it ended now.

Jeremy Frasier was going to die on this rooftop. He was going to be shot to death by Ben Fields.

That was how the story ended.

There was no more room for detail.

He was going to die here having done nothing he wanted to and with nobody remembering him other than just being a tragic victim of circumstance. The best he could hope for would be that someone would remember him as the person who just wanted so desperately for his life to be special and got his wish but far from the way he wanted it. He’d just be a name on a memorial somewhere, maybe visited and remembered by maybe a couple people at a ceremony each year. He’d be downed and burned while someone like Isabel or Lily or even fucking Caedyn got to take their trip home. That was at best. Maybe Ben would walk away from here and maybe he’d get everyone killed, just for the sake of having their hissy fit and making sure nobody remembered them other than the kids who vanished in a bus crash.

Was that how Jeremy wanted his story to end?

No.

It wasn’t.

Because he knew that he’d die. He knew that it had to happen at some point. Maybe part of him could pretend that he was okay with that. But he wasn’t. Everything in his head was telling him that no. He didn’t want to die. He didn’t want to be here. He wanted to be at home he wanted to be with his friends he wanted to be with BB and he absolutely didn’t want to have to think about what he’d achieved or how he’d live or how he’d die. No. He wanted to go back to those days. He wanted to live his life day by day, not needing to think about the future or the end or anything like that. That’s how he wanted to live. That’s where he wanted to be.

But he knew that it couldn’t be like that. It’d be stupid to think otherwise.

But there was one thing that he knew. One thing that applied here. The one thing out of all of that train of thought that he could achieve, here and now.

Jeremy Frasier was not going to die on this rooftop.

He took another step forward.

“F-four.”
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And for a moment, Ben hesitated, and wondered if there was another way.



Only a moment.

“Five.”
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Something that Jeremy had learned throughout his life was that people didn’t seem to understand what the term “ruthless” meant.

They thought that it meant “mean.” They thought that it meant “selfish.” They thought that it meant “being a terrible person because you’re too self absorbed to think about other people.” It didn’t. It meant that you were able to see the clear line between A and B - startpoint to endpoint, where you are to where you need to be - and it meant that you couldn’t see anything other than that beautiful, perfect straight line. It also meant that you were willing to do anything in order to see that line through to its natural conclusion. Morals didn’t matter. The pity of others just got in the way. All that he needed was that straight line and all that he needed was the initiative to do it.

And right now, that was all Jeremy had.

Jeremy right now was standing on a rooftop. Holding a gun. He was in a duel. Ten paces. Turn, and shoot.

And he needed to live. There were things he still needed to do. People he still needed to see.

But the issue was he didn’t think he could win. He wasn’t sure that he would make it out alive, if he played fair. He needed to see the people he needed to see, but he couldn’t if he was dead.

So he needed to find that straight path.

He needed to figure out a way out of this.

And he figured it out, pretty quickly.

And then he judged it. Was it fair to do it? Could he do it? If he found Serena, or Emma, or Clarice after this, would they be able to look him for the eyes for what he’d done? Would he be able to look at himself in the mirror after he did it?

He wasn’t sure. Maybe, maybe not.

But he still had to do it.

He still had to live.

So call him ruthless, call him mean, but right now, he couldn’t see anything other than that straight line from A to B.

He turned around.

Met Ben’s eyes for the final time.

Pulled the trigger.
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Jeremy had turned too.

Fair enough.

It didn’t change a thing.

Their eyes met, and only two guns and a straight line separated them. A to Ben. Ben quickly aimed, steeled his shoulder, fired.

A shot rang out,
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