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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 (592 Views)
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[ *  *  *  *  * ]
Ben was also still up there. Hadn’t been a few minutes since he’d finished his asinine sequestering of Lucilly’s mortal shell.

((Ben Fields continued from Goodnight, Travel Well))

“Yo.”

He recognized that face, that hair, that unfortunate tuft of barely adequate beard and mustache. He recognized how infuriatingly tall that man had always been relative to his own short ass. That man had always had a penchant for being a bit cooler than his mannerisms of speech implied. Maybe too much of a backhanded compliment. Or too much of a compliment at all.

Jeremy Frasier. The heir apparent to the terrorist’s wills and whims as of the announcements of that day. His name was forfeit, his face was smug, his still breathing was a travesty. Ben felt the familiar surge of his blood boiling and teeth beginning to chip as if against grindstones. However the murderer chose to explain himself it couldn’t possibly be good enough. But Ben forced his temper to abate. Or at least simmer to a still, like Ben’s familiarly abortive home cooking.

Kept his face neutral, the dead pits of his eyes reflecting off Jeremy’s own. No assumptions, no action. Not anymore. Ben had long ago stepped down from that position of authority.

“You alright, dude? I can’t imagine the past six days have been kind to you.”

He was dodging around the subject. Typical cowardice. Ben fully turned to face Jeremy, his back now out to the ocean and the starless night sky.
The Dies Before First Rolls Squad

The Nights
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Ben wasn’t entirely sure he’d parsed the response correctly. That moment of lexical ineptitude actually rung a bit nicely, in a hollow and empty manner. Familiar harkening to the two left feet two crossed eyes nature of Cochise society at large. The baseball bat was a new one though. Any other time of their lives it would have been in Ben’s hands, not Jeremy’s.

“I’m just doing my thing… Trying to.”

Ben crossed his arms and regarded Jeremy with unpronounced unease. His lips were too set in stone to mouth much anything. He was facing a killer. Those eyes had seen one of the bodies that had once melted like hot blood under the Kingman sun turn cold. Ben’s curiosity was split. Curiosity about how far a question would carry their conversation. About how far a punch would carry Jeremy’s body. His name itself was pretty fucking suspect, wasn’t it? After all, the terrorists had seen fit to praise it. Jeremy Frasier, of all fucking people, a killer. It was the punchline to an unfunny joke.

“You had a run in with Kurosawa, then?” Finally to the point. “I’m almost impressed.” Wasn’t even a lie, but by omission Ben lied about everything else, the cold fury, the sublimely casual dismissal of the murderer’s worth and humanity. “Don’t want to assume anything about what went down, but did she hit first?”
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Ben hadn’t remembered too much of the specifics, of what the terrorists had said. It would imply he’d wanted to.

“I see.”

He couldn’t say that what had been said had mollified him much but that was his problem and his alone. It wasn’t Ben’s job to give voice to his outrage, be it in words or in bullets. That was no longer his place, he knew that much. He had to focus on his job, his role. His job was to save, not to kill. Not to kill to save.

Jeremy. That was still a name the terrorists owned, but maybe it was one Ben could properly consider when he remembered that he had peers he’d once stalked the halls of a desert parched school with. Jeremy’s reason had almost been reasonable enough to earn him the guns to his name. Ben could relax, and infinitesimally, he did.

“Shit, I wonder what got into her… You did what you had to I guess.”

If Jeremy wasn’t yet going the route of the man once named Alvaro Vacanti then maybe he was worth wasting words on. Words clumsily paraphrased from Penelope, and Kizi.

“But what are you going to be doing now?”
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Vague. ‘Stuff’ and ‘things’ were murders as easily as they were innocuous. But Ben knew all about jumping to conclusions. He’d happily jumped himself off that very cliff before, trying to stare down the knives and guns of killers.

Jeremy was at least not brandishing his firepower aloud. So Ben didn’t need to mince his words in reply.

“Solid goals I guess.” Ben could at least bet that Jeremy had implied he wasn’t intending on declaring himself Fittest. Jeremy’s eyes weren’t dead quite yet, maybe they could still see the value in a different sort of plan.

But…

“What do you mean, whatever it takes?”
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Wasn’t really what Ben had been hoping to hear. Or would have been hoping if he’d had any assumptions in the first place. But the call to action hadn’t been sounded, not yet. It still rested in the potential action of Ben’s tensed knuckles. Jeremy remained plausibly innocent, the debate had yet to turn the way of implication or accusation.

“I guess I get that. But... “ Ben’s train of thought lagged at the station, as was so abnormally common as of late.” Might be a better way to get yourself and your friends together. Penelope, Raina, Kizi, Lili, if you know any of them? We’ve all been putting together a plan to start a sanctuary of folks who won’t be fighting. And…

“We’ll keep enough weapons pointed outward, keep the ones not willing to stay peaceful at bay.”

He excluded Penelope’s bit about turning the guns inward.
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“Figure out an escape. We’ve got some good minds already in it. And that fails, hold tight for rescue.”

Ben coldly, rationally tried to consider the final caveat, the possibility of the final, lethal middle finger salute to the terrorists that had turned hell into their home and school.

He had asked about Penelope. So Jeremy did know about her, and maybe he could be trusted. If Ben could be trusted to explain right.

“Penelope’s, uh…” Invoking her name possibly made it sound like he was pinning the fault of the situation onto her. Not his intent, but he couldn’t take words back unless they were in his future. So Ben needed a moment of silence, a moment too long. “She’s not in a good state right now. Sorry to be the one to bear that bad news, but I guess you knew how this all might have gotten to her.”

“She…”

“She’s come up with one last contingency plan. If nothing else works we have to exit the game by ourselves... Get everyone else who didn’t sell their souls for the win to realize, you know, the real way off this island.”

He’d said it.
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“I don’t blame you.”

Ben had to nod, the worn to table scraps tendons of his neck tensing with difficulty. “I honestly don’t like it much myself.”

Ben squared his chest with a small heft of his shoulders. This talk had to be man to man, not man to shriveled husk. The cameras dispassionately took notes on his preening.

“It doesn’t have to happen, it’s just a contingency. But I think I understand why we need it. Better to die on your own terms, you know? Show the terrorists they can’t get us, or at least some of us.” Ben shook his head, insistently. Insisting at Jeremy, at himself, he didn’t know.

“There have to be some people on this island that would rather die in control. Instead of, what, cowering like fucking animals, snivelling and doing what the terrorists told them to do?”
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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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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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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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“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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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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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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And for a moment, Ben hesitated, and wondered if there was another way.



Only a moment.

“Five.”
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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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