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This is Where I'll Stand When the Flood Comes; Day 8 Afternoon
Topic Started: May 17 2017, 01:00 PM (468 Views)
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((Nate Turner continued from Where Will You Stand When the Flood Comes?))

The coastline again.

Nate was cradling his legs, sitting on the sand, looking out at the water. The sound of the tide brushing against the land was soothing.

He'd left Hazel and Jordan, just like he left everybody. He hadn't said anything, just like the other times. He'd abandoned people, just like he always did.

He might have pondered what the point of it was, why he'd acted so terrible to the people who tried to treat him well, had he any energy left. The truth of it, though, was that Nate was moving without thought. No words, no emotion, nothing. A lost shell of a boy walking to his death.

He could hear birds, as he watched the sun reflect off the ocean and its swelling waves.
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He could hear footsteps on the sand behind him, but he couldn’t process them. He would’ve completely ignored Matt, had he not called out his name.

When Nate heard that, he turned around, slowly. Not surprised, just a reflexive response to being called.

He recognised Matt, but at the same time couldn’t. He was someone he’d spent a while looking for, or at least thinking about looking for. Someone he had wanted to apologise to for leaving when the guns were firing, even if Matt had left before him. Someone else he’d left behind during all this. None of that meant much to Nate right now.

His mouth opened, but only slightly. There were no words.
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More words from Matt, continuing to fall on deaf ears. The gears in Nate’s brain were fighting against all the noise, all the debris, all the horrible mess in his mind, to actually respond.

“Matt.” Nate finally whispered in recognition, barely more than a whimper. He continued to stare at him, mouth agape. The sound of his voice has been the only clue, everything else about the figure seemed fuzzy. The blood, the weapon, the attitude; it didn’t mean much of anything.

“Where did… what was…who…?”

Attempts at questions, utterly failing. Coherent sentences were gone, but he wasn’t even aware what he was trying to ask to begin with. It was some holdover from earlier in this nightmare, back when they’d first been separated, where he’d imagined their happy reunion. Like echoes.

“Matt.” He repeated, turning away from the ocean and onto his palms and knees, staring up at someone he wanted so desperately to talk to.
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There was a drawn out silence, as Nate continued trying to think. The sand felt gritty beneath his palms, and the sound of the ocean groaned behind him. The once relaxing sensations now were an unwanted distraction, that made a hard process that much harder.

His body felt tense and uncomfortable, not just from the days of exertion without rest. Everything about the situation just felt wrong, just like it had from the very beginning. Even in his thoughtless state, what he had thought had been a respite from it all had really just been a mask. He’d never forgotten what was happening, even if he couldn’t acknowledge it anymore.

Looking at Matt was just making him feel sick. Of course he looked wrong, he’d transformed into a killer since their last meeting, but it wasn’t that. Someone he recognised, if barely, was grounding him, and he was finding himself pulled between delirium and reality in a horribly disorienting ride.

The most recent question he’d been asking himself when he was still thinking, to no end, managed to come forth:

“Why aren’t I dead yet?”
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Matt’s words resounded with Nate. Not the question, or even the dismissal: those were more things that went unheard. What came right before it was what stuck with him.

Maybe he was going to win?

He stared at Matt. Stared for a good few moments. Then he did something he hadn’t done in a long time, something he didn’t think he’d ever do again.

He laughed.

It was short, harsh, and abrupt, but it was a laugh. He wasn’t smiling, nor did he feel any joy: it was a laugh born from absurdity.

“Win?”

He clawed his fingers into the sand, gritting his teeth as a tightness pulled in his chest. His breathing was growing shallow, rapid.

“That…being the one who goes home. You call that winning?”

Going home, as everyone you knew and cared about lay dead behind you.

“Why would I want to win, Matt? Why would anyone want to win, and live after this?!”
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He thought he knew Matt. Yeah, they’d only hung out briefly at the start of this, but he was someone who hadn’t tried to rob or kill him. That had to mean something in the midst of it all, surely.

How naïve that was, Nate was realising.

“Why do you want to be a winner like that?”

He was looking down at the sand now, neither of them looking at each other. He wasn’t sure that he’d be able to look Matt in the eye, even if it was what he wanted.

“Don’t you care that all our friends are dead? What’s the point of being the last one alive, just to say that you were? What’s waiting for you?”

He bit down on his lower lip, trembling but not crying. The emotions he’d managed to supress for the past few days were creeping up on him, but he wasn’t ready to break down again. It was too hard to keep doing that, even if it all managed to keep getting the better of him.

"I never thought you were a loser, anyway."

Whether he knew Matt or not, that was still true.
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He continued looking down at the sound, ignoring Matt’s ridiculous question. Something as trivial as whether he was hungry or not was so far removed from what they were doing, what Matt was saying, what Nate was feeling.

He thought back to Alvaro. Alvaro, he’d realised, had lost something during this, and maybe that’s why he acted the way he did. Whether that was what had set him off, Nate would never know, but he’d come to terms with it, as much as he didn't want to. Alvaro had changed, just like Nancy no doubt had too, and just like so many people must have by now.

Had Matt changed? He must have, if he could act like this, but it wasn’t the same. Matt wasn’t doing it out of fear, or whatever Alvaro’s motivation had been. If he was afraid, he was hiding it too well.

Nate couldn’t understand how someone could be so cold. This time, he knew that he didn’t want to.

He brought his head up. Even if Matt had his back turned, Nate wanted to face him when he replied.

“Are you going to kill me?”

He wanted to see, for sure, if this was really the person Matt had become.
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Nate watched Matt as he walked away. He waited for the moment when Matt would stop and turn around, say something, but of course it never came. No answers, no insight, nothing.

Not knowing where else to turn, Nate went back to looking at the sand. He didn't feel much different to how he felt before, he realised. More conscious, as if that fog he’d been adrift in for the past while had gone away at least for now, but he still felt empty. He didn’t know any more about why he was here than he did that morning, and he didn’t feel any better about his inevitable death. The fact that Matt had admitted that he’d be willing to end it didn’t seem to mean much, either.

It should have. Matt was his friend, however short a time that had been, but now he was someone prepared to end his life. If they met again, there was no guarantee Matt wasn’t going to just finish him off without a word, with no second chances.

Still, in spite of how bleak everything seemed, he couldn’t believe that that was the case. If it was going to happen, if Matt really meant to kill him, then he would’ve done it then and there, surely.

Maybe that was naïve. That had been his outlook on this whole thing from the beginning, after all.

He gripped his arms, clenching his eyes. If only he could’ve stayed that way.

((Nate Turner continued in Paths of Glory))
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