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Paths of Glory; Day 9 Morning. Open
Topic Started: Jun 4 2017, 04:50 AM (585 Views)
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((Nate Turner continued from This is Where I'll Stand When the Flood Comes))

He was still alive. Alive, and somehow, awake.

It was as if his talk with Enzo had sent him one way, down into the depths of bleak nihilism, and his chat with Matt had pulled him back the other. It was kind of funny, when you considered how both of the talks had gone, but Nate couldn’t deny it. It wasn’t that he had real hope, he’d never have any of that again, but he had something he hadn’t had in a while.

Purpose.

It was undirected, unclear, and pretty much every other word that wouldn’t normally describe purpose, but why bother trying to consider what was normal anymore? There was just something, a spark maybe, that Matt had put there, and then fuelled when his name had shown up on the announcements. Three times.

Maybe he just wanted to yell in Matt’s face to stop it already.

No matter how you cut it, no matter who had done what since then, these people were his friends from school, and Matt was one of them. If he was just doing this because he didn’t want to be a loser, and if he thought he’d have any kind of satisfaction when he was done, then it was up to Nate to bring him back to reality. He wasn’t sure where that resolve had come from, but who else was going to do it?

Besides, it sure beat the alternative of sticking around waiting for someone to kill him. And even if Matt did decide he was actually going to kill him this time, then at least he wouldn’t have sat around doing nothing until then. Thinking, maybe pretending, that he might actually have a shot at changing Matt’s mind was more comforting than suicide, it turned out.

He was tired, even after a night’s rest and his first meal in two days, but he pressed on into the depths of the asylum. Images of his encounter with Alvaro flashed across his mind, and they scared him, but he kept going. They’d said that Matt had won a prize (disgusting) in the asylum, so maybe he was still around. Still, Nate couldn’t risk stumbling into a danger zone, not right now, so it was best to keep a wide berth from that area and hope he'd find him somewhere else.

He wondered what Sandy’s corpse would look like. Ben hadn’t died here, he didn’t think (it was hard to remember all those announcements by now), but more people probably had. He was pretty sure that was death creeping up his nose.

He turned his way into the water therapy room, and quickly enough caught sight of its current occupant, a thankfully familiar face. He knew Clarice from drama, even though their roles took place on separate sides of the stage.

“Hello? Clarice? Are you ok?”

It was a dumb question, she definitely didn’t look ok, but the fact that he could actually start a conversation again felt like something of a relief. Maybe having a goal was actually working.
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Nate flinched at Clarice’s response, her demeanour becoming more apparent by the moment. She looked and sounded pretty awful.

He looked around for a tub, but wound up edging onto the one Clarice was sat on. He kept as much distance as he could, perched on the very corner, but it was still a close position to be in. Even though it hadn’t been that long ago since Hazel had cupped his hands, it was a weird feeling to once again be right next to someone who wasn’t talking about killing him. He definitely preferred being here.

Never the less, Clarice's complexion was cause for concern.

“Are you ill? You don’t look so good.” He leaned in a bit closer, trying to get a better view in the dim underground lighting, but it was perfectly obvious what the answer to his question was. He thought for a moment on what he could do to help, then remembered that Clarice had spoken first.

“Oh, sorry. You asked me – Well, um, I’m fine.”

Wow, had he really just said that?

“I mean, all things considered. Not fine fine, but, well…“ he furrowed his brow as he held his tongue and twiddled his fingers, trying to find the words. “It’s nice to see you again, anyway.”

He offered her a bashful, unnatural smile, but it was still more sincere than it would’ve been earlier. It didn’t last long though, not when faced with Clarice’s state.

"Sorry, I probably sound like an idiot, huh."
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Nate pressed his hands between his knees as he listened to Clarice, considering his response. It was reassuring, he supposed, that there could be someone else who hadn’t been attacked in a few days. That feeling didn’t really hold much water though, not when he reflected back on the announcements that were still running. Still, it was better for Clarice than the alternative.

He winced in sympathy as she prodded her wound, eyeing it up carefully. When Clarice asked for his help, he hesitated, but only for a moment.

He’d never taken any first aid classes or anything, but he did what he could. Carefully, and at her direction, he worked to help change her dressing and tried not to get too nauseous at the sight of the mess underneath, even as corpses bloated in the water around them.

“What happened? If I can ask, I mean.”
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“Something like that, I guess.”

He let out an awkward chuckle, whilst continuing to work on Clarice’s shoulder, apparently a bloody reminder of how his friend from drama had gone into the dramatic deep end. If she’d been doing that from day one, well, maybe he was lucky to have not met her.

He frowned, uncomfortable with that thought. Maybe he could have talked her out of it, if she’d seen a friend, or at least a familiar face. Maybe if someone had given her some reassurance, someone like him, more people would be around by now.

Because he had such a good track record with that by now.

“I did meet Alvaro, a few days ago. It was actually right in here. Me and Ben and Matt,” he frowned again, decided not to talk about Matt right now “we were looking for stuff, then Alvaro showed up and pulled a gun on us.”

He continued working on Clarice's shoulder, fumbling with bandages and being as gentle as he could. It was easier to tell the story if he didn't make eye contact, so he focused on what he was doing instead.

“Ben pulled me out of the way when I tried to talk to Alvaro, and I didn’t get shot cause of that. But, well, I ran away, and now Ben and Alvaro are dead.”

He offered Clarice a weary smile, because by now it was just the simple truth and nothing more. There were still signs of guilt lingering on his look, and there probably always would be, but at least he could keep a straight face this time.

"Now that you mention it though, I guess that's the only time someone's tried so far."

He stopped what he was doing, for just a moment. He hadn't thought about that until just now.
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Nate shook his head with more conviction than he had about anything in recent times.

“I don’t want to be that person. Maybe it’s weird, but I feel bad for them, whoever does make it to the end.”

Yeah, they’d get to live, and that was enviable, but it was just as he told Matt: what was the point? After everything they’d have seen, must have done, would it be worth it? Could they just go back to normal? Nate couldn’t imagine so.

“I get wanting to live, not wanting to be a loser, but I don’t think anything can go back to normal anymore, you know? If you went home, you wouldn't be the same person, and I don't think people could just walk away from it either."

"I think I'd rather go to Heaven from here, instead of going to that hell.”

He smiled again, still awkward and small. He wasn’t quite sure where it was coming from.

“I’m not ok with having to die, but I’ve accepted it.” He shuffled in his seat, smile wavering a little, but not entirely. “I was actually close to doing it myself.”
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He continued to move in his seat, hanging his head down low and looking at the filthy water beneath them. It was a good question, and he needed a moment to respond.

“When I was up at the bridge, I ran into Hazel and Jordan, and they stopped me. I’m glad they did, at least I think so, but at the time I was actually really mad at them.”

He looked upwards again, leaning back onto the tub. He hoped that Hazel and Jordan were still ok.

“It took me days just to get up there, and then they got in the way, you know? So I ran away again later, but by then I was just kind of switched off. That was pretty awful, too…”

“So, in a way I guess, I was worried that might be what being dead is like? I know I shouldn’t, I want to think most of us made it to Heaven, but I don’t know if I’ve been a good enough person for that. Good people might’ve done more whilst they were here.”

He brought his legs up to his chest, resting his head on his knees. Some water from his shoes ran down the side of the tub.

“So, I guess… I guess that’s why I haven’t done it yet. I want to do something good first.”

He looked back at Clarice, face looking a just a little lighter than it had been in days.

"What about you? Is there anything you still want to do?"
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Nate winced as Clarice puked her guts out, a wave of nausea rising up in his own throat. He didn’t join her in puking, but it was an effort not to as the vomit mixed in with the dirty water below. How could a room full of rotting corpses smell even worse?

Composing himself, he reached over to pat Clarice on the back, being careful to avoid her wounded shoulder. “Better in than out, that’s what my mom always said.” He offered, along with a comforting smile, but the concern was still written over his face. If Clarice really was ill, well, what could he do?

“Do you want a drink?” he asked, acting on the only idea he had. He reached into Toby’s bag, pulling out one of his few remaining water bottles and holding it out. It wasn’t much, but it was better than doing nothing.
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Nate watched Clarice without a word as she went through one of his few remaining water bottles. Naturally, he didn’t object, because Clarice obviously needed it more than he did. He probably wouldn't get through that much more water anyway, considering however much longer he had left.

He nodded in response to Clarice’s plans to leave, but didn’t reply immediately. He thought about what might happen, if he went with yet another person. Would he wander off again? Could he trust himself not to ditch Clarice when he felt like things were getting hard?

Maybe, maybe not. But that wasn’t why he decided not to follow her. There was still someone he had to meet, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to bring someone along with him. Maybe he didn’t want them to be put in harm’s way; maybe he just didn’t want to slow them down. He wasn’t sure why, but he could at least make his mind up.

“Thanks, but I’m going to look around here some more. I hope you find who you’re looking for, though.”

He offered her another smile. A sad one, as he thought about when they might next meet. Or rather, not.

“Stay safe?"
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Nate’s sad smile remained as Clarice left the room.

He sat there a while longer.

Then he followed suit.

((Nate Turner continued in 友達))
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