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IT'S NOT A PERSON WHO DIES, BUT WORLDS DIE INSIDE US; Day 9, Private
Topic Started: Jun 23 2017, 11:19 PM (402 Views)
dmboogie
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A Delicate Machine
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Could the universe have forgotten Cass?))

Left alone in the same house, sitting on the same chair. Back in the same living room, since even a loose barricade made living in the bedroom feel conceptually stuffy. Nothing had changed after Asuka left. No more vaguely friendly and familiar faces, no bullets knocking at the door or the walls.

Nothing but silence and time, until the morning brought yet more death words with it. Wade. Vanessa. The sliver of shared existence populated by the people Cass had met on the island shrank every day.

Asuka’s had been their last portrait. They had tried to depict Irene and Wade to honor their companionship, however brief and ill-fated; but they found their faces were even fuzzier in their mind than Trav’s - they hadn’t bothered to try and commit their features to memory, after all. The news that Wade had died made Cass feel a bit more guilty about it, but no more able to give him the now-memorial he was rightfully owed. Half-assing it wouldn’t make anyone happy, after all.

Jae’s image was still sharp, but it was distorted - Cass remembered his manic laughter on the rooftop, his twisted rage at Dorothy. Even if his mind hadn’t been strained, his body had been beaten and broken to the point of disfigurement. He didn’t deserve to be forced to live forever as that.

Where did that leave them? Tired, mostly; after so many failed attempts. Aimlessly working on small sketches and doodles until the house grew too dark to see, beckoning them to sleep.

As the sound of the announcements died, too; Cass figured it was about time they did a self portrait, while they were still as awake and alert as they could be while severely malnourished and probably kind of dehydrated. That was a thing artists were “supposed” to do, wasn’t it? And what better way to reach towards immortality than by creating their eternal image with their own hands?

Cass didn’t want to draw themself as they were, or as they had been. This would be a vision of a kinder universe, a better future - the ideal self they’d never be able to live as.

They began to craft this picture in their mind. Cass would have shorter hair, of course - they had been meaning to have it shorn off at some vague point, before the trip happened. Maybe even a buzz cut. Yeah, they liked the thought of that. Clothing? A tank top would honestly fit the breezy, confident glow they were trying for, but they were sick and fucking tired of tank tops. A suit’d be nice, too; but they kinda wanted to draw themself as being kinda buff. A product of more biking, maybe even more exercise on the side; perish the thought. Maybe Clarice could’ve helped with that. Hm. A button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up struck a nice balance. They could go with that. Expression? Smiling. Definitely smiling. They had frowned and sighed enough for too many lifetimes. What sorta smile, though? Bright, wide, holy shit I’m glad to be alive? Calmer, just casually enjoying the process of existing? Maybe-

Still musing, they got to work. They put pencil to paper. They forgot the world existed.
a tribute for the dead and dying

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So here they were. People dying around them every day, lunatics running around shooting everything that moved, slowly running out of food and water and wondering if they'd ever see their families again. And Cass was just.

Fucking.

Drawing.

((Caedyn Miller Continued from Takao))

Caedyn knew this cabin. It's where she'd gone the last time she was running from Jasmine. It felt right to come back to it and try to clear her head after everything that had happened. She'd expected to find...not peace. Not anything like it. But something. A reminder that she'd been hear before, if in less concrete terms, and she'd make it through it again. Another spark to help her keep pushing through the sadness into the "hunt."

Well. She'd certainly found that, hadn't she? Caedyn saw Cass sitting there minding their sketchbook and something just snapped in her. The gun was leveled at their head before the first step, but it stayed their as she tromped across the floor. The sound of her cocking the trigger along with her footfalls was quickly lost under her voice.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

Screeching with each fevered move forward.

"WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?"

She'd never once screamed so loud, and that was saying something. Maybe it was her imagination, but the walls of the cabin seemed to shake like they might tumble in around them. The whole world was warping under her anger. All that stayed stable there in the center was Cass. Cass, and their fucking sketchbook.

They weren't allowed to pretend things were normal. They weren't allowed to be calm. They weren't allowed to be happy. She was putting her motherfucking foot down on that right now.
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dmboogie
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Not murdering people.

...Is what Cass would have said if they weren't trembling from being screamed at and if they didn't have a gun pointed to their head or if they had ever had the guts to call Caedyn out about anything.

It didn't come as much of a surprise that she was still alive. Survival of the Fittest, even more than the rest of the world, was a place where a petty, manipulative, toxic wasteland in the vague shape of a person could thrive. Could kill. Could get a prize for killing so well.

Still, all that outrage didn't mean a damn thing when Cass was closer to dying than they had been with Jerry, or Isabel, or even the person who had literally shot at them. Easy to tell yourself that you had made peace with your death when you weren't staring down the wrong side of a gun.

Above all else? The thought of not being able to finish what could be their final drawing hurt more than the bullet probably would, at this range.

"I'm - I'm - living. Here. Existing? Yeah." All Cass could do was stutter and fall back on familiar phrases.
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The response was kinda stunning. Cass had never been much of a smartass, or a talker for that matter. Through the red veil, though, Caedyn couldn't see any other explanation for what they'd just said. "Living" wasn't a sharp answer with a gun to your head, with how quickly it could change. The only thing keeping her from pulling the trigger was a little bit of common sense that was still posted up in her corner. The thing was, maybe by now people had forgotten about Bridgette. Maybe even about Jeremy. There were bigger, scarier people out there right now, and maybe, just maybe, Cae could fly under the radar past them if she kept herself clean.

She wanted to kill Cass. She really, really wanted to. But it wasn't a choice that made sense right now. Cass was not, and would never be, a threat. They didn't have anything she wanted. They hadn't hurt anyone she gave a fuck about. It made the most sense to leave them to their bullshit and walk away. She couldn't let it end that simply, though. If Cass was just sitting here...drawing...in the middle of all this, and could give her that kind of smartass answer without missing a beat, they couldn't have been through much. How was that possible? In what way did it scan that this loser who should have slashed their fucking wrists and saved everybody else the effort on day one was having a nice old vacation on Murder Island? How was it fair to her? To Jasmine?

No. Cass had to pay a price and find out what was really up around here. Caedyn knew just how to extract it, too. The gun stayed pointed at Cass's head as she nodded down to the sketchbook. "Drop it. Drop it and kick it over to me."
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Cass looked down at their sketchbook, at their unfinished self.

They looked up at Caedyn.

"No."
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Caedyn's grip on the trigger tightened and she took a step closer.

"You put the sketchbook down or I shoot you. End of story."

She was not gonna be denied by Cass Prince, of all people. Next she might as well roll over for Brendan.
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Never thought it'd be that easy to find something to die for.

"I'll give you all my food, water. Medical stuff. But I'm - I'm keeping this, Caedyn," and it was all Cass could do to stop themself from spitting her name out like a curse.
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"I know."

Her eyes never left Cass's. The gun didn't waver.

"You'd give me anything but that. It's the only thing that matters to you. That's why I'm gonna take it."

The Cassowary stalked forward just close enough to heighten her threat. Her stance was predatory, dangerous, terrifyingly focused. It'd give her a better shot and put more weight of presence on top of the seated Cass, like an actress stepping to center stage for the monologue.

"Dunno what I'm gonna do with it. Burn it. Throw it in the ocean. Wipe my ass with it. But I'm gonna take it. Figure out if you're gonna keep 'existing.'" Caedyn did nothing to hold back the venom on her last word. Her disgust with them was practically celebrated in it.
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"Oh."

What else was there to say to the living embodiment of stupid, pointless, aimless spite?

Cass stood up. Caedyn didn't lower the gun, but she didn't shoot, either. "Sorry, but I'm already gonna live forever. Wanna see?"

They walked over to the nearest camera. Held up their sketchbook, making the drawing as clear and visible as they could. Kept it steady for a few seconds, then flipped to the previous page, then repeated the process with the next picture. Even the roughest sketches. Even the ugliest mistakes.
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She watched as each page flipped by, never looking at a one of them. Her eyes were only for Cass and their hands. The only one of them that would live forever, apparently.

Flip, flip, flip.

There was a lot to cover, and she allowed every page of it to pass. She didn't say a word. Didn't move beyond keeping her gun on them. Didn't seem to respond in any visible way to what they were doing.

Flip, flip, flip.

The sound stopped. Cass had flashed every scrap of art they had to the adoring audience at home, and they seemed satisfied. When it was all over, Caedyn gave them a wide grin.

"That's a really cute theory, Cass. Let's test it, okay?""

Bang.
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((Skipping to Exit Danger Zone))

Left alone in the same house, sitting on the same chair. Back in the same living room. Nothing had changed since Cass died. No more vaguely satisfied and familiar faces, no voices pleading immortality in the face of the inevitable.

Nothing but silence and time, until the sound of sketch scratching against paper finally stopped. Caedyn eyed the corpse across from where she'd moved the chair, blood still congealing where they lay.

Cass would be her last portrait. Caedyn had never thought to draw here; no materials, and she didn't like working on paper most of the time anyway. But of course, the self-righteous little cunt had wanted to live forever, and had made their plan to get there very, very clear. It was the least she could do to respect their dying wish and make sure they remained immortal in their work.

So Caedyn stared at the body for a long, long time. She didn't doodle like she usually did. She didn't experiment. Her strokes were slow, deliberate, and completely cold. Calling what she was doing "art" would be a stretch. This wasn't a drawing. It was a message. She didn't know who it was supposed to be for, just that the rage burning in her kept pushing for her to finish it.

She began to craft the picture in her mind. Cass's hair looked messy there against the hard wooden floor. That certainty that had held them in place in front of the camera was gone as far as Caedyn was concerned. Their form was frail. Weak. Useless. Blood stained everything it could find to touch around them as a permanent reminder of how their little act of rebellion had played out for them. And their face. That expression was...

No. She couldn't capture it. Not on the page, not even in her own words. There was something deeply, deeply satisfying about the dead-eyed expression on their face that transcended its physical make-up. That was more important than any other detail about it.

A smirk spread across her face while she rose and walked towards the camera. She raised the sketch high until she was certain it would engulf the len's entire view, just for a moment. Then without warning she spun and frisbeed the entire book backwards towards Cass's body. As she heard the splat of it making contact with their pooled blood, she turned around with that shit eating grin on her face. Her voice came out just above a low whisper.

"They wanted you to remember that. All of it. So soak it the fuck in, ladies and gentlemen."

Melodramatic. A bit over the top. Crazy. It was a fucking crazy thing to do. She looked like a fucking crazy person.

Caedyn didn't care anymore.

Nobody got to walk away from this happy if she didn't.

Not Cass.

Not their friends back home.

Not their family.

Nobody. She'd make goddamn sure of that.

((Caedyn Miller Concluded In The Ten Duel Commandments))
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Cass had rushed through the first few pages, expecting to be shot for their small rebellion at any moment. They regretted this as soon as it became apparent that they had Caedyn’s gracious permission, but it was already too late to flip back. They would just have to hope that those few panicked seconds had been enough, that it had been framed properly in the camera and that their hands weren’t shaking too much and that the lighting was good enough because even if they couldn’t control that last part at all they could still worry about it because they knew that even though this would be forever or at least the closest anyone could ever get to it wouldn’t be the whole of what had existed, it’d be a photograph of a photograph, and while they would still be forgotten dust one day they’d at least be dust with a label, a faded and scratched headstone that held the promise of a life once poorly lived, the anonymity of callous entropy rather than a hasty and unmarked grave, but that promise of eternity didn’t mean that Cass should be the first one to deface the engraving of their name before the winds and rains of time took their toll in turn-

Deep breaths. Cass’s hands would probably be trembling for the rest of their life, but they could still try to control it. They allowed themself a few more seconds per page, giving them more time to present the camera a good shot without giving Caedyn enough time to get bored and decide that it’d be funnier to shoot them once they had gotten complacent. Maybe she already had. Wasn’t anything they could do about that now, but the thought didn’t quiet their all-too-familiar rabbit’s heart.

Their vision of an unfinished future was already lost to them, along with every meaningless doodle - that wasn’t right, they might not be of much but their very existence granted them a place with the rest, belonging alongside every epitaph, for they were products of lead and care all the same and they still screamed that they had a right to be known, to be remembered, to be given the chance to have someone find meaning in them.

Next were the crooked voids that once could have been Wade and Irene. Next was Asuka’s sleeping face - without context all too similar to a death mask, they now realized.

Cass held their own dwindling lifespan in their hands, they now realized. Could literally measure it in pages, feel its weight. Nobody had ever told them that one day they’d get to tip Death’s hourglass themself. Now that was an image - the reaper, taken aback at the doomed soul slashing the string of their life with a pair of scissors, preferring their self’s savage blow to any stranger’s scythe-

An image that would die along with the rest of them, but without even the closure of a death rattle, no second chance through a camera’s grimy lens. They had wasted so much time! They weren’t ready to be done, yet! Cass had sat there, in their chair, out in the open! They hadn’t even bothered to barricade the door! How many more hours could they have bought by just trying, even a little? How many days?

Next was Clarice, and hundreds of pictures were running through Cass’s mind; feelings that dreams had left behind and people they had seen with interesting faces and moments where the sun embraced the earth and the wind carried freedom with it, all crying out to be reborn for the world to remember before everything stopped and

Next was Bernadette and maybe if Cass moved fast enough Caedyn wouldn’t be expecting it, maybe they could be faster than their bullet, like with Jerry, but Jerry had been an idiot with a knife and Caedyn was many things but she’d rather die than let herself be beat by the pathetic coward before her eyes, and their life might be worth something after all but it wasn’t worth risking the only thing that really mattered, anymore, and

Next was Trav, the closest thing to the real Trav left on the island, and Cass was tempted to linger here, to hold his image high until Caedyn read it for the white flag it was, to make sure that even if the rest of their work wasn’t salvageable by anyone who even cared that his smiling face would be promised eternity, and even though it’d be the least he deserved and even though it’d be the right thing to do and even though they desperately wanted to, Cass couldn’t, they couldn’t, not when they could still give themselves a few more seconds, and

Next was the product of days worth of failed attempts to draw Trav, and next were the scribblings the doctor who originally abandoned the notebook had made, and if Caedyn had noticed yet she wasn’t doing anything, and Cass slowed, feeling every second that passed, feeling every breath and every heartbeat and every tremor, feeling the tears that their eyes had finally found, so much for dying with dignity, and

Next was the notebook’s plain cover, before Cass clutched it to their chest, fingers digging into it, legs giving out under them, trying to fill their brain with nothing but the texture of what they had live for even as they sobbed and Caedyn began to speak, and



Hey, man! First off, fuck you for making me go through all this footage, I don’t care that I owed you after I flirted with that nude model you like and made things “””””awkward,“”””” you need to buy me like, at least as much beer as a decent therapist would cost me at this point. Shit’s not good for my eye holes.

Anyways, hope you’re happy, ‘cause here’s a portrait for you. Hang it in a gallery or something. Two kids are in an old, empty house. Woah, are those bullet holes on the wall? The hell happened there? Kinda makes me want to rewind the show! Kidding. I’m so not the target audience for this.

One’s standing. One’s kneeling. One’s crying. One’s grinning. One curls their fingers around a notebook. One curls her fingers around the trigger of a gun.

That a pretentious enough sales pitch for you?
a tribute for the dead and dying

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