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友達; Friends; Day 9; Open
Topic Started: Jun 24 2017, 09:13 AM (704 Views)
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((Nate Turner continued from Paths of Glory))

The library wasn’t much better than the basement, with so many corpses strewn about the shelves. It was a truly macabre feeling, walking through a building filled with the uninterred dead, left to rot like trash on the streets.

Nate swallowed. No matter how many bodies he saw, he still felt the same. It was hard to put into words: some mix of fear and misery, but neither really took centre stage. Whatever it was, it was a feeling he'd rather he never had.

“Matt? You in here?” he called out for a third time, not particularly worried about who might be around the next corner, or what their intent might be. In the back of his mind he knew he should probably be a bit more careful, but that was where the thought stayed. Maybe he thought finding Matt was more important, or maybe he just didn’t particularly care if he was heard by someone with murderous thoughts.

He rounded another bookshelf, and met with another body. He was ready to turn away, until her blue hair caught his eye.

“Nancy!”

He ran to her, crouching down, putting a hand on her shoulder and asking if she was ok. That illusion fell fast though, as he remembered where he was, what he’d heard on the announcements, saw the decay eating away at her face, smelt the copper clung to the wounds on her stomach. For a moment, he might have seen his old friend, but now he just saw a corpse.

“Nancy…” he repeated, lip trembling. This was it: the first time he’d seen one of his friends' bodies, instead of just hearing the name. Those words on the announcements suddenly felt hollow by comparison, just empty words compared to the physical sight of someone you cared about dead and rotting.

He had to cover his mouth, scrunch his eyes to stop himself. He didn’t want to cry anymore, even now, but it was hard. Those good times hanging out in drama, gone forever and the proof was in front of him. It was so hard.

Amidst the trial of controlling his emotions, he continued to think, remembering what Nancy had done. He didn’t want to, he just wanted to grieve, but the truth was undeniable. He had to fight the urge to burst into tears because Nancy was his friend, but what about the friends of Nancy’s victims? He’d lost count of how many there were, but it was a lot.

He stayed where he was, looking her in the face. What else could he do?
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Footsteps?

Nate snapped himself out of his focus on Nancy at the sound, wiping his arm across his eyes which had teared up despite his best efforts. Getting to his feet, he clutched a hand to his chest, swallowing his nerves.

“Matt?” he whispered, far too quiet for anyone to hear. He could hear the coughing echoing through the library, but that didn’t mean anything. His heart started to beat just a little bit faster.

He edged towards the noise, away from Nancy and the hatchet still at her side. With caution, he peered around a bookshelf, letting him see that his guest was not Matt after all.

Nate didn’t know Min-Jae, and only barely recognised him as someone from Cochise. He also caught sight of the crossbow laying on the ground, ready to be picked up and fired if need be. He swallowed again, gripping the corner of his concealing bookshelf.

“Hello?” he called out, though his voice caught in his throat on the first try.
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Nate stood where he was, looking at Min-Jae. He didn’t really have an answer to the question, not having thought this far, as usual.

“Um, are you ok?” A stock question, but it would have to do. He looked a lot better than Clarice had at least.

He searched for a name to go with the face, but he was coming up empty. It was a bit weird when you thought about it. How long had it been since he’d seen someone but not known them before hand? Asuka, maybe?

It was weird, and it wasn’t reassuring. Still, that crossbow hadn’t moved, so there was that.

“Are you hurt, or sick?”
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Nate gripped the corner of the shelf as Min-Jae downed his water bottle, regarding him back in kind. His head shook in response to being asked the time, still holding his position as the trivial question took a backseat to the current situation.

Between the drinking and the bandages on his face, Nate was naturally reminded of earlier with Clarice, whom Min-Jae didn’t look much better than. Nate was hesitating to lend a hand so soon, although he wasn’t proud of it. Still, the dishevelled stranger across the library was a far cry from the familiar face in the flooded basement, and the distance between them was preferable to none.

“A mask?” he replied, raising a quizzical eyebrow at an odd question. “I haven't seen anyone in a mask, sorry.”

As if the place wasn’t miserable enough, had someone decided to rip off some slasher movie? It would sound almost stupid if it wasn’t disturbingly possible by then: Nancy’s corpse was still in spitting distance, after all. It wasn’t someone he hoped to meet soon, that was for sure.

“Have you seen Clarice Halwood? She was in the basement with me, and she went off to look for someone.”

Had she said who she was looking for? He was having trouble remembering, but he didn’t think she’d given a name. Could Nate have found them first?

“Was that you?”
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Min-Jae’s question caught Nate off guard. It was a sudden thing to ask, and not exactly easy to answer either. He didn’t exactly have much to go off of, after all.

“We just met, so I don’t really know.” He replied, not moving from behind the shelf. He still felt like he should.

“Have you done something that you thought was crazy? I know what that feels like, at least.” He smiled a little to himself, thinking back to heading up to the bridge. It was a good thing he didn’t have much longer left to live, he supposed; he didn’t want to be carrying that memory any more than he had to.

Was that what Min-Jae was worried about? Again, there wasn’t really any way for him to know. Maybe he was feeling that bleak, maybe he was going crazy like Alvaro and Nancy. Maybe he already had, and Nate would be none the wiser. At least, he’d be that way as long as they kept the distance between them.

“Well, it’s not just you. I think everyone’s going crazy by now.”
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Nate waited for a response, even though he hadn’t asked a question. It was because he didn’t know how to move the conversation forward himself, struggling to find something to say after admitting they were all a bit mad. It didn’t seem natural to make small talk after that.

He was about to speak again, maybe try to find out a name at least, but he was cut off by Jae’s motion. “What are you doing?” he asked, but didn’t get a response. Jae aimed, and that’s when it hit him.

He let out a shrill squeal, scrambling behind the bookcase and to his knees as a copy of A Farewell to Arms sailed cleanly over his head, bolt lodged between the bindings.

“What are you doing? Stop it!” he shouted past the books shielding him from sight, panic rising as fast as he had ducked. He started to repeat ‘oh God’ under his breath, thoughts freezing up right as they needed to go fast. His eyes darted for something, anything, but in the end he just ran blindly, further into the shelves that separated him from his attacker.
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Nate squealed again as another bolt flew past, slicing through the air inches from his shoulder. Between his heart pounding in his ears and what felt like a maze of bookshelves, it was impossible to keep a bead on Jae’s location.

He pressed himself against a shelf, chest heaving as he tried to listen for footsteps. “Is this it?” he thought to himself, in between the whimpers. Had this been what it had all been building up to? All the depression, fear, and agony over the past few days, just to get shot by someone he didn’t even know?

“Why are you doing this?” he called out, giving no thought to how it might assist his stalker. “I’m not trying to kill anyone! I don’t want to! I don’t want to hurt you!”

He felt his legs giving way, his back starting to slide down the shelf. The instinct to curl up into a ball and cry was overwhelming, as if that would solve anything. It had never solved anything when people picked on him, and it wasn’t going to save his life now.

So what was he supposed to do instead?

He checked around a corner for Min-Jae, saw nothing, and kept running.
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Nate pressed against another bookcase, still trying to figure out how much distance there was between himself and Min-Jae. His fingers wrapped around a shelf, holding on for dear life, as his eyes darted back and forth for signs of life that wanted to take his.

Min-Jae was shouting, but what he was demanding made no sense. Nate wasn’t trying to bother him in the first place, he was just trying to say hello. He was the one being chased around with a crossbow for no reason.

How was he supposed to leave him alone!?

He stayed put, listening for the sounds of footsteps. Nothing came, just a terrible quiet, the only noise being the boys’ mutual wheezing. He clenched his eyes, fear forcing them shut, as his teeth pressed against each other.

This was what he’d been spending the last few days preparing himself for, what he’d said to so many people by now that he was ready and willing to face. Right up until now, dying had just seemed like something that was going to happen, and it would be the end of all this suffering.

Damn it, he really was an idiot.

He shook his head, disgusted at how naïve he’d been. He opened his eyes again, looking around. He had to get out of there.

He pulled away from the shelf, ready to keep moving, but as he did so, his hands caught the top of the books on the shelf below the one he’d been grabbing. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to knock them down onto the floor below.

It wasn’t loud, but it had broken the silence.
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The third bolt went clean through the shelves Nate had been hiding behind. It went over the pile of tomes he'd pulled down, and impacted without remorse.

Luckily, Nate had already moved.

He kept his head down, powering through the panic that tried to make him squeal out again. His head was swimming, poisoned by the adrenaline and terror, and he wanted nothing more than to sit down and rest.

He didn’t want Min-Jae to find him, though.

He was doing his best to catch his breath without breathing out loud, but it was no good. Any second now, he’d buckle over and not be able to pick himself back up again. He was more exhausted than he’d ever been.

He heard footsteps. Picked his head up. Saw a figure on the other side of the books.

He pulled his hands up to cover his mouth, eyes drawing back into his skull. All Min-Jae had to do was turn around, look down, and he’d be seen. If he ran, he’d probably get heard. If he stayed still, he’d get spotted. If he started crying, they’d both happen at once. He was trapped.

Through whatever combination of fear and fatigue, a thought entered his mind. With no clue where the idea came from, but no time to come up with another, he took two steps back, braced his body, and threw himself at the bookshelf between them.
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Nate staggered back from the bookcase he’d thrown himself at, needing an extra step to regain his balance from the clumsy manoeuvre done on empty batteries. Despite everything, he still found himself wincing in sympathy as the books crashed down on Min-Jae and sent him to the floor.

His first instinct was to reach out, offer to help. He stopped himself, because he had to, but guilt was creeping up on him. After all, he’d already claimed he wasn’t trying to hurt anyone.

“Sorry.” he said, loud enough for Jae to hear but only just that. He stayed where he was, trying to remember what he was supposed to be doing, when he caught sight of the crossbow that three times had been used in an attempt to kill him.

He didn’t want to be doing this, but he didn’t want to die either.

The thought stayed with him for a moment, until he was finally able to get moving again. He ran, all the way out of the library, away from Min-Jae, and further into the madhouse.

((Nate Turner continued in Darkness in the Light))
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