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Rivers in the Desert
Topic Started: Sep 10 2017, 11:57 AM (5,700 Views)
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
This was it.

Matt had been right, it was just him and three others, because everyone else was dead. Just like Matt had said, if he wanted to go home, he had to kill someone. They’d made that clear, that that was just what had to happen. If he wanted this to be over, there was no other way.

Nate was still thinking about the day before, and he didn’t know when he’d stop. He wanted to make sense of it all: Matt’s pointless death, his remorse, how he still wanted Nate to do the very thing he’d decided was so stupid. Even if it was in self-defence, even if it meant this all being over, how was he supposed to do it? Why was he supposed to do it?

He gripped the jacket draped around him, pulling it tight. He was really tired of these questions. He was just really tired.

He made his way up the stairs, thinking about the other three, but wasn’t sure what to do from there. Whether or not he knew them, what he thought of them, it didn’t make any of it easier, since they all had to die.

That was it. They all had to die. That was all there was to it anymore.

He gripped the jacket again. Looked down at the gun in his hand.

The machete had been left behind. It was heavy, and carrying both weapons got in the way. In the end, he supposed, he didn’t have the strength to use it. It stank of Jon’s corpse, anyway, so he didn’t miss it. And besides, he had a gun now; that was all he needed to go home, right? He just had to shoot someone, kill them, and that'd be it. That was what it had all been building up to.

His lip didn't tremble, nor did his eyes well up. He just swallowed that lump in his throat, and pushed open the door.

He saw Fiyori. He stood there, but only for a moment. The gun didn't move.

“Hey.”
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Fiyori smiled. Nate didn’t smile back.

She beckoned. He paused.

He followed. Still didn’t know why.
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The rain dripped down his face as Nate followed behind Fiyori, not bothering to say a word. He didn’t question where they were going, or what they were going to do. He simply didn’t have the energy to, or maybe he just didn’t really care.

As they approached the roof’s edge, the landscape of the island came into view from their picturesque vantage point. It might’ve been a nice sight, if it wasn’t a sprawling graveyard full of horrible memories. The chapel, where he’d met Matt. The bridge, where he’d tried to jump. That beach, where he’d questioned what the point of it had all been for the first time. It was weird, seeing all those places from one spot. Thinking back to the people he’d met there, all of whom had been killed by now. All those people he'd cared about were rotting out there.

And then there was Fiyori, taking a seat without a second glance. She motioned for him to join her, but he didn’t respond.

“Aren’t you going to try and kill me?”

It was the same thing he’d asked Matt, and he’d been just as factual this time. He knew that Fiyori was like Matt, like Alvaro, like Nancy: that she’d killed Alice the day before. He didn’t know why she’d done it, but that was nothing new.

He felt the gun in his hand. He just had to do it in self-defence, that’s what Matt had said.
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It took him another moment, but finally he advanced. He didn’t let the gun go, and the thought of what he could’ve been doing instead was far from forgotten, but sitting next to Fiyori was a better alternative. Or at least it was an easier one.

He didn’t take his eyes off her as he sat down, both because of who she was, and because of what he would have to look at instead if he didn’t. He felt that lump in his throat again, reminding him that he didn’t know much of anything about from Fiyori, apart from her being as tall as he was short. She didn’t seem to want to fight, but how was Nate supposed to trust her?

He sat there for just a moment. If she really wasn’t trying to kill him, then what did that mean? She’d done it before, she could do it again. The only thing that might be stopping her, as far as Nate could think in that tense moment, was if she’d come to feel like Matt had.

“Do you still want to go home?”
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Nate sat there looking at Fiyori in disbelief, mouth agape. He’d thought he was at his end, that there wasn’t much room for feeling anymore, but Fiyori’s story was powerful in its absurdity.

“You’re weird, you know that?”

He turned back to the view, trying to shake it off. If nothing else, it had at least changed the mood, just a little. He wasn’t relaxing or anything, but it was something. Something different fuelled by a lot of nonsense.

“I promised Matt that I’d to go home. He said it was because I deserved to, and, I don’t know, maybe he died because of that. Maybe if I hadn’t been hugging him, or something, he might’ve noticed Blair.”

He pulled at the jacket again. It didn’t matter anymore, because they were both dead, but it might’ve made the difference. He didn’t think he felt guilty, but understanding any feelings at that point was so beyond his reach that it was simply impossible to tell.

“I don’t want him to have died for nothing, I want this to be over. I know we all do, but these are the rules, aren’t they?” he glanced down at the gun, still by his side. When had he let it go? “It only gets to be over for one of us.”

He sat there a moment longer. It was nice to think that that was possible. He wanted to still think that. He had to.

“What do you mean, more?”
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What did he want to do more?

More questions.

She got up before he could reply, but he didn’t care. He didn’t follow as she walked off, towards whatever. Maybe she was just moving away before she shot him. He didn’t bother to check.

What did he want to do more?

He wanted to go home. He wanted this to be over. He wanted to be done.

He didn’t want to kill anyone. That’s what everyone else wanted, not him. That’s what everyone else had been doing.

Fiyori still hadn’t shot him.

What did he want to do more?

He buried his head in his knees. He was so sick of questions.
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The rain was still pouring down on his head, as he looked off towards the horizon. He was felt like he should turn around, see what Fiyori was doing, but he didn’t. It still didn’t matter.

Even if he forgot about Matt, for just a moment, what did that mean? That he wouldn’t have to kill anyone? That he wouldn’t get to go home, as a result? That he’d be shot dead, or whatever the terrorists did if you didn’t take part in their sick mess they called a game?

He exhaled. He couldn’t do this. Couldn’t just sit there. Couldn’t be alone with himself. Not anymore.

He picked up the gun, got up, and turned around to see where Fiyori had gone.
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Nate hadn’t taken three steps when the shots were fired.

It was the anthem of the island. He’d heard it so many times over this whole thing. He’d heard it in the halls. Out in the open. In his sleep. In his nightmares.

He’d heard it with Alvaro. He’d heard it with Matt.

He stood in that spot, because he couldn’t move from it. He looked down at his hands. Matt’s blood was on them.

“Stop it.”

Not loud enough. They couldn’t hear him. Between the wind and the rain and their violence, it’d just be drowned out. They’d still be killing each other.

He fell to his knees. Clutched his face in his hands. Even at this late hour, even when he knew it was going to happen, he couldn’t bear it.

“Just stop it already!”
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More gunshots. Nate kept his face buried in his hands, gritting his teeth, muttering pleas to stop under his breath. They didn’t.

What was he supposed to do? Nothing he’d done until now had stopped them, nothing had stopped the killing. He was, as always, powerless. Weak. Helpless. Couldn’t help anyone. Couldn’t stop anyone. Everyone around him died, as he just sat there crying. He’d cry, and people would die.

Someone came by.

He looked up from his palms. Saw Min-Jae. Stared at him as the rain poured down between them. Heard his words.

Stood there.

“You don’t remember me?”

He kept staring, hesitating. He didn’t know what to make of it. Of course, he remembered Min-Jae, because Min-Jae had tried to kill him for no good reason. He was the sole person Nate had fought back against, because he hadn’t wanted to die. He still didn’t want to die.

And now, here they were, with at least one of them about to do so. That was how they got to go home.

Nate looked down at the gun he’d dropped a moment ago, still next to him. Lying there, glistening in the rain.

He grabbed it, and pointed it at Min-Jae.
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He was shaking. He didn’t want to be, he wanted to stand his ground and not look weak in front of Min-Jae, but he couldn’t stop himself. He was too tired to suddenly be holding people at gunpoint, too tired to not look like he felt.

He didn’t lower the weapon though. He didn’t want to die, and he didn’t trust Min-Jae. He didn’t want to do it like this, but this was what everyone else wanted.

That wasn’t the only reason though. As much as he was trying to keep his eyes levelled on Min-Jae, just be ready to do…something, if he had to, no matter what he wanted, he couldn’t shake the horrible sense of déjà vu.

A flooded basement. A library. A closet. His friend from soccer, someone he’d never met, the person whose death hurt the most. All of them, holding their weapons on him. What had happened to them. What he'd thought about them.

It hadn’t even been a day since Matt had died, after holding his gun on Nate, after Nate had convinced him to put it down. After he’d called him an idiot for doing so, and punched him in the gut.

Standing there, holding his own weapon, aiming it at Min-Jae. Just a great big hypocrite.

“Alvaro’s dead. Matt’s dead.” He was speaking under his breath, but he was still looking at Min-Jae, still holding the gun at him. He could make Min-Jae dead too, it wouldn’t take a second. Scrunching his eyes at that thought was the only time he took his eyes off the other boy, but that was just for a moment. He could do it.

But Min-Jae was right: he didn't want to.

“Everyone’s dead.” That was what it was. He missed them.

So why? Why was it just him? Why was everyone else up here still shooting at each other?

His eyes changed as looked at Min-Jae. Sad, scared, but now angry.

“Why don’t you care that they’re all dead? Why don’t any of you care anymore?!”
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Nate was still shaking, his hands rattling the gun as little parts jostled around. His eyes were getting narrower, angrier, with every passing word.

There was nothing but the sound of the rain hammering onto the roof and the people on it, the distant gunshots falling silent. Nate could feel the water on his face, running over his eyes and ears and seeping into his clothes, but why would he care about that? Why would he care about something so damn trivial as some chilling water, when Jae was standing there, saying what he was saying. Casually offering to shoot him, pretending to care but not being able to say why, just offering nothing good enough to placate Nate.

He replayed the response in his head. That was enough. Even though Min-Jae hadn’t said anything in that momentary lapse, Nate still screamed.

“Shut up! Just shut up!”

He wanted to step forward, put the gun in Min-Jae’s face, but his legs were frozen. Most of him was frozen, really, even if he was still shaking with rage. He swallowed a massive lump that had formed in his throat.

“Stop saying that crap! Stop talking about killing people! Stop asking me questions!”

The gun lurched forwards as far as he could reach, as close to Min-Jae’s face as Nate could put it without being able to shift from his spot.

“Give me an answer, a real answer! Why you don’t care?! Tell me, or I’ll shoot you right now!”
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Min-Jae’s words stung like the bullets that Nate couldn’t shoot.

His face felt hot, red, wet. No matter how much he threatened it, he knew that his words were just that. He was all talk, no action. Just weak little Nate Turner, holding a gun at someone’s face like a big shot, rather than the scared little boy he was.

He would’ve put the gun down, if Min-Jae hadn’t pulled it closer, inviting his own death with what meagre strength he showed. It was in that moment that Nate realised:

Min-Jae was already dead.

Tears finally started flowing again. Not tears of sympathy, but tears of exhausted, terrified, grief. Tears at seeing what this island had done to his classmates, what it was driving them to. What it was driving him to. Min-Jae was just some kid from Arizona, and now he wanted to die, to be shot in the face. He wanted Nate to shoot him in the face.

And in a brief, fleeting moment, Nate might have even wanted to do it.

“Oh, God.” Nate whispered, bringing the gun down.

He tried to speak, only stammered. He just shook his head, a weak rejection of reality.

“I can’t…”

It wasn’t meant for Min-Jae, but that didn’t matter. It was all he could say, before they were interrupted.
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Nate squealed as Fiyori collided with Min-Jae, sending them sprawling into a heap. He fell backwards, tripping over his own feet, landing on the soaked roof with a hard thud. The gun in his hand rattled from the impact with the ground, but didn’t leave his grip.

He sat there watching, speechless, as the two went at each other, full of teeth and blood and anger and hate. Even there and then, right when Min-Jae had been ready to die, when he wanted Nate to kill him, this was all he was reduced to. And Fiyori, who Nate had spoken to so casually not minutes ago, was mirroring him perfectly. A blood drenched ball of horrible, overwhelming killing intent.

His hand reflexively tightened round the gun, squeezing it as if it would offer him some reassurance. He wanted to shift backwards, away from the brawl, away and far away, and it didn’t matter that the roof only went so far back behind him before it cut off to nothing. But, just like every other time, he couldn’t. Just like every single other time, he was too scared to move.

“Stop it!” he cried out, for the fourth time on that roof. And, just like every other time, it didn’t mean a damn thing. It was as if, to Min-Jae and Fiyori, he might as well have not even been there.

With everyone he’d met, he realised, he might as well have not been there.

He couldn’t do anything.

He couldn’t change anything.

He was just useless little Nate Turner, who couldn’t save anyone.

He kept watching.

The gun was still in his hand.
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Nate was still just sat there, still doing nothing, still useless. Jae and Fiyori continued paying him no attention, more concerned with ripping each other to pieces than a useless nobody who hadn’t done anything for anyone.

He tried to yell again, but choked on his empty words. It wasn’t even about the fact that Min-Jae or Fiyori weren’t going to listen; it was because there was no point trying to pretend. He knew that saying something wouldn’t do anything, that it wouldn’t stop them from killing each other right in front of him, and he knew that he couldn’t keep the charade up anymore.

He gritted his teeth hard as tears and rain ran down his face.

Images flashed across his mind as he watched the two in front of him. Corpses, gunfire, violence. Everything since he’d gotten on that bus to the science museum, everything since that last normal day of his life: everything came back to that, and that was all there was to it. He’d kept thinking that that didn’t have to be the case, that maybe people would see reason, but why? Why had he been so damn stupid? Why couldn’t he just accept that this was reality, that his life was over, and that this was what everyone wanted?

He shook his head again, clenching his eyes and shutting out the sight, but it did nothing for the sounds. He tried to cover his ears, only to feel the grip of the gun pressing against his head. Cold and unflinching, it hadn’t been broken by the island at all.

The unfamiliar feeling of the metal on his head triggered a strange, bizarre, mad thought: Nate realised, in that moment, that he wished he was more like a gun.

If he was a like a gun, uncaring, unfeeling, then he'd be going home by now. That's what Matt had wanted, and that's what he'd wanted. He couldn't remember if he still wanted it, but that wouldn't have mattered if he'd been a gun. If that was the case, then he’d have killed Fiyori, killed Min-Jae, and he’d win, and their deaths wouldn’t mean anything to him.

That’s all he needed to do, to end this right now. He just had to be like a gun.

He just had to use his.
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Nate got to his feet. Fiyori and Min-Jae didn’t notice a thing, just like he knew they would. They just kept going at each other, kicking and screaming and killing. They didn’t care about anything else.

So why should he?

He looked at the gun in his hand. Looked back at the two in front of him. He just had to use it, and everything would be over.

It looked big in his hand, like so many things did. More than that though, it looked wrong, like it didn’t belong. It never should have, but that didn’t matter anymore.

No, maybe it wasn’t that it didn’t matter. Maybe that was the problem in the first place, why he’d felt so awful this whole time. He’d spent so long fighting it, and look where it had got him. Look what it had done for everyone around him, who’d just fallen to madness as he stood by crying. Maybe if he’d just accepted things sooner, just grabbed a gun and started shooting, then he wouldn’t be feeling this way. Maybe he wouldn’t still be crying.

If he wanted this to end, the gun would have to belong in his hand. He’d have to be someone who fired it at people. He’d have to be the person who shot, and murdered, Min-Jae and Fiyori. That was the person who would get to go home.

He gripped the magazine, taking two hands to the Madsen. He could still hear Min-Jae and Fiyori going at it, so he forced his head up to see it clearly. He couldn’t shoot something he wasn’t looking at, after all, because the person he had to be would look at them. The gun weighed more than he thought it would, heavier than anything he could ever remember lifting. Maybe it was because his arms wouldn’t stop shaking, or because his body wouldn’t stop trembling, but he had to keep on lifting it. He had to level it, and point it at the two people he was about to kill.

His fingers didn’t want to move, but he made them find the trigger. It felt like it wouldn’t resist at all. Of course it wouldn’t, because it was a gun. Guns didn’t care.

He stood there for a fleeting moment, trying and failing to hold the gun still. The rain kept pouring down his hair and face, over his arms and hands, over everything. He wanted to look right, not strong, not brave. He wanted to look like he didn’t care. He wanted to believe that he didn’t care.

There were a lot of things he wanted, right in that moment.

He wanted to go home. He wanted to see his family again. He wanted all this to be over.

All he had to do, to make all that happen, was to pull the trigger.

All he had to do was shoot them, like Alvaro had done to Ben. Like Min-Jae had tried to do to him. It would get him what he wanted.

All he had to do was kill them, like what had happened to Matt. Shoot them until they dropped dead, just like he had. Just become a murderer.

That was what he had to do if he wanted to end this. That was the person he had to be.

Every time he told himself that, it got harder and harder.

He thought about everyone one more time, because he needed to think about something that was worth it. He thought about his family, his friends. He wanted to be able to picture himself with them again, alive, happy, smiling.

Damn it, that was all he wanted.

He stopped looking at Min-Jae and Fiyori. He couldn’t.

He squeezed.

As the gunfire screamed through the air, screaming through the rain and every scream that the island had caused, Nate screamed right along with it.
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