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Time seemed to move in slow motion, if not stopping all together as everything Pepper knew—or thought she knew—crumbled around her.

Everything had gone to Hell on a speeding bullet. One moment, Patrick was talking to her about never having had a girlfriend, something she could painfully relate to, and the next he was gone, flame extinguished by the one person she considered closer than family. The entire scene replayed itself in her head, Patrick’s pained scream ringing through her ears long after warmth had left his body.

She hadn’t even registered falling to her knees, foolishly trying to process anything. All she could do was despondantly stare at Patrick’s body, hot tears pricking the corner of her eyes as she locked on her companion’s peaceful face.

It almost looked as if he were sleeping, finally finding serenity from the nightmare they’d been forced into.

Anguish washed across her face.

Is it a good dream, Pat? Did you find everything you were looking for?

Pepper buried her face into her shaking hands. She didn’t want to see Delilah, fear creeping deep into the recesses of her mind as she envisioned her friend covered in blood and smiling. She didn’t want to acknowledge the monster the had taken over her friend.

Her nails dug deep into her skin in an effort to expell the mental images, flashing between the gore of Patrick’s death and her own iminent death that she was sure would be at the hands of her closest friend.

She was ready for it. Just don’t make her suffer, give her the peace that Patrick found in his slumber.
Her response came in the form of a cold droplet on her forehead.

She knew it wasn’t rain immediately.

Removing her face from her hands, she ran the tips of her fingers across her forehead, horror washing over her as she examined the wet red substance.

"Come with me, Pepper... I'll keep you safe!"

Pepper looked up at her friend, her fear realizing itself as she was met with the bloody smile of Delilah Rivers, dried blood caking her face, fresh coating an extended hand.

An audible choke squeezed it’s way out as her breath hitched in her throat.

Timidly, she took her friend’s hand, coating her own in Patrick’s blood. Delilah was all she had, the one person who she counted on to keep her from complete despair back home.

Through the tear streaks left in the filth and behind the horror, desperation marked Pepper’s face as she moved to hug Delilah.

And she laughed. Long, hard laughs that shook her entire body.

She tried to tell herself it was happiness overtaking her, having finally found her best friend, but the anguished sobs and the fear that was rattling her bones told a different story.

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From Where You're Kneeling · Town Outskirts
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