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Viewing Single Post From: It Was Not A Dream, But All A Grim Reality
Fenrir
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Biting The Hand That Feeds
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((OOC: Mason's mentor talk provided by and used with the permission of Outfoxd))

An orchard under a blanket of snow.

The rows and rows of trees laid out in an orderly pattern. Branches bare of leaf and fruit, holding only the snow that had collected on them. It was like something out of a picture book. A beautiful sight in a stark, colourless sort of way, but that was the kind Alice liked anyway. Simple and pure.

This was the sight that greeted Alice when she awoke.

It couldn’t be real. Such a beautiful sight couldn’t greet her in SOTF; that show was all murder and violence and… she thought back to the one part of the show she had seen for herself… girls in trench coats being beaten half to death by angry face young men. That kind of show didn’t have this kind of scenery. Therefore she couldn’t really be here. She couldn’t really have been taken.

It was all a dream.

No, a nightmare. Not the first she had had.

She also awoke to biting cold, wind cutting through her thin t-shirt as if it wasn’t even there and raising Goosebumps on her skin. She awoke to the sting of tears in her eyes, unaware of when she had started crying, or when she had stopped, but the wetness still there as evidence.

She awoke to the feel of cold metal hanging loosely around her neck, the producers apparently unable to find a collar small enough to properly fit her slim neck, and the whir of the camera in the tree above her as she sat desolate in this stark scene.

There was no mistaking this situation for anything but reality. These were not things found in her dreams. Everything was too real and too vivid to be a construct of her imagination.

She could remember the moment she was taken. Her mother had already left for work, her grandmother had gone back to bed after making sure everyone was awake and on their way; still the caring family matriarch even though age was catching up to her. There was no-one there to hear the knock on the door, to see the men standing there when she opened it, no-one there to protest when she was taken away so suddenly she didn’t even have time to grab a jacket. She would have liked to have grabbed a jacket if she knew she was coming to a place like this.

She didn’t want to believe it was real, so she didn’t. She stayed still and silent and held off reality for a long as she could. Since she had first opened her eyes she had moved only so far as to collect and attach her bandana before her collar could kill her and to curl into a ball at the base of the nearest tree.

The cold was bad enough however that Alice was spurred into action against her will and she crawled her way back over to her pack in an attempt to find some clothing more suitable for this climate.

She moved aside her weapon without a second thought, not even sure what it was, only that it was large and complicated and that she was not equipped to deal with it right now. She opened her pack and quickly searched the contents. Surely they must have provided some coat or jacket; with weather like this they must have. Alice didn’t know what ‘entertainment’ SOTF provided to people, but she was certain that watching 70 children freeze to death was not it.

At first all she found were more t-shirts, no better than her own, until she reached the bottom and her hand found a thick layer of fabric. Pulling it forward her eyes were assaulted by the bright red of a cloak under which was a short, black and red dress. She had no idea why it was in there, or why it was so colourful, but it immediately brought to mind a book she had read long ago and it comforted her.

Little Red Riding Hood.

She wrapped the cloak around herself and huddled herself back under the tree, a little more comfortable in the cold now. It was one of the first books she had ever read for herself and thinking back to it now she had to admit she found a new appreciation for that little girl’s situation.

Now she was a little girl, lost in the woods, predators all around her, sitting under a tree wrapped in a red cloak on a field of pure white. Easy pickings for any keen-eyed wolf who wanted a snack.

She could be her own storybook character…

Where was a woodsman when you need one?

Everything that followed her being taken – the ride to wherever they took her next, the studio where everything was explained to them – was a blur, but she somehow took in and retained the important details. She was on a team, which surprised her – she always pictured SOTF as a mindless bloodbath, she never even considered the idea that people might team up or that there might be allies to make – but the idea of help did nothing to comfort her; social she was not and no teammate would welcome a tiny, helpless girl like Alice into their group without good reason.

Thinking about teams prompted her to look at her wrist, where she had tied her bandana. It was gold, not yellow as she had first thought, and had the silhouette of a wolf or a dog on it; it looked unusual to her though, hunched over and with a short snout. Maybe it was some other animal she couldn’t recognise.

There were four other people out there with the same bandana on their person, either from her school, or from the other. Not that it mattered, they were all strangers to her either way. The only thing that connected them, other than a strip of cloth, was their mentor.

Her mentor. She had seen a glimpse of his picture in the studio; he looked so young, no older than Alice herself. Young and haunted. Was he a survivor of this game?

Would he be able to help, if she asked for it? Would he even want to help someone like her?

Would he want her to play, ask her to do the impossible and fight to survive, or would he take pity on her and tell her to run and hide?

To be honest, neither of those options sounded too appealing to Alice. Hiding would certainly be better than fighting, but the idea of burrowing into a corner somewhere and waiting to see what happened when someone found her was not how she wanted to spend her last hours.

She wouldn’t be able to stand the fear that came with waiting to die.

But, if neither of those, then what options did Alice have left to her?



Making a decision Alice stood, pushing herself to her feet suddenly. She could imagine she could hear the camera working hard to follow her movements. She walked with a purpose she didn’t know she had towards her pack and pulled her weapon free of the snow it had buried itself in. Looking at it more carefully now she could easily make out the basic form of a crossbow; it didn’t have much in common with the ones she had seen in her history books, it looked far more complex, but the shape was there and there was no mistaking the arrows that sat in the attached quiver. It was far too big for her, but not nearly as heavy as she would have expected.

She turned to face the camera, craning her neck high until she saw it, then backing up out from under the tree until she was looking at it at a more reasonable angle.

“I-I don’t know if you are lis-listening. Urm… I th-think your name was Ma-Mason… something? I rememb-remember something ab-bout you being able to talk t-to us and give us… give us advice. I need some advice.”

Alice wavered. She looked down and swallowed hard before looking back up into that cold, lifeless eye of the camera. She was making a decision to contact the people close to this game and ask them what to do, putting the choice of her next actions in the hands of someone who had been through this situation before in the hopes that they would know what she should do better than she did.

She hoped she actually got a reply.

“W-what should I do?” There was a pleading edge, a weakness in her voice that Alice knew might make her mentor give up on her entirely, so she paused long enough to take a breathe and hopefully quash it.

She lowered her head again, not able to look even a camera in the eye for too long, and hoped the microphone would still be able to pick up her words. “I know I-I’m never going to ma-make it back h-home.” She whimpered. It was a tough realisation to voice out loud even if she had admitted it to herself as soon as she had walked out her door with those men what could have been days ago. “B-but I don’t want to si-sit here and do nothing. I… I don’t know what t-to do but I wa-want to do som… something.

“I ca-can’t fight. I won’t fight. B-but… if I knew where the pe-people in my t-team were, I co-could try and find them. Or… if I knew where to hide… I could go there.”

She wasn’t being very convincing. If she was a mentor she wouldn’t want a girl like Alice on her team. She wasn’t any use, she wasn’t going to live. She had gotten a good weapon, she could recognise that much, but she was unwilling to use it and that made it and her as worthless as anything else she could have gotten.

She wasn’t going to convince this person to help her on the grounds that maybe she could survive, that maybe she might be useful to her teammates. Instead, she would have to try and convince this person to help her out of the goodness of their heart.

“I-I’m scared, Mason. I’m scared to die but… I’m scared of this place more. I… I saw this game once… just once. I saw a b-boy try to be-beat a g-girl to death. I saw that b-boy d-die. I don’t want to s-see that again.”

Alice wasn’t the type of person to bear her soul to anyone. Any form of public speaking was terrifying to her, it made her feel vulnerable, and this was about as public and vulnerable as it got. But as long as she looked at the ground and just kept talking she could get through it.

“I’m sc-scared of what I’ll see, the longer I’m here. I’m sca-scared of what I’ll ha-have to do. Don’t… make me go through this alone.”

For her final words she looked into the lens, forced herself to show her eyes to the camera. Her light blue eyes burned with emotion; fear, but also something like determination.

“Help me.”

The silence in the seconds that followed was heavy with anticipation and it settled down on Alice like a weight. It seemed to drag on endlessly before finally being broken by a crackle of static from under her chin…

A voice echoes from Alice's collar. "I'm right here with you, girl, and I swear to God, I'm going to do the best I can to get you and your whole fucking team out of there. First piece of advice; you don't have to be willing to kill anyone to use that weapon. I can't tell you where your team is, much as I wish I could. But don't worry. It's all gonna work out."

Alice’s eyes widened and she took an instinctive step back out of shock. She hadn’t really expected help to come, or if it did certainly not so soon. To have responded so quickly meant that Mason was watching her right now, probably watching all of his team.

She shouldn’t have been surprised that there were people behind those cameras, that there was always at least one person, somewhere, who could see her. But the idea that one person could see her triggered a realisation that many, many more people were probably watching her too.

Not just her mentor, not just the producers and the technicians, but the audience. Possibly there were millions of eyes on her right now.

After all, SOTF was the biggest show in history.

She suddenly felt very self-conscious.

Well… more self-conscious.

She felt like getting back under her tree and staying there. Or maybe find a bed somewhere and crawl under that like she did as a child whenever a thunderstorm hit. The weight of the audience’s attention, unseen and possibly non-existent though they might have been, was enough to paralyse her into inaction.

After a few moments of near hyperventilation, Alice was able to calm herself enough to think, to distract herself, and redirect her train of thought back to the message and her mentor’s advice. If she thought about something else, if she didn’t think about the cameras, she could avoid her nervousness.

So she thought.

And she frowned.

You don't have to be willing to kill anyone to use that weapon.

Alice felt the weight of the crossbow in her thin arms, the awkward shape. To be honest, she had never considered that the weapon given to her could be used for anything other than killing. That was to say, she never considered killing and therefore never considered using her weapon.

But as always things were never so absolute. There were many options in between using it for murder and forsaking it entirely.

A weapon was protection in this place. Survival of the Fittest was a wild place, a place of kill or be killed. There was a pecking order; those below you were fair game and those above were to be feared. Alice, judged solely by her natural assets, was clearly far below anyone else she might run into.

People would not think twice about attacking a poor defenceless girl who could not defend herself.

Little Red Riding Hood, with a basket full of food for anyone willing to take it.

They might think twice if Little Red Riding Hood carried a loaded crossbow.

She would keep the weapon with her. She would need to if she was going to survive long enough to do… whatever it was she was going to do.

Alice looked back into the lens, which seemed less cold now. “I understand.”

She hurried over to her pack, stooped down to pick it up and threw it over her shoulder, nearly toppling herself with the sudden imbalance and weight. She was back in front of the camera a moment later.

“Th-thank you.”

((Alice Young continued in Rosebud))
Edited by Fenrir, Mar 23 2014, 07:41 PM.
Program V3 Prologue
Michael Bair - Proud to be an American
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Weapon: Brass Knuckles, Heckler & Koch FABARM FP6 Entry
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Status: Alive

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