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Valor; Violence to end the violence
Topic Started: Sep 7 2012, 03:19 AM (504 Views)
Rattlesnake
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I used to be a player-hunter just like you, 'til I took a shotgun to the knee.
[ *  *  * ]
((Nick Reid continued from Murder on the Midday Wire))

Well, he'd done it.

He stumbled through the jungle, eyes watering and ears ringing, seeking to put as much distance as he could between him and the grisly scene he'd left behind before his legs gave way entirely. He made it to a nicely-sized fallen log before collapsing onto it, too exhausted to check his seat for knots or moisture. He smiled faintly and thought of his first interaction on the island, sitting down and getting his pants infuriatingly wet, watching with trepidation the girl he knew wouldn't last long, imagining all the bloody ways she might meet her end. And then they'd gone their separate ways, and she'd been brutally murdered and didn't blame him for leaving her, not that he knew of and not that he'd ever find out. The whole misadventure seemed distant now, a world away from now just like he'd been a world away from his normal life back then. Nobody had murdered anyone then, and speculating on his classmate's inevitable demise was so weird, so surreal, and compared to where he was now, it was a freaking laugh riot.

He drew out a piece of bread from Adam's pack and bit into it. There was plenty of food in there, more than he'd expect someone of his size to have remaining if left to their own devices. The meaning of that was crystal clear, and the second's lag as his brain blanked out for his own protection or out of horror or whatever only intensified the shock when it came. His strength fled entirely, dropping the bread from trembling fingers as his head fell into his hands.

The tears came quickly and abundantly, and he made no attempt to stop them.

He hadn't cried properly for a good while, not even on the island when it would be so justifiable, not even when he'd murdered Sally and vomited his last good meal all over the mall floor. It was different then, just like it was different when he'd sat by the lakeshore. He wanted to cry then because it was heroic and noble and just to feel remorse and because he blamed himself for it, blamed himself for inciting such vitriol that she'd tried to kill him because of it and blamed himself for responding with nothing less that what she'd attempted. But he'd kept his composure, if not his lunch, because that's what you did if you were manly or tough or you defaulted to hiding how you felt on a daily basis simply to avoid empty repetitive sympathies or bringing everyone around you down. And it was all so bloody shallow. He'd had it good back then. He'd come away with a new weapon, the knowledge that he was the craftiest, quickest-thinking little fox on the island. That, and Megan.

Megan...

There was a hot sensation in his chest, as if his heart were melting away, and he cried all the harder. Megan. Megan, Megan, Megan, Megan. He repeated the name to himself until it didn't even sound like a proper word any more, because he had to be honest with himself that that was the name that had occupied most of his thoughts since he'd met her. He didn't want to obsess over her, but darnit, was there anyone else on that God-forsaken rock who wasn't yet guilty of murder? And would there be anyone at all that fit the bill when the sun next rose? And that was the point of it all, the not-so-amazing adventures of the not-so-heroic Nick Reid, Murderer Murderer. Take out anyone whose flagrant disregard for life made them unworthy of their own, get Megan or someone else with no kills to the end and maybe, hopefully, die along the way so he wouldn't have to see their face as he handed them his sword and listed off his major arteries. It was Megan or whoever else had no kills, but that was too long to say, and he didn't know if anyone else fit the bill, and if anyone else even did then they weren't traveling with him, and they hadn't offered him a hug like she did, even if it was in passing, and told him she didn't want him to die, which wasn't just in passing, and oh, hell yes, Megan, he'd wanted a hug. Wanted one now, more than he ever had in his life, wanted one like a man lost in the desert wants a glass of water. He wanted to pick her up and squeeze her tight and let her tell him everything would be ok even though that was a lie, and let his brain mistake the chemicals it was spewing out of fear for chemicals it was spewing out of love, and just be somewhere where he could feel warmth and softness and comfort and companionship...

He looked up at what he could make out of the jungle through squinted, teary eyes. Megan wasn't there, and nobody else was there either, and nobody was going to hug him and nobody was going to keep him company and nobody was going to feed him those oh-so-comforting lies. He felt so small, small and helpless and lonely, and the enormity of the situation hung over him like a Ptolemaic sphere, so large and solid and far away that he'd never be able to shake it, to run from it, to break its influence on his life. He was in completely over his head, committed to a plan where his best-case scenario was getting murdered while attempting murder, too far in to back out and too feeble to move forward. A week ago he'd been concerned about his grades and what college he was going to apply to and which ones might accept him, and now he was orchestrating his own bloody demise, sacrificing himself for the vain hope of saving a girl he hardly knew. He had to say, and he didn't say that sort of thing with any lightness at all, but fuck that. With a rake. He was seventeen years old, for the sake of whatever deity hadn't abandoned him yet. He wasn't going to march lockstep towards his own grave. That wasn't something teenagers were supposed to do. All he wanted was to watch the sun rise and then watch it rise again, because at the rate they were going that would mean he was alive again, really truly alive where he could measure his remaining life in decades rather than hours. He was weak now, but he would rest, and then he would fight once more, because what the hell else did you do?

He picked up the partially-eaten bread and devoured it, following up with a couple more slices and a few crackers. He knew where they came from and he didn't care any more, because what good did it do to die of starvation or of a moment of weakness just so you could be properly repulsed by a bunch of ground-up wheat? He opened both first-aid kits as well, feeling thankful for a turn for his ample supplies. He wouldn't be able to heal all that ailed him, but he could cover what wounds he had obtained with nice, clean, sterile bandages. Foolishly despite the constant reminders of his intensely-ringing ears, he pulled out a pad of gauze and blew his nose into it. A harsh stabbing pain in the side of his head and a new batch of tears rewarded him. He pressed the back of the pad to his ear and watched it come back bloody. Just what he needed. Snapping his fingers over his shoulders and shouting experimentally into the air confirmed the unwelcome news. He'd have to make do with half his hearing from there, less if his good ear kept up with that atrocious ringing. Covering his injured ear with gauze to try to stave off infection was all he could do until the eardrum healed, and that lay in a future he likely wouldn't have.

The rest of his wounds proved easier to manage. Various scrapes and bruises received band-aids, the gash in his palm a fresh wrapping of bandages (he blessed himself for picking up that piece of glass with his non-dominant hand), and all enjoyed a careful cleaning. He grabbed his jaw, wrestling with it until it shifted with a loud pop and a brilliant jolt of pain followed by the warm, melting feeling in his joint as it receded. There were still a few problem areas, his useless ear and a splinter of glass or two perhaps still stuck in his back, but the overall feeling was of cleanliness and order. Anyone who wanted him would have to do the job themselves, without any infection or other malaise giving them a hand.

He allowed himself a good rest, an hour or two or maybe more of simply lying back, relaxing, regaining his strength. Even dozing a bit, though he was far too shaken still for a proper nap. And besides, the day was still young. It had been less than an hour from that fateful announcement to when he'd collapsed on that log, and not a terribly long time since. He was still looking for Megan, but what exactly their situation would be when he found her he was too emotionally drained to contemplate. He stood up, taking up his gun and his sword, discarding Adam's now-empty bag and shouldering his own, reassuringly heavy one. Once he got his bearings, he'd head for whichever building seemed most likely to contain a girl with auburn hair and no kills to her name. It was a one in three shot, assuming she hadn't simply lingered in the jungle, and the odds got better with a little deduction. The mall was unlikely, given the memories the place held, and the lighthouse just seemed inhospitable. And so it was to the hotel that he turned for solace.

((Nick Reid continued in One Bath, Two bath, Red Bath, Bloodbath))
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