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They Say Time Heals Everything; One-shot
Topic Started: Feb 22 2015, 09:37 AM (360 Views)
Dr. Freud
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"Feed my anger with children. Feed my lust with bikini food."
[ *  * ]
((Lily Ashburg continued from Blue Moon))

Lily sat on the floor in a corner of a Chinese restaurant, with her head resting on her knees and her bag laying next to her. The sweat that had accumulated as she fled from Michael and Zoe was beginning to dry, so even though she was sitting next to a heat vent she felt cold.

She’d searched the boardwalk upon leaving the casino and had found nothing, which wasn’t surprising. She’d gone there because that was where Zoe had said that she’d “found” the bat, but Zoe could have just thrown out a random location as part of her deception. Lily should have gotten the location out of Zoe before she left, but the girl probably would have lied again anyway.

Lily shivered and hugged her knees closer to her chest. She had no idea if Dougie was still alive. Part of her wanted to get up and search the resort until she found him, but that was out of the question. It was the middle of the night, and the temperature was below freezing. Jewel, Vahka and Pia were also somewhere in the resort, and the more places she went, the more chances she had of running into one of them. Even if she did manage to find Dougie, there wouldn’t be any point in reuniting with him. They were still on different teams, so eventually they would still have to choose who lived and who didn’t. In a way his death would be a relief, because then that choice would be out of her hands. Lily scrunched up her face and buried it in her knees, disgusted and ashamed at the thought.

Although she couldn’t currently see it, she knew that there was a camera looking down at her from the opposite wall. She wondered once again how this could have happened, how people could become so devoid of empathy that they could do this to her and everyone else here, but quickly dismissed it. She would never understand or forgive those people, so dwelling on them was pointless.

She hadn’t been inclined to watch television very much back home. Most of the stuff she’d seen had been things that her friends had shown her; Sarah, who wanted to become an actress, had been responsible for most of Lily’s TV education. She introduced Lily to Doctor Who, which Lily found entertaining, as well as movies by Hitchcock and Tarantino. While Lily had immediately liked Hitchcock for his suspenseful storytelling, she’d taken a little longer to warm up to Tarantino, initially being put off by the graphic violence in his movies. Her lips twitched in a sardonic smile.

She wondered if Sarah was watching her now. While most of her friends either disliked SOTF or were apathetic towards it, Sarah was a fan. She’d tried to convince Lily to watch it on multiple occasions, but after the fourth resulting argument she dropped it. Lily hoped that the current season might make Sarah rethink her position.

Her mind drifted to other memories of home. She remembered making cinnamon rolls with her mom a few weeks ago. She remembered laying in bed reading until two in the morning on a school night. She remembered how she and Dougie would get together to study, only to spend hours talking about completely unrelated things. She remembered watching Lisa singing at the end of year talent show, feeling envious of her voice and her bravery. She remembered the burning humiliation she’d felt when she’d failed to block a single shot when she was made the goalie in P.E. soccer, as well as the time she’d thrown her lunch away because one of the cheerleaders called her fat.

As she thought about what her life was like back home, she realized that it felt remote and pointless to her now. Worries about grades and self image were trivial compared to watching her classmates being slaughtered, along with the constant fear that she or someone she cared about would be next. She wasn’t even sure that she could go back to that life after everything she'd experienced here. She had no idea how the winners from other seasons had done it. It could be that they'd always been a little separated from everyone else in terms of morals, so they had an easier time adjusting. Maybe they buried themselves in denial. Maybe they never recovered, and the show didn’t have any winners after all.

The sound of slow clapping roused her from her reverie. She raised her head and opened her eyes as a derisive female voice spoke from all around her.

Lily stared straight ahead as she listened to the announcement, gripping her legs tightly enough to feel her nails digging through her jeans. When it ended, she relaxed back against the wall, exhaling sharply. Dougie was alive. Zoe had just been trying to scare her. While Lily was glad that he was okay, it also meant that their ultimatum was still in place. As she felt disappointment and guilt roll over her again, she quickly turned her mind to other parts of the announcement.

Jewel had killed two more people, which put her at nine. Lily didn't know how she felt about that. She knew she should be repulsed by the thought of more death, but couldn’t really muster up the energy to care.

Vahka, on the other hand, did worry her. He’d killed Pia, who Lily remembered as being tough and athletic. Pia had also been a repeat killer, which put her way above Lily on the food chain. Judging by what the announcer said, Pia’s death hadn’t been quick, and knowing Vahka, Lily doubted that it had been painless. Given how many danger zones there were now, Lily was bound to run into him sooner or later, and without Dougie there to intervene, she was sure that Vahka would kill her excruciatingly slowly.

She considered her options. Fighting was out of the question. She had no experience, was horribly out of shape, and knew nothing about it. Even if she did, she wasn’t brave enough to do any real damage. How was she supposed to kill Vahka when she couldn’t even punch Zoe in the face? She could run away, although that wouldn’t work for long. She could try to find her teammates, but she doubted that all of them were still alive. The announcer had said that fifty people were dead, and subtracting the people that Lily knew were left, she doubted that more than one or two of her teammates survived. Even if they were somehow able to neutralize Vahka, allying herself with them meant that she would be expected to help them kill Dougie later. Michael was the only other person who she’d thought she could trust, and he’d betrayed her for his team. Her last option was suicide. She’d thought about it once or twice since her separation from Dougie, but had dismissed it by telling herself that she still had time to figure out an alternative.

By now there couldn’t be more than twenty or thirty people left, which meant the clock was running down. Every chance she’d had to fight, she’d run away. If she was miraculously able win a fight with Vahka, she couldn’t kill him, even though out of everyone she’d met he was the one who most deserved it. It wasn’t her place to decide who lived and died, and if she crossed that line she would lose herself. What would be the point of winning only to return home and fail to live a normal life? The opportunities she’d had—going to college, becoming a writer, having a real relationship with someone, maybe even a family later—were all beyond her reach now. If she went home, she would be monstrous and broken, and whatever bridges she hadn’t burned by becoming a murderer she wouldn’t be able to maintain for long. The thought of living for seventy, maybe eighty years as a shell of who she could have been was unbearable.

With trembling fingers she reached over to her left arm, clumsily undoing the knot on her bandana and letting it fall to the floor. It felt surreal as she stared at it while also becoming acutely aware of her body: how the harsh light from the fluorescent bulbs burned her eyes, the feeling of the smooth floor and wall against her body, the sound of her breath in her ears. She jumped as she heard a beep from her collar.

This was for the best. Dying this way was better than being at the mercy of a psychopath, spending her last moments crying and screaming in pain. She hoped that the collar detonation wouldn’t hurt too much. They’d probably designed them to be as quick and painless as possible, but there was no way to be sure.

Her vision blurred with tears as she remembered sitting with Dougie in the orchard, his hand holding hers, telling her that she was going to make it out. What was going to happen to him after she died? With her out of the way, would he make it home? She couldn’t imagine him killing anybody, but maybe he was stronger than her. She remembered everything that she wished she’d said to him in the bus station.

The beeping continued.

What would happen to her parents? Would they continue running the store, maybe adopt another child? Or would the grief of losing her tear them apart past the point of recovery? Whatever happened to them would be on her, although having a dead daughter was probably better than having one that was a killer.

The beeping increased in frequency.

She wanted to go home. She wanted to be woken up by her alarm at 6:30 am to go to school. She wanted to be sitting in the library, studying for her next test. She wanted to be attending meetings for college and worrying about financial aid, or even about how her jeans made her look. She wanted to spend the night eating Mexican food and watching dumb TV shows with her friends.

She was never going to eat again. She was never going to sleep or shower or brush her teeth, or catch a cold or have her period again. Her heart was pounding but soon it would stop. Her hands were shaking but in a few seconds they'd be still. Her cheeks were wet with tears and her breath tore through her lungs, but that didn’t matter. The beeping was now so fast that it was almost a constant tone.

In one quick movement, Lily snatched the bandana off the floor and wrapped it around her leg, securing it with a sloppy knot.

The beeping ceased.

For a few seconds she was frozen, unable to move except for her ragged breathing. She felt something building in her chest, expanding and becoming heavier, until she dug her face into her knees and screamed. The sound was loud and alien and terrifying, a reminder that she was alive, that she’d failed.

Death was her only way out of this nightmare, but she was too much of a coward to actually follow through. For a moment she was determined to take the bandana off again, to see it through to the end, but the thought of that beeping in her ears was too much. Instead she hugged herself and cried, wishing that someone would come along and save her, or at least give her direction. She thought about praying, but she doubted that God would be much help in this situation. The only person who could help her was herself, and she was useless.

As time passed, her tears subsided, leaving a numb calm in their wake. Eventually an idea came to her, one that she never would have considered if she wasn't desperate. She stood up slowly, each movement feeling artificial, almost robotic. Without even glancing at her bag, she walked to the door of the restaurant and left.

((Lily Ashburg concluded in Nevermore))

"Hero will never give up, never hide, never be defeated, never accept evil." --Samurai Flamenco
"Love is all about flowers and sunshine and puppies and nipple clamps." -Rubix, "Truth About Love" Tour 2013
"You are not allowed to mess with my profile!" - Irene 2014
"Words, words, words. Once I had a gift." --Shakespeare in Love
"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me." -Hunter S. Thompson
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