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Rhizome 9; Private
Topic Started: Nov 23 2017, 04:35 AM (175 Views)
Pippin
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Anyone watching Scott might have wondered what he was running from.

His feet pounded against the ground and he filled his lungs with the sea breeze. Gulls squawked overhead. Waves lapped against the seawall. Life went on around him like it always did. The sun beat down and a trickle of sweat traced its way down his forehead, darting around his eye to flow down his cheek. There was no-one around Scott. Nobody nearby. Just him and the sea. Yet he never turned to look around him, never broke his gaze from looking straight ahead at where he was going next. He just ran.

He wasn’t trying to escape from anybody. Or trying to chase anyone. It wasn’t anything like that. Scott just wanted to run.

There were no computers for him to work on a new graphic design. There was no football field or fellow teammates for him to practice with. Odds were, he wasn’t going to last any longer than a week out here. And even whilst he survived, he would have to experience his classmates, the people he’d grown up with, the few remaining friends he had left, kill and murder and torture and betray each other. That wasn’t living. That wasn’t surviving. Sure, the last person alive would live, and spend the rest of their life haunted by memories and the actions they took in order to be the last one standing. No way. Scott couldn’t do that.

So he was going to run. He was going to run until his lungs felt like they would burst and then he would run even further. He would run until his body physically stopped him from running. And then, when all of his energy had come back, he would start running again.

It focused him. Cleared his mind. When Scott ran, everything that worried him and everything that normally felt important suddenly became trivial nothings. He thought only of putting one foot in front of the other, over and over, wind whistling through his hair, and he flew.

This, like so many other things Scott was dead-set on, proved to be his downfall.

He reached the seawater pool, barely slowing down as his foot hit the stone walkway surrounding it. He missed the first patch of algae. He just barely skimmed past the second.

Third time wasn’t so lucky.

He was floating on air for a moment, and time stood still, letting him hang in the air, floating suspended amongst the contents of his bag, all of which had broken free of their container and were ready to plummet to earth. He saw the sky, saw the sea, wished for a split second that he’d had more chances to see the ocean, before everything restarted, and the ground rushed up to meet him.

His vision burst into blank whiteness. The pain was instant, all of his limbs screaming out at his brain, adding even more pressure to it. It felt like his skull was being ripped in two. He groaned and spat out onto the stonework, a mix of spit and blood, as he managed to push himself up onto one arm. His vision swam, and he screwed his eyes shut until the white dots behind them vanished.

He opened his eyes just in time to see his first aid kit slide off the side of the walkway and into the pool itself.

Scott reached out with his other arm, trying hopelessly to grab it, long after it had splashed into the depths below. As he did, he let out a sudden, strangled cry of pain, as something dug into his chest.

He looked down again, just in time to see a drop of blood fall and mingle with a puddle of seawater beneath him, and his heart lurched.

His arms had begun to shake, and he pushed himself over, trying to roll onto his back, feeling like he was trying to lift a truck with his bare hands. With a groan and a cry of pain, he managed it, lying on his back and panting for several seconds. He raised his hand to his chest, and his panting instantly cut off like it had been strangled into silence.

His entire chest felt sticky and wet.

He raised his head to look down his body, and saw five sharp, metal spikes sticking out of his chest and stomach.
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Pippin
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First, he tried yelling for help.

Well, that wasn’t entirely accurate. He tried to get up first. To his feet, to his knees, onto his side on one arm, anything that wasn’t just lying there helplessly on his back as he watched the blood trickle down his sides. Every time he tried to move, though, even when it was just attempting to roll to the side, or push his palm down against the damp stonework, a spasm of pain shot through his entire body, and he fell back to earth again, short, staccato cries of anguish bursting free of his lips. He spent several more minutes trying, and failing, to move himself. He didn’t even count it as an attempt when he finally gave up and stared at the clouds drifting past overhead.

So he yelled. And screamed. And cried out, desperation etched into every syllable. Half of his words and non-words were swallowed up by the ocean, yet he didn’t stop shouting. He didn’t care who heard him, he just wanted someone, anyone to catch his words on the wind. Someone who wanted to save him, or someone looking for an easy kill, he didn’t give a fuck who it was. If it was the latter, at least a quick death from a bullet to his heart would be better than this.

Scott yelled until his voice went hoarse and there was no more air in his lungs and he could yell no longer. He waited, watching the sky, looking through the clouds and the radiant blue into nothingness. The uncomfortable warmth of blood and dull pain slowly spread over him.

He could have sworn he heard one, two, three footsteps, in-between the lapping of waves, but the moment he tried to focus on them, they disappeared. He continued to wait. Another minute passed.

Nobody was going to come and save him.

And who would, if they recognised Scott’s voice? His former teammates? Former friends? They’d probably be happy to see the last of him, and he couldn’t blame them for a second. How many years had he spent putting them down, browbeating them, criticising every little mistake they made? He hadn’t realised at the time just how much he was hurting them. He hadn’t realised that the sudden drop-outs of promising sprinters or could-have-been-star quarterbacks was thanks to him. He hadn’t felt the hatred and resentment building up in the locker room. Even when the first barbs had hit him, he had dismissed them as jealousy, when the only thing he was looking at was the very summit. He’d never considered aiming to be the greatest at anything as a crime, and he’d never considered himself as anything but the best.

And all of that had lead to this. Lying on his back, struggling to breathe, hearing the gentle dripping noise of his blood splashing onto the stone beside him.

The only reason his former friends would want to rush to his side would be to watch him slowly bleed out, like he’d done to them.

He started to yell again, and once more, his only response was the sea.
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Scott stayed still for a while.

He gazed up at the sky. Thin, wispy clouds darted along, like javelins taking flight and slowly losing their form as they travelled. Fat, puffy clouds followed them, lazily drifting along, floating on the endless lazuli ocean of the sky. He lay there in his own little ocean of saltwater and blood, the irregular rise and fall of his chest and the blinking of his eyes the only sign that he was still alive.

It was pretty, the sky. He’d never really thought about it, even when he spent half of his life running underneath it. He’d never really thought about a lot of things. Other people, that was the obvious one. But what would he do once he finally reached the summit? Once he became a household name as a sprinter, or on the front page of every sports paper in the world lifting up the Vince Lombardi trophy, or in his penthouse suite finishing up the logo for the multi-billion-dollar corporation who had hired him? What then? Would he aim for even higher than the top? Would he try and make up for all the shitty things he’d done? Or would he just be content to be happy with what he had?

He wasn’t even sure whether he was happy now. He just kinda assumed he was; you didn’t do the same thing day after day after day if you didn’t enjoy it in some respect, did you? But the only thing he thought about when he was running or tackling or drawing was that this was one step closer to reaching the apex. He’d never stopped to think about anything else.

Well. He guessed he would never know what it would be like to reach the top now. Not now that he was lying in the dregs of the world with no help in sight.

Scott closed his eyes.

Then, with every last bit of effort left in him, he rocked himself to one side, pushing against the ground, a tortured, strangled cry bursting from his mouth as he rolled onto his front, pushing several of the caltrops deeper into his body.

That didn’t have to be the case. No-one was going to save him. He could still try and save himself. He had a new goal and that was to live.

Would he be successful? Probably not. But if he was damned either way, he wanted to try his fucking hardest until the end.

Scott crawled forwards, groaning, each small movement building up a wave of nausea from the pain. Saltwater stung the cuts on his palms, and the sea breeze suddenly felt very cold. If he’d looked back, he would have seen the trail of blood following him, bright red against the dark grey of the stone. He didn’t look anywhere but straight ahead of him, though, straight at his bag that maybe, just maybe, had his lifeline in it.

He was inches away, now, his bag at arm’s reach. His vision swam, like he was clinging desperately to the mast of a ship as the storm raged around him. He could taste copper in his mouth, and as he breathed in, waiting for his vision to return to some semblance of normality, he could feel the blood trickling out of the corner of his lips, snaking down his chin and dripping onto the floor.

He breathed in. Breathed out. Took one, two, three more deep breaths. Then, arm shaking, he reached out for his bag, clawing at it, dragging it close to him on the fourth attempt, knocking his loaf of bread into the water. He shoved his arm inside the pack, rooting around, hand trailing over the flashlight, the compass, the bottles of water, the now empty bag that had held the caltrops.

It didn’t take long for him to realise that nothing of the first-aid kit remained.

He could feel the strength slipping out of his legs and arms, dripping into the pool forming beneath him. That was it, then. After all the work he’d done, after all the effort he’d put in, this was how it was all going to end. At least you couldn’t say he hadn’t tried.

The pain was too great for him to feel fear as his vision began to blur. Wishes and hopes and regrets were swimming around his head instead. He was never going to become a star sprinter. He would never be able to tell his parents he loved them again. He would never be able to apologise to all of those people he’d hurt, or do anything to try and make amends. He would die here, and to those people who’d set this all up, and to the people watching him safe and sound back home, he would just be another number that lived in their memory for a day, before fading away forever.

He just hoped that someone would remember him.

Scott tumbled off the edge of the walkway. There was silence, and then there was a single splash, as he disappeared out of sight.



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