A Reaper's Theorem On The Dead and Dying

Kween in Yella
Joined: June 27th, 2011, 3:32 am

September 21st, 2017, 2:37 am #1

((Nobody knows what keeps the world turning.))

Katarina had always been the sort of girl that one described in largely impersonal terms. Focused, determined, motivated, cold. She didn't like that last one. Just because her approach was rational, even reasonable, it was difficult for others to understand her emotions. Just because she didn't broadcast like they did or because she had the basest modicum of control to prevent all but the most impassioned outbursts. She felt things, though. Of course she did. She had colleagues, acquaintances, friends, family, and a cat, in order of rising importance, to look after. KK wasn't a vibrantly warm presence, but she'd felt those that knew her best knew enough to understand the form of her affection.

In those first moments when she woke up she thought about those people. She'd thought about everyone. There'd been a quick mental list as she'd organized and reorganized her supplies. Everyone in the class she could remember arranged by how close she was to them, how much she could remember about them, what if anything they'd ever done to her and hers, how much of a threat they were likely to be, how unstable they were, who she couldn't pull the trigger on. It went through many iterations. There were beta tests. Internal debates. Several final versions were proposed with varying lists of friends, allies, enemies, and points of interest.

They all led to the same conclusion: none of it mattered. No arrangement of tragedy ended in any separate solution. The answer was rigged by the nature of their competition. In an honest assessment there were only two categories that mattered.

One survivor.

One pile of innumerable and indistinct corpses.

There was no solution or salvation that could escape that fact. No reasonable one, at least. One could sit on their hands and pray to anything that would listen that help was on the way, but the rational assumption was that it wasn't. One person would live. Everyone else would die. All data must be interpreted through that lens.

From there it was only a matter of explaining it outward. She had already decided without hesitation that she was willing to kill to leave. A dozen or more of her classmates were already "acceptable" casualties. Was there a difference between the acceptable and the unacceptable dead if they all had to die for her to leave?

Yes. Yes there was. Katarina Konipaski did not have it in her to kill her friends on the morning of June 10th. Even if she tried to fool herself into thinking that she could, her encounter in the lighthouse proved her wrong. With more composure she could have at least killed them just by walking up behind them and shooting them instead of trying to pit them against each other. Broad arguments could be made about tactical division and the conservation of resources and going with the weapon you know in her tongue vs. the weapon you did not in the gun in her hands. But those were excuses. When faced with the image of those she at least didn't actively hate, Katarina hesitated. Looked for an easy way out. When it didn't present itself, she panicked.

Her shoulder was bleeding back then. Badly, actually. In all the commotion she'd managed to shoot herself. The pricks of pain as she exposed the wound to the air or the sting of the alcohol sterilizing her torn flesh wasn't the worst of it, though. As she bandaged her arm tight, tighter, tight enough to force herself to whimper and repeat the process all over again out of spite and imprecision was the roiling disappointment. It burned in her stomach through the rest of the day as she repeated failure after failure until it found her walking away from-

No. No names. No details. Wasn't that the point of all of this? Even thinking about specific locations as she had been was too indulgent. Much too indulgent.

As Katarina awakened in her bed of dirt and sodden leaves to the sound of loud voices in the distance, neither name nor memory crossed her mind. Eating, rehydrating, and packing up for the next sweep. That served the goal. Nothing more.

She nearly made it to her rationed breakfast before the words caught up to her. "Let's see who stumbled right at the starting line." It was only a mixture of recognition and the luck of a short lead up that let her hit the floor and cover her ears tightly before the first name echoed out across the island.


She wouldn't let them in.

Her hands were gripping her head so tightly it was giving her a headache but still she could hear the mumbled static above. Without thinking she picked out a syllable or two.

KK started to scream at the top of her lungs. She crushed her head in her own grip and screamed over and over again to drown out the audible poison they were trying to pump into her system. Her lungs burned with every long screech and every sharp, full intake of air. Her throat was aching by the time she finished. It seemed impossible that anyone could talk this long, but she could hear it, she was certain she could hear it clawing in underneath her primal pleas and slipping between her fingers to try and burrow inside her skull.

When she couldn't scream anymore she kept hanging on to the ringing in her ears. It might have been minutes later when she finally uncurled and crawled her way over to her bag. Or hours. In all her shaking she probably spilled more water on herself and the ground than she managed to drink from her first bottle.

But she'd won.

No names.

No details.

They hadn't come for her in the night. That meant however many corpses had been left behind during the first day, there were still more waiting to die before they would take her home. It didn't matter who they were or where they were. They were up and walking just the same.

Katarina Konipaski did not have it in her to kill her friends on the morning of June 10th. But today was June 11th, and it was a marathon, not a sprint.

((Katarina Konipaski's next target sighted.))