((Benny Lightfield continued from Rebel Without a Clue))
The three high school students continued hobbling west. All three shared a grudge and leg injuries of varying severity. There was something bizarre about how the game had altered all of their priorities. It went without saying, as much as Benny would have loved to deny it, that there was no way back at this point. Benny could dream of rescue all he wanted if he wanted, but that would be a waste. Thinking about where they were going was a much more practical option. But even that wasn't much to think about. West was the direction they had somehow settled on (maybe it was because Sycanus ran that way?), and other than that there was no real reason to ponder the precise meaning or destination of their trek. So Benny instead fell into a dull cycle of paranoia. Checking the horizon and his traveling partners for anything suspicious was a routine, and any time things got uneventful, he would scare himself through another rotation in order to keep things interesting.
The sun started to rise in the sky behind them. The group stopped to eat, taking a moment to enjoy the short window of time between the freezing night and the scorching day. Benny pulled out a can of Spam. He'd been eager to tear into it earlier, simply because of its connections to Monty Python, but either common sense or Ramona - he couldn't remember which - reminded him that leftovers probably wouldn't keep well if he decided not to eat the whole thing, so he stuck to the jerky and other unnameable excuses for food. But he was hungry enough now for the full can. He popped the top open, peeled the lid back, and was met immediately with an unnaturally pink, flat surface. How the hell were you supposed to eat this? The instructions suggested hitting it until it plopped out, but there was nothing to plop onto, at least nothing free from a thick layer of dust. He poked it. The surface gave under pressure much too easily. He was able to eat it using fingers for a spoon. Thoroughly grossed out and reminded of something he didn't care to mention, but grateful for the sustenance (even as the saltiness made him thirsty for water he needed to ration), he distracted himself by thinking about it as a theoretical entity. What made Spam funny? Was it the word? The fact that it only counted as meat under the most dire of circumstances, such as this? The cube shape it came in? Thoughts like those helped Benny stop treating the ground like it was brandishing a knife, at least for a little while.
They kept walking. The sun flew behind them in a slow arc, like a malevolent vulture, waiting to bleach their bones as soon as it could get a good bead on them. Up ahead there was speck of something. It wasn't moving or shooting anyone yet, but Benny kept a close eye on it in case it did. The speck got bigger as they approached, and two littler specks split off from it. One had an arrow sticking out of it. The other, surrounded by a red spot.
Buick, hork, urp up, toss a sidewalk pizza, drive the porcelain bus, sing to your shoes, reverse your peristalsis, make a tribute to Disney, join the Daniel Boone club. All perfectly silly names for what Benny very nearly wanted to do right then and there. He would have been able to name them all and many more, for stupid euphemisms were one of his stocks in trade, except that it is very hard to be in the mood to shout your groceries and to be in the mood to tell everyone about the phrase "shout your groceries" at the same time. Benny hadn't seen a dead body before. Sure, he'd gotten a glimpse of one earlier, but that one had been turned to human hamburger, and Benny wasn't in the mood to look then. He'd ran right by another one more recently, but he was in hot pursuit at the time. This though, this was unavoidable. Two dead people, one of whom was clearly recognizable as Samantha Atterman, the other on the other side of a barbed wire fence, soon to be unrecognizable as Martha Stock. It didn't smell quite as bad as Benny feared because the desert acted like a natural mummification system, slowly drying everything out, but that only took the lightest of edges off a very heavy situation.
Benny regained control of his digestion, just barely, and then managed a gasp of "oh my god." He kept hobbling towards them, for reasons even he couldn't say. Did he actually want to be closer to the bodies?
...The answer to that question proved slightly harder than he thought. For they were like the proverbial train wreck that was impossible to look away from. Benny hated trains just then. It felt good to have something arbitrary to be indignant about. Being angry at the real targets would have taken too much effort. And yet, as Benny crossed the entrance to the fenced in area of the post, he got an answer to his question. And disturbingly, it was yes.
Martha looked ever-so-slightly peaceful next to what was obviously the beginnings of a grave meant for her. Not as peaceful as one might hope - the hole in her didn't help - but she was slightly less distressed-looking than Benny had expected. Somehow, the grave said something to him that appealed to his inner dramatist. He turned to the other two, and said, "If *cough* you wanted to go inside and check it out, you can do that. I'll be *hack* out here." The smell was getting worse, making him cough, but he didn't mind.
He laid down on the hot sand on the other side of the grave from Martha. It threatened to burn his skin, but that was a minor detail. He wanted to feel what she wasn't feeling in order to try to make sense of everything. Like Hamlet if he tried to use Yorick's skull as a ventriloquist dummy, Benny merely wanted to come to terms with death via the art of imitation. So Benny lay there for a minute, seeing nothing but orange as the sun bored through his eyelids, arms crossed like a pharaoh, letting his own demise wave hello from the shortening horizon.
((Cameo Conroy continues from Rebel Without A Clue))
Cameo didn't know why they'd stopped here. It was desolate, it was in ruin, and it was very much dead. That didn't even say as much for the bodies littered around like marbles. At least the names were empty and meaningless to her.
Katie helped her along the path to the doorway while Benny inspected a body. As soon as the air sunk from hot and windy to just hot, she noticed the smell of the bodies wasn't just a luxury spent outside. There were dead people here.
One of them looked very familiar.
It was that girl. The one who ran, with a throat missing and a bear lying vacantly beside the body. Her hands weren't grasped around it anymore, instead they were near the throat, or lack thereof. Someone had sure done a number up there. It should have been her to do that.
She wasn't really sure how to deal with this new bit of information. There were ways, but stupid ways. Cameo removed her arm from Katie's shoulder and hobbled over. Her wounds twitched with pain, but she kept on hobbling.
There wasn't really much sense to what she did. She just felt like doing it.
The teddy was no longer a teddy, as Cameo had just plucked it from the floor and pulled at each end. The neck stitchings tore cleanly off as stuffing billowed from the insides and it became limp and soggy. This was one of the ways she'd learned to deal with it. But she wasn't quite sure if she was up to the other.
Every sense in her body urge her to take her weapon and make sure nobody would ever recognise this insane little girl again. She wanted to tenderise her body with the golf club, until there was no girl anymore, only blood and gore. She wanted it. She could have sworn she needed it.
But not today. Anger suppressed was anger to be released sooner down the line.
Cameo had spent an unconscionable amount of time staring at the body once the bear became nothing, and turned back to Katie.
"We should go."