That wasn’t supposed to happen.
She hadn’t wanted…
She didn’t me…
That wasn’t supposed to happen.
Alice’s thoughts were in disarray, scattered around her mind in a thousand pieces. Whatever had been on her mind before that arrow had flown, before she had… it was gone now, long forgotten. There was only one, certain, solid thought in her mind now.
She had killed someone.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen”
It was barely a whisper. Said so quietly you could barely call them words. The world turned and everything went on regardless of them being spoken.
“I’m not meant to be the killer.”
She couldn’t take her eyes off the arrow, off the body – though she pointedly kept her eyes away from the place the two met – or the growing puddle of blood. She’d done this. There was no escaping that. A few seconds ago that body had been a person, a living, breathing person until she had made a mistake.
He’d fallen so quickly.
“I didn’t mean to h-hurt anyone.”
Still her voice wouldn’t come, still her words changed nothing.
The girl was still beside her, saying something and with her hand now firmly gripping the sword’s handle. Alice should have been scared; she should have screamed, should have run. She did nothing but continue to stare.
The girl could have drawn her sword and swung to end her life and still Alice wouldn’t have reacted.
But she didn’t. She left, instead.
Then the other boy approached her.
Alice had almost forgotten about him, concerned with the other two as she was. He was yelling, cursing; Alice actually turned away from the body in surprise to look at him. Alice didn’t know him, but the anger didn’t look right on his face; he didn’t look like a person who got angry easily.
She still couldn’t concentrate, the words were fuzzy and meaningless to her, but the venom, the hatred they conveyed came across loud and clear. It was enough to bring Alice back to herself, being confronted with that anger, that hatred. It was her greatest fear, before she had been brought her and she had real things to fear like death and torture, to have someone hate her like this.
She opened her mouth to speak but froze when she realised she had nothing she could say.
She wanted to apologise, to explain. She was scared. She thought they were going to kill her. She hadn’t meant to fire, she just wanted them to stay away from her. She thought the crossbow would scare them away. She hadn’t meant to hit him, she had her eyes closed at the time. It was an accident.
There was no point in saying any of this. An apology wouldn’t make up for what she had done and there was no explanation that would make it ok.
He grabbed his pack and hoisted it onto his shoulder. He moved for the door and Alice stepped out of his way. A few seconds later she heard the door creaking open and the whistling of the wind outside, then the door closed by itself and the building was bathed in silence.
Now that she was alone, the dam finally broke. She dropped her crossbow to the ground with a clatter and dropped to her knees a moment later. She hunched her back, covered her face with her hands and screamed, long and loud.
Each time was shorter than the last and the third scream broke off into choked sobs. She lowered herself until she was on her knees with her head pressed to the ground, her hands still covering her face and catching her tears so that they ran between her fingers. She continued to be wracked by sobs as she sat in that position, every now and then a weak, short-lived scream escaping as well.
This was truly the stuff of nightmares. She could not believe that any of this was real and even though she knew it was a small part of herself held on to the hope that she was trapped in a nightmare and would eventually wake up.
But this was a fresh nightmare. She had felt close to the edge of death during that last experience, when the girl had reached for her sword she had felt sure that she would die; this was the kind of nightmare she expected from SOTF. She expected fear, pain, terror and eventually death.
But never in her worst moments had she thought she would be the one to inflict it.
After however knew how long the sobbing stopped, the screaming stopped, and Alice just lay with her head resting on the ground as she worked to get her breath back. She raised her head tentatively, slowly, and looked around the room as if it might have changed since she last saw it.
She was alone again, like she had been when she had first woken up, alone except for the dead body and this time it was so much worse.
Alice was not a social person, but that didn’t mean she didn’t want to be; she chose isolation, most of the time, because she knew that being around people who didn’t want you around was so much worse than being alone. But now she would have taken any company, anybody at all, if it meant she didn’t have to be alone and relive this moment over and over.
Before she was only haunted by vague nightmares based on what little she had seen and heard of this show. Now that she had experience it first hand, and bloodied her own hands in the process, she would be plagued by much worse.
As much as she feared another experience like this one, Alice knew she wouldn’t survive on her own for long.
She got to her feet. She had to get ready to leave, but first she wanted to do something.
She walked towards the body. Her white trainers were stained red as she stepped into the puddle of blood.
Apologies meant nothing, not for something this big. They meant even less to the dead, but she had to say it anyway.
“I-I’m sorry. I-I… I didn’t mean… This wasn’t supposed to happen.”
What was she even doing? She didn’t even know this boy’s name. She must look like an idiot to the audience at home; a little girl apologising to a dead body, apologising for killing them.
“I’m sorry… you had to pay… because I was scared.”
That was about as good as she was going to be able to do.
She hurried back to her crossbow, carefully picking it up, a lot more cautious with it now that she had seen what it could do, and went out into the lobby to retrieve her bag. Through the glass door it didn’t look like the weather had improved much in her time here; it was going to be cold.
She pulled her red cloak tighter around her body and pushed open the door. The cold bit into her as soon as there was space enough for the wind to come through but she pushed through it and outside.
((Alice Young continued If You Hit a Wall, Hit It Hard