Waking up alone, huh.
It wasn’t as though Amanda hadn’t half expected it. She didn’t want to die. Jason didn’t want to die. Their mutual interest in living automatically put them at odds, even if they didn’t acknowledge it out loud. Jason slipping away in the night was the best outcome, really.
It still hurt, no matter how much she tried to brush it off. With Jason gone, it was all the more difficult for Amanda to try and pretend that things were normal and okay. It kept occurring to her that she ought to start formulating some kind of long-term plan, and finding herself solo did nothing but reinforce that. Further proof came in the form of her total lack of desire to set foot outside in case she encountered some other fight or somebody else with a gun.
In the end, it was easier to pretend than to face reality.
Amanda had always been good at entertaining herself when the need arose. She amused herself for a couple hours by twirling her weapon like a baton, tossing it in a spin and seeing if she could catch it on the way down. She skated around the still-damp shower floor in her socks and mapped out games of chess in her head. She stumbled and bruised herself a bit thanks to the slippery floor and her wandering thoughts, but the interior of the shower building still felt far more secure than whatever lay beyond.
“Checkmate,” she mumbled to herself, spinning on the ball of one foot. She'd won yet another mental match against herself, her current winning streak a new record.
Every so often the face or name of someone she might have once played against at school surfaced, but she pushed them back down and didn’t wonder whether those former opponents were alive or dead. It was hard not to wonder about Jason especially, but she managed. She had always managed to not think too hard about the things that bothered her.
As evening fell, Amanda retreated to the cubicle she and Jason had previously slept in. She didn’t rest any more easily than she had the previous night, clutching her wooden club tight, but she did rest a bit and she rose early to take advantage of the quiet and to see if she could skate around some more even with the floor dry.
She could, it turned out, and she decided to go a step further and combine her makeshift baton-twirling with the movement. She had never been into drill teams or dance routines really, but she didn’t have anything better to do here, whatever some of her thoughts might have insisted to the contrary.
Amanda had just gotten to a pretty good part of her improvised skating/dancing/twirling routine, if she did say so herself, when a nearby speaker crackled to life again. The sudden noise made her jump in the middle of a turn, sending her off balance. Her socks slipped against the tile, and the next thing she knew she was pitching backwards to the floor.
The back of her head painfully impacted the tile and the fall drove the breath from her lungs, and she was so surprised that once she could breathe again she couldn’t do anything but laugh at how ridiculous she must look, sprawled on the floor of some moldy old shower room. She laughed so long and hard that it started to take on a hysterical edge, but she was able to calm herself before her laughter gave way to tears, and that was a victory of sorts. Didn’t do much for her head, but small victories.
Amanda checked the back of her head for blood as she sat up and was satisfied to find none, but the sudden tumble was enough to put her off the spinning and jumping around for a while. She returned to the cubicle she had claimed, looking to have some food and water and to take a couple painkillers. Maybe she could try to sleep a bit more. She had missed most of the announcement in the confusion after her spill, and slept through the previous one too, leaving gaps in her knowledge of who was still alive and who was dangerous. Jason could be one, both, or none of the above, and she might have missed it. That thought was sobering enough to drive any lingering giggles out of her.
It was as it was, Amanda repeated to herself. She couldn’t do anything about it. The throbbing of her head, the ringing in her ears, and the heavy feeling in the pit of her stomach would stay no matter what she did. The best thing to do right now was to keep herself sane by blocking out as much of it as she could.
So that was what she did. She played more mental chess, played around with her weapon, and, above all else, she tried not to think about things outside her little world inside the cubicle. The painkillers didn’t seem to be doing much for her headache, so she took more. How many had she taken in the first place, again?
It didn’t matter. It was as it was. Her head hurting was just making it easier to not think at all, unpleasant as it felt to exert herself with a throbbing skull.
It was okay. It was okay. She would plan in the morning. Given enough time, she could come up with something that would put her a move ahead of anyone who wanted to cause her trouble. She was good at that, when she put her mind to it.
Amanda spent the rest of the day in solitude again, slowly but surely drifting into an easier, more comfortable sleep than she had been allowed the previous two nights. She took more painkillers just in case—didn’t want to wake up in the middle of things because her head was hurting—and she finally closed her eyes at some point in the afternoon. She wouldn’t open them again.
The darkness was comfortable.
G08 AMANDA WHITE: DECEASED