A Light in the Dark

Mr. Danya
Mr. Danya
Joined: August 11th, 2009, 7:39 pm

February 3rd, 2017, 12:09 am #1

((Nate Turner continued from The List of Adrian Messenger.))

In hindsight, leaving Asuka had been yet another stupid idea.

Nate had spent the last day wondering, but he’d made very slow ground. When you didn’t have a map to follow and confirm that your next step wouldn’t blow your collar, it became difficult to move. The lack of food or water only made things worse, and he’d found himself collapsing to his knees more than a few times. He may have been small and efficient, but he was no survivalist.

What had he been thinking? Yeah, he may have been useless dead weight to Asuka, and maybe Scout would’ve attacked them both (had she been on the announcements? There were way too many names to keep track anymore), but at least Asuka had all the supplies. Asuka had been leading him along since they met, and Asuka hadn’t tried to shoot him once. Asuka was probably the best thing that was going to happen to him until someone did come along and kill him, and he’d ran off for no real reason at all.

He fell to his knees again, and stayed down there for a few minutes. Holding himself up was getting so hard.

The sound of waves brushing along the coast lingered in the air, and he could hear the faint call of seagulls. The salty aroma crept into his nostrils, only making him feel sleepier. He could’ve passed out there, just fallen onto his face and drifted away into the grass, but he was out in fading daylight, the shadow of the asylum growing over him as the day turned to dusk. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could keep moving, but he knew he had to, lest someone come across him out in the open.

The wet sand of the cove shifted beneath his feet, the receding tide a gorgeous orange under the setting sun. It was a truly scenic sight, miles away from the horror that was spreading across the island.

Yet, even the picturesque view couldn’t remain so for long, as Nate came across the body of Toby Andresson.

“…oh.” He muttered, and that was all he could think to say.

He didn’t want to stay long. He couldn’t care that much anymore, not when he’d already seen Sandy’s mutilated body. He felt awful feeling that way, but it was the truth. He thought that, at the very least he should say a few words, that that would’ve been the right, respectful, Christian thing to do, but what was he supposed to say? ‘Sorry that you got caught up in this too’?

Yes, he supposed, that would suffice, so that’s what he said.

He was about to move on, as quickly as he’d come across the scene, when he saw Toby’s bag, lying there in the sand.

The painful growling in his stomach and the horrible parchedness of his throat wouldn’t let him argue, and within seconds he had ripped open the bag, shamelessly guzzling down the contents. It tasted so good.

He wanted to cry again. Stopped himself, wiped his face on his sleeve, and downed half a bottle of water. He was so sick of crying.

He turned back to Toby, grabbing the daypack by the straps. He wanted to apologise again. Sorry for robbing the dead, it really wasn’t something he wanted to do at all, but going without anything was too much for him. Maybe other people would resist the temptation, leave Toby’s things respected at their side, but Nate was weak. Right now, he was so, so weak.

The cove provided some semblance of shelter, but it wasn’t comfortable at all. A bed of rocks was nothing to sleep on, and the constant pattering of water dropping from the walls made him need the bathroom.

He rolled over, let out a long sigh, and stared up into the darkness. He was exhausted, so why couldn’t he sleep?

Maybe, he supposed, it was because he was alone. Every night, he’d been sleeping with someone else nearby. Ever since he was born, there’d always been someone on the other side of the wall, or in a bed only a few feet from him, or pressing right up against him that time they’d fit seven people into one hotel room. Here on the island, he’d always had friends nearby (or what he called friends, anyway), and back at home, there’d always been family.

“Wow.” he whispered to himself, when he realised how in this entire time just how little he’d thought about his family.

Mom, Dad, Kevin, Toby, Paul, Simon; what would they think about all this? They were going to have to see him die, after running around crying for four days straight. Maybe worse than that (a selfish thought), he was never going to see any of them again. Kevin would never tell him about all the stuff going on in Phoenix or keep his promise to take him sightseeing, Toby and Paul would never help him with his homework or…or… Simon would never pick on him just because Nate was the only one smaller than him … Dad would never again not say much to him after work or at dinner, just because they didn’t have a lot in common to talk about…

Why couldn’t he think of better memories? He loved them all, so damn much, so why couldn’t he?

He found himself thinking back, somewhere he didn’t like to go. It was in middle school, his second year, and he’d come home crying. He remembered the note from his teacher, Miss Steele, the one saying that he wasn’t performing adequately at maths, that he needed to study more or he was going to have to go to summer school. He’d been crying in his mom’s arms because they both knew he’d been studying for that class, but there were so many formulas and he just didn’t get it. His mom promised that they’d sort it out, that she’d talk to the teacher and try and resolve things, and his dad had given him a hug too, and he thought that had helped.

But when he was at the top of the stairs that evening, halfway down to getting a cup of calming tea, he’d heard what his dad had really thought, that none of his brothers had had trouble like this in school. He thought that maybe Nate had a disability or something if he couldn’t keep up despite all the work, that maybe they should get him tested. He thought he heard his mom agreeing, but he couldn’t remember for sure. There never had been any test, and he did manage to pass the class in the end, but he had just been so embarrassed from it all that he never wanted to think about it again. And so, for the longest time, he hadn’t.

There was something about this game, he started to think. Something that just brought out the absolute worst in everybody, something that made people like Alvaro start killing, made people like Henry steal all his things, made people like him resent his family and the people who tried to help. He was useless, and he knew he was useless, and sometimes people telling him he wasn’t just made him feel worse.

He thought he heard something. He grabbed for the lighter that had been Toby’s, fumbled a few attempts to flick it on before finally catching some light. It was nothing but the tide, catching some rocks at an angle, but it sounded so alien with the echoing of the cave.

He let out a sigh, looking around in the no longer dark chamber. The light from the flame danced along the walls, making all kinds of shapes and silhouettes against the misshapen pattern of the walls, but one object didn’t fit in, standing out against the wall.

A camera.

He stared at it, taking a moment to figure out what it was. He tried to get a close look, but it was too high on the wall for him to get that much of a view. Still, he pieced it together, and that got him thinking.

They’d been seeing him this whole time, of course, recording everything he’d do up until his death for the whole world to see. They’d been doing the same to everyone, and a lot of people were already in God’s kingdom (or not). People would probably watch this, maybe years from now; maybe they’d try to figure out who people were, why they did it, whether they were justified. He certainly wished he knew the answer to that. As it was, he was on camera without a clue what to say.

“I’m alone.” he thought to himself, reaffirming the obvious. “I could say whatever I want, and maybe it’ll mean something to somebody.” It was his limelight.

But what was he supposed to say?

“Um, so, hi. I’m Nate Turner, if you don’t know already.” He was speaking slowly, deliberately, like when he was trying to not stumble his lines. “I’m sixteen years old, I went to Cochise High, and I guess I’m probably dead by now.”

He laughed, just a little. It was starting to feel like he was back in drama club, doing some kind of bizarre improv he never thought he’d do. A real novel scene, right here.

“Mom, Dad, Kevin, Simon, Paul, Toby, wow that’s a long list,” another quick chuckle. “I’m really sorry that you had to go through this, and I really hope you don’t watch this for too long, because I don’t want you to see me die. I don’t want to die, either, but please don’t keep watching when I’m done saying what I want to say.” He paused, looking at his feet as the lighter continued to flicker, casting shadows on his face. “I really love you all, really. Really really. Please don’t be sad about this, I don’t want you to be.”

He was biting his lip, but he wasn’t crying. This actually felt nice, in a sad way.

“To everyone who’s watching this, for whatever reason, please don’t think badly of my classmates. I mean, some of them are killing, and maybe they killed someone you care about, and I’m really sorry about that, but it’s not them. It’s this game. This game turns people into monsters.”

“Maybe that’s a stupid, naíve way of looking at it, but that’s how I feel.”

A stiff wind howled through the cave, and the flame died out for a moment. Nate fumbled to relight it, sharply muttering under his breath “I’m not done yet, come on…”

Finally, it was relit.

“Um, sorry about that. Though I guess you could still hear me.”

“So, I don’t know why this happened to us. It was part of God’s plan, sure, I keep telling myself that, but it’s pretty terrifying. Like, I know I’m going to die, and I’m probably going to see some more people die before I do if I’m unlucky. The Lord works in mysterious ways, I know that, and I wish that was enough, but it’s really not right now. Sorry Mom, I was listening in church, I swear.”

He didn’t chuckle that time but he managed a small, fake smile. He’d spent his whole life taking some comfort from God, and trials and tribulations were just so core to the whole Christian faith, but that didn’t mean he could just overcome them just like that. What would Jesus do if he was there?

He inhaled, slowly but surely. He knew who he wanted to talk to next.

“To the people who did this,” terrorists, just say it. “I don’t know why you’ve done it, but I guess you must have your reasons. You must have reasons for killing all my friends and so many other people, otherwise you wouldn’t do it. Right?”

He was starting to stammer a bit now. He had to pause, catch himself. What was next was important.

“Well, I have to ask: won’t you please stop this?”

Of course it sounded stupid. But it needed to be said.

“So many people have died, and you’ve been doing this for so long, but doesn’t that mean it’s not working? After all the people you’ve killed, has anything changed for you? I don’t know what happened to you to make you want to do this, and I’m sorry that we can’t do anything to help, but killing us won’t make it better. Don’t you see that all this is doing is making more people hurt, like you must be hurting?”

“Please, I’m begging you, just let us go. Just, call the whole thing off, turn off these collars, whatever you have to do. I won’t try to find you, and I don’t think a lot of other people would, either. I’d just be glad to be alive. I know that’s an empty threat, I don’t know how I’d find you, but it’s what I’ve got.”

“I know that you’ve already got blood on your hands, and so do a lot of people here, but isn’t it better to stop than to keep going on? At least that way, no-one else gets hurt.”

“Please, just think about it. Please.”

A long pause came afterwards, and the lights died as his lighter flickered out of existence. He let it hang there, let his words linger as they had been. He knew it wasn’t going to make a difference, but he still had to try. Maybe, just maybe.

The morning sun rose beyond the horizon, waking Nate out of his slumber. He’d moved out of the cove, the seawater rising in the chamber without warning, and found shelter on higher ground. He ate a protein bar from Toby’s bag, eyes drifting across the painted numbers that he hadn’t seen in the darkness before. A name would’ve been so much better.

The announcements broke into life, and of course, nothing had changed.

((Nate Turner continued in Serenity Prayer))