(This, on the other hand is
a post-order-broken disclaimer. Permission has been obtained from all other members of this thread)
To pick up where we left off:
And he saw Claire Lambert.
And he saw Claire Lambert, and when he saw Claire Lambert, everything was about to go right, because Jesus fucking Christ, how did he manage to pull that one off, how did he manage to find her back here, and holy fuck and-- and say something. Say something now, because she looks scared out of her mind, and fuck's sake, she has every reason to be scared out of her mind, and if you don't say something right now, everything is about to go wrong. And so:
"Claire! Jesus Christ, I..." She looked so scared. She looked so scared. "No, wait! I... Claire-"
She was running away. She was running away and nobody could blame her. What was that JJ Sturn going to do if she just stood still? What was he going to do if he caught up to her? Best not think about it, best avert the children's eyes, best cross yourself and shake your head in sorrow because that's the only possible outcome. She was running away because she needed to run away, because she was holding on to dear life, because there'd been a time before when she had stood up to JJ Sturn, and we all know what happens to girls who stand up to JJ Sturn.
So prove them wrong, JJ. Don't follow her, just let her go. She had said exactly one thing to JJ before she'd gone tearing off into the distance. NO!
No means no, JJ. This is your chance to prove them wrong. A chance to prove that JJ Sturn could deal with things not going his way without flying into a violent rage. And for a second, he considered it. He really, really did. Just nod his head, accept that she didn't want to have anything to do with him, get on with his life and think of something else to do on this stupid fucking island. She didn't really need his help, did she? After all, she'd made it this far already. She hadn't
been one of those first two people to die (well at least he didn't have to ask anyone anymore), and she hadn't been one of the next seventeen either. So she didn't need JJ. So he ought to just prove everyone wrong.
But there was another way to prove everyone wrong. A better way. Leaving her alone was a step forward, maybe. But fuck it, it wasn't a big enough step. You just stand down and do nothing at every occasion, that's not being a better person. That's just being scared. Scared of what some people are gonna think of you, which- fuck it- they're gonna think of you anyway no matter what you do. So JJ had his better way, his only way. He was gonna make it right. He was gonna make things right with Claire, just follow her and ask her to please hear him out, show her that he meant no harm, explain everything, explain what he wanted, do his best to offer her some help. If she still said no? Well, that's when he'd take no for an answer. But not until he'd tried, goddammit.
With one hand gripping the strap of his daypack tightly, JJ ran after Claire as fast as his legs could carry him. A few strides into his run, his right foot kicked a pack of Wild Sevens cigarettes through the thick grass.
JJ didn't really notice.
(JJ Sturn continued in So Strange I Remember You
One of the most important evolutionary advances in the human race is the ability to just stop fucking talking
. Cities, nations, empires rose and fell based on whether those in charge could, when the time came, just shut their mouths. Here is an example: "The only thing to fear is fear itself. Also, the complete breakdown of our nation's economic systems. Also, the dust bowls that are tearing through huge parts of the midwest. Also, the climate of tension and unrest creeping all throughout Europe in a way that threatens to spill over to America. These are all also good things to fear, so go ahead and fear them too if you want."
That would have been a bit of a fuckup on old FDR's part. Thankfully, since he'd been endowed with the miraculous shut-the-fuck-up gene, America was still standing.
Poor, poor Andrea. She did not have this gene. It wasn't her fault, really, it wasn't something she could even control, but her Raymer's Disease just made her go on and on and on when she didn't need to. If Murder Island was going to hold student body presidential elections sometime soon, Julian had no plans to vote for Andrea.
But, well, to be fair, what she was saying was kinda worth listening to. The reasons for watching? ... yeah, those were kinda weird. Kinda a little desperate and self-justifying, and kinda disappointing, and kinda making Julian wish he hadn't asked in the first place. But the part about the plan? And how they all needed to go around bending the rules of the game? Julian liked that. Julian could get behind that. Julian could go tell Claire (remember to call her in, Julian, you said you'd do that soon as you determined the folks inside weren't a threat) about this plan, and they'd go find Aislyn and tell her, and maybe they'd all head back to Andrea for further instructions, or maybe Julian would keep on reuniting people and then shipping them off to Andrea so they could all find the secret level, and... yeah. It wasn't that bad of an idea. No, fuck it, it was a good idea. It was an idea worth fighting for. And in that moment, Julian decided he'd fight for it.
Remember this moment.
Because the next thing Julian decided to do was to, well: "Aight Andrea, you got me sold on this. I'mma do whatever I can to help you find the secret level, okay? Cause it don't really sound like this is a one-man operation you got planned here. And hey." Took a step back, opened the door with his free hand, and grinned a little. "I got someone else who I think might be interested too. Hey Claire!" This was a pretty loud shout, so she was almost guaranteed to hear it. "Yo Claire, all clear in here, you can come on in!" No response. Okay, maybe a little louder. "Hey Claire! We ain't got all day!" No response. No sign of her when he turned to look outside. "Jesus Christ, Claire! You telling me it took you that short to forget the code word?" No response.
"No no no no... fuck!" He shot a look back at Andrea and Allen, anger mixed with embarrassment, and bolted out of the tower. "Claire! CLAIRE!" Nobody... nobody there but... fuck! Fucking blue-haired girl, fucking Kitty Gittschall was the only one there, fuck where did she "Where did she go? There was someone here just a few minutes ago, Claire Lambert, she- I- did you see her? Where did she go, did you see where did she go?" Kitty stood there for a second or two. Said nothing. Didn't look too pleased about something or other. Fuck you that you're not pleased about something.
"Kitty, please! I need to know, I promised her I'd protect her! Please, just..." Kitty pointed. East. Towards town. That was all Julian needed. That was all he needed to start running off after her, after- why the fuck had she left, why hadn't she come to Julian or used her gun if something had gone wrong- that girl that he'd sworn to protect.
There are times when it does not feel so good to be a messiah.
(Julian Avery continued in No Turning Back