Cold Cold Nights under Chrome and Glass

Mr. Danya
Joined: May 26th, 2007, 12:17 am

January 7th, 2017, 6:53 am #1

(Audrey Reyes continued from Thanatophobia.)

In the corner of the large room stood a tower of suitcases. All of them looked the same, weighed the same and were completely empty. Each one had a nametag. T. Wilson read one. K. Thomas read another. I. Hall read a third. Did these belong to the patients of the

Maybe they shot them, Audrey thought. Rounded them up like cattle. Lined each against a wall and shot them one by one.

That was morbid. That's probably how it happened. It's funny the sorts of things you think about when you're trying to sleep.

Audrey turned on the cold floor, facing the cold, misty window. It was still raining outside, and while the pitter-patter was usually enough for Audrey to drift to sleep, she just sat there, forcing her eyes shut. That wasn't a good sign Audrey thought. Forcing her eyes shut. She grunted, feeling a slight twinge in her neck as she stretched and pulled the emergency blanket over her shoulders again. Her mind was active still, even in the early morning hours. Not all of the thoughts were morbid. Most were.

After a bit of deliberation, Audrey decided just to stay in the group therapy room. It was either her or Jasper and, well, Jasper didn't exactly have much of a choice in the matter. He wouldn't have minded. If he were still around. Audrey figured that she could have been able to sleep on the dirty floor. After what transpired, Audrey was too anxious, on the edge of a meltdown, to go looking for a proper bed. That was fine, Audrey thought. It would not be the first time she chose to sleep on the floor.

Even as a kid Audrey never much liked her homeland. Her Filipino accent was the main reason. It made her sound awkward. A classmate laughed out loud over her pronunciation of the world 'very' sounding like 'berry'.

Suffice it to say, living in Manila was not glamorous to say the least. It made Kingman look like Candyland by comparison. So she also felt no obligation or inclination to act Filipino once they immigrated to America. Her parents chalked it up to teenage rebellion which made no sense to her. Like, didn't Father read the paper? Didn't Mother watch the news? Didn't they know that they were lucky to have lived as comfortably as she did when so many of their neighbors lived in squalor?

She would have denounced her heritage regardless of how she felt. Her classmates would think her an adopted street urchin that some American couple took pity on. The thought of that alone disgusted Audrey. It made her feel small.

There was one thing that the Philippines taught her though. She learned it more in hindsight, as she was living in New York. She saw first hand how people lived. How better it was. She felt guilty at the time, though she was too young to truly understand why.

What it taught her was that there is no good or evil. There is only hunger and power. America isn't much different than her homeland in that respect. But in America, the lines between rich and poor blur. In America, there are ways to avoid falling under the poverty line. In America, crime isn't considered a necessary evil.

There is no good or evil. There is only hunger and power.

Alvaro was neither good nor evil. The gun gave him power.

Audrey was hungry. She didn't know if she could be considered good or evil. The longer she thought, the more angry she became. Audrey was afraid that she might get too deep and start slipping down a spiraling rabbit hole, into the deep abyss where there would be no recovery, no redemption. But she was hungry, that was definite.

The 'ENER-GEE' food bar she had earlier did little to fill her otherwise empty stomach, but as much as temptation ate away at her, she knew that she had to limit how many she could eat. She made a joke in her head about how this entire nightmare was a blessing in disguise because it finally got her to stick to a diet. It did not make her smile. It made her stomach growl even harder.

She had about fifteen bars. Ate three over the course of as many days. She originally had ten, and Jasper had a bunch in his bag. Since Alvaro ran out of the room and did not bother to loot Jasper's corpse like she did...

... Alvaro did not intend to kill Jasper. She was convinced of that. He looked about as shocked about shooting Jasper as Audrey herself! Audrey's memories of the moment were blurry, but she was pretty sure Alvaro was spooked by something. What that something was, she had no idea. Maybe she was just making excuses for him, because she thought he was cute and how the hell can someone as cute as him murder somebody else?

But then she remembered that she heard Alvaro's name on the loudspeakers once before.

She remembered how beat up Alvaro was when she first stumbled into him, how scared and shaken he was.

She remembered that after Alvaro shot Jasper, the first thing he did was look directly at her. He stared at her with this dumbfounded expression, like he had no idea what just happened.

She remembered how he could have shot her too, because she was standing there looking like an idiot.

She remembered how pale in the face Alvaro was when he ran out of the room.

Those realizations did not make what Alvaro did any better, or made Alvaro seem more noble.

Didn't make it any worse, either.

Audrey was still furious. She would not forgive him for Jasper. If she ran into him again she'd be so tempted to slap him silly. But... She wanted to believe what Jasper said. About how Alvaro was just scared and how no one would hear him out. She knew it was stupid and she knew that it Alvaro killed Jasper,but she wanted to believe it so badly it hurt.

So yeah. She was making excuses for Alvaro. Sue her.

... Audrey opened her eyes and sighed. Her mind was running wild with thoughts and no matter how long she kept her eyes closed, sleep seemed impossible. She turned her head away from the window. There was no body strewn across the floor anymore. She moved it, dragged it out into the hallway. It was like dragging a sack full of bricks. So no, no body to see. But she could not ignore the blood that lingered from when she dragged Jasper's body out of the room.

Her stuffed-up nose made it hard to smell the scent of death that lingered in the air. Despite that, she felt her eyes becoming misty.

This was the first time Audrey saw a dead body with her own eyes. The first time she'd seen someone die in front of her before. In real life, no special effects. The only thing Audrey could process at the time was like, wow, is that how things work? You just drop like a sack of potatoes? Her interpretation lacked nuance, sure. She did not care. Jasper's death was banal. Unromantic. Anticlimatic. It ate at her. Made it all that much harder for to compartmentalize.

And it wasn't just Alvaro killing Jasper, was it? No. It did not stop there. There was more. Jerry was dead. Scarlet was dead. Al killed someone - MORE than one, actually. And Conrad, he... Fuck. So who did that leave? Crowe? She remembered seeing him on the day of the trip. But she was hardly friends with Michael. And Irene? She didn't even see her on the bus. So that left...

No one.

Audrey did not have any other friends that went on the trip. And the only one that was still alive...

She was alone. She was going to die alone. Like some starving street urchin.

Audrey curled up on the cold floor and cried herself to sleep. Tear-filed sleep, but still sleep. Small wonders.

(Audrey Reyes continued in Hang in There.)