Her companion's grip shocked her out of staring just at the wound in his side. Her fingers, shaking and dirty, hardened with calluses from being chewed on anxiously and from pulling a roughly-shaking trigger, rested on Arthur's own. Coleen pulled his hand away and then clasped it. His clutch, initially a vise, faded away when his eye opened.
Looking into Arthur's eye coated Coleen's lungs in ice.
"Arthur... Arthur, come on, pull through this!" she pleaded, logic and hope washed out by desperation. The weight of her daypack had heavily tilted to her shoulder. She, like every other student here, had a first aid kit in there; despite being so viscerally attached to her person, it may as well have been on the other side of the bridge for as good as it would do Arthur at the moment. He had been shot... by a bullet from her gun, no less. If she had been in better control, if she hadn't fallen for such a stupid trick from a cornered animal she had dead in her sights, Arthur wouldn't have been hurt. He looked out for her.
This is how she repaid him.
Arthur's eye was open.
It didn't see anything.
Coleen's hand crushed the fingers of a dead man, squeezing as tightly as her eyes had. The ice in her chest was burned away by an ignited vehemence, raging and thrashing around as if emulating the throes of a caged beast. There was no point in calling his name -- Arthur wasn't coming back. Her previously free hand clawed at his stained and ratty shirt, near where some of the blood had seeped and spread. The frustration of her failure, the agony of her loneliness poured out into a piercing scream, a high note sung for a silent crowd of three. Then the hand released its hold on Arthur's shirt. Its sister dropped its hand to the floor and the both of them, balled into fists, struck in syncopated swings upon his still chest.
"Wake up! Wake up! Wake..."
She never remembered standing up, or turning away from Arthur. She found herself shuffling past the next-freshest body in the room, numbly regretting she hadn't known the girl better. Maria. Sweet girl. They had Food and Nutrition together, where Maria was allowed to show off her excellent cooking ability that Coleen imagined would one day net her a very happy husband. Not anymore. Because of Alessio. Just like Arthur wouldn't be able to protect and take care of her, which seemed to be the sole reason for his wanting to go on. Her thoughts drifted back to the art room so close by, where he showed such concern when learning how she had once wanted to die. That concern would never again overcome the wretched, futile smile that was on Arthur's face when he died. Because of Alessio.
Coleen stumbled near to the back of the quieted room and knelt before her friend. Cameron had... she had looked better. According to the announcements, she had been dead for a whole day at the very least, and her shell showed no vibrancy or that shoot-from-the-hip attitude or... or anything
that had made Cameron... Cameron. She almost wanted to believe that it wasn't her, that it couldn't be her. What a nice fantasy that would have been.
Though her blank and dead face frightened her, Coleen pushed past all her inhibition to gently lift up the back of Cameron's head. People always thought that her face was scary, too, Coleen thought; it would have been rude not to extend the same courtesy the one and only time Cam managed to look worse than her. Though her body had stiffened and resisted her attempts to manipulate it, she managed to pull Cameron's head to her chest, hugging it close to her.
'Would you look at that,' Coleen imagined in Cam's voice, all of them sitting on or around the couch in that dank, filthy basement. 'I've got a hard-on for this.' Sounded like something Cam might say at a time like this, if she weren't busy being dead.
She choked out a laugh, giggling with her friends at Cam's stupid joke that in reality she had only imagined. It just seemed right, sharing in a laugh wherever she could find it. And, though she knew it would just annoy Cam if she could hear it, the laughter turned to sobs.
Coleen took one last look at the room. The gun that had dropped near Arthur moments before, and the spear that he once held, were cradled close to her in each of her arms. The spear was taken with a regretful whisper and a silent thank you. A timid, apologetic search through his bag had relieved him of food and water. In exchange, she placed a tube of her favorite lip balm underneath Arthur's hand, the same that had gripped her leg. For Cameron, Coleen had removed the Drake and Josh DVD collection and placed it next to her. It was stupid and hokey, something that maybe Cameron would be able to enjoy. Poor Maria who, all things considered she had known the least, was at least given the courtesy of having a gauge bandage unfurled and placed over her eyes. A pittance of privacy.
Coleen's hair was tied back tight, making her feel like she was in theatre period at the auditorium. Cameron was never really one for hair ties, but she always seemed to have a spare one for her band members when they needed one. On a whim, Coleen dared to check her pockets. Out of habit, she even asked. Cameron didn't seem to mind. The time for hiding her face had long since passed. Her skin could crack and peel if it wanted. That sort of pain felt like nothing now.
"You need to tie this back, otherwise people can't see your face and trust me, you look fine."
Coleen backed out of the room, only turning once she was entirely free of it. She would never come back here.
Now, she had to find Alessio.
((Coleen Reagan, continued in The Virgin Sea