A familiar voice.
A familiar face.
Relief washed over William as he realized just who was before him, just who exactly was among the first people he ran into after waking up. Of all the people he could have run in to, he was relieved to find that one of the first people he did encounter was Tiffany; He could feel safe with her, safe in the knowledge that she was as far from a threatening person as possible. She seemed to be even more frightened than William was, either by the situation they were in or what she had seen after waking up; Whatever it was, seeing her as fearful as she was had been strangely comforting to him. He didn't know why, nor did he care to ask at the moment; All that mattered then was that he was no longer alone, no longer the only one so scared of what was happening all around them.
And then she screamed again, scrambling away from where she had been, as if the person who had jumped in to protect her was more of a threat than what they had sought to protect her from; With bloodshot eyes and a gun in his tightening grip, how could this boy with a stick be more threatening, more frightening than William was at this moment in time? But when he realized what she had shouted, why she had scrambled away from the dirt covered boy in front of him, William could do nothing but stand in disbelief.
It didn't sound right, and it didn't make any sense. Something told him that perhaps Tiffany had watched too many movies, that she wasn't thinking straight in the situation they were tossed into, that panic and paranoia had taken hold and twisted her view of the moment. Of all the things that were going on, of all the horrors that they were to encounter over the course of this 'game', there was nothing brought forth but disbelief when he heard the word that Tiffany had uttered; It was impossible, ridiculous and didn't make any sense. But he could worry about that later, he could ask her why she had screamed that of all things when they were safer, when neither of them had to worry about their safety in the face of ever present danger.
No, for now, William had something more important to worry about. The boy in front of him had shifted, and William's eyes shot towards the piece of wood that was being held out at him with such hostility; He had taken a step toward William, movement that made William uneasy, fearful and worried. He raised his arm, holding his own weapon out in front of him; His fingers tightened around the grip, his finger playing at the trigger guard, threatening to slip into the opening, to land upon the trigger, to squeeze it and end a life. William stared at the boy, looking into his eyes; A wavering determination, a fear filled gaze, a building panic.
He had felt relief when he originally looked at the boy, saw the tear stained tracks upon his face, the tell tale lines cutting through the thin layer of dirt and grim; He had felt safety and comfort knowing that he wasn't alone, that he wasn't the only one who feared for his life. Now, he held a gun on the very source of that relief, that comfort and sense of safety; He held a gun on one of the only other people he had met, the only thing standing between him and becoming a reason for others to fear for their lives being a simple movement, a small shift. It had been so simple earlier, firing at the stump.
So easy... So simple...
But his hand was trembling.
Don't make me do it.
He begged and he pleaded, silently staring at the boy before him as he trembled. He didn't want to shoot, he didn't want to become a reason for others to panic, he didn't want to become the source of fear. He didn't want to carry the burden of killing someone, of ending another persons life and leaving them to waste as he went on living; He didn't want to carry that weight on his mind, on his conscience. The thoughts weighed heavily upon his mind, the desire to live fighting with his willingness to fight for that right; It was heavy, too heavy, and his hand trembled. The boy before him had long since dropped his weapon, began to beg for a life; But it wasn't his own he had begged for, it wasn't his own life that he was begging to continue. He begged for Tiffany.
He didn't know how long he had held his gun on the begging form before him, how long he had threatened to take the life of the crying boy; But his arm was becoming weak, the weight of the realization descending upon him heavier than anything ever before. He lowered his weapon, his silent stare giving way to a glassy gaze, tears filling his own eyes as his arm dropped to his side.
"I'm so sorry..."
William stepped back now, towards a long since felled tree behind him; A remnant of a time passed in this place, a memory of a life that was long since missing from this surrounding.
"I don't... I don't want to hurt anyone."
William lowered his head and stared at the gun in his hands as he sat. Because he held this, because he had this in his hand when he ran into someone, he almost took a life; Fear and worry filled his thoughts, but anger and contempt for himself seeped into the forefront. How could he have done that, how could he have threatened to kill someone so easily, so quickly, that he hadn't even realized he had done it until it was almost too late? But no matter how much he wanted, no matter how much he shouted at himself to throw it away, to rid himself of such tempting power, of something that was too easy to use, he couldn't bring himself to do it. The weapon was his, the power was real, the responsibility and weight was his to bear.
He cursed his weakness, his wavering will, his overwhelming fear of the unknown, his unwillingness to give up his only means of fighting for his life; He couldn't stand to think of what would happen if he was rid of this weapon, of this power to protect himself. He had to keep that power to fight; To fight for his life, to protect himself... to protect others, and to fight for the lives of those who couldn't fight.
He had forgotten.
This power was his.
He was the only one who could decide how it was used.
"I don't know what to do."
No. That's wrong.
He knew exactly what to do, but admitting it, to himself or to others, was something he struggled with. He didn't want to admit it, admit what his choice was or would be. But for now, tried not to worry about it. He wasn't alone anymore, and he couldn't sit with his thoughts forever.
"I think we should leave."
He raised his head, looked to Tiffany and then to the boy; The boy he didn't recognize, the voice he didn't think he knew, the face he couldn't make out behind the dirt. He focused, tried his hardest to conjure up a name, a face, something from his memories that would match, that would make things simpler for him.
Dominic. I'm sure of it.
"Dominic, Tiffany, I... I'm sorry. For what I almost did. I'm so sorry."
It wasn't needed, he didn't need to beg for forgiveness, he didn't need to apologize; but he did what he thought was necessary. He apologized for what he knew he should be sorry for.
He was guilty.
But he knew...
Above everything else, he knew...
This wouldn't be the last time.
Boy #??? - Joshua Edwards
Hanging out somewhere, playing his heart out.
Writer and local retail slave at the comic book store.
Girl #??? - Viktoriya "Vika" Starikova
Floating in the void, unfinished and half-formed.
Hot headed member of the soft ball team, secretly wishing she could fly.
- [+] Spoiler
- Boy #14 - Alex P. White
Where he started, and where he finished.
Tried his best and tried too hard, and fucked up royally at every turn.
Boy #61 - William M. Hearst
Where he began, and where he ended.
Did what he could and tried to do more, but ran out of time.
Girl #48 - Kaitlin Anderheim
Where she was, and where she went.
Found her strength and her will to live, and survived despite it all.
Girl #101 - Sofia I. Martelli
Where she rose, and where she fell.
Started out angry and alone, but died on her own terms, in love.