Trinity Catholic College - Lismore: 4 days after abduction on SOTF
To say that Ryan Hunter's life was becoming rather hectic would have been the understatement of the bloody century. Here he was, 17 going on 18, taking the largest amount of classes in the year, and he was still expected to have a social life by his parents. Not that he had any objections, mind you, but if he had to stay home to finish an assignment, his parents would have none of it. They'd rather have him out and about with friends, than making a fuss over a project that was only going to affect the next 6 months of his life anyway.
Standing outside his Legal Studies classroom, he smiled as the rest of the class started to arrive: James Gatt, Holly Hershenroder, Sophie Boyle, Melanie Teninga, Hannah Hughes, Isabel McDonough, Natasha McGuiness, Gabrielle Wood, and last but not least Jason Powell, the guy who insisted on keeping the subject for the HSC year despite the fact that he was probably the worst possible student in the entire school. He said 'hi' to each of them as they arrived, striking up a small conversation with some of the ones he knew better, making sure to avoid Jason's pathetic attempt at socializing (honestly, Ryan himself had a better social life than him).
Mr. Mulroy arrived soon after, right as the second bell chimed throughout the school, with folders full of paper in his right arm and a mug in the other hand. He was probably the best teacher at the school, in all of their opinions; when he got mad, he got furious, but any other time, he was a delight to speak to.
They filed into class, taking one of the many eclectically placed seats around the classroom to get the best place for his voice. Ryan took the front seat, just to the right, while Isabel sat next to him; James sat next to her, and...the end seat was bare.
Brendan used to sit there, the best seat in the house (mostly because it was the seat that got a swivel chair every so often). He went to America about a year ago, and no one had ever really tried to fill his place. Jason tried, but everyone just ignored him if he did; no matter what they knew of Brendan, he was infinitely better than Jason Powell would ever be.
Ryan brought his laptop case up to the desk, took out his shining new Toshiba laptop he'd only bought the weekend previously. He got it at a bargain on Dstore.com, and he was laughing all the way to the bank: it looked old, it operated old, but that was because, well, he didn't really need anything else that was on the market. This thing could run any program almost as fast as a super computer, and all he had to do was keep the non-vital programs on a portable HDD. That simple, really.
Switching it on, he used the time that Jason spent talking to the teacher, trying to avoid doing any work, to check his emails.
An invite to a Neopets gath-DELETE. He'd given up Neopets when he started high school. Part of him wondered if they were still starving just as he left them...
Approximately 100 notifications of comments, tagging, notifications, and cause appreciations from Facebook. Dammit, he'd been meaning to turn that off. DELETE.
A notice from iTunes informing him that the new episode of Doctor Who was available for purchase. Cool, he wanted to see where Donna was going by the finale. This was gonna be imperative for his collection.
But right before he could click on the link, opening the window for easier readability, he noticed the little rotating arrows that indicated he was receiving a message. It popped up at the top of his little list, and it was a little thing that seemed to confuse him. "Mazumatsuzaki"? Ryan didn't know any Mazumatsuzaki's. He was seconds away from clicking the little box next to the heading and deleting it from his computer, when, looking at the preview, he saw something that piqued his interest.
The content of the message seemed to be far too short for spam or trolling messages.
I'm so sorry.
Code: Select all
SotF.....for some reason that sounds familiar...
His curiosity now soaked well beyond the safe level, he clicked on the link.
His browser popped up, a blood red banner greeting his eyes like a splash of paint on white. Link after link after link besieged the top of the page, but most prominent were three pictures on the right side of the banner: a shotgun; a barren island landscape; a...vase? The last one seemed out of place for some reason. Flicking his eyes to the top left, he found an answer to his question:
OFFICIAL SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST FANSITE
Oh great, it is spam mail. Ugh, Survival of the Fittest spam mail, no less. Great, just what I need, someone to see what I'm looking at, and Mr. Mulroy to go off into one of his tangents about it. Doesn't he know it's fake? I mean, how dumb does this person I am to be sucked into such stupid American propoga-
Of course, Ryan's cynical way of thinking was then brought to a halt, as the picture on the page...no, it couldn't have been...
...the picture on the page was of the Australian boy who used to sit at the end of the row of desks.
Glancing at the page name again, he confirmed it. Yes, this was Survival of the Fittest, and yes, this was a page about one of his oldest friends, but...what was with all the links? The forum posts? The embedded Youtube videos? The...slashfic? He didn't even want to KNOW what that entailed...
But the question remained, why was there a page about Brendan Wallace on this Survival of the Fittest si-
....no. No, no it can't be.
"So I, like, got my project back today, and everyone was all, like 'what'd ya get, what'd ya get!' and I had to, like, show them my fucking E! I mean, I'm, like, the only person in that class to get one! I swear I'm, like, not that dumb! I mean, even Jason got a C, and he's, like, Jason! I swear that Mrs. Evans, like, has it in for me, cause she was all, like, 'Uh, you gotta put more effort into it'! Fuck that, man, I had like a 4 page-bibliography! I put more effort into that stupid fucking project than anyone el-HEY ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME?"
Sighing loudly, as loud as anyone could muster in the ruckus that was the TCC outdoor lunch area, Angela Pollock-Jones held her head in her hand as it seemed that the majority of her friends (or so-called friends, in this case) seemed to lose interest in whatever she was saying. Yes, they were gamers, and yes they were male, but it still didn't give them any excuse not to listen to her talk about how much of a bitch Mrs. Evans was. Come on, she wasn't even that bad in class, why couldn't she just like her?
Flicking her head to the side, she decided to continue speaking with her friend Steph, aka, the girl who could run the entire school with a flick of her hair.
"So anyway, I was, like, wondering if you wanted to bring Max over this weekend? We can, like, all go see that movie together! You know, like, that one with all the g-OH HEY RYAN!"
Angela jumped off the metal picnic table (which was truly a feat, considering she was shorter than most people and such a distance would possibly break an arm) and wandered over to the thin, laptop-carrying newcomer, Ryan Hunter.
"So, like, what-cha looking for? Did you have something you, like, you know, wanted to ask-"
"...you look, like, really sick, you know that? You okay Ryan?"
Silently, Ryan placed the laptop at the end of the table, facing most of the people who were currently sitting there. While most of them went back to their lunch, several of the girls and guys who were scattered along the metal bench turned to see what the Youtube video was labeled:
Boy 42 Day 1 Start
Curious as to what could possibly be shown on the laptop, Angela slipped into the lap of her best friend (in a completely non-sexual way, as they do), and watched as the first few seconds started to roll.
Interspersed with several jump cuts, mostly removing the stories of the other students, a groggy Australian boy woke up on what seemed to be an island, before jumping behind a sand bank. Rummaging through his stuff, he flinched as a loud noise echoed off screen. Several minutes later, he was sprawled in the sand with a large gun in his hand, speaking to an Italian girl with purple streaks. Several more minutes later, he was transferring items from one bag to another, right next to a dead body. Even more minutes later, as the video wore on, and people who were passing by stopped to watch as well, they all heard the silent, whispering voice that they all recognized, even from a year ago.
And then, the video ended.
Silence. Absolute silence greeted the table, as many of the table's occupants either mouthed wordlessly, smiled nervously, or, in one short, black-haired girl by the name of Angela Pollock-Jones's case, spoke one sentence.
"....oh my god."
Her first ex-boyfriend was going to die.
[/i]((Brendan Wallace continues from Pearl and Destiny))
On the island, 10 hours ago...
"Look, it's bad, yeah, but I don't think it's gonna get any better if I don't get it flowing. I'm not a doctor or anything, but I've done this before. Just...look!"
He was still not used to having to be in a group. Sarah was being very vocal about him not stepping on his wounded leg, no matter how much he insisted that he was doing Stacy a discomfort. Sighing, Brendan scooped down towards the ground, and picked up a rather large tree branch, conveniently placed on the side of the dirt trail that was headed towards the town. Waving it around, tapping it on the ground, he smiled convincingly.
"Look, I won't put weight on it or anything, just let me walk on my own. My foot's feeling a bit better, honestly," Brendan lied. Good thing he was good at that sort of thing, otherwise he'd be in hot water.
Eventually, they relented.
Smiling, he started forward in his limping motion towards the town.
"Okay, so let's go find us a place to stop, okay?" Brendan said, before adjusting the bag on his shoulder again. It was becoming a nervous tic of his, this self-adjustment. He hoped it wouldn't become a give of his or anything.
9 hours ago...
Unsurprisingly, once they made it to the town, there were a lot of people. And by a lot of people, he meant a LOT of people, far too many for their liking. From the point they hid now, one of the first houses on the way to town, there were only a few places they could stay. This was also an ideal place to stay, were it not for the fact that there was an extremely large bloodstain smearing from the middle of the hallway to one of the outside doors. He didn't even want to think what had happened there, and he wasn't going to dwell on it. None of them were.
They all agreed: five minutes in that house, find what they needed, and then scram. Sarah went upstairs to find any extra medical supplies, Stacy checked the enclosed back garden, and Brendan checked the downstairs. It was simple, easy, and to the point.
It would have been so much simpler had the terrorists who'd scanned the house not done their job properly.
Brendan needed to find some sort of weapon for Stacy. The fact was, she was defenseless with what weapon she had, and as much as he didn't want to admit it, people were playing. People were killing. People were dying. But he had to step up from that, take the leadership role. He'd made it his duty the moment he fled the clinic to protect Sarah, and this meant keeping them armed.
...god, I'm thinking like a player again...
Checking the fridge, there was nothing. Checking the draws, and the cupboards, nothing still. No cutlery, no knives, not even a wooden spoon. There was literally nothing left in the house that he could use as a weapon. There was a large fireplace, but no pokers. In the small basement, there was a window, but he didn't dare smash it, as he was afraid of glass.
Looking around the room, he thought back to several video games he used to play. There had to be something, in most FPS's you could find a weapon almost anywhere, they were even making games where one could...
...smash something and use the debris, weren't they?
Examining the room, he found the closest object, a large wooden chair. It looked like something that could have been made here, on the island. It was smooth, but still rugged, it was shiny but very old, and, most importantly, looked like it could break very easily.
Unsure of how to exactly do it, Brendan lifted up the chair with both his hands, his lousy walking stick laying lopsidedly against the wall, he gripped a single leg in both hands, raised it like he would a baseball bat, squeezed his eyes shut, and swung with all his might.
Holding what seemed to be a lot less weight in his hand, he peeked through one of his eyes. He had connected the chair with the protruding corner of the room, and miraculously, it shattered in the hallway instead of the room. He was one lucky SOB, really, he could have nearly cut his arm off. Sarah would have a fit then.
Now he just had to explain the noise.
5 hours later...
After raiding several more houses away from most of the grouped people (Brendan purposely avoided letting Sarah and Stacy head into one of the houses in which he actually found a dead body. They'd seen enough over the last few days for him to spare them that trauma), they left. It was a while, but after vigorously checking every nook and cranny of the houses, they managed to find only blankets, tables, decorations, and nothing much else of use. The terrorists seemed to want them to fend for themselves, and as such the only medical items they had were the stuff that Sarah yanked from the clinic, and their own first aid kits.
Some luck this was turning out to be.
The dirt path in front of them was still the same, and looked even more identical to the last pebble. It was becoming deliriously boring, having to walk so slowly. If his leg were any better, he would be running, but alas he was not. He was stalling the other two up, with his slow hobble coupled with his refusal to be carried.
So eventually, Brendan was getting tired. The sun was starting to dip, and there didn't seem to be anywhere to stop. They had passed by and promptly ignored a large Sawmill, as it seemed to be full of people. Armed people. And one person he did not particularly enjoy meeting again...
As the sun got lower in the sky, the group was starting to pull itself apart. The two girls were tired, and he, basically being the happy-go-lucky leader that he always was, realised they needed to stop. It wouldn't be long now until someone found them, a very tired group, and...decided they had very nice weapons to choose from.
Looking at his map again in frustration, he saw that to his east, and due north, was a forest. It may have been a felled forest, but it was a forest nonetheless. It had cover, and it had wood. They could start a fire, get some sleep, and sing Kumbaya until the whole thing blew over.
But stopping was still a good idea.
It was Brendan's turn to take watch. Sarah had gone back to sleep almost instantly, and Brendan took his seat on the stump, sitting with his back to the crackling fire as it cast a glow over the field of stumps and discarded wood.
It wasn't that hard to make a fire. There was a lighter in the first-aid kit, apparently, and he had always burned garbage in his extensive back yard back in Australia, when the fire warnings weren't in effect. He just had to make sure it wouldn't spread beyond the large amount of discarded wood he found.
Then it just became a matter of surviving the night.
They took turns taking watch. Sitting there, he couldn't really help to wonder what everyone else was up to now. Was Hui Xu okay? Dutchy? Erik? Chase? They had to be, otherwise he would have almost nothing left. Despite his shortcomings, and the chances stacking ever higher that he may never see most of his friends again, he knew he'd made the right choice in following Sarah. He'd saved one life, and that...that was heavy as hell. Heavy shit, yes, but altogether a great choice in hindsight.
He couldn't help but wonder why his leg was still hurting though.
Taking a sharp inhale of breath, not even possibly sure what he faced underneath the cloth, he slowly rolled up his pants leg to take a good look at the bandage covering most of his le-whatingodsnameiswrongwithmyfuckingleg?!
Red. A lot of red. His leg was covered in the bandage, but it didn't seem to be helping one shitbit. Blood was pouring down his leg, slowly, almost systematically.
This was probably the most distressing thing he'd seen all day. He'd seen so much blood, so much people in pain, suffering, crying, that everything in the past was meaningless.
....did this mean he had to get down on his hands and knees and apologize to Sarah now?
Yes, it does. I have to apologize. And then ask her to save my life. Dear god, I'm a very distressing person.
Hobbling up off his stump, by the glow of the fire, he slowly walked over to where Sarah was sleeping. Not sure whether to wake her in her current position, he stood there, curling his lip into his mouth, before speaking. She couldn't be asleep yet for real, could she?
"Uh...Sarah? Sarah! Um...I need help. I'm really, really sorry I told you not to, and....okay, my leg's getting worse. I need stitches."
Brendan did not like the taste of the humility pill. It was far too bitter for his taste.