((Josie Vernon and Sierra Manning continued from Down the Road, Not Across the Street))
Josie and Sierra left the Sawmill and everyone that they had previously traveled with behind. They hadn't traveled with them for very long, but Josie wasn't so sure if she was as keen on having some allies as she once was. Max had seemed very nice and nothing bad had actually happened but... Josie figured that she got overwhelmed very easily, and the whole thing with Maria? It was hard to take in. It was stressful. Maria could have been dead in a matter of seconds, and Josie would have felt terrible. She almost got herself and Sierra into a dire situation that could have turned out terribly.
Friends, allies, a team... They all sounded good at face-value, but in the depths of things, it was all just a bunch of things that could go terribly wrong. Josie didn't want things to go wrong. She wanted things to go smoothly; she didn't want to witness corpses or deaths or a giant brawl. She wanted to avoid those types of things, and joining a team just seemed to... open up the possibilities a bit. Whatever, what's done was done. Max and Maria and that other guy were gone. She ditched them, and she would probably never find them again. She accepted that. Maybe she would hear that Maria was dead (suicide?) or Max had killed some guy with his fancy little gun, but she wouldn't care. She wasn't their friend.
She only had one friend, one person she could trust, and that was Sierra. Josie didn't plan to trust anyone else anytime soon... She had Sierra, who else did she need? The two had no real destination, and this actually frightened Josie a little. Wandering around directionless? It seemed dangerous. It was depressing. Josie had no goals. No cool escape attempts, no friends to find, no plans. Why didn't they just jump off of that cliff a few days ago? It would save them from this misery they were feeling now. Sierra still wouldn't talk, still wouldn't detach herself from her blankey. She was just a ghost, an image of her former self. No matter what Josie said, none of it would make Sierra feel any better.
What if she suggested the cliff again? No, they made a promise. They would stay together. Josie would protect Sierra. Killing themselves wouldn't solve anything, would it?
The two best friends spent a good majority of the day wandering the eastern coastline. From the sawmill, they just headed east until they met the shore and then they headed south. Walking, walking, always more walking. Uncomfortable silence. Josie couldn't stop thinking of the past, of all the times that she spent with Sierra. Not a single time had she spent with Sierra ended up in utter silence like this. Not even the time that Sierra was so depressed over this boy making fun of her lisp at school. She was so sad, Josie could barely get her to speak, but this.. This was even worse. Did Sierra really care about Omar this much? Why couldn't she just get over him?
Josie wanted to be harsh, but she knew it wouldn't do any good. Nothing was doing any good, she was just wasting away until it was time to die. That was it. A brutal, unforgiving death. It was inevitable.
The sun began to set a little, and Josie decided that it would be a good idea to stop and rest of the night. Based upon their location, Josie could only assume that the pair were somewhere on the eastern beach. She stopped and sat down in the sand, patting the ground beside her. "Sierra, let's rest here. We've been walking all day, I'm sure you're tired."
Sierra looked away, the setting sun creating shadows on her face. "I don't want to retht. I want to find Omar'th body. He'th out there thomewhere, Joze.. We haven't found him yet.."
"Shh, I know. We have all day tomorrow to try, alright? And then we can give him a proper burial." She gently took her friend's head and lowered it until it was resting on her own shoulder. "Just rest... Tomorrow's a new day. We'll find him and the bastard who killed him. Everything will be just fine..." Josie rubbed her best friend's back and they sat in utter silence, the only sound was the crashing waves upon the shore. Her best friend's breathing became regular and Sierra was gone into sleep. Carefully as to not wake her, Josie placed her friend on the sand, her blanket balled up beneath her head as a pillow.
And it was just Josie. Josie wouldn't sleep, couldn't sleep. As the sun disappeared into the earth, she looked around, but she was only left with her thoughts. How long could she keep going like this? How long could they prowl from place to place unscathed, innocent from the views of corpses and deaths. They had it easy, yes, but how long would this go on? Josie was supposed to protect Sierra, and one look at her best friend revealed that she wasn't doing such a great job at it. Sierra was shattered, depressed. Josie was pretty sure that she would never see her best friend again. Ever. Never see her silly smile, her goofy laugh, the times they pranced through the mall holding hands... Or listening to crazy bands. Sierra's plans to go to college interfered with Josie's plans to become famous, but in the end, it didn't matter. They were both here. Or... Josie was here. She was almost entirely sure that Sierra was gone, and she was left with a corpse.
And it wouldn't get any better. Josie was scaring herself at this point, but she couldn't stop. Her thoughts were racing. Millions of ideas and concepts were passing before her very eyes. Was it the lack of sleep? Oh, right. Yes. It wouldn't get any better. Some psycho would come along, maybe that Maxwell boy or maybe that Reiko girl. Josie hadn't exactly been very kind to her classmates, so what if they wanted to hurt her for that? Or what if they wanted to hurt Sierra to make her suffer? Josie would never be able to live with herself. If Sierra was shot or tortured or brutally slaughtered... Josie would feel completely at fault. She promised to protect Sierra and death was inevitable. Sierra would die somehow, most likely a completely horrid death.
Josie was shaking now, and even though she had her arms wrapped around herself, she couldn't shake the fear away. Someone could come right now. Beat them over the heads. Kill. It would all be Josie's fault.
All of her fault. All of it.
She wasn't protecting Sierra by letting her live. She was postponing the inevitable. A good friend wouldn't do this. A good friend wouldn't continue to force their friend to suffer... And it wasn't like Josie could encourage Sierra to kill herself. That wasn't what a good friend to do. Not at all. God, she was scaring herself so horrendously, this was mad. She couldn't... what was she thinking? Go to sleep Josie, everything will be better in the morning.
She only had one chance. Sierra was here, sleeping before her very feet. Josie could change the future, she could make things better. Sierra wouldn't have to suffer anymore, and, hell, this wasn't even Sierra. Sierra was still back in St. Paul, laughing and having fun. Not literally, Josie wasn't crazy enough to believe that, but her soul and spirit... they weren't here. The person in front of her wasn't the Sierra that Josie knew. She was just a corpse waiting to die. A lamb to the slaughter. A puppet lying at death's doorway.
She became aware of the fact that she was crying quite terribly now, her heart pounding horribly in her chest. She knew she couldn't do this. This was crazy. Josie wasn't crazy, but... It all made logical sense in her mind. But... she couldn't go on without Sierra at her side. She couldn't. I'm acting like Sierra has been with me since we were babies... I only met her in the ninth grade. I was able to live without her before then, so I can manage a few days. I'll be dead soon too, so.. it's not so bad. She's going to die anyway.
She's going to die anyway. I'm just.. I'm.." She buried her head into her hands and sobbed, the tears sliding through her fingers and onto her lap. She tried to stay quiet but the cries would not allow themselves to go silence. These were tears of the toughest choice she ever had to make. Let her friend stay alive and allow her to continue feeling the pain and suffering, maybe even potentially get violently killed? Or take her out of her misery now and ease her suffering?
Josie let out a huge breath. Stood up and wiped away her tears. She dusted the sand off of her clothing and picked up her duffel bag. It was the only way she could think of, and it wasn't like she had a weapon or anything. She kept convincing herself that it was okay and Sierra wouldn't suffer. She would probably thank Josie one day. One day... The tears weren't stopping.
She placed the duffel bag over Sierra's face and pressed down hard. Probably not hard enough, she could still breath. She would have to, Jesus Christ, suffocate her. Do it now or wimp out and scare the hell out of Sierra. She didn't want to scare Sierra, but this was it.
With a horrible gasping sound, Josie squeezed her eyes shut and pressed down hard on the duffel bag, putting as much strength as she could into the bag weighing down on Sierra's face, blocking out her nose and mouth. She couldn't breathe right now, but she was asleep, right? Sleeping peacefully, completely unaware. How long should she do this? She was sobbing so loudly, the whole island could probably hear her. Her breath was ragged and pained, it hurt to breathe... Keep going, keep going. She didn't slacken her weight on the duffel bag, kept it there for a lot longer than a minute or two. She was most definitely dead, but what if she wasn't? What if she removed the bag and Sierra's eyes were open, staring right at her in horror and shock. She pressed harder on the duffel bag, her hands were going numb, she was shaking so badly...
She heard a violently loud scream, but she didn't realize that it was her own. Afraid, she let go of the duffel bag and stumbled away, too scared to see what had become of Sierra. The girl wasn't moving. Josie couldn't look, so she turned away. Didn't want to see if Sierra's chest was slowly rising and falling... or if it wasn't moving at all. She sniffed loudly, trying to distance herself away from the shock of.. of.. of.. whatever she just did.
It took thirty minutes to muster the courage to go over there and see what.. see Sierra. See if.. She slowly stood up and walked over to the girl, allowing her eyes to watch her for a few moments. Completely still. Her stomach wasn't rising and falling, she was.. Stop, Josie. You wanted this. You wanted Sierra to be out of misery, and now she is. Now she doesn't have to experience this fucked up game.
She placed her hand on her duffel bag and pulled it away to see...
the most horrifying sight that Josie ever seen. She would never, ever forget this image. Her hands immediately flew up to her mouth, and her heart stopped. Sierra's face was contorted in shock, eyes wide open. She was clearly dead. There was blood around her mouth. Everything was going dark for Josie, had she caused Sierra to suffer...? Was her last moments spent in agony?
Josie fell to the ground beside her friend's corpse and grabbed her freezing hand, apologizing over and over. "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry.. I- Sierra, I didn't.. You're.. I didn't want you to suffer, I swear! Everything is okay now, alright? You're okay. You're with Omar now... I'll be there soon, I promise... I'll be with you." The tears kept falling, Sierra's face kept flashing through her mind, but she felt strangely at peace. Everything was okay. Everything would be okay. She was protecting Sierra. She did her job.
G007 - Sierra Manning: DECEASED
And she felt numb. She continued to apologize to Sierra as she picked up her blankly from beneath her head and covered up her face. She apologized to Sierra's family, Sierra's adoring mother and everyone else. They would never understand. Never ever.
And what would she do now? She couldn't just leave Sierra's body like this. She didn't want to leave Sierra's side, but she would have to eventually. Her lip quivered, the tears would start again. Why did it have to come to this, deciding what to do with her best friend's corpse? The ocean was right there. She could let her friend have an open-ocean burial, but... she would be devoured by fish, most likely. And if she left her out here? She would rot, become infested with maggots and other disgusting bugs. She may never get a proper burial either way... "I'm so sorry..."
She dragged her corpse into the shadows of the trees and spent the next few hours searching for flowers. She found a good amount but not enough to completely cover Sierra's body. It was hard to find flowers in the darkness. She spread them across her best friend's body and sat down beside her, holding Sierra's hand.
Everything would be okay. Sierra Manning was safe now. Josie did her job.
((Josie Vernon continued in You Are On a Rock Floating Through Space))
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