When adrenaline hits, the body undergoes a number of strange reactions; the typical reactions being: increased breathing, a sudden jolt of energy, excess sweat, and, of course, the sensation that time is slowing down to a crawl. As strange as the sensation may be, it's an adaptive technique passed down through generations of evolution. When the organism is threatened, the surge of chemicals grant plateaus of ability never before reached. When faced with a threat, the brain slows down to process every minute detail.
What qualified as a threat more than being held at gunpoint by two deranged killers? The irony wasn't lost on Brianna. They'd gotten rid of one killer, only to be surrounded by double the numbers. Out of the fire and into the pan, as an adage might relate.
The bitterness of the irony was just one of many combating thoughts fighting to take precedence in Brianna's mind. Theodore. Carmilla. Jaquilyn Locke and Joachim Lovelace's unholy alliance. Day two's morning announcements. The cameras
The thoughts constricted Brianna's windpipe like a tightly coiled vice. She felt like she was breathing through a narrow straw. Each panicked breath constricted tighter and tighter, compressing everything into a throbbing, painful chokehold.
Her legs lost feeling. Her knees collapsed in on themselves, sending Brianna slumping down to the ground. Had she not managed to catch herself with her free hands, she would have likely collided with the floor face first. Her palms stung with the blistering impact.
We're going to die here.
Her mind became clouded with the muddled thoughts. She knew there was a gun pointed at her back. She wanted to shout, she wanted to cry. She wanted to do something, anything. But, Brianna's body was unresponsive. Her limbs went numb, dull prickling coating every inch. Her head felt hollow, like a balloon filled with helium, slowly unwinding from a child's grip. The only thing cementing her to the ground was the heaviness in her chest. Her lungs sunk her into the hard linoleum floor like a stone. The drumming of her heart struggled to keep the girl conscious, but her mind fought back to escape. Brianna felt herself flutter in between alertness and unconsciousness. Thoughts shifted between the reality of the situation, and the fantasies of being home. The fantasies of waking up on her living room couch and discovering this was all a nightmare. She'd fallen asleep watching a horror movie. This entire experience was probably a manifestation of that, right?
"I think you
take your bags and leave." Jaquilyn spoke with the caustic self-assurance that she had won. Jaquilyn was victorious in a number of ways. She got their base. She got that smug joy from usurping victory. She also dashed Brianna's hopes that Day 1 had been a misunderstanding. No. Jaquilyn enjoyed this. She enjoyed winning at all costs. On this island, we are all stepping stones for these...monsters.
Suddenly, violence erupted. Brianna was sick of hearing these frenzied actions bolt through the already tense room. Each time she heard a sharp demand, or the gasp of a frightened friend, it brought Brianna back to reality. She didn't want to be here. In her mind, she could be back home, carving out sugar cookies for the GSA Holidays Bake Sale. Or maybe she'd discussing health reform for low income families with her father. She could be anywhere else she wanted to be but here.
However, the sound of the wooden stool smacking into its target snapped Brianna into the reality. This wasn't a dream. This wasn't something that Brianna could just shut her eyes and drown out. There was a real chance that Joachim Lovelace, a boy she'd had shared homeroom with in tenth grade, could shoot her to death.
Time skidded to a crawl. Words became incomprehensibly drawn out sounds that held no meaning. If there was a god, he, she or it was giving Brianna the time to strategize. The time to stop thinking like a peacekeeper and start thinking like a survivalist.
With a momentary distraction, Ben Ward had granted the group so much more than Brianna would have immediately given him credit for. He gave them a chance to escape. Diplomacy would get them nowhere, but sheer distance would.
With his lead, Brianna charged for the door. In one arm, she scooped the nearest duffle bag, a bag marked B027. Brianna's personal belongings were closer to the door, closest to Chris Harlin. In the other hand, she held a gauze handled ice skating blade.
Brianna gained traction and bolted for the large wooden doors that led to the back of the clubhouse. There was some distance between where Brianna started her stampede and the exit, yet the girl approached with uncharacteristic speed.
The door's hinges were hidden, meaning that they opened outwards. It would prove to be a lucky break, as it could enable her to strike the center of the interlocked doors. In a normal setting, Brianna would have thought to turn the handle. Running off of adrenaline, however, the door stood as an obstacle, one her body reacted to by force.
Brianna's weight barreled into the door, splintering the affixed lock off of the door. Sheer momentum had enabled the one-hundred-forty pound girl to smash open the locked wooden doors. That same momentum, however, didn't end with barreling through the door. The girl found herself propelling through the now opened doorway and onto the harsh pebble walkway.
On instinct, Brianna caught her fall with her right arm. On instinct, Brianna raised her bladed weapon close to her neck, missing cutting herself fatally by mere inches. The pebbled embedded themselves into Brianna's forearm.
"C'mon guys. T-The Lighthouse. Back to the base." Brianna hoisted herself up and lead the charge. Brianna checked back once during her escape. Everyone she could immediately count had followed her stead. Brianna, the girl who had paid next to no attention on the walk over to the clubhouse, had somehow placed herself in charge of leading the group through the labyrinth of trees.
Brianna had no idea why she'd thrown out the fictional base at the time. While consciously, Brianna could only think of escape, unconsciously, her mind was fixated on survival. The lighthouse was a diversion ploy.
In actuality, it had only been minutes since the group narrowly escaped from their certain deaths, though for Brianna, she felt like it had been hours of aimless running. Her thighs tried to lock up on her. Her heart pleaded with her to stop. Brianna could feel her body slowly giving up and retiring, yet her resolve remained. She couldn't stop, not until everyone was safe.
Brianna began to trek clumsily. Her movements bounced her from side to side of the narrow labyrinth of trees. She collided nearly a dozen times with side swiping thorn bushes and jagged stumps from disturbed trees. Her legs were coated in cuts and scrapes. She stopped abruptly. Was she going to say something? Was there a plan after all of the visceral animalistic urge to flee? What was going to come out of her mouth?
Vomit. More specifically, a bout of heaving. Adrenaline had died, leaving only anxiety to course through Brianna now. The girl lurched over onto her knees, ejecting the little water she'd consumed over the past two days.
She hated her weakness. There was no time to give up, not when they could still be chased. No matter how much Brianna wanted to sprawl her body out on the cool, dew-kissed forest bed, she couldn't let the group down like this.
"W-we're almost there. We just have to keep moving on." Brianna faked certainty. She hadn't been sure who'd followed her, or who'd been left behind. The idea of looking back filled Brianna with intense anxiety. She could only focus on one thing right now: escape.
((Brianna Battaglia continued in Cala Luna