Walking away didn't last long. Limping didn't, either. Movement in general was difficult. With every step, every staggering lurch, every stomach-juggling trip and every desperate climb back up to her feet, a certain wounded Irish girl found herself less and less lucid, more and more light in the head, given to long periods standing - or rather, wobbling - in place, believing them to only last a few seconds each. Even as the sun rose high into the noon sky, made its steady way down into the afternoon, the world around Ema Ryan blurred at the ages, shone in the centre of her focus like a photograph overexposed, or a monitor tilted into the sunlight. The corona of what was still visible in the classical sense was a comforting little piece of normality, though. It was also all Ema had to navigate by, besides her rapidly numbing sense of touch.
A sense of touch that told her there was something thick and warm slowly rolling down her ankle. A lot of that something, most likely. Yeah. Something. Blood is something, girly, and don't tell me you haven't seen enough of it.
Whose voice was that? Didn't sound like an inner monologue kind of voice, but... no, it didn't come from somewhere else, either. So what did that mean? She was hearing things? No, hearing things that aren't there is usually still directional. So... she was hearing voices? Not a good sign. But she was digressing, the answer was obvious, as to whose voice it was, at least.
...so why now?
And that's an obvious one too.
Yeah, uh, remember when you got shot? That didn't stop being a thing or anything.
You're not helping here.
My bad, bro. I'd help properly, only I'm sort of dead...but you knew that, didn't you?
There was no answer to that. No. Why did she need to answer her? She wasn't real. She was dead. Ema killed her, days ago. Her body was lying at the bottom of a river in a danger zone. Ema didn't have to answer to Hayley. Didn't stop her wanting to. Didn't stop her single eye moistening with the beginnings of a tear, or her mouth, dry from the rapid, light, strained breathing, from wanting to apologise for her every failing.
No, no no no, I'm meant to be... who am I kidding? I'm not going home.
There was a residential street not far in the distance. A door, probably locked, only a few hundred metres away. She could always try the window. There'd be a bed inside. Or even a sofa. That would be nice. About that time, Ema realised she was still resting all of her weight on her right knee. She looked down, true enough, very little of her left ankle wasn't dyed red. Better get a move on.
No time to wait for therapists and shit, might as well just... I dunno.
She forced herself back up. Might as well just what? Admit to herself how she felt? Not immortal, not strong, not even right? No, she'd been right to try fighting. She'd failed, but it had been the only correct choice left to her. No, the people she'd killed didn't deserve to die. Neither did she, though.
Survival of the Fittest. Nobody deserves to die. But only one person gets to survive.
Ema's casualties hadn't been good enough. Ema hadn't been good enough.
The door was almost in reach, now. Twenty feet, maybe less? A few seconds more, a few steps further, and then a well deserved rest.
Do I really deserve it, though?
I just want to lay down somewhere comfortable. Is that so wrong?
That's what everyone wants, love. But then Survival of the Fittest became a thing, and then you got shot, and hell if the odds are really in your favor.
I don't need this. Not now. Can't you just... just... leave me alone?
Oh, hey, maybe that's what you wanted all along, yeah? Should have told me earlier, shit, maybe I'd still be alive if I hadn't been stuck taking care of your sorry ass.
That's not fair. Fuck, I was stronger than you were. I... I always have been.
That was a barefaced lie. It was fair. Ema had often casually claimed to believe that everybody got what they deserved, one way or another. She'd never had this in mind. But, in a roundabout sense, she deserved what she was getting right now. She'd earned her continued survival, and just the same, she'd earned her slow, lonely death. Even Hayley's voice, now in lucidity recognised as a wishful hallucination, had abandoned her. Even her legs wanted nothing more to do with her, and had no further compulsion to help.
And so Ema dropped like a proverbial ton of bricks, tipping almost comically forwards as her left foot outright refused to follow her instructions. There was still enough strength in the girl's arms to cover her face before it collided with the pavement. She landed, bruised and grazed, mere inches from the house she'd been so set on reaching. So close. But it might as well have been miles. Ema reached out, stretching her fingers as far as they'd go, falling short of the inviting wooden door by a few feet, a little less than her own height. One more step, maybe two, she'd have been able to touch it, that would've been a small comfort in itself.
But that was the story of her life. A little more of this, a bit more of that, she'd be so much more. Sure, she'd passed her exams with flying colours, her parents had been proud of her, she'd been accepted by MIT of all places. But all the same, the girl had fallen short of everything she'd really cared for. She'd let Hayley slip away, first to the charms of a boy, then to the fists of a girl. She'd left behind what few friends she had in Ireland, failed to stay close to them. Hadn't made any more in Minnesota, either. Hadn't made the slightest effort to get in shape or anything else that might've helped her chase her dreams. No, she'd just coasted through life, doing as much as she had to, being good enough. Never being... right.
All feeling was gone from the girl's leg, now. That was comforting, really. The beautiful numb feeling of dead weight below the knee was easily preferable to the searing pain she'd felt before now. At least, it was, before Ema came to realise what it meant. Her right foot felt cold. Her ankle, too. And both hands, in fact. She'd lost a lot of blood. Were she able to look back, she was sure she'd see quite a substantial pool of it. So much for that bandage.
God, she felt so cold, though. All the poor girl wanted was to curl up and sleep for a while. Her head felt so... so very light. Nothing seemed to be in focus any more. It couldn't hurt to just... maybe close her eyes for a little while, right?
[Consider this a pseudo-placeholder. More like a work in progress. Just so you guys know I am working on this death and all. I'll finish it in a second post, or possibly an edit. Most likely a second post.]