((Lana Torres continued from The Unlucky Clover Field))
Ever since she was little, Lana dreamed of being a bat.
Of course, it was a silly fantasy, and she knew that it wasn't going to happen. But when her first grade teacher pulled out books about bats and began teaching them, she was captivated. For a few weeks, everyone did art projects on bats and the teacher, with her kind smile, read to them the story of Stellaluna or gave them basic facts about them. Lana's only true experience with bats was during Halloween, where they were portrayed as monstrous beings. But it turned out, some of them were nice. Many of them ate fruit or bugs, for example. Bats weren't as scary as they looked. Sometime later in her life, to reward her for good grades, her parents managed to find a way to take her to the Woodland Zoo. She remembered the hanging flying foxes, looking curiously at her and the other guests, and she remembered how she smiled. Those bats were precious, with their black and orange coats and their large eyes. Naturally, for Christmas the same year they got her a flying fox plushie, and she had hugged it for a long time. To this day, she still had it; it was even small enough to fit in her bag, though she hadn't taken it out since she had woken up at the aviary.
Bats meant a lot to her. When she first became a furry, it was almost natural for her to associate herself with one. Bats were cute, but they were also misunderstood and did a lot for the world's ecology.
Lana occasionally wondered about what being a bat was like. This time, however, it was more a fantasy of fleeing away. Lana pictured her arms growing into leathery wings, and flapping them so that she would be away from the island, never to be afraid again.
The lounge was very dark, very lonesome even with three people in it. It looked like it was almost opulent back in the day. Small dried puddles of wax littered the tables, and from a distance she could see a stocked bar. It reminded her of something she didn't want to be reminded of, especially right now.
The announcements had come on again sometime this morning. Once more, Lana had found the closest place to her in the woods where they had been walking, and listened in. Everyone knew what she had done. It wasn't a secret to them. What's more, something had happened to Mike. Mike had been stabbed; she hadn't gotten the name of the killer, but it happened. He was gone too.
This place made her feel uncomfortable. Lana was both scared to leave this place, which they had decided to rest in, but she hated being here. It wasn't just the fact that this lounge room reminded her of some horror movie. It was just so sad, and brought up memories. They had found the hotel earlier, and decided to rest inside it. But yet, it still made her feel uncomfortable.
It just wasn't Mike, either.
Luca, she remembered him. He was at the golf course one day, with Darren. They talked a bit, but Lana had to go home since she had just been getting off work. And now he was gone too.
Lana placed her elbows on the table in front of her. She still didn't talk much. Anything she could say would make her feel depressed again, or worse. But all the things that had happened were boiling up inside her. If she didn't remember Davidge, she would remember Dave. If she didn't remember Dave, she would remember Venice. If she didn't remember Venice, she would remember Mike. If she didn't remember Mike, it went back to Dave.
The walls seemed to constrict herself further. But she didn't want to admit it, especially not to Stephanie or Ilya.
She wasn't sure if there was much a point to not playing anymore. Everyone knew what had happened between her and Venice, and as the days went on everyone fell. She was already tainted, and she didn't know a way out. Lana had always tried to push herself forward, to prove herself to everyone, but she was lost.
She still hated this room.
Lana dared not to make any requests to Ilya or Stephanie, though. She better not dare.
((Ilya Volkov continued from The Unlucky Clover Field))
Ilya remembered when Lana had first told him about her fascination with bats. He had caught a glimpse of her looking at one on the computer, an odd combination of bat and human. It was a more common phenomenon than he thought at first, with anthropomorphized versions of practically ever animal under the sun, except of course for the hideous ones like snails. Perhaps somebody had made a snail-man drawing somewhere and managed to make it look adorable. Then again, given the more eyebrow-raising content he'd seen in relation to the furries online, being cute and wholesome was not a guarantee.
Lana made it perfectly clear that she was not that sort of girl, though, and she showed him wholesome material only. It wasn't the upper echelon of high art, but it wasn't too bad, either. Ilya didn't regret the experience, and as thanks he paid for a commission on her birthday: a bear-man and a bat-woman sparring in wrestling club, clearly supposed to represent the two of them. It took him about twenty seconds to decide upon the obvious choice. Bears were the number one animal to represent Russians, after all. The more he thought about it, the more content he was with that decision. Maybe when he wrestled outside the school clubs, he could wear bear-themed gloves and pads.
Or he could spent his days paralyzed with fear at the prospect of being shot dead, an unbearable tension at the thought of an impending death that took its sweet time to get there. His gaze flickered toward Lana, and then to Stephanie, then Lana again. He could tell that Lana had been severely rattled by Venice's death, looking that the room was going to swallow her up if she blinked or moved or talked. Then again, perhaps that was just him. His expression of unease probably mirrored hers.
So what the fuck would they do now?
He got up from his chair and started walking to the door. "I have to go," he said. That sounded cold, callous, like he was on the verge of abandoning them. "Scout ahead. There could be someone coming, some help." Someone with a weapon that they could take... or get used on them. Fuck that.
This place was full of corridors and blind corners, and he liked to think he had a keen sense of hearing. He should be able to get the drop on just about anyone.
That is, assuming he was the only student with C4 around.
((Ilya Volkov continued in Hollow Stars))