A bomb must have gone off nearby. That was the only rational explanation Astrid could think of to explain the buzzing in her ears and why every other sound was muted and dull. Penelope was speaking, and brief snippets of phrases would fight their way through the haze surrounding her, and into Astrids head, but nothing substantial. And either way, nothing she could say mattered right now.
The gun was a fake. A stupid, shitty little fake. There was absolutely no way she could have known; her knowledge of weapons was strictly limited to within the timeframe of Medieval to Stuart. Yet she still felt like a complete idiot. There hadnt been any additional bullets, but then she had just dismissed that as another asshole move by the terrorists. There hadnt been an instruction manual for the gun, and she had assumed it was the same deal on that end.
The sight of a gun had given her a feeling of power; it was as simple as that. It had been the catalyst that had enabled her to put her plan into motion in the first place. And all along, it had been some stupid toy prop. Shed been protecting herself with a fake.
If shed shot at anyone besides Penelope, she would be dead right now, and the realisation caused Astrid to choke on the breath caught in her throat.
Neither of them were dead, not yet. But now Penelope knew that, when push came to shove, when faced with a stubborn, stupid, immovable force, then she would do what she had to in order to knock it down. Astrid had lost the trust of one of very few people who would care about her to the bitter end. Now, Penelope would die hating Astrid, and Astrid would leave the island knowing that.
It would be better for both of them, to sever ties sooner rather than later, but it was a truth that cut to the bone.
The world was falling back into place again now, and Astrid managed to break her focus away in order to hear the ending of Penelopes spiel. A final plea. A final statement of defiance. A final hope. Then her old friend was gone.
Astrid waited until her footsteps had faded away, before hurling the gun against the wall, anguished cry echoing off the walls. She spun around, leaning over the operating table, hands pressed so hard against it she felt like it would break underneath her. She stayed like that for a long while.
Eventually, she turned to leave. The gun was lying against the stairs leading down in the lab, one corner of the flag touching the water. Instinctively, she picked it up again, rolling the fabric back up before shoving it back down the barrel. She stared down it for a few seconds. Then she left the lobotomy lab and didnt look back.
((Astrid Tate continued in Smoke Screen