Repeating, Repeating, I'm Dying, I'm Breathing

Joined: December 9th, 2008, 10:33 pm

February 19th, 2017, 9:41 am #1

When Cass had been younger, around twelve or so (it was difficult to remember, for childhood memories increasingly blurred together when combined with nostalgia and time) there was one summer day in particular where they had been riding their bike around their neighborhood. No destination, no real reason except that it was a nice day and they wanted to get out of the house for a while, feel the sun on their skin and the air rushing past them as they rode.

In a nearby park, on a gravel path, they had been forced to swerve as a squirrel dashed out in front of their bike. Going too fast to recover, they lost control and wiped out, skidding across the ground and skinning their hands and knees, bleeding with stone bits rubbed into them. The relief of not hurting the squirrel was rather drowned out by the intense stinging, and Cass had laid there for a while, overcome and crying; before finally picking themself and their bike up.

It couldn’t have taken them more than ten minutes to get back to their house, where they were patched up and fussed over; but in the time it had seemed like far, far longer. Even years later, while they realized it had probably become exaggerated in their head, those moments stood out to Cass as the worst (physical) pain they had ever felt.

((It still paled in comparison to the burning of their slashed wrist.))

They had dropped their bags and collapsed on the ground, panting; after running for long enough to make sure that Jerry and Matt weren’t following them. They were still winded from their previous chase, and the pain in their wrist had quickly become too much to keep ignoring; agony taking the place of adrenaline and tears. They had torn open their first aid kit, haphazardly scattering its contents across the grass while they tried to find everything they’d need to stop the bleeding.

It probably wasn’t bad enough to kill them on its own, but infection could be just as effective. Besides, it was disconcerting to see their own blood, reminding them of the blood pooling under Jane, under Toby, dissipating in the water around Trav-

Cass froze. Was almost immediately shaken back to reality by another spike of pain. For once, time wasn’t content to let them fade away, lost in painful, tangential thought after thought; something they were grudgingly thankful for. Fixing yourself up was simple enough in concept, but harder when you had no real experience and only one good hand to work with. Still, they managed, though not without an intermittent stream of pained swearing; especially as they applied the disinfectant.

After tying the bandage tight around their wrist - thank god they were right handed - Cass downed some painkillers, weak as they were, along with the last of the water in their bag. Laid down in the grass, completely drained. Their wrist still hurt like hell, and they probably weren’t going to be able to comfortably use their left hand for a while (or ever again), but the worst of it was over.

If it hadn’t been for Jerry’s remorseless jabs, Cass was sure that even now, they would still be collapsed by Trav’s body, numb to the world. But after being forced to run for their life, dealing with the matter of their own flesh and own blood; they felt… awake. Truly present in their own skin, a rarity even back home. Clear of head but clouded of heart, for even with this newfound clarity they still had no idea what they would do, now. What they could do.

While they had been with Trav, they had never had to ask themself that. Cass had just thought, and nodded at the appropriate moments, and though they had always legitimately agreed with him, they had been content to follow him. Off the rooftop. To the sea. To Jerry. They hated that their eyes were dry, now; even thinking of those final moments of his life, gunned down on the beach. They had been denied the chance to mourn in peace, to cry and break down and feel, to treat the loss of a dear friend and a compassionate human being with the mortal weight it deserved.

Now the only thing left was numbness. Same as Sandy. Same as Bernadette. Leaving his corpse behind (and they knew they could never go back, could never risk seeing him again) meant his death was that much closer to becoming an idea, one of many that continued to compete for the dominance of Cass’s despair, one final injustice too far.

There they were, now; a squawking cacophony of misery: It might not have happened if Cass had even tried to talk Trav out of revenge. If they had still gone along, but tried to get him to at the very least not kill Jerry. If they had been fast enough to yell at him to stop, for loath as they were to admit it, Jerry hadn’t been entirely wrong. He was stupid and callous and was close to crossing the line to malicious if he hadn’t already, but Trav hadn’t stopped attacking him, even as he surrendered and begged for mercy. He hadn’t known that Cass would appear, or that they would have objected. He hadn’t wanted to die, and he didn’t deserve to, same as everyone else.

There they went, still feeling almost sorry for someone who had already cost them a friend and a hand. How disgustingly, annoyingly typical. They still didn’t regret punching him in the face, though.

So. What came next? It was obvious that Cass had done nothing right, that Trav deserved to be sitting there in their place, that nothing justified their continual existence when so many more worthwhile existences had been ended over the past five days. It was, in fact, so obvious that they had already accepted that and moved on. A worthless, useless life was still a life, and it wasn’t like their death would make anything better.

What did they want?

Honestly, desperately, above all else? A hug. Simple human contact, a reminder that they existed and that some people were, unreasonably enough, alright with that. Cass legitimately couldn’t remember the last time they had been hugged and it seemed likely that they would die before they ever received another one. Even in all the time they had known Trav, as close as they had felt, by the end; they had never felt comfortable enough to just ask for one. Hadn’t wanted to make things awkward. Stupid. So very, very stupid.

If that was off the table, what was next? Clarice. She was their only close friend on the island that was still alive, and at this point Cass’s fear of never being able to say goodbye to even one of their friends had eclipsed their justifiable fear of being a burden. Still, since they were no closer to figuring out where she was than they were on the first day; goal two was as unobtainable as goal one. Clarice was a good hugger, too.

Might as well add another impossibility to the pile. For years and years, Cass had never gone more than a few days without producing art, even if it was just a simple sketch. It was a sensation that they missed as much as any companionship, something so integral to their identity that they had been deliberately ignoring it the past days; not wanting to consider the possibility that it was already too late, that any further creation was already forever beyond their grasp. Something burned inside them, one last desperate visage clawing and clawing until it made itself known, no matter how simple or ugly or rushed, something new, something that was theirs alone, someone that would not have existed and would never exist without their hand, not a masterpiece, not a magnum opus, just a reaffirmation of who they were, boiled down and simplified to what they cared about most, the only thing they were good for. “Artist.”

Still, they had no paper. Nothing to write with. It wasn’t unlikely that they existed somewhere on the island, but Cass had no clue where to start.

Three goals, impractical and almost impossible to chase in any deliberate or calculated way. Cass supposed that not much had changed, after all.

All they could do for the moment was focus on existing, then. They recognized where they were, now that they weren’t bleeding. Their first stop on their ill-fated trip to the ocean. If they hadn’t been so stubborn, had listened to Wade when he cost-benefit-analyzed their dreams, where would they be now? He’d had the good sense to opt out of their ultimately fruitless quest for revenge, after all. Cass didn’t know, and they decided they’d already spent enough valuable angst on what-ifs.

Cass wanted to spend as much time outside as possible, at least until night fell. They hated the thought of dying a sterile hallway. It was very much doubtful that they’d be able to appreciate the sun or the moon or the grass or the wind being in full view if they were getting shot at the moment, but the concept still philosophically appealed to them. A favor to the idea of themself, not their actual consciousness.

Barricading yourself in a room with your friends meant you were trying to live, together. Being barricaded alone meant you were simply waiting to die. True as that may ultimately be, Cass wasn’t going to do it sitting in a corner.

They considered their two bags. Both were much lighter than they had been. One more day of supplies between the both of them, if they were lucky. It’d make sense to try and consolidate their contents, but Trav’s bag was the one trace of him remaining. He deserved a better tribute, but for now Cass would have to settle for carrying his bag alongside theirs; in memoriam. A constant weight against their side, carrying the idea of his presence.

Cass had left his body behind, free for every kind of scavenger, after all.

((They rested a while longer. Then they left.))
[+] Spoiler
[+] Spoiler
Asha Sur: GIRL 018, armed with a TASER. "Let's all embrace nihilism and be nice!"
Cass Prince: HUMAN 001, armed with a MOP. "It's all falling apart, isn't it? We're unravelling."
[+] Spoiler
Harold Porter: BOY 034, armed with a COFFEE POT. "Hey - none of this... none of this is your fault, alright?" Messed up. Plain and simple.

Daniel Whitten: BOY 074, armed with an INDIANA JONES REPLICA WHIP. "Oh, hey, sorry. Didn't think there was anyone else-" Died early.
Alice Gilman: GIRL 064, armed with a ROTATO. "Just... Just wanted you to drop the gun. Thought you were gonna shoot." Died stupidly.
Michael Mitchellson:BOY 019, armed with a FUCKING AUTOMATIC SHOTGUN. Died a failure.

[+] Spoiler
[+] Spoiler
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