((Maynard Hurst continued from Miles Behind Us))
Maynard spend the rest of the previous day steeling himself for the inevitable, for James discovering what hed done, formulating justifications and the like that left a sour taste in his mouth. He tried telling himself it was the best thing to do, that lying about why hed killed Adam was the only way he could keep James to stay with him. When the announcement crackled about the island he knew hed lose any chance of finding allies amidst what few of his classmates there were left, and there was no chance of him surviving or having any purpose or being useful if he didnt have someone alongside him. James was his last chance, and he knew that if he screwed everything up with him, thered be no going back, no more friends, no one left on this island who could possibly want to be in his presence, let alone stay by his side.
As it was, he neednt have worried. James had reacted as well as hed expected, but hed listened, had given Maynard a moment to explain and to justify and to beg him to stay, and in spite of him having every reason to abandon and leave him, as with everybody else, he hadnt. Hed promised to stay with him, promised to stay by his side and not to leave him. Everything hed been so scared of happening hadnt happened, for the first time in a long while.
And then the tail end of the announcement had driven a wrench into their alliance.
He hadnt paid all that much attention to the kill awards the terrorists had been giving out until that moment, often too shellshocked by the daily tolls to take notice of anything else. But then theyd said that he was a winner, right after expressing joy that he wasnt hiding behind other people any longer. Hed wanted to yell at that point, wanted to scream out that he didnt deserve to be awarded for taking away one of the last good guys in this place - and it was true, Adam deserved to be in his place, deserved to still be alive and well infinitely more. Would it be right for him to collect what theyd given him? Did it even matter anymore? It seemed disgusting to retrieve the prize, as though hed had to snuff out Adam to get it, but it wasnt as if hed wanted to kill Adam to get some food and a nice flashy gun, didnt want to be first-prize winner in some sick contest. This was cruel; he hadnt killed Adam accidentally, but it wasnt done in malice either, it was... indescribable. Taking the weapon would mean hed been fine with taking Adam away, and he wasnt - could never be - but leaving it there would be just as bad, wouldnt it? If he retrieved it, itd be almost like Adam dying had meant something, and if he left it there then thatd be pointless - leaving desperately needed food and protection for nobody to ever obtain, and wouldnt that just be stupid, stupid like hed felt ever since hed woken up in this place? And it wasnt as if he was planning on killing anybody else, so itd be safer with him, right?
Maynard had choked back the chaos his thoughts had become and the protests he wished to exude, and glanced at his reflection in a murky pool of water - scrawny, delicate Maynard with his oversized polearm and rattling figure - and reached to retrieve another ration bar and realised he only had one left, and his mind was made up for him. He and James had agreed to meet-up again right after hed retrieved what theyd given him - a gun and a basket of fried chicken. Then theyd split, and Maynard had reluctantly parted ways with him, each footstep away from his ally heavy with fear that James wouldnt be there when he returned, fear about stepping out on his own once again.
Every step he took in the hotels lobby echoed around him, the area otherwise completely silent save for the occasional light breeze of wind and his shaking breaths. Bodies were scattered about him, the scorched remnants of former classmates strewn in pieces around the area, and the sight made him feel dizzy enough to faint, but he forced his eyes and made himself pretend they didnt exist, disregarded the unmistakeable stench of decaying flesh lodged into his nostrils, and continued onwards, step after shaking step. His fingers were entwined white-knuckled around his sword and his bags, nervousness continued to trickle through him in spite of the danger zone being his for awhile. Just returning to the place where hed ruined everything made him feel sick, even without factoring that he was there to retrieve an award for it. But he had to - if he didnt then the food and weapon would merely go to waste. Maynard wasnt stupid; having survived this far seemed a miracle by itself, but he knew he wouldnt last much longer with only his naginata for protection - and the food would help keep up his energy, as well as being the perfect way to keep James with him. Whod say no to a morsel of nicely cooked food, right?
He found the award easily enough; it was propped up in the midst of the receptionists desk - an unadorned box, a floral pitcher brimming with tea, and a basket lined with checkered paper towels in red-and-white, stuffed to the brim with crispy chicken. The heavenly aroma wafted into the air and permeated his nostrils, causing salvia to pool in his mouth and pangs of hunger to explode within his stomach. He hadnt eaten chicken for years, not since he was eleven and that baby lamb on that school trip had tugged on his heartstrings so much that he couldnt bear the thought of ending an animals life.
He wanted to slip the basket into one hand and the weapon and pitcher into the other, to pivot on his heel and leave the hotel without a moment lingering in the area, wanted to hold onto that one singular element of past-Maynard, Maynard before hed lost every part of himself that he thought he knew, the part that cried when he saw an injured animal and always checked the back of groceries to check they were kosher. But the rumble in his stomach and the exhaustion on his shoulders and the need for something that wasnt death and abandonment and fear made him slip his fingers into the basket, withdraw a wing so perfectly cooked the skin crumbled beneath his fingers and place it into his mouth. The second the tender morsel hit his tongue, Maynard forgot about his vows, forgot about retaining that element, forgot about anything that wasnt stuffing his face until he was doubled-over on his side, gasping for air and wiping away the food caked haphazardly around his mouth. He wouldve kept going, but he needed to keep some for James as a thank you present, and his fingers were burning so intensely, lingering warmth of the chicken having leeched into his skin and causing them to throb with pain.
Maynard placed the basket back where hed found it and moved over to the weapon, curiosity propelling him onwards as he delicately opened up the box itd been delivered it, eyes filtering over the note identifying what exactly it was - Beretta 93R (9mm machine pistol), apparently, though the name was nothing to him. It was so shiny and sleek, just like the onyx desk upon which itd been placed, something new and special, just for him. And Adam, because Adam had helped him get it, so it was really Adams weapon, truthfully, because what use would it be to him, scrawny little sidekick, compared to Adam, the stoic and brave leader? It looked dangerous and scary, as though it could explode within his hands at any moment, and he was half tempted to leave it there and run just with the chicken, but hed come this far and maybe, maybe having this gun would help him find a purpose, maybe, maybe after everything had fallen to pieces this gun would set him back up, turn over a new chapter in his life, a chapter without Adam or Natali or Gwen or anybody whom hed loved and then lost like they were infinitesimally small specks of dust in an endless vacuum.
He didnt know if it would, or even if thatd be a good thing, but there was only one way to find out, right?
Hed clearly loitered too long at that point; a hiss emanated from his collar, and Maynard didnt let it faze him - didnt move at all, despite the warning itd given him. Part of him wanted to linger in the area, wanted to let the timer run its course and blow his head from his body. Thatd be just retribution for what hed done, wouldnt it? Maybe hed be okay if that if it happened, because part of him doubted just how long hed last once he left this temporary sanctuary hed been gifted. But suddenly his feet were shifting him onward, forcing him out of the hotel without a second thought, because he had James to find and stay with, James whod promised to ally with him, and he couldnt disappoint him, because what would Adam have done? Adam wouldve never just sat there and died so pathetically, he wouldve strode onwards, found Maynard straight away and kept them together like the strong leader he was, and that was the exact sort of person Maynard needed to be.
The protagonists gone, and the sidekick has to step up to take his place.
He could deal with that.
((Maynard Hurst continued in What Comes After))
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Sinner, Winner, Chicken Dinner
- Joined: November 18th, 2012, 7:49 pm