So Far Away From Home

Dr. Nic
Dr. Nic
Joined: October 27th, 2009, 3:45 am

April 21st, 2011, 5:59 pm #1

[Boy #8 - Peter McCue and Girl #48 - Kaitlin Anderheim. Continued from Endings & Beginnings.]

Peter was still running.

His heart was still pounding. A dull thud in his chest that told him he was still alive, though the adrenaline that had fueled his legs had died out and now they burned and stung, his knees feeling rubbery every few minutes. But they had to keep moving. They had to put all of that behind them and keep moving. But he knew he wouldn't be able to keep going like this and he hated to pull Kaitlin along or force her to keep up with him, especially if she was as tired as he was. So he gave in and relented to his body, starting to slow his pace and coming to a stop somewhere along the road, panting heavily as he tried to catch his breath. He hadn't run like this is quite a while. They hadn't had to really run at all, having spent much of the past week alone together. They didn't have anything to run from.

But now it seemed as if everything was going to hell around them and the people were going with it.

Once he'd managed to catch his breath, Peter turned to Kaitlin, surprise in his eyes when she seemed to be in much better condition than he was. But he should have known, really. She did mention that she studied Tae Kwon Do, and she certainly looked the part to have kept in shape. Not that he'd ever actually tell her how he thought she looked. No, he'd keep any thought of her beauty to himself. This definitely wasn't the time to bring that up, either. She looked as if she had been crying.

"What's wrong?" Scared out of his mind and suddenly unable to breath. Peter didn't quite know how to fix this. If she was hungry, he could fix that. If she was cold, he could fix that. If she was lonely, he could even fix that. But she had been crying and frankly, he just didn't have the experience to deal with that. It wasn't the first time, sure, but it certainly was one of the worst. The last time was only a moment, but she looked like she had been crying for some time, with red eyes and stains on her cheeks. He didn't know what to do to fix this, and it was scaring the hell out of him that he did something wrong.

Oh, how he wished he could fix it for her. He couldn't stand seeing her so sad.

Oh god, what do I do?

They were running again.

It was a strange change of pace. Normally, they wouldn't be running. They didn't ever have a reason to run. No one ever chased them and they never had to run from a danger zone, but here they were, running for the first time in a long time, running out of fear. Running from the violence and the brutality that this game brought out, running from death with fear and panic fueling their charge. Kaitlin didn't care how far or fast they were running, so long as they were getting away from that horrible scene.

He looked just like Peter...

Somewhere along the line, she had managed to stop crying, but now that they had a moment to rest and weren't in immediate danger, everything just came flooding back. It didn't help much that Peter was asking her what was wrong. She tried to answer him, but everything just caught in her throat. Sure enough, she was off again, choking on her words as tears started to flow. But she couldn't just leave it at that. She had to explain. He'd done so much for her, it would have been rude to leave him without an answer, no matter the circumstances. So she swallowed hard and wiped her eyes, and tried to force out her answer without choking.

"He looked like you."

It was about all she could come up with, for the moment, before more tears started to come. She just couldn't bring herself to even think about it, to admit how she felt when she looked back. She was so scared when she saw that boy get hit, and he looked so much like Peter in that moment. It was horrible. It was just... just... Kaitlin shook her head. She needed to say something. She couldn't just sit there and cry again. No, she had to tell Peter. She trusted him.

"I was so scared, Peter. He looked so much like you, and that other boy, he..."

That was it. That was all she was going to be able to say. She was just choking on her words and the tears were coming in full force now, and she wasn't about to stop now. She just put her head on Peter's shoulder, and cried. She couldn't bear to be away from him, couldn't bear the thought of anything happening to him. She wished they could just go home and be done with it all. Just leave this place and never have to worry about it again.

If only wishes could come true.

It took a while, but eventually, Kaitlin calmed down. After taking a moment to compose herself, she turned to Peter and managed to figure out what she wanted to say to him. What she wanted him to say to her. To her, it was a necessary thing. She had to apologize and say her peace, and hope he would say his, since he also had a part in this. But hopes were all she had. Wishes and hopes were all that was holding her up at this point.

"I'm sorry... I know it shouldn't bother me so much, but... I'm sorry. I'll try to be stronger. I promise I'll be stronger. But you have to promise me something, Peter. You have to promise me that you'll keep yourself as safe as you keep me. Promise me that you won't leave me here alone, for any reason. I... I don't want to lose you."

She almost lost it there, starting to tear up a bit, but she wiped her eyes and steeled herself against it. She swallowed and held her ground. She couldn't start that again. She had to be strong. For herself. For Peter. She had to be strong. But no matter how strong she had to be, she wasn't going to change who she was. She'd still probably cry if they had to catch any more rabbits for dinner, and she probably wouldn't be much help when it came to their plan, but she would stay strong. She had to. She promised.

"Hey, Peter? What's that?"

She pointed at the stumps and the logs. Something was sticking out from behind one of the logs.

It looked like... a bag.

So that's why she... Oh, Kaitlin.

If it were under any other circumstance...

Peter didn't really know what to do, with Kaitlin's head on her shoulder. He didn't know how to comfort her, really. It was the first time he'd ever had to deal with anything like this, and he was sorely inexperienced in anything dealing with the opposite sex, let alone comforting a girl who was as upset as Kaitlin. But he tried his best, and his best was mostly putting his arms around her and holding her close as she cried. He thought he should say something, but what?

"It's alright. We're alright. I'm not going anywhere."

Really, that didn't seem anywhere near adequate. But it was the best he could come up with, really. He had plenty of experience and knowledge to spare when it came to survive out here, but when it came to dealing with this... he just wasn't prepared. Nothing he ever read or practiced would have prepared him for this. Really, nothing would have prepared him for having to run for his life from his classmates and friends, but he tried to make the most of his training when he could. No amount of training would work in this situation. It was all trial and error.

Mostly error, as far as he was concerned. Really, Peter didn't think he was going to be any help in this, no matter what reality or Kaitlin would have to say otherwise.

"I promise I'll get you home, Kaitlin."

He tried and tried, but eventually, none of it seemed to matter. Kaitlin was calming down on her own, whether it was helped along by what he said or not. He was happy to see her stop crying, and he wanted to say something, but she started first. He wanted to interrupt her. In fact, he did start to. "You don't have to." That was about as far as he got before Kaitlin continued, not letting him interrupt. It seemed important for her to explain. So, he listened. He listened as she apologized, as she promised to be stronger. As she spoke of making him promise something as well.

I would never leave you...

He couldn't say that.

"I'll do my best, okay? I promise."

It wasn't what she wanted, but it was the best he could give her if he wanted to be honest. And he did promise, after all. But even if it wasn't exactly what she wanted, it would have to do. It seemed like she took it though, and seemed happy enough. At least she wasn't crying anymore. Peter didn't think he could bear to see her crying like that again. Damn his inability to fix things for her. He wanted her to be happy, but it seemed that would be a ways off yet. For now, though, she provided him a distraction. Something off to the side, hidden and tucked away and just barely visible from where they were standing. Sure enough, it looked like a backpack. No one was around, and he didn't hear anything, but he wasn't going to take any chances. He pulled the epee and held it tight as he walked over to where the bag was.

He expected something... but certainly not this.

"Kaitlin, stay back. Stay back!"

He couldn't let her see that. He just couldn't.

My god.

He felt sick.

The color drained from her face.

Oh... oh god.

She covered her mouth. She could already taste it. The bile. Oh god, she was going to be sick. Charging away from Peter, her hand came away from her mouth just in time as she bent over a stump on the other side of the road. Oh, god. Peter meant well, trying to help her, but... No. Just no. Not now. She waved him away, tried to sputter out a few lines between moments of sick.

"I'll be fine... I'm fine. I promise."

She just lost it. Seeing that... that body. It was horrible. So much blood. So much... oh god.

She lost it again. Whatever they had finished off that morning was now spilled across the ground, the taste of sick still in her mouth as Kaitlin spat and wiped it away from her lips. She could still feel it inside though, sitting there, bile building up for another round. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't get that image out of her head. That horrible scene. That horrible image.

That poor girl.

Another wave of sick and Kaitlin was reduced to retching and coughing. There just wasn't enough to be brought up. They were rationing as it was and they hadn't taken time to eat, which Kaitlin was happy of now. If they had eaten recently... More retching, more coughing. She wiped the sick from her mouth and tried to spit the taste out, doing at least one unladylike thing to try and rid it from her throat. But really, who could blame her.

That poor girl...

What if that was Kaitlin?

What is that was Peter?

What if that was all they had waiting for them on this island, all they had waiting for them at the sawmill. A bloody, horrible death. Just blood and gore and horrid sick somewhere on the island, to be forgotten and cast aside by the wayside. What if that was it? What if that was all they had waiting for them? Could she really go on saying she could stand with Peter if that was all they had in store for them? Could she really go on saying she could be strong, saying she had to be strong, if the only reward was a slow and painful death?

I... I can't do this. I don't want to do this. I want to go home. I want my mommy. I want my daddy.

She wanted to take Theodore out, to cling to him and hold him tight. But she knew she shouldn't. What if she got sick on him or what if he fell? It would be the topping on the cake...

Her thoughts turned back to the girl, and she retched again, almost happy that she had nothing left. It was all well and good to think she could handle whatever came as long as Peter was with her, to tell herself that she could do anything if she was with him. It was another thing entirely to actually put it all to the test. Could she really handle it? Could she really handle dealing with dead bodies and all the other horrible things involved in this game? The violence, the sadness, the shear unrelenting stress of it all?

I have to. I have to at least try. He does so much to get us out of here, I can't just leave it all up to him. I have to help.

There was nothing more coming up and she'd finally stopped retching, stopped coughing. Kaitlin thought about going to stand with Peter, but the thought just turned her stomach. She settled for a place to sit closer to him and further from the mess she had made.


Something caught her eye as she sat herself down on the stump. Something shiny and almost golden on the ground. Of course, it wasn't gold. It was brass.

A brass casing... from a rifle bullet.

"Peter, look at this."

God, it hurt to talk.

Kaitlin was keeping him at bay. No matter how concerned he was, she didn't look like she wanted anywhere near her now. Didn't sound like it either. He watched her for a second, worried about her, but eventually he turned back to the body. He was fairing little better than Kaitlin, but he choked it all back and swallowed hard, his stomach turning in his gut and his throat burning from the taste of bile and acid. He had to keep his cool, stay strong in the face of adversity. But this wasn't adversity... this was just horror. Pure, unadulterated gore. Simple as that. He didn't know what happened here and really, he didn't want to know. It looked bad enough when it was over. He didn't want to imagine what it must have been like during.

But there was work to do. Dirty work, but necessary work.

Peter glanced back at Kaitlin, pangs of worry and guilt coming to him before he knelt down and turned over the duffle bag and the backpack. A day pack and someone's personal bag. The day pack had a name on it, one he didn't particularly recognize but could probably place, given enough time to think back on his classes. Sofia Martelli. He was sure he recognized the name from somewhere. Somewhere, but he didn't know where. Not yet, at least. He was sure it would come to him eventually, probably when he least expected it. But he shook that aside for now and turned his attention back to the bag. It looked a lot fuller than his own bag or Kaitlin's.

He soon found out why.

When he opened it, the first thing to greet him was a great big bar of metal with a hole through the length of it. A pipe, obvious as it was. A lead pipe from the looks of it. It must have been her weapon, though that shotgun she was holding in her lifeless grip seemed so much more dangerous, even if she could no longer pull the trigger. He felt stupid for doing so but he pushed the barrel of the gun away from him, making sure it wasn't pointing in his or Kaitlin's direction. Just in case.

The rest of the pack seemed to be in much better order than either of their own. There was more than enough food for the both of them and plenty of water, enough to last them another two or three days if they rationed carefully. It was clean water too, at least most of them. One of the bottles, one of the open ones, looked like it was refilled in the river. He made a note not to drink that. But there was plenty of supplies for them to keep going without needing to resort to squirrel and rabbit. He remembered how Kaitlin reacted to the rabbit. He really didn't want to put her through that again if he didn't need to, especially after this.

Strange. One map but two compasses.

It didn't take him long to figure that one out. Sofia had killed someone. The day before she was killed, if he remembered correctly. John Smith, wasn't it? Big guy, had a thing for Celeste Beaumont. That relationship was... kind of creepy. He knew she was old enough to be in the senior class, but she barely looked old enough to be in Junior High, let alone Bayview. That was just... a little disturbing. But it didn't matter now. Peter went back to digging through the bag, then looked through the second one. It was filled with clothes. Just clothes and other personal items. Sofia's personal bag, it seemed. Nothing he was interested in.

That shotgun caught his eye again.

He didn't know how to use one, and he doubted Kaitlin knew either, but it would certainly be nice to have it around. Even if there weren't any shells left, he could at least carry it with him and use it to scare someone off. The sword next to him may have been better than the watch he got when it came to practicality and intimidation, but a shotgun was so much better. Peter knew that they needed it, and he was determined to take it, even if it meant getting closer and even touching Sofia's body. He'd have to get used to it sooner or later, given what he had in mind once they reached the sawmill... better to start sooner and get it over with.

Prying her fingers open was the hardest part.

He was almost worried he would have to leave the shotgun or employ more gruesome methods of getting it out of her hands. The entire time he was wrestling the shotgun from her grip, he was thinking about that old adage.

Pry it from my cold dead hands indeed.

Eventually, he got the shotgun. It was a little dirty, spattered with blood and a little actual dirt, but other than that it looked to be no worse for the wear. Good for them, he guessed. And it seemed he lucked out when it came to ammunition, as it was spilling from a little bag at Sofia's hip. Sure enough, when he finished gathering them up, their ammunition count came to a grand total of... seven. Seven shotgun shells.

Better than none, I suppose.

Kaitlin had finally stopped retching and coughing, much to Peter's relief. He was starting to worry there. But there was no way she would take his bloody hands or the bloody shotgun very well, so he took a moment to clean it and his hands off. He whispered a brief apology, because he ended up using some of the clothes from the bag to scrub his hands and the gun with. It was dirty work, but necessary work. They would be that much safer now that they had the shotgun. A shotgun with the name Tony carved into the side of the stock, and a notch on the barrel.

...Better not think about that.

It was a good thing he got everything clean as quick as he did, since it seemed Kaitlin wanted his attention. Her voice seemed a little hoarse but other than that, she seemed alright. He didn't blame her for her reaction to the body. It was bad. Real bad. But hopefully, it was over now, and they could get going before Peter himself gets sick. For the moment, he was almost thankful that the body hadn't been there for very long. A day or two at most. If she had been lying there since day one...

...Better not think about that.

He repeated his thoughts to himself as he turned his attention to Kaitlin and the object she was holding.

It seemed Sofia tried to take on someone who was heavily armed. That casing looked like it came from a rifle, and there were many more where that came from. All over the ground. Not to mention the fact it looked as if an explosion had gone off over there. Looks like hell came to earth, and Sofia was on the wrong end. Either way, they were the ones getting the reward out of it. Two brand new weapons they were bound to need eventually, no matter how hard he prayed they wouldn't.

God, he hoped they wouldn't actually need it.

"Alright, are you ready to go?"

She didn't know why, but while Peter was getting the shotgun, Kaitlin was picking up the bullet casings. It didn't take long for her to amass a little collection of them, setting them up on the stump. Like little brass statues. She almost didn't notice when Peter finally spoke up, more than a little distracted with her gathering. At least it had gotten her mind off of what was just behind the logs.

She nodded and walked over to Peter, looking at him for a moment. He looked kind of strange with that shotgun. Honestly, that thing scared her almost as much as the body they had taken it off of. She hoped they didn't ever have to use it. She hoped that they would never have reason to even think about using it. If they could keep going like they have been, avoiding other people and just staying together, maybe they could get through all of this. Maybe. Hopefully. She knew they would be safe together, so much more with the new weapon Peter had. Even if they only used it to scare people, it would keep them safer. It was so dangerous and had probably even been used to kill someone already, but they were going to trust in it to keep them safe.

Honestly, she would prefer if they just left it. But she knew they couldn't. They needed anything and everything they could get to survive here.

"Here, let me take that."

Kaitlin stepped forward to take the bag from Peter. She wanted to help, even if it was only a little bit.

That was a mistake.

When she moved closer to Peter, she caught sight of the body again. Oh god. She couldn't do this. She really couldn't. No matter how hard she tried to build herself up, no matter how hard she tried to tell herself that she could be strong, she just couldn't do it. When it came down to it, she just couldn't handle it. Everything that had made her sick moments ago came back in an instant. Everything that upset her. All the stress. All the worry. The panic and the fear and the terrifying inevitability of death. It was... it was too much. It was all too much and it all came too fast.

She never thought what it would be like. She never thought about having to face death in such a gruesome form. She watched someone die but to see it like that...

"I can't do it."

She didn't even try to keep herself from crying.

"I can't. I just... I wanna go home."

No more telling herself to be strong. No more telling herself she could handle it. No more saying she could do anything as long as she was with Peter. She just couldn't. No matter how much she built herself up, she couldn't do it. She tried. She tried so hard to be strong for him. To put on as tough an exterior as she could. Not very tough, mind you, but tough as she could manage. This was all just a little more than she could take in, and she couldn't do it.

"I don't wanna be here anymore. I don't want to... I don't want to do this anymore. I wanna go home. Can we go home?"

All she wanted was to go home.

Could they go home?

For a moment there, Peter actually thought things were going to get better. He actually thought things were going to go back to normal. They would grab their things, hold hands, and be back on their way. It had gone that way for a long time, but not now. No, it didn't look like anything was going to be quite the same again. Not after what they had seen. Not with the impact it had on Kaitlin, or the impact it had on himself. But the only thing that mattered now was Kaitlin. His sole concern was her, and the effect everything was having on her. The effect he was having on her.


Oh how he wished he knew what to do. How he wished he even had an idea of what to do. All he could think to do was to put his arms around her and hold her as close as he possibly could. He didn't know what else to do. It was the best he could come up with. No, that was a lie. He could come up with far better. He just had to admit that this was all his fault. That he was pushing her too hard. That he was forcing her to do so much more than she could handle and her breakdown was entirely his fault. He knew she couldn't handle it. He knew it was a stretch just for her to handle the rabbit, let alone deal with people dying and having to hang around the corpses. She couldn't even handle being alone in the dark.

How could he expect her to deal with all of this?

It was his responsibility to keep her safe, but that didn't simply mean keeping her safe physically. He was responsible for her well being, and he was doing a terrible job. He had to make it up to her somehow. He sure as hell couldn't expect her to keep going along with his plan, not today, not after all of this. No, he needed help her. He needed to make her feel safe. He needed to make her feel comfortable.

He needed to take her home. Or at least... as close to home as they could get.

"Come on."

Peter had an idea.

"Let's get you somewhere safe. Somewhere cozy. Somewhere with running water, where you could have a warm shower, a nice soft bed, a hot meal. Let's go home."

He knew just the place to take her. Helping her get back on her feet and holding her steady, Peter stayed close to Kaitlin and never let go of her. Her well being was his responsibility and he wasn't about to let her down again. He had a lot to make up for after pushing her like that. It was his fault she was like this, and he would do whatever he could to fix it. She deserved that much.


He held Theodore out to her. He knew how much it meant to her.

Peter was going to make everything better... or die trying.

It seemed all she was good for was crying now.

It never failed. Whenever she tried to be strong or tried to be tough, she ended up crying and ruining the whole thing. She kept trying to be strong, kept telling herself that she could handle it all and that she could help Peter. Even now, as she was sobbing into Peter's shoulder, she kept trying. But it wasn't working. She just didn't have that kind of strength. She just couldn't deal with all of this and she hated herself for not being able to do more to help Peter, for not being able to be strong enough so as not to be a burden on him. She was so useless to him already, the least she could do is avoid dragging him down. It seemed she failed in that, too.

She started to wonder why. Why was she doing this? Why was she pushing herself? Why was she following Peter when she knew, no matter what she told herself, that she wouldn't be able to handle this game?

She searched for a reason but honestly? She couldn't find one. Not at the moment. She didn't know why she's done the few things she has, or why she keeps trying so hard to do more. She wanted to be safe, sure, but she was capable of defending herself if it came down to it, and all she really needed to do was hide. So why push herself to follow Peter? Why force herself to endure these things? She honestly didn't know anymore. She could tell herself it was because she cared about him, because she had feelings for him, but what it was a lot simpler than that? What it was simply because she wanted someone to protect her? What if, deep down, she was just using Peter?

No! I... I'm not! I...

He deserved so much better than her. She knew that she would never be able to give him everything he deserved, everything he needed. He needs someone who can be as strong and tough and brave as him when needed, and give him the companionship he deserved. He didn't need her. What could she do beside sit and listen? Really, what had she done for him beside slow him down and cry? She really was useless. Couldn't do anything for him, couldn't be anything for him, couldn't even say for sure how she felt about him. What if she really was using him? What if she didn't have any feelings for him at all and she was just lying to herself?

No. No, that... that couldn't be true. It just couldn't. She had to have those feelings. They had to be true, they have to be. Especially here on this god forsaken island. If anything was going to be real here, it had to be the feelings she had for him. That's just the way things had to be.

He really did so much for her. Even now, he held her up and tried his best to comfort her. He deserved so much better... so she would have to try that much harder to be what he deserved. To be what he needed. To do as much for him as he had done for her.

"That sounds nice..."

Her voice was soft, hoarse. But at least she spoke. At least she was able to stop sobbing long enough to say something to him. She should have said so much more, but it could wait a little longer. It could wait until the time was right. And when he handed Theodore to her, she had so much she wanted to say. But all she could do was smile, hold Theodore as tight as she could, and put an arm around Peter.

She clung to Theodore. She clung to Peter.

She clung to the two most important things in her life. The two things in her life that made her feel as if nothing could hurt her. The two things in her life that made her feel as if nothing could ever go wrong.

[Boy #8 - Peter McCue and Girl #48 - Kaitlin Anderheim. Continued in Back in St. Paul, if Just for an Evening.]
Boy #??? - Joshua Edwards
Hanging out somewhere, playing his heart out.
Writer and local retail slave at the comic book store.

Girl #??? - Viktoriya "Vika" Starikova
Floating in the void, unfinished and half-formed.
Hot headed member of the soft ball team, secretly wishing she could fly.
[+] Spoiler
Boy #14 - Alex P. White
Where he started, and where he finished.
Tried his best and tried too hard, and fucked up royally at every turn.

Boy #61 - William M. Hearst
Where he began, and where he ended.
Did what he could and tried to do more, but ran out of time.

Girl #48 - Kaitlin Anderheim
Where she was, and where she went.
Found her strength and her will to live, and survived despite it all.

Girl #101 - Sofia I. Martelli
Where she rose, and where she fell.
Started out angry and alone, but died on her own terms, in love.