(Naoko Raidon continued from Facile Princeps)
Trapped in his own thoughts, Raidon wandered through the night.
Raidon didn't know he was following in Alie Walworth's footsteps as he fled from the key, fled from the smell of salt and memories of embraces in the darkness (of Simon's arms and confidence, now shattered; of Mizore Soryu, who'd believed in him in spite of the gun he'd held to her head), fled from the legacy of death he'd left in his wake.
Two people. I killed two people.
Flat fact, unescapable. Accept it, move on, he had bigger concerns, except here in the dark he didn't have bigger concerns, here in the dark he had only his thoughts to keep him company, his thoughts and the fact that he had shot Maddy to pieces becaused he'd been...he'd been...
There would be no sleep tonight. There would only be this--endless thought, endless reflection. Ichiro, Hayashida, Simon, Soryu, Scott, Asthma Girl, Maddy, over and over again, in that order. One (b)led into the other in endless succession, each death, each wound, each moment of pain.
Mizore had his Jacket, Simon his trust. The shards of asthma girl's inhaler clicked together in his pocket, the bloodstained hat felt heavy on his head, the cross dangled from his wrist. Alice had taken a bullet from him, trying to stop him from executing her beloved, and how could he blame her for that?
Wandered through swamp, through the woods (his brief encounter with the sniper and her friends--he feared death, he ran, like the fool he was) stayed away from the coast (the smell of salt was almost painful to him now, the thought of the tunnels and Simon was painful, the thought of blood was painful, and Raidon couldn't-!). Wandered through the night, wandered and struggled with his thoughts until he was half-mad with them. Sleep offered no temptation; his thoughts were too heavy, and the dark around him felt all too dangerous, filled with ghosts of those he'd killed and those who might kill him.
When hints of dawn began to creep on the horizon, Raidon came across a building. He wasn't too far from the town proper--from the house where he'd found Mizore. Raidon's first instinct was to evade it--buildings provides comfort and stability, which meant others would be attacted to it, and worse this was a large building. He should just-
"Should just what?" he asked aloud, a feeling of exhausted recklessness overpowering any remainder of logic he still possessed. He went in without forethought, with his gun still in his right hand (the left throbbed periodically, reminding him of all he'd lost) but slack at his side. If there was anyone within, he'd be caught off-guard, then again, Raidon wasn't sure if he wanted to go on much longer.
Pain in one hand, lethal weight in the other.
What Raidon first thought was that he'd entered a church; the rows of pews, the rough altar up ahead. On closer inspection, however, there were no signs of religious affiliation; no stars of David, no crosses, nothing. Just the endless row of pews, the altar in front. Raidon frowned about him; some kind of non-denominational church?
He didn't know why he cared so much about what it was. The bodies littering the place were his first concern; the nearly-behead corpse that lay sprawled out a little ways away, the two bodies by the altar--Alice Murazek, recognizable as always, sprawled out in disorder, black marks around the neck, tongue bulging; another girl with her throat slit, facefirst upon the ground, the dried blood running down in little rivulets down towards him. The last of these was the most ghastly; about half of the leftside pews had been smashed to pieces, bringing a piece of the roof in with them, and the burned boy who had been victim of this attack had been impaled on a broken spear of wood.
Four killed One more than me.
"I gave her stigmata wounds," he said aloud, staring around the broken church. "She tried to strangle me with her rosary beads, and I gave her stigmata wounds."
And then Raidon threw back his head and started to laugh.
"Isn't it wonderful!" he asked, looking not at the altar but at the broken section of ceiling. "Stigmata wounds! Christ, what am I? Far be it from me to just kill the damn girl, I had to blaspheme with it!" He spread his arms questioningly, still laughing. "Failed pacifist my ass; I'm a god-damn psychopath!"
He laughed harder, unable to keep his eyes on the broken roof; he bent double, shaking with it, sending tiny cracks of pain reaching out from his vanished pinky and the pain mingled with the laughter; he bent down lower and lower, until he was kneeling on the ground, kneeling on broken wood in the presence of the dead, kneeling and laughing until he wheezed, until he choked. His throat was still raw from where the beads had bitten into his neck, and laughing only made him hurt more.
After his laughter had trailed off into the silence, he remained kneeling for a long time, without thinking, without speaking.
"If You don't exist, I could at least be content," he mused, giving voice to the thousand thoughts had that had troubled him during his nighttime wandering. "If You don't exist, I can accept that we are just wretched animals, that this is all there is. That chance and our own will, if you can call it that, shaped us, nothing more and nothing less." He smiled. "I could only be satisfied if You don't exist."
He spoke aloud because he was tired. He spoke aloud because he believed that when one spoke to God one should speak aloud, because one's thoughts were only thoughts but one's discussion with God should be something real. He spoke aloud because there was too much on his mind, because he was stressed, because he was half-mad with worry and fear and he could no longer keep it confined to his head.
"But of course," he said softly, staring at the ground. "I don't believe that." He was staring at his hands, balled on his legs. "I believe in You. I didn't know I believed in You until Father Cassidy showed me. My anguish was nothing before the suffering of the world. And that suffering was self-inflicted; that in Your teachings lay salvation, in Your teachings lay peace." The gun had fallen in front of him; he stared at that at his fists trembled. "We are evil," he whispered. "But we can be good, if we try. I believed that."
He couldn't help speaking aloud; he didn't know any other way to speak to God. "And since I came here, I've seen more proof of You. More proof of what we are." He gestured about him. "Evolution could not have produced this. Where would be the benefit? What sort of genetic programming, what collusion of chance, would have led here?" He smiled. "Survival of the Fittest," he laughed. "Darwin's theory. Your renunciation, some would have it." He thought about the island and a broken chuckle fell from his lips.
"You exist," he said softly. "Alright. So what are You?" He looked around him. "Are You benevolent? If so, how?" His right fist left his lap and slammed into the ground before he could stop it, picking up two splinters as it fell; he relished the pain, relished the momentary clarity. "If You were a god of miracles, surely You could have freed us from this place. Maybe not me--maybe I didn't deseve it, but..." He shut his eyes, and his voice cracked a little as he said, "But surely some of us deserved better!"
He left his fist where it had fallen, blood oozing from two or three tiny wounds. "Or are You an Architect?" he asked. "Did You set the world in motion, and leave us on our own? For the sake of free will, or...or..." He shook his head. "Why? If You loved us so, why would You allow this?" He giggled weakly. "This is horror, this is despair, and this isn't even the first..." He trailed off. "Genocide. Holocaust. Famine. Plague. You engineered a universe where this could exist? You would engineer a race of thinking, feeling beings and then subject them to this?"
"If so, You must be malevolent." Sheer terror at the thought, but he embraced it, relished the bolt of philosophical fear. "If so, You must have been bored, You must have tired of omnipotence and omniscience, You must have spawned us just so that You could have something to toy with, to make suffer or ecstatic as You saw fit." He grimaced, his whole face contorting downwards in a frown so severe it carved lines into his face.
"Let us assume," he said, through gritted teeth. "That You are not malevolent. Let us assume that You are in fact benevolent, that whether You are an overhyped watchmaker or a glorified gaming nerd You do in fact have some overarching goal. Such a goal and the methods needed to reach it would elude me, of course; I am not omniscient, I cannot see every outcome, I cannot imagine every possiblity. Perhaps this all merely my shortsightedness and stupidity; perhaps You have sent down Liz Polanski as an answer to our prayers."
The name, when it escaped his lips, cut like glass. It had come on the heels of everything else; of the asthmatic girl he'd executed, of Maddy. He had been struggling with it all night; to voice it aloud now almost hurt, thought it brought with it a form of relief.
"Why now?" he asked. "Why here? Three times You've let this happen, three times they've slaughtered each other." He reached behind, grabbed his bag, and pulled out a notebook, flipping it open to the page on which he'd been writing the names of the killers and the killed. "Look!" he cried. "We're no better! So why now!"
His hands shook violently, and the blood leaking past the splinters in his right hand spattered on the page. "Why now!" he cried again. "Why, after years, are You sending someone who can beat their system? Is there a higher purpose? Is the world going to get better because of it? Were the others just the necessary sacrifices?" His hands shook still more violently, and tears pooled in the corners of his eyes as he lowered the notebook, closing it clumsily.
"And if You have a bigger purpose," he said softly. "Is it worth all this?" He looked at his hands. "Is it worth me killing?" he wondered. "Is it worth me suffering?" He smiled a little. "But I am only one weak, stupid man, and I would make the same trade for the sake of the world. Not me, maybe, but some poor jackass..." He shook a little, from his shoulders down to his legs. "All of us, though? Simon? The asthmatic girl? Scott?" He thought back to previous versions of SotF he'd watched, to the countless deaths he'd witnessed. He thought of every tragedy he'd ever read or heard about, every nameless person who'd suffered for no other reason than the callousness of their fellow humans or the indifference of the planet itself. And every one of these tragedies bore the same face. "Ichiro?" he said softly. "My mother?"
Another long silence. He breathed in the heavy, clotted, clogging smell of dried blood and death; he exhaled, and a measure of calm returned to him.
"All this suffering," he asked again. "What's it for?"
He hesitated, then looked back up the broken bit of ceiling. I'm not You," he said softly. "I can't see nearly so far. I can't see what You can." He brought his hands together in front of the (thought it felt extremely strange--his missing pinky made the grip feel alien and unfamiliar) and stared at the exposed patch of sky, slowly growing golden with the light of the rising sun. "Give me a sign," he asked. "A feeling. A thought. Anything."
Nothing happened. Rays of sunlight began to creep through that broken patch of ceiling; Raidon became less cognizant of the smell around him. The longer he waited, the more he trembled, and his eyes darted down to the gun which he had discarded at his feet. "I can't do that again and come back," he said softly. "I can't..."
He hadn't lost himself. He hadn't gone mad with pain. At the moment when he was free, at the moment when the gun was back in his hands and death no longer loomed over him, he felt alive, he felt strong, and in that sense of strength he had felt no regret, no guilt, and no hesitation. He had wanted to kill Maddy brutally, and he had succeeded.
"Please," he whispered.
"GOOD MORNING, SURVIVORS! YET AGAIN, YOU'VE MANAGED TO EXCEED MY EXPECTATIONS!"
"So glad I could accomodate!" Raidon roared. He glanced down at his hand, covered in blood, and then sighed. "Forgive me," he said quietly. "I have to..." He fished in his pocket for the pen and flipped open his bloodspattered notebook. "Owen Rothschild, deceased...Fiona Sparki, killer..."
"MAXWELL LOMBARDI TERMINATED SIMON GREY..."
"Another kill for Max-" and Raidon broke off and lifted his head to the broken section of ceiling.
He heard the names that followed, made an automatic note of asthmatic girl's name (Allison Walworth), and then drifted off again. The pen fell from his slack fingers onto the notebook and he kept his eyes on the patch of diluted sky.
"Anything," he repeated.
He felt his fingers twitch weakly, and he closed his eyes and looked down at the ground.
"Well," he said, his voice absolutely devoid of emotion. "At least I know where we stand, eh?" He got to his feet, slipped the notebook into his pack and the pen into his pocket. As he slipped it in there, it clicked against the beads he'd put there earlier. He fished them out, one by one, and let them roll agaround on his palm.
"Simon?" he asked.
Fury surged up from the pit of his stomach, and he hurled the beads towards the rough altar in front of him. They clattered noisily, stirring up thin spouts of dust. "You aren't worth this," he hissed through his teeth, grabbing the gun from the ground in front of him. "You're an insufferable miser and You aren't worth this."
He lifted the gun to the patch of sky he could see, his lips trembling and every muscle his his face groaning in protest. His hand was steady, though.
His hand was steady.
Raidon's eyes fixed on his hand--his steady hand--and the cold dark steel of the gun in his hand. He glanced between it and the broken ceiling.
"You aren't worth this," Raidon repeated, his voice wavering a little, and he pulled the gun back to his side and stormed from the building, trying not to look back at the fallen beads, at the broken bodies.
He'd given a girl stigmata wounds. In there, Alice Murazek had been strangled, and people he didn't know had found their throats slit and their bodies burned and blasted.
How, he wondered, had Simon died?
(Naoko Raidon continued in All's Fair)
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Surely God Is In This Place
- Joined: November 9th, 2009, 5:39 am
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Tara Behzad: "They don't get to decide how I die."
Lizzie Luz: "I don't want to go."
Alex Tarquin: "No more masks."
Tara Behzad: "They don't get to decide how I die."
Lizzie Luz: "I don't want to go."
Alex Tarquin: "No more masks."
- [+] Spoiler
G053 Karen Idel, DECEASED: Game over.
B040 Tyler Lucas, DECEASED: I had fun. You?
B046 Xavier Contel, DECEASED : "G-gotta...trust people, Arthur. G-g-gotta try. C-can't be afraid."
- [+] Spoiler
B054 Raidon Naoko (DECEASED): "Dying like this isn't so bad..."
B072 Simon Grey (DECEASED): "I never was a hero, but, God help me, I tried."
B079 David Meramac (DECEASED): "Running towards nothing. Running from nothing."
G072 Mirabelle Nesa (DECEASED): "I'm a weak little girl who couldn't save anyone, even myself, but god damn it I beat you and god damn it you are going to remember that because I am Mirabelle Nesa and I am a hardened goddamn warrior and I am not going to fucking give up now!"
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