((Mitch Settles: Awake))
Mitch felt himself slowly coming back to life. He had been here before, he thought, after his terrible accident and subsequent surgeries. In fact, he at first believed this was the case: hed had another accident and was in the hospital again. This was confirmed when he opened his eyes and saw, as his surroundings came into focus, he was indeed in what appeared to be a hospital room. But why was he on the floor? Had he somehow fallen out of the hospital bed? He tried and succeeded in sitting up. Mitch surveyed the room as his vision cleared: there was a hospital bed, a nightstand, and an I.V. pole, but on the opposite side of the small room from him. There was no light except what came from the window, and much of that that blocked by what appeared to be branches or vines. Nothing else in the room but dust, debris, an overwhelming odor of decay, and a black backpack with B42 painted on the side.
Then the realization hit him, an almost physical blow: he was abducted, an unwilling participant in the horrific game, Survival of the Fittest! He remembered getting on the bus, then nothing until waking up with the rest of his classmates, bound hand and foot with restraints. The terrorists Jim something and Danya speechified at them, scaring most of the students, but Mitch, used to race organizers giving pre-race instructions, had listened carefully and knew he was in some serious shit.
He got up on his hands and knees and crawled over to the backpack. Inside he found just what he had been told would be there; food and water, an extensive first aid kit, map and compass, a good LED flashlight, and some literature he would read later, once his nerves had settled down a bit. He also found the light waterproof jacket and Herman Survivor hiking boots he usually carried in his own duffel bag, as well as the supply of energy bars he had with him for the trip. Then, at the bottom of the bag, hidden under the first aid tin, he found the gun.
He recognized it immediately; it was the same exact make and model his father owned, a Glock 19, Gen 4. Gene, a lifelong member of the NRA, had gotten the gun for self-protection. Mitch was at least passingly familiar with it. Then a painful realization hit: he had a weapon designed to kill, and he was expected to use it on his classmates. He sat down heavily on the floor, suddenly overwhelmed by the flood of conflicting emotions gripping him. He considered himself a survivor because of his ability to get back up time and time again after being knocked down, physically and emotionally. He had many times beaten others in contests through sheer force of will and gutting it out in races, but never had he been in a position requiring him to kill an adversary in order to stand atop the winners podium.
He knew he had to carefully deliberate his options; at this juncture, if he didnt think clearly and plan accordingly, his future may be short and very dim. He was irrevocably in the game, therefore, he had to play by the rules or be disqualified, i.e. killed. Mitchell had always played to win, and this time wouldnt be any different; however, winning meant everyone else lost. Dead. Killed. Everyone. He didnt know if he could play that viciously, watch someone crumple to the ground and never get back up because of an action he, himself, had taken. But he knew with a certainty he couldnt be that crumpling someone he wanted to live and would do everything in his power to bring that about.
He began to slowly and methodically refill the black backpack, thinking as he did about his next crucial steps. He kept out the map and put the gun in his under his shirt tucked into the back of his shorts and put on his jacket and boots, storing the Keens he was wearing in the pack. Slinging the backpack over his shoulders, he crossed over to the window and peered out through the grime and past the vines. The view was too obscured to give him a clear picture of exactly where he was, but he thought he might be in the asylum, and if so, decided he needed to get out immediately. He was reverting to his extreme self and very strongly felt the need to be in what had always been his natural environment, outdoors. This was where he had the most options, where he could move, breathe, and think clearly. He listened for any sounds indicating others in the building and heard none. Slowly, quietly he moved out the door into the dingy hallway. Litter and debris cluttered the way, with gurneys and broken furniture creating a minor obstacle course, slowing his passage to the stairway near the end of the hall.
Mitch stepped carefully, listening frequently for sounds of life, and hearing none, moved down the stairs and into the lobby. There he paused, looking around for evidence of recent activity, footsteps in the dust, anything that would indicate someone had been there before him. Seeing none, he moved to the crooked and broken doors and out into the dim morning light. It was cold and he fleetingly felt pleased he had put on his jacket and boots. Then he remembered the danger he was in and chastised himself for thinking, even briefly, about something as minor as his personal comfort.
Remaining in the shadows of the low entry, Mitch looked around. Still seeing nothing to indicate he wasnt alone, he stepped out into the open and, looking at the map, decided he was, indeed, at the former asylum. He was, he thought, looking roughly south and the bridge was just visible to his right. He had earlier determined where best to begin this grizzly adventure and he started moving carefully in that direction.
((Mitch Settles continued elsewhere))