Day the tenth, hour the ninth.
She'd ran so far, without sleep or food, just praying she could reach the boats in time. Navigating the island by memory of the places she'd been and the tell-tale beeping whenever she stepped inside a dangerzone, she'd wandered forever in the hope that she would eventually reach safety.
But here she was, the day after the rescue operation had been carried out, staring out across the fair; the very first place she saw when she awoke.
What else could she do but laugh?
Leila Langford - G028 - had survived. The announcements assured her that the escape attempt had failed, and while at first her mind turned to those now gone, she couldn't but help feeling like she'd won. It was like some sick, cosmic joke. If she had her map, she probably would've reached the shore in time, and had she done that, she would've been destroyed.
So many people had died, the voice had said, and yet she was the one who stayed alive.
She looked around, took it all in.
Everything was brilliant today.
Her eyes caught something gleaming; familiar.
If she squinted, she could just about see something on top of the Ferris wheel, in one of the seats.
It was hard to see through the sunlight it reflected at her, but if she got a little bit closer... yes! Ha! Impulse took control for a second, but she reigned it back in to keep herself from screaming. Her bag, the one she'd brought from home, was still up there, still dangling like the world's most expensive carrot and boy did she wanna take a bite.
It didn't seem like there were any stones big enough to make much of an impact, and when she did find one near enough the right size and weight, she wondered if she'd even be able to aim right. It wasn't like she was a baseball player, like this was just another easy pitch in her sporting career. Back home she'd never taken much of an interest in team sports. Or any other sports. Hanging out in locker rooms wasn't her idea of fun - of course it wasn't. That wasn't her, or who she was, no. She had to be the fashion-girl; the chic and the glamour. God forbid she could've been something more useful, like a game-hunter, or a nurse-to-be. God forbid she could've listened to her parents' advice, and not wasted her weekends partying, making a fool out of herself.
A cloud of dust erupted, her leg swinging back into place.
She hated this.
No clothes, no food, no safe place to eat anyway, even if she found something. How she'd made it this far was anyone's guess, but certainly not her own. Every time she thought she'd got the upper hand someone came and took it from her. Hadn't she done enough? Hadn't she earned a bit of luck yet?
And then a pang of guilt, to remind her.
She remembered the girl - the one who helped her when she fell.
Knowing she couldn't complain, she kicked the dirt again. It hurt this time, hitting the ground with her toes. She felt them stinging, all red and angry, making her limp as she hobbled over to the railings which surrounded the wheel. Quickly swatting bits of sand out of her grazes, she swore to herself as the pain flashed brighter, before it dulled back down.
It wasn't meant to be like this. She had applications to fill out for college, and skirts that needed hemming for her next night out. Hilary would've been there too, and maybe they could finally convince Violet to come out with them. The three of them out there, dancing and drinking and pushing back guys who wanted to cop a feel 'cause they thought they were hot shit.
Plans that couldn't happen now, not ever. All the good times they were going to miss now, all the hangovers and fights and the things they would've seen, all just future memories, impossible possibilities.
Maybe it was just the sand in her eyes, but she could feel herself tearing up. Those familiar sensations as her body began to dive into hysterics.
They weren't helpful though, were they? They were just an inconvenience - in the way. Right now she needed to preserve whatever she had left, and she wasn't about to waste another second sitting here moping, imagining what could've been, because what good what that do?
Wiping the tears with the back of her hand, she focused on her breathing; steadied herself against the threat emotion carried.
There was still something she could do, she thought.
Her hands gripped the metal as she clambered over the other side of the railings, and held on still after her feet had touched the floor. And as she looked up at the great rusted animal before her, she began stretching out her muscles, making herself limber; making herself ready.
She knew it stupid, and she knew she was scared.
But there was only one thing she wanted- no, needed to do.
She was going to climb the wheel.