Saul recognized the place his stood in. Pine trees surrounded him on all sides, large branches and smaller sticks lay on the ground among rocks and tufts of grass. It was the spot were he'd first woken up, first discovered he was in SOTF. It was where he first met Garry, Cyrille and Miranda.
They were all dead now, he remembered glumly.
It was also where he first discovered his 'weapon', the Magic 8-Ball that still resided in his hoodie pocket.
He sighed, remembering the question he asked, and the response he got.
"Magic 8-Ball. Am I fucked?"
SIGNS POINT TO YES
He reached inside his pocket, retrieving the shiny black sphere and gazed at it, rotating it in his hand to view the window. He closed his eyes and gave the 8-ball a vigorous shake, listening to the liquid sloshing about inside.
"Magic 8-Ball. Am I even more fucked?"
He stopped shaking and peered at the window, watching a message rise from the dyed ink and come into view. He gritted his teeth as he read the white words.
BETTER NOT TELL YOU NOW
"Why the fuck not you piece of crap?" Saul grumbled to himself, moving his hand to put the Magic 8-Ball in his pocket.
"Because that's for me to tell you," a voice called out from behind Saul. The boy jumped around at the voice and dropped the toy when he saw who, or rather, what, he was face to face with.
"Holy fuck, G-Garry?!"
Well, he certainly sounded like Garry when he spoke from behind Saul, but the person (if Saul could even call him a person) looked nothing at all like his recently-deceased friend.
For starters, Garry was now a large, hulking humanoid wolf, covered from head to tail in glossy black fur and wearing the same clothes that his human self had been wearing, minus the tennis shoes. He was also totally uninjured, his leg still firmly attached to the rest of his body and no ugly burns or bandages were visible.
"In the fur, Saul," 'Garry' replied, grinning at the tall boy and showing off his teeth. The huge canines were especially prominent, sending shivers down Saul's spine.
'Garry, what big teeth you have,' was the first thing he thought of, but decided against repeating it out loud to the wolf. After all, Garry was supposed to be human, and, rather sadly, dead. Why he was alive and now in lupine form made absolutely no sense at all. "What the hell is going on?" Saul asked, bewildered.
"Who knows?" Garry replied, "this is your dream after all, everything you see is a creation of your subconscious. I don't really exist, either as a human or a werewolf, though I have to admit, I do look awesome as a wolf, even if I do say so myself."
"Haha... yeah..." Saul managed to say with a weak smile, which vanished just as fast as it appeared. "I... I can't believe you're gone... it doesn't seem real, and I don't mean here."
"I know, it's tough, but... well, there's nothing we can do about it anymore. I'm still up on the mountain with my leg blown off and lying next to the cow who killed me. You gotta look out for yourself now, Saul."
"But... what can I do?"
"You managed to survive with barely a scratch for all this time, you can survive for a few more days, right? You have the weapons, you have the smarts, you can go on to get out of here. You're one of the few people who actually deserve it."
Saul was silent as he listened to Garry's encouraging words - encouraging him to commit mass murder. But why was he telling him this? It was just... just wrong to kill someone in cold blood, wasn't it? Self defense, yes, while it was still taking another person's life, it was at least justifiable when your own life was at stake. But with no valid reason for it? No. Inexcusable.
"There aren't that many people left on the island now, do you really think they're going to leave you be if they come across you, when they know they're so close to the end?" Garry spoke, as if he'd just read Saul's thoughts. Saul was gobsmacked, then had to remind himself that it was a dream after all; the Garry standing before him wasn't real, hell Saul was in some way controlling Garry's actions as well.
"Don't let me down, Saul. And, more importantly, don't let yourself down," Garry said, kneeling down slightly so he was at Saul's height, and put his arms out. Saul rushed forwards and wrapped his arms around the wolf, the 8-Ball having disappeared, Garry's fur feeling strangely similar to the artificial fur on the husky mascot suit he was so used to wearing.
"Garry, I'm... I don't want to die," he cried out, closing his eyes and sniffing. He opened his eyes again to see nothing there, his arms suspended in mid-air like he was hugging a huge invisible tree trunk. Saul looked around in utter confusion, seeing no one at in the area. Garry had completely vanished, leaving him alone in the mountainous forest. Saul choked back a sob, collapsing down onto his knees and looked up to the dark sky.
Saul briefly wondered how the sky had transitioned from day to night in such a short space of time, and how he was still able to see clearly despite there being no other light source. 'Dreams are fucking weird, I swear,' he thought, glancing down at the 8-Ball that had magically reappeared in his hand. After the discussion with Garry, he had a new question to ask it, and gave it a hard shake.
"Magic 8-Ball. Can... can I really do this?"
He looked down at the window as the message emerged from the ink.
GREYNOLDS HERE, ANOTHER ANNOUNCEMENT FOR WHOEVER'S LEFT
And then everything faded to black.
----Saul's eyes flickered open as Greynolds' announcement boomed over the island, rudely interrupting his dream, if he could even call it that. 'That... that was messed up. Acid trip or what, did I accidentally get high or something?' he wondered, shaking his head to clear the cobwebs that clogged up his mind.
And then he heard of Garry's death, nearly right off the bat. 'Second to die yesterday, damn...' Saul thought, flopping his head back down onto the pillow. He'd managed to retrace his steps back to the house he and Garry had shared. It was the place, exactly one day ago, that he'd discovered that Garry had won a reward for his kill.
And now Garry's name was being read out again, as a victim. One more name to add to the hundreds who'd already perished. Out of the two-hundred plus who'd been abducted, they were now, according to Greynolds, down to the final twenty-eight.
'Twenty-seven other people out there... would they all try to kill me on sight?' Saul wondered. There had to be serial killers out there still, people who killed for fun rather than for survival. Because they wanted to, not because they were forced to.
Saul was not like them. He had no blood on his hands.
The Magic 8-Ball sat on the dresser table next to the bed he lay on, Saul finding it too uncomfortable to sleep with the toy still in his pocket. He sat up and reached out, gazing at the shiny black plastic. Some memories of his dream were already starting to fade away like smoke diffusing in the air. But he remembered the last part, wondering if he had what it took to pull through.
"Magic 8-Ball. Can I do this? Can I go on to win?"
He shook the ball and stared down at it, the window facing downwards so he couldn't see a prediction. He turned it a quarter of the way, but then placed it back into his pocket without looking at the result. It was up to him, not some cheap plastic toy that just gave out random messages. His fate rested in his own hands, and his hands alone.
Standing up and checking to make sure he had all his belongings with him, Saul departed the house, gun in hand.
((Saul Fetteralf continued in Dead-End Scenario))