((So. That was what the end of a life sounded like.
Two sharp cracks, followed by the silence of bleeding out cold and alone.
As their increasingly ridiculous pursuit across the island went on, Cass had slowly begun to lag behind Trav. Never enough to lose sight of him completely, but enough that when Trav finally cornered Jerry and ran off in a berserker's charge; Cass was forced to take a moment to stand still and catch their breath, wishing that they'd had the foresight to supplement their years of biking with some old-fashioned jogging.
When they finally got close enough to see the fight, it had already ended; a forgone conclusion. Trav had both more skill and the moral high ground. Cass watched numbly as Trav relentlessly continued to beat Jerry, even as the murderer helplessly babbled for mercy. They found no satisfaction in this pathetic scene, no solace in the pain of a fellow stupid, terrified kid. But, this wasn't for their benefit, was it? It hadn't been Cass's
friend that Jerry had killed, after all.
Still, they had no desire to watch Trav become a murderer in front of their eyes; for both of their sakes. Even if Trav was somehow unaffected by beating a former friend to death with his bare hands, Cass wasn't sure if they would be able to look him in the eye afterwards without involuntarily flinching from the memory, be able to truly feel at home around him again. Jerry's wretched life wasn't worth any sacrifice. Cass stepped forward to call out for him to stop-
Two sharp cracks. Trav fell.
The waves rolled over him, still moving but not for much longer, for already there was blood coloring the water they had dreamed to reach in more innocent days, but already he was growing still and even though he could have been saved in the real world, here there could be nothing done but holding his hand and watching him die and even that was made impossible by a simple matter of time and distance, too far, too late to save yet another mighty Goliath dragged to hell by a coward's missile, granted to him by mere dumb luck and circumstance that ended just as many lives as they saved, miracles that just happened to kill the right
people, and it wasn't news to anyone that the universe was cold and uncaring but a familiar gaping wound could still cripple you, and though he wasn't the first or the dearest death he had been the most vibrant, real
face in their mind, and even though they weren't stupid some small part of them could still think "they never saw the body" for names number one and two, but Trav had been shot down under a clear sun and even though his killer was still lurking, still dangerous, as every day passed another reason to continue clinging to life for anything more than sheer momentum was lost in the island's decaying grasp, and Cass had both of their packs, now; unarmed and stunned and so very alone-
Thought after thought after thought screamed for attention in Cass's mind, shock and despair and a dispassionate noting of how pretty the red waves looked and
It was too much.
Cass took a few shuffling steps forward, towards Trav. Then they fell to their knees and broke down crying, retreating into themself and shutting out the world around them.