You and me and the devil make three.

Joined: July 27th, 2016, 1:51 am

December 18th, 2016, 12:31 am #1

(Benjamin Lichter continues from And feel the blackbird's sudden tug.)

It was an hour before the dawn.

Ben had barely slept. He was lying on the cold hard ground, curled up like a fetus, his head resting on his duffel bag. He didn't dare go sleep in a building - that was where people were. In his right hand he held his flashlight. In his left hand he held the photo of him and his family. Looking at them gave him some peace, helping him ignore the darkness surrounding him. He wasn't usually afraid of the dark, but this place gave him more reasons to be than usual.

He thought about his actions after Kimiko had appeared. He had run far, and fast, but he wasn't an athlete and eventually had to stop to catch his breath. When the moment came, he had realised he was alone. He had backtracked, carefully, slowly and trying not to be seen, but he hadn't found Maxim again.

A sudden noise startled him. He sat up in a hurry and glared at the direction it had come from, afraid it was a person. He sat there for what felt like an eternity before mustering up the courage to turn on his flashlight and confirm that there was nothing there. He lay back down, and held the photo close to his face, letting the light of the waning moon behind him illuminate it. He was glad to be able to see the photo without having to reveal where he was with his flashlight, but otherwise he resented the light. It made him feel exposed, visible, when all he wanted to do was hide.

Searching for Maxim had been his next action. He had sneaked from place to place (there really was no better word for it), staying as far away from buildings and people as he could. He had walked if he felt sure that no one could see him, though with careful steps and a lot of crouching, and had hid when he didn't. He hadn't wanted to, and had felt as guilty of his distrust as when he had first gained it, but he had told himself it was necessary. If he wanted to see his family again - and the aching heart he got every time he looked at them in the photograph reminded him of just how much he did -, he needed to survive. And for that, he needed to be wary, maybe even paranoid. There was only one person Ben knew he could trust. And for him he had been looking for.

But the day hadn't lasted forever. Eventually, the sun had set , but the colors had seemed dull and bleak compared to the day before, eager to give way to the night. Ben had decided he might as well sleep where he was, since he hadn't wanted to travel in the dark, and risk tripping, or look for a building to camp out in, risking coming across other people. And so he found himself lying under the night sky, his only luxury being the bag he used as a pillow.

Ben tried to force himself to think of something else, so he could sleep, but his mind kept coming back to the fateful moment when he had kept his ill-advised promise. He bitterly regretted running like he did; or at least, not sparing a second to look if Maxim was with him. He hadn't been. And for all Ben knew, Maxim was now dead, and if he was dead, it was because of him. Because he hadn't waited. Because he... he had panicked, again, and acted on impulse, again.

His decision not to hadn't helped one bit.

His anger and frustration flared, both directed at himself, and he curled up even more tightly. He forced himself to repeat the same mantra over and over again. "Focus! Control yourself!", he whispered through gritted teeth. "You have to control yourself!" Each iteration was harder and harder, and he clenched his fists in an effort to fend off his hopelessness. It didn't work, and he soon succumbed to his grief. "But I can't!", he cried, rolling onto his back. His eyes were wet, and he looked up at the night sky.

Of course you can't. You don't really want to.

This idea shocked Ben to his core. "I do! I do!", he answered in anguish.

No you don't. You might have left Maxim behind, but your impulse saved your life.

"My... my...?", replied Ben weakly.

Yes, your life. What, you think a killer like Kimiko would have let you live?

Ben didn't know what to say to that.

The only reason she didn't get the chance is because you didn't give her the chance. You were gone before she knew you were there.

"But... but Maxim..." stuttered Ben.

What, he would have hit her with his crossbow? If he could get it out of his bag fast enough, maybe. Face it, there was no...

"No!" shrieked Ben, sitting up in defiance, forgetting he needed to stay quiet. "I abandoned him! We were in danger, but I left him to face it alone! It was wrong!"

Suit yourself.

And Ben was alone again. He looked at his photo, and saw in dismay that he had crumpled it slightly when clenching his fists. Anxiously, he straightened it, then put it back in his wallet. He lay back down, angry and miserable, but managed to get to sleep, somehow. It was not an easy sleep, and Ben tossed and turned on the hard ground.

He awoke, shivering, with the sun just above the horizon. Wearily, he grabbed his flashlight, which had rolled away during his sleep, and put it in the duffel bag. Then he got up. It was time to get moving, and continue his search.

It was an hour after the dawn.

Ben had barely slept.

(Benjamin Lichter continues in A sea view to rest the soul.)
V6 Character:
Benjamin "Squirrel" Lichter [ ~ / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / + / > ] - You'll find him in the clouds.
V7 Characters:
Chloe Bruges [ - ] - You'll find her doing math.
Joseph "Joey" Quintero - You'll find him writing speaches.
Keith Rogers - You'll find him out with his gang.
[+] Spoiler
Putting this here, so people know, if it ever becomes relevant (unlikely, but still): If you want to use my characters for anything non-profit, you may, without contacting me even (though it would be nice regardless). All I want is a small mention that gives me credit for first concieving of them. If you want to use my characters for something for-profit, if it's just a cameo or similar, you also may, under the same terms; if it's a more substantial role, I don't want to chain myself to any statement - then contact me.