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Journal Entry: Sat Oct 4, 2014, 2:40 AM


im sorry! my virus-ridden computer really freaking hates deviantart. like, ive tried to comment on things so much in the past few months but a lot of the time i just cant because eeechjjhh

my computer especially hates the new layout for this website, like, it actually takes a sizeable amount of time to load and i can hardly even navigate it because my computer cant deal

so basically my computer says my anaconda cant. it takes a lot of work just to favourite a deviation so if i favourite your stuff, be aware that i probably tried to comment and couldnt

Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: violence/gore, strong language and ideologically sensitive material)
Chapter Fifteen: Fix-It Girl Fucks It Up
A scream came from what had once been the hotel restaurant. Isabelle and Cedrick exchanged an exasperated look.
“Who’s on crèche duty today, then?” Isabelle asked.
Cedrick coughed. “Pretty sure it’s you.”
“What?” She leered at her friend. “I sorted it out yesterday when Rose smothered Tessa to unconsciousness for fun!”
“Well, I handled it the day before that when Marie set Parker on fire ‘for science’, if you recall, and I think that was a bit worse!” He crossed his arms and leant back a bit in his chair. “So it’s still your go! Go! Sort them!”
“Oh, I knew you were just going to throw that fire thing in my face!” She stood up, stomping her foot like a little kid. “You know what? Fine! I’ll take care of things today! You just sit here with your feet up and continue to do fuck all!”
She had perfect right to be angry. Screaming cases always sucked to deal with, not because the situation itself was exactly objectively more horrible, not necessarily, but when someone screamed, Rose (because who were they kidding, she was always the perpetrator) went on the defensive with her, “I’m not evil just because I bully the fuck out of everyone!” shit.
As she entered the restaurant area, she gave an apology to an imaginary maître d'hôtel before she started searching for the carnage. She hoped nobody was internally bleeding or anything. That would not be fun to deal with at all. With any luck it would just be an argument that went too far and-
Oh dear sweet Jesus, no.
That was Rose with a staple gun.
She picked up the pace, put her arms around Rose from behind and shook the instrument out of her hands. “Where the HELL did you get this?” she demanded, adrenaline almost drowning out the sound of crying nearby.
Rose shrugged. “One of the rooms! Chill, ‘Belle, it’s not like it’s a nuclear bomb or something.”
“You are not to be trusted with staple-related paraphernalia!” Isabelle proclaimed. “You plus staples is a recipe for disaster!”
“Aye, well!” Tessa was leaning against a wall to Isabelle’s left, eyebrows raised, eyes resentful. Her scowl didn’t loosen up when Isabelle turned to face her.
“Tessa! What happened?”
“I think you should see for your fucking self!” Tessa motioned for Isabelle to follow her and weaved through tables until she stopped at one and knelt down. As Isabelle followed on, she noticed the crying getting louder. She pretty much knew what to expect at the end of this trail, but her heart still wrenched every time she saw Parker cry and this was no exception.
The boy was clutching his right hand, which quite clearly had several staples fired into it. So that was the source of the screaming. They weren’t light staples, either, they were proper thick like the ones used on wood. She had a feeling he would have had a lot more staples embedded in his palm if it wasn’t for whatever intervention Tessa had apparently provided. So the Scottish kid was already paying her way, at least, but that was hardly at the forefront of her mind.
“Parker,” she said, no idea of anything else that could possibly suffice. “What happened to you?”
“Me and him were out here having a reasonable discussion about Robert the Bruce,” Tessa explained, “when that GOBSHITE came over and just started firing these little metal bastards into his hand!”
Isabelle shook her head. “Oh, God…look, okay, um, Tessa, can you make sure Rose doesn’t do anything more stupid and dangerous while I get him fixed up?”
Tessa nodded. “More than fucking happy to.” She stormed off in Rose’s direction, and within seconds Isabelle heard what sounded like fighting noises. She didn’t like that, but she also had priorities.
“Can I see your hand?” she asked in her gentlest tone.
Parker glanced at her warily and then, like an injured kitten baring its paw, slowly outstretched his arm until the back of his hand was in her palm.
She took a close look. There were eight of the wretched staples, fired into his flesh at horrid angles, some lying so they intersected each other and made little cross shapes. She gave him back his hand, which he hugged to himself in protection, and ran her fingers through her hair. “Okay,” she said coolly. “I think there are needle-nose pliers in Room 216. Follow me.”
He used his staple-free hand to hold Isabelle’s, and tried to stifle his sniffles as the two of them walked past Cedrick.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, standing up and approaching Isabelle. (Like Parker wasn’t even there. He just got ignored.)
She rolled her eyes. “Well, as you would know if you had sorted it, there was an incident involving staples!”
“Stapler incident?” He frowned. “The fuck is that?”
Isabelle grabbed Parker’s right wrist (like he was an object instead of a person) and waved his hand in Cedrick’s face. “This,” she said.
Cedrick winced just looking at it. “Jesus Christ,” he mumbled, taking Parker’s hand lightly in his own to examine it more closely. He held it like it was delicate, staring in disbelief at all those fucking staples. “What the everloving shit…?”
It was silly, really, because in the context it meant absolutely nothing. Cedrick was gazing with such interest at his hand which was, like, an actual part of him that Cedrick was actually, legitimately interested. His hand, while in phenomenal pain, felt all tingly because Cedrick kept handling his hand like it was something precious. Or was that blood loss?
After a moment, Isabelle took Parker’s hand back. “Yeah, well. Make yourself useful and get rid of this.” She shoved the staple gun at Cedrick, who took it clumsily, but his eyes kept darting back and forth between Parker’s hand and, well, everything else. Every few seconds, he seemed to imagine the sensation of staples in his own skin and shudder.
Isabelle’s demeanour became kind and soft again as they left Cedrick behind them. “Your hand okay, sweetheart?” she asked, murmuring. Every muscle in her body tensed. She’d only ever called someone ‘sweetheart’ once before, when Tamu fell out of a tree and broke his arm at the age of seven.
Parker didn’t seem to notice anything off. He just shrugged.
They reached 216 and, sure enough, on the floor in the middle of the bathroom the last inhabitant had, inexplicably, left a pair of needle-nose pliers lying.
“I’m not going to lie to you,” she said, trying to get him to look her in the eyes. “This is probably going to hurt you a bit, and I’m really sorry, but that’s the only way we can fix this.”
He nodded miserably.
“Right,” Isabelle said, stroking his hair tenderly. “You go sit on the bed and get ready, alright?”
“Alright,” he half-whispered. With that, he scurried off.
Isabelle picked up the pliers and flexed her fingers. They were of decent quality, considering how long they’d been lying around. She looked in the mirror and gulped. It would be a lie to say she wasn’t projecting somewhat of a false confidence around Parker this time. While she didn’t doubt that she was the best candidate to remove the staples from his hand, that honestly wasn’t saying all that much. She was pretty shit with pliers and the thought of her hands slipping and doing something horrible to his hand made her feel sick with anxiety.
It was time to face the music. She practiced a calm smile a few times, and once she got a decent one she painted it across her face. She slung the towels on the rack over her shoulder and hurried back out into the main room. “Alright, Parker, give me your hand,” she said. Obediently, he stuck out his hand, which she took carefully as soon as she was in range.
Pliers pointed like a blood-seeking missile to his red-stained hand, she decided she’d better bite the bullet- if she was going to rip his hand apart, she may as well get it over with quickly, and besides, the longer there were little pieces of metal in his hand, the worse things were probably getting.
It seemed someone was listening to her prayers because the first staple came out almost flawlessly. No skin was ripped to shreds. However, Parker’s reaction was a whole other story. At first he only yelped a little bit, but then the blood began to flow more freely now that its passage was unblocked and he was transfixed. After a few seconds of watching it, he was crying again.
Isabelle knew that reasoning with him about it would do absolutely nothing so instead she elected just to get on with it. The second staple was a little bit trickier. It was lodged in firmly, almost like his body was trying to absorb it into its system. It came out with a little wriggling, making for a slightly more messy wound left behind.
Staple number three was a disaster. She tried to grasp it with the pliers but it was pressed so firmly to Parker’s skin that she also pinched his skin with them tightly enough that she somehow disrupted something inside. He was rendered unable to move his fingers to the extent that he usually could. The staple, at least, came out, but it came at the price of his total misery, which was more obvious than anything else from his bawling.
The fourth staple had quite clearly bent itself massively under his skin and there was no apparent way to remove it without doing something pretty painful. It was in a tender spot, too- just where his ring finger joined his palm. She wanted to apologise in advance, but then he might twig what was going to happen and draw his hand back.
She ripped the metal out of his skin. He yelled out, caught off guard, and clutched his hand like it burned. There was just too much blood, more than felt natural for such a small wound. She pressed the towel firmly to his hand in an attempt to stop the bleeding and held his hand above his heart. Whether that actually worked or not she wasn’t quite sure, but she had to try anyway. Her stomach twisted with guilt.
“Jesus fucking Christ!”
Quick as a flash, Isabelle turned her head to the door and sure enough there Cedrick stood. He looked awkward, like it pained him to be in the vicinity, but he walked forward anyway. “What the Hell are you doing?!”
“What are you doing here?” Isabelle muttered.
“I followed the screams.” He sighed heavily. “That’s not how you do it! Believe me, Rose practically lived in my house, I’ve had staples in my skin before.” He grabbed the pliers from where Isabelle had left them on the bed. “And believe me, I remember that ‘art project’ when we were twelve.” He looked bored, but not really bored- like he was trying to look bored. “No offence and all, but you cannot handle wire-cutting tools.”
She couldn’t argue with that.
“Look, let me,” he grumbled, and when she didn’t protest he got to work. First, he took one of the ancient room-service menus from the bedside table and ripped a strip off it. Laying that strip on the bed, he gently took Parker’s hand into his own. He examined it for a moment. “They’re deep in, right next to his fucking skin. You can’t just rip them out like it’s nothing.” He took the strip of thin room-service card and slid it between the arc of a paper clip and Parker’s skin. He slowly moved it back and forth, loosening it up until it was less rigidly stuck. From there, he eased it out with the pliers, making Parker writhe a bit, but his crying had calmed significantly.
He repeated the process for the next staple. Parker gasped when it came out. Had Rose been there, jokes would certainly have been made about the nature of such noises, but Isabelle was more mature than that.
She was glad for Cedrick’s intervention, honestly. She honestly was shit at this, and she’d fully admit that, and he seemed to know what he was doing, but something bothered her about the whole thing anyway: he wasn’t the type to ‘follow the screams’ as he had demonstrated for her quite plainly just a short while ago. What was going on here?
Parker groaned with every staple that came out, and when it was over, Cedrick wrapped the towel around the boy’s hand tightly, tying a loose knot. “That won’t hold for long,” he told him, “so try to keep it in place. Pressure should help the bleeding.” He glanced at Isabelle, who raised a mildly suspicious eyebrow. Seeing this, he looked away.
Parker’s eyes were full of a strange, mystified light. Poor thing couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that Cedrick was helping him voluntarily and not shouting. He wasn’t smiling, because who would smile after having staples ripped out their hand, but he was radiating an odd quality that looked a lot like he was happy and excited but felt more like confusion and even nervous apprehension.
He stared at Cedrick like the guy was some kind of beautiful mythical creature standing in the light of God, watched with overwhelming adoration just bleeding from his eyes as Cedrick stood up and left the room, head down, fists clenched, muttering something inaudible. Whatever it was, Parker was in love. He might have considered it a little unfair that he considered a staple-pulling session the most romantic thing he’d ever experienced, but to be fair, that was exactly what he understood he deserved.
He was broken out of the stupor by the displacement of air as Isabelle sat down beside him. She hugged him with one arm and smoothed down his hair with the other. “You handled that really well,” she said. When he looked down, she curled a strand of his hair around her finger. “No, honestly. You were really brave.”
“Uh-huh,” he whispered with his voice and not his feelings.
“Hey, look at me.”
He forced himself to gather the energy required to do so. He fixed his eyes on her nose, the spot right between her eyes to be exact. He hoped that would be close enough for her, because he didn’t feel very up to anything more.
“You just let two different people pull pieces of metal from a very sensitive area on your body, one of those people being the boy who I know makes you uncomfortable. If that’s not bravery, then nothing is.”
Isabelle was right that Cedrick made him uncomfortable, but it was more than that. Along with that sense of discomfort, of incongruity, of something being horribly wrong, there was another feeling. It was a tingling sensation that made his chest feel all warm. Magical, or at least it should have been. Had it been someone else, he wouldn’t have felt scared of the feelings that welled up in his head, but falling for someone like Cedrick was dangerous.
He clutched at the towel wrapped around his hand, and Isabelle rubbed his back a few times. “Do you want me to stay with you or is it okay if I go and do something else?” she asked.
“You can go.”
“Okay. If you need me, I’ll be on the ground floor.” She patted his hand- the one that hadn’t been stapled at any point- and ran out the room. Parker flopped back on the bed, hand still clutched tight, and settled down to try and make sense of his thoughts.
Isabelle surveyed the corridor. As she had suspected, Cedrick was long gone, but she knew where to find him. He often defaulted to his room- Room 327, the one that had been the nearest to some dusty old meeting room that hadn’t been used in years even before the Illness. He insisted he ‘liked the aesthetic’.
She jogged up the stairs to his floor and down the maze of hallways to his door. His had to be the only one of their bedrooms that still had a plastic number-plate without a single nick or scratch on it. He still cared about making things look ordered. She knocked on the door just below the peephole, waited a second and pushed the door open.
It was evident from Ced’s room just how much he liked things neat. It was down to the whole rules thing, in the end, so that all his stuff was laid down in a way that conformed with a specific look. In this case, the look was ‘newly-made up hotel room fit for health inspection’. The only thing that looked out of place was the torch situated beside his bed (‘just in case’). Well, Cedrick himself also looked quite out of place, pacing up and down in front of the window.
“Can we talk?” Isabelle asked.
He stopped at that like he was surprised, which made no sense because, well, she had knocked pretty loudly. His head turned slowly to look at her, and when it reached its destination, he just sighed. “I thought this was coming. Go ahead. Ask it.”
“You were determined not to sort out the scream at first.”
“Mm-hmm.”
“And then you heard the situation in 216, what, five or ten minutes later and came to help.”
“Yeah.”
“What was that about?”
He wrung his hands. “It’s about me feeling confused by emotions,” he huffed.
She folded her arms. “What kind of emotions?”
“Guilt!” he exclaimed. “Look, I see what I’m doing to that kid and it’s starting to get to me!” Cedrick slapped a hand to his forehead and grimaced. “And I can’t fucking do anything real about it so the least I could do was help him with some first aid!”
Isabelle, had she been crueller, might have made some quip about how she hadn’t previously believed her friend to be capable of complex, sympathetic emotions like guilt, but she saw what he was feeling and she knew he was hurting, whether he’d openly say it or not. “Okay.” She wasn’t going to attempt to tell him he had no reason to feel guilty, because she wasn’t that much of a liar. “What triggered you thinking this way?”
He exhaled. “Jesus Christ. I’ve just been thinking too much. That’s what it is. I’m over-analysing fucking snow banks.”
“…Okay, you lost me.”
“Do you remember a few months ago when you made me take him out on a raid?”
Isabelle remembered, all right, because the moment the boys had walked out the door she was left wondering if she’d made some kind of terrible mistake because Parker so clearly wasn’t ready and she was essentially sending him into a potentially life-threatening situation. Pushing back the memories, she nodded.
“He got nervous and tried to make this stupid fucking joke, ummm…where do snowmen keep their money or something?”
She made no move to speak.
“Anyway, the answer was snow banks, and I got kind of pissy at him, and then, uh, that other time in the hotel room? When Rose did…something or other and I had to watch him, he told it again and it was just so fucking awkward. I think it means something, ‘Belle. I think it’s his fallback for when he’s scared and I’m the one who always causes it.”
“No offence, but I think you’re the last one to figure that out.”
“I’m not just figuring it out! But these things build up, okay, and it’s just got too fucking obvious that I have a problem. I can’t do shit without getting…” He sat down despondently. “So fucking angry I just can’t take it, I just…I just-”
“Okay, you need to calm down.” She took a cautious step towards him. “Cedrick, breathe,” she instructed.
“I’M PERFECTLY CALM!” he yelled, tears welling up in his eyes. He drew his knees in with one arm and slung the other over the top of them. “I’m not. I can’t be calm. I don’t even know how to act calm. Fuck knows, this isn’t about Parker, it’s about me not following the rules of basic social functioning.”
She approached him and held out her hand to help him up, which he silently accepted. She pulled him to his feet whether he wanted to be up or not and pulled him to her in a hug. “Right,” she whispered, “this isn’t about your anger management. That’s not your fault. This is about you taking it out on others. This is about Parker more than anything else ever could be.”
He lightly pushed her off. “Go away,” he said, voice grumbly and low.
“You need to accept-”
“GO AWAY!”
He didn’t usually yell at her, so somehow she was both caught off guard and not all that surprised. She gave in, threw her hands in the air and go away she did.
Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: violence/gore, strong language and ideologically sensitive material)
Chapter Fourteen: Northwards and Backwards
“Absolutely disgraceful.”
“People like him shouldn’t be allowed near children.”
“I blame the parents.”
Tessa may have been nine, but she wasn’t stupid. She knew they were talking about her family- more specifically, they were talking about Ben, but his name was practically synonymous with ‘family’ to her. It had been a while since their parents died and she wouldn’t have wanted anyone but him to take care of her. After all, he’d been doing it since she was still crawling. Mum and Dad may have died fourteen months ago, but their kids lost them way before that.
“Fucking junkie. I reckon he takes after the dad.”
“That kid needs to be taken away from him. By social fuckin’ services.”
“And you know, as well, he’s one of them.”
Overhearing their words, Ben had frozen to the spot with shame.  Tessa firmly grasped her brother’s hand and tugged to get him moving again. It worked and they were back on their way to the flat. She wasn’t one for out-and-out words of affection, but she did give his hand a squeeze for comfort. Ben idly wondered how dumb it was that he was almost eighteen and his primary-school-age sister took as much care of him as he did of her.
Ben was an easy target. Putting aside the legacy of hatred their parents had left behind, he was everything else people disliked: poor, bisexual and living with HIV. HIV wasn’t as accepted as it once was, with rising infection rates turning it right back into a scapegoat for problems. That was the thing. He couldn’t exactly blame them for being cruel. It wasn’t entirely personal. It was as much about venting the nationwide shared frustration at everything as it was about him.
And, oh man, did Scotland have reason to be frustrated.
Somewhere along the way, everyone had gone to shit. The economy just didn’t work for long without England’s financial help. Unemployment and poverty were at the highest they’d been in the last century, university fees were real and extortionate, the NHS’s cross-border relationship had stopped making sense and collapsed in on himself. This last one was the worst for the Joneses, ecause when you have HIV and no money, and the state doesn’t want to give you antiretrovirals…you don’t get your antiretrovirals.
As they reached the door to their building, Ben picked his little sister up in his arms. This building was dodgy past dark and ever since they’d run into trouble that one night a few months ago, he preferred to carry her. He was short and weak, but it was okay because she was also short and light.
She was a bit too light. He didn’t like that. Benefits covered fuck all these days, nowhere near enough to feed the families who needed them. The pang of guilt in his heart stopped him from getting too angry, thogh, because he knew fine that if he could kick his stupid habits he could feed Tessa a bit better.
That trouble they’d run into on the stairs on that one night wasn’t exactly dangerous. They would have been fine even if Ben had just played it cool and walked past, but he didn’t want his baby sister anywhere near the likes of that guy. If she ended up making the same mistakes as he had just because of that fucking bam standing on the stairs, he’d never forgive himself. He needed out of the situation and had picked her up and stealthed her past his drug dealer, trying to make sure neither noticed the other.
That was months ago. Right now, Ben and Tessa reached their personal flat. Ben set Tessa down and pushed the door open- there was a lock, but it didn’t work- and ushered her inside. She sat down in front of one of the six channels their ancient TV offered while he went to check the cupboards. All he could find was half a packet of cream crackers, which wasn’t much but it was something, and they couldn’t afford to be picky. He brought the packet over and sat down beside her.
As they watched a shit BBC comedy of some description, Tessa kept distractedly taking crackers from the packet to nibble. She was used to this standard of meal, or rather, she was used to worse so this wasn’t a disappointment.  As she did this, Ben kept pretending to take crackers from the packet but in actuality didn’t take a single one. Whenever he ate, he felt like he was taking food directly out of her mouth. His solution might have made him feel a bit lightheaded, but that was life.
She was just a kid, all energetic and shit, so she needed the food more than some chronically depressed, jobless, futureless nothing who didn’t have the motivation to do anything except steal the odd bit of food for his kid sister and get high off his mind so he didn’t feel so low. She was priority and his shitty life was the vehicle through which he could try and protect her.
When Tessa found it hard to keep her eyes open, she said she was going to bed. Before she left the room, she touched her brother’s head- right at the top bit where there was a twig caught in the fabric of his red beanie- and told him, “Have an okay night until I get up.” That wouldn’t have made much sense to anyone else, but Ben understood that was kidspeak for ‘please don’t shoot up while I’m in bed’. He nodded. That was his way of saying ‘I’m sorry in advance’.
Whenever Tessa woke up in the middle of the night (which was often in a street often rife with shouting drunks), she would almost invariably find collapsed on the floor half-conscious and flushed in the face, his breathing sluggish, his pinprick-small pupils staring into space, and it was all she could do to sit and watch him to make sure he hadn’t overdosed or anything. Sometimes when it was out of his system he would just cry.
On the rare occasion that she woke up and he hadn’t taken any of the damn stuff, it would be because she heard the sound of him vomiting on the floor. She didn’t understand withdrawal symptoms very well at that age, but she knew that whenever there weren’t empty syringes on the ground, Ben got very sick.
Sometimes he got very sick anyway. The way he’d explained it to her was that he had got an illness from the drugs, one that made people think he was disgusting and horrible, and it meant that other illnesses got to him more easily, so even if he just got a cold he might need to stay in bed and pray he didn’t die. That quite frankly scared the living shit out of Tessa, and he thought perhaps he should have been more tactful.
People could be so much more horrible about it. He got called all sorts for his sickness- ‘queer’ came up a lot, and, well, Tessa was a Scottish kid. She knew what those meant and it made her angry as fuck to watch Ben crumple when they were said to him and he heard multiple aspects of himself get attacked at once. A few times it got worse, and she’d be sitting at home and he’d pretty much crawl through the door, bleeding from some beating on the street.
He wouldn’t have liked her feeling so sorry for him. He made out like he was so tough, with all these defences in the hope that nobody would notice he was sad and ask what was wrong. Later, when she was older, Tessa would learn from him and adopt the same methods.
---
When Shutdown hit Scotland, Tessa was thrilled.
Beforehand, everything had been so different. Everyone had hated Ben because of his virus. She’d spent the previous few years knowing it’d eventually progress into AIDS and kill him younger than he should have been, but now everyone who’d ever made a single comment about her brother was dropping like flies from Vimoritur. The poetic justice was delicious.
Bombs dropped on all the big Scottish and British cities, but mostly the ones in England. Edinburgh suffered relatively minute damage, and at the end of the day retained about a twentieth of its original population. People didn’t have time to beat the shit out of Ben when they were scrambling to keep up something of a society. She and Ben stayed on an abandoned platform in Waverley Station.
This did, of course, mean Ben couldn’t get his fix anymore because the drug ring had collapsed. For a few weeks he was writhing on the floor in cramps, vomiting, convulsing in pain, sobbing from the hurt and his misery, and it was horrible to watch, but she just held out for it to pass and eventually it did. He only mentioned the whole thing once. A year later, by the light of torch late at night, Ben had told her that still whenever he closed his eyes he still saw needles just waiting for him to use them.
The apocalypse made her life better than it had ever been for a while. Stealing food was automatically legal, nobody made comments about Ben, she didn’t wake up and cry in case she saw heroin turn his lips blue, she didn’t have to lie in bed in the dead of night like she did when she was five and hear her neglecting bastards of parents slink in the door. She never had to listen to them start screaming at her brother for God knows what. Sure, everything had gone to shit, but she loved every second.
---
Everything changed in the food shortage.
People had been fucking careless. Simply having enough nutrients to sustain you was becoming precious. Big, tightly-knit groups started taking over shops. Tessa and Ben were two tiny loners with no chance. With hardly anything available to eat, they knew their only option was to flee the area.
“London was hit worst by the bombs because it’s the biggest city on the island, aye?” Ben had said. “So we’ll go there. Less people, more food.”
They had a lot of carjacking and walking ahead of them.
---
It took a while to get to London, but when they did, they high-fived for making it. Tessa would openly admit it was a fucking miracle her brother was still walking. His horrible immune system had fucked him over to scary levels plenty of times, but he’d always managed to avoid Shutdown, which was the main thing. They were tired when they arrived in the English capital, so they decided that instead of looking for proper shelter, they’d sleep in the car they’d hijacked a while back. They found an abandoned car park deeper into the city where they’d blend in well to any passing survivors. The car park was outside a big supermarket, where the lights were comfortingly on. Generators or something?
“Night,” Ben muttered.
“Have an okay night until I get up.” Old habits die hard.
“Wait.”
She looked at him expectantly.
He sighed. “You look fucking freezing. Here, take this.” Ben pulled off his hoodie, leaving him in just his purple jumper, and wrapped it around his sister, who didn’t protest. In a quick moment, he also removed his pound shop red beanie from his head and pulled it down tightly over hers.
“Aren’t you cold now?” Tessa grumbled. He looked so small anyway, but without the extra padding he was tiny for his age. He could easily be mistaken for a good few years younger.
“Nah,” Ben assured her. “I mean…I feel a wee bit sick, but…” With that he trailed off into sleep. Tessa decided it would be reasonable to follow suit.
She woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of her brother screaming in pain. For a moment she felt like a kid again and her mind started jumping all over the place: had Ben got high as shit and done something dangerous? Were Mum and Dad hurting him? Was it that bad?
Reality kicked in. She grabbed her brother. “What’s wrong?!” When she got no response, she shone a torch in his face. His eyes screwed up at the light, but in the brief second she saw them, the whites were yellow. His skin seemed to have taken on such a tint as well. She put the torch aside but left it on in the corner. “Ben, speak to me, what’s wrong?!”
He couldn’t speak. He opened his mouth and suddenly his discoloured eyes widened. He convulsed, heaved, hacked a few times, painfully and violently, and then he vomited forcefully into the rear passenger footwell. He was quite clearly confused out of his mind and crying hysterically.
“H-hurts!” he forced out, clutching at the upper right part of his stomach.
It was chaos. Tessa had no clue on Earth what she was supposed to do. She shone the torch at the large pool of vomit welling up below their feet. There was blood mixed in there. Hell was literally right in front of her. She started to cry, knowing not what to do so just clutching her brother’s left hand and holding it as tightly as she could.
She was brought out of it by a terrible crashing sound and flying glass. She screwed her eyes tight shut and covered Ben’s for him, just in case.
“What did you do that for?!” a voice asked.
“Intruders! The source of the screaming!” That was another voice, belonging to the breaker of the window as it sounded a lot closer. The person had an accent that Tessa couldn’t quite identify.
“Was it really necessary to-”
“YES.”
Tessa hazarded one eye open. The window breaker was a tall, muscular girl with longish hair pulled to the side in a ponytail. Not much else could be discerned about her image in the low light of the night, but she seemed to be white, and very pale-skinned. She was shining a painfully bright torch into the car. “Out of the car.”
“Okay, seriously, what are you planning?” The first speaker approached behind the first. He was just as tall but a little less brawny than his companion. His hair was messy and so dark it blended right in with the night. Again, the darkness concealed a lot about his appearance, but one thing was definitely visible: a large orange star on his shirt.
“Shut up!” the girl hissed. When neither Ben nor Tessa made a move, she produced a knife. “Didn’t you hear me the first time? Get out of the fucking car!”
Ben, who had been peering through Tessa’s fingers pushed his little sister’s hand away from his face. He opened the door at his side and, biting down on his lip to stop himself from yelling in pain, he got out and motioned for Tessa to follow suit. She did so distantly, like she couldn’t believe what was going on. Ben’s lip started to bleed from the pressure he was exerting on it.
Natalia grabbed Ben by the shoulders. “Sadiq, you get the girl.”
“But-”
“I TOLD you to get the girl!” she snarled.
He flinched and with somewhat of an apologetic glance, he grabbed Tessa before she was far enough out of shock to make her legs move.
The tall girl led the way and Sadiq followed as they walked to an unknown location. Tessa quickly snapped out of her numbness and started yelling.
“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOUS ACTUAL DOING?!”
This just seemed to amuse the girl. “You’re Scottish,” she commented with what sounded like polite interest but more malicious. “For common intruders, you’ve come a long way.”
Tessa kept yelling, some words and some primal sounds. Ben, though, had essentially gone limp in his captor’s arms. He vomited again, and some of it got on his clothes but most of it just splattered sickeningly on the ground for Tessa to watch and scream in denial when she saw so much blood was present.
The dragging stopped as they reached a street right nearby the supermarket. Natalia dropped Ben to the floor. Tessa screamed louder than she thought was possible. Sadiq slowly started to loosen his grip on her, and this caught her attention. When she turned to look at him to discern his intentions, she wasn’t quite sure as her vision was blurry with tears, but it looked like he was trying to convey with his face, “Keep quiet about this for both our sakes.”
The muscular girl grabbed Ben by the front of his shirt. “Think you can just sleep in our territory, huh, Scottish boy?” She laughed cruelly. “You think that’s within your rights, eh? You’re big enough to fight me? ARE YOU?” Her knife-wielding hand was terrifyingly close to Ben’s neck.
“GET OFF HIM!” Tessa screeched, rushing forwards as Sadiq completely unclasped his hold of her. But the girl simply pushed her in the chest, knocking her down and stunning her so she could do nothing but watch.
“Please,” the girl said, “don’t act like I’m doing this for no reason! Jaundice and vomiting? That’s liver failure. He’s Shutdown for sure. And carriers…” She grinned. “Well, carriers must be eliminated.”
Ben, in his drowsy-yet-petrified state, stared at her with wide eyes full of terror. His eyes followed the blade as it moved downwards- no longer threatening his jugular vein, but pressing on his chest just heavily enough to draw blood. He willed himself to move away, but it was no use. His body wasn’t his anymore; it followed its own rules. He was a helpless bystander as the knife speared his heart.
He crumpled to the ground. Tessa, who had been screaming until a few moments prior, fell absolutely silent. Grief consumed even her breathing. She couldn’t even hear anything from the outside world. It was like all her senses had been blocked so all she could see was Ben- no, Ben’s body- and all she could hear was the pounding of her own heart.
She didn’t notice the girl and boy leave if they did. She might have been crying but she wasn’t aware. The pain transcended levels she knew how to describe and entered a whole new plain where she was aware of it, only it and nothing but it.
If life in the train station had been a happy song, this was a scream. She was currently living through a moment that was equivalent to a scream, and she didn’t even know if she was screaming herself, or if she even could.
She came back to her senses a bit around sunrise- and ‘a bit’ should be emphasised. Her sight, at least, was no longer clouded with visions of the gashing blood from her own brother’s chest. She ran as fast and as far as she could, wanting more than she had ever wanted anything else to just get away from that fucking nightmare.
She couldn’t. It was over.
Ben Jones: killed by HIV, Vimoritur and a stab wound.
Shutdown Chapter Fourteen
as i said: camp nanowrimo; i am not obligated to Effort
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(Contains: strong language)
Chapter Thirteen: Where Vice Was
Cedrick was whisper-yelling at her about how they really had to get out, and how he hated her but he couldn’t very well leave her here, now, could he, and how he wished he was with someone competent like Isabelle. Tessa didn’t care about that. All she could think of was the look in Ben’s eyes when Natalia had skewered him in the heart. He had looked dully disappointed, like he’d already resigned himself to death anyway and she was just speeding up the process, and for his sister, it was the most painful thing she’d ever seen. Natalia was going to pay in blood.
“What kind of idiotic fuckery are you trying to pull?” Cedrick demanded. “Do you have a deathwish?”
Tessa shook her head, and got a better hold on the knife, readying herself for what she was going to do.
He gasped. “You can’t try and fight her!”
“Just you fucking watch me.”
“You don’t know what you’re getting yourself in for,” he warned, inching himself closer to her. Slowly, he lifted his hands until they were on level with Tessa’s knife.
“I do but!” she snarled.
That caught him off-guard. “W-what do you mean, you do?”
“I mean I’ve met her. And I have it in for her.” She grinned one of the most unsettling grins Cedrick had ever seen in his life, which, considering his best friend status with Rose, was really saying something. She laughed shortly. “I’m actual gonna bash her fucking head in.”
“What?!” Cedrick almost cried, his voice squeaking a bit.
“Swear on my gran,” Tessa insisted. “I will.”
“You’re not thinking clearly,” he decided. “You’re overcome by emotion. Calm the fuck down before you wreck everything!”
“I will not!”
He wanted to yell, but he forced himself to stay focused. He sprang his hands forward, seized the knife from the girl’s grip and held it at an arm’s length.
“OI!” Tessa shouted.
He was going to say something back to her, and if he hadn’t been stopped in his tracks, his words likely would have been shouted also. Sadiq had returned, and with him was the girl herself. Natalia was there, waving a knife and smiling an alarmingly casual smile. There was a bandage wound around a portion of one of her arms, but she seemed completely unaffected by it, judging by the confident way she walked forward. She knew the ball was in her court.
Tessa tensed up. Her hands instinctively grasped at thin air, and understandably found no weapon as Cedrick had confiscated it, but she was literally shaking with hatred. It was true. That was definitely the girl from the night. Natalia. So Satan had another name.
“Cedrick,” Natalia mused. “And who’s this? A new playmate?”
“You don’t remember me,” Tessa stated.
A look of recognition lit up Natalia’s face. “Oh, I do now,” she said. “It’s the Scottish accent. Yes, that was rather the defining feature of that night. You were Scottish.”
Sadiq laid eyes on Tessa properly for the first time and jolted where he stood. “Is that-”
“Yep,” said Natalia.
He opened his mouth to say something, his eyes growing sad, but he bit his lip. He looked down at the ground, scuffing his feet on the floor.
At that moment, Tessa lunged at Natalia, entirely disregarding the fact that the latter was significantly taller, older and stronger. She was ready to fucking destroy or die trying. The literal battle-spirit of Scotland was possessing her, she was so pumped.
Cedrick grabbed her by the back of her hoodie and yanked her back.
“Fuck off, ya huge English Morris Dancing-”
“Shut up and get out of here or so help me, I will ‘chib’ you.”
“FUCK OFF!” Tessa screeched, struggling like Hell to escape his grip.
Natalia gave a low laugh. “So the hotel’s still as dysfunctional as ever, then?”
“Back down,” Sadiq mumbled.
“What?”
“I said back down. We’ve caused the kid enough trouble.”
“You’re such a big sap.”
“Well,” Cedrick said quietly, bracing himself against Tessa’s wild hits, “desperate times call for desperate measures.” He awkwardly half-picked her up, and partially carried (yet partially dragged) her in the direction of the door. She wasn’t happy and she made sure she was showing it in the most gigantic way she could. She shouted uninterruptedly, sometimes not even words, but just a strange, guttural sort of growl. He wondered if all Scots were like that.
---
Natalia made a move like she was going to follow them, but Sadiq put a hand on her shoulder. “Please,” he said. “Just let them go. If for no other reason, then do it so you don’t get blood all over the floor.” He tried a little smile. “Someone’d have to clean that up!”
“Hmm.” Natalia made a big show of rolling her eyes. “Fine, they can go. I swear to God, I’m making a habit of letting big softies have their way.”
His smile seemed a little more genuine. “It’s because you’re secretly one of us,” he teased. His eyes drifted to the hotel kids, now pretty far off but still in sight, and his heart sank again. That poor girl… He wondered how long she’d been living with Isabelle’s lot. Couldn’t have been that long. Once, one of Joe’s “great ideas” had involved him and Gina following Isabelle and Cedrick home to check out the enemy’s home. The conclusion had been that they were lucky bastards for living in a building literally full of beds, but there was nothing really worth stealing or anything.
---
“GET OFF ME!”
Tessa was still screaming as Cedrick forced her out of the supermarket and along the nearest street. The strain of carrying a backpack full of food and sort-of-carrying a teenage girls was starting to get to him, but he couldn’t exactly stop doing either. He didn’t release Tessa until her banshee impression faded into fatalistic snivelling. As he did so, she dropped and sat on the kerb.
He felt himself getting all awkward. Oh, he so wasn’t wired for this. Kids getting upset was so…infuriating? Especially when he was as angry as he was at her bullshit. He didn’t know how to deal with her total change of demeanour, though, how she went from defiant to crumpled in nanoseconds.
Still, he was determined to get better at managing his anger. “What was all that about?” It came out angrier than he meant it to.
Tessa kicked at a piece of gravel on the snowy road beside her, hugging her hoodie close. “You don’t care.”
He swallowed. “What’s wrong?” he insisted, speaking unnaturally slowly.
She huffed and pulled off her beanie, clutching it tightly in her hands, twisting and wringing it like it would make up for everything. “Do you have siblings?” she asked, a weird vulnerable quality to her voice.
He paused. “Rose.”
She nodded but said nothing. One of her hands made its way away from the beanie and towards her hair, which it began to tangle into impossible knots. Cedrick hadn’t ever seen her when she wasn’t acting ridiculously tough, but it seemed she just hadn’t the heart for that now.
She stopped her fidgeting. “Yous telt me about how Natalia was ginger and violent actual millions of times.”
“Yeah?”
“Well.” She stared into space for so long Cedrick thought she wasn’t going to say anything more. “The only thing I learnt from all that…was that she’s called Natalia.”
He frowned.
She wiped her face and, with a loud sniff, she pulled her beanie back onto her head. “This is stupid,” she muttered as she got to her feet. She started walking again, passing Cedrick by.
He jogged a bit to catch up with her. If he was someone else, he might have said that she could always talk to him if she needed it or something, but he didn’t think that kind of conversation would go well for either of them. He thought perhaps he could try to cheer her up, but he didn’t have a clue how.
---
When they arrived home, Isabelle was sat on the floor playing clock patience by herself with her torch out. She had her back to the door and was apparently too wrapped up in her game to look around at them. Cedrick threw the backpack at her, and it hit her on the back of the head.
She smiled dryly, putting her hand in her hair and feeling considerably lucky that she didn’t feel blood. “Thanks.”
Tessa ran up the stairs without a word.
“She okay?” Isabelle asked.
He nodded. “Yeah, just tired.”
---
Parker stood in a top-floor room. He let the mouse down on the floor and put beside it the little scraps of food- crumbs from stale bread and lentils, pretty much- that he had put aside. “You should be safe here,” he whispered. The mouse tucked in as he slipped out of the door, reliving the conversation from before.
---
“But Marie, it’s horrible!”
“It’s science.”
“Well, it’s horrible science! The mice don’t like it! Burn something else.”
She had stared at him for a few more seconds as he avoided eye contact and wondered why she never seemed to blink. She then just completely dropped it. “Okay,” she said tonelessly, turning her attention back to her match.
“Th-that seemed too easy. If you were Rose, you would have probably-”
“If you are not aware already, I will tell you,” Marie had said, “that Rose and I are separate individuals.”
---
He had just set foot on the top stair when Tessa ran right into him. Literally, she was running, and the force of the collision pushed them both back a little. Parker fell into the wall, which was considerably painful when his pre-existing bruises were taken into regard.
“Ouch,” he said meekly.
Tessa wasn’t one to apologise. She was above that; too busy being proud and tough and, well, Scottish. So she didn’t say anything, but there was something noticeably different about her- like she was paler, but not physically, it was more like the idea of paleness kind of described her demeanour. Hands in pockets, eyes cast down…not at all her usual self, that was for sure. Even Parker, with his less-than-perfect social skills, could tell she wasn’t happy.
No, that was the wrong way to put it. She never seemed happy, exactly, but she was always energetic. That was different now. Her face was dismal. She didn’t feel like she’d launch into a rant about the Wars of Independence any second, and that was a sign that something was particularly wrong. Probably the weirdest part, though, was that she didn’t look angry. She looked like she had been crying.
Parker got himself back up and looked her right in the face. “Are you okay?”
She barged past him.
“Tessa?” he called, dejected, and when he was ignored, he hesitated. Usually when someone didn’t want to pay him attention he would quietly walk off. He wasn’t necessary all the time and he knew that just fine, but this seemed different. It seemed like if he didn’t follow her, he could be leaving something very important when he could be making it better. Whether Tessa would have agreed or not, he took a few tentative steps in the direction she had went.
He followed the sound of storming footsteps until he was shocked by a loudly-slamming door a few metres down the corridor. After he got over his initial burst of fright, he followed to the source of the noise. A room with a number that was (to his embarrassment) too big for him to process properly. Steadying his hand, he pushed open the door, thankful that the locks on hotel room doors had been disabled back when there were still people and privacy was dangerous.
“The FUCK do you want?!” Tessa shouted. She was sat on the bed, her knees drawn to her chest, and her breaths were shaky and uneven.
Parker gulped, taking a step inside. “This isn’t your room,” he remarked.
She simply shrugged and turned to face the window. With her back to him, Parker was less sure than ever of how to proceed. He had never exactly been fantastic with people. People knowledge just didn’t come naturally to him, that was all, and he sorely wished that it did now more than usually. He wanted to make sure she was going to be okay, but he also didn’t really want either of them to get hurt.
Regardless of everything, he threw caution to the wind and edged towards her. For lack of anything better to say, he asked the question, “Is everything okay?”
He expected her to get angry, tell him to fuck off and/or punch him square in the face. Instead she stopped for a moment, heaved a heavy sigh and turned around again. “Fuck it,” she said softly. “You’re Parker. It doesn’t count if I tell you. You’re not like the others.”
Parker wasn’t sure whether he was supposed to feel offended or flattered.
She sniffed and squeaked, rubbing her eyes in an obvious attempt not to cry. It didn’t work as well as she might have liked, and the awkwardness levels were rising for both involved parties. She tried to ignore it and gestured for him to come closer.
Carefully, as if he was walking into a lion’s den, he treaded forward and sat on the floor beside her bed. He wrung his hands, reminding himself that looking at her face would probably be a good idea. He did so, almost wincing in his nervousness.
“You don’t have to do that,” Tessa mumbled. “You know what, wee guy, I think you and me are actual a bit the same somehow.” Her mouth kept moving but for a few seconds she couldn’t create sounds. “And maybe that’s why I’m not just chibbing you in the spleen and chucking you out. This is a bit less like talking to another person and a bit more like talking to myself.” Her face become thundery. “That sounded well stupid. Don’t tell anyone else I said that.”
He nodded.
“We’re a bit the same because I feel like you’re doing the same thing as me, as in, not telling anyone what’s wrong.” She shook her head and groaned. “Fuck knows, this is too embarrassing.” She was properly crying once again, once again attempting to calm her wavering voice to little avail. “Maybe you should just fuck off.”
Parker blinked into a frown but nonetheless, to respect her wishes, he started to stand up.
“Wait! Dinnae leave. Sit back down.”
That was confusing, but once again he complied.
“For the record I actual dinnae want to tell you anything. But I need to tell someone or else I’m going to fucking die or some shit and you’re the least shite choice to talk at.”
She fixed her eyes on his blonde hair and focused on the dissonance between its light curliness and the structure of his face; tried to detach her emotions from what she was going to say so she could actually stand to say it at all.
“Did I ever tell you I had a brother?”
Shutdown Chapter Thirteen
camo nanowrimo?
shtty ass first drafts?
YIFFING FUCK YEAH SPARKLE SPARKLE SPARKLE
YIFF ME
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YIFF YIFF

Journal Entry: Fri Jul 11, 2014, 6:46 AM


SONIC IS MY HUSBAND

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LightningstripeDFTBA
Gus
Artist | Hobbyist | Varied
United Kingdom
Biromantic Stamp by QunerdiPanromantic Stamp by QunerdiAsexual Stamp by sunbirdstransgender pride by krispykrittaLeft handed stamp by WhiteKimahriScottish Deviant Stamp by scottishSonic Stamp by Miha85I love Katara Stamp by patronustripKino no Tabi Stamp by WorldincoffeeHitchhiker's Guide by Sardonicus-Smiles
:iconwarriorofthewild::iconlightningstripedftba:
Name: Augustus
Nicknames: Gus, Lightning, Prince of Scotland, Chemistry Jesus, Mr Sensible, Gusatron, Benj Over, Gustopher
Age: 15
Gender: miles prower
Pronouns: he/him
RO: bi/panromantic
SO: asexual

Why, hello there, buckaroo!! The name's Gus. I'm Scottish, and I'm a prince. I really like Torchwood and Rent and Avatar: The Last Airbender and Dark Matter. And other things. Talk to me.

i am gus balfour. i am lightning stripe. i am mr sensible; i am the ultimate plushie porn director; i am the world’s worst asexual; i am prince of caledonia; i am the almighty magical wielder of the keyblade. but most importantly, i am firmly of the belief that hamsters are integrally important to the welfare of the planet

FRIENDS:
~school buddies~
:icondarkxaidan::icontheredheaddevil::iconthehalogeek::icontricksterteacup:
~drama buds~
:iconhdreaper:
~the power of three~
:iconskittysrule::iconsimba96:
~internet friends~
:iconbloodwolves101::iconfirepokemaster::iconcheyonesock::iconwarriorofthewild::icontoxic-nightcore::iconmazzmimi::iconvoidedsafety::iconb00nbucks::iconvampirequeeneffeffia:
Interests

if i've seemed inactive:

Journal Entry: Sat Oct 4, 2014, 2:40 AM


im sorry! my virus-ridden computer really freaking hates deviantart. like, ive tried to comment on things so much in the past few months but a lot of the time i just cant because eeechjjhh

my computer especially hates the new layout for this website, like, it actually takes a sizeable amount of time to load and i can hardly even navigate it because my computer cant deal

so basically my computer says my anaconda cant. it takes a lot of work just to favourite a deviation so if i favourite your stuff, be aware that i probably tried to comment and couldnt

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:iconvampirequeeneffeffia:
VampireQueenEffeffia Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:iconrainbow-iplz::iconspaceplz::iconrainbow-aplz::iconrainbow-mplz:
:iconrainbow-gplz::iconrainbow-aplz::iconrainbow-yplz:

I needed to come out this way somehow and this felt the best so . . . Sorry but I had to.
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:iconlostdesertfan:
lostdesertfan Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks!
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:iconlostdesertfan:
lostdesertfan Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!"
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:iconskittysrule:
Skittysrule Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014
I love you. Have a tag skittysrule.deviantart.com/jou…
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:iconvampirequeeneffeffia:
VampireQueenEffeffia Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Mistefer Gustopher, I have tagged you. fav.me/d7o67af If you don't want to do it, tell me and I'll tag someone else.
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:iconwarriorofthewild:
Warriorofthewild Featured By Owner May 26, 2014  Hobbyist
fav.me/d7junsz
your commission :)
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:iconchocolatequill:
ChocolateQuill Featured By Owner May 20, 2014  Student General Artist
LONG TIME NO SEE
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:iconlightningstripedftba:
LightningstripeDFTBA Featured By Owner May 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
oh yeah, tell me about it!!!! how have you been?
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:iconchocolatequill:
ChocolateQuill Featured By Owner May 20, 2014  Student General Artist
Great you? o.o
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:icondelkerono:
Delkerono Featured By Owner May 18, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for the watch!
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