Chapter 4.5- Flesh and Cartilage

18 Mar

Hey der big bears. So last night I wrote a chapter that I’m super super excited about, and felt like what better way to celebrate than by releasing another chapter I’m super excited about. On a Wednesday. Off schedule. Thug lyfe amirite?

Last time, Rylo gained social acceptance through the hunting of a raccoon, which is probably a redneck manhood ritual somewhere.

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Harlan: Congrats on your manhood.

Rylo: Thanks bro.

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Rylo: Does this mean I can hunt with you guys now?

Harlan: I’m no dictator so I can’t say that for sure, but I’m going to put in a good word for you today.

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Today the group is heading to the BEACH to frolic and play. And also to have baths because that like never happens and it’s so gross.

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Literally as soon as they got to the beach it started pouring rain, but since sims lets you play god I made it sunny and glorious in no time.

Rylo hasn’t spent much time at the beach since his beach bum summer featuring Kayliss, and it feels great to be back. True, he’s plagued by the annoyance of other people (shudder), but the sun and the water and the sand totally make up for it.

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The rest of the group are having a great time messing around in the water. Quentin and Bea splash and shriek, and Danek and Byron whoop and holler as they race into the refreshing waves.

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Over on the other side of the beach Rylo can just make out the signs of yet another serious conversation. He can’t hear any of it, but he’s quite sure that this is Harlan putting in his ‘good word’. This time it looks like Renna is on Harlan’s side, while Elijah still isn’t convinced.

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At mid day the group finally gets dressed and heads back inland in search of food and shelter for the night. Everyone looks and feels refreshed, although Rylo can still feel some tension between Elijah and Harlan.

Elijah and Harlan are brothers. But I never mentioned it because it was never relevant, and it doesn’t affect anything at all. So, enjoy that new knowledge I guess.

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The group walks past the old factory without stopping, since huge places like that are usually more trouble than they’re worth. Old chemicals, broken machinery, and zombie hiding places don’t make for a good survival strategy.

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Suddenly they hear the sound of something metal falling to the ground, and then everything is still.

Renna: Could be dinner. Dare we?

Byron: I say we keep moving. The place looks like it could collapse.

Elijah: I say it’s either dinner or maybe a couple zombies. Whatever it is, we could take it.

Harlan: Elijah’s right, there’s enough of us. Let’s check it out.

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Everyone with a weapon runs up to the door, and Elijah wrenches it open. Four of them burst through, ready for the hunt.

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In front of them a skinny unarmed kid raises his trembling hands. In the still surprise of the moment, Rylo lowers his knife to his side.

And then, simultaneously, his group members lunge forward.

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Confused, Rylo runs in after them to find them giving chase inside the abandoned warehouse. The kid darts around discarded barrels and tanks of chemicals with Elijah two steps behind. Renna darts to the right, cutting off a possible path of escape.

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Cornered, the kid boxes himself in behind a fallen fridge. His eyes search wildly for an exit that isn’t there.

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Rylo stands frozen as Harlan raises his bow and steps slowly forward. Elijah and his axe block off the kid’s right side, and Renna jumps up on top of the fridge with her knife gleaming.

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Time stops for Rylo. He feels every sound, every movement in this room. He can hear the very breathing of the others who have followed him into the warehouse.

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The boy drops to his knees. His shoulders convulse with sobs, and his head falls into his hands.

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Rylo feels as if he’s left his body. His breath sits inert in his still chest.

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Rylo’s whole life seems to happen in the space of a few seconds, in front of this scared crying boy.

And then Rylo hears the thwang of a bow, and the thump of a body.

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Rylo releases a long-held breath. Weapons are lowered, and blood begins to pool.

As if from far away Rylo hears life go on around him.

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Quentin: What is this place? There’s so much weird stuff!

Bea: Careful love, it might have rusted through!

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Renna: Sunflower seeds! Those are mine, I’m claiming them now.

Harlan: Byron will want this knife, his broke last week.

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Danek: Bea I’ll get the fire this time. I bet whatever’s in this container will do the trick.

Bea: Just don’t burn your eyebrows off like the last time you got it into your head to play with fire.

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Rylo’s stupor ends in an icy jolt as he feels Elijah’s poisonous smirk boring into him. Understanding sinks in.

Meat is meat.

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Now Rylo knows. He is officially a hunter.

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In a daze Rylo finds ways to look busy, though he actively avoids the side of the yard where the butchers are at work. The group carries on entirely as usual, setting the fire and building dirt castles.

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The one time Rylo’s curiosity to look gets the better of him he immediately regrets it. After that, he keeps his eyes firmly planted on the ground.

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Rylo’s mind feels like a complete blank, and he couldn’t make conversation with these people if he tried. Thankfully, they’re used to him being that way and don’t seem to notice anything strange.

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Unfortunately, Rylo’s never wanted to make conversation more. Any noise would be welcome if it could cover the sounds of flesh and cartilage being torn apart, followed by the wet slap of meat in a pan.

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Tonight’s stew is hardly different from any other stew, but as the smell wafts into his nose Rylo’s stomach seems to turn itself upside down and inside out. Elijah lingers close by, poorly masking his delight at Rylo’s horror.

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Elijah flashes Rylo a sticky sweet smile as he personally hands him a bowl of stew. It crosses Rylo’s mind that Elijah would be perfectly satisfied if Rylo were in the next stew.

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Around him dinner time is carrying on as usual. Smacking lips, inane chatter, and compliments to the chef.

Rylo hasn’t felt this self-conscious since his first night with these people. Elijah stares at him, waiting, and Rylo raises the spoon to his mouth.

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Most bites he swallows without chewing. Chewing would undoubtedly push him over the edge. For the first time in his life he digs into his memories of Kayliss, of the Madhouse, of his parents. Anything for a distraction, but the one time he wants to remember them, his memories seem dim and foggy. Even his most painful experiences seem to be running away from the little white bowl in his hands.

It feels like eating this stew is the most difficult thing he’s ever done, but once he drops his bowl onto the pile of dirty dishes, all Rylo’s feelings of wanting to scream and throw up and run away dissipate. The stew wasn’t really that bad. He doesn’t feel any different. Just the same old angry, alone, antisocial survivor as always. Add cannibal to the list, what does it matter?

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It’s not that difficult for Rylo to go through the same old motions of putting out the fire, saying goodnight, and getting into his sleeping bag. It would be so easy to just stay in this life with these people. It was right here in this room that Rylo saw them for what they really were, just over there that the boy dropped to his knees, but it’s already so in the past. Rylo lies awake long after everyone else is asleep, mulling it all over.

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Finally Rylo makes his decision. Silently he crawls out of his sleeping bag and steps through the darkness of the warehouse.

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3 Responses to “Chapter 4.5- Flesh and Cartilage”

  1. Nory March 18, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

    Wow…
    That picture with the guy and girl (sorry, not sure about their names) are eating with this “omnomnom” face is priceless…
    Poor Rylo

    • thronepie March 18, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

      Yeah, they’re pretty into it. And it’s all good, Rylo’s probably not sure about their names either 🙂

  2. notjustabook March 19, 2015 at 2:07 am #

    Yikes, people be crazy, yo.

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