The fully automatic weapons are let loose in a bloody shootout.
Reaching up with her right hand, towards her face, she proceeded to bite down, and then suck, on the tip of her thumb. It was a nervous habit that had led to her requirement of correctional tooth braces. She only had them removed three months ago.
In matching with her childlike habit, her face appeared young. Her slightly round cheeks and large blue eyes, as well as her jaw length, slightly curly, hair provided her with the appearance of an innocent child. In actuality, her actions before The Program began indicated stark contrast.
Going out and getting drunk every night. Giving head to random men under the promise of a free drink. Regularly smoking weed. In fact, just a few weeks ago, she had engaged in a three-way kiss between her friend and a man offering them marijuana upon completion of the act. Hell. Even at Beau's New Years party, she had 'got on' his 31 year old brother following his promise of reefer.
Kicked out of her parent's house five months prior, she had been living in a filthy apartment complex with her friend, accompanied by numerous drug addicts and alcoholics.
Indeed, her childlike appearance didn't suit her actions.
Actually. Tell a lie. There was one thing that suited. Her truly massive tits. At the aforementioned New Years party, someone had been doubtful of their true size. Will Pryer. The 'psycho' (although she wouldn't know of his involvement in the rising student death-toll). As a sign of 'friendship', she had let him grope her. Needless to say, her moral standards weren't particularly high. This wasn't to say that there was anything wrong with Will. He was funny, he was nice, not to mention, he wasn't particularly bad looking (oh! And he had an amazing grasp of The Program's dynamics). When he still didn't believe her, she decided to take things further.
If she could find him, then she would be able to use him to keep her alive. Remind him of it and offer him another sample.
But...she hadn't spoken to him in weeks. Jesus, she hadn't even been in school for weeks.
And...she was too terrified to even move.
Continuing to suck on the tip of her thumb, she hugged her knees close to her large chest and closed her eyes. A tear began to trickle from the corner of her eye, carrying some of her jet black mascara with it. Her eyes bore a slight resemblance to those of a panda bear.
Beginning to sob, her body rocked back and forth of the spot, prompting the leaves around her to rustle all the more.
She couldn't believe she was thinking this, but: She wanted to see her mum. She wanted someone to be there for her. To tell her everything was alright. She wanted someone to help her. To save her.
Above her, a crow was sitting in a tree. As it's cry echoed through the surrounding bushes, Steph winced. She hated the sound of crows. To her, it was the sound of death. Perhaps it was the superstition instilled in her from her Spanish relatives.
As if in response to the bird call, her mind suddenly jumped into action. Who was it that was killing her classmates. Could it be one of the 'transfer students'? Or was the culprit someone closer to home? Someone who she thought she could trust (even though none of the selected students were people that she had any form of friendship with. Save of course Will and Beau. Actually, what if it were them that had killed all of the people that Mr O had mentioned in the 6am announcement?!).
"Now, look at that waste," arose a voice from above her. "I can think of plenty of things other than that thumb that would do better to be inside your mouth."
Will Pryer (Male Student #11) was still sitting propped up against the same tree as earlier. He had since proceeded to use the remainder of his fishing wire to tie the Colt Anaconda that belonged to Brynn to the bottom of his right leg; beneath his trousers.
The sun was high in the sky now, in accordance with the fact that it was approaching midday. The noon announcement would be coming soon.
Reaching into the duffle bag sat next to him, he withdrew the government supplied map. Turning the map over, something came into view. It appeared to be a list of names. Next to several of the names were small check marks. He was ticking off the names of people who had died.
Emitting a low sigh from between his lips, he placed the makeshift list on the grass and reached inside his blazer pocket. Withdrawing his hand, he had a pencil clasped between his fingers. The same pencil that Mr O had them write: "We will kill" with.
Twirling it around his fingers, he continued to sigh as his eyes focussed on the thin line of wire stretched out through the tree-line.
Visible through the zipper of the duffle bag, the matt-black surface of his Ingram shone in the light.
Beau, Lauren and Alice had just reached the tree line. Extending in front of them in a vast expanse of brown and green, the outcrop of trees almost seemed to open up to them. As a blast of wind tore through the trees, the thick scent of pine filled their nostrils.
"See that hill?" Beau stated, pointing pointing up into the outcrop. Rising above the trees was a large hill, covered with various ferns. "We're going to aim for that. Halfway up. The visibility is good, and it's covered. It's our best bet to hole up."
The two girls nodded wearily.
Due to Beau's overly cautious nature, their journey had taken three times longer than it should have. Constantly zig-zagging, not to mention avoiding the roads, ensured that they were thoroughly fatigued. But they were alive. And that's all that mattered.
Upon entering the tree line and beginning to walk, Alice's mind flashed back towards her life. Her life before this insane fucking game had torn her from everything she knew.
She thought about her mother. The woman who she sometimes found annoying, but whom she still loved. Her daddy who always protected her from boyfriends who didn't treat her right. Her little sister who was turning out to be so much like her (She was a pain in the ass sometimes, but she still loved her). But most of all, she thought about her boyfriend. Her perfect boyfriend who she would probably never see again. Ben. The greatest thing that had ever happened to her. The boy who she would walk around the Shopping Mall with, perving on girls (she would join in, so it wasn't as if he were thinking about cheating on her). The boy who kicked the shit out of that guy who tried to come onto her in that bar.
The thing that made this 'game' so terrifying to her wasn't the fact that she could get hurt or die at any minute. The reason that she was so afraid was that...she might never get to see her loved ones again.
It wasn't that she was unable to cope with stressful situations. A few months prior, she had been mugged. Indeed, she still sported somewhat of a lump, formed from scar tissue, atop her forehead. The point was that on the day, she didn't panic. She just went with the situation. She knew that if it came down to a life or death situation, she would be able to deal with it.
Now approximately thirty meters into the dense trees, the ground began to slope upwards, leading towards the hill that Beau had indicated.
All around them, birds were chirping, the sound of their song mingling with the rustling of the trees. It was actually quite peaceful.
However, another sound began to echo the trees. Something out of place. A mildly pleasant rattling sound. Sure it was different, but something about the pulse of 950 rounds a minute, on average, resembled the rapid tapping of an old manual typewriter.
All around them, random tree trunks crackled and exploded into matchstick sized splinters. Earth flew up in their faces in brown dust-like clouds.
But most devastating of all: Alice's body was pummelled by rapid fire bullets. Her body immediately entered into convulsions as the tiny lead bullets tore through her figure. Had she been in her right mind, this kind of movement (which resembled something of a spastic dance) would have repulsed her. Unfortunately, she wasn't in her right mind. Well, perhaps that should be rephrased. 'Her right mind wasn't in her.'
While the main focus for the gunshot wounds was her abdomen, one of the 9mm bullets had managed to land on the left side of her head, tearing out a portion of her skull and spattering the floor with her brains.
If it were any consolation, at least she was able to die whilst thinking about the people she loved.
"Get down!" arose Beau's hoarse shout.
Grabbing hold of Lauren by her arm, he proceeded to drag her to the side, out of the line of fire and behind a large oak tree.
They failed, however, to escape unharmed. During the dragging process, Lauren's left leg had flailed to the side, into the path of an oncoming bullet. Tearing into the flesh of her thick calf, the small lead round proceeded to gouge out approximately thirty grams of flesh from her leg.
Bursting outwards, a thick stream of crimson drowned the twigs and dead leaves in it's copper scented horror.
The entire scene reminded Lauren of some bad horror film. Or better yet, a bad horror novel.
But, unlike a horror film, this sight was accompanied with pain. Burning, searing, unadulterated pain. Spreading up her leg, like rapidly infecting poison.
"Fuck!" Beau shouted, laying his eyes upon Lauren's wound, just as he pulled out his gun from the waistband of his trousers.
Tears streaming from her eyes, Lauren bit down on her lip so hard that she drew blood.
Firing a retaliation shot from his gun, around the tree, he grunted: "You okay?!"
What the fuck was he doing?! Of course she wasn't okay! Alice was dead- Oh fuck, look at all that blood- and Lauren had been shot in the leg. No fucking way that Lauren was alright!
Shaking her head from side to side, Lauren continued to chomp down on her flesh. Releasing her lip, she gasped for breath and began to stutter: "N-n...o..." She was trembling. "B-B...Beau...?"
After firing another shot around the tree trunk, he turned towards her. She had since sunk to the floor. Her left leg was splayed in front of her, the blood continuously spewing forth.
"What is it?" he asked, continuing to return fire. Under his breath, she could hear him whispering: "Shit, shit, shit...!!!"
"It h-hurtsss..." she whimpered, tears rolling down her cheeks.
"Take off your blazer and wrap it round it!" he suddenly blurted out, again firing blindly into the trees. This time, his gunshot prompted a response from their assailant. The same typewriter-tapping sound filled their ears, accompanied by the splintering of several trees surrounding them. One bullet even managed to tear through the corner of the oak they were hiding behind.
Shouting over the sound of machine gun fire, Beau managed to tell Lauren: "We need to stop the bleeding as soon as possible! If you continue to bleed like that, you're going to die!" He shot around the oak again, in the general direction of where he assumed their invisible assailant to be.
"A-Alice is dead...isn't she...?" Lauren stuttered painfully, as she held down her blazer, over her torn flesh.
Beau didn't say a word. Again the machine gun fire crackled through the air.
"I...'m...going t-t-to die...aren't I....?"
"No, you're not!" Beau shouted, shooting around the tree twice more. There was a metallic click as he pulled the trigger a third time. He was out of bullets.
"I...I want my mum..." she sobbed, more tears streaming down her face. "I want my mu-"
Her head was torn apart. In the moment she had started sobbing, Lauren had leant to her left, exposing her head around the edge of the tree. In that moment, the mystery shooter had open fired again.
In an explosion of dirt, sawdust and blood; the ground, several trees and Lauren's skull were blasted to bits by 9mm bullets.
"Fuck!!!" Beau screamed as he finished reloading his gun. "You fucking asshole!!"
Closing his eyes, Beau grimaced. As much as he hated to just leave their bodies behind...
Firing a shot around the oak that he was taking cover behind, he started to sprint in the opposite direction from where Alice had died.
Scooping up Lauren's duffle bag in his left hand, he began to zig-zag through the trees, occasionally shooting towards his guessed direction of where the enemy was.
The sound of a single shot echoed behind him. What the fuck was going on?! Surely their shooter wasn't checking to see if the girls were still alive?!
Again the gunfire echoed through the trees.
Still Beau ran.
No machine gun fire followed him. Perhaps he had lost the shooter in the trees?
Continuing to sprint, Beau put his endurance (formed through years of playing rugby) to the test. Constantly altering his movement pattern, he made sure that anyone chasing him would have no way of having a clear shot.
Only after ten minutes of moving as fast as he could, did he slow down. At a guess, he was probably on the opposite side of the hill he had pointed out to the girls earlier. On his right side, the incline of the ground became steeper.
Still running, he made a sharp turn to his right side and began to climb. Swinging sporadically from his shoulder, the two duffle bags began to thump against his back. It would probably leave a bruise but he didn't care. He had to get to a good spot.
It was then that he felt something tug at his leg.
Looking down, he managed to identify what it was that had caught him.
It was a length of fishing wire.
26 STUDENTS REMAINING