Friday, October 11, 2013

"Could I send some of these leftovers with you, Max? We've had so many people bringing us food these last few days." Joyce Madsen stands up from the table and proceeds to collect the three plates. "Max?"

Max looks up at Joyce. "I'm sorry. What did you ask me?"

"I was wondering if you'd like to take some food back with you to the dorm. It's not like David and I are ever going to finish it all."

"Oh...sure, I'd like that. Thank you."

Max is still wearing the black dress she wore to the cemetery earlier that day; Joyce invited her over for dinner with her and David after the funeral. She now looks over at David; he has retired to the couch after finishing his plate, having removed his jacket and tie, and now sips a beer while staring sadly at nothing in particular. He has hardly spoken a word the entire day.

Max turns to the kitchen where Joyce is now running water over the plates. "Joyce?"

"Yes, honey?" Joyce turns to her.

"Would it be alright if I went up to...to Chloe's room for a bit? Alone I mean."

Joyce smiles sadly. "Of course, dear. Take all the time you need."

A moment later, Max enters Chloe's room and closes the door behind her.

The room looks almost exactly the same as it did the last time she saw it, with the biggest difference being that the drawing board is no longer there.

Of course, she thinks. It's still in the backyard. We never moved it up here in this timeline.

She walks over and lays down on the bed.

She recalls waking up next to Chloe the night after they snuck into Blackwell. Glancing over at the closet, Max remembers being surprised when Chloe dared her to kiss Chloe (and Chloe in turn being even more surprised when Max did it with no hesitation whatsoever).

Strange to think that was only two days ago, thinks Max. It seems so much longer. But that was another life, wasn't it?

As Max remembers all this, she realizes that that morning with Chloe may very well have been the happiest she had been in her entire life. This is too much for her; hugging Chloe's pillow tightly, she begins sobbing uncontrollably.

A while later (it seems like several hours, but is probably only several minutes), Max leaves Chloe's room and splashes water on her face in the bathroom. Then she returns to Chloe's room and shuts the door again.

She walks over to the bed and starts searching around on the floor. Where was it? I remember Chloe having it somewhere around here.

Then she finds it.

A few minutes later, she walks downstairs holding Chloe's lock box. "Joyce?"

Joyce pokes her head out of the kitchen. "Yes, Max?"

Max holds up the lock box. "I found some of Chloe's CDs, and some more pictures. I was wondering if I could have them? Something to remember her by."

"Of course, dear." Joyce smiles. "I'm sure she would have wanted you to have them."

Max nods. "Thanks. Look, I need to get going and get back to the dorm. Thank you so much for dinner."

"Okay, I'll get my keys."

Max shakes her head. "No, that's okay, I'll take the bus. I know the stop isn't far from here."

"Don't be ridiculous, it'll be a lot shorter if you let me drop you off."

"I appreciate it, Joyce, but you should be here with David. Besides, I could use the extra time by myself."

Joyce nods. "Well alright then; just be careful. You stop by the Two Whales later this week, you hear? There's a free breakfast with your name on it." She hands Max a Tupperware container holding the leftovers she is sending back with Max.

Max smiles. "Thank you."

Max does not take the bus. Instead, she walks over to the beach, holding both the lock box and the Tupperware container under one arm. Looking around, she remembers the dead whales that had been everywhere in another timeline, and the walk (for her at least) she had taken with a paralyzed Chloe.

The beach is deserted; this is a perfect spot to do what she came here to do.

Sitting on the sand, she smoothes out her dress, then sets the lock box in front of her and opens it.

She had not been lying when she said she had Chloe's CDs and pictures in there; they are visible on top. She had been put them there in case Joyce had asked to see what was inside; of course, it would have been bad if Joyce had looked inside and given it more than a brief glance.

She removes the CDs and pictures, revealing the two other items. One is a small pouch. She picks it up and opens it, pouring several bullets into the lock box.

The other item is David's revolver, the one which Chloe had stolen and hidden in her room. She picks it up. Due to her lack of familiarity with firearms, it takes her a moment to figure out how to open the cylinder; she is careful to keep her finger off the trigger. Then she picks up each bullet and loads the chambers one at a time. She should hopefully only need one.

She initially points the barrel at her right temple, but her hand is shaking badly, and she decides to put it in her mouth instead. She has to fight the urge to remove it after encountering the metallic taste. She places her right thumb on the hammer and pulls it back. She begins to move her finger toward the trigger.

"You mind going somewhere else to kill yourself, kid?"

Max yelps at the unexpected interruption. Pulling the gun out of her mouth, she jumps up and turns around.

She is shocked to see who it is. "Frank?!"

Frank looks puzzled. "Do I know you?" A look of realization appears on his face. "Wait, I remember you...you were at Chloe Price's funeral earlier today, weren't you?"

"You were there?"

"I was watching from a distance. I figured her parents wouldn't want a guy like me there."

"Oh," replies Max.

"Now, back to what I asked you before. If you're going to kill yourself, could you do it someplace else? Or come back later when I don't have my RV parked here? I don't want the police to come around asking me questions if they know I was in the same location at the same time. I've already had a rough week as it is."

Max is rather bewildered by this strange conversation. "Um, sure. I can do that." She turns and begins to walk off.

Frank watches her for a second, then sighs. "Wait." Max turns and looks back at him.

"What's your name, kid?"

"It's Max. Short for Maxine."

"Why are you wanting to kill yourself, Max? Is it something to do with Chloe?"

Max nods slowly. "I watched her die."

Frank is surprised. "I remember the paper said there was another student in the bathroom, hiding behind the stalls. That was you?"

Max nods.

"Jesus, kid. That's rough. I'm sorry you had to go through that." Frank's tone is surprisingly sympathetic.

"Thank you," replies Max quietly.

"Any idea why she was there to begin with? I know she wasn't going to Blackwell anymore."

Max looks up at him. "She was trying to blackmail Nathan Prescott. She need money to repay a large large amount she had borrowed from someone."

Frank looks crestfallen for a moment when he hears this. Then he looks at the gun that's still in her right hand. "You mind handing me the piece for a minute, Max? I'm a little uncomfortable standing here when the hammer's still cocked."

Max grasps the revolver by the barrel so that it's pointing down and hands it to Frank; she remembers that this, ironically, is the same gun with which she had attempted to shoot Frank in the junkyard three days ago in the previous timeline (it was also the same one Chloe had killed Frank and his dog with as well, but Max had rewound and fixed it so that that Frank became their friend instead).

Taking the revolver, Frank points it to the ground. Holding the hammer with his thumb, he pulls the trigger and slowly lets the hammer ease back into its resting position. Then he holds it out to her.

Instead of taking the gun, Max looks at it for a moment, then up at Frank. "You do it."

"What?"

"Kill me. Please."

Frank's voice betrays the beginnings of anger. "What the hell makes you think I would do that, kid?"

"I killed Chloe." Max's voice is starting to shake now, and tears begin to form in her eyes. She glances to one side to avoid eye contact with him. "And I deserve to die for it."

"Funny, I remember the papers saying it was that Prescott shit who did it." He gets a sad look on his face. "They're saying he may have also killed Rachel Amber as well."

"I didn't pull the trigger on Chloe myself, but I could have stopped it."

Frank's voice now softens a little. "You don't know that, Max. For all you know, he would have just killed you and then killed her anyway."

"Trust me, I know I could have stopped it." A pause. "I can pay you."

"What?"

"I know of an ATM close by. I'll take out everything in my account and pay you. It's a few hundred dollars." She looks at him again, tears now streaming down her face. "I know she was your friend too, Frank, even if things did go a little south toward the end."

"Jesus, kid. You really want to die that badly?"

"Please, Frank." Max is starting to sob. "It would be justice for her and mercy for me."

Frank nods and tucks the gun in the back of his pants. "Okay. But I don't want your money. I'm doing it for free." He gestures further down the beach. "Let's go over here, near my RV. It'll be more quiet."

After they finish walking there, Frank tells her, "Okay, now turn around and look out toward the water." Max does so. He pulls the revolver back out; she hears him open the cylinder, no doubt to check that the bullets are in there, then hears him close it again.

He points the revolver to the back of her head. She hears him pull back the hammer.

"Last chance, kid. You still want this?"

Max nods. She is now trembling.

"Okay. On the count of three. One...two...three!"

Click.

Max lets out a noise that is a cross between a shriek and a gasp, then begins sobbing uncontrollably. She slowly turns around.

"You don't really want to die, do you?" Frank's voice is quieter than usual now.

"N-n-no!" she stammers, still sobbing.

Frank nods. "I kinda figured that might be the case when you decided to hand the gun to me instead of doing the job yourself. Even if you didn't know it yourself at the time." He opens the cylinder again and shows it to Max, revealing that all six chambers are empty. He reaches into jacket pocket and pulls out the bullets, dropping them in the sand.

"Go home, Max." Frank hands the gun back to Max. "Get some rest. And then get some help."

Max looks at him for a moment before turning and walking away. On her way back, she picks up the lock box and Tupperware container from where she left them. She considers taking the bus back to the dorm, but looks off in the distance and gets an idea.

A short while later, she is up at the lighthouse again. She sits on the bench—the same one where she had first told Chloe about her ability. It is so peaceful here; it seems so strange now to think that only a few hours ago she was here watching Arcadia Bay get destroyed by a tornado in the worst storm she had ever seen.

She looks at the spot where, moments before she had to watch Chloe die for the final time, they had shared one final, beautiful, tragic kiss. She will never forget the feel of those lips on hers.

Opening the Tupperware container, she slowly begins to eat the leftovers while watching the sunset. After she is finished, she sets the container to one side and opens the lock box. Taking out the revolver, she stands up and walks over to the edge of the cliff. She throws the revolver as hard as she can. She barely hears the splash as it hits the water down below. Then, turning around, she picks up the lock box and the now-empty Tupperware container and starts walking back to town.


Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed this chapter and will continue to read this story. My plan for this story is that, rather than having an overarching narrative, it will be told as a series of scenes (episodes or vignettes might be a more accurate term) depicting the life of Max and how she and the people in her life continue to affect each other's lives over a period of years following the events of the game. Some stories will be happy, some will be sad. Overall, I plan to show how life often takes unexpected turns.

In the next chapter, I plan to feature more of the Blackwell student characters, including Kate, Victoria, and others, and also to show Max starting to move on. For the record, I am personally more a fan of the Sacrifice Arcadia Bay option, but I chose to go with the other one for the story as I believe it works better for what I'm trying to do. My personal interpretation of the game is that Max is bisexual, and I plan to portray her as such throughout the story.

Please leave feedback and let me know what you think of this chapter and of my plan for the fic. Thanks!