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The Runner Up

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Doctor Hand

Now, let me start off on this note. I’m only average looking compared to most of my friends; they all are very aware of that fact. I’m usually the girl who gets dated, just so they can get to one of my friends. In my group, that’s where my title comes in. I’m the “Runner up”, as called by the high-score whore of the group, Tina. Dear God I hated Tina, but I hated the attention she got from a crush of mine more.

Ever since he had been my lab partner in seventh grade, I kept running into him. He was so fucking attractive, his damn piercing eyes... He had the condition twins commonly got with his eyes, the base color being bright brown with a chunk of green, on the side of his right iris. I always got caught staring at him too long during our small talk in the middle of assignments. He always smiled when I did, an oddly sharp tooth biting at his lip as he stared at me. Oh God, why did he always give me that gaze… He knew it got to me; he just had to have known.

When Tina and Henry started talking, I had grown so jealous. I got to hang around him more, but I never got to talk to him because of the stupid whore. She hung all over him like a fucking scarf. He couldn’t like her; he never gave her the look, not even once. She knew I fucking liked him, that’s why she always did it. Her next move, just broke my heart then threw it into a frying pan.

Henry had asked her out, and she said she had no interest in him at all. I took her aside and started bitching at her immensely, all my frustration being put forward into my sentences. I had no clue what I was saying anymore, but I knew when I shut my mouth that I was in big trouble.

“Victoria, please. Wake up.” She gave me a squinted glance over a pair of oversized sunglasses with her nose wrinkling up at the bridge, “He’s just helping me get through this.”

I had no idea how bad I was shaking, I had to walk away to stop from exploding. As I started to go down the hall of our school, Henry called back up to me, “What's going on? Where’s Tina?”

I couldn’t look at him, I just bit my lip trying to hold back my frustrated tears, “She’ll be back in a minute.” I continued walking as fast as I could to my next class, just to escape everything. It was inevitable, everyone was talking about it. Every class, I heard their names, over and over. I couldn’t handle it anymore; during my fifth period I walked out of the school. I knew my parents would be pissed, but I didn’t care. I just needed to get out of that building…

I couldn’t ask for a ride home like usual, so I found the quickest way to get home and walked. Of course, the closest road was Ivy and Transplant. I had time to clear my head, but I soon got nauseous and had the worst headache. I reasoned it wasn’t bugging me that bad; I was just coming down with something. Then I became a bit paranoid, like someone was watching me. I peered around a bit, but nothing was there on the streets that time of day. As soon as I turned a corner, there he was.

“Hey, are you alright? You look upset.” He thought he looked so cool, leaning up against that damn broken fence with a pair of chuck tailors on. His grin once again piercing through me; I couldn’t help it. I started crying uncontrollably.

“Stop giving me that look if you don’t like me! JUST FUCKING STOP IT!” I held my hand to my face and turned away, he loved playing with me didn’t he? This is exactly what he wanted to see, me sobbing over my crush on him. He got what he wanted; I hated myself for it. He hadn’t moved at all. He remained in that stupid pose, grinning the whole time.

He came over and hugged me, like he had known me for years… It was a bit uncomfortable, “Why are you acting like this?” He quickly let me go, his eyes consistent with his empathy. “What's wrong, are you reacting to something?”

“You wanted Tina. Not me.” I turned away; my body shaking from anger and shock.

He gave me another hug, making sure his body was up against mine, “So I heard you were a runner-up.” I pushed him off of me and slapped him as hard as I could.

“I’m not a runner-up! I deserve better!” At that sentence, he grabbed my wrist and dragged me back to him. That’s when I knew I had fucked up badly.

“Calm down, come with me.” He continued pulling my arm and led me down an alley. I wanted to pull my arm free, but for some reason I was too shaky to do anything. I was lucky my knees didn’t turn into a bowl of Jell-O. I had no idea where he was taking me until I saw it; a huge building with one window open, emitting the smell of death. It looked decent for an abandoned building; I expected rust and decay. What I got was a clean inhabitable of a once empty building. It was completely sterile.

He dragged me down a staircase and stopped in front of a broiler room. He looked at me before opening the door, ushering me in, and shutting the door behind him. I didn’t like the site of the room, and I didn’t like the temperature. There was a roughed up mattress stained with a maroon liquid and a crust of unidentifiable material. I felt a cold chill in the extreme heat of the room. This was going to be where I died.

He stood behind me, breathing down my neck in large gasps. It seemed as though he brought me in here for a reason. The mattress unsettled me; he was going to rape me and then going to kill me… Or the other way around. I began crying again; how could someone I have so much feeling for do this to me? Maybe if I gave in willingly he’d be easy on me…

I turned to him, my head down in shame with tears dropping to the floor and almost making sizzling noises; “Be easy on me…” I started to lift up my shirt before he pulled it back down.

“That's not necessary for this procedure.” He sat down on the mattress, laughing at my emotional state once again, “You're confused, aren't you?” He looked up at me, signaling me to come closer and sit by him. I obeyed, keeping a wide distance with sweat forming bullets on my skin. He remained sweat free, cocky bastard. He turned to look at me, once again toying with me and giving the look, “You’re so clueless.”

“How am I clueless?” I stared at him for a moment, trying to figure it out… Something was off about his look. I had no clue what it was until I looked into his eyes like I usually do. The green spot was on the left eye. It finally hit me, he wasn’t Henry. I instantly felt much more in danger knowing that fact. “… Who… Who are you?”

“It doesn’t matter. No need to thank me, it was a simple procedure.” He gave a smirk, reaching down on the floor and picking up the remains of a scorched photo, throwing it in my direction. “This should clear things up.”

It was Henry and this guy in a photo together in a younger phase. It was impossible the more I looked at it. The man looked to be in his late twenties; Henry still looked like he was in his teens. “This is photoshopped. This isn’t real.”

“When we were younger Henry had a thing for burning stuff. Then one day he caught his room on fire… That’s when it gets weird. Assuming that you’re not an idiot, fire usually spreads to other places… It just happened in his room.” He chewed on his fingernails and spit them crudely on the ground, “He suffocated, but didn’t burn… There was something off about him.”

“What’s this have to do with me?” I felt like I was going to vomit, the heat was starting to get to me, "Why did you pretend to be Henry?”

“I could tell it was all over you, your emotions and instability of strength were pretty good signs.” He looked dead at me with those eyes once again, “And, because you’d follow him more willingly than you would some twenty year old.” He patted me on the shoulder, looking like he gave up a bit of his pride doing so, “I’m saving you… You’re the runner up.”

“Wha… What? What do you mean?” I shook uncontrollably, my mind not being able to piece it together.

“To be blunt, you need to wake up.” His hand withdrew from my shoulder, “Have fun, I can’t be here too long.”

“Where are you going?!” I became hysterical, following after him and leaving the oven of a room. I panted heavily, my lungs feeling heavy as I took in a breath. He disappeared, as did the stairs underneath me. I was floating, there was nothing connecting me to my body at this point. I was in a relaxed state, to the point of falling asleep; all around me felt warm and benign. Strange thing; the heat never stopped. I began to become so hot my skin was beginning to melt. Oh God it burns, ever since that day it’s never stopped. My flesh forever keeps heating, never to be stopped no matter how many layers of it I rip off… I’m almost bone now, I haven’t got much time… My joints are melted into place, I have no eyelids… All I can do is watch my body melt away.

Top News at 9:

"After a building was done with an experiment with radiation sterilization for insects and vermin, a girl was found outside of a boiler room convulsing with seizures. She was taken to the emergency room and quickly identified by a passerby as Victoria Braxton, the runner up in her school’s language program.

"Sources say the girl had been missing from her home for weeks, leading to the conclusion she was living in the abandoned building while the radiation was taking place.

"With an oxygen mask and a IV, Victoria still has less hope of recovering each day from the radiation poisoning. Along with radium and other various chemicals in her body, she was admitted with burns and festering wounds. She reportedly can no longer move her joints, due to crippling inflammation of her spine and her brain. She also seems to have lost contact with reality and hallucinates constantly in a dream-like state.

"Nonetheless, Doctors Henry and Harrington Dwight, doctors renowned for their vast knowledge of the medical field expect her to fight a little longer. "The damage on her brain may be permanent, but her body can still be saved; she's a good kid."

"Mother; Tina Braxton just hopes her daughter has a little time left before saying goodbye. She had no comments to our correspondent teams while interviewing, all she could do was cry to her daughter during the entire filming.

"This event has shaken their whole town, and made everyone more aware of the empty buildings. More on this story as it develops. That's all the news for tonight; Thank you, have a good night."

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