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Old 11-03-2010, 04:16 AM   #1
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The Fourth of July - Chapter 5

Hello again!

It gets darker again in this chapter, so maybe tune out if things like suicide aren't your thing. And you'll have to forgive Natasha developing a rather black sense of humour...

I've got another chapter I want to post before the weekend - I'll be away from a computer for most of next week and won't be able to post, so I wanted to leave you with a couple of decent-sized chapters to tide you over.

I'll repeat the very end of the last chapter, just in case anyone's memory is as bad as mine...

Usual disclaimer - All made up for entertainment purposes, not to be taken seriously. All factual errors are my own.



------
Chapter 5
------

[...] She curled up in her armchair and ate some chocolate with weakening hands, before the black closed in and smothered her.


*****

"America is still sweltering as the record-breaking heat-wave gripping the mid-western states continues unabated ..."

Natasha opened her eyes, and stared at the bedroom ceiling.

She screamed, and screamed, and screamed.

---

Some time later, she could hear and see and think again.

"What goes up must come down," an economist on the radio was saying. "This tiger economy was never going to last forever..."

What about down? Natasha thought dully. Can you keep going down forever?

Perhaps she hadn't actually been dead when 5.59am came, only unconscious. Cutting her wrists, what had she been thinking? Foolish.

She needed a surer method.

Her own block of flats was only four storeys high, so she found a taller building and rode the clanking elevator to the top floor. Natasha ignored the strange looks she was given, still dressed in her pyjamas as she was, her blonde hair a mess. There was a door and stairs leading to a rooftop garden, surrounded by a four-foot wall. It was an effort to clamber over it, but she managed.

Her only thought as she fell was that she'd forgotten the chocolate.


*****

"America is still sweltering as the record-breaking heat-wave..."

This time she didn't scream.

Tasha had no memory of anything after the blinding pain of hitting the pavement after her plunge, but it was possible she still hadn't died instantly. She imagined her broken body being rushed to hospital, feverishly worked on by doctors and nurses, long operations, then lying on a bed, comatose, hooked up to all those machines. Until 5.59am, when it would all start again.

As, indeed, it had.

Natasha started to think about where she could get a gun.


*****

She shouldn't have been surprised about how difficult it would be; it was all waiting periods and background checks if she wanted to buy one legally. Tasha was forced to live through several more days as she exhausted all the possibilities of stealing one, although she should have realised it would be a waste of time trying to break into an army barracks.

Finally, after asking some unsubtle questions in a dingy pub, a middle-aged man had approached her and offered, in so many words, to sell her a gun. It was well after dark; he led her to a dimly-lit car park, and opened his hatch-back. Natasha's instincts didn't like this situation at all, but it hardly mattered now. The man was ogling her unashamedly.

"If you're going to rape me," she said wearily, "will you at least do a proper job of killing me afterwards? I can't stand people who make a botch of the simplest things."

The man stared at her.

"If you do cock it up, I'll come back when today starts again and castrate you," she added.

The man stammered something about how that was the last thing on his mind. He nearly balked at selling her the gun, but Tasha managed to calm him down. She also talked him into throwing in ten rounds of ammunition, even though she wouldn't need it all.

"Thank you," she said, handing over the money. She hefted the gun in her hands, feeling that thrill that so many people felt when handling guns, be it a thrill of fear or of power. To Natasha, it was a thrill of anticipation, an end to the maddening repeats.

She walked a few paces away, carefully flicked off the safety, and put the gun to her temple. The barrel was cold and certain.

"What are you doing?" the man shouted, starting towards her.

No, wait. She'd read somewhere that it was better to put the barrel in your mouth, in case your hand twitched when you pulled the trigger. She did that.

"Put it down! You said it was for self-defence!"

"I' ig," Natasha said around the gun, and squeezed. The world exploded.


*****

"America is still sweltering as the record-breaking heat-wave..."

"FUCK!"

She couldn't have missed. But then she'd read about people who hadn't hit an immediately fatal spot... maybe that gun-seller had rushed her to hospital. Although he wouldn't want to be asked about where she'd got the gun, she was sure.

Natasha got up and went to the bathroom cupboard. There was nothing very dangerous in there, and she knew overdosing on paracetamol wouldn't work quickly enough. She was convinced that if she could just be properly dead before the end of the day, it would stop, and she would be dead forever. There could be no other way of ending this.

She called a series of doctors until one could fit her in that morning. She must have made a convincing case, and her desperation was obvious. Soon after, she was getting a prescription for sleeping pills filled out, and then she went home again. Then she thought, Why not die somewhere more pleasant?, and took the block of chocolate and the jar of pills to some low cliffs overlooking a beach. Methodically, she took each of the pills in the jar along with a bit of chocolate, until both were gone.

Natasha sat and watched the tide ebbing as the heavy lassitude crept through her bloodstream, and pulled her down into the damp grass. It pulled her further down, into darkness.

---

The woman beside Bono gasped as a rending shudder jolted the plane, the noise of the engines changing to a tortured scream, before one fell frighteningly silent. Smoke billowed from the starboard wing, and Bono was frozen in place.

"Ladies and gentlemen," the co-pilot began over the speakers, but then cut short as the plane's nose dropped, and the altitude they'd gained was lost again.

A chilling certainty gripped Bono's heart. He was about to die, and too soon. This was the final encore, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Bono groped in his head for a song, but it seemed suddenly empty. For a long moment he forgot every song he'd ever heard... then finally something surfaced.

"I know a girl, a girl called Party..."

"Assume the brace position!" The flight attendant shouted, as the plane juddered and plunged. One or two people tried to comply, but it was nearly impossible to stay in one position. Gravity had turned backwards, even as it pulled them down.

"Party girl..."

Bono almost laughed. Of all the songs he'd wanted on his lips at the end, this one wasn't high on the list. But it was all he had.

"I know she wants more than a party..."

A vision of his wife and children hit Bono with a palpable force, as the woman next to him clutched his arm in panic.

"Party girl..." Bono forced his eyes open. "And she won't tell me her name..."

The last thing he saw was the impact, and heard the roar of death exploding from the fuel tanks.


*****

"America is still sweltering as the record-breaking heat-wave..."

No. No no no.

Natasha opened her eyes, and looked at her clock-radio, from her bed, in her room. It was still the fourth of July.

"No!"

What could have gone wrong? Perhaps she'd thrown the pills up, but remained in a coma.

"Shite."

She had finally discovered a goal for herself, in this endlessly repeating day, and she couldn't even achieve that. The knowledge that Bill Murray’s character had tried to kill himself in Groundhog Day and that it hadn't stopped the loop was not helping. But that was a movie and this was real life – she knew Hollywood wouldn't have let him actually die in the film.

---

Two hours later, Natasha was fifty miles out of Dublin, standing with grim determination next to the train tracks that led to Belfast. There was a freight train due soon, and she meant to be in front of it. She had heard of people surviving slit wrists and long falls and overdoses and even shooting themselves in the head, but she'd never heard of anyone surviving a one-on-one encounter with a speeding diesel engine, with hundreds of tonnes of freight behind it.

Two speeding diesel engines, she saw, as the train approached. Its horn howled. Tasha stepped onto the tracks, and stared oblivion in the face.

The horn howled, again and again. Soon Natasha found herself staring the train driver in the face, his horrified expression visible high up in the train's cabin, through the bug-smeared window. Brakes squealed ineffectually.

Just another smear, Natasha thought. The train hit her like a hundred-tonne banshee.


*****

"America is still sweltering..."

This time, there was only despair. She'd known it after the first attempt, Natasha realised. That had been when her mind had broken under the certain knowledge that there was no escape. The rest had just been testing, going through the motions, doing the job thoroughly. She was trapped, and not even death could release her.

Sure, she could just kill herself every day until the end of time, but that was getting as tedious as everything else had become.

She remembered the look on the train driver's face. If her death really had stopped the loop, then that man would have been horribly traumatised by running her over, no matter that she had wanted to be run over. And those people who would have found her body below that tower block, and the man who had sold her the gun. Even the doctor who'd prescribed the pills...

And her family. Their lives would have gone on, never knowing what had driven their daughter and sister to such utter despair in the space of a day. When she'd last spoken to them, on the third of July, she had been excited about her new job, determined to make the most of it and launch her career to new heights. To have killed herself without even starting that job...

Natasha rolled over and cried, deep heaving sobs. She could go back to Limerick today and see them again, but what would she say? What would they say? It would just repeat itself over and over, like everything else did. They might as well be lost to her, as her own life was lost, her future, everything she'd ever wanted. What could she do with herself?

The first option that came to mind was to get very, very drunk. She got up, dressed, and found the nearest bar. She didn't remember much after that.


*****

Then Natasha woke up, completely sober and alert, at 6am.

I've found the perfect hangover cure, she thought. She would never have to worry about damaging her liver, either.

Tasha got very, very drunk again, and stayed that way all day and all night. She did this at least nine or ten times, checking out all the local drinking establishments, and returning to a couple of favourites.

But she was a stranger every time she went in; it got wearying introducing herself to the same people over and over again, and it was tedious sitting through all the small talk.

"Don't you think you've had enough, miss? It's only seven o'clock," Ted the barman said to her, as usual. The jukebox in the corner had been blasting U2 songs for the last hour, and there was a group of tearful U2 fans camped around it. Every so often another would join them. Natasha had only been tempted to join them once.

"I'm fine," she assured him, leaning on the bar. "Doesn't matter how much I drink, I'll wake up good as new. Nothin' ever changes. Seen it all before."

"Well now," Ted said, pouring another pint, "I can't say I've seen a day like this for some time." He glanced at the group around the jukebox. Two women were sobbing in one another's arms.

"Trust me, I've seen this day more times than I can feckin' count." Tasha took a long swallow of her beer. She waved her glass at the jukebox. "They're gonna raise a toast in about five minutes, and then there'll be... five? Six more, before midnight. They're gonna put Pride on next, then Bad, then I Will Follow. And once I told 'em they should put on Wake Up Dead Man." Tasha laughed unsteadily. "Kelly damn near took me head off, you should’ve seen the scratches her nails left on me face."

Ted was eyeing her oddly. "You've surely had enough, miss," he said. "I'll call you a cab..."

"Nah, just wait an' see. Pride, Bad, I Will Follow. Hey, how's your brother goin'? Andy, he's got the B&B down in Cork, right? You'll get a call from him later on, he wants you to put his sister-in-law up for a few nights next week. She's lookin' for work here..."

The familiar strains of Pride rang out, and shortly a chorus of half-drunk, grief-filled singing.

Ted stared at her. "Are you a friend of Andy's, then?" he said suspiciously.

"Nope, never laid eyes on him. But he'll call you. I think... yeah, during With or Without You. I nearly had you convinced last time, you know," Tasha said wistfully.

"Convinced o' what?" Ted said.

"That I've been livin' this day over an' over an' over again. I started a new job today, or I did a bunch of times, then I got sick o' showin' up there an' meetin' the same people. I even got sick of Duncan the copy boy." Natasha sighed. Maybe she'd go back and do that (or him) again soon. "So I stayed in bed all day, and nothin' changed. I thought, what's the feckin' point? And then I killed meself a few times, it didn't do any good. So I've been comin' down here, or some other place, and gettin' pissed each day. You never remember me name, though. No one remembers me but the guy at work who interviewed me. Me family's back in Limerick..."

As predicted, the juke box started playing Bad. Ted's eyes widened, as they had before.

An hour or so later, Ted's brother had called, and Ted was rattled enough to keep serving Natasha drinks. The television suspended from the ceiling was showing the press conference in London, and the bar hushed. Natasha listened with half an ear, reciting Geldof's words a moment before he himself said them. Ted was staring between her and the live feed with a familiar look of incredulity.

"You know who's gonna win the game tomorrow?" he asked, a hint of avarice gleaming in his eyes.

"What tomorrow? This is all there is, far as I'm concerned," Natasha said. "Ssh." She knew it all off by heart, but... "Damn, I wish I'd been there."

"Why aren't you there, then? You're a journalist, no reason you couldn't have gone. An' if you keep repeating this day like you said, why're you wasting yourself in here when you could be over there?"

Natasha stared. She'd never spoken her idle wish aloud, so Ted had never said that before. No matter that he was clearly just humouring her. She hadn't thought of that... if she wasn't tied to her job, why should she even be tied to Dublin? She could be there, next time...

"What's the point, though? It's not as if I'm gonna write it up an' get it published. None of it feckin' matters. No future, no point."

Ted was shaking his head. "You think you've got no future, that's your business. But if you think that, you should be livin' for today, for yourself. You want to go to London, you go. What's the worst that can happen?"

"I could end up on the same plane as Bono," Nastasha said.


*****
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Old 11-03-2010, 05:24 AM   #2
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I love this Natasha character like I love cake and tea.
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Old 11-03-2010, 01:59 PM   #3
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I - LOVE - THIS! (I tell you this every time you write another chapter but... I just gotta say it every time!)
It's so original... beautifully written.. fantastic!

Natasha is f-ingly awesome.
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Old 11-03-2010, 03:09 PM   #4
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OMG this story just keeps getting better and better! I'd go mad if I was Tasha!

AND GET ON THE SAME PLANE AS BONO, CRAZY GIRL! OR STOP HIM FROM GETTING ON THE PLANE!!!!!!!!!!!!

AND POST CHAPTER SIIIIXXXXX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 11-03-2010, 04:54 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by LoveandLogic View Post
OMG this story just keeps getting better and better! I'd go mad if I was Tasha!

AND GET ON THE SAME PLANE AS BONO, CRAZY GIRL! OR STOP HIM FROM GETTING ON THE PLANE!!!!!!!!!!!!

AND POST CHAPTER SIIIIXXXXX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Couldn`t have said it better
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Old 11-03-2010, 07:30 PM   #6
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I know this whole story and I'm still all excited when you post a new chapter...

This is one of my top 3 stories of yours. 1 and 2 being the Edgewolf's.
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Old 11-04-2010, 03:22 AM   #7
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Aw, thanks guys.

Natasha's getting there, slowly...

By the way, I don't mind getting constructive criticism either. Feel free to tell me if you think I'm waffling too much or something!
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:27 PM   #8
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If I thought you were going on and on I'd've told you long before this....
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:41 PM   #9
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Interesting how the sequence of Bono on the plane keeps changing little. Is it affected by what the girl does? Gotta love that you got another psychologically interesting story here, got the same creepish vibe that ESFR had. Love it!
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And if U2 EVER did Hawkmoon live....and the version from the Lovetown Tour, my uterus would leave my body and fling itself at Bono - for realz.
Don't worry baby, it's gonna be all right. Uncertainty can be a guiding light...
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Old 11-04-2010, 03:46 PM   #10
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Are Bono and Natasha both the only one's that can alter the story ? hmm , intresting
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Old 11-04-2010, 04:10 PM   #11
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As usual Pleba satisfies every need. I was just wanting a story to get stuck into again, peep in here and voila! Obsessed again! Want more. Now. Please?!

Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to share mine
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Old 11-04-2010, 09:26 PM   #12
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Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to share mine
You should write it! The more stories the better as far as I'm concerned.
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Old 11-04-2010, 09:31 PM   #13
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Nice to know you're there to stop me getting boring, Diane...

Gg and domo - Yep, Bono's day isn't always the same, although he's not aware of the repeats, and whatever Natasha does isn't affecting him. (Yet.)

Daisy - Don't be shy, share away! There's a pretty supportive crowd here, I think.
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Old 11-04-2010, 09:33 PM   #14
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I knew I was good for something....
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Old 12-15-2010, 08:59 PM   #15
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Oh Tasha. END UP ON THE SAME PLANE AS BONO, DAMMIT.

Somehow, Bono singing TT&tPG was unexpectedly amusing.

This is good...creepy as hell, but addicting.
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