Courage for Nat

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A pebble plinks across the cracked cement floor. It hops under conveyer belts and tubes, past pumps and upright two-thousand gallon processing tanks. It's tiny pinking echoes through the abandoned factory and Nat lazily walks after it. She climbs and crawls with her good arm, brushing dust from her palm, and when she reaches the pebble, she kicks it again.

Her mask is off, lays near the entrance, and Nat inhales the air. It still smells of dry, old food paste — a little sweet, a little salty, a subtle tinge of rot. When she breaths a bad whiff, Nat's freckled nose curls. She breaths through her mouth and continues on.

When she grows bored, she wanders from the factory floor to the cobwebbed halls, and hazy sky-lit offices. The beams of light catch her interest for a while, and she studies the blurry line where light dissolves into shadow.

She sits on a cold metal desk, legs spread, good arm hanging relaxed, malformed arm — skinny, twisted and pained — clutched tight to her chest. For a long while she does nothing but enjoy the silence and watch the dust motes drift through the air.

She grows bored. Nat picks up a chair with one arm, smashes it against the window between the office and factory floor, watches the dangerous diamond display of shimmering gems.

She carefully holds a shard of glass for a long while, then presses the edge against one of three usable fingers on her right hand. What would it feel like with just a little more pressure? Just a little cut, just a little blood. But after a long contemplative moment, she decides no, not today. She needs more courage for that.

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