today, we escape ┊ oneshot.
[align=center][div style="width: 470px; text-align: justify; font-family: new times roman; font-size: 8pt; letter-spacing: 2.5px; word-spacing: 1px; line-height: 14px;"]tw. mentions of murder, abuse, animal abuse, suicide and mental illness

It was mortifying to be the one that remembered.

And those memories, some of them would never leave his bones. Like the salt in the sea, they would become a part of who he was. The sailboat, facetiously named the Carpe Diem, was paralysed in the midst of the unforgiving sea. She shuddered as gales resisted her advances against the tattered sails, barely clutching on as the Atlantic flooded. Rich timbers and masts that stood tall in defiance, the boat braved the abuse of the waves crashing against the hull as she progressed through the waves. A veteran of the brine. An aptly named metaphor.

Adjusting the rusted lantern that swung back and forth with the rolling waves, Vernon squinted to peer back towards the quaint district that was illuminated in the distance by nothing but the soft glow of the moon's reflections. He felt lonely, but he was not alone. The dark sky below his bottom lash line held above it a constellation of glossiness that only the broken could possess. Tears that would fail to fall — instead, they haunted him, taunted him with the realisation that the bravest thing he could do was take another's pain as his own just so that they could finally have a good night's rest. Vernon would sacrifice himself to save other people's lives, because he wasn't quite sure how to save himself just yet.

There was once a time where he had been making good progress. The scarred over lacerations across every inch of his skin were morbid reminders of the trauma he had been through, but Vernon was stronger than he would ever give himself credit for. But that would never erase the damage that had been done, and it had led Vernon right to this very point in his life. Never would he have predicted that he would go to the greatest lengths to take care of the people that he loved, even if it meant covering up a murder for them. And this wasn't the first time Vernon had been in this situation. There had once been a time where Vernon had found himself experiencing the same anguish that Bellamy was feeling tonight. The torture was done, but the torment would live on indefinitely. There was no way of fooling them that this was all over for this was only the start of forever.

He wished that he had steadier hands to stitch Bellamy back together, or the right words to say to bring them back from the edge. But Vernon was nothing like Mick. Mick knew exactly what to do when Vernon was in this very situation but Vernon? He too was a victim in his past — could the broken fix the broken? But it was only when Mick lost his battle with a mind so dark that Vernon realised that it had been him fuelling Vernon's recovery. Without him, Vernon was quick to regress in his own thoughts once again. A silent plea. A sudden realisation that he was alone again. A smile so wide that dimples sunk into his cheeks was not enough to fool the perceptive eye as Emmerich had so pointed out whilst they shared their grief together in the days following Mickey's death. His authentic smile alone could have saved the world, but Vernon's eyes no longer brightened up the way they used to.

He saw a bit of himself in Bellamy. The sadness that ran through them, and yet they would still give the sweetest of smiles to appease the devil himself. But, after months of being nothing more than a passive bystander, he could see in Bellamy's eyes that they were one more blow away from breaking. Vernon knew that he had to step up for them right now, or lose them forever. And so, he could demonstrate his selflessness with actions so unspeakable. Show that he would suffer for them. He would eat up all of their pain just so that they could know that they would never be in this alone. There was once a time where Donovan had isolated them from the rest of the world, so Vernon would ensure that in the toughest of times he would stand by their side in solidarity. When Bellamy acted in self-defence, Vernon would readily save them the torment of going through this alone.

Donovan was now dead, and Bellamy would never have to fear him again.

Another swig from a hip flask would give Vernon just enough courage to carry out the inconceivable feat that would prove his undying loyalty and love to the people he cared about. This was not just about Bellamy, but about everyone that Donovan had laid a hand upon. All the people that Vernon had lost in the thick of Donovan's plight. All the innocent animals that had become nothing but some fun for idle hands, chest cavity's ripped open at their seams, mangled and violated. For everyone that Donovan had harmed throughout the years of his wickedness.

Had Bellamy waited a second longer, they would have been just another statistic in Donovan's path of destruction.

Vernon slowly lowered the hip flask as he pulled himself unsteadily up onto his feet. He dropped the sails to make no way, nostrils flared with every near-frantic breath he exhaled. Leaning against the rails, Vernon chose to take a moment to recompose himself whilst his body rocked along with the Carpe Diem's steady inertia until finally turning around to face the fatality laid upon the floor. Blood seemed black on the skin of his porcelain back as Donovan lay face first against the bow of the boat. A fish net had been filled with rocks and tied off with a water-soaked rope, clumsily wrapped with a huge knot around Donovan's legs in preparation for his late night burial. Vernon tried to picture himself rolling Donovan off board, but the image never did quite focus then. Brows furrowed together, and Vernon lifted his hip flask one last time to down the rest of its contents.

The liquor burned the back of his throat, earning a soft hiss of discomfort until he tossed the flask onto a nearby seat. Cautious steps soon approached Donovan's body and, with a hesitant push of his foot, Vernon rolled Donovan onto his back. Half-lidded eyes and pupils fully dilated, Donovan stared up towards the sky with lips parted as if he wanted to scream but could make no sounds. Vernon lowered himself onto one knee, gazing down towards the Devil incarnate with rigid features. His lip twitched, and he wasn't sure which emotion it was that guided him to do so.

❝ You fucking monster. You knew you were going to die, and you were right. What did that feel like? ❞

Vernon nodded his head slowly, feeling as pale as the day he was born whilst his insides twisted terribly. At first, he was afraid to touch him again. Afraid to feel for a steady movement of the chest or the faintness of a feeble carotid pulse. Donovan was dead. Vernon had watched his final breath as he bled out alone in Bellamy's living room so he should have known better than to wither away in a mess of denial. It was evident in those vacant eyes, the heavy pooling of blood that flooded the cracks in the fibreglass like a ravine of red. His shirt was tattered from where the kitchen knife had made its many entries into flesh. For somebody so mild-mannered and meek, Bellamy had made a solid job in ensuring Donovan would never hurt them again. Vernon grimaced as wet eyes wandered across the casualty, face contorted with an indescribable despair.

❝ Were you scared? Christ, I hope so. ❞

But there was no solace in watching a man's final moments. Vernon would always remember this moment in the same way as he remembered Mateo, the same way he remembered Mickey's vacant gaze. His heart wouldn't have pity on him. The brain had little concept of time, therefore this very moment had sucked Vernon right back into that room.

It was dawn and the little lantern nestled on the corner of the clinic's desk was still flickering a muted orange hue. The shadow of the prior nightfall refused to shield Vernon from the sight ahead of him. A suicide was asleep on the floor. There was no noise except the tinnitus of silence. Vernon met Mickey's gaze and waited for his glazed over eyes to glance over towards him. They never did. He just sat slumped against the wall like a discarded marionette. Vernon's eyes wandered down his paled face and down to empty bottles of liquor and medications on the floor, drowning the last desire of a possible future. The darkness, it had ensnared him for many years, and one's instinctual desire of survival only prolonged his suffering.

In Vernon's eventual moment of clarity, he spluttered a gasping breath as he desperately tried to process the still life that was contorted before him. This was a painting of a panic attack. Acknowledging it was difficult and for months afterwards Vernon would be in denial, but Mickey was dead. His final pursuit was to save Vernon's life and then he would be on his way. Vernon broke the piercing silence with a soft utterance of negation, before a choking sob escaped quivering lips. Unspent love in the tears that he cried as he whimpered Mickey's name. Grief was just love with no place to go.

His heart wouldn't have pity on him.

And then there was Mateo. The only thing that had ever stripped Vernon of his identity, reduced him to nothing more than a shell of his former self. Vernon had never seen the man deceased but he could sure imagine that it was not a sight as rewarding as he thought it would have been. He thought that a life after Mateo would have been a burden no longer weighing on him, the greatest sigh of relief, but it wasn't. All that remained was a guilt that had bound itself to Vernon. He was still fighting for peace. He had not pulled the trigger that night, but he caused Mateo's death all the same. He was as guilty as every other perpetrator as he burned Mateo's belongings in some desperate bid to make his disappearance as inconspicuous as could be. Every once in a while, someone would ask after Mateo — after all, they had once been deemed as the greatest of friends — and all Vernon could do was return with an archaic smile.

They would always be chained together.

Vernon swallowed hard as he put all emotion aside to complete the job he had set out to do on behalf of Bellamy. Whilst he faced the treacherous seas, Bellamy would be in their own home, scrubbing blood off of their floor with a blotchy red face, tears in the eyes, and a toddler sound asleep in the other room. Vernon threw the weight of the rocks overboard, and it made a ker-plunk as it landed in the water. Bubbles erupted to the surface of the water as the rope tugged taut at Donovan's ankles. By that time, Vernon had crawled around to pull him up from beneath his arms. He was still warm, adjustable like a rag doll as he slouched in Vernon's arms. Vernon was nearly certain that he'd have brought up the contents of his last meal had he not been so intensely invested in the scrupulous means of getting the job done. As if he were magnetised to the surface of the boat, Donovan resisted as his limp body was dragged to the gunwale, legs contorting towards the surface of the sea as the rope began to coax him into the frigid waters.

With teary eyes, Vernon leaned down to rest his chin upon Donovan's shoulder, murmuring words that would only fall upon deaf ears. ❝ When you find Mateo down there, you send him my regards. ❞ With one last surge of energy, Vernon heaved as he hurled Donovan overboard, watching as his body disappeared into the darkness of the depths.

And then, his emotions turned jagged.

As he sat back onto his haunches, staring out across the Atlantic, Vernon could not help but feel as if this vast expanse was more like a moat. Memories of the sea persecuted Vernon for a lifetime. It had once been his calling, but now it was a guarded fortress. The waves were like armies as they stood defiantly against any love that dared to try approach. Vernon was lost at sea too the moment he left Mateo and Donovan down in the bottom of the blue to rot. He wanted to be like a lighthouse nestled in the dark beneath the bruisings of a dark sky. One whose light never went out, but Vernon flickered from time to time. All of these people in the district were alive right now because of him, but he would no longer give himself that credit when he sat miles from shore on this floating island he called his prison.

His head fell, hand covering his mouth instinctively as he withheld the sudden sound of broken cries. He squeezed his eyes shut, tears being urged to trickle down the sides of his reddened face woefully as he tried to settle himself in the silence of the night. Body rattling uncontrollably, Vernon peered warily over towards painted bow of the boat, the track of blood like a mark of injustice soon to be erased before dawn.

Minutes felt like lifetimes as he lingered in the dark before reluctantly pulling himself back up onto his feet. For three quarters of an hour later, he scrubbed the Carpe Diem thoroughly, diluting the blood with saline as he tipped a bucket over the evidence with blurred, scratchy eyes. And, soon after, the sailboat made her steady journey back to shore. Vernon contemplated as he waited to disembark, body and soul exhausted from the two hours he spent on board. The sun had begun to creep over the distant cliffs and wave cut platforms when Vernon reached the harbour, giving an early risen fisherman an unsteady smile as he docked the sailboat and clambered off-board. ❝ An early start today, Green. ❞ The man pointed out with a gentle smile, and Vernon did little more than save face and reply, ❝ Seems as if there's a storm's brewing. I'd be careful out there today. ❞ ❝ I sure will, son. ❞

A hundred steps through dirty winding streets led Vernon back to Bellamy's home, haunted by the memories of Donovan's abuse. With a soft shuddering breath, Vernon composed himself the best he could before cracking the front door open to step into the home. Bellamy was on the sofa, their knees against their chest as startled eyes darted up, only to settle once their gaze settled on Vernon's own. In that moment, they pulled themself to their feet, brows bunching together with a meekness so painful to witness. ❝ Is he... ❞

❝ Yeah... ❞ Vernon uttered softly, wandering closer to Bellamy with a feeble attempt at a reassuring closed-lip smile. ❝ He's gone. ❞ Their lip wobbled at Vernon's words. He understood their pain; he really did. And so, with a gentleness that he had appreciated in the aftermath of Mateo, Vernon neared Bellamy before pulling them into an easy embrace. ❝ We're gonna be okay, Bella. You have my word. ❞

[div style="width: 400px; font-family: georgia; text-align: center; font-size: 5pt; line-height: 1; letter-spacing: 4.2px; word-spacing: 1.9px; margin-bottom: 5px;"]BE THAT SOMEONE TO COMPLAIN TO — NOTES.
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