A cold breeze blew sharp on their skin, making the boy wince and the girl's smile grow wider.
The setting sun's waning rays sent shadows skittering across the rooftop. The pale light illuminated the girl, making her look like a fire-kissed void. The boy couldn't see her face, only her crooked smile and her jagged teeth were visible.
He closed his eyes and gripped the railing, willing himself to calm down. The wind died, enveloping the scene in a sudden eerie silence.
On the other side of the railing, the girl was twirling the ends of her hair through her slender fingers. She mulled over the sight of the tear-stained boy before her, and her insides recoiled with revulsion.
"You're pathetic," she announced in a sing-song voice. "You couldn't handle being bullied? Well, I've got news for you."
She took two long strides and hopped over the railing, grabbing him by the hair and slamming his face on the concrete. He screamed in pain, his flesh slicing open in multiple tiny wounds.
"It's your fault you're being bullied." She dragged him up again and sat on her haunches so that they were level. One of his eyes was starting to swell shut. "If only you weren't so fucking weird."
He started to cry, noisy hiccuping sobs wracking his frail frame. "Please let me go," he whimpered, weakly trying to break free from her grasp.
The girl pushed him over to the edge and held him there, half of his body frozen and he stared at the twelve-story drop. "You wanted to jump, did you not?"
He felt dizzying terror swallow his senses. He twitched, then pushed back, taking the girl by surprise. She recovered her footing quickly but he was fast, crossing over to safety while she stared at him.
She stood up and calmly walked over to him. The boy was sitting with his back to the wall, his head bowed. The girl towered over him, but he didn't look up. Instead, he focused his eyes on her shoes. They were black lace-up combat boots, the kind worn in mandatory high school army training.
"You're too much of a coward to live, and too much of a coward to die." The girl tapped her boot on the ground impatiently. "You should be tired of living like that."
The change of her tone made the boy look up. The girl was looking at the distance, her expression pensive.
"What are you t-trying to say?"
She glanced down at him, her lips twisting into another smile. "Stop running away, loser. This time, take things into your hands."
It took the boy a few seconds to realize that she was reaching out towards him. His tear-blurred vision told him that there was something dark and heavy in her hands.
He looked up at the girl. Her eyes sparkled with wide-eyed, malevolent mischief. "Go get 'em, tiger," she said.
He took the gun.
It was 5AM Tuesday morning.
The streets were foggy and dark, nobody was out and about except for bakery staff, market delivery men, and the few early risers on their way to work.
It was a backwards little town, really, thought the girl as she pulled her hoodie lower over her face and resumed her jog to the pier.
The girl, whose name was Cerise Morrigan, liked being outside early in the day. Sunlight hurt her eyes and burnt her skin, so she usually stayed indoors during the daylight hours.
Cerise's feet were light on the boardwalk, barely making a sound as she jogged. She arrived at the end and stopped to catch her breath, resting her hands on her knees and looking out into the sea.
"Xia Mei," a silky voice purred.
She looked up to see her twin brother, Harkin, sitting on a packing crate. He was similarly wearing a black hoodie, the curve of his smile gleaming in the dim light.
Her Chinese name meant red sky and her brother was the only one who was allowed to call her that. They were the confusing result of Chinese and Irish parentage, although they stuck to their "English" names for easier usage.
"What are you doing here?"
Her brother shrugged, standing up and stretching his long limbs. It was uncommon to see him at this time of the day. He usually hit the gym during early morning, in preparation for his numerous team sports later at school.
"You don't seem to be preparing for school, so I came to see what's up."
Cerise looked at him obliquely, contemplatively.
She smiled, turning away from him. "Don't go to school today."
As Harkin, whose name also meant 'dark red,' watched his sister fade into the mist, he felt a familiar, funny jolt of premonition in his gut.
"Don't go to school," she'd said. That could have a myriad of meanings, a number of reasons. But, following his instinct, he simply shrugged and spent the rest of the day outside the campus.
It was almost lunchtime when he realized why - he was sitting down to a hearty lunch after his post-workout shower when he heard the news blaring from the television.
School shooting, the reporter had said. More than fifty students had died, including the gunman himself.
Cerise walked into the dining room following the broadcast, flicking a careless glance towards the screen. She sat down, reached for the stir-fried beef and broccoli, and placed a careful serving on her plate.
She was reaching for the salad when he caught her wrist. "Did you have anything to do with the shootout at school today?" He asked, even though he knew she stayed home like he did. She'd been playing computer games all day.
His twin sister looked at him, a genuinely curious smile on her face. "Why would you think that?" She asked, cocking her head to the side. "Do you think I gave the shooter a gun or something?"
Harkin didn't answer. He let go of her hand and crossed his arms across his chest, his gaze focused on the TV. Cerise watched him, musing at how similar they looked.
He wouldn't understand, she thought. He was the more reckless and chaotic of the two of them, more straightforward in causing trouble. She, on the other hand, she did everything with the purpose of learning.
A social experiment, if you will.
She mentally tallied the numbers in her head. Fifty in a day, she thought. Not bad. Her body count was rising.
Not bad at all.