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Don't cast aspersions on my asparagus.
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Kizi had never been a peaceful sleeper.

She was a deep sleeper, certainly. Dreams and nightmares alike never disrupted her gravely, or rendered a serene slumber impossible, even when they were at their most vivid and engrossing. What she did do was thrash and fidget and toss and turn with a liveliness that evaded her while awake. Making her bed in the morning had, for her at least, always been an arduous task, one that required her to engage with skills like planning and spatial awareness and critical thinking first thing in the morning. But hey, it was all worth it. She had never struggled too much, or felt restive and sleep-deprived the morning after, of course. She had always woken up well-rested.

So when she had woken up, from a placid and drowsy sleep, it was quite worrying that she had clearly not disturbed her environment at all, that her sleep had apparently been composed and calm to the outside world.

And when she was not well-rested, that was another jarring break from normalcy. She felt tired. Awful. To be expected, of course. It was likely the chemical-induced drowsiness, to which she reckoned she had been among the first to succumb to, was no substitute for actual voluntary sleep. At least for her.

She looked around, not lifting her head up, not wanting to unnecessarily disturb her still-untouched surroundings until necessary. Took stock of her surroundings. There was a fallen tree to one side, gnarled and weathered, and her body lay on and next to many paintings and drawings, forever crumpled by her presence. She grimaced, and felt bad for damaging the artwork, as eclectic and inconsistent in style and quality as it was. Kizi had never been much of an artist, something she regretted now, with mortality staring her bluntly in the face. It would have been nice, to find a creative venue of expression, to have become a more well-rounded person, to really make the most of the advantages she had been lucky to receive.

Kizi's sleep had been atypical. But what she did once awake, that was much more normal. She liked lying awake for a bit, embraced by the comfort of her bed and consciously resting her muscles, and though she lacked the luxury of an actual bed, at least she could just lay there. And rest. Wait. Hopefully another slumber would ascend upon her soon.

But nope. None came.

Well. Darn.

Instead, noise. First the sound of a loud clunk. Not a gunshot, she realised, or an explosion, and she released her breath. She hadn't even noticed she'd held it in fear. And then voices. Oh, voices. She missed them. Never mind the content, but hearing a familiar voice, one not promising murder and terror and brutality, that was a sweet reprieve she had not known she'd missed. She would never hear her mother's voice again, or her sister's or her brother's or Aunt Tolulope's or anyone else's, but she would take comfort in the voices of her friends.

Jennifer's voice. Jennifer was honest, smart, a good person. An aspiring journalist. No matter how small some perceived the stakes to be, Kizi always admired the journalistic instinct. Great journalism, real accountability, that always started at the bottom. It was good to hear her voice.

It meant she would die too. Die or become a murderer.

Kizi felt selfish now. Hearing Jennifer's voice was not a comfort. No. It meant one more good person destroyed by the traumas of this game.

And then Bart's voice. Bart was nice. Gentle. Talented. Promising. Promise that would never be actualised. Was she being pessimistic? Or a realist? She did not know. These two, they had done things with their lives.

They were writing club buddies, she had recalled. Well, the conversation would have reminded her of that fact anyway. Kizi should have joined.

She felt almost rude to disrupt them. Almost like an uninvited obstruction. But honesty was all Kizi had left. So she began to stand up, and announced her presence. "Hello?" Her voice was tentative, fearful, but better that than bold and dangerous. She was not a threat. She knew better than to give that impression. She ignored the shotgun and the duffel bag for now. Too much to think about. She was not a threat, even with them. "It's Kizi here. Kiziah. Hello guys. I can go if you want." She doubted that. Things looked heavy.
V6 peeps:
Kiziah Saraki
Bradley Floyd
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