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Don't cast aspersions on my asparagus.
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There wasn't really much for Kizi to add to that. She'd always struggled at small talk, and now? With death looming over their heads? It seemed like an even more difficult task.

They'd said everything that could be said, really. Sure, there would be the moments to turn to the cameras, say things to the family, pontificate on just how unfortunately placed they were, try and express this emotional burden in perhaps a more lucid and cogent way, try and throw some illumination on things for the sake of anybody willing to help. But Kizi wasn't ready to do that now. Wasn't ready to say the final words for her family.

That was closure, in a way. And it was too early for that. She hoped so, anyway.

And they'd said anything that needed to be said. Anything else was a redundancy, a truism, a superfluous murmur of agreement. It was impossible to believe this was happening, as Bart had said. And they sure hoped nobody around them would be going violent, as Jennifer had said. And what else was there to add to that?

So she just nodded. A sad nod, something oxymoronic she'd never done before. And she said all she could say. "I really hope this isn't real." She slumped against the tree, the closest thing to a chair there was, and buried her head in her hands. She couldn't even bear to look at the shotgun that had been assigned to her. That was what really made it seem real.

Kizi had been tricked by pranks before. She was gullible. Very gullible. She'd have liked nothing more than for this to be another elaborate prank, another funny way of pulling the wool over Kizi's eyes and having a laugh at her expense. More cruel-natured than normal. More audacious and over-the-top than usual.

She'd once been convinced into believing that you couldn't eat bananas for 24 hours before flying, because the potassium would set off the metal detectors. And that you had to talk really fast on planes, because the speed of the sound of your voice had to keep up with the speed of the plane. That was the sort of trick she fell for, that her friends and family pulled on her. Not this sort of thing.

And perhaps this was a hoax. It was an easy enough hoax to fake. Bart and Jennifer weren't the sort to plan such a hoax of course, and they were probably victims of the prank too.

But the shotgun? That made it all real. Yes, it was easy to acquire a shotgun. But it was another thing to so carelessly leave it lying around for the sake of a joke.

And whenever she looked at it, she was reminded of what had happened to Mr. Graham.

And there was no way that was a prank.
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Kiziah Saraki
Bradley Floyd
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