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Yugikun
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She had left them.

((Jasmine King, continued from The Cuckooís Calling))

She didnít know why. The reason should have been something still in her mind. She had a good memory. She had to have one. Typically at school she could just write things down in her book once if she needed to know a concept or an idea or a note for later. It always worked. She was a good student. One of the best, actually. She put in the work and she reaped the rewards for it. It never was quite the amount that she wanted, it never was quite the amount that she deserved, but that wasnít something she minded. She was long past the time where she tried to get her parents to look past her brother when she had done far more than he had, now she was just doing it for herself. She was continuing to flourish so that she could get the best job possible so that she could live the best life she could think of. And all those people who looked down on her?

She would have shown them. That was a definite. When everyone else down there was dealing with their shitty lives theyíd see her in a newspaper somewhere. She didnít know what would be in it but itíd be something good. Something that would have shown how far she had come.

But that was no longer. The emphasis was on the ďwould have.Ē She would have done that, she would have showed them, had she been given the chance. She hadnít been. Because now she was on this island. She was in some sort of storehouse on some island somewhere in the ocean and she would never get that chance to show everyone what she could do. Because she was here, on this island, where the only way to get off was to be the last person still alive. The connection there was elementary. If she was dead, then she couldnít show them, but if she lived, there would be nobody else to show it to. Everything she had worked for in her life was now going to amount to nothing. She was likely going to die here as some sort of number for an aspiring psychopath and all that remained would be what was on the cameras. A video that people would look at and go, ďaww, that sucks.Ē

ďI feel so sorry for her.Ē

That in itself didnít have to go with saying, but you know what the worst part was? She was here, on this island, likely going to die within the next couple of days while Julian was in his room doing whatever the fuck Julian did in his room. It wasnít fair. He didnít have to do anything. All he had to do was to just be born before her and he got all the attention and praise from his parents despite barely even lifting a finger for himself. She had done everything for herself and she had been backhanded by the world while he had just gone along for the ride and and had just everything given to him. Just as usual. Another ordinary day in the King household. Jasmine was up in her room studying, Julian was just lazing on the couch downstairs, and both their parents have just come back from selling things. They probably didnít even care, they just felt like they had to 'so they just gave clothes and money and love and everything to the person right in front of them.

Maybe...

Maybe now that she was here, though, sheíd finally get that recognition. She wouldnít be around to hear it, but at least now her parents might finally look up a little. It would have been nice, if she was there. It was probably the best thing to come out of being here.

And wait, no, no, no. That was the worst part. Not just being here - that was terrible in and of itself - but everything that had happened since then. The rage and the loss of the control that led to her breaking the mirror. The girl in the dark room, somehow being so dumb to not know the good plan standing right in front of her. Maxim acting howÖ Maxim was acting. Weird. No wonder he got kicked out of Benís party. There was also the cold of the bathtub room, the anger of Toby, and the situation that had erupted because of it. Maybe that was why she left. There had almost been a fight there. It wouldnít have been good if she had been caught in it. She nodded. It wouldnít have. That was why.she left. She smiled, slightly. It made sense. It was the right thing for her to do, in that situation.

Ö

No it wasnít.

Because that was absolutely the worst part of all. Worse than Julian being at home. Worse than being here. Worse than all the events and experiences she had had so far. No. The worst part was the mistakes. Everything that she had done so far leading up to here. Getting angry. Not setting the girl in the dark room straight and letting her leave. Choosing to leave Maxim alone. Not talking to Toby correctly. Letting the fight happen. Leaving the room. All mistakes. All on her part. She wanted to deflect them. She truly wanted to believe that she wasnít responsible, that it was the fault of the idiots around her, as per usual, but she couldnít. She was alone now, while everyone else was likely in a group, and it was all her fault. Everything was adding up. All her mistakes were starting to come down on her, and the feeling of irritation was beginning to rise up again.

And to think, how far she had fallen. Just yesterday she was Jasmine King, the treacherous royal advisor of her year who truly had the power over her namesake. She was the person who got Lacey Ashcroft to admit she had a crush on someone when she didnít even know he existed. Irene was herÖ she knew what she meant there, she didnít need to think about it. The point was, she had power back then. She was good with her words. She had the dossiers back home of everything she had collected, and they werenít just things that had been given to her. They were proof. She knew she was good at it, so why wasnít it working at a point where she truly needed it?

She didnít know.

It was adding up.

At least she was by herself now. At least she had time for her thoughts. It was probably the only benefit of not being in a group. She looked around. She was in aÖ giant storage room, it seemed. Boxes. Stacks. Corridors between them. She was walking down them, trying to find a way through to the other side. She knew that it probably wasnít the smartest idea to begin with, but she had nothing. She didnít know where she was. She still didnít know what the building she had left was supposed to be. She wasnít sure what this place was supposed to be, or how to get out of this place. She knew she was on an island in the middle of the ocean somewhere and that there were buildings on this island. Nothing more.

And you know what? There was absolutely no problem with that at all. Because itís okay, Jasmine. Itís okay that you donít know everything, itís only natural. You never expected this to happen to you. How could you have guessed that you would have been taken away from the life that you had worked so hard to achieve to be placed on an island in the middle of nowhere, and to be told that if you wanted to go back to your normal life you had to be the last one here still alive. You couldnít have. There was no way you could have predicted that, Jasmine, and that was okay. Itís okay that you donít know where you are, and that you donít know what this place is supposed to be, because itís highly unlikely that anyone else does, either. Youíre at the same level as your fellow classmates, and youíre just like everyone else in this situation.

Her fist tried to clench. It didnít. A slight yelp of pain came out of her throat as the knuckles almost dug into her bone.

The noise that came from her throat after was one more of anger. Of seething. The process everyone did every second of the day, with the emotions coming to the forefront.

And she noticed it.

And she stopped.

And she threw the fucking knuckles on the ground off her hands and they clanged and they bounced, and she realised just what she was doing and she kneeled down and grabbed them and she was so relieved that she was alone because at least nobody could see her like this kneeling on the ground trying to get back the only fucking weapon she had and she realised that there were the cameras all around her, and they were watching and the people still at home were watching and fucking Julian was watching probably laughing at what was happening and her fists were clenching and she was closing her eyes as hard as she could and she didnít want to be here she just wanted to be home safe doing study or chatting with a friend or fucking something like that, and she knew she looked pathetic right now doing whatever she was doing but she didnít care. The cameras were gone. She knew she wasnít crying and she was happy for that because at least it was the one thing she hadnít done.

It was adding up.

And she was scared.

Because she was going to die here. She didnít want to at all but she knew that no matter how deep in her heart she didnít want to it was going to happen. She was alone, with nothing but the knuckles. She knew that sooner or later someone would come with their gun or their sword and they would find her and they would use it on her. And she was scared. She didnít want to die. She didnít know what would happen. As much as she wanted to push it out of her head it was still there. The biggest unknown to life. Everyone died, but what happened after? Was there anything there? There was no answer. No matter how hard she studied or how hard she tried she would never know what the answer was. It would have to happen to her for her to find out? And if there was nothing there? Sheíd be stuck forever, screaming and hoping for something better or for something to happen.

And there was another thing to it, too. The thought of dying was bad, and her idea to get around it - at least for now - was to join up with a group of people. To not be alone. It wasnít succeeding right now, and that was bad. More than because of the game. At home, back at school, she always had people. She always had friends. Every class. Every lunchtime. Even at home, when she was studying, there were people who she could talk to only one passcode or word away. There was nobody here. Nobody who she could help with the concepts whenever they didnít know. Nobody who could entertain her during the otherwise boring lunch periods. No-one who could give her something to do when she didnít want to study or watch anything. Nobody. No Jordan. No Kizi. No Ben. She was alone.

And it scared her.

So there were two questions. She remembered them, back from the dark room with the mirrors. One had changed slightly, by now, but the meaning was still the same, if only slight.

Did she want to be alone?

The answer was no, the same as when she had asked herself if she wanted to kill, earlier.

Did she want to live?

The answer was now far, far stronger than it had been before.

So, she stood up, placing the knuckles back on her fingers. Her breaths had lost their anger.

The memory of what she just did was pushed out. Put in a cell with the key thrown away. Never again would her show of weakness interact with the society that was the mind of Jasmine King.

So she kept walking. Down the walls of what seemed to be a giant storage room. Sheíd find a way out. She knew she would. If worst came to worst, she would turn back and retrace her steps. The human memory knew how to do that. So long as the brain was healthy and functional it could always be able to do that. It wasnít what she really wanted to do, though. If worst came to worst, yes, but that hadnít happened, yet. There was another side to this building, and Jasmine was still determined to find it. She would just keep going down these makeshift corridors, through the crates and supplies. She would just turn the corner, and-

She jumped back as she saw the corpse laid out within her view.

Wait, hang on a minute, was that?

She took steps forward, trying to get a closer look.

Oh god.

It was.

Rea Adams wasnít exactly someone that Jasmine particularly liked. Quite the opposite, in fact. There were reasons, of course. Jasmine didnít quite like hating people, as good as it could make her feel, and indeed, there were reasons to like hating Rea. She was good in class. Not as good as she was, of course, but they could get awfully close to each other in science, and that was not something good for Jasmine. Plus, there were other factors. Her attitude. Maybe Jasmine could be considered a hypocrite for saying it, but even if she was better she never treated the people around her the way Rea did, and the people she associated with were even worse. Irene, and Will of all people to throw her body on. And they acted like the cream of the crop as well, the both of them. She supposed that badness just breeded with itself.

And that was Rea. Did Jasmine like Rea? No.

Did she deserve to die?

No.

But there was something about what she was seeing. Something about the corpse of the person that laid in front of her. She lookedÖ peaceful, in a way. Not just in the way she was laid out - whoever found her first at the very least seemed to care - but on her face. Her eyes were closed. She was smiling, if only slightly.

It was almost enough to get Jasmine to forget about the bloody gash on her chest.

But she noticed, and she didnít forget about the smile. She looked over the corpse that had been left. Rea had smiled, as she had been stabbed. Someone had did this to her, but even though she was dead, she was still happy, somehow.

She didnít want to die. She knew that now. She wasnít going to be like Rea.

And she still had her plan. Even though she was alone, walking past the corpse, she still wasnít dead yet. There were still likely other people also alone out there. There were still groups that would be easily willing to accept her. She still had her friends. Kizi. Jordan. Ben. They were out there. There was no way all of them had died, yet. There were so many opportunities for her to not be alone out there, and she knew that she could take them. She was Jasmine King, the traitorous royal advisor of her year. She was good with speaking. She was good with words. She was good at getting what she wanted. She could get a group. Be with people. With other people who were alone, with an already established group, with her friends, she didnít care. She knew that she could do it, she knew that she could win this game, and there was one more thing she knew, as she finally found the other side of the storage room.

She knew that she would show them.

((Jasmine King, continued in Survival Strategy))
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Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson · The Storehouse