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((Alice Baker continued from Two Mules for Sister Sara.))

Alice took the bunting and cumbersomely cut it in half with scissors in the medical kit. Then she tied the two doors shut at the handles. A makeshift shield against the outdoors, and whomever might be lurking there.

It was foreboding, spending the night in a chapel. Alice explored nervously; though she knew very real threats existed in her vicinity, she found herself vividly picturing horrible things jumping out of the darkness at her. A silly, childish thing; she was perfectly safe from bogeymen. She didn't find much in the way of supplies, and she wanted to conserve her battery-powered flashlight. So she mostly stayed in the eulogy room.

Regardless, she definitely wanted to take shelter here for as long as possible. As the days passed, the risk of a violent student coming along would increase. Alice wasn't a math expert, but she figured that anyone willing to kill would be more likely to attack people unwilling, since they were easy targets.

Alice was such a person. She tried to imagine herself swinging an axe at an unfamiliar girl, but could only shuddered in revulsion. Violence was certainly not her forte. So eventually, killers would outnumber the people like her, and her chances of being attacked would as well.

So what was all the reckoning for? She wanted to avoid people. That'd been her decision, right here in fact. She sat down on a pew, her bag between her legs. Staring upward at the ceiling, she wondered if there was any point praying. She wasn't especially religious; her parents were very lax Protestants, and she rarely went to church even as a child. What would be the point now? God wasn't going to save them. He hadn't saved the last five classes, after all.

She would need to keep herself alive until...what? She won? She had to commit murder to go home if she won, otherwise they'd keep her here and the whole thing would be pointless. All her friends dying for nothing. So, she realized, she was going to die. Unless she was saved by an outside factor. But how likely was that? It'd happened once, she knew. But that was eight years ago. Would anything happen this time?

She slept fitfully, curled up on the floor with her hard bag as a pillow. But she wasn't prepared for what morning brought; the announcements.

Jennifer Su. Alice knew her; the poor thing was even shyer than Alice. Perhaps dying early and hopefully quickly meant she was spared suffering. Alice wondered what that implied for her.

Tina Luz. The Luz family had already lost someone. Her killer wasn't someone Alice knew well, but Isabel was apparently well-known from what she'd heard.

Alice gasped as she heard Scarlett McAfee's name. She'd...she'd been alive yesterday. Alice had seen her. She'd been nice, traveling with Aiden, whom Alice had frightened. Now she was dead, and someone with an axe had killed her. If she hadn't met Alice, she might still be alive. God help her.

Cristobal was an athlete, a baseball player. She'd probably never met him. Barry Banks, too. Kimiko was in Alice's math class. She'd murdered a boy. Barry had been killed by Alvaro, a boy she knew enough to be shocked that he'd slain another man.

Abby Floyd was a legitimately good person. Alice had never heard a bad thing said of her. She'd committed suicide.

Conrad and Harold. Conrad killed Harold, and then was killed by Isabel. Someone to avoid, for sure. Alice wished she knew them better. It felt callous to not be able to think of a person as more than a body count.

Rea was aloof, but she didn't know Alice well. Joshua was a nice enough person. Alice didn't know him, either.

In a way, Alice was grateful. Nobody she knew well, save Jennifer, had died. Nobody she knew well had killed. She was also horrified that murders had been committed so near to her. They could have been her. She could be dead now.

She wrapped her arms around herself, felt her breathing speed up. She heard, or thought she did, a sound, like the doors moving. It might have been the wind, for all she knew.

But she screamed, shrill and girlish, nonetheless.
V5: Cut Short

V6: Broken Down

V7: Unprepared
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Down the Rabbit Hole · Crematorium Chapel