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He let go, pitching sideways and she gasped for air, only to be greeted with a splash of his blood hitting her in the face. It was so warm. She saw what he signed as he lay on next to her on the bed but it didn't register, not at first.

It became clear what had happened as he continued. She was sobbing, watching him explain himself.

She hadn't wanted him to die. She had just thought he was trying to kill her, but that was what he had wanted.

Painfully he touched his hand to his lips and then to hers.

He gave her one final message, that brought a tearful smile to her face. Then he was gone.

Kimiko pressed her hand to her lips and gently placed them against his.

Then she buried her face in the bed and wept.


Kimiko didn't know how long it had been.

She was sat knees pulled up to her chest in the corner of the room. Caleb still lay on the bed, his blood dried onto the sheets, she could feel it on her lower jaw and around her mouth as well. It had dried and become itchy but she hadn't touched it. Instead she just started at nothing in particular. She felt an emptiness she had never felt before. There was a longing as well, a longing for everything to be over. She knew that she couldn't give up though. She couldn't let Caleb's sacrifice be for nothing.

He had loved her.

He had given up his life so she had a better chance of winning; letting that go to waste would be an insult to his memory.

She had to make sure that didn’t happen.

Shakily Kimiko pushed herself to her feet and walked from the room. There was an emptiness in the way she walked, like a vessel that had been hollowed out and was waiting to be filled. She climbed the stairs and moved into one of the bedrooms, tearing the sheets off of it before heading back out and back down, back into the room with Caleb. She stopped in the doorway, not wanting to move any further. He looked peaceful, she wondered if he would have ascended to Tian.

She sincerely hoped he had.

There was nothing for her to give Caleb the proper funeral he deserved, on top of that she didn't have the time. Then again he probably wouldn't have cared anyway. She moved closer. Kimiko didn't want to cover Caleb with the sheet, it meant she would never get to see his face again but she couldn't bring herself to leave his body in full view of the cameras. Blinking away more tears Kimiko laid the sheet over Caleb, then she gathered up everything and left the room.


Kimiko was sat with her back against the kitchen counter, hugging her pack to her chest. The nodachi lay beside her along with the tantō. She had heard the announcement come and go. Her name was mentioned again as they spoke of Bradley's death. Caleb's murder wasn't mentioned. Occasionally she would start to drift off to sleep but all she saw was Caleb's face and fresh tears would form.

The guilt was eating away at her, in her isolation she nothing to think about besides Caleb. She had replayed the previous day over and over in her head, embedding his eyes, his laugh, his smile. His final message to her. And whenever she closed her eyes she saw the moment itself in all its detail.

She hugged her pack tighter.


Eventually Kimiko forced herself to leave. She had taken Caleb's supplies, the Nixon mask she had propped against her megaphone on the kitchen counter, next to the half-eaten slice of pizza. She was stood at the door, scared to open it and continue on down the path the stretched before her.

Make your life what you want it to be now. The rest will follow.

What did she want?

Taking a deep breath Kimiko steadied herself and opened the door, leaving the hunting cabin without looking back.

It didn't stop the pain she was feeling.

((Kimiko Kao continued in Why We Fight))
Forrest Quin - At the Zoo
Bret Carter - On a date
Aliya Kimia Nemati - In Training
Arizona - Practicing
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The Lagniappe · The Hunting Cabin