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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Kimberly Nguyen continued from The Long Road Home))

Choices. Right? Wrong? Who gave a fuck anymore?

Certainly not Kimberly.

She'd left the group like she'd left everything she didn't need, discarded them much the same as she'd discarded her spare clothing back on the beach. It wasn't that she didn't care. It was that she couldn't afford to let anything get in her way and slow her down. She was going to find Kris. She was going to find the bitch and make her pay. It was a fixation. A dangerous one. The odds were actually pretty damn good she was going to die attempting to get her payback.

Thing was, she was going to die no matter what. No way around that. No point pretending otherwise. A girl with one good arm, wielding a grappling hook? Yeah, not really a prime contender there.

She was trying to tell herself she didn't care. Trying to tell herself it didn't matter. Nothing mattered. Push the fear back. Push the yearning for life to the bottom. It was too much to confront now. Mortality could wait 'til she was well and truly doomed. Angst was a damn fine way to waste a life when it wasn't in danger, but now that any second could bring a bullet through the skull, Kimberly found she couldn't bring herself to care about some dumb lines of melodramatic poetry.

And she'd never been that good at the whole scene anyways. Never had the right sort of exaggerated sadness and self-pity. Kimberly had never in her life cut or otherwise intentionally injured herself. She had never contemplated suicide except when she thought it was what she was supposed to do to get in the right mood for writing, and even then she hadn't taken it too seriously.

The hilarious thing was, Hermione Miller, preppy model girl, had gone and one-upped Kimberly, queen of the dark. She'd actually worked up the guts to blow her fucking head clean off. That was some real street cred there. Kimberly thought back to that day, the lunch room, the disgusting non-fat cake she'd shared with the girl who no longer existed. Remembered the awkward exchanges, the ride to the party, the detour. Remembered her glimpse into Hermione's life, into the world she inhabited, a world where fatless cake was a fucking treat. Remembered the creeps and the weirdness and the pressure. Wondered if maybe Hermione had always had the grimmer existence.

Not like it really mattered. Kimberly hadn't cried when she heard of her friend's death.

She was not going to cry now, either, no way. No reflections would bring her tears. She found herself lighting her cigarette, though, the same one she'd been fiddling with for over a day now, saving for a moment like this.

Well, Hermione, at least you're done now. At least you left on your terms. Best fucking way out of this game. Made your own choice for once. I hope it didn't hurt too much.

An exhalation: smoke winding its way skywards from her mouth, its haze blurring the stars. Friends dead and friends alive, and still Kimberly lived, and still the game went on.

And still she hungered for a little bit of closure.

Yes, because Kris still lived too, and they had a bit of a score to settle, didn't they? Kimberly flexed the fingers of her left hand, just slightly. She could move them again—just the tiniest bit, not even making a fist—and avoid engulfing her arm in complete agony. Maybe it was the low-grade painkillers from her first aid kit that she'd started taking. Maybe she was actually healing a little bit. It didn't matter. Kris had hurt more than her arm.

Another drag on the cigarette.

She was on the mountain. The sun had set some time ago. The climb had been somewhat difficult, but now she was at a spot where it seemed safe to rest. Kimberly glanced around for a seat, found a promising rock, and sat down, the few chains on her skinny jeans jangling and clinking against the rock, her improvised cape hanging loosely, hiding her injury. She looked around, at the trees, the stars, the glowing ember hovering in front of her face.

She was going to live the fuck out of her last few days, and spending a little time appreciating the scenery seemed a good enough way to get a jump on that.
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
Library Vee
Misty Browder drawn by Ryuki
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But I Might Die Tonight · The Mountain