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((Kimberly Nguyen continued from In Theory, This Should Be Easy))

Kimberly felt violated.

It had been such a simple thing. Fuck, with greedy people all around, had it really been too damn much to want to die without regrets? It was just this little bitty request, just one fucking little thing to ask. She was gonna die anyways, so why not enjoy the rest of her life as much as she could? But no, they'd had to go and fuck that up. Everyone had to go and fuck up her life. Liz had entered her into the death lottery. She'd gone and fucking dealt with that problem, but then it had just gotten worse. Liz had fucked up her day again, somehow, just by being so easy to hate. Kimberly had kinda assumed everyone else would be all for smashing things. Fuck, it was the logical course of action. No way to argue that. Kimberly was being completely selfish in wanting it stopped. She was cool with that. But, fuck, surely not everyone could think like her?

But then, it only took one.


Right about now, Aislyn was the person Kimberly hated more than anyone else in the world. Kris' crimes paled in comparison. Kris had taken her arm. Aislyn had taken her freedom.

Is that really true?

She remembered. Aislyn came at her. The brush, hand against hand, set her spinning to face the other girl. She'd expected something simple, nothing more than a grab, followed by a hasty retreat. That didn't happen, though. Aislyn shot her elbow into Kimberly's face, smashed her in the forehead. She had a nice bruise there now. A nice little reminder. It would probably stick with her for the rest of her life. She'd been scared. She'd been fucking terrified that she was going to die. It was stupid. Pointless. Aislyn didn't have any weapons on her. She'd ditched the bat somewhere. That particular bit of information had haunted Kimberly in the hours since. Aislyn had left the bat behind. That meant, beyond any doubt, she'd held no intention of using deadly force.

Of course, in the end that meant fuck all.

Kimberly had stabbed her. As it had happened, the world had been black. She hadn't been able to think of anything else to do. That didn't make things better, though. It meant she'd lost. She'd lost, totally and completely. Aislyn had taken her choice away from her. That was worse than anything.

Either way, she could remember the stabbing now. She thrust the knife forward, just like she'd heard you did it. Felt it enter Aislyn's flesh. Surprisingly little resistance as it punched through skin and muscle. It sunk in nice and deep. Blood came out, coated the knife, coated her hand and Aislyn and the docks.

And just like that, Kimberly had become a killer.

And it was just so fucking stupid.

She had never really planned to kill anyone. Even Kris. Sure, she'd said she'd do it. Thought it, even. Half of that had been to piss off Sarah and Bridget. In reality, it ran deeper than that. Kris had hurt her. Kris had taken away her options. That demanded retribution. It wasn't justice. It was that nasty little instinct that told Kimberly that if she got kicked she might as well kick back twice as hard, share some of that pain. Kris had some pretty awful stuff coming to her, but not death.

Kimberly had killed someone, though.

She'd killed Aislyn and now she felt fucking bad about it. She'd cried. She had fucking cried over this girl she'd killed, this girl she'd kind of even thought was pretty cool and might make a half decent ally. She'd cried and she'd dry heaved and she'd spent a couple hours wishing she'd never gone to the docks, wishing she'd never taken the knife, wishing things could have somehow been different. All of a sudden, she had lots of fucking regrets, all because Aislyn couldn't have held it together just a little longer, couldn't have played it a little cooler.

Kimberly hated her for it.

She hated Aislyn so much. It wasn't just the pain she'd caused, either. It ran far deeper than that. Aislyn had fucked Kimberly over every way in the book, made her lose her game, hurt her, and then, to top it all off, slipped off totally fucking free.

Oh yes. Aislyn had gone and died on her. No doubts about it. No way had she dragged herself out of that water, bloody and broken but still alive. Kimberly had seen it in her eyes. She'd known. Aislyn had known she was dying, so Kimberly had too.

And now, Aislyn was dead, and Kimberly couldn't hurt her.

It was awful. It was worse than awful. Her rage, her pain, it was all screaming for revenge. Aislyn had hurt her. She needed to be hurt in turn. Force her to kill someone. Force her to fucking kill her own friends, one by one, line 'em up in a row and press a gun into Aislyn's hand, and tell her to shoot them in turn. Sure, in reality it'd never work, she'd just shoot Kimberly instead, but reality didn't fucking enter into the equation anymore, now did it? Not after what Aislyn had done. She'd died and left Kimberly alone, left her stranded with her grief and her regrets and her anger.

The towel Kimberly had worn over her left arm for nearly a week, cape style, was gone now. It had made her feel better, more in control, less vulnerable. It had hidden her wound. Since she had thrown away her spare clothing, it had also been the only disposable item she'd had left, because no fucking way was she ditching her sweater. So, when Kimberly had stopped to refill her water and also to wash the blood off her hand and the knife, the towel had been the only thing to scrub with. After that, she hadn't wanted it back. She'd been tempted to send it floating down the stream, bask in the symbolism of lost innocence or some shit like that, the sort of stuff she'd written poems about, but instead she'd gotten pissed and burned it.

She probably looked pretty damn pathetic right about now. She was back to how she had been on her first day, only she also looked like she'd been rolled down a hill into a pit of sharp rocks. Her jeans were dusty and stained with mud and sweat. Only one of the ornamental chains remained, and even that had torn loose at one end. It now hung against her left leg, jingling with her steps. Her hoodie was equally dusty, and also had some of her own blood on it. The left sleeve was missing, crudely cut off at the shoulder. The white bandages peeking through looked pretty nice and fresh, at least, because Kimberly had just changed them, after washing and sterilizing her injury once more. Surprisingly, it was looking better. Even after all the stuff that had gone wrong, she was still healing pretty nicely. Sarah had done wonders. The stitches had held through it all, and her flesh had knit back together somewhat, though she still had a fucking monster of a scab.

She could even clench her left fist now without feeling like her arm would fall off. Bending the elbow was still a no go, though she'd tried it a few times anyways, just to see.

Her hair was matted. Her glasses her smudged and scratched. The soles of her boots had worn down. She probably had some kind of nasty fungus growing on her feet by now, since she hadn't removed her boots all week. She wasn't quite sure she'd be able to replace them quickly if someone surprised her.

All in all, she'd seen better days.

She was still alive, though. For some reason she, one of the first people in this game to be shot, was still alive when so many of her classmates were dead.

It didn't make any fucking sense.

"Where the FUCK do you get off with this pretend badass act? It DOESN'T. FUCKING. WORK. And I hope to fucking GOD that you realize that by now. You don't GET to walk around in your cape and your fedora and smoke your fucking cigarettes when you got SHOT."

Jeremy Franco had said that to her, half a week ago. He'd been right, but she hadn't changed a bit. She'd hit her stride, and instead of flinching, instead of backing down as complications arose, she had powered through, she had honed her routine to a fucking razor edge. And she'd made it work. She'd succeeded where most of the island had failed. She'd tracked Liz Polanski down, held her at gunpoint. Maybe she should have killed Liz after all. At the time, she'd still been sure she wouldn't do it unless she was about to die anyways. Now, though, she was having second thoughts. Liz had deserved to die. Aislyn hadn't. Kimberly was stained anyways. Why hadn't she picked a deserving target?

She was second guessing her every action. Her confidence was fucking gone. She didn't even know what she was doing now. She had a score to settle with Kris, but how could she even face that now? She'd done the same fucking thing Kris had, reacted wrong to someone trying to calm the situation down. She'd killed someone for exactly the same reason Kris had shot her.

The revenge she planned to take wasn't about that, of course. It was a personal grievance. But what was she going to say as she made the first cut on Kris' shoulder? Could she really look the other girl in the eyes and say, "I'm just like you," with a straight face?

If she could, was it worth continuing?

No. No.


It sucked. It was a terrible fucking tragedy that Aislyn had died, but that was it. It was an accident. A fuck up.

What an awful excuse. What a lie. She'd promised she'd be honest with herself. It had been the whole central tenet of her crusade. She'd fucked up bad. She'd fucked up and killed someone and it fucking hurt like nothing else ever had. When she closed her eyes, Aislyn looked back at her. She'd killed. There was a girl who would never go home, would never hug her relatives, would never do anything at all. She'd probably wash up on shore before too long, and then she'd rot. Just so much molding meat. Just like Kimberly would be before too long. Just like almost half of her class.

School. That was how this had all started, right? Once, way back in the distant past, they'd all gone to school together. They'd been friends and lovers, rivals and buddies. They'd been people Kimberly lit up with behind the mall, and people she mocked in low tones for their poor fashion sense, and people she walked away from in disgust when they told her to stop being a bitch, and people she passed every day and never gave a second thought. They'd been people.

What were they now?

Now, they felt like fucking toys.

When it came down to it, it was probably about pain. This was one of those times where Kimberly forced herself to be honest even if she didn't quite like it. Thing was, she enjoyed causing people pain. Not the physical sort. That was pretty disgusting, pretty fucked up. Well, okay, maybe the thought did it for her just a bit, but only a little. Really, though, causing physical pain was like trying to draw a masterpiece with crayons. Mostly, it was a huge fucking waste of time.

What worked was emotions. Kimberly loved emotions. Before all of this, she'd pretty much ignored others' wants and needs, giving priority to her own. She'd always kind of thought that was how everyone was. She'd enjoyed being the star of the show when she could wrangle it, but hadn't been bothered at all when she had to go do her own thing.

The island had changed that. She'd changed. She'd started hurting people for fun, and damn if it wasn't a blast. It had started simple. Dutchy. He'd seen her come back, so he'd had to be neutralized. Trauma was a tool. Then, the whole group had fucked her over, wasted her time, so she'd shot some barbs at them. Besides, they'd treated her like a fucking invalid. They'd deserved it. She'd gone for those girls on the mountain next. And that was where things had gotten out of control. Everything since then had been one ridiculous escalation after another. Surely she'd known it would have to come to an end. Surely she'd known it would eventually go one step too far.



A girl was dead because Kimberly had wanted to get her kicks by making some boys walk the plank.

She couldn't fix it. Couldn't change the past.

She wasn't quite sure what she thought about that.

It didn't really matter, though. She'd done it. She'd fucked up big time, and now she could either kill herself in a fit of repentant pique or just keep on truckin', see this through to the bitter fucking end.

Kimberly was not going to kill herself. She'd thought she was okay with dying, as long as it was on her terms. Maybe she still was. Suicide was just giving up, though. Suicide was admitting defeat. No way around it.

That meant she'd keep going.

Would she change, though? Could she? Probably not. This wasn't some sort of redemption quest. As far as she could see, redemption was in awful short supply around here. She had her regrets. That meant she'd learn. She wouldn't repeat her mistakes. She wouldn't lose again.

"And you're saying I'm no better or worse than any of the other killers on the island?"

Funny, the people who shape you.

"I guess I'm okay with that."

Here's to you, Liz. And all this time, I thought I was the one who'd taught you something.

If we meet again, I'm cutting off your fingers.

By this time, it was dark. Night had worn on. Kimberly hadn't slept. She was sitting against a stump, finally aware of her surroundings. She was in a tree graveyard. All around her lay the shattered remains of a forest. She liked it. She was broken, just like the trees.

Everyone was broken now.

Her left arm was a little cold, so she dug out a cigarette and lit it. No drama in the gesture this time. Just a little smoke to warm her. Just a little nicotine to give her a boost.

The knife was in her boot. The grappling hook hung from her, with about seven feet of slack. It had dragged along the ground earlier, catching on occasional sticks and stumps. She hadn't cared enough to readjust her improvised harness.

She took a long drag, and blew smoke into the air. Wished Aislyn was around to share it.
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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and you may say to yourself, "My god, what have I done?" · The Felled Forest: North