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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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((Jennifer Perez continued from Keep On Smiling))

Jennifer and Melissa had traveled towards the house of mirrors, but not at the pace Jennifer would have liked. There were always distractions, stupid things like needing to eat and sleep and cry. Things like worrying they'd be shot from ambush in certain areas with poor visibility, and taking the slow, stealthy way around. They'd made it, though. They'd finally made it.

The only thing putting a damper on Jennifer's enthusiasm was the announcements. Bill Davis was dead. Apparently he'd been stabbed after murdering two people. Just fucking wonderful. That meant he'd flipped. She had to hope he'd found Maf before then, relayed her message. Had to hope he hadn't come and then left again. Fuck. Setting meeting places through intermediaries was the worst idea ever. She should have been smarter. Shouldn't have been so optimistic.

The self reproach could wait, though. For now, Jennifer was standing outside the house. It had seen better days. Part of the second floor had been blown out. There were bodies around. She could recognize some of them. Weren't those the Kronwalls, both together there on the ground? It made her shiver. This wasn't a good place. It was sick, twisted. How many of her classmates had met their ends on these premises?

She'd gotten a bit ahead of Melissa. She'd feigned excitement, like she was just glad to be here, but it ran a bit deeper than that. It could be really fucking dangerous inside the maze, and she wasn't about to risk one of her friends' lives without testing the waters first. If she got ambushed and killed, well, hopefully Melissa would be able to get away.

She stepped past the bodies. She considered closing eyes, crossing arms, showing respect for the dead, but that didn't matter anymore. They were things. Things like Guthrie. Things like Phil. Things like she was. The only difference was that electrical impulses still coursed through her brain, still fired through her nerves. She was still conscious of her fate, still able to feel sadness and pain.

Not for long, of course.

It was silly, really, that she was still alive and unharmed. Better people had died all around her. Half her graduating class was dead, and she had a rash on her leg, an upset stomach, and sore muscles. Some fucking justice there. She hadn't done anything to deserve her existence. She'd hadn't done anything at all worth noting. Fuck, all she'd done was fulfill her original goal, the one she'd given up on: be so boring as to deny Danya much of a show. Calamity followed her, but she skirted its edges, always ducking out right before everything went to pieces.

She wondered if there were others like her. Probably. Maybe laying low. She'd traversed this whole island, spent time with three separate murderers. No, wait—four. Four. Bill had been killed by Rhory. That's why the name had struck a bell. Rhory. The girl she'd given water to. Rhory was off getting some prize to kill more people. Maybe that gift of water would come back around to save her life. Maybe, if she ever met Rhory, the girl would hesitate before putting a bullet through her head.

Small comforts.

She sighed. Tried not to think too much about it. Tried not to think how that other killer, Alex Seymour, was dead too. Everyone Jennifer had met in the first few days was dead now, everyone except Carla and Nick. Fuck.

She stepped into the hall of mirrors. Glass crunched beneath her feet. So many broken mirrors. She flicked her flashlight on. Melissa wouldn't be far behind. Time to spring any trap.

Her face stared back at her from all sides, from a thousand points on the floor, some reflections distorted, some perfectly clear. She'd seen better days. She'd not had a whole lot of extra weight on her before a week of near-starvation. There was still blood on her clothes. Her pack was battered, covered in swamp muck. She still had it with her. A week, and she still couldn't throw away a bag of clothes she'd never fucking get to wear again. She felt stupid. Not enough to change, though.

She did take the opportunity to remove her earrings and drop them to the ground, to land amidst all the other sparkling detritus. If she was going to die, she might as well not do it with a torn earlobe. She'd minimize the pain, for herself and everyone else.

She had no idea where she was going in the house. Before long, though, she found herself at the foot of a staircase. As she started up, the familiar smell intensified. There were bodies nearby. No, there were always bodies nearby; specifically, there were bodies very, very close to her current position. She stepped over one. A girl. Shot, it looked like. A glance revealed her identity. Marion. Nothing else with the name, except a vague impression. Yearbook? The paper? Who had killed Marion?

That was answered pretty fucking quickly. There was Bill. His face was crushed, but she could recognize his build and his clothes.


The word, spoken in a firm yet quiet voice, still managed to echo. She hoped Melissa wouldn't hear, or at least wouldn't get scared.

Bill was here? What the fuck was Bill doing here, in the very place where he had been supposed to bring Maf? Had he met up with his teammate? Had they been waiting here? Had they been ambushed? She couldn't say. Maybe some CSI team could reconstruct what had happened here, but Jennifer didn't have the slightest fucking clue. The worst thing was, every single viewer back home knew exactly what had transpired. Fuck, it felt like one of those game shows. She wished she could phone a friend right now, ask them if Maf had been here.

Or maybe just say goodbye.

She'd considered a farewell speech a few times, but decided against it. She wasn't going to give anyone that satisfaction.

She trudged back down the stairs, found a relatively clear patch, and listened for a moment. No one else in the building, from the sounds of things.

"Melissa," she called. "I'm, um, down this way."

This was a huge fucking waste of time. Maybe Nick would show. Maybe Maf would return. She wasn't counting on either, though. No, they would just wait.

Some days, there wasn't much else to do.
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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A Day Late · Hall of Mirrors