Title: Jessica vs Elizabeth
“Oh, Lizzie, isn’t it romantic?” Jessica squealed.
Elizabeth gaped at her twin. “They’re expecting us to kill each other.”
“Yes, but we get new clothes and we’re paired with a boy!”
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
Notes: I am going to post this, unbeta’d as it gets written for NaNoWriMo2017. I will post a clean, edited (hopefully coherent) version when it is finished, but if you want to see the raw, error-laden process of my word-vomit, here it is.
34092 / 50000 words. 68% done!
“Jessica, maybe you should stop hitting Sandra. The, um, flying thingy wants to take her way,” Janet said.
Jessica took a deep breath and wiped the blood spatter off her face with the back of her arm. She let the breath out slowly and looked around. Ellen and Belinda appeared to have joined the group at some point – probably around the same time that Sandra expired.
Jessica stood up. “She probably thinks it was her idea for me to kill her.” She felt a little drunk on the power of killing someone she disliked so intensely.
“Can I have my ball back?” Belinda asked.
“It’s called Raven,” Ellen added. “And she’s called Billie again.” She thought a moment. “I’m still Ellen.”
Jessica looked down at the ball, it was incredibly gross, dripping with blood and bits of Sandra’s face. She would be happy to hand it over, but at the same time, was that a good idea? Belinda – Billie – had clearly flattened Peter DeHaven from a distance with it.
Billie seemed to sense her hesitation. “Jessica, when Peter went for you, I took him out. Unicorns are sisters.”
“What’s our surname?” Ellen asked. “If we’re sisters, whose surname do we have?”
Billie patted Ellen’s shoulder. “It’s like Sophia Rizzo and Sarah Thomas – they’re sisters, but they keep their own surnames.”
“Is your dad going to marry my mom?” Ellen asked.
Jessica handed the ball over. “Thanks. It’s a great weapon – there’s more in the cornucopia.”
“It’s actually called the Unicornucopia,” Janet corrected. “Because it’s purple. And we’re Unicorns.”
“I love it!” Jessica said.
They were interrupted by the appearance of another package attached to a parachute. It floated towards Janet, and she eagerly opened it, while everyone leaned closer to see what she had got.
She twisted off the top, dropped the box, and held the item aloft. It was a headband with a purple metal unicorn horn on it. “Isn’t it pretty?” Janet said. She put it on her head and winced. “It’s really heavy.”
“I think it’s supposed to be a weapon,” Billie said.
Janet shook her head. “No, it’s not, it’s a tiara. It shows that I’m the President of the Unicorns, and bound to be the winner of the Hunger Games.”
“Who’s it from?” Ellen said.
Janet shrugged. “Who cares?”
Billie picked up the card from the discarded packaging. “Oh, it’s from Raven. I don’t know who she is, but I like her. I think she should be an honorary Unicorn. She bought me my killer baseball.”
“I thought Raven was a boy – that’s why I named the angry Koosh Raven. All Kooshes are boys,” Ellen said.
“I think Raven’s probably a girl – probably someone who wants to be a Unicorn,” Billie said. “But Raven’s a good name for a boy or a girl, so the Koosh is fine.”
“What’s the Koosh?” Jessica asked.
Billie indicated the bloody spiked baseball. To Jessica, it couldn’t look any less like a Koosh ball, but if Ellen was set on it then it was probably easier to go along with it. And maybe it looked more like one when it wasn’t dripping gore.
“Have you got any food or drink?” Billie asked. “We haven’t had anything. We really should be a lot more dehydrated than we are. I guess it’s the Sweet Valley metabolism.”
“We don’t have anything,” Janet said.
“Well, we went up the hill, there was no food up there, so we need to try somewhere else. Surely they wouldn’t put us in an arena with no food at all.”
“Yes, I was just about to suggest that. We should split up and search for food and water,” Janet said.
“And we should leave someone to guard the corn – the Unicornucopia,” Jessica said.
“I’m going to do that!” Janet said quickly. “And I pick Belinda to guard me – the Unicornucopia! The rest of you go away and fetch food.”
“Billie,” Billie said. “I’m going by Billie now.”
Janet shook her head. “No you’re not. I can’t deal with any kind of gender confusion. You’re a girl, so I’m calling you Belinda.”
Jessica leaned closer to Billie as they crossed paths. “If you want to throw that at Janet’s head, I’ll back you up if you say it’s an accident.”
Lois dropped to her knees beside Winston and pressed her hands over the wound. The blood was pouring out with no sign of slowing. On the other side, Lila helplessly squeezed Winston’s hands.
“Wake up, Winston!” Lila cried. “It’s ok, we pushed her off the cliff. You’re safe now.”
Lois was fairly sure that it wasn’t going to be ok. She was up to her knees in his blood, his face was pale and his chest wasn’t moving. She held a hand in front of his mouth, but realised it was pointless. The air was so cold she could see her breath. She could see Lila’s.
She couldn’t see Winston’s.
“Why won’t he wake up?” Lila asked. She didn’t sound upset, she sounded aggrieved. “Come on, Winston, we have to move now!”
“Lila,” Lois said in a low tone. “He’s not going to wake up.”
Lila looked up at Lois in irritated confusion. “Of course he is. I killed Elizabeth, the cannon sounded, and so Winston has to be fine.” Lila blinked several times.
“No, I don’t think the cannon was for Elizabeth – or maybe it was for both of them,” Lois said. Actually, she had the nasty idea that it was simply for Winston. The Wakefield twins lived charmed lives, and a fall off a cliff might kill someone else, but not them.
Lila swiped at her face. “I’m not crying!” she snapped. “I’m not. You are.”
“We have to go,” Lois decided.
“We can’t just leave him!” Lila paused and thought for a moment. “He’s a Booster! He’s on the same cheerleading squad as me!”
“It’s ok, I’m sad too, but the hovercraft will come and pick him up, and we should keep moving, just in case anyone else is out there.” Lois dug into her bag and brought out some tissues – part of the bathroom gift from Lila’s pragmatic sponsor. She wiped her eyes with one and handed the other to Lila.
Lila snatched the tissue and dried her eyes. “I’m only crying because all the Booster routines that I looked so wonderful doing needed Winston’s participation. It’ll take months to get someone else trained to his level.”
“Yes, come on, Lila.” Lois got to her feet and nudged Lila’s shoulder.
Before Lila got up, she neatly arranged Winston’s hands over his chest, and straightened his collar.
Over the past day or so, Lois had come to realise that Lila wasn’t quite as awful as she appeared to be. But she hadn’t realised that somewhere, buried really deep, there was a touch of niceness too.
The two walked in silence for awhile. The slope was becoming more gentle the lower they got, so it was easier to walk. The path led down the mountain in a lazy zigzag. It probably was quicker to go direct, but neither of them were eager to revisit the bone-rattling terror-inspiring plunges of earlier.
After a long period of thoughtful silence, Lila suddenly spoke. “I’m very sorry about the time we tried to make you to eat shaving foam. It was mean.”
Lois gave her an incredulous look. It had been a long time since that happened, near the beginning of the school year, so at least seventy or eighty months ago. She had assumed that Lila had completely forgotten about the incident – it wasn’t as if it had scarred her. Then again, Lila had gotten a mouthful of shaving foam, so maybe it had stuck with her at the very least. Elizabeth, in her well-meaning but cruelly clueless way, had thought that had made them even.
As if Lila getting a gross mouthful of foam somehow equated to the feeling that Lois needed to be punished for having the audacity not to look like a cover girl, with her podgy thighs and her glasses.
Still, an apology from the great Lila Fowler was something. And it was a lot more sincere than either of the half-hearted attempts from the twins.
“Thank you,” Lois said. It wasn’t that she was still hung up on that one incident (how could she be, when there were so many?) that she couldn’t forgive and forget. It was more that because she wasn’t willing to start unpicking her psyche in a venue where any moment one of her school “friends” could come charging out of the bushes to kill her.
“Hey, what’s that?” Lila dashed forward and picked up something on the path ahead of them. She held it aloft for Lois to see. It appeared to be a solid wooden hockey stick, with the end sharpened to a point, and a leather strap or holster to hold it.
“That is a really great weapon,” Lois said.
Lila held it out, and Lois traded her drawstring bag for the hockey stick. She gave it a couple of experimental swings. It felt just right in her hands. Long enough for a ranged attack, but the wicked point on the end could do some damage. “I love this weapon.”
“So, you get a pointy stick and I get your bag?” Lila asked.
“Yes, you’ll want to load it with a nice big rock, rather than several small ones. If you get a good swing going, you can do some damage,” Lois replied. “Remember, I nearly took off Elizabeth’s head by the cornucopia.”
Lila swung the bag around her head. It didn’t have much heft, only containing the dental care gifts from Lila’s sponsor – including their three toothbrushes – but it would do once they found a good-sized rock to put in there.
“Keep an eye out for a rock,” Lila said. “I want to kill everyone in this arena apart from you.”
Lois believed her. Even stranger, she felt the same.
Elizabeth was fuming. That stupid present from that illiterate sponsor had nearly ripped her arms out of the sockets.
When she had toppled over the cliff – and, oh boy, wasn’t Lila Fowler just asking for it now? – the stupid holster from that plebeian hockey stick had caught on some rocks. Elizabeth had slammed to a halt, and the pressure she’d felt from the straps had nearly made her cry out in pain. She had nearly looked weak.
As soon as she had wiggled free, she had thrown the stick and the holster on the ground. She didn’t care who Ro$ey was, she didn’t deserve any thanks for such a stupid gift.
As soon as Elizabeth was done killing the rest of the tributes, she was going to hunt down this Ro$ey girl.
Ellen was alone. She was definitely looking for something, but she couldn’t remember what. Janet had insisted that Billie stay with her to protect the Unicornucopia – Ellen just loved that name for it. If they could just get rid of Dennis Cookman, then it would be like a Unicorn meeting.
She was at the bottom of a hill in a tree line, and she could hear other people around her.
There was a soft repetitive binking kind of noise from above, and Ellen looked up. It was another parachute. She knew they were good things. Billie had said so, so she ran over to it and caught it. It was surprisingly heavy. The metal box had her initials – E. R. – on the lid. Inside was a card that said it was from Ro$ey.
“Thank you, Ro$ey,” she said before tearing into the box. With a present this heavy, it was hard to know what to expect. Maybe shoes? Or a leather jacket, just like Beau Dillon’s girlfriend wore in Tender Hearts.
It was neither. It was large metal gun… thing. Ellen lifted it out. It wasn’t like a normal gun in movies, it was more like a spray gun with a metal tank attached.
“Oh! Spray paint!” Ellen exclaimed. That would be nice. Janet would surely be pleased with that. They could write their names on the Unicornucopia.
She experimentally hit a button to see what colour paint it was – she hoped purple.
A jet of flame plumed out of the end.
Ellen let out a terrified yelp and ran screaming back to the Unicornucopia, leaving the fire-breathing spray painter behind.
“It’s a fridge,” Dennis Cookman said in disbelief.
Jessica, Dennis and Grace regarded the white refrigerator as if it were the holy grail. They were all hungry and thirsty, and if this had even a couple of items in it, their problems would be solved – for now.
“So pick it up,” Jessica commanded. “We’ll take it back to the Unicornucopia – it’ll be like our clubhouse or something.”
“We can’t take it with us, Jess,” Grace said. “It needs plugging in somewhere. There’s probably a wire under the ground.”
Jessica was not in the mood to hear the word “no”. To be honest, she never was. “So we’ll empty it and take everything back with us then.”
There was a cacophony of screaming and yelling, and out from the trees ran Team Oh-bugger-the-ghostwriter-keeps-forgetting-about-you. Brooke Dennis led the party, which quickly surrounded them – her team consisted of Dylan McKay, Rick Hunter, Todd Wilkins and Tom McKay.
“You are not taking our food source!” Brooke yelled. “It’s ours, we found it and we’ll kill you!”
Jessica looked around and saw that everyone was carrying either a rock or a hand-made spear made from a tree branch. She gave Rick a small smile and hoped he wasn’t too cross about all the times she had knocked his finger off.
There were five of them, and only she, Grace and Dennis were present – Ellen had wandered off, Janet, Billie and Bruce were still back at the Unicornucopia. Jessica had her ever-present throwing star, but it wasn’t much of a weapon on a two-against-one, especially if the two had rocks and spears.
She opened her mouth to say something – something soothing, something reminiscent of the old Elizabeth – but there came a rumbling from beneath her feet.
The very earth was shaking – Jessica was thrown off balance and slammed into Rick Hunter. She nearly fell, but he managed to keep them both balanced.
The ground gave another lurch, around them trees shook and a fissure opened up in the ground. Trees started to fall to the ground.
Someone screamed “EARTHQUAKE!”
Everybody started running.