Chapter 35: Rebooting The System

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As soon as Willow said the words "You're getting married," the Fone came to life in Kim's hand, vibrating and buzzing and flashing its lights, begging for Kim's immediate attention.

"Ahhh! WTH is going on with this thing!" Kim cried, hacking at the screen and trying to get it to shut up.

Choose your wedding dress, the Fone read, and there were 3 buttons, each depicting a different dress.

"Umm NO I do not want to choose a wedding dress. How do I cancel out of this???"

But there was no obvious way to cancel out and she pressed something and suddenly Kim was wearing a full wedding dress and matching accessories. It was the Alexander McQueen wedding gown, with the billowy, feathery train. The men, busily working around the room to prepare it for the ceremony, all paused and looked at Kim and Awwww'd in unison.

"Don't Awww me! No! Screw this! This Fone is terrible!"

She kept pressing things, trying to find a way to change outfits, but the closet button had disappeared and been replaced by a whole new suite of wedding-related apps. There was a Your Vows app, the Important things To Remember About Loving Brandon app, a Sex Moves Brandon Requests On The Honeymoon app, and an Honor And Obey Brandon reminder app.

"Yooooo this is messed up," Kim said

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"Yooooo this is messed up," Kim said. "I'm rating all these apps 1 star in iTunes, not even joking." Kim turned to Willow, furious. "What the hell is going on, I didn't agree to get married, I don't want this wedding crap automatically updating on my Fone."

"Kim, you and Brandon have been on 4 dates, this is what's expected of you. This is how the celebrity marriage narrative works. Just roll with it."

"I don't roll with anything, have you met me?

"OK look," Willow said. "I know it's not your ideal situation, but this way we can be together." Willow's eyes pleading with Kim's. "Just do the stupid wedding and then ditch Brandon and come to my room. You look hot in that wedding gown." Willow leaned conspiratorially in to Kim and whispered in her ear. "I'll give you the wedding night of your life."

Guh. Tempting. But NO.

"NO! Willow! The Fone is just a tool for men to control women. It only does whatever they want! All this Foundation stuff is suss as hell. They'll give us a Fone that doesn't allow selfies, because they don't want us thinking we're attractive, but then they''ll sell us a line of makeup that looks like Instagram filters, because they want us to think we're ugly? And they profit from controlling us at every point in those transactions! How can you be in ads for this thing? And WHY IS ZAYN MALIK IN THOSE ADS WITH YOU I DON'T UNDERSTAND?"

"What's a Zaymalick? Kim, stop over-thinking it. It's just products. You market 100 different products every day. It's just a thing to make money and raise awareness. It's a phone and some makeup, they're not tools to control your life. Can't you just go along with this wedding you didn't agree to and that you don't directly benefit from so that we can be together?"

Kim blinked and shook her head in disbelief. "Um. Yeah. OK. I gotta get out of here."

"Just stay and do the wedding and we can figure the rest out together," Willow pleaded. "We can change the system from the inside."

"The system is designed to never allow us access to the inside, Willow. I'm leaving. But you should come with me."

Willow took a step back, away from Kim. "I can't. Cassio would kill me and it would jeopardize my career. And you're jeopardizing yours too. If you run you'll only make things worse. You can't leave."

Kim gave Willow a long, sad look. "The first rule of Kim Club is Never ever tell Kim she can't do something."

There was nothing else to say. Kim turned and began walking towards the door, and as she did, 3 burly men in plaid tuxedos gathered to block her way. "We'll be starting the ceremony in a few minutes, ma'am, you can just wait off to the side there until we need you."

Without stopping or breaking stride Kim dropped the men in quick succession--knee to the groin, elbow to the face, jab to the neck--they fell to the ground, she stepped gracefully over them, and kept going.

The second she reached the door she gathered her feathery skirts up and started running. She could hear the room come alive behind her as the men realized what she'd done. She heard them rushing for the door and begin chasing after her.

Kim raced down the hallway to the main villa entrance. She ran full speed towards the door, right into an invisible barrier that had been cast across the entrance, sending her flying painfully back against the opposite wall.

"OW! DAMN IT!" Kim yelled, checking to make sure her nose hadn't been damaged. Doors will be unlocked when event is completed, a nearby sign read.

OK so doors and probably windows were out. Kim heard shouting and a rush of approaching footsteps. She turned and kept running. She went down the corridor to the back of the villa, where the apartments were. There was a trio of men blocking her way. She barely registered the fact that they all looked like distorted, bizarro versions of Michael Clifford before she grabbed a decorative vase from its nearby perch and used it as a prop to knock them all down. She leapt over their moans and kept running, making two quick turns and then barreling down the side hallway to the secret garden.

She had hoped maybe the walls wouldn't be protected by the magical barrier, but it didn't matter, the walls were higher than she remembered, and there was no way for her to scramble up over them. The ivy that covered the walls came away in her hands, definitely not strong enough for her to climb up, and it revealed a flat stone wall that wouldn't allow her holds to scale.

She heard the men's voices coming closer and quickly threw herself down behind some shrubbery, gathering up her feathery train behind her. The men came quietly out into the garden, searching for her. Kim realized they were probably tracking her location with the stupid Fone. With one quick motion and zero regret she whipped it high up over the wall. Hopefully that would buy her a few minutes, anyway.

The men shouting something to each other and then their voices receded as they turned and went back into the villa. OK. She had a moment to breathe. But she still needed a plan. She was trapped in this stupid villa with no way out except marriage, which was like, a terrible metaphor for life.

She needed help. She needed an actual phone. She needed a conduit for her magic. She needed...Kim's eyes caught something bright and purple growing beneath the shrubbery where she was crouched. Was that amaranth?

Kim gasped and crouched closer down in the dirt of the garden. She drew the delicate purple flowers through her fingers to make sure this really was what she thought it was.

There was something churning deep inside her brain. An idea, a tiny raindrop, that began to grow and surge and swell into a tidal wave, a plan, a way out.

Kim stood and walked out from behind the bushes. Her once pristine white dress was now torn and splattered with mud and dirt. There were small twigs and leaves stuck in her hair, forming a kind of broken crown. Her makeup was smudged and smeared and mixed with a bit of blood to create a kind of war paint. Kim was no longer the virginal princess bride-to-be. She was an Earth goddess, an elf queen warrior, a witch from the deepest, darkest part of the forest, where men fear to tread.

Kim clutched the amaranth in her palm and thanked the goddesses for showing her this path. Then she ran, full speed, back into the villa.

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OK I think it's about to get really extremely real. What do you think Kim has planned? How's she going to get out of the villa? What if I give you a hint: amaranth is a useful herb for summoning spirits. Please vote and comment! More very soon!


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