Chapter 40: These Four Walls

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Willow was kneeling on the bed, screaming at Kim, shaking her, shedding furious, uncontrollable tears for Calum Woof. Demanding over and over again What did you do? What did you do?

Kim could barely sense Willow next to her. She was too numb. It was all too much. Having Kanye suddenly so close, after all this time, and then having to make such a terrible decision so quickly. Was it even the right decision? She'd been thinking only of Kanye's safety, and Perrie had been bleeding, convulsing, dying right in front of her eyes. Thinking: They are only safe if they are far away from me. She hadn't had time to think through the what-ifs, to follow every line of thought to every possible conclusion. She'd had to act. She'd had to decide. It's what she did. It's what was always demanded of her. To do the things no one else is capable of.

But now she had sent Kanye and Little Mix away, and realized too late what that meant--that her animal friends, her faithful companions, her guides, her team, had had their lives cut short by the hasty carelessness of her spell. Well, sort of cut short. Technically Tiny Monkey was already dead, but he was gone for good now. Kim felt it. Whatever magic had been keeping him connected to Kim was now severed. Calum Woof and Tiny Monkey and even Tiny Banana were gone.

Kim stared off into the empty black abyss that had opened in front of her, scorched around the edges where the circular portal had been, only seconds ago. She couldn't take any more. As bad as it had been in KKHollywood, as clearly as the world had become diminished and broken in her absence, it had still been a kind of escape from the pain and difficulties she felt every day in the real world. But now Kim saw that it was all a lie. Nothing mattered. There was no such thing as escape. Pain and trouble and heartbreak always find you, no matter what you do, no matter where you go.

Let this black hole before her grow, let it take these feelings, let it take these memories and emotions, let it take her life, because it was all just too much. No more choices, no more feelings. Let her entire existence be swallowed up in the void of its complete and utter darkness.

Or wait.

Actually.

It wasn't complete darkness.

There was a light, a very faint light, coming from the dark space beyond where the bedroom wall had been. Something flickering, so dimly it was almost invisible from the relative brightness of Willow's room.

Kim stood up, her eyes unblinking, afraid to look away from the soft glow, for fear that she wouldn't find it again. She took a step, and then another, crossing the room.

Willow, still crying, stopped mid-scream as Kim rose.

"Umm hey what are you doing I'm still yelling at you," Willow said, distantly.

At the edge of the black hole Kim saw a strange incongruity becoming visible before her. The blackness wasn't an absence, it wasn't the parts of the room that had disappeared. The blackness was a revelation of something that had been there, beneath the room, all along. Behind the pastel, cutesy decorations of Willow's bedroom, beyond the part of the bedroom that was now missing, there was another room. A room of dark, gray stone, old and mildewy with age. Like a dungeon in a castle.

In removing the portal, Kim had erased not just everything within it, but something more, something unseen, a spell that had been underlying the reality of the bedroom, a spell protecting the visual integrity of the villa itself.

Kim hesitated, wondering if what she was seeing with her eyes was a reality that would support her. Then she stepped out of the bedroom, through the black in-between-ness, into the stone room, closer to the shimmering silver light.

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