Chapter 43: A Final Betrayal

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Kim's black car raced away from So Chic and sped furiously all the way from Downtown LA to Hollywood.

Kim rubbed her arm where Luther had grabbed her. He had only touched her for an instant, but even in that brief moment she had felt a dark magic, something ancient and insidious, reaching inside her, entwining her magic in its scaly, decrepit claws, and pulling, taking it as its own. The magic that was taken from her in that moment had taken the form of money and energy and Nail Polish emojis, but it wasn't just that. It was her soul, her magic, the very core of her being, being torn forcefully from her against her will.

She did not care for it. Like, at all.

She had had her ups and down with Luther over the course of their relationship, but more often than not he had been her rock, a safe place with whom she always knew where she stood, knew who she was. But that was ruined now. Not just tarnished, but destroyed. The relationship nullified. He was gone to her now. Kim felt like she was only just beginning to comprehend how dark and corrupt Cassio's vision for this world truly was.

A few moments later the car arrived in Hollywood and pulled over. Kim hopped out and began racing down the street. She needed to get to Maria, immediately. Maria would know what to do. She would know the spell, the magic, the path Kim should take in order to right these wrongs, end this once and for all, put everything back the way it should be. If it wasn't too late.

Kim ran past Luna Condos. She'd had a place there once, and assumed she still did, although it looked like a haunted frat house now. Windows broken, the rooms inside trashed, much of the former contents of the condos now spilling out the front door and into the street.

Kim kept running, past The Brew Palms, where a raucous Extreme Beer Tasting Festival was underway. As Kim flew past, a throng of bros shouted their opinions about IPAs and Lambics at her. It was awful. Their opinions about beer were all so boring and terrible. Kim longed to use the Speaker With Cancellation Stroke emoji on them but there were more pressing matters.

She kept running and at last arrived at her destination, the CTM Management & Publicity building and found...nothing. There was now just a still-smoking pile of ash and rubble where the building had once stood. The entire building was just gone.

In a panic, Kim dialed Maria's number, but the call wouldn't go through. Calls never didn't go through like that in KKHollywood. All calls immediately went through, no matter what. She called fashion designer Misty Levin, and film-maker Hillary Winters, and real estate agent Sandra Kirkland, the other acolytes in Maria's coven, but to no avail. All the calls failed to connect. Some of the most powerful women and witches in the world, suddenly gone.

Kim stood in the middle of the street in Hollywood, staring blankly at the rubble of the CTM building, no idea what to do. She put her hands on her hips. She put her arms down by her sides. She put her hands on her hips. She examined her fingernails. She adjusted her hair. She put her hands back on her hips.

Then her phone rang.

It was Simon. Ugh.

Kim lifted the phone to her ear as the call connected.

"Kim! So glad I could reach you. Stop by my office at the Foundation when you have a moment, we have some business to discuss."

"Simon, now is like, the opposite of a good time."

"Oh, sorry!" Simon said cheerfully. "I think we might have a bad connection. Apparently you heard me making a request. Actually it was a demand. Come to my office. Now."

"Excuse me?"

"Cassio has requested your presence, and you will comply or more people you love will be hurt, irrevocably."

Kim's blood turned cold. "What are you talking about. What did you do."

"I'm on your side, Kim. I'm still your manager. I could have waited until after you'd entered the CTM Building to destroy it. But instead I let you live! Wasn't that thoughtful of me?"

Kim's stomach roiled. She gripped her phone tightly. "Simon, what did you do to Maria?"

"Maria and her coven were up to some very illicit activities with their witchcraft. Cassio suspected they might be preventing you from becoming the #1 celebrity! I sent some of our Important Gentlemen over to burn the building to the ground. And hey, you're the #1 celebrity now, so it looks like it worked! Some would say that warrants at least a thank you."

"Simon, how could you do this? That wasn't just her business office, that was her sacred space. There was a secret room in that building--her altar, her herbiary..."

"--Yes, yes," Simon interrupted. "Her grimoires, her brooms and cauldrons, her pointy hat, whatever. All gone. She and her coven were plotting against the Kim Kardashian Foundation for Celebrityship. I couldn't have them tarnishing your name like that. Your name is our brand."

"My brand is mine and mine alone," Kim said, her voice a katana being unsheathed. "And burning and killing innocent witches is an infinitely worse look than protecting a transparently malevolent quasi-non-profit."

"Well I don't think Maria's dead yet," Simon said.

"She's not?"

Simon hesitated. "Ummm, I don't know, is she?"

"SIMON I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT, EVER."

"I'm---" Simon's voice momentarily faltered and softened. "I'm so forgetful sometimes. I can't remember what I'm supposed to be doing or why. My head hurts all the time, Kim."

"Simon? What has Cassio done to you."

When he spoke again, Simon's voice was clear, steady, cold. "Maria and the others were still alive when the Important Gentleman delivered them to Cassio. But I can't promise they'll remain that way for very long."

"Simon, why are you doing this?"

"With most women, providing them The Foundation Fone is enough. It enables them to focus on the things that matter. But some women, unfortunately, require a more protracted re-education."

"Re-education about what?"

"About how to behave. About being less focused on themselves and more focused on the things that matter. Not just texting and taking selfies all day but contributing to society in more positive ways."

"So Cassio destroys my world, rebuilds the society he wants, and then he decides what it means to contribute to it. Let me guess, women's roles should mainly involve a lot of care-taking and emotional labor and performative helplessness."

"I'm not sure what any of those words mean or if those are even real things, Kim, but stop by the office and we can discuss."

"I don't know why I ever expected an elderly white male would somehow be different from all other men."

"Great, see you soon!" Simon said, smiling through the phone.

"Go fuck yourself, Simon." Kim hung up and began walking back toward her car. It was time to go The Hamptons. It was time to unleash the zombies.

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KIM IS MAD NOW Y'ALL. Who even knows what's going to happen next? But with Willow's betrayal, Luther & Simon being douchebags, and Maria and her coven gone, Kim is really running out of friends. PS I wrote this while sick in bed with a fever so please forgive major grammatical errors/missing words/whatever other mistakes you find. Please tell me what you think and please vote! Thank you!!!

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