Chapter 18: Hooded Figures

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Kim was lying on the floor of her Miami condo. The door was locked and the blinds were drawn. She’d been hiding out here for three days now. 

Simon had called 186 times before she buried the phone in a box in a closet. She hadn’t answered him once. She couldn’t bear to hear his voice. It would just be a reminder of what a failure she was, how hopeless everything was.

She was back at the beginning again. Really she was worse off than she’d been in the beginning, when she could at least plead ignorance. Now she had no excuse. She was afraid to leave the house, to show her face anywhere. What if someone recognized her? Or what if no one did? She hadn’t shown up for work at Kardash and was probably fired. She couldn’t remember the last time Other Kim had called. It would be career suicide for Other Kim to even be seen in the same club as Kim at this point.

She had tried going online briefly, to distract herself, but Ray Powers, that teensy interviewer guy who was always everywhere, was blathering incessantly about how many followers she’d lost, whether anyone had heard of Kim recently, or ever. And meanwhile Willow Pape was so successful, her power so ascendant, that she wasn’t even bothering to throw shade in Kim’s direction anymore. Kim was just a cold and lifeless satellite in a distant orbit of Willow’s galaxy. She wished for inertia or gravity to just send her tumbling off into the far reaches of the universe, where no one would ever bother or remember or recognize her, ever again. 

She thought about floating off into nothingness and an interesting idea occurred to her.

“Maybe I’m already dead,” she thought, sprawled across the floor with her cheek pressed to the cool ceramic tile. “Maybe my old life is over and this is Hell, and everything is just going to be terrible for all eternity. So maybe I should just lay here forever. That sounds fine actually. Nothing else bad will happen if I just lay here forever.”

“You can’t lay there forever,” said a voice.

Kim sat up. “What? Who’s there?” she said.

It took her eyes a moment to adjust to the darkness but slowly a figure rinsed from the shadows. It wore a black cloak with a deep hood that hid its face from view completely. It was short though. Weirdly short.

“I mean you can?” it continued. “But don’t. It’s boring for the rest of us.”

“Excuse me? Boring?” Kim said.

“It’s not boring for ME,” said another voice.

Kim turned to her right and saw another hooded figured standing there, identical to the first. 

“She thinks she’s dead!” the second figure continued. “Wait until she finds out how wrong she is!” Its voice was oddly full of glee, for such a dark and creepy-looking figure.

“Who are you?” Kim asked. “What are you doing here?” 

“Some people say that if you die in Hollywood you wake up in your real life,” the first figure said. “But it’s not true, so don’t even think about it.”  

“Death is a Fake Idea,” a new voice said. Kim turned to her left and saw a third figure, identical to the others, standing there. “Death is not real.”

“Tragedy is real,” the first figure said.

“Her outfit is a tragedy,” the second said. “When’s the last time you went shopping?”

Umm. Kim was freaking out. These hooded whatevers were talking too fast and weird for her to even keep up.

“Here is the tragedy,” the third figure said. “If you die in Hollywood, your body turns gray and your face disappears and you become a background character in someone else’s life.”

“Is that what you are?” the first asked. “A faceless background character?”

“No!” Kim said. “I have an amazing face! Who are you? How did you get in here?”

Kim blinked, her eyes suddenly filled with terrible brightness. She squinted through the pain and saw that she was sitting on the deck of the yacht in Sydney harbor. 

Willow was laying on a lounge chair nearby, tanning. She was wearing expensive jewelry and there was a man fanning her with a very large palm frond and she was yelling at someone on her cell phone. It was a vision of what Kim’s life might have been, if she had succeeded at becoming the spokesperson for Immaculat vodka.

Three dark seagulls passed overhead, then all at once turned and swooped down and hovered unblinking before Kim. They touched down upon the deck, which immediately became the floor of her Miami condo, the birds transforming back into the hooded figures.

“Reality is yours to control,” the first figure said. “If you had put forth the effort in your training you would see this.”

“I don’t understand how this happened,” Kim said, tearing up. “I was doing so good. I was trying so hard.”

“Yes, you were trying very hard,” the second figure said. “You were performing actions. You were busting a move and mingling and making small talk. Good job!”

The first figure extended a small, pale hand from its sleeve and a flickering image, a scene from the previous night, appeared hovering above its palm. Kim saw herself dancing and talking and laughing and being a good hostess at the Immaculat party. 

“You were doing. But were you seeing?”

The scene shifted to Willow standing in the corner, holding the bottle of Immaculat and muttering to herself. Kim watched as Willow waved her fingers and a small shower of sparks exploded from her hand and sprinkled down into the bottle.

“She cast a spell on the vodka,” Kim said. “That’s why I passed out.”

“Ahh, now she sees,” the first figure said.

“Little late,” the second said.

“Linear time is an illusion,” the third said. 

Kim began to cry. “I used to know all this. I used to know so much but it’s fuzzy in my head, like I know it’s there but I just can’t get at it. I used to be so much more than I am now.”

“There is no used to be,” the first said. “Everything is.”

“I don’t know,” the second said. “Maria said she’s special but I’m not sure I’m seeing it here.”

“I am special!” Kim said.

“Oh are you?” the first said.

“I’m Kim Kardashian!” Kim yelled.

“What?” the second began. “There can’t be two Kim--”

The third figure raised its hand and spoke: “You have two choices, Kim. Do you want to remain in this room forever, free from pain, just a contact for some other celebrity to scroll past on their journey to fame?”

“Or do you wish to be a spokesperson for increasingly important brands,” the first continued. “Parlaying your success into development deals for TV and film, ultimately diversifying into lifestyle brands and products of your own?”

“The choice is yours,” the third said. “Your decision will determine your fate.”

“I want neither of those,” Kim said. 

“What is it you want?” the third said.

“I want to be the A-list destroyer of Willow Pape.” 

“Yay!” the second said. “I love it when they choose violence!”

The three figures removed their hoods. They were women, hardly more than girls. They were incredibly similar in appearance, almost identical triplets but not quite. It was amazing that their large heads were supported by their thin necks. But as soon as they had taken off their hoods, their outfits had gone from Dementor chic to Issey Miyake. They were all three incredibly fabulous and stunning.

“I’m Mary,” the first figure said.

“I’m Kate,” said the second.

“I’m Ash,” the third said.

“We are The Sisters from the House of Night,” they said in unison. “Your training begins now.”

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