Kim watched the video footage Rani had given her three or four times. At some point she'd become so overcome with grief and emotion that her legs had given out, the energy fleeing from her body, sending her crashing to the ground. She wasn’t sure how long she’d been sitting there on the gross alley floor, staring at her screen.
But finally she stood and dusted herself off. Her face was covered in tears and her makeup was a disaster. She was afraid to even think about what her hair must look like at this point.
She dried her eyes as best she could. Then she called Maria.
“Kim! Where are you?” Maria said. “What’s going on? You’re almost back down to the C-List!”
“Hi Maria,” Kim said. She heard her voice cracking and tried her best to speak through the sobs that threatened to burst from her lungs. She forced herself to sound more upbeat. “I’m fine!” she continued. “Don’t worry.”
Maria sensed the tension in Kim’s voice. “Tell me what’s happening. When are you coming back?”
“Soon,” Kim said. “Very soon.” She breathed, trying to keep her voice as smooth and even as a ride in an Escalade. “I’m going to send you a file. It’s proof that the footage was stolen. It should be enough to clear my name and help you redirect the narrative on the villain story.”
Maria exhaled. “Oh! That’s wonderful, Kim, marvelously done. But what’s wrong? Something else is wrong.”
“Oh, it’s just been a day, you know?” Kim tried to laugh but it sounded like a cough and she held her hand over her mouth to keep from crying.
“I know, Kim. Send me the file and I’ll take care of everything. Just come home. I’m very proud of you.”
“Thank you, Maria.”
“And when you get back, no rush, but when you have a moment, stop by my office.”
“Back to business already?”
“Not quite,” Maria said. “It’s just...you’ve been on the B-list an awfully long time now. With everything you’ve been through, the parties, the Bollywood shoot, solving this mystery, you should have made the A-list by now.”
“Yeah,” Kim said, the tears again threatening to spill out of her eyes. “I get that.”
“Just stop by when you can. There’s a sorceress I’d like you to meet, maybe she can help.”
“Thank you. I will. I just have one or two other things I need to finish up first.
“You’re amazing,” Maria said.
“No rest for the wicked, right?”
“Kim, you are not wicked.”
“Just wait,” Kim said, and ended the call.
Then she watched the security video again. She didn’t want to, but she had to. The grainy security camera footage filled her screen, a wide-angle shot from a high corner of the studio vault.
The first few minutes were just an empty room, and then, so quick she almost missed it the first time, a tiny monkey swung into view. It very carefully walked around the room, looking for something. Then it grabbed a certain disc from a shelf before leaping out of view.
“Tiny Monkey,” Kim whispered. “Why have you forsaken me?”
At first she had thought: someone hypnotized him. He didn’t know what he was doing. But with repeated views it was clear: this was no zombie. He moved deliberately, of his own volition. He knew what he was doing. Tiny Monkey had sold her out.
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