Chapter 40: Femme, Part 1

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3 hours and zero seconds later, Kim was in Paris, standing alone inside Femme when Other Kim arrived. 

“Hey!” Other Kim called, smiling broadly as she sailed into the room. “Oh good! You went with the black vinyl strappy number. Our outfits are coordinated! Yay! I wasn’t sure...what to...wear to this...photo...shoot.” 

Other Kim’s voice and thoughts trailed off as she began to look around the club. Aside from Kim the place was completely empty. “Where’s Marcel?” Other Kim asked. “The photographer is always already set up when I arrive at a shoot. Where’s the backdrop? Where’s the outfit changes? Where’s the everything?” 

“There’s no photo shoot,” Kim said simply, taking her phone out.

“What??? Did they cancel? Did Simon get the time wrong or something? I swear, that man.”

“Nope,” Kim said. “There never was a photo shoot. I made all that up so that Maria would invite you here.” 

“Ummm, okay, and why would you do that?” Other Kim asked.

“So we could talk somewhere safe. Where no one would get hurt,” Kim said. Without drawing attention to what her fingers were doing, Kim pressed the Seat and Snake emoji.

Other Kim looked warily at Kim. “Why would anyone get hurt?”

“Because you’re not going to like what I have to tell you,” Kim said. 

A chair materialized behind Other Kim, forcing her to sit. 

“What’s going on? What are you doing?” Other Kim asked. Then she saw the 5 snakes slithering across the floor towards her. Before she could move they had climbed up the chair and wound themselves tightly around her legs, her arms, and her neck, constraining her to the chair. 

“Kim? What the hell! Are you crazy? What are you doing?” Other Kim yelled.

“I’m ending this,” Kim said. 

She pressed the Closed Lock With Key emoji and steadied her voice as she began to chant. “I bind you, Other Kim. I bind you from doing harm. Harm against others and harm against yourself.”

Other Kim struggled against her snake restraints. “WHAT THE HELL, KIM?!?”

“I bind you, Other Kim. I bind you from doing harm. Harm against others and harm against yourself.”

“LET ME GO, ARE YOU MENTAL?”

“I bind you, Other Kim. I bind you from doing harm. Harm against others and harm against yourself.”

“YOU CAN’T DO THIS TO ME!” Other Kim screamed.

“It’s done,” Kim said.

“KIM!” Other Kim struggled to get up from the chair, then stopped, breathed, and relaxed. “Kim,” she pleaded, her voice softer now, “Please. What’s going on? Whatever’s happening, whoever put you up to this, I can help.”

Kim laughed. “Oh, you can help me? Like you’ve been doing all along? You act like we’re friends, like you’re my mentor, like I’m so lucky to have you in my life. But it’s been you all along. Willow was never my enemy, she had nothing to do with anything. You put a spell on me to keep me from getting to the A-list, and created fights with Willow to keep me distracted.”

Other Kim stared at Kim in disbelief. “What are you talking about?”

“When I killed Willow the spell should have come undone. But I’m still on the B-list. That means it was you. It was you all along. You’ve never wanted me here.”

“Do you know how completely insane you sound? I know you’ve been through a difficult time lately but if you let me go now we can quietly overlook this little incident before it completely suicides your career.”

“I had a really interesting conversation with Rani while I was in New Delhi,” Kim said. “We talked about how the media works, and how celebrities get pitted against each other. And I thought about everything I’ve been through, all the difficulties, the challenges, the setbacks I’ve been facing since I got here. And I thought: Who benefits from this? Who benefits from keeping me off the A-list? Who benefits from my fight with Willow? Who benefits from making it so difficult for me to level up?”

Other Kim nodded sympathetically. “It’s the corporations, Kim. It’s the brands. They do terrible things to us. They make us compete for sponsorship deals and then get us into compromising situations to increase their brand awareness at our expense. It’s not fair. Untie me. Release me and we can work together to expose them.”

Kim shook her head. “It’s not the brands. It’s you.” Kim pressed the Shower emoji, and the glamour altering Other Kim’s face rinsed away, revealing 3 long, terrible scratches across her face.

“You glamoured yourself to look like Willow. You arranged to have the villainess footage of me stolen so you could trash me and keep me fighting with Willow. And you killed Tiny Monkey.”

Other Kim stared at Kim for a long moment, then she smiled, and then she began to laugh. “You really are as dumb as everyone says,” she said. “You think you’ve got it all figured out, when still, just as ever, you know basically nothing. One, I haven’t been keeping you from reaching the A-list, I’ve been draining your powers and making myself stronger. Two, the idea of you ever being able to put me in a binding spell, is like, the funniest thing ever.”

Kim watched in horror as the snakes binding Other Kim's limbs and neck to the chair all turned to skeletons, falling from her body and shattering on the floor.

Other Kim rose from the chair and smiled at Kim, the sweetest, friendliest, most pleasant smile Kim had ever seen. “And three, prepare to die."

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