Epilogue: Paris is Burnt

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Paris blinked and opened her eyes. She was in a shop. Hadn’t she just been somewhere else? How had she gotten here?

It was some kind of low-end boutique, and she was surrounded by piles of cheap-ass looking clothes and a scary man staring right at her and a bunch of fat mannequins. 

Wait, back up. 

There was a man staring at her, an imposing man despite his newsboy cap. He was staring right at her, but also through her, like he was not just mad at her, but mad at the entire world in her general direction. He had a very large exclamation point hovering near his lips.

Her heart was pulsating like an EDM drop. Suddenly the man spoke, piercing the eerie calm of the shop. 

“I’m late,” the man said. “I need you to lock up.”

Her panic about the presence of this man was quickly overturned by her confusion about his request. 

“Excuse me?” Paris said, finding her voice and her feet. “LOL if you think I work here.”

The man ignored her. “Before you leave, straighten that shirt on that mannequin. It’s too crooked for my liking.”

“Like what am I, your slave? I don’t think so, I wouldn’t touch those clothes with your hands.” This was getting super weird. Why couldn’t she remember where she was or how she’d gotten here? 

The guy just stared at her for a second, then continued on like she hadn’t said anything. “Refold those shirts over there, then lock the register before you leave.”

Paris ignored him and ran for the door. She slammed on it and pulled at the handle but it was locked. She was trapped. She was enslaved here now? She freaked out. She banged on the door and screamed for help, but the silent, shadowy figures passing by outside just walked by, unwilling or uninterested in helping her.

Swallowing her fear, Paris turned back to the store and immediately screamed again--because now, it was empty. A second ago there had been a creepy man with punctuation hanging from his lips standing there. It had been awful, but at least it had been someone. Now she was alone, and she was even more terrified. 

Suddenly the door behind her opened, the tinkling bell causing her to yelp in surprise. She tripped and fell against a stack of uncute tops, and she and they all fell in a pile to the floor.

A shadow fell across Paris’s eyes and she looked up. Someone had entered the shop and was standing over her. Paris squinted to make out the woman haloed in light. She was tall and thin, with flowy blonde hair and dark circles under eyes. She had the look of a woman who had been sad about something for so long that she couldn’t even name it anymore. She wore a tight white top and a ruffly red skirt. She looked kind of familiar but kind of not. 

“Is this your store?” Willow Pape said. “I could really use your help.”

Paris Hilton screamed and scrambled to her feet. Now two people had accused her of working in a shop. What hellscape dimension was this? She needed to get out of here, like right now. Without even responding or acknowledging the woman, Paris brushed past her and ran outside while the door was still open. But she was still tangled in clothes from the shop and she tripped and went flying across the sidewalk. 

She was a mess. She needed to get up. She needed to run. She needed to get out of here. She stood, reaching out to steady herself against a nearby bike rack. The moment she touched it, it bounced up in the air, releasing a tiny bolt of electricity that shocked her hand. 

“OW WTF!” Paris cried, the surprise causing her to stumble against a newspaper vending machine, which also bounced and jolted her with electricity, which made her scream again, and which sent her crashing into a bird, which also bounced and jolted her with electricity. 

She just stood there, shaking and panicked, with tears streaming down her face. She was afraid to move or touch anything for fear of what it might do to her. Everything in this world apparently meant to do her harm.

“I need something cute and super quick,” the woman called from inside the store. “So can you help me find something?”

Paris stood quivering and sobbing on the sidewalk, staring at the shop where she now apparently worked. She threw her head back to the sky and screamed and screamed and screamed. 

THE END

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