"Fuck you," Jewel said. Her left hand had quit its scratching and had pulled the knife from its hiding place in her pocket and then it had been one quick motion, one that set her knee and forearm ablaze, but that didn't matter. Lily made a choked noise and after a moment collapsed. The knife slid back out of her neck. Jewel looked at it for a half second and then dropped it. It bounced once, somewhere off to the side. She could barely hear the thump. Lily was going pale very quickly. She seemed to be in shock. She didn't say anything, and Jewel sank back into her chair and watched the swirling snowflakes again, and her leg hurt more now but that felt somehow more distant. She stayed that way for a long time.
When she glanced over next, Lily was dead.
Jewel looked back out at the snow. No new blood had gotten on her this time. The clouds were thick enough that even though the morning was progressing the light was still comparatively dim, and while it still warmed her compared to last night, it didn't seem enough anymore. She shivered and closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on those few positive feelings, the warmth of the sun and the way her chest rose and fell as the air passed between her lips.
It wasn't working. Those sensations were there, but they were just as distant as the pain. Even the cold that wrapped most of her body felt far away. She tried to visualize something, to imagine some scene or image in the darkness behind her eyelids, and could not.
She didn't know how long she sat there for. Time, too, was eluding her grasp. Everything was still and silent.
Jewel turned. Her eyes snapped open. She blinked a few times and looked at Dougie. It took her a second to catch up.
"Oh," she said. Her voice sounded completely flat to her. "Hey again."
"So, that's it, huh?" Dougie said. His voice nearly matched hers, but there was something else there, some edge. "You did it."
Something finally felt real again. Jewel's throat tightened and she could feel herself tensing, only a little physically but inside something was winding up and mounting and she wanted to go back to everything meaning nothing.
"Yeah. I guess so," she said. She tried to match her tone from a second ago and doubted she'd fully succeeded.
"Congratulations." He said it like a joke and a curse.
"I guess," Jewel said. She wanted to say more, but couldn't. She turned her gaze to the floor, simultaneously lowering her head and hunching her shoulders despite her intent to do neither. She couldn't tell if the pressure was expanding or stabilized.
"You guess." His voice was flat, but she thought there was some incomprehension to it. "You've... you're doing—you've done a whole... fucking lot for an 'I guess.' " There was a pause. "Aren't you—you're not going to give them more?"
That made it easier. Jewel snapped her head back up and opened her eyes and thought to turn and glare at him but then didn't. Her knee ached.
"More?" she said. "I've already—"
And then she caught herself. The anger was easier but it was also wrong, was the sort of thing that had led her down too many incorrect paths already. So she shut it out and took a long and deep breath, and just sat in silence for a second. When it had passed, there was nothing left.
"I don't know," she said. "I don't know."
"Don't know what
It was cold. Whenever she forgot that, the chill worked its way back in. Now it was her toes, which she could feel again just enough to suffer from. That was the only reason she started to tremble. It was why her voice was choked.
"I don't know what's going to happen," she said. "I don't know what you want. I don't know anything."
There was a pause, and the next time Dougie spoke, the sound came from right behind her. She had not heard him close in.
"You killed people," he said. "Kids, families, and—you don't know why? You're not sure
"Of course I know why." The anger again, out of hand, and the trembling stopped and her tone was almost back to normal, and was that so bad? And it seemed to work for Dougie too.
"Then tell—tell them
why," he said. "Why did you murder them? What makes them—why did you deserve to live?"
Jewel laughed. It was louder and fuller than she could remember, and it made everything hurt, but she laughed until suddenly a jolt ran through her, cutting her off.
Like that, the anger was gone again.
"I don't think it would help," she said.
Dougie didn't say anything. There was a rustling or scraping sound behind Jewel. She didn't turn. The light got just a little brighter as clouds rolled and thinned. The sounds stopped. The tightness was coming back.
"I don't think it matters," she said.
"You don't—okay," Dougie said. His voice was tight. "Jewel, I hope—" She heard him pause, swallow. "I pity you more than them."
Jewel let her head drop again.
"Because you're the most—pathetic person here," Dougie continued. "You need to—you're going to wake up tomorrow, and still be you. And that's—that's a fucking miserable—you're pathetic."
Jewel's nose was running, so she sniffled. Her eyes were watering too, tracing slow lines down her cheeks that picked up the chill and made her shiver more.
"And the only reason that—the reason you're not joining her right now?" Dougie said. "You're already... fucking gone. So I hope whatever worthless fucking existence—I hope you earn it."
Jewel stared at her lap and the tears ran down her face and she waited for him to continue, to tell her other things about herself, to just keep speaking, but Dougie didn't say anything more. She didn't know how long passed, but at some point she turned, searching for him, his face, and he had disappeared.
When she turned back, there were two figures coming around the corner of the bowling alley. Jewel stared at them and sniffled and the crying stopped. They walked towards her. It took a long time, and it was only when they were about fifteen feet from her that she could see they were two adult men in bulky winter coats and snow pants and gloves and boots and hats. One had a thick beard.
It took the beardless one a moment to get up onto the deck. There was a fence around it—just like on the balcony up above, about four feet high, wooden posts, the sort of little safety feature Jewel didn't even consciously register until something brought it to her attention. The man struggled to pull himself over, probably because the snow on the other side was hard to balance on. He puffed big bursts of steam.
When he was stable on the deck, he looked at Jewel. He was standing very close, and he was wearing sunglasses so she couldn't see his eyes.
"Hey," he said.
Jewel didn't reply. This didn't seem to bother the man.
"We're just going to lift you over," he said, "and then just bring you a little ways. We'll try to be gentle, but this might hurt. You ready?"
There were a lot of things Jewel should have done. She should have told him no, should have told him to leave her. She should have asked how Sarah was doing. She should have assented with something snappy and clever.
She nodded. The man managed to hoist her over to the one with the beard, and they jostled her right leg and held her under the armpits in a way that set off all the other little aches, and she screamed and cried and the men acted like everything was normal and fine but Jewel thought they were a little uncomfortable.
When she was off the deck, they had her put an arm over each of their shoulders, and they managed not to hurt her any further as they supported her along, helping her slowly hobble off past the bowling alley and then past the place that marked the edge of the resort until they finally reached a parking lot where a van was waiting with the heater turned up to full.
EW4, Jewel Evans: Eliminated