((Kiziah Saraki continued from Drawn to the Blood))
Here she was again. Back where she started. There was a certain poetry to that. If she was killed, right here, right then, thatd be a bookend. A sort of narrative completion. Had a sort of metaphorical power. She hadnt changed over the past few days. Kizi liked that message.
Of course, as much of a fan of narrative symmetry as Kizi was, she preferred being alive, so she took every precaution when entering the art therapy room. She listened at the door before entering, before leaving the security of Lilis company. She looked around the corners, like they did in the movies, gun at the ready, trying to imitate something approximating a confident posture and a steady poise. She was willing to defend herself, she wanted her body language to say, hoping that the sight of a big gun would counteract any impression of meekness and timidity her reputation and facial expressions gave.
Kizi and Lili had travelled, getting to work on preparing for their big day. Raina and Penelope and Ben had all split off at points, Ben within the asylum, Raina and Penelope further afield. It was no real concern, though. For once, separation came with the promise of reunion. A visible landmark. A common purpose. A pact, an entente, an alliance to face the island with. Something more formal, something more meaningful, than what Kizi had had before.
She took a moment to look around the room. Remembering how it was when she woke up. Yes, she was happy to have a more formal group now. But she still mourned what shed lost.
She missed Jennifer and Bart. They had always been friendly to her, and vice versa. Theyd shared a few good laughs, some enjoyable conversations, both on the island and off it. But on the island, thats when theyd all became friends. Shed seen their true selves. Barts altruism and decency. Jennifers...heroic sacrifice. There was no other word for it. Shed been distraught about Jennifers loss at the time, and still was, but the despair had been joined by gratitude and admiration.
And Clarice...she was angry at Clarice. There were so many questions she had to ask. But still, she was her friend too.
And so were Lili and Ben and Penelope and Raina.
She was happier with allies. Likeminded friends. They all were. Even though circumstances had mandated a temporary division, they were part of a group now. She couldnt quite get over that. It made her almost giddy. Excited. Optimistic. Perhaps to a delirious degree. She had to remain grounded, of course. There was a small morsel of her mind, a nagging and vexing voice, that advised her against this overenthusiasm. But she needed it. She needed to be hopeful.
She had entered the asylum with Lili. Told Lili her plans, to venture into the room and gather the requisite supplies for a poster campaign. Had offered Lili her gun. Lili had refused it, of course. She would hide out, stay on watch from a safe vantage point or something. That sounded prudent, all things considered.
And she had entered the art therapy room. Currently empty. That meant it was safe. There was Mitch. He was dead. For a few days now. She forced her eyes to look away. As much as it pained her to do so, she could do so much more good, help so many more people, by not getting lost in some on-the-spot mourning.
Instead, she looked around the room. Began gathering up art supplies. Pencils, pens, paints, and the like were in surprisingly ample quantity. She had expected a complete absence, or at the very least a rather frustrating scarcity. She didnt remember massive piles of art supplies from her first day, after all. Most were hidden in drawers, or had fallen behind desks and cabinets, but there was enough. Not exactly enough to have a consistent or uniform look, the colours would be quite chaotic at the end of the day. But there was enough. Kizi was cognizant of the risks that things would have dried out, or paints would have solidified, or some other result of the passage of the time would have left her plan fruitless. She designated a torn and mutilated pile of paper in the corner, too flimsy for a more productive use but dry and consistent enough to doodle on, as her testing ground. Soon, it was decorated in a vast cacophonic array of colours, the paints that were useless discarded unceremoniously next to it to prevent duplication.
She was getting good at this. Granted, it had taken her several minutes before she realised the threat of dried ink, several more minutes before she worked out a constant system was better than defiling every random piece of potentially useful paper, and several more minutes before she clocked onto the issue of duplicating her checks. But still. She worked it out. And soon, Kizi had hit a nice organisational groove.
Gathering paper, the canvas for her recruitment drive, was a more arduous task. Large poster-sized pieces of paper, that was what she needed. There wasnt exactly a surplus of paper that wasnt already in some way used, or completely despoiled and rendered useless by the elements or violence. Some had work on one side. Kizi frowned. She hated hijacking someone elses work, destroying it for her own creation.
Soon, though, she had enough. She piled it all into her bag, realising slightly too late a more cautious approach would have been prudent. What if inks or paints had spilled? A slight panic rumbling in her stomach, she opened it up, and looked. No obvious signs of spillage. Okay. Cool. Shed settle for that. A more thorough search would have been a smart idea, but it was an idea that, in that moment, Kizi did not have.
She paused to write one thing. A to-do list. Posters for recruitment. Supplies for maintenance, for attracting people - perhaps a common pool of shared resources? A sort of constant movement plan, a way to not get completely ruined by the danger zone element. Okay, Kizi was sure there were some details she was inevitably missing, but no worry.
Kizi picked up the bag and shotgun. Ah, gosh. It was all a little bit too heavy for her. But she had no choice. She had to mentally prepare herself for this. She turned around, one final look at the room. One final look at the art. She doubted shed come back here. Shed rather not. Too many memories. And Mitch. Poor Mitch. She didnt look at him, though. She looked at the art instead. Hoped to find some sort of comfort in the designs.
There was none.
One time, when her family went to Las Vegas for a weekend, they attended an improv show. Some Whose Line alumni, some up-and-coming performers, and some very enjoyable humour. Some of the episodes were recorded. Others werent. The one she attended was not. During the intermission, she pondered on that, and somehow found it all quite depressing. It had been one of the funniest evenings of her life, and everything, from that eclectic chemistry to the riveting spontaneity to the surprisingly catchy musical numbers, would be lost forever, the circumstances that created them impossible to replicate. She had even pondered recording it, to try and avert that loss, but she decided against it. Probably for the best, those rules existed for a reason.
And the night before shed left, Lisha had just on the fly made up a story. She couldnt remember it. At all. A collection of in-jokes and random surrealist mutterings that meant one of their late-night conversations ended with Kizi rolling on the floor, crying with laughter. That too would be lost. She couldnt piece it together from her memories. Couldnt reenact the goodwill it had brought her, or share it with anyone else.
She felt the same for these artists. People who may well be long dead at this point. Outsider artists. Their work, the monuments to their stories and emotions, forever lost, destroyed by neglect or malice or even her own needs. She clicked her tongue, and looked at the camera.
At least the stories of Cochise Highs students would survive.
She doubted that it had been a glimmer of altruism that motivated the cameras. But, hell, she would make the most of it. She smiled, and then turned away, leaving the room.
((Kiziah Saraki continue-))
Shed forgotten the bag and her gun. She ran back in, biting her lip to ignore the strain in her muscles, and left.
((Kiziah Saraki continued in Minus Something.))
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