Title: Jessica vs Elizabeth
“Oh, Lizzie, isn’t it romantic?” Jessica squealed.
Elizabeth gaped at her twin. “They’re expecting us to kill each other.”
“Yes, but we get new clothes and we’re paired with a boy!”
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
Notes: I am going to post this, unbeta’d as it gets written for NaNoWriMo2017. I will post a clean, edited (hopefully coherent) version when it is finished, but if you want to see the raw, error-laden process of my word-vomit, here it is.
When the ground first started shaking, Grace was paralysed with fear. Sweet Valley had had an earthquake before – a very small one – and possibly, it should have had more, since it was later discovered that Sweet Valley was a suburb of LA, but she and the rest of the tributes were just not used to them.
She stood there motionless as the fridge toppled forward.
Brooke screamed, “EARTHQUAKE!” and around Grace, everyone started running, but it was too late for her. The fridge slammed down to the ground, squashing her flat. A cannon boomed.
“Nooooooooo!” Dennis Cookman yelled. “She’s Grace Oliver, not Olivia Davidson!” It was the last thing he said before a fissure opened up in the ground and he fell into it.
With great ugly groaning noises, trees fell. Tom McKay was in the path of such a falling tree. His brother, Dylan, tried to save him but tripped over his own feet. Instead he crashed into Tom, and they both fell to the ground, with no time to get up. The older brother died instantly when the falling tree caved his skull in. Tom was pinned beneath it, and slowly suffocated and more trees fell.
Above them, the mountain trembled, and a great slab of snow began its descent, starting slowly, but picking up speed.
Lois and Lila raced down the slope to the flatter ground. They had been very close to the base of the mountain when the earthquake hit. Lila’s instinct had been to stay put, but Lois had dragged her along, and Lila had followed instinctively, knowing that Lois could be trusted with life-and-death decisions.
They found themselves back in the clearing with the cornucopia in the centre. Lila veered toward it, and after a moment Lois followed. Further towards the edge were a whole host of tributes was crossing the field, also heading towards the cornucopia.
“What do we do?” Lila gasped. If the ground stopped shaking, surely the other tributes would start fighting.
Lois kept running, so Lila followed her. When she reached the cornucopia, instead of getting inside, she ran past it, along the side. She came to a halt and offered Lila a stirrup. When Lila goggled at her for a moment, she said, “Get up!” in a tone loaded with exasperation.
Lila did exactly what she was told, and hoisted herself on to the low roof of the cornucopia. Once she was settled, she turned back and offered her hand to Lois, to help her scramble up.
They both took a moment to catch their breath, both lying flat, and holding wherever they could to ride out the shaking. Once Lila had stopped wheezing, she asked, “Why are we up here?”
“Because I don’t want to go into a poky cave-like room with a bunch of people who have never once been nice to me – and are now armed with the sharpest, most vicious weapons Sweet Valley has to offer,” Lois said. “But if you want to try it…”
“Well, there are a lot of Unicorns down there…” Lila said thoughtfully. Thankfully the shaking finally subsided, and she was able to lessen her death grip on the cornucopia.
“Exactly my point – can you trust them?”
Lila thought of all the times Jessica had stabbed her in the back – metaphorically, so far – over something as small as a sweater or a poster.
Lila glared. “My bag still doesn’t have a rock in it.”
“And things are heating up in the arena, Johnny,” Beau said.
In the brightly-lit studio, Johnny was still face-down on the table. “Winston died. I’m still very sad.”
“Yes, Elizabeth was vicious as ever when she gutted him like a fish. And wasn’t she lucky the got caught on some branches, otherwise she might have died.”
Johnny sat up straighter. “She still could. I think now that Lois has the weapon that was originally sent to her but somehow ended up with Elizabeth–”
“How do you know it wasn’t meant for Elizabeth? This Rosey sponsor has been donating to multiple tributes – today it was Ellen Riteman.” Beau’s eyes narrowed and he glared at Johnny. “Isn’t your PA called Rosey?”
“Um, actually it’s pronounced Rosé, like the wine. It’s a musician thing, you wouldn’t understand. So let’s talk about that earthquake, Beau!”
“Right, Johnny. So we have lost Grace Oliver, Dennis Cookman and Dylan and Tom McKay in the earthquake.”
“Yes, and they were massive losses that everyone was deeply invested in,” Johnny said. “Let’s check back in with Lois, Lila and the other twigs that nobody cares about.”
“As president of the Unicorns, I order you two to get down!” Janet demanded, looking up at Lois and Lila.
“As someone who has never been and will never be a Unicorn, I don’t recognise your authority,” Lois replied, feeling a jolt of joy. Telling Janet she couldn’t care less was so liberating. Every time someone was mean to her, she would spend the following night, unable to sleep because all the clever retorts that would have been so perfect at the time danced around her mind endlessly. She would resolve to say something sassy next time (and there always was a next time), but each time, the social politics of Sweet Valley Middle School would scupper her plans. Lois leant forward, and spoke in what she hoped sounded like a compromising tone. “But if you come closer I’ll stab you in the face.”
“Lila! Tell the fatty to get off the roof of the Unicornucopia!” Janet snapped.
Lois faltered for a second – she had forgotten for the past few hours that Lila was not just any Unicorn, but the cousin of the president. It wasn’t just mean girl solidarity they shared, it was blood.
“Janet, if you say one more mean word about my friend, I’ll drag you over so Lois can stab you in the face. And then I’ll be president of the Unicorns. And my first order of business is to make Lois the vice-president!”
Lois couldn’t hide the surprised smile that crossed her face on hearing Lila’s response.
Janet’s jaw dropped open in surprise. “Over my dead body will a fatty be a member of the Unicorns! Jessica, Belinda, Ellen! We’re killing Lila and Lois!”
The three of them ran out of the cornucopia, each armed with swords and knives.
“Lois,” Lila said. “Time to try out that wonderful weapon of yours.” She thought a moment. “And protect me, because all I’ve got is three toothbrushes.”
Jessica took a run at the cornucopia and tried to climb to the roof. Lila took a step towards her, but Lois got there first. She swung her hockey stick and it connected solidly with Jessica’s head with a hollow thwack. Jessica froze and dropped like a rock.
“RETREAT!” Janet cried, and took off without checking if anyone followed her.
Lois turned to Lila. “That was it?”
“Shall we take the cornucopia?” Lila gave her a hopeful smile.
Lois tightened her grip on her hockey stick. “Let’s!” Suddenly she heard the sound of rushing water, followed by the groaning and creaking of trees snapping under pressure.
“What’s that?” Lila asked in a whisper.
“TSUNAMI!” Lois screamed. “Get out of the cornucopia!”
“It’s called the Unicorn–” Janet’s voice broke off abruptly. “RUN!”
A huge wave broke through the tree line, carrying with it fallen trees and rocks. Tributes sped out of the cornucopia, their screams barely audible over the rush of water.
“How can it be that tall?” Lila asked. “Are we high enough?”
Lois had a few moments to holster her hockey stick and grab Lila’s hand before the wave hit them. They were nowhere near high enough. The water hit them like a speeding truck. They were knocked back, dragged along by the powerful current.
The water filled Lois’ mouth and nose.
Lila’s hand slipped from her grasp.