53. I’ve done a bad, bad thing.

I don’t know where to start.  It’s been so absolutely horrific since my last update – so much has fallen apart. Why don’t I end it all? I am such a bad person – really. But who else is there to fight against this madness? Now I know, when it comes down to it, we are all selfish, we all want to continue like the grubby, little animals we are – no matter the cost. I feel so disgusted in us all as a species, but in myself, most of all. Believe me, tears have destroyed more than one page of this diary until I could find the words – the courage, even, to hold a pen and write. If I’m ever rescued, let this diary stand as a true and accurate testament to my now biblical sins – I deserve nothing less than what this entry suggests. I shall turn myself over to the authorities as soon as I am able, and such authority can be trusted.

I’m so sorry – this is what happened:

I was not at all expecting it, but Edward appeared at the restaurant this morning, at ten, as we had agreed. I’m not sure by accident or on purpose – it took him a moment or two to remember me, perhaps because I had changed my outfit.

The restaurant was surprisingly busy, considering the deep distrust has spread like a disease throughout the ship. Conversation, such as it was, seemed more of a mouth to ear affair, and much of it was muted.  With so many hands resting casually beneath tables, I am sure that many of our fellow diners were armed, although careful not to expose their makeshift weapons, as they kept a watchful eye on those around them.

I had my umbrella, and…


Edward looked even more haunted and jittery than the last time I’d seen him. His eyes were constantly wandering to the cameras, and the looming security guard – to whom he had selected a close table – and while we talked, we both shovelled food in our faces as if it were to be our last, and made mealy, mush-up words, to any mother’s disgust – our mouths almost constantly full.

Poor Edward – so uncoordinated. That chilly sound of a teaspoon rattling on his teeth.

Over our somewhat grotesque tea party, Edward explained the ‘rules’ to me (oh, God, he was trying to be helpful). But yes, I gained a better understanding of the sick game everyone – every one of us – is playing.

Security guards and cameras were safe zones where no weapons could be drawn, lest you be dragged off to the brig like my would-be Hunter in the security office (whom, Edward rather shrilly informed me, was already likely to be walking the corridors of the ship by now, six foot tall like a vampire, plotting such an ugly revenge that I should run with my back to the wall – ‘he’s still after you, you know, and that one is most obviously a hysterical, psychopathic maniac! Who else would attack with a mannequin arm?’). Well…

Edward mentally ran with this vision of doom for a moment, then reluctantly continued. If there were more than a few passengers watching you do something ‘illegal’, they could report you to security and you’d be arrested – as he had been several times. There were still those on-board who had no idea about the ‘murder sickness’ amongst the other passengers and could send participants, post-haste, to the ship’s prison on a shared cry of alarm (to the extent, that some of those playing the game found it useful, on occasion, to force an error in their Hunter, or wilfully attack in the open beside likely witnesses, and have themselves deported to the brig, as an evasion).

Although Edward seemed unsure about exactly who knew what, he said most, if not all, of the crew were ‘in on it’, and that, along with the security guards, the crew would essentially perform their normal roles without interfering with the ‘Hunt’.  The restaurants, bars and shops were all open for business, explaining why some passengers were entirely tempted by the bargains, while neither Edward nor I could see how a lingerie shop would be particularly helpful to anyone in this situation…

By the time I had finished my first, proper meal in days, and Edward was wiping milk and churned cereal from his chin, the room had cleared as people retreated back to their cabins en masse, leaving only Edward and I (as one diner moved, they all moved).

I asked Edward about his ‘gathering’ – for he had been in the first – and whether he remembered Velma. He paused a moment, seemingly in thought, while I rummaged for Velma’s card – that last piece of her – thinking that seeing her name in print might jog his memory. I found it in my bag, and showed him the little piece of cardboard.

At least, I meant to…

What he saw was the card with his own name on it.

Edward Holland

Oh God. ‘No!’

Edward erupted from his chair in a massive jolt of thin hands and bony elbows, hitting the underside of the table as he did so. The butt-end of his baseball bat cracked into the table and threw cutlery everywhere as he tried to wrench it upwards. Our plates fell to the floor, the porcelain cracking and shattering, the tableware bounding across the carpet. In the midst of the chaos, he rose up over me, the bloodied, old bat rising higher and higher in his weak grasp, his eyes burning with betrayed trust: that I had so boldly and viciously deceived him! And then a moment, a tiny moment of blank acceptance in his eyes – the understanding of what now must be done.

Am I to die?

A bloodied hand… is that mine?

Tottering. Our table falling aside…

He crumpled, the bat tumbling like kindling from his fingertips.

I was on my feet somehow?

The letter opener in his neck. How did it get in my hand?

And again, and again.

So much blood, in a pressured spitting, my eyes blinking.

The guard and cameras did nothing. I had cynically learned my lesson – and had earlier bribed their eyes away.

I fled, but in some dream-like state.

I awoke later to find myself in a horror of black blood, and Edward’s bat, in both my hands, knuckles blooded and white, in my cabin, in a daze, so tired.

So tired.

Laughing. A new card slipped beneath the door and an envelope containing a thick bundle of currency – $500.

It seems a letter opener was a suitably rarefied kill for our master of ceremonies.

I haven’t the strength.

I cannot.

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