The words slammed into Heather’s gut like a cell door closing, cold and final. As a look of perplex split into her face, she stood up, slightly trembling, and began to shout. “Who did--what--you all—“ And then she became silent and sat down again.

She knew that the eyes of the nine people standing in front of her did not like her. The eyes were cold. Sadistic. Uncaring.

They were the eyes of betrayal.

Who the hell did this? Her mind screamed at her. It was a good question. She didn’t know. She certainly hadn’t seen it coming. Although she brought her baggage to every ceremony like the campers were required to, she was hopelessly unprepared, and as she ran her hands through her bags, absentmindedly rummaging for something, she thought some more.

She had an alliance. She had looks. She had a sense of friendliness, she thought, at least behind the strategy. So how could they vote her out?

She recalled her talent routine earlier that day—a dramatic reading of Gwen’s diary. Sure, that was rather mean, but she was angry at the girl. The goth had refused to follow Heather’s orders, which were needed for a successful team. Right? It’s natural in games, right? And Heather’s vengeance should have been considered only natural. They needed a captain. She bet the Killer Bass didn’t have a captain—they only won because of that nerd. Heather had not bothered to learn anyone on the other team’s names.

Then she thought to home, and what it would be like returning there. She was not looking forward to it. Her parents were clearly sick of her, even though they never admitted it, and probably thought of this as a sort of military school for her. Her grades had been slowly decreasing throughout her high school years, and she was not particularly interested in getting any sort of scholarship. One more blemish on her dignity and overachieving parents would disown her.

Why didn’t they understand that it was natural for her to be angry, or have her head in the clouds? She was caught up in millions of situations at once, and the incredibly complicated work her parents assigned for her combined with the everyday perils of her teenage life left no time for her to do anything. Couldn’t they understand that she was still a good person? A nice girl that tried?

And then she nearly sat bolt upright. Her hand froze inside her backpack—it had become hot from awkward shaking. She had realized something.

Nobody thought of her as a person.

It was why she had been voted off, why eighteen eyes pounded lasers in her back and made her angry, and why two parents couldn’t understand her. She had become so wrapped up in reputation and causing malice that nobody cared for her feelings. It was why everyone thought of her as a nemesis, and why someone had rallied up everyone and caused her demise tonight. It was why she had been sent here in the first place. And it was why she hated herself.

“Come on, Heather, I don’t have all day.” The host’s piercing, annoyed skater accent awakened her. Embarrassed, she fished her hands away from her knapsack, tossed the knapsack over her shoulder, stood up, and walked stiffly toward the Dock of Shame, walking to the Boat of Losers. She never looked back at those cold, uncaring eyes that refused to treat her like a person. The last they saw of her was a silhouette in the darkness, heading through the water. -

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