Kimmy narrowed her eyes when she came into the foyer: Celeste was already there, talking with Jerrod.

As she’d routinely confessed into the HermeticTV TruthCam (a requirement before dinner slid through the automated kitchen chute), Celeste was a manipulative, backstabbing bitch who only wanted Jerrod for the edge he’d give her during the final vote. Kimmy had said as much to everyone who would listen, and played up the wounds she’d received in their brief slap fight to garner sympathy.

“I see we’re all arriving in the order we’ll place,” Celeste cooed.

“She was here first,” Jerrod added. His gorgeous face was pretty much the only functional thing above the neck, Kimmy had to admit.

The others rolled their eyes and muttered, from nerdy Troy who barely had any definition on his six-pack and scored double 600s on his SAT to homely Mari who barely had a C cup. Kimmy was fairly certain she knew how the ten of them would rank once the national HermeticTV call-in poll was completes at the end of the season.

Celeste gestured at the large digital time clock on the wall, which was counting down to the automatic release of the HermeticTV seal that had cut them off from all contact with the outside world since taping began. “Anyone want to say a few words?” Kimmy noticed, with disgust, that Celeste was looking not at any of the others but rather the camera hidden in the ceiling.

When no one spoke up, Celeste continued: “I just want you all to know that, no matter how the vote turns out, I’ll treasure our time together. It’s been the greatest learning experience of my life. I-”

Kimmy interrupted the speech with a staged fit of coughing; by the time she was done the clock was too close to the end for a lengthy speech. Celeste shot her rival a poisonous look while Kimmy smiled smugly.

The timer lock clicked down its last few seconds and sprang open. The door, in all its theatrical thickness with unnecessary sprays of CO2 hissing from vents at the side, swung open.

There was no HermeticTV camera crew.

There was no HermeticTV host.

The HermeticTV support vehicles around the site were blasted wrecks that had been picked clean by scavengers and the sky was rent with angry red clouds.

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