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Last One Standing
Marissa was breathing hard. She had to get out of here now. The door was stuck. Her only option was the window. But, if she screamed who would hear her. She was more than ten floors up. She looked around the dark room and spotted red satin. She had an idea, remembering the Thanksgiving dinner when the turkey was left in the oven too long, burning her house. Her mom waved a scarf out the window to get the attention of the firefighters, saving her. She grabbed the satin, waved it out the window. Someone had to notice. She was breathing harder and sweating hard. Her heart was beating fast. Suddenly she felt someone behind her. Before she could turn to see the mystery person, she felt a shove....
“Welcome,” echoed through the room. The designers turned away from the mesmerizing scene of the loft’s view to search for the source of the sound. “Your first challenge begins tomorrow,” the sound came from a TV screen. “Get well rested and ready for tomorrow. Remember, in fashion one day you’re in and the next day you’re out.
“Weird..,” said Marissa Gomez, one of the designers. “I was really expecting a real host or something.”
“Yea,” agreed Justice Tyler, another designer. “Maybe we’ll meet them tomorrow.”
Seven designers from all over the world arrived at the loft with no one to greet them. They let themselves in through the open door into the big beautiful loft above New York City with an amazing view of the cool blue night sky streaked with a dash of purple and the Empire State Building lit up the city sky with colors of bold blue, raving red and whimsical white.
“We’ll I’m gonna get some rest,” said Christian Lew.
“Me too. I’m tired. Try sitting on a plane for eight hours,” said Michelle Wang.
Leila Marci standing in front of the girl’s room shouted, “I call the bed right under the window.” Everyone ran to their rooms to call their beds, calling it a night.
“DING! DING! DING!” rang through the loft. Frightening the designers out of bed making them jump. The screen began to speak. “Your first challenge begins now.”
“What? I thought you said tomorrow, not 5am,” yelled Jolie Frais.
“Technically, it is tomorrow. After 12 am it’s considered a new day,” answered Jacques François.
“Whatever. That screen could have at least warned us. Whatever. I’m here to win and be on that runway come September 8,”said Jolie.
The screen began to speak again. “Your first challenge is to create a dress that expresses the idea of envy.”
The designers went to the studio to begin their first challenge, working so hard that even the air conditioned room felt like the hot muggy pedestrian filled sidewalks of NYC. Everyone finished with hardly any time to spare. But the little time left was used to admire Jolie’s grand dress. Her dress was a royal dark purple fit for a princess. A princess who had her envy disguised within the threads of the dress, but was revealed in the dark ropes that hung on one shoulder of the dress. It was a piece of art to be envied by the others.
The designers left the studio together. “Where’s Jolie?” Leila looked around.
“I thought she was behind us when we left the studio. Maybe she’s still in there. But, if she is it means she’s disqualified. Let’s check,” said Jacques.
“But she was done why would she still be in there?”
They never found Jolie. They called the cops who had no luck in finding her.
“Do you think she just left? But why would someone give up such a big opportunity like this,” asked Michelle.
“Who knows we’ll probably never find out,” added Marissa.
“It’s getting late, we should head to bed now. We have a challenge tomorrow,” said Christian.
The next morning all the designers woke up except for one and ate breakfast. "Justice has been sleeping for a long time. One of you guys should go wake him up," said Michelle. "He should be up by now."
"Well, this is a competition if it was important to him he would be up by now. I think we should leave him. One less person to compete against," said Leila
"That's wrong. If I didn't know you better I would’ve thought you were trying to get rid of everyone. Maybe you made Jolie disappear." But Michelle didn't really know Leila.
"I would never do that. If you guys wanna win you can't help others. This is a competition. Friendships don’t get you through the fashion world."
No one said a word. Everyone left the loft to go to the studio except for Justice. Justice never came to the studio. No one noticed as they put all their energy into their next challenge.
"Where are the scissors?" Michelle looked around the room to find some scissors. The day was coming to an end. They were designing a red carpet look. No one answered. All the designers had the same goal in their mind to make it to Bryant Park's Fashion Week. Even when something flew through the window like a dart everyone was absent-minded towards it.
"Finally, I'm done. I just have to cut this thread off," Christian said, wiping the sweat from his forehead. Christian admired his long gold mermaid gown before turning to ask Michelle for the scissors. "Oh my gosh!!" Everyone turned to follow his gaze and screamed.
The cops came up to the studio. "We have to investigate this scene…Second call we received from you this week. You must all leave." No one could even look at the other. This was unbelievable. Someone was after them. Someone wanted to win so bad that they would kill to win. How could no one notice that Michelle was stabbed by someone with scissors? She didn't even yell. How could it have happened right under their noses? Jacques was the first to speak. "You know we're all suspects right?"
"A suspect, not me. I've never done never done anything bad in my life," said Leila.
"They don't know that,” replied Jacques.” And neither do we,” he said under his breath.
They arrived at their loft all quiet.
“Wait did any of you guys notice Justice never came to the studio,” said Jacques walking towards their room. Everyone followed him. Justice was still in bed.
“I’ve never seen any ever sleep that long. Wake him up. He’s disqualified.” Christian tried to shake him awake.
“Wake up, Justice,” said Leila. Jacques felt for a pulse.
“Oh my god. He’s dead. This is so crazy.”
“Call the cops. They need to catch whoever is doing this,” said Marissa.
“We can’t call the cops. We’re already suspects, this will make it worse.”
“We can’t leave his body here to decay and smell,” said Christian.
“You know what? I think it’s time for me to leave. I really wanted this but I can’t take this anymore,” said Jacques Francois while beginning to gather his belongings.
The girls convinced the boys to get rid of the body. They threw it in the trash between the buildings.
Jacques made his way home. As he crossed the street in front of the building to hail a cab to the airport he was struck by a truck leaving him brain dead. No one in the loft, once filled with happy chatter and joy ever found out. It was now replaced by the dark and quiet.
Everyone suspected each other watching each other closely. They even suspected Jacques, whom they never heard from again.
The next morning the screen turned on. “Good morning, remaining designer because of recent events no one will be eliminated from the last challenge. But, step it up. Remember in fashion, one day you’re in and the next day you’re out.”
Leila broke the silence that stretched from yesterday night until this morning. “This is so stressful. I’m gonna go to China Town and get an acupuncture. Wanna come?”
“No, thanks,” answered Marissa.
“How about you Christian?”
“No, I’ll stay here,’ he answered.
“Later then.” Leila left
“Let someone stick needles through me. I’ll pass,” said Marissa. Christian laughed a little.
Marissa and Christian sat across each other in the big room for a few minutes. They didn’t dare move as the same thought went through their minds. “That person across the room is out to get me just to be the last person standing.” Tension began to rise. Suddenly the room was scorching hot. Their eyes locked.
“I think this was part of your plan to get rid of me,” said Christian standing up.
“You think I’m the killer. I would say it was part of your plan to accuse me even though you knew it was you,” Marissa began to stand up as Christian slowly walked towards her with something behind his back. Speeding up Christian ran towards Marissa revealing what was behind him, a shear. He aimed it at Marissa with all his force. Marissa kicked him in the chest and he lost his grip. She ran to the other side of the room afraid. “I can’t,” she thought. “But if I don’t he’ll kill me.” Christian began to get up. Marissa grabbed the tape measure, ran towards him and wrapped it around his throat. “I’m sorry,” she said as she looked up.
On the other side of town Leila arrived at the acupuncture place. She was in the doctor’s room ready to be stress free. Just then needles and pins flew across the room like darts. She looked at them and noticed it spelled something out: For a friend or foe their enjoying the show because it’s time for you to go. Suddenly she felt a dozen needles and pins pierce her chest before she closed her eyes.
Marissa dragged Christian’s body under the bed in the guy’s room. She needed Leila’s help to get rid of it. It felt so empty now in that loft.
Marissa went back to the loft afraid hoping Leila would come back soon so she could tell her she got rid of the killer. But, wait what if they had planned it together. No one was to be trusted. Soon the screen came alive.
“Congratulations, remaining designer. You must complete one last challenge to win. The best collections tell a story. Create a collection to tell a story consisting of four pieces. You have three weeks for this challenge. Good luck because in fashion one day you’re in and the next day you’re out.”
“But what happened to Leila,” she asked, but she remembered she was talking to a TV screen. “Maybe what happened to everyone else,” she thought. “But then that means Christian wasn’t the killer, it was probably someone on the outside who wanted to get rid of us.” Marissa was now very afraid. But as the week passed without any incidents she began to relax and began to design her collection.
Her collection was going to tell the story of a Hitchcockian murder mystery filled with a modern twist on clothes from a different era. She used colors of white, red, black, and beige.
She created a sheer blouse, flirty backless frock, high waisted pleated trouser and shorts, beige pants and ivory blouse and drop waisted dress. When her collection was complete she noticed she basically designed the story of the last few weeks. She was glad she made it to be the last one standing….
A few weeks later Marissa’s body was found a few blocks away from the studio in NYC’s sewage system. The next day the screen came on again for the last and final time in an empty loft and said once more, “In fashion, one day you’re in and the next day you’re out.” It never turned on again.
"People have told me about organized crime in the fashion industry, but I can't talk about that. I'm looking to stay alive."