The hatchetfield honey festival was no doubt one of the most important celebrations in the tiny town. Along with that celebration came one of the most important positions one could hold in hatchetfield: the Honey Queen. Well, important to some, and that some included Zoey. Zoey had been gunning for the festival’s crown ever since the fall following her 18th birthday, but it seemed like she had always come so close and then fallen flat on the ground as people like Jane Perkins got the title instead. And then even in the years following Jane Perkins’ death she lost to Becky Barnes and Linda Monroe. But not this year, she had figured everything out, this year she was going to be the one to get the crown.
Zoey knew that the main reason Linda Monroe had won last year was because she had perfected a facade that she saved for moments like these, and because she bribed those who didn’t fall for it. Taking her out was simple, all she had to do was arrive before her and buy out some of the stock in the main tent where the sugary sweets were held. This then would cause her four little devil spawn to complain to her, causing her to get both agitated and feel the need to pay more in order to get what her children wanted faster, thus breaking her facade and the bank she had taken to the honey festival.
Becky Barnes was a bit harder, as she was actually fundamentally nice and won on merits that year. Zoey would attempt to create some emergency at the hospital to have her be M.I.A for the festivities, but that was too far even for her, and too much work. The genius in this part of her plan came from what she had observed the past few times she had ran into Becky: she was now dating Tom Houston. A development that means she could safely bet Becky would have her attention focused more on the Houston boys and less on everyone else therefore blending into the crowd a bit more. And if it really came down to it, she guessed that she could probably try to be a bit nicer to those around her too.
And with Jane Perkins being, well, deceased, that area didn’t really need covering. Every other girl in town either didn’t care enough or didn’t stand out amongst the others to really have a shot, and any attempt to do so Zoey was prepared to one up immediately.
With both the Linda and Becky plans causing her to show up early and help out a bit more, Zoey arrived at the honey festival to help with setup too. Normally at this time she would still be asleep for another two hours, but nothing was going to get in the way of her spot as queen, not this year.
The set up of the honey festival was quite menial in the grand scheme of things but those in charge of it seemed to greatly appreciate Zoey’s help. This year the committee was made up of four people: Carol Davidson who was the committee’s head, that creep Sherman, who was in charge of decorations, Curt who’s experience at the factory (before he got laid off) made him perfect for the infrastructure, and Bill Woodward who was just there so his daughter Alice could run the entertainment as soon as she traveled back from college. Everything was moving as smoothly as it could for the town, and the festivities were ready to commence, along with the rest of Zoey’s plan.
The honey festival itself was more of a community and family thing for hatchetfield, so people like Zoey couldn’t find much to do in the forefront of the day preceding the announcement of queen. After the announcement would come the parade and then further into the evening would be a play or movie or something along those lines for everyone to watch. Last year had been Gary Goldstein’s attempt at a magic act that wasn’t all that impressive, but this year expectations were high due to Alice Woodward’s notable talent in the theater department. Zoey also knew for a fact that it would be better, as she had scored a part in it.
The play was going to be an adapted version of the play Alice had written to get into college, but shorter and more family friendly. Zoey usually would have been upset that she had been beaten out for the bigger roles but since she was so focused on becoming queen it wasn’t something she preferred to dwell on.
But the time for that would be later, for now it was sitting back and watching as Linda’s sugar deprived children yelled, screamed, and ran around the place while Becky watched on in distaste with Tom and Tim. Everything had gone as it should have.
Soon came the time for announcements and after a few words from the sponsors and Alice coming on to explain where and when the show would be the time has finally arrived. Carol walked onto the stage with a sealed envelope and the crowd hushed in a moment of anticipation. Zoey was stationed far back, so that when her name was called she could walk through the entire crowd in the glory that she deserved. And it’s a good thing that she chose to stand there, because when Grace Chasity’s name was called all of the color drained from her face.
Zoey stood there, mouth agape, time fleeting by in a slow, methodical taunt, as waves of shock crashed their way through her with each step that Grace took towards the stage, each hand that clapped for this year’s winner, each committee member’s hand that was shaken, and each second that the crown was lowered onto now eighteen-year-old Grace Chasity’s head. The one thing Zoey had not accounted for was Grace Chasity, sweet, perfect, honey queen Grace Chasity. And so she stood there as the crowd’s cheers got louder and louder inside her head, so loud that she had to cover her ears and the people around her were so close, too close that she had no room to breathe, and she tried to move away but lost her balance falling to her knees and all she could focus on was the people, and how they paid no care to her as they cheered for someone else in the place where she should have been.
At this point the loss of the hatchetfield honey festival crown didn’t boil down to petty antics or popularity contests anymore. Not for Zoey. Being the honey queen was the one thing that Zoey thought she could count on as going in her favor. She had been pushed around, pushed back, pushed out of the way too many times. This was supposed to be her moment, her one moment to shine and it too had been taken away from her. No matter how hard she worked towards something it was gone, just like that.
And so were the cheers of the crowd, as they now hustled by Zoey, still paying her no mind, towards their respective parade destinations. Once the crowd had dissipated Zoey finally took a moment to breathe, and she walked over to the now deserted stage and admired all the beautiful flowers that covered the tables to the side. Slowly she began to cry as she picked up a sunflower from the floor that has fallen down. She did not feel unlike that flower, discarded and forgotten about in leu of the more beautiful things that stood next to it.
It was quite a scene to behold, the crisp fall air that glided past in a gentle breeze that ruffled through her hair and blew her tears down her face as it amplified the smell of the flower that she held. But strange almost how empty the place was just a few short minutes after serving its purpose, leaving anything remaining to the vulnerability of possibilities won and lost all at once. Also leaving them susceptible to the faint whispers carried in that very same wind.
Don’t worry, you’ll always be a queen to me.
“Yeah right. Sure I am. I wasn’t even good enough to beat fucking Grace Chasity” With that Zoey tossed the flower back onto the table and started to walk away from the stage. Was she really that torn up over a stupid little crown that she had started talking to herself?
Oh but you are. You’re so much better than her my love.
Ok that wasn’t her voice, where was it coming from? Zoey looked around for its source, but she saw nothing, everyone else was faintly in the distance watching the parade, so who the fuck was talking to her? Was this some sort of a sick joke from Emma? Even this seemed too cruel for their little rivalry.
I’m not Emma silly, I’m someone much better. I’m yours, as you are mine.
“What? Who- how- huh?”
Come on my love, it’s not that hard, I’m right behind you.
Zoey turned around to see a woman in a white dress with long, flowing, white hair that glistened in the wind. Her lips were a dark red and eyes a pale gray that beautifully reflected the scenery around her. Zoey at first was taken aback, this stranger had appeared from out of nowhere, but soon her worries vanished as her eyes met with the strange woman’s. Something about her felt familiar and warm, a deep contrast to the emotions that Zoey had been feeling just moments before. And as the stranger came closer and took her hand Zoey couldn’t help but trust her whole heartedly.
My love, my queen, what is it that troubles you so much that I look upon your face and see nothing but pain and sadness.
Zoey opened her mouth to answer, but couldn’t find the words, her mind only focused on the stranger.
Oh I see. That stupid little girl has taken your place. Well, I can fix that for you. You can become the queen rightfully. You do still want it don’t you my love?
Zoey loosened up a little more, regaining some control.
“I just want something in my life, some sort of recognition, a chance to finally be at the top for once”
As you wish my queen.
And suddenly Zoey found herself in the crowd again, as Alice spoke about the play. She looked around confused before realizing that she was back. Of all the things for her fucked up mind to go back to why did it decide to have her relive this moment just hours after it occurred? Zoey turned to walk away, not wanting to hear Grace’s name be read out for a second time, but stopped almost just as quickly at the sound of her own followed by the uproar of cheers that had been so haunting the time before.
Slowly she made her way to the stage, each step immersing her more into the reality of the situation, each hand clapped showing her what it felt like to finally win, each committee member’s hand shaken, and each second that the crown was placed onto her head was the moment she had been waiting for her entire life. She had finally reached her rightful place.
Soon the crowd began walking towards the parade to begin setting up, Zoey was led by Carol towards the main float. As she descended the steps though, something began to feel off, unnatural almost.
The parade setup was quicker than she had imagined it would be, but she still enjoyed every second of it. The warm glow of the sun allowed her to bask in the absolute glory that came with taking her place atop the most important float in the town. Hatchetfield was finally witnessing her true self, and what she deserved.
Right? This was what she deserved. This was her. Zoey.
That’s not Zoey.
That’s not her up there.
Zoey wasn’t the honey queen. She wasn’t in a place she deserved to be in. She was a spectator. A spectator as this Not Zoey got everything she ever wanted. She was watching it, trying to reach out trying to tell them.
That’s not Zoey. That’s not Zoey. Can’t anyone see that?!
All that stood between this Not Zoey and Zoey was the place from which she watched, the black void that surrounded her on all other sides was of no use. How could she not break through? How could she tell them that she was the real Zoey, that isn’t her?
But nothing worked. She was trapped looking on as the not Zoey paraded down the street. She was stuck there as if a shell of herself deep down inside or the wires that power a tv from behind. Unseen and unable to escape.
My love? Is this not what you wanted? To be above them all? To finally be at the top for once? To be with me, my queen?
Webby although seemingly concerned for her wife wore a huge smirk on her face. A smirk that in turn became mirrored by the Not Zoey. Zoey’s thirst for power had made her the perfect one for Webby, someone to love and to have fun with. And this one surely was the most fun so far. Zoey could not recognize this fact though, as she watched on and pleaded and screamed that that wasn’t her. That’s not Zoey.
Don’t get it wrong, Webby by no means intended for Zoey to be suffering this way, who would be happy to see the person they loved be like that? Webby also wasn’t planning on ending it anytime soon though, because as far as she was concerned that’s what Zoey wanted. Given the way that she was raised and the place that she and Zoey now ruled over it was not uncommon for people to scream as she did.
But in all truth Zoey had taken her place as queen. Not as Honey Queen, but as the Queen of something much bigger and much more sinister. Sinister enough that as she continued to plead, unable to be heard as the Not Zoey continued to live her life for her.
The Not Zoey went to beanies for work and checked the local theater company for audition dates daily. The Not Zoey went on long walks at night around the suburbs and the eclectic architecture of Pinebrook. The Not Zoey made more plans, plans concerning Linda Monroe, Becky Barnes, and Grace Chasity. But once those plans were carried out and publicly displayed in a gory mess of blood, guts, and detached body parts the Not Zoey wanted more.
For instance, the Not Zoey was not too fond of the way Emma Perkins acted towards her. Always being bossy and getting on her about mistakes and work ethic ugh it was so tiering. So Not Zoey made another one of her plans. Emma had taken a later shift at beanies this week, and Zoey knew that she always took the back exit out, the one down in the alley. So, there she waited and as Emma came out, she emerged with a maniacal laugh and a sharp knife.
“Jesus Zoey what the fuck are you doing?!”
“What has to be done. You really should be nicer to people you work with you know.”
“Ook I’m sorry- I- I’ll get off your back about how you work just please put the fucking knife down”
Emma began slowly backing away but Zoey quickly followed.
“Oh it’s too late for that, ‘fraid you’re not getting away from this one, I’m just doing my job.”
“Please Zoey you don’t have to do this.”
“No, but I’ll enjoy it.”
Zoey pushed Emma against the wall and before giving her a chance to regain her balance she pushed her again onto the floor. Emma struggled under Zoey’s attacks, but it was of no use, Webby knew what she was doing. Webby was also not shy to dragging out the pain that she wanted Emma to feel, and by the end of it Emma had given up begging.
Emma’s body had been dragged out of the alley and placed at the counter in beanies, arranged to look as if she was still working. She was found in the morning by Nora, who became the primary suspect as she was the last one to see her that night. The other murders still being open cases in the town too Nora was charged with all four. Zoey hadn’t been suspected past her job title.
But that’s not Zoey.
The real Zoey continued to plead and scream and cry out that that wasn’t her as she watched the life slowly drain from Emma’s eyes and she watched Nora plead along with her that she was innocent. She didn’t want to be the queen anymore. But she didn’t want her life back now either, with all the pain she had caused. That wasn’t her and it would never again be her, but nobody else knew that.
Even seated at the right hand of the most powerful being in the universe and Zoey still never got the chance to be happy. She was just left there, with her voice echoing out the same words over and over in a faint whisper that blew through the wind of the bodies Not Zoey continued to leave in her wake. And the sad fact was, however much Zoey uttered that it wasn’t her, that she wasn’t the one doing these things, she blamed herself. Each act of violence, each slash of a knife and crack of a bone was all the same to her. To not her. That’s not her.
That’s not her. It’s not Zoey.
One day eventually Zoey would give up. One day she would accept her fate and separate her real self from Not Zoey. One day she would go silent and pick herself up off of her knees. She would slowly walk over to her wife and take a seat at the top. She would look out onto the realm of pain and despair and understand. She didn’t deserve anything. She was here for a reason, and it was only right to embrace that.
Over the years Zoey would come to love Webby. She would become grateful for the place that she held next to her. She would join Webby in acts of misconstrued violence that collapsed all the lives around it. She would become who she was always meant to be, someone unlike her former self, so far removed that it could no longer be called Zoey. It was not her. The old her at least.