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Monday (Continued)

Callahan

It took the better part of the day for Callahan to reach the end of Market Street.

Block after block he went, past colorful buildings and colorful people, always following the line. Since the line was set under the road itself, all that meant he had to do was go straight and try not to get run down by the locals.

At the end of each block, where one would normally be able to turn down the next street, each turn around the corner was blocked off. When he made it to the corner, he'd look to his left and see that about twelve feet down, the road was blocked off.

Each blockage was the same: a big, make-shift wooden wall about eight feet tall with the words UNDER CONSTRUCTION painted in red stretched across the narrow cross-street. In front of the wall was some construction equipment strung with DO NOT CROSS tape.

At first he didn't notice anything odd about this. He was following the line, after all, and the line was going straight. Why should he care that there was construction walling off the turn down some road he didn't plan on going down?

But then the next corner was walled off, too. And the next. And the next. And when he looked across the street, he saw that those corners, too, were blocked off. Then began to notice that each and every blocked off area looked exactly the same as the one before. Same exact bulldozer, with the same exact rusted patch. Same exact road roller with the same dent in the side.

After that, he began to notice that none of the blocked off roads had legible corresponding street signs-- if they had them at all. The ones that were there, bolted to the pole just underneath the ones declaring the main road to be 3/4ths Market Street, were blurred. Like somebody had smeared out the words. But, he soon noticed, just like the construction, it was always the exact same blurring, with the same smudging in the same places and the same illegible mess underneath.

He stopped following the line. It vanished as soon as he took his eyes off it, but that didn't matter; he could find it again. For now, he decided to try an experiment.

He went down the next corner and tried to approach the construction wall. About a foot before reaching the construction vehicles, Callahan suddenly found himself walking the opposite direction, back out towards the street.

So he turned around and tried again.

Again, he was turned around and spat back out onto the main road. The third time, he charged at the construction at full speed, only to go running into the street that had been behind him.

Car horns blared. Brakes squealed. People shouted. Callahan quickly retreated back to the safety of the sidewalk, waving meekly in apology as the driver who'd almost hit him sped off.

There's nothing for it, he thought. The construction wasn't going to let him go onto whatever street was down there. If there actually was another street there.

I'll just have to tell Harrington. He'll know what to do. His mentor was far better equipped to deal with this sort of thing than he was.

With a small sigh, Callahan turned his back on the construction blockade and returned to the street. He found the line again and continued his walk.

The sixth block soon turned into the seventh block. The seventh to the eighth. By the ninth, a small pit of worry had opened up in the bottom of his stomach. Several times he had to argue with his pocket and check the map of the city the Order had given him. Either the map was wrong to begin with and he'd have to file a complaint later about the faulty information, or the street had grown several miles since its creation. According to the map, he should have run into Water Street ages ago and gone straight on to Vervain Avenue. Instead, he was still unquestionably on Market.

So not only had something blocked off any streets passing through Market, but it had also stretched out the street more than was possible in the physical space allotted to it.

Still, he followed the line.

He almost didn't notice when he hit the end of the street. One moment he was walking past an avocado green truck close on his left and a grey shingled home drooping with age on his right. The next thing he knew he was on the other side of the street, with both truck and house on the right.

Ooookay. . .

There was a wall there. Not a visible one, like the fake construction ones had been. Just a faint blurring in the air that stretched from the house on his left to the house on his right, ending just where each building ended. So he did the obvious thing and walked through it again, this time coming out back on his original side of the street.

I guess that's where the road ends.

There wasn't anything special looking about the inaccessible part of the street. Granted, the homes there looked a lot more suburban, with one story houses and actual yards, rather than the cloistered buildings on the side he was on, but nothing overtly special.

Just to check, he took off one of his shoes and tried throwing it down the suburban neighborhood. Off on the left side of the street, he saw his shoe come flying out of thin air and hit a parked car. He went through the blurred wall to collect his shoe. Then, shoe back on, he went to lean against the closest wall to think.

There was definitely something going on here. Something or someone had seen fit to close the entire street off. And there must have been a strong apathy field over it if nobody but him had noticed.

Because if the locals had noticed, they would have reported it, right?

Right?

Out of the corner of his eye, something shimmered. He looked. Nothing there except the road and, hidden just under that, the line. He put the shimmer down to the light glancing off his glasses and continued trying to think.

Nobody had reported the street being closed off. The place was crawling with supernatural entities-- people who'd know to call the Order-- yet nobody had. Either nobody had noticed, nobody had cared, or possibly something had prevented them from doing so.

Again, something flickered at the corner of his eye. Again he looked, only to find nothing of interest. The third time it happened, his head snapped so hard to look he was almost afraid he'd pulled something. But he managed to look just in tine to see the faintest glimmer sinking into the line. A square of particular bright shimmer over a portion of the line. He scowled and went to investigate.

It was hard to see, much harder than the main line, but it was there. A second line, crossing the first. The bright patch he had noticed was where the two overlapped eachother.

His stomach sank. “Oh no,” he breathed.

He dropped to his knees and strained to see the second line more clearly. Something meowed nearby. He ignored it and focused on the lines.

There was unmistakably another line. The patch where they crossed fizzed with power. When he put his hand on top of them, the road pricked like a thousand little needles going into his hand at once. He quickly drew his hand away.

Two lines crossing. Two lines crossing in a place where normally there wouldn't be any crossing whatsoever.

He heard a noise come from above and looked up. A calico feline face looked down on him from a nearby roof. He turned his attention back to the line.

He stuck his hand into his pocket and, after a few tries, retrieved a yellow sticky pad of notes and a pen. He wrote "Here" on one and stuck it onto the street. The paper shimmered like light hitting water and then went back to normal.

Callahan took off his spectacles, and the paper vanished. When he put them on again, the paper gave off a beam of light that shot clear into the sky that he'd be able to see from anywhere in town. Good.

He got up and went walking down the line again, back the way he'd come, making sure to keep the notepad in hand; he didn't want to have to wrestle with the pocket again.

Only another block down and he found another crossing. He stuck a note on that one, too. And then a ways further from that, he found another. And another. Now that he knew what he was looking for, he seemed to find them everywhere. An hour later found Callahan leaning, stunned, against the wall of an old apartment building, staring through his spectacles at all the note-beacons he had set.

Five. Five crossed lines, and one spot actually had two lines overlapping the original, making a pile of three. Seven lines that shouldn't be there, and he was only a fraction of the way down the street. He'd have to go through the whole street again tomorrow to see all the ones he'd missed earlier. Who knew how many lines there could be?

The Order needs to know, he thought. This whole place is going to blow.

A cat meowed from above his head. Callahan was never one of those people who could tell animals apart by the noise they made, but this particular meow drilled its way into his head. He looked up and, as he expected, found the calico cat from earlier looking down at him with interested green eyes.

He didn't bother wondering how the cat had gotten there, or if it had followed him or had known where he was going and met him there. He just said faintly,

"Don't tell me you have wings, too."

The little cat meowed and leapt down from the roof onto a conveniently placed tree, then from there onto the ground. It trotted over to where he was standing.

"Uh, hello," he said. The cat, thankfully, did not have wings. After the line business, Callahan wasn't sure his heart could take winged cats as well without giving up.

The sun was beginning to set. Pretty soon, he would need to find a place to stay. He didn't even know where to begin looking-

A thought occurred. What had the girl said? 'They show up when people want them' or some such thing.

He let his eyes slide along the ground in what he hoped was a sufficiently casual way. There, right there on the sidewalk, tucked halfway beneath the cat. A flyer.

The cat refused to move by its own power, so Jacob was forced to move it himself. A moment later he sat on the porch step, trying to read the flyer while the cat crept onto his lap and tried to ensure that he didn't.

The flyer had changed since that morning's edition. This one wasn't as personally vested in him as the other one had been, and instead talked genially about the various happenings on the street that day.

Someone had a baby, ('Healthy baby half-naiad born with both gills and lungs, both functional. Parents thrilled.') somebody else won the lottery, someone was getting married, someone else getting divorced-

He turned the page from the human interest stories and found the ads.

'Bottled Djinnis, 5$ an ounce!'

'Free soul-straightening! Fighting addiction? Depression? Stress? Straighten your soul and flatten your troubles away!'

'Sylvie's Seances, commune with the dead with high quality audio-'

Here he rolled his eyes in disgust and skipped ahead to housing. There were a few listings, and since nobody on Market Street seemed to believe in house numbers, they all ended with a small, supposedly helpful description and set of directions that left Callahan feeling dubious.

One of the listings belonged to the Mrs. Pendanski he had seen earlier, but as it had taken him hours to get to where he was, logically it would take him several more hours to get back. In fact, the only one that was anywhere near him was. . .

He scanned the directions looking for something close by.

'Twenty feet to your right, across the street from the one with the red wood paneling. It has blooming poinsettias in the windowbox closest to the porch, can't miss it.'

Callahan stared at the paper for a while, debating with himself. Eventually he got up and went approximately twenty feet to his right, the cat keeping to his heels, apparently trying to trip him. Sure enough, across the street was another narrow, mismatched building, this one with poinsettias in the window box. He glanced down at the flyer just in time to see the words 'told you so' flicker underneath the ad description before disappearing.

He crumpled the paper up into a ball and tossed it into a nearby trashcan. Then he went across the street, the cat following close behind him.


Drea

Jackson had all but gotten rid of my bad mood. It’s impossible to be in a bad mood when you’re full of cookies. There was still some light left out, though, and I wasn’t quite ready to go home yet.

Maybe I’ll visit Lady Kaur, I thought.

And after I thought it, it seemed like a really good idea, so that’s what I did.

Lady Kaur’s first name isn’t really Lady, I just call her that because she’s in Mrs. Durant’s ladies club. Actually, no. That’s wrong. I call her lady because that’s what she is. She always wears pretty summery dresses and talks all proper and has waaaaay better manners than me or anyone else I know. It's like she radiates sensibility and properness, but she doesn’t rub it in or anything- she’s too nice for that.

Her apartment is in a big-ricked red-brown building on top of the shop that used to be her husband’s, but belongs to her, now. It used to be a hat shop, way back before I can remember, but after he died she stopped selling hats and started selling the charmed jewelry she made.

I pushed open the shop door, and a little silver bell on the frame jingled.

Lady Kaur's shop is warm and clean and smells strongly of flowers even though there aren't any inside the shop proper. The glass cases and counters are filled with jewelry that shines in the sunlight and hums with quiet magic. The different spells hum in different tones. The ones charmed to bring good luck are higher pitched than the ones charmed not to get lost, and the sneaky ones tucked in the corner case that are charmed to make the wearer look nicer have the lowest pitch of all.

Normally I love looking at the jewelery-- butterfly pendants and flower rings and golden things and necklaces with twisty chains-- but today I wanted to see lady Kaur. I passed through the shop and went through the counter. The jewelry buzzed when I went through. Sometimes I wondered whether or not that was good for the spells on them.

"Ms. Kaur?" I said.

"Hello, Drea!" she called. "I'm in the garden."

In the corner of the shop is tiny stairway that goes to the roof. The roof is flat and that's where the garden is. There's also a second story building where Lady Kaur lives, but to get to that you have to go through the garden.

I've gotten over being dead.

Nobody around here made that big a deal out of it, so I didn't either and now I've gotten used to it. But the one thing that sometimes bothers me, the one thing that gives me little tiny twinges of some horrible feeling I don't know the name of, it's that I'll never get a chance to grow up and be like Ms. Kaur. She's perfectly perfect in every way and while I know I never would have gotten to be as pretty as her, I would've liked to try. Her skin is dark and her hair is darker and normally it's in a braid, but today she had it loose, and her clothes are always so pretty, even when they're just regular shirts, they'll have fancy little patterns on the lining or the sleeves will be cut in a nice way and I wish I'dve died when I was older, because then I could've worn clothes like that instead of dying in my stupid kid clothes.

She was filling the special hummingbird feeder when I came up. The birds were all sitting in the branch near her, waiting while she unscrewed the feeder's top.

"Drea, can you hand me the gas can?" she said, pointing to the can by the hatch. I gave it to her and she poured the gasoline into the feeder. The birds made excited thrumming noises.

"Hi guys," I said to them. There's about a dozen of the little birds in the flock. I held out my hand and a couple of them flitted over, buzzing around my arm, but not landing on me. Then Lady Kaur stood up and hung the feeder back onto its branch, and the birds lost all interest in me and went to drink.

Lady Kaur and I watched them drink, smiling.

The birds were generally shaped like hummingbirds. They had the pointy needle-beaks like hummingbirds, they zipped around super fast like humming birds, and in a pinch the could drink nectar like hummingbirds. But while hummingbirds look all green and shiny in the light, those guys were firebirds, and stuck to the reds and oranges. It's not like they were on fire all the time or anything, just when they got excited or angry, but even when they weren't burning outright, they looked like hot coals and their feathers changed from red to yellow in the light. They also really liked drinking gasoline.

"I heard you met someone new on the street," she said.

"Yep."

"Who was he?"

"I didn't catch his name. Just some exorcist guy."

"Exorcist!" she said. "Are you alright?"

"Hmm? Yeah, I'm fine. He ticked me off, though. But he had a nice smile. I thought he was rude, but Jackson says he might just be stupid."

She frowned. "I don't think you should talk to him again."

"I don't really plan to," I said, totally honest. I wasn't going to talk to him until he apologized. Stupid or not, he'd still been rude.

"I mean it, Drea. You should tell your parents, too."

"'Kay. When I get home." If I remembered.

I hung around for a while after that and helped her take care of the garden. I told her all about the man in black and then about Yannon's cats and about anything else I could think of. She's a real good listener. But after a while I'd run out of things to say, and the garden was totally watered and all the weeds were picked, and the sun was almost down, I figured it was time to go home and said goodbye.

"Drea," she said. "I'm serious. Don't talk to that man again."

"I won't," I promised. She was starting to sound like a mom, and while sometimes that could be an okay thing, this time is wasn't and before she could tell me to do homework or something, I made myself invisible and vanished.

* * *

Cat Forty-Seven was hanging out in front of my house when I got home. I scooped her up and went in.

"I'm ho-ome!" I called, walking through the front door. The entry hall was empty of people but full of the lavender perfume Mrs. Sedef liked so much. I followed the smell into the kitchen.

Mom and Tansy and Mrs. Sedef were in the kitchen (which is connected to the dining room and told apart by the floor turning from linoleum to carpet). Mom was at one side of the kitchen slicing a loaf of bread, Mrs. Sedef was mixing salad, and Tansy was at the big-long-giant dining table, sipping something from a mug.

“I’m home,” I said again.

“So I gathered,” said Mom.

“What’s for dinner?” I did the poofing trick over to the counter to see.

“Tuna salad and sandwiches,” said Tansy. She had her legs crossed so her chicken feet were poking out from the bottom of her skirt.

“Drea,” said Mom. “What have I told you about teleporting inside the house?”

“That I should use my feet instead. Do we have any chips left?” I poofed to the cupboard and looked around for the bag.

“Ack,” said Mrs. Sedef. “Just let the girl get around how she likes. If I could move like that. . . “

Mom scowled, but Mrs. Sedef didn’t notice. She was one of those gnarly old ladies who’re good at not noticing people being grumpy.

“What kind of sandwiches?” I said.

“Your choice of roast beef or BLT.”

“If that young man ever gets back here with the tomatoes,” grumbled Mrs. Sedef. “I told you not to send him to Olivia’s garden. We’ll never see him again.”

“Who?” I said.

“New guy,” said Tansy. “Not cute. And Mrs. Sedef you could’ve gone and shown him the way.”

“Back!” called a familiar voice.

Oh no! I thought.

“Sorry it took so long, I couldn’t remember if it was the third room down the left hall, or the other way around.”

The man in black looked about the same as he did that morning, only maybe more tired, and now he had a cloth bag full of tomatoes. He saw me and stopped in the doorway.

"Oh, he said. "Hello."

"Mr Callahan, this is my daughter, Andrea. Drea, this is-"

"We've met," we both said at the same time.

Mom's face screwed up. "I'm sorry," she said to him.

"Hey!" I said.

He handed her the bag of tomatoes. "Don't be," he said. "She didn't bother me."

"Hey!" I said again.

"Drea, why don't you go upstairs and clean your room?"

"Fine!" I said. And I poofed out of there and into my room. I didn't want to see their dumb faces anyway.


Callahan

Callahan watched the ghost girl vanish and nearly dropped the tomatoes in surprise.

"Don't mind her," Mrs. Michanovich said. "She'll calm down eventually. Go ahead and leave those on the counter."

Callahan did as he was bid. "How long has she been...?"

"Been what?" Mrs. Michanovich said, starting to dice the tomatoes.

"Uh. She's- a, you know. She's-"

"Dead," said Tansy. She crossed her legs and her skirt fell away from her ankles, revealing large, clawed bird feet. Callahan tried not to stare. "A few years, right? I don't remember, though-"

"Six years." Mrs. Michanovich said. "Seven this October. Hit by a car. We don't talk about it."

"Right," said Callahan faintly. "Okay."

How do I file this? he thought. He didn't remember any chicken-footed ladies listed in the handbook. "Have you noticed anything strange lately?" he said.

"Strange how?"

"Just anything unusual. Power surges. Unusual supernatural activity-- I mean, uh, more so than usual. Strangers attracted to the area--"

"Naomi?" thundered a voice from the hallway leading to the living room. "Naomi! Have you seen my duffel bag?"

All heads turned and watched as a figure, several feet taller than Callahan and three times as thick around, stooped its head under the doorway and entered the kitchen. It wasn't a man. It wasn't anything close to being human. It had yellow-white skin that cracked like parchment and flaked and curled on places like thin paper. It wore no clothes, and didn't need to partly because it had the anatomy of a doll, and partly because even if there was anything to hide, it would've been hidden by the creature's massive belly. It smelled like old vegetables, and had white sprouts growing out of its massive shoulders.

Mrs. Michanovich wagged her finger at it. "I told you, Root, I'm your landlady, not your housekeeper. You can't leave things around and expect me to keep an eye on them." Her voice was light, but with a hint of steel in it that told Callahan they'd had this conversation or some like it many times before.

The creature, Root, held up two spade-sized hands in mock surrender. "Easy ma'am. Jus' askin' if you'd seen it."

She sighed and pointed to the corner of the room. "Over there, under the chair where you left it this morning."

The giant Root creature grinned and went to retrieve the bag. "Thanks, Naomi."

"To answer your question, Mr. Callahan, no. I haven't seen anything out of the ordinary lately."

Callahan nodded meekly and watched Root lumber down the hall, bag in tow.

* * *

For the next half hour, Callahan helped Mrs. Michanovich, Mrs. Sedef, and Tansy prepare both the dinner and the table, but the prospect of actually dining with two dozen people of varying supernatural origin (He'd heard a family of them were spiders) was too much for him, and he opted to eat in his room. Before any of the tenants or guests had come down, Mrs. Michanovich sent him upstairs with a sandwich, directions, and the assurance that should he change his mind, he was welcome to join everyone.

Along the way he passed a door that, unlike the other, brown doors, was painted white. It had paper cut-out flowers stuck on with scotch tape and a crayon-drawn sign, warped slightly by age, that said,

Drea's room keep out

He hesitated. Should he apologize? He felt like he should. For what, though? He raised his hand as though to knock on the door, then scowled and pulled it away.

It's a ghost, he thought, heading down the hall towards his room. It's not really a girl. It's a ghost.

But ghosts don't act like that. thought a sly little voice in his head. He squashed it down and two flights of stairs later, he found the door to his room.

Callahan's room was small, and he hadn't had much of a chance to look at it earlier, but now he could immediately tell it was comfortable. While the rest of the house (that he'd seen) smelled warmly of cinnamon, this room smelled like clean laundry with a hint of something flowery. The furniture was crowded and eclectic, but charming.

The floors, though hardwood underneath, had been layered over with rugs of varying thickness, material, and pattern. The walls were cream, but likewise covered up by wall hangings: paintings of landscapes and photo-realistic vases full of fruit hung by fancy painted porcelain platters hung by wire next to abstract crochet tapestries and Christmas-themed lacy wall decor.

There was a huge dark wood desk with a leather top that looked like it belonged in some rich man's office. There was a heavy looking wardrobe on lieu of a built-in closet, and two mismatched bedside tables on either side of the bed; one light wood and covered in whorls where knots had been, the other painted dark blue. Both had different kinds of antique looking lamps.

The windows had green and gold vine-patterned curtains that were thin enough to let in the last of the dying sunlight, even when totally closed. The bed was dark wood with a simple patterned headboard and a soft looking patchwork quilt tucked under two inviting pillows. After all the walking he'd done that day, it took everything he had not to throw himself into it and fall asleep, report be damned.

Instead, Callahan closed the door and locked it. After a second's thought, he reached into his pocket.

Marker, he thought. A moment later and he had a yellow highlighter in his hand. It would have looked like a regular, store brand yellow highlighter but for the odd, swirly script on the side where the logo ought to have been. He drew a simple sign on the door and drew a circle around it, murmuring one of the words his mentor, Harrington, had taught him. There was a small pop that might've just been in his head as the circle closed and triggered the power in the sign. The drawing began to glow. The door was warded; nothing could get in without his say. He put the marker back into his pocket and it vanished.

The metal band on his wrist began to itch, just as it did every time he used magic that was his own, rather than a tool's. When he looked at it, he saw that the gem set on it was a deep crimson color.

Still time, he thought. It would be a few more days before he'd have to turn it in. Hopefully, this whole mess would be sorted out by then.

His bag was already at the foot of the bed from when he'd dropped it off earlier, before getting shanghaied into helping with dinner. He didn't bother unpacking his clothes; he didn't think he'd be staying long. Instead he took out a ream of Order-issued professional paper and some pens, and went to the desk to write his report. It would be simple, he thought. He'd get it out of the way now while everything was still fresh.

Ten minutes later found him still staring blankly at the equally blank paper. Where the devil was he supposed to start?

Upon my arrival I was greeted by the ghost of--

No, that wasn't right. She couldn't be a ghost. Ghosts were just imprints. Whatever Andrea Michanovich was, it wasn't a ghost. He crossed out the line and put,

what appeared to be the ghost of a small girl. . .

He went on from there, never lying, but trying his best to reconcile what he'd seen on Market Street with what was conceivable by his superiors in the Order. There wasn't a drunk who got into wrestling matches with his shadow; it was a nictomancer of questionable quality. There weren't just winged cats; they were obviously the escaped creations of some local wizard. But everything he wrote wound up creating more questions than he'd had answers-- and he just knew he was going to be questioned about the flyers and everything else-- and he wound up writing in circles, trying to explain what he'd seen to himself as much as to his hypothetical readers.

The end result was three scribbled on and scratched out sheets of paper and one solid introductory paragraph that had taken him a half hour to write. Disgusted, Callahan took a new sheet, wrote "preliminary report" along the top, and wrote,

Harrington,

Questionable arcane activity. Multiple ley lines overlapping the natural Market Street line. Suspicious alterations to street. Will send more information as it goes.

--JC

Then scribbled Harrington's personal sigil on the corner of the sheet, drew a small circle around it, and snapped his fingers. The sheet of paper burned like chemical tissue from a flame that spread outward from the sign. Within half a heartbeat, it was gone, without even ash to show it had been there.

Callahan sighed and leaned back in the chair. He'd have to send a real report eventually. But at least he'd bought himself a little time to work something out. With luck, he might even solve the damn line problem before it was due. Nobody ever read the reports for the boring, neatly-solved cases.

* * * * *

Drea

I didn't sleep the night the man in black came to our house.

That wasn't his fault, though. I don't really sleep at all anymore. I can try, but it's not the same. Instead of actual sleep and actual dreams, I just sorta space out. Everything goes half-misty and quiet.

I don't move, but I know everything inside the house. I can't hear what anyone is saying, but I know they're talking. I can know how many people are asleep and whether or not they're under the covers or if they've forgotten to take their shoes off, and I can know who's sneaking food from the kitchen and who's staying up late in the living room, and whose at the windows trying to blow cigarette smoke out, even though they know Mom doesn't let tenants smoke inside the house. All of that I can know, if I think about it. If I want to know it. But normally, I'm too zoned out to think about thinking about it.

Usually.

"Hey, me," I said from across the room. "I hear things are getting interesting."

I sighed and sat up without moving the covers. I just went through them 'cause I'm cool like that. "I was trying to sleep," I said.

"Please," said the other me, leaning against my dresser. "Like we've slept at all in the past five years."

I glared at myself. "Go away," I told me.

The other me ignored me. "So," the other me said. "Whose this exorcist guy?"

"None of your business."

"I heard he tried to get you to leave. To move on. Sounds like a good plan."

"Shut up."

"Sounds like a really good plan. Sounds like a plan I've been trying to get you to do since the day we died."

If I could hit me I would've done it right then, but I found out early on that the other me knew when I was about to punch her and always ducked away too fast. The other me says she's my shadow, but I don't remember my shadow ever being so annoying.

"Leave me alone," I said.

"I can't," the other me said. "You need to stop acting like a baby and leave."

"Not gonna happen."

"It's gotta happen eventually."

I hopped on the bed and started jumping. "I don't see why. I like it here."

"Be reasonable. Are you going to still stick around ten years from now? Twenty?"

"Yep!" I did a flip.

"What about when mom and dad die?"

"They're not gonna die."

"Yes," the other me said. "They are. And so is Kaur, and Mrs. Seder, and Durant, and Jackson--"

"I'm not listening!" I sang, shoving my fingers in my ears.

"Was I always such a child?" The other me snapped.

"Still not listeniiiiing!"

The other me made an angry "GAH!" sound and said, "I mean it, Drea. We have to leave while we still can. If we don't, then there's trouble ahead for both of us."

"Stiiiiiill not liiisteniiiing!"

The other me threw up her hands and gave up. I saw her vanish into nothing and when I sorta felt around with my mind, I could tell the room was really empty and she wasn't just invisible.

Huh, I thought. She gave up awfully easy.

She must've been in a bad mood that night. The other me had shown up every once in a while since the day if woken up dead. I don't know what she is or what she's doing, but nobody but I can see her, and she doesn't try to talk to anyone else. She only comes out in the night time, when I'm zoning out.

I sat in bed and spent the rest of the night not really anywhere in particular, not really listening to anything, sitting in the place that wasn't really my room.

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