Blood soaked the walls, dripped from the ceiling. I had to watch my footing so I wouldn’t slip.
What the fuck happened here?
My skin crawled, but my mouth was salivating. Two very different – but very real – reactions.
Had to go another way, there was too much here to even-
A flicker in my eye, and it was all gone. The hallway was empty.
Hesitant, I traveled down the hall.
Benny had just finished her most recent message, the pattern had already been established.
Something about the names she was using, the people she was abusing…
They were all Asian names.
Not only did Benny know that I went to this school, but she also knew my race. More salt to the wound. But it did make me wonder what people thought the Bluemoon’s race was, before this.
White, I supposed.
It was obvious she didn’t know my ethnicity, though. She was taking a scattershot approach, making a guess with every Asian girl in the school she could get her hands on. Vietnamese, Chinese, it didn’t matter.
Going by the three names she listed, she must have been going by a school registry, sorting by girls with Asian last names.
And your last name is ‘Barnett,’ it’s hardly ethnic.
I couldn’t even take any comfort in that, Benny was targeting people who looked like me, or looked half like me. I wasn’t even fully Asian.
I wasn’t even fully anything.
Forge on, block it. You don’t need to concern yourself with that, now. Work on defeating Benny. Working on humiliating her. Mutilating her.
Thing was, I was already blocking it out.
I chose to pretend it didn’t happen, to continue as if I’d never heard it. If I didn’t, then I’d be worse off, and I wouldn’t be able to take another step in doing what I had to do. Couldn’t let it get to me.
If I was worse off, then everyone else would suffer for it.
Thing was, I had to keep telling myself that.
Time was also a critical element, here, and more people would suffer with every second I wasted. Before I could go after Benny directly, I had to disarm as many of the bombs as possible, taking some of her crew out along the way. Give her less of a leg to stand on, once she was fully in my sights.
That’s not it.
I was closing in on a corner, slowing, so I wouldn’t give myself away. The only other times I’d seen these halls so empty were at the end of the day, usually after practice. Seeing them like this, at noon? Even with the lights on, even with the elevator music, the place seemed desolate.
Teachers and students alike were locked up in their classrooms, afraid to go out into halls they traversed every day. Benny was holding the entire school hostage, and no one from the outside was doing anything about it.
No police, no national guard, no one.
Could they, even? Was the threat of explosives really sufficient in keeping outside forces glued in place? Was there something I was missing?
I didn’t want to have to do this by myself. I needed someone, anyone.
You have someone. Me.
I reached the end of the hall, crouched down. I kept an ear out, but I hadn’t heard anything but the music, my own footsteps, and my own breathing as it crinkled the paper bag I was wearing.
The hallway turned on a right angle, I couldn’t see into the next hall without peeking out, potentially revealing myself to one of the bad guys.
I checked the wall in front, facing the hall. A glass case, holding some of the trophies our different sports teams won over the years. I saw the trophy the volleyball varsity team won last semester.
A glass case, and a reflexive surface.
I saw the image of a man patrolling the hall, the image getting smaller. He was walking away.
Had to check again, to make sure it wasn’t some kind of mirage my mind was making up. Another trick. It wasn’t. That man was there, real, corporeal.
And I needed to get to him, if he had a way to stop the bombs.
Easier said than done.
If he was anything like Sofia, he’d have a gun on him, a big one. Going in headfirst wouldn’t be a smart move, unless I was asking to be shot at.
Had to find a way around to him, but how?
I moved from my corner where I was hiding, going back the way I came.
There, a door. Just a slit of a window, but it was dark inside.
I peeked in. I was more comfortable doing that than checking around a corner.
A computer lab, lit only but tiny bulbs and the graphics of screensavers on the monitors, swirling around and changing shape. No one was inside.
The door opened, and I slipped inside. When I closed it behind me, I made sure to pull it hard.
Compared to how quiet the hallway was, it might as well have been a gunshot.
I crossed the room. By the corner of an adjacent wall was another door.
The computer labs here at school were generally pretty big rooms, accessible from different doors, meaning one could go enter from different halls.
Not that this guy would know, he wasn’t familiar with the school like I was.
I approached the door, taking a look through the small window. It was dark enough that I wouldn’t be noticed. Still, I wasn’t about to press my face into the glass.
There he was.
He wasn’t dressed like he was prepared to take over a school, more like he was here to fix up a heater. A gray uniform, topped with a gray hat. A belt with different tools at his hip. The gun in his hands did detract from that image, however.
I had a lot of guns pointed at me, in recent times, and not one of them was fired at me or in my general vicinity. I wasn’t about to have that change, today.
I had to lead him here.
He had turned in response to the sound I made earlier, moving to investigate. Coming back my way, but he wouldn’t know to come through this door.
A similar tactic, then.
I didn’t use the door itself to make noise, rather the knob. I twisted it, and then immediately let go. It flipped back into place, making noise along the way.
The man was close enough to have heard that. I took a step back from the door, readying my knife, situating myself in the space between the door and the nearest wall.
It was all tall order, what I was trying to accomplish, but if I broke it up into smaller steps, easier plans, then I might be able to pull this off on my own. Might.
The first small step was to take this guy down, and see if he could provide any assistance with the temporary disarming of at least the first explosive.
Before I could go over the plan in my head one more time, the door started to open, and I immediately went stiff.
The door creaked as it yawned wider. Stephenville High School was an older school, and not exactly the most well-maintained. It wasn’t hard to find the cracks, even when you weren’t looking.
The door swung open some more, and I saw the man step into the room through the small window. The door was positioned between me and him, now, it only took one good look for him to notice me. Good thing I was in the dark.
The lights immediately turned on. The switch was by the door. Right.
Added pressure for me to move.
The man walked away from the door, and it started to close on its own.
I was already in motion before it could close all the way.
My foot met the back of his leg, and I kicked, folding it in. He was brought to a knee without even knowing what hit him.
I closed in even more, bring the knife around him, the flat part of the blade touching his throat.
“Do as I say, or this knife is the last thing you swallow,” I said, nearing a whisper. “Put the gun’s safety on, then drop it.”
The man didn’t move for a while. I pushed the blade even more, to the point that I was afraid that I might actually pierce his skin.
“You don’t want me to repeat myself,” I said.
The man finally listened. He held the gun up, fumbling with it. I heard a subtle click.
“Toss it to the middle of the room,” I said.
He tossed it, the weapon sliding out into the open. Easy for others to find, later.
It was a pistol, I noticed. Sofia was a lot more armed than this guy.
Something to take note of.
“Hands up,” I said.
He listened, raising his hands. Empty.
“I’m just going to get right into it,” I said. “Do you have the coolant needed to take out the bombs?”
The man mumbled something. I couldn’t understand him.
I flipped the knife around in my hand. Knifepoint to jugular.
“What did I say about making me repeat myself? You’re making me repeat myself.”
He gulped, and I felt his Adam’s apple move under my knife.
He answered me, finally. “I do have it. It’s in my belt.”
“So you know how to disarm it, or at least take it out for a while?” I asked.
“Yeah, you just spray it on the bomb.”
“Okay. Anything else in your belt, any other weapons?”
“No, just basic tools.”
“Then get up. Keep your hands up, too.”
The man started to lower his arms, stop, then raise them back up. Hesitating?
“On your feet,” I said, having to repeat myself. “The bomb in the gym is the closest one. If you have the spray, then you’d have to know where exactly each bomb is located. Are there any of your friends around?”
“I’m the only one patrolling this part of the building, if that’s what you mean. Can’t say where the others are, exactly.”
“Good enough. Now, for the last time, get the fuck up. And if you try anything now, just know I can do worse without the knife.”
With gradual movements, the man returned to his feet. I had to move my arms away from him, placing the knife on his back, pointed end digging into fabric. He was much taller than me, I realized.
He seemed to notice, as well.
“Can you?” he asked.
“I can. A knife is a weapon people know, it’s familiar. Throw a knife, or even a gun, into any situation, you can reasonably guess what the damage is going to look like. Believe me when I say, you don’t know me. You don’t know the damage I can bring you, just as myself.”
“Hm, I have a feeling I know who you are, Bluemoon.”
I poked him with the knife. Any more, and I would have actually stabbed him.
“Walk,” I said.
He took the first step, and I was right behind him. His hands were still up, my knife was still on his back. It made for getting through the door somewhat tricky, I had him pressed to the wall while I opened it with my free hand, but it wasn’t impossible.
We made it to the hall, then we moved to the big gym. The first bomb.
The music cut once again.
“I tire of this, Bluemoon. There’s only so much blood I can spill in your name. Why are you making this so difficult for me?”
I pushed open the door into the gym. The intercom carried in here, and it was infinitesimally louder.
Harder to block out of my head.
“I just want you, Bluemoon, you and you only. I said no one had to be hurt, and what’s happened since? You let three people die, and maybe a fourth, if I’m about to guess wrong, again. For even someone like me, that’s just cruel.”
I pushed the man again with my knife, prodding him to go faster.
“Where is it?” I asked. I had to speak over the intercom, over Benny.
“It’s at the end of those bleachers, at the farthest corner,” he answered, looking in that direction.
I poked him again. “Faster.”
He picked up the pace, taking us to the back of the bleachers.
Benny was still blabbering as we walked. A second voice had made themselves known. Another student.
I didn’t catch their name. I didn’t want to catch their name.
“Please tell me you’re actually the Bluemoon?” Benny asked them.
I couldn’t stand to hear anymore of this. I couldn’t bear it. My mind so wanted to retreat to something else, to listen to something else.
Then listen to me.
It scared me, just how much I considered it, in that moment.
“There,” the man said as we turned. His hands were still up, but he pointed in the general direction.
“Alright, I’m letting you put your arms down, so you can do your thing,” I said, cautious. “I’m watching you, though, this isn’t your opportunity to be brave.”
“Fine,” he said. He set his arms down, slow, moving more confidently once his arms were at his side. My knife was still on his back, a not-so-subtle reminder.
He stepped under the bleachers, the metal seating above blocking some of the light. Some light managed to cut through, however, so we weren’t completely in the dark.
We didn’t even have to go that far. I ducked my head to avoiding hitting a beam, but the man stopped soon enough.
“Here it is,” he said, looking down. “Can I?”
I stepped around him to get a betting view of the thing. My knife always pointing his way.
A sports bag, big enough to carry different kinds of equipment. No one would have seen this if they weren’t looking for it. Maybe if they were, there was a high chance they could’ve missed it.
“I already gave you my warning, go ahead,” I said.
The man sighed, but he bent down, unzipping the bag.
I saw the bomb.
It looked like something to be mailed than something that could explode. A package, really. Black tape was strapped around the manila box, with a ‘caution, fragile’ symbol taped at the base of the device. The only thing particularly off about it was the metal box attached at the top of the device. That, and the fact that it was pulsing with a green light.
My entire body went stiff. That thing could go off in any second, if Benny willed it.
It brought back ugly memories, too. Memories I wished I never had.
The dinner party, where Solace made the first move. The bomb that was strapped to that nameless man, Solace talking through him. The riot at city hall, the last time anyone heard anything official about Solace. The bomb that was strapped to Thomas, tortured into speaking on Solace’s behalf. The explosion.
I could still recall how powerful that blast was, how deafening it was. How hot it was when the impact came over me. Couldn’t get it out of my head, my ears would ring at night, and I’d wake up the next morning, soaked in sweat.
The sight of a bomb like that, here, it made my knees weak.
The man reached for his belt, taking out a can. He popped the lid off, aimed it right at the bomb, then pressed down. A white spray spewed out of the nozzle.
Benny was still going, trying to goad me. Had to ignore her, couldn’t let her affect me.
But she’s already gotten to you.
My eye flickered.
That voice. It seemed to come from everywhere at once.
There was no need to turn my head. I looked, and it was there.
It had no definite features. It was darker than the shadows around it, and I was able to make out its shape by looking for what was missing, rather than what was actually there.
Its shoulders were broad, but its limbs were long, thin. So was its waist.
Tall. I craned my neck to take in its full height.
No definite gender. But it had a tangled version of my own voice. A deep bass lying underneath that scooped and filled my ears when I heard it.
Not a man, not a woman, no way was it a person. It was a thing. And it wasn’t an illusion, it wasn’t my brain making a false image out of something already there. It was there, it took up space, and that was not a very good sign.
I looked where its eyes were supposed to be. Nothing there. A blank face.
“Who are you?” I asked, words coming out on their own. I braced myself for whatever the answer may be.
It answered, but it had no mouth to use, and what I could only guess was the thing’s ‘voice’ resounded in my own head.
Now, I believe proper introductions are in order. I’m Thomas Thompson. And you must be The Bluemoon.
It was as if I’d stabbed myself with my own knife. Striking a wound that had yet to fully heal.
“No you’re not,” I said, saying it more for myself than to inform that thing. I gripped my knife even harder.
“Yes I am.”
I looked towards the direction of that voice. “Huh?”
The man was half turned around, half looking back at me. Still crouched.
“I said I’m Samuel.”
“Okay?” I questioned him.
“You asked me who I was and I gave you my name? Never mind, I’m done with the-”
A crash of a noise interrupted him, and it was like a cannon went off right by my ear.
I seized up. I fell, hugging my body, expecting a wave of heat swallowing me up, an impact like being hit by a truck. The knife slipped out of my hand as I cupped my ears.
Dammit, even my own body was fighting against me. I didn’t even have control over my very self. An attack on all fronts. Mind and body. Giving way for another thing to take hold.
And that scared me.
LIke a pop, the sound didn’t last, but the effect already had me in its talons. I clutched my head, in shivers.
My mind was in shreds, and so desperate to cling on to something to help put itself together.
Then listen to me.
That was just the gunshot from the intercom. The bomb didn’t explode. But I heard footsteps. Samuel is getting away. Get up. Stop him.
My eyelids dragged themselves open, and I saw that Samuel was gone. The thing, the shape, was also missing. Only me.
Move, stop Samuel, kill him.
I found the knife easy, snatching it back up. I had to duck to avoid a beam or two, but they weren’t too much in the way of obstacles. I was out of the bleachers’ underside, and got onto the gym floor.
That man, Samuel, was halfway down the gym. If I was just normal human, he’d escape if I chased after him now.
Stop Samuel, kill him.
I dashed with the first step, then took the air with the second. I flew across half the length of the big gym.
I aimed it perfectly. My kicked my feet out as I closed in on Samuel, striking him between the shoulderblades. He collapsed like a rock.
I angled it so I landed with me sitting on his back, keeping him down. My knife found its place by his neck, just to be careful.
“Did I say you could leave when you were done?” I said, nearly out of breath, heart pounding.
“Can’t blame me for… trying,” Samuel said back, equally fishing for air.
“Suppose not, but it’s not going to be your smartest idea, I’ll see to that. But about the bomb, it’s done?”
“Agh, yes, it is.”
“So you just spray it and that’s enough?”
“Just about. When the light turns off, that’s it.”
I took a moment to collect my thoughts. The music started up once more, reverberating in the gym. An echoed quality.
“The bomb in the theater, where exactly is it?”
“In the pit.”
The pit? Oh, that was where the band played during musicals. Between the first row of seats and the stage itself, if I remembered correctly. I wasn’t exactly into plays.
“And the one in the cafeteria?” I asked.
“It’s, ow, under one of the tables, on the second level.”
“And those locations are clear of people?”
“Should be, probably.”
That was enough out of him. I had to wrap this up.
“Do you have any means of communication between you and your crew?”
“Walkie-talkie,” Samuel answered, strained.
“Other side of my belt.”
I reached to his side, finding it. Samuel’s face was laid down on the gym floor, facing one side. I placed the device by his mouth.
“Tell them you found the Bluemoon,” I said. “That you have him cornered in the boys’ restroom in A-Hall, upstairs. That I’m in my usual costume, blue hoodie and white mask. Deviate from that by a single word, then I’m gutting you.”
I pressed down the button on the side. Samuel spoke into it.
“Hey, everyone, I’ve got the son of a bitch, concerned in the bathroom of… A-Hall, upstairs. I need some backup.”
He paused for a breath.
I lifted my finger off the button. I moved my knife.
“You’re done, Samuel,” I said.
The knife went into his leg. And then again. And again.
His pained screams echoed in the gym, until I couldn’t hear the music.
Had to stop myself. I wasn’t here just for him. Benny still needed her turn.
“You’re staying here,” I said, even though he probably couldn’t hear me. “Thanks for all the help though.”
I got on my feet, taking out the duct tape. He fought, struggled, but I managed to tape his hands behind his back. No need to tie his legs. He wouldn’t be walking for a while.
I took the spray and walkie-talkie from him, too. He wasn’t going to need it.
I put everything but my knife into the pockets of my borrowed hoodie, and started to head out of the gym, Samuel bleeding behind me.
As the gym doors closed, I stuck the blade under my paper-mask, licking the blood off.
It gave me what I needed to take the next step, and take it faster.
I headed to the next bomb, the closest one.
Sofia referred to it as the ‘theater,’ but that was probably what she meant. Given where I was, it was closer than the cafeteria…
And so was the upstairs restroom in A-Hall.
That restroom was in the farthest corner of the school, from my relative location. Maybe Samuel’s message wouldn’t attract everyone, but the prospect of me being cornered in a restroom should have been an attractive one. I could bet that a majority of Benny’s crew would want a piece of the action.
Hopefully, that cleared the way to the second bomb.
I walked faster, but I wasn’t hasty. Right angles were still hair-raising to go around. I could run into anybody, at anytime.
With a knife in my hand, I tried to be ready.
I rounded a corner, and in an instant, I rounded back, pressed on the wall. Someone there.
Shit, did they see me? Were they coming my way?
I waited, prepared for a fight.
No one came.
I took a breath, readying myself again. I peeked around the corner.
No one there.
Dammit, I thought I saw someone.
I continued on my way, picking up the pace even more.
I ended up farther back into the school, the hallways giving way to the workshops where the more ‘hands-on’ classes were held. The theater kids would spend a lot of their time here preparing props for their plays. There were even classes on how to fix up cars.
Planks of wood were stacked on the floor, tools left behind. Buckets of paint left open. Doors shut, garage doors slid down. More students and teachers were behind those doors, the lockdown in effect here, as well.
Going this way led to the auditorium, but the proper entrance was another way. If I went past the workshops, I’d be going in by way of the back door.
There. A ramp into a black door, the last one in the hall. I maneuvered up the ramp, and tested the knob. Unlocked.
I went into the auditorium.
The sound of the door was unassuming when I opened it, but it boomed as it closed behind me. All dark, but that wasn’t an issue. I moved without a problem.
I entered stage left, or was it stage right? Whichever it was, I moved across until I was front and center.
I peered into the darkness.
The music couldn’t reach me here, and it was silent. The only sounds were my footsteps and heartbeat and breathing, and they felt like they were amplified in volume. There was no one to be found here, too. No one in the rows of seats. It was as if I was transported somewhere else completely, far removed from the situation happening at my own school. It was as if it I no longer had a problem to solve.
In the darkness, I had freedom.
Let’s take this freedom, and keep it for ourselves. Let’s run and hide in the dark.
I massaged my temples.
Life wasn’t that simple.
I took another step forward, and descended into a deeper blackness. I fell into the pit.
I landed square on my feet, among more empty chairs. No instruments here, I doubted the band kids would leave those behind.
Looking around for the second bomb didn’t take up too much time. I found it in the center of the pit, where the maestro would stand.
Bent down, guarded, I unzipped the bag.
A pulsing light.
The second bomb, and another piece of what I was starting to realize was a strange puzzle.
The first bomb was under some bleachers, the second was in the pit of the auditorium. Should these have exploded… They’d cause some damage, sure, but there was no around to be hurt by the explosions. And they were hidden under stuff, things that would serve to soften the blow, even if was minimal.
Why, though? The bombs were very much alive, so Benny had to have gone into this expecting that they might go off, and she obviously had no qualms about killing kids…
Why put the bombs in such lowkey places?
Think, Alexis, don’t be so dense. People hate that.
Benny had no intention of killing anyone. It was a farce, putting a show to get me to come out. Her at the intercom, was it all pretend?
That’s a nice thought, maybe even a real possibility. Does that change anything?
It didn’t. I still wanted to get back at Benny. Hurt her.
I didn’t answer.
I pulled out the spray, and worked on disabling the bomb, being careful about not touching the bomb itself.
The device was covered in the white spray, until there was more white than bomb. I removed my finger, stopping the stream. I couldn’t afford to waste all of it.
I held my breath.
Using my free hand, I wiped away white goo from the bulb, where the light pulsed.
Worst case scenario, I had my healing. But, this was still a bomb I was dealing with. I didn’t want anymore explosions, no more loud sounds.
No light. Success.
Two bombs down, one to go. And one Benny still standing.
Even with the detonator knocked out, I didn’t dare move the bomb. I simply jumped out of the pit, landing back onto the stage. I left the way I came, but I was entering into the light, this time. I squinted as I hurried, having to adjust to how bright it was.
No shadowy figures in the complete darkness, I realized. I was unsure of how to take that.
Even the music offended. Had Benny taken another life, I wasn’t there to hear it.
As I returned to the ‘real’ school hallways, a strange feeling welled up in me. Two bombs, defused, in relative quick succession of each other. Unbeknownst to Benny, she didn’t have those two particular cards to play, not anymore. There was one more bomb left, but if I was fast enough, I could defuse the situation entirely, and make it out okay.
I had a chance, right?
I heard laughter. It wasn’t from an external source.
Next stop was the cafeteria, and just getting there was a challenge. My distraction wouldn’t hold forever, I had to assume that Benny and her crew had already went back to searching around the school for me, redoubling their efforts. They’d be spread out, now.
I held my knife, prepared.
Blood started leaking from the walls and ceilings. When I blinked, they were gone.
It’s as if the harder you try to maintain a grip, the easier it is to slip. Just let go.
So many things I needed addressed, if I just had the time to address them. But things just kept happening. So many other things that took the now away from me.
Let me take over. You’re stupid, Alexis, you’re unfit. You’re too bound by your name to do what needs to be done. What should be done. Anyone else in your shoes could do better. Anyone.
I accelerated into a run.
You let four people die. Benny’s right, that is cruel. Do you know why you let them die? Do you know why you’re doing this instead of finding help for Coach Tilly?
I ran faster.
I want to tell you, let me tell you. It’s because-
“Fuck off!” I yelled.
I turned into a new hallway. Two men. Two guns.
They had stepped into this hall at the same time I did. It wouldn’t have mattered if I was quiet or not. I spotted them at the same time they spotted me.
One of them ran ahead, drawing in his gun. A rifle. I wouldn’t give him the time to take aim.
I sped up, moving toward a wall of lockers. I hopped, then managed to run along the wall for a few steps, my momentum keeping me up.
His arms jerked awkwardly. He wasn’t used to having a target that moved like this.
I closed in, then pushed away from the wall. A kick to his head was sufficient. I landed before he crashed down.
Threat of guns, no firing. Couldn’t have that.
I looked where to move next, the next target. He would have been farther back, so I had his rifle to worry about. He’d have time to aim.
He was gone.
But a door was ajar. It wasn’t, before.
A door to a class.
Eyes wide, I ran.
I flung the door open, and I entered the classroom.
The gunman was in the center of the room, rifle pointed to the class.
This was an art class, made of students from different grades. An elective class, meaning there were a lot of students.
And that man had his gun in their direction.
He had split them up into two different groups, one group taking a corner, the other hugging the connecting wall. Mrs. Irons, the art teacher, was in the group in the corner. I had this class last year.
They were scared. I was scared for them.
The gunman saw me come in. He positioned himself so he could face me, while still train his rifle at them.
“Take another step, and they’re all-”
I was a blur before he could finish.
Can’t let this happen, no way. Have to do something, try something. Can’t let him shoot.
Those thoughts were my own. They were clear, resonant.
I attacked as I rushed.
With an empty but closed hand, I slammed his chest with enough force to break bones. With the knife, I stabbed him in the arm.
He dropped like a fly, and so did his rifle.
Momentum still had me, and I kept going. I stopped when I crashed into a row of tables, in front of the two groups the gunman had split up.
My back ached. Seeing stars, seeing things.
But there was a moment of quiet. Nothing was fired. I stopped him.
I did it.
Had to hurry, before more of them came. Had to get to the cafeteria.
I clambered to my feet, checking if the paper bag was still covering my head. It was.
I checked everyone else, to see if they were okay.
They weren’t even looking at me.
Someone behind me.
Aching, I wheeled around.
My heart sank into my stomach and leapt into my throat. Back and forth.
“Harrian,” I said, under my breath.
Harrian Wong, carrying a rifle.
A million thoughts sped through my scrambled mind.
Where’d he come from? Why’d he have a gun?
Harrian had this class, he couldn’t just pop out of nowhere. I just hadn’t noticed him in the frenzy. And that gun was from the gunman from just now, he’d picked it up.
And his eyes.
I’d felt anger before, I’d felt frustration. I’d let it course through my veins and consume me, I’d let it control my actions. I was feeling it now.
This was different. It was so much more pure, potent, focused. I could see it in his eyes.
Stunned, floored, I followed Harrian’s gaze.
My heart. Back and forth.
I saw him.
Evan, of Eric and Evan, among the group in the corner, except the former wasn’t here. Thin, spindly, blond, and very pale. Sweating bullets.
That was why.
Connections made. Their whole thing, this whole time, it was all a lie.
“Harrian!” I shouted, already moving-
He didn’t respond with words, but with the pull of a trigger.