September 5, 2012 by Lyn
August 31, 2003
They’d been dumped in the middle of nowhere, in an airport that barely deserved the name, with an airfield that they were pretty sure was a wheat field in the off time. The matron at the counter smiled benignly at their little group. “The nice man from the school will be here in a few minutes for you. Make yourselves at home.”
The airport didn’t have a whole lot in the way of amenities. No newsstand, no souvenirs, a vending machine instead of a restaurant and only one luggage cart. It did, however, have a bathroom, and after the three-stop flight from Honolulu and the super-sized soda in Seattle, Wylie desperately needed a bathroom.
He’d spent a few minutes loitering with the group of them, all off of one flight – Shang, who they’d picked up in Seattle; Kendrew, they’d gotten in Salt Lake City, where he’d met them there from Calgary; Llew, who had been there when they got there and wouldn’t tell them anything at all about himself; and Pania, who he couldn’t tell if was proud, shy, or both in equal measure – but it hadn’t taken long for his bladder to assert itself.
He’d only walked away from the group for a couple minutes, and only after Shang had promised he’d watch Wylie’s luggage. He didn’t want his stuff to just walk off, and he didn’t want anyone going through it. There were a few things in there he didn’t want anyone else getting their hands on, and after a few hours on the plane together, Shang seemed like the most trustworthy of the bunch.
He’d only been a few minutes. It didn’t take that long to piss, even with a super-sized Dew in you. It had only been a couple minutes – but when he stepped back out, the group of people, all who’d claimed to be Addergoole students, too, and all who’d claimed to have no idea what was going on – were gone, and so was his luggage.
And so, it seemed, were the three ancient people who ran this place. Even the lights were out. The gates were down, blocking the wheat field-runway but, more importantly at the moment, blocking Wylie from leaving.
More importantly, they had locked him on the wrong side of a metal wall from the phone and the vending machine.
Wylie had shouted until his voice wore out, and then he’d hit the wall a few times, and then he’d gotten sensible and started looking for a way out. “I was only gone a couple minutes,” he complained to the wall, but the wall, sullen because he’d punched it or just being a wall, didn’t answer.
He was on his third circuit of the small portion of the small airport that was inside the gates, feeling like a tiger in the zoo, when he heard the chuckle. At first, he thought he’d imagined it – it had been a very long day, and this was just making it suck more – and kept looking. But as he started the fourth time around, he heard it again.
As chuckles went, it wasn’t a nice one. Melodic, but mean sounding, the way someone might giggle in the back of the classroom when you got an answer really spectacularly wrong. Laughing at him? No, it had to be some sort of acoustic trick, the voice coming from outside.
Outside meant they could get him out, or at least call someone who could. “Hello?” he called again. That got him another chuckle. “Hello?” He was beginning to feel pretty foolish, but he didn’t want to spend the night in the airport if he had any other choice. He was getting hungry, and the chairs looked as if they’d fossilized there.
“Hello to you, too.” He still couldn’t see anyone but, considering the sound of the voice, he wasn’t sure he wanted to. It sounded smug and unkind, like the giggle had. Great. Middle of nowhere and he’d found a bully.
“I don’t suppose you have a quarter for the phone?” he asked, determined to act as if the invisible voice was a nice person. Sometimes that worked, if only by confusing the enemy.
“I do.” The owner of the voice stepped from behind a pillar – on the other side of the gate, thankfully, near the phone. “What’s in it for me?”
“What’s…” Shit. The person attached to the voice had long slender legs and dirty, cracked-looking bare feet. The rest of … him? Her?… looked a lot tidier: tight jeans, a white button-down with a tie, maybe a school tie – the lime green and purple were bad enough a combination to be school colors – and deep blue eyes. “I’ve got some cash on me.”
“Bah, cash.” The person – blonde, they were blonde, and that label didn’t have a gender – the blonde made a dismissive gesture. “Look, you’re going to Addergoole, right?”
“How did you…” Small airport, middle of nowhere. “Yeah.”
“Right.” The blonde pulled up a chair. “So one thing you have to know about this place is it’s like a prison. Money isn’t gonna get you anywhere. You want things you can barter, and favors. So I’ll get you out-” a key dangled temptingly from slender fingers – “if you’ll do a favor for me.”
“Yeah?” Wiley moved forward cautiously. “What sort of favor?” How badly did he want out of here before the morning, really? He could sleep on a fossilized chair. He’d slept in worse.
“Well, I don’t know that yet, do I?” The blonde’s chuckle really was mean-sounding; Wylie contemplated hiding in the bathroom and trying to ignore the hope of rescue. “It wouldn’t be anything too bad, though…”
“Define ‘too bad?’” Not only were the chairs ancient, the floor was cold. It would be a long night if he stayed here.
“Deadly, illegal, or fattening.”
“Well… okay, so what, you want a favor later for letting me out now?”
“I want the promise that, when I tell you I need a favor, you’ll do what I need, for letting you out now.”
There was a problem there, somewhere. Wiley frowned at the blonde as his stomach growled. “Right. If you let me out, I promise.”
“Awesome.” The grin was wide and surprisingly friendly. Wylie had a feeling he ought to be worried. “Look, any minute now, Luke is going to be noticing that you’re missing.” The blonde unlocked the gate and pulled it open like whisking aside a curtain. “I’m Reese, by the way.”
“Wylie. Who’s Luke?” The name offered no more clue than the body or the voice. Wylie would just have to keep avoiding pronouns until someone else slipped.
“School porter, guard, security, PE teacher… if you meet someone short, thuggish, and surly, it’s him or Doug. Pleased to meet you, Wylie.” Reese bowed low over Wylie’s hand with a gesture like something out of the Shakespeare festival.
“Uh… pleased to meet you, too, I guess. Look, did you say someone from the school was on their way?”
“Well, I can’t be certain, but they can’t miss you for long. They count noses or something. My first year…” The blonde’s voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper. “…I tried to run away from the airport. I got about five miles before Luke came after me. He nearly ran me over in that big Jeep of his.”
“I didn’t come within twenty feet of you, Reese.” The gravelly voice coming out of nowhere made Wylie jump; the only consolation was that his companion jumped even further, landing on one of the chairs and staring wildly around.
“Being invisible is cheating.” The blonde made the complaint sound entirely rational, even with a suddenly squeaky voice.
“Greeting the new blood before they get to school is cheating, too.” The man that stepped from behind a pillar was far shorter than Wylie had imagined, given the rumbling sound of authority in his voice. Wylie wasn’t the tallest guy around, not by a long shot, but he could look down at the top of this guy’s head without a problem.
Come to think of it, he was taller than Reese, too. Maybe Reese was a girl?
Wait, what was that about new blood? “Saying hi is cheating?”
“Saying hi in the airports is cheating.” The short guy, who didn’t look old enough to sound as grumpy as he did, smiled, sort of, at Wylie. It wasn’t a very friendly expression. “You’re Wylie, right?”
“Yeah…” The man’s t-shirt had a school crest on it, and the word Staff written under it. He was either a t-shirt thief, or he worked for the school. Wylie was going to bet on worked for the school. “Yeah, I’m Wylie Jenkins. You’re from the school?”
“He’s from Addergoole,” Reese interrupted. “This is the guy I was telling you about that almost ran me over. Luke, Wylie. Wylie, Luke.”
“Great. Can we get back to the school now?” The short guy’s voice was dripping with sarcasm. Wylie wondered if he was already in shit with the administration.
“I was only in the bathroom for a minute…”
“I know.” Luke cut him off. “Come on. You’ve missed orientation already.” He stomped off towards the exit.
Wylie took one longing look at the fossil-chairs and followed afterwards. Next to him, Reese grinned. “Don’t worry about missing orientation. I can tell you everything you need to know. This is going to be so fuuuun.”
Wednesday, September 3, 2003
“So the weird thing about Addergoole…” Wylie stopped mid-sentence as all five people at the table looked at him. He swallowed the bite of food he’d been talking about and took a drink, wondering at the sudden intensity.
“You were saying?” Arnbjörg had set down her fork and was staring at him. She was a little scary on the best of days; being under her microscope was kind of terrifying.
“Um.” He looked down at his plate. Nope, no rescue there. “Just that the weird thing about this place is that it seems so normal. I mean, when you get past the underground bunker hiding under a barn thing.” And it hadn’t taken him too long to get past that. He’d been too freaked out by the locked in an airport thing, and the way-too-friendly-friend thing, and the already-pissed-off-security thing.
“Normal.” Reese grinned around a mouthful of peanut butter sandwich. If pressed Wylie would admit that Reese was one of the less normal things about this school. Reese, and the fact that not a single person in three days had dropped a pronoun relating to the still-way-too-friendly blonde.
“Normal,” Wylie agreed. “Look, I mean, there’s classes and they’re sometimes hard and sometimes boring, and there’s, you know, jocks and freaks and nerds. And there’s cafeteria food and everyone laughs at the new kids for not knowing anything.” With that, he added a pointed glare at the upperclassmen smirking at him.
“It’s more fun this way.” Reese was as unrepentant about this as about everything else. On the other hand, Reese had been actually helpful about the whole orientation thing, so Wylie wasn’t going to argue too much. And the rest of the table seemed friendly – aside from the smirking.
“Glad to be of service.” He grumbled it into his soda. He might joke about it, but he was starting to get tired of all the in-jokes.
“We’re just having a little fun.” Evie patted his shoulder in apology. “We were all new once, too. You and Miryam will figure everything out soon enough.”
“I hope so.” He looked up from his drink long enough to share a glance with the other Ninth Cohort at the table. Miryam, a tiny black girl who happened to live in the same “pod” as Wylie did (okay, calling the room groupings pods was kind of weird, too), turned her amazingly bright smile on him.
“They’re just having their fun. They’ll get bored with it soon enough.”
“You don’t feel like the whole thing is one giant prank?” He poked his lunch with his fork. “I mean, the funny looks, the whole ‘you don’t know anything’ attitude, the mysterious handprints on the walls…”
“The what?” Once again, everyone was looking at him. Wylie looked back at them, finally at his breaking point.
“Okay, enough of the bullshit, guys. Ooooh, the school is mysterious. Can we get on with, you know, classes?”
“Handprints?” Arnbjörg leaned forward again. “What sort, and where?” She was holding her butter knife like it was a dangerous weapon. In her hands, it might be.
Wylie gulped. “Come on, Miryam, back me up here.”
“I haven’t seen any handprints.” She shrugged apologetically. “I saw some yeti-footprints in the carpet between our rooms yesterday evening, but I assumed it was another prank. There’s been a lot of silly things like that recently.”
“Who’s been pranking you?” Dyfri and Evie were getting in on the scary-upperclassmen act now. That left only Reese to act entirely un-worried. Miryam shrugged again, their attention not appearing to bug her at all. She seemed like she could handle it, so Wylie gratefully let her take the spotlight.
“Some of the older students. Agravain, Kendon. They’ve been looming around quite a bit, and usually just after something goes oddly.”
“What kind of odd?” The tension around the table was building. Wylie wished he understood why. From the look on her face, so did Mir.
Her bright smile was getting uncertain. She turned it on all of them, as if looking for help, but mostly at Dyfri, who was running the interrogation. The skinny guy hadn’t seemed all that intimidating – before now. “Prank knocks-on door, people calling my name and then not being there, that sort of thing. Yesterday, I swear I heard someone talking about me just around the bend, but when I got there, the hall was empty. And Agravain has been spending quite a bit of time around my pod, and around my last class every day. I think he’s trying to flirt with me.”
She was getting off light, in comparison. “They’re not trying to flirt with me,” Wylie cut in. “And they’re pulling stuff on me, too. Bugs in my shoes in the locker room; somebody cellophaned my dorm door yesterday. And the handprints. It’s really not you guys?” Hazing by new friends, that he’d expected. It was a little creepier if it was strangers.
“It’s not us.” Reese finally decided to get involved. “Not the bugs, not the cellophane, and really not the handprints. Has anyone offered to show you the library yet?”
“Yes.” Miryam nodded. “But I wasn’t interested. Kendon seemed disappointed; I didn’t think he was the bookish sort.”
“We’ll take you.” Arnbjörg had that Queen of the World voice on again. Wylie had had enough.
“You know, we get it. New school and everything, but we’re not kindergarteners here. We can walk to the water fountain without a buddy, thanks.” He looked over at Miryam, ignoring the upperclassmen. “I’m heading to class. Do you want to ditch the crossing guard and come with me?”
He was angry enough to be ignoring how cute she was, how her smile made him want to ask her inappropriate things, how he wanted to play with the bouncy curls of her hair… okay, he was getting angry enough to babble inanely in the privacy of his head, too. But he still waited to see what she’d say.
“Miryam…” Dyfri reached out for her arm, frowning. She neither frowned nor jerked away, making Wylie want to snarl at someone, but she did give the older boy a sad smile.
“I think I’m going to head off with Wylie. I’ll see you around, Dy.”
Wylie’s anger turned his triumphant smile into more of a snarl, but he tried to make it back into something
“Don’t fall in any pit traps,” Reese called after them. Wylie rolled his eyes.
“We won’t run into any Yeti or anything, either.” The whole secretive, mystery, oogy-boogy thing was beginning to really piss him off. It was a school. When were they going to stop pretending it was some sort of Scooby-Doo theme park?
Friday, September 5, 2003
It turned out Wylie wasn’t the only one utterly frustrated with, disappointed in, and angry at the upperclassmen. So, while Miryam seemed to have abandoned him in favor of the guys who had been stalking her, he had no shortage of company at a lunch table while he continued to ignore Reese and his friends.
Friday found him sharing a really good pizza with Mallory, Shang, and Belfreja, complaining about the upperclassmen, the teachers who seemed just as complicit in the whole “we’re going to be sneaky creeps” thing, and the weird pranks that kept going on, even when they followed their best grade-school advice and just ignored it all.
“Somebody swapped out my biology textbook for Biology of Reproduction and Modern Sexuality yesterday.” Belfreja was pretending not to blush, but her fair complexion didn’t really give her that option.
“I’ve had seven separate upperclassmen offer to show me the Library. Seven. Nothing in a Library can be that interesting.” Shang had apologized in confusion when Wylie had confronted him about the debacle at the airport; he swore he thought they’d all gotten into the SUV. Since nobody else seemed to have remembered him, either, and since Shang was clearly having his own problems, Wylie had decided it wasn’t worth making a fuss about.
“And the footprints. Who over the age of seven thinks that sort of thing is funny? I mean…” Mallory trailed off, as the reclusive Director walked through the Dining Hall to the front of the room and cleared her throat.
Her voice carried easily through the sudden quiet of the small meal hall. “Good afternoon, students. I hope you are settling in to this, the ninth year of the Addergoole School.” She paused, twitched her left hand, and shook her head, continuing as if her recording had skipped.
“First, the important news. As we have done every year so far, we will be hosting a small dance – a ‘club night,’ if you will – in the meeting hall every second Saturday night from eight until midnight. If you believe you don’t have the wardrobe you need for such, our school store has a wide selection of clothing, and your parents have deposited money into your school accounts.”
Some of the upperclassmen hooted and hollered. Wylie was already bored, so he turned back to his math homework. Maybe if he figured out this problem, Professor Reid would let him skip the boring stuff on Monday. Of course, the Director was still talking.
“As I told you all on your first day here, Addergoole is an experimental school, and, as such, there will be a number of things that will seem very strange to you.”
“Fuck that,” Wylie muttered. Everyone wanted everything to seem so strange. It was just making it seem stupid.
“Now that you’ve had a chance to settle in, things will be getting progressively stranger over the next week or two. Please be patient, and try not to let anything you see or hear alarm you.”
“Yeah, right.” Belfreja was kicking him, but she wasn’t really hitting hard enough to hurt, so he kept muttering. “Only thing strange about this place is the egos on people thinking they’re special.”
“Ninth Cohort, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask a teacher or a member of staff, but the students of the earlier Cohorts have been through all of this already, and I encourage you to talk to them about anything out of the ordinary you may see or experience.”
Wylie was having trouble not groaning out loud. Man, with even the teachers in on it, he was beginning to expect somebody to come tromping down the hall in a yeti suit or something.
“By the end of next week,” The Director droned on, “we will be assigning Mentors to each of you.” Around them, the older students were getting really impatient, bouncing and giggling. The Director seemed oblivious to it. Not just the older students – most of the staff was in here, too. Whatever bullshit they were planning, it was going to be now. Wylie stood up to leave. He didn’t want to play their games anymore.
“If there is a teacher or staff member you feel a particular rapport with, please talk to them before the end of classes on Thursday.” The Director just didn’t quit. And there was a hand landing on his shoulder, a grip like iron.
“Give it a minute.” He didn’t have to turn around to realize it was the gym teacher talking in his ear. Nobody else sounded that gravelly.
“Look, I’m just sick of the games.”
“Just one more minute.”
“Okay, it’s just sad when…” He turned around, not liking having the guy behind him and really not liking talking over his shoulder. And stopped. “Where did you get the wing props? And really, why?”
They were pretty good props, all things considered. Blue and grey, not like normal store-bought black bat wings, and they looked like they were longer than the guy was tall.
“Born with them.” It was the first time Wylie had really seen the PE teacher smile, and it wasn’t a nice expression, and more than Reese’s smile, or anybody else in this dump, except Miryam. Up in the front of the room, the Director was still talking.
“That is all for today. Please enjoy your dinner. We will see you at the dance tomorrow night.”
Two inches from his nose, Luke’s wings spread wide open. “Look, the kids have been having fun with pranks. But there’s some meat in all the gristle.”
Wylie stared at the slowly twitching wing-tips. “All that talk about ‘things aren’t really normal here,’ and ‘things are stranger than they seem,’ all the stupid jokes, all the in-jokes?”
“Most of that is gristle. And most of it has a grain of truth.” He nodded towards the rest of the Dining Hall. “Your squirrely friend is looking for you.”
“Hey, Wylie.” He was pretty sure that was Reese bounding over to him. He was pretty sure Belfreja was going to throw her soda at the bouncing, hopping… squirrel? Squirrel. Bel’s eyes were wide, and she was gripping her cup tightly, staring at Reese’s amazingly fluffy tail.
“Hey, Reese.” He shifted so he was out of Bel’s potential line of fire. “You… ah.”
“Yeah, see?” The blonde’s smile was terrifyingly brilliant. If the friendly smiles a week ago had seemed like trouble, this one seemed like a full-on disaster waiting to happen. “We couldn’t tell you beforehand, it’s against the rules…”
Wylie was, he discovered, still kind of pissed. “And it’s more fun this way.”
“Well, yeahhh, but that’s not really the point, is it? I mean… okay, yeah. Having fun is part of the point but we’re all sort of sitting on pins and needles waiting for the big Friday reveal and you guys are going ‘man this place is all normal blah blah’ want to go to the dance with me tomorrow?”
Wylie almost missed the direction change. “What? Uh…” How to put this delicately. “Reese, I like girls.”
That got him the teasing smile he’d been trying to avoid all week. “Awesome. I’ll be at your door at eight.”
“Du…” Not dude. Not man. “Look, you’re a squirrel.”
“Yeah, isn’t it awesome?” Reese – she? Maybe? – picked up her tail with both hands and held it up between them. “I totally won the Change lottery.”
“The what?” Shang was missing. Maybe he’d gone off to talk to the girl who’d he’d been muttering about? Maybe he’d done the smart thing and found a place to hide until whatever acid they’d laced the food with worked its way out of their systems.
“We all get a Change. Like sourpuss’s wings over there. Like my tail. Arna – Arnbjörg’s – horns and stuff. You know. Magic.” Long-fingered hands wiggled in an oogy-boogy sort of gesture at Wylie.
“This is ridiculous.” He tugged on the tail, hoping it wold come off in his hands. “Where did you get this much squirrel fur? And those ears, Reese, really. They look ridiculous… this is really soft fur.”
“Conditioner. I grew them. I mean, really. Do you really think we’d put all this together as a prank?”
“Do I… yes. Yes, I do. I know you guys. The handprints and footprints, the swapped books, the getting people lost, whatever the big joke about the library is, the whole giggling behind our backs shit. I really do think you’d raid a costume store to pull a big end-of-the-week joke. Where’s the yeti?”
“I don’t think we have any yeti. Man, that would have to suck for a Change, all that fur to groom. A tail is bad enough.”
“Are you on crack or something? Because you’re not even breathing between words.”
“I’m just excited. Come on, Wylie, go to the dance with me?”
“I… I’m not into dances, really.” Not that the tail thing wasn’t kind of cute, but really. A dance?
“I guess it’s time to ask for my favor, then.” Reese let out a long, much-put-upon sigh.
“What, go to the dance with you? That’s a little underhanded, don’t you think?”
“You did promise to do a favor for me. Not the dance, though, that would be blowing it all on something small.” The tail almost covered the mischievous grin. Wylie suddenly wished for the too-friendly smile back.
Well, he could always back out on the promise. It wasn’t nice, and his mother would scold him if she ever found out, but what she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. “Let’s hear it, then. Lunch is almost over and I haven’t eaten anything yet.”
“One second, son, if you don’t mind.” Luke’s hand landed on his shoulder again, even firmer this time. Any grippier and he was going to have bruises. “I’ll get him right back to you, Reese, there’s just someone I want Wylie here to meet.”
“Sir…!” Reese almost hopped up and down.
“It’ll be just a moment. Come on, Wylie, I want you to meet one of my students. Niassa, this is Wylie. Wylie, Niassa cy’Luca.”
Wylie’s mouth wouldn’t work. He’d seen the upperclassman before – he was pretty sure she was a Sixth Cohort, almost out of this place – but they shared no classes and he’d never gotten a good view up close, as it were.
She was tall like Luke was short, so that Wylie was looking at her lips rather than her eyes. She was wearing a muscle shirt which really pointed out that she did, indeed, have muscles, as well as, um, other assets. She was probably wearing other clothes, too, but, um, yeah, there were muscles. She cleared her throat, and Wylie hastily looked back up at her eyes, or as close as he could get at this range. She still looked human, he noted. Divine, but human.
“You’re mine, kid.” She had one of those whisky voices that did funny things all over Wylie’s spine. He coughed, wondering if he ought to argue.
“Hey!” Reese protested, which seemed like a good enough reason to go along with the lady.
“Yes, ma’am.” He was just glad his voice didn’t squeak. “Whatever you say, ma’am.”
The world was getting a little bit wobbly, and the air felt thin, but that was probably the proximity to too much hotness. Wylie reached for a chair, trying to ignore the squirrel-chittering behind him.
“You still owe me, you know,” Reese was insisting.
“Whatever, man.” Girl? He still wasn’t entirely sure. “Squirrel. You want me to go do the dance with you?”
“No, no, no. No, I don’t. You ruined everything!”
“Funny, I spend a lot of time thinking that about you.” He really did feel wobbly. Oh, yeah. He hadn’t eaten lunch yet.
“Sorry, son.” Luke was still there, wasn’t he? “This was the best I could come up with on short notice.”
“Thanks, sir.” Niassa looked far less indignant than she sounded. “Come on. Wylie, was it? Grab your plate. You’re with me, now.”
“Just like that?”
Her smile was stunning. Also, very white against the tan of her skin. “I’ve never been one for formalities. You can meet my friends.”
Wylie picked up his tray and followed her. Belfreja was still clutching her cup, Shang was still missing, and Mallory was still looking around, fork in hand. “I’ll see you guys in class?” It sounded a little lame, but right now, he felt a little lame.
“I’m gonna get you for that!” Reese was still complaining. “You cheated!”
Wylie slowed down enough to smirk back at the blonde, though it meant he had to look away from Niassa’s attributes, which were as nice departing as they had been arriving. “I’m pretty sure you cheated first.” And the nice thing about Niassa? She hadn’t once told him to watch out for anything.
Saturday, September 6, 2003 – at the dance
Addergoole was a crash course in being cautious, and in not getting attached.
Ciara had been talking in a corner niche with a couple of upper-classmen with whom she shared her Chemistry class, but they, being a couple, had moved onto the dance floor when the song went to a slow, romantic tune.
She hadn’t found anyone that she was interested in being romantic with – except the guy she’d just been talking with, but that was clearly not going to work out. That had been her first lesson in not getting attached. The paranoia and terror half her fellow new students had shown Friday, that was another reason. People who had been friendly were now looking at her like she might sprout an extra seven arms.
None of that was really a reason to mope in the corner. She was at a dance, and someone might want to be friendly without being too friendly. She turned to go find some of her saner classmates, and found herself face-to-face with a bicep.
“Dance with me.”
The voice attached to the bicep was deep and rough; the bicep itself was covered in a deep red shirt. Looking up, she saw a black tie, with a tiny woven design. Swords. His tie was all swords. Looking further up revealed a predatory smile; looking all the way to the top showed shaggy black hair covering sapphire-blue eyes. And he wanted a dance.
“No, thank you.” She ducked under his arm before he could process what she’d said, and moved quickly, without running, to the bar, where the light was better and she knew more people. She didn’t look back. It didn’t seem like a good idea to look back.
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