“There’s something I need to show you.”

The Rosemont High gymnasium pulls double-duty as an auditorium, meaning one end is dominated by a long stage. There are rooms behind it, hidden and disused except during plays and assemblies, and Eli and Zoe hide out in one now.

“I hate crying.”

Zoe is sitting in the corner, hunched over her own bag. Her tears have mostly stopped, but she’s still sniffling. She’s still in her gym clothes, too, unkempt and unarmored.

“How do you feel?” Eli asks. He wants to sit next to Zoe, to wrap his arm around her and pull her close, but isn’t sure if she’ll allow it. So he leans against the far wall, instead, hands shoved deep in the pockets of his hoodie.

“Headache,” Zoe says eventually. “And . . . my mouth tastes gross.” She smacks her lips a few times to demonstrate. “Like I’ve been licking garbage.”

Eli doesn’t bother to ask how she knows what garbage tastes like. He can taste it too. Not strong, but: “It’s the rísók, I think.”

Zoe looks up at him, narrowing eyes red-rimmed from crying. “The what-awk?”

Eli bites his lip. “Um,” he says. “How . . . how much do you remember? About . . .?” He waves a hand, noncommittal.

“I . . . I warded my bag,” Zoe says, looking down at the object in question. “After Morgan. I . . . I didn’t want . . .” She stops, takes a deep, shuddering breath, and starts again: “We were outside. Running, y’know? When I felt, like . . . It was the ward. I can’t explain how I knew, but I knew. You know?”

Eli nods. He does know.

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