“We’re all having a shitty time, asswipe! This is high school!”
He doesn’t, as it turns out, get far. Instead, he runs straight into Zoe in the hallway. Her eyes are wide and she’s breathing hard, like she’s been running too, which—
“Zee, I have to—” Eli blurts, at the same time as Zoe says: “Eli! Listen, I—”
They both stop, stare at each other for a moment, then blurt:
“No, me first!”
And it would be funny, maybe, if things weren’t so dire and Zoe didn’t look so panicked. Come to think of it, why did Zoe look so—
Eli doesn’t even get to finish the thought. Not when Zoe blurts:
“I saw it, Ee! In the flash. From the lightning. We were just, I dunno. Talking. Then the lightning hit and the lights went out, and everyone screamed. And it was kinda funny, y’know? Except, Ee. Ee, there was another one. More lightning. And in the flash, Ee. I saw it.”
And somehow, Eli just knows what she’s going to say. That little half-forgotten memory, from what seems like another lifetime, rushing to the fore:
“Eli. His shadow. It wasn’t his, it was the peryton’s.”
The peryton’s shadow. Just like the evil sorcerers in Zoe’s parents’ dumb Dungeons & Dragons book.
“Jake,” Eli says, and Zoe’s eye get even wider, whites seeming to almost glow both from the gloom and from the dark eyeshadow framing them.
It’s about that time, however, that the screaming starts. For real this time, not just the half-hearted shock of before. In between the sound, Eli can feel something. A sort of static hum and a thudding bass, like being too close to a live wire and too close to a concert speaker, all at once.