“Everything is different now.”

The Lyddans do show up, Zoe tells him later. With the cops and even an ambulance. The last Zoe saw, they’d been taking Jake away on a stretcher.

From Aunt Addi, Eli learns the sheriff had found Jake’s grandmother. Dead in her trailer, hidden in the bedroom loft. By the timeline, she’d probably been Jake’s first victim. Eli tries not to think of a fading blue eye, watching him from beneath the water as its owner slowly drowned.

No one (else) dies from the incident at the rec centre, although Lance and a few others get treated for burns. They’d tried to subdue Jake after Eli had saved Arthur, and Jake had unleashed balefire on them to escape. The whole thing gets written up as just another attempted mass shooting—just another day in America, nothing to see here—this one averted by the bravery and quick thinking of a room full of teens.

“It was cool, what you did with the lacrosse stick.” Two days later. Eli’s at Zoe’s. They’re both sitting in the big couch-sized swing in her front yard, carefully supervised by Mr. Chung from the bay window in the den. Giving them space, but . . . watching. All the adults are on edge right now. Eli supposes he can’t blame them. He thinks his ribs are still bruised form Aunt Addi’s crushing hugs.

“Was it?” Zoe says. She isn’t in cosplay today, just nebula-patterned leggings and a big chunky black sweater. Eli thinks she looks really nice. Zoe always looks really nice, but today it’s . . . even more. “It felt kinda . . . shitty,” Zoe continues. “Like . . . like, I dunno. Un-feminist? Sending a Man”—she pronounces the capital letter, voice pitching low portentously—“to fight when I should’ve been able to do it myself.”

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