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Aldous

Aldous puts the book back and walks to the next shelf, then pulls down another. Darren Darya Daryl Dashiell–wrong way. Two shelves back. Three. Ban Barathrum. Closer. Aldaea. Alder. Aldi.

Aniridia.

It’s a misplaced word. Aldous is certain her name should be there: Alejandro comes right afterward. Someone’s been messing with the order of things.

She replaces the slim volume. It’s not a name at all, is it? Greek roots: an, without, and then Iris, rainbow, messenger of the gods. But she never claimed to be getting their mail in the first place.

Aniridia leaves the library, determined and bound.

Cynthia

“CYNTHIA!” screams Ban from around the corner, and Cynthia sprints.

Etheldred’s hauling Ban and a rope into a third-story window when she turns the corner. He grins and waves, then disappears.

Cynthia saw the padlocks on the first-floor doors. She scrambles through her backpack; maybe a hook and line, a bobby pin–

There. A deck of cards. She flexes it and begins to flip them out, and while they’re still in the air she’s running up their backs toward that window. Higher, spiraling, don’t think about it: the deck is missing a joker, she remembers. Only fifty-three steps.

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