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Aldous

The rule for solving a maze is this: put your shoulder to a wall and walk. This works less well for a maze with doors in it, but Aldous knows better than to try mapmaking. The rooms here don’t play fair.

The library, for instance, is stalking her. She keeps smelling it behind her, dust and wood acid and the cruel alchemy of glue. She doesn’t trust it, but it must be trying to tell her something.

She enters, finally, and pulls a book down expecting blank pages. Instead it’s full of handwritten names: Cording, Cordovan, Corey, Corinna, Corinne, Corwin, Cosette.

The Explicit

Jane shares a coffee with Lucien. Lucien taught the best English class Jake ever took, and Jake used to draw with colored pencils with his father. Jake’s father works in purchasing at the prison where Schultz is serving six years.

Schultz sexually abused Rhiannon when she was eight. Rhiannon shares a cheap basement apartment with Ruth. Ruth sometimes sleeps with Topaz. Topaz never got back the ten dollars she lent Theo, who picked a fight after school one day with Corey, and as we speak Corey is standing alone on a stage, telling a story to

(Okay. Ready?)

(Tag. You’re in.)

Corey

Revelation snaps his eyes open, shocks him solid. It clicks. The click is enormous, bigger than such a sound can be, huge and sure. It’s the slam-bang of a pistol’s slide action at three thousand frames a second.

The paper’s still in his hands. It doesn’t seem heavier, though it should. His eyes fasten on a meaningless typo: YOURE IMPORTANT TO US in fixed-width font.

My fault, thinks Corey.

All along. Such pride. I thought I was stopping it.

In the slow motion of his imaginary gunshot, the shells are hitting the floor. Their sound is resonant: the tinkle of brass.

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