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Hugo laughs an ugly, wheezy little laugh, shakes Dylan once by her collar, and throws her off.

Alex is two seconds ahead of him. He’s at the tower, then running up the wall, counting on horizontal inertia to pin him against it just long enough–

At one second, Dylan is thirty-three meters up. At two, it’s thirteen, and she’s only getting faster.

Alex knows that the right upward vector might reduce her momentum enough to keep them alive. He’s six strides up. Seven. Eight: he exhales and launches himself backward, headlong into gravity, first and most visceral human experience of acceleration.


“The fuck!” explodes Toe.

“Can’t believe a girl beat you to it?” Dylan says, airy.

“It has nothing to–” starts Tyler.

“Faust deserved to die.” She stares them down, willing herself to be hard. “For Alex.”

“Was it hard?” asks Phillip quietly.

So fast, he’s so fast, blade flickering out from his sleeve. But she’s fast too, heel of her hand snaps out to break it with a cheap-toy spang but the short edge is still coming, one chance, one weapon, the broken blade flipping away. She’s fast, has to be, has to catch it–

She shrugs. “He was candy.”


Alex is trying to play a song. The rhythm of it is a little off: it’s a syncopated pop-rock riff turned backwards. Down-and. Down-and. Down-and and down-and. Almost everything involving his hands is easy now, which makes the difficulty of finding this chord surprising, and worthwhile.

He picks up the phone when it rings–he wants to be interrupted, so he can say something biting.

“Hello?” he says. He can’t make out what’s on the other end, exactly: is it laughter or chimes?

“Hello?” he says again.

His face changes. You can see him forget the guitar.

“Dylan?” says Alex. “Hi?”