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Zach did one thing, before he left the hospital, before he even left the dream of the drugs. He wasn’t supposed to leave his secured room, but in silence and darkness, he slid a card under the door to Mirna’s. His email address.

She holds it now in the pocket of her cardigan, running one thumb over the edge as a counselor talks to her about shock and the aftermath of trauma. Mirna nods.

And then somehow her substitute teacher is Sara.

“All of you have great potential,” she says, meeting Mirna’s eyes. “I’ll be watching to see you fulfill it.”


Everything is hot and slippery. Zach’s eyes sting. This is a stupid thing to notice.

Unsilenced gunshots have done what their screaming couldn’t, and summoned the cavalry. The doctors and techs and security guy look scared, but they’re working fast. It’s okay, Zach wants to tell them. The bad man’s gone.

Sarah’s trying to control the situation even as they haul her off to surgery; that’s what Sarah does. The little girl is crying. They’ve injected his face and it’s all rubbery, but as they wheel him out Zach touches her shoulder.

“Zach,” he mumbles.

“Mirna,” she manages.

Fade to white.