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Her next breath came raggedly, and the next one never came at all.

The scream that tore out of Etta’s throat was soundless. Arms locked around her waist, dragging her up from the ground. She struggled, thrashing against the grip.

CPR—Alice needed help—Alice was—

“We have to go!” Sophia shouted into her ear.

What the hell is going on?

The door to the stairwell directly behind them scraped open. Loose hair floated around Etta’s face, clinging to the sweat on her cheeks and neck.

The stairwell was so brightly lit compared to the rest of the building that Etta had to hold up her hands to shield her eyes.

The humming…it was as if the empty air on the edge of the landing, just above the stairs, was moving, vibrating in time with the sound. It shimmered the way heat did when it rose from sidewalks on an unbearably hot day. The walls leaned in toward her shoulders.

“Sorry about this.”

She was shoved forward, and the world shattered. A blackness ringed the edges of her vision, clenched her spine, dragged her, tossed her into the air with crushing pressure. Etta lost her senses, her logic, her thoughts of Stop, help, Mom—she lost everything.

She disappeared.


Hours, days—she wasn’t sure—a small forever later, her eyes flashed open. There was pressure on her chest, making it difficult to draw a breath. When she tried to sit up, to open the path to her lungs, her joints cracked. Her arms and legs cramped as she tried to stretch out, to feel in the darkness—they struck something hard and rough.

Wood, she thought, recognizing the smell that filled her nose. Fish.

She coughed and forced her eyes open. A small room unfolded around her. The wood floor dipped violently to the right, as if someone had upended one side of it.

As the bright sparks cleared out of her vision, and her eyes adjusted to the dark, Etta dragged her legs in and her chest up, so she could sit up in—what was this? A large cradle, a bunk bed built into the floor and bolted to the wall.

The museum…what was going on?

There had been some kind of…some kind of an explosion.…

Where were the cold tile floors of the stairwell? Where were the fire alarms? Her heart was in her throat, fluttering like a desperate animal. Her muscles felt like they’d been carved out of wood. She reached up, trying to scrub the burning sensation from her eyes, erase the black spots still floating there.

Alice. Where was Alice? She had to get to Alice—

The fuzz of static in her ears burst like the first clap of rain from a thundercloud. Suddenly, Etta was drenched in sound. Creaking, groans, slamming footsteps, pops of explosions in the air. Screams—


“Behind me—!”

“—the helm—!”

The words took shape, strung together like dissonant chords, smashing cymbals. The room was clogged with silvery smoke.

This wasn’t the stairwell; this wasn’t any office in the Met. The walls were nothing more than panels of dark unfinished wood. When she turned, she could just make out the shape of a chair and a figure cowering in it, arms clasped over her head.

“Hello?” she scratched out, surging forward on unsteady feet. She was caught again by shock, the feel of rough fabric against her arms and legs. For the first time since she’d come to, her adrenaline slowed to a complete stop.

She wasn’t wearing her black dress.

This was…it was floor-length, some kind of pale shade Etta couldn’t make out. She ran her fingers over the bodice, tracing the embroidery in disbelief. The dress had her upper arms and chest in a chokehold, making it difficult to move.


A girl’s voice. The figure in the chair moved, rising to her feet. A trembling memory flickered through Etta’s mind. The girl. The girl from the concert. Etta charged forward, knocking her aside to get to the crack of light she could see just beyond her—a door.

She pushed me in the stairwell, she shoved me forward—once she had the first glimmer of memory in place, the rest fell into line behind it.

“No—no—we must stay down here!” the girl cried. “Please, listen to me—”

Etta’s fingers ran along the wall until they found a latch, and she burst out of the cramped, dark room. A thick cloud of smoke rose up to meet her, and light flooded her eyes, bleaching the world a painful white. Etta felt hands at her back again, which made her fight harder to move forward, to feel her way through the smoke until her foot caught something and she went tumbling down.

Don’t think, just go! Etta reared up, then stopped. Her wide, white skirts were spread out over a man, flat on his back.

“I’m sorry, I—” she choked out, crawling over to make sure he was all right. “You—”

His pale blue eyes stared up at the ceiling, shock and anguish twisting his features into a stiff mask. A trail of gleaming buttons on his absurdly old-fashioned coat had been torn open and the shirt beneath was splattered with—with—

Oh my God.

“Sir?” Etta’s voice cracked on the word. He wasn’t moving. He wasn’t blinking. She looked down, mind blank as it took in the dark liquid coating her skin, her chest, her stomach, the dress.

Blood. Her snowy white skirt was drenched with thick, crimson blood. She was crawling through that man’s blood. I’m crawling through his blood.

What is this?