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“You’re not dead, Mom,” Jenny insisted. “You’re right here.”

“Be glad you don’t have to deal with this,” her husband said.

“Glad?” the other Tad said, looking at his double in disgust. “Glad that my Rose is dead?”

“That’s not what he meant,” Jennifer said quickly, trying to stave off an argument.

“How the hell do you know all this?” Rose asked, staring suspiciously at Jim.

He hesitated. No way could he tell them that he had anything to do with this devastation, with crashing their worlds together, with the death and destruction around them. Jim and Trix had been Veronica’s pawns, nothing more. He wouldn’t take the blame for her madness.

“There’s a woman who wants to undo what McGee did. She’s screwing with the same kind of magic. But there’s no way to undo it, not really. Just by her trying … well, you’ve seen the result. And there’s a third Boston out there. If she has her way, that one’ll be merged in with all of this, and even more people will die. Maybe a lot more, because I have a feeling that if all three cities are forced into the same space, the quake could be much stronger.”

“Jesus,” Rose whispered, staring at him.

“Okay,” the other Tad said. “But how do you know?”

Shit. Think, Jim.

“I’m looking for my wife and daughter. I went to see a man named Peter O’Brien—a guy who knows some of that magic—because I was told he could help me find them. He told me all of this, but he died in the quake.”

He hated lying. Jenny had always known when he wasn’t telling the truth, and now he looked at Jennifer to see if she could tell, too. But she had something else on her mind. “When you showed up here …,” she began. “You were looking for me.”

Jim nodded slowly, glancing away for a second and then back. “My wife, Jenny Banks.” He smiled weakly. “Jennifer Anne Garland Banks.”

Jennifer stared at him for a second, then looked around the room as though searching for something, as though she could see a million possibilities flitting in the air around her head. She strode over to the bar, picked up one of the glasses, and knocked back two fingers of whiskey before staring at him again. She wiped her lips with the back of her hand. “We have a daughter?”

Jim shook his head. “No. Not ‘we.’ ”

Wonder and curiosity and even a glint of happiness had appeared in her eyes as she’d spoken those words, as she entertained the notion of this other version of her life, but his words snuffed out that spark. He regretted them instantly, hating to see the pain of reality settling back into her expression. How could he explain to her that he didn’t exist in the Boston she knew, that they couldn’t have met? What other questions would that lead to?

“Look, I’m here because I thought Jenny and Holly—my daughter—might have come here, just to be somewhere familiar. Obviously they haven’t, or at least they didn’t let you see them if they did. I need to get out there and keep looking, so—”

Tad pointed at him but turned to the other Tad. “So this guy is married to your Jennifer?”

“No,” the other Tad said. “I’ve never seen him before.”

Rose gestured toward him with the Jack Daniel’s bottle. “Which means either you’re lying, Jim Banks, or you’re from the other Boston. The third one.”

“Yeah,” Jim agreed. “That’s right.”

“Well, if all this magic stuff is true—” the other Tad started.

“Gotta be,” Tad said. “How else do you explain all this shit?”

“Then we get how it is I’m here,” the other Tad continued. “Our two Bostons crashed, right? But if you’re from the third one, the one that’s still out there like the iceberg that hit the goddamn Titanic, then how did you get here? How did your family get here?”

Jim felt like shouting. He fidgeted, looked at Jennifer as if she might rescue him, and then remembered she didn’t know him. He couldn’t take responsibility for these people. Back in his own life, his own reality, they were his in-laws … and Jennifer was his wife. But this wasn’t his world, and he needed to find his real family. “Look, I’m sorry,” he said. “I’ve got to find my wife and daughter.”

“Jim,” Jennifer said. Her tone was soft and kind, and banished any tension from the room. “You were right. If it was me … if I was the one lost … this is where I would come.”

Jim glanced at the door, wanting to run but also knowing she might be right. Jenny and Holly had been here for half a day, at least. They would have had time to come by the Junction already, and maybe they had but had been too weirded out by everything to go inside. Or maybe they’d gotten a glimpse of Jennifer and that had freaked them out even more. But now, in the aftermath of the quake, if she and Holly were still alive—and they had to be—there was a strong possibility they would come here. On the other hand, if he stayed and waited, and they didn’t come here, he might never find them.

Had coming here first been a mistake? Being so close to the restaurant, he had been unable to resist the urge to see if Jenny and Holly were there. But he had let Trix go on ahead to the Oracle’s address. He had tried to lead the wraiths away, and some of them had followed him, but they had quickly vanished, leaving him alone.

Shit, he thought. Trix. He had been so caught up in the shock of seeing Jennifer and her parents, and the presence of the other Tad, that he hadn’t been thinking enough about Trix, and the Oracle, and the wraiths.

“Maybe you’re right,” he said. “I hate the idea of me leaving, only to have them show up here. But I’ve got a friend with me, helping me search. She’s gone to ask for help from someone not far from here, someone else who knows some of this magical crap. I’ve got to go and get her, and then I’ll figure out what happens next. But if Jenny and Holly do come here, and I’m not here—”

“We’ll look out for them,” Rose said. “I’ll make sure they wait.” She pushed the whiskey bottle away. Now that she had a purpose, she wasn’t interested in drinking herself into oblivion.

Jim looked at her. “Thank you.” He looked at the two Tads, and then at Jennifer. “I’ll be back.”

“Wait,” Jennifer called as he started for the door.

Jim prepared himself to argue, focused now on catching up with Trix, making sure she was all right. But Jennifer walked over and kissed her father’s cheek, took the whiskey glass he had been sipping at, and drank down the rest.

Then she looked at Jim, eyes gleaming with determination that was so very Jenny. “I’m coming with you,” she said.

And as with his Jenny, there was no arguing with her.

Chapter 11 - Float

BACK AT your house, you knew my name,” Trix said, catching up. “How?”

Sally didn’t slow down or even look at her. “I’m the Oracle of Boston, honey. I’m the soul of the city. I feel every brick and beam. Every birth and death.”

Trix thought about that, about what it must have felt like for Sally when the two cities collided, people dying and buildings crumbling, other people and buildings appearing. “It must be agony,” she said.

Sally paused and caught her breath, and for a second Trix saw the pain she had been hiding all along. The girl looked at her without replying, but her eyes were troubled.

“But what about the Irish Boston?” Trix went on. “Parts of this”—she gestured around them as she ran—“it’s not your city.”

“It is now,” Sally said. “It’s like waking up with limbs I didn’t have before. But I’ll learn to use them quick enough.” She started running again, darting across an intersection and barely pausing before a tumbled façade. Three stories of the damaged building were revealed, its insides were open to view, and Trix suspected the whole city felt so exposed. She paused to look, but Sally called back over her shoulder, “There’s no one left inside.”

“Right,” Trix muttered as she followed the girl again. “You’re the Oracle.”

They ran through the shaken city. Trix half expected Sally to be stopped by every wandering, terrified person they saw, but no one seemed to recognize her. But if everyone knew the Oracle, the girl would never have time to sleep.

“You had so many people seeing you, so quickly after the quake,” Trix said. “With Veronica, there’s ritual, and time.”

“I don’t go with those old-style customs,” Sally replied. “If someone knows about me, why make it hard if they need my help?”

“Yeah,” Trix said, and they ran on.

A few minutes later, running past a small park where the ghostly lights of mobile phones lit disembodied faces in the darkness, Trix asked, “Have you found them yet?”

“No,” Sally said. “But I haven’t started looking.”

“What? I thought—”

“You need to trust me,” Sally said, panting. “Told you, gotta get her mark off you. Her Shadow Men will come after us, following the mark, and when they find us again they’ll be expecting more than humans.”

“But your No-Face Men, they fought them off, killed them.”

Sally chuckled—a terrible knowing laugh. “Element of surprise,” she said. “And you can’t kill what isn’t alive.”


“I didn’t say that. Now, come on. The less we talk, the quicker we get there.”


“You’ll see,” the girl said.

So Trix ran on in silence, trying to imagine what mark Veronica might have put on her, and how, and when. And it took only moments for her to realize what this meant. If Sally cleaned her of the mark, there was one other person still lit up like a Christmas tree for the Shadow Men to track.

But for now, Jim was on his own.

The exercise went some way to tempering her shock at what was happening, and her fear of what was to come. She’d had terrible destruction wrought upon the city she so loved, and now the heartache that had brought. But she had also seen people killed by something other than the earthquake. She wasn’t sure she would ever forget the image of those bodies, bloodied and deformed by the forces that had destroyed them, strewn around Sally’s building and street where they had come in their desperate search for loved ones. She wondered how many of those loved ones were still alive, and what they would think when they saw the manner of their friends’ and relatives’ deaths.

Muscles burning, chest heaving, she concentrated on matching Sally’s surprising pace. Worse to come, she thought, and though she had no idea where that had risen from, she couldn’t shake it.

Another ten minutes of running, and at last Trix recognized their destination. She’d been to the old Granary Burying Ground once before, walking around on her own, reading the grave inscriptions and admiring the unusual tombs. Leaving the cemetery, she had felt displaced, as if she had just arrived in this city after a very long time away. What she’d thought had been half an hour had really been three, and she’d found a Dunkin’ Donuts and sat there for some time, musing over the walk and trying to pin down just why it had felt so weird. She’d lost the memory quickly as life intruded again, and the next day she had barely remembered any of her visit to that place. But it all came flooding back now.

“There’s something …,” she said, standing at the cemetery gates.

“Come on,” Sally said, and grabbed her hand. It elicited a gasp of surprise from Trix, and Sally grinned as she walked them both through the gate.

“I’ve been here before,” Trix said, aware as she spoke that this might not be the exact cemetery she had walked around that day several years before.

“Safe,” Sally whispered, and she let go of Trix’s hand, sank slowly to her knees, and leaned forward until her forehead rested against the ground.

“Sally?” Trix said, and for the first time she was worried for the Oracle. The girl seemed smaller than she had before, and the cemetery seemed to hold its breath at their predicament. From all around came the sounds of chaos—sirens, shouting, and the musical tinkle of falling glass—but the cemetery was quiet, and timeless.

Trix knelt by her side but did not quite touch her. The girl took deep breaths. Trix felt as if they were being watched. Hulking shadows shifted slightly as lights moved out on the road, shivering as if unsure of themselves. “I’ve been here before,” Trix said again, and then she saw movement from the corner of her eye.

“Don’t be afraid,” Sally said, a curious statement from a girl hugging herself into a ball. But as Trix stood and spun left and right—following shadows that always seemed just behind her, just out of sight—the girl’s words settled and gave her peace.

“The air is thin here,” she said. Though Veronica had lied and deceived them, Trix understood the truth of what she’d told her and Jim about thin places, and their ability to perceive them. This was one such place. At first glance she could see no earthquake damage, and she thought she knew why—this cemetery existed in all three Bostons and was the same in each reality. But then along the path from where they’d entered, below the weak glow of a lamp, she saw a bench that had been upended, and below it, an old grave. If she’d seen it any other time, she’d have suspected vandals of uprooting the bench from elsewhere and propping it against the gravestone, some pointless amusement that they would have forgotten by the end of the night. But not here, and not today. This was something more.