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“My apartment,” Trix said, and she was starting to understand. If only she’d listened to Jim and checked other places first, before seeking out the Oracle and dooming that man to death. “She’s gone to my apartment, and we can be there in half an hour.”

Sally nodded in satisfaction. “Good. Hopefully the girl’s with her.”

“Of course she’s with her!”

Sally shrugged.

“And Jim?” Trix asked. “He was going to the restaurant.” Perhaps he’d met Jenny there after all. She closed her eyes and wondered how that would be, remembering the two women staring at each other at the intersection where they’d been involved in the accident, knowing each other and yet unable to believe. The Jenny from Sally’s world would not recognize Jim. He would be bereft.

“After we find Jenny—”

“Then you find Jim,” Trix said. “If you want us to help you, you have to help us.”

“What do you think I’m doing?” the little girl said.

Trix nodded. They started running again, and this time she took the lead. As soon as they left that street, chaos descended once more, and they were returned to the ruins.

Through the streets, across the city, passing sights he hoped to never see again and with Jennifer keeping pace, Jim felt as though they’d known each other forever.

They hurried side by side, and he glanced at her often. Each time he was struck with the strangest realization—This is not my wife. It kept hitting him afresh because she looked so much like her and yet subtly different. Sleeker and fitter than his Jenny, Jennifer took their rush through the streets in her stride. Her ponytail bobbed against her back, and her piercings reflected streetlights and the occasional fire. When she sniffed, her nose crinkled in a familiar way, though, and when she looked at him there was the same strength in those familiar blue eyes.

If she had been exactly the same, he might have found it easier.

She didn’t say much as they hurried into Chinatown, toward the address he’d memorized, the home of the other Boston’s Oracle. And Jim had elected not to try explaining everything that had happened and was still happening, because the chaos in the city was enough for both of them to take in. So they moved in relative silence, and it was a comfortable peace that he felt growing between them, seeking acknowledgment. Two people who had never met could never be like this.

“Weird,” Jennifer said as they rounded a corner into a busy street. There were lots of people marching this way and that, and a steady stream of cars and emergency vehicles, but other than broken glass, no signs of damage.

“What?” Jim asked, but he knew what she was referring to. The fact that she didn’t feel the need to reply meant they were feeling the same way. When they saw a woman covered in blood being helped out of a building, and Jennifer clasped his hand in hers, it felt perfectly natural.

They left the busy area and wound their way along quieter residential streets. There was still activity, but these were not through-routes, and most people out on the streets lived here, in the ruin of what would have been a thriving Chinatown back in his own Boston.

“I’m running through the night with a strange man,” Jennifer said.

“Not something you’d usually do, huh?” Jim asked.

“Would Jenny?”

“No. She’s married to me.”

Jennifer was silent for a while, but Jim could sense her brooding, turning something over and over.

“But there’s no me here,” he said, “or in the other Boston. There’s just … me.”

“Guess that makes you unique.”

“So I’m told.”

“You could be anyone,” she said, and he heard the smile in her voice.

There was an edge to their conversation that Jim could not avoid or deny. He glanced at Jennifer and recognized the raised left eyebrow, and the way her lips were slightly pouted. They were flirting. He and Jenny often pretended to flirt, enjoying the false loaded air, heavy with potential and the thrum of sexual tension. False, because they often dropped into bed at a nod or a smile. The flirting took them back to their courting days, when love was fresh and sex was perhaps more an exciting adventure than a comfortable journey.

And here he was, taking comfort from someone he almost knew.

“This is so messed up,” Jennifer said, and Jim berated himself for ignoring her fear. She was hanging on to him because he seemed to have some idea of what was happening, and he was seeing her familiar sexiness, when she was facing unfamiliar territory.

“You’re handling it very well,” he said.

“I have no choice. You saw what was happening back at the restaurant. Either everyone I know has twins they forgot to mention, or …” She shrugged.

“ ‘Or’ is the answer,” Jim said. “Come on, we’re almost there.”

“Jim.” Jennifer had stopped on the sidewalk, and for the first time he saw a vulnerability about her. He recognized it, and his heart seemed to drop, his eyes burned, and it took all his effort not to hug Jennifer to him and smell her hair, feel her body beneath the clothes, recognize her and take real comfort. I can’t do that, he thought, because she is not my wife. But Jennifer was so definitely Jenny that his emotions were writhing in confusion.

“Yeah,” he said. She doesn’t know me. She’s never known me, or anyone like me. And as he tried his best to imprint that on his mind and absorb it, she went and made everything worse.

“I feel like we’ve known each other forever,” she said. “Isn’t that weird? I mean … for you, maybe not. But for me, it’s just so … not me. I’ve been hurt.” She snorted, bitter. “Unlucky in love, Dad says.”

“Believe me,” he said, turning away so that he did not enfold her in his arms, “it is weird for me. Come on, we’re almost there.”

“Am I going to see her?”

“Yes,” Jim said. “Yeah, you’re going to see her.” He believed that and clung to it, because he could not entertain any other outcome.

He navigated to Sally Bennet’s address by memory, and the closer they came, the more unsettled he felt. Part of him wanted to run, desperate to meet up once again with Trix and see what she had discovered. And in that desire was the fleeting thought that, perhaps, Jenny and Holly had already been found, or had already encountered the Oracle.

But countering that instinct was a more basic, animal sense of caution. And what he saw as they turned onto Harrison Avenue inflamed that caution until it began to scream.

This isn’t the earthquake, he thought when he saw the scene of devastation farther along the street. He wasn’t sure how he knew that, but he did, with as much certainty as he could muster in these uncertain times. Perhaps it was the way that the helpers, hunkered over bodies sprawled across the street, kept glancing around, as if expecting the arrival of someone, or something.

Or maybe it was the blood.

“Jesus Christ,” Jennifer said. Jenny would never blaspheme in that way. She held his hand and it felt right, their skin touching was familiar, and when she pressed close he could smell her breath. It stirred memories and blood.

“That must be her house,” he said. “They’ve been here already, and we might be …”

Jennifer said something when he trailed off, but Jim didn’t hear it. He let go of her hand and touched the folded envelope and paper in his pocket. I should get rid of this, he thought, but something told him to keep it. He sensed her following him, but his heart was thudding so hard that he could no longer hear her voice, or the wails of grief that echoed along the street. As he approached he looked at the bodies, desperate not to see … Trix’s pink hair.

He didn’t see it, but there was activity in the house as well. Lights flickered behind broken windows.

Jenny’s long blond hair, and Holly’s … Holly’s …

Jim’s throat worked and tears came as he considered the possibility of Holly being here, a victim of those bastard wraith-things that had killed the Irish Oracle. “Too late,” he said again, and he turned to one of the living to ask what had happened.

Someone screamed. A woman stood from where she was kneeling by a body and pointed at Jim. Her cry was terrible, and it was taken up by others in the street as they started to flee. All those people in need, Jim thought, but for the first time he realized that none of the bodies were moving. “Wait!” he shouted, but behind him Jennifer’s voice, broken with fear, turned his blood cold.

“What the fuck is that?” she said. He looked where she was pointing.

One of them was emerging from the front door of a house back along the street. The door was closed. Another slid down the building’s façade, landing gently on the sidewalk and flexing its arms. Two more manifested from shadows as if they had only recently been a part of them.

“Shit,” Jim said. One of them appeared damaged, its arm withered and less visible than the other.

Jennifer glanced back at him, mouth open, eyes wide … and her eyes grew even wider. “Behind you,” she whispered, and Jim wished he had held her, just once.

Instead, he turned to face what had arrived.

Trix’s ground-floor apartment light was on. Her heart beat, and not only from the exertion. The curtains were drawn, dark and heavy with a Celtic swirl.

I’d have chosen them. She wondered who the hell lived here in this Boston, and whether the building and area could possibly attract like-minded people. The pub on the corner was the same, and perhaps old man O’Reilly still had punk and folk bands on Saturday nights, and open-mic nights on Wednesdays.

“Someone’s home,” Sally said.

“Then let’s knock.” Trix crossed the street, thinking, Let it be both of them, let it be Jenny and Holly, because she could not imagine how terrible it would be if Holly was lost in this place, at this time.

Jenny would have done anything to keep her daughter safe and sound, whatever weird events had swallowed them up and spat them out in a different place. I’d die for my daughter, she’d said once as she, Jim, and Trix were lounging in the Bankses’ living room after a big meal. Jim had landed a huge promotional contract with a local brewery, and they were celebrating the following week with a holiday to the Bahamas with their extended family. But that night had been their real celebration, Jenny had told her—a night at home with good food, good wine, and their best friend. And Trix had nodded, looking into the ruby depths of her Merlot, and said, I’d kill for your daughter. The room had fallen silent for a while, as they all realized that was one step further.

Up the steps, and she scanned the four nameplates to see who lived in her apartment. But the paper slips were missing, leaving four mystery bell pushes.

“Try the door,” Sally said.

Trix tried. The handle turned and the big glass door opened inward, a waft of musty air emerging from the lobby. I know that smell! she thought. No one in her block had ever discovered where the smell came from, and it gave her an intense, welcome feeling of home.

She entered, with Sally close behind, then stood before her apartment door. “Whoever lives here must have taken them in,” she said.

“It’s a rough night,” Sally said. “Something I know more than most is that people are generally good, and usually want to help.”

Trix beamed as she rapped on the door. She wondered whether the handle stuck like hers, and the hinges squealed, and whether the oak flooring in the small hallway held the scratched inscription of the man who had laid it decades before. But when the door opened and she saw Jenny standing there, all such thoughts evaporated.

“Jenny!” she shouted, lurching in through the door, arms raised, sweeping the stunned woman into her embrace.

“Wha—?” Jenny said, as if in her terror and delight she could no longer speak.

“Oh, my God, I found you!” Trix said, bursting with tears of giddy relief. “Jim is desperate! Please tell me you’ve got Holly with you!” She hugged Jenny tight and looked over her shoulder into the apartment. It seemed silent, felt quiet and calm … and looked familiar.

Jenny hugged her back. Tight. One hand pulled against the small of Trix’s back, the other held her neck, and then Jenny pulled back a little so that they were face-to-face. That was when Trix knew that something was different, because Jenny looked as if she had seen a ghost.

“Whoops,” Sally said.

“I don’t care if I’m dreaming,” Jenny said, “as long as I never wake up.” And then she reached up to catch Trix’s face between her hands, and kissed her.

Chapter 12 - The Wrong Company

ARE THEY what caused the earthquake?” Jennifer asked. Jim nodded but then thought better of it. There was more to it than that, but now was not the time. Now they had to survive.

Jennifer drew close to him, and once again he was almost overwhelmed by her familiarity. Even catching sight of her from the corner of his eye—her stance, the determined expression, the way she filled her space—flooded him with memories of Jenny. “You’ve seen them before?” she asked.

“Yeah, but that doesn’t help us.” Four wraiths were stealing along the street, while, past the scene of ruin outside Sally’s house, three more had manifested from smoke and unseen corners. Jim’s heart galloped as he tried to think of something to do, some way to escape them. Into Sally’s house? But even if they could reach the shattered front door before being caught by the wraiths, they were obviously the cause of the death and chaos apparent in the street. Being inside, even in the Oracle’s home, would offer no protection. He’d seen that with Peter O’Brien.

“Are they going to …?” Jennifer asked, fear lowering her voice.