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“No!” Jim gasped. Sally held up one hand.

“I have a sense of her, like an echo around Holly, but nothing solid. She may be with Holly and the collision of the cities is just giving me some kind of interference.” She smiled, trying to impart hope.

“What else?” Jim asked.

“Holly is afraid. She’s trapped, somehow, but I can’t sense her captors at all.”

Jim shook his head, frustrated and growing frantic. “What does that mean?”

“Only one possibility that I can think of. Veronica’s Shadow Men have her.”

“Oh, no!” Trix said. “How did they catch her?”

“I think they may have had her all along,” Sally said, and she performed a slow full circle, looking up at the broken windows surrounding them. “These aren’t the same Shadow Men who attacked us. They’re still out there, kept at bay by the No-Face Men who serve me.”

“So where is she?” Jim asked. “Where’s my little girl?”

Sally told them. And then she reached out to Jim, and he cried as she removed his mark.

Chapter 13 - From the Back of a Broken Dream

EVEN IF they’d had a car or managed to flag down one of the few taxis they saw passing by, they wouldn’t have gotten very far in a vehicle. The streets that weren’t blocked by rubble or police barricades were jammed with cars driven by people trying to reach loved ones or just get the hell out of Boston. They finally settled on St. James Avenue. Though there were buildings that had merged when the cities collided, spilling debris into the street, the road was passable.

Jim strode with purpose, wanting to break into a run but knowing that the five of them—this impossible gathering of women and him—had to stay together. Sally led the way, and they all seemed to take for granted that she would, despite the fact that she was a child. As the Oracle of Boston, she was both their best guide and their best protection. Jim followed close behind, with Jennifer a few feet to his right. They glanced at each other from time to time, the immediate intimacy they had felt before awkward for both of them. Trix and Anne—that other Jenny—hung back, and Jim felt sure it was partly because Anne and Jennifer did not know how to communicate with each other.

Again and again, they saw examples of this phenomenon as they traveled across the city. Rarely were the twins from parallel Bostons exact copies. They differed in weight and style and clothing. But given what had happened and what was transpiring all over the city, they were impossible to miss. Two old men sat on a stoop, both in gray cardigan sweaters, though one wore a distinguished gray beard and the other looked sickly and had gone nearly bald. They took turns patting the same dog, which perhaps they both now owned. A pair of olive-skinned women shouted at each other in Spanish, both in tears, on the sidewalk in front of a dress shop. One of them held a boy of about eight in front of her, arms wrapped protectively around him, and the boy looked frightened and confused as he listened to the two women—one his mother and one who, in another world, might have been—panic.

Anne reached out to hold Trix’s hand. Trix seemed hesitant for a second, then twined her fingers in Anne’s. Jim saw the shy way that Anne looked at her—the hopeful gaze in her eyes—and found himself wishing that they had both lived in a world where they could have had their heart’s desire. It felt strange but right, and he decided that in a city where reality existed in different facets, everything should be possible.

“It must be so weird for you,” Jennifer said, walking along beside him. She had seen the dynamic developing between Trix and Anne as well.

“Weird for all of us,” he said.

Jennifer smiled, but her eyes were sad, as if they held a painful secret. “That’s for sure.”

They had come to the intersection of Berkeley and St. James, where the building on the southeast corner—he thought there’d been a big insurance company headquarters there in his own Boston—had been merged with a tall, gleaming art deco hotel that had to have come from Anne’s Brahmin-influenced Boston. What had been there in Jennifer’s Boston, with its Irish roots, had been a massive retail space with a Waterford crystal store on the corner. Now broken glass and debris had spilled into the street, and they had to move carefully around it. Sally stumbled a bit, and Jim caught up to her, reaching out, but she recovered without his help.

“I want to thank you,” he said.

“For what? I haven’t gotten you back to them yet.”

“For trying. For removing Veronica’s mark from me and Trix. For coming with us now.”

The little girl glanced at him, but there were storm clouds in her eyes and her lips pulled up into a grim expression that could not have been called a smile. In that moment, she looked far older than her years—ancient. Whatever part of her was the soul of the city of Boston, that was what looked back at him. “I’m not doing it for you,” Sally said. “There are two cities full of frightened people finding their lives crashed together, and now I have a responsibility to all of them. I’m not ignoring them just to help you find your family. I’m doing it because of what will happen if your Oracle gets her way. The death we’ve already seen today will just be the start.”

Jim glanced away, embarrassed without really knowing why. “I get that,” he said. “I know that, of course. But thank you anyway for helping. Not just me … all of us.”

Now it was Sally’s turn to look embarrassed, as if she was ashamed of having snapped at him. “I’m the Oracle,” she replied. “It’s what I’m for.”

Jim glanced back to make sure they were all still together. Trix and Anne, hands held tightly, helped each other over the debris. Trix’s pink hair gleamed in the city light. Jennifer gazed around at the terrified people they passed, obviously wanting to stop and help but sticking with them—with him—for the sake of yet another of her otherworldly twins, a woman who was her, though they had never met, and a daughter she had never had.

“Tell me about these Shadow Men,” Jim said. “How do we fight them?”

“They aren’t people … not anymore. I mean, they’re not solid, right? But they’re not really ghosts, either. If they’re solid enough to attack you or grab you, then you can grab them back. It’s tricky. They kind of fade in and out. It won’t help you beat them, but maybe it’ll help you get away from them if they try to take you through.”

“Through where?” Jim asked.

Sally glanced at him, a bit surprised and disturbed at the same time. “Into the In-Between, of course.”

Jim shuddered, mostly because of her tone but also because of the haunted look in her eyes. “What happens if they do?”

Sally glanced back at Trix and the Jennys, then at Jim again. They were making their way around an abandoned Volvo station wagon that had bumped up onto the curb and run over a couple of parking meters. “I know Veronica can’t have told you much, but didn’t the Irish Oracle—”


“Didn’t O’Brien explain what she’d done to you, sending you here?”

Jim shook his head. “We weren’t there long before the faceless guys … the Shadow Men … came and killed him.”

Sally sighed. “Right. Of course.” She gave a small shrug. “Y’know how I just said they’re not people anymore? Well, they were. The In-Between—the shadow stuff that separates three Bostons, or I guess the two Bostons now—it has tides.”

“An ebb and flow,” Jim said, nodding. “Veronica said something like that. But she was saying that sometimes the three cities overlapped.”

“Yeah, but she didn’t tell you about the In-Between. That’s what’s really flowing. And sometimes it washes into one of the real worlds, and when the wave goes back, it brings people with it. If they’re in a place where the cities overlap normally, where the Bostons are the same, then they can slip from one to the other. But if not, and they’re dragged out of their world … they end up in the In-Between.”

Jim felt a little nauseous. “You’re saying they get turned into those shadow things?”

“Not right away,” Sally said. “It takes time. I’ve seen them when they’re not fully changed, part flesh and blood and part shadow stuff.”

“Jesus,” Jim muttered.

“Veronica showed you and Trix how to get through at the crossings, the places where the cities overlap, and as long as you’re quick and careful, you can do that, because you’re Uniques. Holly, too. But Jenny …”

Jim stopped, not liking the girl’s tone. “Jenny what?”

Sally scuffed her feet on the sidewalk, so much like a little girl. “There are only a couple of places where you can get Jenny through. If you tried anywhere else, she’d get lost in the In-Between.”

Jim couldn’t help but laugh. “That unbelievable bitch. That was her plan all along, for us to come over here, lead her killer shadows to you and O’Brien, and then lose Jenny on the way back anyway.”

“I don’t think so,” Sally said. “I’d bet that was just her Plan B. Plan A was for all of us to die.”

Jim gaped in horror and disbelief, a cold edge forming inside him. He had been terrified for Jenny and Holly, determined, but now he was furious. Veronica was going to pay for what she’d already accomplished, and for what she had tried to do. But first he had to get his family back. “So your No-Face Men are …?”

Sally looked up at him, and her smile was almost smug. “My own little victory,” she said. “The souls of those yet to be. That’s why they have those faces—flitting with potential. And those long limbs, where they stretch for life. And they’re eager to serve.”

Jim nodded and fell back, suddenly more afraid of this little girl than he thought possible.

Behind him, Trix and Anne spoke in soft voices. He glanced back at them and saw the way Anne looked at Trix when she talked—amazement that Trix was alive, sorrow that this was not the Trix that she knew; yearning for a love she’d lost, and hope that it might be born again. He wasn’t watching where he was going, and he caught his foot on a bit of cracked sidewalk and fell to his knees. He skinned his hands trying to catch himself and swore softly, feeling like an idiot.

“Hey,” Jennifer said, helping him up. “Are you all right?”

She turned his palms up to examine the scrapes, the contact making him catch his breath. Sensing his sudden tension, Jennifer glanced up at him with inquisitive eyes. They stood like that for several seconds, and Jim understood exactly how Anne must feel when she looked at Trix. But his wife … his Jenny … wasn’t dead. She wasn’t. “I will be,” Jim said. “Thanks.”

He withdrew his hands from her grasp, and the two of them caught up to Sally. It seemed to Jim that he and Jennifer were both keenly aware of each other’s presence, that there was a magnetism that drew them toward each other even as it pushed them away.

She’s not Jenny, he told himself again. But Jennifer looked so much like her that it hurt.

Trix had never been big into drugs, but she had experimented here and there, licking microdots off paper like children’s candy at the age of fourteen, smoking pot through high school, and taking a turn at cocaine and Ecstasy in college before deciding that both scared the shit out of her. It had been six or seven years since she’d had anything stronger than a shot of tequila.

But damn if she didn’t feel high right now.

Wandering through a devastated city where people faced doppelgängers with whom they would now have to share their worlds and their lives, anyone would have felt lost in the surreal. But it wasn’t any of those things that made Trix feel as though she had fallen down the rabbit hole. It was Anne.

Her skin prickled with excitement, and she felt almost giddy. The feelings confused and frightened her, but she could not ignore them. All the daydreams she’d had about Jenny, from musings and sighs to masturbatory fantasies couched in guilt and reservations, had been real in this world, for some other Trix. Anne was not her Jenny. She was not Anne’s Trix. And yet …

And yet.

Trix knew it couldn’t be. Not really. But Anne kept taking her hand, and the way the woman looked at her with those gentle eyes made her want to laugh. It wasn’t a time for laughter. Jenny and Holly were still missing, and she loved her Jenny and needed to have her back in her life, safe and sound. But maybe there had been three Bostons for a reason. Maybe the whole point of an alternate world was for there to be a place where other fates could unfold, and where broken hearts could find happier endings.

“Hey,” Anne said, nudging her. “Are you okay?”

Trix looked at her, tried not to laugh at the absurdity of the question, and then couldn’t stop herself. She snickered, attempted to cover up, and failed. Anne blinked, stung for a moment, but then she grinned. “Stupid question, huh?” Anne asked.

“Not at all,” Trix said, clutching Anne’s hand and swinging her arm like they were lovers on a leisurely stroll. “It’s the perfect weather for a walk through Copley Square.”

They laughed quietly, and Trix glanced ahead to see Jim looking back at her. She knew that she should cool it with Anne, stop holding her hand, stop whispering with her. She knew for sure that she and this woman shouldn’t be laughing together in the middle of chaos, not when Jenny and Holly were presumably in the hands of someone—or something—that meant them harm. As weird as it was for her, she thought, it must be so much worse for Jim. Trix feared for Jenny and Holly. They meant the world to her. But being with Anne made it all feel incredibly dreamlike, and if she didn’t laugh a little, she might scream.