(28) Blame the Aliens

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I used to have plans for after we got away from the Anport murder house, but I've gone through them like discarded tissues over the last two days, and I've yet to buy a new tissue box.

"We need somewhere to go that isn't Chesnet," I say, because location is about the easiest target when we're sitting together on a hill, without our gear, in the middle of Nowhere, Cape Morgan.

Calico J's brow furrows. "If we're immune to this, though..."

"I have a bad feeling about Chesnet."

I half expect him to push back against that vague response, but I think the events of the last day have shaken him. He shoots a glance at me, then tugs the fabric of the sweater he's wearing. "Aren't you cold?"

I still don't have a shirt on. Now that I'm paying attention, goosebumps rise to attention along my arms, all the way up to my shoulders. Calico J pulls off his sweater and tosses it to me. It's a little damp, but warmer than nothing. 

"I don't trust Chesnet, either," says Patrick in a small voice.

"I trust you both," says Calico J. "Here's the other thing, then... if we're immune, shouldn't we at least try to find out why? We might be the key to a cure or something."

"None of us is a scientist," I say.

"Is this a scientific phenomena, though?" says Ditzy. "I mean, really. It's a red goop that materialized from the water, puts people to sleep when you say their names, wakes them up again like zombies if you say their names again, kills people whose names it doesn't get, and attacks survivors voluntarily. I blame aliens."

"Fair point."

"About the aliens?" says Calico J, giving me an incredulous look.

"Well, it's not a disease," says Ditzy.

"If I had to guess," I say, "I'd say it's some kind of entity. It came from the water. The ocean in particular. Let's be honest here, we don't know five percent of what's down there, and most of it will try to kill you."

"Unless you're us," says Ditzy cheerfully.

"Well, yeah. Then there's that."

"It's not just about names," says Calico J. "We've confirmed that, at least. Names were the first stage, but anyone it couldn't put to sleep, it's just straight-up killing now."

"It keeps telling us to run."

"Stalker," says Ditzy under her breath.

At the back of my Redding-sense, a disturbance starts up on the far side of the hill. From the way Patrick lifts his head, he detects it, too. It's not the same as the wave, at least. Much smaller. It's too far away to tell anything else.

"We need something we have in common," says Calico J.

Ditzy snorts. "Stubbornness?"

"Ditz, please."



"Didn't location try to kill us?"

"I'm just spitballing here. If you have anything better, add it to the list."

Ditzy starts to say something else, then stops. A very odd look creeps across her face. She starts giggling.

Calico J eyes her. "What?"


He puts his fingers to his temples and rests his head on them.

"Am I wrong, though?" says Ditzy, with glee etched into every part of her expression. "Tell me I'm wrong."

"Ace," says Patrick without lifting his head.

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