Chapter Six: The Chase

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Eliza poked at her cereal, watching the patterns the Corn Flakes made as they got soggier and soggier.

"You know, I don't think you can absorb nutrition through your eyes."

She didn't answer Joe, her mind still tangled in the thoughts that had kept her up half the night.

"I'd say a penny for your thoughts, but it looks like I'd need a lot of pennies."

She sighed, letting her spoon fall into the slop and sitting back in her chair.

"Sorry, I'm just... distracted."

"No problem," he said with a cheerful shrug, swirling his orange juice. "I can't blame you, we all had quite the ordeal."

"Yeah," Eliza said, her gaze drifting to the table by the window where Tori and her entourage sat.

"On the bright side, no one's called me names today. But then, no one's really spoken to me yet, so it's too early to tell."

Eliza forced herself to smile, trying to drag herself back to the present.

Joe cocked his head. "Do you wanna go see that new movie this afternoon?"

"New movie?"

"Yeah, the one about aliens."

Eliza chuckled, but her brain latched onto that word.

Were those shadows aliens?

"I mean, we don't have to if you don't want to..."

"I think I'm going to bike by the base," Eliza said suddenly, snapping to a decision. She couldn't just keep wondering and hoping that some answer might magically appear. She had to do something or she was going to lose her mind.

Joe's smile fell.

"I don't think that's a good idea. What if they recognize you?"

"They won't."

"Look, I know you're not exactly into sitting things out, but that was nuts last night. Can't you find a better way to blow off steam than poking the freaking army?"

"I'm not poking anyone. I just want to check something out."

"Eliza..."

"You don't have to come with me," Eliza said, folding her arms.

"Maybe I won't. Unlike you, I like my weekends to be relaxing. Have you heard of the word? It's quite a novel concept, I — hey wait, you're leaving now?"

Eliza had shoved to her feet, pushing the bowl of cereal away and ignoring the way Tori's eyes flicked to her before returning to her own posse.

"I'll only be gone an hour."

"Now hold on —"

"Get tickets for that movie, I'll be back by noon."

Ignoring Joe's open-mouthed shock, Eliza snatched her messenger bag and hurried out of the dining hall before she could lose her nerve.

Her bike was parked in front of the dorm, rarely used on the entirely walkable campus but invaluable when it came to getting away. The center of town was a good mile and a half from Meru and, in order to keep Eliza from going totally stir-crazy in the quiet little Western Massachusetts town, her parents had relented and bought her a blue cruiser bike with tall handlebars and a wide, plushy seat. Perfect for popping into the city for some groceries or a quick trip to the mall. Terrible for long distances.

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