Chapter 15: Escape

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Jane didn't know how long she stared at her brother.

At Phillip.

Phillip had been dead for years—that's what everyone had assumed. He had vanished one day without a trace. The cops had been called, and a missing person alert had gone out, but no amount of searching and investigating had yielded so much as a shoelace. As the years wore on—slow, agonizing years, in which their dad had locked himself in his office and their mom had given into despair—they had come (slowly, reluctantly) to accept that Phillip must be dead.

But here he was, now, alive and staring at Jane. So hollowed out by misery and pain were his eyes, Jane wondered if he were truly seeing her. He looked fevered, delirious. Jane's heart ached with the horror of it.

"Fantastic," he muttered, as she stared at him, lost for words. "Another illusion."

"No," said Jane. "No, I'm not an illusion—"

"Exactly what an illusion would say. Can't you all just leave me alone?"

Jane flinched at the savage despair in his voice. "Phillip—it's really me—it's your sister, Jane—"


"What have they done to you?"

Phillip closed his eyes and turned his head away.

"All right—all right!" Jane's hands shook. "You need proof. Erm—your birthday is February 20th; my birthday is April third, our sister's name is Sandra, we were adopted, our parents' names are Clarissa and Patrick-"

She eyes Phillip helplessly. He stared back at her, eyes narrowed with suspicion.

"When we were—when we were kids, we used to play out in the yard—you would read us fantasy books in our tree house—you liked science, you used to collect animals, bugs and butterflies and things, show them off to us—you used to help us with our homework-sometimes you would even act out famous events using turtles we caught in the pond by the brook behind our house... Oh Phillip, we thought you were dead. The police never found your body—"

She wanted to reach a hand forward—maybe if she touched Phillip she could banish the suspicion from his eyes—but the magic barrier around his cell pulsed a sick, puke yellow. Jane did not want to know what would happen if her hand made contact.

"How do I get you out of here?"

"You don't," said Phillip dully. "Because I still think I'm hallucinating you."

"If you were hallucinating me, wouldn't you hallucinate me being ten or twelve, however old I was when we last saw each other?" Jane wanted to cry. "How do I get you out of this cell? Tell me!"

"I don't know."

"Well—well, what exactly did the person who magicked the barrier do when they set it up?"

Phillip leaned back against the wall. His chin and left cheek were scarlet with blood. "If you really are Jane... you shouldn't be here at all. How are you here?"

"There was a portal in Uncle Bauer's study—"

Jane broke off. Had her uncle been trying to open that portal so he could search for Phillip? She would have to think about that later.


Some of the bewilderment and suspicion leaked from Phillip's eyes, to be replaced with... fear? Jane was not sure this was much better, but it was a start.

"You... Gods." He squeezed his eyes shut and rubbed them blinked hard and stared at her. "Are you really... hell. You shouldn't be here. Don't let them find you... If Zakhar finds you—"

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