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Another girl was climbing through the window. Annaliese Hansen. She read horoscopes or something. Alice had never been enough of a morning person to believe in horoscopes. In school, the girl had seemed flighty and only passably sane.

But she wasn't on the announcements, at least, so that was a relief.

"Hola peoples. Is it okay if I hang out with you guys for awhile?"

No, please.

The last thing this situation needed was another person. Alice could see Sarah's wrist twitching. I need to get that scalpel out of her hand.

The boy on the grotty mattress was looking way too calm and laid-back. Stupid boy. Don't you observe anything?

"Tyler." Sarah said, breathing deep. "Have you seen Maxwell anywhere? I need to... discuss something with him." Turning to Annaliese as she clambered through the window, "You too. We're not looking to hurt anyone here, we just need to find Maxwell."

And Alice, watching Sarah's hand, watching the scalpel, saw it twitch toward the window, toward Annalise's throat. Oh no. We are not going through this again.

No more blood. No more sorrow.

The girl was talking. Annaliese. And Tyler was talking. Talking about Maxwell. And--and--they wanted to join them. Join? No way. Not safe for these people. If Sarah was going to go crazy, she was going to go crazy on Alice, not on two stupid bints who just happened to be along for a ride. She would have to talk them out of any ideas about joining. Ugh. People could be so oblivious sometimes.

Sarah's wrist was twitching. Alice's hands were trembling. She stiffened them. No more, no more.

"Sarah," she said softly. "Don't wave the scalpel around."

Say it like that. Like everything's under control. Don't scare these good people.

But now Alice, now Alice had to do something brave. Clutch Sarah's moist fingers in her own. Meet Sarah's eyes. Keep them. Don't flip out on me. I know what I'm doing. Pull at the scalpel. Feel Sarah's fingers tighten. Keep her own hand rigid. I don't want you to kill me now. Please do what I want you to do. Wincing internally when even her thoughts were stiff. Alice, it turned out, was still afraid of being stabbed by her erstwhile partner.

Oh, you stupid girl. Don't act like you were ever unafraid. Someone had once told her that it took only a pound of pressure to break human flesh.

She could hear Sarah's heart beat.

And suddenly Sarah released the scalpel, an imperceptible sigh, a defeat, a relief. An ugly nick on Alice's hand for the trouble. Heartbeat, Alice's own now, slowing, and Sarah's slowing in time, and now Alice held the scalpel, clutched in a white-knuckled hand. Slipped it in her pocket.

Yes. And breathe.

And Annaliese and Tyler hadn't noticed anything at all.
--------


Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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