People remembered it, clear as day, but they were never sure of what exactly it was that they remembered. The paper said it was a bomb that went off and took those two kids, but there was never anything to back it up, really. There was no crater, no bodies, not even a singe on the ground they were standing. And no bomb sounded like that, people whispered. People talked—it’s what people do after all. Yeah, people talked. People saw a flash. They heard a bang. A bang so loud it seemed to scare every other sound in the world into silence.
It wasn’t a bomb. Students at the high school during the scene of the event swore it wasn’t—at least, the right ones. It was prom night, how could they not remember? The flash from outside the gym seemed to light the entire room for a single moment, one student, a senior at the time, said. Another student, a friend of the missing girl, said for weeks that she saw the two kids disappear in the flash before they shrunk down and disappear when the bang hit. One student claimed to have seen a mysterious car pulling out of the lot as the students were herded out of the gym. But again, none of these accounts made their way to the paper.
Headline: LOCAL STUDENTS KILLED IN FATAL BOMB ACCIDENT
The article claimed that two local high school students, seniors both with good grades but—wait for it—unfortunate home lives, were seen building and testing a homemade bomb on the school campus the night of prom. Midway through the article, it read, “Dorothy Flood and Malcolm Powell, though exceptionally bright, were both known by their peers for keeping to themselves. Fellow classmate and friend, Clare Bowers, says, “They just didn’t seem to keep anyone very close. I wish I could have known them better…I think we could have been friends.” It concluded by reporting the two students as missing, followed by contact information for both families.
“We won’t quit until we find them, you can be sure of that.” Local Sheriff, Leslie Zwartts was quoted.
At the end of the third month, the Powell family held a funeral ceremony.
They moved away soon after.
Lynn Flood waited.
The posters stayed up, but no one was looking now.
The town went quiet and the people decided the flash wasn’t as bright as they thought. They forgot the bang shook the earth.
one : 2018
Of course she remembered it. Dot Flood could feel the memory on her constantly, like two hands perpetually resting their hands on her shoulders. Even three months out, she still felt the heat of the flash, the blinding, bright white that surrounded her in energy. She remembered gripping to Malcolm’s arm and then time hit her. Like everything in the universe was moving forward but they were stuck in place, left against the force of the universe as it plowed forward. To the future. She was sure she remembered screaming. She was probably screaming the whole time she and Malcolm were fighting.
I mean, when your archenemy says he’s going to go back in time to prevent you from ever existing with the time travel device in his fucking hand, there’s nothing to do but scream, she’d rationalized when she’d come to, but Dot still felt embarrassed by it. She wasn’t sure why of all things she felt that. Malcolm had a way of making her feel guilty for things that didn’t make sense. She wasn’t sure why that was either.
She didn’t know why they were in the future. Dot barely understood time travel to begin with and what she did understand started and ended in a combination of Back To The Future and what the light speed travel looked like in Star Wars. Malcolm was always smarter than her, not grades wise but just in general. It was always his scheming brain masterminding every plot that terrorized her high school (even when he didn’t get caught because he was that smart. And he knew it too, the bastard.) Often, Dot caught herself remembering high school, when she basically worked as an on-call, masked, teenage vigilante, saving the school and trying to thwart a boy who hated her with everything he had. And she had no idea why. She remembered Malcolm’s constant berating of her and her friends from a far, cawing and jeering in his posh voice with his goons of friends stood on either side of him.
Malcolm barely spoke to her at all. Maybe a grunt or groan here and there when they both came home from work or when they argued. They seemed to argue a lot when Dot tried to ask him about what happened. Each time he’d get quiet and she couldn’t predict what he’d do—scream, snap, walk out. It was enough to make her feel shaken afterwards, but she wanted answers. Not knowing haunted her constantly, like a shadow she could feel following her.
She couldn’t shake it.
They were supposed to go to the past, to “stop the walking haze of ignorance and positivity that was Dot Flood from ever happening,” Malcolm had said or something like that. It was his big plan. The plan she’d taken all year to figure out. The plan she obsessed over while she should have been studying for an AP test or trying on prom dresses with Noel and Animal. But no, it was Malcolm’s big finish, the check mark on the villainy requirement to fulfill his role as her self-proclaimed nemesis.
And she’d thought she could talk him out of it. When they met eyes on the football field, she thought she had. But—
An annoyed voice broke into her thoughts, “Christ, Flood, are you even paying mind to a word I’m saying?”
She looked at him in a way that meant she hadn’t and Malcolm rolled his eyes dramatically, always dramatically. His eyes seemed darker today somehow, or maybe it was just how dim the apartment was. Neither of them particularly liked the lights being on. (Malcolm said it made the room look “gaudy and horrific” but Dot just didn’t want to use up the electricity.) Still, it was mid afternoon and the two of them had barely moved. They both knew what day it was.
“What were you saying?” she ventured after a poorly timed moment.
Malcolm looked at her. She tried to look at the unused lamp in the corner by him. He made too much eye contact for her liking, like he was trying to look straight into you.
“Have you done the shopping yet?” He asked condescendingly, dragging out every word in his annoyingly posh, English inflection.
Dot shook her head, ready for—
Malcolm rolled his eyes. “Useless,” He mumbled to the side wall.
Then she found her nerve. It never took very long.
“Not like you’ve fucking done anything,” she grumbled to her hands, her eyebrows raised in an attempt at forcing a demure, casual look.
“Can’t very well drive there,” Malcolm piped up, falling to his back on the couch. He bounced up once from the force and his arm flopped onto his face dramatically.
“Sounds like a personal problem,” Dot rested her chin in her hand and propped her arm on her knee to look at him.
Malcolm rolled over on his side, turning away from Dot. There was a line on bumps under his shirt where his spine stuck out and Dot turned away.
She lifted her book back to eye level, but now she couldn’t concentrate with Malcolm behind her. She didn’t even know he was in the room before. They hardly ever payed each other mind anymore, which was odd considering a few months—a few decades—ago, she couldn’t be in a room without facing the door in fear he’d walk in on her. And maybe she was just being absentminded now, but Dot couldn’t really remember the last time they’d looked each other in the eye—much less spoke.
It was just easier to ignore each other, an unspoken agreement that sat between the two of them. Still, there was something in her that ached when she came home to a shut door across from her own. She’d never imagined Malcolm Powell, of all people, as someone she’d try and find home in.
He hated her.
He always had.
She didn’t know why. Or maybe she just didn’t remember.
She couldn’t decide if she hated him back.
She had a right to, she knew that. But every time she thought she’d made her decision, he always did something to make her doubt herself. It was like he knew what she was thinking and purposefully went against it. Honestly, it wasn’t too far of a stretch in Dot’s mind.
After a long while, Dot was so lost in a strange combination of text and thought, she’d almost forgotten Malcolm was in the room until she heard him shift on the couch. She didn’t even need to turn her head for him to start talking again.
“Flood,” he barked.
But she ignored him this time, eyes still scanning the page of her book.
“…I don’t believe I’ve ever given any thought as to why ants move in single file, but if I did…” the book said.
“Flood,” he said louder.
She squinted hard at the page so all she could see was the line she was reading.
“Flood, for Christ’s sake!” Malcolm didn’t shout, but his voice raised enough to bounce off the walls and right into her.
It was an autobiography about a woman’s life before and after the death of her son. The book was old and maybe that was why she felt drawn to it.
She read the last line and shut the book.
“What?” She made sure to sound bothered.
Malcolm looked into her with his mouth set into a serious line.
“So, are you doing the shopping today, or what?”
She read the last line again in her mind.
“…I think rush hour traffic would be significantly more enlightening.”
Malcolm slumped in the passengers seat in Dot’s car, scowling while he passed the wad of their saved plastic bags between his hands. He didn’t understand why he had to come along to do the shopping when he was perfectly content staying back and watching the flat. Well, maybe he did—it was his turn to pay for groceries and he needed to pick up some soap for the washing up he had to do when he got back to the flat—but still, he didn’t have to like it.
The crinkled plastic bags went shhhkt-shhhkt-shhhkt in his hands and that was the only sound inside the car, layered over the roar of the wheels on the pavement outside. It almost sounded like static, just blank, white noise. Mindless. Pointless.
Just like this trip.
He shouldn’t have even asked about it. He knew the second the words left his bloody mouth what would happen. It was like spoiling the plot of movies by saying what was going to happen before it did.
Action. She’s going to try and compromise.
“If you want get it done so badly, then let’s just go,” she’d said.
“It’s raining,” he countered quickly. Though it wasn’t really, not in his mind.
She gave him a dangerous look when he peeped at her from under his arm. He knew that look far too well. It always meant trouble for him. It meant she was going to plow through him to get what she wanted, dance circles around him even. These damned hero types.
Counter. Now she’s going to make you feel guilty.
“By myself?” Her eyebrows turned up and she almost looked hurt. He couldn’t tell if it was on purpose or not.
Nice touch, Flood.
He frowned, “Don’t give me that, you—”
“I’m just saying that doesn’t seem fair,” she interrupted.
Oh, brilliant. Now she’ll go on about fairness or justice, blah blah…
Malcolm rolled his eyes. “It’s just a trip to the market, I don’t see why you’re making such a fuss about—”
“I’m just saying that if we’re living together, sometimes we have to share responsibilities and if I’m driving us both around all the time, the least you can do is come with to help bring stuff in and—”
Malcolm groaned but Dot kept going now, words rushing out of her mouth. Nervously, he could tell. Her knee was bobbing up and down. The heel of her thrift store boots clack-clack-clacked against the floor and the sound seemed to grow louder in his head. She ran her free hand through her short hair, pushing her bangs back and forth, twisting it until it stuck up all around her head. He looked her up and down. She still dressed like she did a decade ago—and even then, she’d been horrendously behind in style. Her ratty—she called it “vintage”—band t-shirts fit more somehow, but he thought the belted mom jeans clashed with her hair.
And she’ll bore you or annoy the living daylight out of you until all you can do is—
“—You know, I would appreciate it if you came—” clack-clack-clack. “—And it would go by so much faster with the two of us—” clack-clack-clack. “And if you shopped for yourself, I wouldn’t have to guess what you wanted. But, I dunno, I guess I just really don’t want to go alone. Today’s just—”
“Alright, alright, bloomin’ hell,” he groaned and stood up, “I’ll grab my coat.”
He had already slinked around to the hall before she’d even stood up in her tacky boots.
The second Flood starts pouring her heart out is the second you jump ship.
Now, Malcolm seethed in the passengers seat, head slumped to one side with his eyes trained out the window. The shabby town they’d taken refuge in reminded him of high school in Calico Falls: bleak, drab, slow. They’d tried to leave it all behind when they realized where they’d ended up, two decades in the wrong direction, but in a way, it was like they’d never left. Places like this drew in nobodies like them, he supposed.
Legally dead nobodies like them, he supposed.
“How much longer are we?” he said, or tried to at least, because at that same moment, he saw them.
Two children—and yes, they definitely looked like children—standing by the side of the road. Even at just a quick glimpse as the car sped past them, Malcolm could tell they were in worse condition, dragging their backpacks by their muddy shoes. Their forms slumped to the sidewalk like they were melting.
It only took a second. They were there. Then they weren’t, but he saw them.
And Dot saw them too. She was still looking at them in the rearview mirror.
Malcolm glanced at the two figures on the sidewalk, growing smaller by the second.
He groaned loudly.
“What?” Dot looked at him quickly, startled. Malcolm looked at her furrowed brow and smirked.
“You,” he shook his head, almost in disbelief. Typical. “Always you, Flood.”
“What?” She insisted, sounding annoyed. But he caught her glance again in the rearview mirror.
Malcolm groaned, “I can’t even look. You’re blindingly bright with good intentions. Enough with it.”
Dot looked at him again and back at the road. Then she smiled at the road, already signaling to turn around.
He shook his head. “Sickening.”
“I’m pulling over.”
“Oh, I hadn’t noticed,” he said, voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Go be a bloomin' hero then. I’ll mind the chariot.”
two : 2018
Dot almost lost her nerve halfway to where the kids were standing on the sidewalk. She purposely parked around the corner from them so Malcolm couldn’t sit from the car as her personal judgmental audience. No, she didn’t need that on top of whatever this was she was trying to do. She wasn’t sure herself. She saw the kids on the street and, she didn’t know, maybe she saw something familiar in them. It had stopped drizzling, but there was no way of knowing how long they’d been out. She didn’t know what made her want to go to them, to throw her jacket over them and make sure they were safe. But what she knew for sure was that the longer she looked at them, the tighter her chest felt. She knew she had to do something.
So here she was, doing something.
She glanced back at the car.
Malcolm saluted, too sincerely.
Dot looked around the corner to see them sitting on the sidewalk halfway down the block, heads huddled together with their backpacks on their laps. With a better look at them, she could see their camouflage skin, made of swirls and smears of dirt and grime. Their dark hair was matted, one head’s cropped short and the other with theirs tied up like an untamed tumbleweed.
The tugging on her heart started dragging her forward, hands shaking, head roaring, down the block.
What are you doing, Dot?
Diving heart first. Head can catch up later.
The second they heard her footsteps, their heads whipped round to see her face. They had wide eyes, one pair a deep dark brown and the other a bright gray. They gleamed with something that looked like fear and desperation but could have been a combination of anything. A second later, their eyes went hard, like a wall had slammed down between them and Dot.
Dot went on the defensive. Her hands went up automatically, but she felt more guilty than approachable. There was a quaking under her skin that wouldn’t calm but she tried not to look shaken, putting on whatever face Noel used to says he put on when she had to fake being brave. Noel never got that it was fake though, she—
“Hey, hey, sorry, sorry,” she said, her voice dropped lower, “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“We’re not scared,” the boy with the tied back hair said toughly and his round, bright eyes tried to bite at her. There was something about the way his jaw was set that made her think he was tense.
The boy looked at her toughly, but Dot saw his hand clutching the front of his shirt tightly.
And like she knew, the girl next to him—her hair was cropped short and it made her eyes dark eyes and nose stand out against her silhouette—put her hand on his arm. It was almost protective, but careful of not being conspicuous.
There was something about the picture of the two of them, filthy and together, that made that certain spot in Dot’s chest to start hurting.
Dot stared at them like that for a moment before she realized they were waiting for her to say something.
“I am,” she gulped. Her voice came out strangled, she wasn’t sure they even heard her. “I’m scared for you.”
The boy furrowed his brow at this. “Why?”
“Do you need help?”
“You don’t know us,” he argued, pouting a little.
“I can help you,” Dot insisted. She knew the routine by now. Her chest hurt, but she needed to insist, to push her way through. Even if it made her feel like a steam plower. She knew if she didn’t, if she just left all alone, the regret that would boil in her gut would hurt for longer than anything in the present. She knew it. But it hurt.
“We don’t need help.”
Dot looked between the two kids. The girl hugged her knees against her chest.
“You look like you’ve been walking for days,” Dot pointed out, nodding to their muddy tennis shoes. There was no way the soles on those would hold out for much longer. She’d done enough running to know. “Had anything to eat lately?”
The boy’s eyes flitted down to the ground. The girl stared at the backpack between them.
“I’ll take that as a no then,” Dot sighed, crossing her arms over her chest.
“We’re going to figure it out,” the boy grumbled stubbornly.
Now, they looked everywhere except at Dot. She shuffled her feet awkwardly, making a quiet scraping against the damp sidewalk. All the roads were old in this town, all the people in it grew with the cracks in the sidewalk. Here, the three of them stood out like a green lawn in a drought. She needed to do something.
Carefully, she stepped closer to the two kids, and their heads lifted instantly. Dot hastily sat down a few feet from them, spreading her legs out to the road with her heels at the edge of a deep puddle. Nervously, her hand found her hair and she looked at them with her head hanging sideways.
“I don’t know what’s going on with you,” Dot started weakly. She spoke to the ground but she knew they were looking at her again, hanging onto her every word, so she steeled herself. “And I’m not interested if you don’t want to tell me, but if you’re all alone and there’s no one you can call—no one you trust to call—then I can help you. Give you whatever you need. Take you anywhere until you’re safe. I’ve been you two before, for a long long time, so I get it. And if there’s anything at all I can—”
Dot looked up. The voice had been quiet and breathy, like a baby bird calling from a tall tree top. Her eyes flitted between the two kids, but it was obviously the girl who had spoken as her face was set in a determined look and she wouldn’t let go of Dot’s gaze. Dot thought she caught a glimpse of something inside the girl, but couldn’t be sure. There was something moving inside her, like a movie projector shining against her irises. But then the girl broke away, her eyes searching the insides of her palms.
“What?” Dot shook off the trance, not quite sure she’d heard right anymore.
“We’re hungry,” the boy spoke up now. His voice was even and sure, like he’d just made an important decision.
Dot looked at them again, just to make sure that she was right and that this was a good thing.
Then she nodded. “I can help.”
“You’re kidding,” Malcolm had said when they’d gotten back to the car. “You must be shitting me, Flood. Come on.” In the moment, with his head sticking out the rolled down passengers seat window, his face was a landscape of shock, annoyance, and—maybe, just maybe—a diabolical kind of respect. His eyebrows were confused squiggles that scrunched the skin of his smooth forehead like geometric crumples in a sheet of paper. His mouth was a straight line that sharpened the edge of his gaze. Malcolm looked at Dot like she was the biggest, most idiotic mastermind hellbent on ruining him to ever walk the earth and he kept looking at her like that all the way to the supermarket and through the doors. It felt just like high school when Dot would sit in class and just know it was Malcolm seething at her from the back row.
The four of them—Dot, Malcolm, and the two kids who wouldn’t say their names, either despite or due to Malcolm’s prodding—strolled down the aisles in a pack. Malcolm pushed the cart, slouching down like a lanky cat to push the cart with his elbows, padding across the linoleum floor almost silently. Dot walked ahead with her eyes flitting between the shelves and the list in her hand to make sure she didn’t miss anything. The two kids walked along the sides of the cart quietly. They refused to leave their backpacks in the car or leave the others’ side. The girl walked quietly with her hand on the cart’s side railing, looking absently at the shelves as they walked by. The boy was less calm. He stared at the shelves in awe, reaching out for things excitedly before hesitating and dropping his hand. A few times, Dot reached over and picked up whatever he’d reach for, tossing it in the cart absently after.
For once, Dot and Malcolm felt somewhat normal as they were. The kids were jigsaw puzzles of clothes clearly collected solely out of need rather than function. The boy seemed to be wearing a school uniform, khaki shorts and a once-white collared shirt underneath layers of plaid shirts and jackets probably older than him. Everything on him looked like it and been dragged through the mud. The girl had the worst of it in a too-big orange rain jacket that ended at her knees, just barely showing hibiscus print board shorts and layered high socks underneath. Though there was still staring, the staring was for a completely different reason and it was a nice change regardless.
“Flood,” Malcolm’s voice came from right by her ear and she jumped. When she looked at him, he had his hands in his pockets, cooly.
“What do you want?” She wasn’t sure why she was whispering, but it felt right. The store was a low roar this afternoon and the frozen aisle was scattered with random passersby. The kids had their heads pressed against the ice cream freezer, pointing at the boxes now after Dot had given them a nod.
“I think you know bloody well what I want to talk about,” Malcolm leaned with his back against the freezer, looking to each side every so often. Instinctively, Dot went back to perusing the frozen meals, forcing a casual demeanor. Old habits died hard.
“If it has anything to do with—”
“The weird little insects we’re letting leech off of us?”
Dot shut the freezer door. When she looked up at Malcolm, his facade cracked for a moment at the edge in her gaze.
“You don’t have to be like that,” she said evenly, “We’re helping them for a little—”
“What? A little what?” Malcolm snapped suddenly. His hands ripped from his pockets and started bobbing up and down in the air to emphasize his words. Dot knew he was really upset now, but she so was she. “A little while. Is that what you were about to say?”
“They’re all alone, Malcolm.”
“If that was it, they wouldn’t be here.”
“Then hand them each a biscuit and send them on their way!” He wasn’t yelling, but the words hit her like he was. She felt like she was yelling. “You don’t need to do this every time you—”
“Fuck off,” she cut in suddenly, “You don’t know anything.”
“I know you’ve been moping about for months, Flood, because you’re bored without anyone around to—”
“The only reason we’ve been slumming around for months is—”
Malcolm shook his head suddenly, “Please, save me the soliloquy, Flood. We are not talking about this. This is not about—”
Someone suddenly cleared their throat and it ripped the two apart suddenly. Malcolm physically jumped back in fright while Dot shuddered, quickly but violently.
They looked, wide eyed, at the dark haired kids who stared back, looking just as frightened. Between them, they held out a box of orange cream popsicles. It was price marked at half price and for some reason, that made a warm spot flare up in Dot’s chest.
“These okay?” The boy asked warily, like he’d meant to ask something different but thought better of it.
Malcolm looked away, hands back in his pockets, composure regained. Dot ignored it by pretending to look over the box before nodding quickly. Because of course it was okay, why wouldn’t it be? She tossed it into the basket and grabbed hold of the cart, pulling it along to the dairy aisle. They were dangerously low on almond milk now that her’s and Malcolm’s diets consisted of mainly cereal and morning/afternoon/night tea respectively. But really, she just wanted an excuse to get away. The chill of the back of the store made her arms feel prickly but inside her was a furnace, radiating from inside and up her body until she could feel her face going red.
Just breathe, Dot, you’re okay, she remembered a voice cooing quietly. She could almost feel a slender hand gently twirling the end of her long hair in her fingers while the crickets in the field sang into the night. They—
Dot shuddered at the memory, physically trying to shake it out of her. No, no, no, she couldn’t do this. If she started thinking of home, she wouldn’t stop. And it just hurt it too much.
She looked down at the milk carton in her hands. She hadn’t even realized she’d picked it up.
Just breathe, Dot.
So she did. For what felt like a long time, she just stood there, stationary in front of the milk display. She did it until she felt steady again.
When she lifted her head, opened her eyes, someone tugged on her jacket sleeve. She jumped to see the two dark haired kids looking at her meekly, almost squirming in their shoes. Or maybe it was just her. The fluorescent lighting was suddenly too bright to her and the edges of her vision looked fuzzy and white.
After a beat where they all stared at one another, the girl dropped her hand and let go of Dot’s sleeve. Strangely, her eyes wouldn’t leave Dot’s face whereas the boy wouldn’t look anywhere except an adjacent green tile on the floor, two tiles away from where Dot’s feet were planted. He kept his hands stuffed in his jacket pockets and it made his shoulders hunch. The girl’s right leg was shaking.
“Hey,” Dot broke the silence.
“It’s raining,” the girl said plainly in her soft, small voice.
Dot glanced down the aisle and realized she couldn’t see the doors at all from the middle of the aisle. She looked down at the girl, her brown eyes looking right at her but also somewhere distant.
“How do you—?”
“They found us. It’s not safe anymore here.” The words spilled out of her in a rush, all at once without thought. Like there wasn’t any time for thought.
“Wait, what do you—”
“Flood,” Malcolm’s voice came in loudly suddenly, like she’d been underwater and her head had just broken the surface. She looked for him and found him standing at the edge of a cereal display behind her. He wasn’t looking at her—not at first—but somewhere past her. Then his eyes flitted to her and back across the store, so quickly she almost missed it.
Her eyes barely caught the fleeting figure disappearing down an aisle.
A cold shiver ran down her back suddenly. When it passed, she turned to the kids as if she were a new person suddenly, her feet planted firmly and her face closed off into a serious expression. Malcolm felt a sense of deja vu wash over him when caught sight of the gears start to turn in her head.
There she is. Just a hoodie, mask, and spandex get up shy of her old self, he thought with a smirk to the side.
It had been a while since he’d seen her this way, like some of the clouds had parted and suddenly she was much too bright to look at. The little weirdos stared at her with trembling mouths open slack as they hung onto her every word. He couldn’t blame them, even he knew there was something about Flood that just attracted people to her, something unmistakably engaging about the way she spoke when she was really fired up about something. She always talked with her hands, especially when she turned on her hero-mode. Everything about her took form in an action, like it just wouldn’t stay inside her and keep quiet. Head first, always always always storming in without any—
He felt himself warm with an old bitterness. He felt his throat go tight and when he tried to swallow it down, he noticed he was almost gasping for air. Cursing under his breath, Malcolm crossed his arms over his chest and turned away from the conspiring conversation Dot must have been having with the little weirdos. His feet moved under him without him noticing and suddenly he was careening down the aisle, past the nobodies and shifty eyes that seemed to reach out to grab at him. As he walked, Malcolm rubbed his hands together, his pale hands feeling very cold and rigid suddenly. He needed some air, some air and some space where he could safely squish down the remembering.
An employee caught his eye. He must have looked ghastly from the look of terror and worry on her face.
“Uhm, excuse me, sir,” the girl tried to stammer out, extending a hand out cautiously.
Malcolm sidestepped her touch, already shaking his head.
“Pardon,” he said under his breath and went on his way.
Malcolm didn’t want anyone to touch him. For some reason, he got it in his head that if someone did, he was sure he’d crumple. Like a piece of parchment in a giant’s hand.
He just needed to get away. Just be anywhere other than with Flood in her short, little car that smelled like her cinnamon apple soap. Her head strong speeches about unfairness with her shaking, waving hands in his face. The way she always crossed the line that was clearly drawn between them. Just the way she always tried to—
The automatic doors slid open for him and then a scream ripped into the air suddenly.
Malcolm kept walking. And walking. And walking.