“I remember these halls. I mean, the lockers were painted a different color, and the trophies in the case were different, and that hallway definitely wasn’t there, but it’s close enough to fall right into that uncanny valley of memory,” Gnat said.

Charlie, beside him, glanced up and down the deserted hallway of Higbee Middle and High school. “Bad memories,” she said. “Kids are jerks, especially here.”

“I’ve told you about where I spent most of my time, right?” Gnat gestured to the computer lab. “In there! Mecca for milquetoasts, nirvana for nerds. Don’t you think?”

“If you were a dinosaur, you’d be a thesaurus,” said Charlie. “I just always used my phone.”

“W-well, yeah, but you’ve got to have a phone to use it,” Gnat said. “Poor geeks like me always got the rough end of it there. No phone, no internet at home, so it was always the computer lab at school or the library for me.” He paused. “Of course, that meant the assholes knew exactly where to find you.”

“They find you no matter where you go,” Charlie said. “When I was down in the weight room trying to pack it on, they still found me. Maybe different assholes, but probably pretty similar.”

“I KNOW RIGHT?” Gnat cried. “How do they do it?”

“They can smell blood in the water. Like the shark-sensei in Great White Densetsu Oh No!.”

“Oh yeah, a classic,” Gnat said. “I don’t think they have it in this universe. Their loss.”

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