Writers (in order): Audrey Jamieson, Christina Ding, hussin alhialy, Sophia H, Allura, Ava Cheng, Lilia Vine, Imin, Maddie Cheung, Mariarosa Cerritos, Sophie, Simona Choi, Rae neve, Emily Zhou.

Editor: Ms. Ja.

Henry could swear that his date with William went well, but instead he wakes at a dilapidated alleyway, slumped in a pool of his own blood.

Henry runs his hands over the now crimson-dyed button-down, grimacing as it slickly stains his fingertips. He explores the hollow crevasses between his ribs in search of a puncture, finding that where there once was a stab wound, delicate scabbing has desperately woven into sinewy skin.

Taking in the surroundings, his first thought is of irritated frustration—having to scrub out those bloodstains would be obnoxious and he’d need to restock on hydrogen peroxide. His second thought, however, rests back to a few hours prior, clinking glasses and sitting amongst velvety restaurant cushions.

With a small smile, Henry wonders how William had mustered the audacity to kill him. The idea is immediately overshadowed by a sense of victory.

As he crawls to his feet and wrings out the bloody shirt, Henry dials his boss and murmurs, “I’ve finally caught him.” Henry marvels at how his suspicions proved to be correct, shaking his head knowingly. His phone rings mechanically and softly behind the loud plunks of rain falling outside.

His call goes to voicemail. What? He dials a second time and feels frustrated when the ringing stops and silence ensues.

He runs his hands through his hair, leaving streaks of red. This never happened before, he thinks. What am I supposed to do now? He sighs and looks around at the blood all over him and the ground. He can’t just walk out of the alleyway and not draw attention.

He looks up the side of the building to judge the height of it. Thinking aloud, he says, “I could easily get onto the roof and avoid being seen.”

Is it worth it, though? The wound is still healing, and climbing the side of a building, no matter how many handholds there are, will definitely tear it open again, not to mention the heavy rain making the ordeal much harder than usual. While debating, Henry dials his boss’ number again, and the near silent rings echo in his head.

Again, it goes to voicemail.

Grimacing at the complication, Henry quickly leaves a text, asking to be called as soon as possible, and slips the phone back into his pocket. Looking up the building, he reaches out a hand—

“Oh, you’re finally up again.”

On instinct, Henry spins around and aims a kick in the voice’s general direction, but it’s easily blocked and he finally recognizes the shock of dyed blond hair.

“Vicky? You were supposed to be on the reassignment in—”

“No matter,” she cuts in quickly. “While you were catching up on your beauty sleep, the lab went offline. Everyone’s being recalled.”

“I have my mission. I have to finish it.”

Vicky let out an exasperated sigh. “You can pick up where you left off after—”

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