Resonance - Erica O'Rourke


Days until Tacet: 25

WHEN I WAS LITTLE, MY grandfather told me nothing was impossible. Given enough time and the right choices, anything could happen. I believed him.

Then I grew up. I stopped believing.

Turns out, he was right.

• • •

Walking between worlds turns you invisible. Echoes don’t notice you until you touch one of them, so people are forever looking past you. You’re a vague impression, more sensed than seen, a flicker in their peripheral vision.

Invisibility suited me fine. Coming here was a risk; I wasn’t allowed to Walk unaccompanied, and there was always a chance an Original would spot me crossing. But some things you need to see—or hear—to believe.

I hovered like a ghost at the edge of the crowded hallway. But when Simon Lane came around the corner, dark hair falling into blue eyes, jaw square and stubborn, smile full of trouble . . .

I knew I was the one being haunted.

Pain roared through me, hungry as a wildfire. Not my Simon, though the pitch of this world was sharp and familiar. An Echo of him, and one I knew well: the shape of his hands fitted with mine; the feel of his mouth against my throat; the lazy, prowling movements that made my knees go weak. Doughnut Simon—as vibrant and magnetic as his Original—should no longer exist.

The sound of him reached me clearly, despite the distance and bodies between us. The same frequency as the rest of the Echo, but stronger, as if his volume was turned up to eleven when everyone else was a ten.

He should have been silent. A terminal Echo, one whose Original had died. A little more than a week ago, his Original had trapped himself in a world unraveling to nothingness to save me and the rest of the multiverse. His death in the cleaving should have unraveled his Echoes, robbing them of their frequency and their lives.

This Simon should have been silent, but his pitch was true as ever.

The only explanation was that my Simon had survived the cleaving. He’d escaped, somehow, into the vastness of the multi­verse.


Hope beat in my chest, the faintest of wings. I tried to smother it, but hope feeds on the impossible as surely as grief feeds on memory.

Simon’s voice reached me first, a baritone resonating warmly through my bones.

One touch.

One touch, to be certain, and I would leave. He might not remember me. Echoes didn’t, usually. A few minutes, or hours, or days after a Walker left a world, her impression faded from the minds of Echoes like a mirage in the desert. This Simon might forget we’d ever met. I didn’t know if the thought relieved me or broke me anew.

He swaggered through the hallway, surrounded by friends, all of them in similar layers of leather and flannel and denim, Simon in the center like a sun amid planets. I readied myself, muscles tense and ears attuned. Time slowed as he drew even with me, and my feet moved of their own accord.

He turned, laughing offhandedly at some inane comment, and caught sight of me.

His eyes met mine.

He stopped laughing.

I froze. He’d seen me. He remembered me. Before I could react, he broke away from his friends and grabbed me. The shock of his frequency made me go limp with relief.

My Simon was alive.

This Simon, though, was pissed.

“Del,” he growled, waving his friends along and yanking me to the side of the hall. “Where the hell have you been?”

“I’m not supposed to be here,” I said. His hand was like iron around my arm. “You’re hurting me.”

He let go and I breathed him in, leather and rain.

“What do you want?” His palms slammed against the wall on either side of me, boxing me in. “Why are you here?”

“I needed to know if you were okay.” I tore my gaze away from the silver railroad spike flashing at his wrist.

“I’m fucking awesome.” The bitterness in his laugh made me flinch. “Until now. What do you want?”

I curled my fingers into fists, fighting the urge to reach for him. This close, he looked the same, right down to the scar at the corner of his mouth. He wasn’t mine, but he was proof the real Simon was waiting for me, somewhere in the multiverse.

He reached for his wallet and pulled out the origami star I’d given him the night we first kissed. The Key World’s frequency drifted from the dark green paper, strengthening as I took it from him. “You said you weren’t coming back.”

I’d broken off