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Zelda spent the entire bus ride to the amusement park worrying

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Zelda spent the entire bus ride to the amusement park worrying. It had now been a week and four days since Maddy was taken away, and exactly twenty-five days since Amory was admitted to the hospital. Halloween had been yesterday, but she'd spent the night at home alone. Not even trick-or-treaters rang the doorbell.

Worst of all, Harper hadn't shown up to school this morning, nor was she answering her phone.

After the news announcement about an illness going around, some parents had pulled their kids from school, but she doubted Harper's parents would have done that. Harper would've said something.

If this project wasn't worth so much of her physics grade, she would have ditched in a heartbeat to find out what had happened to her friend. Even though Harper had been perfectly fine yesterday, Zelda had a bad feeling she might have caught the thing Amory and Maddy had.

All of her google searching hadn't turned up any new information on whatever this illness was. There were conspiracy theories about where it originated from—everything from terrorists to pet cats—but no solid facts. There was still no word on any deaths, either. The lack of information frustrated her.

The bus came to a stop in the parking lot.

"Class, please meet with your assigned partner and discuss what project you would like to pursue. This is a fun field trip, but don't forget you will also be required to complete a project that is worth twenty percent of your grade. Use your time wisely."

Her classmates groaned. Zelda slouched further down in her seat, tugging on the cuffs of her flannel, and stared out the window at the park. She wasn't a fan of roller coasters or any of the spinning rides, so she was more than happy to focus on the project. She only hoped her partner felt the same way. Group assignments were the worst. She always seemed to end up with partners who didn't care what their grade was and therefore forced her to do all the work.

Mr. Phillips walked down the aisle of the bus with a bowl filled with folded strips of paper. "Take one," he was saying, "and find the person with the same number as you. They will be your partner."

Maybe I can switch if I get someone I don't like.

"There will be no switching," the teacher added a second later.

When it was Zelda's turn, she stuck her hand in the bowl and grabbed a slip. She didn't bother to open it and see what number she had gotten.

"Okay, class. Get started," Mr. Phillips said after he had reached the back of the bus. "And don't forget to have fun."

The bus driver opened the doors, and her classmates filed out. Zelda waited in her seat, in no hurry to find out how unlucky she was today. Based on how the day had started off, she didn't have much hope.

After nearly everyone had gotten off the bus, she finally stood up and exited.

In the parking lot, most people were already paired off and walking toward the park entrance.

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