Ruby stared at the phone, stricken with shock. Eddie Foster had answered his phone.
"Hello?" Eddie's voice repeated. "Who's there?"
Her mouth moved, but no sound came out.
"What is it?" Mai asked.
"Um," Eddie said. "I think you've got the wrong number."
"Who is this?" he asked.
"This is... this is Ruby. Ruby Tanner. Do you remember me?"
"Who did you reach?" Mai interrupted. "Find out if they can get us out of here."
Ruby waved a hand to silence her. She struggled to think of anything to say.
"Ruby?" Eddie said.
"Do I know a... wait, did you text me?"
Ruby thought of her single word text. "Hey". She was too shocked now to be embarrassed by it. "Yes, I texted you. I talked to you back on the day when everything went... Where are you?"
"Driving. I'm east of Holcomb. Listen, I don't exactly have a good memory about things before... well, a lot changed a few days ago, and I'm..." He went silent, apparently as shocked as she was.
"I know," she said. "Before the world changed."
"And you know me? You know me from before?"
"Yes. I'd seen you around my neighborhood. We used to say 'hi'. Then we talked just before it all changed."
"Wow. This is heavy," he said.
"I know, right?"
"How do our phones work here?"
"I have no idea. There was a... well, a sort of flying robot that fixed my phone."
They were both quiet for a minute. Finally, Eddie said, "Do you have purple eyes?"
Ruby blushed. She turned away from Mai. "In the right light, yeah, my eyes look kind of violet."
Eddie sighed. "I remember you. Actually, you're the only one I really remember. I remember a lot of things, but you're the one thing that feels... real."
Ruby swallowed. "I don't know what to say to that."
"I sound like a weirdo. Sorry."
"You're in Holcomb? I've never heard of it. Rapid City is gone. Everything is gone."
"Rapid City is gone? What do you mean?"
This was a voice Ruby didn't recognize. She stammered. "Uh... Eddie?"
"This is Bryce Gerrard."
"Bryce? You mean Tanya's brother?"
"You know me?"
"I used to babysit for your sister before you moved in. I lived a few doors down from you."
"Tanya? Do you know where she is? Where's my niece Akisha?"
"I don't know," Ruby answered. "But if you're still alive, then maybe they are too. Maybe..."
She thought of her mother. Gone forever? Or still out there somewhere?
"Bryce," Mai said. "That's the big guy from the second floor, right? Put them on speaker." She yanked the phone out of Ruby's hand and found the icon for the speakerphone. "Bryce, this is Mai Martin. Do you remember me? Third story."
"You're that Asian girl, right? The party girl?"
For the next half hour, Mai monopolized Ruby's phone, talking directly to Bryce, ignoring Ruby. Mai told them everything that had happened, from the apartment building, to the cocoon, to their exodus into the wilderness and all the trials they'd faced in the woods, finishing up with being jailed in this primitive village.
When she was done, Bryce described waking up in the desert, stealing a car from a troll, being chased, catching a disease, going to jail, and fighting a wizard on a dragon.
Ruby wasn't sure she believed any of it until she remembered the winged creature she'd seen flying above the village at dusk.
"I think I've seen a dragon," she said, interrupting Bryce's story.
"What?" It was Eddie's voice.
"I saw a dragon. Or something huge. It was flying over us a few hours ago."
"Stay away from them, Ruby. They're bad news. If they catch you, they'll kidnap you for some kind of sacrifice. The one we fought knocked Bryce out and almost took him."
"He surprised me," Bryce complained. "It won't happen again."
"The dragons come from a place called Cavaheim," Eddie continued. "It's supposed to be surrounded by three really tall, narrow mountains. I think the rider called them the Titan Spires. If you see any place like that..."
"I saw them," Ruby said.
"No you didn't," countered Mai.
"When I climbed the tree," Ruby said. "They're not far from here."
"Which direction were they? Where are you?"
Ruby tried to remember. "I don't know. I couldn't tell."
"We're heading east now," Eddie said. "We were heading towards a place called Graden. It's south of those spires you saw."
"Can you get us out of this jail," Mai asked.
"We'll do what we can," Bryce said. "We're winging it right now. We don't know how far away you are, and we've got our hands full with our prisoner and this girl."
"Girl?" Mai asked, a hint of jealousy creeping into her voice. "You didn't mention a girl before."
"A little girl about six. We picked her up in Holcomb. They had her in jail for being an outsider."
"That's terrible," Mai said, sounding relieved. "That might be why we're in jail now."
"So, the dragon rider was a wizard?" Ruby asked. "Like a Lord of the Rings kind of wizard?"
"Nah," Bryce answered. "He was a much bigger asshole than anyone from Tolkien. And he's got this thing on his face that looks like something from Star Trek. It's weird."
"But he used magic?"
"He could knock people around by pointing at them and shoot blue beams from his hand. So I think..."
"Think what?" Mai asked.
The phone was silent. Mai stabbed at the button. Nothing happened. "Battery's dead," Mai said, tossing it back into Ruby's lap. "Next time your fairy shows up, see if you can't get it to give you a phone charger."
Ruby stared at the phone. She tried the button once herself. Nothing happened.
In a half hour, her perspective had turned upside-down. People she'd assumed were dead were still alive, there were dragons and wizards and towns that hung in the sky. There was a city among the spires. There were trolls. She'd talked to Eddie on the phone. Eddie, of all people. What had happened to the world?