Listen, I wanted to stay at the hospital for a year where everyone would be safe, but of course, 12 hours after waking up, Neal was on his phone figuring out everything that happened last week while we were hiding out here.

Now, I told Julian about what Celeste said to me when we talked last week and then just put it right on out of my head because everything else was too stressful to be also thinking about the fact that my mom was getting a whole magical education without me.

But that couldn’t last, obviously. Partially because we have a cure now which we need to start actually bringing people, and partially because now that I’m not in total emergency mode I have a little spare anxiety to spare on my poor mother facing down a mysterious disease from another world.

Neal broke the news to me.

Jasper and Beverly were out on a call with Beverly’s mom Valerie at the Crossroads. I think things have sort of exploded without Beverly there to direct traffic.

Which is a benign thing to say, but I literally realized, just right this second, that the Crossroads being short staffed potentially means that people are dying because they can’t get the backup or information they need.

Okay I’m starting to freak out again hahaha I gotta calm down, let’s get back on track.

So, Neal broke the news to me. He said, “Shiloh,” in this TONE and I knew immediately that they were about to tell me something that I wasn’t going to like. “Celeste needs this cure. Most of the Hedgewood witches are going to where the biggest outbreaks are, but unless we get the cure to Black Lake, a manageable handful of cases could become a full on catastrophe.”

“You’re about to tell me I have to go home, aren’t you,” I said. I think part of me has been creeping lay aware that I was going to have to go back home from the moment Celeste called me last week. I’ve just been waiting for someone to tell me.

“Beverly and Jasper said they’d take the jelly to Black Lake, and we can go to the Crossroads to help out,” Julian said. “Or you can stay here and we can just go. We don’t want to force you to go back if you’re not ready.”

I just blinked at them, dumbly. “Beverly and Jasper would be better at going to the Crossroads, though, huh?”

Julian made a sympathetic face that told me everything I needed to know.

“We can give you a few minutes to think about it,” Neal said. “But people are sick, and the longer we wait, the worse it gets. Plus the government is going to mobilize any second now. We need to get moving.”

“The government to mobilize?” I asked.

“They’re still trying to keep the truth about Fog Town under the radar,” Neal said. “We don’t know what they’ll do if this becomes a full issue.”

“How many cases are there so far?”

“Fifty, so far,” Neal said grimly. “We need to act fast.”

So I said, “okay, lets go.”

Julian searched my face. “Are you sure? There are plenty of other cases to take —”

“It makes most sense for us to do it,” I replied. “We already have all the connections we need. You don’t think I’m in danger there?”

Neal laughed. “My guess is that our FBI tail is sufficiently distracted at this point.”

And just like that — back on the road.

Neal’s moving a little slow, but he really has made a recovery. He coughs a little bit sometimes, but Sylvia says that’s to be expected. They had to essentially regrow like 60% of his lung tissue.

We should arrive in Black Lake tomorrow.

I have too many feelings to understand them all individually, but together they make ✨nauseous✨

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