“Where’s your green?” Bryce asked.
Madison unzipped her jacket and pulled her sweater off her shoulder to reveal a green bra strap. “That count?”
“I guess so,” he said.
“I can’t believe you convinced me to come to another one of Fletcher’s stupid parties. It’s freezing out here!” Madison scooted her lawn chair a little closer to the fire pit. “Who has an outdoor party at night on St. Patrick’s Day anyway?”
“Fletcher, apparently. His folks are home this time, which is why we’re out here, I think. At least with his folks here, it won’t end with cops.”
“Don’t bet on it. Anyway, I’m cold, so I’m not going to be here to the end anyway. Where’s Jackson?”
“No idea. He and I broke up,” Bryce said. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Madison laughed. “Oh geez.”
“Hey sophomore!” Bryce called out.
A girl walked over and pulled a lawn chair next to Madison. “I have a name,” she said.
“I know,” Bryce replied. “It’s sophomore.”
“How’s your French coming along?” she asked.
“Enchanté,” he said. “That’s all I got.”
Madison rolled her eyes. “How are you, Tiff?”
“I’m cold. My friend ditched me. You are the only people I know here. Can you believe kids are going to go swimming?”
“Really?” Bryce asked.
“Yeah, I guess they might chicken out. I got tired of waiting for them to do it, so I came back up here to get warm. Bunch of boys in their underwear.”
Bryce hopped up from his chair, knocking it over the process, and jogged away toward the lake.
“Boys in underwear,” Madison said.
“He’s going to be so disappointed when he gets there and they are all still dressed,” Tiff said.
Madison laughed, “You didn’t! You made that up to prank him?”
“You know it,” Tiff replied. “How dumb is he to believe people are going swimming?”
“He’s not dumb. Just… hopeful,” Madison said.
Tiff smiled. “If you say so. So are you working on any new stories? I haven’t seen anything from you in the paper since the straws.”
“I’m working on something huge. But I need to get independent sources for some of the things in it, and I’m having trouble figuring out how to do that.”
“What’s it about?” Tiff asked.
“Government conspiracy. End of the world. You know, the usual,” Madison said.
“Cool, cool. Anything I need to worry about?”
Madison shrugged. “Hard to say. Something very bad is definitely going to happen in April, but it might not affect us at all. I have a good idea of what and when, but no idea where.”
“You’re kind of freaking me out,” Tiff said. “Is there something I should be doing?”
“You have any money in the bank?” Madison asked.
“Not really,” Tiff said.
“Then no, probably not. Just hang tight and hope the people in charge know what they’re doing.”
“Do the people in charge know what they’re doing?”
“Definitely not,” Madison said.
“That wasn’t nice,” Bryce said, arriving back at the fire pit, righting his chair, and slumping in it to warm his hands.
Madison and Tiff laughed. “She got you pretty good,” Madison said.
“Yeah, yeah. What are you two talking about?” he asked.
“End of the world,” Tiff replied.
“Oh, that. Old news. Ima miss the internet most, I think,” Bryce said.
“What?” Tiff asked, suddenly appearing very concerned.
Bryce’s eyes widened and he turned to Madison. “Did I just spill a secret?” he stage-whispered.
“It’s fine,” Madison said. “I hadn’t gotten into specifics.”
“We are losing the internet in April?” Tiff asked.
“Someone is,” Madison replied. “No way to know who.”
“For how long?” she asked.
“Months? Years? Hard to say really. It’ll be a long road back for whoever it happens to,” Madison explained.
“Wow. It’s kind of cool that you know about this and nobody else does,” Tiff said. “Until you run your story, I suppose.”
“If I run my story,” Madison said. “I can’t run it without more confirmation. I might never find that.”
“You can always run it after the fact,” Bryce said. “Once it happens, there won’t be any question that you were right.”
Madison nodded. “Good point. Wanna get out of here and warm up with some coffee?”
“Yes,” Tiff and Bryce said in unison.