Scorched
disgusting thing.
    She turned to Connor. “I want to help,” she declared. “Whatever needs to be done to keep dragons extinct—I’m your girl.”
    Connor didn’t answer, pulling the egg from his bag and turning it in his hands. Trin flexed her fingers uneasily, the compulsion to touch it once again burning through her like a fever. She wondered if she should mention the urge to Connor but decided against it. He might decide she was too far gone to help him and she didn’t want to be left out.
    “Judging from its transparency, I’d say we have about a week before it hatches,” he told her. “We’ll need to find a way to destroy it by then. The sooner the better.”
    She gave the egg a dubious look. “Couldn’t we just…I don’t know…smash it?”
    “It’s not that simple. Dragon eggs are pretty much unbreakable,” he informed her. “Harder than diamonds. But we can try to burn it.” He looked up at her hopefully. “I don’t suppose you have any spare plutonium?”
    “Um, no. Sorry. Not exactly something they stock at the local Wal-Mart.”
    “Right.” He pressed his lips together. “Well, then we’re going to have to go with the alternative.”
    “Which is?”
    He seemed to consider this. “A volcano perhaps. If we can drop the egg into an active volcano, the lava should be hot enough to destroy it.”
    “Oh-kay.” She considered this for a moment. “But wait,” she said, a thought coming to her.
    Connor looked at her questioningly.
    “If we destroy the egg,” she said, “won’t that…I don’t know… cancel out your own world? I mean I saw Back to the Future . If we succeed, will you start to disappear?”
    She meant the question as a kind of half joke and was surprised at the uneasiness she felt after she voiced it. What if he did just disappear? Vanished into thin air, never to be seen again? The thought disturbed her more than she wanted to admit.
    Thankfully, Connor shook his head. “It doesn’t work like that. My timeline has already been established. There’s no way to alter that. But by destroying the egg, we can set your world on an alternate timeline. One that doesn’t end in apocalypse.”
    She furrowed her brow. The quantum mechanics were making her head hurt. “So you can’t go back then,” she realized aloud, “because in the new alternate future, you wouldn’t exist.”
    He nodded.
    “Dude, that’s rough,” she blurted out before she could stop herself.
    He chuckled. “Don’t worry. I knew what I was getting myself into when I accepted the mission,” he assured her. “We have to do whatever we can to save the human race. Even if it means sacrificing ourselves.” He paused, then added in a whisper, “Sacrifice one to save the world,” as if it were some kind of mantra.
    Trinity opened her mouth to reply but was interrupted by her phone. She jerked, glancing at Connor. Pulling the phone from her pocket, her eyes widened as she read the unfamiliar telephone number on the caller ID.
    “Hello?” she answered hesitantly after putting the phone to her ear. After all, it could be anyone. The government agents. Sheriff Bob…
    “Trinity! Where are you?”
    “Grandpa!” She leapt from her seat, gripping the receiver tightly in her hand. “Where are you? Are you okay?”
    “I’m fine,” he assured her. “I was worried about you . I only left the house for a short time—I was opening up a package with my pocket knife when your damn cat jumped out at me, knocking over the Chinese food. I managed to slice up my hand pretty good and decided to head over to the clinic to make sure I didn’t need stitches. I’m sorry I didn’t leave a note. I figured I’d still beat you home.”
    Trinity swallowed hard, remembering the bloody knife. What she’d imagined…
    “Unfortunately they took forever—evidently Christmas Eve is one of their busiest nights. When I finally got out, I swung back to the museum to see if you needed a ride, but the whole place was

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