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Rishi looked up—and blinked. Was this some weird conjuring of his imagination? But no, up ahead was a giant banner on which someone had drawn the manga characters Madoka and Sayaka from the anime Madoka Magica as students with SFSU T-shirts and satchels. SFSU ART DEPARTMENT , it said underneath. At a table in front of the banner, students with hipster glasses and uncombed hair hung out, talking about whether Ferd Johnson was really the genius behind the 1920s comic strip Moon Mullins . Rishi blinked again. As if by some weird art law of attraction, he found his legs carrying him forward.

The male student, reedy and tall with a healthy smattering of acne across both cheeks, looked up and smiled. “Hey, man. Interested in a degree in art or graphic design?”

No, Rishi thought. Absolutely not. “Maybe,” he found himself saying instead. “I’m into comic book art.”

“Cool, me too.” The reedy guy grinned in a now we can be pals way. “Hey, you should come to Little Comic Con. SFSU art students put it on, and it’s open to the public. Some of our professors will be there too, and we’re going to have a few big names.” He thrust a flyer at Rishi. “My name’s Kevin Keo. Just look for me at the manga booth.”

Rishi raised his eyebrows. “Cool.” He looked down at the flyer. Little Comic Con was a week away. “I’ll try to be there.”

“Great. I think you’d really enjoy it. That’s what convinced me to apply to SFSU ’s art program.” Kevin smiled.

“Thanks.” He glanced at his watch. “Crap. I gotta go.” Rishi hurried toward the Spurlock building. Argh. He was going to be late.

Dimple was having a crisis. The good kind, if such a thing even existed.

All around her, people sat, waiting expectantly for the man at the front of the lecture hall to begin talking. Some of them looked cocky—like that group over there, with the two boys who looked like they’d stepped out of a hipster clothing catalog, and the blond girl who wore a perpetual sneer as if she were too good for all of this. One of the guys, the Indian one, caught her eye and made a creepy-gross gesture with his tongue, then burst out laughing when she looked away, heart thumping. Others, like the group of boys in the very back, all about her height or shorter and some with their baby fat still intact, looked terrified.

Dimple glanced over at Celia and wondered how she and Celia appeared to others. She felt electrified, ready. “Isn’t this exciting?” she said for the sixth time since they’d sat down. The instructor at the front, with a full beard and dressed in a colorful vest, was fiddling around with the mic on his podium. There must be about fifty people in here, easy.

“Yes.” Celia smiled, a little indulgently, Dimple thought. She definitely wasn’t as fired up about all of this as Dimple was.

Dimple had the feeling almost everything came easily to Celia. Her parents were extremely rich, so they’d paid for this without a second thought. It was just another way, like the sailing class Celia had taken already, to fill up the time until college began. “And I spy hot-teeez,” Celia added in a singsong, looking right at the group of hipster, model-beautiful people, ogling all of them, boys and girl. This time they didn’t notice Dimple looking.

“Welcome to Insomnia Con!” the bearded man boomed from the front of the class, beaming congenially around at all of them. The hall went instantly silent. “My name is Max Framer, and I’m your instructor for Insomnia Con. Please call me Max, not Mr. Framer. It helps us old folks feel young.” A few people laughed. “I’m delighted to see another year of shiny new faces, and I’m so psyched to see what you guys come up with this year. Now, before we go on to what I know all of you really want to know”—he paused, grinning—“i.e., Insomnia Con’s grand prize, I want to go over some basic info and ground rules first. That’ll ensure you guys actually listen to the words coming out of my mouth.”

There were groans and titters all around. Dimple was sure she’d go nuts if he didn’t spill the beans soon.

“So, first, welcome to San Francisco to those who aren’t from our wonderful city. A couple of things of note: This may be summer, but the temperature can drop to the sixties or lower at night. You’ll also become well acquainted with Karl.” A few people like Celia chuckled, but Dimple just frowned, confused.

“What?” she whispered to Celia. “Who’s Karl?”

Celia whispered back, “Fog. It’s the fog that comes off the water.”

Dimple began to nod and then shook her head. “No, that’s still confusing. You guys named a natural weather phenomenon?”

Celia grinned. “Welcome to San Francisco.”

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