The Colonel tells Miles that he has just had lunch with the Eagle, who asked him if he was responsible for setting off the fireworks. Alaska’s aunt is coming to pick up her things, so Miles and the Colonel have to rid her room of anything she wouldn’t want her aunt to find. Her room still smells like Alaska: cigarette smoke and vanilla. Miles is overwhelmed by her Life’s Library and all of the things she’ll never read.
Alaska’s smell is a mixture of smoke and vanilla—something harsh and something sweet. Alaska herself could be both cruel and kind, and the scent she leaves behind captures the nature of her personality.
Miles takes Alaska’s condoms and the Colonel looks for her alcohol stash. Miles is happy to realize that Alaska never told the Colonel about her hiding place and that she only shared it with him. Miles finds her copy of The General in His Labyrinth and flips through it, even though it was severely damaged when Kevin flooded her room. The book is readable, but Alaska’s notes have all blurred together.
Alaska’s death not only separates Miles from Alaska, but also from the Colonel. All of a sudden Miles is competitive about how well he knew Alaska, and he takes great pleasure in discovering things that are secrets just between the two of them.
Miles turns to the general’s last words and is surprised to find the words “Straight & Fast” written beside the question about how to escape the labyrinth. The note is in blue ink instead of black, and is completely legible, so Alaska must have written it recently.
All of the foreshadowing Green uses gives the book a great deal in common with mystery novels. In this moment, Miles finds a clue that will launch him into a search to figure out who Alaska really was.
Miles shows the note to the Colonel, who realizes that Alaska died “straight and fast.” She ran straight into a police car without even swerving. They realize how difficult it would have been for Alaska not to see a cop car with its lights on, even if she was very drunk. Miles doesn’t believe Alaska would have killed herself after saying “To be continued,” but the Colonel starts trying to piece together what upset her so much and made her want to leave. Miles doesn’t help him. To Miles, Alaska cannot be responsible for her own death because it must be his and the Colonel’s fault.
The Colonel deals with death by memorizing facts and looking for answers. Miles, on the other hand, has few coping strategies because he has never had to deal with the loss of a loved one, unlike the Colonel, whose father left him. As a result, Miles spends his time reminiscing over the past and imagining how wonderful his future with Alaska could have been. He focuses on his own guilt, so he can avoid the idea that Alaska might have done this to herself.