“Am I right to think that ‘yet’ is the important word there?” I asked.
“Yes.” Nathan stood. “I’ll be right back with some clothes, and with Fang and Daisy. We need to get out of here.”
I had never been so relieved to watch my boyfriend walk away from me. The danger in my head had been repaired, my wounds had been patched up, and we were getting out of here.
Things were finally starting to go our way.
This—all of this—is all my fault.
I can try to put a pretty face on it, and better, I can try to blame it all on Steven (and why shouldn’t I blame it all on Steven? The project was his idea, the implementation happened after I left the company, I am not innocent, but I don’t see why I should burn for his hubris). And it doesn’t matter, because I’ll always know that he couldn’t have done any of this without me. He had the science. He had the ambition. What he lacked was… well, for lack of a better word, what he lacked was poetry. He could make the genes move. He couldn’t make them sing.
I gave him that. I gave him what he needed to remake the world in his own image, and when I decided that I didn’t like what he was doing, I didn’t stay and stop him. I took my toys and I went home. Now my daughter is missing. Now the girl who should have been my daughter is lost. Now my son hates me.
This is all my fault, and I don’t know how to fix it, and I don’t know if I can.
–FROM THE JOURNAL OF DR. SHANTI CALE, SEPTEMBER 21, 2027
So as you’ve probably heard by now, they’re starting to lock down big portions of the Bay Area. Who are THEY? That’s the big question of the hour, because it seems that NOBODY KNOWS. Yes! Bridges are being closed, and freeways are being spun off into detours that don’t go anywhere, and NOBODY KNOWS WHO’S DOING IT.
I’m taking my camera and heading for the Pittsburg hills. My sources say that there’s a police cordon forming on Willow Pass Road, and there’s no better place for me to find out the TRUTH about what’s going on than by going straight to the source. Can you say CONSPIRACY? I knew you could!
Remember, loyal followers, if I do not return, the TRUTH is OUT THERE, and the LIES are getting STRONGER all the time.
–FROM THE BLOG OF BRIAN “TRUTHSEEKER099” VIBBER, POSTED SEPTEMBER 21, 2027. NO FURTHER POSTS WERE MADE UNDER THIS USER NAME
I waited anxious and alone in my purloined hospital room, jumping at every little sound and scuffle from the hall outside. If Nathan was right about my super-sleepwalker pheromones attracting sleepwalkers to me, there was every chance that a stray patient could stumble through the door at any moment, hands outstretched and mouth hungry for a piece of my flesh. It wasn’t the sort of thought that made me inclined to go exploring, even if I was having trouble sitting in the room alone.
What if Nathan couldn’t find me clothes? What if Daisy and Fang were so busy with the sudden influx of patients that they couldn’t get away, and we had to leave them? Dr. Cale was going to stop letting us borrow her people if we kept on not bringing them back.
The doorknob turned. I tensed, hunching down in the bed and trying to look like I was asleep. A fully turned sleepwalker wouldn’t be able to work the door, but a doctor would, and that would be just as bad. What if they decided that I didn’t need a private room, and moved me out to the hall? I’d have nothing to protect me then.
I was getting awfully tired of the words “what if.”
The door swung open, and I closed my eyes, playing dead. Footsteps approached me and Nathan said, “Sal, it’s me. I found you some clothes, and Daisy’s getting Fang out of the ER, but we need to hurry. We don’t have much time.”
There was a degree of urgency in his voice that was out of proportion with the trouble that we were in—something I wouldn’t have thought possible until I heard it. I opened my eyes and sat up, staring at him. “What’s going on?”
“I overheard two of the doctors who actually work here talking in the hall. The CDC is en route to lock this place down for good, and that means that USAMRIID can’t be too far behind. Mom’s going to get the news soon, if she hasn’t already.”
My eyes got even wider. “You think she’s going to move the lab?”
“I think she’ll have to. We’re important to her, but we’re not more important than the entire human race.” He gestured to the clothes on the foot of my bed: jeans, a heavy sweater, a lab coat in what looked like my size, and a pair of worn-out white canvas shoes that would mostly fit. “Get dressed, and let’s go.”
I was still wobbly—which was only fair, since I’d suffered major blood loss and had brain surgery all in the same day—and getting the clothing on was a little harder than it should have been. It felt eerily like my first days after waking up, when I’d been stranded in a body that had muscle memory and nothing else, making the easy things that everyone around me took for granted seem like minor miracles. Nathan helped me with the sweater, twisting it around until I could find the hole for my head, but I did the rest by myself while he watched the door, waiting for someone to burst in on us.
The door was still closed when I finished tying my shoes and shrugging on the lab coat. Nathan tossed me an elastic band. I used it to pull my hair back in a ponytail, concealing the bandages from my operation. “How do I look?” I asked, spreading my arms a little to give him the full effect.