Congratulations, ladies and gentlemen. We have successfully resurrected a woman with every reason to want us all dead. I hope you can feel good about this accomplishment. I certainly cannot. Please consider this my resignation. Further, please send someone to clean my lab, as I am about to get blood all over the walls.
Everything went so very wrong so very fast. I will not take the fall for this.
I hope you’re happy.
—Taken from an e-mail sent by Dr. Matthew Thomas, August 2, 2041.
She ran back the way I’d come. I ran with her, trying to wrap my mind around how solid her fingers felt. They were warm and strong and right, and I didn’t care if it meant I’d finally snapped. I had her back. Crazy or not, I had her back, and there was no way I was ever letting her go.
We caught up with Becks and Mahir less than a minute later. They turned and stared when they heard my footsteps. “We need to get out of here,” I said, skidding to a stop. They kept staring, but not at me.
They were looking at George. Scowling, Becks reached for her gun.
“There isn’t time to shoot me!” said George, not letting go of my hand. Thank God for that. “This place is about to blow. Do you know the way out?”
I opened my mouth to relay what she’d said, but Becks cut me off. Still staring straight at George, she demanded, “Why should we trust you?”
It felt like the bottom dropped out of the world. “Wait a second. You can see her?”
“Yes, Shaun,” said Mahir, sounding like he wasn’t sure quite what was going on, but was certain he didn’t like it. “We can see her.”
“I have no idea what that means, but if you don’t trust me, we’re all going to be dead before you can find out how I got here.” George looked at Mahir as she spoke. “Do you know the way out?”
For a moment, I thought Mahir was going to refuse to answer. Then he nodded, gesturing for us to follow. “This way.”
I pulled George with me as I followed Mahir through the nearest doorway, still not willing to let go of her hand. Becks was right behind us. I didn’t look to see whether she had her gun out. I didn’t want to know how I’d react if she did.
The panel we’d removed on our way in was still off to one side, leaving our exit clear. It looked like security hadn’t been through yet, probably because of whatever breach had the lights going wacky. That was a small blessing. George didn’t say anything as we climbed through the hole, but she looked like she was torn between laughter and screaming when she took her first breath of outside air.
Becks was just stepping through the opening when the explosions began.
And thus, in a single moment, did my life go from unbearably strange, but still tolerable, to actively impossible. I am willing to allow that, once one lives in a world where science can transform mosquitoes into the harbingers of the apocalypse, the rules of our forefathers have, perhaps, ceased to apply.
That doesn’t mean that the dead should walk. Not unless they’re zombies, anyway. It’s simply impolite, and I don’t think we should stand for it.
—From Fish and Clips, the blog of Mahir Gowda, August 2, 2041. Unpublished.
Not sure when I’ll be able to reach you again. We’ve done it. She’s loose. It wasn’t quite like we’d planned—someone leaked what we were doing, and we lost half the techs—but it worked, and she’s on the run. I’m going to be off the grid for a little while. Keep the lines open. God willing, Georgia Mason will be reaching out to you soon, and when she does, I want you to be ready to help her in any way that you can.
This may end soon. Pray to God it ends as well as it can.
—Taken from an e-mail sent by Dr. Danika Kimberley to Dr. Joseph Shoji, August 2, 2041.
Shaun didn’t let go of my hand once after he had it—not while we were climbing through the hole in the wall, and not when the explosions started. It was like I was the lifeline he’d been looking for. I wasn’t going to object. I knew he was the lifeline I’d been looking for, and no matter how improbable his presence was, I wasn’t going to let go of him until I absolutely had to.
Concussive booming sounds came from the building behind us as we ran. They followed a definite wave pattern, with a small crumping explosion followed by a cascade of louder, more enthusiastic booms. My little charges had managed to break through into something a lot more combustible—probably the formalin tanks. It’s nice how many common chemicals are just looking for an excuse to explode.
We ran across a vast, manicured lawn, with evergreen trees standing between us and the fence. If there was a scheduled security sweep of the grounds, it had been canceled in favor of dealing with the explosions; no one stopped us or sounded any additional alarms as we fled.
“If this is anything like Portland, emergency services should start responding to the alarms any minute now!” shouted Shaun, glancing back over his shoulder at the others. “Extra confusion is good, but extra eyes won’t be! Keep running!”
“Shaun—” began Becks.
“Talk later! Flee now!”
I didn’t say anything. I was struggling just to keep up. No matter how much this body looked and felt like the one that I remembered, it wasn’t, and it simply wasn’t equipped for this sort of situation. Maybe it would be one day—assuming I survived that long—but right now, it was all I could do not to fall over and wait for someone to come along and shoot me.
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