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“Why did you ask for antiparasitics?” Dad shook his head. “I can do this as long as you can, Sal. Longer, even.”

“He could also have you arrested for withholding information from the United States military,” said Joyce.

I couldn’t tell from her tone whether she was messing with me or not. Sally would have known. Sally would have seen this whole scenario as bullshit from the minute Dad loomed up outside her bedroom door—assuming Sally let herself be put under house arrest in the first place. She would probably have just vanished the minute she was told that she was in trouble, and refused to come home until the restrictions were dropped. It wasn’t very often that I wished I were still Sally. In that moment, if I could have reclaimed my memories and the girl I used to be from the ether, I would have done it without hesitation. Sally would have known what to do.

Sally wouldn’t have heard the drums.

I faltered, blinking. Why was I so sure Sally wouldn’t have heard the drums? Something was dancing on the edge of my consciousness, some combination of facts and suppositions that I couldn’t quite force together in the right order. Sally wouldn’t have heard the drums. Why wouldn’t Sally have heard the drums? What made her so special?

“Colonel Mitchell?” A guard stepped up next to my father, interrupting my train of thought before it could go any farther toward a conclusion that I was increasingly sure I wasn’t going to like. All three of us turned to face the man. He was average in every possible way, average height, average build, and average face. The only thing about him that stood out was his expression. He looked worried, maybe verging on panic. Not a good sign, given the circumstances.

“What is it?” asked my father.

“There’s a disturbance in the ward.” The man glanced toward me, seemingly hesitant to continue.

“It’s all right,” said my father. “Both my daughters have the clearance to hear this.”

“Really?” I asked, despite myself.

“Sal, hush,” said my father. “Private. Report.”

“The subjects are restless, sir. They’re moving around, and some of them are in danger of hurting themselves on their restraints. We weren’t sure what to do. I was sent to find you and see if you had any ideas.” The private’s eyes cheated toward me, like he was trying to skip ahead and find out what would happen next.

I looked back at him blankly. If anyone here knew how this was going to play out, it wasn’t me.

I was so preoccupied with watching the private that I didn’t see my father move until his hand was clamping down on my shoulder again. I staggered a bit, turning to look up at him. His expression was unreadable, a blank mask.

“This sounds like the perfect opportunity for my daughter to show us what she knows,” he said. “Lead the way.”

The private’s eyes widened. He looked as alarmed as I felt. “But sir—”


Any concern the unnamed private might have for my safety was less powerful than the need to maintain military discipline. The private nodded, the concern not leaving his face, before he turned and led the way toward a door in the back wall. Joyce walked after him of her own accord. I didn’t, but that didn’t matter; my father’s hand was on my shoulder, propelling me toward whatever was waiting in the next room.

The private swept his key card across the electronic lock, which beeped twice before accepting his credentials and releasing. He pulled the door open for us, and held it as we walked through, into the humid, groan-filled air beyond.

The room where the sleepwalkers were being kept was like something out of a nightmare, familiar and strange all at the same time, so that I didn’t know where to look. It was large, clean, and white-walled, just like every hospital patient storage room I’d had the dubious pleasure of seeing since the day I woke up after my accident. There were no windows, but there were light boxes placed strategically around the room, creating the illusion of natural sunlight even if the sun hadn’t been inside here since construction was finished. The floor was industrial-green linoleum, easy to clean while also being easier on the eyes than the walls. Green floors encouraged the eye to track down, increasing the chances that messes would be seen before they could be accidentally tracked around the room.

I took all this in within seconds, trying to focus on the normal for as long as I could before I admitted it was absolutely in the minority within this space. This was not a normal hospital room. If it ever had been, that time was long in the past. What it was now…

I didn’t even have a name for what it was now. Short of comparing it to pictures I’d seen of tuberculosis wards—Sherman wasn’t supposed to show me those, which is probably why he did, and was definitely why I looked—I wasn’t sure something like this had ever existed before. I stopped at the threshold, digging my heels in and refusing to let my father drag me any farther.

“No,” I said, shaking my head to reinforce my words. Not that I expected it to do very much good; not with the scene that was unfolding in front of me. Whatever I could say would be just that much more noise. “No, no, no.”

“Yes,” said my father implacably, and pulled me on.

Beds filled the room, so narrow and packed so closely together that they might be better classified as “cots.” There was barely room for the technicians to move between them, adjusting IV poles and frantically tightening the leather straps holding the patients down. Every bed was occupied. The occupants came from every ethnic group. Men and women, children and adults, there seemed to be no common feature shared amongst them. Except for one: