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“Yes.” He straightened, all traces of apology leaving his eyes. “All the patients who survived the… incident… demonstrated clear signs of infection when put under UV lights. So did three of our researchers. They’re in quarantine now, while we figure out how to proceed.”

I suddenly realized who was missing from the room. My eyes widened as I looked at him. “Joyce?” I asked.

He looked away.

I closed my eyes. “Oh, crap.”

“She’s only showing some very preliminary signs. We may be able to stop the infection from progressing, now that we know what we’re dealing with. We’ve started her on a course of antiparasitics.” I opened my eyes in time to see a small smile twisting his lips, utterly insincere, but clearly meant to comfort me. “She’ll be fine.”

“No.” I shook my head. “She won’t. You don’t—she won’t be fine.” I slid off my cot, getting my feet back under myself.

“Sally? Where are you going?”

“I need a phone.” What I was about to do might cause problems for a lot of people, but I couldn’t let my sister die. I couldn’t. “There’s someone I need to call.”


“You asked me to trust you, Dad. Now I’m asking you to trust me. Please. Isn’t Joyce’s life worth it?”

Slowly—very slowly—he nodded. “All right,” he said. “Let’s get you to a phone.”

They weren’t willing to leave me alone while I called Nathan. I didn’t know how many people had actually died during the incident in the lab, but it was enough that the survivors were edgy and inclined to twitch when anyone made any sudden movements. Dad followed me into the small office, where two armed guards stood to either side of a manual telephone.

Feeling oddly like I had somehow tripped and fallen into a spy movie, I picked up the receiver and dialed the number for the San Francisco City Hospital. An electronic receptionist came on, prompting me to tell her who I was calling and what I needed. I selected the options for Parasitology and dialed Nathan’s extension.

“Please be at work,” I whispered. “Please oh please oh please be at work…” I didn’t have the number for Dr. Cale’s lab. If he was still with her, still hiding, I’d have no way of reaching him. I’d have no way of helping Joyce.

The phone clicked. “San Francisco City Hospital, Dr. Kim speaking.”

Relief made my knees go weak. I grabbed the edge of the desk for balance. “Nathan, it’s me.”

“Sal?” His voice spiked upward as he said my name, tone clearly broadcasting how worried he’d been—and how worried he still was. “Where are you? Are you all right? Your father told me… well, it doesn’t matter.”

I shot a glare at my father and said, “He was lying. I’ve been grounded.”

“Grounded?” Now Nathan sounded confused.

“Apparently, I wasn’t supposed to let SymboGen security into the house. They bugged the place, and so my father put me under house arrest. He didn’t want to risk me saying anything where the transmitters might pick it up.”

“But that’s…” Nathan caught himself. “No. That’s not irrational. I don’t think anything is irrational anymore. But Sal—where are you now?”

“I’m at USAMRIID. I got my father to take me to work in exchange for showing him SymboGen’s test for the sleepwalking sickness.” I took a breath. “Joyce is getting sick, Nathan. How do I kill the implant? I mean, really kill it, for absolutely certain? I don’t think the normal antiparasitics are going to cut it.”

There was a brief silence from the other end of the line before he said slowly, “No, I don’t suppose they are. What are they already using?”

“Let me ask.” I lowered the receiver, not bothering to cover the mouthpiece with my hand. “Dad? What are you treating Joyce with?”

“Praziquantel,” he said.

I turned back to the phone. “Did you get that?”

“I did. And it’s a good start. Sal, tell them to add pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine. That should take care of the toxoplasma aspects of the parasite.”

“I don’t know how to pronounce those.”

Nathan sighed. “I’m sorry. Repeat after me. P-Y-R—” He spelled out both drugs carefully, and I repeated the letters as he said them. When he was done, I looked to my father for confirmation that he knew what Nathan was asking for.

He nodded. I turned back to the phone.

“If that’s the toxo, what about the rest?” The SymboGen implant had DNA from multiple sources, including human. I wasn’t sure what it would take to actually kill one. I was absolutely sure that we would lose Joyce if we didn’t figure it out, and fast.

“Let me… okay, just let me make a few calls,” he said. “Can I call USAMRIID and reach you?”

“Yes,” I said, looking straight at my father. “If you call USAMRIID in the next thirty minutes, you can reach me. After that, I want you to come and pick me up, please. I think we’re going to come and stay with you for a few days.”

Nathan’s apartment probably hadn’t been bugged by SymboGen—and even if they’d somehow made it into the building, the jammers in Don’t Go Out Alone would be able to keep them from picking up anything useful. His apartment didn’t normally allow pets, but they were already making an exception for Devi and Katherine’s bulldog, Minnie. Beverly could come with me, and I’d just take her to work during the day if she and Minnie didn’t get along. The shelter wouldn’t mind. What’s one more dog amongst the pack? I just needed to know that Joyce was going to be okay, and then I wanted to get the hell away from my family, who thought that it was reasonable to lock me up for days without an explanation, lie to me to see what I would do, and treat me like a child who didn’t know how to take care of herself.