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I have no idea how long they’ll let her speak before they rip into her.

But I don’t have to wait long.

Juliette has only just started speaking—she’s only just begun talking about the many failures of The Reestablishment and the need for a new beginning when the crowd becomes suddenly restless. They stand up, raise their fists and my mind disconnects as they shout at her, the events unfolding before my eyes as if in slow motion. She doesn’t react.

One, two, sixteen people are on their feet now, and she keeps talking.

Half the room roars upward, angry words hurled in her direction and now I can feel her growing angrier, her frustration peaking, but somehow, she holds her ground. The more they protest, the more she projects her voice; she’s speaking so loudly now she’s practically shouting. I look quickly between her and the crowd, my mind working desperately to decide what to do. Kenji catches my eye and the two of us understand each other without speaking.

We have to intervene.

Juliette is now denouncing The Reestablishment’s plans to obliterate languages and literature; she’s outlining her hopes to transition the civilians out of the compounds; and she’s just begun addressing our issues with the climate when a shot is fired into the room.

There’s a moment of perfect silence, and then—

Juliette peels the dented bullet off her forehead. Tosses it to the ground. The gentle, tinkling sound of metal on marble reverberates around the room.

Mass chaos.

Hundreds and hundreds of people are suddenly on their feet, all of them shouting at her, threatening her, pointing guns at her, and I can feel it, I can feel it spiraling out of control.

More shots ring out, and in the seconds it takes us to form a plan, we’re already too late. Brendan falls to the ground with a sudden, horrifying gasp. Winston screams; catches his body.

And that’s it.

Juliette goes suddenly still, and my mind slows down.

I can feel it before it happens: I can feel the change, the static in the air. Heat ripples around her, tongues of power unfurling from her body like lightning preparing for a strike and there’s no time to do anything but hold my breath when, suddenly—

She screams.

Long. Loud. Violent.

The world seems to blur for just a second—for just a moment everything seizes, freezes in place: contorted bodies; angry, distorted faces; all frozen in time—

Floorboards peel upward and fissure apart. Cracks like thunderclaps as they shatter up the walls. Light fixtures swing precariously before smashing to the floor.

And then, everyone.

Every single person in her line of sight. 554 people and all their guests. Their faces, their bodies, the seats they sit in: sliced open like fresh fish. Their flesh feathers outward, swelling slowly as a steady gush of blood gathers in pools around their feet.

They all drop dead.

JULIETTE

I started screaming today.

—AN EXCERPT FROM JULIETTE’S JOURNALS IN THE ASYLUM

Were you happy

Were you sad

Were you scared

Were you mad

the first time you screamed?

Were you fighting for your life your decency your dignity your humanity

When someone touches you now, do you scream?

When someone smiles at you now, do you smile back?

Did he tell you not to scream did he hit you when you cried?

Did he have one nose two eyes two lips two cheeks two ears two eyebrows.

Was he one human who looked just like you.

Color your personality.

Shapes and sizes are variety.

Your heart is an anomaly.

Your actions

are

the

only

traces

you leave

behind.

—AN EXCERPT FROM JULIETTE’S JOURNALS IN THE ASYLUM

Sometimes I think the shadows are moving.

Sometimes I think someone might be watching.

Sometimes this idea scares me and sometimes the idea makes me so absurdly happy I can’t stop crying. And then sometimes I think I have no idea when I started losing my mind in here. Nothing seems real anymore and I can’t tell if I’m screaming out loud or only in my head.

There’s no one here to hear me.

To tell me I’m not dead.

—AN EXCERPT FROM JULIETTE’S JOURNALS IN THE ASYLUM

I don’t know when it started.

I don’t know why it started.

I don’t know anything about anything except for the screaming.

My mother screaming when she realized she could no longer touch me. My father screaming when he realized what I’d done to my mother. My parents screaming when they’d lock me in my room and tell me I should be grateful. For their food. For their humane treatment of this thing that could not possibly be their child. For the yardstick they used to measure the distance I needed to keep away.

I ruined their lives, is what they said to me.

I stole their happiness. Destroyed my mother’s hope for ever having children again.

Couldn’t I see what I’d done? is what they’d ask me. Couldn’t I see that I’d ruined everything?

I tried so hard to fix what I’d ruined. I tried every single day to be what they wanted. I tried all the time to be better but I never really knew how.

I only know now that the scientists are wrong.

The world is flat.

I know because I was tossed right off the edge and I’ve been trying to hold on for seventeen years. I’ve been trying to climb back up for seventeen years but it’s nearly impossible to beat gravity when no one is willing to give you a hand.

When no one wants to risk touching you.

—AN EXCERPT FROM JULIETTE’S JOURNALS IN THE ASYLUM

Am I insane yet?

Has it happened yet?

How will I ever know?

—AN EXCERPT FROM JULIETTE’S JOURNALS IN THE ASYLUM

There’s a moment of pure, perfect silence before everything, everything explodes. At first, I don’t even realize what I’ve done. I don’t understand what just happened. I didn’t mean to kill these people—

And then, suddenly

It hits me

The crushing realization that I’ve just slaughtered a room of six hundred people.

It seems impossible. It seems fake. There were no bullets. No excess force, no violence. Just one, long, angry cry.

“Stop it,” I screamed. I squeezed my eyes shut and screamed it, anger and heartbreak and exhaustion and crushing devastation filling my lungs. It was the weight of recent weeks, the pain of all these years, the embarrassment of false hopes manufactured in my heart, the betrayal, the loss—

Adam. Warner. Castle.

My parents, real and imagined.

A sister I might never know.

The lies that make up my life. The threats against the innocent people of Sector 45. The certain death that awaits me. The frustration of having so much power, so much power and feeling so utterly, completely powerless

“Please,” I screamed. “Please stop—”

And now—

Now this.

My limbs have gone numb from disbelief. My ears feel full of wind, my mind disconnected from my body. I couldn’t have killed this many people, I think, I couldn’t have just killed all these people that isn’t possible, I think, it’s not possible not possible that I opened my mouth and then this

Kenji is trying to say something to me, something that sounds like we have to get out of here, hurry, we have to go now—

But I’m numb, I’m dim, I’m unable to move one foot in front of the other and someone is dragging me, forcing me to move and I hear explosions

And suddenly my mind sharpens.

I gasp and spin around, searching for Kenji but he’s gone. His shirt is soaked in blood and he’s being dragged off in the distance, his eyes half closed and

Warner is on his knees, his hands cuffed behind his back

Castle is unconscious on the floor, blood running freely from his chest

Winston is still screaming, even as someone drags him away

Brendan is dead

Lily, Ian, Alia, dead

And I’m trying to reconnect my mind, trying to work my way through the shock seizing my body and my head is spinning, spinning, and I see Nazeera out of the corner of my eye with her head in her hands and someone touches me and I jump

I jerk back

“What’s happening?” I say to no one. “What’s going on?”

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