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And then Serena left. And Sydney didn’t. She asked to leave, and they refused. She pleaded and begged and promised she was fine, and they refused. It was her birthday, and she didn’t want to spend it alone in a place like this. She couldn’t spend it here. But they still said no.

Her parents both worked. They had to go.

A week, they promised her. Stay a week.

Sydney didn’t have much choice. She stayed.

* * *

SYDNEY hated evenings at the hospital.

The whole floor was too quiet, too settled. It was the only time the heavy panic set in, panic that she would never leave, never get to go home. She would be forgotten here, wearing the same pale clothes as everyone else, blending in with the patients and the nurses and the walls, and her family would be outside in the world and she would bleed away like a memory, like a colorful shirt washed too many times. As if Serena knew exactly what she’d need, the box by Sydney’s bed contained a purple scarf. It was brighter than anything in her small suitcase.

She clung to the strip of color, wrapped the scarf around her neck despite the fact that she wasn’t very cold (well, she was, according to the doctors, but she didn’t feel very cold), and began to walk. She paced the hospital wing, relishing the moments when the nurses’ eyes flicked her way. They saw her, and they didn’t stop her, and that made Sydney feel like Serena, around whom the seas kept parting. When Sydney had walked the entire floor three times, she took the stairs to the next one. It was a different shade of beige. The change was so subtle that visitors would never notice, but Sydney had been staring at the walls on her own floor enough to pick out their paint chip on one of those walls with ten thousand colors, two hundred kinds of white.

People were sicker on this floor. Sydney could smell it even before she heard the coughing or saw the stretcher being wheeled from a room, bare but for a large sheet. It smelled like stronger disinfectants here. Someone in a room down the hall shouted, and the nurse wheeling the stretcher paused, left it in the hall, and hurried into the patient’s room. Sydney followed to see what the fuss was about.

A man in the room at the end of the hall was unhappy, but she couldn’t understand why. Sydney stood in the hall and tried to catch a glimpse, but a curtain was drawn in the room, bisecting it and shielding the shouting man from view, and the stretcher was blocking her way. She leaned on the gurney, just a little, and shivered.

The sheet she was touching had been put there to cover something. The something was a body. And when she brushed against it, the body twitched. Sydney jumped back, and covered her mouth to keep from shouting. Pressed against the beige wall she looked from the nurses in the patient’s room to the body under the sheet on the stretcher. It twitched a second time. Sydney wrapped the tails of her purple scarf around her hands. She felt frozen all over again but in a different way. It wasn’t icy water. It was fear.

“What are you doing here?” asked a nurse in an unflattering shade of beige-green. Sydney had no idea what to say, so she simply pointed. The nurse took her wrist and began to lead her down the hall.

“No,” said Syd, finally. “Look.”

The nurse sighed and glanced back at the sheet, which twitched again.

The nurse screamed.

* * *

SYDNEY was assigned therapy.

The doctors said it was to help her cope with the trauma of seeing a dead body (even though she didn’t actually see it) and Sydney would have protested, but after her unsupervised trip to the next floor up she found herself confined to her room, and there wasn’t any other way for her to spend her time, so she agreed. She refrained, however, from mentioning the fact that she had touched the body a moment before it came back to life.

They called the person’s recovery a miracle.

Sydney laughed, mostly because that’s what they had called her recovery.

She wondered if someone had accidentally touched her, too.

* * *

AFTER a week, Sydney’s body temperature still hadn’t come back up, but she seemed otherwise stable, and the doctors finally agreed to release her the next day. That night, Sydney snuck out of her hospital room and went down to the morgue, to find out for sure if what had happened in that hall was truly a miracle, a happy accident, a fluke, or if she somehow had something to do with it.

Half an hour later she hurried out of the morgue, thoroughly disgusted and spotted with stale blood, but with her hypothesis confirmed.

Sydney Clarke could raise the dead.




SYDNEY woke up the next morning in the too-large bed in the strange hotel, for a moment unsure of where, when, or how she was. But as she blinked away sleep, the details trickled back, the rain and the car and the two peculiar men, both of whom she could hear talking beyond the door.

Mitch’s brusque tone and Victor’s lower, smoother one, seemed to seep through the walls of her room. She sat up, stiff and hungry, and adjusted the oversized sweatpants on her hips before wandering out in search of food.

The two men were standing in the kitchen. Mitch was pouring coffee and talking to Victor, who was absently crossing out lines in a magazine. Mitch looked up as she walked in.

“How’s your arm?” asked Victor, still blacking out words.

There was no pain, only a stiff feeling. She supposed she had him to thank for that.

“It’s fine,” she said. Victor set his pen aside and rolled a bag of bagels across the counter toward her. In the corner of the kitchen sat several bags of groceries. He nodded at them.

“Don’t know what you eat, so…”

“I’m not a puppy,” she said, fighting back a smile. She took a bagel and rolled the bag back across the counter, where it butted up against Victor’s magazine. She watched him black out the lines of text, and remembered the article from last night, and the photo that went with it, the one she’d been reaching for when Victor woke. Her eyes drifted back to the couch. It wasn’t there anymore.

“What’s wrong?”

The question brought her back. Victor had his elbows on the counter, fingers loosely intertwined.

“There was a paper over there last night, with a picture on it. Where is it?”

Victor frowned, but slid the newspaper page out from under the magazine, and held it up for her to see. “This?”

Sydney felt a shiver, somewhere down deep.

“Why do you have a picture of him?” she asked, pointing at the grainy shot of the civilian beside the block of mostly blacked-out text.

Victor rounded the counter in slow, measured steps, and held the article up between them, inches from her face.

“Do you know him?” he asked, eyes alight. Sydney nodded. “How?”

Sydney swallowed. “He’s the one who shot me.”

Victor leaned down until his face was very close to hers. “Tell me what happened.”




SYDNEY told Serena about the incident in the morgue, and Serena laughed.

It wasn’t a happy laugh, though, or a light laugh. Sydney didn’t even think it was an oh-dear-my-sister-has-brain-damage-or-delusions-from-drowning laugh. There was something stuck in the laugh, and it made Sydney nervous.

Serena then told Sydney, in very calm, quiet words (which should have struck Sydney as odd right then and there because Serena had never been terribly calm or quiet) not to tell anyone else about the morgue, or the body in the hall, or anything even remotely related to resurrecting dead people, and to Sydney’s own amazement, she didn’t. From that moment, she felt no desire to share the strange news with anyone but Serena, and Serena seemed to want nothing to do with it.