I died sometime during the night. I know that now, I just don’t know when it happened.
I hold my arms out in front of me and they’re shot through with silver. I take off my shoes and socks and the silver winds up my feet, just under the skin. I run my hands over my face even though I can’t see it. I don’t feel any cracks.
I had the last batch of the Shot. The last batch, the closest to what that evil executive wanted to get.
Something quickens in my chest, and then slows down.
Did I really die?
I hold my hand against my heart, but I don’t feel anything. And I was never any good at checking for a pulse.
I don’t know. I’ve definitely changed, whatever I am. The silver showing through my skin proves that.
I think of the girl in the lab, the coldly smiling girl that I now resemble. It hurts to think of it because of Sam, but at some point I think I might want to go back to the base. Talk to her, see what she knows.
I gather up my things and put them all in the backpack. I’m not hungry. I’m not thinking of brains, and I’m not thinking of eating people.
I know I’m different, but I don’t know how.
The question is – am I safe?
That weird sensation happens in my chest again and I drop my bag. Surely not. Surely I’m hallucinating. She would know better, wouldn’t she? She would know better than to come after me.
But no, she’s there, running towards me with Sunshine by her side.
She stops about ten feet away, but I can tell she’s been crying. Her hands clench her backpack straps.
“Have you – ”
I nod. “Last night. But – ”
“Yes. Cassie, there’s something I meant to tell you, about the Shot – ”
She holds up her hand, cutting me off. “Are you hungry? Do you feel like eating brains?”
“Good.” She drops her bag and runs toward me, even though that’s a really stupid thing to do. Cassie, my risk taker.
I drop to my kneeds and open my arms and she almost bowls me over with a hug. We’re both crying and laughing at the same time.
“Oh thank God,” She says. She’s hugs me until I choke, then she pulls back.
“Wow,” She runs her fingertips lightly over my arms, following the silver. “Does it hurt?”
“No,” I shake my head. “Cassie, you shouldn’t have risked finding me.”
“I couldn’t help it. I had to check. That woman held onto me for hours until they finally made her stop so I could eat dinner. And then I asked if they had a lab and explained about the research. Delilah – they took away my key fob. Said it was too important for a kid.”
She’s right, her necklace is gone.
“And you were gone too. And I deceided screw it, I didn’t want to be around dumb adults anyways.”
“That was still incredibly risky.”
Cassie sets her jaw and folds her arms.
“But that’s the Cassie I know.” I grin and take off my necklace and drape it around her neck. “Until we get to a lab. Because it is important enough for a kid. Look at what the adults did to the world anyways.”
“Exactly.” She picks up her backpack. “C’mon Sunshine.”
I pick up a stick and throw it, and Sunshine runs after it with a bark.
“Thank you for being my Somebody.”
“Hey, don’t even think of it. We’re partners.” I nudge her with a hip and she giggles. In a few steps, she grabs my hand.
And then we’re off to find a lab.