Chapter 11: Midnight Run

Jenny wheeled Winston aside. "We've got to get out of here."

"And go where?" Winston asked. "I can't walk. How far do you think we'll get with me in this chair?"

"We can take the van," Jenny told him. "Damn it! Why didn't we see it earlier? They told us we could go into town anytime we wished. But don't you see? Town is so far away none of us would even consider it."

"Jenny," Winston said, soothingly. "I know you're upset about Bryce. But be reasonable. Why would anyone here want to hurt him?"

"I don't know," Jenny admitted. "Maybe it's just a coincidence. I just think it's strange that his collapse happened right after we got that package we requested."

"So, maybe it had something to do with the package?" Winston said. "Can we have it tested?"

"No," Jenny shook her head. "We already threw away the wrapper. And they picked up the trash an hour ago."

"And Bryce only unwrapped it, right? He didn't open it…"

"Blank Bruno sent those nanites, Winston!" Jenny pointed out, slamming her fist against the wall. "He was our teacher. He'd never harm a former student."

"It doesn't have to be him, Jenny," Winston argued. "If it was opened by a postal inspector…"

"And what if it wasn't the package, Winston," Jenny said, returning to her original train of thought. "What if it was Dr. Benson… or any of the staff here? My god, Winston! What if it's one of the cafeteria workers? What if they're poisoning us?"

"No one else has shown any signs of poisoning," Winston pointed out. "Look, sometimes blood clots can form when there's a serious injury and can cause all kinds of problems if they move to the brain. There was probably a clot in his leg that was dislodged when he stood up."

"He's been practicing with the walking bars for a week. Why now?" Jenny shook her head. "No, dammit. Someone tried to kill him. And I doubt he's the only one they'll go after."

"But we don't know who it was," Winston pointed out. "And until we do…"

"We're no safer out there than in here," Jenny agreed. "Except maybe with one person..."

"Edison Carter," Winston realized.

At midnight Jenny knocked on Winston's door. When she got no answer, she decided not to risk pounding on the door to wake him.

She decided she would sneak out by herself. The van would be too noisy, now that she thought about it more. It would be safer this way. And if they went after her… well she'd deal with that problem when it arose.

She dashed past each office, staying flush against the wall. She'd seen the maneuver in spy shows. She never knew why people didn't see you as well against a wall as they did in the middle of the room. But she never questioned it and now wasn't the time to start.

Making it to the door, she prayed it wasn't alarmed. Carefully, she slid it open until it was wide enough for her to fit through. Then she ran down the path that led to the main road and the nearest city that was five miles away.

The constant buzzing and banging on his door finally got Edison's attention.

"It's two in the morning," he said.

"I'm sorry to disturb you after you must've spent a long day at the hospital with Bryce," Jenny told him. "But-"

"What are you talking about?" Edison asked. "Bryce is at the Harrisburg Center."

"Maybe you don't recognize me since you were so focused on Bryce during the story. I just came from the Harrisburg Center. I don't know who is at fault. All I know is that Bryce was taken to the hospital yesterday afternoon in a coma."

"What?" Edison demanded. "Tell me everything you know."

"Bryce wanted to fight back," Jenny explained. "He wanted to find out more about the terrorists using synesthetic nanites. We ordered some through Blank Bruno. Then the day after they arrived, Bryce collapsed. He didn't open the inner package, just removed the wrapper. So it can't be the nanites themselves."

"And you're sure it wasn't from a blood clot," Edison said.

"If it had been, why didn't the Center call you? Why didn't they tell anyone about Bryce?"

"Good question."

"Oh, god…" Jenny said, stumbling onto the bed and beginning to cry. "What if he's dead. What if he's already in freeze-down at the body bank or they've already started to...? Bryce…"

Edison put a blanket over Jenny and stroked her hair as an older brother might do.

"Get some rest," he told her. "You're exhausted. I'll find out what I can."

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