Chapter 17:

Jenny sat beside Bryce's hospital bed. She wondered if he would ever learn to walk again now that there was brain damage involved.

There were so many questions she had. So many regrets she felt. But most of all, she was angry. Angry at the doctors who had done this to him. Angry at the terrorists who had wounded them in the first place. Angry at ACS for not having better security or getting help sooner.

ACS. She thought again about her and Bryce's time there. It seemed like a long time ago, now. It didn't seem real. None of it did. She just couldn't reconcile the memory of a bright and happy little boy who was just a little shy with the unconscious and damaged teenager who lie in the bed before her. They seemed like they should be two different people in her mind.

Returning her mind to the present, Jenny wondered just how bad the damage really was. She wondered if she would be able to retrain him. Would he be able to retain what he learned anew?

And what about the transient blindness? That would be terrifying to him. And it was something one could not just get used to.

The grey van parked outside the Harrisburg Center was not a welcome sight. Edison shouldered his vidicam and rushed over it, horrified as he watched Breughal and a woman he did not recognize loading a stretcher with a corpse atop it into the van.

The woman looked up at him. She was tall, slim, Japanese, with her hair cropped short in front and a long ponytail in back.

"We have company," she told Breughal.

Breughal looked up. "Mr. Carter," he said smoothly. "How wonderful to see you. This young lady here is my most recent Mahler.

"Nice to meet you, Mr. Carter."

"A pleasure," Edison replied, backing off when Breughal glared at him.

"How is your young friend?" Breughal inquired.

"He survived," Edison said. "Not sure how functional he'll be when he wakes up. Or if his brain will be able to hold in anything new we try to teach him. What happened here?"

"Fell off a ladder while trying to pick apples in the grove." Breughal explained. "Or so I've been told. Two deaths here so far, plus the attempt on Bryce."

"Do you know who the other death was?" Edison asked. To hell with privacy. The doctors weren't going to tell the parents anyhow. This was the only way they'd know what happened to their son or daughter.

Breughal knew he was recording, but that didn't matter. "Her name was Susan."

Bryce opened his eyes. He blinked. Nothing changed. Terrified he began to hyperventilate.

"Can't see?" Jenny asked, gently, wrapping an arm around him and rubbing his shoulders.

Bryce shook his head, too panicked to speak.

"It's okay," Jenny told him. "It's just temporary. I don't know how long it will last this time. It's a side effect of belladonna poisoning."

Bryce slowly calmed down until he was leaning against Jenny, tears rolling down his face.

"Who am I?" he asked her gently. "Do you know?"

"Yes," Jenny said softly. "You are my best friend in the whole world."

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