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“You’re not like me at all.”

Rachel opens her mouth to say something else, but at that moment Carol comes to the door. Her face is flushed and red and her hair is sticking up at strange angles, but when she speaks she sounds calm.

“Everything’s all right,” she says in a low voice to Rachel. “Everything’s been settled.”

“Thank God,” Rachel says. Then, grimly: “But she won’t go willingly.”

“Do they ever?” Carol asks drily. Then she disappears again.

Carol’s tone of voice has frightened me. I try to sit up on my elbows, but my arms feel like they’ve been turned to Jell-O. “What’s settled?” I ask, surprised to hear that my voice sounds slurry.

Rachel looks at me for a second. “I told you, we just want you to be safe,” she says flatly.

“What did you settle?” Panic is filling me, made even worse by the simultaneous heaviness that seems to be creeping over me. I have to struggle to keep my eyes open.

“Your procedure.” That’s Carol. She has just stepped back into the room. “We managed to get you in early.

You’ll have your cure on Sunday, first thing in the morning. After that, we hope, you’ll be okay.”

“Impossible.” I’m choking. Sunday morning is less than forty-eight hours from now. No time to alert Alex—no time to plan our escape. No time to do anything. “I won’t do it.” My voice doesn’t even sound like my own now:

It’s one long groan.

“Someday you’ll understand,” Carol says. Both she and Rachel are advancing toward me, and then I see that they are holding, stretched between them, coils of nylon cord. “Someday you’ll thank us.”

I try to thrash out but my body is impossibly heavy and my vision starts to blur. Clouds roll through my mind; the world goes to fuzz. I think, So she was lying about the Advil—and then I think, That hurts, as something sharp digs deep into my wrists, and then I don’t think anything at all.

Chapter Twenty-Six

“here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)”

—From “i carry your heart with me,” a poem by E. E.

Cummings, banned, listed in the Comprehensive Compilation of Dangerous Words and Ideas,

When I wake up again it’s because someone is repeating my name. As I struggle into consciousness I see wisps of blond hair, like a halo, and for a confused moment think maybe I’ve died. Maybe the scientists were wrong and heaven isn’t just for the cured.

Then Hana’s features sharpen, and I realize she’s leaning over me. “Are you awake?” she’s saying. “Can you hear me?”

I groan and she sits back a little, exhaling. “Thank God,”

she says. She’s keeping her voice to a whisper and she looks frightened. “You were so still I thought for a minute that you—that they—” She breaks off. “How do you feel?”

“Shitty,” I croak loudly, and Hana winces and looks over her shoulder. I notice a shadow flitting just outside the bedroom door. Of course. Her visit is being monitored.

Either that or someone is on 24/7 guard duty. Probably both.

My headache is slightly better, at least, although now there’s a searing pain in both of my shoulders. I’m still pretty groggy, and I try to adjust my position before remembering Carol, and Rachel, and the nylon cord, and realizing that both of my arms are stretched above my head and secured to the headboard, like a real honest-to-God prisoner. The anger comes again, waves of it, followed by panic as I remember what Carol said: My procedure has been moved to Sunday morning.

I swivel my head to one side. Sunlight is streaming in through the thin plastic blinds, which have been drawn down over the windows, lighting up dust motes in the room.

“What time is it?” I struggle to sit up and yelp as the cords bite farther into my wrists. “What day is it?”

“Shhh.” Hana presses me back against the bed, holding me there as I squirm underneath her. “It’s Saturday.

Three o’clock.”

“You don’t understand.” Every word grates against my throat. “They’re taking me to the labs tomorrow. They moved my procedure—”

“I know. I heard.” Hana is staring at me intently, like she’s trying to communicate something important. “I came as soon as I could.”

Even the brief struggle has left me exhausted. I sink back against the pillows. My left arm has gone totally numb from being elevated all night and the numbness seeps through me, turning my insides to ice. Hopeless.

The whole thing is hopeless. I’ve lost Alex forever.

“How did you hear?” I ask Hana.

“Everyone’s talking about it.” She gets up, goes to her bag, and rummages around before pulling out a water bottle. Then she comes back and kneels by the bed so we’re eye-to-eye. “Drink this,” she says. “It will make you feel better.” She has to hold the bottle to my lips like I’m an infant. Kind of embarrassing, but I’m long past caring.

The water kills some of the fire in my throat. She’s right; it does make me feel slightly better. “Do people know . . .

are they saying . . . ?” I lick my lips and shoot a glance over Hana’s shoulder. The shadow is there; as it shifts, I make out the flicker of a candy-striped apron. I drop my voice to a whisper. “Are they saying who . . . ?”

Hana says, overly loud, “Don’t be stubborn, Lena. They’ll find out who infected you sooner or later. You might as well just tell us who it was now.” This little speech is for Carol’s benefit, obviously. As she speaks Hana gives me a little wink and a minute shake of her head. So Alex is safe. Maybe there’s hope after all.

I mouth to Hana, Alex. Then I jut my chin at her, hoping she’ll understand that I want her to go find him, and tell him what happened.

Her eyes flicker, and the little smile dies from her lips. I can tell she’s about to give me bad news. Still enunciating her words loudly and clearly, she says, “It’s not just stubborn, Lena. It’s selfish. If you tell them, maybe they’ll realize I had nothing to do with it. I don’t like being babysat twenty-four seven.” My heart sinks:

Of course they’ve put a tail on Hana. They must suspect her of being involved in some way, or at least of having information.

Maybe it’s selfish, but at that moment I can’t even feel sorry for her, or for the trouble I’ve caused. I can only feel bitterly disappointed. There’s no way for her to get word to Alex without bringing the whole Portland police force down on his head. And if they find out he’s been masquerading as a cured and helping the resistance . . .

well, I doubt they’d bother with a trial. They’d skip straight to the execution.

Hana must read the despair on my face. “I’m sorry, Lena,” she says, this time in a whisper. “You know I would help if I could.”

“Yeah, well, you can’t.” As soon as the words are out of my mouth, I regret them. Hana looks terrible, almost as bad as I feel. Her eyes are puffy and her nose is red, like she’s recently been crying, and it’s obvious she really did rush here as soon as she heard. She’s wearing her running shoes, a pleated skirt, and the oversized tank top she usually sleeps in, as though she got dressed in the first items of clothing she pulled off her floor.

“I’m sorry,” I say, less sharply. “You know I didn’t mean that.”

“That’s okay.” She moves off the bed and starts pacing, like she always does when she’s thinking. For one second—one tiny fraction of a second—I almost wish I had never met Alex at all. I wish I could rewind back to the very beginning of the summer, when everything was so clear and simple and easy; or rewind even further, to the late fall, when Hana and I did our loops around the Governor and studied for calculus exams on the floor of her room and the days clicked forward toward my procedure like dominoes falling in a line.

The Governor. Where Alex first saw me; where he left a note for me.

And then, just like that, I have an idea.

I struggle to keep my voice casual. “So what happened to Allison Doveney?” I say. “She didn’t want to say good- bye?”

Hana whips around to stare at me. Allison Doveney was always our code, our name for Alex whenever we needed to talk about him on the phone or in emails. She draws her eyebrows together. “I haven’t been able to get in touch with her,” she says carefully. The look on her face says I explained this to you already.

I raise my eyebrows at her, like, Trust me. “It would be nice to see her before the procedure tomorrow.” I hope Carol is listening, and takes this as a sign that I’ve resigned myself to the change in plans. “Things will be different after the cure.”

Hana shrugs, spreads her arms. What do you want me to do?

I heave a sigh, and seemingly switch topics. “Do you remember Mr. Raider’s class? In fifth grade? How we used to pass notes back and forth all day?”

“Yeah,” Hana says warily. She still looks confused. I can tell she’s beginning to worry that the bump on my head has affected my ability to think clearly.

I sigh again, exaggeratedly, like just reliving all the good times we had together is making me nostalgic. “Do you remember how he caught us and made us sit across the room from each other? So every time we wanted to say something to each other we would get up and sharpen our pencils, and leave a little note in that empty flower pot in the back of the class.” I force a laugh. “One day I must have sharpened my pencil seventeen times. And he never caught on, not once.”

A little light goes on in Hana’s eyes, and she grows very still and super alert, the way that deer do when they are listening for predators, right before bolting— even as she laughs and says, “Yeah, I remember. Poor Mr.

Raider. So clueless.”

Despite her offhanded tone, Hana lowers herself onto Grace’s bed, leaning forward with her elbows on her knees and staring at me intently. And now I know she knows what I’m really telling her, while I’m rambling about Allison Doveney and Mr. Raider’s class: She needs to get a note to Alex.

I switch topics again. “And do you remember the first time we ever did a long run? Afterward my legs were like jelly. And the first time we ever ran from West End to the Governor? And I jumped up and slapped his hand like I was giving him a high five.”

Hana narrows her eyes at me ever so slightly. “We’ve been abusing him for years,” she says carefully, and I know she doesn’t quite get it, not yet.

I make sure to keep all tension and excitement out of my voice. “You know, someone told me that he used to be carrying something. The Governor, I mean. A torch or a scroll or something. Now he just has that little empty space in his fist.” That’s it: I’ve said it. Hana inhales sharply and I know now she understands, but just to make sure I say, “Will you do me a favor? Will you do that run for me today? One last time?”

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