I’ve had weird dreams. I’ve had weird hallucinations. But weird didn’t even begin to touch this, whatever this was. “So, what are you? My . . . my subconscious or something?”
“You can’t talk to your subconscious. That’s stupid. It’s more like—I’m the part of you that’s aware even when you don’t know you’re aware. She’s been giving us a lot of drugs—a lot of drugs—and it’s dulled our—sorry, your—awareness in some ways and heightened it in others.”
“ ‘She’ being . . . ?”
The machine beside me beeped loudly as my heart rate spiked. I closed my eyes, and an image of Dr. Kells rose in the blackness, looming above me, so close that I could see tiny cracks in her thick layers of lipstick. I opened my eyes to make her go away, and saw myself instead.
“How long have I been here?” I asked out loud.
“Thirteen days,” the girl in the mirror answered.
Thirteen days. That was how long I’d been a prisoner in my own body, answering questions I didn’t want to answer and doing things I didn’t want to do. Every thought and memory was fuzzy, as if they were smothered in cotton; me, locked in what looked like a child’s bedroom, drawing picture after picture of what used to be my face. Me, extending my arm obediently while Wayne, Kells’s assistant in therapeutic torture, drew my blood. And me, the first day I woke up here, held captive by drugs and forced to listen to words that would change my life.
“You’ve been a participant in a blind study, Mara.”
“The reason you’ve been selected for this study is because you have a condition.”
Because I’m different.
“Your condition has caused pain to the people you love.”
I’ve killed them.
“We tried very hard to save all of your friends. . . . We just couldn’t get to Noah Shaw.”
But I did not kill Noah. I could not have killed him.
“Where are they?” I asked my reflection. She seemed confused, then looked at the mirror on my right. Just a normal mirror, I thought, but then the glass went dark.
An image of a girl, or something that had once been a girl, materialized out of the blackness. She was kneeling on carpet, her black hair falling over her bare shoulders as she leaned over something I couldn’t see. Her skin glowed bronze, and shadows flickered over her face. She was blurred and indistinct, as if someone had spilled a glass of water over a painting of her and the colors had started to run. And then the girl lifted her chin and looked directly at me.
It was Rachel.
“It’s just a game, Mara.” Her voice was scratchy. Distorted. When she opened her mouth again, the only sound that came out was static. Her smile was just a smear of white.
“What’s wrong with her?” I whispered, looking at Rachel’s flickering image in the glass.
“Nothing’s wrong with her. I mean, aside from the fact that she’s dead. But there is something wrong with your memory of her. That’s what you’re seeing—your memory.”
“Why does she look like—” I didn’t even know how to describe it. “Like that?”
“The flickering? I think it’s the candles. The three of us lit them before taking out the Ouija board. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten that?”
“No, I mean she’s—she’s—distorted.” Rachel’s arms moved in front of her, but her hands were dipped in shadow and I couldn’t see what she was doing. Then she lifted one of them to her nose. Her arm ended at her wrist.
The girl in the mirror shrugged. “I don’t know. Not all of your memories are like this. Look left.”
I did, expecting the new mirror I was staring at to go dark too. It didn’t—not at first. I watched my reflection as the ends of my hair bled from dark brown to red, until it was red to the roots. My face filled out and rounded, and the eyes that stared back at me from the glass were Claire’s.
Claire sat up, and her image split off, separated from mine. She walked out of the white surgical gown I wore, and black threads wove around her pale, freckled body, until she was clothed in the dark jeans and puffy coat she’d been wearing the night we went to the asylum. The bright light in the mirrored room flickered and went out. Roots cracked the concrete floor beneath my bed. They grew into trees that scratched the sky.
Claire looked over her shoulder at me. “Oh my God. She’s freaking out already.”
When Claire spoke, her voice was normal. She wasn’t blurry, and she didn’t flicker or warp. She was whole.
“I don’t know what it means either,” the reflection above me said. “Jude is the same.”
My mouth went dry at the sound of his name. I glanced up and followed her gaze to the mirrored wall to my right; Jude appeared in it. I saw him standing in the center of a manicured Zen garden, with huddled, hunched people arranged around him like rocks. Jamie and Stella were among them. He held Stella by her shining black hair. I could see the veins in his hands, the pores in his skin. Every feature, every detail of him was clear. Sharp. I felt a flare of rage.
“Don’t,” my reflection said. “You’ll wake us up.”
“So what?” I said. “I don’t want to see this.” I never wanted to see him again. But when I looked again, there was a different image of him in the mirror. He was pushed against a bare white wall, a hand gripping his throat. The hand belonged to me.
I looked back up at the ceiling and the girl in it. I didn’t want to remember Horizons, or what had happened to me since. I looked down at my wrists, at my ankles. No restraints. “Just tell me how to get out.”
“They don’t need restraints to keep us chained up,” she said. “The drugs do that for them. They make us compliant. Willing. But they’re changing us too, I think. I don’t know how yet, but it has to mean something, that your memory of Rachel is broken but your memories of Claire and Jude aren’t.”
“What about my brothers? My parents?” And Noah, I thought but didn’t say.
As I spoke, images of each of them filled the mirrors around me. Joseph was wearing a suit with a pocket square, rolling his eyes at someone. Daniel was laughing in his car, making a face at me from behind the wheel. The image of my mother showed her sitting on her bed, laptop on her lap, her face drawn and worried. My father was sitting up in his hospital bed, eating a contraband slice of pizza. And Noah—