I opened my mouth to tell them, but then swallowed the words back. “I had a feeling,” was all I said as I shivered. Stella wrapped a blanket around my shoulders.
“You scared the shit out of us, you know.”
I knew. But I’d had no choice. Or at least it felt like I’d had no choice. I remembered the feeling I’d had on the train, the feeling that had been with me since I’d woken up in Horizons, on the island. It was gone now. I felt like—like me.
“You look better,” Jamie said, studying me. “How do you feel?”
“Better.” I was thirsty, and tired, and nauseous and hungry at the same time. But I felt normal. Normal for me, anyway.
“Listen,” he started. “There’s something you need to know.”
I raised my eyebrows.
“When you—when we found you like we found you, we found something else.”
Jamie looked at Stella, who reached into her pocket. “Someone left a note at the door.” She handed it to me.
I didn’t recognize the handwriting. “I’m ‘her’?”
Jamie nodded. “It came with a medical kit or something. A big bag of surgical shit.”
I felt cold again. “Someone knew what was inside me.”
“And knows that we’re here.”
“Which means we have to leave,” Stella said. “Like, yesterday.”
“But whoever it was, whoever left it, they told you to believe me. And they were right.”
“But this person knows what’s wrong with us, and why wouldn’t they just say something if they wanted to help?”
My mind seized on the image of the man I knew as Abel Lukumi. If Noah had been there, he would have said that I was grasping at coincidences and trying to force them into facts. But Noah wasn’t there. It was just me, and Stella, and Jamie, and a trail of breadcrumbs that led to no one and nothing but the priest.
So I told them. About the botanica in Little Havana, where he had seen me, recognized me, and tried to kick me out before giving me some weird concoction to drink that had made me finally remember what I had done to Rachel and Claire. I told them about trying to find him again, after I’d killed everything in the insect house at the Miami zoo. I explained how it had been his face I’d seen in the hospital after Jude had slit my wrists, him on the platform as the train had pulled out of DC. By the time I’d finished, Jamie had backed up onto the bed, his head in his hands.
“So, what you’re telling me is”—he held out his hand—“some Santeria voodoo guy from south Florida followed you—followed us—all the way to DC, and he knows we’re in New York, and he knows where we are, but won’t show himself?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Why, though? What would he stand to gain?”
I remembered words that had once belonged to Noah, but that now belonged to me. “You never know what a person stands to gain or lose by anything.”
“I don’t get it, though,” Stella said. “Why would he just leave the bag? If he wants to help us, then he should just fucking help us.”
“Maybe he can’t,” Jamie said.
“Or maybe he doesn’t want to,” I said, the thought forming as the words left my mouth. “Maybe he’s . . . responsible for it.”
“Responsible how?” Jamie asked.
“Responsible like, maybe he’s the one behind it. All of it,” I said. “If this—if we’re some kind of experiment or whatever, him following us could be part of it. Watching what we do, how we react, what happens to us when we do react.” I thought of the things we had seen in Horizons, the things Kells had said to us. “Maybe he’s the one—maybe he’s the one who funded Dr. Kells.”
“But then why bring us the bag? Why would he want to help get those—whatever they were—out of you?” Stella asked.
“Maybe she put them in without permission,” Jamie suggested. “Speaking of which.” He looked at me. “Do you think the rest of us have them too?”
“I don’t feel any different,” Stella said. “You?”
Jamie swallowed. “I don’t really know what ‘different’ means anymore. I woke up one day on the island and couldn’t walk, just like you,” he said, staring at me. “But then why aren’t I sick?”
“You are sick,” Stella said carefully. “But you’re a year younger than us. Maybe you’re just in the first stage of whatever’s happening . . .”
I remembered the words written on the whiteboard when I’d first woken up in Horizons.
J. Roth, manifesting.
“Manifestation,” I said out loud. “That list, remember it? It said Stella and Noah, they’ve manifested already. Kells wrote that, in her notes.”
“What does that even mean, though?” Jamie asked.
“It means that you’re going to get sicker,” Stella said. “When it was happening to me—I got worse before I got better.”
“What, you mean when you were—”
“Manifesting, or whatever. The voices, they weren’t always loud. In the beginning I could kind of ignore them. Sometimes I even listened to them,” she said quietly. “I heard things I shouldn’t have, and sometimes I—did things,” she said. “I used what I knew, even though part of me knew it was wrong. I cheated on a test. This girl who was bullying me, I exposed her secrets to everyone. And each time I did something, the voices got louder. Stronger. There were more of them. It got so I couldn’t tell which thoughts were mine and which belonged to someone else. I felt like I was going crazy. I was going crazy.” She rounded on Jamie. “Using your ability—it’s not free, even if it seems that way now. It’s working pretty nicely for you right now, and for that you’re lucky—but it’s going to eventually bite you in the ass.”
Jamie seemingly had no reaction to this.
“And if there is something inside of you,” Stella went on, “like whatever was inside Mara? It’s going to activate at some point, just like it did with her, and you’re going to go through the same shit.”
Jamie rolled his eyes, but he was unsettled. I could tell. “So fine,” he said. “What do we do now?”
I interrupted the both of them. “I almost died tonight,” I said. “Tomorrow we’re going to find out who almost killed me.”