Daniel lifted something from one of the crates behind him. A copy of New Theories in Genetics.
“I’d forgotten about it after you left, and when I saw it there, I opened it and started reading. The premise was screwy, but it was so well researched that I couldn’t put it down.”
I made a face. “Only you would find that book captivating.”
“Well, it’s a good thing I did, because this baby is how I got in.”
Daniel told us about his hunch that a series of numbers that kept appearing in the book might be the access key the accountant had told him about. His hunch turned out to be right. He started to tell us more, rattling off incomprehensible jargon, and I had to fight to stay awake, but then I heard him say, “. . . eighteen twenty-one.”
I snapped to attention. “What did you just say?”
Daniel looked at me with a curious expression. “Those numbers I was talking about? The sequence? Lenaurd, the author, kept referring to them as genetic markers—the numbers of the genes that carry the anomaly that makes the subjects different. One of the studies he self-published determined that subjects with the anomaly see those numbers everywhere. The sequences stand out to them. Whenever they see a cluster—any pairing of one, eight, two, or three—they notice. It’s like an obsessive thought, or a form of OCD counting. They start seeing patterns where there are none, but they may not even realize they’re doing it. It’s one of the earliest symptoms.”
I wondered if I’d done it. If so, I hadn’t noticed.
“He talks about the degradation and evolution of these particular markers, claiming to have traced the lineage of some subjects back to before gene sequencing technology even existed. It’s junk science, like the stuff about genetic memory—”
“Like what stuff?” Stella asked.
“Sometimes an additional protein will bind to the gene. He called subjects who had it G1821-3 and claimed the third protein allowed them to retain memories from genetic ancestors, which is ridiculous.”
“It’s not ridiculous,” I said softly. “It’s true.”
I told Daniel about the dreams, the memories, whatever they were—about India, and our grandmother’s doll.
“I don’t know what that means,” Daniel said when I was finished.
“It means that whatever Lenaurd wrote about in there is accurate,” I said. Stella’s eyes lit up with hope.
“He also said subjects with the anomaly had ‘additional greater abilities,’?” Daniel said, looking at each of us. “Like, superheroish stuff.”
We were silent, until Jamie said, “Not superheroish, exactly.” I kicked his crate.
“But you can . . .” Daniel let his voice trail off, waiting for the rest of us to speak. No one did. “Do things?”
Jamie nodded slowly. “Yup.”
“Just—correct me if I’m wrong, here—so what you’re saying is, you can—”
“Hear your thoughts,” Stella said.
“Make you do what I want you to do,” Jamie said.
“And Noah can heal,” I said, watching the gears turn in Daniel’s mind. I knew what he would ask next, and I wasn’t ready for it. But I didn’t have a choice.
“What about you?” he asked me.
My gaze flicked to Jamie, then Stella. They avoided my eyes.
“I can do things,” I said lamely. “With my mind.”
Daniel tilted his head. “Things? Like . . . Carrie things?”
In a sense. “Do you know what Jude did to me, the night the Tamerlane collapsed?”
Daniel nodded. His Adam’s apple bobbed in his throat. “Yeah.”
“That’s why I did it,” I said quietly, as Daniel’s eyebrows drew together. “I was scared. And angry. The asylum collapsed because I wanted it to.”
Daniel shook his head in confusion. “You’re saying—”
“I killed Rachel and Claire.” Daniel was opening his mouth to argue, but I spoke before he could. “And Mrs. Morales? She died because I was angry at her for failing me.”
“Mara, she died of anaphylactic shock.”
“Because I wanted her to choke on her tongue.”
My brother had no response to that. There was nothing to say.
It was Stella who finally rescued me from the awkward, painful silence that followed my confession. “Did you read anything in there about how to fix us? Like a cure?”
Daniel shook his head. “It’s not like that—the anomalous gene is more like, like an X or Y chromosome.” He met my eyes. “It’s just . . . part of you.”
“You’re not broken,” Noah had said to me when I’d asked him to fix me a lifetime ago.
Maybe he was right.
STELLA HAD A HARD TIME swallowing what Daniel had said, and she asked him if she could look at the book.
“You should all read it,” Daniel said as he handed it to her. “Maybe you’ll think of something I missed.”
Jamie unfolded his legs and rose from his crate. “What else have you found so far?”
“Not much to confirm what’s in the book,” Daniel said, “but a whole lot about one Deborah Susan Kells.” Daniel lifted up a stack of files from behind one of the crates. It was one stack of many. “I didn’t know anything about anything till I got in here, so I had no idea where to even start. Kells’s name was the only thing I had to go on, so I used the access code to figure out the archiving system and found her file.”
“How long have you been here?” I asked him, looking around the small room at the little piles of knowledge Daniel had acquired and assembled in painstaking order.
“Here here? Or in New York?”
“When I got to the city, I had the accountant mail the access code to a professor I’ve corresponded with at NYU.”
“But wait,” Jamie said, holding out his hand. “So you’re saying it was a coincidence that Lukumi was in that picture?”
I shook my head. “There are no coincidences.”
Daniel eyed Jamie and me. “Back the truck up—who’s Lukumi?”
“We’ll explain later,” I said. “Keep going.”
“Okay . . . Well, so anyway, I made an appointment with him so he could show off his department and try to recruit me, but managed to filch it from his inbox with him none the wiser.”