“Why lie?” I asked.
I pressed play, but Dr. Kells had switched the focus of her interview, or recording, or whatever this was, to a discussion of the properties of Amylethe. Daniel and Stella kept watching as Jamie and I picked out the DVDs with the months and dates that corresponded to medical events in Jude’s file. When this DVD finished, we put the next one in.
Kells sat down at the little table in the green and white room, practically beaming. “My name is Deborah Susan Kells,” she said to the camera. “Today is Monday, March fifth, two months after the induction of subject J.L. according to the Lenaurd protocol, which appears to have been a success.”
The four of us looked at one another.
“After the injection series, he began developing at a magnificent rate,” Kells said, leaning forward in her chair. “Beyond what I could have hoped.” She kept talking, about Jude’s advancement, his development, physical and otherwise. He was becoming “gifted,” to use Kells’s words, and she was proud of him, proud of what she’d done to him. But it was also changing him—subtly at first. And then not. When he was ten years old, she began to worry.
“He is moody, depressive—aggressive, even. I’ve noticed the development of secondary sex characteristics—deepening voice, the beginnings of facial and chest hair. He appears to be undergoing puberty, despite his age. I’ve ordered an evaluation and intervention, and I will report back with the results next month.” She turned the camera off.
We put the next DVD in, riveted.
“The psychiatrist has returned with a diagnosis of conduct disorder,” she said, clearly shaken. “And the behavior of Subject J continues to deteriorate. He has become antisocial and extremely aggressive. Claire reported that she caught her brother pulling the feathers off a sparrow fledgling that had fallen out of its nest. We’ve been administering Amylethe to try to arrest the . . . side effects . . . of the manifestation.”
“That’s why,” Daniel said quietly.
“Why they lied about his age. If he started undergoing puberty at ten, he would have looked too old to pass for seventeen.” Daniel picked up a handful of paper and spoke while reading it. “She kept testing all kinds of drugs on him, not just the typical antipsychotics—hormones, experimental stuff.” And then Daniel looked at each of us. “This is why you guys look older than you are. There was something about rapid maturation in New Theories. It started at age eighteen in subjects, and continued to twenty-one.”
“Except none of us are eighteen,” Stella said aloud.
Jamie looked skeptical. “And people always think I’m younger than I am. Maybe it’s like that thing where growth hormones in milk make you go through puberty earlier?”
I wished Noah could have been there to hear that. “She gave me Amylethe too,” I said to Daniel, remembering Kells’s words in Horizons. “She said it would make me better.”
Daniel looked at me then. “Did it work? Do you feel better?”
I did feel better, but it wasn’t because of the drugs, or the implants. How could I describe what I’d gone through just to get here? How I’d felt beyond sick and not myself every day since waking up in Horizons? Until I’d gotten those things inside me out?
“No,” I said. “I don’t think it worked.”
“What about your, um . . . power?”
Jamie cringed. “It sounds cheesy when you put it like that.”
I didn’t answer my brother, because the truth was, I didn’t know if it still worked or didn’t. I hadn’t tried it, not since— “Wait right here,” I said, and threw off my blanket. I took the stairs two at a time and pushed open the door to the bedroom I would sleep in for as long as we were here. I spotted what I was looking for on a chair in the corner.
I looked through the small gray duffel bag until I found them. The implants, the capsules or whatever, that had been inside me until Stella cut them out. I closed my fist around them and brought them downstairs. Daniel examined one of them under the light.
“These were inside you?”
“In my stomach, I think.”
“They couldn’t have actually been in your stomach, or you would have died taking them out.”
“Fine,” I said. “They were forty-two degrees south of my right fibia and seventh metatarsal.”
“You don’t have a fibia. That’s not a real bone.”
I gave my brother the finger.
“No need to get snippy,” Daniel said prissily. “Okay, so, these were inside you when you left Horizons, right?”
“And your ability didn’t work after you left there, right?”
I thought about Mr. Ernst. About what I’d done to him after what he’d tried to do to Stella and me. “Yes.” I did try.
“What happened?” Daniel prodded. “Who did you try to . . .” His voice trailed off. “Who hurt you?”
Jamie almost literally began to whistle and twiddle his thumbs. Stella looked at the floor.
“It was nothing,” I said, falsely calm. “It was fine in the end.”
Daniel handed me back the implants and then looked down at the mess of papers. “All right. We know the anomaly is triggered by fear and stress. So, what if anytime your nervous system was flooded with adrenaline, or cortisol, those things reacted, negating your ability? Like a fail-safe to make you safer, better, in case you ever left Horizons.”
But they hadn’t made me safer, I thought. My mind conjured an image of Mr. Ernst, what I did to him, and I blinked, hoping it would disappear.
Daniel chose his words carefully. “But you were actually safer in the sense that you couldn’t accidentally . . . hurt someone. You couldn’t protect yourself, but you were safer for other people to be around.”
I wondered if that were true.
“Anyway, Dr. Kells thought of herself as a scientist, a researcher. She had plans to send you back home, right?”
“That’s what she said.”
“So those implants must have been part of her plan to do it. She thought she’d have time to tweak the effects, figure out how to counteract the anomaly, before you guys escaped.”
Before I killed her. But Daniel had a point. Everything Kells had done to us, done to me, had been in pursuit of a cure. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And when she hadn’t succeeded, and Jude had let me out, she’d decided to put me down like an animal before I could be set loose and hurt anyone else.