“What’s going on?” Michael asked. I thought it was Michael. No, maybe it was Travel. Everything spun, my head stretching and coming back as if I’d rocketed down an elevator shaft.
Hands caught me under my arms. Whose hands? I didn’t know. My feet hit the floor, but my knees buckled, and as I was lifted again, I opened my eyes and caught a blur of the room—wood paneling, a pedestal holding a vase of red flowers, and an oriental carpet under my feet.
What was wrong with me? My heartbeat thumped in my ears, the muscles in my legs refused to respond to my mental commands, and my skin hurt as tiny dots of pain erupted from my bones and spread to the surface of my limbs.
“They need to be separated,” a male shouted.
They? Who was they?
His words were sharp and desperate, bordering on panic. The grip under my arms shifted to my waist and my upper body. Limp and trembling with each beat of my heart, I fell against the person holding me. It was Michael. I recognized his spicy cologne and the width of his shoulders against mine.
“Michael, don’t you see what’s happening?” It was Travel. Now I recognized his voice, too, a voice marked with the same cast of anxiety in
“Travel,” I tried to say. Or maybe I did say it. Had my lips even moved? A numbing heat whipped up my spine and spread through my shoulders and neck. My chin dropped to my chest, and the fuzzy red, white, and green colors I’d seen were replaced with the grey blur of my prison uniform.
“Take her away—now!” Michael shouted, his words seeping deep into my ear where the sounds writhed and burned, the sensation spreading to my forehead.
With each exhale, my hot breath pooled against my chest, stoking my lightheadedness.
“Get her out of here,” Michael said again. “Hurry!”
Her? Who? Me? VW2? Where was my daughter? Michael’s arms were empty, and my own still hung loosely at my sides and hit dumbly against my body when he shifted me closer to him.
“That’s his niece. You just can’t…” Whose voice was that? It was a presidential voice with its commanding yet concerned tone. It had to be Dabner. I wasn’t his niece. I wasn’t anybody’s niece in this century. Who was he talking about?