Home > In Time (The Darkest Minds #1.5)(11)

In Time (The Darkest Minds #1.5)(11)
Alexandra Bracken

When she does turn to face me, the only trace she was ever crying is in her eyes, which are still a raw pink. The cut across her forehead is finally scabbing over, but she’s managed to reopen the one on her chin.

“Stay here,” I say. “Right there.” I have a tiny first aid kit I bought off the old high school nurse. I don’t know that she was really supposed to be selling her supplies, but we were the last class to graduate before they shut the schools down, so I guess there was no point in pretending she’d need it one day.

The only bandages I have seem absurdly large, but they’ll do as good of a job as any. I tell myself it’s worth it to use them because otherwise the PSFs could dock some of my reward money for “medical costs,” but really, it’s just hard to look at her face like that.

I peel the first one out of the package as the vanity lights begin to buzz and flicker. I glance up at her under my dark bangs. “Don’t zap me. I’ll kick your ass.”

She finally loses that terrible forced blank look and snorts, rolling her eyes.

It’s a quick job that’s not especially gentle, but she sits there and takes it. She doesn’t say a thing. I have to swallow the irritation that comes with it; if the freak would just act out, try something, it would make this whole process that much easier on me. I feel like she’s waiting for me to screw up and make a break for it, or she’s just laughing at how terrible I am at this gig. Laughing like I’m sure the rest of them are back home.

“I made dinner,” I say, mostly to fill the silence. The freak just watches me, her mouth twitching like she might smile, and I know I’m right. She thinks I’m a joke.

Maybe I’m doing this all wrong—I shouldn’t just give her the food. Maybe she should have to earn it through good behavior? I don’t think she’s scared of me. But she should be—she needs to be. She has to know what’s coming.

While she sits and carefully eats the ramen I left for her on the cleared desk to avoid spilling, I take out the knife I swiped from the dead kid and kind of…make a show of twirling it around. But eating with her hands tied like that takes up so much of her concentration, I’m ignored.

By the time she finishes, I can feel the frustration and embarrassment burning just under my skin. I grab her arm and pull her off the chair, working a plan out as I lead her to the bed. I force her down onto the floor, trying not to echo her wince as she sits.

“Don’t move,” I bark, leaving her only long enough to get one pair of handcuffs out of my duffel. The bones of her ankle are tiny enough that I can tighten one end around it and latch the other over the metal bedpost hiding beneath the bed’s ruffled skirt.

And again, she just stares at me the entire time, and I feel my face flush with heat, the way it always used to when I was flustered and on the verge of crying as a dumb kid. The bandage covering her chin exaggerates its point as she tilts her head up.

“Stop it,” I warn her, feeling anger rise like a swarm of hornets in my skull. “Same thing that happened to your friends is gonna happen to you, so you can wipe that stupid look off your face—stop it!”

Jesus, I can’t stand criers. I turn my back as her face crumples, just for a second. And I wonder, in a way that pisses me off all over again, if she was crying in the bathroom because of what I was going to do or what happened to her friends. Not knowing for sure what happened to them, really.

Why were they all traveling together like that, anyway? I swipe the handbook off the nightstand and bend the soft cover between my hands. That other Asian girl—was that her sister? Did her sister really just leave her there to save her own ass? Cold, man. Is that what these abilities do to them? Turn them into animals that know it’s all about survival of the fittest—

STOP. IT.

Because the situation already isn’t uncomfortable enough, 2A, the neighbor to my right, apparently has a guest of his own for the evening. I can feel the bedpost knocking against mine through the wall and scramble to grab the TV remote before the moaning starts. Static, static, static, news, game show rerun…I settle on The Price Is Right and turn the volume way up. This damn freak—I should have just left her, hoped to find one closer to Phoenix. She’s pricked every last one of my nerves with this act of hers, trying to pretend she’s all innocent and sweet to work me over, to put me in this exact place where I feel like I have to make sure she doesn’t have to deal with an ugly thing like that.

There has to be something in the handbook about PSFs being willing to pick up a kid instead of me having to drive to Prescott to drop her off. I don’t like the way my brain keeps circling back to wondering if I should give her one of the pillows or a blanket or if she can send an electric charge through the bed frame and kill me while I’m sleeping.

There’s a brief description in the book about what each color represents, but nothing about the theories of what caused the “mutation,” as they so eloquently put it. Abilities fluctuate in strength and precision depending on the individual Psi. Great. Of course life hands me the one that’s strong and precise enough to KO a car.

It’s sort of amazing to think that for as long as this has been going on, they’re still not any closer to figuring out what caused it or how to fix it. The rest of us would love if Gray would remember he’s supposed to be fixing the economy, too, not just pouring money into research for this supposed virus. What does it matter if we save the “next generation of Americans” when we can barely keep the current one going on what little we have? Nobody wants to have kids these days, not when it means potentially losing them a few years later. Birth rates are way down; there’s no immigration into or emigration out of the country because they’re terrified of the virus’s spreading. The future is all they want to talk about these days, not the present. Not how we fix things now. How will America move forward after losing an entire generation? the radio broadcasters want to know. If the Psi can be rehabilitated, how will they handle being reintroduced to society? asks the New York Times. Is this the end of days? cries the televangelist.

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