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Revived
  • Текст добавлен: 5 октября 2016, 23:23

Текст книги "Revived"


Автор книги: Cat Patrick


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Текущая страница: 7 (всего у книги 15 страниц)

sixteen

Monday is Hooky Day. Cassie already had me excused from school because of the trip to Kansas City, and Audrey’s still technically home sick, even though she’s out of bed and claims to be feeling better. Matt’s the only one who has to go to school today. At breakfast, I fight off a perma-grin every time I look at him, with his still-dripping wisps of hair clinging to his neck. I want to reach over and blot them, just for an excuse to touch him. Last night is fresh in my mind; I can still feel his lips on mine, and I have to try very hard not to stare at his mouth.

At least he seems to be into me, too.

Every time I look at him, he’s either looking at me already or he feels my stare and looks up. He’s moving a little quicker than usual and his dark eyes are sparkling. It’s hard to eat.

Then it gets even harder.

Audrey starts humming into her cereal bowl and immediately I recognize the tune to Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am.” At first I think she’s merely chirping, but then I realize that it’s much more.

“If you are chilly, here take my sweater,” she begins to sing, swaying overdramatically. Matt scrunches up his face in confusion.

“Did you take too many painkillers this morning?” Matt asks. “Why are you singing to your Cheerios?”

Audrey looks at him with a weird smile on her face. She rolls her eyes and looks at me, amused. She tilts her head to the side and raises the volume, singing the next two lines with her hand on her heart.

Matt gets that Audrey is serenading us just as their mom cuts in.

“What a pretty song!” Mrs. McKean says, thankfully interrupting the hazing ritual.

“Oh, yeah, lovely,” Matt says, blowing out his breath. He looks embarrassed but plays it off. “You should try out for show choir.”

Blushing, I stuff a piece of toast in my mouth. I chew until Matt abruptly stands to leave, then I look at him, surprised.

“I have to meet Drew,” he says in explanation even though he’s looking at his mom, not me. But then his eyes meet mine and we’re locked there for a moment, silently saying goodbye. He breaks the hold when he turns toward Audrey. “Later, Thelma.”

Audrey rolls her eyes at him again. Matt walks over and hugs his mom, then he’s gone.

“Sorry,” Audrey says after he’s gone. “But I couldn’t resist. You two are disgustingly cute.”

“That’s okay,” I say, taking another bite. “What’s with ‘Thelma’?”

She shakes her head. “That’s what my dad wanted to name me. Matt thinks it’s the nerdiest name ever, so when I annoy him, he calls me Thelma.”

Audrey and I look at each other for a beat before we both burst out laughing. The name isn’t that funny, but it’s one of those times when the other person’s giggles make yours multiply. I think I’m still delirious from seeing Matt this morning after last night, and Audrey’s silly in general. Five minutes later, we both have tears streaming down our faces. After trying to talk to us but getting nowhere, Audrey’s mom shakes her head and leaves the room, which only makes us laugh harder. I feel a little bad, but I don’t calm down; instead I clutch my side and keep rolling.

Because sometimes, laughter is what you need.

Audrey and I spend the morning watching talk shows and painting our toenails turquoise. After lunch, despite my general aversion to direct sunlight, she drags me to the pool in her neighborhood. It’s late September yet unseasonably warm enough for us to lie in the sun. My fair skin is slathered in SPF 50 sunblock, and Audrey’s is utterly exposed to the elements.

“I might as well die tan,” she says lazily, an arm draped over her eyes.

“Don’t say things like that,” I reply without looking at her.

“Why not?” she asks. “I speak the truth.”

“I hate the truth,” I mutter. “And besides, you never know—someone could cure cancer tomorrow.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Daisy,” Audrey says. She removes her arm from her eyes and looks over at me, squinting at first. When her eyes adjust to the brightness, her gaze sharpens. “Look at me.”

I do.

“I’m not afraid, Daisy.”

You should be, I think but don’t say. In my experience, dying isn’t all that great.

“That’s good,” I reply, because I have no idea what else to say.

“No, seriously, it is good. I mean, it’s not good that I have cancer. When I first found out, I felt so cheated. I was convinced there was some way to fight it.”

“You can,” I say with borrowed confidence. “You should still be thinking that way.”

“That’s the thing, Daisy: No, I shouldn’t,” Audrey says. “At some point, you have to realize that death is coming and be grateful for what you’ve had instead of pissed that it’s going away.”

“But you’re barely eighteen,” I protest. “That’s pretty young to give up.”

“I’m not giving up,” Audrey says. “I’m accepting my fate.”

“That’s weak,” I mutter under my breath. I’m angry at Audrey, and I’m angry at myself for feeling this way. I wonder what I’m trying to accomplish by arguing with her. Do I want her to be as upset about her cancer as I am?

I wish I could rewind a few hours and laugh with her again. Instead, I’m mute, and Audrey looks away from me and flops her arm back over her eyes.

“Actually, I think that letting go is pretty strong, Daisy,” she says. “Everyone has to go sometime. Maybe this is my time.”

I shake my head at her, annoyed at her calmness. Then I wonder, What if it was me? Mason told me he had problems bringing me back last time; if I was in Audrey’s flip-flops, would I be this Zen?

Doubtful.

“How long are we staying?” I ask, changing the subject. “I’m getting burned.”

“You’re clock-watching,” Audrey teases, putting me more at ease after the tense conversation. “You know Matt will be home from school soon.”

I simultaneously roll my eyes and shake my head at my friend, but inside I know that she’s right.

And maybe about more than just Matt.

seventeen

Matt must have rushed out of school after the 2:50 bell, because he walks in the house at 3:07. Of course he doesn’t look hurried; he’s laid back, as usual.

“Hi!” I say—perhaps a touch too enthusiastically—when he comes into the living room, where Audrey and I are zoned out on an afternoon talk show. I try to control myself, but I’m sure the look on my face is pure sap. Before he arrived, I was in a vegetative state; now, as he strides across the room, I’m buzzing.

“Hey,” Matt says, smiling at me. “Hey, Aud,” he says to his sister with a slight wave. He drops his book bag on the floor and falls into the squishy chair. He scrunches up his dark eyebrows as he looks at the TV. Teens are confronting their parents about the adults’ bad habits, like smoking, doing drugs, and dating twenty-year-olds.

“What are you watching?” Matt asks.

“Quality TV,” Audrey murmurs. “Watch for five minutes and you won’t be able to look away.”

Mrs. McKean comes into the room wearing one of those mom sweat suits that works for the gym or the grocery store. She’s rubbing her hands together like she just put on lotion; I can smell its lemony scent.

“Audrey, did you forget about your appointment?” she asks.

“Huh?” Audrey says, struggling but finally pulling her eyes away from the on-screen train wreck to look at her mom.

“You have a checkup at four, and we need to leave at three thirty to get there on time,” Mrs. McKean says. She glances at the time on the DVR before looking at me. “Daisy, we can drop you off on the way if you’d like.”

“I’ll take her,” Matt says, his eyes still on the TV. I hold my breath.

“Great, thanks, Mattie,” his mom says. “Audrey, please go get dressed.”

Audrey looks down at her outfit. At three in the afternoon, she’s in pajamas; that’s what she elected to put on after we went to the pool.

“Fine,” she says. “But I feel great. I don’t know why we have to go today.”

“You know Dr. Albright always wants to see you after a trip to the ER,” her mom says.

Audrey rolls her eyes and stands. “I’ll call you later,” she says to me before leaving the room. Mrs. McKean follows her out. Matt stands up and turns off the TV.

“Wanna go?” he asks.

“Sure,” I say, a little bummed that he wants to get rid of me so quickly.

I’m in my head the whole ride to my house, so much so that it feels like we’re pulling into the driveway only seconds after we left. I put my hand on the door handle and am opening my mouth to say goodbye when Matt surprises me.

“Can I come in?”

“Uh… yes?” I sort of say/ask.

“You sure?”

“Yes,” I say, recovering. “Of course you can come in.” My gloominess immediately fades: Maybe he wants to hang out at my house for a change.

We park and Matt grabs my weekend bag out of the backseat. We walk up to the front porch, and I unlock the door and swing it open. The house is stale after being uninhabited for a few days. Right away, I move across the entryway and open the windows in the dining room. Matt sets my bag just inside the front door.

“When are your parents coming back?” he asks, looking around at the living, dining, and sitting rooms, all visible from where he’s standing.

“Not until after ten,” I say. “Maybe later.”

I watch him scan the main level and try to see it as he might. The living room’s five-piece furniture grouping looks as if it’s brand-new even though it’s probably eleven years old. There’s a brown leather couch, love seat, and chair set, and matching glass coffee and side tables. Everything is positioned over a muted patterned rug. There’s a TV armoire on one wall, and an ornate mirror over the fireplace. The walls are covered in floral paper that was probably trendy when it was glued on and is now either cute or hideous, depending on your stance on vintage wallpaper.

The small sitting room contains nothing but three walls of books and two oversized toile wingback chairs with footstools in front and a side table between them. The only visible wall is painted forest green, while the bookshelves are a deep brown, making the whole room too dark for reading.

The dining room is furnished with an antique set: an eight-person table that I’m guessing has never seated more than four, an ornate sideboard, and a massive china cabinet with a hutch that I used to be afraid to walk in front of as a kid because I thought it was going to fall down and crush me. Hanging low over the table is a pretty chandelier that came with the house; underneath is a Persian rug.

As I look around now, I realize how meticulous the advance team was when positioning the furniture here. The house is decorated to be pleasant, but not eye-catching. To feel warm, but not make you want to rush out and replicate it. The only miss is…

“There aren’t any photos on the walls,” Matt observes.

“Yeah,” I say. “Well, we only moved in a couple weeks ago. My mom hasn’t gotten around to it yet.”

“I thought maybe your parents weren’t into that,” Matt says. “You know, the humiliating baby photos and stuff. I was going to say you were lucky.”

“No,” I say, playing it off. “Unfortunately not.”

I make a mental note to tell Mason that we have to get some baby photos on the walls, stat, and then offer to give Matt a tour of the rest of the house. We sweep through the kitchen—me ignoring the door that leads downstairs, because Cassie would blow a fuse if I took my boyfriend into her lair—and head upstairs. Only when I reach the creaky step at the top do I think about what’s happening right now: I’m taking a boy—maybe a boyfriend—to my room.

I don’t have a lounge area in my bedroom like Audrey does, so Matt walks over and sits down on the foot of my bed. I stop in the middle of the room and consider my options, then go and sit down next to him, leaving a couple feet of space between us.

“Cool room,” he says as he eyes the walls. He points to an Arcade Fire poster and smiles but doesn’t say anything about it.

“Thanks,” I say. “I like to decorate.”

“You and my sister,” he says with a small laugh. “But you’re pretty decent at it.”

Though I’m sure Matt doesn’t notice, I’m aware of my tiniest body movements. My knees tip, my shoulders turn, and my chin tilts toward him, like I’m a potted plant on a windowsill, shifting positions to find the brightest ray of sunlight. The right side of my body—the side closest to Matt—actually feels warmer than the left.

“So, what did I miss in English today?” I ask, basking.

“Nothing much,” Matt says. “Mr. Jefferson gave us a bunch of new vocabulary words to look up, so it was basically busywork all period.”

“What were the words? Let’s see if I know any of them.”

“Okay, um, if I can remember any…” Matt lies back and stares at the ceiling. It feels weird to be sitting up when he’s lying down, so I do the same. I’m careful of where I put my inside arm, totally aware of how close it is to Matt’s.

“There was banter,” he says.

“Which is what we’re doing right now,” I reply. I fold my hands over my stomach.

“And exorcise,” Matt says.

Exercise?” I ask. “That was a vocabulary word?”

“No, not like running on a treadmill, like exorcising demons.”

“Oh,” I say. “Okay. Do another one.”

“Inculpate.”

“No clue.”

“I think it means to blame someone for something,” Matt says. “Or to teach? Or maybe the teaching one is inculcate.”

“What else?”

“There were some about books,” Matt continues. “Prologue and tome.”

“Too easy,” I say. “What was the challenge word?”

Mr. Jefferson likes to give us a challenge word of the day. If we get it right, we earn points. Enough points equals a free period.

Halcyon,” Matt says.

Halcyon,” I repeat. “Cool word. No clue what it means.”

“I didn’t know, either,” Matt says. “I guess we’ll find out tomorrow when the answer’s on the board.”

“Or we could look it up.” I sit up, shove off the bed, and walk across the room to the bookshelf. My books are cataloged by color, and my dictionary is in the red section along with a DIY book about home décor, two romances, a thriller, and The Lord of the Rings. I grab the dictionary and flip through until I find it.

“It’s a mythical bird,” I say. “Oh, or it’s an adjective meaning calm, peaceful, prosperous, joyful, or carefree.”

“Good word,” Matt says. “I’ll never forget it now.”

“Really?” I ask, shutting the dictionary and joining him back on my bed. This time I lie on my side, and either I’m closer to Matt or it just feels that way because I can see him better. “How come?”

“Because carefree, peaceful… those words reminds me of you,” Matt says without hesitation, surprising me with his frankness. He looks away from the ceiling and into my eyes; his gaze is like lightning. “That’s how I feel when I’m with you.”

In a flash, I know what I didn’t before: His words are more than flattering; they’re the answer to the questions I’ve been asking myself for days.

Does he like me as much as I like him?

Can I trust him?

Should I tell him?

Now I know. I have the answer.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Wholeheartedly, absolutely, yes.

eighteen

“Uh…” Matt says, looking around Mason’s office a few minutes later. “What are we doing in here?”

“Sit down,” I say, gesturing to the chairs across from the massive desk. “Please,” I add, not wanting to sound bossy.

As I ease into the desk chair, I swallow down my anxiety and breathe deeply to calm myself. I try to focus on the positive side of the situation—that I feel so safe with Matt that I’m willing to risk everything—but the negatives muscle their way into my brain, too. I’m about to reveal a government secret that could have implications for nearly everyone I know. I’m getting ready to tell the guy I like that I’ve been lying to him. And finally, I’m about to tell the brother of a dying girl that there’s a drug that saves people… oh, but that his sister can’t have it.

It feels so overwhelming that for the blink of an eye, I consider backing out. But then I remember what Matt said:

Carefree, peaceful… those words remind me of you.

He has the right to know who I really am.

“Matt, there’s something I want to tell you,” I begin. “It’s about me. About my life.”

“Okay,” he says, eyeing me curiously. “And it’s something we have to talk about in your dad’s office?” he jokes, gesturing around at the stale white walls and brown furniture.

“Sort of,” I say. “Yes. But I’ll get to that part in a minute.”

“Okay.”

Pause.

“I’m not sure where to start.”

“The beginning?” Matt suggests, still smiling.

I exhale loudly, then decide to go for it. “I’m sworn not to tell you what I’m about to say,” I begin. Matt sits up a little straighter in his chair, his interest piqued. He nods, as if agreeing not to share my secret. “So, before a drug gets approved and can be sold to people, it goes through a bunch of testing. A lot of the time, the public knows about the drug while it’s being tested, but sometimes, with really controversial drugs, the tests are done secretly. They can take years, often decades.” I pause, giving myself one final out. Then I just say it: “I’m part of one of those programs.”

“Cool. What’s it for?” Matt asks without skipping a beat. The look on his face is so… excited. I wait a moment before continuing, holding on to that look for as long as I can. I feel like I’m about to crush him, but how can I keep hanging out with him if he doesn’t know the real me?

“It’s a drug called Revive,” I say finally. “It brings people back from the dead.” Matt’s brows pinch together in confusion. “I died when I was four years old,” I clarify. “The drug brought me back to life.”

“That’s… Are you messing with me?” Matt asks.

“No,” I say seriously.

Matt’s eyes look playful as they search mine for a trace of teasing. When he finds none, his expression becomes somber.

“How did you die?” he asks, concerned.

“I was in a school-bus crash in Iowa,” I say. “The bus skidded off a bridge into a lake.”

I can practically see the wheels turning in Matt’s brain.

“Not the one they made the miniseries about?” he asks, taking it in.

I nod.

“So…” he begins, the pieces clicking together for him. His eyebrows knit tighter and he shifts in his chair a little. After a few moments of puzzling, Matt asks what I’ve been waiting for him to ask: “Audrey?”

He says only her name, not daring to speak the rest.

I shake my head, not wanting to go there at all. But I realize that I have to.

“It’s not…” I say, my voice trailing off. I regroup and try again. “It doesn’t work on people with diseases or really serious injuries. It can’t regrow damaged tissue. It’s more like an electric pulse to your entire system at once. It shocks you back to life from the inside out. Revive can’t help bodies that weren’t healthy when the person died.”

Visibly processing the information, Matt says, “That’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard.” He’s borderline monotone, distracted, looking from me to the desk to the walls and back, searching for answers. He swallows hard; I think he’s shell-shocked.

“I know.”

“And… I don’t… I mean, I’m not sure if I even want to know about this,” he admits. He fidgets, then wipes his palms on his pants. “I mean, what am I supposed to do with this stuff? If it can’t do anything for Audrey, I mean, what good is me knowing about it? It’s not really fair.” Matt stops talking and looks down at his hands. The sadness in his eyes makes me wonder if I’ve done the right thing.

“I’m sorry for telling you,” I say, a little hurt that he doesn’t understand why I did it. “I just thought… Well, I wanted to give you something. Like a part of me. I felt like I wanted you to know the real me. But I understand why you don’t want to know about Revive.”

“No, I get that,” Matt says, his eyes softening when he looks up and meets my gaze. “It’s just that I’m conflicted, you know? I want to get to know you, but it’s hard hearing about something like this without thinking about Audrey. Without feeling like crap because it can’t help her, too.”

“I understand,” I reiterate. “Believe me, I agree with you,” I say, standing. “Let’s just go hang out in my room some more. I’m really sorry for bringing it up.”

Matt watches me stand but stays in his seat.

“Daisy?”

“Yeah?”

He pauses, then forces a half smile that makes my chest feel like it’s caving in.

“I want to hear it,” he says. “Tell me about your life.”

Thoughts jumbled, I’m all over the place in the beginning, jumping from our move to Omaha to the fact that the program is managed by the Food and Drug Administration to the rigorous annual tests and back again. I know from the look on Matt’s face that he’s having a hard time following the story, but when I start to describe the agents and their function, the wall crumbles and it seems like he’s not only getting it, but he’s genuinely interested, too.

“The program was formed about a year before the bus crash,” I say. “Basically, they were waiting for something to happen so they’d have human test subjects. The agents were handpicked across industries for their specialties, and I’m sure they were anxious to get going.”

“Where did they come from?” Matt asks.

“Other branches of the government,” I say, shrugging. “Or civilian jobs. Some were recruited out of school,” I say, thinking of Cassie.

“What do they do?” Matt asks. “Now, I mean.”

“Some are scientists in the main lab in Virginia,” I say. “All those guys do is death science. Others are like bodyguards—watchers for the kids in the program. My friend Megan’s watcher is also a computer expert. He trolls the Internet for any flags about the program. He’s got the personality of a computer on a slow connection, but he’s a genius. He hacked the FBI mainframe as a teenager and once sent an email from a former president’s account, just because he could. I swear, if he wasn’t part of the Revive program, he’d probably be in prison—”

“Wait,” Matt interrupts. “Your friend Megan… you mean Fabulous? From the blog? She died in that crash, too?”

“Yep.”

He shakes his head. “This is insane.”

“I know,” I say quietly. “It must seem so strange to you. But this is me. I’m only being honest.”

“I’m glad you are,” he says, but his expression is uneasy. He takes a deep breath. “Keep going.”

“Okay. So, like I said, the agents all have jobs,” I say. “Mason and Cassie both have medical backgrounds, so their job is monitoring the health and well-being of the bus kids—”

“Mason and Cassie?” he interrupts. “As in your parents? Your parents are government agents?”

I frown. “Sorry,” I say. “I skipped that part.”

Matt shakes his head again, then runs a hand through his hair. I wait for him to say something, but he doesn’t, so I go on. I tell him about being adopted, which he says he knew from Audrey, and about living with nuns before the crash. I explain that no other bus kids live with agents, but since there was no family to relocate with me, they had to assign me to someone.

“Wait, they told nuns you were dead?” he interrupts again. I don’t mind; I like that he’s paying attention.

“They told the whole town of Bern that everyone on the bus was dead. The program is totally confidential.”

“But nuns? That feels especially wrong.”

“I guess lying to nuns is bad,” I say. “The funny thing is that God lied to them.”

Matt looks at me blankly until I remember that I haven’t shared that part yet, either.

“Oh, sorry,” I say. “I forgot about the nicknames. Because Revive brings you back from the dead, and that’s a God-like ability, the core group of agents started calling the program the God Project. They secretly dubbed the guy in charge God; they called themselves Disciples; and eventually, when they had human test subjects, they named us Converts. The nicknames stuck.”

“That is totally messed up.”

“I guess,” I say, shrugging. “Are you religious?”

“I believe in a higher power, if that’s what you mean,” he says. “But not necessarily religion.”

I nod but don’t comment. So much of religion seems to revolve around death and what happens when you die that being part of a program like Revive has made religion seem unnecessary to me. And come to think of it, not a lot of the science-possessed agents in the program are religious. But I still have faith. In that way, Matt and I are the same.

“Okay, enough God talk,” I say, sensing that I’m losing Matt. “I brought you in here in the first place to show you some of the program’s secret documents and stuff. To give you a better picture of what it’s like. To be honest, I thought maybe you wouldn’t believe me unless I showed you proof.”

He looks at me, surprised. “You thought I wouldn’t believe you?” he asks.

“I… I guess so,” I say, slightly embarrassed.

“Of course I believe you,” he says with a quiet intensity, holding my stare for a few moments. Electric currents seem to pass between us as we survey each other, and somehow the warmth I get from them makes this whole situation seem okay.

“But I still want to see the cool stuff,” Matt says finally, breaking the tension and with an easy smile. I laugh a little, then wave him closer.

“Drag that chair over here behind the computer. I’m about to blow your mind.”


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