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Looking around, Amy Candler could see that the hospital waiting room hadn’t changed. The same metal folding chairs lined the wall, facing signs that directed people to emergency exits, advised them to speak softly, and ordered them not to smoke. The same pungent smells of antiseptic and medicine permeated the air. Everything was still sterile white. And the same hollow voice paged doctors from an invisible intercom.
It was all depressingly familiar. The French phrase déjà vu, “already seen,” came to Amy. But for Amy, this wasn’t just déjà vu. She had been here, just two weeks ago. She might even have been sitting in this very same folding chair, waiting for a report on her mother’s condition.
Nancy Candler was fine now. In fact, she was sitting next to Amy in the waiting room, along with Eric Morgan and his parents. This time, they were all anxious for a report on Tasha’s health.
“We can’t stop hoping,” Mrs. Morgan said as she tried to comfort her husband. His face was buried in his hands. “Tasha could make a complete recovery. People do recover. Look at Nancy. She’s perfectly healthy now.”
Amy hoped those thoughts gave Tasha’s father some encouragement. To her own ears, Mrs. Morgan’s words were feeble and unconvincing. Eric, Tasha’s brother, didn’t seem bolstered by them either. He was staring dismally into space. No doubt that was because he knew the real reason why Nancy Candler had recovered so completely and so quickly.
Abruptly, Eric got up and walked down the hall to the water fountain. Amy rose and followed him. She knew him well enough to see that he was trying not to cry. So she waited while he took long, thirsty gulps of water—no doubt a ruse to hide the fact that he was upset. By the time he turned to face Amy, his face was stony again.
He waited while Amy took a sip of water and then asked, “Can’t you do it again?” The question came out of the blue, but she knew what he was talking about. He wanted to know why she couldn’t save Tasha the way she had saved her mother.
Only two weeks ago, Amy had gone millions of years back in time on a mission to find the source of the Plague. She’d returned to the present with a bloodstain that had provided an antidote—but only enough for one dose. Her dying mother was cured, but the Plague raged on. Eric was hoping Amy could go back to the Stone Age and return with another dose of antidote for Tasha.
“I tried,” Amy told him. “I went back to that think tank, Singularity, this morning. But they can’t send me back in time again.”
“Because they’re gone.”
“What do you mean they’re gone?”
“I mean they’ve vanished, Eric. The office is occupied by a podiatrist. I went in and asked about Singularity, but no one knew where the think tank had moved to. I even called Information, but there was no listing.”
“What about the people who worked there?”
“We never knew Sarah’s and Howard’s last names,” Amy replied.
“What about Devon?”
“Oh, Eric, don’t you think I’ve tried to contact him? But it’s impossible. He turns up only when he wants to.” The mysterious Mr. Devon had been popping up in Amy’s life for two years now, usually when she was involved in a crisis. She was definitely in a crisis now, but so far, there’d been no sign of him. “Besides, even if I could travel back in time again, there’s no guarantee I could obtain more blood. What happened before was an accident.”
“But there must be something you can do!” Eric cried out angrily. “You’ve got powers! You can’t let Tasha die!” His eyes were tearing up again.
So were Amy’s. “Eric, if there was something I could do, I would do it! You know I’d do anything to save Tasha!”
Eric wiped his eyes. “Yeah, I know. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have yelled at you.”
“That’s okay,” Amy said. “I understand.” For the past fourteen years, Eric had teased and tormented his kid sister relentlessly. But there was never any doubt that he loved her dearly. As did Amy.
Tasha and Amy had been best friends as long as Amy could remember. Living next door to each other in a West Los Angeles garden-apartment condo, they’d been hanging together since kindergarten. They were as close as sisters. In fact, Tasha, along with her brother, had been in on Amy’s big secret from the beginning, when Amy herself had learned of her special nature.