Dr. Marcus stuck a syringe into her IV line, and the girl drifted off into mumbling unconsciousness. The quiet didn’t calm Ryan’s nerves though. He could still hear the girl’s voice, repeating in his head.
“What do you think she meant by that?” Ryan asked.
“Honestly, I wasn’t even paying attention,” Dr. Marcus said. “The first couple years I worked here, I listened. After that though, it all starts to become a blur. I will say this, usually they don’t talk that much.”
Ryan watched as Dr. Marcus strapped a harness around the half alien girl. The harness connected to an electronic lift hanging from tracks in the ceiling. One he got her airborne, the doctor pushed her right back over to her tank. He put a breathing mask on her and started loosening the harness straps. With the press of a button, the glass cylinder rose up out of the ground, filling with thick, red gel as it did.
Dr. Marcus released the last of the straps and the cylinder sealed up with a hiss. Pulling his gloves off, Dr. Marcus turned back to Ryan.
“There you have it. Now you know what happens after you capture them. Was it what you expected?”
“To be honest, I never really thought about it,” Ryan said.
“A lot of people don’t. We keep them here for months, teaching them things and acclimating them to living underground so they fit right in. The only real problem is when they don’t speak our language.”
“How can they remember how to speak if they don’t remember anything?”
“Different parts of the brain,” Dr. Marcus said. “That’s also why they don’t need to learn how to walk again.”
Dr. Marcus led Ryan back into the next room. The rest of the class was either talking with patients, or pretending to. Mrs. Stewart was stalking the room, eyeballing anyone whose lips weren’t moving. She paused long enough to give Ryan a look that said she expected him to join the conversation.
Ryan plopped down in an extra chair next to Theo. He was still talking to the man with the long, white hair.
“Hey John,” Theo said. “John?”
“Sorry,” the old man said. “Still getting used to the name. It just doesn’t sound right.”
“This is my friend Ryan. He’s my partner.”
“Your partner? That means you serve together? I still can’t get used to that. Children shouldn’t be soldiers.”
“We’re the only ones who can use the suits,” Theo said.
“Yes, the suits. Kids fighting aliens, I keep thinking this is a weird dream.”
“Do you remember anything about the world before?” Ryan asked.
“No, but I can’t shake the feeling that nothing is the way it’s supposed to be. And I’ve had this weird buzzing in my ears all morning.”
A middle-aged woman surrounded by students who couldn’t think of anything else to say turned to them.
“You said buzzing? I have this ringing in my ears too.”
All the patients around them started to chime in. They all heard a strange noise. Ryan was about to call Dr. Marcus over when the alarms started ringing.