The Infinite Sea (Page 62)

“No.”

“Don’t tell me no, Razor. I don’t cry.”

“Bullshit.” A tap on the blanket.

Tap-tap on the railing. “Did it work?” I ask, turning back to him. What does it matter if he sees me cry? “The potato battery.”

“Sure it worked. It’s science. Never a doubt about it working. You plan it all out, follow the steps, and it can’t go wrong.” Squeezing my hand through the blanket: Don’t be scared. Everything’s set. I won’t let you down.

It’s too late to go back now anyway: His eyes wander to the food tray beside the bed. “You ate all the pudding tonight. You know how they make chocolate pudding without chocolate? You don’t want to know.”

“Let me guess. Ex-Lax.”

“What’s Ex-Lax?”

“Seriously? You don’t know?”

“Oh, so sorry I don’t know what Ex-Lax-who-gives-a-s**t is.”

“It’s a chocolate-flavored laxative.”

He makes a face. “That’s sick.”

“That’s the point.”

He grins. “The point? Oh God, did you just make a joke?”

“How would I know? Just promise me nobody slipped Ex-Lax into my pudding.”

“Promise.” Tap.

I last for a few hours after he leaves, long after lights-out in every other part of the camp, deep into the belly of the winter night, before the pressure becomes unbearable, and then, when I can’t take it anymore, I start shouting for help, waving at the camera and then rolling over to press my chest against the cold metal railings, pounding my fist into the pillow in frustration and fury, until the door bursts open and Claire charges in, followed closely by a big bear of a recruit, whose hand immediately flies to cover his nose.

“What happened?” Claire says, though the smell should tell her all she needs to know.

“Oh, crap!” the recruit burbles behind his hand.

“Exactly,” I gasp.

“Great. Just great,” Claire says, throwing the blanket and sheet onto the floor and motioning for the recruit to help her. “Fine job, missy. I hope you’re proud of yourself.”

“Not yet,” I whimper.

“What are you doing?” Claire shouts at the recruit. Gone is the soft voice. Vanished are the kind eyes. “Help me with this.”

“Help you with what, ma’am?” He has a flattened nose and very small eyes and a forehead that bulges in the middle. His belly hangs over his belt and his pants are an inch too short. He’s huge; he’s got about a hundred pounds or more on me.

It won’t matter.

“Get up,” Claire snaps at me. “Come on. Get your legs under you.” She takes one arm and Jumbo Recruit takes the other and together they haul me out of the bed. Big Recruit’s smushed-in face is twisted with revulsion.

“Ah, God. It’s everywhere!” he softly wails.

“I don’t think I can walk,” I tell Claire.

“Then I’ll make you crawl,” she snarls. “I should just leave you like this. It’s so perfectly metaphorical.”

They haul me two doors down and into the shower room. Big Recruit is coughing and gagging and Claire is bitching and I’m apologizing while she strips off the jumpsuit and throws it at Jumbo Recruit, telling him to wait outside. “Don’t lean on me. Lean on the wall,” she orders harshly. My knees are buckling. I hang on to the shower curtain to keep upright; I haven’t used my legs in a month.

With one hand locked around my left arm, Claire pushes me under the water, bending at the waist to stay dry. The spray is icy. She didn’t bother to adjust the temperature. The slap of cold water against my body is like an alarm going off, snapping me from a long winter’s hibernation, and I reach up and grab the showerhead pipe coming from the wall and tell Claire I think I’ve got it; I think I can stand; she can let go.

“Are you sure?” she asks, holding on.

“Pretty sure.”

I wrench the pipe downward with all the force I have. The pipe breaks off at the joint with a metallic squeal and the cold water gushes out in a ropey snarl. Left arm up, slipping through Claire’s fingers, then I’ve got her by the wrist and I swing my body toward her, rotating my h*ps to maximize the blow, and slam the jagged edge of the broken pipe into her neck.

I wasn’t sure I could break a steel pipe with my bare hands, but I was pretty sure.

I have been enhanced.

67

CLAIRE STAGGERS AWAY, blood pouring from the two-inch puncture wound in her neck. The fact that I didn’t drop her doesn’t surprise me; I’d assumed she would be enhanced, too, but I’d hoped to get lucky and sever her carotid artery. She fumbles in the pocket of her lab coat for the kill switch. I anticipated that. I toss the broken pipe away, grab the bolted-in shower rod, break it from its brackets and smash one end into the side of her head.

The impact barely rocks her. In a millisecond, faster than my eyes can follow the motion, she has the end of the rod in her grip. I let go in half a millisecond, so when she yanks there’s nothing holding the other end, and she stumbles back into the wall, hitting with enough force to crack the tiles. I barrel toward her. She swings the rod toward my head, but I anticipated that, too—counted on it, when I rehearsed this in the thousand silent hours beneath the constant glow.

I grab the other end of the rod as it arcs toward me, first with my right hand, then with the left, hands shoulder-width apart, and power the rod into her neck, spreading my legs for the balance and leverage necessary to crush her windpipe.