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Deception
Excerpt

Chapter 1: Callie
I panic when I return to the house and my brother, Kai, isn’t inside. Has he vanished while I was searching for Shay? Have they both left me behind?
But I soon find him behind the house, standing on the cliff and gazing at the sea. His arms are crossed, his body rigid. He stares at the waves breaking on the rocks, far below, like he is thinking of joining them.
I’m afraid.
Don’t leave me too, Kai. I need you. I say the words even though I know he can’t hear me. Shay wasn’t just Kai’s girlfriend and my friend: she was also the only one who could see or hear me. Now that she’s gone I’m powerless to reach him.
I place myself between him and the cliff’s edge. If I move close to him, I feel a resistance, the same as if I push against anything— a person, a rock, a door. They all feel the same to me. I stare at his eyes. They’re hazel—almost green now in the sun—and are full of rage and pain. He is my brother, and there is nothing I can do to help him. Nothing I could do to stop him if he decided to step over the edge. I could go with him, fly down the cliff, watch his body smash on the rocks and break and bleed and die, but I would just go on and on. 
It’s hard to die when you’re already dead.
But I’m hurting too. Shay left both of us. I want to tell him this, and the frustration of not being seen or heard makes me howl and wave my fists at the sea.
Kai looks towards me, his eyes startled. Did he hear something? When I screamed in the underground institute at the techs who vacuumed up my ashes after Dr. 1 had me cured in fire, they jumped. Then later one of them whistled along when I sang. Maybe Kai can hear me, even if only a little?
Kai! I’m here! I shout the words out with all that I am.
He frowns, then shakes his head, and turns and walks back to the house.
Maybe he can sense me, at least a little, but he doesn’t believe it. At least I’ve interrupted whatever he was thinking as he stared at the rocks and the sea.
Inside he paces back and forth. He reaches into his pocket and takes out a letter. It looks all crinkled, like he’d rolled it into a ball and then smoothed it out again. He looks at it but moves it around too fast for me to see what it says.
He stuffs it back in his pocket and flops on to the sofa.
“Callie, are you there?”
I’m here, I’m here! I want to cry when I hear his voice; when I hear him say Callie.
“Shay’s left. She says she didn’t take you with her, that you’d want to stay with me. That I should talk to you.” He wraps his arms around himself like he’s trying to hold something in.
“She’s gone to turn herself in at the air force base, to tell them she’s a carrier and that the epidemic started here in Shetland.  In case . . . in case that goes wrong, she says we shouldn’t follow. We should leave the island and go back to the mainland. Tell everyone we can about the origin and spread of the epidemic and don’t let them cover it up.
“She says that I should tell you that she’s sorry.” His voice is bitter with anger. “Like being sorry makes it all right!” He raises his hand in a fist, but then his body seems to collapse in on itself. “Shay, how could you?” he whispers. He fights it, but his shoulders are shaking.
And . . . and . . . he’s crying. Kai—my big brother—is crying?
This is so wrong. It makes me twist up inside like I’m about to cry, too, but tears are something I don’t have anymore. And, even worse: there is a horrible feeling gnawing inside me.
It’s my fault. Isn’t it?
It’s my fault Shay left. She thought she was contagious; that everyone—including her mother—caught it from her and got sick and died. I let her think this; I didn’t tell her the truth.
I didn’t tell her that it was me who was the carrier all along. It never occurred to her, what with me being dead: who ever heard of a contagious ghost? But all the major centers of the epidemic—from the beginning when it spread from Shetland to Aberdeen, then to Edinburgh, and then to Newcastle and beyond—were places I’d been. The disease always hit soon after I was there: it had to be me.
Later, when Shay got sick and survived, she could see and hear me. She was the only one who could after I was cured—apart from the dying. After that, the disease did follow wherever she went—but only because I was there too. She’d never even been to Aberdeen or Newcastle. She’d explained that away by saying there must have been other survivors in those places, but I never found any when I was there.
She would never have left Kai and me if I had told her the truth, but . . . 
No! 
It’s not my fault; none of it. Everything goes back to Dr. 1. He’s the one who did this to me. He’s the doctor who gave me the illness in his lab underground. When I survived and changed, he cured me in fire and turned me into whatever it is that I am now.
It’s his fault.
Everything I’ve done from the beginning—getting Kai and Shay to come to this house on Shetland to find the source of the epidemic, and then not telling Shay that it’s me who is the carrier, not her—was all to get at Dr. 1.
I wanted to go with Shay. Once she tells them Dr. 1 is the one who started the epidemic, they’ll hunt him down. I want to be there when they find him. That’s why I couldn’t tell her the truth—she wouldn’t have turned herself in if she’d known she wasn’t the carrier.
But she left without me.
Why? Why didn’t she take me with her?
Kai cries, and the rage and heat inside me strengthens, grows—a fury that could destroy and swallow the world.
Dr. 1 must pay for what he’s done.
Chapter 2: Shay
Before I can finally take off the biohaard suit that the solders made me wear, I’m locked in a small, sealed room. Even without the suit, the claustrophobic feeling of not being able to breathe fully is still there. One wall of the room is glass—very thick glass.
Dr. Morgan is on the other side of this transparent wall with two men—older ones, not the same ones who came out to get me earlier. All three are in uniform. They’re talking, but I can’t hear them.
I knock on the glass. They continue talking, but then a moment later Dr. Morgan reaches for some controls, and I can hear them clearly.
“Hello, Shay. Sorry about the barrier.” She gestures at the wall between us. “Are you more comfortable without the suit?”
I shrug. “Sure. Yes.”
She smiles, but there is an edge to it.
“Now, Shay, we’ve found out a few things about you.” She looks at a tablet in her hands. “Such as . . .  you are wanted in connection with a murder. Also, it says here that you were reported as immune?”
“I didn’t kill anybody!” Then I realize that’s not true: many, many people have died because of me, haven’t they? I sigh and cross my arms. “I mean, I didn’t shoot that boy they say I did.”
She nods, a careful look on her face, disbelief in her aura.
No. No way. Are they not going to believe anything I say because I was framed by SAR?
I grip the edges of the table between me and the glass and lean forward. “Listen to me. You have to listen.”
“We’re listening,” she says.
“I had the flu. I thought I was going to die. My mother did die.” I push the pain away. “And we went back to Killin—”
“We? That’d be you and Kai Tanzer, currently also wanted after mysteriously going missing from a police cell in Inverness. Do you know where he is now?”
“No. Anyway, I said I was immune, like Kai. We helped at the hospital tent in Killin. Then this creepy lieutenant from SAR—”
“SAR?”
“Special Alternatives Regiment of the army.”
She half raises an eyebrow, and I can see it: she’s never heard of this regiment. How can that be? I know this is an air force base, not an army one, but I wouldn’t have thought they were so separate that they didn’t know the names of each other’s regiments.
“Anyhow, this lieutenant—Kirkland-Smith, he said his name was—came looking for me and said he knew I was a survivor and that SAR were taking me away to help study the epidemic, but he was lying. They wanted to kill me.”
“How did you know he was lying?” “I just did.”
“I see. Try this, Shay. I’ll tell you two things—one a lie, and one the truth, and you tell me which is which.”
“Seriously? Aren’t there more important things to be—”
“Humor me. Please.”
I stare back at her, then shrug my shoulders. I’ll go along with anything, if it’ll help them believe me. “Okay, fine,” I say.
“All right. My middle name is Hannah. My middle name is Helen.” As she speaks, I study her aura: the waves of color that surround her, unique to her, change with her thoughts and feelings. When she says Helen there are ripples of silver blue, and I feel the truth within them. When she says Hannah her aura is disturbed, with slashes of mustard and green—it’s a lie.
“You lied about Hannah; your middle name is Helen.”
“That’s just a fifty-fifty guess,” one of the men says. They’ve been silent until now. “Try again,” he says and gives me a list of ten possible middle names for himself.
I roll my eyes. “Your middle name is Monteroy. Congratulations on middle name weirdness. Can we carry on now?”
He nods.
“Impressive,” Dr. Morgan says. “Okay, so let’s just assume you knew this lieutenant was lying. And then?”
“I ran away. They shot at me and hit me in the ear.”
“That wasn’t that long ago. I didn’t notice any injury?”
I shrug. “I healed it.”
“Really.”
“Oh, for . . . Look.” I bite my lip, hard. A trickle of blood runs down my face and the pain helps me focus, to keep my temper.
“See? I’m bleeding.” And then I close my eyes and reach for the pain, reach inside me; to the blood and tissue and their components, down to a cellular level, then molecular, and atomic. Atoms are made up of particles; particles that can behave as waves—waves that can be influenced and changed. I heal my lip and wipe off the blood from before. The cut is gone. “And now I’m not.”
Dr. Morgan frowns. “I don’t know what trick that is, but—” 
“It’s not a trick. It’s part of being a survivor.”
Her aura shifts; she’s pleased. She’s pleased I confirmed this?
“All right, then,” she says, “let’s say you are a survivor. Now let’s get back to this boy you shot—”
“I didn’t shoot anybody! A soldier from SAR shot at me, and Duncan pushed me out of the way and saved my life. The soldier shot Duncan.”
“Really?” She doesn’t believe me. If she doesn’t believe that, how will she believe anything else?
After everything we’ve been through, after having to leave Kai—I push that pain away, too, to save it for later—could it come down to this? That they won’t believe me? I focus on Dr. Morgan; disbelief shimmers through her aura.
And on top of everything else, I’m tired, hungry, and getting more and more angry with these word games. “Now you three are going to sit there and listen. Not another word, all right?” Tendrils of my anger whip out and find the part of their auras that allows their free will to speak, to form words, to stand up or do anything really, and I hold it fast. All they can do is  listen.
And I tell them everything. About SAR kidnapping Kai to try to trap me; about how I rescued him; how we got away. That I came to Shetland to trace the cause of the epidemic. About the boat trip across to the island and the plague ship. About Dr. 1 and the research institute underground and what he was doing there with a particle accelerator: making and extracting quantum particles of some kind and using them as a biological weapon. He tested whatever he created on subjects and killed people. That it got out, and this is how the epidemic started. And then I tell them everywhere I’ve been and when as the epidemic followed me across country about a day behind. I leave out that Callie and Kai came here with me, but I tell them everything else.
When I finally stop talking, I’m exhausted—both from reliving the tale and from the effort of influencing all three of them at once. I release them.
“What did you do to us?” Dr. Morgan asks, her eyes round.
“You wouldn’t listen. I made you listen.”
There is fear on their faces, clear enough without even looking at their auras. They get up and almost run out of a door on their side of the glass.
At least they listened.
Uneasy, I wrap my arms around myself. Maybe that display wasn’t such a good idea. Maybe I’d have been better off keeping the things I can do to myself. But I didn’t plan to do that. I was angry, and it just sort of happened.
Too late to second-guess it now.
Someone comes to the door just as I’m falling asleep in the chair. He’s in a full biohazard suit and goes through the double airlock into my small room.
“Hi, Shay. I’m here to help you put on your suit.”
“And then what?”
“We’re flying you to England, to talk to some experts there about the Aberdeen flu.”
The knots inside me loosen. Did they believe at least part of what I said?
I get up and he holds out the suit; I step into it. Again I have to fight the automatic urge to push it away, to stop his hands doing up the seals.
“I’ll just adjust the ventilation,” he says and does something to the top of the suit before snapping it closed over my head. I’m so distracted by not wanting to be closed up inside of this thing that by the time I notice the deception in his aura, it’s too late.
There’s a funny taste and smell inside my suit. My head spins. “What . . . what have you . . . done?” I manage to whisper the words, but the world is lurching—I’m falling. Like he was expecting this, he’s there, ready, and I feel his hands through the suit catching me.
Everything goes black.

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