Psychopomp Magazine Spring 2016 - Page 49

Jessica Rutland | 49

a new disease. Dozens of babies went blind. They said if you were watching it happen, it looked like storm clouds rolling in over their eyes.”

“How did they get here?”

“Containment protocol,” he says and laughs roughly, like the idea is a sad joke. “The Center quarantined the babies, and they did it quick. Has to be quick with a disease you don’t know anything about. There wasn’t time to collect information on all the parents, so when the Center found out it wasn’t contagious, they sent out a mass bulletin for the parents to come get the babies.”

“And then?”

“Hardly any came. The sisters at Saint Andrews took them in. More are left here all the time.” He places a hand on Salomea’s shoulder and she finds its weight much heavier than a hand ought to be.

“How important is your name to you that you would rather be known as Salomea than as sight?”

Heinrich detects some odd displacement inside Salomea when she returns to school, as though some foreign aspect has been forced down her throat to replace the real girl. He blames the Director.

During lunch, he proposes an escape. They can run away and find a place at the edge of the Green Zone where the Director will not look for them.

Salomea tells Heinrich again that he cannot fall in love with her, that she is already married.

When Heinrich says that her husband is hundreds of years away, Salomea replies, “I’m married to something else now.”

The bad press from Jonas’ death leaves the program vulnerable. All funding is halted and soon the Director is called in for a hearing on the machine’s merits. As he gives his testimony, he begins to understand that he is not