A short time later Dunn dropped in to see her. “Ms. Rush, you look like hell.”
“Thanks, just what I always love to hear,” she said. Her voice sounded rougher than she expected.
He smiled. “The docs tell me you’ll be fine. You and Mike both.” His smile vanished. “You gave us quite a surprise. We were expecting you to be in there a lot longer. What happened?”
She lay back and closed her eyes. “The radiation was stronger than we’d expected. We knew there’d be a lot, but … what’s happening there? What we saw was so much worse than anyone told us.”
“That’s exactly what we’d hoped you’d be able to tell us,” he said with a frown. “I won’t make you go over all of it right now. You’re weak, you need rest. But when you’ve recovered, we’ll have a full debriefing. I want every detail.”
Her heart sunk a little at that. Dunn meant exactly what he said; he was going to want to hear everything. So far Quinn and Mike had both been okay with what she’d had to say about these visions of hers, but she wasn’t looking forward to spilling it to Dunn. She knew how it was going to sound.
They were sent to the hospital overnight; just for observation, Dunn assured her. He also promised to have more information for them about what had happened with the radiation. “We’ve got some guys in the lab who can check into it and give us some answers.”
“Why weren’t they sent in first?”
“They should have been. Had we had any idea that the radiation was worse than we’d thought, they would have been.”
It wasn’t a very satisfying explanation, but it was what she had.
The next day she felt like she had a full-body case of the worst sunburn she’d ever had in her life. It was all she could do not to scratch until she bled, until the nurse she’d been assigned came by with a round of medication to help. Within an hour she was red and slightly swollen all over, but felt vaguely numb, the burning sensation distant, as if it were happening to someone elses’ body.
Mike was in the same room, but a privacy sheet separated them from one another. As she lay drifting in the place between sleep and wakefulness, she overheard a doctor drop by his bedside.
“What’s the good news, doc?”
“There’s no permanent, short-term damage. You’re going to be fine.”
“Short-term? What does that mean?”
“With radiation exposure at these levels, there is always the chance for long-term effects. They may be mild or more severe. There’s just no way to know. We’ll be adding skin cancer screening to your regular suite of tests. Your regular MD can carry itout during your regular checkups.”
“How long will I be here?”
“We’ll want to keep you at least a few more hours for observation. Maybe a day or two at most.”
She drifted off then, mind occupied by dreams of scenes and people from the past.