The Price of Entanglement - Chapter 12, pt. 1

Transient

When she awakened, she was in an unfamiliar location and had no idea how much time had just passed. Her room looked like a refurbished hospital relic from the 20th century, only with worse lighting and slightly run-down facilities even by the standards of the time. She repressed a shudder as she looked around. There was nobody else in sight.

She lay for what felt like half an hour before voices attracted her attention. She’d considered getting up and leaving, but a lethargy like she’d never felt kept her fastened to her bed more effectively than any restraint could.

The voices got closer and stopped outside the door to her room, where they remained for a minute. They were just muffled enough that she could make out that the voices were male, but not what they were saying. Footsteps retreated away just as the knob turned and a middle-aged man of dark complexion and warm, friendly brown eyes entered the room.

“Ms. Rush, I’m glad to see you’re awake,” he began. “I’m Dr. Toure. There were some … complications with your anti-radiation treatment.” He had a pleasant voice, low in timber and pitch. It was the sort of voice that was made for telling stories, or doing voice-over narration. She decided she liked him.

“Ah— … complications?” Her mind raced. She felt much better than she had before she’d been moved, though she still felt like she was suffering a mild sunburn over much of her body. It felt worse in her right arm, she realized, moving it for the first time since she’d awakened.

“I’m afraid so, yes. It looks like at some point during your trip into the ironworks, your right arm came into contact with electrite. The effects were relatively mild; the contact was brief, and through your clothing. You’ve suffered first degree radiation burns to much of your body; most of that has already healed. Your right arm suffered second degree burns. We transferred you to this facility as a safeguard. We’ll need to keep you under observation for a time.”

“But you said it’s first and second degree burns. Why couldn’t I have stayed in the hospital? What is this place?”

“We’re a lab that specializes in radiation, and we’re more experienced in treating it than the hospital staff.” For the first time, she detected a trace of hesitance in his otherwise pleasant bedside manner. He was keeping something back, she thought. “As for why we moved you here, electrite radiation is … unique. Prolonged exposure is known to affect the quantum state of the exposed matter. The effects of short-term exposure are temporary and largely unnoticeable. Your exposure was, as near as we can determine, short enough that you’ll probably not encounter any trouble. But we want to be sure. The brain … there are a lot of quantum interactions up there in our skulls, so it’s best to be sure of what we’re dealing with.”

She just stared at him for a moment. “You’re saying it could be affecting my mind?”

“I don’t believe it is,” he said. “It was hard to tell while you were unconscious, but if you’d suffered dangerous levels of exposure to your head, your behavior would probably be erratic. We’ll keep you under observation to make sure,” he smiled, “but I strongly suspect already that you’re okay.”