Chapter 1

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Celeste

"I'm home!" A deep voice shouted from the hall as the front door slammed shut. I groaned and twisted around, pressing my face into the couch cushion as I snuggled deeper into the blankets. "Ele?" My father's voice called urgently a moment later.

I whined pitifully as I pushed myself into a sitting position and stared at the doorway to the hall. "Welcome home!" I yawned loudly and watched as my father appeared in the doorway with a relieved expression.

"Have you been sleeping this whole time?" My father chuckled as he knelt beside me and patted my cheek. "Or did you at least get breakfast?"

"I had one of those biscuit things you don't like." I laughed at his scrunched expression.

"I've never liked those damn things."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, but you were to worried about upsetting your boss when he was giving them away for free." I yawned again as I glanced around the room and at the boxes piled up around the room. "I was gonna unpack but someone told me that I couldn't."

"Because I want to be here when we unpack so I can make sure that you don't overwork yourself and have an asthma attack." He reminded with a pointed look before standing up and glancing at the boxes. "Speaking of asthma, did you take your medicine and do your treatment?"

"I did the morning one." With a groan, I shoved the blankets off and stretched before standing up and wrapping my arm around my dad. "Since your here, I guess that means it's time for my afternoon pills."

"Yes." He patted my head mindlessly for a moment before pulling back and squeezing my shoulders. "Are you feeling all right, Celeste?"

"Yes?" I titled my head in confusion as I stared at him for a moment. "Are you OK, dad?" I questioned.

"Why wouldn't I be?" He muttered softly.

"Because you never call me by my real name unless you're trying to be serious about something or I'm in trouble." I laughed as I hugged him again and then collapsed back on the couch. "So, what's wrong?"

"You do realize that you're supposed to be the daughter and I'm supposed to be the father, yes?" He grunted.

"Yes, as much as you realize that I'm sixteen." I fought back a smile as he scrunched his nose and waved his hand.

"Impossible. You can't be that old yet."

"Papa!" I laughed and he chuckled, both of us amused with our usual banter. "So, did something bad happen at work? Did you have a rude student? Or do you not like your co-workers? Or is it something with that project thing that you're working on?"

"You say you're sixteen, but I don't see it." He grumbled and shook his head with a smile. "Then again, you wouldn't be my daughter if you were someone else." My father chuckled and sat beside me on the couch. "I don't have any problems with anyone, just so you know. I happen to be a people person."

"More of a rock person, if you ask me." I snorted and he glared at me for a moment.

"OK, missy." He stated. "There's been some weird things in the news and a couple of my colleagues were talking about it."

"About what?"

"Apparently a lot of people have been randomly collapsing into comas and no one knows why." My father leaned forward with a bitter sigh as he pressed his hands against his mouth. "Children, people from the high school and college, people at businesses, even people in the military overseas."

"How is that happening?"

"No one knows. No one knows if there's a connection between them. If it's a new chemical in the atmosphere or in the earth or why certain people are getting affected by it." My father glanced at me from the corner of his eye before sighing bitterly. "Every archaeologist, scientist, basically all of the 'ist's are being called to do research in this area to figure out where the cause of it lies and then to get those people to wake up."

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