The first thing I hear is snoring.

This snoring isn't light, I'm-adorable-and-you-still-love-me snoring. It is the sound of raging hurricane winds, tearing into the foundations of houses, and giving children nightmares. It's a lion's roar, echoing across miles of plains, setting fear into every animal of prey down below.

One by one, other sounds join the solo.

A clock ticks nearby. A machine beeps every half-second. Water drips from a faucet across the room. A heartbeat comes to life in the form of a red, twitching sound, one I recognize as a heart monitor.

I'm in a hospital room.

I open and close my hands against the sandpaper blankets, checking to make sure they work. Then, I wiggle each of my toes, counting to ten in my head.

A new sound is born out of this. Whispering.

That means I'm not alone with the snorer.

Curiosity wins over fatigue, and I peel my eyes open, surprised at how heavy my eyelids are.

First, I see Lexi, red hair spread like water across the bed. She's the source of the monstrous snoring. Her mouth is propped open wide, eyes shut, but her eyebrows furrow, telling me her sleep is anything but peaceful. She rests on her crossed arms, laying on the bed but not me.

Across the room, Jay sits in the window, knees pulled up to her chest as she whispers to Isaac on the other side. Isaac makes himself busy tracing in the condensation of the window. So far, he has created a mountain scene, including small houses and birds flying overhead. For finger art, it's incredible.

I pull my left arm out from under the covers, gritting my teeth at the dull pain. Pushing my hospital gown up with my other hand, I inspect the wound from before.

The purple veins have disappeared, as well as the yellow coloring. My skin is pale and normal. A broad white bandage covers the main area of concern. I'm just about to pry the gauze up when someone snaps at me.

My head shoots up, coming face to face with a glaring Isaac.

How did he get across the room that fast and that quiet?

I open my mouth to speak but no sound comes out. My mouth is full of chalk, and my throat is raw. Licking my lips does no good, because my tongue isn't much better.

"Water?" Isaac whispers, holding a hand out to silence Jay as she walks up to stand on the other side of my bed. I nod, and he reaches across to the counter, returning with a cup of water and a straw.

Jay lowers herself carefully onto the bed, trying not to disturb Lexi, I assume. I down the entire glass of water, relaxing into the pillow as I clear my throat.

"How long has it been?" I ask, following the IV line down my arm. The bag hanging from the stand is almost empty, and a stack of maybe a dozen more sits on the counter. How many fluids does one person need?

"A week," Jay answers.

"How are you feeling?" Isaac asks, lifting his chair and bringing it to sit beside Lexi.

"Tired," I say, "But better than I did. What happened?"

Isaac sighs, glancing between me and Jay. She nods, taking a deep breath.

"What do you remember, Quinn?"

"I went into the Repor to kill the infected. The vaccine reacted with my wound, and I blacked out," I say, leaving out my crazy floating dreams and my half-dead confession to Lexi.

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