Shadow Unit

Case Files

Teasers & Deleted Scenes

Johns Hopkins Medical Center, Baltimore, MD, October 2008

"Do you believe in prayer, Dr. Villette?"

"Uh..." Chaz had that sensation, so common in conversations with Madeline Frost, that solid ground had just cracked beneath his weight like ice. "I, uh..."

"My mother did," said Frost. "She taught me to pray every night. I stopped when I was a teenager. What's the saying? God helps those who help themselves?"

She turned to face him. "Recently, though, I've found myself wanting to pray again, even though I believe there is nothing that will hear me or care. But I would pray, if it didn't feel like hypocrisy. I would pray that I never develop an anomalous ability. Because I know what would happen."

Even if he could have thought of something to say in response, he didn't think he could have forced any words out. He did manage to raise his eyebrows, inviting her to go on.

"I would be locked in Idlewood before hearsay was even confirmed as fact." Her eyes were very clear in the fluorescent lights, gray and deep with secrets he did not want to know. "And they would never let me out."

She had actually taken a step toward him, and he realized suddenly how short she was. He always thought of her as being Falkner's height or better, but she was shorter than Lau. Jesus fucking Christ, she was tiny.

She tilted her head to meet his eyes; hers were transparent and unflinching. "They would never let me die."

"Madeline," he started, knowing he was going to say something banal and empty, but helpless to stop himself.

She cut him off. "You are lucky, Charles. They like you." She'd pulled back; her face was cold and perfect again, the depths of her eyes hidden. Ten feet tall, as she always was. "Don't waste it."