They went back to Special Holding and Caleb sat on the cot in his cage. He tried to describe the effect of the Pepper Spray when Tam used it on his hands. Just talking kept him sane. His mind was being smacked around. Sometimes his thoughts would jump to angels for no reason. He regularly felt compelled to grab something or go somewhere. Someone else was doing his thinking for him. He wondered if this was what it felt like to be schizophrenic.
A doctor was brought into the room, screaming. The flesh of his cheek had been ripped off. Two Stewards and two soldiers deposited him in a cage, then left. Lab coats came and surrounded the man. From what Caleb could guess, someone in the Ward had turned into a Wreck but the soldiers didn’t notice or didn’t react quick enough. The medic was bitten. While the other doctors hysterically disinfected the wound, Rand had to consult with his METMA buddies to see what, if anything, should be done.
Caleb stared at them, at the people in other cages. Wreck vision was taking over. Anything that was not moving looked flat and Caleb found it hard to concentrate on inanimate things. Meanwhile, movement looked sharp as a knife, almost shimmering.
But the movement thing was only the start of it. Now Wrecks (like the ones in the pit) seemed to hum with a kind of aura. It looked like a familiar glow, yet they weren’t actually glowing. Sometimes he thought it was a smell. But he knew what a Wreck smelled like. Rotting flesh and shit. It was not the same smell. It was neither smell, sound or sight but it was there.
The non-Wreck people he was looking at now had their own aura too. It was magnetic. It was pure. An energy. A focus. Something he wanted. A goal he could reach. All the others, whoever they were, needed to reach the same goal.
This whole schizophrenic thing was getting tiresome. His brain was like a child who’s seen a superhero film and thinks he has powers all of a sudden. Caleb took a few deep breaths and told himself to get a grip.
He didn’t particularly want to sleep again, but he was tired and this bed was better than the last. So fuck it. He lay down and covered his face with his arm. Within seconds his dreams crashed over him. He wasn’t even fully asleep when they came. He dreamed of a mound of jelly, something huge and surreal. It had many organs and tentacles and seemed to be made of different creatures stuck together.
He woke up to an argument going on. Rand and his METMA colleagues were trying to talk sense into some soldiers. Caleb looked up. One of the soldiers might have been a higher rank, he wasn’t sure.
“You might have the authority in this facility,” the sharp-faced soldier was saying, “But you don’t have authority over me. There’s a situation at the edge of town and we’ve been ordered to ship out.”
“I can’t keep this place together without an armed force,” said Rand. The soldier answered that they were leaving weapons behind, but Rand cursed him and Caleb got the impression this conversation had been going in circles.
“We’re leaving a skeleton crew,” said the soldier. “Now, I’m not giving you orders but my recommendation, as I’ve said, is to shut down this room, all Holding rooms as well as Testing and Training. Concentrate your personnel where they’re needed. We’ll be back in two hours at the outside.”
“What about the Wrecks in Holding and Testing?” said Rand.
“Burn them,” said the soldier. “That’s what I’d do, anyhow.”
The army dudes marched off. Caleb’s ‘cell’ was still being left open so he tentatively approached Rand and his group: a suit with a beard and glasses who looked like Steven Spielberg, and a guy who was eerily similar to Rand except for blond highlights. They all looked overwhelmed. Rand saw Caleb and politely filled him in.
“There’s a Wreck attack going on south of town,” he said. “They need all the help they can get. Our contingent’s been stripped. We’re down to four army personnel. This place could go to hell in a handbasket. I hope your girl Tamara gets back soon.”
Caleb couldn’t answer that. He noticed that the only sign of the doctor who’d been bitten was a bloodstain now. Rand, Spielberg and Rand Two went to talk to some Stewards. When they came back, it was to bring Caleb back to the Ward. The whole Guantanamo-style setup was shut down in a matter of minutes.