She knew that their rapid movement meant that he had to be . . . dreaming?

Isobel stopped and scanned her surroundings again, her alarm growing twofold.

Because she now knew that Danny wasn’t the one who was dreaming. She was.

She had to be. It was the only explanation.

All the elements were there. Or rather, she corrected herself, not there.

Not knowing where she was or where she’d come from. Having no recollection of the previous moment, no where or how that she could connect to—only the faint remembrance that something like this had happened to her once before. Forever ago, it seemed. And yet she could not recall that moment either.

Isobel dug deep in her memory, excavating for an image or a word, for anything at all. But nothing surfaced.

She began frantically scouring the walls for a clock, something to prove her theory, and it did not take her long to spot one mounted on the far wall.

She stared hard at it, waiting for it to change its mind about the time or start spinning and, in so doing, give itself away.

The hands of the clock didn’t budge, though. Just like one of Danny’s video games, they seemed to hold time in pause.

But she knew she had to be asleep. There could be no other explanation for the weirdness she felt. For the gaping hole in her memory.


Only when Isobel saw the minute hand slide forward a fraction of an inch did she give up her scrutiny and look back down at her brother.

If this wasn’t a dream, then what the hell was it?

“Danny,” she whispered.

He didn’t wake.


When her voice rose, she heard the sound of a static pop and a fizzle directly overhead.

Her attention snapped to the TV suspended above them by a black metal armature. It flickered. Then, once the interference cleared, the screen returned to normal, casting a wan glow over the room.

A man behind a desk, dressed in a suit and tie, grinned in front of the camera. His thick eyebrows rose to his hairline as he spoke. Beside him, a blond woman with neatly molded, almost plasticized hair seemed to be practicing the art of listening, her head tilted in his direction, a polite smile in place, her hands folded in front of her.

“—news for all you Ravens fans out there,” Isobel heard him say, catching the tail end of his sentence. “Though Baltimore put up a good fight in last night’s game, the Ravens took a fierce beating from hard-hitting rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers, losing out on a chance to play in this year’s Super Bowl.”

The woman broke from her stiff Newscaster Barbie pose and turned to address the camera. “That’s right, Rick. This morning it seems as if the whole city is smarting from last night’s grim hour of defeat. Joining us now from the stadium is Steve Crenshaw. Steve?”

Isobel scowled at the television as the camera shot switched to a street view.

“Baltimore?” she whispered to herself.

A tingling dread crept over her as the jabber of the television faded once more into background noise. A split second later, she could feel something rising through the shallow pool of her recent memory, a dark and terrible secret, one that held in it the answer to why they were there.

Isobel wheeled on her brother and reached out to jostle him.

“Danny! Wake u—”

Her hands swept cleanly through him, and she jerked back.

Her brother stirred, though he did not wake, his face scrunching before smoothing out again.

Astral, she thought. She was projecting outside her body—which meant that she wasn’t dreaming after all. This was all real, the room and the brightly lit hall and Danny and the TV.

Someone new entered the room. A woman, dressed all in blue, like the man Isobel had seen in the hall.

“Danny?” she called out to Isobel’s brother.

He opened his eyes with a start and focused on the woman, who moved quickly toward them.

The nurse’s young face, already strained with concern, tightened as she opened her mouth to speak again. She drew nearer, passing straight through Isobel without even blinking.

“Danny, you need to come with me right now, okay?”

“Why?” Danny asked, his voice raspy from sleep. “What’s happening? Did the cops find the guy who brought my sister here?”

Isobel glanced back at the nurse, anxious for her answer. It was now clear that the reason they were there revolved around Isobel. Someone had brought her here. Which could only mean . . .

“Listen,” the nurse said, “you need to come with me right now. Your parents need you with them.”

“What is it?” Danny demanded, and stood, letting the headphones and iPod drop out of his lap and onto the floor. “What’s wrong? What’s happening with my sister?”

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