20 Chapter 20

Never in my entire life has my mother let me eat Sunday lunch upstairs, but all it took was mentioning that speaking to Jack had me feeling sad, and she agreed to let me fix a plate and take it to my room. I felt like she wanted to talk to my dad and thought it would be easier if I wasn't there since this game of secrets was becoming more and more complicated with every passing moment.

I grabbed a chicken breast, a helping of mashed potatoes, and a few roasted carrots, slipping a can of pop into my pocket before I headed up the stairs, my mom shouting at me to be careful on the carpet. My true purpose was to call Lucy as soon as I could. I needed to let her know what had happened at Jack's.

Unfortunately, I got her voicemail. I left her a message to call me and then jotted down a few notes in my notebook before snapping a picture and sending it to her.

"Sunday: Went to talk to Jack Cook. He was acting odd. He seemed haggard and disheveled. His mom said he thinks someone is watching him and is sleeping poorly. He started asking why Cadence wasn't at the hospital the night Drew died, but when I mentioned Dr. Sanderson, Jack's demeanor shifted, and he was almost like a robot. He went into the living room to watch TV when his mother asked him to.

"Who is Dr. Sanderson really and who else has he brainwashed? I asked my dad if I could speak to him again, but apparently the doctor is out of town right now. I want to see if I can face him and not be brainwashed. Maybe I can find a way to figure out who he really is."

Once I'd sent Lucy my notes, I took a few bites of chicken. My mom is an excellent cook, but I really wasn't hungry. All of this sleuthing was making my stomach hurt. Thinking the mashed potatoes might settle it a bit, I concentrated on them.

I had decided enough was enough about the time my phone rang. I set my fork down and was relieved to see it was Luce. "Hey, did you get my pic?"

"OMG!" Most of Lucy's greetings are the same three letters. "Yes! And get this! Last night, I decided to see if I could find this Dr. Sanderson on the Shenandoah Memorial website, and there's not a trace of him."

"Really?" I asked. That did surprise me a bit. I didn't think there was any question he was there that night, when they brought Drew in. But if he didn't work there, why was he there?

"As a matter of fact, I couldn't find a Dr. Elliott Sanderson even licensed in the state of Iowa."

Lucy's words washed over me, leaving goosebumps in their wake. "You're kidding."

"Nope. So, I don't know how he could possibly be practicing medicine here."

"Maybe he has a different first name and goes by his middle name or something." There had to be a reasonable explanation.

"Doubtful." Lucy shot me down.

I was trying to come up with something else when I heard the purr of an engine outside. I recognized the sound from the other night when this whole mess started. Jumping out of my chair, I almost knocked it over in my rush to get to the window.

Lucy was prattling on in my ear, but my eyes were glued out the window. It was the same car as the other night. Even though my friend was still talking, I needed my camera. I pulled the phone away from my head and took a few pics of the sports car, knowing I'd need to identify it. It was hard to see through the tint of the windshield, but I thought it was the same girl driving as had taken my sister away the other night.

I'd just put my phone back up to my ear, hearing Lucy ask, "Hello? Are you there, Cass?" when the most unexplainable thing I'd seen yet happened. I almost dropped the phone.

My sister got out of the car. I saw her standing there on the curb for the briefest second. But then, she was gone, only a blur remaining. Not even a half-second later, I heard the door downstairs.

"Cass??"

"Sorry!" I said, once I'd picked my jaw up off of the floor. I had to sit down, but I didn't want to walk away from the window until the car was gone. Once it faded around the corner, I surveyed the road once more and stumbled to my bed. "Lucy, my sister's home."

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"Oh, good. I guess you need to go then."

I was trying to figure out how to tell her what I'd just seen. "Lucy," I began, "Cadence just sprinted up the driveway so fast, she was just a blur. I wouldn't have even known she was doing it if I hadn't seen her get out of the car with my own two eyes. I even have pictures of the car to send you. But seriously. A blur."

In all of the years that I've known her, Lucy Burk has never been quiet for more than two seconds unless she was in class and couldn't talk. She didn't speak for at least half a minute. "OMG." It was a whisper.

"What the" I stopped myself. I heard my mom shouting my name. "I've gotta go."

"'Kay. Send me the pics."

"Right."

I headed toward the door, sending the pictures as I went, but I wasn't sure how to even face my sister. I knew what I'd seen, but there was no way that it could actually be my sister, normal, average speed, college freshman, Cadence Josephine Findley, who just covered the distance from the curb to the house in less than a second. No. Way.

I wasn't sure what to expect. Would Cadence look different? Would she have some sort of new appendages that made her run so fast? Would she glow in the dark? Surely, she wasn't dangerousnot to her family, anyway.

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