Lyssa opened the door and slipped inside the dim. The lock snicked shut behind her. She waited as her eyes adjusted to the filtered glow of a light-rimmed door at the end of a hallway. She could see a short couch in front of her, and as her eyes adjusted, she could tell that the mod design wasn’t vintage but just old, its cushions worn and sagging. A wicker wastebasket sat beside it, a strangely desolate sight alone on the floor.
The hallway extended both right and left, bookended by doors. Lyssa moved to the right, following the fluorescence of the human presence. Easing the door open, she found another hall, perpendicular to the first, and voices. Doors and doorways lined the left, privacy windows high along the right. Lyssa slipped down to the first door and peeked inside. Metal shelves ran along both sides of the narrow supply closet. She didn’t go inside to see, but the closest shelves held linens and medical supplies, including vials, syringes, and what looked to be a variety of machines beyond the mere collection of first aid kits.
Closing the door, Lyssa moved to the next one, she could hear male voices rising and falling, a steady, muffled cadence distant enough that she ignored them as she opened the second door and stepped into a large room. She hesitated before flipping the light switch. Off-centered in the middle of the room stood what looked to be a metal pegboard, attached to both the floor and ceiling. A large rectangle of frosted glass covered a good quarter of it, mounted somehow at eyelevel. Below it, a metal table held a couple flat screen computer monitors, a slim tower, and a series of short silver cylinders among a collection of odds and ends.
To the left of the tech setup lay an oversized hospital bed, dressed in fresh white linens, its handrails down. Another silver cylinder, this one broad and squat, had been drilled into the wall above the pillow. Above it all, an oblong length of white plastic hung suspended by silver wires, the bed centered beneath it. Lyssa ignored the computers for now, drawn to the seamless form above the bed, hanging like a mod-style chandelier despite the lack of overhead light.
Her scalp prickled as she moved closer, and she felt more than heard a low constant hum, sending her blood shivering in her temples, her back teeth aching. Unnerved, she stopped a yard away from the foot of the bed and stared. Nothing about the smooth white sheet of plastic ringing six feet above the bed suggested danger, but Lyssa’s body screamed otherwise. She backed away, rattled, until she bumped against the desk. Turning, Lyssa picked up a small device that looked like a child-sized blood pressure cuff jerry-rigged to a tablet. Running her thumb along the cuff, she felt a hard square patch beneath the rough textured cloth.
When she tried to turn the tablet on, the screen remained dark, and she set it down, moving on to the cylinders. They looked to be nothing more innocuous than highly polished stainless steel rods. She pressed her fingers against the closest one and found it unmoving, as if welded to the desk. The second, though, rotated in place. Lyssa turned it until she heard a click, and then the opaque glass above the desk lit as if from within, images and words flickering to life inside the glass. A high-tech computer monitor? Though none like she’d seen before.
“Seya?” a woman’s voice asked as screen cleared. The words were a mix of English and a foreign language that looked like a blend of Arabic and Chinese, but she focused instead on the images. They looked like what she’d expect to see from an MRI, only more vivid and detailed than she’d thought possible, full color and appearing to move in real-time, the two heart images in each corner beating steady if at separate rhythms.
“Seya?” the voice asked again as she moved her focus to the rush of blood through veins, the picture so clear she could tell it wasn’t homogenous. “Seisana seya i l’sona.”
Worried the voice acted as a security feature, she twisted the cylinder to turn off the screen. She ignored the rest, running her fingers over the other objects resting on the desk, picking up a shimmering disk of a strange material, not unlike a CD though smaller and thinner. She pocketed it, snapped off the lights, and moved on.
An open doorway let her peek into what looked like a break room before moving on, opening the next door to yet more darkness. The voices grew louder as she continued down the hall, though she still couldn’t make out what they said, and she continued to ignore them as light spilled in from behind her, lighting the interior enough that she figured it for another room like the other, and she slid her hand along the wall in search of a light switch. But then a sound, light and steady, made her freeze. Breathing.
Someone was in the room.