TC-Clinic

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HEA: Kim and Sofie had no idea where they had been taken, but it was a new place. There was no use mincing terms, they were in prison, but it doubled as a clinic. It was an odd combination of almost magical science and shabby construction with nails sticking through the walls.

HEB: There were no windows in the clinic where they were held, but from June to August of 1942 the girls could hear furious construction outside that only ceased at night. During those months their captor, Dr. Ian Trochmann, learned maddeningly few things about their condition.

HEC: The white D-shaped cup emerging from their scalp was made of bone. The cups had exactly fifty-five graphite bristles growing out of a floor. If the bristles were crushed or snapped off they grew back like the lead in a mechanical pencil. Dr. Trochmann had two cables made.

HED: The b'nei elohim would call them Purple Cables, even after many copies were made that weren't actually purple. But for Dr. Trochmann's purposes the cables proved to be useless. He would print squiggles from the girls on a fat roll of paper but didn't know what they meant.

HEE: When Trochmann put a 15 millivolt level on the pins both Kim and Sofie reported strange total-body sandpapery sensations they found very /unpleasant and refused to endure again. Hooking the girls together with the Purple Cable was thought too risky in the early evaluation.

HEF: One time Kim and Sofie were playing Eights, and Kim heard a silent shout in her head that, despite its silence, sounded exactly like Dory. She said, "DISCARD THE QUEEN!"

Kim replied to the voice with a mental shout of her own. "IT'S NOT EVEN THE RIGHT SUIT!" "DO IT!"

HEG: Kim obeyed the voice, dropped the queen, and Sofie's eyes went much wider than it should have done from a bad play. Dory's voice now told Kim, "SOFIE WILL DISCARD A SIX OF HEARTS, WATCH!" And that's exactly what she did. Now they both knew their friend's voice was real.

HEH: Lest watchers suspected something meaningful in their mutual glances (and they were being watched) Sofie covered by saying, "You don't even know how to play this simple game." She retreated to one corner of the clinic, Kim to another, and they both conversed through Dory.

HEI: Dory had to smooth over some hard feelings about keeping this strange talent a secret. She did this by calmly pointing out that both Kim and Sofie would have thought her plain nuts if she said she could hear voices, plant voices, and even ride behind another person's eyes.

HEJ: When Sofie asked about Jerry, and what his talent was, Dory replied, "DO YOU REMEMBER THAT TRICK YESHUA DID WITH THE LOAVES AND FISHES? JERRY COULD PULL THAT OFF!" It didn't sound like something that would help them get out of the windowless clinic that was their prison.

HEK: Kim suggested punching every number on the lock until the door opened. Dory relayed that to Sofie, who shook her head. They were being watched. One time she killed the lights in their space and saw a glow coming from the "mirror" that stopped soon after. It was a window.

HEL: Kim came up with an idea to end the surveillance. They had to embarrass Doc Troch by making him think that two girls, ages seventeen and confined together for months in a small space, had fallen in love with each other. Sofie thought she could swing it. Dory said behave.

HEM: Kim and Sofie went on strike and did not cooperate with their captors at all. They said no words, but just sat in the clinic all day doing nothing. There were two ways of dealing with all the dead time that were newly available to them after the Change.

HEN: Kim let the clock appear, to her, to race and let her heartbeats seem, to her, to become a low hum. Kim sped up, cruised for a while, then slowed back down. Her muscles got sore from staying in one position but four hours were burned up in as many minutes.

HEO: Sofie tried that too, but she thought the time-lapse method was gross because she could feel her bladder fill up and food moving inside. She preferred to take a series of hour-long jumps in time with her consciousness simply turned off. This was the cat nap method.

HEP: After four meals, two showers, and many other stops to use the restroom or drink some water Kim and Sofie had a rather busy day that compressed a full week of real time. Another three weeks and the lunatics won. The asylum-keepers brought in their biggest gun.

HEQ: This was the self-styled Controller of what he styled DECON. It was the only time Clyde Tolson ever met Kim Zinter and Sofie Krause in person. He said, "Ladies, time for a heart-to-heart."

"Fine," said Sofie. "Start by telling us who the hell you are."

HER: "My name is Clyde Tolson. You and Kim are under the jurisdiction of a branch of the US Department of Justice called DECON, which is short for Domestic Enemies Containment, Observation, and Neutralization."

HES: Kim was pissed off. "Domestic enemies? You must be joking. My father lost an arm fighting the Hun in W.W. One. My mother was a Red Cross nurse Over There. Every Sunday morning after Temple I lead the whole congregation in a rip-roaring rendition of God Bless America."

HET: "You and Sofie have contracted an unknown contagion in a time before there is a proper federal response for that. Bad luck for you, bad luck for everyone. But there are certain Presidential executive orders which could be read, very loosely, as offering such a response."

HEU: "You don't seem afraid to talk to us face-to-face," Kim pointed out. "Doc Troch and Nurse Ramsey ain't scared either."

"If we thought it was transmitted by sneezing you'd be totally isolated. Telling us how you got sick would do much toward getting you home."

HEV: "Alright Mr. Tolson of DECON," Sofie said, "you've explained why you won't unlock the door, now please tell us where we are."

"You're not very far from Headwater," he said. "Just one state over, in fact, near Cody. This is called the Heart Mountain Relocation Center."

HEW: "Relocation center? I don't understand. Who's being relocated?"

"It's easy to understand, Sofie. Last December after Pearl Harbor FDR authorized the incarceration of Nips living on the West Coast. In January DECON stood up. Last February the first camps were built."

HEX: Kim said, "When you say 'Nips' I presume you really mean American citizens with a Japanese ethnic background."

When Tolson had nothing to say to that Sofie said, "Hey Kimmie, I think I'm in the wrong camp. My great-great-great-great-great-great- granddaddy was a German."

HEY: Tolson wagged a finger. "This camp is the third biggest city in Wyoming but only seven undesirables out of every ten are Nips. The President's executive order was the kind of gift that comes around only once in a generation, but strike while the iron is hot, they say."

HEZ: Sofie said, "So I'm one of your 'undesirables' but I don't even feel sick."

"Sofie, your brain isn't even alive anymore!"

"Then how could we even be having this conversation?"

Tolson turned to Dr. Ian Trochmann. "Please tell the young ladies what we've learned so far."

HFA: "It spreads like a virus," the doctor said, "but I've never seen anything like it before. It literally remodels nerve and brain cells. No more potassium and sodium ions pumped by ATP through a membrane. Your neurons are now little gadgets with sliding levers and the like."

HFB: "What do you mean by gadgets?" asked Kim.

"Both of you girls have been hooked up to an Offner Dynograph and it shows nothing. You're literally brain dead. Special Agent in Charge Tolson thinks you may be the first victims of a nasty Nazi weapon we've never seen before."

HFC: "I don't like you very much," Sofie said, directing her glance at both men in turn, "But I can see you want something. Well, we want something first. We want the windows disguised as mirrors removed from our living space."

Dr. Trochmann tried to play dumb. "What mirrors?"

HFD: "Come now, Doctor," said Sofie, "you must think we're just stupid girls. But we've had a lot of time on our hands locked up in here. Naturally we found your two filthy peeping-Tom mirrors and people looking in on us."

"I see there's no fooling you, Sofie," Tolson said.

HFE: "Sometimes I call Sofie a scrub," Kim said, "and she knows I'm only kidding. But Mr. Tolson, I'll match a scrub at Green Dome against any B student among the publics anywhere."

"It damn well better be that way, Kimmie, the amount of money daddy shells out for tuition."

HFF: "The one-way mirrors are not used for what you think they are."

Kim said, "Look, Clyde, yeah maybe we're infected and you have some order that says you can hold us in this quarantine of yours, but we still have one fundamental right."

"What do you mean? What right?"

HFG: "Like plain old-fashioned privacy!" For the first time Tolson and Trochmann became aware that Kim and Sofie were holding hands. The doctor blushed.

Sofie saw the opening and moved tighter up against Kim. "What did you expect? We're seventeen and cooped up together."

HFH: "I hope you get what we're trying to say here fellas," Sofie said, fluttering her fingers. "I hope we don't have to spell it out."

"I know exactly what you mean," said Tolson, and he truly did. "We've started out on the wrong foot."

"Let's begin once more," offered Kim.

HFI: The mood of the men brightened visibly at this breakthrough. Tolson said, "I need to tighten up security a bit but I'll let you have your privacy. Curtains on your side of the mirrors."

When Tolson left the clinic he never saw the girls again, but not for lack of trying.

HFJ: The girls were attentive to the tighter security arrangements Tolson mentioned, but the only real change seemed to be how their tormentors would look at a scrap of paper from their pocket before punching the buttons that would let them out, which meant a daily code change.

HFK: Sofie almost despaired but Kim explained (via Dory to maintain secrecy) that the change did not make their task any harder at all. They just had to pick a range and try all the combos in it night after night until the daily shifting combo happened to fall into that range.

HFL: Next to the door leaving the clinic was a square keypad with the digits 0 through 9, and the letters A through F, and Kim knew from listening that the combo was only four keystrokes. But as soon as she started trying them a very vivid daydream of time appeared in her mind.

HFM: To Kim her future was like a self-assembling house of cards. She could see the top, ten nights later, when doing the range from 7000 to 7FFF she punched 7BC6 and the door clicked open. But Kim wanted out that very night, so she started trying the range from 1000 to 1FFF.

HFN: The house of cards collapsed and assembled itself again. This time the answer was four days away. Kim began trying higher ranges, and got jackpots ranging from two days to two weeks. Then in her mind she saw the number that was their ticket home that very night: D1FC.

HFO: But it was November and they were wearing nothing but slippers and hospital gowns. That in itself was part of Tolson's security. Kim told Sofie to gather blankets and towels and whatever else she could find to create makeshift extra clothing to shield them from the cold.

HFP: "This is going to frighten Agent Tolson to no end," said Kim as they both bundled up. "This, and especially what we do after this."

She could visualize the events leading to their escape from the camp stacking up in her mind. "Good," said Sofie, "let him shit his pants."

HFQ: Sofie Krause and Kimberly Zinter saw the two Purple Cables hanging in a rack on their way out of the clinic and requisitioned them as belts to make their ad hoc ensemble of blankets almost sort of hang together. Then they stepped out into Wyoming on a cold November night.

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