She put her fingers on my throat and watched a clock on the wall. “You have second-degree burns on your hands and the back of your neck. I’m assuming they directly contacted the lunar surface. And you have a pretty bad sunburn on your face. We’ll have to check you for skin cancer once a month for a while, but you’ll be all right.”
“What about the city?” I asked.
“You should talk to Rudy about that. He’s right outside—I’ll get him.”
I grabbed her sleeve. “But—”
“Jazz, I’m your doctor, so I’ll take good care of you. But we’re not friends. Let go of me.”
I released her. She opened the door and stepped out.
I caught a glimpse of Svoboda in the room beyond. He craned his neck to look in. Then Rudy’s impressive build blocked the view.
“Hello, Jazz,” Rudy said. “How do you feel?”
“Did anyone die?”
He closed the door behind him. “No. No one died.”
I gasped in relief and my head fell to the pillow. Only then did I realize how clenched up I’d been. “Thank fucking God.”
“You’re still in enormous trouble.”
“If this had happened anywhere else, there would have been deaths.” He clasped his arms behind him. “As it is, everything worked in our favor. We don’t have cars, so no one was operating vehicles at the time. Thanks to our low gravity, no one got hurt falling to the ground. A few scrapes and bruises is all.”
“No harm, no foul.”
He shot me a glare. “Three people went into cardiac arrest from chloroform poisoning. All three were elderly with preexisting lung conditions.”
“But they’re okay now, right?”
“Yes, but only through luck. Once people woke up they checked on their neighbors. If it weren’t for our tight-knit community, that wouldn’t have happened. Plus, it’s easy to carry an unconscious person in our gravity. And no part of town is far away from Dr. Roussel.” He cocked his head toward the doorway. “She’s not thrilled with you, by the way.”
“She takes public health seriously.”
He stood quietly for a moment. “Care to tell me who was in on this with you?”
“I know Dale Shapiro was involved.”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said. “Dale just happened to be out on a drive at the time.”
“In Bob Lewis’s rover?”
“They’re buddies. They lend each other stuff.”
“With Loretta Sanchez?”
“Maybe they’re dating,” I said.
“Maybe he’s not very good at it.”
“I see,” Rudy said. “Can you explain why Lene Landvik transferred a million slugs to your account this morning?”
Good to know! But I kept a poker face. “Small business loan. She’s investing in my EVA tour company.”
“You failed the EVA exam.”
“That’s definitely a lie.”
“Whatever. I’m tired.”
“I’ll let you rest.” He walked back to the door. “The administrator wants to see you as soon as you’re up and about. You might want to pack some light clothes—it’s summer in Saudi Arabia right now.”
Svoboda slipped in through the door as Rudy left.
“Hey, Jazz!” Svoboda pulled up a chair and sat beside the bed. “Doc says you’re doing great!”
“Hey, Svobo. Sorry about the chloroform.”
“Eh, no big.” He shrugged.
“I’m guessing the rest of town isn’t as forgiving?”
“People don’t seem that mad. Well, some are. But most aren’t.”
“Seriously?” I said. “I knocked the whole town out.”
He wiggled his hand. “That wasn’t just you. There were a lot of engineering failures. Like: Why aren’t there detectors in the air pipeline for complex toxins? Why did Sanchez store methane, oxygen, and chlorine in a room with an oven? Why doesn’t Life Support have its own separate air partition to make sure they’ll stay awake if the rest of the city has a problem? Why is Life Support centralized instead of having a separate zone for each bubble? These are the questions people are asking.”
He put his hand on my arm. “I’m just glad you’re okay.”
I put my hand on his. The effect was kind of lost with all the bandaging.
“Anyway,” he said. “The whole thing gave me a chance to bond with your dad.”
“Yeah!” he said. “After we woke up we formed a two-man team to check on my neighbors. It was cool. He bought me a beer afterward.”
I widened my eyes. “Dad…bought a beer?”
“For me, yeah. He drank juice. We spent an hour talking about metallurgy! Awesome guy.”
I tried to imagine Dad and Svoboda hanging out. I failed.
“Awesome guy,” Svoboda repeated, a little quieter this time. His smile faded.