Part I

Chapter One

It had started with the ringing. A low tone, in Judah’s head, like the one folk used to hear when it was time for an Emergency Broadcast on television. And like that loud and obnoxious signal it had gotten Judah’s attention.

Judah stood in the mirror, examining his face, while his ears rang. He looked for signs of a stroke or some other brain condition that could’ve caused the ringing.  His face was smooth and symmetrical. His eyes were clear, nostrils flared in unison, and his full lips pressed together tightly.

“What are you doing?” Paige asked as she aggressively pushed past Judah into their shared master bathroom.

Paige never entered a room or anywhere softly. She always barged, pushed, or demanded. A five-foot nothing bull in every China shop. Paige was off-putting to some, but it was her assertiveness that had attracted Judah. Among other things.

“And where is the new toothpaste?” she asked in a huff. “I bought a new whitening brand.”

You wouldn’t need the whitening toothpaste if you didn’t drink twelve cups of tea a day.

The thought popped into Judah’s head, and he chuckled to himself, breaking his facial symmetry. Paige drank too much tea. Green tea, herbal tea, dieter’s tea when she needed to lose a few pounds from overindulging, and recently vanilla chai tea.

“What’s funny? Did you see the toothpaste?” Paige asked, possibly annoyed at his mirth, which made Judah chuckle harder.

“Check the bottom drawer.”

Paige scrunched her nose, her way of frowning without frowning, and did a perfect squat in front of their bathroom vanity. The toothpaste was in the bottom drawer.

“Toothpaste goes here, babe,” Paige said after squeezing a blob on her toothbrush and placing it on the first shelf of the medicine cabinet.   

“I think I was just trying to put everything away,” Judah apologized. “My bad.”

Paige’s eyes responded—by rolling—but she didn’t say anything due to the mouthful of toothpaste suds. Judah was glad her mouth was otherwise occupied. When she went on a tear about orderliness and the proper places for things, Judah’s eyes always glazed over. It wasn’t that he was bothered by Paige’s penchant for cleanliness and order. He loved that about her. Having grown up in complete disorder and disarray, Paige’s not-quite compulsions gave him comfort.

What made Judah’s mind exit the conversation was the tone of Paige’s voice when she complained. Her voice was like a song that got stuck in a person’s head, at first pleasant, then grating. An earworm. Like the ringing in Judah’s ears.

“My ears have been ringing for like a week. I think I might get it checked out.”

Judah’s tone was a nonchalant one, even though he was concerned, but Paige saw through it straight away. She spat out the toothpaste, rinsed her mouth, and went into doctor mode. She’d started her career with a therapy practice before she’d moved over to NASA. Judah was the physician, but that didn’t matter to Paige when her husband was sick.

“Have you checked your blood pressure lately?”

“I don’t have high blood pressure, Paige.”

“Well, it runs in your family. It’s common in Black men as they hit middle age.”

Except Judah hadn’t hit middle age yet. He was only thirty-four. And high blood pressure didn’t run in his family. He had one grandparent who was obese and had completed the trifecta with diabetes and high blood pressure. Judah worked out every day, was a pescatarian, and still ran a six-minute mile. 

“It’s not my blood pressure.” This was his authoritative answer. Closing that matter.

“You should have it checked, just to be sure.” And as Paige always did when Judah wasn’t properly addressing something she deemed serious, she ignored him, and reopened the matter. “Any other symptoms? Blurred vision?”

“No. It might just be an inner ear issue, but I don’t have any dizziness or vertigo.”

“Are you making an appointment? Or should I make it for you?” Paige asked, although Judah knew these weren’t really questions, they were directives.

“I’m just going to see Silas or Zyan. They’ll run some tests if necessary.”

Again, Paige’s face did the talking. She’d bristled at the mention of Zyan. Zyan was Judah’s best friend at work, and they’d known each other since college.

It didn’t help that Zyan was gorgeous. Where Paige’s skin was pale and freckled, Zyan’s was smooth and a deep ebony. Paige’s hair was the color of flames, and Zyan’s was whatever color she was feeling at the moment. The two women were opposites that did not attract. 

“Speaking of Zyan,” Paige said with her voice full of snark. “I heard she was having a birthday party. Invited a few people in my division. Are we supposed to be going?”

Judah had gotten the invitation along with everyone else, but he hadn’t mentioned it to Paige. Mostly because Zyan hadn’t addressed it to him and Paige. She’d addressed it to Judah and said he could bring a plus one.

“I didn’t think you’d want to go, so I didn’t mention it,” Judah said.

“Were you planning to go without me?”

This question felt like an accusation, but Judah didn’t bite. He found it best to not escalate conversations with Zyan as the subject.

“I hadn’t planned on going. Her birthday is today. The team got her a card and we’re having cake at lunch. Would you like to come up?”

“No. But if you want to go to her party, we can. It’ll probably be fun, right?”

It wouldn’t be fun, but there was no way Judah could say that. There was also no way they weren’t going. Paige had decided, and when it came to the delicate subject of the woman some jokingly called his work wife, Judah had chosen the path of zero resistance.

“I think there’s some theme,” Judah said. “Cherry blossoms or something.”

“Oh, that’s cute. They’re in full bloom this weekend. Are we going to go see them? You can’t do it at lunch because of your team birthday party, but maybe when we get off.”

The ringing got louder, just for a moment. Judah blinked and squeezed his fists.

“What’s wrong?” Paige asked.

“The ringing. Just got loud and terrible for a moment.”

Paige took Judah’s face in her hands. “Baby. Are you in pain? Does it hurt anywhere?”

In an instant, Zyan and her birthday party had been forgotten.

“No pain. Just the sound,” Judah said, “but it’s gone now. It was very low and almost non-intrusive. It’s gone now.”

“As much as she gets on my nerves, let Zyan examine you instead of Silas. She’s a better doctor.”


“I’m serious. Do it today. You scared me just then.”

Judah smiled and kissed Paige’s hands. Then he kissed the top of her head, inhaling the scent of her floral shampoo.

“You’re not the boss of me.”

“I am. But you’re the boss of me, so we’re even,” Paige’s smile was loving and concerned.

“You know what? Since we’re going to Zyan’s party, I’m going to skip the team cake. Let’s go see the cherry blossoms at lunch. It’s supposed to be a beautiful day. I’ll let you know what Zyan found out then.”

“Sounds good. I love D.C. in the springtime.” Paige looked at the clock on their bathroom wall. “Shoot, it’s eight o’clock already. I’m going to be late, now.”

“You’re the boss, though, so no one will care.”

Paige chuckled as Judah kissed her neck. It was his favorite spot for spontaneous kisses, and it usually made her want to do more than embrace.

Paige pulled away from their embrace. “I have a meeting at nine.”

“Well, I can’t wait for you to get dressed, or I’ll be late too,” Judah said. “I’ll see you at lunch.”

Paige blew Judah a kiss as she rushed out of the bathroom. He took another look in the mirror before heading out to the office himself. His face was still symmetrical.

But the ringing had returned.

Chapter Two

“Describe the ringing,” Zyan said as she looked in Judah’s eyes with an ophthalmoscope. “Does it sound more like a buzzing sound or a hum?”

“Does that make a difference?” Judah asked.


Zyan exhaled sending her cinnamon-scented breath wafting into Judah’s face. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it reminded Judah that she was inside his personal space. Zyan ignored most boundaries, especially personal space. 

“And you say it got louder for a moment? How loud? Loud enough to disorient you?”

“Yes. Worried Paige for a second. She told me to come and see you.”

Zyan tossed her head back and laughed. “Oh, then you must’ve looked crazy when it happened. Cause I know good and damn well, Paige ain’t trying to have me play doctor with my bestie.”



“What do you think the ringing is?”

“I think tinnitus. Let me check your blood pressure.”

“It’s not my blood pressure.”

“You’re the patient. Give me your arm.”

Zyan slapped a pressure cuff around Judah’s arm. He opened his mouth to object, but Zyan pressed her index finger onto his lips.

“Be quiet so I can get an accurate reading,” Zyan said.

He relaxed and let her take the reading, because if it registered the least bit high, she was going to have the same theory as Paige about the ringing. The machine beeped and the cuff loosened on its own.

“Your blood pressure is perfect,” Zyan said.

“I told you it was.”

“I’ll order a CT scan and draw some blood later. This is probably nothing, but we should do it out of the abundance of caution.”

“Okay,” Judah said. He wished that she had a more concrete idea. This non-diagnosis was going to make Paige worry more.

“I asked you about the buzzing because I’ve been hearing a buzzing sound. Low, steady, and not-quite, but almost annoying.”

Judah lifted an eyebrow. “Seriously? Tinnitus can be a buzzing sound too. Maybe it’s a virus. A cold strain, perhaps?”

“Hmmm. Could be. Do you have any other symptoms, though? Like headache, congestion, loss of taste or smell? I don’t.”

“No. Just the ringing. Other than that, I feel better than usual. Like I could go running.”

“Right now? In your suit and fancy Gucci shoes?”

“I would change my shoes, Zy.”

Zyan hoisted herself on the examination table next to Judah. Her leg grazed his for a second, and he deftly scooted to the right. He wouldn’t—couldn’t—deny that he had chemistry with Zyan, and he didn’t think he could manage working in the division without her, but that was as far as it would go. Because he was married to the love of his life.

“If we’re both sick at the same time, do you think that would be weird?” Zyan asked. “We’d both call in the same days and then everyone would assume we were playing hooky together.”

“Nope, because I would telework.”

“Ugh, you’re such an overachiever.”

“We’re not going to get to deep space without overachieving.”

Zyan smiled. “We’re getting to deep space because we’re brilliant. And my ass is going to be on the mission.”

Sending a manned vessel into the deep recesses of the solar system was their team’s mission. They worked long hours and did countless experiments to make sure the human body could survive an extended amount of time in space. Technology hadn’t matched their dreams yet, but it didn’t stop them from going hard every day. Making the impossible possible was their mission statement.

“Last time I checked it would take almost nine years to get to one of Saturn’s moons,” Judah said. “You’re leaving me for that long? Who’s gonna have my back with Silas?”

“First of all, by the time we do a manned deep space mission the time will be cut in half. Second, you’re good with Silas. I’m the one who needs backup. Third, you could just come with me.”

“I can see that. Paige could come and give all of us therapy to make sure we don’t kill each other.”

“You always gotta bring her up when I’m shooting my shot,” Zyan said.

“That was not a shot.” Judah laughed. Zyan didn’t.

“Anyway. Are you bringing your ass to my party?”


“Really?” Zyan genuinely looked surprised. “I was expecting to roast you for not coming. She’s letting you come.”

“She’s coming with.”

This seemed to shock Zyan enough to make her pause, and she never paused when she was on a roll.

“Well…good. It’s about time she starts accepting me because I’m not going anywhere.”

“We’ve been married ten years. She’s not going anywhere either.”

Silas walked into the examination room, looked at how Judah and Zyan were sitting, and lifted an eyebrow.

“Morning briefing in ten minutes. There’s a huge amount of solar activity in the reports. One of the reports indicated a large UV surge this morning that could’ve been dangerous if it had lasted more than a few seconds.”

“This morning?” Judah asked. “What time?”

Silas scrolled on his iPad. “7:56 am.”

“Was that when your ringing got louder?” Zyan asked.

Judah nodded and frowned. “That must be a coincidence though. UV surges don’t cause tinnitus or any kind of auditory response.”

“Yeah,” Silas said. “This level of surge would’ve been like microwaving your hand for fifteen seconds.”

“Can I see the briefing notes?” Judah asked.

“Yes, let’s walk and talk, though. I’m presenting,” Silas said.

“Why are you presenting at the Solar Weather briefing?” Zyan asked. “This is not really our thing.”

“Anything that could have medical downstream impacts is our thing,” Silas said. “How are you going to be my successor if you aren’t connecting the dots?”

Zyan bristled and sucked her teeth. “Judah can be your successor. I’m going into space.”

“Neither one of y’all are ready,” Silas said.

“We’re a reflection of our leadership,” Zyan quipped back.

Judah didn’t get into their tit for tat conversations. When the time came for it, Zyan always had Silas’ back and he had hers. Sometimes, Judah felt like the odd man out in their little trio, and his close friendship with Zyan didn’t make it better. It just made him feel like Silas’ competitor.

Judah and Zyan followed Silas out of the examining room and to the auditorium. No matter what terse words they shared behind closed doors, their trio loved showing up at meetings together. They were the only three black people in their department. Silas was a senior executive; Judah and Zyan were his senior advisors. They led a team of medical researchers, but Silas had deliberately hired both Judah and Zyan. Some of the other executives gave him flack for it, but by and large no one had an issue with their chocolate squad.

Judah quickly read the report and frowned deeper. The UV surge didn’t look like an anomaly or a system malfunction. It was a solid reading. Was it the beginning of something? The idea that it might be connected to the ringing in his ears was unsettling. The sound was still there, quieter than it had been earlier, but still there.

The trio entered the auditorium and Judah handed the iPad back to Silas. Judah and Zyan took a seat near the front of the room, right behind the conference table where the principals sat. Judah would have preferred sitting toward the back, but Zyan enjoyed strutting past all their coworkers, head held high as if she was wearing an invisible crown.

Judah’s phone buzzed in his pocket, and he eased it out, with no cares about being inconspicuous. Everyone in the room had a phone in their hand. iPhone appendages almost.

He had a text from Paige. Hey there, handsome. Are you taken? Your suit is fly AF.

Judah turned around in his seat. Paige waved at him from the back of the auditorium. She never came to the Solar Weather morning briefing. She worked in the Behavioral Science wing where she studied the impacts of space travel on mental and emotional health. Solar activity wasn’t really her concern.

Judah texted back. I am taken. By a brilliant redhead who thinks I’m more than handsome. She thinks I’m hot.

When there was a break in the briefing presenters, Judah leaned forward in his seat to stand. Zyan grabbed his arm.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“Paige is in the back. I think she wants to talk to me.”

Zyan glanced over her shoulder, saw Paige, then turned back to Judah. “Don’t be gone the whole briefing,” she said. “What if we have to support the question and answers?”

“You got this. I trust you.”

Judah was sitting at the end of the aisle, so he didn’t make much fuss as he rushed up the aisle to meet his wife. They stepped out of the auditorium.

“How’d your nine o’clock go?” Judah asked.

“Meh. Don’t feel like talking about it. What did Zyan say about the ear ringing?”

“She says she’s going to run more tests, order a CT scan.”

“That’s all?”

“Yeah, but remember when the ringing got louder? It was at the same time as this UV surge. Probably just a coincidence…”

“A weird one.”

“That’s what I’m thinking. And even weirder, Zyan has been hearing a buzzing sound. Same kinda thing as the ringing – low, quiet, and constant.”

“How long has hers been going on? Is there a contagion of some sort?” Worry lines creased Paige’s forehead as she asked these questions.

“I thought that, but you’re not having any issues, so maybe it’s just another…”

“Weird coincidence.”


“You want to go for coffee?” Paige asked with a mischievous gleam in her eyes.

“What, now?”

“I had to rush in for my meeting and didn’t get to stop on the way.”

Judah texted Zyan. Going for coffee. Meet you back at the office.

“You’ve got to check in with Zyan, huh? Really?” Paige asked.

“How do you know I didn’t text Silas?”

“Did you?”

“No. It was Zyan, but we usually tag team the Q&A at the end of these. I’m kind of ditching her.” Judah’s look was apologetic, but Paige rolled her eyes.

Paige shrugged and started walking. It made Judah wonder if his wife really needed an emergency caffeine boost, or if she’d just felt a way about him sitting next to Zyan in the meeting. Either way, she was exerting her authority and cementing her place. Paige equaled wife. Zyan equaled Judah’s little friend. It was exhausting for Judah, but he had stood his ground to protect his friendship, so he had to accept that the peace between the two women was precarious, at best.

Outside the building the sun was extremely bright and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Not even a cloud streak. The blue sky almost had a jewel tone from the sun’s brightness.

“Does the sky look weird to you?” Judah asked Paige.

“Yeah, it does. A little. Like someone put a bright iPhone filter on it.”

“Yep, just like that.”

“Or you could just be creating more coincidences to match the ones you’ve already experienced this morning. Don’t do that. You’ll make it weirder.”

“I don’t know if I can be weirder, to be honest.”

Paige laughed. “You probably can’t. But I love your quirkiness. It’s endearing.”

“Endearing? I’m trying to be sexy and irresistible.”

“Oh, you are that too.”

Judah pulled Paige close and kissed her neck.

“Ow,” Paige said as she pushed Judah away. “Your lips feel sharp.”

“What? I have on lip balm.”

Paige whipped her hair to the side and rubbed her neck. The skin was bright red and raw, like a burn.

“Did you put on sunscreen when you were in the yard yesterday? It looks like you got a burn.”

“I did, and I wore a hat and scarf. How the hell did I get burned? It wasn’t hurting last night.”

“And I didn’t see it this morning, either. I kissed you in this exact spot, and there was no burn. Maybe you got it on the way to work,” Judah offered.

“That would be crazy if I did. I was in the sun for less than two minutes.”

“Maybe it’s not a sunburn. It might be another kind of rash.”

“You’re a doctor,” Paige said. “What do you think?”

“I gave my diagnosis – severe sunburn. It even looks blistered in some places. But if that doesn’t make sense, we might need a dermatologist to take a skin biopsy.”

Judah reached to open the door to Starbucks but yanked his hand back on the initial touch. It felt like the door handle had been in an oven.

“Why is that so hot?” Judah asked aloud, although the question was rhetorical.

“There’s no shade out here,” Paige said. “Probably just getting too much direct sunlight.”

Yep, Judah thought. Too much sun. Just like Paige’s neck.

As they stood in line for their coffee, Judah briefly examined the people in line. Several men with short haircuts had red necks. A young woman in front of them had on a sundress and her back was extremely red.

Was the number of people with what looked like sunburn concerning? Judah didn’t know. Maybe this was common after the first warm and sunny weekend of the year. Perhaps people had gone outside shopping, drinking, running, and boating. And this was the result.

The line moved but the young lady in front of them didn’t take a step forward causing Paige to bump into her.

“Ouch,” the girl yelped as she spun around to glare at Paige.

“I’m sorry. Did I hurt you?”

“Just my back. I think you scratched me,” she said.

“I-I didn’t, but your back is pretty raw,” Paige said. “You’ve got a pretty bad sunburn.”

“Huh?” the young lady asked. “Sunburn? What sunburn?”

Paige’s eyes widened and she turned to face Judah. His mind was already reeling. That UV surge from this morning, was more than just a blip on a report. Maybe it had done this damage.

“I think we need to get back to the office,” Paige said. “Now.”

Paige headed for the door, but Judah stopped her. “Stay here for a bit. Even better use the other exit that connects to the Metro tunnel and stay there.”


“I don’t want you out in the sun. What if you got that burn just from our five-minute walk?” Judah asked.

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“Well, just let me go back to the office and see if there have been other reports. I’ll call you with an all-clear in a few.”

“If the sun is dangerous to me, then it’s dangerous to you too, Judah. Just because you didn’t get a burn doesn’t mean there’s no damage.”

He nodded. That was true, except that Paige had the fairest skin type with her freckles and red hair. Her fair skin was almost an affliction under normal conditions with the amount of sunblock and aloe they had to invest in during the summer.

“I think I’ll be okay to run down the street. I’ll get back to the office in three minutes.”

Paige took out her phone and started pressing buttons. “Let me email my team and let them know I haven’t bailed on the day. Keep me posted. I better hear from you by the time I’m done with my coffee.”

“You will, babe.”

Judah headed for the door, then doubled back. He kissed Paige’s cheek causing her to grin.

“What was that for?” she asked.

“I don’t know. Just wanted to kiss my wife.”

Judah didn’t share the dread he felt in the pit of his stomach that all these strange coincidences were somehow connected, and that they were the start of something terrifying.

Chapter Three

“Where the hell did you go?” Silas barked at Judah.

Judah started to tell Silas he’d gone for coffee with his wife in the middle of the Solar Weather briefing, but quickly talked himself out of that.

“Paige had an emergency,” Judah said instead. “What’s going on, though? Is there more information on the UV surge?”

“How did you know? Does the media already have the story?”

Silas yanked Judah into his office where Zyan was already sitting with her laptop. She typed furiously but took an instant to glare at Judah before going back to her work.

“I don’t know what the media has,” Judah said, “but I saw, in my opinion, a curious amount of sunburned skin when I was outside. There were too many instances to be a coincidence.”

“It wasn’t as severe in this area,” Zyan said. “But some areas in the southeast have reported emergency rooms flooded with sunburns so bad they are the equivalent of third-degree burns. Lots of farm workers who were out early.”

“Any reported casualties?” Silas asked.

“Dozens, so far,” Zyan said.

“Has anyone done an atmospheric study? This sounds like a disintegrated ozone,” Judah said. “But how did we miss this?”

Silas shook his head. “We can’t worry about that part right now. We’ve got to augment the crisis response team.”

“Are they predicting another surge? What should I tell Paige? I left her at the Metro station when I noticed she had a burn on her neck.”

Zyan and Silas exchanged glances.

“What?” Judah asked.

“Tell her to stay inside for the next five hours. They can’t predict the next surge, but there have been several since the first recorded event. When the sun goes down, she should be able to move.”

Judah texted Paige instructions. Luckily, she was somewhere safe. The Metro station was underground where the sun’s rays wouldn’t reach.

“How’s your tinnitus?” Zyan asked.

“Same. Yours?” Judah replied.

“Worse. I think it’s connected to the UV surges. Silas has it too,” Zyan said.

Silas nodded. “Mine is a ringing in my ears like yours, Judah. I’ve talked to at least three other managers who’ve got sick leave calls in for the same kind of issue.”

“I don’t see how sunburns and tinnitus can be related,” Zyan said, “but somehow I think they must be.”

All three of their cell phones beeped loudly with an emergency notification. Judah looked at the text and cringed.

Extreme UV wave located five miles from the Miami, FL coastline. Numerous casualties exist. Take cover indoors across the CONUS, US Virgin Islands, Hawaii, Guam, and Federated Islands of Micronesia.

Judah looked up from his phone and locked gazes with Zyan. Before he could blink, a sharp sound filled Judah’s head. There was no pain, but it was more than the ringing. It was a shriek. He winced, and squeezed his eyes tightly shut, but the sound was gone quickly. When it left, it took the ringing with it.

Did you hear that?

Judah was confused. The question came from Zyan. He’d clearly heard the question, in Zyan’s voice. But he hadn’t heard with his ears, so, hear was probably the wrong verb.

Judah replied, “I did.”

Or at least he thought that’s what he’d said. Judah couldn’t understand the sound coming from his mouth. It sounded like gibberish or gremlin-speak. Swirly noises that might have come from a toddler. Judah’s heart raced. Was he having a stroke?

Zyan tilted her head to one side. Wait. Did she not understand either? She opened her mouth to speak. Sound came out, but it was gremlin-speak like Judah’s own voice.


Both Judah and Zyan looked at Silas. They had both “heard” Silas. It was a yell that they only heard in their minds.

It’s telepathy.

Judah said this. He found he could project this thought effortlessly. There was nothing to learn. It was like a switch had been turned on, and his brain had gone on autopilot.

Zyan smiled. The surge did this? We’re telepathic. Is it permanent? Is it everyone?

Judah shrugged, although he knew Zyan had just gone into scientific method mode. There were too many questions for them to form a hypothesis to test. They needed more facts.

Zyan looked down at her computer and started typing. The chime of her email notification kept going off, so the facts were pouring in. Why was the chime from the computer a distinguishable sound and not speech?

Judah sat at his own computer and opened his internet browser. He went to several news outlets to see what they were reporting. He clicked on one live broadcast, and just like he thought, the news anchor’s voice sounded like gibberish, and not just to Judah. Her Hispanic co-anchor had the most confused look on his face.


Judah looked back up at Silas. He didn’t seem to be taking this change well. While Judah and Zyan had gone straight into research mode, Silas was stuck in his spot and telepathically yelling still.

Zyan glanced at Judah, then jumped up to her feet and rushed over to Silas. She took both his arms and started rubbing them.

You’re not hurt Silas. This is weird. It might be temporary, though. Let’s find out, okay?

Zyan’s mental voice was as soothing as her regular voice. Even Judah felt a little bit calmer hearing what she said to Silas. Silas’ breathing slowed and he seemed to relax. He reached for the office door and opened it, but the noise in the hallway was overwhelming. It was a combination of the gremlin vocal sounds and mental yells and screams.

Judah left his desk and walked into the hallway. It was difficult because the gremlin sounds were highly unsettling. Something about knowing that he should understand them but couldn’t made Judah uneasy. He imagined it felt the same when a person had a stroke. The words a stroke patient said didn’t always match the thought, causing dissonance.

The hallway scene was pandemonium. But very quickly, Judah understood the pattern. The mental voices he could pick out from the people rushing by were all darker-hued individuals. Fatimah and George from the Policy Branch, Jose from the Procurement office, and Arpita from Behavioral Science were all brown skinned people from Africa, Washington D.C., Cuba, and India.

How in the hell could a UV surge do this?