Authors: Aaron Johnston
By Orson Scott Card from Tom Doherty Associates
The Folk of the Fringe
Future on Fire
Future on Ice
(with Aaron Johnston)
(with Kathryn Kidd)
Maps in a Mirror: The Short Fiction of Orson
Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher
The Worthing Saga
THE TALES OF ALVIN MAKER
The Crystal City
Shadow of the Hegemon
Shadow of the Giant
Speaker for the Dead
Children of the Mind
The Memory of Earth
The Call of Earth
The Ships of Earth
WOMEN OF GENESIS
Rachel & Leah
From Other Publishers
How to Write Science Fiction
Characters and Viewpoint
Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show at oscigms.com
ORSON SCOTT CARD
& AARON JOHNSTON
A TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES BOOK
The author and publisher have provided this e-book to you without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied so that you can enjoy reading it on your personal devices. This e-book is for your personal use only. You may not print or post this e-book, or make this e-book publicly available in any way. You may not copy, reproduce or upload this e-book, other than to read it on one of your personal devices.
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the authors’ imagination or are used fictitiously.
Copyright © 2007 by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book,
or portions thereof, in any form.
Edited by Beth Meacham
A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Card, Orson, Scott.
Invasive procedures / Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston.—1st ed.
“A Tom Doherty Associates Book.”
I. Johnston, Aaron. II. Title
First Edition: September 2007
Printed in the United States of America
0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
To Peter Johnson,
friend and fellow storyteller
by Aaron Johnston
This novel is based on my screenplay adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s short story “Malpractice,” which was first published in
Analog Science Fiction
Scott and I were working together at the time, developing some of his literary properties for the film industry, and we both agreed that “Malpractice” was a short story worth exploring. We exchanged countless e-mails—the sum of which, should they ever be compiled and printed, might actually exceed the length of this novel—to discuss how best to expand the story into a feature-length narrative. Later, when we began to expand the story a second time into this novel, we wrote another volume of e-mails with additional story possibilities. Occasionally Scott would fly out to Los Angeles for business, and we’d pass an afternoon rehashing it all and filling our stomachs with gourmet ice cream.
In addition to our time collaborating, several books were particularly useful in writing this novel. Richard Preston’s
The Hot Zone
gives the true account of a highly contagious, deadly virus that appeared in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., in 1983. It also happens to be one of the most terrifying books I’ve ever read. My hat goes off to the military staff at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
, at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, Maryland, who do more
than we know—and probably
to know—to keep us safe from deadly biological threats.
I was also fascinated by
Beating Back the Devil: On the Front Lines with the Disease Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service
, by Maryn McKenna. The BHA is loosely based on the EIS, but our fictitious agency doesn’t do justice to the true heroism and selfless service given by the men and women of the real federal organization. When the rest of the world flees an outbreak, the EIS runs
Beth Meacham, our editor at Tor, contributed substantially to our work—she is a good friend to us and every writer she works with. Thanks also to Barbara Bova, our agent, for giving tireless encouragement, not to mention many good suggestions.
Dagen Merrill, one of the most talented film directors I know, was integral in adapting the original short story to a screenplay. It was he who suggested that the Healers be genetically modified giants, and therefore deserves credit for many of the story’s best scenes.
Thanks to Chris Wyatt, a producer on
—a film that makes me laugh just thinking about it—for reading the screenplay and for giving smart notes. Chris knows suspense as well as he does comedy and his insight was invaluable. I’m also grateful to Captain Ben Shaha, currently serving a second tour in Iraq, who gave me a basic understanding of military weaponry. Jonathan Frappier shared what he had read of the homeless in Los Angeles, and his findings guided me further in my research.
Kathleen Bellamy, Orson Scott Card’s assistant, made sure that the manuscript shipped when it needed to, and helped me, a first-time novelist, understand the many steps of the publishing process.
Other friends and family members read the screenplay and novel in various stages of completion and gave suggestions and encouragement throughout the process. Particular thanks go to Eric Artell, Ian Puentes, Sara Ellis, Emily Card, Peter Johnson, Karl Bowman, and my parents, Dave and Marsha Johnston.
My wife, Lauren, deserves the greatest credit because she was kind enough to read every draft and every page—often several times each—and lovingly tell me what did and didn’t work. A more supportive and patient wife the world has not known. And to Luke and Jake, my two rowdy
boys, who were understanding enough to let me work when they would much rather have had me by their side, on the carpet, playing Thomas the Tank Engine—Boys, I’m ready now with my train if you are.
February 6, 2007
Dolores never met a Healer she didn’t like until the night they took her away. It happened at the playground on Santa Monica Beach at about two o’clock in the morning. Dolores slept in the metal tube that connected the jungle gym to the swirly slide. For a homeless woman of forty, it wasn’t that bad of an arrangement. She had privacy here, and the garbage cans at the playground usually had enough juice boxes or snack packets to tide her over until morning.
A passerby would, no doubt, think Dolores older than her forty years. Time on the street had a way of aging a person in much the same way war did. Her greasy brown hair hung in knotted clumps beneath a black knitted cap. Her eyes were gray, distant, and tired. Years of wind and sun had leathered her face and left dark circles under her eyes. Beneath her heavily soiled trench coat were several layers of other clothing: T-shirts and sweatshirts and all kinds of shirts—far more than normal people would wear but just enough for someone who slept out in the cold.
Tonight the cold was especially cold, the kind that snaked its way into Dolores’s metal tube and then into the holes and folds of her clothing. It was a cold that had kept her up all night. And by the time the uninvited drunk man arrived, Dolores was in a particularly sour mood.
He stumbled into the playground, smelling like a vat of cheap liquor.
From where she lay, Dolores couldn’t see him, but he was making plenty of noise and sounded like trouble.
Go away, she wanted to scream. Take your booze smell and the vomit smell that’s bound to be right behind it and go away.
Instead he collapsed onto the slide, and the metal rang with the sound of his impact.
Dolores inchwormed her way to the end of the tube and looked down. There he was, sprawled on his back in the sand, his arms spread wide, his mouth slightly agape. He must have slid right off the slide after falling onto it.
Dolores shook her head.
Whatever you been drinking, mister, you must have burned a lot of brain cells, because no poorly buttoned flannel shirt and holey pair of blue jeans are going to protect you from this wind. You need layers, peabrain. Layers.
She wriggled back inside the tube. Not dressing for the weather was about the stupidest, most inexcusable reason for dying Dolores could think of.