Chapter 1: A dire diagnosis and plea for help

Their morning ritual was nearly complete: Breakfast was finished, teeth brushed, shoes on.

Let’s go. Now. Or we’re going to be late.

Forrest Hurd was preparing to shuttle his son to preschool and his daughter to kindergarten when something caught his eye. It was his boy, Silas, staggering in circles, eyes seemingly fixed on some distant horizon.

Forrest thought Silas – nearly 4, verbal and already a devotee of “Star Wars” and video games – was messing around.

“Silas, grab your backpack,” Forrest said.

No response. Just the off-kilter looping, moving from the hallway to the kitchen.

“Hey, Dad’s talking,” Forrest said, more forcefully this time. “I need your attention.”

Nothing. No recognition of his father’s words. Not even a flinch.

Forrest walked over and put his hands on his son’s shoulders.

“Silas, can you hear me?”

The boy stared with a haunting emptiness. He smacked his lips as if gasping for air. He vomited

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