Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost--how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.
Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked: Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss--maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.
When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.
Partridge, maybe the Dusts are busy devouring a bus full of schoolchildren,” Bradwell says. “Wouldn’t that be lucky!” “You know I didn’t mean it like that,” Partridge says. The ground gets soft underfoot. That’s when Partridge sees a small creature, ash-colored, almost mouse-size, but not a mouse. It isn’t furred. It’s covered in sandy char, and its ribs look exposed, as if skinless. For a moment it darts across the ground then disappears into it, absorbed by earth. “What was that?” “What?”
the stocking and onto her clothes, like dark waterstains. Her body stocking is ripped on one hand so that her fingers are poking through. Some of the fingers are bruised bluish as if freshly twisted. This may be how Ingership got his scratches. The stocking is also torn on one side of her jaw, revealing pale skin, a dark bruise, and two welts that look almost like fresh burns. Pressia tries to remember exactly what Ingership’s wife said to her in the kitchen. I won’t put you in harm’s way. Did
names do for a city that’s lost everything, including most streets? That’s what she’s thinking about when she hears the scream from behind her. She turns around and sees that the Pure is already down; one leg has been dragged into the rubble out of sight. “Pressia!” he shouts. The guttural noises of Beasts rise up all around them. “Why did you scream?” she shouts at the Pure, realizing she’s screaming now too, but unable to stop herself. “I told you not to scream!” She looks out across the
pulls the two armchairs apart. “Sit down,” he says to Pressia and Partridge. And they sit on the lumpy chairs. Bradwell pulls up the footlocker and takes a seat. She sees the ruffle of birds on his back under his shirt. She feels for him. The birds are his body now—just as the doll head is part of hers. The birds merge with his life span. They live as long as he lives. If one has an injured wing, would he feel it? Once, when she was twelve, she tried to cut her doll head off. She thought she
luggage in the trunk? Instead Ingership said, “Get out.” “Who? Me?” El Capitan asked. “Me?” Helmud said. Ingership nodded. “You’ll wait here. The driver will bring her back.” Pressia didn’t want El Capitan to go. She didn’t want to be alone with Ingership. Something about his mechanized speech and eerie calm unsettled her. El Capitan opened the door, got out, slammed it, and then knocked on the window. “Hit the button,” Ingership said. Pressia pressed a button on the interior handle and