The Dollhouse Asylum
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When the world is breaking all someone wants is safety. A virus that had once been contained has returned, and soon no place will be left untouched. But when eighteen-year-old Cheyenne wakes up in Elysian Fields-a subdivision cut off from the world and its monster-creating virus-she is thrilled to have a chance at survival. At first, Elysian Fields-with its beautiful houses and manicured lawns-is perfect. Teo Richardson, the older man who stole her heart, built it so they could be together. But when Teo tells Cheyenne there are tests that she and seven other couples must pass to be worthy of salvation, Cheyenne begins to question the perfection of his world. The people they were before are gone. Cheyenne is now Persephone, and each couple has been re-named to reflect the most tragic romances ever told. Teo dresses them up, tells them when to move and how to act, and in order to pass the test, they must play along. Play it right, then they'll be safe. But play it wrong, they'll die.
can’t help wondering if her dancing has helped her be coordinated like this. At the top, Bee turns around and flashes that grin again. “Thanks for the pointer, Abe,” Bee says. Everyone cheers. Abe, on the periphery, pumps a fist in the air. Bee, one leg on either side of the wall, sways side to side, and Romeo claps Abe on the back. But Marc’s looking through the trees again. Why’s he always so distracted? It’s like he has ADD. He’s missing all the fun. The Doublemint twins are clapping now,
unable to stop. Ripples of pleasure tear through me, and I may be cast out to the farthest reaches of hell for reveling in everything. I shouldn’t be kissing him; I don’t want to stop kissing him, so I touch his arm, and his strong hand grips me on the back. It’s like his hand lights me on fire. I’m glowing, breathing shallowly. I shouldn’t be out here with him; I don’t want to be out here with him, but my heart is exploding like it’s been dipped in gasoline. We’re so close; he pushes me against
the rain, I add quietly, “Willpower,” because that’s a strength I clearly need. Teo smiles, maybe two feet above me. “What an odd combination you present.” Extending his hand, he brings me to my feet so that the bits of blue fabric on my dress flutter up. “Would you say the most evil men and women on the planet possess these traits?” “Absolutely.” A spark of humanity is in everyone—at least at first. But why compare us to them? Is Teo admitting he is evil, or that he is far above the corrupt?
“People do not become evil from strength alone,” Teo says, running his thumb and finger over the sheer fabric of my sleeve. My arm and shoulder quiver. “They possess something else.” I stare at him, as blank as the white ceiling above my head. “Pride,” he answers. “Not just honor, but selfish conceit, when your own ambitions are the only whims you heed. And what is the inverse of pride, Persephone?” “Humility?” Where is he going with this? “That is right,” he smiles, nodding. “Humility is a
holds it like it’s under the desk. It’s damp but still nice. “Book sharing has perks.” “I’d offer you some Skittles,” I smile, reaching into a pretend pocket and handing him an invisible bunch. Marcus gathers the little circles in his free hand and drops two or three in his mouth. He groans, then slips one inside of my mouth. “At lunchtime,” he says, “we would get Slurpees. And by seventh period I’d ask you out.” “For a movie?” “To a dance.” “I’d rather go bowling.” Marcus cracks open a