The Passage Page 44

They loaded us onto the buses. Everything felt different to me with Terrence there. He lent me his pillow to use and I fell asleep with my head leaned against him. So I couldn't say how long we were in the buses, though I don't think it was more than a day. Then before I knew it Terrence was saying, wake up, Ida, we're here, wake up now, and right away I could smell how different the air was, where we were. More soldiers took us off, and for the first time I saw the walls, and the lights above us, standing high on their poles-though it was still the daytime so they weren't on. The air was fresh and bright, and so cold all of us were stamping our feet and shivering. There was Army everywhere and FEMA trucks of all sizes full of every kind of thing, food and guns and toilet paper and clothes, and some with animals in them, sheep and goats and horses and chickens in cages, even some dogs. The Watchers put us all in lines like they'd done before and took our names and gave us clean clothes and took us to the Sanctuary. The room they put us in was the one most everyone knows, where all the Littles sleep to this very day. I took a cot next to Terrence and asked him the question that was on my mind, which was, what is this place, Terrence? Your daddy must have told you if he built the train. And Terrence was very still for a moment and said, this is where we live now. The lights and walls will keep us safe. Safe from the jumps, safe from everything until the war is over. It's like the story of Noah, and this here's the ark. I asked him what ark and what are you talking about and will I ever see my mama and daddy again and he said, I don't know, Ida. But I'll look after you like I said. Sitting on the bed on the other side was a girl no older than me, who was just crying and crying, and Terrence went to her and said, quietly, what's your name, and I'll look after you too if you want, which made her stop. She was a beauty, that one, you could see it plain as day, even as dirty and worn down as all of us were. The sweetest little face and hair so light and wispy it was like a baby's, the way they do. She nodded to what he said and answered, yes, would you please do that, and if it's not much trouble can you look after my brother too. And wouldn't you know that girl, Lucy Fisher, became my very best friend and was the one that Terrence married later on. Her brother was Rex, a little bit of a thing who was just as pretty as Lucy except in the manner of a boy, and I'm guessing you probably know that Fishers and Jaxons been mixed up together one way or the other ever since.

Nobody said it was my job to remember all these things, but it seems to me that without me to put them down, they'd all be gone by now. Not just how we came to be here but that world, the old world of the Time Before. Buying gloves and a scarf at Christmas and walking with my daddy up the block for water ice and sitting in a window on a summer night to watch the stars come on. They're all dead now, of course, the First Ones. Most been dead so long, or else taken up, that no one even remembers their names no more. When I think back on those days it's not sadness I feel. A little sadness, for missing folks, like Terrence, who was taken up at twenty-seven, and Lucy, who died in childbirth not long after, and Mazie Chou, who did live a good while but passed in a manner I don't just now recall. Pendicitis, I think it was, or else the cancer. The hardest to think on are the ones who let it go, the way so many did over the years. The ones who took it into their own hands, from sadness or worry or just not wanting to carry the weight of this life no more. They the ones I dream on. Like they left the world unfinished and don't even know they've gone. But I suppose it's part of being old to feel that way, half in one world and half in the other, all of it mixed together in the mind. No one's left who even knows my name. Folks call me Auntie, on account of I never could have no children of my own, and I guess that suits me fine. Sometimes it's like I've got so many people inside me I'm never alone at all. And when I go, I'll be taking them with me.

The Watchers told us the Army would be coming back, bringing more children and soldiers, but they never did. The buses and trucks pulled away, and as darkness settled down they sealed the gates, and then the lights came on, bright as day, so bright they blotted out the stars. It was a sight to see. Terrence and I had gone outside to look, the two of us shivering in the cold, and I knew then that what he'd said was so. This was where we would live from now on. We were there, together, on First Night, when the lights came on and the stars went out. And in all the years since then, the years and years and years, I never have seen those stars again, not once.



First Colony

San Jacinto Mountains

California Republic

92 A.V.

O sleep! O gentle sleep!

Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,

That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down

And steep my senses in forgetfulness?


Henry IV, Part II

Slide No. 1: Reconstruction of First Colony Site (33°74' N, 116°71' W)

Presented at the Third Global Conference on the North American Quarantine Period

Center for the Study of Human Cultures and Conflicts

University of New South Wales, Indo-Australian Republic

April 16-21, 1003 A.V.



We, the HOUSEHOLD, in order to safeguard DOMESTIC ORDER; provide for the EQUAL SHARE; promote the PROTECTION of the SANCTUARY; establish FAIRNESS in all matters of WORK and TRADE; and provide for the COMMON DEFENSE of the COLONY, its MATERIAL ASSETS and all SOULS who dwell within its WALLS, until the DAY OF RETURN, do ordain and establish this DOCUMENT OF ONE LAW.


The HOUSEHOLD shall be composed of the oldest member of each of the surviving FIRST FAMILIES (Patal, Jaxon, Molyneau, Fisher, Chou, Curtis, Boyes, Norris), not to exclude those who have joined a second family by marriage, including WALKER FAMILIES; or, in such cases as the oldest surviving member declines to serve, by another of his surname; The HOUSEHOLD shall act in consultation with the BOARD OF THE TRADES to oversee all matters of defense, production, illumination, and distribution of EQUAL SHARES, final authority to be retained by the HOUSEHOLD in all matters of dispute and in times of CIVIL EMERGENCY; The HOUSEHOLD shall elect one of its members to be HEAD OF THE HOUSEHOLD, that person alone to serve without encumbrance of a secondary TRADE.


All duties of work within the COLONY, and without its WALLS, including the POWER STATION and TURBINES and GRAZING FIELDS and PITS, shall be divided into the SEVEN TRADES, to include: the Watch, Heavy Duty, Light and Power, Agriculture, Livestock, Commerce and Manufacturing, and Sanctuary-Infirmary; Each of the SEVEN TRADES ("Works") shall be self-administering, the HEADS of TRADE to form the BOARD OF TRADES, reporting to the HOUSEHOLD in such manner as the HOUSEHOLD determines and at its sole discretion.


The WATCH is henceforth known to be one of the SEVEN TRADES, equal to all others, and comprised of no fewer than one FIRST CAPTAIN, three SECOND CAPTAINS, fifteen FULL WATCH, and a number of runners to be determined.

All FIREARMS and PIERCING WEAPONS (longbows, crossbows, blades longer than 10 cm) within the WALLS of the COLONY are to be kept and stored in the ARMORY, under the protection of the WATCH.


Each child shall remain in the safety of the SANCTUARY ("F. D. Roosevelt Elementary School"), never to leave its walls, until the age of 8 years, to depart its confines on the advent of her 8th birthday, whereupon that child shall select a TRADE, subject to the needs of the COLONY and the approval of the HOUSEHOLD and the BOARD OF TRADES.

That child's EQUAL SHARE shall upon his release from the SANCTUARY revert to the HOUSEHOLD of which he is a part, to be carried with him at the time of his MARRIAGE.

Children in the SANCTUARY are to know nothing of the world in its present form outside the COLONY's walls, including any mention of the VIRALS, the duties of the WATCH, and the event known as the GREAT VIRAL CATACLYSM. Any person found to knowingly provide such information to any MINOR CHILD is subject to the penalty of PUTTING WITHOUT THE WALLS.


WALKERS, or souls not of the FIRST FAMILIES, are fully endowed with EQUAL SHARES, not to be deprived of such shares by any person, with the exception of unmarried males who choose to dwell within the BARRACKS under the shares of their TRADES.


Any soul, whether FIRST FAMILY or WALKER, who comes into direct physical contact with a VIRAL must be quarantined for a period of no fewer than 30 days.

Any soul, whether quarantined or at liberty, who exhibits symptoms of VIRAL INFECTION, including but not limited to SEIZURES, VOMITING, AVERSION TO LIGHT, CHANGES IN EYE COLORATION, BLOOD HUNGER, or SPONTANEOUS DISROBING, may be subject to immediate confinement and/or MERCIFUL EXECUTION by the WATCH.

Any soul who opens the gates, whether wholly or in part, by accident or design, alone or in the company of others, between SECOND EVENING BELL and FIRST MORNING BELL is subject to the penalty of PUTTING WITHOUT THE WALLS.

Any soul who owns, operates, or encourages the operation of a RADIO or other SIGNALING DEVICE is subject to the penalty of PUTTING WITHOUT THE WALLS.

Any soul who commits the crime of murdering another soul, such act to be defined as deliberately causing the physical death of another without sufficient provocation of infection, is subject to the penalty of PUTTING WITHOUT THE WALLS.


17 A.V.

Devin Danforth Chou

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Deputy Regional Administrator of the Central Quarantine Zone


Terrence Jaxon

Lucy Fisher Jaxon

Porter Curtis

Liam Molyneau

Sonia Patal Levine

Christian Boyes

Willa Norris Darrell



On a fading summer evening, late in the last hours of his old life, Peter Jaxon-son of Demetrius and Prudence Jaxon, First Family; descendent of Terrence Jaxon, signatory of the One Law; great-great-nephew of the one known as Auntie, Last of the First; Peter of Souls, the Man of Days and the One Who Stood-took his position on the catwalk above Main Gate, waiting to kill his brother.

He was twenty-one years old, Full Watch, tall though he did not think of himself as tall, with a narrow, high-browed face and strong teeth and skin the color of late honey. He had his mother's eyes, green with flecks of gold; his hair, which was Jaxon hair, coarse and dark, was pulled away from his brow in the style of the Watch, compressed into a tight, nutlike knob at the base of his skull with a single leather loop. A web of shallow creases fanned from the corners of his eyes, squinting into the yellowing light; there was, at the margin of his left temple, a single, hard-won streak of gray. He wore a pair of scavenged gaps, motley-patched at the knees and seat, and, cinched at his slender waist, a jersey of soft wool, beneath which he could feel the day's scrim of dirty perspiration, prickling his skin. He had taken the gaps from the Storehouse three seasons ago, at Share; they had cost him an eighth-he had bargained Walt Fisher down from a quarter, a ridiculous price for a pair of gaps, but that's how Walt did things, the price was never the price-and were too long in the legs by a hand, gathering in bunches at the tops of his feet, shod in sandals of cut canvas and old tire; he always wore sandals in the heat of the year or else went barefoot, reserving his one pair of decent boots for winter. Resting at an angle against the edge of the rampart was his weapon, a crossbow; at his waist, in its sheath of soft leather, a blade.

Peter Jaxon, twenty-one, armed at Full Watch. Standing the Wall as his brother had done, and his father, and his father before him. Standing to serve the Mercy.

It was the sixty-third of summer, the days still long and dry under wide blue skies, the air fresh with the scents of juniper and Jeffrey pine. The sun stood two hands; First Evening Bell had sounded from the Sanctuary, summoning the night shift to the Wall and calling in the herd from Upper Field. The platform on which he stood-one of fifteen distributed along the catwalk that ringed the top of the Wall-was known as Firing Platform One. Usually it was reserved to the First Captain of the Watch, Soo Ramirez, but not tonight; tonight, as for each of the last six nights, it was Peter's alone. Five meters square, it was edged by an overhanging net of cabled steel. To Peter's left, rising another thirty meters, stood one of the twelve light assemblies, rows of sodium-vapor bulbs in a grid, dim now in the last of day; to his right, suspended over the nets, was the crane with its block and tackle and ropes. This Peter would use to lower himself to the base of the Wall, should his brother return.

Behind him, forming a comforting cloud of noise and smells and activity, lay the Colony itself, its houses and stables and fields and greenhouses and glens. This was the place where Peter had lived his whole life. Even now, facing away to watch the herd come home, he could hold each meter of it in his mind, a mental inventory in three dimensions with complete sensory accompaniment: the Long Path from the gate to Old Town, past the Armory with its music of hammering metal and the shaded recesses of West Glade, where Auntie lived; the fields with their rows of corn and beans, the backs of the workers bent low over the black earth, tilling and hoeing; the broad, semicircular plaza known as the Sunspot, where the trading days and open meetings of the Household were held; the Sanctuary, with its ringing bell-tower and bricked-in windows and coils of concertina wire, barricades that somehow failed to suppress the voices of the Littles playing in the courtyard; the pens and barns and grazing fields and coops, alive with the sound and smell of animals; the three greenhouses, their interiors obscured by a fog of humidity, and, standing adjacent, the vast scavenged bounty of the Storehouse, where Walter Fisher presided over the stalls of clothes and tools and food and fuel; the blocks of houses in various states of repair, from crumbing cabins long abandoned to those that, like Peter's, had been continuously occupied since The Day; the orchard and buzzing apiary and old trailer park, where nobody lived anymore, and, beyond it, past the last houses of the North Quarter and the Big Shed, at the base of the cutout between the north and east walls in a zone of perpetual cooling shade, the battery stack, three gray bulks of humming metal wrapped by wire and pipe, still resting on the sunken wheels of the semi-trailers that had pulled them up the mountain in the Time Before.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies