Awakening in a testing facility in which she previously escaped, Jennifer finds herself in the hands of a ruthless examiner that will stop at nothing to find the cure to the SA8 virus.
Coerced into a sinister game of her willfully complying to resistance testing in exchange for knowledge about her past, Jennifer confronts the dark truths about the exploitative history of human existence and begins to blame herself for the death of so many. Can she find the strength and determination to carry on as she is faced with a new pathogen created by her captors, or has she given up on a society and its continual efforts to destroy itself?
BUY THE BOOK
I felt numb all over, like my soul had been ripped from my body. We had listened to the tragedy play out on our walkie-talkie as the Selectees took over the underground, hidden compound over three days ago. We listened all the way up until the very last moment that Thurgood’s radio stopped working, hearing the place being torn to shreds as they worked furiously to find the secret room that we survivors were hiding in. Finally, the place was set on fire to force us out, but the fire or smoke never penetrated the thick, concrete wall between them and us.
Everything happened just feet from us, on the other side of the hidden door that saved us from the fire and the destruction. Still, we had yet to step out of the undisclosed chamber that had saved all of us from death or certain capture. Three days we sat there, hardly eating, hardly sleeping, and intermittently crying from the loss of our friends, still clinging to the hope we would not be found. Laura had to listen to her husband die and we knew nothing of what happened to Michael, Clarissa and the others that had been outside during the initial attack.
All we knew was that Gannon had betrayed us and that he had teamed up with Jacob Stevenson, the man who had tried to kill me multiple times back at the compound in Texarkana. Michael had saved him from a horrible death afterwards because that was the kind of man he was. He was honorable, courageous and had the biggest heart out of any one person that I had ever known in this chaotic world in which I was thrown into. He was there for me, even when I was too depressed to be there for myself. There were countless times and he and the others had risked their lives for my safety. And for that I could hardly be awake without sobbing for him and my friends.
It had been three days and I barely moved from the spot in which I sank. The feelings that all of this had been my fault crept back into my mind and I had hardly spoken to any one of the five other survivors in the room. I know they had lost their friends who had made the ultimate sacrifice for me, but I still couldn’t bring myself out of my melancholy state. Whatever I do, wherever I went, it only brought misery and pain into people’s lives. The cure inside of me was probably never coming out and I couldn’t save the world from a virus that was created by people with a lot more power than I had. They could stomach death and chalk it up to statistics, where I couldn’t.
I sat there motionless, hearing the others talk but not listening to a word they said. Their words meant nothing anymore. Their plans were none of my concern.
Wellstone came over and sat next to me on the floor, his knees creaking when he did.
“Jennifer,” he said calmly scratching his thickening, gray beard, “you know eventually we’re going to have to leave this place. There’s no way of telling if they’re waiting for us outside, but we only have a few more days before our provisions run out.” He gave a sigh and continued. “We’ll gather the supplies we have and then find a vehicle to go for some help.”
“Help,” I muttered with tears in my eyes.
“Jennifer, we can get through this. Montgomery said there are other places out there like this one. Hopefully, we can contact them and get you in a safe location again.”
“A safe location? All that means is that people will eventually have to die, like Texarkana, Little Rock and here. All for me. All because I have a cure I never asked for.”
“I’m not doing this anymore, Wellstone. I said I would, but I can’t keep causing all of this devastation. They’re eventually going to get me and get the cure. You’ll all be turned into their army. They’re going to win because that’s just what happens. The strong take what they want and the weak suffer. The world’s not about what’s right anymore. It’s about whom holds power over everyone else. That’s what the human experience is, right?”
“No, that’s not what it is at all.”
“Then tell me, Doc, what is it?”
He sighed again, looking at the other survivors on the opposite side of the room.
“The human experience is love, Jennifer. It’s being compassionate, it’s putting other people’s needs in front of yours. Michael loves you. So does Clarissa. We all do. And you love us enough to struggle through this.”
“They loved me, Doc,” I corrected. “They gave up everything for something I can’t do. They died because they believed that I’m something that I’m not.”
Wellstone held my hand as I fought back tears.
“They believed in a strong, young woman that has had the weight of the world placed upon her shoulders. They believed in you because they want a future where people have a choice, where they can make decisions for themselves and where a government will once again exist for the people, not the powerful and the corrupt. That’s what they believed in and that’s what I still believe in.” He looked at me and smiled before I laid my head against his shoulder. “There was an old saying back in Texas about going out with your boots on. Michael and Clarissa did that. Now, whether win or lose, we need to go out there with our boots on.”
He kissed me on top of the head before standing up.
“And if it costs you your life?”
“I’ve lived one hell of a life, but the most amazing things I’ve seen has been in these last few months with you. And you still amaze me every day.”
He walked away, back to the group sitting on the opposite side of the room.