84 Sam Temple Quotes And Sayings

Sam-temple is a spiritual place that is meant to be a refuge for anyone who needs it. We all have our moments where we feel alone and need space, but if you’re wondering what you need to do to create this sanctuary in your life, the following inspiring quotes about sam-temple might help.

What do you think that fish is?' Sam asked Astrid., ' she said.' Yeah?' Sam made a face. 'Do you think it's okay to eat?'? Inedible? Joke, duh. Try to keep up, Sam, I made that really easy for you.' Sam smiled. 'You know, a real genius would have known I wouldn't get it. Ergo, you are not a real genius. Hah. That's right. I threw down an 'ergo.''She gave him a pitying look. 'That's very impressive, Sam. Especially from a boy who has twenty-two different uses for the word 'dude. . Michael Grant
Sam woke to a feeling of utter, profound, incredible relief. He closed his eyes as soon as he opened them, afraid that being awake would just invite something terrible to appear. Astrid was back. And she was asleep with her head on his arm. His arm was asleep, completely numb, but as long as that blond head was right there his arm could stay numb. She smelled like pine trees and campfire smoke. He opened his eyes, cautious, almost flinching, because the FAYZ didn’t make a habit of allowing him pure, undiluted happiness. The FAYZ made a habit of stomping on anything that looked even a little bit like happiness. And this level of happiness was surely tempting retaliation. From this high up the fall could be a long, long one. . Michael Grant
It’s time, ” Jack said.“ Breeze? Count the kids, ” Sam said. Brianna was back in twenty seconds. “Eighty-two, boss.”“ About a third, ” Jack observed. “A third of what’s left.”“ Wait. Make that eighty-eight, ” Brianna said. “And a dog.” Lana, looking deeply irritated–a fairly usual expression for her–and Sanjit, looking happy–a fairly usual expression for him–and Sanjit’s siblings were trotting along to catch up.“ I don’t know if we’re staying up there or not, ” Lana said without preamble. “I want to check it out. And my room smells like crap.” Just before the time was up, Sam heard a stir. Kids were making a lane for someone, murmuring. His heart leaped.“ Hey, Sam.”He swallowed the lump in his throat. “Diana?”“Not expecting me, huh?” She made a wry face. “Where’s blondie? I didn’t see her at the big pep rally.”“ Are you coming with us?” Brianna demanded, obviously not happy about it.“ Is Caine okay with this?” Sam asked Diana. “It’s your choice, but I need to know if he’s going to come after us to take you back.”“ Caine has what he wants, ” Diana said.“ Maybe I should call Toto over, ” Sam said. The truth teller was having a conversation with Spidey. “I could ask you whether you’re coming along to spy for Caine, and see what Toto has to say.” Diana sighed. “Sam, I have bigger problems than Caine. And so do you, I guess. Because the FAYZ is going to do something it’s never done before: grow by one.”“ What’s that mean?”“ You are going to be an uncle.” Sam stared blankly. Brianna said a very rude word. And even Dekka looked up.“ You’re having a baby?” Dekka asked.“ Let’s hope so, ” Diana said bleakly. “Let’s hope that’s all it is. Michael Grant
It takes me a while to figure things out, doesn't it?" Edilio grinned. "Do me a favor. When you find Astrid, repeat that to her, word for word, the part about how it takes you a while. Then remember her exact reaction and tell me. Michael Grant
There's a lot youdon't know, Sam. There's a lot I don't tell you. I know who I am. I know what I do, and what I am to this place. I know what I am to you, and how much you depend on me. You may be the symbol, and you may be the one everyone turns to when something goes bad, and you're the big badass, but I'm the guy doing the day-in, day-out work of running things. So I don't make this about me. Michael Grant
About time, ” Brianna said.“ Hey, sorry, we were kind of busy, ” Quinn snapped. “And I didn’t exactly realize I was on a schedule.”“ I don’t like what I have to do here, ” Brianna said. She handed Quinn the note. He read it. Read it again.“ Is this some kind of joke?” he demanded.“ Albert’s dead, ” Brianna said. “Murdered.”“What?”“He’s dead. Sam and Dekka are off in the wilderness somewhere. Edilio’s got the flu, he might die, a lot of kids have. A lot. And there are these, these monsters, these kind of bugs. . no one knows what to call them. heading toward town.” Her face contorted in a mix of rage and sorrow and fear. She blurted, “And I can’t stop them! ” Quinn stared at her. Then back at the note. He felt his contented little universe tilt and go sliding away. There were just two words on the paper: “Get Caine. Michael Grant
Sam. Brianna is dead.” He just stared at her. Then, in a soft, almost childlike voice, he said, “Breeze?”“She stopped Gaia. It looked like Brianna almost killed her. The second time she . But this time . .”There were tears in Sam’s eyes. “My God. How is Dekka?”“Like you’d expect. Destroyed. Roger’s dead, too, so Edilio . It’s been really bad, Sam. Really bad. It’s like we’re in a war.”“ We are. . Michael Grant
Brianna’s looking for Drake, ” Edilio said, thinking out loud.“ You sent her out against Drake?” Albert demanded.“ Sent her? Who sends Brianna out to get into a fight? She goes on her own. Anyway, it’s not like you’ve left us with anyone else.” Albert had the decency not to say anything to that.“ You know, you guys put me in charge. I didn’t ask to be in charge. I didn’t want to be in charge. Sam was in charge and all you guys ever did was give him grief, ” Edilio said. “You two, especially.” He pointed at Albert and Astrid. “So, okay, Astrid takes over. And then Astrid finds out it’s not so much fun being in charge. So it’s like, okay, let’s get the dumb wetback to do the job.”“ No one ever–, ” Astrid protested.“ And me, like a fool, I’m thinking, okay, that must mean people trust me. They asked me to be in charge, be the mayor. Come to find out, I’m not making decisions; Albert’s making decisions. Albert’s deciding we need to find more water and sending our two best fighters off into the countryside. Now I’m supposed to fix everything? It’s like you go, ‘Fight a war, ’ but you sent my army off on a wild goose chase. . Michael Grant
Look, people, I’m announcing a new rule. It’s going to seem harsh. But it’s necessary.” The word “harsh” got almost everyone’s attention.“ We can’t have people sitting around all day playing Wii and watching DVDs. We need people to start working in the fields. So, here’s the thing: everyone age seven or older has to put in three days per week picking fruit or veggies. Then Albert’s going to work with the whole question of freezing stuff that can be frozen, or otherwise preserving stuff.” There was dead silence. And blank stares.“ What I’m saying is, tomorrow we’ll have two school buses ready to go. They hold about fifty kids each and we need to have them mostly full because we’re going to pick some melons and it’s a lot of work.” More blank stares.“ Okay, let me make this simple: get your brothers and sisters and friends and anyone over age seven and be in the square tomorrow morning at eight o’clock.”“ But how about–?”“ Just be there, ” Sam said with less firmness than he’d intended. His frustration was draining away now, replaced by weariness and depression.“ Just be there, ” someone mimicked in a singsong voice. Sam closed his eyes, and for a moment he almost seemed to be asleep. Then he opened them again and managed a bleak smile. “Please. Be there, ” he said quietly. He walked down the three steps and out of the church, knowing in his heart that few would answer his call. Michael Grant
I’m killing Zil. Clear enough? I’m putting him down.”“ Whoa, man, ” Edilio said. “That’s not what we do. We’re the good guys, right?”“ There has to be an end to it, Edilio.” He wiped soot from his face with the back of his hand, but smoke had filled his eyes with tears. “I can’t keep doing it and never reaching the end.”“ It’s not your call anymore, ” Edilio said. Sam turned a steely glare on him. “You too? Now you’re siding with Astrid?”“Man, there have to be limits, ” Edilio said. Sam stood staring down the street. The fire was out of control. All of Sherman was burning, from one end to the other. If they were lucky it wouldn’t jump to another street. But one way or the other, Sherman was lost.“ We should be looking to save any kids that are trapped, ” Edilio said. Sam didn’t answer.“ Sam, ” Edilio pleaded.“ I begged Him to let me die, Edilio. I prayed to the God who Astrid likes so much and I said, God, if You’re there, kill me. Don’t let me feel this pain anymore.” Edilio said nothing.“ You don’t understand, Edilio, ” Sam said so softly, he doubted Edilio could hear him over the roar and crackle of the fire raging all around them. “You can’t do anything else with people like this. You have to kill them all. Zil. Caine. Drake. You just have to kill them. So right now, I’m starting with Zil and his crew, ” Sam said. “You can come with me or not. Michael Grant
Albert had created a currency based on gold bullets and McDonald’s game pieces. He’d wanted to call the currency something else, but no one remembered what. So, ’Bertos they were, a play on “Albert, ” coined by Howard, of course, who had also come up with “the FAYZ” to describe their weird little world. Sam had thought Albert was nuts with his obsession with creating money. But the evidence was in: Albert’s system was producing just enough food for kids to survive. And a lot more kids were working. Far fewer were just hanging out. It was no longer impossible to get kids to go into the fields and do the backbreaking work of picking crops. They worked for ’Bertos and spent ’Bertos, and for now at least starvation was just a bad memory. Michael Grant
Little Pete. He’s not exactly just Astrid’s autistic brother.” He explained briefly while Toto added a chorus of “Sam believes that’s true” remarks.“ How do we get Little Pete to do anything?” Dekka asked.“ The last time Little Pete felt mortal danger he made the FAYZ, ” Sam said. “He needs to be in mortal danger again.” Jack and Dekka exchanged a wary look, each wondering what the other had known or guessed about Little Pete.“Little Pete?” Jack asked. “That little kid has that kind of power?”“ Yes, ” Sam said simply. “Next to Pete, me, Caine, all of us, we’re like . like popguns compared to a cannon. We don’t even know what the limits of his powers are, ” Sam said. “What we do know is we can’t communicate with him very well. We can’t even guess what he’s thinking.”“ Little Pete, ” Dekka muttered and shook her head. “I knew he was important, I got that a long time ago. But he can do that? He has that kind of power?” She pondered for a moment, nodded, and said, “I see why you kept it secret. It’s like having a nuclear weapon in the hands of, well, a little autistic kid. . Michael Grant
Caine’s a guy who needs to win. He needs to win before he poofs. Or he needs to win before I poof. The point is, he’s not going to just accept us freeing all these kids from Coates and taking over Perdido Beach, ” Sam said. “So we need to be ready. And we need to be ready for something else, too: tomorrow is my birthday.” He made a wry face. “Not a birthday I’m exactly looking forward to. But, anyway, we need to decide who takes over for me if…when… I step outside.” Several of the kids made sympathetic or encouraging noises about how Sam maybe wasn’t going to blink out, or maybe it would be a good thing, an escape from the FAYZ. But Sam hushed them all.“ Look, the good thing is, when I go, so does Caine. The bad thing is, that still leaves Drake and Diana and other bullies. Orc…well, we don’t exactly know what’s going on with him, but Howard’s not with him. And Lana…we don’t know what happened to her, whether she left or what.” The loss of Lana was a serious blow. Every one of the Coates refugees adored her for the way she had healed their hands. And it was reassuring to think that she could heal anyone who was injured. Astrid said, “I nominate Edilio to take over if…you know. Anyway, we need a number two, a vice president or vice mayor or whatever.” Edilio did a double take, like Astrid must be talking about some other Edilio. Then he said, “No way. Astrid’s the smartest person here.”“ I have Little Pete to look after. Mary has to care for the prees and keep them out of harm’s way. Dahra has responsibility for treating anyone who gets hurt. Elwood has been so busy in the hospital with Dahra, he hasn’t dealt with Caine or Drake or any of the Coates faction. Edilio’s been up against Orc and Drake. And he’s always been brave and smart and able.” She winked at Edilio, acknowledging his discomfort.“ Right, ” Sam said. “So unless someone has an objection, that’s the way it is. If I get hurt or I ditch, Edilio’s in charge.”“ Respect to Edilio, ” Dekka said, “but he doesn’t even have powers.”“ He has the power to earn trust and to come through when he has to,. Michael Grant
Caine has Drake and Orc, Panda and Chaz, and I hear Mallet has made peace with him. And maybe a half dozen other guys.”“ Are you afraid of them?” Astrid asked him.“ Yeah, Astrid, I am.”“ Okay, ” she said. “But you were scared of going into a burning building, too.”“ You don’t get this, do you?” Sam demanded with enough heat that Astrid took a step back. “I know what you want, okay? I know what you and a bunch of other people want. You want me to be the anti- Caine. You don’t like the way he’s doing things and you want me to go kick him out. Well, here’s what you don’t know: even if I could do all that, I wouldn’t be any better than him.”“ You’re wrong about that, Sam. You’re–”“That night when I first used the power? When I hurt my stepfather? How do you think I felt?”“ Sad. Regretful.” Astrid looked at his face like the answer would be written there. “Scared, probably.”“ Yeah. All that. And one more thing.” He held up his hand and inches from her nose squeezed his fingers into a tight fist. “I also felt a rush, Astrid. A rush. I thought, oh my God, look at the power I have. Look what I can do. A huge, crazy rush.”“ Power corrupts, ” Astrid said softly.“ Yeah, ” Sam said sarcastically. “I’ve heard that.”“ Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I forget who said it.”“ I make a lot of mistakes, Astrid. I don’t want to make that mistake. I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t want to be Caine. I want to…” He spread his arms wide, a gesture of helplessness. “I just want to go surfing.”“ You won’t be corrupted, Sam. You wouldn’t do those things.” He had moved back. She moved to close the distance.“ How can you be so sure?”“ Well, two reasons. First, it’s not your character. Of course you felt a rush from the power. Then, you pushed it away. You didn’t grab at it, you pushed it away. That’s reason number one. You’re you, you’re not Caine or Drake or Orc.”Sam wanted to agree, wanted to accept that, but he felt he knew better. “Don’t be so sure.”“ And reason number two: you have me, . Michael Grant
Hunter’s entire body writhed and squirmed. The side of his head was partly gone. A creature, like some monstrous melding of insect and eel, protruded from Hunter’s shoulder and as they stood there rooted in horror it took a vicious bite of Hunter’s flesh. Taylor was suddenly gone. Dekka’s face was grim, her eyes wet.“ I tried. , ” Hunter said. He held up his hands, mimicked pressing them against his head. “It didn’t work.”“ I can do it, ” Sam said softly.“ I’m scared, ” Hunter said.“ I know.”“ It’s ’cause I killed Harry. God has to punish me. I tried to be good but I’m bad.”“ No, Hunter, ” Sam said gently. “You paid your dues. You fed the kids. You’re a good guy.”“ I’m a good hunter.”“ The best.”“ I don’t know what’s happening. What’s happening, Sam?”“It’s just the FAYZ, Hunter, ” Sam said.“ Can the angels find me here so I can go to heaven?” Sam didn’t answer. It was Dekka who spoke. “Do you still remember any prayers, Hunter?”The insectlike creature was almost completely emerged from Hunter’s shoulder. Legs were becoming visible. It had wings folded against its body. It looked like a gigantic ant, or wasp, but silver and brass and covered with a sheen of slime. It was emerging like a chicken breaking out of an egg. Being born. And as the creature was born, it fed on Hunter’s numbed body. Jerky movements beneath Hunter’s shirt testified to more of the larvae emerging.“ Do you remember ‘now I lay me down to sleep’?” Dekka asked.“ Now I lay me down to sleep, ” Hunter said. “I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” Sam raised his hands, palms out.“ If I should die–” Twin beams of light hit Hunter’s chest and face. His shirt caught fire. Flesh melted. He was dead before he could feel anything. Sam played the light up and down Hunter’s body. The smell was sickening. Jack wanted to look away, but how could he? Sudden darkness as Sam terminated the light. Sam lowered his hands to his side. They stood there in the darkness. Jack breathed through his mouth, trying not to smell the burned flesh. Then they heard a sound. Many sounds. Sam raised his hands and pale light glowed. Hunter was all but gone. The things that had been inside him were still there. Michael Grant
Sam, no! ” Edilio snapped. Sam missed a step, then stopped. He looked at Edilio, puzzled.“ We’re scattered. And we can’t risk you. You die and the light dies with you.”“ Are you out of your mind? You think I’m going to let Drake come in here and take Diana?”“Not you, Sam. Dekka, yes. Orc, yes. He’s out there, too. And send Jack as well. Anyone but you.” Sam looked like he’d been punched. Like someone had knocked the wind out of him. He blinked and started to say something and stopped.“ You aren’t replaceable, Sam. Figure it out, okay? It’s going dark and you make light. So this isn’t going to be your battle. Not now. It’s on the rest of us to step up. . Michael Grant
Sam sent me to give you a message, Edilio. He said, ‘Tell Edilio I couldn’t kill the bugs.’”“ The things that came out of Hunter?” Howard asked. Taylor closed her eyes. Tears squeezed out and rolled down her cheeks. “Yes. The things that came out of Hunter. Sam shot them, you know, with his light. But they’re like, reflective or whatever. Anyway, it didn’t kill them. Michael Grant
It's over, Sam. Finally.""Yeah, " he said. "I guess it is."" Turn out the light, Sam."Sam reached for the switch and turned out the light. Michael Grant
What’s Albert going to do?” a boy named Jim demanded. “Where’s Albert?”Albert stepped from an inconspicuous position off to one side. He mounted the steps, moving carefully still, not entirely well even now. He carefully chose a position equidistant between Caine and Sam.“What should we do, Albert?” a voice asked plaintively. Albert didn’t look out at the crowd except for a quick glance up, like he was just making sure he was pointed in the right direction. He spoke in a quiet, reasonable monotone. Kids edged closer to hear.“ I’m a businessman.”“ True.” Toto.“My job is organizing kids to work, taking the things they harvest or catch, and redistributing them through a market.”“ And getting the best stuff for yourself, ” someone yelled to general laughter.“ Yes, ” Albert acknowledged. “I reward myself for the work I do.” This blunt admission left the crowd nonplussed.“ Caine has promised that if I stay here he won’t interfere. But I don’t trust Caine.”“No, he doesn’t, ” Toto agreed.“ I do trust Sam. But . .”And now you could hear a pin drop.“ But . Sam is a weak leader.” He kept his eyes down. “Sam is the best fighter ever. He’s defended us many times. And he’s the best at figuring out how to survive. But Sam”– Albert now turned to him–“ You are too humble. Too willing to step aside. When Astrid and the council sidelined you, you put up with it. I was part of that myself. But you let us push you aside and the council turned out to be useless.” Sam stood stock-still, stone-faced.“ Let’s face it, you’re not really the reason things are better here, I am, ” Albert said. “You’re way, way braver than me, Sam. And if it’s a battle, you rule. But you can’t organize or plan ahead and you won’t just put your foot down and make things happen.” Sam nodded slightly. It was hard to hear. But far harder was seeing the way the crowd was nodding, agreeing. It was the truth. The fact was he’d let the council run things, stepped aside, and then sat around feeling sorry for himself. He’d jumped at the chance to go off on an adventure and he hadn’t been here to save the town when they needed it.“ So, ” Albert concluded, “I’m keeping my things here, in Perdido Beach. But there will be free trading of stuff between Perdido Beach and the lake. And Lana has to be allowed to move freely.” Caine bristled at that. He didn’t like Albert laying down conditions. Albert wasn’t intimidated. “I feed these kids, ” he said to Caine. “I do it my way.” Caine hesitated, then made a tight little bow of the head.“ I want you to say it, ” Albert said with a nod toward Toto.Sam saw panic in Caine’s eyes. If he lied now the jig would be up for him. Toto would call him out, Albert would support Sam, and the kids would follow Albert’s lead. Sam wondered if Caine was just starting to realize what Sam had known for some time: if anyone was king, it was neither Sam nor Caine, it was Albert. Michael Grant
He pictured himself at the lake, on a houseboat. Dekka would be there, and Brianna and Jack. He would have friends. He wouldn’t be alone. But he couldn’t stop himself from looking for her. She no longer had Little Pete to worry about. They could be together without all of that. But of course he knew Astrid, and knew that right now, wherever she was, she was eaten up inside with guilt.“ She’s not coming, is she?” Sam said to Dekka.But Dekka didn’t answer. She was somewhere else in her head. Sam saw her glance and look away as Brianna laid a light hand on Jack’s shoulder. Dahra was staying in the hospital, but a few more kids came. Groups of three or four at a time. The Siren and the kids she lived with came. John Terrafino came. Ellen. He waited. He would wait the full two hours. Not for her, he told himself, just to keep his word. Then Orc, with Howard.Sam groaned inwardly.“ You gotta be kidding me, ” Brianna said.“ The deal was kids make a choice, ” Sam said. “I think Howard just realized how dangerous life can be for a criminal living in a place where the ‘king’ can decide life or death. Michael Grant
Quinn came forward and Sam pulled him aside. His old friend looked tortured and sad.“ What’s up, brah?” Sam asked. Quinn couldn’t speak. He was choked with emotion. “Dude .”“You want to stay in town.”“ My crews . my boats and all .”Sam put a hand on his shoulder. “Quinn, I’m glad you found something so important to do. Something you really like.”“ Yeah, but .”Sam pulled him into a brief hug. “You and me, we’re still friends, man. But you have responsibilities. Michael Grant
There were dozens of theories about what it was, that dome. Every scientist in the world, it seemed, had made a pilgrimage to the site. Tests had been conducted, measurements taken. They had tried drilling through it. Under it. Had flown over it. Had dug beneath it. Had approached it by submarine. Nothing worked. Every species of doomsayer from Luddite to End Times nut had had his say. It was a judgment. On America’s technological obsession, on America’s moral failure. This. That. Something else. Then the twins had popped out. Just like that. First Emma. Then, a few minutes later, Anna. Alive and well at the exact moment of their fifteenth birthday. They told tales of life inside the bowl. What they called the FAYZ.Connie Temple’s heart had swelled with pride for what she had learned of her son, Sam. And crashed into despair with tales of her other son, her unacknowledged child, Caine.Then, nothing. No other kids arrived for a while. Black despair settled over the families as they realized that it would be only these two. Months passed. Many lost faith. How could kids survive alone? But then, the Prophetess had reached into their dreams. One night Connie Temple had a lurid, incredible dream. She’d never had such a detailed dream. It was terrifying. The power of it took her breath away. There was a girl in that . Michael Grant
Female say Pack Leader stop, ” Pack Leader said angrily.“ What?” Caine could make no sense of it till he saw Diana striding up, dark hair flying, eyes furious.“ I told this filthy beast to stop, ” Diana said, barely controlled.“ Stop what?” Caine demanded.“ They’re still attacking the kids, ” Diana said. “We’ve won. Sam is dead. Call them off, Caine.”Caine turned his attention back to the battle between Drake and the monster. “They’re coyotes, ” Caine said coldly. Diana flew at him. “You’ve lost your mind, Caine. This has to stop. You’ve won. This has to stop.”“ Or what, Diana? Or what?” Caine demanded. “Go get Lana. I’m hurt. Pack Leader, do what you want.”“ Maybe this is why your mother abandoned you, ” Diana said savagely. “Maybe she could see that you weren’t just bad, you were twisted and sick and evil. Michael Grant
Here’s the thing, people: We have some serious problems. The lights are off. And it seems like that’s affecting the water flow in part of town. So, no baths or showers, okay? But the situation is that we think Caine is short of food, which means he’s not going to be able to hold out very long at the power plant.”“ How long?” someone yelled. Sam shook his head. “I don’t know.”“ Why can’t you get him to leave?”“ Because I can’t, that’s why, ” Sam snapped, letting some of his anger show. “Because I’m not Superman, all right? Look, he’s inside the plant. The walls are thick. He has guns, he has Jack, he has Drake, and he has his own powers. I can’t get him out of there without getting some of our people killed. Anybody want to volunteer for that?" Silence.“ Yeah, I thought so. I can’t get you people to show up and pick melons, let alone throw down with Drake.”“That’s your job, ” Zil said.“ Oh, I see, ” Sam said. The resentment he’d held in now came boiling to the surface. “It’s my job to pick the fruit, and collect the trash, and ration the food, and catch Hunter, and stop Caine, and settle every stupid little fight, and make sure kids get a visit from the Tooth Fairy. What’s your job, Zil? Oh, right: you spray hateful graffiti. Thanks for taking care of that, I don’t know how we’d ever manage without you.”“ Sam…, ” Astrid said, just loud enough for him to hear. A warning. Too late. He was going to say what needed saying.“ And the rest of you. How many of you have done a single, lousy thing in the last two weeks aside from sitting around playing Xbox or watching movies?“ Let me explain something to you people. I’m not your parents. I’m a fifteen-year-old kid. I’m a kid, just like all of you. I don’t happen to have any magic ability to make food suddenly appear. I can’t just snap my fingers and make all your problems go away. I’m just a kid.” As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Sam knew he had crossed the line. He had said the fateful words so many had used as an excuse before him. How many hundreds of times had he heard, “I’m just a kid.” But now he seemed unable to stop the words from tumbling out. “Look, I have an eighth-grade education. Just because I have powers doesn’t mean I’m Dumbledore or George Washington or Martin Luther King. Until all this happened I was just a B student. All I wanted to do was surf. I wanted to grow up to be Dru Adler or Kelly Slater, just, you know, a really good surfer.” The crowd was dead quiet now. Of course they were quiet, some still-functioning part of his mind thought bitterly, it’s entertaining watching someone melt down in public.“ I’m doing the best I can, ” Sam said.“ I lost people today… I… I screwed up. I should have figured out Caine might go after the power plant.” Silence.“ I’m doing the best I can.” No one said a word. Sam refused to meet Astrid’s eyes. If he saw pity there, he would fall apart completely.“ I’m sorry, ” he said.“ I’m sorry. . Michael Grant
Find Sam Temple. Tell him you escaped.” Jack gulped and bobbed his head.“ Better yet, find that girl, Astrid.” Diana recovered some of her mocking attitude. “Astrid the Genius. She’ll be desperate to save Sam.”“Okay. Okay.” He steeled himself. “I better go.” Diana touched his arm. “Tell them about Andrew.”Jack froze with his hand on the key. “That’s what you want me to do?”“ Jack, if Sam blinks out, Drake will turn on me, and Caine won’t be able to stop him. Drake is stronger than before. I need Sam alive. I need someone for Drake to hate. I need balance. Tell Sam about the temptation. Warn him that he’ll be tempted to surrender to the big jump, but maybe, maybe, if he says no…” She sighed. It was not a hopeful sound. “Now: go. . Michael Grant
Then, Zil and a half dozen of his crew swaggered into the plaza from the far side. Astrid clenched her jaw. Would the crowd turn on them? She almost hoped so. People thought because she wouldn’t let Sam go after Zil she must not really despise the Human Crew’s Leader. That was wrong. She hated Zil. Hated everything he had done and everything he had tried to do. Edilio moved quickly between Zil and a few of the boys who had started toward him, sticks and knives at the ready. Zil’s kids were armed with knives and bats, and so were those who wanted to take them on. Edilio was armed with an assault rifle. Astrid hated that this was what life so often came down to: my weapon is bigger than your weapon. If Sam were here it would be about his hands. Everyone had either seen what Sam could do, or heard the stories retold in vivid detail. No one challenged Sam. Michael Grant
Hey, Sam, ” Drake shouted. “I thought you’d like to know this isn’t my whole army.” Sam didn’t doubt it.“ Your girl Brianna tried to stop us.” Drake waved a bowie knife in the air. “I took this from her. I whipped her, Sam.” He snapped his whip hand. The crack was like a pistol shot. “I broke her legs so she couldn’t run. Then . .”Dekka was halfway over the side, ready to swim ashore. Jack grabbed her and held her.“ Let me go! ” Dekka yelled.“ Hold her, ” Sam ordered Jack. “Don’t be stupid, Dekka. He wants us to come rushing at him.”“ I can beat him, ” Jack said. “Dekka and me together, we can kill him.” Sam registered the fact that Jack was actually making a physical threat. He didn’t remember ever hearing that kind of thing from Jack. But Dekka was Sam’s greater concern.“ I’m going to kill him, ” Dekka said in a voice so deep in her throat she sounded like an animal. “I’ll kill him. I’ll kill him.” Then she shouted, “I’m going to kill you, Drake. I’m going to kill you! ” Drake grinned. “I think she liked it. She was screaming, but she liked it.”“ He’s lying, ” Toto said.“ Who?” Sam snapped.“ Him.” He pointed at Drake. “He hasn’t killed that girl or hurt her.” Dekka relaxed and Sam and Jack let go of her.“ Truth-teller Toto, ” Sam whispered. “He can tell when people are lying.”“ I just decided I like you, ” Dekka said to Toto. “You might be useful.” Toto frowned. “It’s true: you just decided you like me. Michael Grant
At the moment that target was eating tacos his mother had brought in despite hospital orders against outside food.“ Oh, God, this is good, ” Sam said as juicy beef and crisp lettuce dribbled out onto the tray on his lap.“ Still not tired of eating?” Connie asked him.“ I will never be tired of eating. I’m going to eat until I’m huge. Food, hot water, clean sheets. At least I’ll get those three in prison. . Michael Grant
I’m trying to make a profit. I’m using batteries, toilet paper, and paper towels as currency. Each is something that will eventually be in short supply.”“ You’re trying to get all the toilet paper in town?” Astrid shrilled. “Are you kidding?”“ No, Astrid, I’m not kidding, ” Albert said. “Look, right now, kids are playing with the stuff. I saw little kids throwing rolls of it around on their lawns like it was a toy. So–”“So your solution is to try and take it all away from people?”“ You’d rather see it wasted?”“ Yeah, actually, ” Astrid huffed. “Rather than you getting it all for yourself. You’re acting like a jerk.” Albert’s eyes flared. “Look, Astrid, now kids know they can buy their way into the club with it. So they’re not going to waste it anymore.”“ No, they’re going to give it all to you, ” she shot back. “And what happens when they need some?”“ Then there will still be some left because I made it valuable.”“ Valuable to you.”“ Valuable to everyone, Astrid.”“It’s you taking advantage of kids dumb enough not to know any better. Sam, you have to put a stop to this.” Sam had drifted away from the conversation, his head full of the music. He snapped back. “She’s right, Albert, this isn’t okay. You didn’t get permission–”“ I didn’t think I needed permission to give kids what they want. I mean, I’m not threatening anyone, saying, ‘Give me your toilet paper, give me your batteries.’ I’m just playing some music and saying, ‘If you want to come in and dance, then it’ll cost you.’”“ Dude, I respect you being ambitious and all, ” Sam said. “But I have to shut this down. You never got permission, even, let alone asked us if it was okay to charge people.” Albert said, “Sam, I respect you more than I can even say. And Astrid, you are way smarter than me. But I don’t see how you have the right to shut me down.” That was it for Sam. “Okay, I tried to be nice. But I am the mayor. I was elected, as you probably remember, since I think you voted for me.”“ I did. I’d do it again, man. But Sam, Astrid, you guys are wrong here. This club is about all these kids have that can get them together for a good time. They’re sitting in their homes starving and feeling sad and scared. When they’re dancing, they forget how hungry and sad they are. This is a good thing I’m doing.” Sam stared hard at Albert, a stare that kids in Perdido Beach took seriously. But Albert did not back down.“ Sam, how many cantaloupes did Edilio manage to bring back with kids who were rounded up and forced to work?” Albert asked.“ Not many, ” Sam admitted.“ Orc picked a whole truckload of cabbage. Before the zekes figured out how to get at him. Because we paid Orc to work.”“ He did it because he’s the world’s youngest alcoholic and you paid him with beer, ” Astrid snapped. “I know what you want, Albert. You want to get everything for yourself and be this big, important guy. But you know what? This is a whole new world. We have a chance to make it a better world. It doesn’t have to be about some people getting over on everyone else. It can be fair to everyone.” Albert laughed. “Everyone can be equally hungry. In a week or so, everyone can starve. Michael Grant
We’ve searched all of the homes and carried the food to Ralph’s, ” Sam continued. “The problem is that all the fruit and veggies spoiled while we were all filling up on chips and cookies. The meat all rotted. People were stupid and careless, and there’s nothing we can do about that now.” Sam swallowed the bitterness he felt, the anger he felt at his own foolishness. “But we have food sitting out in the fields. Maybe not the food we’d like, but enough to carry us for months–many months–if we bring it in before it rots and the birds eat it.”“ Maybe we’ll get rescued, and we won’t have to worry, ” another voice said.“ Maybe we’ll learn to live on air, ” Astrid muttered under her breath but loudly enough to be heard by at least a few.“ Why don’t you go get our food back from Drake and the chuds up there?” It was Zil. He accepted a congratulatory slap on the back from a creepy kid named Antoine, part of Zil’s little posse.“ Because it would mean getting some kids killed, ” Sam said bluntly. “We’d be lucky to rescue any of the food, and we’d end up digging more graves in the plaza. And it wouldn’t solve our problem, anyway. Michael Grant
First off, ” he said, “I want to say I’m sorry about E.Z. He was a good kid. He didn’t deserve…” For a moment he almost lost it as a surge of emotion welled up from nowhere. “I’m sorry he died.” Someone sobbed loudly.“ Look, I’m going to get right to it: we have three hundred and thirty-two… I’m sorry, three hundred and thirty-one mouths to feed, ” Sam said. He placed his hands on his hips and planted his feet wide apart. “We were already pretty bad off for food supplies. But after the attack by the Coates kids…well, it’s not pretty bad off, anymore, it’s desperate.” He let that sink in. But how much were six-and eight-year-olds really grasping? Even the older kids looked more glazed than alarmed.“ Three hundred and thirty-one kids, ” Sam reiterated, “And food for maybe a week. That’s not a long time. It’s not a lot of food. And as you all know, the food we have is awful.” That got a response from the audience. The younger kids produced a chorus of gagging and retching sounds.“ All right, ” Sam snapped. “Knock it off. The point is, things are really desperate. Michael Grant
What’s up, Albert?”“Well, I’ve done inventory at Ralph’s, and I think if I had a lot of help, I could put together an okay Thanksgiving dinner.” Sam stared at him. He blinked. “What?”“Thanksgiving. It’s next week.”“ Uh-huh.”“ There are ovens at Ralph’s, big ones. And no one has taken the frozen turkeys. Figure two hundred and fifty kids if pretty much everyone from Perdido Beach shows up, right? One turkey will feed maybe eight people, so we need thirty-one, thirty-two turkeys. No problem there, because there are forty-six turkeys at Ralph’s.”“Thirty-one turkeys?”“ Cranberry sauce will be no problem, stuffing is no problem, no one has taken much stuffing yet, although I’ll have to figure out how to mix, like, seven different brands and styles together, see how it tastes.”“ Stuffing, ” Sam echoed solemnly.“ We don’t have enough canned yams, we’ll have to do fresh along with some baked potatoes. The big problem is going to be whipped cream and ice cream for the pies.” Sam wanted to burst out laughing, but at the same time he found it touching and reassuring that Albert had put so much thought into the question.“ I imagine the ice cream is pretty much gone, ” Sam said.“ Yeah. We’re very low on ice cream. And kids have been taking the canned whipped cream, too.”“ But we can have pie?”“ We have some frozen. And we have some pie shells we can bake up ourselves.”“ That would be nice, ” Sam said.“ I’ll need to start three days before. I’ll need, like, at least ten people to help. I can haul the tables out of the church basement and set up in the plaza. I think I can do it.”“ I’ll bet you can, Albert, ” Sam said with feeling.“ Mother Mary’s going to have the prees make centerpieces.”“ Listen, Albert…”Albert raised a hand, cutting Sam off. “I know. I mean, I know we may have some great big fight before that. And I heard you have your fifteenth coming up. All kinds of bad stuff may happen. But, Sam–”This time, Sam cut him off. “Albert? Get moving on planning the big meal.”“ Yeah?”“ Yeah. It will give people something to look forward to. Michael Grant
I want my mom, ” a little boy cried out suddenly. Every voice fell silent. The boy had said what they were all feeling. Caine hopped down from the car and went to the boy. He knelt down and took the boy’s hands in his own. He asked the boy’s name, and reintroduced himself. “We all want our parents back, ” he said gently, but loudly enough to be overheard clearly by those nearest. “We all want that. And I believe that will happen. I believe we will see all our moms and dads, and older brothers and sisters, and even our teachers again. I believe that. Do you believe it, too?”“ Yes.” The little boy sobbed. Caine wrapped him in a hug and said, “Be strong. Be your mommy’s strong little boy.”“ He’s good, ” Astrid said. “He’s beyond good.” Then Caine stood up. People had formed a circle around him, close but respectful. “We all have to be strong. We all have to get through this. If we work together to choose good leaders and do the right thing, we will make it.” The entire crowd of kids seemed to stand a little taller. There were determined looks on faces that had been weary and frightened. Sam was mesmerized by the performance. In just a few minutes’ time, Caine had infused hope into a very frightened, dispirited bunch of kids. Astrid seemed mesmerized too, though Sam thought he detected the cool glint of skepticism in her eyes. Sam was skeptical himself. He distrusted rehearsed displays. He distrusted charm. But it was hard not to think that Caine was at least trying to reach out to the Perdido Beach kids. It was hard not to believe in him, at least a little. And if Caine really did have a plan, wouldn’t that be a good thing? No one else seemed to have a clue. Michael Grant
You weren’t going to tell us about Orsay?”“I didn’t say I–”“You don’t get to decide that, Sam. You’re not the only one in charge anymore. Okay?”Astrid had an icy sort of anger. A cold fury that manifested itself in tight lips and blazing eyes and short, carefully enunciated sentences.“ But it’s okay for all of us to lie to everyone in Perdido Beach?” Sam shot back.“ We’re trying to keep kids from killing themselves, ” Astrid said. “That’s a little different from you just deciding not to tell the council that there’s a crazy girl telling people to kill themselves.”“ So not telling you something is a major sin, but lying to a couple of hundred people and trashing Orsay at the same time, that’s fine? . Michael Grant
Sam, can you, you know, like burn that concrete off her hands?”“ No. I can’t aim that precisely.”“ I don’t even know what can be done, ” Edilio said as he fed the girl another microscopic bite of food. “You try and break that stuff off with a sledge hammer or something, or even a hammer and a chisel, it’s going to really hurt. Probably break every bone in her hands, man.”“ Who would have done this to her?” Lana wondered.“ That’s a Coates Academy uniform, ” Astrid answered. “We’re probably not far from there. Michael Grant
Drake's whip hand spun Diana like a top. She cried out. That sound, her cry, pierced Caine like an arrow. Diana staggered and almost righted herself, but Drake was too quick, too ready. His second strike yanked her through the air. She flew and then fell.“ Catch her! ” Caine was yelling to himself. Seeing her arc as she fell. Seeing where she would hit. His hands came up, he could use his power, he could catch her, save her. But too slow. Diana fell. Her head smashed against a jutting point of rock. She made a sound like a dropped pumpkin. Caine froze. The fuel rod, forgotten, fell from the air with a shattering crash. It fell within ten feet of the mine shaft opening. It landed atop a boulder shaped like the prow of a ship. It bent, cracked, rolled off the boulder, and crashed heavily in the dirt. Drake ran straight at Caine, his whip snapping. But Jack stumbled in between them, yelling, “The uranium! The uranium! ” The radiation meter in his pocket was counting clicks so fast, it became a scream. Drake piled into Jack, and the two of them went tumbling. Caine stood, staring in horror at Diana. Diana did not move. Did not move. No snarky remark. No smart-ass joke.“ No! ” Caine cried.“ No! ” Drake was up, disentangling himself with an angry curse from Jack.“Diana, ” Caine sobbed. Drake didn’t rely on his whip hand now, too far away to use it before Caine could take him down. He raised his gun. The barrel shot flame and slugs, BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM.Inaccurate, but on full automatic, Drake had time. He swung the gun to his right and the bullets swooped toward where Caine stood like he was made of stone. Then the muzzle flash disappeared in an explosion of green-white light that turned night into day. The shaft of light missed its target. But it was close enough that the muzzle of Drake’s gun wilted and drooped and the rocks behind Drake cracked from the blast of heat. Drake dropped the gun. And now it was Drake’s turn to stare in stark amazement. “You! ”Sam wobbled atop the rise. Quinn caught him as he staggered. Now Caine snapped back to the present, seeing his brother, seeing the killing light.“ No, ” Caine said. “No, Sam: He’s mine.” He raised a hand, and Sam went flying backward along with Quinn.“The fuel rod! ” Jack was yelling, over and over. “It’s going to kill us all. Oh, God, we may already be dead! ” Drake rushed at Caine. His eyes were wide with fear. Knowing he wouldn’t make it. Knowing he was not fast enough. Caine raised his hand, and the fuel rod seemed to jump off the ground. A javelin. A spear. He held it poised. Pointed straight at Drake.Caine reached with his other hand, extending the telekinetic power to hold Drake immobilized. Drake held up his human hand, a placating gesture. “Caine…you don’t want to…not over some girl. She was a witch, she was…” Drake, unable to run, a human target. The fuel rod aimed at him like a Spartan’s spear. Caine threw the fuel rod. Tons of steel and lead and uranium. Straight at Drake. Michael Grant
Help me, ” the girl pleaded softly. Sam knelt beside her. He recoiled in shock. “Bette?”The left side of Bouncing Bette’s face was covered in blood. There was a gash above her temple. She was panting, gasping, like she had collapsed after a marathon and was trying with her last ounce of energy to crawl across the finish line.“ Bette, what happened?”“ They’re trying to get me, ” Bette cried, and clutched at Sam’s arm. The three dark figures advanced to the edge of the circle of light. One was clearly Orc. No one else was that big. Edilio and Quinn moved into the garage doorway. Sam disengaged from Bette and took up a position beside Edilio.“You want me to beat on you guys, I will! ” Orc yelled.“ What’s going on here?” Sam demanded. He narrowed his eyes and recognized the other two boys, a kid named Karl, a seventh grader from school, and Chaz, one of the Coates eighth graders. All three were armed with aluminum bats.“ This isn’t your business, ” Chaz said. “We’re dealing with something here.”“ Dealing with what? Orc, did you hit Bette?”“She was breaking the rules, ” Orc said.“ You hit a girl, man?” Edilio said, outraged.“ Shut up, wetback, ” Orc said.“ Where’s Howard?” Sam asked, just to stall while he tried to figure out what to do. He’d lost one fight to Orc already. Orc took the question as an insult. “I don’t need Howard to handle you, Sam.”Orc marched right up to Sam, stopped a foot away, and put his bat on his shoulder like he was ready to swing for a home run. Like a batter ready for the next fastball. Only this was closer to T-ball: Sam’s head was impossible to miss.“ Move, Sam, ” Orc ordered.“ Okay, I’m not doing this again, ” Quinn said. “Let him have her, Sam.”“Ain’t no ‘let me, ’” Orc said. “I do what I want.” Sam noticed movement behind Orc. There were people coming down the street, twenty or more kids. Orc noticed it too, and glanced behind him.“ They aren’t going to save you, ” Orc said, and swung the bat hard. Sam ducked. The bat whooshed past his head, and Orc rotated halfway around, carried forward by the momentum. Sam was thrown off balance, but Edilio was ready. He let loose a roar and plowed headfirst into Orc. Edilio was maybe half Orc’s size, but Orc was knocked off his feet. He sprawled out on the concrete. Chaz went after Edilio, trying to pull him off Orc.The crowd of kids who had come running down the street surged forward. There were angry voices and threats, all aimed at Orc.They yelled, Sam noted, but no one exactly jumped into the unequal fight. . Michael Grant
Mother Mary wants to draft two more kids, ” Astrid told Sam.“Okay. Approved.”“Dahra says we’re running low on kids’ Tylenol and kids’ Advil, she wants to make sure it’s okay to start giving them split adult pills.” Sam spread his hands in a helpless gesture. “What?”“We’re running low on kid pills, Dahra wants to split adult pills.” Sam rocked back in the leather chair designed for a grown man. “Okay. Whatever. Approved.” He took a sip of water from a bottle. The wrapper on the bottle said “Dasani” but it was tap water. The dishes from dinner–horrible homemade split-pea soup that smelled burned, and a quarter cabbage each–had been pushed aside onto the sideboard where in the old days the mayor of Perdido Beach had kept framed pictures of his family. It was one of the better meals Sam had had lately. The fresh cabbage tasted surprisingly good. There was little more than smears on the plates: the era of kids not eating everything was over. Astrid puffed out her cheeks and sighed. “Kids are asking why Lana isn’t around when they need her.”“ I can only ask Lana to heal big things. I can’t demand she be around 24/7 to handle every boo-boo.” Astrid looked at the list she had compiled on her laptop. “Actually, I think this involved a stubbed toe that ‘hurted.’”“How much more is on the list?” Sam asked.“ Three hundred and five items, ” Astrid said. When Sam’s face went pale, she relented. “Okay, it’s actually just thirty-two. Now, don’t you feel relieved it’s not really three hundred?”“ This is crazy, ” Sam said.“ Next up: the Judsons and the McHanrahans are fighting because they share a dog, so both families are feeding her–they still have a big bag of dry dog food–but the Judsons are calling her Sweetie and the McHanrahans are calling her BooBoo.”“You’re kidding.”“ I’m not kidding, ” Astrid said.“ What is that noise?” Sam demanded. Astrid shrugged. “I guess someone has their stereo cranked up.”“ This is not going to work, Astrid.”“The music?”“ This. This thing where every day I have a hundred stupid questions I have to decide. Like I’m everyone’s parent now. I’m sitting here listening to how little kids are complaining because their older sisters make them take a bath, and stepping into fights over who owns which Build-A-Bear outfit, and now over dog names. Dog names?”“ They’re all still just little kids, ” Astrid said.“ Some of these kids are developing powers that scare me, ” Sam grumbled. “But they can’t decide who gets to have which special towel? Or whether to watch The Little Mermaid or Shrek Three?”“No, ” Astrid said. “They can’t. They need a parent. That’s you. . Michael Grant
Brianna! Is Sam okay?” Astrid cried.“ No. Drake tore him up.” She wanted to sound tough, but the sobs came bubbling up and overtook her. “Oh, God, Astrid, he’s hurt so bad.” Astrid gasped and covered her hand with her mouth. Brianna put her arms around Astrid and sobbed into her hair.“ Is he going to die?” Astrid asked, voice wobbly.“ No, I don’t think so, ” Brianna said. She stood back and wiped her tears. “I gave him something for the pain. But he’s messed up, Astrid. . Michael Grant
Sam, I know you’re upset over what happened with you and Drake, ” Astrid began.“ Upset?” Sam echoed the word with an ironic smirk.“ But that’s no excuse for you keeping secrets from us.”“ Yeah, ” Howard said, “Don’t you know only Astrid is allowed to keep secrets?”“ Shut up, Howard, ” Astrid snapped.“ Yeah, we get to lie because we’re the smart ones, ” Howard said. “Not like all those idiots out there.” Astrid turned her attention back to Sam. “This is not okay, Sam. The council has the responsibility. Not you alone.” Sam looked like he could not care less about what she was saying. He looked almost beyond reach, indifferent to what was going on around him.“ Hey, ” Astrid said. “We’re talking to you.” That did it. His jaw clenched. His head snapped up. His eyes blazed. “Don’t push me. That wasn’t you with your skin whipped off and covered in blood. That was me. That was me who went down into that mine shaft to try to fight the gaiaphage.” Astrid blinked. “No one is minimizing what you’ve done, Sam. You’re a hero. But at the same time–” Sam was on his feet. “At the same time? At the same time you were here in town. Edilio had a bullet in his chest. Dekka was torn to pieces. I was trying not to scream from the… You and Albert and Howard, you weren’t there, were you?”“ I was busy standing up to Zil, trying to save Hunter’s life, ” Astrid yelled.“ But it wasn’t you and your big words, was it? It was Orc who stopped Zil. And he was there because I sent him to rescue you. Me! ” He stabbed a finger at his own chest, actually making what looked like painful impact. “Me! Me and Brianna and Dekka and Edilio! And poor Duck. Michael Grant
Guys, he’s hurt bad.” The blonde scrambled to him. She tore the wounded boy’s shirt open. A river of blood ran down his chest.“ Oh, God, no, ” the blonde cried. Lana pushed her aside and laid a hand against the pumping wound. “He’ll live, ” Lana said. “I’ll fix him.”“ What do you mean, you’ll fix him?” the blonde demanded. “We need stitches, we need a doctor. Look at how he’s bleeding.” Lana said, “What’s your name?”“ Astrid, what does it matter? He’s…” She stopped talking then and leaned in close to see. “The bloodflow is slowing.”“ Yeah. I noticed that, too, ” Lana said dryly. “Relax. He’ll be fine. In fact…” She tilted her head to get a better look at him. “In fact, I’ll bet when he’s not covered in blood, he’s cute. Your boyfriend?”“ That’s not what it’s about, ” Astrid snapped. Then, in a low voice, like she didn’t want the others to hear, she said, “Kind of. . Michael Grant
They closed the door on the cabin. There wasn’t room enough for them to stand, so they fell into each other’s arms on the bunk. Sam kissed her and tried not to think that it was for the last time. He was happy. That was the hell of it. He was finally happy. Right here, right now, in this place, with this girl in his arms, he was happy. Was that why he felt the hammer about to fall on him? No, that was crazy. He was happy. Happiness didn’t mean that tragedy was coming around the corner. Did it? . Michael Grant
Astrid had gone to look at the burn zone. Doing the right thing. Kids had yelled at her. Demanded to know why she had let it happen. Demanded to know where Sam was. Deluged her with complaints and worries and crazy theories until she had retreated. She’d hidden out after that. She’d refused to answer the door when kids knocked. She had not gone to her office. It would be the same there. But through the day it had eaten at her. This feeling of uselessness. A feeling of uselessness made so much worse by the growing realization that she needed Sam. Not because they were up against some threat. The threat was mostly past now. She needed Sam because no one had any respect for her. There was only one person right now who could get a crowd of anxious kids to settle down and do what needed to be done. She had wanted to believe that she could do that. But she had tried. And they hadn’t listened. But Sam was still nowhere to be seen. So despite everything it was still on her shoulders. The thought of it made her sick. It made her want to scream. Michael Grant
The news networks and the local TV stations all led with the same footage. An obviously moved, very pretty young woman with blond hair and alert blue eyes looking up. Eyes widening. Stumbling a little as she pushed back her chair and went around the table. Shaky cameras turning too fast, following her as she ran to a boy at the back of the room who pushed through the press of people to reach her. The embrace. The kiss that went on for a very long time. . Michael Grant
Sam was stiff and tired. He crept onto the houseboat, careful not to wake anyone, and sidled down the narrow passage to his bunk. The shades were drawn and of course there were no lights, so he felt his way to the edge of his bed and crawled across it on hands and knees to find his pillow. He collapsed on his back. But even at the edge of sleep he was aware of something different about the bed. Then he felt soft breath on his cheek. He turned and her lips were on his. Not gentle. Not soft. She kissed him hard, and it was like he’d been awakened by an electric power line. She kissed him and slid on top of him. Their bodies did the rest. At some point in the hours that followed he said, “Astrid?”“Don’t you think you should have made sure of that about three times ago?” Astrid said in her familiar, slightly condescending tone. They said many things to each other after that, but nothing that involved words. Michael Grant
He reached over and took Taylor’s hand. She did not pull her hand away. He moved his hand up her arm. She stiffened a little and glanced around, making sure they weren’t seen. Or, maybe, hoping they were. His hand reached her neck. He leaned toward her and pulled her to him. He kissed her. She kissed him back. He kissed her harder. And she slid her hand under his shirt, fingers stroking his bare flesh. Then he pulled away, fast.“ Sorry, I .” He hesitated, his wallowing brain arguing against a body that was suddenly aflame. Sam stood up very suddenly and walked away. Taylor laughed gaily at his back. “Come see me when you get tired of mooning over the ice princess, Sam. . Michael Grant
..you have me, ” Astrid said.“ Do I?”“Yes.”That drained the anger and frustration from him like someone had pulled a plug. For a long moment he was lost, gazing into her eyes. She was very close. His heart shifted to a deeper rhythm that vibrated his whole body. There were just inches between them. He closed the distance by half, stopped.“ I can’t kiss you with your little brother watching, ” he said. Astrid stepped back, took Little Pete by the shoulders, and turned him so he was facing away.“ How about now?. Michael Grant
And he thought of the two people who had held his job before him: Sam and Astrid. Both beaten into despair by trying to hold this group of kids together in the face of one disaster after another. Both of them now happy to let Edilio handle it.“ No wonder, ” Edilio muttered.“ Stay inside unless absolutely necessary, ” Edilio shouted, and not for the first or last time wished he was still just Sam’s faithful sidekick. Michael Grant
Sam Temple was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Los Angeles, where there were specialists there in burn injuries. He wasn’t consulted: he was found on his knees, obviously in shock, extensively burned. EMTs took over. Astrid Ellison was taken to a hospital in Santa Barbara, as was Diana Ladris.Other kids were shared out among half a dozen hospitals. Some specialized in plastic surgery, others in the effects of starvation. Over the next week all were seen by psychiatrists once their immediate physical injuries were addressed. Lots of psychiatrists. And when they weren’t being seen by psychiatrists, they were being seen by FBI agents, and California Highway Patrol investigators, and lawyers from the district attorney’s office. The consensus seemed to be that a number of the Perdido survivors, as they were now known, would be prosecuted for crimes ranging from simple assault to murder. First on that list was Sam Temple. . Michael Grant
Man, sometimes you are clueless. You don’t even see what’s happening.” He perched himself on the arm of the couch so he could look down at Turk. “It’s not just about freaks. I mean, you’re the guy who thinks of ideas and all, but you’re missing it. You don’t even notice that the whole council is either black or Mexican. See, that’s what’s happening: it’s all these minorities hooked up with freaks.” The wheels in Turk’s mind began to turn slowly. But they were picking up speed. “Jamal’s with us and he’s black.”“ So? We use Jamal. He gets us into Albert’s. You do what you gotta do. All I’m saying is, you and me, we’re normal people. We’re not black or queer or Mexican. And we’re the ones digging toilets. How come?” Turk knew the answer: because they had failed in their attempt to take over. But he’d never thought about this new angle.“ Astrid’s a normal white person, ” Turk argued halfheartedly. “So’s Sam.”“Sam’s a freak, and I think he might even be a Jew, ” Lance said. His eyes were glittering. He was showing his teeth, grinning as he talked. It wasn’t a good look for him. “And Astrid? She’s not even on the council anymore. Michael Grant
Why are we sneaking out in the night?” Jack repeated.“ I already explained, ” Sam snapped. “If you don’t listen–” Taylor jumped in to say, “Because otherwise Astrid would find some way to stop him.” She mimicked Astrid’s voice, injecting it with steel and a tense, condescending tone. “Sam. I am the smartest, hottest girl in the world. So do what I tell you. Good boy. Down, boy. Down! ”Sam remained silent, walking steadily just a few feet ahead. Taylor continued, “Oh, Sam, if only you could be as smart plus as totally goody-goody as I am. If only you could realize that you will never be good enough to have me, me, wonderful me, Astrid the Blond Genius.”“Sam, can I shoot her now?” Dekka asked. “Or is it too soon?”“ Wait until we’re over the ridge, ” Sam said. “It’ll muffle the sound.”“ Sorry, Dekka, ” Taylor said. “I know you don’t like talking about boy-girl things.”“ Taylor, ” Sam warned.“ Yes, Sam?”“You might want to think about how hard it would be to walk if someone were to turn off gravity under your feet every now and then.”“ I wonder who would do that?” Dekka said. Suddenly Taylor fell flat on her face.“ You tripped me! ” Taylor said, more shocked than angry.“ Me?” Dekka spread her hands in a completely unconvincing gesture of innocence. “Hey, I’m all the way over here.”“ I’m just saying: you can see where that could make a long walk just a lot longer, ” Sam said.“ You guys are so not fun, ” Taylor grumped. She bounced instantaneously to just behind Sam. She grabbed his butt, he yelled, “Hey! ” and she bounced away innocently.“ To answer your question, Jack, ” Sam said, “we are sneaking out at night so that everyone doesn’t know we’re gone and why. They’ll figure it out soon enough, but Edilio will have to have more of his guys on the streets if I’m not there playing the big, bad wolf. More stress for everyone.”“ Oh, ” Jack said.“ The big, bad wolf, ” Taylor said. She laughed. “So, when you play that fantasy in your head is Astrid Little Red Riding Hood or one of the Three Little Pigs?”“Dekka, ” Sam said.“ Hah! Too slow! . Michael Grant
What is the matter with people?” Sam fumed. “I said we needed a hundred kids and we get thirteen? Fifteen, maybe?”“ They’re just kids, ” Astrid said.“ We’re all just kids. We’re all going to be very hungry kids.”“ They’re used to being told what to do by their parents or teachers. You need to be more direct. As in, Hey, kid, get to work. Now.” She thought for a moment then added, “Or else.”“ Or else what?” Sam asked.“ Or else… I don’t know. We’re not going to let anyone starve. If we can help it. I don’t know the ‘or else.’ All I know is you can’t expect kids to just automatically behave the right way. I mean, when I was little my mom would give me a gold star when I was good and take away a privilege when I wasn’t.”“ What am I supposed to do? Tell three hundred kids spread out in seventy or eighty different homes that they can’t watch DVDs? Confiscate i Pods?”“ It’s not easy playing daddy to three hundred kids, ” Astrid admitted.“ I’m not anyone’s daddy, ” Sam practically snarled. Another sleepless night, in a long string of them, had left him in a foul mood. “I’m supposed to be the mayor, not the father.”“ These kids don’t know the difference, ” Astrid pointed out. “They need parents. So they look to you. And Mother Mary. Me, even, to some extent. . Michael Grant
Diana can read power levels, ” Astrid said. “Did she ever…” Sam nodded. “She said the baby is a three bar. As a fetus. Who knows what it will be when it’s born. Or as it grows. Diana’s only, like, four or five months along. I should know exactly, but I forget. When she would talk about it I would kind of, you know.” He made a shivering move, like it all gave him the creeps. Astrid shook her head in disbelief. “Really. That’s the part of all this that makes you squirm: pregnancy.”“ She made me touch her, you know, stomach. And she talked about her, um, her things.” He pointed at his chest and whispered, “Nipples.”“Yeah, ” Astrid said dryly. “I could see where that would be devastating. Michael Grant
Now, who else speaks for Perdido Beach?”Bouncing Bette said, “Sam Temple here went into a burning building to rescue a little girl. He can speak for me, anyway.” There was a murmur of agreement.“ Yeah, Sam is a hero for real, ” a voice said.“ He could have died, ” another voice seconded.“ Yeah, Sam’s the guy.” Caine’s smile came and disappeared so quickly, Sam wasn’t sure it had happened. For that millisecond it was a look of triumph. Caine walked straight up to Sam, open and forthright, hand extended.“ There are probably better people than me, ” Sam said, backing away. . Michael Grant
You need to think about all that, Sam, ” Dekka said. “You’re the leader, after all.”“ Not anymore, ” he said. Dekka laughed. She stood up and stretched. “Sam: you’re still the leader. You’re always going to be the leader. It’s not something you choose: it’s something you are. Michael Grant
I’m mean? That’s the worst you can throw at me?”“ Mean and self-pitying. Does that make it better?”“ And what are you, Astrid?” he shouted. “A smug know-it-all! You point your finger at me and say, ‘Hey, Sam, you make the decisions, and you take all the heat.’”“ Oh, it’s my fault? No way. I didn’t anoint you.”“ Yeah, you did, Astrid. You guilted me into it. You think I don’t know what you’re all about? You used me to protect Little Pete. You use me to get your way. You manipulate me anytime you feel like it.”“ You really are a jerk, you know that?”“ No, I’m not a jerk, Astrid. You know what I am? I’m the guy getting people killed, ” Sam said quietly. Then, “My head is exploding from it. I can’t get my brain around it. I can’t do this. I can’t be that guy, Astrid, I’m a kid, I should be studying algebra or whatever. I should be hanging out. I should be watching TV.”His voice rose, higher and louder till he was screaming. “What do you want from me? I’m not Little Pete’s father. I’m not everybody’s father. Do you ever stop to think what people are asking me to do? You know what they want me to do? Do you? They want me to kill my brother so the lights will come back on. They want me to kill kids! Kill Drake. Kill Diana. Get our own kids killed.“ That’s what they ask. Why not, Sam? Why aren’t you doing what you have to do, Sam? Tell kids to get eaten alive by zekes, Sam. Tell Edilio to dig some more holes in the square, Sam.”He had gone from yelling to sobbing. “I’m fifteen years old. I’m fifteen.” He sat down hard on the edge of the bed. “Oh, my God, Astrid. It’s in my head, all these things. I can’t get rid of them. It’s like some filthy animal inside my head and I will never, ever, ever get rid of it. It makes me feel so bad. It’s disgusting. I want to throw up. I want to die. I want someone to shoot me in the head so I don’t have to think about everything.” Astrid was beside him, and her arms were around him. He was ashamed, but he couldn’t stop the tears. He was sobbing like he had when he was a little kid, like when he had a nightmare. Out of control. Sobbing.Gradually the spasms slowed. Then stopped. His breathing went from ragged to regular.“ I’m really glad the lights weren’t on, ” Sam said. “Bad enough you had to hear it.”“ I’m falling apart, ” he said. Astrid gave no answer, just held him close. And after what felt like a very long time, Sam moved away from her, gently putting distance between them again.“ Listen. You won’t ever tell anyone…”“ No. But, Sam…”“Please don’t tell me it’s okay, ” Sam said. “Don’t be nice to me anymore. Don’t even tell me you love me. I’m about a millimeter from falling apart again.”“ Okay. Michael Grant
We’re not going to give in. We’re going to fight.”“ Got that right, ” a voice cried out.“ First thing we need to have clear: there’s no line between freak and normal here. If you have the power, we’ll need you. If you don’t, we’ll need you.” Heads were nodding. Looks were being exchanged.“ Coates kids, Perdido Beach kids, we’re together now. We’re together. Maybe you did things to survive. Maybe you weren’t always brave. Maybe you gave up hope.” A girl sobbed suddenly.“ Well, that’s all over now, ” Sam said gently. “It all starts fresh. Right here, right now. We’re brothers and sisters now. Doesn’t matter we don’t know each other’s names, we are brothers and sisters and we’re going to survive, and we’re going to win, and we’re going to find our way to some kind of happiness again.” There was a long, deep silence.“ So, ” Sam said, “my name is Sam. I’m in this with you. All the way.” He turned to Astrid.“I’m Astrid, I’m in this with you, too.”“ My name is Edilio. What they said. Brothers and sisters. Hermanos.”“Thuan Vong, ” said a thin boy with yet-unhealed hands like dead fish. “I’m in.”“ Dekka, ” said a strong, solidly built girl with cornrows and a nose ring. “I’m in. And I have game.”“ Me too, ” called a skinny girl with reddish pigtails. “My name’s Brianna. I…well, I can go real fast.” One by one they declared their determination. The voices started out soft and gained strength. Each voice louder, firmer, more determined than the one before. Only Quinn remained silent. He hung his head, and tears rolled down his cheeks.“ Quinn, ” Sam called to him. Quinn didn’t respond, just looked down at the ground.“ Quinn, ” Sam said again. “It starts fresh right now. Nothing before counts. Nothing. Brothers, man?” Quinn struggled with the lump in his throat. But then, in a low voice, he said, “Yeah. Brothers. . Michael Grant
I’m getting my stuff, ” he said, and bolted for the steps.“ You don’t have to move out, ” Astrid called after him. Sam stopped halfway up the steps. “Oh, I’m sorry. Is that the voice of the council telling me where I can go?”“ There’s no point having a town council if you think you don’t have to listen to it, ” Astrid said. She was using her patient voice, trying to calm the situation. “Sam, if you ignore us, no one will pay attention.”“ Guess what, Astrid, they’re already ignoring you. The only reason anyone pays any attention to you and the others is because they’re scared of Edilio’s soldiers.” He thumped his chest. “And even more scared of me. Michael Grant
As Sam came to a panting stop, a jet of orange flame burst from a high window. Several dozen kids were standing, watching. A crowd that struck Sam as very strange, until he realized why it was strange: there were no adults, just kids.“ Is anyone in there?” Astrid called out. No one answered.“ It could spread, ” Sam said.“ There’s no 911, ” someone pointed out.“ If it spreads, it could burn down half the town.”“ You see a fireman anywhere?” A helpless shrug. The day care shared a wall with the hardware store, and both were only a narrow alley away from the burning building. Sam figured they had time to get the kids out of the day care if they acted fast, but the hardware store was something they could not afford to lose. There had to be forty kids just standing there gawking. No one seemed about to start doing anything.“ Great, ” Sam said. He grabbed two kids he sort of knew. “You guys, go to the day care. Tell them to get the littles out of there.” The kids stared at him without moving.“ Now. Go. Do it! ” he said, and they took off running. Sam pointed at two other kids. “You and you. Go into the hardware store, get the longest hose you can find. Get a spray nozzle, too. I think there’s a spigot in that alley. Start spraying water on the side of the hardware store and up on the roof.” These two also stared blankly. “Dudes: Not tomorrow. Now. Now. Go! Quinn? You better go with them. We want to wet down the hardware–that’s where the wind will take the fire next.” Quinn hesitated. People were not getting this. How could they not see that they had to do something, not just stand around? Sam pushed to the front of the crowd and in a loud voice said, “Hey, listen up, this isn’t the Disney Channel. We can’t just watch this happen. There are no adults. There’s no fire department. We are the fire department.” Edilio was there. He said, “Sam’s right. What do you need, Sam? I’m with you.”“ Okay. Quinn? The hoses from the hardware store. Edilio? Let’s get the big hoses from the fire station, hook ’em up to the hydrant.”“ They’ll be heavy. I’ll need some strong guys.”“ You, you, you, you.” Sam grabbed each person’s shoulder, shaking each one, pushing them into motion. “Come on. You. You. Let’s go! . Michael Grant
Have you seen Sam?” Mary asked.“ What do you want with Sam?”“I can’t take care of all those littles with just John to help me.” Howard shrugged. “Who asked you to?” That was too much. Mary was tall and strong. Howard, though a boy, was smaller. Mary took two steps toward him, pushing her face right into his. “Listen, you little worm. If I don’t take care of those kids, they’ll die. Do you understand that? There are babies in there who need to be fed and need to be changed, and I seem to be the only one who realizes it. And there are probably more little kids still in their homes, all alone, not knowing what’s happening, not knowing how to feed themselves, scared to death.” Howard took a step back, tentatively lifted the bat, then let it fall. “What am I supposed to do?” he whined.“ You? Nothing. Where’s Sam?”“He took off.”“ What do you mean, he took off?”“ I mean him and Quinn and Astrid took off.” Mary blinked, feeling stupid and slow. “Who’s in charge?”“ You think just because Sam likes to play the big hero every couple years that makes him the guy in charge?” Mary had been on the bus two years ago when the driver, Mr. Colombo, had had his heart attack. She’d had her head in a book, not paying attention, but she had looked up when she felt the bus swerve. By the time she had focused, Sam was guiding the bus onto the shoulder of the road. In the two years that followed, Sam had been so quiet and so modest and so not involved in the social life of the school that Mary had sort of forgotten that moment of heroism. Most people had. And yet she hadn’t even been surprised when it was Sam who had stepped up during the fire. And she had somehow assumed that if anyone was going to be in charge, it would be Sam. She found herself angry with him for not being here now: she needed help.“ Go get Orc, ” Mary said.“ I don’t tell Orc what to do, bitch.”“ Excuse me?” she snapped. “What did you just call me?” Howard gulped. “Didn’t mean nothing, Mary.”“Where is Orc?”“I think he’s sleeping.”“ Wake him up. I need some help. I can’t stay awake any longer. I need at least two kids who have experience babysitting. And then I need diapers and bottles and nipples and Cheerios and lots of milk.”“ Why am I going to do all that?” Mary didn’t have an answer. “I don’t know, Howard, ” she said. “Maybe because you’re really not a complete jerk? Maybe you’re really a decent human being?” That earned her a skeptical look and a derisive snort.“ Look, kids will do what Orc says, ” Mary said. “They’re scared of him. All I’m asking is for Orc to act like Orc.”Howard thought this over. Mary could almost see the wheels spinning in his head.“ Forget it, ” she said. “I’ll talk to Sam when he gets back.”“ Yeah, he’s the big hero, isn’t he?” Howard said, dripping sarcasm. “But hey, where is he? You see him around? I don’t see him around.”“ Are you going to help or not? I have to get back.”“ All right. I’ll get your stuff, Mary. But you better remember who helped you. You’re working for Orc and me.”“ I’m taking care of little kids, ” Mary said. “If I’m working for anyone, it’s for them.”“ Like I say, you remember who was there when you needed them.” Howard turned on his heel and swaggered away. . Michael Grant
Hunter’s dead, ” Taylor said without preamble. “It was these . these things. They came crawling up out of him and were eating him, oh God, I mean, it was like . I mean he was crying and Dekka prayed with him and he tried to fry his own brain just like he did with Harry only I guess it didn’t work, I guess he couldn’t do it, so Sam . .” She swallowed. “Anyone have some water?”“ What about Sam?” Astrid demanded.“ He did it for him. Sam. I mean, he . Hunter was, you know . . so Sam.” She pantomimed raising her hands, like Sam, like he would do when using his power. Astrid closed her eyes and crossed herself.“ Rest in peace, ” Edilio said and crossed himself as well.“ Sam burned the boy?” Howard asked. Then, bitterly sarcastic said, “Yeah, you all pray to Jesus. Because Jesus is really providing a lot of help here. Sounds to me like Sam was the one doing what had to be done. . Michael Grant
Drake’s dead, ” Astrid said. “Dead people don’t come back. Let’s not be ridiculous.” Howard made a derisive snort. “Okay. That’s as far as I go with you on this, Sammy boy.” He made a hand-washing gesture. Astrid slammed her palm on the table, surprising even herself. “Somebody better tell me what all these back-and-forth looks are about.”“ Brittney, ” Howard said, spitting the name out like it was poison. “She came back. Sam had her and stuck her with Brianna, and told me not to talk about it.”“ Brittney?” Astrid said, confused. Howard said, “Yeah. You know, like dead-girl Brittney? Way dead? Dead a long time and buried a long time and suddenly she’s sitting in my house chatting? That Brittney.”“I’m still not…”“ Well, Astrid, ” Howard said, “I guess we just found the limits of your big old genius brain. Point is that someone who was very seriously dead is suddenly not so dead anymore.”“ But…, ” Astrid started. “But Drake…”“As dead as Brittney, ” Howard said. “Which might be a slight problem, since Brittney isn’t exactly dead herself. Michael Grant
When she came back down, Sam and Astrid had arrived. Sam hugged Dekka, and the two of them stayed that way for a long time, saying nothing. Both had loved Brianna.To Edilio, Sam said, “I’m so sorry, man. I wish I’d .. . You know what I wish.” Edilio fought back a fresh rush of tears, nodded, waited until he was sure he could speak, and said, “I’m glad you’re back, boss. Michael Grant
Anna and Emma just poofed.”“ What?”“ I was standing there. I was watching them. I was holding Anna’s hand when it happened.” Astrid rose and without really thinking about it wrapped her arms around Sam like she did when she was trying to comfort Little Pete.But unlike Little Pete, Sam responded to her touch by awkwardly hugging her back. For a moment his face was in her hair and she heard his ragged breathing close to her ear. And it seemed like they might do it again, the kissing thing, but then, both at once, they pushed away.“ She was scared, ” Sam said. “Anna, I mean. She saw Emma disappear. They were born just six minutes apart. So, first Emma. Then Anna, waiting for it. Knowing it was coming. Michael Grant
You know what, Sam? We created the council to take pressure off of you. Because you were falling apart.” Sam just stared at her. Not quite believing she’d said it. And Astrid seemed shocked herself. Shocked at the venom behind her own words.“ I didn’t mean…, ” she started lamely, but then couldn’t find her way to explaining just what it was she didn’t mean. Sam shook his head. “You know, even now, as long as we’ve been together it still surprises me that you can be so ruthless.”“ Ruthless? Me?”“You will use anyone to get what you want. Say anything to get your way. Why was I ever even in charge?” He stabbed an accusing finger at her. “Because of you! Because you manipulated me into it. Why? So I would protect you and Little Pete. That’s all you cared about.”“ That’s a lie! ” she said hotly.“ You know it’s the truth. And now you don’t have to bother manipulating me, you can just give me orders. Embarrass me. Undercut me. But as soon as some problem hits, guess what? It’ll be, oh, please, Sam, save us.”“ Anything I do, I do for everyone’s good, ” Astrid said.“ Yeah, so you’re not just a genius now, you’re a saint. . Michael Grant
Why do we have to do this in the middle of the night?” Taylor asked.“ Because we don’t want the whole town knowing why we’re going and where we’re going.”“ How can I tell anyone if I don’t even know myself?” Taylor stuck out her lower lip.“ Water. We’re going to look for water, ” Sam said. He could almost hear the wheels in Taylor’s head spinning. Then, “OMG, we’re out of water?” She bit her lip, took a couple of dramatic breaths, and wailed, “Do you mean we’re all going to die?”“ That would be a pretty good example of why we’re keeping this secret, ” Sam said dryly.“ I just need to go–”“ Uh-uh! ” Sam said. “No you don’t, Taylor. You don’t bounce anywhere or talk to anyone without me agreeing. Are we clear?”“ You know, Sam, you’re nice. And so very, very hot, ” Taylor said. “But you’re not really much fun.”“ Let’s get out of here while we can, ” Dekka said. “I brought a gun, by the way.”“ Are we going to be in danger?” Taylor cried.“ The gun’s in case you get on my nerves, Taylor, ” Dekka warned.“ Oh, so funny, ” Taylor said. . Michael Grant
Have either of you seen Sam? Brianna can’t find him.” Albert sighed. “He’s out of town.” Edilio felt the blood drain out of his face. “He’s what?” Astrid arrived, coldly furious. “I’m not on the council anymore. You have no right–”“ Shut up, Astrid, ” Edilio said. Astrid, Albert, and Howard all stared. Edilio was as amazed as any of them. He considered apologizing–he had never spoken to Astrid that way. He’d never spoken to anyone that way. The truth was he was scared. Sam was out of town? With Drake running loose?“ What makes you think Sam is out of town?” Edilio asked Albert.“I sent him, ” Albert said. “Him and Dekka. Taylor and Jack, too. They’re looking for water.”“ They’re what?”“ Looking for water. Michael Grant
Lana's going through them one at a time. Healing them. She's amazing." Sam thought he heard something extra in Edilio's voice. "She's cute too, huh Edilio?"Edilio's eyes went wide and started blushing. "She's just..you know.." Sam slapped his shoulder. "Good luck with that."" You think she.. I mean, you know me, I'm just.." Edilio stammered his way to a stop." Dude, let's see if we can stay alive. Then you can ask her out or whatever. Michael Grant
How do we stop them?” Edilio asked. He raised his head, and Sam saw the distress on his face. “How do you think we stop them? When your fifteenth birthday rolls around, the easy thing is to take the poof. You gotta fight to resist it. We know that. So how are we going to tell kids this isn’t real, this Orsay thing?”“ We just tell them, ” Astrid said.“ But we don’t know if it’s real or not, ” Edilio argued. Astrid shrugged. She stared at nothing and kept her features very still. “We tell them it’s all fake. Kids hate this place, but they don’t want to die.”“ How do we tell them if we don’t know?” Edilio seemed genuinely puzzled. Howard laughed. “Deely-O, Deely-O, you are such a doof sometimes.” He put his feet down and leaned toward Edilio as if sharing a secret with him. “She means: We lie. Astrid means that we lie to everyone and tell them we do know for sure.” Edilio stared at Astrid like he was expecting her to deny it.“ It’s for people’s own good, ” Astrid said in a low voice, still looking at nothing.“ You know what’s funny?” Howard said, grinning. “I was pretty sure we were coming to this meeting so Astrid could rank on Sam for not telling us the whole truth. And now, it turns out we’re really here so Astrid can talk us all into becoming liars. . Michael Grant
Sam?”“Yeah.”“I was on the school bus that day. Remember?”“Vaguely, ” he said, and laughed. “My fifteen minutes of fame.”“ You were the bravest, coolest person I’d ever known. Everyone thought so. You were the hero of the whole school. And then, I don’t know. It was like you kind of just…faded.” He resented that a little. He hadn’t faded. Had he? “Well, most days the bus driver doesn’t have a heart attack, ” Sam said. Astrid laughed. “You’re one of those people, I think. You go along in your life just sort of living. And then something goes wrong and there you are. You step up and do what you have to do. Like today, the fire.”“ Yeah, well, to tell you the truth, I kind of prefer the other part. The part where I just live my life.” Astrid nodded like she understood, but then she said, “That’s not going to happen this time. . Michael Grant
Sam, Edilio’s a good guy, ” Albert said, breaking in on Sam’s gloomy thoughts. “But like I said, he’ll tell the rest of them. Once the council knows, everyone knows. If everyone knows how desperate things are, what do you think will happen?” Sam smiled without humor. “About half the people will be great. The other half will freak.”“ And people will end up getting killed, ” Albert said. He cocked his head sideways, trying his best to look like the idea had just occurred to him. “And who is going to end up kicking butts? Who will end up playing Daddy and then be resented and blamed and finally told to go away?”“ You’ve gained new skills, ” Sam said bitterly. “You used to just be about working harder than anyone else and being ambitious. You’re learning how to manipulate people.” Albert’s mouth twitched and his eyes flashed angrily. “You’re not the only one walking around with a big load of responsibility on your shoulders, Sam. You play the big mean daddy who won’t let anyone have any fun, and I play the greedy businessman who is just looking out for himself. But don’t be stupid: maybe I am greedy, but without me no one eats. Or drinks. Michael Grant
More than two dozen kids lined a low railing around the gazebo. They were all tied to it by a rope leash that gave them no more than a few feet of movement. Neck to rail, like tethered horses. Each of the kids was weighed down by a concrete block that encased their hands. Their eyes were hollow, their cheeks caved in. Astrid used a word that Sam had never imagined coming from her.“ Nice language, ” Drake said with a smirk. “And in front of the Pe-tard, too.” A cafeteria tray had been placed in front of each of the prisoners. It must have been a very recent delivery because some were still licking their trays, hunched over, faces down, tongues out, licking like dogs.“ It’s the circle of freaks, ” Drake said proudly, waving a hand like a showman. In a crusty old wheelbarrow to one side, three kids were using a short-handled shovel to mix cement. It made a heavy sloshing sound. They dumped a shovelful of gravel into the mix and stirred it like lumpy gravy.“ Oh, no, ” Lana said, backing away, but one of the Coates kids smashed her behind the knee with his baseball bat, and she crumpled.“ Gotta do something with unhelpful freaks, ” Drake said. “Can’t have you people running around loose.” He must have seen Sam start to react because he stuck his gun against Astrid’s head. “Your call, Sam. You so much as flinch and we’ll get to see what a genius brain really looks like.”“ Hey, I got no powers, man, ” Quinn said.“ This is sick, Drake. Like you’re sick, ” Astrid said. “I can’t even reason with you because you’re just too damaged, too hopelessly messed up.”“ Shut up. . Michael Grant
What’s up, Sam?”“What birthday?” he panted.“ What?”“ What birthday, Anna?”It took a while for her to absorb his fear. It took a while for the reason for his fear to dawn on her.“ Fifteen, ” Anna said in a whisper.“ What’s the matter?” Emma asked, sensing her twin’s mood. “It doesn’t mean anything.”“ It doesn’t, ” Anna whispered.“ You’re probably right, ” Sam said.“ Oh, my God, ” Anna said. “Are we going to disappear?”“ When were you born?” Sam asked. “What time of day?” The twins exchanged scared looks. “We don’t know.”“ You know what, no one has blinked out since that first day, so it’s probably–” Emma disappeared. Anna screamed. The other older kids took notice, the littles, too.“ Oh, my God! ” Anna cried. “Emma. Emma. Oh, God! ”She grabbed Sam’s hands and he held her tight. The prees, some of them, caught the fear. Mother Mary came over. “What’s going on? You’re scaring the kids. Where’s Emma?”Anna just kept saying, “Oh, my God, ” and calling her sister’s name.“ Where’s Emma?” Mary demanded again. “What’s going on?” Sam didn’t want to explain. Anna was hurting him with the pressure of her fingers digging into the backs of his hands. Anna’s eyes were huge, staring holes in him.“ How far apart were you born?” Sam asked. Anna just stared in blank horror. Sam lowered his voice to an urgent whisper. “How far apart were you born, Anna?”“Six minutes, ” she whispered.“ Hold my hands, Sam, ” she said.“ Don’t let me go, Sam, ” she said.“ I won’t, Anna, I won’t let you go, ” Sam said.“ What’s going to happen, Sam?”“I don’t know, Anna.”“Will we go to where our mom and dad are?”“ I don’t know, Anna."“Am I going to die?”“ No, Anna. You’re not going to die.”“ Don’t let go of me, Sam.”Mary was there now, a baby on her hip. John was there. The prees, some of them, watched with serious, worried looks on their faces.“ I don’t want to die, ” Anna repeated. “I…I don’t know what it’s like.”“ It’s okay, Anna.”Anna smiled. “That was a nice date. When we went out.”“ It was.” For a split second it was like Anna blurred. Too fast to be real. She blurred, and Sam could almost swear that she had smiled at him. And his fingers squeezed on nothing. For a terribly long time no one moved or said anything. The littles didn’t cry out. The older kids just stared. Sam’s fingertips still remembered the feel of Anna’s hands. He stared at the place where her face had been. He could still see her pleading eyes. Unable to stop himself, he reached a hand into the space she had occupied. Reaching for a face that was no longer there. Someone sobbed. Someone cried out, other voices then, the prees started crying. Sam felt sick. When his teacher had disappeared he hadn’t been expecting it. This time he had seen it coming, like a monster in a slow-motion nightmare. This time he had seen it coming, like standing rooted on the railroad tracks, unable to jump aside. Michael Grant
He’s becoming useless. Worse than useless, ” Sam said. Then, relenting, he said, “We’ll get past it.”“ You mean you and Quinn?”“Yeah.”Astrid considered just keeping her mouth shut, not pushing it. But this was a talk she needed to have with Sam sooner or later. “I don’t think he’s going to get over it.”“ You don’t know him that well.”“ He’s jealous of you.”“ Well, of course I am so terribly handsome, ” Sam said, straining to make a joke of it.“ He’s one kind of person, you’re another. When life is going along normally, you’re sort of the same. But when life turns strange and scary, when there’s a crisis, suddenly you’re completely different people. It’s not Quinn’s fault, really, but he’s not brave. He’s not strong. You are. . Michael Grant
Today, each of you will make a decision, ” Caine said. “To go with Sam, or to stay here. I won’t try to stop anyone, and I won’t hold it against anyone.” He placed his hand over his heart. “For those who choose to stay, let me be very clear: I will be in charge. Not as a mayor, but as a king. My word will be law. My decisions will be final.” That caused some murmuring, most of it unhappy.“ But I’ll also do everything I can to leave each of you alone. Quinn, if he chooses to stay, can still fish. Albert, if he chooses to stay, will still run his business. Freaks and normals will be treated equally.” He seemed about to add something else but caught himself after a sidelong look at Toto.The silence lengthened and Sam knew it was time for him to speak. In the past he’d always had Astrid at his side for things like this. He was not much of a speaker. And in any case, he didn’t have much to say.“ Anyone who goes with me has a vote in how we do stuff. I guess I’ll be more or less in charge, but we’ll probably choose some other people, create a council like . Well, hopefully better than we had before. And, um .” He was tempted to laugh at his own pitiful performance. “Look, people, if you want someone, some . . king, good grief, to tell you what to do, stay here. If you want to make more of your own decisions, well, come with me.” He hadn’t said enough to even cause Toto to comment.“ You know which side I’m on, people, ” Brianna yelled. “Sam’s been carrying the load since day one.”“ It was Caine that saved us, ” a voice cried out. “Where was Sam?”The crowd seemed undecided. Caine was beaming confidence, but Sam noticed that his jaw clenched, his smile was forced, and he was worried. . Michael Grant
Um, people.” It wasn’t hard to get their attention. They gathered around. Even the littlest ones toned down their giggling, at least a bit.“ First of all, thanks to Albert and his helpers for this meal. Let’s give it up for the true Mac Daddy.”A round of hearty applause and some laughter, and Albert waved sheepishly. He frowned a little too, obviously conflicted about the use of the “Mac” prefix in a way that was not approved in the McDonald’s manual.“ And we have to mention Lana and Dahra, because without them, there would be a lot fewer of us here.” Now the applause was almost reverential.“ Our first Thanksgiving in the FAYZ, ” Sam said when the applause died down.“ Hope it’s our last, ” someone shouted.“ Yeah. You got that right, ” Sam agreed. “But we’re here. We’re here in this place we never wanted to be. And we’re scared. And I’m not going to lie and tell you that from here on, it will all be easy. It won’t be. It will be hard. And we’ll be scared some more, I guess. And sad. And lonely. Some terrible things have happened. Some terrible things…” For a moment, he lost his way. But then he stood up straighter again. “But, still, we are grateful, and we give thanks to God, if you believe in Him, or to fate, or to just ourselves, all of us here.”“ To you, Sam, ” someone shouted.“ No, no, no.” He waved that off. “No. We give thanks to the nineteen kids who are buried right there.” He pointed at the six rows of three, plus the one who started a seventh row. Neat hand-painted wooden tombstones bore the names of Bette and too many others.“ And we give thanks to the heroes who are standing around here right now eating turkey. Too many names to mention, and they’d all just be embarrassed, anyway, but we all know them.” There was a wave of loud, sustained applause, and many faces turned toward Edilio and Dekka, Taylor and Brianna, and some toward Quinn.“We all hope this will end. We all hope we’ll soon be back in the world with people we love. But right now, we’re here. We’re in the FAYZ. And what we’re going to do is work together, and look out for each other, and help each other.” People nodded, some high-fived.“ Most of us are from Perdido Beach. Some are from Coates. Some of us are…well, a little strange.” A few titters. “And some of us are not. But we’re all here now, we’re all in it together. We’re going to survive. If this is our world now… I mean, it is our world now. It is our world. So, let’s make it a good one.” He stepped down in silence. Then someone started clapping rhythmically and saying, “Sam, Sam, Sam.” Others joined in, and soon every person in the plaza, even some of the prees, was chanting his name. Michael Grant
Sam, ” Astrid yelled. “Quick.”Sam thought he was too far gone to respond, but he somehow started his feet moving again and went up to where Little Pete was standing and Astrid kneeling. There was a girl lying in the dirt. Her clothing was a mess, her black hair ratty. She was Asian, pretty without being beautiful, and little more than skin and bones. But the first thing they noticed was that her forearms ended in a solid concrete block. Astrid made a quick sign of the cross and pressed two fingers against the girl’s neck. “Lana, ” Astrid cried. Lana sized up the situation quickly. “I don’t see any injuries. I think maybe she’s starving or else sick in some other way.”“ What’s she doing out here?” Edilio wondered. “Oh, man, what did someone do to her hands?”“ I can’t heal hunger, ” Lana said. “I tried it on myself when I was with the pack. Didn’t work.” Edilio untwisted the cap from his water bottle, knelt, and carefully drizzled water across the girl’s cheek so that a few drops curled into her mouth.“ Look, she’s swallowing.” Edilio broke a tiny bite from one of the PowerBars and placed it gently into the girl’s mouth. After a second the girl’s mouth began to move, to chew.“ There’s a road over there, ” Sam said. “I think so, anyway. A dirt road, I think.”“ Someone drove by and dumped her here, ” Astrid agreed. Sam pointed at the dirt. “You can see how she dragged that block.”“ Some sick stuff going on, ” Edilio muttered angrily. “Who would do something like this? . Michael Grant
Promise me, Sam: whatever it takes to win, whatever it takes to survive.”“ Astrid–” Suddenly she grabbed his face with one hand and squeezed too hard. “You listen to me. I’m not losing you because you played fair. You’re not getting killed. You’re not dying. This isn’t some doomed last mission. Do you understand me? This does not end with me crying and missing you every day for the rest of my life. This ends with us walking out of this nightmare together. You and me, Sam. Michael Grant
No offense, Sam, but you’re going off the road. Off the road! Sam! You’re going off the road! ”“ No, I’m not; shut up, ” Sam snapped as he guided the huge truck back onto the road, narrowly avoiding overturning in the ditch.“ This is how I’m going to die, ” Jack said. “Crammed in like this in a ditch.”“ Oh, please, ” Sam said. “You’re strong enough to tear your way out even if we did crash.”“ Do me a favor and rescue me, too,. Michael Grant
Albert, I don’t know how long we can keep Sam involved at all, ” she said.“ You’re upset, ” Albert replied.“ Yes, I’m upset. But that’s not the point. Sam is out of control. If we’re ever going to have a working system we may have to find someone else to play the role of savior.” Albert sighed. “Astrid, we don’t know what’s out there in the night. And maybe you’re right that Sam is out of control. But me? I’m really glad it’s him out there getting ready to face whatever it is.” Albert picked up his omnipresent notebook and left. To a now empty, silent room, Astrid said, “Don’t die, Sam. Don’t die. Michael Grant
Don’t jump to–”“ I’m not, ” Dekka said. “But if that’s what it is, if it’s those things, I’m going to ask you to take care of me.”“ We’ve been over this, ” Sam said, pulling his hand away.“ If I tell you it’s time, you do it, okay, Sam?”He couldn’t answer.“ I’m not afraid to die, ” Dekka said. Michael Grant
Where was Sam?It hit her full force then, the shocking realization. Was this how Sam felt? Was this how he’d been feeling since the beginning? All eyes on him? Everyone waiting for a decision? Even as people doubted and criticized and attacked? She wanted to be sick. She had been there for so much of it. But she hadn’t been the one. She hadn’t been the one making those choices. And now…she was.“ I don’t know what to do, ” Astrid said. “I don’t know. . Michael Grant
Listen, Sam, and everyone, you need to know something so it won’t freak you out: Pack Leader can speak. I mean, human words. Like Smart-Girl Barbie there was saying, he’s some kind of mutant or whatever. I know you think I’m probably crazy.” She had Hermit Jim’s tin cup now and used it to scoop up another helping of wonderful, wonderful pudding. Blondie–Astrid–was opening a can of fruit cocktail.“ What do you know about the FAYZ?” Astrid asked. Lana stopped eating and stared at her. “The what?” Astrid shrugged and looked embarrassed. “That’s what people are calling it. The Fallout Alley Youth Zone. FAYZ.”“What does that mean?”“ Have you seen the barrier?” She nodded. “Oh, yeah. I’ve seen the barrier. I touched the barrier, which, by the way, is not a good idea.” Sam said, “As far as we can tell, it goes clear around in a big circle. Or maybe a sphere. We think the center is the power plant. It seems like a ten-mile radius from there, you know, twenty miles across.”“ Circumference of 62.83 miles, with an area of 314.159 square miles, ” Astrid said.“ Point 159, ” Quinn echoed from his corner. “That’s important.”“ It’s basically pi, ” Astrid said. “You know, 3.14159265…. Okay, I’ll stop.” Lana hadn’t stopped being hungry. She took a scoop of the fruit cocktail. “Sam, you think the power plant caused it?” Sam shrugged, and then he hesitated, surprised. Lana guessed that he felt no pain in his shoulder. “No one knows. All of a sudden every single person over the age of fourteen disappears and there’s this barrier and people…animals…” Lana slowly absorbed this new information. “You mean all the adults? They’re gone?”“ Poof, ” Quinn said. “They ditched. They blinked out. They vacated. They took the off-ramp. They cut a hole. They emigrated. Adults and teenagers. Nothing left but kids.”“ I’ve done all I can to strengthen the door, ” Edilio announced. “But all I have is nails. Someone can break it in eventually.”“ Maybe they didn’t all ditch, ” Lana said. “Maybe we did.” Astrid said, “That’s definitely one of the possibilities, not that it makes any real difference. It’s effectively the same thing. . Michael Grant