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Enslaved: Exodus Chronicles, #1

Enslaved: Exodus Chronicles, #1

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Enslaved: Exodus Chronicles, #1

Length:
422 pages
5 hours
Released:
Nov 6, 2017
ISBN:
9781622534227
Format:
Book

Description

A mother’s secret. A son’s destiny.
Can humanity be delivered from certain extinction?

Cosette Sinclair, pregnant with an illegal second child, makes a discovery that will change the course of humanity. While on assignment to find a habitable planet for mankind’s first colony, she witnesses a tear in space—a gateway for a devastating alien invasion. Now she’s faced with the heart-wrenching choice between saving her unborn child and saving the world.

Moshie lives in a culture that prizes competition about all else. His mother raises him to dominate every creature he encounters. As Moshie trains for the day when he will rule an ancient alien civilization, a whisper in the young man’s mind calls him to something greater. Can he put aside a lifetime of striving for power and heed the cry to save those he despises the most?

She has one chance to save the human race. He has one chance to save himself. Both learn that trusting their long-hated enemies might be their only chance of survival.

"Enslaved" is the first book in the Exodus Chronicles, a captivating saga of humanity’s final struggle. If you like action-packed adventure, complex characters, and alien worlds, then you’ll love D. Robert Pease’s imaginative interstellar homage to the Book of Exodus.

Buy "Enslaved" today and chart a course to the promised land....

Evolved Publishing presents the first book in the extraordinary “Exodus Chronicles,” a space opera adventure unlike any other. [DRM-Free]

Books by D. Robert Pease:

  • Enslaved (Exodus Chronicles – Book 1)
  • Red Sea (Exodus Chronicles – Book 2) – Coming 2018
  • Promised Land (Exodus Chronicles – Book 3) – Coming 2018
  • Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble (Book 1)
  • Noah Zarc: Cataclysm (Book 2)
  • Noah Zarc: Declaration (Book 3)
  • Noah Zarc: Omnibus (Special Edition)
  • Shadow Swarm
  • Dream Warriors (Joey Cola – Book 1)
  • Cleopatra Rising (Joey Cola – Book 2) – Coming 2019

More Great Sci-Fi from Evolved Publishing:

  • The Jakkattu Vector (Jakkattu – Book 1) by P.K. Tyler
  • Shroud of Eden (Panhelion Chronicles – Book 1) by Marlin Desault
  • The Trace (Whitewashed – Book 1) by Adelaide Thorne
  • Star City (Star City – Book 1) by Edwin Peng

Released:
Nov 6, 2017
ISBN:
9781622534227
Format:
Book

About the author

My whole life, I’ve loved hearing and reading stories, and creating worlds of my own. As a child, I spent countless hours drawing crazy contraptions on paper, or building vast fortresses in a sand pile behind my garage. There was hardly a time I wasn’t off on some adventure in my mind, to the dismay of parents and teachers alike. So it’s no big surprise I took all that daydreaming, all that longing to really see the wonder of creation around me, and started pouring it into discovering hidden universes in my own mind. For quite a few years I tried my hand at writing, mostly working on one, massive fantasy novel, but it wasn’t until I had kids and they became voracious readers that I found my passion. There’s no greater audience than a child. I’d rather have a simple review from a kid that says, “Awesome book!” than a five-star review in the New York Times. Of course, if anyone at the Times wants to try to prove me wrong, I’d be willing to let you. To receive newsletter announcements related to D. Robert Pease’s new releases, please visit http://www.drobertpease.com/About-the-Author/New-Releases-Newsletter


Book Preview

Enslaved - D. Robert Pease

Cosette awoke, like she had a thousand times before, to a voice infused with calm indifference. Most mornings the computer’s calm tone fit the message. This wasn’t one of those mornings.

Emergency protocols initiated.

She snapped her eyelids open and struggled to take in her surroundings. A dark space, barely the size of a closet, surrounded her. Something soft and furry was wedged between her and the wall of her enclosure. Faint blue light filtered through a small round window in front of her. It was too frosted over to see through. A red light flashed somewhere inside the enclosure with her, casting bizarre shadows all around. The sharp smell of antiseptic burned her nostrils. Tubes curled around her arms and legs like the cold tentacles of some deep-sea creature straining to drag her into the depths. Cosette’s heart raced, but she forced herself calm. Think. Where am I?

A voice, deep in the recesses of her mind, screamed in panic, and a primal urge to be free drowned out any rational thought. Her body seemed to act on its own accord, clawing at the tubes protruding from her arms. Warm liquid spurted over her, and the smell—a mixture of alcohol and the coppery scent of blood—grew stronger.

Emergency protocols initiated. Please prepare to exit your chamber and move to your predesignated rendezvous point.

She struggled to shake the confusion that enveloped her mind. She almost felt intoxicated, but she hadn’t had too much to drink since college. Well, except for that one time with Dr. Bransford.... She shied away from the thought, keeping the memory forgotten.

How had she ended up here? She couldn’t recall. She was pregnant. The Orion Project neared completion. But no memory came to her of how she came to be in a dark box, all alone. She didn’t need complete understanding of the situation, however, to know something was wrong. Every nerve in her body screamed it.

A sudden terror at being alone filled her, and a scream again built within her, but this time it escaped, a high-pitched wail trembling against the walls of the small space. Her body shook and tears poured from her eyes. She needed to feel her mother’s embrace. To hear her say everything would be okay. Why had she abandoned her?

No, that’s not right. Her mother had never abandoned her, and even now Cosette carried a piece of her inside her mind. Through her mother’s memories, Cosette had always felt the immense love her mother had for her. The same love Cosette had for her own daughter, Elena, and her—

Emergency protocols initiated. Your chamber will open in thirty seconds.

Cosette took a breath to clear her mind of the fear that threatened to cripple her. She lifted her hand to wipe the frost from the window. Her hand appeared swollen against the light—stubby fingers brushed clumsily against the glass.

Chamber door opening now. Please gently remove any life support systems and move immediately to your predesignated rendezvous point.

Gas hissed and the window swung away. Cool air enveloped her as straps around her legs and torso released and she tumbled forward. Cosette landed in a snaking pile of tubes. The furry object that had been wedged next to her—a rather large teddy bear—fell with her.

Disentangling herself, she pushed to her feet. Her body felt awkward—out of proportion—and she almost lost her balance, but steadied herself. One tube still stuck from her arm, and though she’d never been afraid of needles before, she heard a shriek of pain in her head as she yanked it out. She clenched her teeth, keeping control.

A faint blue line ran off in either direction on the floor, providing the only illumination. Giant steel pods lined a long hallway. They reminded her of the renderings she’d seen of the stasis pods aboard Humanity’s Hope. That didn’t make any sense, though. She had no memory of boarding the ship, and Humanity’s Hope wasn’t scheduled to launch for months.

She staggered over to the pod next to her own. A round window hung two meters above her head. She couldn’t see inside. Were there other people, tucked away in these metal pods? But why did the engineers put the windows so high? More importantly, why was she the only one awake?

Please proceed to your predesignated rendezvous point. If you are experiencing disorientation, remain where you are. Someone will assist you shortly.

Cosette did indeed feel disoriented. She tried desperately to remember what had happened. It was as if she’d awakened from a dream, and the details skittered away like cockroaches when a light turned on.

One thing she knew for certain, she couldn’t remain there in the dark. Almost in answer, the hallway brightened with a warm light. Cosette turned to find it spilling out from beneath a door at the end of the hall. She glanced at the teddy bear at her feet. Reaching down, she picked it up and held it to her chest. Something about the bear comforted her, and even though she was an adult, she could use a bit of comforting at the moment. She staggered toward the door, fighting her uncooperative legs.

The door was much larger than she had expected. The activation plate on the wall was far out of reach, but when she stood before the door, it opened upward with a whoosh. Light blazed forth, blinding her for a moment.

After blinking away the spots in her eyes, she shuffled into a room filled with tables and chairs. A ball of fire blazed through a great curved window that took up most of one wall. It looked like the sun, but maybe smaller and against a black sky. She moved toward the window, keeping within the glow of the sun’s light as it slid—too fast—along the floor.

The burning orb moved out of view, and the room around her darkened in the pallid light of distant stars. She pressed her face against the cold glass, the wonder of her surroundings pushing her anxiety aside for a moment.

A memory came to her of a trip with her parents, in her early teens, to a small island in the South Pacific. She’d lain on the beach through the whole night, unwilling to sleep because of the immense sky above her. She had felt so small under that great expanse, but at the same time part of something bigger.

As she had taken in the Milky Way, she picked out a single star and imagined some alien girl lying back and looking at the sky, just as she did. But that star was thousands of light years away, so the alien had been dead for untold generations. Then she had imagined a descendant of her alien friend, thousands of years in the future, looking up at the night sky and seeing Earth’s sun. The very same sun she would see the next morning. She felt a connection that spanned time to both of those aliens. It made her realize how short life was, but also how everyone was part of a grand story that began eons ago, and extended into a distant, shadowy future.

She also connected with her mother in a way she never had before that night. For the first time, she knew why her mother loved being an astronomer. And Cosette decided that she, too, would dedicate her life to the study of worlds beyond her own.

Thinking of her mother, Cosette reached for her memories, wanting to feel her love, but heard only silence. Where was her mother?

She breathed deeply. For the first time in a long time, she really was alone. No one would come rescue her. She had to do it herself.

If this was indeed Humanity’s Hope—which she was now quite certain it was—then why didn’t she have any memory of boarding the ship? And most importantly, where was the rest of her family?

With the sun out of sight, lights in the ceiling flickered to life, bathing the tables and chairs in an artificial glow. She caught a gleam of her own eyes reflected in the now-dark glass of the window and sucked in a breath. Staggering back, she took in her full reflection—a child, hardly older than a toddler, stared back at her. She had never met him—how could she have? As far as she knew, he hadn’t been born yet. But, there could be no doubt. He looked exactly like Elena had at his age.

She reached up and touched her face... his face. Chaim! Her voice echoed throughout the room in the wail of a one-year-old.

Cosette stood sideways, contemplating herself in the mirror. Another few weeks and I won’t be able to hide this belly, she thought. At almost twenty-two weeks, she was beyond the baby bump stage, but still small enough she could hide her expanding middle with the right clothes.

The baby growing in her womb terrified her.

The pregnancy excited her, too, but she would be thrown in prison if it became known she was pregnant with a second child—a boy, at that. She could lose everything. How had she allowed Jarvis to talk her into it?

He’d tried to put off conceiving their first child, telling her it wasn’t the right time, and that she should focus on her career. She’d resented him—enough that she took her government-issued conception pills anyway. When she got pregnant he feigned excitement, but throughout the pregnancy he’d been almost completely uninvolved in preparing for their child’s arrival. And after Elena announced her arrival to the world, in a voice that had never really been silent since, he was distant with her. Cosette thought with time he’d grow to love his daughter, but when that didn’t happen, a rift developed between them. One that had never healed.

Part of her hoped he’d be different with the new baby, but as the months progressed her doubt grew.

When he had approached her with the idea, saying he had a source for another dose of conception pills, she’d told him no way. But he didn’t let up. He said they’d complete the Orion Project soon. They’d be on another world before she gave birth.

One day he dropped bright blue gelcaps in her hand. She didn’t ask where he’d got them. Blue pills meant they allowed the conception of a male child. Cosette came from a maternal line. Her mother, and her mother’s mother—all the way back to the first transfer—had been selected to bear only girls. She had always wondered what it’d be like having a son.

And he looked so genuinely excited.

In the end, she relented. Maybe it would repair the rift between them and give them a relationship more like her parents’. The older she got, the more she longed for that kind of connection, to have a relationship based on a dogged commitment to each other, no matter what.

She ignored the voice inside that said it would ruin everything and swallowed the pills. Immediately, fear overwhelmed her, but by then it was too late. Only weeks had passed before she tested pregnant. Her fear had only grown over the past several months.

The government had valid reasons for the one-child policy. With nearly all disease wiped out, the population on Earth had skyrocketed. But some people disagreed, having a second, or even a third, child. The government found them out eventually, though, and took their children from them. In this, the authorities brooked no leniency.

Cosette held back tears as the thought of losing her unborn child overwhelmed her.

What have I done?

She shook her head. No time for that. Today was a big day, the beginning of a new chapter for humanity. One that would allow women like her to have as many children as they wanted.

Jarvis entered the room behind her. You grow more beautiful every day.

"I grow... that’s a fact. I think the word you’re looking for is fat." She stiffened as he stood behind her, reached around, and entwined his fingers with hers over her stomach.

There is nothing more beautiful than a woman with another living soul inside her. And you were already the most beautiful creature in the universe.

Laying it on a bit thick this morning, don’t you think?

She turned and kissed him on the cheek, extricating herself from his arms. You keep telling yourself that and maybe you’ll actually believe it one day.

He stood with a blank expression on his face, and then pasted on a smile and turned. I need to get in the shower. We’ll miss the train.

He’d been almost sickeningly sweet since she got pregnant. She should be happy. Perhaps he really did want to save their marriage. But part of her, if she was being honest with herself, suspected it had more to do with his eagerness to have a son—one he could transfer his memories to, like she had with Elena.

She couldn’t really blame him for that, could she?

For most of human history, each child who entered the world did so as a blank canvas. Through their life they grew and learned, making mistakes and adapting, until they died. At that moment, all they were, all their knowledge, vanished. As the old proverb said, When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground. Some of what a person knew might pass on to children, or students, or others whose lives they touched. They might leave a legacy behind that contained a glimpse of their insight—books, art, buildings, philosophies, discoveries—but even then, these works would reveal only a small portion of who they had been. In a sense, humanity’s progress took a step back with every generation.

This conundrum eventually sparked the creation of the human consciousness neural transfer—colloquially called the transfer. After all, what parent didn’t dream of leaving a better world for their children? What mother didn’t yearn for her child to avoid the pain she had suffered because of mistakes she had made?

Cosette’s great-great-grandmother, Dr. Abilene Rousseau, lead the research team that developed the technological and biological wonder that allowed the transfer of memory from one human into the consciousness of another. No longer would mankind need to reteach each successive generation. The library of a parent’s experiences would stand forever in the mind of their child.

And with each generation, the library grew. When a child who had received a transfer came of age and performed their own transfer, not only their memories, but also all the stored memories within them, transferred. Cosette now held within her the collective personalities of four of her predecessors. Four strong, capable women, tucked away in the recesses of her mind, three of them scientists, just like her. With just a thought, Cosette could access their information, their wisdom, their emotions. Her daughter Elena now had five generations from Cosette’s family line.

Unfortunately, that was the rub: the transfer only allowed for one parent’s memories. All attempts to allow both parents to transfer to a child failed. Each successive transfer would erase the one before it. So, if the mother transferred first, and then the father, all the mother’s memories would be lost. One parent and one parent only could transfer their lives on... in some way becoming immortal. Government regulations stipulated which parent would be allowed to do the transfer. Normally, the line of transferred memories would remain solely on the paternal or maternal side, unless the balance of genders tilted one way or the other.

Consequently, this led to 50 percent of the population unable to pass their personalities on, which sometimes led to dark results. She’d heard of black markets that dealt in children for people to transfer their minds to. This thought infuriated Cosette. Yes, humanity lived in a virtual utopia, but it had a sinister underbelly.

She turned back to the mirror. This would be one of the last times she could get away with going out in public. Soon she’d be caught for sure, and they would both go to jail. And the baby....

After everything she’d worked for, was this worth it? Never mind having to hide her pregnancy, what about after her son was born? Would she have to keep him hidden the rest of his life?

Stick to the plan, she thought. And we won’t have to worry about that.

Hey, Mom!

In my bedroom, sweetheart.

Elena poked her head through the door. Her daughter wore a form-fitting black jumpsuit with a gold crinoline skirt. It didn’t look comfortable, but it was all the rage on campus this year.

I’ve gotta go. My astrophysics final is today.

Good luck.

I don’t need luck. She tapped her temple. I’ve got you.

You know it’s not about what you know, it’s how you—

Apply it creatively. I know, Mom! She rolled her eyes and turned back toward the door.

Say goodbye to your father.

Elena stiffened and turned back, her face scrunched up in that look Cosette had seen a thousand times. The one that said she’d rather do anything than speak with her father. I’m gonna be late.

But—

She disappeared in a whirl of black and gold.

Cosette loved the woman Elena had become, but she missed the little baby with the big blue eyes she had once been. She caressed her belly—it wouldn’t be long. What would it be like having a boy? She had a few coworkers with sons, but had never been close with any of them. Perhaps she should do some research. But it would be tricky; any searches on the mindnet for how to raise boys would be flagged.

A red light flashed on her ocular heads-up display. A gentle voice sounded inside her head: Leave now to arrive at your meeting in Cape Canaveral on time.

Jarvis stepped out of the bathroom. You ready to go?

Yeah, one sec. She pulled on a blazer and buttoned it up, glancing in the mirror again, looking to make sure her belly didn’t show.

Cosette spent the tube ride into the Global Space Administration offices at Cape Canaveral lost in thought. Jarvis sat with his eyes closed, scanning the morning news on his ocular heads-up display. They didn’t go to the cape very often. They did most of their work remotely, but today was a big day. Her team would decide the target location for humanity’s first settlement outside the solar system. She’d worked for almost two years in preparation for this day.

Who was she kidding? She’d striven for this moment her whole life and so had generations before. A chorus of souls within her gloried to see the fruit of their labor: a massive ship, capable of carrying thousands to the stars, which would allow humanity to colonize planets far beyond their own solar system.

She glanced at the window display as the train slowed. When they’d first begun installing these tubes, ten-year-old Cosette had sworn she’d never get in one. She’d had visions of them breaking down, and of herself being stuck inside a concrete and steel tomb. But with the walls of the trains covered in screens that showed the world outside, she had found the experience to be a whole heap of fun. Years later, she still enjoyed a trip on the tube-train. There was no better way to travel around the country—or even the world—now that the transatlantic and transpacific tubes had been completed.

They passed the entrance to the GSA campus. A sign read "Global Space Administration: A Beacon of Hope for Humanity’s Future." Cosette had always thought it an appropriate statement. Mankind had placed its hopes with the ship they developed here. In fact, they’d even christened it Humanity’s Hope.

It was her hope, too.

The train slowed more, and Jarvis opened his eyes. Nearly there, are we?

Cosette nodded. The express train from New York to Cape Canaveral had nearly reached the speed of sound, taking a little over two hours. That was insignificant compared to the speeds Humanity’s Hope would achieve, but even so, it might take them fifty years to reach their destination. She sighed. She could use the rest.

They passed the airstrip. Several large transport jets sat ready to ferry their passengers to the space elevator parked in the Atlantic. Its mobile platform moved it about on the equator, allowing it to avoid any of the rare hurricanes that churned the seas—and, more significantly, the dense blanket of space debris hurtling around the planet. One strike from an abandoned communications satellite would render the elevator useless. Hundreds of years of launching all this technology into space did cause some issues. However, in a few months, Humanity’s Hope would be ready to begin the journey to the stars. If everything went according to plan, she would be on board, along with Elena and her unborn son, and Jarvis would be forced to remain on Earth, unable to leave his job at the GSA—if Secretary Stephens kept up his end of the bargain.

She glanced at Jarvis. He’ll forgive me—won’t he?

Chaim shouldn’t be awake. Not until Humanity’s Hope reached the new star system. Something must have gone wrong. Cosette’s heart raced. A wail built within her, not from her own fear, but her son’s. This wasn’t her body at all. This wasn’t her mind. It was her son’s, and her own fears were causing an overwhelming terror to grip him. She pulled the teddy bear to his chest and gave it a huge hug.

It’s okay. Mama’s here.

She felt Chaim’s fear subside. Burying his head in the bear’s face, she breathed in deeply.

You’ve nothing to fear. Mama’s got you.

Chaim calmed further as Cosette slumped to the floor, her back against the great window. She tried to replay the events that led up to this moment, but there was a huge gap in her memory. The transfer must have taken place, but the last memory she had was still being pregnant. Even so, how was she so in control of her son’s body and mind? She’d never heard of this happening before, and humanity had been doing the transfer for almost a hundred and twenty-five years. Yet, she’d never heard of anyone doing it with a child so young. How had she agreed to put him through the cortical tether implant surgery, let alone do the transfer?

And why didn’t Jarvis do the transfer? That was the plan, but she was obviously in Chaim’s mind, so she must have done it instead of her husband.

She hugged the teddy bear and yawned. Chaim’s body was growing tired. She curled up on the floor, letting him rest.

Not for the first time, she thought about the world mankind had created. Was the transfer really the best idea? Had mankind lost something... had she lost something by not having to learn everything on her own? Some said the best factor in determining the character of a person was how they handled adversity. But in a world where children carried innate knowledge, humanity had eradicated disease, and robots did most of the work, people faced little adversity. Most went through life never having to strive for anything.

Cosette had always had this sense that something would break. She spent most of her life waiting for the other shoe to drop.

In the early days of colonizing, researchers planted trees in the domes on the moon, looking for ways to produce oxygen in a non-Earth environment. The researchers found the trees only grew so large before they shattered under their own weight. Without any wind, the trees didn’t grow with the strength necessary to support themselves.

Was humanity somehow weaker due to its success? Would her children face obstacles they didn’t know how to handle because they grew up without conflict? These questions sometimes kept Cosette up at night.

Cosette shook Chaim’s head. Not if I have anything to do with it. And then she nearly laughed out loud at the flaw in her reasoning. She wanted to protect her children from a possible future where they’d struggle because they had never had to face anything on their own.

That’s motherhood.

The sun began to stream through the window again, bathing the room in its yellow glow. The lights in the ceiling flickered out. Humanity’s Hope already moved at tremendous speed. She swore the sun looked visibly smaller than the last time she had seen it. The ship’s ion engines would continually accelerate on its long voyage toward the new star system. So, the first year it would only make it out beyond the orbit of Mars, but the next year would see it leaving the solar system.

But the question above all others was why had Chaim awakened, and why was he alone?

Computer, can you give me the location of Abilene Cosette Sinclair’s stasis pod?

She wasn’t even sure the computer would respond to her voice. Were her credentials sufficient?

I have one pod registered to that name. It is on your current deck, in hallway 347. The computer spoke in her head with the same disinterested voice that had awakened her. However, I suggest making your way to your predesignated rendezvous point.

What is the emergency?

Systems have detected a foreign object in our path. Course adjustments have been made, but avoiding collision is not guaranteed.

How much time do we have?

Seventeen minutes.

All the more reason to find her pod. She pushed Chaim to his feet. She had to find her real body and wake herself from cryosleep. Otherwise, her son would die, alone, on a ship millions of kilometers from Earth. She couldn’t let that happen.

Please keep me apprised of the situation.

She shambled across the floor. Chaim’s body jerked in fits and starts as he tried to stop—tried to lie down and sleep. But she pushed on. Once in the darkened hallway, it became even more difficult. She felt Chaim push hard against her mind. He did not want to go back down the hallway with the stasis pods.

Chaim stumbled into the dark, pulling his bear behind. Bright light made a long shadow along the floor in front of him. The light behind felt warm and safe, but the dark made his insides twist up funny. He didn’t like the dark. He tried to turn around, but he couldn’t. His legs wouldn’t listen to him. He started to cry.

It’s okay, son. I’m here for you.

The nice voice calmed him a little, but he still wanted to turn around. Instead, he walked forward. Rows of large boxes on either side lined a long space. Round glowing lights in the front of each disappeared off into the distance. He stepped over long snaking things he knew were called hoses. They spilled out of one box that stood open to his right. It was the box he had come out of.

He climbed a small step in front of another box. Its door was still closed. He wanted to peer inside. He tried to see in the round light—a window—but it was too high. He searched for a handle—because most doors had something to tug on to open them—but he couldn’t find one.

There were lines and squiggles painted on the front of the box, and even as he looked at them they changed into numbers and dashes.

The voice sounded in his head. "347. This is the correct level."

Then a strange, squeaky voice came out his mouth. Computer, what is Abilene Cosette Sinclair’s pod number?

Another voice sounded inside of him. Pod number 347-962-4428.

His eyes looked at the number on the box in front of him. 347-962-4426. He turned and looked beyond the box—the stasis pod—he’d come out of. His body stepped over the hoses again and peered up at the box next to his. The number on this pod read 347-962-4428.

Again, the high-pitched voice came from his mouth. Computer, please open pod 347-962-4428.

A loud noise startled him, and he knew he could get hurt, so he got off the small step as the door opened. He didn’t know what would be in the box, but it surprised him to find it empty. In fact, it made him scared.

He dropped his bear and ran down the row of boxes, as fast as his tiny legs could take him. He stopped and looked at the numbers on another box. Computer, open pod 347-962-4417. Again, the box opened. Again, it was empty. This made him even more scared. He ran to another box. The voice asked for this box to open. It was empty. His body ran down the corridor and the voice opened box after box.

Why are they all empty? The voice shouted in his head.

Chaim couldn’t figure out why it mattered. All he knew was the safe voice—the voice that made him feel better—was scared, and this made him scared too. Really scared. The darkness closed in around him, and the round windows began to spin and blur. A sound built within his chest and he opened his mouth and screamed.

Oh, Chaim. I’m sorry.

Still

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