Authors: Sara Wolf
Tags: #school, #young adult, #sci-fi, #aliens, #romance, #science fiction, #high school, #adventure, #action
Shadus shuffles, a gesture that’s almost nervous and definitely wasn’t in his broody alien prince repertoire at the beginning of the year
. In the dim light shining from the girl’s dorm, his face cast in half-shadow, I realize just how handsome he is.
And then somehow, I’m leaning in. Suddenly I’m so much closer than I was to him, my body moving without my direction. Our shoulders touch, my chest glancing his. My EVE organ feels weightless, light and bouncy beneath my ribs. Shadus’ eyes widen as my face nears, and then, just when I think he’s going to back off or call me a disgusting human, he reaches his hand up to barely graze my cheek.
And it is the end of me.
FEAR ME NOT
A novel by Sara Wolf
Book 1 of The EVE Chronicles
For S, who’s been with me since the beginning. You’ve gone through it all. Here is your swan song.
FEAR ME NOT
Copyright ©2013 by Sara Wolf
All rights reserved. This work or any portion thereof may not be utilized or reproduced in any way, with exception of review purposes, without the written consent of the author.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblances to real persons, events, names, or locations are coincidental and a product of the author’s imagination.
For questions, concerns, or comments, please contact the author at
1. The Fool
All fifty-seven of us in this cafeteria are going to be eaten.
The irony isn’t lost on me - we’re going to be eaten, and we’re sitting in a cafeteria. That’s like having hamburger in a cattle corral, or roast chicken legs while standing in a chicken coop. I glare at the teachers with clipboards. They’re typical; cardigans, slacks, faint smiles that reek of affability. Exactly what you’d expect at a government-run school.
The tables crowd with murmuring students. It’s been twenty minutes since Dad - weary, paint-stained overalls Dad - dropped me off. Twenty minutes since I waved goodbye to my sister Alisa, her golden hair bobbing in the truck as she watched me from the back window. Twenty minutes since my last nervous cigarette behind a fancy hedge. Twenty minutes since I left my old life behind to come here and be eaten by aliens.
Under my ribs my dark, scarred stitch trembles. That’s where the doctor put the EVE organ in me. It stores every emotion I feel - harvests it like a bottle harvesting pure water from a mountain drip. An organ like that? Definitely alien tech. Over the next year, the organ will fill up with emotions, converting it to a nourishing liquid the aliens can eat, and will be drained when it gets full. Creepy? Without a doubt. Worth a hundred thousand dollars?
My sister’s life is worth way more than that. My life? Not so much. I’m a bit of a fuck-up. Volunteering to be an EVE is the only thing I’ve really done right. It’s the only thing I’ve done that’s made Dad smile, instead of get angry. It’s the only thing I’ve ever done to help my broken family.
The principal, a balding old man in a sweater, walks up to the podium and claps his hands.
“Welcome, students, to your new school. Green Hills High School is the world’s first non-segregated human-alien school. It’s an attempt between our government and aliens to promote understanding between our two races. But you know this. You had to read that god-awful contract before signing it, after all.”
Uneasy laughter moves through the crowd. The principal smiles. I roll my eyes so hard I have to check to make sure they’re still in my head.
“No doubt you are eager to get to your dorms and explore the grounds. Before you leave, please know this; Green Hills is not just a school. It is a symbol.”
He waves his hand to the cafeteria door. It darkens with the silhouettes of a new crowd coming in. I twist my hands together, trying to ignore the clawing in my stomach. The hundreds of students all fall quiet at once.
The newcomers look my age. They look like humans, but we all know that’s just a ruse. Those bodies are shells they cloned and implanted themselves into in order not to freak us out. They are elegant, their steps even and refined. They are tall, and well-proportioned, none of them overweight or short. All of them have the same dark brown hair. It’s a sea of dark hair and long lashes as they settle in the tables opposite us. They all have the same gray eyes, like water frozen over. Alien adults lead them in.
Someone behind me whispers ‘freaks’. The principal smiles, either oblivious to the tension or choosing to ignore it.
“We’ve assembled,” He says. “Wonderful. Let me reiterate; this school is a symbol. The world you are growing up in is a new world. You all remember the day our Gutter friends landed, don’t you?”
A nod goes around the human side. The Principal turns to the pale-eyed alien crowd.
“And you all remember the day you landed on Earth, correct?”
The Gutters nod.
“That moment in history is shared among you. It ties you to each other. We hope you make many such memories here. We will advise you to interact with the other race. This may make you uncomfortable. This may make you afraid. But know this - fear is a positive thing. To the Gutters, emotion is energy, food, the very lifeblood in their bodies. To humans, emotions like fear change you, challenge you, and forge you into better people. So don’t be afraid of fear. Embrace it.”
I don’t believe that bullshit for a second. Fear is never good, and it’s hanging in this cafeteria like an unsettling fog. I take the Gutters in. We call them Gutters because they eat emotions, and the only way to harvest emotions from humans was by transplanting the freaky EVE organ into our guts. At first glance they all look the same, but then I notice their faces are subtly different; big eyebrows here, large ears there, tall foreheads or sharp jaws. Their human shells are convincing. I’ve never seen one close up, let alone fifty of them at once. Their fingers are long. Grey eyes, small grey eyes, slanted grey eyes -
Brown eyes. I do a double take.
They aren’t quite brown, more like rust. The irises streak with red, like the color of blood. They belong to a male Gutter. His eyes are shadowed by thick lashes and long bangs, his hair unkempt and messy. He’s slouched, elbows on the table behind him. His body is lean, like he doesn’t eat properly. His cheekbones are razor sharp and his shoulders are broad, his expression completely bored on his olive skin.
Our eyes meet for a split second, and he glowers. I look away instantly, my skin tingling with equal parts warning bells and startled shock.
I glance at the other aliens, trying to find another color abnormality. A girl Gutter wearing a fluffy skirt and blouse has the same streaked pattern in her eyes, but bright blue. She’s gorgeous, with long limbs and doe-eyes. An Abercrombie-handsome male who looks like he works out 24/7 has brilliant gold streaks in his narrow eyes. Three out of a hundred teenage Gutters are different. Why are they different? No, scratch that - why do I care? They’re all freaks out to eat our emotions. They don’t matter to me. All that matters is I get the money for feeding these weirdoes.
All that matters is I get the money for Alisa.
The Principal claps his hands.
“Each of you is going to be paired with a member of the opposite race in order to promote cooperation. This is your culture partner for the year. Many academic and extracurricular activities will be done with your partner in order to help further this school’s goal of interracial cooperation. When I call your name, please stand and wait for me to call your partner. Ms. Hayfield here will tell you your dorm room number. Since the Gutters have been on campus longer, I’d like them to escort their human partners to the dorms. The day will be yours to explore. Respect the rules, and each other. Classes start at seven a.m. tomorrow. I look forward to a wonderful year with you all.”
Nothing about the Principal’s smile is contrived or forced. He’s genuinely happy to be here. I wish I could say the same for me. I’ve never liked aliens – Mom and I shared that. She protested them at convention centers and during politician’s speeches. That’s what got her killed. It was a stampede, panicked people crushing her underfoot after someone fired a gun at a politician speaking about the EVE program. The police never let us see her body. There wasn’t much left to see.
But that’s the past. My past. And it’s tragic and fuzzy and broke my family into a million shards and all we can do is move forward now.
This is for the money, I remind myself. This is for Dad. Working three jobs to pay for Alisa’s piling medical bills is killing him slowly - dark circles under his eyes, weary smiles. He barely sleeps anymore, and when he’s not sleeping he’s drinking himself to death to escape the memory of Mom. I couldn’t take it anymore. I signed up to be tested at the EVE clinic a block from our apartment, and now I’m right where I don’t want to be. But a hundred thousand dollars is more money than I could ever make getting a job at McDonald’s.
The Principal calls names. EVEs and Gutters stand, going off in different directions together as pairs. This forced buddy-buddy thing will get old, quick, but I’ll suck it up and deal. My family can’t afford anything less.
I stand and shove my hands in my pockets. My neck hair prickles, my breathing shallow. The EVE organ beneath my ribs gives a weird little twitch, like it’s responding to my nerves. I wait for the other name - to see which alien I’m stuck with.
The Gutters kept their alien-language names. They apparently don’t have an equivalent of a last name. The Gutter with red eyes stands like it’s killing him, and my stomach drops through my feet. We walk to Ms. Hayfield, careful space kept between his shoulder and mine. He’s taller than me, a feat in itself - my freakish, flat-as-a-board 5’10 is nothing to sniff at. Ms. Hayfield flashes a cheerful smile.
“Room 104, dear. Your bags should already be there. Please watch over each other.”
“Sure. Whatever,” I breathe. I stay behind Shadus as he leads me from the cafeteria. Three steps behind, like Dad taught me, like living in the inner city taught me. Three steps behind and you can always see someone tense for attack with enough time to still get away.
Whitewashed halls give way to windows open to the fall-bloom atrium. Leaves blaze red and filter sunlight into hazy orange. Motivational posters and lockers, classroom doors and water fountains. It’s neater than my old high school, but the cleanliness adds to the creepy factor. There’s no gum, no shoeprints, no scribbled ‘
Jenny loves Cole’
, no nothing. It’s clean and new and built just for us – for the first EVE/Gutter school ever.
We walk in silence. The hum of the cafeteria crowd talk fades.
Shadus’ stride is long and lazy. I watch his back - black shirt, jeans, combat boots. Nothing special. If I squint I can pretend he isn’t an alien. That I’m not his food.
“Why are you staring at me?” His hoarse, deep voice nearly makes me jump out of my skin.
“Wasn’t staring,” I murmur.
His voice stays monotone. “Try not to lie. It wastes my time.”
“I’ll lie if I want to, creep.”
He halts. My breath hitches. He inclines his head over his shoulder so I can barely see his profile. All I can think of are the rumors; before they got human bodies, Gutters were seven feet of lizard skin and razor sharp teeth - stronger than gorillas and faster than any cheetah. He’s flesh and bone like me, now. They all are. How far the mighty have fallen.
The moment fractures. The edge of his iris glows redder in the sunlight. I’m afraid. His nostrils flare, as if he can smell my fear. Then his lip curls in a sneer, and he starts walking again.
I have to do this. I can’t let Dad and Alisa suffer any more than they already have. I’m sorry, Mom. I know you hated them. I don’t like them either. But I have to do this.
My fists tremble as I ball them up and follow Shadus.
Every part of me burns with fear.
Eleven years ago, aliens landed on Earth.
Everyone remembers that day. Dad remembers 9/11, the twin towers collapsing. Before Grandma died, she used to tell me about JFK’s assassination. For us it’ll always be ‘the day the aliens landed’. I was five. Alisa was two. We were watching cartoons and slopping cheerios around when NASA announced they detected an object hurtling towards Earth’s atmosphere. The black alien ship, looking like a craggy meteor, crash landed in a remote desert in New Mexico. The military had it surrounded in two minutes.