Through the Dark (A Darkest Minds Collection) (A Darkest Minds Novel)

BOOK: Through the Dark (A Darkest Minds Collection) (A Darkest Minds Novel)
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Through the Dark: A Darkest Minds Collection

Copyright © 2015 by Alexandra Bracken

In Time: A Darkest Minds Novella

Copyright © 2013 by Alexandra Bracken

Sparks Rise: A Darkest Minds Novella

Copyright © 2014 by Alexandra Bracken

Beyond the Night: A Darkest Minds Novella

Copyright © 2015 by Alexandra Bracken

Designed by Sammy Yuen

Cover design and photo illustration by Sammy Yuen

Star, forest photograph © Thinkstock

All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Hyperion, 125 West End Avenue, New York, New York 10023.

ISBN 978-1-4847-5734-5

Visit
www.hyperionteens.com

For the dreamers, believers, fighters, and readers who have been part of this journey from the beginning, with all my love

I
HAD JUST FINISHED A
first draft of
Never Fade
, book two in the Darkest Minds series, and was settling in for a bit of a writing break when my editor, Emily, e-mailed to ask if I’d have any interest in working on a novella for the series. Truthfully, I was a little daunted by the idea of stepping outside of Ruby’s point of view; after all, so much of my understanding of her world was tied up in
her
and how she saw it. But I quickly realized that this was an incredible opportunity for me to really explore what was happening in this world, and to do so outside of the filter of her fears and limited knowledge. Even better, I finally had a way to show readers what was happening in the United States outside of the main story line, and give insight into the struggles others—not just the kids—were facing. And so, the idea for
In Time
, the story of a young man fighting to start off as a skip tracer, was born. This was followed a year later by
Sparks Rise
, meant to give readers a glimpse of what life at Thurmond was like after Ruby escaped, and now, exclusive to this bind-up,
Beyond the Night
, the story of the chaos and confusion in the weeks after the original trilogy ends.

For best reading, I recommend this order:
The Darkest Minds
,
In Time
,
Never Fade
,
Sparks Rise
,
In the Afterlight
,
Beyond the Night
. Or you could simply read all of the novellas after you’ve finished the novels—these side stories have never been required reading to understand what’s happening in the novels, but they do weave themselves into the main story lines in unexpected, and, I hope, exciting ways.

After years of being asked by readers for a bind-up of the novellas, I’m so pleased that
Through the Dark
is finally here. To me, the title perfectly encapsulates the message of these novellas, and I think the series overall: that no matter how terrifying or dangerous the world may seem, there is still a place for hope in it, and the way through it is by protecting and loving one another.

S
OMETIMES, EVEN WHEN THE ROADS
are quiet and the others are asleep, she lets herself worry she made the wrong choice.

It’s not that she doesn’t like the group—she does. Really. They stick together and they play it smart, driving on side streets as much as they can instead of the highways, with the open, endless fear those offer. They’re never mean unless they’ve gone without food or sleep or both for too long, or when they’re scared. When they camp for the night, they sleep in a great big circle, and the girls like telling stories about the kids they knew in Virginia, at East River. They all laugh, but she has trouble putting the faces to the names. She can’t remember where the lake was in relation to the fire pit, and she wasn’t there that one time they all put on a play for one another. She wasn’t there because she was with her friends. She was in a different car, a better one, a happier one. Because when the girls stop telling these stories, the same ones over and over again, there’s only silence. And she misses the warmth of her friends’ voices, even if they were just whispering, lying and saying it would all be okay.

Maybe it’s bad—she doesn’t know—but secretly she’s glad no one expects her to tell stories of her own. That way she gets to keep them to herself, tucked tight against her heart. She presses her hand there when she’s scared, when she wants to pretend it’s them teasing and laughing and shouting around her, and not the others. When she wants to feel safe.

She keeps her hand there all the time. Now.

The mountains around her are flying by and the girls are screaming that they need to go faster, faster, faster. She sees the car through the back windshield of the SUV. The man hanging out the passenger-side window looks like he is aiming the gun directly at her. The driver has a face like he’d be willing to drive through a firestorm to get to them, and she hates him for it.

She wants her voice to join with the others’ screaming and crying. The words are lodged in her throat. The boy behind the wheel needs to stop the SUV, slam on the brakes, let the monsters chasing them get out of their own car and think they’ve won. We are five to their two, she thinks, and if we can catch them by surprise—

But their SUV is suddenly flying like it’s gone up a ramp. The seat belt locks over her chest hard enough to steal her breath in that one second they’re in the air—then they’re spinning, the glass is smashing, the car’s frame is twisting, and not even she can hold in her screams.

L
ISTEN, NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE
tells you, no one really wants this job.

The hours are endless and the pay is crap. No, I take that back. It’s not the pay that’s crap. There’s a sweet little penny in it for you if you can hook yourself a decent-sized fish. The only thing is, of course, that everybody’s gone and overfished the damn rivers. You can drop in as many hooks as you want, buy yourself the shiniest bait, but there just aren’t enough of them still in the wild to fatten up your skeletal wallet.

That’s the first thing Paul Hutch told me when I met him at the bar this afternoon. We’re here to do business, but Hutch decides that it’s a teaching moment, too. Why do people constantly feel like they have to lecture me on life? I’m twenty-five, but it’s like the minute you take actual kids out of the picture, anyone under the age of thirty suddenly becomes “son,” or “kid,” or “boy,” because these people, the “real adults,” they have to have someone to make small. I’m not interested in playing to someone’s imagination, or propping up their sense of self-worth. It makes me sick—like I’m trying to digest my own stomach. I’m no one’s
boy
, and I don’t respond to
son
, either. I’m not your damn dead kid.

Someone’s smoking a cigarette in one of the dark booths behind us. I hate coming here almost as much as I hate the usual suspects who haunt the place. Everything in the Evergreen is that tacky emerald vinyl and dark wood. I think they want it to look like a ski lodge, but the result is something closer to a poor man’s Oktoberfest, only with more sad, drunk geezers and fewer busty chicks holding frothy mugs of beer.

There are pictures of white-capped mountains all around, posters that are about as old as I am. I know, because our mountain hasn’t had a good snow in fifteen years, or enough demand to open in five. I used to run the ski lifts up all the different courses after school, even during the summer, when people from the valley just wanted to come up and do some hiking in temperatures below 115 degrees. I tell myself,
At least you don’t have to deal with the snotty tourists anymore
—the ones who acted like they’d never seen a real tree before, and rode their brakes all the way down Humphreys’ winding road. I don’t miss them at all.

BOOK: Through the Dark (A Darkest Minds Collection) (A Darkest Minds Novel)
5.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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