Authors: Trisha Leaver
Tags: #hard wired, #creed, #young adult, #young adult fiction, #ya, #ya fiction, #teen, #teenlit, #novel, #ya novel
To the Fearless Five, for their continued love and support!
Â© 2015 by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie.
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First e-book edition Â© 2015
E-book ISBN: 9780738745466
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Flux is an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Leaver, Trisha, author.
Hardwired / Trisha Leaver, Lindsay Currie. -- First edition.
1 online resource.
Summary: After several months in a government facility undergoing psychological testing related to his “warrior gene,” seventeen-year-old Lucas has been approved to return to normal life--but decides instead to go back into the facility to save a prisoner and reveal what is truly going on there.
Description based on print version record and CIP data provided by publisher; resource not viewed.
ISBN 978-0-7387-4546-6 () -- ISBN 978-0-7387-4226-7 [1. Science fiction. 2. Genetics--Fiction.] I. Currie, Lindsay, author. II. Title.
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The Rhode Island Herald
November 8, 2015
The mugging at the bus stop. The shooting at the mall.
The carjacking downtown. All random acts of violence
considered unstoppable until now. After more than a decade of research, the Institute for Genetic Testing (IGT) claims to have found definitive proof that carriers of the MAOA-L gene are genetically predisposed to violence.
The MAOA gene, commonly referred to as the warrior gene, has been at the center of controversy for several years as researchers tried to make a correlation between antisocial behavior and the gene that codes for monoamine oxidase A. Recently, while testing several high-profile criminals in search of a common genetic link, IGT scientists identified MAOA-L. The discovery of this genetic link will enable law enforcement officers to identify potential offenders
they engage in violent criminal behavior.
In an unprecedented move, President Conway, after consulting with the
Government Task Force for Violent Crimes
, signed an executive order mandating the testing of all
adolescents on their seventeenth birthday. Those teens testing positive for MAOA-L will be held in a secure facility for two months, where they will undergo a series of psychological screenings to determine their potential for sociopathic behavior. The construction of twelve state-of-the-art testing facilities is underway, the first one slated to open this spring in Vermont
The strobe light above my bed jarred me awake. Its irritatingly bright light was accompanied by an equally annoying buzz that broke through the brief three-minute dream I'd drifted into. A dream about a world where Tyler was alive and I wasn't trapped inside a concrete shoebox at the mercy of some geneticist's whims.
I looked up at the circular contraption, thinking of all the destructive ways I could kill it but never planning to act on any of them. Violence was the reaction IGT's scientists were hoping for, the one reaction that would get me condemned forever.
The thin pillow they'd gifted me did little to block the light, but I yanked it from beneath my head and slapped it over my eyes anyway. You'd think after three nights, I'd be used to their latest form of tortureâsleep deprivationâbut no. Every time the blasted thing flared to life, I'd shoot out of bed, my feet hitting the cold tile floor as I willed my heart to stop racing. Adrenaline coursed through me, making me edgy, irritable, and ready to lash out at anybody and everything. A few more nights of that, and they'd win. I'd lose what little control I had left and snap, turning myself into the violent threat I swore I'd never become.
“Shit, man, get it together.” Frustrated, I jumped down from the top bunk and dropped my head to my knees, forcing my breathing to slow. It didn't work. It never did.
The temperature in our room was jacked up to over 80 degrees. Sweat poured off my body, trickling into my eyes and screwing with my already hazy vision. I didn't know how much longer I could take this. Three nights of being jolted awake every thirteen minutes and seven seconds had me seriously contemplating giving up. At least locked away in a cell surrounded by darkness and silence, I would've been able to sleep.
Chris grunted and flopped over on the bottom bunk, then settled back into the mattress and started snoring again. I watched him for a minute, jealousy flooding my system. He'd obviously found a way to block out the lights, not even flinching as they flashed above us in a blinding crescendo of torment. I needed to figure out how he did it, bribe him if need be, perhaps with my dessert at meals or the magazine I'd smuggled in. Either way, Chris was going to tell me how he'd managed to sleep through this latest test or it was going to be his face and not the flashing light above my bed that I took my anger out on.
The room went blissfully silent, but flashes of silver and white still streaked my vision, each burst ratcheting up my anger. The lights always lasted longer than the noise. Like a tease â¦ a way to poke at us for a few more seconds.
I straightened up and stared at my bunk. I hated the hard-won comfort it offered. Our beds were sparseâa mattress, a blanket, and a flattened pillow. We'd had sheets when we first got here; that is, until the guy across the hall figured out how to tie his into a noose. I don't think the staff would've cared so much if he'd used it on himself. But he went after his roommate, left him dangling over the edge of the metal bedframe. Or so the rumors said.
I shook off that image, my eyes tracking the red light of the surveillance camera mounted in the corner of our room. It flashed twice then died out. It'd taken me a whopping twelve hours my first day to figure out the pattern. The camera would scan the room for five minutes and twenty-seven seconds, then the light would go off. We got two minutes and twelve seconds of surveillance darkness, then the red light would blink on, the watchful eyes of the Bake Shop's impotent guards recording our every move.
We lived for those brief two-minute stints each night when no one was watching and we could be ourselves. This place was dark and depressing, ate away at any hope you had. But at night, when silence surrounded us and you could trick your mind into thinking you were somewhere else, Chris and I would talk. Stupid little bursts of conversation gave us hope, reminded us that we had families and friends â¦ entire lives waiting for us back home.
I'd tried to ignore Chris at first, spent the better part of two days tuning out his questions. But with nothing but your own dark thoughts to keep you company at night, it got lonely pretty quick. It was either talk to him or lose my mind. In an attempt to stay sane, I broke down and told him on our third night here that I was the catcher for my high school's baseball team. Chris played left field for his high school team, and so the conversation started and kept going from there. We disagreed on everything, but those stupid arguments were what passed the time as we stumbled through one psychological torment after another.
But that night I was tired and irritated, not exactly thinking straight. I stood there silently watching the surveillance camera and timing my approach. Two cycles later, when the camera went dark, I made my move. I felt my way across the metal bedframe, slipping my hands under Chris's mattress. He mumbled something in his sleep and rolled over to face the wall. Good, it'd hurt that much more when I shoved him into it.
I took a deep breath and jerked one side of his mattress up, sending Chris tumbling into the wall. He wasn't hurtâI made sure to check my strength before I heaved him up and overâbut he was definitely awake and just as irritated as me.
“What the hell, Lucas?” Chris grumbled as he rubbed his forehead.
He went to say something else, but I waved him off, jutting my chin in the direction of the camera. I'd been keeping time in my head and in less than five seconds, there'd be three sets of eyes watching our every move.
Not wanting the guards to question why I was out of my bunk, I moved over to the urinal affixed to the far wall. Chris sighed and played along, laying back against his pillow and pretending to be asleep.
“Off,” Chris said, letting me know it was safe to turn around.
“You want to tell me how you've managed to sleep through that”âI paused only long enough to gesture to the light above my bunk; it was going off again, like a messed-up disco ball on speedâ“for the past three nights?”
Chris gave me a blank stare, not hearing anything I'd said. I fought the urge to shake him, to take out all my exhaustion on his expressionless face. But Chris was the closest thing to a friend I had in here, the only person I trusted, and I needed him on my side.
“How. Are you. Sleeping. Through that?” I repeated my question, my words slow and exaggerated as I tried to rein in my frustration.
“What?” Chris nearly screamed the word at me, and for a second I feared I'd accidently done some real damage to his head when I'd shoved him into the wall. He sat up and cleared his eyes with the heels of his hand, then pulled out a small wad of paper from his right ear. He had earplugs in. Homemade earplugs.
He yanked the other plug out and dropped it to the bed. I picked it up, curious as to how he'd pulled it off. They looked like nothing more than balled-up pieces of paper, but to my knowledge, there wasn't any paper in this room. We didn't even have toilet paper in there. Piss all you wanted in the urinal bolted to the wall, but if you needed to take a dump, yeah â¦ best wait for morning when you had access to the communal bathrooms. God forbid they'd give the potentially unstable teens a newspaper or box of tissues. I mean, if sheets could be used as a deadly weapon, imagine what kind of destructive device we could've made with something as lethal as toilet paper.
I shook my head in disgust. Nothing was allowed in our rooms that might've been deemed a distraction. Our only amusement was each other, and we all knew how well that had worked out across the hall.
“Where did you get this?” I asked, unfolding the paper. I could make out a few letters, but not enough to form any words, never mind give me a clue as to where'd he gotten a book.
“From the magazine you snuck in here and hid in your mattress,” Chris said, at the exact same time I flipped the torn piece of paper over and glimpsed a fragment of the picture. It was my magazine all right, and if I was seeing straight, that was Miss January.
I scrunched the wads of paper back up and fitted them to my own ears. My
, my ear plugs. “What about the light?” I asked. Noise aside, it was the light that bothered me most. It had a way of messing with my vision so badly that I wanted to claw my eyes out of my own head.
“That's all you.” Chris chuckled as he settled back into his bed. “It's above your bunk, not mine. Your ass pretty much blocks it out.”
Son of a bitch. Here I was, sleep-deprived and nursing a tumor-like headache, while he was sleeping like a baby, my
shoved in his ears, my ass blocking his view of the strobe light. Not anymore. Now it was his time to suffer.
“Bottom bunk is mine for the next three days,” I said as I wedged myself in between him and the wall.
“You're lucky I'm tired, Lucas. Otherwise I would kick your ass,” Chris said as he snagged his pillow from beneath my head and stood up, his hands folded across his chest as if he was contemplating challenging me.
I laughed. “What's stopping you?”
“Them,” he said, pointing to the camera. The red light was back on, a bunch of nameless guards waiting beyond it, probably hoping I'd finally popped. Chris let out a deep sigh, his hands relaxing at his sides. “Nothing would make them happier than me taking a swing at you.”
I turned over, giving the camera my back, hating myself for flipping out on Chris, the only person I actually liked in this place. “I'm sorry,” I said, feeling like an ass for having taken out my frustration on him. “I'm just so done with all their tests.”
“Don't let them break you. Not like this,” Chris said as he climbed up to the top bunk and tossed my pillow down to me. “We're nearly halfway done, Lucas. You lose it now, and they'll keep you locked up forever.”
“I know,” I replied as I rolled over and buried my head beneath the thin blanket. “You can have the bottom bunk tomorrow, and for the rest of the week if you want.” He could have it for the remainder of our time in this place; I felt that bad about what I'd done. “I just need one night's sleep. Just one.”