Telepath (Hive Mind Book 1)

BOOK: Telepath (Hive Mind Book 1)
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JANET EDWARDS

 

TELEPATH

 

Hive Mind 1

Copyright

 

Copyright
©
Janet Edwards 2016

www.janetedwards.com

 

 

Janet Edwards asserts the moral
right to be identified as the author of this work.

 

This novel is entirely
a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents
are the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner.
Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events or localities
is purely coincidental.

 

All rights reserved. This book or
any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without
the express written permission of Janet Edwards except for the use of brief quotations
in a book review.

 

 

Cover Design by
The Cover
Collection

Cover Design
©
Janet Edwards 2016

Table of Contents

Chapter One
.
4

Chapter Two
.
8

Chapter
Three
.
14

Chapter Four
19

Chapter Five
.
26

Chapter Six
.
28

Chapter
Seven
.
37

Chapter
Eight
41

Chapter Nine
.
44

Chapter Ten
.
47

Chapter
Eleven
.
50

Chapter
Twelve
.
53

Chapter
Thirteen
.
59

Chapter
Fourteen
.
63

Chapter
Fifteen
.
69

Chapter
Sixteen
.
74

Chapter
Seventeen
.
82

Chapter
Eighteen
.
88

Chapter
Nineteen
.
96

Chapter
Twenty
.
101

Chapter
Twenty-one
.
107

Chapter
Twenty-two
.
111

Chapter
Twenty-three
.
116

Chapter
Twenty-four
122

Chapter
Twenty-five
.
126

Chapter
Twenty-six
.
131

Chapter
Twenty-seven
.
139

Chapter
Twenty-eight
141

Chapter
Twenty-nine
.
142

Chapter
Thirty
.
147

Chapter
Thirty-one
.
150

Chapter
Thirty-two
.
157

Chapter
Thirty-three
.
162

Chapter
Thirty-four
167

Chapter
Thirty-five
.
172

Chapter
Thirty-six
.
180

Chapter
Thirty-seven
.
186

Chapter
Thirty-eight
190

Chapter
Thirty-nine
.
193

Chapter
Forty
.
195

Message from
Janet Edwards
.
197

Books by
Janet Edwards
.
198

About the
Author
199

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

Forge and Shanna led our group out
of the lift into the forbidden territory of Level 1, the highest of the hundred
accommodation levels in our Hive city. I stopped for a moment, dazzled by the splendour
of the shopping area in front of us. The Level 1 shopping areas always had the
finest decorations in the Hive, but this was the last day of Carnival, the
annual Hive festival of light and life, so there were added gold and silver
streamers everywhere.

Shanna glanced back at me.
“Come on, Amber!”

I hurried to join the others
under one of the giant overhead signs that said “Level 1”. We automatically formed
into a circle with Forge and Shanna standing in the centre. Twenty-two of us,
all wearing traditional gold and silver Carnival costumes, and carrying masks.
Forge was the one exception, conspicuous for choosing a costume and mask in the
red and black colours of Halloween, the ominous Hive festival of darkness and death.
Forge had constantly been challenging Hive rules on Teen Level, and wearing a
Halloween costume during Carnival was his final act of defiance.

I noticed that a couple of
men dressed in the blue uniforms of Health and Safety were standing nearby and
watching us. On any other day, the hasties would have been scolding us, telling
us that a group of teens had no business in one of the shopping areas reserved
for the most important people in the Hive, and sternly sending us back down to Teen
Level 50.

This wasn’t any other day,
because we were eighteen. Tomorrow the million eighteen-year-olds in the Hive
would all enter Lottery. We would be assessed, be optimized, be allocated, be
imprinted. The Lottery of 2532 would decide our future lives, what profession
we would work at, and whether we would live in luxury on a high level of the Hive
or in a cramped apartment somewhere in the depths.

Shanna smiled at the rest
of us. “We aren’t going to be like all the other teens. We won’t split up from
our friends after Lottery. Let’s promise that we’ll all meet up two weeks from
today.”

There was a muttering of
promises in reply, my own among them, but we all knew we were lying. We’d lived
on the same corridor on Teen Level 50 for five years, and shared thousands of
moments of laughter and arguments. Now the notoriously unpredictable verdict of
Lottery would send some of us higher up the Hive and others further down, label
some of us a success and others a failure.

Shanna had boundless
confidence. She was sure she’d be one of the successes, even be among the elite
who lived in the top ten accommodation levels of the Hive. The rest of us felt far
more uncertain about what lay ahead. We wouldn’t want to meet up again if we
were among the failures. I knew I couldn’t face the others if …

I fought back against the
nightmare doubts. The verdicts of Lottery were unpredictable because of the
sheer complexity of the automated decision process, but there was logic behind
them. Everyone said I was bright and articulate, and I’d followed all the
advice about spending my time on Teen Level doing preparation work. The Level 99
Sewage Technician, butt of all the jokes, couldn’t happen to me. Please, not to
me.

“Good luck,” said Forge.
“I hope all of you will be high up.”

This time the response was
wholehearted. “High up, everyone!” we yelled in unison.

There was a second of
silence, and then twin chiming sounds as the doors of the two nearest lifts opened.
More groups of teens were arriving, and the watching hasties were waving at us
to signal that we couldn’t linger here any longer. Forge put on the Halloween
mask that transformed his handsome face into something demonic. Everyone else
put on the joyful masks of Carnival, and followed him across to the moving
stairs in the middle of the shopping area.

We jumped onto one of the
handrails of the downway. Forge first, then Shanna, and then the rest of us in
turn. Riding the handrail was the classic act of teen rebellion. The hasties usually
intervened to stop it, telling us to travel sensibly and safely on the moving
stairs instead.

They wouldn’t intervene
today. This was our last day as teens, and Hive tradition gave us the right to
one last act of rebellion, starting to ride the handrail on Level 1 itself and
continuing on down as deep into the Hive as we could.

I caught a glimpse of us
in the mirrored wall beside me. A proud line of twenty-two masked figures, spectacular
in our glittering costumes. As the handrail plunged down from the Level 1
shopping area to the one on Level 2, Forge raised his right hand and shouted
the ritual words.

“Ride the Hive!”

“Ride the Hive!” We yelled
the words back to him.

The shoppers turned their
heads to watch us go by, applauded, and called their good wishes to us. “High
up to you.”

“Ride the Hive!” We yelled
the words each time the moving stairs went down to the next level. We’d never
be together again. We’d never be the same people again. Lottery would do more
than assess our abilities, optimize our possible professions to give us the one
most suitable for us and useful to the Hive, and allocate us our level. It
would imprint our minds with all the information needed to do our assigned
work.

All our lives we’d known
and accepted our minds would be imprinted during Lottery. We’d discussed it
dozens of times, eagerly looking forward to being given a wealth of knowledge.
Over the last few weeks, the tone of those discussions had changed from joyful anticipation
to nervous whispers about exactly what imprinting would do to our minds.

Now Lottery was upon us
and we were terrified. The assessment stage lasted between three and five days.
By this time next week, we’d all be imprinted and beginning our new adult
lives. We’d no idea if we’d be high or low level. We didn’t know what
profession we’d be given. We weren’t even sure that we’d be the same people
after our minds were imprinted. We were facing the black unknown, and we
screamed defiance to block out the fear.

I was fifth in line when
we started on Level 1. Riding the rail was hard, so two of us had fallen before
we even reached Level 5. As the overhead signs told us that we’d hit Level 18,
I counted the figures reflected in the mirrored walls. We were down to fifteen
now, and I was third in line. The ones who fell down from the handrail onto the
moving stairs didn’t climb back on the handrail again. Custom decreed that the
last ride was over when you fell.

I focused my eyes on the
two figures still ahead of me. Tall, heavily muscled Forge, his black hair
matching his red and black costume. Slender Shanna behind him, her fair hair
cascading down the back of her silver dress. She was perfectly poised and
elegant, looking as if she could ride the handrail forever, but then her foot
slipped as the rail made the bend to reach Level 46.

Shanna flailed her arms,
teetered wildly, and tumbled down onto the moving stairs next to her. She’d
barely got time to stand up before the downway reached the Level 46 shopping
area, where she stepped off and waved at the rest of us. I heard her final cry
come from behind me.

“Go Forge! Go Amber! Ride
the Hive!”

I daren’t look back as she
called my name, but I held up my arm in salute and farewell, and blinked back
tears from behind the fake smile of my Carnival mask. Shanna had been my best
friend for all my years on Teen Level. I’d lived in her shadow, been alternately
grateful to her for being my friend and jealous of her self-confidence, and now
I’d never see her again.

There was a faint chance
that one of my old friends would come out of Lottery as the same level as me
and we could stay in touch, but I knew it wouldn’t be Shanna. She was bound to
be rated far higher level than someone as ordinary as me.

I concentrated on the red
of Forge’s shirt ahead of me, and the difficult job of keeping my balance as
the rail flattened out, turned, and dived down again at each level change. We
were below Level 60 now, I was shaking with the effort of the ride, and my legs
stung from scratches as my silver sequinned skirt blew around them.

We were still descending
through shopping areas, because all the accommodation levels of the Hive had
their shops, but they were plainer here, selling more functional goods. There
were no fancy mirrored walls now, but I caught a reflection of us in some glass
on Level 63, and saw there were only four of us left. By Level 70, there was no
one behind me, and at Level 72 Forge fell and I was left alone.

I kept riding the rail on
down, all the way to Level 100 itself. There were no shops or people there, just
dusty pipes to salute my triumph as I jumped to the ground, but I’d ridden the Hive.

I only felt the briefest
moment of celebration before depression hit me. I’d ridden the Hive, I’d screamed
defiance, but it hadn’t changed anything. Tomorrow morning, I would enter
Lottery, because there was nowhere else I could go and nothing else I could do.
There were one hundred and six other Hive cities in the world, but I wouldn’t
have the right to ask to move to one of them until after I’d been through
Lottery.

Even if I could ask for a Hive
transfer right now, I wasn’t courageous enough, or foolish enough, to take that
leap into a darkened lift shaft. I’d no idea what life was like in other Hives.
Our Hive news sometimes mentioned their names, but never gave any details about
them. The occasional malcontent claimed other Hives were far more luxurious
places to live than ours, but they obviously hadn’t had enough courage in their
convictions to apply to move.

Moving Hive wouldn’t help
me anyway. My problem wasn’t with my Hive, but with suffering the suspense of
waiting helplessly while my profession, my level, my whole future life was
decided for me. Every Hive would have its own equivalent of Lottery, and it was
better to face it here than in an alien place.

I yanked off my mask,
turned round, and stepped onto the upway. I stood there, weary and defeated,
letting it carry me back towards my sliver of a room on Teen Level 50. It would
have been much faster to take a lift, but it somehow seemed appropriate to go
back the same way that I’d arrived.

I was on Level 56 when I
heard the chanting ahead of me that warned a telepath was nearby. I was looking
forward to changing out of the Carnival outfit that had been chosen by Shanna,
and was far too spectacular and revealing for someone like me. I was thinking
about packing my bag to take to Lottery. I was planning to have an early night
so I’d be well rested tomorrow. There was nothing in my head that was incriminating,
but I joined in the chanting just the same.

“Two ones are two.”

“Two twos are four.”

“Two threes are six.”

The upway reached Level 55,
and the people in the shopping area here were shouting it.

“Two fours are eight.”

“Two fives are ten.”

“Two sixes are twelve.”

I saw the crowd of
shoppers move aside to let through a figure dressed in grey and wearing a
matching grey mask. That was the telepath, the nosy, with their escort of four blue-clad
hasties following behind to guard him or her.

“Two sevens are fourteen!”

“Two eights are sixteen!”

Everyone was screaming it
now, and I was yelling as loudly as any of them. People said that filling your
thoughts with numbers stopped a nosy from reading your mind. I didn’t know if
that was true, but it was worth a try. I didn’t want anyone seeing my private
thoughts. I wanted the nosies to catch the criminals, to keep me safe, but I
hated the idea of someone snooping inside my own head.

The nosy seemed to be
looking at me now. The bulging shape of the grey mask, and the hint of strange,
purple eyes behind it, showed that the wearer wasn’t entirely human. I was
grateful that the upway was carrying me to safety on the next level.

Once the nosy and the
chanting crowd were left behind, I rode on in silence again. I finally reached Level
50, scurried along a couple of corridors, and made it into my room without
seeing any of the people who’d once been my friends. We’d said our goodbyes,
and Carnival and our teen life was over. Tomorrow, Lottery would begin.

BOOK: Telepath (Hive Mind Book 1)
6.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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