The Elect: Malevolent, a Dystopian Novel

BOOK: The Elect: Malevolent, a Dystopian Novel
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The Elect 1: Malevolent
A Young Adult Dystopian Novel

By

Tamryn Ward

 

About the book

Set in a futuristic Detroit, this novel is the perfect read for fans of dystopian series such as the Hunger Games, Divergent, and Maze Runner. Written by USA Today Bestselling Author Tamryn Ward, Malevolent is the story of a dark dystopian world and one determined girl’s story of courage, self-sacrifice, and love.

For twenty girls and boys, the Elect is the chance of a lifetime--the opportunity to not only escape a life of backbreaking work, pain, and hunger but to save their families from that life too. But for Eva Pearson, being selected as a member of the Elect means sacrifice. It means pain. It means danger.

And possibly death.

Books By Tamryn Ward

Hopelessly Broken

This Crazy Little Thing

 

Books by Tawny Taylor

Wild Knights

Wicked Knights

Wanton Knights

Wild, Wicked & Wanton

Dark Master

Decadent Master

Dangerous Master

Darkest Fire

Darkest Desire

Claim Me

Wicked Beast

Prince of Fire

Girl Enslaved

Dirty Little Lies

Triple Stud

Enslaved by Sin

Double Take

Behind the Mask

Plays Well with Others

Lust’s Temptation

Wrath’s Embrace

Burning Hunger

Torrid Hunger

Everlasting Hunger

Slave of Duty

Flesh to Flesh

Compromising Positions

Breathless

Pleasing Him

At His Mercy

Ties That Bind

Heart Throb

Burn For You

Her Lesson in Sin

Touch of Fire

His Dark Kiss

Playing for Keeps

Your Wicked Game

Make Me Burn

Make Me Shiver

What He Wants (My Alpha Billionaire, 1)

What He Demands (My Alpha Billionaire, 2)

What He Craves (My Alpha Billionaire, 3)

What He Needs (My Alpha Billionaire, 4)

My Alpha Billionaire (What He Wants, Books 1-4)

Yes, Master

Make You Mine

BEARed to You

Surrender

Darkest Ecstasy (Coming in 2014)

What He Desires (My Alpha Billionaire, 5)

RAW A Dark Romance

Chapter 1

My name is Eva. Eva Pearson. I’m sixteen years old and I don’t know what a telephone sounds like. I’ve never heard rock music. Or even the rumble of a car’s engine.

And no, I’m not Amish.

It’s very quiet in our house, especially in the winter--except the crackle of burning wood and the howling wind battering our shutters. But because of this silence my family and I are alive.

I’ve learned to love silence.

Though it isn’t silent now. Outside, Stu, our big-mouthed rooster, crows at the rising sun. In the kitchen, pots clank and clatter as Mother makes breakfast. Of course, she’s making all that noise on purpose, knowing it’s the only way to get my lazy butt out of bed. Alarm clocks don’t work. I can turn them off and fall back asleep. But I can’t turn off mother. Oh, no, I can’t. And the longer I pretend not to hear her, the louder the percussion solo becomes. Some mornings you’d think a parade was marching through our house.

I yawn.

I stretch.

Ugggggghhhhh. I hate mornings.

Bang, clang, bang.

Yeah, I’m up, Mother.

I force myself out of bed. The floorboards feel like splintery sheets of ice against my bare feet. Dashing to the bathroom to avoid frostbite, I sniff the air. Mmmm. What do I smell? The aroma of eggs and burning wood.

And…could it be…the rich, delicious aroma of coffee.

Coffee!

Holy shit, it’s not even my birthday.

Mother, I love you.

I dress and almost crash into my sister at the top of the stairs. We spent our first nine months of life smashed together, ass-to-nose, in Mother’s belly and were born five minutes apart. But two people couldn’t be more different. Emma got all the good genes. She’s tall, with slender, muscular legs. She even inherited Mother’s curly blond hair and Father’s cool gray eyes. Unlucky me drew the short gene straw.  I have more flesh than my puny five-feet-nothing frame should carry. My dark, straight hair is wisp thin. And my eyes are the color of mud.

Polar opposites. That’s me and my sister.

We’ve been different from birth. That’s what Mother says. She tells everyone I’m the wild one. I’m Eva, the loud one. Eva, the unruly one. And Emma, is a typical firstborn, she’s the good one. Emma is quiet. Emma is responsible. Emma is smart and obedient.

Emma greets Mother and sprints out the door, waving and calling, “I can’t be late for school today!”

Me, I’m in no hurry. To hell with getting to school early. There’s
coffee
. I plop into a kitchen chair and pile some eggs on my plate. I’m going to enjoy this special breakfast. Every last bite. Every last drop.

I’m not stupid.

I take a bite and stare out the window.

Father is already out by the barn, working. At this time of year he starts very early, before Stu crows, before the sun’s rays slice through the gaps in our busted, old shutters. It’s spring. Time to cultivate. Time to work off the measly layer of fat he’d gained, sitting inside all winter, smoking his pipe and napping in his favorite chair. He’s happy to get outside, to work the earth.

Like Father, I love spring, too. The earth is alive and new. The grass is damp with dew. The air is thick with the scents of new life. That earthy, green smell means that the weather is changing. We’ve survived another long, dark,
boring
winter.

Every spring I breathe a sigh of relief.

Except for this spring.

“Are you nervous?” Mother asks as she fills a mug with the nectar of the gods and hands it to me.

“No,” I lie. Hey, I’m sixteen. I lie a lot. Who doesn’t, right? But this time it’s for a good reason. I don’t want her to worry.

“I wish I could tell you what to expect. But…” she shrugs. I know why she doesn’t elaborate. She was a kid before the Great Decimation. A lot has changed since then. Today’s Empire of Astrax is nothing like yesterday’s America.

My generation was definitely born about thirty years too late. The world is nothing like it was twenty years ago.

When Mother and Father were little, everyone had TVs and cell phones and computers. Electric stoves and air conditioners and furnaces. And automobiles. I am
so
jealous. What a wonderful life it must have been.

On long winter nights Mother and Father entertain us with stories about zooming down the freeway at seventy miles per hour. Seventy. I can’t imagine going that fast. They tell us about the shows and movies they watched on television. And they describe the music they listened to. Pop music. Rock music.

Cars and movies and good music. From what Mother and Father describe about the world before the Great Decimation, when technology wasn’t our enemy, we’ve lost a lot of wonderful things.

But at least we’re still alive, right?

Right.

All my sister and I have now are pictures of what life was like then. And books. We have books.

Thank God for books. As I read, my mind creates moving pictures in my head. I see wonderful, amazing people and places and things. I can travel around the world. I can fall in love. I can save the world.

I can escape.

From here.

From this dull, bleak reality.

In Riverview life is slow. Simple. Hard. We remind ourselves every day that life is good. That this difficult existence is better than none. That every day is a gift. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t crave a taste of the world before, when planes soared high above the clouds and technology served humans instead of killing them.

“I’m sure the Exam is no big deal,” I tell her. Another lie.

Truth is I’m not sure what to expect. We aren’t the first class to take the Exam. Every year it’s given to the graduating seniors in our school. Our teachers tell us it’s to determine if any of us is qualified to become one of the Elect. But I’ve heard the rumors. That the Elect doesn’t really exist. That the kids aren’t taken to a faraway compound to be trained for special jobs with the government but are sold and forced into slavery. I suspect there’s some truth to those rumors. And that scares me.

One thing’s for certain. Everyone knows that in the past five years a few kids didn’t come home afterward. And we’ve all heard their families received a lot of money. Governor Greer’s son Jesse might have been one of them. He’s been gone for over three years. I heard he wasn’t selected as one of the Elect but ran away because his father was beating him. I’ve met Governor Greer. I don’t know what to believe.

“Whatever happens today, Eva, know that I’m very proud of you and your sister,” Mother tells me. “Whether you’re chosen for the Elect or not.”

“I know, Mom. I’ll do my best,” I promise, taking in the deep purple shadows under her sunken eyes. Lately I’ve noticed she’s been tired a lot. And the dusty dresses that used to fit her perfectly hang on her. And yet she never complains. She’s too thin and needs rest. After taking care of father and me and my sister all these years, she deserves some rest. “I’ll do it for you.” 

She smiles.

“But you know there haven’t been many kids chosen from Riverview,” I remind her. As much as I’d like to be picked, I know the odds aren’t in my favor.

“Yes, Eva. I know. But if anyone is smart enough, strong enough, it’s you.”

“Thanks, Mom.” I swallow some eggs quickly, savor my coffee, and grab my backpack. I don’t normally kiss Mother when I leave for school. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I kissed Mother. But I hug and kiss her today. She blinks her eyes and waves.

If there is an Elect, I hope I’ll be picked. For Mom.

As the front door slams, the green eviction notice taped to it flutters. It says we have sixty days. Our farm will be auctioned in two months, unless Father pays the mortgage and taxes. This isn’t the first time one of those stickers has been taped to our door. It would be nice if it were the last time, though. If Mother and Father never had to worry about losing their home again. If I’m chosen, I could make that happen for them.

My bike is leaning against the garage. It’s rusty and the tires go flat because the roads in Riverview suck. But it still gets me to school faster than walking. I stand on the pedals to get them moving.

Steering around the craters in the pavement is getting harder every year. There’s no money for roads. No need for them anyway, since nobody drives cars anymore. The cement is crumbling. Soon it will be gravel. I’ve been told the roads in Middleton, The Great Lakes District capital, are smooth as glass. And that cars and trucks crowd them. But those have to be lies. Since the Great Decimation every city has shut down its power grid. There are no cars, no televisions, no telephones.

Not that it matters. I won’t ever go to Middleton. It’s very far away. It would be an expensive trip. And I have no reason to go there. My family, my boyfriend Sam, everything I know and love is here in Riverview. My past, my present and my future are here in Riverview.

I pretty much know how the rest of my life will go. Father will sell whatever he has to, to keep the farm. And after today’s exam I’ll finish up my senior year, graduate, and then help Mother and Father with the farm until Sam and I get married and start our own family. At least, I hope that’s how it goes. We’ve run out of things to sell. Mother even sold her wedding ring last winter. I don’t know what’s next. The oxen? The plow?

As I ride to school I pass The Swamp, the crowded section of town where shanties lean, helping each other weather the blizzards of winter and the furious storms of summer. Shoeless children skitter through the streets in ragged clothes, their eyes sunken and their faces smudged with dirt. Sometimes I see those faces when I lay in bed. And I wish there was something I could do to help them. In late summer I take them the extra vegetables from our garden. But it’s not enough. It’s never enough.

Will we be living in The Swamp someday too? Will my family be forced to rely upon the charity of others?

Not if I can help it.

I see my sister as I coast up to the school. She’s sitting outside, her head down, curls flopped over her face, a book cradled in her hands, like always. She has been studying agriculture since she was old enough to read. I’m sure she’ll be great help to Father after she graduates and starts working full time—
if
we keep the farm.

The principal steps outside and rings the bell, and the students hurry inside. Today, the air zaps with static and sizzles like before a big storm. The seniors are excited about the Exam, and nervous.

Searching for Sam, I follow my sister inside. Instead of packing into our classrooms, today we file into the gym. Thirty-three chairs are lined up in three rows, like stalks of corn. One for each senior.

There, I find Sam.

As usual he’s wearing a pair of faded coveralls, his shirtsleeves rolled to expose tanned, muscular arms. The spring sun is already turning his dirty blond hair lighter at the crown. I sit next to him. He gives me a nervous smile and I smile back. Our eyes lock, my brown and his soft blue. My heart swells. I love him so much. I can’t wait until graduation, when we can start our lives together.

The administrator, a woman I’ve never seen before, calls the first name, Robert Adams, and Robert follows her. Assuming we’re being called alphabetically by last name, my sister and I won’t be first and we won’t be last.

Sam will be after us.

My gaze meanders up and down the tidy lines of chairs. I can tell some of the kids are nervous. They’re bouncing their knees or wringing their hands. Others sit quietly, reading books. The majority are talking to the students around them, jabbering about the upcoming school dance.

Sam and I just sit silent. He reaches over, tangles his calloused fingers with mine and gives my hand a gentle squeeze. Even though I’m not nervous, I’m grateful for his touch, quiet strength, and reassurance. I don’t need his comfort. I know everything is going to be fine. We’ll take the Exam and then after school we’ll ride our bikes to the creek, like always, and steal a few kisses before hurrying home to do our chores. But hey, I’m not complaining.

Five minutes later the administrator returns and calls the next name. I check the clock again. Huh? It’s only been five minutes. Five minutes isn’t long enough for an exam. I wonder if they’re giving the test in more than one room to save time. There are, after all, over thirty of us.

Yes, that must be it.

But then I see Robert Adams. His lips are milk-white and pressed into a firm line. His eyes flick around the room like a skittery bug. He returns to his chair and jerks when the student behind him taps his shoulder. My nerves twist into knots and my heart starts to gallop in my chest when the second student returns looking as scared and jumpy as the first.

What the hell is going on in that exam?

The administrator takes the fourth student away.

Crap, I’ll know soon.

I glance at my sister. She looks at me.

“They look like they’ve been dragged through hell and back,” I whisper. The atmosphere in the room is changing as the waiting students react to the returning ones. I can feel the tension building.

“Yeah, they do.” Emma goes back to her reading.

BOOK: The Elect: Malevolent, a Dystopian Novel
5.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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