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Authors: Susan Beth Pfeffer

The Shade of the Moon

BOOK: The Shade of the Moon
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Table of Contents

Title Page

Table of Contents

Copyright

Dedication

PART ONE

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

PART TWO

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

PART THREE

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Author’s Discussion Topics

Author’s Note

Read More from the Life As We Knew It Series

About the Author

Copyright © 2013 by Susan Beth Pfeffer

 

All rights reserved. For information about permission to reproduce selections from
this book, write to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 215
Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003.

 

Harcourt is an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

 

www.hmhbooks.com

 

The Library of Congress has cataloged the print edition as follows:

Pfeffer, Susan Beth, 1948–

The shade of the moon / Susan Beth Pfeffer.

pages cm

Sequel to: Life as we knew it.

Summary: “Jon Evans is one of the lucky ones—until he realizes that escaping his safe
haven may be the only way to truly survive.”—Provided by publisher.

ISBN 978-0-547-81337-0

[1. Natural disasters—Fiction. 2. Interpersonal relations—Fiction. 3. Social classes—Fiction.
4. Family life—Tennessee—Fiction. 5. Tennessee—Fiction. 6. Science fiction.] I. Title.

PZ7.P44855Sh 2013

[Fic]—dc23

2012046800

 

eISBN 978-0-547-81339-4
v1.0813

 

 

 

 

For Miranda and Alex

 

Their families and their friends

 

 

 

 

PART ONE

 

 

Wednesday, April 29

 

“No. Jon. No.”

Jon Evans sat upright in his bed. It was Gabe, he told himself. Gabe must have had
a bad dream. He listened for Carrie, Gabe’s nanny, to calm the little boy. He waited
to hear Lisa run down the hallway to soothe her son.

But Carrie was quiet. Lisa was quiet. The house was quiet.

It wasn’t Gabe he’d heard. It was Julie.

How long had he known her? A month, six weeks. But he’d been haunted by her for two
and a half years.

Jon knew better than to believe in ghosts. Billions of people had died in the past
few years. There’d be no room for the living if all the dead were ghosts. And if there
were ghosts, there were others Jon would prefer to be haunted by. His father, who
died of exhaustion and hunger on the way to Sexton, Tennessee. Jon would welcome his
ghost.

But it was Julie’s voice he heard in his sleep. Julie who cried out to him in panic,
in anger, her accusations too real, her death too unforgivable.

If the moon’s orbit hadn’t been pushed closer to the earth, Jon would never have met
Julie. He’d be a senior in high school, living with Mom back in Pennsylvania. His
parents had been divorced long before, but Dad and Lisa and Gabe would be in Springfield,
close enough for the occasional visit.

But the moon’s orbit had changed, and the world as everyone had known it had changed
in horrific ways. Billions had died from tsunamis, famine, and epidemics.

Dad was one of those billions. His death came a hundred miles before Jon and his family
had reached Sexton. They were all half-starved by then, and had neither the strength
nor the tools to bury him.

Julie hadn’t died like that. Julie died because of what Jon had done. Of the billions
of dead, only Julie was his own. Only she would haunt him.

Jon got out of bed and walked to the window. It had rained all day, and the wind was
from the south. The volcanic ash, which ordinarily covered the sky, had thinned as
it sometimes did when rain and wind cooperated. Jon could see the pale outline of
the moon, ominous and engorged, dominating the night.

Tomorrow, Jon hoped, the air would be clear enough to see the sun. And one day, the
sun might appear on its own, not dependent on rain and the direction of the wind.
He would wake up, the world would wake up, and the sun would be warm and glowing.
Nothing would be so bad anymore.

But the billions would still be dead. Dad would still be dead. And Julie would still
haunt his dreams.

 

Thursday, April 30

 

Jon didn’t know what time it was when he woke up, but it didn’t matter. It was still
nighttime, hours to go before he ordinarily awoke.

Sometimes when he woke up in the middle of the night, he’d go downstairs, knock on
Val’s door, and tell her to get up and make him something to eat. He might not even
be hungry. It was more the comforting sensation of knowing there was food; there was
always enough food. Even after two years of living in Sexton, Jon still needed the
reassurance. And Val, a grub just like Carrie, would know better than to complain.
Without her job as a domestic, there’d be no food for her.

But this time, Jon went downstairs to the kitchen by himself. Maybe a glass of goat’s
milk would be enough, he thought. He still hadn’t developed a taste for it, but it
was better than nothing.

To his surprise, he saw Lisa sitting at the kitchen table. She looked up and smiled.
“Couldn’t sleep either?” she whispered.

Jon nodded. “I thought I’d get a glass of milk,” he said. “Is there enough?”

“Quiet,” Lisa said. “Val’s sleeping.” She got up, found him a glass, and poured him
some milk. “There’s enough for our breakfast,” she said. “Val can pick some up at
the market tomorrow.”

Jon sat down and drank the milk. “You okay?” he asked.

Lisa nodded. “I’m glad we have this chance to talk,” she said so softly Jon almost
couldn’t hear her. “It’s the evaluation.”

“Do you have a date yet?” Jon asked. Everyone in Sexton got evaluated regularly. Those
who weren’t pulling their own weight were made to leave the enclave. The rest were
allowed to stay for another three years.

“Not yet,” she replied. “Jon, I’m not supposed to know this, so keep this to yourself,
but Gregory Hughes is in charge of my evaluation.”

“Tyler’s father?” Jon asked, and Lisa nodded. “But that’s good, right?” he said. “Tyler’s
my friend. That’s got to help.”

“I think so, too,” Lisa said. “It’s like what your father used to say. It never hurts
to be friends with the boss. Not that Tyler’s your boss. Of course he isn’t. It’s
just, well, don’t pick any fights with him. Just go along with whatever he says, at
least until the evaluation is over. Promise me, Jon.”

“No problem,” he said. “I don’t fight with him anyway. I promise.”

“Thank you.” Lisa sighed. “I know I must sound crazy, but I don’t know what I’ll do
if I fail the evaluation.”

“You won’t fail,” Jon said. “Go to bed, Lisa. You need your sleep.”

“So do you,” she said. “Leave it for Val to clean up. She’s the only one who gets
enough sleep around here.”

 

Friday, May 1

 

Sexton University, where Jon’s high school was located, had been built to withstand
tornadoes. No one had worried about earthquakes, but it turned out the buildings could
withstand them also. A good thing too, since in the two years Jon had been in Sexton,
there were no tornadoes but a dozen or more quakes.

At the first rumble they all knew what to do. The students and teachers in the various
grades left their classrooms and sat on the hallway floor. They were supposed to cover
their heads with their arms, but no one bothered. Even the teachers looked relaxed.

But the new girl, Sarah, was clearly upset. This was her first day at school, and
from the looks of it, this was her first earthquake. At least her first one in Sexton.
Jon didn’t know what the earthquake situation was where she used to live.

He inched over to her. “It’s okay,” he said. “We get them all the time. It’ll be over
in a minute.”

“All the time?” she asked.

“Well, not all the time,” he said. “My little brother, Gabe, doesn’t like them either.”

“How old is he?” Sarah asked.

“Three,” Jon said.

“Great,” she said. “I have the maturity of a three-year-old.”

Jon laughed. “He’s a very mature three-year-old,” he said.

“Rise and shine,” Mr. Chandler, their chemistry teacher, said. “Earthquake over.”

“Class period is over, too,” Tyler pointed out.

“All right,” Mr. Chandler said. “Go to lunch. I’ll see you all tomorrow.”

Ordinarily Jon ate lunch with Tyler, Zachary, Ryan, and Luke. He’d had lunch with
them ever since he’d made the soccer team, two years ago. But Sarah looked like she
could use the company, so Jon walked to the cafeteria with her.

“Hey, Jon,” Luke called, but Jon shook him off and sat across from Sarah.

“I know your brother’s name,” she said. “But not yours.”

“Jon Evans,” he replied. “And you’re . . .”

“Sarah Goldman,” she said. “That was my first earthquake. And my last, I hope.”

“Don’t count on it,” Jon said. “We’re near the New Madrid fault line. The geologists
think the tremors are a good thing, letting pressure off. You’ll get used to them.”

“I don’t want to,” Sarah said. She took a bite of her lunch, then put her fork down.
“I don’t want to get used to this lunch either. The vegetables are fresh. Why are
they cooked so badly?”

“The woman in charge of the cafeteria was a tax lawyer,” Jon said. “Her brother’s
on the town board. That’s how she got the job.”

“They should make her brother eat this crap,” Sarah said. “Make the punishment fit
the crime.”

“We hang people here,” Jon said. “We don’t poison them.”

Sarah laughed. “I must sound horrible,” she said. “I’m sorry. This is all so new to
me. Let me start over. Hi, Jon. Are you from Sexton?”

“From Pennsylvania originally,” he said. “Where are you from?”

“Connecticut originally,” she said. “Then we were relocated to North Carolina. Is
your family in agriculture? Is that why you were settled here?”

“No,” Jon said. “We’re slips.” She was going to find out anyway, he figured. She might
as well hear it from him.

“What’s a slip?” she asked.

“We slipped in,” Jon said. “We had passes for an enclave, so they had to let us in.
We ended up here because it was the only enclave we knew about.”

“I don’t think we had any slips in our enclave,” Sarah said. “The whole town was a
medical complex, much smaller than Sexton. My father’s a cardiologist. He was transferred
to the White Birch clinic. That’s why we moved here.”

“My mother lives in White Birch,” Jon said. “With Miranda and Alex. My sister and
her husband. Mom teaches high school there. I have an older brother too, but he doesn’t
live around here.” It startled him to share so much about his family. In a matter
of minutes, Sarah had learned more about him than any of his friends had in over two
years.

BOOK: The Shade of the Moon
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