Message from the Author
The sequel to Haven is finally here, and many thanks for the patience and support from the various readers all over the world! Finishing this book has been somewhat of an ordeal, but I'm very pleased with the final result. I hope you enjoy it, and if you did, please consider liking it or my author page on Facebook, posting a review, telling a friend, or even just leaving a comment. Finally, a major thanks to everyone who simply gave reading my works a shot. It means a lot.
- Justin Kemppainen
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Coughing, Adelle Ryan stumbled into the dark alley. A light haze of smoke stung her eyes, and her fine clothing was rumbled and torn.
The exhausted and frightened woman slid to a seated position, her back against the milky white ceramic of the buildings in upper Haven. A tiny cry of sorrow escaped her lips, tears welled in her eyes, and her body shook with sobs. "Why did this happen?" she asked, unheard.
Adelle Ryan's mind could not comprehend the chaos and death of recent days. Her life, her everything existed in a world of refinement and civilization, relishing in the part she played to uphold its values. Her task had been to rein in wayward minds, to teach children of the Citizenship the ways of society. Youthful but stern in equal measures, she provided a comfort they sought and the discipline needed to educate. She believed her life to be based upon reason, fact, and the enlightenment of Franklin Lange's Haven.
"Filthy vermin..." she whispered, tears flowing down her cheeks. Even the malice she felt for the undesirables, who boiled out of the crevices below and ruined the peace and wonder of civilized society, could not cut through her despair.
Miss Ryan cried for the loss of Haven, doubly mourning the death of Franklin Lange, called Citizen One. Though the endless loop of his recorded eulogy had been cut off by the heathens who had slain her wondrous leader, Adelle could still hear the words playing through her thoughts:
"The highest levels of Citizenship, the Inquisition, and the advisory council regret to inform you, Citizens of the grand city of Haven, that on this day, your beloved founder, Citizen One, has passed from this life. Franklin William Lange was the greatest man our world has ever known, giving many things to the people most worthy of his love. He gave us this majestic city. He gave us our enlightened society. He gave us purpose. He gave us life. It is such that we mourn his passing as we would mourn our own. Our soul has been extinguished this day, and may the sun never shine again on this paradise without his love and guidance."
She cried harder, pounding her fists against the cold ground, wishing Franklin Lange had not been so merciful, wishing everything could go back to the way it was, wishing all of the pitiful dregs of humanity could have quietly died...
Wishing they had not risen up to take their revenge.
But Citizen One was dead, and all of Haven was dying along with him. Ever since the time not long ago when madmen ran through the streets, killing without compunction, Haven's enlightenment had given way to desperation and fighting. Ever since Franklin Lange's death, a shroud had been cast, the sterilization field becoming opaque and blocking out the sun, stars, sky, and the hope of life.
Adelle Ryan could not comprehend why the undesirables weren't simply rounded up and shot, but neither could she understand much of anything any longer. Fires small or large seemed a constant in the recent days of struggle, the stench of bitter smoke ever-present in the air.
Cold. Huddled in a torn skirt and dirty blouse, stockings mismatched to the high-heeled shoes she wore, her mind clung to the impracticality of professional dress. Her attire and disposition unsuited for fighting, running, or any of recent necessary activity, Adelle couldn't adapt, couldn't help but cling to what was lost.
Miss Ryan shivered and wished everything could go back to the way it had been.
She heard a voice, and silhouetted at the end of the alleyway stood a figure.
"Wh-who's there?" she called out.
"I finally found you," the person replied. The voice was light, wavering, and male. He sounded young.
Adelle Ryan stumbled to her feet, taking a few steps away. "L-leave me alone."
"No, Miss Ryan." The young man began a slow approach, features hidden in the darkness and shadows.
The frightened woman removed the impractical heels she wore, gasping at the cold which struck into the bottoms of her feet. Brandishing one of the shoes in both hands, she cried out, "Stay back! I don't know who you are, but I'm warning you-"
"Me?" the figure interrupted, still approaching. "Oh, I'm no one. Nothing. Simply one of those bad, inferior people you were so fond of talking about."
The words seemed familiar, a product of a lifetime ago when Miss Ryan did not live in constant fear. A time when the clothing she wore remained unspoiled and professional. A time when she held a strong personal identity and knew precisely how she fit into the grand scheme of enlightened society.
"P-please," she said in a sobbing tone. "Stay back... leave me alone..."
"Oh, Miss Ryan..." the figure spoke, shaking his head. "I can't do that. You see, I haven't been able to think about much else besides finding you. Oh, I know it's not your fault. You were just a pawn, a puppet doing what your masters told you."
They continued their dance, the constant slow retreat and approach. The man never drew any closer as he spoke, but they were nearing the edge of the alley. Miss Ryan trembled and continued to back away.
"Do you know what they do to people like me? Or, really, people who are inconvenient?" The figure clapped his hands together, causing her to jump. "Did you know we're beaten, drugged, and treated like animals?"
"Please..." Miss Ryan begged, moving backwards out of the alleyway and considering an attempt to flee. "Please don't hurt me."
"It's easier on adults, actually. My father was given the reconditioning treatment, put to work as one of your mindless slaves. Children," he stepped out of the alley and into the light cast by golden streetlamps, "have it much worse."
Adelle Ryan gasped, recognizing the boy from years prior. Scars and bruises adorned his face, and he wore a brown singlet jumpsuit with a number and barcode at the shoulder. She couldn't remember his name, but his father had been a teacher, one of those idiots preaching equality. What was his name? she wondered, frozen with fear.
"You see, the Inquisitors and guards who ran that place, the detention facility..." he spoke, revealing a mouth with several missing teeth. "They aren't what you'd call friendly. Oh, their job was to help us get better. We were still Citizens after all. We were told, as members of the finest of humanity, Franklin Lange's chosen few, that we deserved a second chance. A way to reclaim our status." His face twisted in a snarl. "Lies."
The terrified woman's flailing mind recalled some notion of a detention facility, but it had existed within the ignored regions of her consideration. As with most Citizens, she had let many of the unpleasant facets of life sit in the background of notice.
Others had been trained to handle people like the boy who stood in front of her. For certain, she held a level of authority to turn people over to the Inquisition, including problem children, but she had always forgotten them the moment they disappeared from her sight. After all, why should she bother to remember every bad apple's name and face?
Like the mindless servants cleaning the streets and buildings, and like the thought of the dregs left behind in and risen up from Old Haven, Adelle had preferred not to think about what went on in the detention facility.
"It's good I was able to escape with the rest." His expression appeared calm, but even the frightened woman could detect a deep malice, a barely contained rage boiling beneath the surface. "Otherwise, Miss Ryan, I'd never be able to properly thank you for the wonderful experience you provided to my family." He unbuttoned the sleeves, rolling them up. Numerous horizontal scars covered both of his arms. Her chest tightened, and she gave a sharp gasp upon noticing a long knife in his hand.
What was his name? Miss Ryan continued to wonder, still backing up as she brandished her high-heeled shoe in both hands. "P-please. S-stay back!"
"No, Miss Ryan. You've earned this. The Citizenship has ended, and all that remains is to carve the cancer of it out of humanity. Don't you see?" He ran the knife across his forearm, drawing a shallow cut next to one of the scars. He let his arm fall to his side, and the blood slid down and dripped from his fingertips. "It's time to remember, Miss Ryan. It's time."
Face twisting in a snarl, the boy launched himself at the woman. Adelle Ryan flailed the pitiful weapon she carried, causing no damage as he knocked her sprawling. Her head rebounded off of the cold ground, and in half a moment he was upon her.
His bloody hand gripped her face, and the knife wavered back and forth in front of her eyes. Heart hammering within her chest, terror clouded her vision. She couldn't think to beg, to scream, to struggle, to do anything.
"Tell me, Miss Ryan." The boy's voice rose to a low urgency. "Can you remember my name? Can you remember my father's name? Is there even that tiny bit of remorse to remembering those whose lives you ruined? Tell me, and maybe I'll let you go. What is my name?"
The knife remained close, it's edge gleaming, but he removed his hand from her face, leaving a smear of his blood behind. Adelle Ryan could not find her voice, but it wouldn't have mattered. She could not recall the name of this boy who threatened her. Not even to save her own life.
"Tell me!" he shouted, bringing the blade down to her throat. The edge bit into her skin.
Breath gasping in and out, she managed to whimper, "Please..."
"No," the boy said, raising the knife, "and the name is Wilson."
Adelle Ryan's screams echoed in the endless night.
Adelle Ryan's screams echoed in the endless night.