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Separation

Underground Book 2





Casia Schreyer









Published by Schreyer Ink Publishing, Canada


Copyright © Casia Schreyer, 2017

All rights reserved

Cover © Andreas Ganz, 2017


Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher.


PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.







To Angil and Andy









Prologue


Shawna paced the limited space of her bedroom. If she was being honest with herself, being cooped up in here was driving her crazy but she didn’t dare show her face. She’d stayed hidden away all day Sunday and had convinced her mother to let her stay home from school yesterday. At any moment Ina would be at the door asking if she was well enough to go to school today.

In the next room she could feel a series of emotions: irritation at the alarm, the groggy sleepiness as he got out of bed, a sudden peak of interest and then deep concern. She frowned. He’s generally a morning person. I hope there’s no bad news.

And then the phone rang in the living room. Shawna stepped into the hall to listen as Ina picked up the phone in the other room.

“Good morning. Yes, you have the right number, what is this ..? Yes, Ethan is my son.”

Ethan. What about Ethan? Is he all right? He has to be all right.

“I haven’t spoken to him in a few days now. I’m not sure. Hold on, I’ll ask her.”

Shawna met her mother halfway down the hallway. “What’s going on?”

“Have you talked to Ethan lately?”

“Uh, Saturday I guess. Why? Who is it? What do they want?”

“I don’t know yet, come with me.” Ina went back to the phone. “Hello, yes, she says she spoke to Ethan on Saturday. Now what is this about?”

There was a long silence as Ina listened intently. Her already light skin went paler. She sat down on the edge of the table, her free hand clutching the collar of her shirt.

“I see.” She looked up, her eyes locking with Shawna’s. “I don’t understand, he was a good boy, a good kid. Of course, the number is here on the display. And if you hear anything? Thank-you.” Her hand was shaking as she hung up the phone.

Shawna could see it was bad: fear, worry, a deep sense of regret, and nothing positive. “Mom?”

“That was someone from the North American Complex Housing Board.”

“What do they want with Ethan?”

Ina’s eyes were strangely empty given the flurry of emotions around her. “Shawna, Ethan’s gone missing.”








Chapter 1


“And last but not least, Ethan Grieves.”

Shawna’s heart almost stopped. Her breath caught in her throat. Around her everyone was clapping and cheering but she couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move. Beside her Ethan was a void. There was no comfort to be found there.

A fanfare of music started up and all the students stood. One row at a time they filed out of the auditorium and gathered in class groups.

Ms. Roberts was waiting with a packet of papers. “Before you leave to join your parents I have information packets for those of you who are being transferred. If your name was called please come and grab one and then head down to G24B room 214 West for dinner.”

Shawna was shivering. She hugged herself. Ethan put a hand on her shoulder and she looked up at him. His face was grim. She still couldn’t feel him. All around her were currents of relief, excitement, sorrow, and fear, but the familiar feel of Ethan was missing, even though he was right there beside her.

“Ethan? I think this one is yours.” Ms. Roberts approached them and handed the last envelope to him. “Are you okay? You look a little shell shocked.”

“I wasn’t expecting this,” Ethan said. “I guess it was always a possibility, for all of us. I just thought … hoped …”

“I know. It will take a little bit of time for the news to sink in. Ethan, you’ll do well no matter where you go. I know you will.” She put a hand on his shoulder.

What about me? Shawna wanted to ask but the words stuck in her throat. Ms. Roberts had forced her onto that stage to give that speech, would she care that her brother’s departure would leave her even more afraid?

“You’d better hurry along. Your parents will be waiting.”


The hallway outside G24B room 214 West was crowded and noisy. Ethan and Shawna edged around people until they got inside. The decorating committee had chosen pink and blue balloons in pastel shades. It made Shawna think of the baby showers she and her mother sometimes attended for ladies at church.

“Do you think they were going for cotton candy?” Ethan asked.

Shawna shrugged.

John waved to them from one of the tables and they joined their parents. “There you two are. We thought you’d gotten lost.”

“Here,” Ethan said, handing his father the envelope. “It’s all information about the transfer.”

“We’ll look at that later,” John said. “Let’s just celebrate your accomplishments tonight.”

“Shawna, we’re so proud of you,” Ina said. She was smiling but her eyes were red and puffy. “You spoke so clearly and your speech was beautiful.”

“Thanks Mom.”

Mr. Harker, the principal, stood up at the front of the room in front of a microphone and said, “Could everyone have a seat please, we’ll begin serving dinner in just a moment. Thank-you.”

The conversation in the room was quickly drowned out by the resulting hustle and bustle. A few minutes later men and women in black uniforms came out carrying trays of food. Dinner was six-bean chili and flaky rolls. It was flavourful and hearty and warmed Shawna from the inside.

Around her the emotional atmosphere was one of general pleasantness. Everyone was with their families, they were enjoying their food and the conversations, and Shawna sighed, feeling relaxed. Mr. Harker and a few of the teachers had short speeches and announcements during the meal. All in all it was nice to let go of the shock of the announcement and the anxiety of being separated from Ethan.

She would have two weeks to get used to idea that she would never see him again.


Ethan lay awake a long time that night. The day had held too much and his mind was too full for sleep to come easily.

That he was being transferred still bothered him. Ms. Roberts had seen a list before the end of the school year and his name wasn’t on it, he knew that for a fact. But that had been before the test, before the strange, temporary disappearance of his gift. Were they connected?

Ms. Roberts had been nervous before the test, had known there was something more to the test than anyone would let on. And then this afternoon, before the dinner, she’d acted so strangely.

When she placed her hand on his shoulder her thoughts had been as clear to him as if she’d said the words aloud.

Be careful, Ethan, they will be watching you.”

It didn’t sound like something a person would say to themselves. It sounded like he was meant to hear it.

But that’s impossible. No one knows about our gifts. Who was she thinking about? And why would they be watching me?

The night held no answers and he was left to puzzle over her words for the next two weeks.


The only person in the Grieves household who had ever been on a transport was Ina. Both she and John had been to the Transport Level, she when she had been transferred, he when he’d said good-bye to his brother. The Transport Level was as close to the surface as most people ever got. Here goods and people were loaded for transport to the Warehouse, the only part of the complex located on the surface.

It was busy here. The platform was packed with people. On the far side of the track fork lifts drove back and forth with crates. There was a whistle and a voice over the PA said, “Personnel transport now entering the station. Please stand clear of the tracks.”

Ina, John, and the kids stood closer to the wall than the tracks. Ethan had nothing with him but his phone; all his possessions had been packed into two bags which had been left at the loading zone.

“This is it,” John said as the transport halted and the door whispered open. “You’ll do fine. Complex Fifty will be good for you. You must have done well on you math to get transferred to Fifty.” He’d said pretty much the same thing a dozen times in the last two weeks since the announcement at the grad ceremony.

“I know,” Ethan said, trying to smile.

“Just find the capsule marked ‘Fifty’,” Ina said. “You’ll be sorted onto the proper transport when you get to the warehouse.”

“Will I get to see the warehouse?”

“No. You never leave the capsule, not until you reach your new home.” She hugged him. “I’m going to miss you.”

“I’ll miss you too Mom.” He looked at Shawna. “I’ll call, often, I promise. It won’t be the same, I know, but it’s better than nothing.”

Shawna just stared back. Please don’t leave, she silently begged. Please, I won’t survive without you.

“I wish I could stay. I wanted to stay.”

“I know,” Shawna sniffled.

“All transfers please report to your capsules now.” The slightly mechanical female voice seemed to echo off the walls.

Ethan forced a smile. “I’ll call.” He hugged each of them and walked towards the train.

Halfway to the train the crowd parted around a lost-looking figure. Kyra. She was twisting one hand in the other and glancing around at the shifting crowd. When she saw him she smiled. “Ethan, I was hoping to see you before I had to go.”

“Me too.” He was surprised to find that he meant it. He thought not seeing her would have been easier. Now he was glad she was standing there.

“I really had fun spending time with you. I …” Tears welled up in her eyes.

“We’ll talk, we’ll keep in touch. I promise.”

“But I’ll never see you again”

“No, we’ll never see each other again.”

She stepped towards him and he thought she might hug him, and then her lips were against his and her arms were tight around his neck. His shock was short lived and he wrapped his arms around her.

He had locked his gift away, afraid of the overload from the crowd, loosening his grip only for Shawna. Now, though he hadn’t consciously let it out, he heard her loud and clear in his mind.

So stupid, falling in love before the transfer.

“Transfer students report to your capsules now, please.”

They leaned away, both of them blushing. “Good-bye Ethan. I’ll never forget you.” She turned and ran.

Ethan made his way to his capsule and reported to the smiling middle-aged man with the clipboard. He looked over his shoulder one last time but saw no one he recognized so he stepped through the capsule door.


Ethan wasn’t sure he had moved. Sure there had been a lot of rocking and lurching and bumping the last week or so and he’d heard wheels and motors, but he climbed out of the capsule onto a platform identical to the one he’d left behind. The only difference was the large ‘50’ painted on the wall where he remembered seeing a ‘48’ before.

Eight other youth, five boys and three girls, only one of whom Ethan knew, stepped out of the capsule behind him. Other teens were coming out of the other capsules, stretching and looking around. Ethan guessed they were two hundred or so by the time the transport behind them hummed to life and slid away.


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