We’re continuing with Lauren Oliver’s tweets on her reveal of Chapter 1 of Requiem. Follow along below!
This first chapter comes from the point of view of Lena. Enjoy!
By now, the warehouse has no doubt been stripped and abandoned. It isn’t safe, not after Julian’s rescue. Julian Fineman is a symbol, and an important one. The zombies will hunt him. They will want to string the symbol up, and make it bleed meaning, so that others will learn their lesson. We have to be extra careful. Hunter, Bram, Lu and some of the other members of the old Rochester homestead are waiting for us just south of Poughkeepsie. It takes us nearly three days to cover the distance; we are forced to circumnavigate a half-dozen Valid cities. Then, abruptly, we arrive.
The woods simply run out at the edge of an enormous expanse of concrete webbed with thick fissures, and still marked very faintly with the ghostly white outlines of parking spaces. Cars, rusted, picked clean of various parts–rubber tires, bit of metal–still sit in the lot. They look small and faintly ridiculous, like ancient toys left out by a child. The parking lot flows like gray water in all directions running up at last against a vast structure of steel and glass: an old shopping mall. A sign in looping cursive script, streaked white with bird shit, reads empire state plaza mall. The reunion is joyful. Tack, Raven, and I break into a run. Bram and Hunter are running too, and we intercept them in the middle of the parking lot. I jump on Hunter, laughing, and he throws his arms around me and lifts me off my feet. Everyone is shouting and talking at once. Hunter sets me down, finally, but I keep one arm locked around him, as though he might disappear. I reach out and wrap my other arm around Bram, who is shaking hands with Tack, and somehow we all end up piled together, jumping and shouting, our bodies interlaced, in the middle of the brilliant sunshine.
“Well, well, well.” We break apart, turn around, and see Lu sauntering toward us. Her eyebrows are raised. She has let her hair grow long, and brushed it forward, so it pools over her shoulders.
“Look what the cat dragged in.” It’s the first time I’ve truly felt happy in days. The short months we have spent apart have changed both Hunter and Bram. Bram is, against all odds, heavier. Hunter has new wrinkles at the corners of his eyes, although his smile is as boyish as ever.
“How’s Sarah?” I say. “Is she here?”
“Sarah stayed in Maryland,” Hunter says.
“The homestead is thirty strong, and she won’t have to migrate. The resistance is trying to get word to her sister.”
“What about Grandpa and the others?”
I am breathless, and there is a tight feeling in my chest, as though I am still being squeezed.
“Grandpa didn’t make it,” Hunter says shortly. “We buried him outside Baltimore.”
Raven looks away, spits on the pavement. Bram adds quickly, “The others are fine.”
He reaches out and places a finger on my procedural scar, the one he helped me fake to initiate me into the resistance.
“Looking good,” he says, and winks. We decide to camp for the night. There’s clean water a short distance from the old mall, and a wreckage of houses and business offices that have yielded some usable supplies: a few cans of food still buried in the rubble; rusted tools; even a rifle, which Hunter found cradled in a pair of upturned deer hooves, under a mound of collapsed plaster. And one member of our group, Henley, a short, quiet woman with a long coil of gray hair, is running a fever. This will give her time to rest. By the end of the day, an argument breaks out about where to go next.
“We could split up,” Raven says.
[missing text] is squatting by the pit she has cleared for the fire, stoking the first, glowing splinters of flame with the charred end of a stick.
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