The Host By Stephanie Meyer - CHAPTER 11: Dehydrated


The Host By Stephanie Meyer - CHAPTER 11: Dehydrated

Okay! You were right, you were right!” I said the words out loud. There was no one around to
hear me.

Melanie wasn'tsaying “I told you so.” Not in so many words. But I could feel the accusation in
her silence.

I was still unwilling to leave the car, though it was useless to me now. When the gas ran out, I
had let it roll forward with the remaining momentum until it took a nosedive into a shallow
gorge–a thick rivulet cut by the last big rain. Now I stared out the windshield at the vast, vacant
plain and felt my stomach twist with panic.

We have to move, Wanderer. It's only going to get hotter.

If I hadn't wasted more than a quarter of a tank of gas stubbornly pushing on to the very base of
the second landmark–only to find that the third milestone was no longer visible from that
vantage and to have to turn around and backtrack–we would have been so much farther down
this sandy wash, so much closer to our next goal. Thanks to me, we were going to have to travel
on foot now.

I loaded the water, one bottle at a time, into the pack, my motions unnecessarily deliberate; I
added the remaining granola bars just as slowly. All the while, Melanie ached for me to hurry.

Her impatience made it hard to think, hard to concentrate on anything. Like what was going to
happen to us.

C'mon, c'mon, c'mon,she chanted until I lurched, stiff and awkward, out of the car. My back
throbbed as I straightened up. It hurt from sleeping so contorted last night, not from the weight
of the pack; the pack wasn't that heavy when I used my shoulders to lift it.

Now cover the car,she instructed, picturing me ripping thorny branches from the nearby
creosotes and palo verdes and draping them over the silver top of the car.

“Why?”

Her tone implied that I was quite stupid for not understanding.So no one finds us.

But what if I want to be found? What if there's nothing out here but heat and dirt? We have no
way to get home!

Home?she questioned, throwing cheerless images at me: the vacant apartment in San Diego,
the Seeker's most obnoxious expression, the dot that marked Tucson on the map… a brief,
happier flash of the red canyon that slipped in by accident.Where would that be?

I turned my back on the car, ignoring her advice. I was in too far already. I wasn't going to give
up all hope of return. Maybe someone would find the car and then find me. I could easily and
honestly explain what I was doing here to any rescuer: I was lost. I'd lost my way… lost my
control… lost my mind.

I followed the wash at first, letting my body fall into its natural long-strided rhythm. It wasn't
the way I walked on the sidewalks to and from the university–it wasn'tmy walk at all. But it fit
the rugged terrain here and moved me smoothly forward with a speed that surprised me until I
got used to it.

“What if I hadn't come this way?” I wondered as I walked farther into the desert waste. “What
if Healer Fords were still in Chicago? What if my path hadn't taken us so close to them?”

It was that urgency, that lure–the thought that Jared and Jamie might beright here, somewhere
in this empty place–that had made it impossible to resist this senseless plan.

I'm not sure,Melanie admitted.I think I might still have tried, but I was afraid while the other
souls were near. I'm still afraid. Trusting you could kill them both.

We flinched together at the thought.

But being here, so close… It seemed like Ihadto try. Please –and suddenly she was pleading
with me, begging me, no trace of resentment in her thoughts–please don't use this to hurt them.

Please.

“I don't want to.… I don't know if Ican hurt them. I'd rather…”

What? Die myself? Than give a few stray humans up to the Seekers?

Again we flinched at the thought, but my revulsion at the idea comforted her. And it frightened
me more than it soothed her.

When the wash started angling too far toward the north, Melanie suggested that we forget the
flat, ashen path and take the direct line to the third landmark, the eastern spur of rock that
seemed to point, fingerlike, toward the cloudless sky.

I didn't like leaving the wash, just as I'd resisted leaving the car. I could follow this wash all the
way back to the road, and the road back to the highway. It was miles and miles, and it would
take me days to traverse, but once I stepped off this wash I was officially adrift.

Have faith, Wanderer. We'll find Uncle Jeb, or he'll find us.

If he's still alive,I added, sighing and loping off my simple path into the brush that was identical
in every direction.Faith isn't a familiar concept for me. I don't know that I buy into it.

Trust, then?

In who? You?I laughed. The hot air baked my throat when I inhaled.

Just think,she said, changing the subject,maybe we'll see them by tonight.

The yearning belonged to us both; the image of their faces, one man, one child, came from both
memories. When I walked faster, I wasn't sure that I was completely in command of the motion.

It did get hotter–and then hotter, and then hotter still. Sweat plastered my hair to my scalp and
made my pale yellow T-shirt cling unpleasantly wherever it touched. In the afternoon, scorching
gusts of wind kicked up, blowing sand in my face. The dry air sucked the sweat away, crusted
my hair with grit, and fanned my shirt out from my body; it moved as stiffly as cardboard with
the dried salt. I kept walking.

I drank water more often than Melanie wanted me to. She begrudged me every mouthful,
threatening me that we would want it much more tomorrow. But I'd already given her so much
today that I was in no mood to listen. I drank when I was thirsty, which was most of the time.

My legs moved me forward without any thought on my part. The crunching rhythm of my steps
was background music, low and tedious.

There was nothing to see; one twisted, brittle shrub looked exactly the same as the next. The
empty homogeny lulled me into a sort of daze–I was only really aware of the shape of the
mountains' silhouettes against the pale, bleached sky. I read their outlines every few steps, till I
knew them so well I could have drawn them blindfolded.

The view seemed frozen in place. I constantly whipped my head around, searching for the
fourth marker–a big dome-shaped peak with a missing piece, a curved absence scooped from its
side that Melanie had only shown me this morning–as if the perspective would have changed
from my last step. I hoped this last clue was it, because we'd be lucky to get that far. But I had a
sense that Melanie was keeping more from me, and our journey's end was impossibly distant.

I snacked on my granola bars through the afternoon, not realizing until it was too late that I'd
finished the last one.

When the sun set, the night descended with the same speed as it had yesterday. Melanie was
prepared, already scouting out a place to stop.

Here,she told me.We'll want to stay as far from the cholla as possible. You toss in your sleep.

I eyed the fluffy-looking cactus in the failing light, so thick with bone-colored needles that it
resembled fur, and shuddered.You want me to just sleep on the ground? Right here?

You see another option?She felt my panic, and her tone softened, as if with pity.Look–it's better
than the car. At least it's flat. It's too hot for any critters to be attracted to your body heat and –

“Critters?” I demanded aloud.“Critters?”

There were brief, very unpleasant flashes of deadly-looking insects and coiled serpents in her
memories.

Don't worry.She tried to soothe me as I arched up on my tiptoes, away from anything that
might be hiding in the sand below, my eyes searching the blackness for some escape.Nothing's
going to bother you unless you bother it first. After all, you're bigger than anything else out
here. Another flash of memory, this time a medium-size canine scavenger, a coyote, flitted
through our thoughts.

“Perfect,” I moaned, sinking down into a crouch, though I was still afraid of the black ground
beneath me. “Killed by wild dogs. Who would have thought it would end so… so trivially?

How anticlimactic. The claw beast on the Mists Planet, sure. At least there'd be some dignity in
being taken down bythat. ”

Melanie's answering tone made me picture her rolling her eyes.Stop being a baby. Nothing is
going to eat you. Now lie down and get some rest. Tomorrow will be harder than today.

“Thanks for the good news,” I grumbled. She was turning into a tyrant. It made me think of the
human axiomGive him an inch and he'll take a mile. But I was more exhausted than I realized,
and as I settled unwillingly to the ground, I found it impossible not to slump down on the rough,
gravelly dirt and let my eyes close.

It seemed like just minutes later when the morning dawned, blindingly bright and already hot
enough to have me sweating. I was crusted in dirt and rocks when I woke; my right arm was
pinned under me and had lost feeling. I shook out the tingles and then reached into my pack for
some water.

My friend Michael Fiore recently asked over 20,000 men…
“What’s the one thing you desperately wish the woman in your
life understood about men but could NEVER tell her?”


The results were juicy, devastating and dangerous…
Guys opened up…
About how they FEEL about women…
About what they WANT from women…
About what makes them MAD about women…
Michael gave me a tiny peek at the survey results and I
suddenly felt like I had X-ray vision into men’s minds…
Michael’s decided to share the results with a few women…
And totally blow apart what you think you know about men…
Go watch this amazing video to find out more:
[WATCH: READ MEN'S MINDS ]

P.S. Warning: Michael pulls no punches and this isn’t for the
faint of heart.
[CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO]

Melanie did not approve, but I ignored her. I looked for the half-empty bottle I'd last drunk
from, rummaging through the fulls and empties until I began to see a pattern.

With a slowly growing sense of alarm, I started counting. I counted twice. There were two
more empties than there were fulls. I'd already used up more than half my water supply.

I told you that you were drinking too much.

I didn't answer her, but I pulled the pack on without taking a drink. My mouth felt horrible, dry
and sandy and tasting of bile. I tried to ignore that, tried to stop running my sandpaper tongue
over my gritty teeth, and started walking.
[If you want a man to really commit to you,
seduce you, chase you, and keep that spark going
forever you can't just make him love you, 
you've got to make him ADDICTED to you . . . 

Which is why you need to go watch this new video
from relationship expert Michael Fiore . . .]
My stomach was harder to ignore than my mouth as the sun rose higher and hotter above me. It
twisted and contracted at regular intervals, anticipating meals that didn't appear. By afternoon,
the hunger had gone from uncomfortable to painful.

This is nothing,Melanie reminded me wryly.We've been hungrier.

You have, I retorted. I didn't feel like being an audience to her endurance memories right now.

I was beginning to despair when the good news came. As I swung my head across the horizon
with a routine, halfhearted movement, the bulbous shape of the dome jumped out at me from
the middle of a northern line of small peaks. The missing part was only a faint indentation from
this vantage point.

Close enough,Melanie decided, as thrilled as I was to be making some progress. I turned north
eagerly, my steps lengthening.Keep a lookout for the next. She remembered another formation
for me, and I started craning my head around at once, though I knew it was useless to search for
it this early.

It would be to the east. North and then east and then north again. That was the pattern.

The lift of finding another milestone kept me moving despite the growing weariness in my legs.

Melanie urged me on, chanting encouragements when I slowed, thinking of Jared and Jamie
when I turned apathetic. My progress was steady, and I waited till Melanie okayed each drink,
even though the inside of my throat felt as though it was blistering.

I had to admit that I was proud of myself for being so tough. When the dirt road appeared, it
seemed like a reward. It snaked toward the north, the direction I was already headed, but
Melanie was skittish.

I don't like the look of it,she insisted.

The road was just a sallow line through the scrub, defined only by its smoother texture and lack
of vegetation. Ancient tire tracks made a double depression, centered in the single lane.

When it goes the wrong way, we'll leave it.I was already walking down the middle of the
tracks.It's easier than weaving through the creosote and watching out for cholla.

She didn't answer, but her unease made me feel a little paranoid. I kept up my search for the
next formation–a perfectM, two matching volcanic points–but I also watched the desert around
me more carefully than before.

Because I was paying extra attention, I noticed the gray smudge in the distance long before I
could make out what it was. I wondered if my eyes were playing tricks on me and blinked
against the dust that clouded them. The color seemed wrong for a rock, and the shape too solid
for a tree. I squinted into the brightness, making guesses.

Then I blinked again, and the smudge suddenly jumped into a structured shape, closer than I'd
been thinking. It was some kind of house or building, small and weathered to a dull gray.

Melanie's spike of panic had me dancing off the narrow lane and into the dubious cover of the
barren brush.

Hold on,I told her.I'm sure it's abandoned.

How do you know?She was holding back so hard that I had to concentrate on my feet before I
could move them forward.

Who would live out here? We souls live for society.I heard the bitter edge to my explanation and
knew it was because of where I now stood–physically and metaphorically in the middle of
nowhere. Why did I no longer belong to the society of souls? Why did I feel like I didn't… like I
didn'twant to belong? Had I ever really been a part of the community that was meant to be my
own, or was that the reason behind my long line of lives lived in transience? Had I always been
an aberration, or was this something Melanie was making me into? Had this planet changed me,
or revealed me for what I already was?

Melanie had no patience for my personal crisis–she wanted me to get far away from that
building as fast as possible. Her thoughts yanked and twisted at mine, pulling me out of my
introspection.

Calm down,I ordered, trying to focus my thoughts, to separate them from hers.If there is
anything that actually lives here, it would be human. Trust me on this; there is no such thing as a
hermit among souls. Maybe your Uncle Jeb –

She rejected that thought harshly.No one could survive out in the open like this. Your kind
would have searched any habitation thoroughly. Whoever lived here ran or became one of you.

Uncle Jeb would have a better hiding place.

And if whoever lived here became one of us,I assured her,then they left this place. Only a
human would live this way.… I trailed off, suddenly afraid, too.

What?She reacted strongly to my fright, freezing us in place. She scanned my thoughts, looking
for something I'd seen to upset me.

But I'd seen nothing new.Melanie, what if there are humans out here–not Uncle Jeb and Jared
and Jamie? What if someone elsefound us?

She absorbed the idea slowly, thinking it through.You're right. They'd kill us immediately. Of
course.

I tried to swallow, to wash the taste of terror from my dry mouth.

There won't be anyone else. How could there be?she reasoned.Your kind are far too thorough.
Only someone already in hiding would have had a chance. So let's go check it out–you're sure
there are none of you, and I'm sure there are none of me. Maybe we can find something helpful,
something we can use as a weapon.

I shuddered at her thoughts of sharp knives and long metal tools that could be turned into
clubs.No weapons.

Ugh. How did such spineless creaturesbeatus?

Stealth and superior numbers. Any one of you, even your young, is a hundred times as
dangerous as one of us. But you're like one termite in an anthill. There are millions of us, all
working together in perfect harmony toward our goal.

Again, as I described the unity, I felt the dragging sense of panic and disorientation. Who was
I?

We kept to the creosote as we approached the little structure. It looked to be a house, just a
small shack beside the road, with no hint at all of any other purpose. The reason for its location
here was a mystery–this spot had nothing to offer but emptiness and heat.

There was no sign of recent habitation. The door frame gaped, doorless, and only a few shards
of glass clung to the empty window frames. Dust gathered on the threshold and spilled inside.

The gray weathered walls seemed to lean away from the wind, as if it always blew from the
same direction here.

I was able to contain my anxiety as I walked hesitantly to the vacant door frame; we must be
just as alone here as we had been all day and all yesterday.

The shade the dark entry promised drew me forward, trumping my fears with its appeal. I still
listened intently, but my feet moved ahead with swift, sure steps. I darted through the doorway,
moving quickly to one side so as to have a wall at my back. This was instinctual, a product of

Melanie's scavenging days. I stood frozen there, unnerved by my blindness, waiting for my eyes
to adjust.

The little shack was empty, as we'd known it would be. There were no more signs of
occupation inside than out. A broken table slanted down from its two good legs in the middle of
the room, with one rusted metal chair beside it. Patches of concrete showed through big holes in
the worn, grimy carpet. A kitchenette lined the wall with a rusted sink, a row of cabinets–some
doorless–and a waist-high refrigerator that hung open, revealing its moldy black insides. A
couch frame sat against the far wall, all the cushions gone. Still mounted above the couch, only
a little crooked, was a framed print of dogs playing poker.

Homey,Melanie thought, relieved enough to be sarcastic.It's got more decor than your
apartment.

I was already moving for the sink.

Dream on,Melanie added helpfully.

Of course it would be wasteful to have water running to this secluded place; the souls managed
details like that better than to leave such an anomaly behind. I still had to twist the ancient
knobs. One broke off in my hand, rusted through.

I turned to the cupboards next, kneeling on the nasty carpet to peek carefully inside. I leaned
away as I opened the door, afraid I might be disturbing one of the venomous desert animals in
its lair.

The first was empty, backless, so that I could see the wooden slats of the outside wall. The next
had no door, but there was a stack of antique newspapers inside, covered with dust. I pulled one
out, curious, shaking the dirt to the dirtier floor, and read the date.

From human times,I noted. Not that I needed a date to tell me that.

“Man Burns Three-Year-Old Daughter to Death,” the headline screamed at me, accompanied
by a picture of an angelic blond child. This wasn't the front page. The horror detailed here was
not so hideous as to rate priority coverage. Beneath this was the face of a man wanted for the
murders of his wife and two children two years before the print date; the story was about a
possible sighting of the man in Mexico. Two people killed and three injured in a drunk-driving
accident. A fraud and murder investigation into the alleged suicide of a prominent local banker.

A suppressed confession setting an admitted child molester free. House pets found slaughtered
in a trash bin.

I cringed, shoving the paper away from me, back into the dark cupboard.

Those were the exceptions, not the norm,Melanie thought quietly, trying to keep the fresh horror
of my reaction from seeping into her memories of those years and recoloring them.

Can you see how we thought we might be able to do better, though? How we could have
supposed that maybe you didn't deserve all the excellent things of this world?

Her answer was acidic.If you wanted to cleanse the planet, you could have blown it up.

Despite what your science fiction writers dream, we simply don't have the technology.

She didn't think my joke was funny.

Besides,I added,that would have been such a waste. It's a lovely planet. This unspeakable desert
excepted, of course.

That's how we realized you were here, you know,she said, thinking of the sickening news
headlines again.When the evening news was nothing but inspiring human-interest stories, when
pedophiles and junkies were lining up at the hospitals to turn themselves in, when everything
morphed into Mayberry, that's when you tipped your hand.

“What an awful alteration!” I said dryly, turning to the next cupboard.

I pulled the stiff door back and found the mother lode.

“Crackers!” I shouted, seizing the discolored, half-smashed box of Saltines. There was another
box behind it, one that looked like someone had stepped on it. “Twinkies!” I crowed.

Look!Melanie urged, pointing a mental finger at three dusty bottles of bleach at the very back
of the cupboard.

What do you want bleach for?I asked, already ripping into the cracker box.To throw in
someone's eyes? Or to brain them with the bottle?

To my delight, the crackers, though reduced to crumbs, were still inside their plastic sleeves. I
tore one open and started shaking the crumbs into my mouth, swallowing them half chewed. I
couldn't get them into my stomach fast enough.

Open a bottle and smell it,she instructed, ignoring my commentary.That's how my dad used to
store water in the garage. The bleach residue kept the water from growing anything.

In a minute.I finished one sleeve of crumbs and started on the next. They were very stale, but
compared to the taste in my mouth, they were ambrosia. When I finished the third, I became
aware that the salt was burning the cracks in my lips and at the corners of my mouth.

I heaved out one of the bleach bottles, hoping Melanie was right. My arms felt weak and
noodley, barely able to lift it. This concerned us both. How much had our condition deteriorated
already? How much farther would we be able to go?

The bottle's cap was so tight, I wondered if it had melted into place. Finally, though, I was able
to twist it off with my teeth. I sniffed at the opening carefully, not especially wanting to pass out
from bleach fumes. The chemical scent was very faint. I sniffed deeper. It was water, definitely.

Stagnant, musty water, but water all the same. I took a small mouthful. Not a fresh mountain
stream, but wet. I started guzzling.

Easy there,Melanie warned me, and I had to agree. We'd lucked into this cache, but it made no
sense to squander it. Besides, I wanted something solid now that the salt burn had eased. I
turned to the box of Twinkies and licked three of the smooshed-up cakes from the inside of the
wrappers.

The last cupboard was empty.

As soon as the hunger pangs had eased slightly, Melanie's impatience began to leak into my
thoughts. Feeling no resistance this time, I quickly loaded my spoils into my pack, pitching the
empty water bottles into the sink to make room. The bleach jugs were heavy, but theirs was a
comforting weight. It meant I wouldn't stretch out to sleep on the desert floor thirsty and hungry
again tonight. With the sugar energy beginning to buzz through my veins, I loped back out into
the bright afternoon.



[How To Capture His Heart  and Make Him Addicted To You Forever? Learn More Here Capture His Heart Reviews » ]
Continue Reading The Host By Stephanie Meyer:
Chapters:  Prologue | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 |24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | Epilogue


Share/Bookmark Subscribe

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

 
Capture His Heart |Capture His Heart Reviews |The Tao of Badass Reviews |Language of Desire |Language of Desire Review |Read Twilight Breaking Dawn