The Host By Stephanie Meyer - CHAPTER 7: Confronted


The Host By Stephanie Meyer - CHAPTER 7: Confronted

Yes, Faces Sunward?” I asked, grateful to the raised hand for interrupting my lecture. I did not
feel as comfortable behind the lectern as I usually did. My biggest strength, my only real
credential–for my host body had had little in the way of a formal education, on the run since her
early adolescence–was the personal experience I usually taught from. This was the first world's
history I'd presented this semester for which I had no memories to draw upon. I was sure my
students were suffering the difference.

“I'm sorry to interrupt, but…” The white-haired man paused, struggling to word his question.

“I'm not sure I understand. The Fire-Tasters actually…ingest the smoke from burning the
Walking Flowers? Like food?” He tried to suppress the horror in his tone. It was not a soul's
place to judge another soul. But I was not surprised, given his background on the Planet of the
Flowers, at his strong reaction to the fate of a similar life-form on another world.

It was always amazing to me how some souls buried themselves in the affairs of whichever
world they inhabited and ignored the rest of the universe. But, to be fair, perhaps Faces
Sunward had been in hibernation when Fire World became notorious.

“Yes, they receive essential nutrients from this smoke. And therein lies the fundamental
dilemma and the controversy of Fire World–and the reason the planet has not been closed,
though there has certainly been adequate time to populate it fully. There is also a high relocation
percentage.

“When Fire World was discovered, it was at first thought that the dominant species, the
Fire-Tasters, were the only intelligent life-forms present. The Fire-Tasters did not consider the
Walking Flowers to be their equals–a cultural prejudice–so it was a while, even after the first
wave of settling, before the souls realized they were murdering intelligent creatures. Since then,
Fire World scientists have focused their efforts on finding a replacement for the dietary needs of
the Fire-Tasters. Spiders are being transported there to help, but the planets are hundreds of
light-years apart. When this obstacle is overcome, as it will be soon, I'm sure, there is hope that
the Walking Flowers might also be assimilated. In the meantime, much of the brutality has been
removed from the equation. The, ah, burning-alive portion, of course, and other aspects as
well.”

“How can they…” Faces Sunward trailed off, unable to finish.

Another voice completed Faces Sunward's thought. “It seems like a very cruel ecosystem. Why
was the planet not abandoned?”

“That has been debated, naturally, Robert. But we do not abandon planets lightly. There are
many souls for whom Fire World is home. They will not be uprooted against their will.” I looked
away, back at my notes, in an attempt to end the side discussion.

“But it's barbaric!”

Robert was physically younger than most of the other students–closer to my age, in fact, than
any other. And truly a child in a more important way. Earth was his first world–the Mother in
this case had actually been an Earth-dweller, too, before she'd given herself–and he didn't seem
to have as much perspective as older, better-traveled souls. I wondered what it would be like to
be born into the overwhelming sensation and emotion of these hosts with no prior experience
for balance. It would be difficult to find objectivity. I tried to remember that and be especially
patient as I answered him.

“Every world is a unique experience. Unless one has lived on that world, it's impossible to truly
understand the –”

“But you never lived on Fire World,” he interrupted me. “You must have felt the same way.…
Unless you had some other reason for skipping that planet? You've been almost everywhere
else.”

“Choosing a planet is a very personal and private decision, Robert, as you may someday
experience.” My tone closed the subject absolutely.

Why not tell them? Youdothink it's barbaric–and cruel and wrong. Which is pretty ironic if you
ask me–not that you ever do. What's the problem? Are you ashamed that you agree with

Robert? Because he's more human than the others?

Melanie, having found her voice, was becoming downright unbearable. How was I supposed to
concentrate on my work with her opinions sounding off in my head all the time?

In the seat behind Robert, a dark shadow moved.

The Seeker, clad in her usual black, leaned forward, intent for the first time on the subject of
discussion.

I resisted the urge to scowl at her. I didn't want Robert, already looking embarrassed, to
mistake the expression as meant for him. Melanie grumbled.She wished I wouldn't resist.

Having the Seeker stalk our every footstep had been educational for Melanie; she used to think
she couldn't hate anything or anyone more than she hated me.

“Our time is almost up,” I announced with relief. “I'm pleased to inform you that we will have a
guest speaker next Tuesday who will be able to make up for my ignorance on this topic. Flame

Tender, a recent addition to our planet, will be here to give us a more personal account of the
settling of Fire World. I know that you will give him all the courtesy you accord me, and be
respectful of the very young age of his host. Thank you for your time.”

The class filed out slowly, many of the students taking a minute to chat with one another as
they gathered their things. What Kathy had said about friendships ran through my head, but I
felt no desire to join any of them. They were strangers.

Was that the way I felt? Or the way Melanie felt? It was hard to tell. Maybe I was naturally
antisocial. My personal history supported that theory, I supposed. I'd never formed an
attachment strong enough to keep me on any planet for more than one life.

I noticed Robert and Faces Sunward lingering at the classroom door, locked in a discussion that
seemed intense. I could guess the subject.

“Fire World stories ruffle feathers.”

I started slightly.

The Seeker was standing at my elbow. The woman usually announced her approach with the
quick tap of her hard shoes. I looked down now to see that she was wearing sneakers for
once–black, of course. She was even tinier without the extra inches.

“It's not my favorite subject,” I said in a bland voice. “I prefer to have firsthand experience to
share.”

“Strong reactions from the class.”

“Yes.”

She looked at me expectantly, as if waiting for more. I gathered my notes and turned to put
them in my bag.

“You seemed to react as well.”

I placed my papers in the bag carefully, not turning.

“I wondered why you didn't answer the question.”

There was a pause while she waited for me to respond. I didn't.

“So… why didn't you answer the question?”

I turned around, not concealing the impatience on my face. “Because it wasn't pertinent to the
lesson, because Robert needs to learn some manners, and because it's no one else's business.”

I swung my bag to my shoulder and headed for the door. She stayed right beside me, rushing to
keep up with my longer legs. We walked down the hallway in silence. It wasn't until we were
outside, where the afternoon sun lit the dust motes in the salty air, that she spoke again.

“Do you think you'll ever settle, Wanderer? On this planet, maybe? You seem to have an
affinity for their… feelings.”

I bridled at the implied insult in her tone. I wasn't even sure how she meant to insult me, but it
was clear that she did. Melanie stirred resentfully.

“I'm not sure what you mean.”

“Tell me something, Wanderer. Do you pity them?”

“Who?” I asked blankly. “The Walking Flowers?”

“No, the humans.”

I stopped walking, and she skidded to a halt beside me. We were only a few blocks from my
apartment, and I'd been hurrying in hopes of getting away from her, though likely as not, she'd
invite herself in. But her question caught me off guard.

“The humans?”

“Yes. Do you pity them?”

“Don't you?”

“No. They were quite the brutal race. They were lucky to survive each other as long as they
did.”

“Not every one of them was bad.”

“It was a predilection of their genetics. Brutality was part of their species. Butyou pity them, it
seems.”

“It's a lot to lose, don't you think?” I gestured around us. We stood in a parklike space between
two ivy-covered dormitories. The deep green of the ivy was pleasing to the eye, especially in
contrast to the faded red of the old bricks. The air was golden and soft, and the smell of the
ocean gave a briny edge to the honey sweet fragrance of the flowers in the bushes. The breeze
caressed the bare skin of my arms. “In your other lives, you can't have felt anything so vivid.

Wouldn't you pity anyone who had this taken from them?” Her expression stayed flat, unmoved.

I made an attempt to draw her in, to make her consider another viewpoint. “Which other worlds
have you lived on?”
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She hesitated, then squared her shoulders. “None. I've only lived on Earth.”

That surprised me. She was as much a child as Robert. “Only one planet? And you chose to be
a Seeker in your first life?”

She nodded once, her chin set.

“Well. Well, that's your business.” I started walking again. Maybe if I respected her privacy, she
would return the favor.

“I spoke to your Comforter.”

And maybe not,Melanie thought sourly.

“What?” I gasped.

“I gather you've been having more trouble than just accessing the information I need. Have you
considered trying another, more pliable host? She suggested that, did she not?”

“Kathy wouldn't tellyou anything!”

The Seeker's face was smug. “She didn't have to answer. I'm very good at reading human
expressions. I could tell when my questions struck a nerve.”

“How dare you? The relationship between a soul and her Comforter –”

“Is sacrosanct, yes; I know the theory. But the acceptable means of investigation don't seem to
be working with your case. I have to get creative.”

“You think I'm keeping something from you?” I demanded, too angry to control the disgust in
my voice. “You think I confided that to my Comforter?”

My anger didn't faze her. Perhaps, given her strange personality, she was used to such reactions.

“No. I think you're telling me what you know.… But I don't think you're looking as hard as you
could. I've seen it before. You're growing sympathetic to your host. You're letting her memories
unconsciously direct your own desires. It's probably too late at this point. I think you'd be more
comfortable moving on, and maybe someone else will have better luck with her.”

“Hah!” I shouted. “Melanie would eat them alive!”

Her expression froze in place.

She'd had no idea, no matter what she thought she'd discerned from Kathy. She'd thought
Melanie's influence was from memories, that it was unconscious.

“I find it very interesting that you speak of her in the present tense.”

I ignored that, trying to pretend I hadn't made a slip. “If you think someone else would have
better luck breaking into her secrets, you're wrong.”

“Only one way to find out.”

“Did you have someone in mind?” I asked, my voice frigid with aversion.

She grinned. “I'vegotten permission to give it a try. Shouldn't take long. They're going to hold
my host for me.”

I had to breathe deeply. I was shaking, and Melanie was so full of hate that she was past words.

The idea of having the Seeker inside me, even though I knew that I would not be here, was so
repugnant that I felt a return of last week's nausea.

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“It's too bad for your investigation that I'm not a skipper.”

The Seeker's eyes narrowed. “Well, it does certainly make this assignment drag on. History was
never of much interest to me, but it looks like I'm in for a full course now.”

“You just said that it was probably too late to get any more from her memories,” I reminded
her, struggling to make my voice calm. “Why don't you go back to wherever you belong?”

She shrugged and smiled a tight smile. “I'm sure itis too late… for voluntary information. But if
you don't cooperate, she might just lead me to them yet.”

“Leadyou?”

“When she takes full control, and you're no better than that weakling, once Racing Song, now
Kevin. Remember him? The one who attacked the Healer?”

I stared at her, eyes wide, nostrils flared.

“Yes, it's probably just a matter of time. Your Comforter didn't tell you the statistics, did she?

Well, even if she did, she wouldn't have the latest information thatwe have access to. The
long-term success rate for situations such as yours–once a human host begins to resist–is under
twenty percent. Did you have any idea it was so bad? They're changing the information they
give potential settlers. There will be no more adult hosts offered. The risks are too great. We're
losing souls. It won't be long before she's talking to you, talking through you, controlling your
decisions.”

I hadn't moved an inch or relaxed a muscle. The Seeker leaned in, stretched up on her toes to
put her face closer to mine. Her voice turned low and smooth in an attempt to sound persuasive.

“Is that what you want, Wanderer? To lose? To fade away, erased by another awareness? To be
no better than a host body?”

I couldn't breathe.

“It only gets worse. You won't beyou anymore. She'll beat you, and you'll disappear. Maybe
someone will intervene.… Maybe they'll move you like they did Kevin. And you'll become some
child named Melanie who likes to tinker with cars rather than compose music. Or whatever it is
she does.”

“The success rate is under twenty percent?” I whispered.

She nodded, trying to suppress a smile. “You're losing yourself, Wanderer. All the worlds
you've seen, all the experiences you've collected–they'll be for nothing. I saw in your file that
you have the potential for Motherhood. If you gave yourself to be a Mother, at least all that
would not be entirely wasted. Why throw yourself away? Have you considered Motherhood?”

I jerked away from her, my face flushing.

“I'm sorry,” she muttered, her face darkening, too. “That was impolite. Forget I said that.”

“I'm going home. Don't follow.”

“I have to, Wanderer. It's my job.”

“Why do you care so much about a few spare humans? Why? How do you justify yourjob
anymore? We've won! It's time for you to join society and do something productive!”

My questions, my implied accusations, did not ruffle her.

“Wherever the fringes of their world touch ours there is death.” She spoke the words
peacefully, and for a moment I glimpsed a different person in her face. It surprised me to realize
that she deeply believed in what she did. Part of me had supposed that she only chose to seek
because she illicitly craved the violence. “If even one soul is lost to your Jared or your Jamie,
that is one soul too many. Until there is total peace on this planet, my job will be justified. As
long as there are Jareds surviving, I am needed to protect our kind. As long as there are Melanies
leading souls around by the nose…”

I turned my back on her and headed for my apartment with long strides that would force her to
run if she wanted to keep up.

“Don't lose yourself, Wanderer!” she called after me. “Time is running out for you!” She
paused, then shouted more loudly. “Inform me when I'm to start calling you Melanie!”

Her voice faded as the space between us grew. I knew she would follow at her own pace. This
last uncomfortable week–seeing her face in the back of every class, hearing her footsteps behind
me on the sidewalk every day–was nothing compared to what was coming. She was going to
make my life a misery.

It felt as if Melanie were bouncing violently against the inner walls of my skull.

Let's get her canned. Tell her higher-ups that she did something unacceptable. Assaulted us. It's
our word against hers –

In a human world,I reminded her, almost sad that I didn't have access to that sort of
recourse.There are no higher-ups, in that sense. Everyone works together as equals. There are
those whom many report to, in order to keep the information organized, and councils who make
decisions about that information, but they won't remove her from an assignment she wants. You
see, it works like –

Who cares how it works if it doesn't help us? I know–let's kill her!A gratuitous image of my
hands tightening around the Seeker's neck filled my head.

That sort of thing isexactlywhy my kind is better left in charge of this place.
Get off your high horse. You'd enjoy it as much as I would.The image returned, the Seeker's
face turning blue in our imagination, but this time it was accompanied by a fierce wave of
pleasure.

That's you, not me.My statement was true; the image sickened me. But it was also perilously
close to false–in that I would very much enjoy never seeing the Seeker again.

What do we do now? I'm not giving up. You're not giving up. And that wretched Seeker is sure
as hell not giving up!

I didn't answer her. I didn't have a ready answer.

It was quiet in my head for a brief moment. That was nice. I wished the silence could last. But
there was only one way to buy my peace. Was I willing to pay the price? Did I have a choice
anymore?

Melanie slowly calmed. By the time I was through the front door, locking behind me the bolts
that I had never before turned–human artifacts that had no place in a peaceful world–her
thoughts were contemplative.

I'd never thought about how you all carry on your species. I didn't know it was likethat.

We take it very seriously, as you can imagine. Thanks for your concern.She wasn't bothered by
the thick edge of irony in the thought.

She was still musing over this discovery while I turned on my computer and began to look for
shuttle flights. It was a moment before she was aware of what I was doing.

Where are we going?The thought held a flicker of panic. I felt her awareness begin to rifle
through my head, her touch like the soft brush of feathers, searching for anything I might be
keeping from her.

I decided to save her the search.I'm going to Chicago.

The panic was more than a flicker now.Why?

I'm going to see the Healer. I don't trust her.I want to talk to him before I make my decision.

There was a brief silence before she spoke again.

The decision to kill me?

Yes, that one.


[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


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