Home > In Time (The Darkest Minds #1.5)(3)

In Time (The Darkest Minds #1.5)(3)
Alexandra Bracken

There’s no one out wandering around that morning, and little traffic. That’s the only reason I can hear the chanting three blocks from where the “protest” is taking place. I think about cutting up a block and going the long way, but the city commissioned this horrible memorial wall mural there that makes my skin crawl every time I pass it. In it, there are these five kids all running around this flower field. One of them is on a swing hanging from a cloud. It’s called Their Playground Is Heaven, if you ever make the trek up to Flagstaff and are in the mood to hate humanity that much more.

The mom squad is out in full force in front of City Hall. Of course. It’s a day that ends with y. Back a few years ago, I thought they might accomplish something just by the sheer number of bake sale goods they were producing and selling to raise money for the BRING THEM HOME fund. Now it’s obvious that was never the point.

I keep my head down and my hat pulled low, ignoring the squatty woman who rushes up in her too-tight mom jeans and bright yellow MOTHERS AGAINST CAMPS shirt, shoving her clipboard in my path.

“Have you signed the petition to Bring Them Home?”

Not really, lady.

“Would you like to sign the petition?”

As much as I’d like to swallow a bowl of broken glass.

“Why not?”

Because I’m not super into the idea of having a couple thousand little freaks running around the country blowing shit up.

I take the clipboard and squiggle on one of the empty boxes, hoping it’s enough to get her to leave me alone. What’s really amazing to me is that despite the fact that they managed to grow their numbers, it seems like they’re doing less. Even with the addition of the spin-off group, Dads Against Camps, I know for a fact they haven’t gotten any information out of the government.

They have to know how pathetic they all look, right? They stubbornly gather here like cat hair to a black sweater, but there aren’t any politicians in City Hall these days—they just bus folks up from Phoenix every once in a while to make sure the town hasn’t dissolved into chaos or to barricade it off if it has. The parents just can’t bring themselves to break the pattern. Every day it’s the same scene of them standing around and talking to each other, hugging and crying and cupping ragged-edged photos of their freaks between their hands. These people—the “real adults,” my mom calls them—they sit around looking for forgiveness from the guilty. But if they really wanted to accomplish something, they’d be down in Phoenix. They’d be in D.C. or New York, trying to find whatever hole President Gray dug for himself, to make him answer for what he’s done.

They don’t even seem to notice every last bit of their freedom has been stripped from them, from all of us; they just care about the kids, the kids, the kids.

I want to tell Mrs. Roberts to stop being such a damn hypocrite—to tell Mr. Monroe, and Mrs. Gonzalez, and Mrs. Hart that they did this to themselves. They sent their “babies” to school that day and then stood around the playground fence with the rest of us, watching as the black uniforms ushered the freaks onto the buses. They regret it; now they see what most of us suspected all along. Those buses were only going one direction: away from them.

Here’s the thing I don’t understand: The government tells you over and over again, through the news, through the papers, on the radio, that the only way these freaks are going to survive is if they receive this rehabilitation treatment in these camps. They even roll out the president’s kid to prove that it “works,” parading him around the country in some kind of celebration tour that’s clearly designed to soften people’s attitudes about sending their freaks away. Okay, sure, fine.

But after a year or two passes, more and more freaks are affected. More are sent to these rehab camps by desperate parents. But in the meantime, we’re not seeing any “cured” freaks coming out of them. Not in year three, or year four, or year five. If these parents had been paying attention from the beginning, not running around like a band of panicked chickens, all of them scrambling for the last scrap of hope, none of them willing to be the one to stand up and question it, they would have seen the lie a mile away. They would never have registered their freaks in that online database, the one the government basically just turned into a network to help skip tracers and PSFs later collect the freaks that weren’t sent willingly.

It’s been six years. They’re not coming back, and even if they were, look at what these “real adults” have let this country become. Why would they want to bring a kid back into a place like this? Where the newspaper they’ll read is filled with lies, and every step they take and word they speak will be monitored. The kind of world where they can work their whole lives, only to be slowly smothered by knowing they’ll never amount to anything and things will never get better for them.

I just want them to admit that they did this to themselves, that they let Gray take their kids, but they also let him steal hope for the future. I’m so sick of having to feel sorry for these people when the rest of us are suffering, too.

I just want them to admit to themselves we’ve lost more than a few freaks.

I just want us all to stop lying.

There’s no gas in the old blue truck. Of course. I have to hike all over town begging people for a quarter of a liter here and another quarter there, and all the while these people are looking at me like I’ve asked them to set themselves on fire. I know the right people to talk to, though. They were the smart ones who saved up each gas ration the National Guard doled out by the old Sinclair gas station. I remember waiting under the sign—the big green dinosaur—shivering because it was five below, and the entire city was lined up down the highway, waiting their turn. About two years ago, the National Guard just stopped coming, and when they disappeared, so did the gas.

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