Home > In Time (The Darkest Minds #1.5)(4)

In Time (The Darkest Minds #1.5)(4)
Alexandra Bracken

So did a lot of things.

They’ve turned the old fairgrounds into a trailer park and campground. Ten years ago if you had asked me to imagine a world where thousands of people were crammed into a few miles of space while thousands of houses sat empty and locked up by banks…I don’t know what I would have thought. Probably that you were talking about a bad movie.

Hutch says each kid can bring in around ten thousand dollars. Ten thousand dollars. One or two aren’t going to be enough to buy myself a real house or anything like that, but it might be enough to do one of those two-year university degree programs. With a certificate, I might be able to find a steady job in another town, and maybe that’ll mean an opportunity to own some kind of home, even if it’s in the far future. Staying here, I wouldn’t have a choice.

I triple-check to make sure the truck is locked before I start trudging through the muddy grass toward home. Already I sense the curious eyes following me, taking a second look at my truck. Considering. I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. It’s always easier to take something than work for it—but I don’t know how many people want a thirty-year-old gas-guzzler with paint rusting off in huge clumps.

And anyway, I’m not going to be here long enough for them to swipe it. In and out. I told myself that the whole drive over. In and out.

The door to our trailer creaks as I open it and rattles as it slams behind me. It was a gift from the United States of America, but everywhere there are parts stamped with MADE IN CHINA. The aluminum sides are so thin they pop in and out depending on which way the wind is blowing.

There’s not much room beyond the space for the bunk beds at the back and a small kitchenette, but Mom’s figured out a way to hook up a fist-sized TV on the fold-down table where we’re supposed to eat. No one’s got the cash or time to create anything new anymore, so it’s either news or reruns all the time. Right now, it looks like an episode of Wheel of Fortune from the 1990s. Sometimes I think I like the days we have no power better, because that’s the only thing that breaks her out of her trance long enough for her to remember to eat and wash her hair.

She doesn’t even look up as I come in—but I see it right away. She’s taken my original draft notice and taped it back up on the small fridge. I keep ripping it and she keeps taping it, and I keep explaining and she keeps ignoring me.

“The PSF recruiters were by again,” she says, not breaking her gaze on the TV. “I told them about your problem and they said you should come in and be double-checked. You know, just to be sure.”

I close my eyes and count to twenty, then stop when I remember that’s what Dad used to do. Mom’s brittle blond hair looks like it hasn’t been brushed in weeks, and she’s wearing a pale pink robe over a Mickey Mouse shirt and jeans. Otherwise known as what she slept in last night and the night before. I open the fridge just to be sure I’m right—and there it is. The endless, gaping nothing. We ate the last can of soup last night for dinner, so if she didn’t go out to get her boxed rations this morning—

“Why do you smell like smoke?” she asks suddenly. “You been at the bar? Your daddy’s old bar?”

I walk toward the bunk at the back, lift my small backpack off it, and sling it over my shoulder. “I’m heading out.”

“Did you hear what I said about the PSFs, kid?” she asked, her gaze drifting back down to the TV. Her voice getting real, real small.

“Did you hear what I told you the last ten thousand times you brought it up?” I said, hating that anger is winning again. “They won’t take me. The National Guard, either.”

I think she’s hoping they’ll get desperate enough eventually to want me. But the past five times I’ve met with the recruiter, they’ve told me the knee I blew out playing soccer, and the screws that the doctors put in to reconstruct it, disqualify me. I’ve tried everything—forging paperwork, trying to apply in another county. It doesn’t work. They know that people want in—it’s the only guaranteed paycheck left in this country. You serve your four years in hell and you get a check each and every month.

“All your friends, though,” she says, “can’t they help you get in?”

I haven’t heard from them in four years, since they went into service. Apparently you put on the uniform and you get sucked into some kind of black hole. The only reason any of us know they’re alive is that the government keeps cutting these checks and sending them home to their families, keeps sending a few extra cans in each of their ration boxes.

“I’m leaving,” I say, tightening my grip on my backpack. My keys jangle in my pocket as I move, loud enough for her to look up again.

“What did you do?” she demands, like she has any right to. “You took that college money? You bought that truck?”

I laugh. Really, truly laugh. Eight hundred bucks isn’t enough even to think about college, never mind apply. It was expensive before; now it’s just stupidly expensive. Not to mention there’re only a few universities left. Northern Arizona shut down, the University of Arizona shut down, most of the New Mexico and Utah schools, too. There are some state schools still open in California, I think, and one of the University of Texas campuses. I’d be okay in Texas. I’m not delusional enough to think I could afford one of the few fancy private schools back east, like Harvard.

Two freaks are really all I need. If it turns out I’m good at this, then great. I’ll save what I get from freaks three, four, and five. The real problem is Mom and the rest of the people in this town don’t think big. They’re the kind of folks who are too satisfied with the small hand life’s dealt to think that a bigger pot might be out there.

Hot Novels
  • Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Chris
  • Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)
  • Never Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #2)
  • Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)
  • Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculi
  • Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)
  • Fallen Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #1)
  • Forever Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #3)
  • Ugly Love
  • Allegiant (Divergent #3)
  • Hold on Tight (Sea Breeze #8)
  • Bared to You (Crossfire #1)
  • The Destiny of Violet & Luke (The Coinc
  • Captivated by You (Crossfire #4)
  • Uprooted