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The vault of dreamers, p.31
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       The Vault of Dreamers, p.31

           Caragh M. O'Brien
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  “I bet this dose is going to an old guy, rich as sin,” Ian says.

  “It’s for a young woman,” Dr. Ash says. “She had a tragic accident. Her parents have been keeping her alive, praying for a miracle.”

  “Really?” he says. “That’s kind of nice.”

  More soft ticking comes from my left while on my right, I hear a soft suction sound, like a container being opened.

  “Sometimes my heart kind of goes out to them, you know,” Ian says. “Especially her. I used to watch her on The Forge Show.”

  “We all have a fondness for Rosie.”

  I can almost believe her, she sounds so sincere.

  “Isn’t Mr. Berg supposed to revive her when she’s eighteen?”

  A couple more soft clicks follow.

  Are you there? I ask. Do you feel this?

  My inner voice answers with a feral, skittering noise from the back of a cave.

  “When’s her birthday?” Ian asks.

  I listen for the doctor’s answer, for a hint to know how much time has passed and how much longer I’m expected to stay here.

  “He is going to wake her up and let her go, right?” he asks. “That was the bargain.”

  “I couldn’t say.”

  Don’t react, she warns me.

  They’re never going to let me go!

  She sends another burst of calming serum through my veins, but I fight against it.

  We have to do something! I say to her.

  Another twinge from the doctor brings me an image of my sister Dubbs walking barefoot along the train tracks with me. We’re seeking blue cornflowers between the railroad ties, and the green stems stain her palms as she pulls them free. At the same time, impossible, honeyed strands of light spin between and around us, and when we open our mouths to taste them, we laugh. The image is so vivid it shimmers, and I’m not so much remembering or dreaming it as living it right now. “You promised to come home,” Dubbs says to me. As she reaches out her arms, I lift her up, flowers and all, into a spinning embrace. Love corkscrews through me like pure radiant power.

  Ian’s voice comes to me dimly. “That’s incredible. See those colors?”

  “I know,” Dr. Ash answers calmly. “Rosie’s a fighter. She’s more valuable than all the rest combined.”

  “Why’s that?” he asks.

  “Because of this,” she says.

  I feel a wrenching. A swarm of savage white spheres grabs my sister and tries to rip her out of my arms.

  No! I scream. You can’t take her!

  I clutch my sister against me and I try to protect her body as she screams in fear and pain. The universe laughs at us, cold and hard. The swarm pulls harder at Dubbs. Dr. Ash is wresting my sister away from me, and if I let this gem of her go, it will decimate me.

  I grasp a sudden, startling idea.

  I’m going with my sister, I say.

  You can’t! she says. You can’t leave me!

  If I stay here, I’ll rot in this body. This is my chance.

  I summon every particle of strength in my marrow and hold my sister tight. Her arms are wrapped around my neck, practically choking me. They can’t take her without me. Going with my sister is my only chance.

  My inner voice is a snake of smoke, shriveling and twisting with anger and fear.

  You don’t know where you’re going! What if you never come back? she cries.

  I’ll be out of this hell, I say. I have to live.

  She snarls and swells in raging fury, but I summon my fiercest determination. I have no time to reconsider and no time to waste. The white spheres have my sister in their insatiable grip and they give one last, rending pull. I am torn off the railroad tracks, through the swirling web of golden strands, and into a wild, exploding sky. The spheres have stolen my sister, but they’re taking me, too.

  I break into a disembodied smile of victory.

  The dean and the doctor have won. They’ll always win. But this time, I’ve won, too, and I’m more alive than ever.


  Mine was the rare good fortune to work with two crack editors on The Vault of Dreamers, Nancy Mercado and Katherine Jacobs, and I’m deeply grateful to both. Thanks to the team at Roaring Brook Press once again, especially Simon Boughton and Beth Clark. I wish to thank my agent, Kirby Kim, who urged me to chase a daunting idea. I’m grateful to my sister, Nancy O’Brien Wagner, for her insights on key drafts. I’d like to thank William, Emily, and Michael LoTurco, with Lauren Dittmeier and James Moen, whose support and honest feedback were pivotal. As ever, I thank my husband, Joseph LoTurco, for everything.

  Caragh M. O’Brien

  September 16, 2014


  The Birthmarked Trilogy




  Text copyright © 2014 by Caragh M. O’Brien

  Map art by Chris B. Murray

  Published by Roaring Brook Press

  Roaring Brook Press is a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership

  175 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10010

  All rights reserved

  eBooks may be purchased for business or promotional use. For information on bulk purchases, please contact Macmillan Corporate and Premium Sales Department by writing to [email protected]

  The Library of Congress has cataloged the print edition as follows:

  O’Brien, Caragh M.

  The vault of dreamers / Caragh M. O’Brien.

  pages cm

  Summary: Rosie Sinclair, who attends an elite arts school where students are contestants on a high stakes reality show, skips her sleeping pill one night and discovers that the school is really a cover-up for the lucrative and sinister practice of dream harvesting.

  ISBN 978-1-59643-938-2 (hardback) — ISBN 978-1-59643-939-9 (ebook)

  [1. Reality television programs—Fiction. 2. High schools—Fiction. 3. Schools—Fiction. 4. Dreams—Fiction. 5. Science fiction.] I. Title.

  PZ7.O12673Vau 2014



  eISBN 9781596439399

  First hardcover edition, 2014

  eBook edition, September 2014



  Caragh M. O'Brien, The Vault of Dreamers



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