The Whisper, p.25Emma Clayton
It was the most unlikely party Mika had ever attended and the same sun shone down on them all. He thought about that.
The event was scheduled for four o’clock, the same time the war had started.
He watched Kobi and Oliver for a moment. Kobi had just taken his T-shirt off and shown Oliver the buds where his wings had begun to regrow. The younger boy watched in awe as Kobi put his T-shirt back on. That ragged boy everyone avoided in school had now achieved a godlike status.
“I wish I was born with wings,” Oliver said.
“Stop wishing for things you haven’t got,” Kobi replied. “You’re perfect just as you are.”
“Gosh, it’s hot,” Helen said, adjusting her strawberry sunglasses. “Who wants a drink?” She had a picnic basket at her feet, full of bottles of lemonade. Immediately, Ralph stooped to open it and she slapped his hand away. “Stop it,” she said. “I’ll do it.” Mika looked at the ninth richest person in the world and grinned. “Well, someone has to think of these things,” Helen said. “It’s very hot today.”
“You shouldn’t have worn your rain boots,” he told her.
“That is a point,” she replied.
“Look at them all,” Audrey whispered. She slipped her arm through Mika’s. She was watching the implanted army on the top of The Wall. Their implants flashed in the sunlight as they milled around and talked. They twinkled like stars.
“I want to know how the universe was made,” Audrey whispered.
“Noodle brain,” Mika said. “Ask Helen if you can read her books. But how can you think about that now? It’s nearly time. Look — it’s three minutes to four.”
Awen leaned against his legs. Mika fussed his ears. The dog felt soft, relaxed and content.
A short distance in front of them stood Ellie, with Puck on her shoulder. Her eyes hadn’t left the hole in The Wall for twenty minutes. Her light was all impatience softened by love. She was about to see her mother and father for the first time in a year and a half.
Mika glanced at Mal Gorman. He did not look so bright. This half-fixed man would need many nudges to remind him what he’d seen at the top of the Loire Valley. He had been broken for a long, long time. But he was starting to get it, and so was Raphael Mose. They were there, at least, with their people standing beside them, looking at the hole in The Wall. This was a start, not an ending.
At four o’clock they heard a noise.
A huge roar on the other side of The Wall.
But it was not the sound of anger, it was the sound of billions of people cheering.
Then Grace cried, “I can see them!”
And through the ragged hole between two worlds, a small group of people appeared, walking sedately, observing the ceremony of this historical event. But when they were halfway across no-man’s-land, two adults broke free and began to run toward them with outstretched arms. A sari whipped in the wind, a bald man wiped tears from his eyes. Then Ellie handed Puck to Grace and she began to run too, with the light of her love reaching out to them. As she touched her mother and father, a gold flash of joy hit the connection like a bolt of lightning and made the children on The Wall glow brighter than the sun; made Mika laugh and cry.
The Beginning, said The Whisper, not The End. We are the future.
“We did it,” Audrey said.
“Yes, we did,” Mika replied.
Then he took her by the hand and ran after the others, toward the first adults they’d freed from a giant concrete cage.
Ellie sat on the nose of a Pod Fighter.
Puck sat on her shoulder, chewing a nut.
It was early evening.
She was on the north side of The Wall, by the hole, waiting for the others to arrive. They were about to fly their Pod Fighters back to Cape Wrath.
She was covered in dust. Puck was covered in dust. Everything around them was covered in dust.
She watched Oliver walk toward her, across the lunar landscape. A heat haze shimmered around his legs. He swung his arms. He was dusty too.
When he reached the Pod Fighter, he stood at her side and drew figures in the dust on its wing. Ellie waited. He had a question to ask her. Puck climbed on his shoulder and poked a finger in his ear.
Oliver glanced at Ellie furtively.
“Yes,” she said.
He stopped drawing.
“Really?” he replied.
“Yes,” she repeated. “Come on, jump in.”
She helped him climb into the gunner seat of the Pod Fighter and did up his harness. Then she dropped into the pilot seat and did up her own.
The windshield slid over them and icons blinked on and he sat saucer eyed behind her. Puck’s head pressed warm under her chin.
Ellie wanted the child to feel this, really feel it.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I am!”
She fired up the engines.
Oliver grinned with delight.
She took off with the roar of a thousand tigers and shot through the hole in The Wall. Then she looped low over the forest and rushed toward the sea and the sun.
About the Author
EMMA CLAYTON lives with her two children in Leamington Spa, England. The Whisper is the sequel to her debut novel, The Roar.
PRAISE FOR THE ROAR
“Hugely inventive and entertaining. It flies along like a laser beam from a blaster.”
— Eoin Colfer
“Exciting, thought-provoking, and very hard to put down.”
— The New York Times Book Review
“This compulsive read should not be started at bedtime!”
— Kirkus Reviews
Text copyright © 2012 by Emma Clayton
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Available
First edition, February 2012
Cover art and design © 2012 by Phil Falco
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Emma Clayton, The Whisper
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