My vacation in Hugh Howey's silos has nearly come to an end! Parts 1 and 2 of Greatfall have been published, and the final installment is all that remains. (Speaking of Part 2, it's free on Amazon right now -- go grab it!) Part 3 has some rather large responsibilities to fulfill, some enormous questions to answer. I'm not going to go into them here, since Part 2 revealed some pretty spoilery things. If you've read Part 2, then you know that shit is really starting to get real in Silo 23.
Here's an excerpt from the beginning of Part 3, which picks up right where Part 2 left off.
He dreams of blood.
In the uncomfortably large bed that has only recently been abandoned by the Wise Father, Isaac sleeps restlessly. The bed is so soft that it seems it will swallow him whole, something that his mind seems constantly aware of as he sleeps. And so he struggles, and in his dream, he struggles as well.
His arms are held tightly at his sides, one side gripped by Matthew's slight but fiercely strong hand, the other side held by the Wise Father himself. The two men smile deviously at Isaac, and he looks back and forth between them, terrified by their curling grins.
He cannot speak. His mouth will not open.
He stands there, pinned between the two older men, and watches as the guards of the court escort the seeker to the railing's edge. The seeker is Jennifer Lorraine Hughes, the perky, overachieving girl who stood before Isaac in court.
Isaac tries to shout, to warn the guards away, to apologize to the girl, but his words die as unintelligible grunts, forever locked inside his chest, unable to escape through his lips. He tries to free himself, letting his body sag between the two men, then summoning every bit of his strength to wrench himself from their grasp.
But the Wise Father holds on doggedly, and Matthew, for his part, digs the tips of his fingers into the soft pit of Isaac's inner elbow. Matthew leans down, placing his mouth so closely to Isaac's ear that the boy can feel Matthew's dry lips on his skin.
"The One True knows your secret," Matthew whispers. "He knows that deep inside you want to know this power."
Isaac falls slack in their grips, and shame settles over him like a red cloak.
He watches the guards walk the girl to the edge. Listens to the girl -- proud and chipper until the end -- say, "To the honor of the One True, I submit my body." Watches the girl's chest rise and fall with each patient breath, her eyes shine with the light of her sacrifice. Hears the court director proclaim Greatfall, and watches, in horrid magnification and slow motion, as each knuckle of each guard's hand flexes and opens.
Jennifer Lorraine Hughes drops out of sight as if she had never been there, and to her credit, does not scream. Isaac struggles again, and then somehow he is on the bottom floor of the silo, alone, his elbows and upper arms throbbing cold in the absence of his captors.
It takes him a moment to realize where he is, and he looks up just in time to see Jennifer Lorraine Hughes fall out of the dark chasm above. She never screams, but Isaac sees the most awful resignation in her eyes before she hits the floor, and his body freezes, unable to look away.
She practically explodes, her body nothing more than a fragile sack for all of the blood inside of her. Ninety pounds of blood, ninety pounds of blood under a thin skin that only looked like it could think, only looked like it could feel and talk and dance and laugh.
The blood fountains in all directions, washing the brown floor in gouts of red, and Isaac, near the wall, throws up his arms and tries again to turn away. But the blood covers him, almost hot, and Isaac falls in it, falls, and then he is falling through the shaft himself, the Path so close that he can't believe he -- oh shit, oh god, oh shit, he's going to hit the railing, it's going to cut him in half, he doesn't want to die, he doesn't believe, he doesn't believe, he doesn't believe --
"--honestly believe you were the first fucking Wise Father to try to sabotage the One True's wishes?"
Isaac bolts upright in bed, and Matthew is there, in the dark of Isaac's room, his face looming in the darkness. Isaac opens his mouth to scream, startled that his mouth will open at all, but Matthew claps his hand over the boy's mouth before a sound escapes.
"There is one truth you will learn, child, and you will learn it goddamn good and fucking well," Matthew says, his voice like a thin razor in the dark. He leans closer to Isaac's face, his eyes flaring white and frighteningly wide. "When you don that robe, you are not the champion of these people. You are not a hero. You are not a revolutionary. When you wear the robes of the Father, you are a puppet, and nothing more. The One True's hand goes right up your ass, through your guts and into your mouth, which he controls. When he tells you what to say, you say it. When he tells you what to do, you do it. Do you understand me?"
For the second time in Matthew's presence, Isaac urinates on himself.
Matthew feels the rush of warmth, and looks down. He turns his terrifying gaze back to Isaac, who stares up at him, his own eyes filling with tears.
"I see you do understand," Matthew says, almost jovially. "That's good, Isaac. That's very good. Tell me, now -- do you remember your family?"
Isaac's eyes fly wide, and he protests against Matthew's palm.
"Oh, don't worry," Matthew says. "Your family is fine."
Isaac relaxes visibly.
"They're fine," Matthew says. "For now. But one more stunt like that one today -- one more judgment overthrown -- and I'll make you choose which parent you love the least, and I'll make you push them over the railing yourself. Clear?"
The tears spill over Matthew's hand, and Isaac realizes that his entire body is trembling.
"Good," Matthew says. "I'm going to let go now. No screaming."
Isaac nods again.
Matthew removes his hand, and pats Isaac's chest over the blankets.
"You know," Matthew says, almost kindly, "every Wise Father wrestled with the things you wrestle with, Isaac. Yours is not an easy responsibility to bear, I'm afraid. But with time, you'll understand the reasons for everything. There are reasons, you know."
Isaac says nothing.
Matthew stands up, smoothing his robe. "Tomorrow we'll resume your training. Don't be late."
Isaac watches as his assistant leaves the room, closing the door with a soft click.
Then Isaac leans across the bed and vomits onto the floor.
# # #
I'm excited to finish writing this final installment and wrap up the story of Silo 23. If you'd like to know when Part 3 is released, be sure to join my mailing list -- I'll alert you as soon as it's available!