An excerpt from Part 2 of Greatfall

Part 1 of Greatfall has been out for about a week now. I'm excited to find out just how far down this rabbit hole the faithful Wool fans are willing to go, because as twisted as the first episode may have been, things are about to get a whole lot darker. (If you've already read the book, please take a moment to leave a review on Amazon -- every little bit helps new readers find it.) Part 2 is going to start answering some of the questions raised by the first installment, like: What the fuck is going on here? Who is the One True? What's so special about Matthew and his family line? What is Ascension really about?

An excerpt from Part 2 follows, below the book cover.



The Beach

The sky is blue.

It isn't the blue that she'd heard the older generations describe wistfully. Maya has always imagined those blue skies as static, as fixed curtains of color that hung overhead, unchanging. This blue is a wash of pigment, so rich and close that she can almost touch it. Maya basks in it, turns her face up to behold it. She resists blinking, afraid it might vanish before her eyes if she does.

And the sun. Oh, the sun.

She'd heard those same Old Ones speak of the sun before, but she was born in the silo. A bright star in the sky, near enough to warm the world with its touch, they would say.

But she feels it now on her skin, lifting every tiny hair on her arms, enfolding her in its warm, comfortable embrace.

In the dim recesses of her mind, Maya quells the voice that tells her this isn't real.

Instead, she cranes her neck, listening. There's something else here. Something else that runs beneath this world like a current. She can't place it, but her heart wants to sing at the sound.

She climbs the hill, expecting to see the pitted plains, silos tucked into every bowl of earth. But instead, there are trees. Acres and acres of them. She has never seen a tree, either -- at least, not trees like these. She has seen tomato stalks under the grow lights. Broccoli bushels. The trees are almost like the broccoli, but different somehow. They tower over the land as far as she can see, their heavy branches waving about in the --


She feels it surge up the land before her, the updraft breaking over her body like a --

Like a wave.

Maya whirls about, suspicious now of the sound she thought she heard, and --

"Ohhh," she breathes.

She is standing on the crest of a hill that separates earth and sea. The ocean is a blue even more beautiful than the sky, its depth reflected on its surface as striations of brighter and darker blues and greens. The waves roll in patiently, their white noise carrying up to her like a love song. Beneath each bulging wave she can see churning, curling billows, and she wonders what might be even deeper still.

Maya's heart swells at all of these new things.

And then she hears the voices.

• • •

She follows the sound, straining now to hear them clearly, until she pinpoints two men in crisp suits, strolling along the same crest she stands upon. They are far enough away that they haven't yet seen her. Their ties flutter in the wind, and the wind carries their voices to Maya.

"...nonresponsive," one of them is saying. "Talking to... some kind of nonsense. Delirious."

"Give her another hour," the other says. "Then... have to adjust the dosage. ...need her awake."

Maya feels the first flush of fear. Are they talking about her? Who are they?

One of the men pauses, and lifts a hand to shade his eyes.

Maya has the distinct impression that he is looking at her. She gasps, then scuttles down the ocean side of the hill, her bare feet sending landslides of warm sand ahead of her. Her heels dig in and find cool, damp hardpack, and the sensation lights up pleasure centers in her brain, even as she flees.

At the bottom of the hill, Maya finds a series of slopes and dunes. Sawgrass -- another unfamiliar sight -- waves in the ocean breeze. She can smell the salt water now, and hear the dim squawk of seagulls farther up the beach.

The mens' voices are still there, closer and overhead. Maya slides into the shadow of a dune and flattens herself into the sand, feeling it spill over her fingers and arms.

"When will he be here?"

"He was scheduled to see her this morning," says the second one. "In an hour. Clearly that's not going to happen."

"My apologies," the first says.

"It's not your fault. But she needs to be conscious -- conscious enough, at least -- by tomorrow. Understand?"

"Yes, sir."

The voices pass above her, not thirty feet away, and then begin to recede, the words tangled and then snatched away by the hushed roar of the sea and the sound of the wind skipping across the sand. Maya counts to one hundred, and then, having heard nothing more, rolls out of the shade and into the sun again. She feels immediately better, and stretches her arms and legs wide. She closes her eyes, and her every sense brightens. She can hear every blade of grass as it bends against its neighbor. She smells the slight tang of blood. She can taste the sun on her tongue. It tastes like an orange, juicy and not the slightest bit tart.

Maya hears footsteps approaching, swishing in the loose sand, then tapping lightly on some other surface.

She wrinkles her nose, but doesn't open her eyes. Something's not --

"Hello," says a voice, smaller than the previous ones. "Are you awake?"

The footsteps stop, and she hears the rustle of clothing as this new person squats down.

The smell of the ocean is metallic now. Its leisurely roar takes on a rhythmic pulse. The pink light on the other side of her eyelids sours into a dull red.

"Can you open your eyes?"

Maya shakes her head.

"Why not?"

I don't want to, she starts to say, but her mouth tastes like plastic, and something is in the way, something where her tongue and teeth should be, something not right, something isn't right --

• • •

Maya's eyes fly open in a panic.

The ocean, the watercolor sky, the sun -- gone.

She is overwhelmed by darkness, by deep shadows that resolve, too slowly, into the four dank concrete walls of her cell. Something is pressing against her tongue, and her gag reflex fires, and she strains and coughs and feels the frightening sensation of choking to death.

"Take it out," the new voice says. "Take it out!"

She coughs, but her mouth and her throat, are blocked. A shadow blots out her light, and she vaguely identifies it as a person, and that person reaches for her face. A hand presses against her cheek, palm rough, skin cracked, and another hand grasps whatever has slipped into her throat and pulls, not kindly.

A crinkled tube comes snaking and twisting out of her throat, and Maya's body arches up in response. She coughs violently as the tube escapes. She tries to turn her head. The vomit comes then, but she can't turn over -- something is holding her down, holding her flat -- and then she is choking again, and the rough hand is back, fingers in her mouth, scraping the back of her throat, trying to clear her air passage. She fights for a breath, finds a tiny pocket in the chaos, then inhales her own stomach acid. Her body lifts up, and she gags forcefully, so hard she thinks that everything inside her body will soon be outside.

And then whatever has been holding her down is gone, and hands are turning her onto her side, and Maya spits and coughs and throws up some more, and tastes blood in the midst of it, and then blacks out.

• • •

When Maya wakes again, she can breathe.

Someone has propped her up against a stack of blankets, and there are no tubes in her mouth this time. Her throat feels as if it has been scaled with steel wool, and every breath is like hot needles spinning into her lungs. But she can breathe, painful as it may be.

She is alone long enough for her eyes to adjust to the darkness of the cell. Her brain is still foggy, and then she sees the cell door, and through it, the strange wall covered with little placards, and her memories return.

Maya looks down at her arms. There are straps holding her wrists and elbows to the table she has been placed on. The skin beneath the straps is bright red, rubbed raw from her struggling episode earlier. She's dressed in a beige gown, and to her horror, there are enormous rust-colored stains all over it.


So much blood.

And then she remembers, and looks down at her feet.


At her foot.

Maya's scream rattles from her burning throat, and becomes a horrible, plaintive wail. It echoes down the hallway and carries out into the open hole of the silo.

They say later that some heard it as deep as 21.

Maya cries and cries until she is exhausted. From the darkness, a strange man in a smock appears, and slaps her inner elbow. She can feel the bite of a needle, and then the blackness reclaims her.

Her last conscious thought is of the sun.

But where she sinks now, there is no light, no warmth.

Just cold, awful silence.

# # #

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