Christina Enquist is a YA author and aspiring bookstore owner. She lives with her boyfriend and several pets in Visalia, Ca.
Would you sacrifice your humanity to save mankind?
IT’S THE YEAR 2828, and Domus is the last remaining country. Divided into twelve walled cities known as genuses, Domus spans what’s known as the purist lands—lands unaffected by the genetic modifications that killed all other species of mammals. But outside the walls of each genus the Immundus threaten the welfare of those within. From a young age, all citizens of Domus are trained for combat against these intruders.
At sixteen, Nia Luna knows little of the Immundus, except for the citywide alarms that ring any time an Immundus nears the genus walls. What she does know is that her own species is dying—their numbers dwindling as a mysterious disease called allagine kills many before their eleventh birthday. The same disease that ravaged her family when it took her sister.
When Nia is recruited into Genesis, a research company pioneering the path to a cure, she knows that her dream to find a cure for allagine is finally within her grasp. But within weeks of starting at Genesis, Nia witnesses something she shouldn’t have—something that changes everything. As she sets down a dangerous path that uncovers national secrets, Nia will have to decide not only what kind of person she wants to be but also how far she’s willing to go to save humanity.
The moment I get in my car, I direct Jules to Eric’s house, then thrust my head down between my legs and scream. I release every sound that was beating to come out—every terror, every devastation, and every shock.
He nearly made me kill someone. He nearly shot me. And then he killed that child anyway.
I step out of the car onto the sidewalk in front of Eric’s house. The world teeters and my head feels lopsided. Breath is hard to find. After what seemed like hours, I made it to the door, where Eric’s affable mother answers. She looks at me with concern, holding my shoulder as she leads me to a seat. The home smells of orange marmalade. She offers me orange juice, which I can’t resist.
“I just squeezed it, so it’s fresh.”
“Fresh-squeezed orange juice? Count me in,” Eric chimes, galloping down the stairs.
“Sorry I’m late. I ended up waiting for Jules to pick me up.”
“I’m just glad you’re here. Is everything all right?” Eric says, folding my hands into his. His wry smile affirms his appreciation of my presence, but his eyes paint over like Mrs. Marcello’s. In my periphery I see the beam of Mrs. Marcello’s smile. Eric may be her stepchild but I can tell she loves him and wants him to be happy.
“There’s something I want to talk to you about.” My eyes glide over to Mrs. Marcello’s presence. “Can we talk somewhere, please?”
“I know just the place.” He helps me up. I must look as bad as I feel.
“Mom, we’ll be in the atrium.”
Releasing one of my hands, he guides me to his home’s atrium. “Your atrium is so beautiful,” I say. All houses have atriums at the center, with hallways that lead out to various areas of the house. The entrances to the atriums have transparent shields that enable the home to maintain the optimum environment for the plants and vegetation to grow. The home knows to retract the shields upon our approach. The halls leading to the atrium remind me of spokes on a bicycle. Some houses have more hallways than others, depending on the size of the family—Eric’s house has five.
I admire the arrangement of flowers and plants around the outer edge and the Roman fountain in the center of the atrium. There are four benches, with green cushions that melt into the landscape, positioned north, south, east, and west, along the rim of the garden. We sit on the northern seat, farthest away from the hallway entrance that leads to the front room and closer to the hall that leads to the backyard. “Our atrium is just dirt right now.”
“That happens when you don’t plant anything.” He chuckles. His
chuckles always come from his stomach, deep and melodic.
“True.” The water is soothing as it cascades from the fountain lulling me into contentment. I can sit here for hours listening to the symphony of drops drowning out my thoughts.
“So what is it that you want to talk to me about?”