Fear Me Not (The EVE Chronicles)

By: Sara Wolf

Book 1 of The EVE Chronicles

1. The Fool

All fifty-seven of us in this cafeteria are going to be eaten.

The irony isn’t lost on me - we’re going to be eaten, and we’re sitting in a cafeteria. That’s like having hamburger in a cattle corral, or roast chicken legs while standing in a chicken coop. I glare at the teachers with clipboards. They’re typical; cardigans, slacks, faint smiles that reek of affability. Exactly what you’d expect at a government-run school.

The tables crowd with murmuring students. It’s been twenty minutes since Dad - weary, paint-stained overalls Dad - dropped me off. Twenty minutes since I waved goodbye to my sister Alisa, her golden hair bobbing in the truck as she watched me from the back window. Twenty minutes since my last nervous cigarette behind a fancy hedge. Twenty minutes since I left my old life behind to come here and be eaten by aliens.

Under my ribs my dark, scarred stitch trembles. That’s where the doctor put the EVE organ in me. It stores every emotion I feel - harvests it like a bottle harvesting pure water from a mountain drip. An organ like that? Definitely alien tech. Over the next year, the organ will fill up with emotions, converting it to a nourishing liquid the aliens can eat, and will be drained when it gets full. Creepy? Without a doubt. Worth a hundred thousand dollars?

Hell yes.

My sister’s life is worth way more than that. My life? Not so much. I’m a bit of a fuck-up. Volunteering to be an EVE is the only thing I’ve really done right. It’s the only thing I’ve done that’s made Dad smile, instead of get angry. It’s the only thing I’ve ever done to help my broken family.

The principal, a balding old man in a sweater, walks up to the podium and claps his hands.

“Welcome, students, to your new school. Green Hills High School is the world’s first non-segregated human-alien school. It’s an attempt between our government and aliens to promote understanding between our two races. But you know this. You had to read that god-awful contract before signing it, after all.”

Uneasy laughter moves through the crowd. The principal smiles. I roll my eyes so hard I have to check to make sure they’re still in my head.

“No doubt you are eager to get to your dorms and explore the grounds. Before you leave, please know this; Green Hills is not just a school. It is a symbol.”

He waves his hand to the cafeteria door. It darkens with the silhouettes of a new crowd coming in. I twist my hands together, trying to ignore the clawing in my stomach. The hundreds of students all fall quiet at once.

The newcomers look my age. They look like humans, but we all know that’s just a ruse. Those bodies are shells they cloned and implanted themselves into in order not to freak us out. They are elegant, their steps even and refined. They are tall, and well-proportioned, none of them overweight or short. All of them have the same dark brown hair. It’s a sea of dark hair and long lashes as they settle in the tables opposite us. They all have the same gray eyes, like water frozen over. Alien adults lead them in.

Someone behind me whispers ‘freaks’. The principal smiles, either oblivious to the tension or choosing to ignore it.

“We’ve assembled,” He says. “Wonderful. Let me reiterate; this school is a symbol. The world you are growing up in is a new world. You all remember the day our Gutter friends landed, don’t you?”

A nod goes around the human side. The Principal turns to the pale-eyed alien crowd.

“And you all remember the day you landed on Earth, correct?”

The Gutters nod.

“That moment in history is shared among you. It ties you to each other. We hope you make many such memories here. We will advise you to interact with the other race. This may make you uncomfortable. This may make you afraid. But know this - fear is a positive thing. To the Gutters, emotion is energy, food, the very lifeblood in their bodies. To humans, emotions like fear change you, challenge you, and forge you into better people. So don’t be afraid of fear. Embrace it.”

I don’t believe that bullshit for a second. Fear is never good, and it’s hanging in this cafeteria like an unsettling fog. I take the Gutters in. We call them Gutters because they eat emotions, and the only way to harvest emotions from humans was by transplanting the freaky EVE organ into our guts. At first glance they all look the same, but then I notice their faces are subtly different; big eyebrows here, large ears there, tall foreheads or sharp jaws. Their human shells are convincing. I’ve never seen one close up, let alone fifty of them at once. Their fingers are long. Grey eyes, small grey eyes, slanted grey eyes -

Brown eyes. I do a double take.

They aren’t quite brown, more like rust. The irises streak with red, like the color of blood. They belong to a male Gutter. His eyes are shadowed by thick lashes and long bangs, his hair unkempt and messy. He’s slouched, elbows on the table behind him. His body is lean, like he doesn’t eat properly. His cheekbones are razor sharp and his shoulders are broad, his expression completely bored on his olive skin.

Our eyes meet for a split second, and he glowers. I look away instantly, my skin tingling with equal parts warning bells and startled shock.

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