Home > The Last Star (The 5th Wave #3)(5)

The Last Star (The 5th Wave #3)(5)
Author: Rick Yancey

Running toward nothing, running away from nothing, running across an empty landscape of flawless white beneath the immensity of the indifferent sky, I see it now. I think I understand.

Reduce the human population to a sustainable number, then crush the humanity out of it, since trust and cooperation are the real threats to the delicate balance of nature, the unacceptable sins that drove the world to the edge of a cliff. The Others concluded that the only way to save the world was to annihilate civilization. Not from without, but from within. The only way to annihilate human civilization was to change human nature.


I CONTINUED RUNNING into the wilderness. There was still no pursuit. As the days passed, I worried less about choppers swooping in and strike teams dropping down and more about staying warm and finding the fresh water and protein I needed to sustain the fragile host of the 12th System. I dug holes to hide in, built lean-tos to sleep under. I honed tree branches into spears and hunted rabbit and moose and ate their meat raw. I didn’t dare make a fire, even though I knew how; at Camp Haven the enemy had taught me. The enemy had taught me everything I needed to know about survival in the wilderness, then gave me alien technology that helped my body adapt to it. He taught me how to kill and how to avoid being killed. He taught me what human beings had forgotten after ten centuries of cooperation and trust. He taught me about fear.

Life is a circle bound by fear. The fear of the predator. The fear of the prey. Without fear, life would not exist. I tried to explain that to Zombie once, but I don’t think he understood.

I lasted forty days in the wilderness. And, no, the symbolism wasn’t lost on me.

I could have lasted longer. The 12th System would have sustained me well past a hundred years. Queen Marika, the lone, ancient huntress, a soulless husk gnawing on the dried bones of dead animals, uncontested sovereign of a meaningless domain, until the system finally collapsed and her body fell apart or was devoured by scavengers, her bones scattered like unread runes in an abandoned landscape.

I went back. By that point, I realized why they weren’t coming.

Vosch was two moves ahead of me; he always had been. Teacup was dead now, but I was still bound to a promise I never made to a person who was probably dead, too. But probability had become meaningless.

He knew I couldn’t abandon Zombie, not when there was a chance I could save him.

And there was only one way to save him; Vosch knew that, too.

I had to kill Evan Walker.



I’M GOING TO KILL Evan Walker.

The brooding, enigmatic, self-involved, secretive bastard. I’m going to put his poor, tortured, human-alien hybrid soul out of its misery. You’re the mayfly. You’re the thing worth dying for. I woke up when I saw myself in you. Oh, puke.

Last night I gave Sams a bath—the first in three weeks—and he damn near broke my nose, or I should say rebroke my nose, since Evan’s old girlfriend (or friend with benefits or whatever she was) broke it first by slamming my face into a door behind which was my little brother, the little shit I was trying to save and the same little shit who nearly broke it again. See the irony there? There’s probably some symbolism, too, but it’s late and I haven’t slept in, like, three days, so forget it.

Back to Evan and the reason I’m going to kill him.

Basically, it boils down to the alphabet.

After Sam hit me on the nose, I burst out of the bathroom, soaking wet, whereupon I smacked into Ben Parish’s chest. Ben was lurking in the hallway as if every little thing that has to do with Sam is his responsibility, the aforesaid little shit screaming obscenities at my back, the only dry part of my body after trying to wash his, and Ben Parish, the living reminder of my father’s favorite saying that it’s better to be lucky than smart, gave me that ridiculous what’s up? look, so stupidly cute that I was tempted to break his nose, thereby making him not so damn Ben Parish–y looking.

“You should be dead,” I said to him. I know I just wrote that I was going to kill Evan, but you need to understand—oh, screw it. No one is ever going to read this. By the time I’m gone, there won’t be anyone who can read. So this isn’t being written for you, future reader who won’t exist. It’s for me.

“Probably,” Ben said.

“What are the odds that someone I knew from before would still be here now?”

He thought about it. Or pretended to think about it: He’s a guy. “About seven billion to one?”

“I think that would be seven billion to two, Ben,” I said. “Or three point five billion to one.”

“Wow. That much?” He jerked his head toward the bathroom door. “What’s up with Nugget?”

“Sam. His name is Sam. Call him Nugget again and I’ll knee you in yours.”

He smiled. Then he either pretended to get what I said a beat later or he immediately understood what I said, but anyway, the smile morphed into a tight-lipped look of wounded pride. “They’re slightly larger than nuggets. Slightly.” Then click! the smile flashed back on. “Want me to talk to him?”

I told him I didn’t give a shit what he did; I had better things to do, like killing Evan Walker.

I stormed down the hallway, into the living room, still close enough—or not far enough away—to hear Sam yell, “I don’t care, Zombie. I don’t care, I don’t care. I hate her,” past Dumbo and Megan sitting on the sofa working on a jigsaw puzzle somebody found in the kids’ room, a scene from a Disney cartoon or something, and their eyes cut away as I barreled past, like Don’t mind us, we won’t stop you, you’re good, nobody saw nothin’.

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