Home > The Last Star (The 5th Wave #3)(7)

The Last Star (The 5th Wave #3)(7)
Author: Rick Yancey

“That’s not the point,” I told him. “The point is, I don’t understand why you did it this way. You could have killed us all without being so goddamn cruel about it. You know what I found out tonight, besides the fact that my little brother hates my guts? It’s not just the ABCs he’s forgotten. He doesn’t remember what our mom looked like. He doesn’t remember his own mother’s face.”

Then I lost it. I wrapped myself tight in that stupid Pinhead jacket and bawled, because I didn’t care anymore if Evan saw me lose it, because if anyone should have seen, it’s him, the sniper murdering from a distance, comfy in his farmhouse while, two hundred miles over his head, the mothership unleashed three escalating waves of devastation. Five hundred thousand in the first attack, millions in the second, billions in the third. And while the world burned, Evan Walker was smoking deer brisket and taking leisurely walks in the woods and lounging by a cozy fire, buffing his perfect nails.

He should see the face of human suffering up close. Too long he’s been like the mothership, hovering above the horror, untouchable and remote; he needs to see it, touch it, press it against his perfectly shaped, wholly unbroken nose and smell it.

The way Sammy has. I felt like running inside and yanking him out of the tub and dragging him naked onto the porch, where Evan Walker could count his bony ribs and feel his tiny wrists and trace the hollowed-out temples and examine the scars and sores of the little boy he’s tortured, the child whose mind he’s emptied of memories and whose heart he’s filled with hate and hopelessness and useless rage.

Evan started to stand—to pull me into his arms, no doubt, to stroke my hair and dry my tears and murmur that everything was going to be all right, because that’s his MO—but then he thought better of it. He sat back down.

“I told you, Cassie,” he said softly. “I didn’t want it to happen this way. I fought against it.”

“Until you went along with it.” Still working to get a grip. Along came out a three-syllable word. “And what do you mean, you didn’t want it to happen ‘this way’?”

He shifted his weight. The swing creaked. His eyes strayed back to the empty road. “We could have lived among you indefinitely. Hidden, undetectable. We could have inserted ourselves into leading roles in your society. We could have shared our knowledge, exponentially expanding your potential, speeding your evolution. It’s conceivable we could have given you the one thing you’ve always wanted and never had.”

“What?” I snuffled the snot back into my nose; I didn’t have a tissue and didn’t even care that it was gross. The Arrival had altered the whole definition of gross.

“Peace,” he answered.

“Could have. Could have.”

He nodded. “When that option was rejected, I argued for something . . . quicker.”


“An asteroid. You didn’t have the technology to stop it or the time even if you did. It was a simple solution, but it wasn’t a clean one. The world wouldn’t have been habitable for a thousand years.”

“And that matters because why? You’re pure consciousness, immortal like gods. What’s a thousand years to you?”

Apparently that question had a very complicated answer. Or one he didn’t want to share with me.

Then he said: “For ten thousand years we had the thing that you only dreamed of for ten thousand years.” He gave a short, humorless laugh. “An existence without pain, without hunger, without any physical needs at all. But immortality has a price. Without bodies, we lost the things that come with them. Things like autonomy and benevolence. Compassion.” He opened his hands as if to show me they were empty. “Sam isn’t the only one who’s forgotten his ABCs.”

“I hate you,” I said.

He shook his head. “No, you don’t.”

“I want to hate you.”

“I hope you fail.”

“Don’t lie to yourself, Evan. You don’t love me—you love the idea of me. You’ve messed it all up in your head. You love what I represent.”

He cocked his head, and his brown eyes were sparkling brighter than the stars. “What do you represent, Cassie?”

“What you thought you lost. What you thought you could never have. I’m not that; I’m just me.”

“And what are you?”

I knew what he meant. And, of course, I had no clue what he meant. This was it, the thing between us, the thing neither of us could put our fingers on, the unbreakable bond between love and fear. Evan’s the love. I am the fear.


BEN WAS WAITING to pounce the minute I went back inside. I knew he was waiting to pounce because the minute I went back inside, he pounced.

“Everything okay?” he asked.

I scrubbed the tears from my cheeks and laughed. Sure, Parish, aside from this whole annoying alien apocalypse thing, everything’s great.

“The more he explains, the less I understand,” I said.

“I told you something’s not right with that dude,” he said, being very careful not to say I told you so. Okay, not really. He was basically saying it.

“What would you do if you didn’t have a body for ten thousand years and then all of a sudden you did?” I asked.

He cocked his head and fought back a smile. “Probably go to the bathroom.”

Dumbo and Megan had cleared out. We were alone. Ben was standing by the fireplace and golden light danced over his face, which had filled out some in the six weeks we had been holed up in Grace’s safe house. Plenty of rest, food, fresh water, and antibiotics, and Ben was almost back to his pre-invasion self. He’d never get all the way back. There was still a haunted look in his eyes, a wariness to him, like a rabbit in a hawk-patrolled meadow.

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