By Charles Matthews

Saturday, October 16, 2010

9. The Passage, by Justin Cronin, pp. 357-440

The PassageV. Girl From Nowhere
Peter, Alicia and Caleb have made it back to the colony, where Peter awaits the duty of the Mercy: i.e., killing the transformed Theo. All three of them are surprised not only to have made it home, but that the horses were spared for them. But Peter has not yet told the others about Amy.

He is questioned by Sanjay Patal, the head of Household, about some of the details of the story, and realizes that because they haven't told anyone about the guns, "their story was full of holes -- what they were doing on the roof of the power station, how they'd rescued Caleb, Zander's death, their presence in the library." Sanjay is inclined to blame everything on Alicia, whom he calls "reckless." Sanjay informs him that Peter's cousin Dana will be taking Theo's place on household, though Peter had assumed that he would be his brother's replacement, and Soo Ramirez, the head of the Watch, tells Peter to take a few days off. Peter realizes that he is "being handled."

In the Lighthouse, Michael Fisher has isolated a signal at 1,432 megahertz that comes every ninety minutes and transmits for 242 seconds. It is not only regular in its occurrence, but it seems to be getting stronger. And one night as he's listening it, Sanjay appears at the door. Michael panics because of the forbidden radio, but he soon realizes that Sanjay is sleepwalking, which is not unusual in the colony. He tries to get Sanjay out of the Lighthouse without awakening him, but Sanjay is confused, lifting his right hand and looking at it, and then saying, "Bab ... cock?" Sanjay's wife, Gloria, appears and leads him away as he says, "This is my hand, isn't it?"

Michael goes out for a walk, and at the Stone, where the names of the dead are carved, he finds Mausami. He realizes that she is there because of Theo and comforts her. But they are interrupted by Mausami's husband, Galen, who is angry because Mausami has left the Sanctuary, where the pregnant women are expected to stay. He also turns his anger on Michael, but Mausami, after thanking Michael for his kindness, defuses the situation and returns to the Sanctuary.

Sara Fisher is in the Infirmary watching Gabe Curtis die of cancer. His wife, Mar, enters, and asks, "Sara, do you ... have something." Sara makes a mixture of digitalis, angel's trumpet and hemlock, and gives it to Gabe as a tea.

Peter goes to see Auntie, who gives him a cup of her bitter tea. She has been writing in her journals, which are completely handmade -- even the paper and the ink. "Someday someone will want to know what happened here, in this place," she tells him. When he tells her that he doesn't think Theo will be coming back, she isn't so certain. He also tells her that he saw the stars, which delights her. He asks if his father had ever said anything about a Walker, and she says, "I believe he did," and then tells him, "She comin'.... You know who, boy. You known it since the day God dreamed you up."

When he leaves Auntie, he hears shouts from the Main Gate. The Colonel has been spotted outside the walls, running toward a pod of three virals, who leap on him. Then Amy appears. The Watch mistake her for a viral and release a volley of arrows, one of which enters her shoulder. Alicia runs up, yelling for the Watch to cease fire. She grabs onto the rope used to descend the outside of the wall, descends and runs to Amy, picks her up and carries her to the gate. It's forbidden to open the gate at night for any reason, but Caleb appears and opens it for Alicia to carry Amy inside. Before they can close it again, three virals are there, but only one makes it inside. That one heads for the Sanctuary.

Hollis Wilson finds the viral in the Big Room of the Sanctuary where the children sleep. There he finds the viral standing over the crib where his brother's child, Dora, is lying. Hollis fires his crossbow, killing the viral, whom he recognizes as his brother, Arlo.

Caleb awakens Sara and tells her that they need a nurse for someone who has been shot. In the Infirmary she finds Amy, with an arrow through her shoulder, and Alicia. Caleb helps Sara remove the arrow. Peter appears and recognizes Amy. Sara stitches up the entry wound, doubting that it will save the life of the girl, whom she takes to be about fourteen. But when she checks the exit wound she finds that the bleeding has slowed and the wound appears smaller. Amy's pulse is strong and steady, and when Sara checks her pupils they're responsive. But looking into Amy's eyes Sara is overcome: "A sensation like falling, as if the earth had opened under her feet -- worse than dying, worse than death.... Sara thought the word: Alone! That's what she was, what they all were."

Then Sanjay, Soo Ramirez, Jimmy Molyneau and Ben Chou enter and arrest Caleb, for the murder of April Darrell, the Teacher who lived with the Littles in the Sanctuary -- the consequence of Caleb's opening the gate and letting in the viral Arlo, who killed Teacher when she made an attempt to kill him: She had been found holding a knife. Amy is placed under quarantine, with only Sara allowed to be with her in the Infirmary.

Peter, Alicia, Hollis and Soo are called as witnesses in the inquest. Because of Soo's presence at the events, there are only five members of the Household sitting in judgment: Sanjay, Old Chou, Jimmy Molyneau, Walter Fisher, and Dana Jaxon, Peter's cousin. When Peter testifies, he chooses to stand in an act of defiance. He tries to shift the blame away from Caleb, saying that he would have opened the gate himself if he had got there first. But he lies and says that he has never seen Amy before. Sanjay tells him to take more days off before returning to the Watch, and informs him that Jimmy has replaced Soo as First Captain, that Hollis is "off the Wall for the time being," and that Alicia has been ordered off the Watch and assigned to Heavy Duty. Then Peter reminds them that someone needs to check on the power station because of what happened to Arlo.

Peter finds Alicia in tears outside the Colonel's hut, and tells her about how Amy saved him at the mall. They go to see Caleb in the lockup and find an angry mob eager to lynch him. Peter realizes that the mob is made up of people with children in the Sanctuary. The lockup is guarded by a single Watcher, Dale Levine, but Alicia takes his crossbow and threatens the apparent leaders of the mob, Sam Chou and Milo Darrell. The mob cools off and departs. Alicia sends Dale for more Watchers and takes the key to the lockup. They talk to Caleb, and Alicia gives him a knife and tells him if he gets free to head for the cutout -- the place where the power line enters the compound.

Sanjay is suffering from bad dreams and from "The feeling that was like a whole other person, a separate soul that dwelled within his own." He has a dream of a fat woman, breathing smoke and talking on a telephone, and there is a voice inside him that says, "I am Babcock. We are Babcock. Babcock. Babcock. Babcock." He has been hearing the voice since he was a Little in the Sanctuary. Sanjay knows about the guns at the power station. His brother, Raj, had been on the Long Rides on which the guns were discovered. Though it was supposed to be a secret, Raj had told his wife, who told Sanjay's wife, Gloria. Sanjay visits Amy in the infirmary and has "the distinct feeling of being observed," an experience that he discovers is shared by Jimmy Molyneau, who asks, "Did you see her eyes?" when in fact Amy's eyes remain closed. Jimmy in particular seems profoundly affected by the visit.

Peter and Alicia sneak past the guards outside the Infirmary and enter through an old delivery chute. They find Sara with Amy, who is awake and sitting up. Sara says she is completely healed. Peter asks Amy if she followed him there, and she indicates that she did. He explains to Sara what had happened at the mall. Then Michael arrives, having followed Peter and Alicia. He explains about the signal he has been receiving and that the bandwidth on which it occurs was assigned to the military. It seems to be coming from Amy. Sara examines Amy and discovers the subcutaneous transmitter that had been implanted in the back of her neck. She removes it and gives it to Michael.

Sanjay has taken to his bed in a kind of stupor. When his wife tells him that Jimmy was there asking about whom they should send to the power station, he says to send Galen. "'It would be good for him, don't you think?' he heard a voice saying, for one part of him was still in the room while the other part, the dreaming part, was not. 'Tell him to send Galen.'"

While Michael works on the transmitter, Alicia and Peter play cards in an abandoned trailer near the lockup so they can keep an eye on things. After things remain quiet, Peter returns to the Infirmary where he finds Amy alone. He thanks her for saving him, and she communicates to him, "You're welcome. How strange it was speaking this way -- strange because it wasn't so strange. He had never heard the sound of the girl's voice, and yet he did not feel this as a lack. There was something calming about it, as if she had put aside the noise of words." Sara returns and removes the dressing from the wound, which is completely healed, so she also removes the stitches. She then removes the bandage from Peter's elbow, which he cut escaping from the mall. She leaves to go see about Caleb in the lockup. Amy gets up, pumps some water, and washes the area on Peter's arm that had been bandaged. And then she communicates something that startles Peter: "She misses you she misses you she misses you." Peter runs from the Infirmary, his eyes filling with tears.

Mausami is sitting by herself, trying to knit,  in the Big Room, which has been vacated so it can be thoroughly disinfected. She thinks about Galen and the fact that she doesn't love him, wondering why he doesn't know that the baby she carries isn't his: It was conceived one night at the power station when she made love with Theo. Now Galen arrives to tell her that Jimmy is sending him to secure the power station. The tension between them is evident: He moves his hand to his belt where his knife is, and she discovers that she has been clutching one of the knitting needles in her fist.

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