By: Maria V. Snyder
Pub date: April 1st, 2010
Keep Your Head Down. Don't Get Noticed. Or Else.
I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. One of thousands who work in the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. The Trava family who rules our world from their spacious Upper levels wants us to be docile and obedient, like sheep. To insure we behave, they send the Pop Cops to police us.
So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? Not like it's all that dangerous--the only neck at risk is my own.
Until a lower level prophet claims a Gateway to Outside exists. And guess who he wants to steal into the Upper levels to get the proof? You’re right. Me. I alone know every single duct, pipe, corridor, shortcut, hole and ladder of Inside. It’s suicide plain and simple. But guess who can’t let a challenge like that go unanswered? Right again. Me.
I should have just said no...
A VIBRATION RIPPLED through my body. I awoke in semi-darkness, unsure of my location. Reaching out with my hands, I felt smooth sides arching up and in. My fingers touched overhead. Pipe.
A distant roar caused unease, but with sleep fogging my mind, I couldn’t quite grasp its significance. The pipe’s vibrations increased as the thunder grew louder. Water. Coming toward me. Fast.
I scrambled in the narrow space. My bare feet slipped on the sleek surface of the pipe as I advanced toward a faint square of bluelight emanating from the open hatch. It seemed an impossible distance to reach.
Cogon’s voice in full lecture mode echoed in my mind as the water rushed closer. “Someday, Trella. You’ll screw up and there will be bits of you raining out of the showers.”
I reached the hatch and dove headfirst through the opening, convinced the water rushed at my heels. Landing on the hard floor, I shot to my feet and slammed the door shut. When I finished sealing the hatch, the whole pipe shuddered, then the vibrations calmed as the water returned to its normal flow . The metal cooled under my fingers, and I leaned my sweaty forehead against it, catching my breath.
That was close. Soft bluelight glowed all around the water-filtering machinery. Hour eighteen: I knew by the rush of water. The upper workers adhered to a strict schedule...
I really love the sound of this book. It seems like it would be an intense read. If you want to view the rest of chapter one you can do so here. For more on Maria V. Snyder you can visit her official website.