Welcome back to our worldwide The Passage readalong with Fantasy Faction of The Passage. This week we’ve been busy reading (or re-reading) The Passage. This week we’re celebrating with a special hand drawn Ferris wheel. Don’t forget to join us on our Goodreads group for all the discussion as we continue our readalong. Warning for spoilers for everything in the first ten chapters of The Passage. Over to Marc Aplin from Fantasy Faction . . .
And so we’ve reached Chapter 10… The Passage is a long novel; we’d be three quarters through a lot of books by now, but with Justin Cronin’s book we’re really just getting started!
Not that I’m complaining. There hasn’t been a single chapter where I’ve not been ‘ooohing’, ‘ahhhing’, ‘awwwing’ or gritting my teeth in nervous anticipation of something or other.
This week was primarily about Wolgast and Doyle’s decision about what they should do with Amy and the descent of Grey, who is being psychically spoken to by Zero. In addition, we have glimpses of other characters such as Sister Arnette, Richards and Carter who are all having a bad time as the result of the agents’ actions.
The Goodreads discussions have been as thought provoking and enjoyable as ever, I will filter them into the Chapter Commentary sections (which follows the Chapter Recaps). It’s really great to see such a wide variety of preferences, feelings and interpretations. Certainly, that’s the sign of a very good book (and good group of readers too)!
Chapter 6 – Recap
Amy is up eating breakfast with Sister Claire. We we learn that Claire was a real estate agent before becoming a nun. Lacey considers how Sister Arnette would be annoyed that Sister Claire had been looking through the housing section of the local paper (this being part of her former, material life). Lacey thinks about how Claire is different from the other nuns; she had been married, had a house, had a job and then came to this life. Lacey and the other nuns always feel a mixture of envy and disapproval when she comments on things such as fancy clothes, having had experience with them.
Lacey tells Claire about her plan to take Amy out and Claire says she will cover for her. Lacey is initially a little embarrassed about the fact the shirt purchased for Amy says ‘Sassy’ on it in sequins. She then thinks about how Arnette would disapprove and how Amy will probably like it – deciding perhaps it’s not such a bad choice after all.
As they walk to the zoo, Lacey thinks about how different she is to the other black people who live in this relatively poor area. When Lacey was very young, her father had been a Minister. This meant that she often met important people; she had even danced with the President of Sierra Leone once. Still, white couples visiting the zoo look at Lacey with suspicion and disapproval (seeing her with a young white girl).
They look at all kinds of animals, but Amy seems especially drawn to the polar bears. Whilst looking at them, it becomes obvious that Amy is able to talk to them or understand them in some way. The bears begin flocking towards the glass where Amy is stood and water spills over the edge, soaking people. The bears quickly go into frenzy and screams from other animals around the zoo begin to ring out too: people and keepers panic. Amy turns to sister Lacey ans tells her: “They know what I am”.
Back at the Covent, Sister Claire has given Lacey’s location up. Sister Arnette decides Lacey is up to something… this leads Arenette to thoughts on how Lacey arrived. She had been rescued and taken to the Covent by the United Nations after her mother was killed and she, herself, suffered a horrific gang rape. The way Lacey acts suggests that she doesn’t believe her family dead (although Arnette knows it for a fact, having seen the news reports). Arnette thinks of Lacey as a model Sister most of the time, although a little more reserved than she’d like. But now this…
Although we didn’t get this impression from Lacey, Arnette seems to think that Lacey is too scared to go out and is pretty much confining herself to the Covent. Once the filling in of details about Lacey has finished, we witness Arnette pick up the phone and go to call the police just as Doyle and Wolgast arrive on her doorstep to pick up Amy.
Interestingly, Arnette’s description of Wolgast is based on his looks and physique. Claire is keen to know why they want Amy, but Arnette is keen to help them find her and end this disruptive set of events. Wolgast and Doyle answer anyway: they say Amy is a witness and needs to be placed under protection. The phone rings and it is the zoo, they tell Arnette she needs to come pick up Lacey and Amy – Doyle and Wolgast say they will come along to get Amy.
As we witnessed earlier, something about Amy has sent the animals out of control. Things have escalated so far that animals are shot and children have been trampled (two end up in hospital). There is screaming and roaring of all kinds and combined with the people and animals running around, the whole situation is disorientating. People are taking photos too – this worries the two agents, who obviously wanted to take Amy off the grid as quietly as possible.
This is all made even worse as Amy becomes the target of the crowds’ discussions and photos. People seem to have worked out that she had something to do with the whole situation. They continue to point and take photos as a voice over the speakers announces the zoo is closed and people need to make their way to the exits.
These events send Lacey into a panic. The voices and the men chasing her remind her of the day she was chased from her home. She thinks the dark men from her dreams want to take Amy from her. She thinks about how – during the rape – she was able to send her mind from her body and sit in heaven whilst it happened. A voice tells Lacey to grab Amy and run away and when she sees the agents she sees darkness pouring from them. She tells the agents they can’t have Amy, but Arnette takes her and shoves her into Doyle’s arms. He places her into the car.
At that moment, Lacey sees that everything is going to end badly. She sees armies and fires and battles and says that death will come to millions of crying souls. Darkness is coming and cities will be emptied. Lacey sees Amy wondering these empty cities asking, “What am I” over and over.
Chapter 6 – Commentary
There are a few interesting things to note here. The first is that Amy seems to be able to talk to animals. What is curious, at this point, is why this drives the animals crazy. Amy says she has asked their names and is unable to pronounce them, but why then did they jump into a fit of rage? Amy says that it is because they know what she is.
Now, you have probably heard stories about animals having a kind of sixth sense – being able to see ghosts or sense illness and things like that. The question is whether Amy has told the animals what she is or whether they have sensed it. We see Amy in Lacey’s vision walking the earth asking, “What am I”, which would suggest they have sensed it, rather than been told it.
The second thing worth noting is that Lacey hears a voice telling her to run away with Amy. Is this voice Lacey’s conscience? Amy? God? Something else? At this point, the voice seems almost too real to be Lacey herself. Indeed, we see this voice return in a couple of chapters when it tells Wolgast to do the same thing – grab Amy and run.
Chapter 7 – Recap
Carter is taken off the plane and thinks about how strange it was that he trusted Wolgast so easily. He thinks Wolgast really understood him and was in the same place, somehow. Carter is put into a van and transported by a number of military personnel. Two of the guards decide to stop at a McDonalds and buy Carter an Egg McMuffin, fries and some juice. They even un-cuff him to allow him to use the toilets inside the restaurant – they comment that they really shouldn’t be doing this. They ask Carter if he needs anything before they leave, he asks whether McDonalds sells iced tea, but they don’t.
Back in the van, Carter talks and jokes with the guards, they even give him comic books to look at. They don’t put his cuffs back on until they are close to the compound. The situation has become very relaxed and friendly, based on the circumstances. Quickly though, the situation changes. The guards say Carter isn’t berserk like the others and ask him what he actually did. When Carter is reluctant to talk about it, the guards take it personally and start asking if he ‘raped the nice white lady?’
Carter thinks back to the day things happened and we see that the girl screamed as a result of Carter trying to show her a toad he’d found whist cutting the grass. All of a sudden, Rachel came out screaming and he remembers desperately trying to get her to calm down and explain the situation. He wanted her to stop screaming.
We catch up with Wolgast and Doyle on the road. Wolgast is considering how weird the whole zoo thing was and how close he was to just leaving the girl, before Arnette thrust her into their arms. Wolgast has spoken to Sykes and asked what was going on. He never expected the girl to be so young and says this isn’t what he signed up for. Sykes tells him to calm down, but Wolgast is angry about everything – the girl, the number of witnesses… all of it.
Sykes tells Wolgast he will need to wait for his call about what to do next, but Wolgast decides to ditch his agency vehicle and buys a Chevy Tahoe from a used car dealer. Wolgast knows Sykes can ghost the agency sedan before it is found. Having spent $6000 on a car, the two agents need to meet with an agent sent by Sykes for more money and to get yet another vehicle. Both are nervous about the scanners at checkpoints and know it is going to be hard to keep off the grid now that people will be looking for them.
Richards is asleep at his desk. A buzzer wakes him up. A guard tells him Carter has arrived. Richards is expecting Carter to be shaken up and is not really expecting any trouble from him. Having read his file, he knows he is gentle as a lamb.
When Richards approaches he sees the guards’ comics. He thinks about how childish they are. He quickly realises that Anthony has been messed with. A guard, Paulson, tells Richards they were just joking around and, in response, Richards draws a gun and holds it under his chin. Richards says if it will make Carter happy, the one who is important here, he will shoot Paulson. Carter thinks on it, but says no… it is OK. Richards makes a point of reminding Paulson who has saved his life.
As they walk towards the compound, Richards tells Carter that he is the guest of honour. Carter asks whether Richards would really have shot the man and Richards says probably not. Carter laughs and says he didn’t think he would.
Chapter 7 – Commentary
In this chapter we see just how relaxed the guards have become. This project has become so tiresome and so repetitive that they’ve allowed a number of the protocols regarding the transport of inmates to slip. Not only do they give Carter food and comics, as though the whole situation is a big joke, they un-cuff him and allow him into a restaurant full of people (children and families).
Although we know Carter is relatively harmless, these guards have only just met him and are not privy to his inner-thoughts, as we are. It’s a huge and pointless risk, but sets up events that take place very soon.
It becomes obvious that Wolgast is growing attached to Amy. He makes out he is angry at Sykes, but really he is angry at himself for taking a child. As soon as Wolgast ditches the agency’s vehicle and picks up his own car, we know what’s likely to happen – the ditching of the company vehicle and picking up of his own family-like transporter vehicle is symbolic.
I started a discussion in the Goodreads Group about whom everyone’s favourite POV was. Mine, personally, is Richards and it surprised me a little that I wasn’t alone in that choice. Jess wrote that he has: “no remorse for the lives he’s taking, he’s just doing his job, which means leaving no witnesses.” I think this is essentially true, and I can’t fathom a person like this holding such an elevated role within a Governmental organization. I guess the probability that you need people like Richards who can make these kinds of cut-throat decisions in certain areas of the ‘military’ got me thinking about who is really out there…
We will return to this question in the next few sections!
Chapter 8 – Recap
The agents are 50 miles past Oklahoma. Doyle is sleeping and Wolgast is feeling frustrated about how he can’t do the same. An agent has met them and given them $3000. He offered them a new sedan and a bag full of guns and bullet-poof vests, but Wolgast says he won’t need any of those. He likes the bounciness of the Tahoe (and probably the separation for the agency). He asks whether the agent can get him some colouring books instead and makes out it was a joke.
Doyle wakes up and notices that Wolgast is speeding. Wolgast considers whether he is speeding on purpose in order to get himself caught. He doesn’t know the answer. Wolgast wonders about what will happen should he get caught and then considers how easy it would be to disappear in the small villages of America. Briefly he thinks about calling Lila and telling her how he stole them a child… he realises it is just the sleep deprivation talking.
Amy has been asleep for the whole journey. Wolgast knows that she is only pretending though, she is like a cat waiting to react to whatever happens next.
They pull over seeing that a huge storm is approaching. Amy decides she needs to go to the toilet and will only go with Wolgast. Wolgast goes with her and she pulls her trousers and pants down before asking Wolgast to hold her hands so she can squat. Wolgast wonders where she learned this (we know it was whilst living in the car with her mother).
Wolgast says that Amy doesn’t need to be afraid and she says she is not afraid. Her calmness makes Wolgast feel uneasy. When Wolgast tells Amy his name she says she knows it because she has been listening. When Wolgast says she doesn’t need to be afraid (again), Amy asks him to stop saying it. She says that she is not afraid, rather “YOU are”.
Wolgast pulls into a small festival. He wants to relax and take Amy on some rides. Doyle is really concerned about this. He reminds Wolgast that Amy is a prisoner and tries to argue with Wolgast, but eventually gives up. They decide they need to split up so that it doesn’t look too suspicious. Doyle says he will stay close.
Once they break away, Wolgast tells Amy she can’t talk to anyone. He says that if she somehow does, she needs to tell them that Wolgast is her daddy. As they walk around the park, Wolgast is shocked by how easily he uses words such as ‘honey’ and ‘sweetheart’ when talking to her. He feels a real sense of pride and enjoyment playing a father and this inevitably leads to thoughts about the daughter he lost. They eat together and go on a few rides; the intimacy of their close proximity on these rides is a delight for Wolgast.
Spending time with her, Wolgast sees there are two sides to Amy. One side is the little girl, the other is an older entity – the one watching and waiting. He wonders who she is –really – and what happened to her, but when she grabs his hand and pulls him towards the rides he feels her happiness rush through him and forgets about it.
In the distance he sees Doyle chatting with some girls. He can tell they are interested in him and when he notices Doyle is distracted he hears a voice saying, “just go. Take Amy and go.” This voice doesn’t shock Wolgast. Deep down he knows that the seed had been planted long ago. It was why he’d kept the tracker-less Tahoe. Being with Amy he sees that his job, Sykes, Carter, Doyle… all of it isn’t the real him. The man enjoying time with Amy is – it’s a blast of clarity.
Wolgast tells Amy that the two of them are going to leave together, but Doyle quickly reappears and makes it obvious he knows what Wolgast was thinking. He says simply, “don’t.” Wolgast thinks about running, but he knows Doyle is younger and fitter and squeezes Amy’s hand as a way of apologising and letting her know they can’t run anymore.
The third person narrator takes a moment to move away from the characters and tell us that neither off them (Doyle or Wolgast) have noticed that a nearby State Trooper has spotted them and, knowing they were the kidnappers, called it in.
Chapter 8 – Commentary
Tracey said her favourite POV was Wolgast and Grey. She said that: “it’s because they truly want to be better people somewhere inside but life has dealt them a bad hand.” Glenna added to this, in regards to Wolgast, “He seems to be fumbling along in his pain and brokenness, almost oblivious, just following orders. But when he is ordered to bring in a child his conscience protests. The more attached to Amy he becomes, the more his inner goodness comes out; he becomes determined to protect her, no matter what. Very moving.”
I think this is very true. Wolgast has thrown himself into his job so that he can avoid dealing with the loss of his daughter. This has meant he hasn’t moved on in life (he still phones his ex who is about to get married and have a baby with another man). Being close to Amy forces him to see both what he has lost and what he can gain. The decision to throw away his job for Amy is a huge decision for Wolgast. Not only is he throwing away what has been ‘keeping him safe from reality’, but he is risking his life to keep Amy free. It is because she gives him a new purpose.
Speaking of Amy, we are beginning to get a ‘creepy’ feeling every time she appears. Justin Cronin is obviously using the ‘creepy little girl’ trope that is very popular in horror fiction. A little girl is one of the most innocent things you could ever find on this earth. They lack physical strength and generally believe in ‘happy ever after’, having been brought up surrounded by princesses and pink and such. In most movies, young girls will wear light colours (white or pink being most popular). It is therefore very disturbing to us, as human beings, when there is something beneath the surface of a girl of this age, because it simply shouldn’t be. Over the years we’ve seen it in Poltergeist, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, The Ring, The Bad Seed, The Exorcist and tons of books (in Horror, Fantasy and Sci-Fi) too.
Chapter 9 – Recap
“Fanning… I was called Fanning.” The words keep coming to Grey and he doesn’t know what they mean. As he walks around the compound, he feels out of sync – almost drunk. He has missed the morning shift, having slept straight through his alarm. He is still tired, which is unusual for him. As he walks towards the main building for his next shift, he considers how he is forgetting what the real world is like (he has been on the compound for 6 months at this point).
Grey notices that the compound is considerably more quiet than usual and people seem distracted and grumpy. He also considers, however, that no one ever really talks to each other anyway. Paulson arrives a few moments later and starts telling Grey how creepy he is. He says it’s weird grey doesn’t talk to people and forces him to sit down and tell him what he is. Grey dodges the questions (he won’t reveal he is a sex offender, although Paulson seems to already know), so Paulson moves on to asking what is on level 4. Again, Grey refuses to tell him. Rather than getting angrier, Paulson asks Grey how he sleeps… Paulson reveals he is ‘dreaming crazy shit’ and Paulson then says he is dreaming of Grey.
As Grey excuses himself from the conversation, Paulson tells him that Jack and Sam are dead.
Carter is strapped to a bed in L4. It is dark and he is afraid. We find out he has been infected with the disease and is experiencing the early symptoms of the fever. All the time he is in the bed he is thinking about Wolgast and his promises to him. This leads him to think about Rachel and what really happened that day.
Carter was begging on the freeway. Rachel pulled up in a nice car and asked Carter how much money he wanted. Carter said anything and Rachel, who was well dressed and pretty, asks if $20 would be enough. Carter says it would be, absolutely. Rachel is obviously flustered about something and begins rummaging desperately through her purse. The lights change from red to green and people start honking horns and yelling for her to move. Carter is panicking, because he thinks that the people in cars behind Rachel will feel he is bothering her or even trying to jack her car. Indeed, the screams get louder as Rachel can’t find any coins or notes (she only has cards) and a man jumps from his care and starts threatening Carter. Rachel screams for him to get in and speeds off once he does.
After a short drive, Rachel stops, breaks down and starts crying. She says her husband would kill her for everything she has done. Anthony realises that he smells and is hugely embarrassed. This wealthy, beautiful woman is next to him crying and although he wants to comfort her, he feels that she must be disgusted by the fact he hasn’t showered in weeks and wants to get away from the situation. Rachel asks if his sign, that read ‘Gold Bless You’, was meant for her. She thinks it is a sign as she has recently been feeling awful all the time. Carter is completely confused about what is happening and why this lady is confiding in him.
Once Rachel has calmed down, she asks for Anthony Carter’s last name and once he gives it to her she begins calling him Mr Carter and asks to shake his hand. Anthony is amazed she is OK to touch him. There is a donut shop near by and Rachel asks if Carter wants one, but she then decides he should have something better. Rachel says she thanks God that she ran into Carter on the freeway. She says they will always be friends. Carter thinks about how she did something no one else had ever done for him: got him a job, looked after him and provided true friendship that was not at all judgemental.
Over the months, Carter started to fall in love with her. It isn’t clear, exactly, but this seems to be more of a father/daughter love than a romantic kind of love. They would sit on the patio and talk for hours. She would always tell him how lucky she was that she found him.
Things take a dark turn though. Carter sees her less and less. He notices Rachel seems agitated or distracted and rarely comes out of the house. The day that everything happened, the little girl was in her school uniform and locked outside the house. Carter approached her and asked if she had school, but she said she didn’t. When Carter asks about her parents, she says her mum won’t wake up and her dad is in Mexico. Carter makes an effort to wake Rachel up by banging on the door, but presumes she will be out in the garden soon enough.
Carter continues mowing the lawn and then comes across a frog. He is in awe with the frog, thinking how small and perfect it is. He wants to share it with Rachel’s daughter and calls her over, “I’ve got something to show you.”
Rachel appears in the doorway and Carter says hello to her, but quickly realises something is wrong. Her face and expression is dark and she hasn’t bothered to dress. She screams at Carter to get away from her daughter and begins pushing him.
Carter realises it is not Rachel at all, she has gone mad and they tumble into the pool. Even once in there, Rachel won’t leave him. She continues throwing herself at him, pulling him under. He can’t swim. He is scared and despite it all he doesn’t blame Rachel. He is willing to die for her, so stops fighting, but sees that she has drowned herself by trying to pull him down. The eyes he sees beneath the water are dead. He eventually manages to get out of the pool.
When arrested, Carter decides he cannot shame Rachel by revealing her madness. This will be how he pays her back for what she done for him. He will keep her secret.
Back in the present, Carter is now happy with that decision and OK with the fact he is probably going to die soon or at very least be locked up forever. It means no one will ever find out about Rachel and that matters a great deal to him. A figure walks into the room and he feels he is ready for whatever comes next.
Richards and Sykes are talking. Sykes tells Richards that they have a situation. Amy isn’t a Jane Doe anymore. Law enforcement knows who her mother is and wants her for the murder of a boy who is the son of a federal court judge. The gun had led the police to the motel and the motel owner had quickly given Jeanette up.
Even worse is that the Nuns have told local police about Doyle and Wolgast. They also picked them out from border surveillance video. Now the whole world is looking for the little girl and men in black suits.
Richards and Sykes check the tracker in Wolgast’s car and see that the speed they are going means they are on the run. Richards realises he needs to go and deal with them all. Richards looks at the picture of Amy: Black hair, baby fat cheeks and a knowing depth behind her eyes. Richards wishes those child’s eyes had some kind of effect on him, but they don’t.
Sykes on the other hand leaves Richards with the words, “She is a kid. Do this right.”
Chapter 9 – Recap
We witness Grey falling under Zero’s psychic pressure. Those observant will notice that the description of the compound suggests that pretty much everyone else is too. The place seems heavily distracted by something – probably the same voice or lack of sleep as Grey. We learn that Paulson is seeing Grey in his dreams, which likely means the connection between Grey and Zero is being picked up on by him.
The story of Anthony Carter’s past is fully revealed to us (at last!). I will throw out a question: ‘was Rachel considering killing herself the day she met Carter on the freeway?’ She seems to be acting as if seeing Carter’s sign saved her or stopped her from doing something that she is grateful for, and I wonder if perhaps she was considering suicide. This would explain why she feels she owes him so much, wouldn’t it? Hmm.
Sadly, she still descends. At this point, the reasoning is not clear. I had a few theories. One could be something similar to Postpartum Psychosis, the other could be the stress of living with a man much older than her and that is always away. It’s an incredible gesture by Carter to sacrifice his life for the memory of Rachel. He doesn’t want to go on record and say that Rachel had gone mad, as he knows that would have hurt her.
We get a view of Richards and Sykes interacting. Sykes tells Richards to make sure he does things right, with Amy being a child, but Richards doesn’t seem to take much notice. We know Richards will do what is necessary to protect the Government and if this means killing Amy in a brutal way, he will do it and not feel a thing as he does. It’s rather chilling and we have to begin fearing for Amy, Wolgast and Doyle as he leaves to find them.
Chapter 10 – Recap
Wolgast is thinking about how his and Amy’s fates are now entwined. He thinks Amy knows this too. Doyle tells Wolgast that Richards thought Wolgast would have an issue with this situation. Wolgast is a little surprised that Doyle has been in contact with Richards without his knowledge. Doyle says that the way Wolgast is acting shows that he doesn’t see how everyone is on his side, trying to help him and stop him making a mistake.
Once they arrive at a gas station, Doyle says he will get gas and needs Wolgast to hand him the keys and all of his ammunition. Wolgast agrees. Truthfully, he is finding it hard to take Doyle seriously. Wolgast asks Amy is she OK and Amy says she is. She says that Doyle has a gun like her mother did. Police troopers arrive, so Doyle runs back to the car and they speed away.
Arnette is in bed wondering about why the FBI has stolen a girl. She spent the afternoon at the police station being vaguely accused of all kinds of things. The police have told her that Amy’s mother killed a boy and Sister Arnette has decided he must have been a nice boy. Once she is told Amy’s mother is a prostitute, she instantly thinks that Jeanette must have been a wicked woman to ensnare this young man in some way. She also thinks about how Lacey let this demon woman into her kitchen.
Her mind then wonders to Amy specifically. She feels there is something unworldly about her and she thinks about what happened at the zoo. It is obvious she is scared in some way.
Sister Arnette hasn’t appreciated the news crews outside the house desperate for pictures and interviews. The police have forbidden them from mentioning that the FBI was involved in any way. Lacey thinks about the footage they’d seen of the two agents. Lacey was initially panicked about the situation, but upon seeing the video footage from the border she relaxed. Lacey reveals that she sees within the video that Wolgast ‘loves her’. Arnette wonders what she means by this. She wonders if perhaps Lacey thinks Wolgast is Amy’s father.
Arnette can’t sleep and blames Lacey for it. She can’t understand why Lacey was calm and even smiling knowingly after having seen the video footage. She, herself, felt the darkness of the whole situation. She begins to fall asleep and has a sudden feeling wash over her that darkness is coming. Arnette feels that Lacey must have been calm because she already knows darkness and so knows what to expect. She jumps out of bed and begins banging on Lacey’s door. The other sisters wake up to see what is happening and Arnette is bleeding as she demands Lacey open her door and talk to her. It would seem that Arnette had been so fearful whilst in bed she dug her fingernails into her palms and cut them. Once they eventually get the door open, Lacey has gone.
Grey is thinking about Paulson, which he doesn’t mind too much as it is taking his mind off the echo (I was Fanning). Grey arrives for work and Richards jumps into the elevator with him. Grey is terrified of Richards (especially now he suspects he killed the two men he came to the compound with). Richards starts asking Grey whether he thinks he can just turn up for work when he feels like it. Grey is still feeling out of sync, so is defiant and blunt, but keeps himself in check because of how scared he is of Richards. Richards tells him he is docking him $1200 and then leaves.
The day’s shift will be a good one for Grey – all he has to do is mop the floor and watch Zero. Zero is still hanging in his corner, not eating. Grey asks the person on duty whether he knows why they only eat nine rabbits and not ten (when they are eating, of course) and the man says he doesn’t. Grey can still feel Zero’s mind working and notices his heart rate still sits at 102bpm, exactly the same as when he is moving.
The voice that has been echoing in Grey’s mind comes to him more powerfully now. “I was called Fanning … Take me home, Grey …” says the voice, showing him images of New York City. The voice then starts asking Grey whether he remembers the boys he used to follow home from school. Whether he still wants to love them like he did back then. Whether he wants to make them feel that love. Grey tries to fight the feelings he is getting, but the voice says that this part of Grey is still there; they’ve just hidden it from him. The voice says that they have done the same thing to him too. “You and I, we’re the same.”
The voice is obviously Zero. Zero tells Grey that he wants to take him home and give him back what was taken from him. Grey admits that he wants that too. Zero begins to show Grey images of him following young girls home from school. Grey is interested by them at first, but is alarmed when the images go on to have Grey experience jumping the girls and then tasting blood and getting the sensation of raw meat in his mouth. He throws up on the floor and begins to panic.
Throwing up is a symptom of the fever and although Grey is feeling very hot, he is sure that it is just because of the temperature within the compound (convinces himself, at least). He clears up the sick without anyone noticing and then decides to go home early. He runs into a guard – one of the few who he knows well enough to talk to – and who initially won’t let him leave because he admits to not feeling well. The guard, realising that he will be quarantined along with Grey, should he call this in, allows Grey to take his key card and leave early.
Chapter 10 – Recap
Arnette describes Lacey’s PTSD symptoms: seeming separate from others whilst living among them and as if part of her were always elsewhere. This is very similar to the way Amy has been described and does two things: explain why Lacey was so keen to look after Amy, but also suggests that Amy’s dark past has had a traumatic effect on her.
I found Sister Arnette’s vision of darkness interesting too. I’m not entirely sure whether this was Arnette just dreaming and looking for a reason to demand answers from Lacey or her accessing a higher power… Certainly, if Justin Cronin is trying to suggest that Arnette has the ability to see such a clear message from the divine (like Lacey), it seems that visions are a very strong theme within this book. I’m not so sure Justin Cronin is though, it seems a bit risky giving so many characters access to powers in a book that has so far been so realistic – so I’m presuming it is just Arnette having a bad dream because of the events of the day.
I really liked Steve’s thoughts on Wolgast and Amy’s relationship, “it seems to me that this was more on Wolgast’s end [than Amy’s]. He obviously views Amy as the daughter he lost and, in some way, is attempting to set things right by helping her … I think [the scene where they go on rides together is where] Wolgast finally decides that taking Amy to NOAH is wrong. Wolgast has a strong sense of morality and justice, but he is also a man who does his job. In the end, this conflict plays out when he is directed to retrieve Amy.”
At this point we don’t know enough about Amy to decide whether she is a cute, innocent girl or someone able to manipulate those around her. Steve’s comments certainly rung true, Amy hasn’t shown Wolgast anywhere close to the kind of love that he has shown her and we should keep an eye on that.
Zero has managed to bury into the depths of Grey’s mind. Zero tells Grey that he wants to go home and he wants Grey to help him. Zero shows Grey images of himself following young girls home from school when he was Fanning. These are remarkably similar to the memories Grey has of following young boys home from school.
Zero knows that Grey still wants to love the boys and have them love him back. Zero says he can give him that, but he needs help. This is upsetting for us as readers. As we saw in earlier Commentary, a number of readers want to believe that Grey is repentant about what he has done, but Zero is tempting him back ‘to the dark side’.
After Grey is sick, we don’t know whether he has somehow become infected or not. As we watch him leave the building, we know that this could be the point of turn for the novel – where the virus finds its way into the world…
You will have to get reading to see whether that is the case! See you next week…
The Passage it out now in paperback, ebook and audio download.