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I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore: Excerpts – Chapter 4 and Chapter 5

31 Jul

As promised, here are the next two chapters of I Am Number Four for you all. 🙂 If you haven’t read from the beginning, click here to read the prologue and Chapter 1, and here to read Chapter 2 and Chapter 3. 🙂

These are nice meaty chapters, so get yourself settled nice and good, and enjoy them. 🙂

The events in this book are real.
Names and places have been changed to protect the lorien six, who remain in hiding.
Take this as your first warning.
Other civilizations do exist.
Some of them seek to destroy you.

CHAPTER FOUR

Another new identity, another new school. I’ve lost track of how many there have been over the years. Fifteen? Twenty? Always a small town, a small school, always the same routine. New students draw attention. Sometimes I question our strategy of sticking to the small towns because it’s hard, almost impossible, to go unnoticed. But I know Henri’s rationale: it is impossible for them to go unnoticed as well.

The school is three miles away from our house. Henri drives me in the morning. It’s smaller than most of the others I’ve attended and is unimpressive looking, one story, long and low-slung. A mural of a pirate with a knife between his teeth covers the outside wall
beside the front door.

“So you’re a Pirate now?” Henri says beside me.
“It looks like it,” I reply.
“You know the drill,” he says.
“This ain’t my first rodeo.”
“Don’t show your intelligence. It’ll make them resent you.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it.”
“Don’t stand out or draw too much attention.”
“Just a fl y on the wall.”
“And don’t hurt anybody. You’re far stronger than they are.”
“I know.”
“Most importantly, always be ready. Ready to leave at a moment’s notice. What’s in your backpack?”
“Five days’ worth of dried fruit and nuts. Spare socks and thermal underwear. Rain jacket. A handheld GPS. A knife disguised as a pen.”
“On you at all times.” He takes a deep breath. “And keep an eye out for signs. Your Legacies are going to appear any day now. Hide them at all costs and call me immediately.”
“I know, Henri.”
“Any day, John,” he reiterates. “If your fingers start to disappear, or if you start to float, or shake violently, if you lose muscular control or begin to hear voices even when nobody is talking. Anything at all, you call.”
I pat my bag. “Got my phone right here.”
“I’ll be waiting here after school. Good luck in there, kiddo,” he says.

I smile at him. He is fifty years old, which means he was forty when we arrived. Being his age made for a harder transition. He still speaks with a strong Loric accent that is often mistaken for French. It was a good alibi in the beginning, so he named himself Henri, and he has stuck with it ever since, just changing his last name to match mine.

“Off I go to rule the school,” I say.
“Be good.”

I walk towards the building. As is the case with most high schools, there are crowds of kids hanging around outside. They’re divided into their cliques, the jocks and the cheer-leaders, the band kids carrying instruments, the brains in their glasses with their text-books and BlackBerries, the stoners off to one side, oblivious to everyone else. One kid, gangly with thick glasses, stands alone. He’s wearing a black NASA T-shirt and jeans, and can’t weigh more than a hundred pounds. He has a handheld telescope and is scanning the sky, which is mostly obscured by clouds. I notice a girl taking pictures, moving easily from one group to the next. She’s shockingly beautiful with straight blond hair past her shoulders, ivory skin, high cheekbones, and soft blue eyes. Everyone seems to know her and says hello to her, and no one objects to her taking their picture.

She sees me, smiles and waves. I wonder why and turn to see if someone is behind me. There are, two kids discussing math homework, but no one else. I turn back around. The girl walks towards me, smiling. I’ve never seen a girl so good-looking, much less spoken to one, and I’ve definitely never had one wave and smile as if we’re friends. I’m im-mediately nervous, and start blushing. But I’m also suspicious, as I’ve been trained to be. As she nears me, she lifts the camera and starts snapping pictures. I raise my hands to block my face. She lowers the camera and smiles.

“Don’t be shy.”
“I’m not. Just trying to protect your lens. My face might break it.”
She laughs. “With that scowl it might. Try smiling.”
I smile, slightly. I’m so nervous I feel like I’m going to explode. I can feel my neck burning, my hands getting warm.
“That’s not a real smile,” she says, teasingly. “A smile involves showing your teeth.”

I smile broadly and she takes pictures. I usually don’t allow anyone to take my picture. If it ended up on the internet, or in a newspaper, it would make finding me much easier. The two times it happened, Henri was furious, got hold of the pictures, and destroyed them. If he knew I was doing this now, I’d be in huge trouble. I can’t help it, though—this girl is so pretty and so charming. As she’s taking my picture, a dog comes running up to me. It’s a beagle with tan floppy ears, white legs and chest, a slender black body. He’s thin and dirty as if he’s been living on his own. He rubs against my leg, whines, tries to get my at-tention. The girl thinks it’s cute and has me kneel down so she can take a picture of me with the dog. As soon as she starts snapping shots, he backs away. Whenever she tries again, he moves farther away. She finally gives up and shoots a few more of me. The dog sits about thirty feet away watching us.

“Do you know that dog?” she asks.
“Never seen him before.”
“He sure likes you. You’re John, right?”
She holds out her hand.
“Yeah.” I say. “How’d you know?”
“I’m Sarah Hart. My mother is your real-estate agent. She told me you’d probably be starting school today, and I should look out for you. You’re the only new kid to show up today.”
I laugh. “Yeah, I met your mom. She was nice.”
“You gonna shake my hand?”
She’s still holding her hand out. I smile and take it, and it is literally one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.
“Wow,” she says.
“What?”
“Your hand feels hot. Really hot, like you have a fever or something.”
“I don’t think so.”
She lets go.
“Maybe you’re just warm-blooded.”
“Yeah, maybe.”

A bell rings in the distance and Sarah tells me that it’s the warning bell. We have five minutes to get to class. We say good-bye and I watch her walk away. A moment later, something hits the back of my elbow. I turn and a group of football players, all wearing letterman jackets, sweep by me. One of them is glaring at me and I realize that he hit me with his backpack as he walked past. I doubt it was an accident and I start to follow them. I know I’m not going to do anything, even though I could. I just don’t like bullies. As I do, the kid in the NASA shirt walks next to me.

“I know you’re new, so I’ll fill you in,” he says.
“On what?” I ask.
“That’s Mark James. He’s a big deal around here. His dad is the town sheriff and he’s the star of the football team. He used to date Sarah, when she was a cheerleader, but she quit cheerleading and dumped him. He hasn’t gotten over it. I wouldn’t get involved if I were you.”
“Thanks.”

The kid hurries away. I make my way to the principal’s office so I can register for classes and get started. I turn and look back to see if the dog is still around. He is, sitting in the same spot, watching me.

::

The principal’s name is Mr. Harris. He’s fat and mostly bald, except for a few long hairs at the back and sides of his head. His belly reaches over his belt. His eyes are small and beady, set too close together. He grins at me from across the desk, and his smile seems to swallow his eyes.

“So you’re a sophomore from Santa Fe?” he asks.
I nod, say yes even though we’ve never been to Santa Fe, or New Mexico, for that matter. A simple lie to keep from being traced.
“That explains the tan. What brings you to Ohio?”
“My dad’s job.”
Henri isn’t my father, but I always say he is to allay suspicion. In truth he is my Keeper, or what would be better understood on Earth as my guardian. On Lorien there were two types of citizens, those who develop Legacies, or powers, which can be extremely varied,
anything from invisibility to the ability to read minds, from being able to fl y to using natural forces like fire, wind or lightning. Those with the Legacies are called the Garde, and those without are called Cêpan, or Keepers. I am a member of the Garde. Henri is a Cêpan. Every Garde is assigned a Cêpan at an early age. Cêpans help us understand our planet’s history and develop our powers. The Cêpan and the Garde—one group to run the planet, the other group to defend it.

Mr. Harris nods. “And what does he do?”
“He’s a writer. He wanted to live in a small, quiet town to finish what he’s working on,” I say, which is our standard cover story.
Mr. Harris nods and squints his eyes. “You look like a strong young man. Are you planning on playing sports here?”
“I wish I could. I have asthma, sir,” I say, my usual excuse to avoid any situation that might betray my strength and speed.
“I’m sorry to hear that. We’re always looking for able athletes for the football team,” he says, and casts his eyes to the shelf on the wall, on top of which a football trophy sits engraved with last year’s date.
“We won the Pioneer Conference,” he says, and beams with pride.

He reaches over and pulls two sheets of paper from a file cabinet beside his desk and hands them to me. The first is my student schedule with a few open slots. The second is a list of the available electives. I choose classes and fill them in, then hand everything back.
He gives me a sort of orientation, talking for what seems like hours, going over every page of the student manual with painstaking detail. One bell rings, then another. When he finally finishes he asks if I have any questions. I say no.

“Excellent. There is a half hour left of second period, and you’ve chosen astronomy with Mrs. Burton. She’s a great teacher, one of our very best. She won an award from the state once, signed by the governor himself.”
“That’s great,” I say.

After Mr. Harris struggles to free himself from his chair, we leave his office and walk down the hall. His shoes click upon the newly waxed floor. The air smells of fresh paint and cleaner. Lockers line the walls. Many are covered with banners supporting the foot-ball team. There can’t be more than twenty classrooms in the whole building. I count them as we pass.

“Here we are,” Mr. Harris says. He extends his hand. I shake it. “We’re happy to have you. I like to think of us as a close-knit family. I’m glad to welcome you to it.”
“Thank you,” I say.

Mr. Harris opens the door and sticks his head in the classroom. Only then do I realize that I’m a little nervous, that a somewhat dizzy feeling is creeping in. My right leg is shaking; there are butterflies in the pit of my stomach. I don’t understand why. Surely it’s not the
prospect of walking into my first class. I’ve done it far too many times to still feel the effect of nerves. I take a deep breath and try to shake them away.

“Mrs. Burton, sorry to interrupt. Your new student is here.”
“Oh, great! Send him in,” she says in a high-pitched voice of enthusiasm.

Mr. Harris holds open the door and I walk through. The classroom is perfectly square, filled with twenty-five people, give or take, sitting at rectangular desks about the size of kitchen tables, three students to each. All eyes are on me. I look back at them before looking at Mrs. Burton. She is somewhere around sixty, wearing a pink wool sweater and red plastic glasses attached to a chain around her neck. She smiles widely, her hair graying and curly. My palms are sweaty and my face feels flushed. I hope it isn’t red. Mr. Harris closes the door.

“And what is your name?” she asks.
In my unsettled mood I almost say “Daniel Jones” but catch myself. I take a deep breath and say, “John Smith.”
“Great! And where are you from?”
“Fl—,” I begin, but then catch myself again before the word fully forms. “Santa Fe.”
“Class, let’s give him a warm welcome.”

Everybody claps. Mrs. Burton motions for me to sit in the open seat in the middle of the room between two other students. I am relieved she doesn’t ask any more questions. She turns around to go to her desk and I begin walking down the aisle, straight towards Mark
James, who is sitting at a table with Sarah Hart. As I pass, he sticks his foot out and trips me. I lose my balance but stay upright. Snickers filter throughout the room. Mrs. Burton whips around.
“What happened?” she asks.

I don’t answer her, and instead glare at Mark. Every school has one, a tough guy, a bully, whatever you want to call him, but never has one materialized this quickly. His hair is black, full of hair gel, carefully styled so it goes in all directions. He has meticulously trimmed sideburns, stubble on his face. Bushy eyebrows over a set of dark eyes. From his letterman jacket I see that he is a senior, and his name is written in gold cursive stitching above the year. Our eyes stay locked, and the class emits a taunting groan.

I look to my seat three desks away, then I look back at Mark. I could literally break him in half if I wanted to. I could throw him into the next county. If he tried to run away, and got into a car, I could outrun his car and put it in the top of a tree. But aside from that being an extreme overreaction, Henri’s words echo in my mind: “Don’t stand out or draw too much attention.” I know that I should follow his advice and ignore what has just
happened, as I always have in the past. That is what we’re good at, blending into the environment and living within its shadows. But I feel slightly off, uneasy, and before I have a chance to think twice, the question is already asked.

“Did you want something?”
Mark looks away and glances around the rest of the room, scoots his weight up the chair, then looks back at me.
“What are you talking about?” he asks.
“You stuck your foot out when I passed. And you bumped into me outside. I thought you might have wanted something.”
“What’s going on?” Mrs. Burton asks behind me. I look over my shoulder at her. “Nothing,” I say. I turn back to Mark. “Well?”

His hands tighten around the desk but he remains silent. Our eyes stay locked until he sighs and looks away.

“That’s what I thought,” I say down at him, and continue walking. The other students aren’t sure how to respond and most of them are still staring when I take my seat between a redheaded girl with freckles and an overweight guy who looks at me with his mouth agape.

Mrs. Burton stands at the head of the class. She seems a little flustered, but then shrugs it off and describes why there are rings around Saturn, and how they’re made mostly of ice particles and dust. After a while I tune her out and look at the other students. A whole new group of people that I’ll yet again try to keep at a distance. It’s always a fine line, having just enough interaction with them to remain mysterious without becoming strange and thus sticking out. I’ve already done a horrible job of that today.

I take a deep breath and slowly exhale. I still have butterflies in my stomach, still the nagging shake in my leg. My hands feel warmer. Mark James sits three tables in front of me. He turns once and looks at me, then whispers something into Sarah’s ear. She turns
around. She seems cool, but the fact that she used to date him and is sitting with him makes me wonder. She gives me a warm smile. I want to smile back but I’m frozen. Mark again tries to whisper to her but she shakes her head and pushes him away. My hearing is much better than human hearing if I focus it, but I’m so flustered by her smile that I don’t. I wish I could have heard what was said.

I open and close my hands. My palms are sweaty and beginning to burn. Another deep breath. My vision is blurring. Five minutes pass, then ten. Mrs. Burton is still talking but I don’t hear what she is saying. I squeeze my fists shut, then reopen them. When I do my breath catches in my throat. A slight glow is coming from my right palm. I look down at it, dumbfounded, amazed. After a few seconds the glow begins to brighten. I close my fists. My initial fear is that something else has happened to one of the others. But what could happen? We can’t be killed out of order. That is the way the charm works. But does that mean that some other harm can’t befall them? Has somebody’s right hand been cut off? I have no way of knowing. But if something had happened, I would have felt it in the scars on my ankles. And only then does it dawn on me. My first Legacy must be forming.

I pull my phone out of my bag, and send Henri a text that says CMEE, though I meant to type COME. I’m too dizzy to send anything else. I close my fists and place them in my lap. They’re burning and shaking. I open my hands. My left palm is bright red, my right is still glowing. I glance at the clock on the wall and see that class is almost over. If I can get out of here I can find an empty room and call Henri and ask him what’s going on. I start counting the seconds: sixty, fifty-nine, fifty-eight. It feels like something is going
to explode in my hands. I focus on the counting. Forty, thirty-nine. They’re tingling now, as though little needles are being stuck into my palms. Twenty-eight, twenty-seven. I open my eyes and stare ahead, focusing on Sarah with the hope that looking at her will distract me. Fifteen, fourteen. Seeing her makes it worse. The needles feel like nails now. Nails that have been put in a furnace and heated until they’re glowing. Eight, seven.

The bell rings and in an instant I’m up and out of the room, rushing past the other students. I’m feeling dizzy, unsteady on my feet. I continue down the hall and have no idea where to go. I can feel someone following me. I pull my schedule from my back pocket and check my locker number. As luck would have it, my locker is just to my right. I stop at it and lean my head against the metal door. I shake my head, realizing that in my rush to get out of the classroom I left behind my bag with my phone inside of it. And then someone pushes me.

“What’s up, tough guy?”
I stumble a few steps, look back. Mark is standing there, smiling at me. “Something wrong?” he asks.
“No,” I reply.
My head is spinning. I feel like I’m going to pass out. And my hands are on fire. Whatever is happening couldn’t be happening at a worse time. He pushes me again.
“Not so tough without any teachers around, are you?”
I’m too unbalanced to stay standing, and I trip over my own feet and fall to the ground. Sarah steps in front of Mark.
“Leave him alone,” she says.
“This has nothing to do with you,” he says.
“Right. You see a new kid talking to me and you try immediately to start a fight with him. This is just one example of why we aren’t together anymore.”

I start to stand up. Sarah reaches down to help me, and as soon as she touches me, the pain in my hands flares up and it feels like lightning strikes through my head. I turn around and start rushing away, in the opposite direction from the astronomy class. I know that everyone will think I’m a coward for running, but I feel like I’m about to pass out. I’ll thank Sarah, and deal with Mark, later. Right now I just need to find a room with a lock on the door.

I get to the end of the hall, which intersects with the school’s main entrance. I think back to Mr. Harris’s orientation, which included where the various rooms were located in the school. If I remember correctly, the auditorium, band rooms, and art rooms are at the end of this hall. I run towards them as fast as I can in my current state. Behind me I can hear Mark yelling to me, and Sarah yelling at him. I open the first door I find, and shut it behind me. Thankfully there is a lock, which I click into place.

I’m in a dark room. Strips of negatives hang on drying lines. I collapse onto the floor. My head spins and my hands are burning. Since first seeing the light, I have kept my hands clenched into fists. I look down at them now and see my right hand is still glowing, pulsating. I start to panic.

I sit on the floor, sweat stinging my eyes. Both hands are in terrible pain. I knew to expect my Legacies, but I had no idea it would include this. I open my hands and my right palm is shining brightly, the light beginning to concentrate. My left is dimly flickering, the burning sensation almost unbearable. I wish Henri was here. I hope he’s on his way.

I close my eyes and fold my arms across my body. I rock back and forth on the floor, everything inside of me in pain. I don’t know how much time is passing. One minute? Ten minutes? The bell rings, signaling the start of the next period. I can hear people talking outside the door. The door shakes a couple times, but it’s locked and nobody will be able to get in. I just keep rocking, eyes closed tightly. More knocks begin to fall on the door. Muffled voices that I can’t understand. I open my eyes and can see that the glow from my hands has lit up the entire room. I squeeze my hands into fists to try and stop the light but it streams out between my fingers. Then the door really starts shaking. What will
they think of the light in my hands? There is no hiding it. How will I explain it?

“John? Open the door—it’s me,” a voice says. Relief floods through me. Henri’s voice, the only voice in the whole world that I want to hear.

CHAPTER FIVE

I crawl to the door and unlock it. it swings open. Henri is covered in dirt, wearing gardening clothes as though he had been working outside on the house. I’m so happy to see him that I have the urge to jump up and wrap my arms around him, and I try to, but I’m too dizzy and I fall back onto the floor.

“Is everything okay in there?” asks Mr. Harris, who is standing behind Henri.
“Everything is fine. Just give us a minute, please,” Henri says back.
“Do I need to call an ambulance?”
“No!”

The door shuts. Henri looks down at my hands. The light in the right one is shining brightly, though the left dimly flickers as though trying to gain confidence in itself. Henri smiles widely, his face shining like a beacon.

“Ahh, thank Lorien,” he sighs, then pulls a pair of leather gardening gloves from his back pocket. “What dumb luck that I’ve been working in the yard. Put these on.”

I do and they completely hide the light. Mr. Harris opens the door and sticks his head through. “Mr. Smith? Is everything okay?”
“Yes, everything is fine. Just give us thirty seconds,”

Henri says, then looks back to me. “Your principal meddles.”
I take a deep breath and exhale. “I understand what is happening, but why this?”
“Your first Legacy.”
“I know that, but why the lights?”
“We’ll talk about it in the truck. Can you walk?”
“I think so.”

He helps me up. I am unsteady, still shaking. I grab hold of his forearm for support. “I have to get my bag before we leave,” I say.
“Where is it?”
“I left it in the classroom.”
“What number?”
“Seventeen.”
“Let’s get you to the truck and I’ll go get it.”

I drape my right arm over his shoulders. He supports my weight by putting his left arm around my waist. Even though the second bell has rung I can still hear people in the hall.
“You need to walk as straight and as normal as you can.”

I take a deep breath. I try to gather any bit of strength I might have on reserve to tackle the long walk out of the school.
“Let’s do this,” I say.

I wipe the sweat from my forehead and follow Henri out of the darkroom. Mr. Harris is still in the hallway. “Just a bad case of asthma,” Henri tells him, and walks past.

A crowd of twenty or so people are still in the hallway, and most of them are wearing cameras around their necks, waiting to get into the darkroom for photography class. Thankfully Sarah isn’t among them. I walk as steadily as I can, one foot in front of the other. The school’s exit is a hundred feet away. That is a lot of steps. People are whispering.

“What a freak.”
“Does he even go to school here?”
“I hope so, he’s cute.”
“What do you think he was doing in the darkroom to make his face so red?” I hear, and everyone laughs. Just like we can focus our hearing, we can close it off, which helps when you’re trying to concentrate amidst noise and confusion. So I shut out the noise and follow closely behind Henri. Each step feels like ten, but finally we reach the door. Henri holds it open for me and I try to walk on my own to his truck, which is parked up front. For the last twenty steps I drape my arm around his shoulders again. He opens the truck door and I scoot in.

“You said seventeen?”
“Yes.”
“You should have kept it with you. It’s the little mistakes that lead to big mistakes. We can’t make any.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”

He shuts the door and walks back into the building. I hunch over in the seat and try to slow my breathing. I can still feel the sweat on my forehead. I sit up and flip down the sun visor so I can look into the mirror. My face is redder than I thought, my eyes a little watery. But through the pain and exhaustion, I smile. Finally, I think. After years of waiting, after years of my only defense against the Mogadorians being intellect and stealth, my first Legacy has arrived. Henri comes out of the school carrying my bag. He walks around the truck, opens the door, tosses my bag on the seat.

“Thank you,” I say.
“No problem.”

When we’re out of the lot I remove the gloves and take a closer look at my hands. The light in my right hand is beginning to concentrate itself into a beam like a flashlight, only brighter. The burning is beginning to lessen. My left hand still flickers dimly.

“You should keep those on until we’re home,” Henri says. I put the gloves back on and look over at him. He is smiling proudly.
“Been a shit long wait,” he says.
“Huh?” I ask.
He looks over. “A shit long wait,” he says again. “For your Legacies.”
I laugh. Of all the things Henri has learned to master while on Earth, profanity is not one of them. “A damn long wait,” I correct him.
“Yeah, that’s what I said.”
He turns down our road.
“So, what next? Does this mean I’ll be able to shoot lasers from my hands or what?”
He grins. “It’s nice to think so, but no.”
“Well, what am I going to do with light? When I’m getting chased am I going to turn and flash it in their eyes? Like that’s supposed to make them cower from me or something?”
“Patience,” he says. “You aren’t supposed to understand it yet. Let’s just get home.”

And then I remember something that nearly makes me jump out of my seat.
“Does this mean we’ll finally open the Chest?”
He nods and smiles. “Very soon.”
“Hell, yes!” I say.
The intricately carved wooden Chest has haunted me my entire life. It’s a brittlelooking box with the Loric symbol on its side that Henri has remained completely secretive about. He’s never told me what’s in it, and it’s impossible to open, and I know, because I’ve tried more times than I can count, never with any luck. It’s held shut with a padlock with
no discernible slot for a key. When we get home I can tell that Henri has been working. The three chairs from the front porch have been cleared away and all the windows are open. Inside, the sheets over the furniture have been removed, some of the surfaces wiped clean. I set my bag atop the table in the living room and open it. A wave of frustration passes over me.

“The son of a bitch,” I say.
“What?”
“My phone is missing.”
“Where is it?”
“I had a slight disagreement this morning with a kid named Mark James. He probably took it.”
“John, you were in school for an hour and a half. How in the hell did you have a disagreement already? You know better.”
“It’s high school. I’m the new kid. It’s easy.”
Henri removes his phone from his pocket and dials my number. Then he snaps his phone shut.
“It’s turned off,” he says.
“Of course it is.”
He stares at me. “What happened?” he asks in that voice I recognize, the voice he uses when pondering another move.
“Nothing. Just a stupid argument. I probably dropped it on the floor when I put it into my bag,” I say, even though I know I didn’t. “I wasn’t in the best frame of mind. It’s probably waiting for me in lost and found.”

He looks around the house and sighs. “Did anyone see your hands?”

I look at him. His eyes are red, even more bloodshot than they were when he dropped me off. His hair is tousled and he has a slumped look as though he may collapse in exhaustion at any moment. He last slept in Florida, two days ago. I’m not sure how he is even still standing.

“Nobody did.”
“You were in school for an hour and a half. Your first Legacy developed, you were nearly in a fight, and you left your bag in a classroom. That’s not exactly blending in.”
“It was nothing. Certainly not a big enough deal to move to Idaho, or Kansas, or wherever the hell our next place is going to be.”

Henri narrows his eyes, pondering what he just witnessed and trying to decide whether it’s enough to justify leaving. “Now is not the time to be careless,” he says.
“There are arguments in every single school every single day. I promise you, they aren’t going to track us because some bully messed with the new kid.”
“The new kid’s hands don’t light up in every school.”
I sigh. “Henri, you look like you’re about to die. Take a nap. We can decide after you’ve had some sleep.”
“We have a lot to talk about.”
“I’ve never seen you this tired before. Sleep a few hours. We’ll talk after.”
He nods. “A nap would probably do me some good.”

Henri goes into his bedroom and closes the door. I walk outside, pace around the yard for a bit. The sun is behind the trees with a cool wind blowing. The gloves are still on my hands. I take them off and tuck them into my back pocket. My hands are the same as before. Truth be told, only half of me is thrilled that my first Legacy has finally arrived after so many years of impatiently waiting. The other half of me is crushed. Our constant moving has worn me down, and now it’ll be impossible to blend in or to stay in one place for any period of time. It’ll be impossible to make friends or feel like I fit in. I’m sick of the fake names and the lies. I’m sick of always looking over my shoulder to see if I’m being followed.

I reach down and feel the three scars on my right ankle. Three circles that represent the three dead. We are bound to each other by more than mere race. As I feel the scars I try to imagine who they were, whether they were boys or girls, where they were living, how old they were when they died. I try to remember the other kids on the ship with me and give each of them numbers. I think about what it would be like to meet them, hang out with them. What it might have been like if we were still on Lorien. What it might be like if the fate of our entire race wasn’t dependent on the survival of so few of us. What it might be like if we weren’t all facing death at the hands of our enemies.

It’s terrifying to know that I’m next. But we’ve stayed ahead of them by moving, running. Even though I’m sick of the running I know it’s the only reason we’re still alive. If we stop, they will find us. And now that I’m next in line, they have undoubtedly stepped up the search. Surely they must know we are growing stronger, coming into our Legacies. And then there is the other ankle and the scar to be found there, formed when the Loric charm was cast in those precious moments before leaving Lorien. It’s the brand that binds us all together.

Come back tomorrow for Chapter 6 and Chapter 7! Until then,

Be EPIC!

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6 Comments

Posted by on July 31, 2010 in Fiction Post

 

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6 responses to “I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore: Excerpts – Chapter 4 and Chapter 5

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