Candle smiled as their eyes met, that brilliant, dazzling smile that
brightened everything around her. He had a sudden sense that she could tell what
he was thinking, and he looked quickly away.
Lets go, he said.
They set off down First Avenue, working their way past the derelict cars and
heaps of trash, heading north toward the center of the city. He knew it was
First Avenue because there were still signs fastened to a few of the buildings
eye-level with the ornate streetlights. The signs still worked, even if the
lights didnt. Hawk had never seen working streetlights; none of them had.
Panther claimed there were lights in San Francisco, but Hawk was sure he was
making it up. The power plants that provided electricity hadnt operated since
before he was born, and he was the oldest among them except for Owl. Electricity
was a luxury that few could manage outside the compounds, where solar-powered
generators were plentiful. Mostly, they got by with candles and fires and glow
They stayed in the center of the street as they walked, keeping clear of the
dark openings of the buildings on either side, falling into the Wing-T formation
that Hawk favored. Hawk was at point, Panther and Bear on the wings, and the
girls, Candle and River, in the center carrying the goods in tightly bound
sacks. Owl had read about the Wing-T in one of her books and told Hawk how it
worked. Hawk could read, but not particularly well. None of them could, the
little ones in particular. Owl was a good reader. She had learned in the
compound before she left to join them. She tried to instruct them, but mostly
they wanted her to read to them instead. Their patience was limited, and their
duties as members of the Ghosts took up most of their time. Reading wasnt
necessary for staying alive, they would argue.
But, of course, it was. Even Hawk knew that much.
Overhead, the sky began to fill with roiling clouds that darkened steadily as
the Ghosts moved out of Pioneer Square and up toward the Hammering Man. Soon
rain was falling in a soft, steady mist, turning the concrete of the streets and
buildings a glistening slate gray. The rain felt clean and refreshing to Hawk,
who lifted his angular face to its cool wash. Sometimes he wished he could go
swimming again, as he had when he was a little boy living in Oregon. But you
couldnt trust the water anymore. You couldnt be sure what was in it, and if
the wrong thing got into your body, you would die. At least they had the rain,
which was more than most of the world could say.
Not that he had seen much of that world. At eighteen, he had lived in exactly
two placesin Oregon until he was five and in Seattle since then. But the Ghosts
had a radio to listen to, and sometimes it told them things. Less so these days,
as the stations dropped away, one by one. Overrun by the armies of the once-men,
Sometimes they learned things from other street kids. A new kid would show
up, wandering in from some other part of the country to link up with one of the
tribes and provide a fresh piece of news. But wherever they came from, their
stories were pretty much alike. Everyone was in the same boat, trying to
survive. The same dangers threatened everyone, and all you could do was decide
how you wanted to live: either inside the compounds like a caged animal or out
on the streets like prey.
Or, in the case of the Ghosts, you lived underground and tried to stay out of
It was Owl who knew the history behind the underground city. She had read
about it in a book. A long time ago, the old Seattle had burned and the people
had buried her and built a new city right on top. The old city had been ignored
until parts of it were excavated for underground tours. In the wake of the Great
Wars and the destruction of the new city, it had all been forgotten again.
British Parliament asks Amazon to clarify why it pays $9 million in income tax on $23 billion of UK sales.(May 20 2013) Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate...