I look around wildly but I don’t see the shooter. Whoever it was seems to have dissolved into the crowd.
I drop the sledgehammer next to the dented bowl and kneel beside Edward, Abnegation stones digging into my kneecaps. His remaining eye moves back and forth beneath his eyelid—he’s alive, for now.
“We have to get him to the hospital,” I say to whoever is listening. Almost everyone is gone.
I look over my shoulder at Tris and the Erudite man, who hasn’t moved. “Is he . . . ?”
Her fingers are on his throat, taking his pulse, and her eyes are wide and empty. She shakes her head. No, he is not alive. I didn’t think he was.
I close my eyes. The faction bowls are printed on my eyelids, tipped on their sides, their contents in a pile on the street. The symbols of our old way of life, destroyed—a man dead, others injured—and for what?
For nothing. For Evelyn’s empty, narrow vision: a city where factions are wrenched away from people against their will.
She wanted us to have more than five choices. Now we have none.
I know for sure, then, that I can’t be her ally, and I never could have.
“We have to go,” Tris says, and I know she’s not talking about leaving Michigan Avenue or taking Edward to the hospital; she’s talking about the city.
“We have to go,” I repeat.
The makeshift hospital at Erudite headquarters smells like chemicals, almost gritty in my nose. I close my eyes as I wait for Evelyn.
I’m so angry I don’t even want to sit here, I just want to pack up my things and leave. She must have planned that demonstration, or she wouldn’t have known about it the day before, and she must have known that it would get out of control, with tensions running as high as they are. But she did it anyway. Making a big statement about the factions was more important to her than safety or the potential loss of lives. I don’t know why that surprises me.
I hear the elevator doors slide open, and her voice: “Tobias!”
She rushes toward me and seizes my hands, which are sticky with blood. Her dark eyes are wide with fear as she says, “Are you hurt?”
She’s worried about me. The thought is a little pinprick of heat inside me—she must love me, to worry about me. She must still be capable of love.
“The blood is Edward’s. I helped carry him here.”
“How is he?” she says.
I shake my head. “Dead.”
I don’t know how else to say it.
She shrinks back, releasing my hands, and sits on one of the waiting room chairs. My mother embraced Edward after he defected from Dauntless. She must have taught him to be a warrior again, after the loss of his eye and his faction and his footing. I never knew they were so close, but I can see it now, in the gleam of tears in her eyes and the trembling of her fingers. It’s the most emotion I’ve seen her show since I was a child, since my father slammed her into our living room walls.
I press the memory away as if stuffing it into a drawer that is too small for it.
“I’m sorry,” I say. I don’t know if I really mean it or if I’m just saying it so she still thinks I’m on her side. Then I add tentatively, “Why didn’t you tell me about the demonstration?”
She shakes her head. “I didn’t know about it.”
She’s lying. I know. I decide to let her. In order to stay on her good side, I have to avoid conflict with her. Or maybe I just don’t want to press the issue with Edward’s death looming over both of us. Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell where strategy ends and sympathy for her begins.
“Oh.” I scratch behind my ear. “You can go in and see him, if you want.”
“No.” She seems far away. “I know what bodies look like.” Drifting further.
“Maybe I should go.”
“Stay,” she says. She touches the empty chair between us. “Please.”
I take the seat beside her, and though I tell myself that I am just an undercover agent obeying his supposed leader, I feel like I am a son comforting his grieving mother.
We sit with our shoulders touching, our breaths falling into the same rhythm, and we don’t say a word.
CHRISTINA TURNS A black stone over and over in her hand as we walk. It takes me a few seconds to realize that it’s actually a piece of coal, from the Dauntless Choosing Ceremony bowl.
“I didn’t really want to bring this up, but I can’t stop thinking about it,” she says. “That of the ten transfer initiates we started with, only six are still alive.”
Ahead of us is the Hancock building, and beyond it, Lake Shore Drive, the lazy strip of pavement that I once flew over like a bird. We walk the cracked sidewalk side by side, our clothes smeared with Edward’s blood, now dry.
It hasn’t hit me yet: that Edward, by far the most talented transfer initiate we had, the boy whose blood I cleaned off the dormitory floor, is dead. He’s dead now.
“And of the nice ones,” I say, “it’s just you, me, and . . . Myra, probably.”
I haven’t seen Myra since she left the Dauntless compound with Edward, right after his eye was claimed by a butter knife. I know they broke up not long after that, but I never found out where she went. I don’t think I ever exchanged more than a few words with her anyway.
A set of doors to the Hancock building are already open, dangling from their hinges. Uriah said that he would come here early to turn on the generator, and sure enough, when I touch my finger to the elevator button, it glows through my fingernail.
“Have you been here before?” I say as we walk into the elevator.
“No,” Christina says. “Not inside, I mean. I didn’t get to go zip lining, remember?”
“Right.” I lean against the wall. “You should try to go before we leave.”
“Yeah.” She’s wearing red lipstick. It reminds me of the way candy stains children’s skin if they eat it too sloppily. “Sometimes I get where Evelyn’s coming from. So many awful things have happened, sometimes it feels like a good idea to stay here and just . . . try to clean up this mess before we get ourselves involved in another.” She smiles a little. “But of course, I’m not going to do that,” she adds. “I’m not even sure why. Curiosity, I guess.”
“Have you talked to your parents about it?”
Sometimes I forget that Christina isn’t like me, with no family loyalty to tie her to one place anymore. She has a mother and a little sister, both former Candor.
“They have to look after my sister,” she says. “They don’t know if it’s safe out there; they don’t want to risk her.”
“But they would be okay with you leaving?”
“They were okay with me joining another faction. They’ll be okay with this, too,” she says. She looks down at her shoes. “They just want me to live an honest life, you know? And I can’t do that here. I just know that I can’t.”
The elevator doors open, and the wind hits us immediately, still warm but woven with threads of winter cold. I hear voices coming from the roof, and I climb the ladder to get to them. It bounces with each of my footsteps, but Christina holds it steady for me until I reach the top.
Uriah and Zeke are there, throwing pebbles off the roof and listening for the clatter when they hit the windows. Uriah tries to bump Zeke’s elbow before he throws, to mess him up, but Zeke is too quick for him.
“Hey,” they say in unison when they spot Christina and me.
“Wait, are you guys related or something?” Christina says, grinning. They both laugh, but Uriah looks a little dazed, like he’s not quite connected to this moment or this place. I guess losing someone the way he lost Marlene can do that to a person, though that’s not what it did to me.
There are no slings on the roof for the zip line, and that’s not why we came. I don’t know why the others did, but I wanted to be up high—I wanted to see as far as I could. But all the land west of where I am is black, like it’s draped in a dark blanket. For a moment I think I can make out a glimmer of light on the horizon, but the next it’s gone, just a trick of the eyes.
The others are quiet too. I wonder if we’re all thinking the same thing.
“What do you think’s out there?” Uriah finally says.
Zeke just shrugs, but Christina ventures a guess. “What if it’s just more of the same? Just . . . more crumbling city, more factions, more of everything?”
“Can’t be,” Uriah says, shaking his head. “There has to be something else.”
“Or there’s nothing,” Zeke suggests. “Those people who put us all in here, they could just be dead. Everything could be empty.”
I shiver. I had never thought of that before, but he’s right—we don’t know what’s happened out there since they put us in here, or how many generations have lived and died since they did. We could be the last people left.
“It doesn’t matter,” I say, more sternly than I mean to. “It doesn’t matter what’s out there, we have to see it for ourselves. And then we’ll deal with it once we have.”
We stand there for a long time. I follow the bumpy edges of buildings with my eyes until all the lit windows smear into a line. Then Uriah asks Christina about the riot, and our still, silent moment passes as if carried away by the wind.
The next day, Evelyn stands among the pieces of Jeanine Matthews’s portrait in the Erudite headquarters lobby and announces a new set of rules. Former faction members and factionless alike are gathered in the space and spilling out into the street to hear what our new leader has to say, and factionless soldiers line the walls, their fingers poised over the triggers of their guns. Keeping us under control.
“Yesterday’s events made it clear that we are no longer able to trust each other,” she says. She looks ashen and exhausted. “We will be introducing more structure into everyone’s lives until our situation is more stable. The first of these measures is a curfew: Everyone is required to return to their assigned living spaces at nine o’clock at night. They will not leave those spaces until eight o’clock the next morning. Guards will be patrolling the streets at all hours to keep us safe.”
I snort and try to cover it up with a cough. Christina elbows me in the side and touches her finger to her lips. I don’t know why she cares—it’s not like Evelyn can hear me from all the way at the front of the room.
Tori, former leader of Dauntless, ousted by Evelyn herself, stands a few feet away from me, her arms crossed. Her mouth twitches into a sneer.
“It’s also time to prepare for our new, factionless way of life. Starting today, everyone will begin to learn the jobs the factionless have done for as long as we can remember. We will then all do those jobs on a rotation schedule, in addition to the other duties that have traditionally been performed by the factions.” Evelyn smiles without really smiling. I don’t know how she does it. “We will all contribute equally to our new city, as it should be. The factions have divided us, but now we will be united. Now, and forever.”
All around me the factionless cheer. I just feel uneasy. I don’t disagree with her, exactly, but the same faction members who rose up against Edward yesterday won’t remain quiet after this, either. Evelyn’s hold on this city is not as strong as she might like.
I don’t want to wrestle with the crowds after Evelyn’s announcement, so I weave through the hallways until I find one of the staircases in the back, the one we climbed to reach Jeanine’s laboratory not too long ago. The steps were crowded with bodies then. Now they are clean and cool, like nothing ever happened here.
As I walk past the fourth floor, I hear a yell, and some scuffling sounds. I open the door to a cluster of people—young, younger than I am, and all sporting factionless armbands—gathered around a young man on the ground.
Not just a young man—a Candor, dressed in black and white from head to toe.
I run toward them, and when I see a tall factionless girl draw back her foot to kick again, I shout, “Hey!”
No use—the kick hits the Candor boy in the side, and he groans, twisting away from it.
“Hey!” I yell again, and this time the girl turns. She’s much taller than I am—a good six inches, in fact—but I’m only angry, not afraid.
“Back up,” I say. “Back away from him.”
“He’s in violation of the dress code. I’m well within my rights, and I don’t take orders from faction lovers,” she says, her eyes on the ink creeping over my collarbone.
“Becks,” the factionless boy beside her says. “That’s the Prior video girl.”
The others look impressed, but the girl just sneers. “So?”
“So,” I say, “I had to hurt a lot of people to get through Dauntless initiation, and I’ll do it to you, too, if I have to.”
I unzip my blue sweatshirt and toss it at the Candor boy, who looks at me from the ground, blood streaming from his eyebrow. He pushes himself up, still holding his side with one hand, and pulls the sweatshirt around his shoulders like a blanket.
“There,” I say. “Now he’s not violating the dress code.”
The girl tests the situation in her mind, evaluating whether she wants to fight me or not. I can practically hear what she’s thinking—I’m small, so I’m an easy target, but I’m Dauntless, so I’m not that easy to beat. Maybe she knows that I’ve killed people, or maybe she just doesn’t want to get into trouble, but she’s losing her nerve; I can tell by the uncertain set of her mouth.
“You’d better watch your back,” she says.
“I guarantee you that I don’t need to,” I say. “Now get out of here.”
I stay just long enough to see them scatter, then keep walking. The Candor boy calls, “Wait! Your sweatshirt!”