By hitherthitherzither

Finding Family in the Ruins.


When strangers threaten the safety of Ben and his twin sisters, Ben must struggle to keep his family safe and together in a possession-powered surveillance state, where even your own eyes can betray you.

You never know who else is watching.

To read from the beginning, click here. Read the latest chapter below, or follow on Wattpad.

New chapters every week.

Chapter 59: Don’t Look at the River, That’s Where They Throw the Bodies

MARA A fountain covered in snow…. The haunting fountain fading to black just before Mara opened her eyes and coughed up river water. As her body squeezed water from her lungs, the moments before they hit the water flooded back to her. They’d been flying over the city, trying to escape when the Watcher had […]

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The River

The river flows home, and nothing can stop it. High in the mountains, surrounded by sunlight, lush grass, and lazy soaring birds, the river is born, and it is a quiet affair, and the wind rustles the grass and blows feathered clouds down from the distant mountaintops, and the world smells new. From the lake, […]

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Chapter 57: Falling Towards Something Painful and Solid and Real and Completely Unavoidable

MARA Anyone else would have heard silence. Complete and overwhelming silence. But to Mara, the silence shrieked. After they had realized that Watchers and soldiers were coming, Amelia, the Nowhere Woman, had wrapped her eyes in white, gripped the splintered wood, and pointed to the closet. “Stay in there. And don’t come out until I […]

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Chapter 56: Do You Have to Save Everyone?

MICA Some dreams leave nothing histories and memories and emotions like discarded coats and clothes smelling of forgotten people. Some leave behind nothing. Mica’s dreams recently had left nothing, not even rest. Mica awoke to Aaron gently shaking her shoulder. “What is…?” she asked groggily, wondering what time it was and how long she had […]

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The Burning of Windrose City

You might think you understand fire. Maybe you’ve sat around a fireplace, watching logs burn and sputter and snap to life, or perhaps you’ve cooked out under the stars and watched embers float away into the sky. You’ve probably lit a match to lite a candle, a little flame so tender and small that you […]

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Chapter 54: Aren’t You a Little Young for Treason?

MICA Luca, Paul, whatever his name was, disappeared, leaving Mica and Ben alone in the underground bunker below the antique shop. They dropped their packs to the dirt floor and collapsed. They sat silently, resting and enjoying a moment of safety until Paul returned dressed in street clothes with boots on his feet. His glossy […]

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The Wall

You know it’s there, but you ignore it. Because everyone does. And you are no fool. You know all about the Wall. The Wall is the reason for West One, this dusty, stinking parasite of a city. And the Wall is hidden inside this hub of chaos and dust and ash. You find it odd […]

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Subject 1: The Accident

It happened early this morning. No one was hurt, and we learned a great deal about the subject, but it was still jarring. It happened so fast—I didn’t even realize there was potential for fire until we saw the flames.  The casualties were… unfortunate.  And she looked at Marta. The subject looked right at Marta, I […]

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Chapter 48: The One in which Mica Drives Backwards. Poorly.

MICA “So now what?” Mica asked. “We just walk until we get to Windrose?” The sarcasm almost dripped from her words. Ben didn’t seem to notice. She and Ben left Haven, his camp of restored Burners, and walked east into the rising sun. They’d walked silently for a while, but now Mica couldn’t take it […]

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Chapter 47: Mica Goes East

MICA “Whoa, hold it!” Mica said and scrabbled to her feet and glaring at Ben. “No, no way you’re going to the Unseen. You know what they’ll do to you? He just told you what they’ll do to you!” she said, pointing at the spy, Leon. Ben nodded. “They will study me and find a […]

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Chapter 46: Gone

MARA Mara had the more-than-a-dream again, but this time it was different. The wet, shining blackness on his hands was blood… the hands kept reaching. She raised her head from the bloody hands to see who they belonged to—she needed to see who was reaching for her and dying and— A fountain covered in snow. […]

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Subject 1: Triggers

It hasn’t been long at all, but Subject 1 has already yielded better results than expected. I am confident that we will be able to find a cure yet. Marta is optimistic too, but more reserved. It’s odd because she’s usually the more positive of the two of us. Her reservations are well-founded, but I am confident […]

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Chapter 44: Do Gods Limp?

MICA Ben. At his name, all of Mica’s hope vanished like smoke on the wind. Too many emotions sprang up inside her. Joy, relief, love, but also something dark tinged her soul. Bitterness, a gaunt dog, too long neglected and hungry, raised his head. Mica shoved her way past Gabe and Zeke and strode forward […]

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Chapter 42: Honey and Blood

MARA Why were the bright ones, the pink and teal ones that smelled of orange and pineapple and sugar, the ones you least expected, always the strongest? Mara’s lavender drink was too strong, and she kept wondering what made it purple. She sipped her drink with Zoe in their approved social club, but the purple-colored […]

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Chapter 40: The Burner, the Blind Woman, and the Girl with the Worst Luck of All

MICA Without memories and history, what’s left of someone? Isn’t that what a person is? Memories, history, decisions, and a past? And, more importantly, how are you supposed to drive a transport down a mountain when you can’t even remember learning to drive? “Rebekah!” Mica screamed and scrambled to the front of the transport. She […]

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The Seer’s Mask, from the Seer’s Manual, by Colonel Alayla Mason

The Seer’s Mask is an essential part of the Seer work and life. It was born out of necessity when Seers’ blinding was rejected and outlawed under the Blind Prophet. Yet the need for Seers remained. The Mask performs several vital functions and is an elegant solution to a difficult problem. The Mask removes distractions, […]

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Chapter 38: Doors and Vines

MARA Dreams are dreams are dreams are dreams… aren’t they? Mara sat on the low couch and folded her sweaty hands in her lap. She disliked this office. The clock ticked too loudly, and the plant on the desk was wilting. It needed more water and light. Every time she saw it, she wanted to […]

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Subject 1: Intake

As this might be the most important work I have ever done in the history of our country, I want to keep a personal record of my lab notes for posterity. This journal will be vital when I go to write my memoir. It may be that someone may want to chronicle these events, and a journal might […]

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Chapter 35: Lies

MICA Months passed, and winter fell on the White Mountains. Mica wrestled with pallets and math during the day, and demons at night. During the day, she worked in the fields and the light and the scent of growing things. Some days she scrubbed pallets. Some days she scrubbed toilets. Some days she did both. […]

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Processing Center 467

If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all. Hamlet There is one in every city. They all look the same: a large, squat building with few, if any, windows. White walls. Cold […]

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Chapter 33: Algol is Falling. Perseus has Come. Cetus will Die.

BEN The siren filled the factory, shrill, and wailing. Then the siren stopped, leaving an echo in the sudden silence. “Shift change,” Peter said. “We got to go. Now.” But Ben’s heart still thundered. Peter helped Ben climb into the crate and closed the lid. In the darkness, his heart pounded, and his palms grew […]

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Chapter 32: The Burn Factory

BEN Ben and Peter exchanged their damp and filthy clothes for the workers’ dark blue jumpsuits and swapped their muddy boots out for sleek, black, work boots. Ben made sure to tuck Mica’s lighter into his pocket. It was the one thing he had left from home. The jumpsuits were for leaner men. But thin […]

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The Tomb of the Faithful

There is an empty tomb filled with light. Pale stone, almost white, encompasses nothing because no one is inside. Not far from the Eternals’ Palace, stands the Tomb of the Faithful, a monument and memorial to the fallen soldiers who still serve Loraine and the Burned who serve their Eternal Mother. It is a simple […]

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Chapter 29: The Burning Fields

BEN Ben and Peter resumed their journey to West Nine and eventually, the Unseen City. They slipped through the forest, unseen and unheard. Peter was intent on getting as much distance between them and the mobile Watcher unit as possible, so they darted quickly through the shadows. They walked through the forest until the sky […]

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The Fields

If you were to dive beneath the mountain, beneath the trees, tall and green and gold and solid as stalagmites, deep beneath the rushing rivers and the freezing wind, you might find the fields and the secret growing things in the place where spring lives. You reach the entrance to the caves and pause. This […]

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The First Watcher, a true fairy tale. From, True Tales of Novan History: A History for Children

Once upon a time, there was a soldier who served our Eternal Mother. He was a brave and good and loyal soldier, and he fought well for our Eternal Mother, Loraine. The first time he saw Loraine, he fell madly in love with her and vowed to serve her and love her forever. So he […]

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Chapter 23: The One in which Ben Sees Something He Cannot Explain

BEN Ben followed Peter as best he could, charging the Burners, his adrenaline surging through his limbs. Peter collided with the closest Burner, catching him off guard, and they fell to the slippery, squishy ground. Ben recognized the man. Adam: the West Six Peace Official. As Ben turned his attention on the second Burner, the […]

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