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.“The records are not entirely clear on every point, but on this fact they are precise.The journey of Those Who Came Before was a terrible struggle, but it changed them.It made them who they were.It taught them life’s most important lessons, it gave them a profound respect for the things that truly matter.It altered their perspectives in every conceivable way.Even though the journey was brutal, they became convinced that the maturity and insight it gave them was crucial to their coming together as a people to restore society and rebuild our world.“So they decided that the only way they could pass on what they had learned to the ‘ancients’ they would bring here was to have them experience the same—or at least a similar—journey.The Corridor is a record of their experiences, yes.But it’s also a reenactment to impart their wisdom, to indoctrinate us into this new society’s way of living and being.”Mirza was talking about a paradigm shift, a fundamental alteration to the people brought here through time.Had Troy been altered by his experiences in the Corridor? One glance at Victoria was the only answer he needed.“They believed this was the only way they could ensure that we would not destroy ourselves, as the Great Disaster had nearly destroyed them.They struggled so long and so hard to preserve mankind, and they were absolutely determined to keep it from ending.”“I guess I get that…” Troy firmly held Victoria’s hand, but looked at the Corridor in the distance behind her.“Sure wish they could have come up with an easier way to pass on their worldview.But given all they went through and survived…”“The Corridor is a place of second chances,” said Mirza, leaning out from his spot by Troy’s bed to glance at the Corridor himself.“It gives another chance at life to those who died too young.I believe it is meant to teach us about the fragility and the preciousness of life.That it is not meant to be lived alone.Or taken for granted.Everyone who is brought here is given the opportunity to earn back their life.Just as you—both of you—have earned back yours.”Troy leaned back against his pillow, absorbing.It was unbelievable.He was meant to die the night before he turned seventeen.And yet here he was, a living, breathing, seventeen-year-old male.Was he worthy of this gift?“Who were you, before?” asked Victoria.It was a question that had never occurred to Troy.“I was a prince of the Babylonian Empire in what you call the seventh century, BC.”Troy suddenly understood the man.His shrewd answers.His unflappable demeanor.The way he carried himself with grace and dignity.“When I was brought here, and I escaped the Corridor alongside Parvana, it was a very long time before I understood and accepted my new circumstances.It is a difficult thing to know that everyone and everything you have ever known is gone, and you will never see them again.Fortunately, I did not have to face this alone.And neither do you.“Now…” Mirza walked around to the end of the bed and prepared to leave.“You two just worry about getting well.Once you’re on your feet again, we’ll proceed with the ceremony.”“What ceremony?” asked Victoria.“The wedding, of course.”“What?” Troy and Victoria blurted out together.“We are here for the purpose of repopulating mankind.Marriage is required of all who escape the Corridor.”Troy glanced at Victoria, and she at him.He supposed he did love her.But was he in love with her? He’d never had the chance to consider it.Until now.“But…” Troy protested, “what about courtship? Romance? We’re just teenagers—we don’t even know if we’re compatible!”Mirza leaned in and looked back and forth between them.“Fewer than two hundred adults are alive on this planet, right here in this compound, and only a handful are added to our numbers via the Corridor each year.We do not have the luxury of romance.”Troy and Victoria glanced at each other again, and then nervously looked away.But neither turned loose the other’s hand.Mirza, noting this, stood to his full height.“But if it is love that concerns you… You both sacrificed yourself to save the other.If that is not love, nothing on this Earth is.”Victoria clutched Troy’s hand tighter as Mirza exited the room, and he squeezed hers in return.But could it really be that simple?In the years to come, Troy and Victoria would have to find the answer to that question for themselves.They would build a life together in their strange new society, and they would both want to find ways to contribute to it and to its future.Troy had no idea what that future would be.He knew only one thing for certain.He and Victoria would talk and talk, every day, and find refuge in the sounds of each other’s voices.And they would spend every moment possible with their hands clasped tight.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThank you, Karen, for putting up with all the long hours and hard work it took to write this book.I love you, and I always will.Thank you, Evan and Emma, for teaching me to love more than I ever knew I was capable of.Thank you, Mom, for helping me to believe that I could do anything.Thank you, Stonehouse Ink, for believing in me.Thank you, dear reader, for taking this ride with me.Let’s take another soon.ABOUT THE AUTHOR“Robin Parrish is a keen-eyed, passionate pop cultural savant, whose writing is as incisive and insightful as it is entertaining.”- Allan Heinberg, Executive Producer, Grey’s AnatomyRobin Parrish wants to take you on a ride.A wild ride -- which is exactly what you’re in for when you pick up one of his books [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]