The Host By Stephanie Meyer - CHAPTER 21: Named

The Host By Stephanie Meyer - CHAPTER 21: Named

I kept tight to Jeb's side, a little in front of him. I wanted to be as far as possible from the two
men following us. Jamie walked somewhere in the middle, not sure of where he wanted to be.

I wasn't able to concentrate much on the rest of Jeb's tour. My attention was not focused on the
second set of gardens he led me through–one with corn growing waist-high in the blistering
heat of the brilliant mirrors–or the wide but low-ceilinged cavern he called the “rec room.” That
one was pitch-black and deep underground, but he told me they brought in lights when they
wanted to play. The wordplay didn't make sense to me, not here in this group of tense, angry
survivors, but I didn't ask him to explain. There was more water here, a tiny, noxiously sulfurous
spring that Jeb said they sometimes used as a second latrine because it was no good for drinking.
My attention was divided between the men walking behind us and the boy at my side.

Ian and the doctor did mind their manners surprisingly well. No one attacked me from
behind–though I thought my eyes might get lodged in the back of my head from trying to see if
they were about to. They just followed quietly, sometimes talking to each other in low voices.

Their comments revolved around names I didn't know and nicknames for places and things that
might or might not have been inside these caves. I couldn't understand any of it.

Jamie said nothing, but he looked at me a lot. When I wasn't trying to keep an eye on the
others, I was often peeking at him, too. This left little time to admire the things Jeb showed me,
but he didn't seem to notice my preoccupations.

Some of the tunnels were very long–the distances hidden beneath the ground here were
mind-boggling. Often they were pitch-black, but Jeb and the others never so much as paused,
clearly familiar with their whereabouts and long since accustomed to traveling in darkness. It
was harder for me than it was when Jeb and I were alone. In the dark, every noise sounded like
an attack. Even the doctor's and Ian's casual chatter seemed like a cover for some nefarious

Paranoid,Melanie commented.

If that's what it takes to keep us alive, so be it.

I wish you would pay more attention to Uncle Jeb. This is fascinating.

Do what you want with your time.

I can only hear and see what you hear and see, Wanderer,she told me. Then she changed the
subject.Jamie looks okay, don't you think? Not too unhappy.

He looks… wary.

We were just coming into some light after the longest trek so far in the humid blackness.

“This here is the southernmost spur of the tube system,” Jeb explained as we walked. “Not
super convenient, but it gets good light all day long. That's why we made it the hospital wing.

This is where Doc does his thing.”

The moment Jeb announced where we were, my body froze and my joints locked; I skidded to a
halt, my feet planted against the rock floor. My eyes, wide with terror, flickered between Jeb's
face and the face of the doctor.

Had this all been a ruse, then? Wait for stubborn Jared to be out of the picture and then lure me
back here? I couldn't believe I'd walked to this place under my own power. How stupid I was!

Melanie was just as aghast.We might as well have gift-wrapped ourselves for them!

They stared back at me, Jeb expressionless, the doctor looking as surprised as I felt–though not
as horrified.

I would have flinched, ripped myself away from the touch of a hand on my arm, if the hand had
not been so familiar.

“No,” Jamie said, his hand hesitantly resting just below my elbow. “No, it's okay. Really. Right,

Uncle Jeb?” Jamie looked trustingly at the old man. “It's okay, right?”

“Sure it is.” Jeb's faded blue eyes were calm and clear. “Just showing you my place, kid, that's

“What are you talking about?” Ian grumbled from behind us, sounding annoyed that he didn't

“Did you think we brought you here on purpose, for Doc?” Jamie said to me instead of
answering Ian. “Because we wouldn't do that. We promised Jared.”

I stared at his earnest face, trying to believe.

“Oh!” Ian said as he understood, and then he laughed. “That wasn't a bad plan. I'm surprised I
didn't think of it.”

Jamie scowled at the big man and patted my arm before removing his hand. “Don't be scared,”
he said.

Jeb took up where he'd left off. “So this big room here is fitted up with a few cots in case
anyone gets sick or hurt. We've been pretty lucky on that count. Doc doesn't have much to work
with in an emergency.” Jeb grinned at me. “Your folks threw out allour medicines when they
took over things. Hard to get our hands on what we need.”

I nodded slightly; the movement was absentminded. I was still reeling, trying to get my
bearings. This room looked innocent enough, as if it were only used for healing, but it made my
stomach twist and contract.

“What do you know about alien medicine?” the doctor asked suddenly, his head cocked to the
side. He watched my face with expectant curiosity.

I stared at him wordlessly.

“Oh, you can talk to Doc,” Jeb encouraged me. “He's a pretty decent guy, all things

I shook my head once. I meant to answer the doctor's question, to tell them that I knew
nothing, but they misunderstood.

“She's not giving away any trade secrets,” Ian said sourly. “Are you, sweetheart?”

“Manners, Ian,” Jeb barked.

“Is it a secret?” Jamie asked, guarded but clearly curious.

I shook my head again. They all stared at me in confusion. Doc shook his head, too, slowly,

I took a deep breath, then whispered, “I'm not a Healer. I don't know how they–the
medications–work. Only that theydo work– they heal, rather than merely treating symptoms. No
trial and error. Of course the human medicines were discarded.”

All four of them stared with blank expressions. First they were surprised when I didn't answer,
and now they were surprised when I did. Humans were impossible to please.

“Your kind didn't change too much of what we left behind,” Jeb said thoughtfully after a
moment. “Just the medical stuff, and the spaceships instead of planes. Other than that, life
seems to go on just the same as ever… on the surface.”

“We come to experience, not to change,” I whispered. “Health takes priority over that
philosophy, though.”

I shut my mouth with an audible snap. I had to be more careful. The humans hardly wanted a
lecture on soul philosophy. Who knew what would anger them? Or what would snap their
fragile patience?

Jeb nodded, still thoughtful, and then ushered us onward. He wasn't as enthusiastic as he
continued my tour through the few connecting caves here in the medical wing, not as involved
in the presentation. When we turned around and headed back into the black corridor, he lapsed
into silence. It was a long, quiet walk. I thought through what I'd said, looking for something
that might have offended. Jeb was too strange for me to guess if that was the case. The other
humans, hostile and suspicious as they were, at least made sense. How could I hope to make
sense of Jeb?

The tour ended abruptly when we reentered the huge garden cavern where the carrot sprouts
made a bright green carpet across the dark floor.

“Show's over,” Jeb said gruffly, looking at Ian and the doctor. “Go do something useful.”

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Ian rolled his eyes at the doctor, but they both turned good-naturedly enough and made their
way toward the biggest exit–the one that led to the kitchen, I remembered. Jamie hesitated,
looking after them but not moving.

“You come with me,” Jeb told him, slightly less gruff this time. “I've got a job for you.”

“Okay,” Jamie said. I could see that he was pleased to have been chosen.

Jamie walked beside me again as we headed back toward the sleeping-quarters section of the
caves. I was surprised, as we chose the third passageway from the left, that Jamie seemed to
know exactly where we were going. Jeb was slightly behind us, but Jamie stopped at once when
we reached the green screen that covered the seventh apartment. He moved the screen aside for
me but stayed in the hall.

“You okay to sit tight for a while?” Jeb asked me.

I nodded, grateful at the thought of hiding again. I ducked through the opening and then stood
a few feet in, not sure what to do with myself. Melanie remembered that there were books here,
but I reminded her of my vow to not touch anything.

“I got things to do, kid,” Jeb said to Jamie. “Food ain't gonna fix itself, you know. You up to
guard duty?”

“Sure,” Jamie said with a bright smile. His thin chest swelled with a deep breath.

My eyes widened in disbelief as I watched Jeb place the rifle in Jamie's eager hands.

“Are youcrazy? ” I shouted. My voice was so loud that I didn't recognize it at first. It felt like

I'd been whispering forever.

Jeb and Jamie looked up at me, shocked. I was out in the hallway with them in a second.

I almost reached for the hard metal of the barrel, almost ripped it from the boy's hands. What
stopped me wasn't the knowledge that a move like that would surely get me killed. What
stopped me was the fact that I was weaker than the humans in this way; even to save the boy, I
could not make myself touch the weapon.

I turned on Jeb instead.

“What are you thinking? Giving the weapon to a child? He could kill himself!”

“Jamie's been through enough to be called a man, I think. He knows how to handle himself
around a gun.”

Jamie's shoulders straightened at Jeb's praise, and he gripped the gun tighter to his chest.

I gaped at Jeb's stupidity. “What if they come for me with him here? Did you think of what
could happen? This isn't a joke! They'll hurt him to get to me!”

Jeb remained calm, his face placid. “Don't think there'll be any trouble today. I'd bet on it.”

“Well, I wouldn't!” I was yelling again. My voice echoed off the tunnel walls–someone was
sure to hear, but I didn't care. Better they come while Jeb was still here. “If you're so sure, then
leave me here alone. Let what happens happen. But don't put Jamie in danger!”

“Is it the kid you're worried about, or are you just afraid that he'll turn the gun on you?” Jeb
asked, his voice almost languid.
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I blinked, my anger derailed. That thought had not even occurred to me. I glanced blankly at
Jamie, met his surprised gaze, and saw that the idea was shocking to him, too.

It took me a minute to recover my side of the argument, and by the time I did, Jeb's expression
had changed. His eyes were intent, his mouth pursed–as if he were about to fit the last piece
into a frustrating puzzle.

“Give the gun to Ian or any of the others. I don't care,” I said, my voice slow and even. “Just
leave the boy out of this.”

Jeb's sudden face-wide grin reminded me, strangely, of a pouncing cat.

“It's my house, kid, and I'll do what I want. I always do.”

Jeb turned his back and ambled away down the hall, whistling as he went. I watched him go,
my mouth hanging open. When he disappeared, I turned to Jamie, who was watching me with a
sullen expression.

“I'm not a child,” he muttered in a deeper tone than usual, his chin jutting out belligerently.

“Now, you should… you should go in your room.”

The order was less than severe, but there was nothing else I could do. I'd lost this disagreement
by a large margin.

I sat down with my back against the rock that formed one side of the cave opening–the side
where I could hide behind the half-opened screen but still watch Jamie. I wrapped my arms
around my legs and began doing what I knew I would be doing as long as this insane situation
continued: I worried.

I also strained my eyes and ears for some sound of approach, to be ready. No matter what Jeb
said, I would prevent anyone from challenging Jamie's guard. I would give myself up before they

Yes,Melanie agreed succinctly.

Jamie stood in the hallway for a few minutes, the gun tight in his hands, unsure as to how to do
his job. He started pacing after that, back and forth in front of the screen, but he seemed to feel
silly after a couple of passes. Then he sat down on the floor beside the open end of the screen.
The gun eventually settled on his folded legs, and his chin into his cupped hands. After a long
time, he sighed. Guard duty was not as exciting as he'd been expecting.

I did not get bored watching him.

After maybe an hour or two, he started looking at me again, flickering glances. His lips opened
a few times, and then he thought better of whatever he was going to say.

I laid my chin on my knees and waited as he struggled. My patience was rewarded.

“That planet you were coming from before you were in Melanie,” he finally said. “What was it
like there? Was it like here?”

The direction of his thoughts caught me off guard. “No,” I said. With only Jamie here, it felt
right to speak normally instead of whispering. “No, it was very different.”

“Will you tell me what it was like?” he asked, cocking his head to one side the way he used to
when he was really interested in one of Melanie's bedtime stories.

So I told him.

I told him all about the See Weeds' waterlogged planet. I told him about the two suns, the
elliptical orbit, the gray waters, the unmoving permanence of roots, the stunning vistas of a
thousand eyes, the endless conversations of a million soundless voices that all could hear.

He listened with wide eyes and a fascinated smile.

“Is that the only other place?” he asked when I fell silent, trying to think of anything I'd missed.

“Are theSee Weeds”–he laughed once at the pun–“the only other aliens?”

I laughed, too. “Hardly. No more than I'm the only alien on this world.”

“Tell me.”

So I told him about the Bats on the Singing World–how it was to live in musical blindness,
how it was to fly. I told him about the Mists Planet–how it felt to have thick white fur and four
hearts to keep warm, how to give claw beasts a wide berth.

I started to tell him about the Planet of the Flowers, about the color and the light, but he
interrupted me with a new question.

“What about the little green guys with the triangle heads and the big black eyes? The ones who
crashed in Roswell and all that. Was that you guys?”

“Nope, not us.”

“Was it all fake?”

“I don't know–maybe, maybe not. It's a big universe, and there's a lot of company out there.”

“How did you come here, then–if you weren't the little green guys, who were you? You had to
have bodies to move and stuff, right?”

“Right,” I agreed, surprised at his grasp of the facts at hand. I shouldn't have been surprised–I
knew how bright he was, his mind like a thirsty sponge. “We used our Spider selves in the very
beginning, to get things started.”


I told him about the Spiders–a fascinating species. Brilliant, the most incredible minds we'd
ever come across, and each Spider had three of them. Three brains, one in each section of their
segmented bodies. We'd yet to find a problem they couldn't solve for us. And yet they were so
coldly analytical that they rarely came up with a problem they were curious enough to solve for
themselves. Of all our hosts, the Spiders welcomed our occupation the most. They barely
noticed the difference, and when they did, they seemed to appreciate the direction we provided.

The few souls who had walked on the surface of the Spiders' planet before implantation told us
that it was cold and gray–no wonder the Spiders only saw in black and white and had a limited
sense of temperature. The Spiders lived short lives, but the young were born knowing
everything their parent had, so no knowledge was lost.

I'd lived out one of the short life terms of the species and then left with no desire to return. The
amazing clarity of my thoughts, the easy answers that came to any question almost without
effort, the march and dance of numbers were no substitute for emotion and color, which I could
only vaguely understand when inside that body. I wondered how any soul could be content
there, but the planet had been self-sufficient for thousands of Earth years. It was still open for
settling only because the Spiders reproduced so quickly–great sacs of eggs.

I started to tell Jamie how the offensive had been launched here. The Spiders were our best
engineers–the ships they made for us danced nimbly and undetectably through the stars. The
Spiders' bodies were almost as useful as their minds: four long legs to each segment–from which
they'd earned their nickname on this planet–and twelve-fingered hands on each leg. These
six-jointed fingers were as slender and strong as steel threads, capable of the most delicate
procedures. About the mass of a cow, but short and lean, the Spiders had no trouble with the
first insertions. They were stronger than humans, smarter than humans, and prepared, which the
humans were not.…

I stopped short, midsentence, when I saw the crystalline sparkle on Jamie's cheek.

He was staring straight ahead at nothing, his lips pressed in a tight line. A large drop of salt
water rolled slowly down the cheek closest to me.

Idiot,Melanie chastised me.Didn't you think what your story would mean to him?

Didn'tyouthink of warning me sooner?

She didn't answer. No doubt she'd been as caught up in the storytelling as I was.

“Jamie,” I murmured. My voice was thick. The sight of his tear had done strange things to my
throat. “Jamie, I'm so sorry. I wasn't thinking.”

Jamie shook his head. “'S okay. I asked. I wanted to know how it happened.” His voice was
gruff, trying to hide the pain.

It was instinctive, the desire to lean forward and wipe that tear away. I tried at first to ignore it;

I was not Melanie. But the tear hung there, motionless, as if it would never fall. Jamie's eyes
stayed fixed on the blank wall, and his lips trembled.

He wasn't far from me. I stretched my arm out to brush my fingers against his cheek; the tear
spread thin across his skin and disappeared. Acting on instinct again, I left my hand against his
warm cheek, cradling his face.

For a short second, he pretended to ignore me.

Then he rolled toward me, his eyes closed, his hands reaching. He curled into my side, his cheek
against the hollow of my shoulder, where it had once fit better, and sobbed.

These were not the tears of a child, and that made them more profound–made it more sacred
and painful that he would cry them in front of me. This was the grief of a man at the funeral for
his entire family.

My arms wound around him, not fitting as easily as they used to, and I cried, too.

“I'm sorry,” I said again and again. I apologized for everything in those two words. That we'd
ever found this place. That we'd chosen it. That I'd been the one to take his sister. That I'd
brought her back here and hurt him again. That I'd made him cry today with my insensitive

I didn't drop my arms when his anguish quieted; I was in no hurry to let him go. It seemed as
though my body had been starving for this from the beginning, but I'd never understood before
now what would feed the hunger. The mysterious bond of mother and child–so strong on this
planet–was not a mystery to me any longer. There was no bond greater than one that required
your life for another's. I'd understood this truth before; what I had not understood waswhy. Now

I knew why a mother would give her life for her child, and this knowledge would forever shape
the way I saw the universe.

“I know I've taught you better than that, kid.”

We jumped apart. Jamie lurched to his feet, but I curled closer to the ground, cringing into the

Jeb leaned down and picked up the gun we'd both forgotten from the floor. “You've got to
mind a gun better than this, Jamie.” His tone was very gentle–it softened the criticism. He
reached out to tousle Jamie's shaggy hair.

Jamie ducked under Jeb's hand, his face scarlet with mortification.

“Sorry,” he muttered, and turned as if to flee. He stopped after just a step, though, and swiveled
back to look at me. “I don't know your name,” he said.

“They called me Wanderer,” I whispered.


I nodded.

He nodded, too, then hurried away. The back of his neck was still red.

When he was gone, Jeb leaned against the rock and slid down till he was seated where Jamie
had been. Like Jamie, he kept the gun cradled in his lap.

“That's a real interesting name you've got there,” he told me. He seemed to be back to his
chatty mood. “Maybe sometime you'll tell me how you got it. Bet that's a good story. But it's
kind of a mouthful, don't you think? Wanderer?”

I stared at him.

“Mind if I call you Wanda, for short? It flows easier.”

He waited this time for a response. Finally, I shrugged. It didn't matter to me whether he called
me “kid” or some strange human nickname. I believed it was meant kindly.

“Okay, then, Wanda.” He smiled, pleased at his invention. “It's nice to have a handle on you.

Makes me feel like we're old friends.”

He grinned that huge, cheek-stretching grin, and I couldn't help grinning back, though my smile
was more rueful than delighted. He was supposed to be my enemy. He was probably insane.

And he was my friend. Not that he wouldn't kill me if things turned out that way, but he
wouldn't like doing it. With humans, what more could you ask of a friend?

[How To Capture His Heart  and Make Him Addicted To You Forever? Learn More Here Capture His Heart Reviews » ]
Continue Reading The Host By Stephanie Meyer:
Chapters:  Prologue | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 |24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | Epilogue

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