The Host By Stephanie Meyer - PROLOGUE: Inserted

The Host By Stephanie Meyer - PROLOGUE: Inserted

The Healer's name was Fords Deep Waters.

Because he was a soul, by nature he was all things good: compassionate, patient, honest,
virtuous, and full of love. Anxiety was an unusual emotion for Fords Deep Waters.

Irritation was even rarer. However, because Fords Deep Waters lived inside a human body,
irritation was sometimes inescapable.

As the whispers of the Healing students buzzed in the far corner of the operating room, his lips
pressed together into a tight line. The expression felt out of place on a mouth more often given
to smiling.

Darren, his regular assistant, saw the grimace and patted his shoulder.

The Host By Stephanie Meyer

“They're just curious, Fords,” he said quietly.

“An insertion is hardly an interesting or challenging procedure. Any soul on the street could
perform it in an emergency. There's nothing for them to learn by observing today.” Fords was
surprised to hear the sharp edge marring his normally soothing voice.

“They've never seen a grown human before,” Darren said.

Fords raised one eyebrow. “Are they blind to each other's faces? Do they not have mirrors?”

“You know what I mean–a wild human. Still soulless. One of the insurgents.”

Fords looked at the girl's unconscious body, laid out facedown on the operating table. Pity
swelled in his heart as he remembered the condition her poor, broken body had been in when the

Seekers had brought her to the Healing facility. Such pain she'd endured.…

Of course she was perfect now–completely healed. Fords had seen to that.

“She looks the same as any of us,” Fords murmured to Darren. “We all have human faces. And
when she wakes up, she will be one of us, too.”

“It's just exciting for them, that's all.”

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The Host By Stephanie Meyer

“The soul we implant today deserves more respect than to have her host body gawked at this
way. She'll already have far too much to deal with as she acclimates. It's not fair to put her
through this.” Bythis, he did not mean the gawking. Fords heard the sharp edge return to his

Darren patted him again. “It will be fine. The Seeker needs information and –”

At the wordSeeker, Fords gave Darren a look that could only be described as a glare. Darren
blinked in shock.

“I'm sorry,” Fords apologized at once. “I didn't mean to react so negatively. It's just that I fear
for this soul.”

His eyes moved to the cryotank on its stand beside the table. The light was a steady, dull red,
indicating that it was occupied and in hibernation mode.
The Host By Stephanie Meyer

“This soul was specially picked for the assignment,” Darren said soothingly. “She is exceptional
among our kind–braver than most. Her lives speak for themselves. I think she would volunteer,
if it were possible to ask her.”

“Who among us would not volunteer if asked to do something for the greater good? But is that
really the case here? Is the greater good served by this? The question is not her willingness, but
what it is right to ask any soul to bear.”

The Healing students were discussing the hibernating soul as well. Fords could hear the
whispers clearly; their voices were rising now, getting louder with their excitement.

“She's lived on six planets.”

“I heard seven.”

“I heard she's never lived two terms as the same host species.”

“Is that possible?”

“She's been almost everything. A Flower, a Bear, a Spider –”

“A See Weed, a Bat –”

“Even a Dragon!”

“I don't believe it–not seven planets.”

“At least seven. She started on the Origin.”

“Really? The Origin?”

“Quiet, please!” Fords interrupted. “If you cannot observe professionally and silently, then I will
have to ask you to remove yourselves.”

Abashed, the six students fell silent and edged away from one another.

“Let's get on with this, Darren.”

Everything was prepared. The appropriate medicines were laid out beside the human girl. Her
long dark hair was secured beneath a surgical cap, exposing her slender neck. Deeply sedated,
she breathed slowly in and out. Her sun-browned skin had barely a mark to show for her…

“Begin thaw sequence now, please, Darren.”
The Host By Stephanie Meyer

The gray-haired assistant was already waiting beside the cryotank, his hand resting on the dial.

He flipped the safety back and spun down on the dial. The red light atop the small gray cylinder
began to pulse, flashing faster as the seconds passed, changing color.

Fords concentrated on the unconscious body; he edged the scalpel through the skin at the base
of the subject's skull with small, precise movements, and then sprayed on the medication that
stilled the excess flow of blood before he widened the fissure. Fords delved delicately beneath
the neck muscles, careful not to injure them, exposing the pale bones at the top of the spinal

“The soul is ready, Fords,” Darren informed him.

“So am I. Bring her.”

Fords felt Darren at his elbow and knew without looking that his assistant would be prepared,
his hand stretched out and waiting; they had worked together for many years now. Fords held
the gap open.

“Send her home,” he whispered.

Darren's hand moved into view, the silver gleam of an awaking soul in his cupped palm.

Fords never saw an exposed soul without being struck by the beauty of it.

The soul shone in the brilliant lights of the operating room, brighter than the reflective silver
instrument in his hand. Like a living ribbon, she twisted and rippled, stretching, happy to be free
of the cryotank. Her thin, feathery attachments, nearly a thousand of them, billowed softly like
pale silver hair. Though they were all lovely, this one seemed particularly graceful to Fords Deep

He was not alone in his reaction. He heard Darren's soft sigh, heard the admiring murmurs of
the students.

Gently, Darren placed the small glistening creature inside the opening Fords had made in the
human's neck. The soul slid smoothly into the offered space, weaving herself into the alien
anatomy. Fords admired the skill with which she possessed her new home. Her attachments
wound tightly into place around the nerve centers, some elongating and reaching deeper to
where he couldn't see, under and up into the brain, the optic nerves, the ear canals. She was very
quick, very firm in her movements. Soon, only one small segment of her glistening body was

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“Well done,” he whispered to her, knowing that she could not hear him. The human girl was
the one with ears, and she still slept soundly.

It was a routine matter to finish the job. He cleaned and healed the wound, applied the salve
that sealed the incision closed behind the soul, and then brushed the scar-softening powder
across the line left on her neck.

“Perfect, as usual,” said the assistant, who, for some reason unfathomable to Fords, had never
made a change from his human host's name, Darren.

Fords sighed. “I regret this day's work.”

“You're only doing your duty as a Healer.”

“This is the rare occasion when Healing creates an injury.”

Darren began to clean up the workstation. He didn't seem to know how to answer. Fords was
filling his Calling. That was enough for Darren.

But not enough for Fords Deep Waters, who was a true Healer to the core of his being. He
gazed anxiously at the human female's body, peaceful in slumber, knowing that this peace
would be shattered as soon as she awoke. All the horror of this young woman's end would be
borne by the innocent soul he'd just placed inside her.

As he leaned over the human and whispered in her ear, Fords wished fervently that the soul
inside could hear him now.

“Good luck, little wanderer, good luck. How I wish you didn't need it.”

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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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