Four: A Divergent Collection (Divergent 4) - Page 12


it so many times that it loses all meaning, the noise relentless and repetitive and all-consuming.

Then we all drink. This is how the Dauntless mourn: by chasing grief into the oblivion of alcohol and leaving it there.

All right. Fine. I can chase it too.

+++

My final examination, my fear landscape, is administered by Tori and observed by the Dauntless leaders, including Max. I go somewhere in the middle of the pack of the initiates, and for the first time, I’m not even a little bit nervous. In the fear landscape, everyone is aware during the simulation, so I have nothing to hide. I jab myself in the neck with the needle and let reality disappear.

I’ve done it dozens of times. I find myself at the top of a high building and run off the edge. I get shut into a box and allow myself a brief moment of panic before slamming my shoulder into the right wall, shattering the wood with the impact, impossibly. I pick up a gun and shoot an innocent person—this time a faceless man dressed in Dauntless black—in the head without even thinking about it.

This time, when the Marcuses surround me, they look more like him than they did before. His mouth is a mouth, though his eyes are still empty pits. And when he draws back his arm to hit me, he’s holding a belt, not a barbed chain or some other weapon that can tear me apart piece by piece. I take a few hits, then dive at the nearest Marcus, wrapping my hands around his throat. I punch wildly at his face, and the violence gives me just a brief moment of satisfaction before I wake up, crouched on the floor of the fear landscape room.

The lights go on in the room beyond this one, so I can see the people inside it. There are two rows of waiting initiates, including Eric, who now has so many piercings in his lip that I find myself daydreaming about yanking them out one by one. Sitting in front of them are the three Dauntless leaders, including Max, all of whom are nodding and smiling. Tori gives me a thumbs-up.

I went into the examination thinking I didn’t care anymore, not about passing, not about doing well, not about being Dauntless. But Tori’s thumbs-up makes me swell with pride, and I let myself smile a little when I walk out. Amar may be dead, but he always wanted me to do well. I can’t say I did it for him—I didn’t really do it for anyone, not even myself. But at least I didn’t embarrass him.

All the initiates who are finished with their final examination wait for the results in the transfer dormitory, Dauntless-borns and transfers alike. Zeke and Shauna whoop when I come in, and I sit down on the edge of my bed.

“How’d it go?” Zeke asks me.

“Fine,” I say. “No surprises. Yours?”

“Awful, but I made it out alive,” he says, shrugging. “Shauna got some new ones, though.”

“I handled them,” Shauna says with exaggerated nonchalance. She has a pillow across her knees, one of Eric’s. He won’t like that.

Her act breaks, and she grins. “I was pretty awesome.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Zeke says.

Shauna smacks him with the pillow, right in the face. He snatches it from her.

“What do you want me to say? Yes, you were awesome. Yes, you’re the best Dauntless ever. Happy?” He hits her in the shoulder with the pillow. “She’s been bragging nonstop since we started the fear sims because she’s better at them than I am. It’s annoying.”

“It’s just revenge for how much you bragged during combat training,” she says. “‘Did you see that great hit I got right in the beginning?’ Blah, blah, blah.”

She pushes him, and he grabs her wrists. She breaks free and flicks his ear, and they’re laughing, fighting.

I may not understand Dauntless affection, but apparently I know flirtation when I see it. I smirk. I guess that resolves the Shauna question, not that it was really plaguing me. That was probably an answer in and of itself.

We sit around for another hour as the others finish their final exams, trickling in one after another. The last one to come in is Eric, and he just stands in the doorway, looking smug.

“Time to get our results,” he says.

The others all get up and walk past him on their way out. Some of them seem nervous; others look cocky, sure of themselves. I wait until they’re all gone before I walk to the doorway, but I don’t go through it. I stop, crossing my arms and staring at Eric for a few seconds.

“Got something to say?” he says.

“I know it was you,” I say. “Who told the Erudite about Amar. I know.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he says, but it’s obvious that he does.

“You’re the reason he’s dead,” I say. I’m surprised by how quickly the anger comes on. My body quakes with it, my face hot.

“Did you get hit in the head during your exam, Stiff?” Eric says, smirking. “You’re not making any sense.”

I shove him back, hard, against the door. Then I hold him there with one arm—I’m surprised, for a moment, how much stronger I am—and lean in close to his face. “I know it was you,” I say, searching his black eyes for something, anything. I see nothing, just dead-fish eyes, impenetrable. “You’re the reason he’s dead, and you won’t get away with it.”

I let him go and walk down the hallway toward the cafeteria.

+++

The dining hall is packed with people dressed in their Dauntless best—all piercings exaggerated by flashier rings, all tattoos on display, even if it means going without clothing. I try to keep my eyes on people’s faces as I navigate through the crush of bodies. The scents of cake and cooked meat and bread and spices are on the air, making my mouth water—I forgot to eat lunch.

When I reach my usual table, I steal a roll from Zeke’s plate when he’s not looking and stand with the others to wait for our results. I hope they won’t make us wait too long. I feel like I’m holding a live wire, my hands twitching and my thoughts frantic, scattered. Zeke and Shauna try to talk to me, but none of us can shout loud enough over the noise for them to hear me, so we resign ourselves to waiting without speaking.

Max gets on one of the tables and holds up his hands for quiet. He mostly gets it, though even he can’t completely silence the Dauntless, some of whom go on talking and joking like nothing ever happened. Still, I can hear him as he gives his speech.

“A few weeks ago, a group of scrawny, scared initiates gave their blood to the coals and made the big jump into Dauntless,” Max says. “To be honest, I didn’t think any of them would make it through the first day”—he pauses to allow for laughter, and it comes, even though it wasn’t a very good joke—“but I’m pleased to announce that this year, all of our initiates attained the required scores necessary to become Dauntless!”

Everyone cheers. Despite the assurance that they won’t be cut, Zeke and Shauna exchange nervous looks—the order in which we are ranked still determines what kind of job we can choose in Dauntless. Zeke puts his arm across Shauna’s shoulders and squeezes.

I feel suddenly alone again.

“No more delays,” Max says. “I know our initiates are jumping out of their skin. So, here are our twelve new Dauntless members!”

The initiates’ names appear on a large screen behind him, large enough even for people at the back of the room to see. I search the list automatically for their names:

6. Zeke

7. Ash

8. Shauna

Instantly, some of my tension disappears. I follow the list up, and panic stabs me for just a second when I can’t find my own name. But then, there it is, right at the top.

1. Four

2. Eric

Shauna lets out a yell, and she and Zeke crush me into a sloppy hug, their weight almost knocking me to the ground. I laugh and bring my arms up to return the gesture.

Somewhere in the chaos, I dropped my dinner roll—I crush it under my heel and smile as people surround me, people I don’t even know, slapping my shoulders and grinning and saying my name. My name, which is only “Four” now, all suspicions about my origin and my identity forgotten now that I am on

e of them, now that I am Dauntless.

I am not Tobias Eaton, not anymore, never again. I am Dauntless.

+++

That night, dizzy with excitement and so full of food I can hardly walk, I slip away from the celebration and climb the paths to the top of the Pit, to the lobby of the Pire. I walk out of the doors and suck in a deep breath of the night air, which is cool and refreshing, unlike the hot, close air in the cafeteria.

I walk toward the train tracks, too full of manic energy to stay still. There is a train coming, the light fixed to its front car blinking as it comes toward me. It charges past with power and energy, loud as thunder in my ears. I lean closer to it, for the first time savoring the thrill of fear in my stomach, to be so close to such a dangerous thing.

Then I see something dark and human-like standing in one of the last cars. A tall, lean female figure, leaning out of the car, holding on to one of the handles. For just a second as the blur of the train passes me, I see dark, curly hair and a hooked nose.

She looks almost like my mother.

And then she’s gone, gone with the train.

THE SMALL APARTMENT is bare, the floor still streaked with broom strokes at the corners. I don’t own anything to fill the space except my Abnegation clothes, which are stuffed into the bottom of the bag at my side. I throw it on the bare mattress and check the drawers beneath the bed for sheets.

The Dauntless lottery was kind to me, because I was ranked first, and because unlike my outgoing fellow initiates, I wanted to live alone. The others, like Zeke and Shauna, grew up surrounded by Dauntless community, and to them the silence and the stillness of living alone would be unbearable.

I make the bed quickly, pulling the top sheet taut, so it almost has corners. The sheets are worn in places, from moths or from prior use, I’m not sure. The blanket, a blue quilt, smells like cedar and dust. When I open the bag that contains my meager possessions, I hold the Abnegation shirt—torn, from where I had to tear away fabric to bind the wound in my hand—in front of me. It looks small—I doubt I could even fit into it if I tried to put it on now, but I don’t try, I just fold it and drop it in the drawer.

I hear a knock, and I say, “Come in!” thinking it’s Zeke or Shauna. But Max, a tall man with dark skin and bruised knuckles, walks into my apartment, his hands folded in front of him. He surveys the room once and curls his lip with disgust at the gray slacks folded on my bed. The reaction surprises me a little—there aren’t many in this city who would choose Abnegation as their faction, but there aren’t many who hate it, either. Apparently I’ve found one of them.


Tags: Veronica Roth Divergent Science Fiction
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