Hugh Howey: First Shift: Legacy

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Hugh Howey First Shift: Legacy
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    First Shift: Legacy
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First Shift: Legacy: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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In 2007, the Center for Automation in Nanobiotech (CAN) outlined the hardware and software platform that would one day allow robots smaller than human cells to make medical diagnoses, conduct repairs, and even self-propagate. In the same year, the CBS network re-aired a program about the effects of propranolol on sufferers of extreme trauma. A simple pill, it had been discovered, could wipe out the memory of any traumatic event. At almost the same moment in humanity’s broad history, mankind had discovered the means for bringing about its utter downfall. And the ability to forget it ever happened. “These books by Hugh Howey absolutely define page-turner! ‘First Shift’ is part 6 in the Silo Series, a prequel to Wool 1-5.” M. Vernau

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Hugh Howey



For Tongjai and Andy Bell

Together Forever

In 2007, the Center for Automation in Nanobiotech (CAN) outlined the hardware and software platforms that would one day allow robots smaller than human cells to make medical diagnoses, conduct repairs, and even self-propagate.

That same year, CBS re-aired a program about the effects of propranolol on sufferers of extreme trauma. A simple pill, it had been discovered, could wipe out the memory of any traumatic event.

At almost the same moment in humanity’s broad history, mankind had discovered the means for bringing about its utter downfall. And the ability to forget it ever happened.


2110 • Beneath the hills of Fulton County, Georgia

Troy returned to the living and found himself inside of a tomb. He awoke to a world of confinement, a thick sheet of frosted glass pressed near to his face.

Dark shapes stirred on the other side of the icy murk. He tried to lift his arms, to beat on the glass, but his muscles were too weak. He attempted to scream—but could only cough. The taste in his mouth was foul. His ears rang with the clank of heavy locks opening, the hiss of air, the squeak of hinges long dormant.

The lights overhead were bright, the hands on him warm. They helped him sit while he continued to cough, his breath clouding the chill air. Someone had water. Pills to take. The water was cool, the pills bitter. Troy fought down a few gulps. He was unable to hold the glass without help, hands trembling, memories flooding back, scenes from long nightmares. The feeling of deep time and yesterdays mingled. He shivered. The pills hit his gut, and his grip on the memories seemed to loosen.

A paper gown. The sting of tape removed. A tug on his arm, a tube pulled from his groin. Two men dressed in white helped him out of the coffin. Steam rose all around him, air condensing and dispersing like dreams upon waking.

His legs were that of a foal’s, working at birth but not well. Blinking against the glare, exercising lids long shut, Troy saw the rows of coffins full of the living that stretched toward the distant and curved walls. The ceiling felt low; there was the suffocating press of dirt stacked high above. All that dirt and the dead, stacked high. And the years. So many years had passed. Anyone he cared about would be gone.

Everything was gone.

The pills were bitter in Troy’s throat. He tried to swallow. The memories were fading. He was going to lose anything bad he’d ever known.

He collapsed—but the men in the white coveralls saw this coming. They caught him and lowered him to the ground, a paper gown rustling on shivering skin.

Memories flooded back before fading; recollections rained down like bombs and then were gone. Awareness came—however fleeting.

The pills could only do so much. It took time to destroy the past. Until then, the nightmares were vivid and with him.

Troy sobbed into his palms, a sympathetic hand resting on his head. The two men in white gifted him with quiet and calm. They didn’t rush the process. Here was a courtesy passed from one waking soul to the next, something all the men sleeping in their coffins would one day rise to discover.

And eventually… forget.


2049 • Washington, D.C.

The tall glass trophy cabinets had once served as bookshelves. There were hints. Little things like hardware on the shelves that dated back centuries, while the hinges and the tiny locks went back mere decades. There was the clash of wood: the framing around the glass was cherry, but the cases had been built of oak. Someone had attempted to remedy this with a few coats of stain, but the grain didn’t match. The color wasn’t perfect. To trained eyes, details such as these were glaring.

Congressman Donald Keene gathered these clues without meaning to. He simply saw that long ago there had been a great purge, a making of space. At some point in the past, the Senator’s waiting room had been stripped of its obligatory law books until only a handful remained. These beleaguered survivors sat silently in the dim corners of the glass cabinets. They were shut-in, their spines laced with cracks, old leather flaking off like sunburnt skin.

The rest of the books—all the survivors’ kin—were gone. In their place stood a collection of mementos from the Senator’s two lifetimes of service.

Congressman Keene could see, reflected in the glass, a handful of his fellow freshmen pacing and stirring, their terms of service newly begun. Like Donald, they were young and still hopelessly optimistic. They were bringing change to Capitol Hill. And this time, somehow, they hoped to deliver where their similarly naïve predecessors had not.

While they waited their turns to meet with the great Senator Thurman from their home state of Georgia, they chatted nervously amongst themselves. They were a gaggle of priests, Donald thought, all lined up to meet the Pope, to kiss his ring. He let out a heavy breath and focused on the contents of the case, lost himself in the treasures behind the glass while a fellow representative from Georgia prattled on about his district’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“—and they have this detailed guide on their website, this response and readiness manual in case of, okay, get this, a zombie invasion! Can you believe that? Zombies. Like even the CDC thinks something could go wrong and suddenly we’re all eating each other—”

Donald stifled a smile, fearful it would be spied in the glass. He looked over a collection of photographs, one each of the Senator with the last four presidents. It was the same pose and handshake in each shot, the same staged background of windless flags and fancy oversized seals. The Senator seemed hardly to change as the presidents came and went. His hair started white and it stayed white; he seemed perfectly unfazed by the passing of decades, as if this was how he’d always been.

Seeing the photographs side by side devalued each of them somehow. They looked staged. Phony. It was as if the world’s most powerful men had begged their mommies to take their picture while they stood and posed with this cardboard cutout, this imposing plastic statue, some roadside attraction.

Donald laughed, and the congressman from Atlanta joined him.

“I know, right? Zombies. It’s hilarious. But think about it, okay? Why would the CDC even have this field manual unless—?”

Donald wanted to correct his fellow freshman, to show him what he’d really been laughing about. Look at the smiles, he wanted to say. They were on the faces of the presidents. The Senator looked like he’d rather be anyplace else. It was as if each in this succession of commanders in chief knew who the more powerful man was, who would be there long after they had come and gone.

“—it’s advice like, everyone should have a baseball bat with their flashlights and candles, right? Just in case. You know, for bashing brains.”

Donald pulled out his phone and checked the time. He glanced at the door leading off the waiting room and wondered how much longer he’d have to wait. Putting the phone away, he studied a shelf where a military uniform had been carefully arranged like a delicate work of origami. The left breast of the jacket featured a Lego-brick wall of medals; the sleeves were folded over and pinned to highlight the gold braids sewn along the cuffs. In front of the uniform, a collection of decorative coins rested in a custom wooden rack, tokens of appreciation from the men and women still serving.

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