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Her name is Melanie. There used to be lots; every week, or every couple of weeks, voices in the night. Muttered orders, complaints, the occasional curse. A cell door slamming. But they got it fast. In the meantime, she has the cell, the corridor, the classroom and the shower room. The cell is small and square.

The children are hypnotised. He even has the same name as a flower, Melanie thinks, and she likes his poem a whole lot better. But maybe the most important thing that comes out of this day is that Melanie now knows what date it is. She clears a place in her mind, just for the date, and every day she goes to that place and adds one. She makes sure to ask Miss Justineau if this is a leap year, which it is.

Caroline Caldwell is very skilled at separating brains from skulls. She does it quickly and methodically, and she gets the brain out in one piece, with minimal tissue damage. But her mind is clear, with only the very slightest sense of a hallucinatory edge to that clarity.

The Girl with all the Gifts

She watches herself do it, approving the virtuosity of her own technique. The first cut is to the rear of the occipital bone—easing her slimmest bone-saw into the gap that Selkirk has opened up for her, through the peeled-back layers of flesh and between the nubs and buds of exposed muscle.

She extends that first cut out to either side, taking care to maintain a straight horizontal line corresponding to the widest part of the skull. She journeys on, the bone-saw flicking lightly back and forth like the bow of a violin, through the parietal and temporal bones, keeping the same straight line, until she comes at last to the superciliary ridges.

At that point, the straight line ceases to matter. Which flicker in rapid saccades, focus and defocus in restless busy-work.

The Girl With All the Gifts ( M. R. Carey)

The next part is delicate, and difficult. The subject sighs, although he has no need for oxygen any more. This is not a conversation, or a shared ex perience of any kind.

She sees Selkirk watching her, with a slightly guarded expression. Piqued, she snaps her fingers and points, making Selkirk pick up the bone-saw and hand it back to her. Lifting the front of the calvarium, Caldwell snips loose cranial nerves and blood vessels with a number ten pencil-grip scalpel, lifting the brain gently from the front as it comes free. Once the spinal cord is exposed, she cuts that too. Now she lifts it; with both hands, from underneath, teasing it up with the tips of her fingers through the opening in the skull without ever letting it touch the edge.

Subject number twenty-two, whose name was Liam if you accept the idea of giving these things a name, continues to stare at her, his eyes tracking her movements. Dr Caldwell takes the view that the moment of death is the moment when the pathogen crosses the blood—brain barrier. And the parasite, whose needs and tropisms are very different from human needs and human instincts, is a diligent steward.

It continues to run a wide range of bodily systems and networks without reference to the brain, which is just as well seeing as the brain is about to be cut into thin slices and set between glass plates. She has that tentative, pleading tone in her voice that Caldwell despises. If anything were ever to make her shake her fist at the untenanted heavens, it would be this.

There was a device called an ATLUM —an automated lathe ultramicrotome—which with its diamond blade could be calibrated to slice brains into perfect cross-sections of single-neuron thickness. Thirty thousand slices per millimetre, give or take.

Mention Robert Edwards to Dr Caldwell. I bet he or she had an automated lathe ultramicrotome. And a TEAM 0. She had her chance once to do it in style. But nothing came of it, and here she is. Alone, but complete unto herself. Still fighting. Selkirk gives a bleat of dismay, jolting Caldwell out of her profitless reverie.

Level with the twelfth vertebra. She remembers Dr Caldwell saying those words on the day when it all happened. Mr Whitaker is having one of those up-and-down days when he brings his bottle into class—the bottle full to the brim with the medicine that makes him first better and then worse. Melanie has watched this strange and mildly disturbing progress enough times that she can predict its course. Mr Whitaker comes into class nervous and irritable, determined to find fault with everything the children say or do.

Then he drinks the medicine, and it spreads through him like ink through water it was Miss Justineau who showed them what that looks like. His body relaxes, losing its tics and twitches. If he could only stop at that point, it would be wonderful, but he keeps drinking and the miracle is reversed. Knowing this cycle well, Melanie times her question to coincide with the expansive phase.

What might those two little ducks be, she asks Mr Whitaker, that Dr Caldwell mentioned? Why did she mention them right then, on the day when she took Marcia and Liam away? The caller calls out numbers at random, and the first player to have all their numbers called wins a prize. Every number has a special phrase or group of words attached to it. Two little ducks is twenty-two, because of the shapes the numbers make on the page.

So all Dr Caldwell was doing was saying twenty-two twice, once in ordinary numbers and once in this code. Saying two times over that she was choosing Liam instead of someone else. Melanie thinks about numbers.

Her secret language uses numbers—different numbers of fingers held up with your right hand and your left hand, or your right hand twice, if your left hand is still tied to the chair. Maybe Miss Justineau will bring the world into the classroom again—will show them what summer looks like, the way she did with spring.

She reads from books a lot more, and organises games and sing-songs a lot less. Maybe Miss Justineau is sad for some reason. That thought makes Melanie both desperate and angry.

And here he is walking into the classroom now, at the head of half a dozen of his people, his scowling face half crossed out by the wobbly diagonal of his scar. He does it really fast and jerky, the way he does most things. They stand to attention and wait until Sergeant nods permission.

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One of them covers Melanie with his handgun while the other starts to undo the straps, the neck strap first and from behind. Jesus Christ! Melanie scowls at him, as fierce as she can get. Melanie is outraged that he took the biggest insult she could think of and laughed it off.

She casts around desperately for a way to raise the stakes. Because she loves me and wants to be with me!

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And all you do is make her sad, so she hates you! She hates you as bad as if you were a hungry! Sergeant stares at her, and something happens in his face.

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The fingers of his big hands pull back slowly into fists. He puts his hands on the arms of the chair and slams it back against the wall. He throws the door open and waits for them to move, looking at one of them and then the other until they give up and leave Melanie where she is and go out through the door. He slams the door shut behind him, and she hears the bolts shoot home.

Justineau still says nothing, and Caldwell seems to feel a need to fill the vacuum. Maybe to overfill it. Our survival, Helen. Some hope of a future. Some way out of this mess. This base and this mission may both be under military jurisdiction, but Caldwell is still her boss, and when that call comes, she has to answer.

Has to leave the classroom and visit the torture chamber. Brains in jars. Tissue cultures in which recognisably human limbs and organs spawn lumpy cloudscapes of grey fungal matter. A hand and forearm—child-sized, of course—flayed and opened, the flesh pinned back and slivers of yellow plastic inserted to prise apart muscle and leave interior structures open to examination. The room is cluttered and claustrophobic, the blinds always drawn down to keep the outside world at a clinically optimum distance.

The light—pure white, unforgivingly intense—comes from fluorescent tubes that lie flush with the ceiling. Caldwell is preparing microscope slides, using a razor blade to take slivers of tissue from what looks like a tongue.

Pretending not to see would, she believes, take her past some point of no return, past the event horizon of hypocrisy into a black hole of solipsism. Who almost got to be part of the great big save-the-humanrace think tank, back in the early days of what came to be called the Breakdown. A couple of dozen scientists, secret mission, secret government training—the biggest deal in a rapidly shrinking world. Many were called, and few were chosen.

Caldwell was one of the ones at the front of the line when the doors closed in her face. Does that still sting, all these years later? Is that what drove her crazy? It was so long ago now that Justineau has forgotten most of the details.

Three years after the first wave of infections, when the freefalling societies of the developed world hit what they mistakenly thought was bottom. In the UK the numbers of infected appeared briefly to have stabilised, and a hundred initiatives were discussed.

Beacon was going to find the cure, reclaim the cities, and restore a much-longed-for status quo. In that strange false dawn, two mobile labs were commissioned. Instead they were jury-rigged quickly and elegantly by refitting two vehicles already owned by the London Natural History Museum. Intended to house travelling exhibitions, Charles Darwin and Rosalind Franklin—Charlie and Rosie—now became huge roving research stations.

Each was the length of an articulated truck, and almost twice as wide. Each was fitted with state-of-the-art biology and organic chemistry labs, together with berths for a crew of six researchers, four guards and two drivers. They also benefited from a range of refurbishments approved by the Department of Defence, including the fitting of caterpillar treads, inch-thick external armour and both forward- and rear-mounted field guns and flame-throwers.

The great green hopes, as they were called, were unveiled with as much fanfare as could be mustered. Politicians hoping to be the heroes of the coming human renaissance made speeches over them and broke champagne bottles off their bows. They were launched with tears and prayers and poems and exordiums. Things fell apart really quickly after that—the respite was just a chaos artefact, created by powerful forces momentarily cancelling each other out. No amount of expertly choreographed PR could prevail, in the end, against Armageddon.

It strolled over the barricades and took its pleasure. Nobody ever saw those hand-picked geniuses again. Only Caroline Caldwell can save us now! God fucking help us.

Caldwell makes a non-committal gesture, purses her lips. She wears lipstick every day, despite its scarcity, and she wears it to good effect; puts up an optimal front to the world.

In an age of rust, she comes up stainless steel. You wanted them to impose a moratorium on physical testing of the subjects. Justineau has no answer, apart from the obvious one. You refused. The job still remains to be done. I choose to hold you to your contract. If you keep me here, you have to put up with minor inconveniences like me having a conscience. I define the programme, and your part in it. You seem to have made a fundamental error of judgement, and unless you can step away from it, it will taint all your observations of the subjects.

An error of judgement. And mostly displaced towards the top end of that range? The works. Caldwell shrugs. High-functioning hungries.

The fact that they can talk may make them easier to empathise with, but it also makes them very much more dangerous than the animalistic variety we usually encounter. It justifies anything. Justineau laughs—a harsh and ugly spasming of breath that hurts her coming out. And you did it without anaesthetic. Their brain cells have a lipid fraction so small that alveolar concentrations never cross the action threshold.

Back before I got here. Before you requisitioned me. You stopped because there were no surprises. So yeah, I went over your head because I was hoping there might be somebody sane up there. It will be a relief. It will all be over. The tank is about eighteen inches by twelve by ten inches high, and its interior is completely filled with a dense mass of fine, dark grey strands. Like plague-flavoured candy floss, Justineau thinks.

She points. We finally figured it out. The swift onset, and the multiple vectors of infection, seemed to point in that direction. But there was plenty of evidence to support the fungal hypothesis.

In the chaos of those first few weeks, a great many things were lost. Any testing that was being done on the first victims was curtailed when those victims attacked, overpowered and fed on the physicians and scientists who were examining them. The exponential spread of the plague ensured that the same scenario was played out again and again.

And of course the men and women who could have told us the most were always, by the nature of their work, the most exposed to infection. Caldwell speaks in the dry, inflectionless tone of a lecturer, but her expression hardens as she stares down at the thing that is both her nemesis and the focal point of her waking life. But its growth cycle is slow. Quite astonishingly slow.

In the hungries themselves, it takes several years for the mycelial threads to appear on the surface of the skin—where they look like dark grey veins, or fine mottling. In agar, the process is slower still. The sexual or germinating structures—sporangia or hymenia—have yet to form. It can only bud asexually, in a nutrient solution.

Ideally, human blood. Through the cultures I took from badly decayed hungries—cultures like this one—I was able to establish that the hungry pathogen is an old friend in a new suit.

The Girl With All the Gifts ( M. R. Carey)

Ophiocordyceps unilateralis. And its behaviour in that context made it notorious.

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Nature documentaries dwelled on every lurid detail. Back when she first identified the hungry pathogen as a mutant Cordyceps , she was so happy that she just had to share. She persuaded Beacon to approve an educational programme for all base personnel. They filed into the canteen in groups of twenty, and Caldwell started the show by playing a short extract from a David Attenborough documentary, dateline twenty years or so before Breakdown.

Foraging ants pick them up, without noticing, because the spores are sticky. Images on the screen of ants convulsing, trying in vain to scrape the sticky spores off their body armour with quick, spasmodic sweeps of their legs. The fungus gets into the driving seat, puts its foot on the accelerator and drives the ant away. The sporangium sheds thousands of spores, and falling from that great height they spread for miles. Which of course is the point of the exercise.

Thousands of species of Cordyceps , each one a specialist, bonded uniquely with a particular species of ant. But at some point a Cordyceps came along that was a lot less finicky. It jumped the species barrier, then the genus, family, order and class. It clawed its way to the top of the evolutionary tree, assuming for a moment that evolution is a tree and has a top. Of course, the fungus might have had a helping hand. It might have been grown in a lab, for any number of reasons; coaxed along with gene-splicing and injected RNA.

Those were very big jumps. Inside their brains. Justineau shakes her head. Caldwell shrugs off-handedly. For the moment. Waste not, want not. The first thing it does is to consolidate its control of the motor cortex and the feeding reflex. The bite gives nourishment to the host and spreads the infection at the same time.

Hence the extreme caution we take in the handling of the test subjects. She takes hold of the lid of the fish tank and wrenches it open. Caldwell gives a wordless yell as she recoils, hand clasped to her mouth. She glares at Justineau, her cool detachment holed below the waterline.

Along with this, their emotional and also mental capabilities are measured and tested within a classroom setting. This is done by preparing lessons for the children. The lessons begin during the morning, where Melanie and her peers are taken from their holding cells to the classroom. When they arrive at class the children are held at gunpoint and made to sit in their respective seats.

The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey | PDF Download

They are forced to keep this position while they are strapped into chairs. These children while brilliant, are still flesh-eating zombies and the necessary precautions have to be taken. Also similar to that of a regular school system, the children have multiple subjects to learn.

Each subject is taught by its own respective teacher. Melanie has developed a great fondness for one her teachers by the name of Helen Justineau.

This fondness can be easily interpreted as stemming from the manner in which Helen treats the children. Unlike her fellow colleagues, Helen sees the young children as just children.

While her colleagues view the young tykes, more along the lines of being monsters and or test subjects. Sergeant Eddie Parks sees them through the scope of being monsters. On the other hand, Dr. As she remains in her quest to produce a cure. This classroom depiction basically outlines the daily rituals carried out by those who live at the base. This sense of normalcy is broken when Dr. Caldwell decides to unexpectedly take Melanie into a lab for dissection.

Helen also has a mutual affection for Melanie and when she catches Dr. On the walls, which are painted grey, there are pictures; a big one of the Amazon rainforest and a smaller one of a pussycat drinking from a saucer of milk. Sometimes Sergeant and his people move the children around, so Melanie knows that some of the cells have different pictures in them. She used to have a horse in a meadow and a mountain with snow on the top, which she liked better.

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She cuts them out from the stack of old magazines in the classroom, and she sticks them up with bits of blue sticky stuff at the corners. She hoards the blue sticky stuff like a miser in a story. Search Ebook here: Carey Book Detail. Carey Author: Carey Publisher: