Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life. Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could. Editorial Reviews. Review. “Variant is a compelling story on so many levels. I loved it! The twist Variant - site edition by Robison Wells. Download it once. Variant; Volume number 1. Variant. by Robison Wells. On Sale: 10/04/ To read e-books on the BookShout App, download it on: iPhone/iPad · Android.
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Variant (Variant, #1) and Feedback (Variant, #2) Book 1. Variant. by Robison Wells. · 20, Ratings · 2, Reviews · published · 20 editions. Perfect for fans of James Dashner's The Maze Runner, Feedback is the heart- stopping Feedback. Variant Series, Book 2 · Variant. by Robison Wells. ebook . Feedback by Robison Wells - Free download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online for free.
I picked up both the tracking devices. If you help Becky, Ill work on finding a way out. He didnt move, just stood his ground. I could understand everything he was feelingthe paranoia, the angerbut I couldnt back down.
Shes human, Jane said, breaking the silence. Shed pulled back the bandage around Beckys upper arm enough to examine the gaping wound. I couldnt see it from where 15 I stood, but I knew Jane was inspecting Beckys bone and muscle. The guy looked down for a moment, watching Jane, and then finally crouched beside her.
I wanted to say something, but it all sounded too argumentative in my head. I needed their help, so I needed to shut up. Mouse bent beside him. Where will we put them? He stared at Beckys wound for several seconds, deep in thought. Finally, he stood back up and grabbed my wrist. Dont move, he said, his face unchanged.
He held the box cutter to my forearm, where the bone was closest to the skin. This is going to hurt. Mouse and the guy walked straight down the dirt road, which was visible through the snow only because of the deep ruts now frozen in the mud.
Jane and I followed behind, Becky again in my arms. Maybe I was filled with adrenaline, but she felt lighter. We passed farm buildings, chicken coops, rabbit hutches, and a few sheds before getting into the heart of the complex, where there were five green rectangular wooden buildings that reminded me of too many war moviesthey looked like barracks for POWs.
Past them were two squat cement buildings, both of 16 which looked several decades older than the five green ones. The larger of the cement structures had a sign on its plain steel door that read, maxfield commissary. The other, which had a row of narrow windows running along the top of each wall, read, washroom. Steam was trickling out through a broken pane of glass. Whats a commissary? I whispered. Jane paused, only for a moment, her eyes darting nervously from door to door.
Its an old word for cafeteria. Everything here is old. As she moved in front of me, all I could think of was that night, only weeks ago, when the beaten and broken android of Jane had stumbled away from me and Id learned the truth about her.
The truth. The concept seemed impossible now. What was the truth, and how would I ever know? Id thought she and I had something. And then she was dead. But she wasnt deadshed never existed at all. Id been friends with a computer program. Id kissed a machine. But now she was real. I didnt understand it at all. The door of the washroom opened, and two girls appeared.
They stopped instantly, and one reached for the door frame for support. I knew them bothShelly and Tapti. Taptia Variant, like mehad revealed herself as a robot last night. Shelly was in the Society, and I thought Id seen her fighting on our side last night.
I didnt know what to do. Its okay, the guy said to them, his voice hushed as we walked past. Keep it quiet. Well have a meeting later. Tapti was one of them, I whispered to Jane once we had moved past the washroom. I stammered for a moment. Like me, she said, her eyes on the road. I nodded, uncomfortable.
But I dont think Shelly was. She wasnt fighting against us last night. They went one at a time. Her voice sounded pained. As they were needed. What does that mean?
The Shelly you knew was a robot. She just hadnt popped yet. The guy shot back an angry look. We were being too loud. Jane stood closer to me, her voice barely a whisper. Most of the robots popped at the fence.
Whats popped? Its when the link between us and the robot is broken, and someone else takes control. I nodded slowly. Id seen it happenthe blank look on Masons face when he attacked Becky, and when Carrie shot Oakland.
They suddenly werent themselves anymore. In my arms, I could feel Beckys muscles tense and then relax again. It wasnt much, but I took it as a promising sign.
She wasnt completely gone. I asked. The road was dipping down into a dense row of trees. Its safer on the other side of the stream, she said. Warmer, too. I bent my neck, my head touching Beckys. She didnt respond. The trees were hiding a small creek, maybe fifteen feet wide, and shallow. There was no bridge, just a ford, and the water wasnt entirely frozen over. Jane ran across it easily, hopping from stone to stone like it was second nature.
Carrying Becky, I didnt dare attempt balancing on the slippery rocks, and stepped through the icy water. It was only a few inches deepjust enough to seep into my shoesbut it sent shivers up my legs. Jane paused at the edge of the trees and I caught up with her. Mouse and the guy were twenty yards ahead of us, continuing up the dirt road.
There it is, she said. Where it all started. Breathing heavily, I stared at a large adobe building that stood in a clearing. It was only one story, but probably a hundred feet or more on each sidefrom where I was, it appeared to be a square.
At each corner was a squat tower, two of which were crumpled and broken. The one door was enormous, made of wood and iron.
Other than the door, the only break in the thick brown walls were tiny window slits 19 every ten or twelve feet. They couldnt have been more than four or five inches wide.
They had no glass, but a single iron bar ran up the center of each. Id seen this building a dozen timesor buildings like itin every John Wayne Western. Fort Maxfield, Jane said. Youll be safe here. We crossed the field of snow to the door, where Mouse and the guy stood.
As we approached, I could tell this wasnt a replica of an Old West fortthis thing really was old. In many places the smooth stucco surface had flaked off, revealing the rough brown interior of the mud walls.
Even the massive door seemed to be falling apart, and I could see some obviously recent repairs: one of the massive hinges was brass and shiny, out of place from the other blackened antique metalwork, and a two-by-four was nailed vertically up one side of the door to hold the decaying boards in place. A wreath of flowers, long since dead, hung just above eye level. This place wasnt anything like Id hoped it would be. It wasnt safe; it wasnt welcoming.
The door almost immediately clanked and then swung open, revealing another guytall and skinny, his thick black hair dreadlocked. Everybody check out, Birdman? The guy with the shaved head nodded. Theyre good. The dreadlocked guy looked at me and smiled enthusiastically. Im Harvard. Need a hand? I nodded, exhausted, and he scooped Becky out of my arms. I followed him along a rough wooden walkway. The fort had a large open courtyard in the middlenow covered in a blanket of untouched snow.
It looked like each of the four sides was lined with rooms, like a motel. The farther we walked, the older the fort seemed.
The adobe walls were crumbling and broken, and the wooden planks under our feet were cracked; about every fifth one was missing entirely. Harvard walked with careless expertisestepping back and forth, left to right, avoiding weak boards without giving them a second thought. I copied his path, but even so I could feel the wood bowing under my weight. As we continued around to the far side of the fort, I saw faces peering out of cracks in the centuries-old doors.
I looked for others I knew, like Mouse and Jane, but couldnt really get a good look at anyone. Do they watch you guys? Harvard shook his head. They used to try, but we keep a pretty good eye on it. We have people whose job it is to watch for cameras.
We cant do much about the animals in the campyou know about those? Yeah, I said, even though wed figured it out only the 21 day before. Raccoons and deer and that kind of thing. Right, Harvard said. The good news is we can keep them out of the fort. So far, weve never found a bird with a camera in it. He stopped and nodded toward a room. Can you get that? I opened the doorthe antique brass knob like iceand held it for Harvard.
Becky looked asleep in his arms, her face calm, mouth slightly open. I could hear her raspy breaths as we entered a quiet, dark room. Hang on, a voice said, and I turned to see Jane catching up with us.
She gave me an awkward smile and then hurried past. Coming in from the white of the snoweven in the early morningmade it hard to adjust to the darkness, but after a moment Jane lit a lantern and the room filled with warm yellow light.
It was smaller than the dorms back at the school.
The only furniture was a bednarrow and low, like a cotand a small wooden table and chair. A cardboard box at the foot of the bed was filled with folded clothes, and cans of food were stacked in the corner, under the narrow slit of a window.
The walls were covered with drawings of all sizes, some on paper, others on large pieces of cloth.
Some of the pictures were of the townthe fort, the barn, the streambut others I knew well: the school, the cafeteria, the wall, and 22 the gate. There were three pictures of Curtis, the leader of the Vs. He was still at the school, and I knew he was human.
Before I could ask about him, Birdman and Mouse joined us, stepping inside and closing the door. Were taking a big risk, Birdman said, looking at me out of the corner of his eye as he passed by. He shoved the bed to the other side of the room and climbed up onto it. Not everyone in this town gets to live in the fort, but I want to keep an eye on you. Nothing you see or hear leaves this room, okay? Even here there were secrets. That didnt surprise me.
Feedback by Robison Wells
Birdman lifted a large cloth picturea muraland I saw him prying something off the wall. There arent many places to hide things, Harvard said, grinning as he watched Birdman.
But last year we figured one out. This adobe is thick. Most of the walls are more than a foot deep, but because theres a big fireplace on the other side of this one, its more than four feet of solid adobe.
It took us months, but we hollowed out the top part of the wall. Birdman pulled a square panel loose and then slipped it into the hole it had been covering. He glanced down at me. Its not perfect. If they look under the picture it wont be hard to find. I forced a laugh.
The Shawshank Redemption. Except this hole doesnt get you anywhere. He motioned to me, still scowling, but some of the harshness was gone from his eyes. Youd better get up there first so we can hand her to you.
The hole was high enough on the wall that even standing on the bed I could only just see inside. With one foot on the rickety bed frame, I clambered up into the Basement. It was more like a cave than a room. The walls were all bare adobedry, uneven mudand theyd laid down a few broken wood planks to serve as the floor.
It was narrow, probably less than four feet wide, but almost the full length of the room below. The ceiling was low enough that I had to crouch to fit. At each end a tiny slit of light shone in. You call this the Basement?
Jane handed me a stack of blankets, and Harvard spoke. Just a little joke. In case someone overhears us talking about it. Theyll think weve dug a tunnel or something. I turned away from the opening and laid one of the blanketsthe thickest I could findon top of the rough boards. None of this was supposed to be happening. This wasnt what our escape was going to be like.
We should have been running, not hiding. Harvard and Birdman were both on the bed now, with Mouse holding the cloth picture out of the way. They lifted Becky, and I gently pulled her in. I tried not to let her arm drag or pull too much on her shoulder, but it was an awkward 24 move. My hand slipped off her wet sweater, and even though I caught her, the jolt caused her to gasp and groan. But she was in the Basement now. I put my hand on her forehead, which was red and hot. Her hair was wet with snow and sweat, and I brushed it away from her face.
Jane climbed into the hole, a Ziploc bag of medical supplies in her hand. Birdman looked in after us, speaking to Jane. Were clearing outneed to make sure no one saw this. Jane nodded, and Birdman stepped down. I heard the bed scrape across the floor as he pushed it back into position.
Mouse let the picture drop over the entrance. There are vents that open up on each end, and one in the ceiling, Jane said. She was obscured by the dark, but I could tell where she was pointing. I crawled to the end of the room and saw that the slit of light was a loose board. I pulled it out, creating a hole about a foot long and three inches tall. From here I could see the empty courtyard of the fort and the doors and walkway on the other side. Two girls were standing there, talking.
I didnt recognize them. Jane crawled to the other slit and removed that board. She spoke again before I did. Her voice was soft and pained. I thought you died last nightboth of you. She moved back to Beckys unconscious body, but was looking at me. She forced a small, humorless laugh. We can see some of the stuff our dupesduplicatesdo.
She opened the bag, pulled out a pair of blue latex gloves, and began to untie the dark bandage around Beckys upper arm. The last time anyone saw you, Mason was running behind and then his dupe popped. We thought he killed you. She fell on a log, I said, suddenly overwhelmed with exhaustion.
It was a broken branchstabbed her. Jane asked hopefully.
I shook my head, the images replaying in my mind. Mason hit her, and she fell. It hurt to even say his name. But now Benson is trapped in a different kind of prison—a town filled with familiar faces. Classmates from Maxfield who Benson had seen die. Friends he was afraid he had killed. They are all pawns in the school's twisted experiment, held captive and controlled by an unseen force.
And while Benson struggles to figure out who, if anyone, can be trusted, he discovers that Maxfield Academy's plans are darker than anything he imagined—and they may be impossible to stop.
Robison Wells is also the author of Blackout, Variant, and Feedback. Robison lives in the Rocky Mountains in a house not too far from elk pastures. Head to IndieGoGo and check us out. How did you get interested in this? To this day, I still think some of our plans would be perfect. Second, it shows how desperate the government is in that they round up all kids everywhere and send them to internment camps—think Japanese Americans in World War 2.
I wrote about a vampire boarding school called Evernight Academy, and it was not a place any sane person, or at least living person, would want to attend. So we already have that wonderment built in. How do you design these? You see false dichotomies all the time in politics.
So I set up two explanations for the school: the school was either testing the kids, or the school was training the kids. And in the book, the teens argue about this all the time, but no one ever offers a third answer.Isaiah had been right. Lost a lot of blood. Jane paused at the edge of the trees and I caught up with her. Can you get that? I could only guess that infection was setting into the vicious wound in her arm. The Alice Stories: I didnt recognize them.