Mark Reads ‘Feed’: Chapter 18

In the eighteenth chapter of Feed, I am entirely unsure how I’m going to survive this trilogy. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Feed.

Eighteen

This chapter immediately deals with the implications of what just happened, and there are so many fucked up things I didn’t even think of. Rick and Georgia both have open wounds next to two people who experienced amplification. They’re stranded. They just learned that their friend and teammate sold them out to some sort of extremist religious group, who just nearly killed all five of them, and they can’t even tell anyone for fear that they’ll be overheard or intercepted.

And I don’t even get a chance to deal with the horrifying reveal that Buffy got the Ryman ranch attacked and those people in Eakly shot because these three aren’t safe. I have wanted to do a horror or thriller novel for Mark Reads for a while, especially as it’s generally my favorite genre, and I’m so glad I chose this one. Chapter eighteen is downright unbearable. Because of Grant’s worldbuilding, we know what a horrifying situation this is. We understand the risk these people are in because of their car accident. This chapter exists entirely in the moment. I am reading this and feeling terrified of every second that passes. Will one of them fail a field test? Will the CDC refuse to come get them? Will the people who shot at them suddenly make an appearance? There are so many factors here to think of, but Grant grounds us in the moment, keeping our focus on each detail that could derail this situation. It’s brilliant, really, how hooked I was by this, and I think it’s the sign of a fantastic writer. My mind should have been wandering all over the place. Buffy’s betrayal just blew this story wide open, and the implications of her actions are so far-reaching that there’s no way I can fully appreciate the affects yet.

But instead, I am gripped by every sentence. I read each word slowly, taking in whatever information is provided, desperate for a single sign of hope that this is not a disaster. Georgia’s phone call to the CDC did not help. The voice on the other end just confirmed how horrific this was: all three of them not only risked amplification, but this incident could spawn a larger outbreak.

And then Senator Ryman calls, and I nearly lose it. You can tell how worried he is. God, could you imagine being that man? He lost part of his family, he trusted these bloggers to uncover the truth, and now they’re possibly going to die, too. That’s not to take away from how shitty things are for the survivors, but good god, Ryman is not having a good month, is he?

Thankfully, Shaun and Georgia are not infected, but Rick’s blood test is an exercise in terror. It’s bad enough that Rick is so upset. But then he reveals why he’s so freaked out:

“I’m not upset that you shot her, Georgia. I’m upset that she had to go that far before you could.” He tilted his face upward, looking to Shaun, then to me. “My son converted before he died. Please do me the great kindness of letting me die while I remember his name.”

SWEET PRECIOUS BABIES, WHAT THE FUCK??? Rick had a son??? Oh my god, it’s the reason he left print media. HE DIDN’T WANT HIS LIFE TO BECOME THE NEWS. The blog post that ends this chapter gives even more insight into Rick’s life. His son had nine years of life, aware of the disease within him, before he succumbed to it. Not long after this, Rick’s wife committed suicide. WHAT THE HELL. So this scene is even more agonizing when Rick’s test isn’t instantaneous. YOU’RE DRAGGING THIS OUT JUST TO TORMENT ME, AREN’T YOU, GRANT? Oh god, how relieving is it when they all just laugh and cry together? For a moment, you think that everything will be all right, don’t you?

NOPE. WHEN IS EVERYTHING ALL RIGHT???

The appearance of the massive CDC convoy didn’t make me feel better. I was unbearably nervous about their approach, the way they treated these three survivors, and the results of the more comprehensive tests. There were a million things that could go wrong. I anticipated all of them except for this one:

I was so intent on the lights and what they could mean about my future that I didn’t hear the footsteps behind me over the drone of the positive pressure units, or feel the hypo until it was pressed against my neck. A wash of cold flowed over me, and I fell.

The last thing I saw was a row of lights, settling on a steady green. Then my eyes closed, and I didn’t see anything at all.

I mean, this is just… I can’t. HOW. HOW IS THIS HAPPENING. WHO THE FUCK DID THIS?

I am truly not prepared for this.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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