The host by stephenie meyer

The Host
Stephenie Meyer

ALSO BY STEPHENIE MEYER

Twilight

New Moon

Eclipse

To my mother, Candy,
who taught me that love is the best part of any story

QUESTION

Body my house

my horse my hound

what will I do

when you are fallen

Where will I sleep

How will I ride

What will I hunt

Where can I go

without my mount

all eager and quick

How will I know

in thicket ahead

is danger or treasure

When Body my good

bright dog is dead

How will it be

to lie in the sky

without roof or door

and wind for an eye

with cloud for a shift

how will I hide?

-May Swenson

PROLOGUE

Inserted

The Healer's name was Fords Deep Waters.

Because he was a soul, by nature he was all things good: compassionate, patient, honest, virtuous, and full of love. Anxiety was an unusual emotion for Fords Deep Waters.

Irritation was even rarer. However, because Fords Deep Waters lived inside a human body, irritation was sometimes inescapable.

As the whispers of the Healing students buzzed in the far corner of the operating room, his lips pressed together into a tight line. The expression felt out of place on a mouth more often given to smiling.

Darren, his regular assistant, saw the grimace and patted his shoulder.

"They're just curious, Fords," he said quietly.

"An insertion is hardly an interesting or challenging procedure. Any soul on the street could perform it in an emergency. There's nothing for them to learn by observing today." Fords was surprised to hear the sharp edge marring his normally soothing voice.

"They've never seen a grown human before," Darren said.

Fords raised one eyebrow. "Are they blind to each other's faces? Do they not have mirrors?"

"You know what I mean-a wild human. Still soulless. One of the insurgents."

Fords looked at the girl's unconscious body, laid out facedown on the operating table. Pity swelled in his heart as he remembered the condition her poor, broken body had been in when the Seekers had brought her to the Healing facility. Such pain she'd endured….

Of course she was perfect now-completely healed. Fords had seen to that.

"She looks the same as any of us," Fords murmured to Darren. "We all have human faces. And when she wakes up, she will be one of us, too."

"It's just exciting for them, that's all."

"The soul we implant today deserves more respect than to have her host body gawked at this way. She'll already have far too much to deal with as she acclimates. It's not fair to put her through this." By this, he did not mean the gawking. Fords heard the sharp edge return to his voice.

Darren patted him again. "It will be fine. The Seeker needs information and -"

At the word Seeker, Fords gave Darren a look that could only be described as a glare. Darren blinked in shock.

"I'm sorry," Fords apologized at once. "I didn't mean to react so negatively. It's just that I fear for this soul."

His eyes moved to the cryotank on its stand beside the table. The light was a steady, dull red, indicating that it was occupied and in hibernation mode.

"This soul was specially picked for the assignment," Darren said soothingly. "She is exceptional among our kind-braver than most. Her lives speak for themselves. I think she would volunteer, if it were possible to ask her."

"Who among us would not volunteer if asked to do something for the greater good? But is that really the case here? Is the greater good served by this? The question is not her willingness, but what it is right to ask any soul to bear."