A. C. Moore
Fearing the downfall of their country, large cities started to form underground settlements – many of which still survive a hundred and fifty years later. Fifteen-year-old Cameron is one of four volunteers who are sent up to the surface in a repeat of a failed attempt five years prior. Their mission: To see if the land has any hope of being habitable once more. However, Cameron's only goal isn't just to find a new home for her family and the people below; her older brother, Claire, was one of the five on the original trip above ground, and he went missing. As she draws closer to one truth, the other becomes clear. Topside is no longer safe, and any who live up there must fight to survive.
They give us guns we don’t know how to use and enough ammo to keep us safe should something happen. There is enough food to last us two weeks, maybe more (if we ration). The don’t give us any medicine — they have none to spare.
The message is clear: Should one of us get sick, we shoot him first. Should something try to attack us, we run. The weakest gets left behind.
When we leave, everyone is silent. There are no tears even though they know that we likely won’t return. We were foolish enough to sign up for this mission: They will neither cheer us on no grieve our stupidity.
My mother leaves a dry kiss on my cheek. Her eyes are rimmed with red. She knows she is losing her second child. After a moment’s hesitation, she gives a kiss to Jed as well. He humbly accepts the gift. His parents aren’t even here to see him off.