"Hunting by Stars" by Cherie Dimaline, Chapters 23–29

September 20, 2022
After a plague of dreamlessness spreads across North America, seventeen-year-old Frenchie is captured so the Canadian government can harvest his bone marrow as a cure. Frenchie must find a way to escape and reunite with his found family.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1–9, Chapters 10–17, Chapters 18–22, Chapters 23–29, Chapter 30–Epilogue/Prologue

Click here to explore our lists for The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline.
Fear had grown in my body since I’d been here. It reached new places at a higher volume than ever before. It was more intimate, more immediate.
“You do realize that I am still going to have to offer corrective measures for this infraction, of course.”
I was sure that on the day they let me out into the field, everything I wore and carried would be closely scrutinized...
I was less excited than I should have been, almost indifferent, until I saw Mitch standing there.
My door stayed open, and an hour later, my silent cohort in the grey scrubs meandered down the hall and motioned for me to fall into step beside him.
My door stayed open, and an hour later, my silent cohort in the grey scrubs meandered down the hall and motioned for me to fall into step beside him.
I sat back down on my stool and held my head in my hands, repeating messages from the napkins to myself as if they were for me while the kitchen filled with scuffles and protests.
One by one, the residents paraded around me, giggling, their fingers bent from the girth of their glee, their steps high and awkward as if they were marionettes.
Back in the days of massive slaughterhouses, they would push the cattle through a narrow chute before they put them down. The chute would contract, and the animals got squeezed. That kind of pressure alleviates stress, releases good chemicals.
I believe, based on how you reported the theft in the kitchen and mitigated a potentially disastrous attack, that you were indeed telling the truth.
“It is imperative that they not leave our observation while en route. Under no circumstances are they to be lost before we can complete the mission.”
Then I realized I would have to convince them everything was okay while also maintaining my cover with the seasoned agent until I could get rid of the second agent for good.
Thank god—I wasn’t sure I could handle the accusing stares or whispered denouncements, not now.
I reached out and put a hand on a table laid with topographical maps and measuring instruments.
“This is such a great opportunity for your brother to prove his mettle. Of course, he’s been out in the field before, but only in smaller, lesser roles. But this time, he’ll be proving he didn’t waste our time and resources when he recommended that we bring you in to the Program.”
He was wearing brown cargo pants and a muted green hoodie with a black toque.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to hold myself together, much less police his demeanor.
We ran behind JP as the wind picked up into torrents and ripped the breath from my lungs.
We waited out the weather this way, crouched, intermittently choking on secondhand smoke, listening to JP, who used to be a long-haul trucker and lived in a place called Timmins.
Instead, I had sat in my bed all night and willed my heart to keep working. It felt fragile and frantic, like it was pulled so tight that any palpitation bigger than a blip would tear the tension and it would all come unzipped.
Though they may have been exhibiting nerves, it didn’t seem suspect, as runners are normally apprehensive when interacting with new individuals.
Mellin’s voice cut into my reverie.
It was the biggest reconnaissance mission I could have been handed, especially now, at the very last minute with no time to plan for it.
Soon we were loaded back into a van, going over our story to make sure it fit together seamlessly.
I waited for him to offer a rebuke or question my newfound loyalty.
It was still so early an owl hooted indignantly from a nearby tree.
The morning birds hadn’t yet started their daily ablutions.
I stepped over a small hill roiling with ants—they seemed to form alliances in these times—and paused.
There were no more birds, just the soft thrum and scuttle of insects burrowing and alighting on dense moss and curated sand.
There were no more birds, just the soft thrum and scuttle of insects burrowing and alighting on dense moss and curated sand.
I took him in and tried to remember each nuance of his smell, his skin, the way his hair felt when the breeze blew it suddenly over the back of my neck.
The knife wielder pulled off her balaclava, revealing a pleasant face and close rows of box braids.
Now that I knew Mitch had a tracker, one he was guarding with his life, I knew the bush would be lousy with Recruiters the moment he had an inkling I had told the group about our true identity.
Not only would he be bringing in the rogue Indians who had been causing so much chaos, but he would also almost-single-handedly uncover and tear down an entire refugee network.
I had no choice but to chase after him, like I hadn’t a care in the world and nothing better to do than goof around with my brother. Like I wasn’t trying desperately to amalgamate my two families before I had to choose one over the other.
The blood returned to my extremities in a torrent. Suddenly, I could feel everything, see everything.
And the tip entered just to the right of his sternum, burying itself in the striated muscle of his conflicted heart.
Mitch staggered, placed a hand on the shaft protruding from his chest, and looked up at me, incredulous.
He blinked, long and stilted, one eye opening after the other, focusing on my face.
She had insisted on staying on the ground while the rest of us nestled high in a hay- strewn loft, safely out of sight.

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