The Plot Spot plot summary:
Justin Cronin (2011)
PART I – THE WORST DREAM IN THE WORLD
The United States had been at war for fifteen years and was likely to face fifteen more, the Mall of America bombing resulted in an overall decrease in civil liberties with checkpoints at every state border, gas was at $15 a gallon, and Jenna Bush was governor of Texas.
1. Amy's mother was Jeanette, a teenage single mother waitress from Iowa. Her father was Bill, a married, traveling combine salesman from Nebraska. When Amy was three, Jeanette's father died and Bill divorced his wife, moving in with them. After a few months, he started beating Jeanette and she made him leave. Things came apart when she lost her job, so she packed things up and left Iowa. Amy and Jeanette moved around for months, finally ending up in Memphis when their car broke down. Jeanette had to start prostituting herself. By the time Amy was six, she wasn't going to school, but she was teaching herself how to read some and do math. Finally, Jeanette had a bad run in with a frat boy and shot him in the head. She took Amy to a convent, left her with a nun from Sierra Leone, and ran.
2. Jonas Lear studied infectious diseases in Bolivia. After coming across some curious stories of vampirism and cheating death, his research was militarized by the U.S. government. As his group neared the burial site they wanted to investigate, they encountered hoards of bats that started to attack and kill them. They decided to make a final daylight push toward the site while waiting for their evacuation.
3. Carter was on death row in Texas for murdering a mother and her two children. One day Special Agent Brad Wolgast came to offer him enrollment in the NOAH project. Carter would henceforth be known as Subject Twelve. Wolgast and his partner had worked for the counter-terrorism unit of the FBI in Denver, but were now assigned to the Army under project NOAH. Wolgast thought it was a dead end; Doyle was enthusiastic. Their job now consisted of signing up death row inmates to join project NOAH, lose their identity, and sign over their lives to the military. All the convicts agreed because they had all been sentenced to death. By joining the program, their sentences were commuted to life without parole. They only had to agree to participate in the experimental drug therapy. The therapy had been developed over the previous ten years after a group of cancer patients contracted a hanta-type virus in Bolivia. They all died from the virus within three months, but not before their cancers were cured and their bodies regained the vigor of youth. After enlisting Carter into the project, Wolgast received word that their next recruit was to be a civilian.
4. Growing up in Sierra Leone, Lacey always thought she could hear the voice of God. After reporting Amy’s abandonment to the police, she let the girl stay at the convent over the weekend. She lied about Amy's circumstances, perhaps unnecessarily, so that the other nuns wouldn’t object. Meanwhile, Wolgast and Doyle headed toward the convent with instructions to pick up Amy and leave no record of doing so.
5. Subject Zero had been hanging in the corner for six days and not eating. Each of the subjects acted distinctly, but they were all hideous. Grey worked at the compound as a technician which offered him good pay, but he had no privileges and couldn't leave. He had worked oil wells until they became federalized. He was recruited and brought into the compound with two other men he didn't know. But he did know that they too were ex-convicts on the same medications he was taking. It had also been made clear that their supervisor had the authority to kill them if necessary.
Richards had been in charge of day to day operations of project NOAH since its inception. The military had become interested in Lear's papers about the possibility of reversing the aging of the thalamus gland. This had apparently happened a few times in human history, so Richards wondered if people’s connection to vampire stories were because there was a bit of truth or instinct to them. The only survivors from that expedition were Lear, Fanning, one of the soldiers, and a young graduate student named Fortes. Since then Lear had basically locked himself in the basement of the compound to work. The test subjects only started to survive the virus—as vampires—once the virus had been sufficiently weakened.
Richards had developed the Elizabeth plan if things ever got out of control. Things weren't out of control yet, but certainly adrift. He was having the dreams like everyone else and now Lear wanted a girl for a test subject. Wolgast would have to secure Amy before the weekend was over and the local police put her into the system.
Dutch Royal Archives Library, Netherlands
6. Lacey decided to entertain Amy on Saturday by taking her to the zoo. Lacey didn't like the reality of caged animals, but thought that Amy would enjoy it. At the zoo, the polar bears had a strange attraction to Amy. Amy told Lacey that the bears knew what she was.
Sister Arnette had started questioning Amy's presence at the convent around the time that Wolgast and Doyle arrived. While Wolgast tried to convince the sisters that Amy was in federal witness protection, the convent got a call from the zoo. Amy had made all the animals frantic.
Lacey too was frantic, trying to get Amy out of the zoo and protect her from a dark man she could tell was coming to get her. Finally, when the FBI snatched Amy from her, Lacey glimpsed an Armageddon future where Amy was left to wander alone.
7. Against orders, the two soldiers escorting Carter to the compound let him out at a McDonald’s. They weren't too concerned about keeping his whereabouts unknown to him. Richards met Carter when he arrived at the compound and dressed down the two escorts for their lax security.
Picking up Amy had gone bad from the start. Although they got her easily enough, there were a lot of witnesses at the zoo. Wolgast called Sykes’s secure line. He was pissed off that it was a young girl and that they were now fugitives for taking her. He was unsure about bringing her in, but the time for second thoughts had probably already passed. They bought a used car to switch to for their trip and abandoned the old one.