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LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANYNEW YORK BOSTON
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons,
living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright 2015 by Ryan Graudin
All rights reserved. In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher is unlawful piracy and theft of the authors intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained by contacting the publisher at
email@example.com. Thank you for your support of the authors rights.
Little, Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
Visit our website at lbteens.com
Little, Brown and Company is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.The Little, Brown name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.
First Edition: October 2015
Library of Congress CataloginginPublication Data
Graudin, Ryan. Wolf by wolf / by Ryan Graudin. First edition. pages cm Summary: The first book in a duology about an alternate version of 1956 where the Axis powers won WWII, and hold an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents to commemorate their victory Provided by publisher. ISBN 9780316405126 (hardcover) ISBN 9780316405102 (ebook) ISBN 9780316405119 (library edition ebook) [1. Motorcycle racingFiction. 2. Government, Resistance toFiction.] I. Title. PZ7.G7724Wo 2015 [Fic]dc23
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Printed in the United States of America
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TO DAVID, FOR BEING BY MY SIDE AND
SHARING MY MOST IMPORTANT JOURNEYS
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WolfByWolf_HCtext3P.indd vi 5/6/15 6:24:55 PM
THE ROTTEN BONES ARE TREMBLING,
OF THE WORLD BEFORE THE RED WAR.
FROM THE OFFICIAL SONG OF THE HITLER YOUTH
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Once upon a different time, there was a girl who lived in a kingdom of death. Wolves howled up her arm. A whole pack of them made of tattoo ink and pain, memory and loss. It was the only thing about her that ever stayed the same.
Her story begins on a train.
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There were five thousand souls stuffed into the train cars thick and deep like cattle. The train groaned and bent under their weight, weary from all of its many trips. (Five thousand times five thousand. Again and again. So many, so many.)
No room to sit, no air to breathe, no food to eat. Yael leaned on her mother and strangers alike until her knees ached (and long, long after). She choked in the smell of waste and took gulps from the needle cold buckets of water that were shoved through the door by screaming guards. Far below the tracks, a slow, shuddering groan whispered her name, over and over: yah- ell, yah- ell, yah- ell.
You wont have to stand much longer. Were almost there, Yaels mother kept saying as she smoothed her daughters hair.
But almost there kept stretching on and on. One day rolled
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4into two, into three. Endless hours of swaying kilometers and slats of sunlight that cut like knives through the cars shoddy planks and across the passengers gray faces. Yael huddled against her mothers taffeta silk skirt and tried not to listen to the crying. Sobs so loud her name almost drowned in them. But no matter how loud the sadness got, she could still hear the whisper. Yah- ell, yah- ell, yah- ell. Constant, steady, always. A secret under everything.
Three days of this. Yah- ell, yah- ell, yah squeal!Stop.Nothing.And then the doors opened.Get out! Hurry! a man bald, thin, dressed in clothes
like pajamas yelled, and kept yelling. Even after they started spilling out of the train car. He yelled and yelled in a way that made Yael shrink close against her mother. Hurry! Hurry!
All around was darkness and glare. Night and spotlights. The cold air was sharpened by the screams of guards, snarling dogs, and snapping whips.
Men on one side! Women on the other!Push, push, jostle, push, screams. There was a sea of wool
and shuffling. Everyone seemed lost. Moving and pushing and crying and not knowing. Yaels fingers clenched the edge of her mothers coat, so tight they could have been seams of their own.
HURRY HURRY MOVE an iron voice inside Yael fought and pushed and cried DONT GET WASHED AWAY
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5They were all flowing in one direction. Away from whiplash and dog fangs. Toward a man who stood on an overturned apple crate, looking out across the platforms dark, milling crowd. A floodlight bathed him. The pure white fabric of his lab coat glowed and his arms were stretched wide, like wings.
He looked like an angel.Every face that passed he measured and judged. Male
and female. Old and young. The man in the glowing lab coat plucked and sifted and pointed them into lines.
Too small! Too ill! Too weak! Too short! Too old! He barked out characteristics like ingredients for some twisted recipe, sweeping away their offenders with a wave of his hand. Those he approved of received a passing nod.
When he saw Yael, he neither barked nor nodded. He squinted at first eyes serpent sharp behind his glasses.
Yael squinted back. There was a sharpness in her eyes, too, whetted by three days of fear and too bright lights. Her knees ached and wobbled, but she tried her best to stand straight. She did not want to be too small, too weak, too short.
The man stepped down from the crate and walked toward Yaels mother, who shifted justso against her daughter as if to shield her. But there was no defense from this mans gaze. He saw all, staring at Yael and her mother as if they were suits that needed tailoring. Taking measurements with his eyes, imagining what a few stitches and tucks might do.
Yael stared back, taking measurements of her own. The man looked different up close. Out of the light, with the shadows pressed in. (They seemed extra dark on him, as if making
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6up for that first glowing impression.) He smelled different, too. Clean, but not. Harsh, peeling scents Yael later learned to associate with bleach and blood and uncareful scalpels.
This man did not trade in heralds or blessings or miracles.He was an angel of a different kind.Yaels knees ached, ached, ached. Her eyes stung and
watered. She kept standing. Kept staring. Clenching her mothers skirt with stubborn fingers.
The man in the white coat glanced at the guard next to him, who was busy inscribing notes onto a clipboard. Reserve this girl for Experiment Eighty Five. Its long term, so she should be housed in the inmate barracks. And make certain her hair is only cut. Not shorn. Ill need strands for samples.
Yes, Dr. Geyer. The guard grabbed Yaels hand, snapped his pen across her skin in two quick strikes. X marks the survivor. What about the mother?
The man shrugged. She seems strong enough, was all he said before he walked back to the crate, back to the light that made him dazzle and glow.
Yael never did find out why Dr. Geyer chose her. Why she out of all the young children who stumbled out of the train cars and clung to their mothers coats that night was placed in the line of the living.
But it did not take her long to discover what shed been marked for.
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7This was Experiment 85: Every other morning, at the end of the four hour roll call, a guard shouted out Yaels number. Every other morning, she had to follow him through two sets of barbed wire gates and over the train tracks, all the way to the doctors office.
The nurse always strapped Yael down to the gurney before the injections. She never really looked at Yael, even when she turned the girls arm over to check the numbers stamped there. Those water weak eyes always focused on the inanimate. Things like the not quite dry bloodstains on the floor tiles or flecked across the pristine white of her apron. The shiny black leather of her shoes. The clipboard she scrawled Yaels information on.
INMATE : 121358XAGE : 6 YEARS
EXPERIMENT : # 85 MELANIN MANIPULATION
SESS ION : 38
Dr. Geyer was different. From the moment he stepped across the threshold, his eyes never left Yael. He sat on his rolling stool, arms folded over his chest. Leaned slightly back. Examining the little girl in front of him. There were no wrinkles on his face no weary frown or weight of the world sagging his skin.
He even smiled when he asked his questions. Yael could see all of his white, white teeth, cut apart by the tiny black gap where his two front incisors didnt quite meet. It was this part of his face she always focused on when he spoke. The gap. The
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8notquitefullness of his soft words. The single break in his paternal mirage.
How are you feeling? hed ask her, leaning forward on his toadstool seat.
Yael never really knew the answer to this question. What exactly it was that Dr. Geyer expected her to say when the bunk she shared with her mother and Miriam and three other women was infested with lice; when the night temperatures dropped so low that the straw in their mattress stabbed her skin like knitting needles; when she was hungry, always hungry, even though the Babushka in the bunk across from her snuck her extra bread rations every night.
DONT LOOK AT THE KNIVES TELL HIM WHAT HE WANTS TO HEAR
She wanted to be strong, brave, so she offered the one word a strong, brave girl might say: Fine.
The doctors smile always grew wider when she said this. Yael wanted to keep him happy. She didnt want the bloodstains on the floor to be hers.
Every session he examined her skin. Shone a dazzling penlight into her eyes. Tugged out a few of her stubby hairs for color analysis. When the string of questions and answers ended, Dr. Geyer took the clipboard from the nurse stationed in the corner. Always he flipped through the pages, his brown hair tumbling to his eyes as he deciphered the nurses crude writing.
Melanin production seems to be on a steady decline. . . . Note paler patches on skin as well as slight change in subjects
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9iris pigmentation. Eumelanin is also decreasing as can be seen by subjects hair coloration.
They never called Yael by her name. She was always subject. Or if they needed to be more specific: Inmate 121358X.
Were making progress. Dr. Geyers smile stretched, as if his lips were being held open by tenterhooks. He handed the clipboard back to the nurse, rolled his seat to the sterling tray table, where the needles sat in a neat row. Straight silver fangs, waiting to sink poison into Yaels skin. Fill her with another two days of fire and agony. Change her from within. Take all the colors and feelings and human inside. Drain, drain, drain until nothing was left.
Just a ghost of a girl. A nothing shell.Progress.
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NOWMARCH 9, 1956
GERMANIA, CAPITAL OF THE THIRD REICH
The sun was a low orange threat in the sky as Yael stepped out the flat door onto Luisen Street an asphalt artery at the heart of the city once called Berlin. Shed lingered too long in the tattoo artists chair, bearing the needle and the sting and the memories. Watching him put the final black touches on the final black wolf.
It had been her fifth and last visit to the tiny back closet, with its ink bottles and cracked leather chair. Five visits to cover up the crooked numbers on her left arm. Five visits for five wolves. They swooped and jostled and howled up her arm, all the way to her elbow. Black and always running, striving against her skin.
Babushka, Mama, Miriam, Aaron Klaus, Vlad.Five names, five stories, five souls.Or, a different way to do the math: four memories and a
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But Vlads wolf needed to be as perfect as the others, which meant Yael pushed her luck to the edge, watching the clock on the far wall tick its way toward sundown. In the end Vlads wolf was a flawless open wound throbbing under hastily wrapped gauze.
Yael was late.Germania was a dangerous place after dark. Official cur
few was not for a few more hours, but that didnt stop patrols from lurking on the capitals street corners. Checking the papers of random souls who passed. Ready to arrest at the slightest aberration.
Nothing good happened at night, the National Socialists reasoned. Honest Volk had no reason to be out once the shops and beer halls locked their doors. The only people desperate enough to do business under high moon and heavy shadows were resistance conspirators, black market scoundrels, and Jews in disguise.
Yael happened to be all three.The resistance leaders were going to have her head. Hen
ryka especially. The tiny Polish woman with too bleached frizz springing from every direction of her scalp was far more fearsome than these features credited her for. Yael wouldve preferred Reinigers stern National Socialist army commander voice to the whirlwind/Mama Bear/spitfire that was Henryka.
More than likely they would both give her a talkingto. (Henryka: How could you stay out so late! We thought you were dead or worse! Reiniger: Do you realize how selfish you were being? You could have compromised the resistance. Were close. So close.) If the patrols didnt catch her first.
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Luisen Street was empty as Yael walked under its brightening streetlamps. A long row of Volkswagens identical but for their plate numbers fortified the curbs. The grocery down the block was already locked tight, windows dark. Propaganda posters some tattered and curled, others still fresh with paste lined the walls between flat doors, reminding strong blond Aryan children to attend Hitler Youth. Reminding their mothers to produce more strong blond Aryan children to attend Hitler Youth.
Yael did not have far to walk, just a few blocks to the safety of the beer halls hidden basement. But all it took was one encounter. One too hurried answer.
The necessity to move quickly and avoid detection beat high in Yaels throat as she tore past the rows of posters, turning a corner onto a sequestered side street.
And came facetoface with a patrol.It was a standard unit: two young men with Mauser
Kar.98Ks strapped o...