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:: Megamorphs #4 Back to Before
:: Book Overview

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Narrator: Animorphs and Ax

Release Date: April 2000

Cover Quote: none

Plot Summary: What would you do if you had the opportunity to change your life? Not just where you live or who you hang out with, but your past, present, and future? Sounds like it might be pretty cool, right? Well, that's what Jake thought. He thought it might be easier if the Animorphs had never exsisted. If they'd never met Elfangor. If they all had the chance to be "normal kids.

Jake gets his wish.

But things aren't quite as simple as they seem. Just because the Animorphs no longer exsist doesn't mean the Yeerks no longer exsist. Except now. Jake, Rachel, Tobias, Cassie, and Marco can't morph. They don't even know the Yeerks are out there. And it's not such a wonderful life. . . .

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:: Sample Chapter

TOBIAS

There were four of us slated to become full members. There was a police officer named Edward. There was a newspaper reporter named Kiko. There was a guy who managed local bands. His name was Barry.

And then, there was me.

Why me? The question was impossible to avoid. How did I fit into this group? Was it really true that The Sharing didn't care if you were young or old, male, female, black, white, Asian, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, straight, gay, rich or poor?

I mean, that's what they said. But lots of people say that. They don't always mean it. Mostly people look for ways to treat other people like dirt.

They put us in a small room, dimly-lit. Like a dentist's waiting room only with mood lighting and no magazines. There was the door we came in. And a door that hadn't opened yet.

I looked at the others. Edward and Kiko paid no attention to me. Barry nodded. They must have been wondering what some kid was doing there. Adults have an automatic prejudice against kids. They never take kids seriously, even when they pretend to. At least that's my experience.

I said, "hi," to Barry.

"Hi, kid. What's your name?"

"Tobias."

"Good name. You like music?"

"Sure."

"Ever hear of Format Cee's Colon?"

I shook my head. He looked disappointed. "Yeah, well you will. Next big thing. You heard it here, first. They just need a break. We've got a video, but we can't get any play on MTV."

I nodded like I cared. "I guess you need that, huh?"

"Absolutely. They say they can help."

"Who?"

"The Sharing. Who else?"

"Ah."

The door opened. The door that hadn't opened before. Mr. Chapman. Our vice principal at school. So far my meetings with Mr. Chapman had been in his office. Him asking me to tell him who had beat me up. Or who had pantsed me and shoved me into the girl's bathroom. And me refusing to tell.

"Kiko?" Chapman said.

She jerked to her feet. Straightened her trim skirt. Chapman gave me a friendly wink and led Kiko away.

Barry fell silent. He was nervous.

The policeman wasn't in uniform, but I knew he was a cop. My uncle has been arrested a couple of times in his life and cops are the one thing he really gets passionate about. He's always pointing them out. So I know a policeman when I see one.

Basically, I figured if my uncle hated them, they were probably all right. It set my mind at ease a little seeing him there. I mean, if he was joining it had to be okay. Right?

The door opened again and I jerked involuntarily.

It was Bill. "Hey, switch to decaf, man," he joked.

"Sorry."

"Let's go."

I stood up. Barry gave me a nod of encouragement. The cop just stared blankly ahead of him.

I walked through the door.

Bill led me down a hallway. Suddenly, in the middle of the hallway he stopped and gave me a mysterious look. He pressed his hand against a small rectangular panel set about chest high.

Suddenly a door appeared. It opened on darkness.

We stepped through. Not completely dark. There was a red light. Metal stairs, leading down.

I hesitated. Bill laughed. "Don't worry, it's just a bit of melodrama."

Down. Not far. Three flights. To a landing, and another door, and another hallway. Another door.

Open. Inside, a table. Six chairs. Chapman sat at the head of the table. Beside him, imperious, impatient, almost menacing, was the man who had spoken at the meeting earlier. Mr. Visser.

Kiko sat to Chapman's right. She smiled at me. A weird smile. The side of her face spasmed suddenly, but then she was smiling again.

In one corner was a sort of metal tub. Like the whirpools the football team uses. Stainless steel, just big enough for one person. There was some sort of harness or whatever on the lip of the tub, and a steel chair.

"Tobias," Chapman said.

"Yes, sir?"

"Bill tells us that you are ready to become a full member of The Sharing."

I nodded.

"Why do you wish to join us?"

I shrugged. "Because . . . I . . . Because you know, what they're always talking about. What Mr. Visser was saying. Being part of something greater than myself. Part of something big."

Chapman glanced at Mr. Visser. Nervously, I thought.

Mr. Visser took a deep breath. "Is all this necessary?"

Chapman said, "receptivity is helpful, Visser. There is less chance of . . . of problems later."

"Yes, yes, but get on with it."

Chapman forced his features back into a pleasant smile. "Are you ready, Tobias? Is this what you truly want?"

What I wanted? I wanted to fly. To spread my wings, catch the breeze, feel my talons leave the branch, soar as the thermal raised me up to the clouds.

What?

Bill nudged me. "Yes," I said.

"And you will surrender yourself to The Sharing?"

"Yes." The image had been so strong. So real. Flying high, seeing through eyes that were like telescopes.

Chapman nodded to Bill. Bill held my shoulders from behind and guided me to the whirpool thing.

"Sit there," he said.

I sat. The chair was cold. The surface of the liquid in the tub was still. Dark. Heavy-looking, as if it maybe wasn't water.

No big deal, I told myself. Lots of organizations have weird initiations and stuff. No problem. But I felt off, now. The vision, what was it? Some desperate fantasy?

"Place your right hand here," Bill said.

I placed my hand in what could only be a shackle. A handcuff. My insides were churning now. I was placing myself totally in their power. What was I doing? What was I doing?

Bill fastened the cuff.

"Now your left hand."

No, no, this was insane. No, this was wrong. No. No. Handcuffs? I looked pleadingly at Mr. Chapman. He was the vice principal, he wouldn't be part of anything bad, would he?

But Mr. Visser was in the way. It was his bored face I saw.

I placed my left hand. Bill fastened the cuff.

"Now lay your head down, sideways, in the harness," Bill instructed.

"What is this?" I asked. "What are you doing? I mean, what's going to happen?"

"Your whole world is going to change, Tobias," Bill said soothingly. "You will see and know and understand everything."

"I don't think I . . ." I couldn't breathe. A voice in my head was screaming, 'run! Run!' My mind was reeling. "I think I changed my mind."

Bill suppressed a smile. "You want to leave The Sharing? You want to leave all of us? All your friends? After all we've done for you? Okay, Tobias. But what will you do, then? Where will you go? What's your future?"

My heart was pounding. "I don't know," I said desperately. "I just . . . I . . ."

"There is no 'I', Tobias. What are you? One lonely, messed up kid. No one loves you. No one cares. No one but us. Put your head in the harness."

I shook my head, wildly, firmly. "No. No. I don't want to do this."

Bill smiled. He laughed. "Well, guess what? It's too late."

He grabbed my head in his two hands and shoved it down.

"No! Mr. Chapman! No!"

Chapman got up and came over. He helped force me down. I was screaming, crying, yelling now. Helpless. My hands held firm.

"Let me go! Let me go! Let me go!"

The harness was closed over my neck, around my head. I couldn't move it. I could barely move my mouth to beg for mercy.

Bill and Chapman stepped back. There was a whirring motor somewhere close. The side of my head was forced down toward the surface of the liquid.

"No! No! No!"

"You see, in the end we have to use force," Mr. Visser said.

"True, Visser, but we only have this problem in twenty-one percent of the cases of willing members. And there are sixty-four percent fewer incidents of contested control with voluntary hosts."

"I know the statistics," Mr. Visser snapped. "Just do it. I have thirty minutes left before I have to demorph."

I heard all this like it was coming from far away. I listened hoping to hear some note of mercy, some sense that maybe this was all a terrible joke, a hazing, something.

My ear touched the water.

A moment later, something touched my ear.

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