The Key to Fear
No touching today for a healthy tomorrow.
For fifty years, the Key Corporation has defended humanity against a deadly virus that spreads through touch. Lovers don’t kiss, or even hold hands. Personal boundaries are valued above all. Break the laws, and you’ll face execution.
Elodie, a talented young nurse, believes in the mission of the Key and has never questioned the laws that control her life. But Elodie is forced to break the rules when she sets out in search of a terminal patient who goes missing while under her care.
From the outside, it seems like Aiden was given everything he could want from the Key—a purpose, an education, and a future. But Aiden knows more than he’s letting on, and the dark secrets he’s keeping could tear the Key’s strict society apart.
When Elodie and Aiden’s lives collide, the fallout will be devastating. What do you do when the brutal system that once kept you safe hunts you down?
In this propulsive series starter, Cast (The Dysasters) imagines a corporation-controlled post-pandemic world in which human touch is highly regulated ("No touching today for a healthy tomorrow"). Fifty years after the deadly virus Cerberus claimed untold billions, 17-year-old Elodie Benavidez excels at her Key Corp-assigned nursing career and has been matched with and affianced to Rhett Owens, a young man with solid career prospects. But something is missing for Elodie, who prefers bathing in water instead of light, as is common, and spends her free time reading banned novels. When a young patient goes missing from her ward and she meets 17-year-old Aiden, a seemingly directionless young man with dirty boots that stand out in her strictly sanitized milieu, Elodie realizes that things are not as perfect as the Key Corp claims; she must decide whether the bubble in which she lives is enough. Though Cast aptly portrays a sense of unease among people living heavily governed lives, broad-strokes worldbuilding fails to result in deeply developed characters or a robust world. Ages 12 up.