"Poet Anderson... Of Nightmares" è uscito e alcuni capitoli in anteprima
È uscito il romanzo Poet Anderson... Of Nightmares scritto da Tom DeLonge e Suzanne Young e qui sotto potete leggere l’anteprima di alcuni capitoli. Inoltre sono disponibili un paio di video di presentazione.
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Anteprima del capitolo 1 da Fuse
Alan wiped his hand through the condensation gathered on the inside of the windshield, leaving a clear streak across the glass. The car’s tires hugged the tight turns of the road as they began their descent down the other side of the mountain. The lights of the city ahead were nearly impossible to see through the fog.
“You sure you don’t want me to drive?” Jonas asked, now that his brother was in a better mood.
“Shut up and go to sleep,” Alan responded without looking over, the smile still pulling at his lips. Jonas laughed and stretched out his long legs, kicking the black box again.
“I’m serious,” Alan said. “Don’t crush that box.”
Annoyed, Jonas picked it up and plucked off the lid. His heart sank as he recognized the black velvet bowler hat. He turned to Alan with a frozen smile on his face, and pulled the hat from the box. “What the fuck is this?” he asked.
“A hat,” Alan replied. He glanced at Jonas, as if waiting for his brother’s reaction.
Jonas swallowed hard, and ran his finger along the felt brim. “Dad used to wear one of these,” he said. A dull ache started in his chest, but he quickly recovered before Alan could notice.
“They’re standard uniform at the Eden,” Alan said. “The drivers and the doormen wear them.”
“Ah...” Jonas said like he understood. “So do you get paid extra to embarrass yourself?” He forced a grin.
Alan let out a laugh, and shook his head. “I thought you were going to sleep?”
Jonas put on the hat and picked up the umbrella from the floor. He tried to spin it by the handle, but hit the ceiling of the car, earning a warning look from Alan. In response, Jonas touched the tip of the umbrella to the hat in salute.
“I seriously hate you sometimes,” Alan said, although he still smiled.
There was a flash of lightning in the distance, and Alan leaned forward to peer at the sky. Jonas looked up, too, noticing the darkening storm clouds. They were about to get blasted by the storm.
Jonas caught his own reflection in the foggy passenger window, surprised by the sudden resemblance to his father—a trait Alan had inherited instead. It’s the hat, Jonas thought, smiling to himself.
“It won’t always be this hard for us,” Alan said quietly, adding to their earlier conversation. “It can’t be.”
Jonas glanced over at his brother, his chest swelling with respect. Alan was one of the good guys. He certainly deserved more than the shitty hand he’d been dealt. Without a word, Jonas slipped off the hat and brushed dust from the brim before gently placing it back inside the box.
There was a blinding flash of light as a zigzag of lightning cut through the black sky. Close enough to touch. Close enough that it didn’t seem possible. A boom sounded so loudly, Alan yelped and Jonas saw boulders shake on the side of the cliff as bits of gravel slid down the mountain and onto the road just ahead. Jonas’s heart was in his throat.
He’d never seen lightning that close before. They should be dead.
Jonas opened his mouth to ask Alan what he thought when sharp taps began to hit the roof. Jonas darted a look at the sky as small objects pelted the car; pebbles of ice smacked against the windshield, covering the glass faster than the wipers could swipe them away.
“It’s hailing,” Alan said.
Absently, Jonas tugged on his seatbelt and leaned forward, as if being two inches closer to the glass would help him see the road better. But the headlights of the Mustang were no match for the storm. The noise from the hail grew louder, setting both boys on edge.
“We’ve got to pull over,” Jonas yelled, trying to be heard over the constant pinging on the car’s metal frame. The Mustang would be dented for sure.
“Too dangerous,” Alan called back. “Another car could hit us. We’ve got to make it through.”
Jonas looked at his brother, his adrenaline kicking up when he saw the stricken expression on Alan’s face.
There was a brilliant flash of white light. Jonas saw it reflected in Alan’s eyes, the bolt tearing through his irises. As Jonas turned toward the windshield, there was another flash, but this time it came straight at him. He lifted his arm to protect his face and heard the deafening pop against the windshield. Jonas lowered his arm, stunned to see the Mustang’s windshield was fractured, with hairline spider cracks quickly spreading. Jonas and Alan looked at each other.
Get us out of this!” Jonas said. “I’m trying!”
Jonas turned to the road, but when the next bolt of lightning struck it wasn’t white—it was emerald green. Jonas had never seen anything like it. He trailed the reflection of the lightning against the sky, trying to find where it started. He leaned forward, but was caught by his seatbelt. Jonas put his hands on the dashboard and strained to look up.
“What the hell are you doing?” Alan yelled. But Jonas’s eyes had gone wide. Alan unclicked his seatbelt and leaned forward, following Jonas’s line of vision.
Both Anderson boys stared at the sky, where bright colors streaked across the clouds. And then another strike of lightning hit.
“Jonas!” Alan screamed, startling him. Alan slammed on the brakes, swinging out his arm to pin his brother against his seat. The tires of the Mustang skidded, finding no purchase on the icy road.
It all happened so fast. To process all of the pieces at once, Jonas’s mind slowed them down. He was thrown toward one side, his shoulder pressing against the door as the car slid toward the guardrail. He felt the strength of Alan’s arm against his chest, pressing him into the seat. The tires hit a bump, and then there was a deafening metal screech as the car hit the guardrail, sending sparks over the hood.
The world went silent. Jonas’s body rocked from side to side, his arms rising up on their own accord, his stomach upending. He was weightless. He was falling.
Jonas gripped his seatbelt to hold himself in place, but Alan’s body shot forward—his head hitting the windshield with a soundless smack. Jonas was silent with horror as the Mustang fell from the cliff, as the ocean rushed toward him, as Alan’s blood streamed through the cracks in the glass.
He knew it was over—the Anderson boys would die before they ever got their new life.
The items in the car lifted up, weightless, and Alan’s umbrella became airborne. Jonas reached for it, determined not to let his brother’s hopes be ruined. His fingers closed around the heavy wood handle just as the car suddenly sped up into real time and hit the ocean water, sending Jonas into darkness.
Anteprima del capitolo 11 da Alpha Fangirl
Samantha laughed, watching him for a moment before dropping her shopping bags on the pavement. She stepped closer to Poet and reached out to take his tie, studying it as she let the fabric run through her fingers all the way to the very tip.
“I can only imagine,” she said, lifting her eyes to his. She was so close now, but Poet didn’t think he should touch her. Didn’t want to break the spell.
But he was reminded of Jarabec’s warning that the streets of Genesis weren’t entirely safe. There was a reason he came to Sam, he knew. He was here to protect her.
“We should go somewhere,” Poet told her, his voice low. “I can take us.”
Sam lifted her eyebrows as if she didn’t believe him.
“Close your eyes and think of a place,” he said. When Sam closed her eyes, Poet focused on an empty wall of a building behind her. He concentrated, tuning in to the heat of Samantha’s body, the sound of her breathing, the hum of her soul.
A sense of doubt crept over him. He was afraid he wouldn’t be able to tunnel without the fear of a monster or soldiers chasing him, but Jarabec had said that poet’s guided dreamers to safety. He couldn’t let anything happen to Sa- mantha. He’d do better than he had for Alan.
Concern and grief poured over Poet. There was a zap of electricity and the burn, his eyes going white with power. The air began to swirl, wind kicking up as a tunnel formed. Poet looked down at Sam, her face calm as she thought of a place. He smiled and put his palms on her upper arms, feeling her attach to another dream. And then he sent them both through the tunnel.
Samantha gasped, stepping out of Poet’s hands as she looked around, confused at the new surroundings. The tunnel sealed itself and Poet felt his body relax as the energy faded, his eyes returning to dark brown. He was getting good at tunneling, and his pride swelled.
Poet looked around the dream, and then burst out laughing. He and Sam were standing before a set of iron gates, a child’s carousel with tinkering music spinning slowly behind it. The crystal lights danced against the white and pink horses wearing red ceramic bows. Mirrors in the center reflected it all out again. It was pretty—if you were into haunted doll houses.
“This,” Poet asked, “was what you thought of?” He didn’t want to admit he’d been hoping for something a little cozier…like a bed.
Samantha grinned, scanning the place. “Okay,” she allowed. “Maybe not the best choice.” She took a step toward the gate, laying her hand on the iron fence as she looked over the scene. “God,” she said. “I haven’t been here in years.”
“Your parents willingly took you to a place like this?” Poet teased.
“Be quiet,” she replied. “My mother said my taste was ornate for a seven-year-old.” Samantha gripped the railing, leaning forward dreamily. “After my parents divorced,” she continued, “my father would still take me here sometimes. I can’t remember where it is. In fact, Poet Anderson,” she looked over her shoulder at him, “I forgot all about it until I met you.”
I was supposed to meet her, he thought suddenly. “You were lost,” Poet said, mostly to himself. He knew then that Samantha must have wandered into the Dream World, her existence there drawing him to her. And yet, even now, even here where she was safe, Poet’s attraction to her wasn’t the least bit lessened.
Samantha walked over to stop in front of him, gazing up. “How did you bring us here?” she asked. “Should I be scared?”
“Asks the girl who can make a creepy carnival,” Poet replied making her laugh. “Ax-wielding clowns aren’t going to pop out and chase me, are they? You’re sick, you know.”
Sam shook her head, her expression serious. “No way. Killer clowns are third date material.”
Poet adored every word she spoke. “We should just skip to going steady, then,” he said. “I fucking hate clowns.”
Samantha stared up at him, the lights from the carousel reflected and glittering in her eyes. “I recognize you,” she said, guilt crossing her features. “I know you’re the guy from my English class.”
Poet stiffened, feeling exposed. Embarrassed, even. He wanted her to think he was more. “Yeah,” he said, pressing his lips into a self-conscious smile. “That’s me.”
Sam pushed his shoulder playfully. “You jerk,” she said. “First you borrow my pen and then you chased me down on the street to flirt with me. Next day at school, you acted like I was crazy. What’s your deal?”
Poet winced. “It’s not you,” he said. “I can’t remember my dreams when I wake up. I haven’t been able to since my parents died.”
“Your parents? Oh, my God, Poet.” Sam put her hand on his forearm. “I’m so sorry.”
He looked down, not letting himself focus on the grief. “It was a while ago,” Poet said, quietly. “But now I’m trying to remember my dreams again. I have to.” His worry for Alan spiked again, and Poet closed his eyes.
“Poet,” Sam said, sounding alarmed. “Your hands.”
Poet looked down, surprised to find electricity zapping between his fingers. It didn’t hurt; it was a tingle, really. A hint of power, power he wanted to share.
He held out his hand and Sam looked between his face and the electricity. Poet nodded, and Sam slid her palm against his, her breath catching at the initial shock. She squeezed her fingers between his, and closed her eyes as the energy pulsed between them.
Poet watched her. He could feel her heartbeat, and see the rise and fall of her chest. She was so beautiful. “I want to kiss you,” he murmured.
Sam looked at him, the slight pink of nervousness rising on her cheeks. “That sounds like it could be fun,” she said.
Poet moved toward her, the anticipation nearly strangling him. His head was spinning with desire, possibilities. He didn’t think he’d ever wanted a girl so much as this.
Sam cursed suddenly and stepped out of his reach. Poet stumbled forward, his eyes widening. For a moment, the world around him shimmered, fading as if he was surrounded by ghosts, until it snapped back into focus.
“What’s wrong?” he asked Sam when he saw the stricken expression on her face. “I’m sorry. Did I—”
“No,” she said, reaching to take his hands. “It’s not you. You’re great. You’re…perfect.” She motioned behind him, and Poet turned to see the carousel flickering out until it was gone altogether. Erased. Sam was waking up.
Samantha stepped into Poet, wrapping her arms around his neck as she put her mouth next to his ear. “Remember me when you wake up,” she whispered, and kissed his cheek. Poet closed his eyes, but realized he couldn’t feel her lips on his skin.
When he looked again, Sam was gone.
Anteprima del capitolo 14 da Rolling Stone
"You need to start remembering, Poet," Jarabec said. "Remembering your dreams."
"Well," Poet started. "This has been a pretty fucking traumatizing evening, so maybe this one will stick."
"I am sorry," Jarabec said. "I'm sorry for all of it. Since your mother never got the chance, I will train you how to be a proper Poet. We'll start tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" Poet scoffed, annoyed that the Dream Walker would even dangle the possibility of it in front of him, only to make him wait. "I'm ready now."
Jarabec held his eyes. "You're not. I can't bring you into the dreamscape when you're this emotional. That's not where you start."
"Look," Poet started. "I'm perfectly capable of—"
There was a loud smash of a dish hitting the floor and Poet jumped, dissolving the rest of his sentiment. A group of soldiers were stalking through the dining room in his direction, their heavy boots clanking and the dishware rattling as they bumped tables unapologetically. Poet jumped up from his seat, terrified, until he realized they were wearing red armor—not black. These were Dream Walkers.
"Christ," Jarabec muttered under his breath, without looking back at them. He drained the last of his wine and then wiped his hands on his napkin before standing. "Keep in mind what I've told you tonight, boy," he told Poet as he got to his feet. "Now there's something I must attend to."
Poet took a step back as the Dream Walkers arrived at his table. Two men and one woman stood in full armor, helmets in their hands. They looked battle-hardened and cruel. The woman had a scar on her upper lip, pulling it to the side in an eternal sneer. One of the men wore an eye-patch, and when he saw Poet looking at him, he smiled, flashing a gap of missing teeth.
A handsome, and intimidating, guy stepped forward and he and Jarabec exchanged a greeting. He turned to examine Poet. "This the boy?" he asked in a thick Australian accent.
"He's not ready, Flint," Jarabec replied curtly. Poet could tell he was annoyed to be wearing a suit and tie while his comrades were decked out in gear. Still, Jarabec gave little pause when stepping in front of him to block the other Dream Walkers' view.
"I say we take him into the woods," Eye-patch called out, "and beat it out of him." He smiled again and the woman next to him laughed.
"Don't look so scared, darling," she told Poet in a British accent. "We'd never hurt that pretty face."
He knew her, Poet realized suddenly, only she looked quite different in the Waking World. She was the woman who arrived the other night while he was working as a doorman. The red dress and the accent.
"Yes, I know," she said, reading his reaction. "I am much lovelier in person." She took a step forward, and Jarabec held out his hand to stop her from getting any closer to Poet. She sighed, and looked at him impatiently, reaching to adjust his tie. "Come now, Jarabec," she whispered. "Remember that I know where you sleep."
"And I, you, Camille," he said calmly. "Shall we take this to the Waking World?"
Camille continued adjusting his tie and then they stared intently at each other, as if waiting for the other to throw a punch.
"Enough you two," Flint said, grabbing Camille's arm to pull her back a step. "Jarabec," he continued, "we need him now. We lost two Dream Walkers tonight in the Dark End. REM's soldiers are laying waste to the city there. We think REM might be there. Poet is our only chance to surprise him."
Jarabec stiffened, but didn't move from his protective position. "I, of all people, understand what the Night Stalkers are capable of," he said in a low growl. "The boy is not ready. He doesn't have control. You will only send him to his doom. I suggest—"
"What the fuck is going on here?" an angry voice called. Poet looked over to see Molly pushing her way past the tables toward them, the elegance of her dress doing little to disguise her fury. "Get out, now!"
Poet was kind of impressed that she didn't seem even the least bit intimidated. They, on the other hand, shifted and glanced at each other.
Molly continued towards them, apologizing to guests on her way, her expression flipping from professional to furious depending on whom she was looking at. When she got to their table, she marched directly up to Flint, even though he towered over her.
"Have you lost your mind?" she demanded. Flint smiled politely, but Molly slapped the armor on his chest, making him take a step back. "I swear to Christ," she growled, "I will put you down right now."
"Relax, Molly," he said. "We just wanted to see the boy."
"Well, that's wonderful," she mocked. "But wearing armor in the lobby? Do you want everyone to know that you're here, Flint?"
"They're just dreamers," Eye-patch said, pushing forward to stand in front of her, leaning against the table. "The Night Stalkers can't get here—we're not in the Dream World. Now, why so much anger?" he asked. "Sounds to me like Marshall isn't taking care of you like he should."
In a blur of movement, Molly grabbed a steak knife off the table and stabbed it through the Dream Walker's hand, securing him to the table. He screamed and Molly leaned in, pausing near his ear. "I suggest you rethink your tone, Skillet, before I poke out your other fucking eye."
Skillet began to wiggle the knife back and forth, hissing out his pain as it cut further into his hand. When he finally yanked the knife out with a sucking sound, he tossed it on the table, holding his arm close to his chest and backing away. Molly steadied her gaze on Flint.
"You know the rules," she told him. "I don't give a fuck what you do out there," she pointed in the direction of the front door. "But in here, we keep it calm. The Lucid Dreamers come in, have a drink, and go about their night elsewhere. This is a gateway, not a battleground. We don't frighten them here. We've already lost the subway to a new Night Terror." She glanced at Poet, reminding him that it was his Night Terror. "Let's not draw others here."
Flint tightened his jaw, but ultimately, he held up his hands in apology. "Next time I'll wear the tux," he said.
"Yes, you will," Molly said, smiling pleasantly. "Now take your friends and get out. Marshall will be informed."
Skillet sneered at the mention of Marshall's name and it was clear they were more afraid of Molly than him. With one more studying glance at Poet, the Dream Walkers began to leave the room. Flint stopped and turned to glance back at Jarabec. "You coming?" he asked him.
Jarabec opened his mouth to respond, but ended up looking to Molly for the answer.
"Go," she said, waving her hand. "Your suit looks like shit anyway. I'll watch the boy." Poet assumed she was talking about him, and he wasn't sure if he should be offended that she thought he needed a babysitter or grateful that she got the other Dream Walkers out of his face.
"Get some rest," Jarabec told Poet. "Because tomorrow, you're going to get your ass kicked." He offered him a crooked smile and then slipped his hands into the pockets of his suit pants and left the restaurant.
Anteprima del capitolo 18 da Aurel Media
Suddenly, Poet’s gravity-bike kicked forward like a bullet, nearly knocking him off balance. He quickly acclimated himself to the feel, and was soon passing other, less-confident drivers. For a moment, it was even fun. Poet zigged in and out of the lanes, and at the first turn, two gravity-bikes bumped each other, sending them both hard into the wall where they exploded, shooting shrapnel into the audience. The crowd cheered.
Poet ducked down further, trying to concentrate. The sound of his breathing was loud inside the helmet. “Don’t die, don’t die,” he started repeating to himself. Another bike spun out and he had to swerve to miss it as it wrecked. There was a loud boom behind him, but he resisted looking back.
Ahead of him, the bikes in the front started up the vertical track. Poet could tell which ones had turned off their gravity, relying instead on speed. They were blurs as they climbed higher, and Poet tightened his grip and got ready for his ascent.
His front tire held fast to the track as his angle shifted. The back tire wobbled for a moment, but then he was shooting forward, still behind at least a half dozen other racers. He was going too slow as his gravity-bike took him along the track toward the clouds.
Poet swallowed hard, becoming light-headed when his altitude broke into low orbit. All at once, his eyelids fluttered like he might pass out—his bike slowed, nearly stopping, and then like the slow ticking of a rollercoaster at its peak, the climbing stopped and rounded the top. Poet’s stomach upended and he was upside down, miles in the air.
He began his descent, the gravity-bike skating along the track like falling space debris, beginning to glow red with heat as it picked up speed. Poet’s head bobbed in the wind, and he passed three riders, cutting his way slowly toward a middle lane. As he got closer to the ground, he realized the track thinned as it disappeared into a vertical tunnel—two lanes. Not all the bikes would fit into the narrow entrance.
“I have to get there first,” he said. He cranked the throttle, but he couldn’t seem to get past the front riders, one of whom swerved in an attempt to knock him off the track. Poet cursed and swung back in, narrowly missing another rider. He had seconds to think; the other riders weren’t going to let him through easily.
“Okay then,” he said, and flipped off his gravity switch. It was instantaneous. The grip his bike held on the track disengaged and Poet began to float up from the track, free-falling toward the ground. Without the magnet slowing him down, Poet passed over the heads of the other riders. He gritted his teeth and hoped to get past the last rider before he could hit the gravity button again. Otherwise he was going to crash face-first at the entrance of the tunnel.
Poet drifted over the rider and then quickly flipped the gravity switch. There was a zap, a sting on Poet’s leg, and like a heavy magnet, his bike was flung toward the track and his helmet narrowly missed the outside of the tunnel. He landed with a tire squeal on the track.
He gasped out his relief, and a few other bikes zoomed in behind him. There was a loud explosion and pieces of metal rained down, signaling that others had free-fallen and missed altogether. Even from here, Poet heard the crowd erupt in cheers.
The tunnel leveled out, but the space around him was growing darker; the only light in the tunnel was coming from the glowing wheels of the bikes. He skidded quickly to the left, just missing a boulder obstacle. The biker behind him, not seeing it, hit it head on, sending the rider over his handlebars. He was run over by another bike immediately.
There wasn’t enough light, and he couldn’t let someone go ahead of him to guide the way—they’d win. He had to win. He thought about Sketch’s advice and keyed in to his heightened emotions, sending electricity to his fingertips. The temporary distraction caused a rider to pass him, the same one who’d given him advice, but Poet just concentrated on his emotions.
He was going to find Alan and bring him home. All he had to do was win this race. Poet let go of his fear and, in its place, gathered his courage. Confidence. He brought up all of his love for his brother. His bike sputtered suddenly, and then, like a bolt of lightning, the gravity-bike shot forward like a blur. Poet passed the rider in front for him and narrowly missed a large spike of rock that fell from the roof of the tunnel. The rider behind him slammed into it and burst into flames.
Poet was stricken with guilt, but kept his head down. He was so close now. He didn’t dare check behind him. He could hear the rumble of several cycles, but not nearly as many as had started. The tunnel was a maze, the shape constantly shifting, obstacles appearing in his light just in time for him to avoid them. He stopped counting the crashes he heard.
But then, there was a growl, deep and thick. It crawled over his skin. Poet didn’t have to look to know; he felt it in his gut. A Night Terror dove into the tunnel behind the riders, galloping towards Poet and laying waste to any bikes in its way.
“Shit,” Poet spat and looked behind him to see the beast gaining ground, its horrible figure outlined in the shadows the bike tires cast. Poet didn’t know how the Night Terror had found him, but he put down his head, willing the bike to go faster.
A few yards ahead, he spotted a jagged scar in the floor of the tunnel—a four-foot gap in the track. He pulled up the handlebars and jumped it, landing with a thud on the other side as he raced forward. Behind him, there was a loud explosion and the feeling of heat on the back of his shirt.
At the next turn, Poet’s nostrils flared—he smelled something. Flowers? Lilacs. His mind swirled as he tried to place it. “Jonas,” a soft voice called, echoing through the tunnel. Poet’s heart kicked up and he pressed on the accelerator, knowing he needed to get out of this race. Knowing he needed to win it. “Is there room in your dream for me?” he heard her say.
Poet felt a brush on his side, but when he looked there was nothing there. But he could feel Samantha next to him. No, he thought. Don’t come in the dream. Not now. Poet cursed and his gravity-bike began to skid, losing power. Reacting to him. Poet looked over his shoulder and could see the track vibrating, the Night Terror hot on his trail. His eyes rolled up in his head as Samantha’s leg brushed his thigh as she curled up against him, her head on his chest.
“No, fuck,” Poet cursed, forcing himself to stay in the dream. “Not yet,” he demanded. He could sense the Waking World closing in around him.
Anteprima del capitolo 21 da Nerdist
“Jonas, what’s happening?” Sam asked, her voice shaking. “Who is this?”
Jonas straightened his back, puffing up his chest in an attempt to hide his weakness. “This is REM,” Jonas said. “He took over William’s body.” Just like he took over my mom’s, Jonas thought.
REM gave a curt bow, enjoying every moment of their fear. “Don’t worry, darling,” REM said to Sam. “I’ll be sure to kill you, too. Wouldn’t want our boy holding on to something in the Waking World. First love is like a drug.”
Jonas clenched his fists, ready to fight to the death if he had to. REM wasn’t going to get his hands on Samantha. Jonas would die first.
“Now,” REM continued. “Normally coma patients are the perfect vessels. But Alan here,” he shook his fist at him in mock aggravation, “wouldn’t open his eyes. No matter what I did to him. Awful stuff, too.”
Jonas felt a huge hole tear into his chest, but he forced himself to be brave.
“So I began looking for another suitable host who could get close to you,” REM told him. “Most aren’t strong enough, but William here, he’s special. It’s why Madeline Moss was studying him. Lucky for me, her sleep study left him as easy prey. And honestly, faced with what my Night Stalkers were about to do, he gave himself up willingly. That’s the same choice I’m going to give you, Jonas,” REM said.
“Fuck off,” Jonas said, clenching his jaw.
REM laughed, his expression twisting William’s face like a grotesque mask. “Oh, come now,” he said. “No need for vulgarity.” REM pulled his hand from his pocket, a syringe held tightly in his fingers. He flipped off the orange cap and it fell onto the sheets of Alan’s bed. Jonas’s terror spiked as he looked between REM and the needle. “What, this?” REM asked, taking a step closer. “Thorazine. It won’t kill you. But we can’t have you waking up on command, can we? The Night Terror likes a captive audience. This will help you stay asleep so you and he can…chat.”
“You forget,” Jonas said, “that you’re in the body of an old man. I can take you.” Jonas considered rushing him and knocking him to the floor to get him and Sam out of there.
“You can certainly try,” REM said. “But I don’t feel pain in this body. I can use these muscles until they tear. You’d be surprised how strong a human being is when the body is used to its maximum potential. You’ll never get past me.”
Jonas didn’t have a choice. Sam was behind him, against the wall, but if Jonas could just push REM back a few feet, Sam could climb over the bed and head for the door.
Before he could talk himself out of it, Jonas jumped forward and swung out his fist, connecting with William’s jaw. There was a loud crack, and both men toppled to the floor, grunting as each tried to gain the advantage. Out of the corner of his eye, Jonas saw Sam scramble over Alan’s unconscious body, hitting the floor hard on the other side.
There was a sharp pain and Jonas yelped. His hands shot to his neck and he felt the syringe sticking out. Almost instantly, the room wavered. Jonas yanked the syringe out of his skin and swung it out wildly, unable to get enough leverage on the floor.
Next to him, William’s face hung at a strange angle, his jaw broken. Blood began to pour from his nose and REM stopped, blinking quickly as if he was losing consciousness, too. REM growled and began clawing at his own face. “No,” he said, his fingernails tearing through the flesh. “It was supposed to last longer.”
Jonas’s vision was blurred and he grabbed onto the bed, trying to pull himself up. His legs felt like bags of sand and the furthest he could get was to his knees, all while clutching the blankets. He looked at William’s body and saw him gasping for air, his host body failing him. Jonas’s eyes slid shut and there was a loud thwack. He forced his eyes open and saw William face down on the floor with Sam standing over him, a fire extinguisher clutched in her hands. Her chest heaved as she turned to Jonas, clearly shocked at what she’d done.
Jonas let go of the blanket and fell to the floor, trying to crawl but not strong enough. He flattened out, pressing his cheek on the cool tile. William’s body was dead near him, a horizontal gash cut through his temple.
“Oh, my God,” Sam said. She slipped her arms under Jonas’s shoulders and dragged him out from the side of the bed into the open space. She got down on her knees, checking him over. Her fingers tickled his neck where he’d been injected. “What can I do?” Sam asked, sounding frantic. “How do I stop this?”
Jonas was fading fast, heading toward the Dream World where his Night Terror would be waiting. He stared up at Sam, the edges of his vision going black and closing in. “Stay awake,” Jonas whispered. “Don’t go into the dreamscape. Promise me.”
Before he could hear her answer, black dots blotted out the rest of his sight. He was falling into the dreamscape and in his last second of consciousness, Jonas thought of Jarabec. He needed to find his Dream Walker.
Anteprima del capitolo 22 da Once Upon a Twilight
Flint took a step toward Poet, his boots echoing on the pavement. “Do you think REM cares how nice someone is?” he asked. “Are you really so stupid?”
“Flint,” Jarabec said in warning. Flint held up his hand to Jarabec, but kept his gaze trained on Poet.
“How did you get here tonight, kid?” Flint demanded. “How do we know you didn’t make a deal with that bastard? Wouldn’t be the first time someone turned on us.”
Jarabec jumped forward and pushed Flint, stepping between him and the boy. But Poet waved him off. He wasn’t scared of Flint.
“I can’t wake myself up,” Poet told him. “I can’t tunnel into the Waking World. REM injected me with a sedative and sent me here. Said my Night Terror wouldn’t be far behind.”
At the mention of the Night Terror, both Jarabec and Flint tensed. Jarabec grabbed Poet by the arm and pulled him toward the sidewalk where the cycles were parked.
“Christ,” Jarabec grumbled. “Find the proprietor,” he told Flint, who was already running for his bike. “Get the location and report back to me.”
Flint nodded, and after he climbed on his motorcycle, he looked over at Poet, his expression more thoughtful than he’d seen before. “Take care of yourself, kid,” he said. Poet was so taken aback by the sentiment that he didn’t respond. Flint revved his engine and spun his bike around before rocketing down the street.
Jarabec waited impatiently on his monocycle. Poet stashed his umbrella in the back, and as he rounded the cycle, he noticed new scratches that hadn’t been there before. Blackened scrapes and dented metal.
“I see you’ve been busy,” Poet said.
“You shouldn’t have come here,” Jarabec said.
Poet scoffed. “Uh, I didn’t choose to. Sedative, remember?” “I mean the other night. You shouldn’t have raced. Shouldn’t have gotten involved. The Dream Walkers don’t have your best interests at heart.”
“Are you saying they want to hurt me?”
“No. But they will use you.” Jarabec shot a cautious glance down the street, as if worried the Night Terror would show up at any moment. “They needed to know what REM had over you, and what he would use to break you. That was what they bargained for: information about you. Not information to help you.”
Poet looked down the street where Flint had just left. “I don’t understand,” he asked. “Why?”
“REM is going to offer you a deal. They may decide to not let you have the chance to take it. That’s why I didn’t want the Dream Walkers to know about your brother. But now they do.”
“I’m not going to make a trade,” Poet said. “I’m going to kill REM.”
“Yes,” Jarabec said, looking over at him like he was a delusional child. “Other Poets have thought the same. They’ve trusted the wrong people.” Poet knew he was talking about Alexander. “And now,” Jarabec continued, “you’ve involved the girl, too.”
Poet’s shoulders tensed. “What are you talking about?”
“You’ve fallen in love with her, yes?” he asked in an accusing tone. “Which, for all intents and purposes, is the surest way to get her killed.”
“No,” Poet said, shaking his head. “I won’t let anything happen to her. I told her not to come here.”
“You still don’t understand, do you?” Jarabec said. “REM will destroy everything you love. Try and coax you to give him your soul willingly. He will ask you to give your life for hers. But you cannot trust him. In the end, he will destroy her. He’ll destroy Alan. REM will take everything from you, just like he took your parents.”
“I would never willingly give him my soul, so he’s mistaken,” Poet said defiantly. “I can protect them.”
“Yes, Poet,” Jarabec said, turning away and kicking his cycle to life. “You are, indeed, just like your mother. But you’ll learn. One way or another, you’ll learn just how terrible REM can be.”
Poet watched the back of Jarabec’s head, sensing the emotions causing his warning. “And what did he take from you?” Poet asked.
Jarabec didn’t flinch. Instead he revved the engine. “My wife,” he said. Poet’s lips parted in an apology, but the Dream Walker didn’t turn. Although Poet had only known Jarabec for a short while, he admired him. Respected him.
“How did...” Poet trailed off, knowing it was rude to ask how she died. Jarabec stared down the empty street, as if lost in a thought.
“My wife wasn’t a Dream Walker,” Jarabec said. “She was unaccustomed to the type of pain REM could inflict. We were young and foolish. The Night Stalkers found Magdalena in a shop here, in the Dark End of Genesis. They dragged her out into the streets.” Jarabec turned back, his jaw tight as the color drained from his face. “They played her murder over and over on the telescreens.” He pointed up to the blank jumbo screen attached to the side of a building. “It was a warning for any who defied REM. But if he’d hoped it would bring me toward him, it only changed my mission.”
“I’m sorry,” Poet said, knowing it wasn’t enough.
“I was the strongest of the Dream Walkers then,” Jarabec continued. “But after Magdalena’s death, I decided that I wouldn’t just protect the dreamscape from the Night Stalkers, I would ultimately bring about REM’s destruction. I would devote my life to do it. I knew I had to find a Poet, with a soul brighter than any Dream Walker’s. A capacity for light that REM would not be able to defeat.”
“I don’t understand,” Poet said. “Why am I so important if there are other Poets?”
“Because you’re the only Poet here,” he said. “Perhaps it’s because you don’t understand the real danger you’re in. Perhaps you’re braver than they were. Now all the Poets are either dead or scattered, hidden in the wind. Out of our reach. Out of REM’s. One day, you’ll understand. You will have a choice whether or not to join them in that course, Poet Anderson. But today is not that day.”
Jarabec scanned the boy with his gray eyes. “Now,” he said. “We must go. If REM sent you into the dream, I imagine he’s already figured out your location.”
Above them, the colors of the skyline changed, casting dark shadows on the street. Poet looked up and found the telescreen streaming their image, fifty feet high. Jarabec cursed under his breath and Poet quickly climbed on the monocycle. They’d found him.
Jarabec twisted the throttle, lifting his black boots from the pavement as the monocycle shot forward, nearly knocking Poet off the back. People began to walk out of the closed shops, glancing up at the telescreens, murmuring their excitement. For a moment, Poet hated them. This was a sport to them, just like the Death Races.
“You’d better get ready, boy,” Jarabec called over the roar of his cycle. “Every one of the people in this part of town would pay good money to watch you get torn apart by your Night Terror.”