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Authors: Hilton Pashley

Gabriel's Clock

BOOK: Gabriel's Clock
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Table of Contents

Title Page

Table of Contents

Copyright

Dedication

Frontispiece

Jonathan

I'm Too Old for This

Cay and Conspiracy

Fever Dreams

Far from Ordinary

Bogeymen

Oddly Normal

Old Friends and Bookends

Omelets and Angels

Corvidae

A Walk in the Woods

An Unkindness of Raven

Bruises

Gabriel's Clock

The Battle of Hobbes End

War Wounds

The Windows of My Wings

Revelations

Waiting for the Cavalry

Here There Be Dragons

A Glimmer of Hope

Meanwhile, Back at the Vicarage . . .

Better the Devil You Know

Deus Ex Machina

High Flight

Memories

Epilogue

Author's Note

About the Author

Copyright © 2014 by Hilton Pashley

 

All rights reserved. For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003.

 

www.hmhco.com

 

The illustrations in this book are rendered in mixed media.

Illustration © 2014 by August Hall.

 

The Library of Congress has cataloged the print edition as follows:

Pashley, Hilton.

Gabriel's clock / by Hilton Pashley.

p. cm.

Originally published by Andersen Press in 2013.

Summary: “Twelve-year-old Jonathan is half-angel, half-demon, and the only one of his kind. But he has no idea of his true identity, and now a rogue archdemon wants him for his own sinister purpose.” —Provided by publisher

ISBN 978-0-544-30176-4

[1. Angels—Fiction. 2. Demonology—Fiction. 3. Good and evil—Fiction. 4. Identity—Fiction.] I. Title.

PZ7.P26915Gab 2014

[Fic]—dc23

2013042012

 

eISBN 978-0-544-37702-8
v1.1014

 

 

 

 

for the real Angela and Jonathan

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

J
ONATHAN

In the blink of an eye Jonathan's life changed forever. Not moments before, he'd been sitting in the cottage kitchen eating his dinner; now he was hurtling down the cellar steps as three black shapes burst through the living room window.

Jonathan's mother screamed and pulled him across the cluttered cellar while his father slammed the door shut behind them. With a shaking hand he turned a rusty iron key in the lock and backed away, his face pale.

“What's happening?” cried Jonathan. “Who is that? Why are they breaking into our house?”

His father looked at him and shook his head wordlessly. For the first time in his life Jonathan realized what true fear looked like—stark, naked, gut-churning fear. He watched in terror as the cellar door rattled on its hinges. The room shook with the force of the blows, dust sifting from the ceiling like icing sugar.

“They've found us!” said his father.

“Who've found us?” Jonathan cried. “I don't understand!”

His mother held him tightly, kissing the crown of his head, squeezing her eyes shut to keep tears from falling into his hair. “I'm sorry, Jonathan,” she whispered to him. “I'm so sorry; we tried so hard to protect you!”

With an awful crack a huge fist punched its way through the door, splintering the ancient wood like kindling. The fist withdrew, and through the gap a face peered in at the huddled family. The face had no visible features, just a smooth expanse of skin between hairline and shirt collar.

Jonathan screamed and pointed as the face smiled—if the sudden appearance of a crimson slit filled with jagged teeth could be called a smile.

“It's Crow,” gasped Jonathan's father. He turned to his wife and whispered in her ear. “You know where to take our boy. Use the old coal chute in the corner; it's the only way out. I'll hold them off for as long as I can.” He kissed her cheek and hugged his son. “Be brave,” he said, looking straight into Jonathan's extraordinarily blue eyes. “Now go!”

“We're not just leaving you, Dad.”

“I said, go!”
Jonathan's father roared.

An awful, gurgling laugh erupted from outside the room. With one last massive blow, the door was torn from its hinges and reduced to matchwood. Into the room stepped three humanoid figures, each wearing shiny black shoes, an immaculately tailored pinstriped suit, and a bowler hat.

The first, Crow, was a hulking brute; his apelike arms dangled so low, his knuckles almost brushed the floor. Another was short and thin, with long dark hair falling to her waist. The last figure stood between the other two; tall and menacing, he spread his arms wide to reveal overlong fingers tipped with cruel talons. None of the three had anything resembling a face—just those terrible smiles.

Jonathan's mother grabbed his hand and half dragged him to an open bunker in the far corner of the cellar. Behind them, slick with black dust, a disused coal chute led up to an old wooden hatch. Beyond it lay the last rays of sunset, and escape.

The tallest figure stepped forward, his attention fixed on Jonathan.
“Boy!”
he hissed, triumph dripping from the word like rancid fat.

Jonathan froze, his mind shrieking at him that this wasn't happening. This sort of thing only happened in nightmares. It wasn't
real.

From the corner, he watched as his father grabbed a short length of scaffolding pole that lay propped against the cellar wall. Jonathan fully expected him to launch himself at the monsters that had invaded their home. Instead, and with extraordinary strength, his father swung at the huge brick pillar in the middle of the cellar floor, tearing through it like paper.

“Missed me,” said the tall monster.

Jonathan's father smiled grimly and shook his head, then Jonathan felt himself pulled off his feet and onto a pile of cobwebbed coal as the old cottage let out a groan of pain. He stared as the ceiling, and a great deal of the cottage, collapsed into the cellar. It was as if a giant hand made of masonry and wood had just slammed down onto his father and the three monsters, wiping them from view.

Dust and sound exploded all around him, and Jonathan fought his mother as she tried to pull him away.

“Dad!”
he screamed.
“Dad!”

Suddenly his fear left him, and it was replaced by something else entirely, an emotion with which he was completely unfamiliar: cold fury. Jonathan gasped as the muscles in his shoulders and back began to howl in pain. It was like something that was buried under his skin was trying to tear itself free.

“Jonathan!” his mother begged as she dragged him bodily into the filthy coal chute. “We have to go; the whole cottage is about to—”

With a crack like a pistol shot, a wooden beam sheared from the wall above and swung down, striking Jonathan behind his right ear. He slumped in his mother's arms, his vision narrowed to a small, dim tunnel. A wet sensation ran down his neck, and he absently raised shaking fingers to the back of his head. He felt bone move, and a flare of agony lit up the inside of his skull like a firework.

His limbs virtually useless, Jonathan felt himself dragged upward and out into the fresh air, away from the choking brick dust and the noise of his collapsing home. He lay on damp grass, staring at the huge orange ball of the setting sun, looking at the patterns it made as it lanced through the clouds. He tried reaching out to touch it, but his arms wouldn't move.

There was a noise of a car engine being started, and Jonathan was half carried, half dragged, toward it. The world tilted as he was gently laid on something soft, his legs drawn up to his chest. He thought he could hear something. It sounded like his mother weeping uncontrollably, and he moved his lips to tell her not to be sad, but no sound came out, just a small bubble of blood.

He rocked gently on the seat of the car as his mother drove away from the cottage as fast as she could, not daring to look back in case she saw a faceless figure in a suit and bowler hat running down the road behind her.

“Where . . . we . . . going?” Jonathan managed to mumble.

“I'm taking you home, darling,” said his mother, her voice thick with an emotion he didn't recognize. “I'm taking you home. Just hold on. Please just hold on.”

“S'okay
. . . Mom. I'll . . . hold . . . on.”

A choked sob was her only reply. Jonathan watched the flickering light of sunset through the car windows above him. He watched as it dimmed, then failed completely, leaving him in darkness. The roar of the engine and the hum of the tires on the road cradled him as he tried not to fall asleep. He didn't know why, but he feared that if he fell asleep now, he might not wake up.

After what seemed like an age, the sound of asphalt was replaced by the soft crunch of leaves and small branches. The car drew to a gentle halt, and Jonathan felt himself lifted from the back seat, his mother's arm supporting him with extraordinary strength. The warm air of a summer night brushed his face as he stumbled along, his feet stubbornly refusing to put themselves one in front of the other. The throbbing at the back of his head was rapidly becoming his entire world.

Leaves and wood gave way to grass, and Jonathan felt something tingling at the edge of his consciousness, something that dulled the ache in his skull. It was like someone was holding a cold washcloth to his forehead while whispering words of comfort in his ear. He smiled to himself, then gave in to the need to drift away.

Jonathan's mother sensed the change in her son, and with the last of her strength she dragged his leaden body the few remaining steps to her destination—a little cottage tucked away in a graveyard behind a church. Sinking to her knees with Jonathan in her lap, she pounded her fist against the door.

BOOK: Gabriel's Clock
10.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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