Read Nightrise Online

Authors: Anthony Horowitz

Tags: #Family, #Action & Adventure, #Juvenile Fiction, #Fantasy & Magic, #General, #Fiction, #People & Places, #Horror & Ghost Stories, #Brothers, #United States, #Supernatural, #Siblings, #Telepathy, #Nevada, #Twins, #Juvenile Detention Homes

Nightrise (6 page)

BOOK: Nightrise
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"Do you know who they were?"

"No."

"I have to look for him."

"I know how you're feeling, Jamie. Can I call you that? You said you were looking for Scott, so I guess that answers my question." Again, he didn't answer, so she went on. "Just try to think straight for a minute. You want to find your brother. But where are you going to start?" She walked over to a table and picked up a small, silver object, shaped like a bullet but with a needle jutting out at one end and a black tuft at the other. "Do you know what this is?"

Jamie felt his blood run cold.

"I dug this out of your shoulder," the woman said. "God knows what was in it but you've been asleep for eleven hours. Your brother was hit too, and right now he could be anywhere. You can look all over Reno if you want. You can look all over Nevada. But you're not going to find him."

She was right. Jamie knew it. But it didn't matter. He couldn't stay here, not without Scott. "I have to see Uncle Don," he said.

"Don?" The woman blinked. 'You mean Don White? His name was on the posters. Is he your uncle?"

"No. He's nothing — but he made us call him that. He'll be wondering where we are. He was there at the theatre last night. Maybe he can help."

"I'm not so sure…"

"I don't care what you think." Jamie took a deep breath. "We were renting a house. It's over in Sparks.

There's him and Marcie. I have to tell them what happened. They'll contact the cops."

The woman thought for a moment. Then she nodded. "Why don't you call them?"

There was a telephone on a table beside the bed. Jamie picked it up and dialed the number. He waited, listening as it rang at the other end. There was no reply. He let it ring a dozen times. Then he hung up.

"If they cared about you, they'd have called the police already," the woman said.

"How do you know they haven't?"

The woman sighed. "Fair enough. I haven't seen the papers yet…"

'You knew what happened." Jamie couldn't keep the hostility out of his voice. "Why didn't you call them?"

"I wanted to talk to you first."

"Great. Well, now you've talked to me. How long did you say I've been here? Eleven hours. That means you've given them eleven hours to get away with Scott. I don't even know your name but you don't have anything to do with me. I just want to go home."

"I'm not stopping you!" The woman raised her hands in a gesture of surrender. 'You want to go home?

That's fine! In fact I'll drive you there myself. Okay?"

Jamie nodded.

"Then let's go."

The woman went over to the door and the two of them stepped outside. Jamie screwed up his eyes as the sun hit him. The door opened onto a parking lot and he could feel the heat, bouncing off the tarmac, roasting his forehead and cheeks. The air smelled of burning rubber and gasoline. The Bluebird Inn was an old-fashioned building, two stories high, mainly white-painted wood. It had been named after the state bird of Nevada but if anything with wings came close to the place, it was more likely to be a plane.

The motel had been constructed exactly opposite the runway and even as he stood there, he heard the roar of a jet — though whether it was taking off or landing, he couldn't see.

'You always stay here?" he asked.

The woman glanced at him. "I always stay near airports," she replied.

Why? What did she mean? But Jamie didn't ask her. Whatever her problems were, they had nothing to do with him.

She had rented a car, a silver, four-door Ford Focus, and Jamie saw that she had called someone out early that morning. The window had been repaired. But one of the wing mirrors was missing. That would cost her plenty when she took the car back. He got into the front seat and closed the door.

"Alicia McGuire," the woman said.

"I'm sorry?"

''You didn't ask me my name, but I thought you'd like to know it anyway," She started the engine. "So where are we heading?"

"It's just off Route 80.I can show you."

They drove together in silence. Jamie looked out of the window as the offices and hotels of Reno slipped past. He knew them all. They had become as familiar to him as the features on his own face. And yet now, somehow, they seemed a long way away. As they drove up the ramp and onto the freeway, heading east, he felt a sense of dislocation. It was as if someone had taken a giant pair of scissors the night before and cut a straight line through his life.

The air-conditioning was on full and he let the air current wash over him, separating his clothes from his skin. He hoped it would wake him up. He was still groggy, perhaps from the drug, perhaps from the shock of what had happened. He tried to make sense of the events at the theatre but he couldn't. At least four men, perhaps more, had come for him and Scott. Two of them had been in the audience. The others had appeared out of nowhere. But the whole thing had been carefully planned. That much was obvious.

And if it hadn't been for Jagger, the two of them wouldn't even have made it out of the theatre.

Frank Kirby's dog. Jamie remembered the struggle and hoped the animal was all right. Frank was always worrying about the dog…It was old and had a weak heart. Jamie knew that the men in the theatre would have quite happily killed Jagger without so much as a second thought — and these were the same people who had taken Scott. Well,

Jamie would find them, with or without his uncle's help. They didn't know him. They didn't know what they were up against.

"It's the next exit," he said.

Don White and his girlfriend had rented a house in Sparks, a suburb of Reno, just a few miles to the east.

Alicia turned off and they descended into a grid system of pretty, tree-lined streets that seemed a world apart from the main city. And yet the poker tables and slot machines had spread out even here. Two huge towers, bookends that didn't quite match, rose up on the other side of the freeway. This was the Nugget, another enormous casino and hotel complex. Many of the people who lived in Sparks worked there as waiters, croupiers, cleaners, or security guards. There was no escaping it. It seemed to look down and sneer at the little community as if to say,

I

am your master. You owe your livelihood to me.

Every house in Sparks was different and each one stood on its own little plot of land. There were cottages made of brick, wooden bungalows with painted shutters and verandas, and villas built in the Spanish style with wrought-iron gates and white stucco walls. Some of the houses had been decorated with wind chimes, dolls," and flowerpots. Others had been allowed to fall into disrepair. It just depended on who was living there — and it seemed that all sorts of people had chosen this neighborhood to be their home.

Tenth Street was at the top end, close to the casino. It stood out at once because it was the most dilapidated building on the street. It had a porch with a net screen running all the way around, but it was full of holes, as if it had been stabbed. The paint was flaking. The window frames were rusting. A single air-conditioning unit clung to one wall as if by its fingernails. The house was two stories high with a garage to one side. There was a van parked in the driveway— and from the look of it, it hadn't been moved in a long time.

"This is it," Jamie said.

"I sort of guessed." Alicia didn't stop outside. She drove a few doors farther down and pulled up beneath an acacia tree. "Park in the shade," she explained.

Jamie nodded. "Thanks," he said. He reached for the door handle.

"Wait a minute!" Alicia stared at him. "What do you think you're doing?"

"It's okay. This is where I live. You don't need to come in."

"It's not okay! I can't just leave you here. I want to see you're safe."

"Then wait in the car…"

"No!" Alicia turned off the engine. "I'm coming in with you." Jamie opened his mouth to argue but she stopped him. 'You've been away all night," she went on. "Maybe it would help you if you had someone to explain what happened…to back up your story."

Jamie thought for a moment, then nodded. The two of them got out of the car and walked back along the pavement, passing the house next to the one where he lived. It belonged to a family with two children —

girls, about ten and twelve years old. Jamie often saw them playing on the front lawn, and their bicycles were there now, parked next to a swing. But he had never spoken to them, not in all the time he had been at Sparks. The girls had probably been told to avoid him and Scott. Nobody ever went near number 402.

It was as if the whole neighborhood knew that these weren't people you wanted to meet.

He climbed three concrete steps and crossed the porch to the front door. He was glad now that this woman was with him. There was no way that Don or Marcie could blame him for what had happened the night before, but the trouble was that the two of them were likely to strike out first and ask questions later. He had disappeared for more than twelve hours. At least Alicia would give him time to explain.

They wouldn't dare hurt him while she was there.

At the last minute, he stopped and rang the doorbell. It had suddenly occurred to him that he couldn't just walk in, not with a complete stranger. It wasn't midday yet. Marcie probably wouldn't be dressed.

He listened for any sound of life, a door slamming open or the tramp of feet coming down the stairs, but there was nothing. As usual, the television was turned on in the front room. That didn't mean anything.

Marcie switched it on first thing in the morning and sometimes left it on all day, even when she was playing music on the radio in the same room. He could hear a man's voice reading a news bulletin. He rang a second time. There was no answer.

"They're not in," Jamie said.

"Do you want to wait for them?"

'Yes." Jamie nodded. 'You don't have to worry about me. You can leave me here if you want to."

"No. I'll come in too."

She was determined. Jamie shrugged and opened the door. He had known it wouldn't be locked. It never was. There was nothing worth stealing in the house and none of the furniture belonged to them anyway.

Don had rented the place through an agency. The owners were in another state, and whoever they were, they certainly hadn't been houseproud. The carpets were thin, the wallpaper was peeling, and the lightbulbs hung without any shades. The two boys had mattresses on the floor in one of the rooms upstairs. Don and Marcie had a sagging bed next door. In the kitchen, there was a table and four chairs.

That was about it. The house was little more than a shell. If it had been abandoned altogether, nobody would have noticed any difference.

"…With less than five months until election day and still no lead opening up between the two candidates, the pressure is most definitely on. Who will be the next president of the United States? It seems that only time will tell. This is Ed Radway, reporting from Phoenix, Arizona…"

There was no audience in the room for the newscaster, who chatted on regardless, searching for eye contact with two empty seats.

"This is where you live?" Alicia couldn't keep the dismay out of her voice.

"We just rent it," Jamie explained. He was feeling ashamed although he had no reason to. 'You don't have to stay," he added.

"Excuse me! Are you still trying to get rid of me?"

"No."

But he was. He didn't like anyone seeing him here. He didn't like admitting that this was where he lived.

Alicia was looking at him and Jamie realized that he had barely spoken to her since they had left Reno

— and when he had, it was only to be rude. And yet what she had said back at the hotel was true. She had rescued him. She had risked her life, driving through gunfire. And he hadn't even thanked her. "I'm sorry," he said.

"Forget it." Alicia looked around her. 'You're right. It doesn't, look like there's anyone at home. What does this woman — Marcie — do for a living?"

"She doesn't really do anything."

"So how did you…?"

But Alicia never finished the question. They both saw it at the same time. The image on the television had changed. A thin boy with long, dark hair was facing them. With a strange jolt, a sense of unreality, Jamie realized he was looking at his own image.

"…wanted in connection with the murder of his legal guardian, Don White," the reporter was saying.

The picture divided into two. Jamie and Scott, side by side. They were obviously twins, but on the television screen they didn't look so identical.

"Scott and Jamie Tyler are identical twins. Although they are only fourteen years old, they are said to be armed and dangerous. The public is urged not to approach them."

"This is crazy…" Jamie whispered.

"Shh!" Alicia was staring at the screen.

The picture changed to the Reno Playhouse. There must have been four or five reporters standing outside, each one with his or her own personal microphone and cameraman, clamoring for attention.

Their voices could be heard in the background as the local reporter — a blond, excited-looking woman

— told the story.

"Scott and Jamie Tyler were performing here, at this theatre in downtown Reno," she was saying. "They were part of a so-called mind-reading act that used simple trickery to fool their audience. According to witnesses, both boys were heavily involved in substance abuse, and last night it seems they lost control, stealing a gun from their guardian, Don White, and turning it against him…"

"It's all lies!" Jamie exclaimed. He turned to Alicia, suddenly afraid that she wouldn't believe him.

"What she's saying. None of it's true!"

"Jamie —"

"He didn't even have a gun —"

"Listen to me, Jamie —"

But at that moment, there was a blast of sirens outside the house that could mean only one thing: The police had arrived.

As far as Jamie was concerned, it was all just another bad dream, worse even than the one he'd had the night before. It seemed to him that one impossibility after another was piling up on him, and he almost expected the gray figure from his dream to jump out at him from behind the sofa just for good measure.

BOOK: Nightrise
6.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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