Excerpt of The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh
(Page 2 of 3)
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Jack stepped onto the crosswalk, his feet feeling ahead
of him as his nose stayed pointed like a weather vane into
his book.To be killed, to perish, he murmured, weighing
the possibilities. Just as he registered the grammar and
settled on the word perish, exonerating the snake from
any intentional wrongdoing, he heard Tanya shout,Jack!
But he lifted the book closer to his face, pretending not to
hear.The next thing he knew, there was loud, heavy metal
music, and he was knocked off his feet and into the air.
Jack barely had time to register what had happened.
He caught a glimpse of the car that hit him, heard panicked
shouts, and closed his eyes as his body hit the
ground. A loud rushing sound filled his ears. Then he
When Jack came to, he could hear voices talking over
him, at first high-pitched like insects and then slow and
demon-like.A wave of nausea passed over him, and he felt
too tired to open his eyes. His ears began to adjust themselves
to the voices.Hes a very lucky boy, said one.He
has a few bruises on his chest and legs, but no internal
injuries. He should be waking up. . . .
Are you sure hes okay?
Jacks eyelids flickered.This voice was his fathers.
The medics . . . when they found him . . .
Jack could hear a loud sniffle. Even in his semiconscious
state, he wondered if his father was going to cry
the way he did late at night after Jack went to bed. The
one time Jack had mentioned it, his father had stiffened
and told him that he had been dreaming.
Well keep him here overnight for observation just to
be sure. But I can assure you, Professor Perdu.We did CAT
scans, X-rays . . . a dozen different tests. It was a shock to
his system, but hes a strong, healthy boy.
Thank you, his father said softly.
There was the sliding noise of a curtain being closed
as the doctor departed.
With great effort, Jack opened his eyes. He was lying
on a cot surrounded by a white curtain. He looked at his
father, who was blinking back tears.
His father gripped Jacks hand in his own, something
he hadnt done in years. He had a full, gray beard, and was
much older than the fathers of Jacks classmates. He
cleared his throat.How do you feel?
Jack carefully stretched his arms and legs. Nothing
hurt, but he felt stiff, like hed just run a marathon. He
propped himself up on his elbows.Not too bad for being
hit by a car.
His father chuckled.The tears in his eyes, Jack noticed,
had dried. Tough kid, he said, letting go of his hand.
You scared that girl, though, half to death. Jack suddenly
remembered Tanya and lay back on the cot. He imagined
her telling the other kids at school about the accident. He
pictured them laughing as Tanya explained, I was shouting
at him, but he wouldnt even look up from his book.
His father leaned over him.Are you okay?
Jack nodded, unable to explain.
His father frowned.Whats your last name?
His father looked unimpressed.
Perdu, Jack repeated, propping himself back up on
his elbows.It means lost in French, from the Latin perdo.
To destroy, to do away with, to lose.
His father nodded.How old are you?
Fourteen. Im fine, Dad, really.
His father continued to stare at him. Whats your
Jack paused. His father hardly ever talked about his
mother. And Jack never mentioned her, even though he
had hundreds of questions. He wished there were someone
he could ask about her, but there was no one else in
New Haven who had known her. Neither of his parents
had siblings, and his grandparents had died long ago.
Anastasia, Jack answered.
Copyright © 2007 by Katherine Marsh. All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.