Not with the demons and once-men seeking to exterminate the human race.
Not in this brave new world.
Logan knows this even though he is only eight years old. He knows it because he is dreaming it, reliving it twenty years later. His understanding of its truths transcends time and place; he embraces the knowledge in the form of memories. He knows it the way he already knows how things will end.
He is standing with Tyler in front of the trapdoor when his father reaches them, ushering his mother and sister into place. Stay together, he tells them, glancing from face to face. Look out for each other.
He carries a short-barreled Tyson 33 Flechette, a wicked black metal weapon that when fired can tear a hole through a stone wall a foot thick. Logan has seen it fired only once, years ago, when his father was testing it. The sound of its discharge was deafening. There was a burning smell in his nose and a ringing in his ears afterward. The memory stays with him to this day. He is afraid of the weapon. If his father carries it, things are as bad as they can possibly be.
Jack. His mother speaks his fathers name softly, and she turns and takes him in her arms, burying her face in his shoulder. The shouts and screams and firing are right outside their door.
His father lets her hold him for a moment, then eases her away, reaches down, and flings back the trapdoor. Go! he snaps, motioning them in.
Tyler doesnt hesitate; carrying the second of the two flashlights, he goes down through the opening. Megan follows him, her green eyes huge and damp with tears.
Logan, his father calls when he sees his youngest hesitate.
In the next instant the front door blows apart in a fiery explosion that engulfs both his mother and his father and sends him tumbling head-over-heels down the stairway to land in a twisted heap on top of his sister. She screams, and something heavy falls on the dirt floor next to him, barely missing his head. In the waver of Tylers flashlight he looks down and sees the Tyson Flechette. He stares at it until his brother jerks him to his feet and snatches up the weapon himself.
Their eyes meet and they both know. Run! Tyler grunts.
Together the three children hurry down the long dark corridor, following the beam of the flashlight. In the darkness ahead, other flashlight beams and flickering candles appear out of other tunnels that join this one, and the sound of voices grows louder. He knows they all come from homes close to his own. The tunnel was the joint project of many families, spearheaded by his father and a few other men, a bolt-hole in case of the unspeakable. Quickly the tunnels are packed, and people are pushing and shoving. Tyler, fighting to keep Megan in tow with one hand while wielding his flashlight with the other, shouts his name and shoves the Tyson Flechette at him.
Logan takes it without thinking. His hands close over the cool, smooth metal of the barrel and work down to the leather-bound grip. Curiously, the weapon feels right in his hands; it feels like it belongs there. His fear of it dissipates as he cradles it to his chest.
Ahead, there is a convergence of lights, and a wooden stairway leads upward. People are pouring out of the tunnel and up the steps into a night filled with flashes and explosions and the sounds of death and dying. He can feel the heat of an intense fire as he gains the opening. As he breathes in the night air, he can smell the acrid stench of smoke and charred timbers.
He has just paused to look around, not three steps back from Tyler and Megan, when an explosion rips the earth beneath him, flinging him backward into the night. An eerie silence descends over his immediate surroundings. Everything he hears now is distant and strangely muffled. He cannot see at first, cannot even move, lying on the ground clutching the flechette as if it were a lifeline.
Excerpted from Armageddon's Children by Terry Brooks Copyright © 2006 by Terry Brooks. Excerpted by permission of Del Rey, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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