He rises with difficulty, dazed and in shock. He sees bodies strewn everywhere on the ground in front of him, all around the tunnel opening, dozens and dozens of crumpled forms. He climbs to his feet and staggers over to where Tyler and Megan lie still and bleeding, their eyes wide and staring. He feels his chest tighten and his strength drain away. They are gone. His whole family is gone. It happened so fast.
Sudden movement catches his eye as a knot of dark forms converges on him from out of the darkness. Once-men, wild-eyed and feral, their faces the faces of animals. Without thinking, without even knowing how he remembers what to do, he snaps off the safety on the Tyson Flechette, whips up the barrel, and fires into their midst. Dozens of them disappear, blown backward into the night. He swings the barrel to the right and fires again. Dozens more fly apart. He is exhilarated, become as maddened as they are, as consumed by bloodlust. He hates them for what they have done. He wants to destroy them all.
Then he sees another figure, an old man standing off to one side, tall and stooped and ghost-gray in a cloak that hangs almost to the ground. His eyes are fixed on Logan, peering out from beneath a slouch-brimmed hat, and in those eyes is a cold approval that terrifies the boy. He does not understand what it is the old man approves of, but he does understand one thing. Without ever having come face-to-face with one before, he knows instinctively that this is a demon.
The demon smiles at him and nods.
A hand jerks him about sharply and whips the flechette out of his hands. Eyes as hard and black as obsidian stare out of a face streaked with grease and sweat. Good enough, boy, but its time to leave now. Lets live to fight another day!
He takes Logans arm and begins to run with him into the darkness. Others with faces painted in the same way join with him, shepherding the strays they have gathered from the ruins of the compound. A rear guard forms up to protect their retreat, weapons firing into the waves of once-men that seek to reach them.
Run, boy. The man who holds him shoves him away.
Fighting down the pain he feels in his gut, struggling to hold back his tears, he does. He does not look back.
the midmorning sunlight blinded Logan Tom when he opened his eyes, and he blinked hard to clear away the sleep as he peered out through the windshield of the Lightning S-150 AV. The Indiana countryside, empty of life, spread away to either side of the little copse of elms he had pulled into the night before. The highway he had followed west toward Chicago stretched back the way he had come and ahead the way he must go, cracked and weed-grown and littered with debris. His gaze shifted. Fields fallow and dried out from weeks without rain formed a broken brown patchwork to the south. North, about half a mile off, a farmhouse and barn sat abandoned and derelict in a small grove of oaks turned wintry and leached of life.
On the four horizons, nothing moved. Not even feeders, and feeders were everywhere there were humans to consume.
He reached over for the staff, gripped it tightly for a moment, then ran his hands slowly along its polished black length, feeling the reassuring presence of the runes carved into its surface.
Another day in the world.
He checked the gauges of the AV, a cursory examination of several banks of lights that glimmered a uniform green in the daylight brightness. The red lights were dark, reassuring him that nothing had approached the vehicle during the night. He would not have slept through their audible warnings in any case, but it didnt hurt to make sure. The assault vehicle was his favorite weapon against the things that hunted him, and he relied on her the way you relied on a best friend. Not that he had ever had a best friend. Michael had been his last real friend, but mostly he had been Logans teacher. It was Michael, a genius with anything mechanical, who had acquired and modified the AV. When he was gone, the Lightning had become Logans, a small legacy from a man larger than life.
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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