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Shadowman, realizing that Saint George's army is headed toward the center of London, has raced ahead to warn the kids of the impending disaster. He knows that he has to make them understand—somehow—that they are going to have to work together. This means that Nicola and her kids at the Houses of Parliament, David and his kids at Buckingham Palace, Matt at St. Paul's, General Jordan Hordern and his troops at the Tower of London, the squatters in St. James Park, and all the kids at the Natural History Museum must unite. But will they do it in time? The book culminates in a massive battle in Hyde Park. How will it play out? Who will be the winners and who the losers? One thing is certain: this series will not go out with a whimper!
Books by Charlie Higson
YOUNG BOND SERIES
Double or Die
By Royal Command
SilverFin: The Graphic Novel
THE ENEMY SERIES
Copyright © 2016 by Charlie Higson
Cover photos © 2015 by iStockphoto.com and Trevillion.com
Cover design by the-parish.com
Skull stencil by www.stewy.eu
Cover illustrations by Puffin
First published in Great Britain in 2015 by the Penguin Group
All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Hyperion, 125 West End Avenue, New York, New York, 10023.
For Vick, Frank, Jim, and Sidney
And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again—a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
All earth was but one thought—and that was death,
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails—men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh…
From “Darkness” by Lord Byron
THE EVENTS IN THE END RUN PARALLEL TO THE EVENTS IN THE HUNTED UNTIL THE CLOSING CHAPTERS, WHEN ALL SEVEN BOOKS COME TOGETHER.
They walked north up Exhibition Road, between the Victoria and Albert Museum on their right and the Science Museum on their left. It was a wide street, wide enough for four lanes of traffic, with a weird grid pattern on it made of different colored paving bricks. There was a line of tall poles, like flagpoles, down the middle.
Ryan’s hunters stayed in a pack, marching in step, almost like a military unit. The hunters scared Paddy, with their huge dogs and their studs and their leather masks made out of the faces of dead grown-ups. They were filthy dirty and they smelled of blood and sweat and worse. They reminded Paddy of the wild kids he’d been living with in St. James’s Park before Achilleus and his friends had turned up. Ryan even had a string of human ears hanging from his belt.
At least Paddy felt safe with them, though. They were used to these streets. They owned them. He saw how easygoing they were, and on top of things at the same time. Listening, looking, aware of everything that was going on around them without making a big deal out of it. Five of their dogs trotted ahead, off their leashes. Sniffing everywhere, peeing everywhere, scouting around. The rest of the dogs, the biggest, meanest-looking ones, were kept on short, heavy chains and walked obediently at the boys’ sides.
Paddy liked dogs, wished he had one of his own. Not a big monster like Ryan’s. He wanted a spaniel or a terrier of some sort. He’d had two Jack Russells before, had kept them with him right through the bad times when the disease hit. He’d kept them a long time. They’d been with him in the camp in St. James’s Park. The leader of the camp, John, had liked to play with them, making them chase rats. And then one night he’d killed them and eaten them.
Achilleus dropped back from his position at the front and joined Paddy.
“What you reckon, Padawan?” he said. “Think we should join this lot? Get out of the museum. Run the streets?”
“I don’t know,” said Paddy, who hated the idea. Paddy liked having a regular place to sleep. Strong, thick walls around him. And there were other kids at the museum who relied on Achilleus.
“What about your friends?” he said, and Achilleus huffed.
“What about them?”
“It’s your job to be their champion. To be their best fighter. Their best killer. You couldn’t let them down.”
“Most of them don’t even like me,” said Achilleus.
“Does that bother you?”
“Nope. I know that in the end they need me, so they try to hide their feelings and keep me sweet. Just as long as they show me some respect, I’m cool.”
Yeah. Akkie was the coolest person in the world. Paddy liked everything about him—his ugly, scarred face, the patterns carved in his hair with a razor blade, his mangled ear, the way he could be relaxed and not bothered one moment and scary and tough the next. And when he fought, there was no one better.
“One day they’ll make the world right again,” Paddy said. “We’ll kill all the grown-ups, rebuild everything, and then they’ll start making films again over in Hollywood, where that big sign is. They’ll make a film about you, and you’ll be the biggest hero, bigger than James Bond and Spider-Man and the X-Men put together.”
“You’re a dreamer, kid,” said Achilleus. “It’ll be a thousand years before it gets back to how things were. A thousand years before we can figure out how to do stuff like make films again, with CGI and green screen and all that stuff you see on the DVD extras. First we got to figure out how to do something as basic as turning the juice back on. How do you make electricity? I got no idea. Don’t even really know what electricity is. Might as well be magic. It powered my life before it got switched off—my TV, my phone, my console, my computer, the lights, the heating, the fridge….Without power, we’re back in the olden days, Paddy, back in the Stone Age. That’s why they call it power, because electricity is power. It made us gods. Maybe Einstein and his science nerds back at the museum could figure it out. Ben and Bernie—they into all that type of stuff. But, seriously, how long d’you think it’s gonna be before we get a power station up and running again?”
“A long time,” said Paddy. “A thousand years.”
“A thousand years is right. In the meantime there’s just this. Hunting, killing, fighting to stay alive. Nothing’s gonna get sorted until we’ve sorted the grown-ups. And that’s something I do know about. That’s what we doing now.”
Ryan and his hunters had come to the museum with a car that they’d exchanged for some cases of beer. A few days ago a little girl named Ella had left with some other kids to go and live in the countryside, and then her brother, Sam, had turned up looking for her. So a scarred-faced guy called Ed had gone to bring her back. The car had been for him.
Achilleus had gotten talking to Ryan, who’d told him they were going up to Hyde Park to check out a sighting of some grown-ups. They hadn’t needed to persuade Achilleus to go with them. He was totally bored at the museum.
They came to the end of the street. Ahead of them was the park. In between was a big main road with a pedestrian strip down the middle. In the past this would have been busy with traffic; now it was still and silent.
But the hunters weren’t crossing. They were looking at something in the road off to their right.
A grown-up. A father. Standing with his arms held out straight in front of him, face turned up to the sky, like he was waiting for rain.
Paddy moved closer to Achilleus. Didn’t say anything. Hoped no one had noticed.
Hoped it wasn’t all about to kick off.
“Should’ve spotted him before,” said Achilleus. “But standing still like that…”
“They’re all over,” said Ryan. “We mostly ignore them.”
“Ed called them sentinels,” said Achilleus. “Like they’re sending signals to other grown-ups somehow.”
“What do you think they’re saying?” Ryan asked.
“Maybe there’s a special meal deal at McDonald’s,” said Achilleus.
A couple of hunters laughed. Paddy did too, but he wasn’t laughing inside. The sentinels freaked him out. He didn’t like the idea of grown-ups communicating with each other. He didn’t like the idea of grown-ups at all. Wished he could have stayed back at the museum. But he couldn’t look like a wuss in front of the others.
The father had a bloated purple face, like someone had tightened something around his throat, and his head was bulging out, ready to burst. His hands were puffy too, with fat, sausage-y fingers. There was something ripe about him. Ripe and rotten.
Paddy told himself to man up.
“What do you reckon, Akkie?” he said. “Can we take him?”
“It’s up to you, caddie. You wanna whack him? Show off your skills?”
“You asking if I’m giving you permission? Or you asking if I think you’re up to it?”
“Both, I guess.”
“He’s all yours. He ain’t no threat to a warrior like you. What spear you gonna use?” Achilleus took the golf bag off Paddy.
Paddy carried Akkie’s collection of spears in it. He was in charge of them. Cleaned them, sharpened them, suggested the best one to use in a fight.
“The Gáe Bolg,” said Paddy, hyped up and just a little bit terrified.
The Gáe Bolg was Achilleus’s newest spear—the death spear, the belly spear—which Paddy had named after the legendary spear carried by the greatest Irish folk hero, Cúchulainn.
Although Akkie preferred to call it the Gay Bulge, which always made Paddy laugh.
It had a wide, leaf-shaped blade, and it was a beauty. It was a perfect stomach ripper. It was the disemboweler.
“Nice choice, champion,” said Achilleus, and he pulled out the spear.
Paddy took it and weighed it in his hands, getting the feel of it, checking the balance. It was a bit too big for him—too long and heavy and awkward. He hoped the others wouldn’t notice.
“Where you aiming for?” Achilleus asked.
“The belly,” said Paddy, trying to sound all serious and expert and grown-up. “I mean, this is the belly ripper, isn’t it?”
“If you say so. Go in fast, like I showed you. Keep low, keep the spear out in front, come at him from off to one side, not straight on. Keep your arms strong. Swing hard and cut deep. Takes a lot to cut through clothes and skin.”
“Yeah.” Paddy was nodding, psyching himself up. Practicing on a dummy in the yard back at the museum was one thing. Actually killing a person was something else entirely.
“Arms wide apart and well spaced,” said Achilleus. “You’ll get more power in your cut then. It’d be easier to spike him, but if you want to go for a slice, that’s up to you.”
“I think the slice is better,” said Paddy, still all serious. “That’s what this spear was made for.”
“Then what you waiting for? Go for it. Kill the puffy sod.”
Paddy hopped from foot to foot on the spot, like an athlete getting ready for his start. Jigging around, loosening up. And then he gave a shout and was off and running—remembering Achilleus’s instructions—coming at the father at an angle, not straight on, just as Achilleus had told him.
As he got closer, he gave a war cry, almost screaming, and he swiped the spear across the father’s stomach. He could immediately see it wasn’t deep enough or hard enough. It tore open the front of the father’s filthy, greasy shirt, but did nothing worse.
The father barely flinched, just swayed slightly and kept on waiting for rain.
The hunters cheered and laughed.
“Keep on it, soldier!” Achilleus shouted. “Come back at him.”
So Paddy swung back the other way, and this time the head of his spear dug deep. There was an audible pop, like a balloon bursting, and a spray of blood and brown liquid went all over Paddy, who wasn’t fast enough to get out of the way. After the liquid came the guts, spilling out and flopping to the ground, releasing a foul stink that made the hunters groan and cover their mouths and noses. The father rocked backward and forward and then toppled over onto his back and hit the road with a wet splat and a crack of skull on concrete.
Paddy knew he was going to puke.
“I’m covered in it!” he wailed. “He sprayed all over me.”
“Unclean, unclean! Keep away from me,” one of the hunters jeered, and they all started moaning and making disgusted noises.
“Stupid idiot,” said Achilleus, and he laughed. “You shoulda kept going, stayed clear—you’re gonna stink for days now.”
“Yeah—ha, ha! Ain’t I? I got him, though, didn’t I? I stuck him good.”
“You stuck him real good, soldier.”
And Paddy puked.
Achilleus walked up to him. “Bend over,” he said. “Head down. Deep breaths.”
A thin stream of vomit spattered on the street.
“It was the smell,” said Paddy. “That’s all.”
It wasn’t the smell, though.
Paddy had never killed anyone before.
He straightened up, taking big gulps of air. “I’m okay.”
“Good man.” Achilleus slapped him on the back and they followed the hunters over the road to where they were entering the park.
Paddy hoped there wasn’t anything worse in there.
He really didn’t think he could do that again.
The park was much bigger than Achilleus had imagined, with a road running through the middle of it, giving them a good view on either side. Off to the left was a crazy statue of some dude in a giant chair set inside of what looked like a steampunk space rocket, all gold and shiny.
“That’s the Albert Memorial,” said Ryan.
“Who’s Albert?” Achilleus asked.
“No idea. Some dead guy.”
“Somebody obviously liked him. To build that thing.”
“He was Queen Victoria’s husband,” said Paddy. “I came here once on a school trip.”
“You reckon someone will build a statue of me like that?” Achilleus asked.
“Yeah,” said Paddy. “They should. All heroes should have a statue.”
They walked on. It all seemed stupidly peaceful and safe. Birds flew everywhere, singing loudly. Squirrels ran and jumped between the huge trees that were laid out in straight lines going off in all directions. The grass had grown long between the trees.
“Why’s it so quiet?” Paddy asked. “It’s weird.”
“Don’t complain,” said Achilleus. “If we get rid of the grown-ups for all time, it’ll be like this every day. A walk in the park.”
“One day,” said Paddy. “We can do it.”
But it was weird. Achilleus hadn’t known it to be like this for a long time. He didn’t want to show Paddy, didn’t want to spook the boy, but he was staying extra alert.
They stopped by a group of redbrick buildings set back from the road. A sign outside said this was the Serpentine Gallery. Achilleus couldn’t figure out why you’d have an art gallery in a park, and he was even more confused by a tall, rusted iron tower that stood in front of the main building. It looked like a small Eiffel Tower gone wrong, all twisted and wonky.
“I think it’s supposed to be art,” said Ryan, who’d noticed him looking. “A sort of sculpture thing. You know, like that tower they put up for the Olympics?”
“Was that art?” said Achilleus. “I thought it was a ride.”
“Well, whatever this thing is, it makes a good lookout tower,” said Ryan, and he grinned. “You wanna climb it?”
“Do I?” Achilleus asked back at him.
“Get the layout. See if we can spot anything.”
Achilleus followed Ryan over to the tower. There had been a fence around it, but it was all broken down. Someone had hauled a ladder to the bottom of the tower, to make it easier to reach the first part. After that, the struts and rungs of the sculpture were close together enough to make climbing pretty easy. Ryan hauled himself up onto it, and Achilleus was right behind him. Slowly the ground dropped away, and Achilleus was able to see more and more of the park.
The main impression he got was that there were lots of trees, with big buildings beyond them. To the north, spreading right across the park, was a stretch of water that looked like a river or a lake. The road crossed over a bridge.
“That’s the Serpentine,” Ryan explained. “It’s a good source of freshwater. That’s why we regularly check out the park. Over on the other side is where they used to have big concerts and things. There’s still a load of fences and stages and food stands and stuff over there.”
Achilleus took it all in, getting a layout of the park in his head.
“You see anything shouldn’t be here?” he said to Ryan. “Any more grown-ups?”
Ryan shushed him. He had his head cocked to one side. Listening. Achilleus kept very still, trying to tune in to whatever it was that Ryan had heard. All he could hear was the wind rustling the leaves of the trees, the iron sculpture creaking under their weight.
“What?” he said, and Ryan shushed him again. He was scanning the area, his head moving like a radar—left to right, right to left.
Finally, from far away, Achilleus picked up something. It could have been a bark, and as he concentrated, he heard another. Then a third one, clearer and closer, more of a yelp than a bark. And behind it all a whining. Growing louder.
“Dogs,” said Ryan. “Coming closer. They like it here. They chase the ducks. Sometimes they catch them. If there’s any useful ones, we’ll take them.”
“I can’t see them,” said Achilleus. He wasn’t very good at this.
“There,” said Ryan, pointing over the top of the gallery, past a little sort of bell tower.
Achilleus spotted a movement at last. A pack of dogs, running through the trees. About ten of them. All shapes and sizes. Nothing too scary.
“Incoming!” Ryan shouted, and started climbing down as fast as he could in his leathers and belts and buckles and chains. Achilleus beat him down and saw that the hunters had grouped up into a defensive formation, those with the biggest dogs at the front. Ryan took his own dog from a guy who’d been holding it for him and led the group around to the other side of the gallery.
The newcomers had scented Ryan and his dogs and were running around in circles in a state of manic excitement. Most had their hackles up, but some were wagging their tails; others were doing that belly-crawling, submissive crouching thing—whimpering. The bravest had their teeth bared, ready to attack.
Achilleus quickly checked them out, deciding which were harmless and which were a threat. A big Rottweiler with a chunk of fur missing from his side looked to be the leader of the pack. He was coming closest, and the smaller dogs kept running up to him, licking his face and rolling at his feet.
He had one damaged eye and was limping. It looked like he’d been in a recent fight and had his front leg gashed.
“He ain’t no use to us,” Ryan said. “Nothing but trouble. We take him out and the rest will back down.”
Achilleus looked to Paddy, but he could see he wasn’t up for it. The little boy was weighed down by the golf bag and still clutching the Gáe Bolg. Achilleus guessed that killing dogs wasn’t his thing. Wasn’t sure that killing grown-ups was his own thing either, to be honest.
“I’ll do it,” he said, and took out his trusted old spear, the one he’d made months ago from a sharpened steel pole. He’d added a leather grip, and it had a pommel at the end that became a useful club in a close-up fight. Twirling it in one hand, he strode out past the hunters, keeping his eyes fixed on the Rottweiler. It made a lunge toward him but was obviously wary of Ryan’s bigger dogs, which were setting up an unholy racket, yelping and howling, straining at their leashes, up on their hind legs. It was all Ryan’s hunters could do to hold them back. Achilleus needed to get this over with quickly.
“Come on, you ugly bastard,” he said, walking steadily toward the Rottweiler. It held back, and held back, and held back, and then at last attacked. Achilleus was ready—legs firmly planted, eyes never leaving the dog’s eyes—and as it leaped up at him, he thrust forward with his spear and stabbed it cleanly in the chest, stepping aside so that the weight of the dog wouldn’t hit him. He’d killed it instantly.
The fight went out of the other dogs. They calmed down and stopped running around, and Achilleus was able to properly check them out. There were three yappy little things, nasty little bruisers, scarred from battle. Four larger mongrels with matted fur, smart-looking, but probably not much use to Ryan’s guys. And then there was an Alsatian. Skinny, but in better shape than the others. That was the one he’d pick. The others could be left to run around harmlessly. They weren’t going to be a threat to anyone.
“The Alsatian,” said Achilleus, pointing at the dog. “Leave the rest.”
“You want it?” said Ryan.
Achilleus looked at Paddy, who was grinning like a kid at Christmas.
“Don’t need a dog,” he said, and Paddy groaned.
“Oh, come on, Akkie,” he whined. “Let’s keep him. I’ll look after him. He’d be a good guard dog.”
No, he’d be another mouth to feed. Another living thing to be responsible for. And it would need to be trained. Made safe.
“Forget it.” He turned and walked away. “He’s all yours, Ryan.”
Ryan made a signal and two of his hunters went in quickly, managed to catch the dog, and put a collar and leash on it. It thrashed about, snarling and snapping at them. One of them hit it with a stick and it quieted down.
There were tears in Paddy’s eyes. He was trying not to let anyone see.
“We don’t need no dog,” said Achilleus.
Before Paddy could say anything, there was a shout.
“Guys!” A hunter was over near the back of the gallery. Achilleus noticed that some of the dogs had also gone over and were snuffling around, tails wagging.
“They’ve found something,” said the hunter. “A scent.”
“What do you reckon it is?” Ryan asked, joining the boy. “An animal? Another dog?”
The hunter was sniffing the air. He wrinkled his nose.
“I reckon it’s the bastards we’re looking for,” he said. “Must have gotten inside.”
“Bastards?” said Paddy, looking at Achilleus.
“It’s what they call grown-ups,” Achilleus explained.
Ryan was walking around the building. “Check and see if there’s any openings,” he said.
“Here!” shouted another hunter. “There’s an open door. And I can smell them. There is definitely at least one bastard in there.”
It was dark inside the building. The open door they went through led to a narrow, dirty corridor. This was probably a service area, behind the main gallery. Paddy kept close to Achilleus. The smell of the stuff the grown-up had sprayed on him was much worse in here in these cramped conditions.
“Jesus, Paddywhack,” said Achilleus. “Did you just open your lunch box?”
PRAISE FOR THE ENEMY
The Enemy grabs you by the throat . . . and bites off your ear. It's kids versus zombies and no one is playing nice. The action--and boy, is there action--takes us through a London transformed by the unexplained illness that has turned every adult into a shuffling, drooling, kid-crunching machine. Bonus: zombie royals. Sheer fun."—Michael Grant, author of the Gone series
PRAISE FOR THE ENEMY
Top Shelf Fiction for Middle Grade Readers—VOYA
PRAISE FOR THE ENEMY
"...the action is of the first order-Higson writes with a firestorm velocity that inspires to the sweeping reach of Stephen King's The Stand."—ALA Booklist
PRAISE FOR THE ENEMY
"Descriptive and suspenseful."—School Library Journal
PRAISE FOR THE ENEMY
"Lord of the Flies with zombies...tons of nail-biting action."—Rick Riordan
PRAISE FOR THE DEAD
"With giant firestorms, rampaging hordes and continual life-and-death scenarios...Higson delivers an action-packed summer read."—Kirkus
PRAISE FOR THE FEAR
"The third book in Higson's terrifying zombie series will continue to enthrall horror fans."—VOYA
PRAISE FOR THE SACRIFICE
"Death, religion, friendship, survival, power, politics, and fear are explored throughout this installment. The storylines run full speed ahead in this horrifying page-turner. The solid writing is, at times, brilliant . . .The unanswered questions will prime readers for the next in the series."—VOYA
- On Sale
- Jun 7, 2016
- Page Count
- 512 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers