By Gabrielle Charbonnet
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The world is changing: the government has seized control of every aspect of society, and now, kids are disappearing. For 15-year-old Wisty and her older brother Whit, life turns upside down when they are torn from their parents one night and slammed into a secret prison for no reason they can comprehend. The New Order, as it is known, is clearly trying to suppress Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Being a Normal Teenager. But while trapped in this totalitarian nightmare, Wisty and Whit discover they have incredible powers they've never dreamed of. Can this newly minted witch and wizard master their skills in time to save themselves, their parents—and maybe the world?
The James Patterson Pageturners
Witch & Wizard (with Gabrielle Charbonnet)
The Maximum Ride Novels
The Angel Experiment
Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports
The Final Warning
The Daniel X Novels
The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (with Michael Ledwidge)
Daniel X: Watch the Skies (with Ned Rust)
Daniel X: Alien Hunter (a graphic novel)
Also by James Patterson
When the Wind Blows
The Lake House
For previews of upcoming books by James Patterson
and more information about the author,
For Andrea Spooner, our hero
Oh, yes—what he said
Copyright © 2009 by James Patterson
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Little, Brown and Company
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Little, Brown and Company is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. The Little, Brown name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
First eBook Edition: December 2009
The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Excerpt from "What I Believe" in Two Cheers for Democracy, copyright 1939 and renewed 1967 by E. M. Forster, reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
I believe in aristocracy…. Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos.
—E. M. Forster, from Two Cheers for Democracy
YOU'RE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE
IT'S OVERWHELMING. A city's worth of angry faces staring at me like I'm a wicked criminal—which, I promise you, I'm not. The stadium is filled to capacity—past capacity. People are standing in the aisles, the stairwells, on the concrete ramparts, and a few extra thousand are camped out on the playing field. There are no football teams here today. They wouldn't be able to get out of the locker-room tunnels if they tried.
This total abomination is being broadcast on TV and the Internet too. All the useless magazines are here, and the useless newspapers. Yep, I see cameramen in elevated roosts at intervals around the stadium.
There's even one of those remote-controlled cameras that runs around on wires above the field. There it is—hovering just in front of the stage, bobbing slightly in the breeze.
So there are undoubtedly millions more eyes watching than I can see. But it's the ones here in the stadium that are breaking my heart. To be confronted with tens, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of curious, uncaring, or at least indifferent, faces… talk about frightening.
And there are no moist eyes, never mind tears.
No words of protest.
No stomping feet.
No fists raised in solidarity.
No inkling that anybody's even thinking of surging forward, breaking through the security cordon, and carrying my family to safety.
Clearly, this is not a good day for us Allgoods.
In fact, as the countdown ticker flashes on the giant video screens at either end of the stadium, it's looking like this will be our last day.
It's a point driven home by the very tall, bald man up in the tower they've erected midfield—he looks like a cross between a Supreme Court chief justice and Ming the Merciless. I know who he is. I've actually met him. He's The One Who Is The One.
Directly behind his Oneness is a huge N.O. banner—THE NEW ORDER.
And then the crowd begins to chant, almost sing, "The One Who Is The One! The One Who Is The One!"
Imperiously, The One raises his hand, and his hooded lackeys on the stage push us forward, at least as far as the ropes around our necks will allow.
I see my brother, Whit, handsome and brave, looking down at the platform mechanism. Calculating if there's any way to jam it, some means of keeping it from unlatching and dropping us to our neck-snapping deaths. Wondering if there's a last-minute way out of this.
I see my mother crying quietly. Not for herself, of course, but for Whit and me.
I see my father, his tall frame stooped with resignation, smiling at me and my brother—trying to keep our spirits up, reminding us that there's no point in being miserable in our last moments on this planet.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm supposed to be providing an introduction here, not the details of our public execution.
So let's go back a bit….
NO CRIME, JUST PUNISHMENT
BY ORDER OF THE NEW ORDER,
and the Great Wind—The One Who Is
let it be known that as of
NOW, THIS MOMENT, or
TWELVE O'CLOCK MIDNIGHT.
whichever shall arrive first, following the
SWIFT TRIUMPH of the ORDER of the
ONES WHO PROTECT, who have obliterated the
BLIND AND DUMB FORCES of passivity and
complacency PLAGUING this world,
ALL CITIZENSmust, shall, and will abide by
THESE THREE ORDERS FOR ORDER:
- All behaviors NOT in keeping with N.O. law, logic, order, and science (including but not limited to theology, philosophy, and IN PARTICULAR the creative and dark arts, et cetera) are hereby ABOLISHED.
- ALL persons under eighteen years of age will be evaluated for ORDERLINESS and MUST COMPLY with the prescribed corrective actions.
- The One Who Is THE ONE grants, appoints, decides, seizes, and executes at will. All NOT complying shall be SEIZED and/or EXECUTED.
—As declared to The One Who Writes Decrees
by THE ONE WHO IS THE ONE
SOMETIMES YOU WAKE UP and the world is just plain different.
The noise of a circling helicopter is what made me open my eyes. A cold, blue-white light forced its way through the blinds and flooded the living room. Almost like it was day.
But it wasn't.
I peered at the clock on the DVD player through blurry eyes: 2:10 a.m.
I became aware of a steady drub, drub, drub—like the sound of a heavy heartbeat. Throbbing. Pressing in. Getting closer.
What's going on?
I staggered to the window, forcing my body back to life after two hours of being passed out on the sofa, and peeked through the slats.
And then I stepped back and rubbed my eyes. Hard.
Because there's no way I had seen what I'd seen. And there was no way I had heard what I'd heard.
Was it really the steady, relentless footfall of hundreds of soldiers? Marching on my street in perfect unison?
The road wasn't close enough to the center of town to be on any holiday parade routes, much less to have armed men in combat fatigues coursing down it in the dead of night.
I shook my head and bounced up and down a few times, kind of like I do in my warm-ups. Wake up, Whit. I slapped myself for good measure. And then I looked again.
There they were. Soldiers marching down our street. Hundreds of them as clear as day, made visible by a half-dozen truck-mounted spotlights.
Just one thought was running laps inside my head: This can't be happening. This can't be happening. This can't be happening.
Then I remembered the elections, the new government, the ravings of my parents about the trouble the country was in, the special broadcasts on TV, the political petitions my classmates were circulating online, the heated debates between teachers at school. None of it meant anything to me until that second.
And before I could piece it all together, the vanguard of the formation stopped in front of my house.
Almost faster than I could comprehend, two armed squads detached themselves from the phalanx and sprinted across the lawn like commandos, one running around the back of the house, the other taking position in front.
I jumped away from the window. I could tell they weren't here to protect me and my family. I had to warn Mom, Dad, Wisty—
But just as I started to yell, the front door was knocked off its hinges.
IT'S QUITE HIDEOUS to get kidnapped in the dead of night, right inside your own home. It went something like this.
I woke to the chaotic crashing of overturning furniture, quickly followed by the sounds of shattering glass, possibly some of Mom's china.
Oh God, Whit, I thought, shaking my head sleepily. My older brother had grown four inches and gained thirty pounds of muscle in the past year. Which made him the biggest and fastest quarterback around, and, I must say, the most intimidating player on our regional high school's undefeated football team.
Off the playing field, though, Whit could be about as clumsy as your average bear—if your average bear were hopped-up on a case of Red Bull and full of himself because he could bench-press 275 and every girl in school thought he was the hunk of all hunks.
I rolled over and pulled my pillow around my head. Even before the drinking started, Whit couldn't walk through our house without knocking something over. Total bull-in-a-china-shop syndrome.
But that wasn't the real problem tonight, I knew.
Because three months ago, his girlfriend, Celia, had literally vanished without a trace. And by now everyone was thinking she probably would never come back. Her parents were totally messed up about it, and so was Whit. To be honest, so was I. Celia was—is—very pretty, smart, not conceited at all. She's this totally cool girl, even though she has money. Celia's father owns the luxury-car dealership in town, and her mom is a former beauty queen. I couldn't believe something like that would happen to someone like Celia.
I heard my parents' bedroom door open and snuggled back down into my cozy, flannel-sheeted bed.
Next came Dad's booming voice, and he was as angry as I've ever heard him.
"This can't be happening! You have no right to be here. Leave our house now!"
I bolted upright, wide awake. Then came more crashing sounds, and I thought I heard someone moan in pain. Had Whit fallen and cracked his head? Had my dad been hurt?
Jeez, Louise, I thought, scrambling out of bed. "I'm coming, Dad! Are you all right? Dad?"
And then the nightmare to start a lifetime of nightmares truly began.
I gasped as my bedroom door crashed open. Two hulking men in dark-gray uniforms burst into my room, glaring at me as if I were a fugitive terrorist-cell operative.
"It's her! Wisteria Allgood!" one said, and a light bright enough to illuminate an airplane hangar obliterated the darkness.
I tried to shield my eyes as my heart kicked into overdrive. "Who are you?!" I asked. "What are you doing in my freaking bedroom?"
"BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL with her!" one of the humongous men cautioned. They looked like Special Forces operatives with giant white numbers on their uniforms. "You know she can—"
The other nodded, glancing around my room nervously. "You!" he snapped harshly. "Come with us! We're from the New Order. Move one step out of line, and we will punish you severely!"
I stared at him, my head spinning. The New Order? These weren't ordinary policemen or EMS personnel.
"Um—I—I—," I stammered. "I need to put on some clothes. Can I… can I have a little privacy?"
"Shut up!" the first commando guy barked. "Grab her! And protect yourself. She's dangerous—all of them are."
"No! Stop! Don't you dare!" I screamed. "Dad! Mom! Whit!"
Then it hit me like a runaway tractor trailer on ice. This was what had happened to Celia, wasn't it?
Oh God! Cold sweat beaded on the back of my neck. I need to get out of here, I thought desperately. Somehow, some way.
I need to disappear.
THE SERIOUSLY MUSCLE-BOUND MEN in gray suddenly froze, their blocklike heads whipping back and forth like puppets on strings.
"Where is she? She's gone! Vanished! Where'd she go?" one said, his voice hoarse and panicky.
They shone flashlights around the room. One of them dropped to his knees and searched under my bed; the other rushed over to look in my closet.
Where'd I go? Were these guys totally insane? I was right there. What was going on?
Maybe they were trying to trick me into running for it so they had an excuse to use force. Or maybe they were escapees from an asylum who had come to get me the way they'd come to get poor Celia—
"Wisty!" My mom's anxious shout from the hallway pierced the fog that had invaded my brain. "Run away, sweetheart!"
"Mom!" I shrieked. The two guys blinked and stepped back in surprise.
"There she is! Grab her! She's right there! Quick, before she disappears again!"
Big klutzy hands grabbed my arms and legs, then my head. "Let me go!" I screamed, kicking and struggling. "Let. Me. Go."
But their grip was like steel as they dragged me down the hall to the family room and dumped me on the floor like a sack of trash.
I quickly scrambled to my feet, more floodlights whiting out my vision. Then I heard Whit shouting as he was thrown onto the living room floor next to me.
"Whit, what's going on? Who are these… monsters?"
"Wisty!" he gasped, coherently enough. "You okay?"
"No." I almost cried, but I couldn't, wouldn't, absolutely refused, to let them see me wuss out. Every awful true-crime movie I'd ever seen flashed through my head, and my stomach heaved. I nestled close to my brother, who took my hand in his and squeezed.
Suddenly the floodlights turned off, leaving us blinking and shaking.
"Mom?" Whit shouted. "Dad?" If my brother hadn't been stone-cold sober already, he sure was now.
I gasped. My parents were standing there, still in their rumpled pajamas, but held from behind like they were dangerous criminals. Sure, we lived on the wrong side of the tracks, but no one in our family had ever been in trouble before.
Not that I knew of anyway.
ONE OF THE MOST TERRIFYING THINGS in the world you can never hope to see is your parents, wide-eyed, helpless, and truly scared out of their wits.
My parents. I thought they could protect us from anything. They were different from other parents… so smart, gentle, accepting, knowing… and I could tell at this moment that they knew something Whit and I didn't.
They know what is going on. And they're terrified of it, whatever it is.
"Mom… ?" I asked, staring hard into her eyes, trying to get any message I could, any signal about what I should do now.
As I looked at Mom, I had a flash, a collage of memories. She and Dad saying stuff like "You and Whit are special, honey. Really special. Sometimes people are afraid of those who are different. Being afraid makes them angry and unreasonable." But all parents thought their kids were special, right? "I mean, you're really special, Wisty," Mom had said once, taking my chin in her palm. "Pay attention, dear."
Then three more figures stepped forward from the shadows. Two of them had guns on their belts. This was really getting out of hand. Guns? Soldiers? In our house? In a free country? In the middle of the night? A school night, even.
"Wisteria Allgood?" As they moved into the light, I saw two men and…
Byron was a kid from my high school, a year older than I, a year younger than Whit. As far as I knew, we both hated his guts. Everyone did.
"What are you doing here, Swain?" Whit snarled. "Get out of our house."
Byron. It was like his parents knew he'd turn out to be a snot, so they'd named him appropriately.
"Make me," Byron said to Whit, then he gave a smarmy, oily smile, vividly bringing to life all the times I'd seen him in school and thought, What a total butt. He had slicked-back brown hair, perfectly combed, and cold hazel eyes. Like an iguana's.
So this jerk extraordinaire was flanked by two commandos in dark uniforms, shiny black boots that came above their knees, and metal helmets. The entire world was turning upside down, with me in my ridiculous pink kitty jammies.
"What are you doing here?" I echoed Whit.
"Wisteria Allgood," Byron monotoned like a bailiff, and pulled out an actual scroll of official-looking paper. "The New Order is taking you into custody until your trial. You are hereby accused of being a witch."
My jaw dropped. "A witch? Are you nuts?" I shrieked.
THE TWO GOONS IN GRAY marched toward me. Instinctively I held up both my hands. Amazingly the New Order soldiers stopped in their tracks, and I felt a surge of strength—if only for a moment.
"Did we just go back in time?" I squealed. "Last I looked this was the twenty-first century, not the seventeenth!"
I narrowed my eyes. Another glance at that smarmy Byron Swain in his shiny boots spurred me on further. "You can't just come in here, grabbing us—"
"Whitford Allgood," Byron Swain rudely interrupted, continuing to read in an official tone from his scroll, "you are hereby accused of being a wizard. You will be held in custody until your trial."
He smirked tauntingly at Whit, even though under normal circumstances my brother could have picked him up and wrung his neck like a chicken's. I guess confidence isn't hard to come by when you have armed soldiers at your beck and call.
"Wisty is right. This is utterly crazy!" my brother snapped. His face was flushed, his blue eyes shining with anger. "There's no such thing as witches or wizards! Fairy tales are a load of crap. Who do you think you are, you creepy little weasel? A character from Gary Blotter and the Guild of Rejects?"
My parents looked horrified—but not actually surprised. So WTH?
I remembered slightly odd lessons my folks had given us throughout our childhood: about plants and herbs, and the weather—always the weather—and how to concentrate, how to focus. They also taught us a lot about artists we'd never study at school too, like Wiccan Trollack, De Glooming, and Frieda Halo. As I got older, I guess I thought my parents were maybe just being a little hippie-dippy or something. But I never really questioned this stuff. Was it all somehow related to tonight?
Byron looked at Whit calmly. "According to the New Order Code, you may each take one possession from the house. I don't approve, but that's the letter of the law, and I will abide by it, of course."
Under the watchful eye of the gray-garbed soldiers, Mom quickly moved to the bookshelf. She hesitated a moment, glancing at Dad.
He nodded, and then she grabbed an old drumstick that had sat on the shelf for as long as I could remember. Family legend has it that my wild-man grandfather, back in the day, actually leaped onstage at a Groaning Bones concert and took it from the drummer. Mom held it out to me.
"Please," she said with a sniffle, "just take it, Wisteria. Take the drumstick. I love you so much, sweetheart."
Then my father reached for an unlabeled book I'd never seen before—a journal or something—on the shelf next to his reading chair. He thrust it into Whit's hands. "I love you, Whit," he said.
A drumstick and an old book? How about a drum to go with that stick? Couldn't they give us a family heirloom or something vaguely personal to cheer us up? Or maybe Whit's mammoth stash of nonperishable junk food for a handy-dandy sugar rush?
Not one part of this waking nightmare made any sense.
Byron snatched the tattered old book from Whit and flipped through it.
"It's blank," he said, surprised.
"Yeah, like your social calendar," said Whit. The guy can be funny, I admit, but his timing sometimes leaves something to be desired.
Byron slammed the book against Whit's face, snapping his head sideways as if it were on a swivel.
Whit's eyes bulged and he sprang toward Byron, only to have the soldiers body-block him.
Byron stood behind the bigger men, smiling wickedly. "Take them to the van," Byron said, and the soldiers grabbed me again.
"No! Mom! Dad! Help!" I shrieked and tried to pull away, but it was like wriggling in a steel trap. Rock-hard arms dragged me toward the door. I managed to twist my neck around for one last look back at my parents, searing my memory with the horror on their faces, the tears in their eyes.
And right then I felt this whooshing sensation, as if a stiff, hot wind were blowing up against me. In an instant, blood rushed to my head, my cheeks flooded with heat, and sweat seemed to leap from my skin and sizzle. There was a buzzing all around me, and then…
You won't believe me, but it's true. I swear.
I saw—and felt—foot-long flames burst out of every pore in my body.
Praise for Witch & Wizard:#1 New York Times Bestseller
"Young Patterson fans will be thrilled to jump into this new adventure."—VOYA
"A fast, exciting fantasy adventure ... with wall-to-wall thrills and spills ... page-turning suspense, pace and invention, street smart irony and upbeat humour."—Books for Keeps
Raves for the MAXIMUM RIDE series:
#1 New York Times Bestseller
Publishers Weekly Bestseller
ALA Quick Pick
KLIATT Editor's Choice
VOYA Editor's Choice
Book Sense Children's Pick
An American Library Association 2005 "Teens Top Ten" pick
"Fights and flights are non-stop in Maximum Ride. The writing is visual and cinematic--things that kids expect from their video games, TV cartoon shows and action movies." —USA Today
"[Patterson] delivers an action-packed cross between Gertrude Chandler Warner's Boxcar Children and Marvel Comics' X-Men."—Booklist
- On Sale
- Dec 14, 2009
- Page Count
- 320 pages
- JIMMY Patterson Books