Authors: Robert Liparulo
Tags: #Mystery, #Thriller, #Young Adult, #Adventure, #Fantasy, #Horror, #ebook, #book
watcher in the woods
BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR
Comes a Horseman
DREAMHOUSE KINGS SERIES
1 House of Dark Shadows
2 Watcher in the Woods
Â© 2008 by Robert Liparulo
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any meansâelectronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, scanning, or otherâexcept for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Published in Nashville, Tennessee. Thomas Nelson is a registered trademark of Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Thomas Nelson, Inc. books may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail [email protected]
Publisher's Note: This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author's imagination or used fictitiously. All characters are fictional, and any similarity to people living or dead is purely coincidental.
Page design by Mandi Cofer
Map design by Doug Cordes
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Watcher in the woods / Robert Liparulo.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â p. cm. â (Dreamhouse Kings ; bk. 2)
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Summary: Twelve-year-old David and his family search for their kidnapped mother in the many different time period portals of their home, but when a stranger appears and tries to force them to sell the house, their desperation reaches new heights.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â ISBN 978-1-59554-496-4 (hardcover)
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â [1. Time travelâFiction. 2. DwellingsâFiction. 3. Family lifeâCaliforniaâFiction. 4. CaliforniaâFiction. 5. Horror stories.]
Â Â Â Â Â Â I. Title.
Â Â Â Â Â Â PZ7.L6636Wat 2008
Â Â Â Â Â Â [Fic]âdc22
Printed in the United States of America
08 09 10 11 12 QW 6 5 4 3 2 1
THIS ONE'S FOR ISABELLA
“Ain't nothing sweeter”
“You watched these people go through their lives and just had
a feeling that they existed outside the usual laws of nature.”
â CHARLES SPALDING
“I'm watching you, always watching.”
â Roz ,
At twelve years old, David King was too young to die. At least
But try telling that to the people shooting at him.
He had no idea where he was. When he had stepped through the portal, smoke immediately blinded him. An explosion had thrown rocks and who-knew-what into his face. It shook the floor and knocked him off his feet. Now he was on his hands and knees on a hardwood floor. Glass and splinters dug into his palms. Somewhere, all kinds of guns were firing. Bullets zinged overhead, thunking into wallsâbits of flying plaster stung his cheeks.
Okay, so he wasn't sure the bullets were meant for him. The guns seemed both near and far. But in the end, if he were hit, did it matter whether the shooters meant to get him or he'd had the dumb luck to stumble into the middle of a firefight? He'd be just as dead.
The smoke cleared a bit. Sunlight poured in from a school-bus- sized hole in the ceiling. Not just the ceilingâDavid could see attic rafters and the jagged and burning edges of the roof. Way above was a blue sky, soft white clouds.
He was in a bedroom. A dresser lay on the floor. In front of him was a bed. He gripped the mattress and pushed himself up.
A wall exploded into a shower of plaster, rocks, and dust. He flew back. Air burst from his lungs, and he crumpled again to the floor. He gulped for breath, but nothing came. The stench of fireâburning wood and rock, something dank and putridâswirled into his nostrils on the thick, gray smoke. The taste of cement coated his tongue. Finally, oxygen reached his lungs, and he pulled it in with loud gasps, like a swimmer saved from drowning. He coughed out the smoke and dust. He stood, finding his balance, clearing his head, wavering until he reached out to steady himself.
A hole in the floor appeared to be trying to eat the bed. It was listing like a sinking ship, the far corner up in the air, the corner nearest David canted down into the hole. Flames had found the blankets and were spreading fast.
Outside, machine-gun fire erupted.
He stumbled toward an outside wall. It had crumbled, forming a rough, V-shaped hole from where the ceiling used to be nearly to the floor. Stumps of bent rebar jutted out of the plaster every few feet.
More gunfire, another explosion. The floor shook.
Beyond the walls of the bedroom, the rumble of an engine and a rhythmic, metallic
tightened his stomach. He recognized the sound from a dozen war movies: a tank. It was rolling closer, getting louder.
He reached the wall and dropped to his knees. He peered out onto the dirt and cobblestone streets of a small village. Every house and building was at least partially destroyed, ravaged by bombs and bullets. The streets were littered with chunks of wall, roof tiles, even furniture that had spilled out through the ruptured buildings.
David's eyes fell on an object in the street. His panting breath froze in his throat. He slapped his palm over his mouth, either to stifle a scream or to keep himself from throwing up. It was a body, mutilated almost beyond recognition. It lay on its back, screaming up to heaven. Male or female, adult or child, David didn't know, and it didn't matter. That it was human and
was enough to crush his heart. His eyes shot away from the sight, only to spot another body. This one was not as broken, but was no less horrible. It was a young woman. She was lying on her stomach, head turned with an expression of surprised disbelief and pointing her lifeless eyes directly at David.
He spun around and sat on the floor. He pushed his knuckles into each eye socket, squeegeeing out the wetness. He swallowed, willing his nausea to pass.
His older brother, Xander, said that he
puked when he first saw a dead body. That had been only two days agoâin the Colosseum. David didn't know where the portal he had stepped through had taken him. Certainly
to a gladiator fight in Rome.
He squinted toward the other side of the room, toward the shadowy corner where he had stepped into . . . wherever this was . . .
it was. Nothing there now. No portal. No passage home. Just a wall.
He heard rifle shots and a scream.
Click-click-click-click-click . . .
the tank was still approaching.
What had he done? He thought he could be a hero, and now he was about to get shot or blown up or . . . something that amounted to the same thing: dead.
Dad had been right. They weren't ready. They should have made a plan.
David rose into a crouch and turned toward the crumbled wall.
I'm here now,
I gotta know what I'm dealing with, right?
I can do this.
He popped up from his hiding place to look out onto the street. Down the road to his right, the tank was coming into town over a bridge. Bullets sparked against its steel skin. Soldiers huddled behind it, keeping close as it moved forward. In turn, they would scurry out to the side, fire a rifle or machine gun, and step back quickly. Their targets were to David's left, which meant he was smack between them.
At that moment, he'd have given anything to redo the past hour. He closed his eyes. Had it really only been an hour? An hour to go from his front porch to here?
But in the house where he lived, stranger things had happened . . .
SUNDAY, 6 : 48 A . M.
PINEDALE , CALIFORNIA
Following Toria, his nine-year-old sister, David stepped through the front door onto the porch. Xander sat there on the steps next to Dad, watching the sun wash the nighttime out of the sky. Toria went down a step and sat on their father's other side, leaning her head into him. Dad put his arm around her and squeezed her close.
David looked at his brother.
Xander had stormed out of the house, furious at Dad for not telling them he had known all along that the house they had moved into four days earlier was dangerous. He didn't look quite as angry now, and David's heart lifted when Xander smiled.
“We're going to rescue Mom,” Xander said.
David's concern for her was like a knife in his chest. Less than two hours ago she had been takenâkidnapped into one of the other worlds that lay hidden within their new house. He had watched a man carry her away. He and Xander had tried to stop him, but the intruder was too big, too powerful.
Then Dad had confessed that his own mother had been taken into a portal the very same way, when Dad was only seven years old. They had never found her. His father, Grandpa Hank, had feared for his children and his own sanity and taken the family away. Xander had gone through the roof. He'd screamed that he wouldn't leave until they'd found Mom, but David was afraid Dad wouldn't let them stay, knowing it wasn't safe. Now, it seemed Xander and Dad had agreed: they would stay.
David scanned the front of the house.
She's not yours
, he thought.
We're coming for her, you hear?