Authors: Roddy Doyle
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Doyle, Roddy, 1958âBrilliant / by Roddy Doyle ; illustrated by Emily Hughes.
“First published in the United Kingdom in 2014 by Macmillan Children's Books.”
[1. Depression, MentalâFiction. 2. Adventure and adventurersâFiction. 3. Brothers and sistersâFiction. 4. MagicâFiction. 5. DogsâFiction. 6. AnimalsâFiction. 7. Dublin (Ireland)âFiction. 8. IrelandâFiction.] I. Hughes, Emily (Emily M.), illustrator.
Text copyright Â© 2014 Roddy Doyle
Illustrations copyright Â© 2015 Emily Hughes
Book design by Jessie Gang
First published in the United Kingdom in 2014 by
Macmillan Children's Books.
Published in 2015 by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS. All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher. Amulet Books and Amulet Paperbacks are registered trademarks of Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
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115 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011
TO DUBLIN'S SEAGULLS
The Black Dog came in the night.
He came in a cloudâhe was the cloud. A huge cloud that covered the city. And the cityâthe air above the cityâbecame even darker. For just a while. Then the black cloud got smaller, and smaller. Until it was a small cloud that sank lower to the ground, and its shape became doglike and the doglike shape became a dog.
The Black Dog of Depression had invaded the city of Dublin.
But no one noticed.
No humans noticed.
But the animals did.
The city's pets tried to warn their owners, but the humans weren't listening. A bark was a bark, and a meow was just a meow.
The Black Dog had arrived. He crept through the city's streets. He slid along the shadows and made no noise at all. He slid and crept, and sneaked into houses and flatsâwherever he could find the humans.
The city's dogs hated what was happening.
Dublin loved dogs. And the city's dogs knew they were lucky.
“All this food and water!” said a dog called Sadie. “Oh my God! And all I have to do, like, is wag my tail and remember to pee and, like,
in the garden.”
“I forget sometimes,” said a second dog, called Chester.
“Me too, like,” said Sadie.
“The only thing I have to do,” said Chester, “is pretend I'm happy when my owner comes home from work.”
“Do you have to pretend?” Sadie asked.
“Sometimes,” said Chester.
“Oh my God,” said Sadie. “I never do.”
“Aren't you great?” said Chester, a bit sarcastically. (Dogs, especially Dublin dogs, can be very sarcastic. Just listen very carefully to the barks, especially early in the morning.)
The dogs knew: There was only one way to stop the Black Dog of Depression. But all they could do was watch as the Black Dog started to prowl in the night and move in closer to the humans. It was horrible to see how he could become part of the air and slide into houses. How he could change the mood, kill laughter, and wipe smiles from faces that had been smiling for years. How he could change sleep from a pleasant dream into a nightmare.
The two dogs, Chester and Sadie, lived very near each other. They were almost next-door neighbors. There was only one house between theirs, and it belonged to a man called Ben Kelly. They both liked Ben. He didn't have a dog of his own, but he always treated them well whenever he saw them going for a walk or barking at him from inside their houses. They both liked sitting on the backs of the couches in their front rooms.
“Oh my God!” said Sadie. “Do you do that as well?”
“I do, yeah,” said Chester.
“That's, like, amazing!” said Sadie.
“Passes the time.” Chester shrugged.
Ben lived alone, but there were always people coming and going. There was always music and laughter. And there were two children that the dogs liked. Two kids who used to come to Ben's house. They called him Uncle Ben.
“What's an uncle?” Sadie asked Chester.
“Don't know,” Chester admitted. “But I think it might have something to do with chips.”
“Yeah,” said Chester. “He buys them chips whenever they come to the house.”
The children, a boy and a girl, loved their Uncle Ben. And, it was clear, Ben loved them. But then the Black Dog slid into Ben's houseâand hundreds, thousands, of other houses. He came at night, hiding in the darkness.
Dogs, and most other animals, love the nighttime. It's the time when they can be themselves, when they can do most of their barking and howling. They're not expected to wag their tails forever or to fetch sticks and stupid plastic toys. People go to bed, and their pets can secretly relax. It's a magic time, when the daylight rules wobble and the humans don't notice things as much. Unusual events seem normal or don't get noticed. Two talking dogs might actually be two human voices carried in the wind. A black dog-shaped shadow creeping up the stairs is probably the moon behind the tree outside in the front garden.
It made the city's animals angry that the Black Dog used the night to spread his poison. But they knew: There was nothing that Sadie or Chester or any of the city's other dogs and pets could do to stop him.
Only the city's kids could do that.
loria Kelly lay in bed. She was wide
awake. And she knew her brother, Raymond, was too. She could tell by the way he was breathing. It was awake breath. He was lying there, thinking and listening. Sleep breath was different. It was longer and lighter, less in and out.
“Rayzer?” she whispered.
Raymond didn't answer. But she didn't care.
She liked sharing the bedroom. Although she knew Raymond didn't. But she didn't care about that, either. She could like it in secret. She didn't have to tell him.