Discount Armageddon: An Incryptid Novel

BOOK: Discount Armageddon: An Incryptid Novel
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Praise for
Discount Armageddon

“The only thing more fun than an
October Daye
book is an
InCryptid
book. Swift narrative, charm, great world-building… all the McGuire trademarks.”

—Charlaine Harris, #1
New York Times
Bestselling Author

“Seanan McGuire’s
Discount Armageddon
is an urban fantasy triple threat—smart and sexy and funny. The Aeslin mice alone are worth the price of the book, so consider a cast of truly ORIGINAL characters, a plot where weird never overwhelms logic, and some serious kick-ass world-building as a bonus.”

—Tanya Huff, author of
The Wild Ways


Discount Armageddon
is a quick-witted, sharp-edged look at what makes a monster monstrous, and at how closely our urban fantasy protagonists walk—or dance—that line. The pacing never lets up, and when the end comes, you’re left wanting more. I can’t wait for the next book!”

—C. E. Murphy, author of
Spirit Dances

“Smart, whimsical and bitingly funny, Verity Price is a kick-ass heroine that readers will love. Just when I thought she couldn’t surprise me again, she would pull some new trick out of her hat—or in the case of her throwing knives—out of her corset. I would send Verity and my Jane Jameson on a girl’s night out, but I’m afraid of the damage bill they would rack up!”

—Molly Harper, author of
Nice Girls Don’t Bite Their Neighbors

DAW Books presents the finest in urban fantasy
from Seanan McGuire:

InCryptid
Novels:

DISCOUNT ARMAGEDDON

October Daye
Novels:

ROSEMARY AND RUE

A LOCAL HABITATION

AN ARTIFICIAL NIGHT

LATE ECLIPSES

ONE SALT SEA

DISCOUNT
A
RMAGEDDO
N

AN INCRYPTID NOVEL

SEANAN M
C
GUIRE

DAW BOOKS, INC.

DONALD A. WOLLHEIM, FOUNDER

375 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014

ELIZABETH R. WOLLHEIM

SHEILA E. GILBERT

PUBLISHERS

http://www.dawbooks.com

Copyright © 2012 by Seanan McGuire.

All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-101-57687-8

Cover art by Aly Fell.

Interior dingbat created by Tara O’Shea.

DAW Book Collectors No. 1579.

DAW Books are distributed by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

All characters and events in this book are fictitious.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

If you purchase this book without a cover you should be aware that this book may have been stolen property and reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher. In such case neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal, and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Nearly all the designs and trade names in this book are registered trademarks. All that are still in commercial use are protected by United States and international trademark law.

First Printing, March 2012
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9

PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.

For Phil.
Let’s dance.

Price Family Tree

Cryptid, noun:

1.   Any creature whose existence has been suggested but not proved scientifically. Term officially coined by cryptozoologist John E. Wall in 1983.

2.   That thing that’s getting ready to eat your head.

3.   See also “monster.”

Table of Contents

Prologue

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Nineteen

Twenty

Twenty-one

Twenty-two

Twenty-three

Twenty-four

Twenty-five

Epilogue

Acknowledgments

Prologue

“I really don’t think you should put your hand inside the manticore, dear. You don’t know where it’s been.”

–Enid Healy

A small survivalist compound about an hour’s drive east of Portland, Oregon

Sixteen years ago

V
ERITY DANCED CIRCLES
around the living room, her amateurish pirouettes and unsteady leaps accompanied by cheers and exultations from the horde of Aeslin mice perched on the back of the couch. The cheering of the mice reached a fever pitch on the few occasions where she actually managed to get both feet off the ground and land again without falling. Her brother looked up from his book, snorting once before returning to his studies. At nine, Alexander considered himself above younger sisters and their tendency to act like complete idiots when given the slightest opportunity.

Evelyn Price leaned against the hallway arch with her youngest daughter balanced against her hip, watching Verity dance. A hand touched her shoulder. She sighed without looking around. “Kevin, I don’t know what we’re going to do about getting her to take her studies more seriously.”

“She’s six. I wasn’t taking my studies seriously at that age either.”

Evelyn laughed. “Should I ask the mice about that one, or would you like to admit that it’s a lie and save us all the sermon?”

“All I’m saying is that she’ll settle down if we give her a little time. I promise, Evie. She’ll come around.” Kevin Price stepped up next to his wife. Antimony reached her three-year-old arms up toward him. He plucked her from her mother’s hip, hoisting her up to his own shoulder. She giggled. “What did Very decide she wasn’t going to do this time?”

“Hide-and-seek,” said Evelyn.

Most children treated hide-and-seek as a game. This alien behavior never failed to shock and scandalize the Price children once they achieved school age and went marching off to the local elementary to be socialized. For them, hide-and-seek was a serious business, one that centered on finding likely routes of ambush and escape and learning how to cut them off. Alex had received his first concussion during a game of hide-and-seek. He was five at the time. Kevin wasn’t sure the boy had ever been so proud of himself before or since.

The thought of Verity refusing a hide-and-seek session was worrisome, especially since she’d always been better at it than her brother—a fact that made her want to “play” as often as possible. “What did she want to do instead?”

“She says she wants to dance,” Evelyn said, watching Verity whirl around the room like a tiny blonde dervish. “That’s all. Just dance.”

One

“True love always shoots to kill.”

—Alice Healy

A nightclub in downtown Manhattan

Now

M
USIC PUMPED THROUGH THE CLUB’S SPEAKERS
, distorted until it was barely more than a pounding bass line with a sprinkling of grace notes. It was perfect dance music, the kind that makes feet tap and thighs twitch with the need to get up and
move
. My own feet were tapping. I forced them to stop. There’d be time for that soon enough, but for the moment, waiting was still the name of the game.

I hate waiting.

Sarah had managed to acquire a half-circle booth that was empty except for us. It would have been impossible for anyone else. I’m not even sure she realized she was doing something impressive. I leaned sulkily back in my seat, trying to look casual as I sipped my nonalcoholic “Cosmopolitan”—club soda, grenadine, and a maraschino cherry for that finishing touch—and scanned the dance floor.

“So, Verity, tell me, are you looking for our nasty friend, or are you sizing up the competition?” Sarah’s tone was mild, but I could recognize the warning lurking underneath the question.

“Sorry,” I
said, looking guiltily away from the floor.

“Aren’t you always?” Sarah was sitting in the center of the booth, partially so she could lounge nonchalantly against the burgundy vinyl cushions, and partially so she wouldn’t be in the way if I needed to move suddenly. Her choice of seating had the added bonus of keeping the crowd at a distance, since the full length of the table was between her and the rest of the club. Sarah doesn’t like being touched, something that’s generally viewed as a major loss by the male population of whatever city she’s in. She has classical black Irish coloring, with pale skin, thick black hair, and eyes that are an almost perfect ice blue. Add in her svelte figure and delicate features, and it’s no wonder she’s beating the boys off with a stick.

BOOK: Discount Armageddon: An Incryptid Novel
4.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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