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Authors: Anthony Horowitz

Tags: #Family, #Action & Adventure, #Juvenile Fiction, #Fantasy & Magic, #General, #Fiction, #People & Places, #Horror & Ghost Stories, #Brothers, #United States, #Supernatural, #Siblings, #Telepathy, #Nevada, #Twins, #Juvenile Detention Homes

Nightrise

BOOK: Nightrise
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The Gatekeepers 3

Nightrise

Anthony Horowitz

The Story So Far…

In

Evil Star, the second book of The Gatekeepers, Matt and Pedro failed to close the second gate that they had found in the Nazca Desert, allowing the Old Ones — ancient forces of evil — finally to enter the world.

Although he lost this battle, Matt learned that his only hope was to find the three other Gatekeepers: two boys and a girl. By coming together, they would finally have the strength to defeat the Old Ones and save the world from chaos and destruction.

Nightrise, the third book of The Gatekeepers, begins in June, a few weeks before the end of Evil Star.

Even though the Old Ones have yet to be unleashed, their servants are already searching for the Five, determined to keep them apart.

There are three worlds in this book: The world now. The world as it was before the Dark Ages, approximately ten thousand years ago. And a strange dream world that connects the two.

ONE

The Circus of the Mind

The two men in the black limousine had already circled the theatre once. Now they pulled in on the other side of the road, opposite the main door. Outside, the temperature was well into the eighties. But they had turned the air-conditioning on full blast and the car was like a refrigerator. They sat in silence.

The two of them had worked together for many years and despised each other. They had nothing left to say.

The theatre was at the northern end of Reno, Nevada. It was a square, red-brick building with a single door and no windows. It could have been a bank or possibly a chapel but for the neon sign over the front door. It was supposed to read the reno playhouse

, but half the letters had fused so that as the two men watched it from where they were parked in Virginia Street, just two words flashed at them through the fading light: here lose.

It wasn't exactly the most attractive invitation in a city that was dedicated to gambling, where every other building seemed to be a casino and where the hotels, the bars, even the launderettes, were stuffed with slot machines. Despite its name, the Reno Playhouse hadn't actually put on a play from the day it had been built. Instead, it provided a temporary home to a long line of second-rate performers: singers and dancers, conjurors and comedians who had all been famous, briefly, a very long time ago but who had never really been heard of since. These were the sort of people who performed night after night, trying to entertain audiences who were only thinking of the money they had come to win or, worse, the money they had already lost.

The next performance was due to begin in an hour's time. The two men had already bought their tickets

— but there was something they wanted to see before they went in. They only had to wait a few minutes until they were rewarded. The man in the driver's seat suddenly stiffened.

"Here they are," he said.

Two boys had just gotten off a bus. They were walking down the pavement, dressed casually in baggy jeans and T-shirts, one of them carrying a backpack. It was obvious immediately that they were twins, about fourteen years old. They were both very slim — in fact, they looked malnourished. Their hair was black and dead straight, hanging down to the neck, and both had dark brown eyes. One was a couple of inches taller and a few pounds heavier than the other. He said something and the other boy laughed.

Then they turned the corner and a moment later were gone.

"That was them?" the passenger asked.

"That was them," the driver confirmed.

The first man shrugged. "They don't look that special to me."

"That's what you always say, Mr. Hovey. But you never know. Maybe these kids will be the ones…"

"Let's get a drink."

The men had an hour to kill; luckily, there were plenty of bars in Reno, and they might throw a few coins into a machine too. It had been a long day. The driver glanced one last time at the theatre and nodded. He had a good feeling. This time they were going to find what they were looking for.

He shoved the car into gear and they moved off.

***

The show that was currently at the Reno Playhouse — it had been there for the past six months —was called

The Circus of the Mind.

There was a glass panel next to the front door and behind it a black-and-white poster showing the eyes and forehead of what might have been a hypnotist or a magician. His hands, disembodied, floated above him, the fingers pointing toward the viewer. It read:

DON WHITE PRESENTS

THE CIRCUS OF THE MIND

There are many things in life that cannot be explained. Powers that exist on the edge of our consciousness. Do you dare journey into the world of the paranormal? Be amazed! Be mystified! This is a show you will never forget.

FEATURING

Swami Louvishni — world-famous Indian fakir

Bobby Bruce — hypnotist to the stars

Mr. Marvano — master illusionist

Zorro — escapologist

Scott & Jamie Tyler — telepathic twins

Performance times: 7:30 pm & 9:30 pm

Tickets: $35 to $55. Senior citizens half price

By twenty past seven that evening, a small crowd had gathered on the pavement, waiting for the door to open. There were about fifty people. Most of them had been attracted to the theatre by leaflets given to them by the receptionists in the hotels where they were staying. The leaflets promised "Five dollars off

— this week only." In fact, there were five dollars off every week; the same leaflets had been handed out for the entire time that

The Circus of the Mind had been playing. And the receptionists were only recommending it because they had been paid to do so. They would receive five dollars for every ticket they sold.

The audience was already beginning to wonder if the show really was going to amaze or mystify them in the slightest. The dusty brickwork, the broken sign, and the single, amateurish poster were hardly promising. On the other hand, there wasn't much else in Reno that they could do for thirty dollars and it was probably too late to ask for a refund. There was a loud rattle and the doors swung open, pushed from inside. As one, the crowd moved forward. There were a few drinks and boxes of candy on sale in the lobby but they were overpriced and no one bought anything. Almost unwillingly, the audience members produced their tickets and passed through a narrow archway, into the main auditorium.

The theatre contained two hundred seats and was shaped like a horseshoe around an elevated wooden stage. A red curtain — tatty and faded — hung down. At exactly half past seven, the sound system blasted out a burst of pop music and the curtain rose to reveal a dark, bearded man wearing sunglasses and a turban.

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen," he announced.

"My name is Swami Louvishni and it is my great pleasure to be here all the way from Calcutta."

None of this was true. It was just the first of many lies.

The Indian fakir was, of course, a fake. His real name was Frank Kirby and he hadn't been farther east than New York. He had taken his stage name from a Tintin story and his tricks from a library book he had stolen when he was nineteen. Among the other attractions, Bobby Bruce was an out-of-work actor and had never been anywhere near the stars; Mr. Marvano, the illusionist, was Frank Kirby again but without the beard and the glasses and using another voice; Zorro was a drunk.

The audience tonight was hardly enthusiastic. The summer had already arrived in full force, the hot breezes rolling in across the desert, and the air-conditioning in the building was working at only half strength. They were falling asleep in their seats. They clapped politely when the fakir laid down on a bed of nails and when the escapologist leaped out of a locked-up chest. But they barely acknowledged the illusionist, even when he suddenly produced — in an empty cage — a large, panting dog. Perhaps they knew that in Las Vegas, only a few hundred miles away, there were magicians who had done the same thing with elephants and white tigers.

By the time the last act had walked onto the stage, the audience had clearly had enough. Some of them had already left. But as the music changed and the lights dimmed and then rose for the last time, something changed inside the Reno Playhouse. It happened every night. It was as if people sensed, without being told, that they were finally going to be given a little of what the poster had promised.

The twins had appeared, now dressed in dark pants and black shirts open at the neck. The taller one was gazing out into the glare of lights with undisguised hostility. He had the look of a street fighter and, indeed, there was a large bruise on one of his cheekbones. His brother was somehow friendlier, more welcoming. It was just possible that he enjoyed being here. He was the one who spoke.

"Good evening," he began. "My name is Jamie Tyler." He gestured at the other boy, who didn't move.

"And this is my brother, Scott. For as long as I can remember, we've known what's been going on inside each other's heads. That doesn't make it easy when one of us is trying to pick up girls…"

They weren't his words. They were the words he had been taught to say and he didn't think the joke was even slightly funny. But he forced himself to smile. The audience was listening to him with a bit more attention. They had seen the poster. Telepathic twins. But nobody had said they were going to be so young.

"It was only recently that we discovered the truth," Jamie went on. "It's not just that we know what we're both thinking. We're true telepaths, connected to each other in away that science cannot understand or explain. And that's what we're going to demonstrate for you tonight. Starting with this."

While he had been talking, a stagehand had carried in a table with a pile of newspapers. There were twenty different papers from all around America. There were other props too. He would come to those later.

Jamie scooped up the newspapers and walked down to the front row. He stopped in front of a large, frizzy-haired woman who was wearing pink leggings and an I reno

T-shirt. "Would you like to pick one of these newspapers?" he asked. 'You can choose any one."

The woman was with her husband. He nudged her and she pulled one out of the middle of the pile. It was a copy of the

L. A. Times.

"Thank you," Jamie said. "Now this paper has several sections. Will you please choose any one of them and pass it to your husband."

The woman did as she was asked. She chose the Metro section. Her husband took it.

"Will you please tear one page out of the section and pass it to the person behind you," Jamie instructed.

He was fortunate that there was someone in the row behind. On bad nights, he knew, he might have to travel three or four rows to find a third spectator.

The page was being held by a Korean tourist who had come with his wife and daughter. Jamie hoped that he would be able to understand English. He took out a pen. 'You have a page with more than a thousand words on each side," he said. "That means you have at least two thousand words to choose from. Could you please circle one of those words. It can be in a headline or an advertisement. It doesn't matter. The choice is entirely yours."

The Korean man smiled and muttered something to his wife. He took the pen and circled something, then handed the newspaper back to Jamie. Jamie looked down. Without speaking the words, he read: THE LATEST TREND IN LOS ANGELES IS THE ECO-FRIENDLY FUNERAL. CELEBS ARE

LINING UP TO MAKE SURE THEY GO GREEN WHEN THEY GO.

One word had a ring around it. He looked at it.

On the stage, Scott spoke for the first time.

"Funeral," he said.

Jamie held the newspaper in front of the Korean man. "Is that the word?" he asked.

'Yes. Yes…!" The man was astonished.

For the first time that evening, the applause was loud and genuine. It had to be a trick, of course.

Everything that the audience had seen had been a trick. But how had it been done? Both the frizzy-haired woman and her husband had been given a free choice. The man behind her could have chosen any word. Perhaps the two boys had secret microphones. They could be in radio contact. But how would that help? Jamie hadn't said anything. He'd barely glanced at the page.

Jamie had already returned to the stage by the time the applause died down.

"I'd like to invite someone to join me," he said. He pointed to the husband who had already taken part.

"Would you mind, sir?"

The man climbed onto the stage. Scott didn't move. Apart from the moment when he had spoken, he could have been a statue. A boy carved out of wood. But Jamie was moving around, collecting the next prop, welcoming the man.

"I'm going to blindfold my brother," he explained. "And I want you to make sure that he really can't see.

While you're here, I'd also like you to check that there are no hidden microphones. Nothing in either of his ears."

The man went over to Scott and ran a finger behind each of his ears. For just a second, something flared in the boy's eyes. It was a humiliation he had to endure twice a night, every night — and he could never forgive it. But the man didn't notice.

BOOK: Nightrise
10.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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