Read Nightworld (Adversary Cycle/Repairman Jack) Online
Authors: F. Paul Wilson
Thanks to the usual crew for their efforts: my wife, Mary; my editor, David Hartwell; Steven Spruill; Elizabeth Monteleone; Blake Dollens; Alex Cameron; and my agent, Albert Zuckerman. And as always, special thanks to Becky Maines.
ends the Secret History.
The novel picks up a couple of months after the horrors of
The Dark at the End.
I hope you’ve read the rest of the Adversary Cycle by now. The two story tracks—Jack’s tale and the Cycle—have merged and this is the grand finale. (See “The Secret History of the World” at the end of this book for how everything fits together.)
I have extensively revised
since its initial publication in the early ’90s. Jack’s role has been expanded—he is now a major player—but he remains one of many. Characters who didn’t exist when I wrote the original must be dealt with.
is an ensemble novel with characters drawn from across the Secret History. It ends both narrative tracks, as well as the Secret History itself. More stories remain to be told, but the timeline stops there. I will set no stories after
In response to pleas (and occasional threats) from readers (you know who you are), I’ve agreed to write three more Repairman Jack novels from the period between his arrival in NYC and
just to fill in those gaps. They’ll trace how he comes to know Abe and Julio, and how he becomes the guy you meet in
After those books, it is
You will then know all I know about Jack and I’ll have nothing left to say. I need to move on.
—F. Paul Wilson
the Jersey Shore
The Secret History of the World
Rasalom went to the mountain.
Rasalom is not his birth name, not the one his mother bestowed on him. He discarded that back in the First Age when the Otherness held more sway in this sphere. When he tapped into that mother lode of power and strangeness he took on a new name, a True Name he had protected like a wolverine guarding her young. But the time for secrecy is past. He can now shout his True Name anywhere on the planet and it will not matter.
From here atop Minya Konka, through a break in the clouds, much of what is now called China spreads out four and a half miles below him in the darkness. His birthplace is not far from here. It is bitterly cold on the mountaintop. Gale-force winds shriek and howl as they swirl the frozen air about his naked body. Rasalom scarcely notices. The power within protects him, fed by the delicious woes of the world below.
The horizon brightens. Dawn does not break at this altitude—it shatters. Rasalom stares at the glint of fire sliding into view and focuses the power he has been storing since his most recent rebirth. Eons of frustration fall away as he finalizes the process to which he has devoted the ages of his existence. No gestures, no incantations, just elseness, otherness, vomiting out of him, spreading out and up and around, seeping into the planet’s crust, billowing into its atmosphere, saturating this locus in the multiverse.
Soon all shall be his. No one and nothing opposes him, no power on earth or elsewhere can stop him.
He drops to his knees, not in prayer but in relief, elation.
At last, after so many ages, it has begun.
Dawn will never be the same.
Nicholas Quinn, Ph.D.
On May 17, the sun rose late.
Nick Quinn heard the first vague rumors of a delayed sunrise while filling his coffee mug from the urn in the lounge of Columbia University’s physics department. He didn’t pay them much mind. A screwed-up calculation, a missed observation, a malfunctioning clock. Human error. Had to be. Old Sol never missed appointments. It simply didn’t happen.
But the rumor continued to echo through the halls all morning, with no offsetting rumor of explanation. So at lunch break, when Nick had settled his usual roast beef on rye and large cola on his tray in the faculty cafeteria, the first thing he did was hunt up Harvey Sapir from astrophysics.
Nick looked for the hair. Harv’s hair was always perfect. It flowed back seamlessly from his forehead in a salt-and-pepper wave, so full and thick it looked like a toupee. Close up, if you looked carefully, you could catch a glimpse of pink scalp through the mane. A running joke around the physics department was guesstimating how much time and spray Harv invested in his hair each morning.
Nick spotted him at a corner table with Cynthia Hayes. She was from astrophysics too. The two of them were in deep conversation.
Harv’s hair was a mess.
Nick found that unsettling.
“Mind if I join you?” he said, hovering over the seat next to Cynthia.
Both glanced up and nodded absently, then immediately put their heads back together.
Beneath his uncombed hair, Harv’s face was haggard. He looked all of his fifty-five years and then some. Cynthia too looked disheveled. She was younger—mid thirties—with short chestnut hair and glorious skin. Nick liked her. A lot. She was the main reason he’d put aside his Coke-bottle lenses and got fitted for contacts. Years ago. Still hadn’t found the nerve to ask her out. With his pocked skin and weird-shaped head, he felt like a warty frog with no chance of ever changing into a prince, yet still he pined for this princess.
“What’s all this I hear about the sun being late?” he said after swallowing the first bite of his sandwich. “How’d a story like that get started?”
They both glanced at him again, then Cynthia leaned back and rubbed her eyes.
“Because it’s true.”
Nick stopped in mid bite and stared at them, looking for a smile, a twist of the lips, a hint of the put-on.
Nothing. Two deadpan faces.
Instantly he regretted it. He never used profanity in front of a woman, even though many of them had no reservations about swearing like sailors in front of him.
“Sunrise was scheduled at five twenty-one this morning,” Cynthia said. “It rose at five twenty-six. Five minutes and eight-point-two-two seconds late.”
Her husky voice never failed to give him a warm feeling.
Except today. Her words chilled him. She was saying the unthinkable.
“Come on, guys.” He forced a laugh. “We set our clocks by the sun, not vice versa. If the clock says the sun is late, then the clock needs to be reset.”
That was different. Atomic clocks worked on nuclear decay. They were accurate to a millionth of a second. If they said the sun was late …
“Could be some sort of mechanical failure.”
Harv shook his head. “Greenwich reported a late rise too. Five minutes and a fraction late. They called us. I was here at four thirty
, waiting. As Cynthia told you, sunrise was late here by exactly the same interval.”
Nick felt a worm of uneasiness begin to work its way up his spine.
“What about Palo Alto?”
“The same,” Cynthia said.
“But do you know what you’re saying? Do you know what this means?”
“Of course I know what it means!” Harv said with ill-concealed annoyance. “This
my field, you know. It means the earth has either temporarily slowed its rate of spin during the night or tilted back on its axis.”
“But either would mean cataclysm! Why, the effect on tides alone would be—”
slow. Not the slightest variation in axial rotation
axial tilt. Believe me, I’ve checked. The days are supposed to be getting progressively longer until the equinox in June, but today got shorter—or at least it started out that way.”
“Then the clocks are wrong!”
of them? All experiencing precisely the same level of change in nuclear decay at the same time? I doubt it. No, Nick. The sun rose late this morning.”
Nick’s field was lasers and particle physics. He was used to uncertainties at the subatomic level—Heisenberg had seen to that. But on the celestial plane, things were supposed to go like … clockwork.
“This is all
Harv’s expression was desolate, Cynthia’s frightened.
“I know,” he said in a low voice. “Don’t I know.”
And then Nick remembered a conversation he’d had with a certain Jesuit a couple of months ago.