Authors: Caro King
Caro King was born in London and raised in Surrey. She now lives in Croydon, with her partner, Kevin. She studied art and has had a variety of jobs since then, including working at the Office of the Official Receiver and as a greengrocer's assistant. The world of
came from a rainy lunchtime when she began mapping out the world of the Drift. Skerridge and his waistcoat came later.
by the same author
First published in Great Britain in 2010 by
21 Bloomsbury Square
Copyright Â© Caro King, 2010
The moral right of Caro King to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
A CIP catalogue reference for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN 978 1 84916 179 4
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places and events are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Designed and typeset by Rook Books, London
Printed and bound in England by Clays Ltd, St Ives plc
For Kevin, as always.
And to Mollie, for the good times.
Perched on the very edge of a ragged cliff, the Terrible House of Strood towered against the summer sky in a mass of dark stone walls and pointed roofs. Far below, waves crashed over the rocks at the foot of the cliff, surging into every crevice and filling the air with spray that hung in the air like salty mist.
The roof of the Terrible House, with its jumble of chimney pots and towers, was familiar territory to Bogeyman Skerridge since his unauthorised entry to the building a couple of days ago, shortly after he had gone rogue and left Mr Strood's service forever.
And now he was back again, scanning the rooftops with his sharp, red eyes until he spotted the creature he had come to find â the bellringer, whose job it was to keep watch for the exact moment when the edge of the sun slipped below the horizon and then to ring the Evebell.
Skerridge grinned. It wasn't a nice grin. In a recent fit of remorse he had promised himself never to harm another living Quick, but this creature wasn't exactly
living and was only slightly Quick so it didn't count. And anyway, he was only going to torture it a little.
The creature was not at its post in the weathered stone bell tower that rose high above the rooftops. Sundown was still an hour away, so instead it was perched on an outcrop of roof enjoying the view out to sea. Treading as quietly as only a bogeyman could, Skerridge headed that way. When he was right behind the unsuspecting bellringer he leaned close and said;
The creature hooted through its beak and did a twisting leap that brought it around to face Skerridge, who grinned, taking care to show a lot of jagged teeth.
âHalloo,' said the bellringer, quickly working out that there was no harm in being polite. He had been sitting with his knobbly back to the beach, looking out over the waves as they dashed themselves on the rocks below and trying to forget about the handful of Quick cluttering up the sea shore away in the distance behind him. The sudden arrival of a horrible, hairy, bony figure in tattered trousers and a fancy waistcoat wasn't an improvement on his day.
Skerridge settled down on the roof next to the gargoyle. âI'm Bogeyman Skerridge,' he said cheerfully. âWha's yore name then?'
âJibbit,' said Jibbit nervously. Being the only gargoyle in the Terrible House, he had the roof all to himself apart from the pigeons. He wasn't used to people, Quick, Grimm or Fabulous, and found them untidy and
difficult. This one had a definite air of untidy and positively radiated difficult. With extras.
âBet it's nice an' quiet up 'ere.'
âLotsa time to listen to all the goin's on, eh? Bet it's been an excitin' afternoon, what wiv all the escapin' and everyfin'! Ninevah Redstone breakin' outa the 'Ouse like that, givin' Mr Strood the run-around jus' when 'e fort 'e'd won. Not t' mention rescuin' 'er bruvver an' gettin' 'er mem'ry pearl back.'
âSo, what I wanna know is what 'appened next? Fink ya can tell me that?'
Jibbit swapped nervously from paw to paw and hunched his stubby wings. He had a bad feeling about what he was going to do, but his duty was clear.
âIf you're Bogeyman Skerridge, then yoo've gone rogue,' he said, trying not to hoot too much. âAnd if yoo've gone rogue then I mustn't say anything â¦'
Skerridge shot out a hand and grabbed the bellringer so fast that Jibbit barely saw it happen. One second he was sitting on the roof, next he was dangling upside down over nothing.
âFort ya might say that. Now, if ya wan' my advice I fink ya should tell me everyfin' ya know, cos if ya don' then I'll drop ya.'
Jibbit glared at the bogeyman from underneath his own feet.
âI know,' went on Skerridge cheerfully. âYer finkin' that
no self-respectin' gargoyle is gonna be scared o' heights. And if ya gets broke ya can be stuck back t'gevver again, right?'
âYes,' snapped Jibbit.
âBut isn't there somefin' yer fergettin'?' Skerridge leaned over to bring his head closer to the dangling gargoyle. âLook. Down,' he whispered.
Jibbit glared for a second longer then switched his gaze downwards. It had a long way to go. The wall plunged away from him. Jibbit followed it with his eyes until he saw where it led. The ground â in this case rather rocky and involving a lot of breaking waves, but still the ground. Jibbit hooted in panic.
âDidn' fink o' that, did ya?' Skerridge chuckled. âBy my understandin' gargoyles don' like places what aren' 'igh, right? An' ya don' get much more not 'igh than the ground! So, 'ave we gotta deal?'
Jibbit squeaked pitifully.
Skerridge grinned. âRight-oh.' He pulled his arm back and dropped Jibbit on the tiles, wrong side up.
âThanks.' Jibbit scuffled on to his paws.
âFink nuffin' of it. Off ya go then.'
Staring thoughtfully into space while he got his scattered nerves together, Jibbit settled back on the tiles, making sure he had a firm grip.
âThat chimney pot at the back there,' he said at last, âis the one tooo the furnace in Mister Strood's laboratory. I â¦ um â¦ happened to be sitting next to it just as Ninevah Redstone got away, so I climbed down the flue
tooo see what all the racket was about. The furnace has got a glass door, so I could see right into the laboratory. Mister Strood wasn't pleased.' Jibbit warmed to his story. âIn fact he was so angry he tripped down a hole â¦'
âA hole. In the ground. Left by the new Fabulous when he came up through the floor to rescue Ninevah Redstone. Yoo know, the mudman?'
âYeah, Jik, I know 'im. Go on.'
âMr Strood was already coming apart on account of the faerie poison getting over him, and his leg broke off and he went down the hole, see?'
âI'm gettin' the picture,' said Skerridge grimly.
âAnd then the earth fell in on top of him and he was buried, deep in the heart of the House, far below the foundations.'
âSo tha's what they've been doin' then,' the bogeyman murmured, âdiggin' 'im up. I wondered why they weren' pourin' outta the door looking fer us.'
âThe servants, the guards, everybody had to dig. It was taking a long time, so the housekeeper sent for the bogeymen. There's no daylight in the House, so three of them came to dig even though it wasn't night.' Jibbit looked at Skerridge thoughtfully. âThey can do superspeed, yoo know.'
âCourse I know, I am one! Still, superspeed diggin' ain't like superspeed runnin'. My guess is it'd still take 'em all afternoon.' Skerridge blew out his cheeks, feeling oddly anxious. âCarn' 'ave been fun, bein' stuck down
there, buried alive in the earf fer 'ours. Bet 'e'll be in a good mood after that!'
Jibbit considered. âI wouldn't call it good,' he said carefully.
âThey've found 'im then?'
âYes. He must have been digging upwards tooo, because suddenly the housekeeper said â¦'