Authors: Mark J. Ferrari
The Book of Joby
MARK J. FERRARI
A TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES BOOK
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
THE BOOK OF JOBY
Copyright © 2007 by Mark J. Ferrari
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.
“The Song of the Blackthorn Fairy” from
Flower Fairies of the Winter
by Cicely Mary Barker, copyright © The Estate of Cicely Mary Barker, 1923, 1926, 1940, 1944, 1948, 1990.
“The Eternal Cave,” “My Life,” “Wind Song,” and “Child’s Wheel” are all from
Purple Sky Flowers
by Jenny Rose Gealey, copyright © The Estate of Jenny Rose Gealey, 1992, 1996.
Edited by David G. Hartwell
A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
Tor® is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Ferrari, Mark J. (Mark Joseph), 1956–
The book of Joby / Mark J. Ferrari.—1st ed.
“A Tom Doherty Associates book.”
ISBN-13: 978-0-7653-1686-8 (hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-7653-1686-2 (hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7653-1753-7 (pbk.)
ISBN-10: 0-7653-1753-2 (pbk.)
First Edition: August 2007
Printed in the United States of America
0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
To Josh Morsell,
who rekindled my desire to write,
who taught me how,
and the children of Taubolt,
to whom I owe more than I can ever pay
I’ve been improbably fortunate in both the number and quality of people who helped make this book a reality. Among the many, many who have helped and encouraged me, I am particularly grateful to:
Steve Ettinger and Kyala Shea for wading through very,
early drafts that were
the polished work of genius presented here; Will Stenberg, Kenyon Zimmer, Pam Wilson, Patrick Curl, and other members of the occasional Weekly Writers Group, who suffered through eons of revision because they wouldn’t stop providing such valuable feedback; my good friend, Brendan McGuigan, without whom this book would be of far poorer quality if it had ever been finished at all; Bill Jones and Marcia Muggleberg for their invaluable input, encouragement, and beyond-the-call promotional support; Nyssa Baugher, who is the World’s BEST listener; Debbie Notkin, whose editorial assistance, professional advice, and tenacious friendship have literally made this book—and no small part of my preceding illustration career—possible; John Dalmas, Dean Wesley Smith, Jane Fancher, Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta, and Jon Gustafson (if you’re watching up there), who all kept my faith alive with their generous interest and counsel; and Patricia Briggs, who provided not only encouragement and counsel, but steered me toward an agent too!
My particular thanks to Tom Doherty, David Hartwell, Denis Wong, and everyone else at Tor for daring to publish such an—er—unusual first novel, and prodding me to make it even better; and to my agent, Linn Prentis, for her good advice and patient, persistent support through fair weather and foul.
Love and thanks to my parents, Andrew and Jackie, and my brothers, Matt and John, for their faith in my ability to do this crazy thing.
Finally, my lasting gratitude to Jenny Rose Gealey, whose inspiring life
death spurred and informed much of the story I’ve tried to tell here, and to her wise, warm, and generous family for allowing me to incorporate some of her extraordinary poems into this work.
I can think of no remotely sufficient way to reward these people except to say that I am inexpressibly grateful, and otherwise unable to pay, so don’t call us, we’ll call you, et cetera, et cetera . . .
(mischievous grin, fade to black).
The Book of Joby
When he unlocked the verandah that morning, the young waiter found two men near his own age already sitting at a table there, quietly watching the new sun drift from orange to gold above the sleepy Atlantic harbor beyond. He had no idea how they’d gotten in an hour before the restaurant opened, and headed out to make them leave, but found himself apologizing for the wait instead, and asking if they wanted menus. They already knew what they wanted, so he took their order and went vacantly back inside wondering why his head felt so cotton-stuffed this morning.
” said the younger patron, gazing at the opalescent sky. His liquid brown eyes and beautiful copper features were framed in curly locks so black one might have looked for stars among them. His feet were bare—a blatant violation of restaurant rules, though the waiter had not seemed to notice—and the soft white T-shirt untucked over his khaki shorts reflected more radiance than the sunrise alone should reasonably have lent it. “I could watch just this one thousands of times,” he murmured. “Thank you for bringing me.”
“The presence of a friend improves the view, Gabe,” replied his host, the smile in his wide gray eyes spilling out across a face both older and younger in some elusive way than his companion’s. He wore ragged tennis shoes, weathered blue jeans that precisely matched the changing sky above him, and a short sleeve, gray cotton shirt that seemed to shift between shades of warm shale and cool morning fog.
No sooner had they resumed their silent contemplation of the sunrise than a dignified gentleman appeared, wearing an impeccably tailored suit of charcoal tweed. His pale, handsome features were set in stony determination at odds with the pleasant morning as he tugged natty pant cuffs away from elegant dress shoes, tossed an early paper onto the table, and sat down across from the two younger men, largely eclipsing their view of the bay.
“Lovely view,” he offered without looking back to see. “Bit chilly for summer, but nice enough, I suppose. Imagine my excitement when I heard you were in the neighborhood!” he added with overtly false enthusiasm, then gestured at the newspaper lying between them. “Seen the latest on that massacre of villagers in Abudaweh? It seems the international tribunal has found
to blame at all.” He smiled and shrugged. “Perhaps the tricky bastards slew themselves, just to stir up trouble. Can no one be trusted anymore?”
The waiter arrived with two lattes and a plate of pastry, taking the newcomer’s unexpected appearance in stride as well. “Shall I bring a menu, Sir?” he asked.
“I’d like everything
have,” the gentleman said severely.
“Certainly. Will that be whole, low-fat, or nonfat?”
“Your latte, Sir.”
The man regarded the waiter sternly, as if deciding what to do to him, then laughed suddenly. “Men of my age can hardly be too vigilant, young man. Better make it nonfat.” He sent the waiter away with an ingratiating smile that faded to deadpan contempt as soon as his back was turned. Looking back to his tablemates, the gentleman’s icy blue eyes came to rest on the dark-haired youth. “So, what do you think, Gabe? Did the buggers do for themselves, or is the tribunal in bed with Abudaweh’s military elite?”
“I’d say you’ve been as busy as ever, brother,” Gabriel replied coldly.
“Let’s stick with
names, shall we?” replied the older man with even greater chilliness.
“Which one?” Gabriel shrugged. “You keep so many.”
“Morgan, at the moment.
“Boys,” their gray-eyed companion interjected mildly, “you know I hate it when you fight like this. It demeans you both, and it’s ruining my all too brief vacation.”
“Were I allowed to visit you at
Sir,” Morgan protested politely, “I would gladly do so. But, given the circumstances, I have little choice but to intrude upon your . . . ‘vacations,’ especially when they’re held right here in my humble little
“Gabe was just telling me how lovely he finds your
” mused the gray-eyed man, tearing off a morsel of the pastry none of them had touched, and tossing it to a gull who’d come to perch on the railing behind his adversary. “Said he could have watched that one sunrise a thousand times.”
“I haven’t my little brother’s overweening ambition to be Teacher’s pet,” Morgan replied, turning to grimace at the bird as it gobbled down the offering. “Such filthy creatures,” he complained. “Really, you demean yourself by catering to their mindless, vulgar greed.”
“Why have you come to darken such a splendid morning?” the gray-eyed man asked wearily, tossing the gull another scrap. “If I wanted this sort of thing, I’d have gone to work today, Lucifer. You don’t mind, do you, if I use that name? On you, Morgan seems so