Black (Circle Series #1)

( 158 )

Overview

An Adrenaline-Laced Epic Where Dreams and Reality Collide.

Fleeing assailants through deserted alleyways, Thomas Hunter narrowly escapes to the roof of a building. Then a silent bullet from the night clips his head . . . and his world goes black.

From the blackness comes an amazing reality of another world where evil is contained. A world where Thomas Hunter is in love with a beautiful woman.

But then he ...

See more details below
Paperback (Anniversar)
$14.39
BN.com price
(Save 15%)$16.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (27) from $2.44   
  • New (14) from $9.78   
  • Used (13) from $2.44   
Black: The Birth of Evil (Circle Series #1)

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.99
BN.com price
Marketplace
BN.com

All Available Formats & Editions

Overview

An Adrenaline-Laced Epic Where Dreams and Reality Collide.

Fleeing assailants through deserted alleyways, Thomas Hunter narrowly escapes to the roof of a building. Then a silent bullet from the night clips his head . . . and his world goes black.

From the blackness comes an amazing reality of another world where evil is contained. A world where Thomas Hunter is in love with a beautiful woman.

But then he remembers the dream of being chased through an alleyway as he reaches to touch the blood on his head. Where does the dream end and reality begin?

Every time he falls asleep in one world, he awakes in the other. Yet in both, catastrophic disaster awaits him . . . may even be caused by him.

Some say the world hangs in the balance of every choice we make. Now the fate of two worlds hangs in the balance of one man's choices.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"BLACK begins with a bang and never lets up. The hero, Thomas Hunter, is living an insomniac nightmare. Every time he goes to sleep in one world, he awakens in another. Hunter learns, in one world, of a plan to unleash a deadly virus by a pharmaceutical company that owns the only vaccine; from the other world he tries desperately to prevent the annihilation. This dual setting of alternative worlds is richly made plausible by Rob Lamont. With his baritone voice and exquisite attention to timing he creates a sense of desperate urgency that leaves the listener breathless yet moving easily between realities. He prepares us for Hunter's compelling transformation from confused time-traveler to confident warrior." 
K.A.T. © AudioFile Portland, Maine
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595547309
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/28/2009
  • Series: Circle Series , #1
  • Edition description: Anniversar
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 410
  • Sales rank: 107,957
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Ted Dekker

Ted Dekker is the New York Times best-selling author of more than25 novels. He is known for stories that combine adrenaline-laced plots with incredible confrontations between good and evil. He lives in Texas with his wife and children. Twitter @TedDekker, facebook.com/#!/teddekker

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It all started one day earlier with a single silenced bullet out of nowhere.

Thomas Hunter was walking down the same dimly lit alley he always took on his way home after locking up the small Java Hut on Colfax and Ninth, when a smack! punctuated the hum of distant traffic. Red brick dribbled from a one-inch hole two feet away from his face. He stopped midstride.

Smack!

This time he saw the bullet plow into the brick. This time he felt a sting on his cheek as tiny bits of shattered brick burst from the impact. This time every muscle in his body ceased.

Someone had just shot at him!

Was shooting at him.

Tom recoiled to a crouch and instinctively spread his arms. He couldn't seem to tear his eyes off those two holes in the brick, dead ahead. They had to be some mistake. Figments of his overactive imagination. His aspirations to write novels had finally ruptured the line between fantasy and reality with these two empty eye sockets staring at him from the red brick.

"Thomas Hunter!"

That wasn't his imagination, was it? No, that was his name, and it was echoing down the alley. A third bullet crashed into the brick wall.

He bolted to his left, still crouching. One long step, drop the right shoulder, roll. Again the air split above his head. This bullet clanged into a steel ladder and rang down the alley.

Tom came to his feet and chased the sound in a full sprint, pushed by instinct as much as by terror. He'd been here before, in the back alleys of Manila. He'd been a teenager then, and the Filipino gangs were armed with knives and machetes rather than guns, but at the moment, tearing down the alley behind Ninth and Colfax, Tom's mind wasn't drawing any distinction.

"You're a dead man!" the voice yelled.

Now he knew who they were. They were from New York.

This alley led to another thirty yards ahead, on his left. A mere shadow in the dim light, but he knew the cutaway.

Two more bullets whipped by, one so close he could feel its wind on his left ear. Feet pounded the concrete behind him. Two, maybe three pairs.

Tom dived into the shadow.

"Cut him off in the back. Radio."

Tom rolled to the balls of his feet then sprinted, mind spinning.

Radio?

The problem with adrenaline, Makatsu's thin voice whispered, is that it makes your head weak. His karate instructor would point to his head and wink. You have plenty of muscle to fight, but no muscle to think.

If they had radios and could cut off the street ahead, he would have a very serious problem.

He looked frantically for cover. One access to the roof halfway down the alley. One large garbage bin too far away. Scattered boxes to his left. No real cover. He had to make his move before they entered the alley.

Fingers of panic stabbed into his mind. Adrenaline dulls reason; panic kills it. Makatsu again. Tom had once been beaten to a pulp by a gang of Filipinos who'd taken a pledge to kill any Americano brat who entered their turf. They made the streets around the army base their turf. His instructor had scolded him, insisting that he was good enough to have escaped their attack that afternoon. His panic had cost him dearly. His brain had been turned to rice pudding, and he deserved the bruises that swelled his eyes shut.

This time it was bullets, not feet and clubs, and bullets would leave more than bruises. Time was out.

Short on ideas and long on desperation, Tom dived for the gutter. Rough concrete tore at his skin. He rolled quickly to his left, bumped into the brick wall, and lay facedown in the deep shadow.

Feet pounded around the corner and ran straight toward him. One man. How they had found him in Denver, four years after the fact, he had no clue. But if they'd gone to this trouble, they wouldn't just walk away.

The man ran on light feet, hardly winded. Tom's nose was buried in the musty corner. Noisy blasts of air from his nostrils buffeted his face. He clamped down on his breathing; immediately his lungs began to burn.

The slapping feet approached, ran past.

Stopped.

A slight tremor lit through his bones. He fought another round of panic. It had been six years since his last fight. He didn't stand a chance against a man with a gun. He desperately willed the feet to move on. Walk. Just walk!

But the feet didn't walk.

They scraped quietly.

Tom nearly cried out in his hopelessness. He had to move now, while he still had the advantage of surprise.

He threw himself to his left, rolled once to gain momentum. Then twice, rising first to his knees then to his feet. His attacker was facing him, gun extended, frozen.

Tom's momentum carried him laterally, directly toward the opposite wall. The gun's muzzle-flash momentarily lit the dark alley and spit a bullet past him. But now instinct had replaced panic.

What shoes am I wearing?

The question flashed through Tom's mind as he hurdled for the brick wall, left foot leading. A critical question.

His answer came when his foot planted on the wall. Rubber soles. One more step up the wall with traction to spare. He threw his head back, arched hard, pushed himself off the brick, then twisted to his right halfway through his rotation. The move was simply an inverted bicycle kick, but he hadn't executed it in half a dozen years, and this time his eyes weren't on a soccer ball tossed up by one of his Filipino friends in Manila.

This time it was a gun.

The man managed one shot before Tom's left foot smashed into his hand, sending the pistol clattering down the alley. The bullet tugged at his collar.

Tom didn't land lightly on his feet as he'd hoped. He sprawled to his hands, rolled once, and sprang into the seventh fighting position opposite a well-muscled man with short-cropped black hair. Not exactly a perfectly executed maneuver. Not terrible for someone who hadn't fought in six years.

The man's eyes were round with shock. His experience in the martial arts obviously didn't extend beyond The Matrix. Tom was briefly tempted to shout for joy, but, if anything, he had to shut this man up before he could call out.

The man's astonishment suddenly changed to a snarl, and Tom saw the knife in his right hand. Okay, so maybe the man knew more about street-fighting than was at first apparent.

He charged Tom.

The fury that flooded Tom's veins felt all too welcome. How dare this man shoot at him! How dare he not fall to his knees after such a brilliant kick!

Tom ducked the knife's first swipe. Came up with his palm to the man's chin. Bone cracked.

It wasn't enough. This man was twice his weight, with twice his muscle, and ten times his bad blood.

Tom launched himself vertically and spun into a full roundhouse kick, screaming despite his better judgment. His foot had to be doing a good eighty miles an hour when it struck the man's jaw.

They both hit the concrete at precisely the same time-Tom on his feet, ready to deliver another blow; his assailant on his back, breathing hard, ready for the grave. Figuratively speaking.

The man's silver pistol lay near the wall. Tom took a step for it, then rejected the notion. What was he going to do? Shoot back? Kill the guy? Incriminate himself? Not smart. He turned and ran back in the direction they'd come.

The main alley was empty. He ducked into it, edged along the wall, grabbed the rails to a steel fire escape, and quickly ascended. The building's roof was flat and shouldered another taller building to the south. He swung up to the second building, ran in a crouch, and halted by a large vent, nearly a full block from the alley where he'd laid out the New Yorker.

He dropped to his knees, pressed back into the shadows, and listened past the thumping of his heart.

The hum of a million tires rolling over asphalt. The distant roar of a jet overhead. The faint sound of idle talk. The sizzling of food frying in a pan, or of water being poured from a window. The former, considering they were in Denver, not the Philippines. No sounds from New York.

He leaned back and closed his eyes, catching his breath.

Crazy! Fights in Manila as a teenager were one thing, but here in the States at the ripe age of twenty-five? The whole sequence struck him as surreal. It was hard to believe this had just happened to him.

Or, more accurately, was happening to him. He still had to figure a way out of this mess. Did they know where he lived? No one had followed him to the roof.

Tom crept to the ledge. Another alley ran directly below, adjoining busy streets on either side. Denver's brilliant skyline glimmered on the horizon directly ahead. An odd odor met his nose, sweet like cotton candy but mixed with rubber or something burning.

Déjà vu. He'd been here before, hadn't he? No, of course not. Lights shimmered in the hot summer air, reds and yellows and blues, like jewels sprinkled from heaven. He could swear he'd been-

Tom's head suddenly snapped to the left. He threw out his arms, but his world spun impossibly and he knew that he was in trouble.

Something had hit him. Something like a sledgehammer. Something like a bullet.

He felt himself topple, but he wasn't sure if he was really falling or if he was losing consciousness. Something was horribly wrong with his head.

He landed hard on his back, in a pillow of black that swallowed his mind whole.

Chapter Two

the man's eyes snapped open. A pitch-black sky above. No lights, no stars, no buildings. Only black. And a small moon.

He blinked and tried to remember where he was. Who he was. But all he could remember was that he'd just had a vivid dream.

He closed his eyes and fought to wake. He'd dreamed that he was running from some men who wanted to hurt him. He'd escaped like a spider up a wall after leveling one of the men. Then he'd stared out at the lights. Such beautiful, brilliant lights. Now he was awake. And he still didn't know where he was.

He sat up, disoriented. The shadows of tall, dark trees surrounded a rocky clearing in which he'd been sleeping. His eyes began to adjust to the darkness, and he saw a field of some kind ahead.

He clambered to his feet and steadied himself. On his feet, leather moccasins. On his body, dark pants, tan suede shirt with two pockets. He instinctively felt for his left temple, where a sharp ache throbbed. Warm. Wet. His fingers came away bloody.

He'd been struck in his dream. Something had plowed into his head. He turned and saw a dark patch glistening on the rock where he'd fallen. He must have struck his head against the rock and been knocked un-conscious. But he couldn't remember anything but the dream. He wasn't in a city. He wasn't anywhere near a dark alley or traffic or guns.

Instead he was here, in a rocky clearing, surrounded by large trees. But where? Maybe the knock to his head had given him amnesia.

What was his name? Thomas. The man in his dream had called him Thomas Hunter. Tom Hunter.

Tom felt the bleeding bump on his head again. The surface wound above his ear had matted his hair with blood. It had knocked him senseless, but thankfully no more.

The night was actually quite bright now. In fact, he could make the trees out clearly.

He lowered his hand and stared at a tree without full comprehension. Square branches jutted off from the trunk at a harsh angle before squaring and turning skyward, like claws grasping at the heavens. The smooth bark looked as though it might be made of metal or a carbon fiber rather than organic material.

Did he know these trees? Why did this sight disturb him?

"It looks perfectly good."

Tom jumped and spun to the male voice. "Huh?"

A man, a redhead dressed like him, stood looking down at a cluster of rocks ten feet away. Did . . . did he know this man?

"The water looks clean to me," the man said.

Tom swallowed. "What's . . . what happened?"

He followed the man's eyes and saw that he was staring at a small puddle of water nestled in a boulder at the edge of the clearing. There was something strange about the water, but he couldn't put his finger on it.

"I think we should try it. Looks good," the man said.

"Where are we?" Tom asked.

"Good question." The man looked at him, then tilted his head and grinned. "You really don't remember? What, you get knocked in the head or something?"

"I guess I must have. I honestly can't remember a thing."

"What's your name?"

"Tom. I think."

"Well, you know that much. Now all we have to do is find a way out of here."

"And what's your name?" Tom asked.

"Seriously? You don't remember?" The man was staring at the water again.

"No."

"Bill," the man said absently. He reached down and touched the water. Brought it to his nose and sniffed. His eyes closed as he savored the scent.

Tom glanced around the clearing, willing his mind to remember. Odd how he could remember some things but not others. He knew that these tall black things were called trees, that the material on his body was called clothing, that the organ pumping in his chest was a heart. He even knew that this kind of selective memory loss was consistent with amnesia. But he couldn't remember any history. Couldn't remember how he got here. Didn't know why Bill was so mesmerized by the water. Didn't even know who Bill was.

"I had a dream about being chased down an alley," Tom said. "Is that how we got here?"

"If only it were that simple. I dreamed of Lucy Lane last night-if only she really did have an obsession over me." He grinned.

Tom closed his eyes, rubbed his temples, paced, and then faced Bill again, desperate for some sense of familiarity. "So where are we?"

"This water smells absolutely delicious. We need to drink, Tom. How long has it been since we had water?" Bill was looking at the liquid on his finger. That was another thing Tom knew: They shouldn't drink the water. But Bill seemed to be considering it very seriously.

"I don't think-"

A snicker sounded in the night. Tom scanned the trees.

"You hear that?"

"Are we hearing things now?" Bill asked.

"No. Yes! That was a snicker. Something's out there!"

"Nope. You're hearing things."

Bill dipped three fingers into the water. This time he lifted them above his mouth and let a drop fall on his tongue.

The effects were immediate. He gasped and stared at his wet finger with a look of horror. Slowly his mouth twisted into a smile. He stuffed his fingers into his mouth and sucked with such relief, such rapture, that Tom thought he'd lost his mind on the spot.

Bill suddenly dropped to his knees and plopped his face into the small pool of water. He drank, like a horse from a trough, sucking down the water in long, noisy pulls.

Then he stood, trembling, licking his lips.

"Bill?"

"What?"

"What are you doing?"

"I'm drinking the water, you idiot. What does it look like I'm doing, backflips? Are you that-" He caught himself midsentence and turned away. His fingers crept across the rock into the water, and he sampled the liquid again in a way that made Tom think he was intentionally being sneaky. This man named Bill, whom he supposedly knew, had flipped his lid completely.

"You have to try the water, Tom. You absolutely have to try the water."

Then, without another word, Bill hopped over the rock, walked into the black forest, and was gone.

"Bill?" Tom peered into the night where Bill had disappeared. Should he follow? He ran forward and pulled up by the boulder.

"Bill!"

Nothing.

Tom took three long steps forward, planted his left hand on the rock, and vaulted in pursuit. A chill flashed up his arm. He glanced down, midvault, and saw that his index finger rested in the puddle of water.

The world slowed.

Something like an electrical current ran up his arm, over his shoulder, straight to his spine. The base of his skull buzzed with intense pleasure, pulling him to the water, begging him to plunge his head into this pool.

Then his foot landed beyond the rock and another reality jerked him from the water. Pain. The intense searing pain of a blade slicing through his leather moccasins and into his heel.

Tom gasped and dived headlong into the field past the boulder. The instant his outstretched hands made contact with the ground, pain shot up his arms and he knew he had made a dreadful mistake. Nausea swept through his body. Razor-sharp shale sliced through his flesh as though it were butter. He recoiled, shuddering as the shale pulled free from deep cuts in his forearms.

Tom groaned and fought to retain consciousness. Pinpricks of light swam in his clenched eyes. High above, a million leaves rustled in the night breeze. The snickers of a thousand-

Tom's eyes snapped open. Snickers? His mind wrestled between throbbing pain and the terrible fear that he wasn't alone.

From a branch not five feet above him hung a large, lumpy growth the length of his arm. Next to the growth hung another, like a cluster of black grapes. If he hadn't fallen, he might have hit his head on the clumps.

The growth nearest him suddenly moved.

Tom blinked. Two wings unfolded from the growth. A triangular face tilted toward him, exposing pupil-less eyes. Large, red, pupil-less eyes. A thin pink tongue snaked out of black lips and tested the air.

Tom's heart crashed into his throat. He jerked his eyes to the other growths. A thousand black creatures clung to the branches surrounding him, peering at him with red eyes too large for their angular faces.

The bat closest to him curled its lips to expose dirty yellow fangs.

Tom screamed. His world washed with blackness.

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Chapter One

It all started one day earlier with a single silenced bullet out of nowhere.

Thomas Hunter was walking down the same dimly lit alley he always took on his way home after locking up the small Java Hut on Colfax and Ninth, when a smack! punctuated the hum of distant traffic. Red brick dribbled from a one-inch hole two feet away from his face. He stopped midstride.

Smack!

This time he saw the bullet plow into the brick. This time he felt a sting on his cheek as tiny bits of shattered brick burst from the impact. This time every muscle in his body ceased.

Someone had just shot at him!

Was shooting at him.

Tom recoiled to a crouch and instinctively spread his arms. He couldn't seem to tear his eyes off those two holes in the brick, dead ahead. They had to be some mistake. Figments of his overactive imagination. His aspirations to write novels had finally ruptured the line between fantasy and reality with these two empty eye sockets staring at him from the red brick.

"Thomas Hunter!"

That wasn't his imagination, was it? No, that was his name, and it was echoing down the alley. A third bullet crashed into the brick wall.

He bolted to his left, still crouching. One long step, drop the right shoulder, roll. Again the air split above his head. This bullet clanged into a steel ladder and rang down the alley.

Tom came to his feet and chased the sound in a full sprint, pushed by instinct as much as by terror. He'd been here before, in the back alleys of Manila. He'd been a teenager then, and the Filipino gangs were armed with knives and machetes rather than guns, but at the moment, tearing down the alley behind Ninth and Colfax, Tom's mind wasn'tdrawing any distinction.

"You're a dead man!" the voice yelled.

Now he knew who they were. They were from New York.

This alley led to another thirty yards ahead, on his left. A mere shadow in the dim light, but he knew the cutaway.

Two more bullets whipped by, one so close he could feel its wind on his left ear. Feet pounded the concrete behind him. Two, maybe three pairs.

Tom dived into the shadow.

"Cut him off in the back. Radio."

Tom rolled to the balls of his feet then sprinted, mind spinning.

Radio?

The problem with adrenaline, Makatsu's thin voice whispered, is that it makes your head weak. His karate instructor would point to his head and wink. You have plenty of muscle to fight, but no muscle to think.

If they had radios and could cut off the street ahead, he would have a very serious problem.

He looked frantically for cover. One access to the roof halfway down the alley. One large garbage bin too far away. Scattered boxes to his left. No real cover. He had to make his move before they entered the alley.

Fingers of panic stabbed into his mind. Adrenaline dulls reason; panic kills it. Makatsu again. Tom had once been beaten to a pulp by a gang of Filipinos who'd taken a pledge to kill any Americano brat who entered their turf. They made the streets around the army base their turf. His instructor had scolded him, insisting that he was good enough to have escaped their attack that afternoon. His panic had cost him dearly. His brain had been turned to rice pudding, and he deserved the bruises that swelled his eyes shut.

This time it was bullets, not feet and clubs, and bullets would leave more than bruises. Time was out.

Short on ideas and long on desperation, Tom dived for the gutter. Rough concrete tore at his skin. He rolled quickly to his left, bumped into the brick wall, and lay facedown in the deep shadow.

Feet pounded around the corner and ran straight toward him. One man. How they had found him in Denver, four years after the fact, he had no clue. But if they'd gone to this trouble, they wouldn't just walk away.

The man ran on light feet, hardly winded. Tom's nose was buried in the musty corner. Noisy blasts of air from his nostrils buffeted his face. He clamped down on his breathing; immediately his lungs began to burn.

The slapping feet approached, ran past.

Stopped.

A slight tremor lit through his bones. He fought another round of panic. It had been six years since his last fight. He didn't stand a chance against a man with a gun. He desperately willed the feet to move on. Walk. Just walk!

But the feet didn't walk.

They scraped quietly.

Tom nearly cried out in his hopelessness. He had to move now, while he still had the advantage of surprise.

He threw himself to his left, rolled once to gain momentum. Then twice, rising first to his knees then to his feet. His attacker was facing him, gun extended, frozen.

Tom's momentum carried him laterally, directly toward the opposite wall. The gun's muzzle-flash momentarily lit the dark alley and spit a bullet past him. But now instinct had replaced panic.

What shoes am I wearing?

The question flashed through Tom's mind as he hurdled for the brick wall, left foot leading. A critical question.

His answer came when his foot planted on the wall. Rubber soles. One more step up the wall with traction to spare. He threw his head back, arched hard, pushed himself off the brick, then twisted to his right halfway through his rotation. The move was simply an inverted bicycle kick, but he hadn't executed it in half a dozen years, and this time his eyes weren't on a soccer ball tossed up by one of his Filipino friends in Manila.

This time it was a gun.

The man managed one shot before Tom's left foot smashed into his hand, sending the pistol clattering down the alley. The bullet tugged at his collar.

Tom didn't land lightly on his feet as he'd hoped. He sprawled to his hands, rolled once, and sprang into the seventh fighting position opposite a well-muscled man with short-cropped black hair. Not exactly a perfectly executed maneuver. Not terrible for someone who hadn't fought in six years.

The man's eyes were round with shock. His experience in the martial arts obviously didn't extend beyond The Matrix. Tom was briefly tempted to shout for joy, but, if anything, he had to shut this man up before he could call out.

The man's astonishment suddenly changed to a snarl, and Tom saw the knife in his right hand. Okay, so maybe the man knew more about street-fighting than was at first apparent.

He charged Tom.

The fury that flooded Tom's veins felt all too welcome. How dare this man shoot at him! How dare he not fall to his knees after such a brilliant kick!

Tom ducked the knife's first swipe. Came up with his palm to the man's chin. Bone cracked.

It wasn't enough. This man was twice his weight, with twice his muscle, and ten times his bad blood.

Tom launched himself vertically and spun into a full roundhouse kick, screaming despite his better judgment. His foot had to be doing a good eighty miles an hour when it struck the man's jaw.

They both hit the concrete at precisely the same time-Tom on his feet, ready to deliver another blow; his assailant on his back, breathing hard, ready for the grave. Figuratively speaking.

The man's silver pistol lay near the wall. Tom took a step for it, then rejected the notion. What was he going to do? Shoot back? Kill the guy? Incriminate himself? Not smart. He turned and ran back in the direction they'd come.

The main alley was empty. He ducked into it, edged along the wall, grabbed the rails to a steel fire escape, and quickly ascended. The building's roof was flat and shouldered another taller building to the south. He swung up to the second building, ran in a crouch, and halted by a large vent, nearly a full block from the alley where he'd laid out the New Yorker.

He dropped to his knees, pressed back into the shadows, and listened past the thumping of his heart.

The hum of a million tires rolling over asphalt. The distant roar of a jet overhead. The faint sound of idle talk. The sizzling of food frying in a pan, or of water being poured from a window. The former, considering they were in Denver, not the Philippines. No sounds from New York.

He leaned back and closed his eyes, catching his breath.

Crazy! Fights in Manila as a teenager were one thing, but here in the States at the ripe age of twenty-five? The whole sequence struck him as surreal. It was hard to believe this had just happened to him.

Or, more accurately, was happening to him. He still had to figure a way out of this mess. Did they know where he lived? No one had followed him to the roof.

Tom crept to the ledge. Another alley ran directly below, adjoining busy streets on either side. Denver's brilliant skyline glimmered on the horizon directly ahead. An odd odor met his nose, sweet like cotton candy but mixed with rubber or something burning.

Deja vu. He'd been here before, hadn't he? No, of course not. Lights shimmered in the hot summer air, reds and yellows and blues, like jewels sprinkled from heaven. He could swear he'd been-

Tom's head suddenly snapped to the left. He threw out his arms, but his world spun impossibly and he knew that he was in trouble.

Something had hit him. Something like a sledgehammer. Something like a bullet.

He felt himself topple, but he wasn't sure if he was really falling or if he was losing consciousness. Something was horribly wrong with his head.

He landed hard on his back, in a pillow of black that swallowed his mind whole.

 

Chapter Two

the man's eyes snapped open. A pitch-black sky above. No lights, no stars, no buildings. Only black. And a small moon.

He blinked and tried to remember where he was. Who he was. But all he could remember was that he'd just had a vivid dream.

He closed his eyes and fought to wake. He'd dreamed that he was running from some men who wanted to hurt him. He'd escaped like a spider up a wall after leveling one of the men. Then he'd stared out at the lights. Such beautiful, brilliant lights. Now he was awake. And he still didn't know where he was.

He sat up, disoriented. The shadows of tall, dark trees surrounded a rocky clearing in which he'd been sleeping. His eyes began to adjust to the darkness, and he saw a field of some kind ahead.

He clambered to his feet and steadied himself. On his feet, leather moccasins. On his body, dark pants, tan suede shirt with two pockets. He instinctively felt for his left temple, where a sharp ache throbbed. Warm. Wet. His fingers came away bloody.

He'd been struck in his dream. Something had plowed into his head. He turned and saw a dark patch glistening on the rock where he'd fallen. He must have struck his head against the rock and been knocked un-conscious. But he couldn't remember anything but the dream. He wasn't in a city. He wasn't anywhere near a dark alley or traffic or guns.

Instead he was here, in a rocky clearing, surrounded by large trees. But where? Maybe the knock to his head had given him amnesia.

What was his name? Thomas. The man in his dream had called him Thomas Hunter. Tom Hunter.

Tom felt the bleeding bump on his head again. The surface wound above his ear had matted his hair with blood. It had knocked him senseless, but thankfully no more.

The night was actually quite bright now. In fact, he could make the trees out clearly.

He lowered his hand and stared at a tree without full comprehension. Square branches jutted off from the trunk at a harsh angle before squaring and turning skyward, like claws grasping at the heavens. The smooth bark looked as though it might be made of metal or a carbon fiber rather than organic material.

Did he know these trees? Why did this sight disturb him?

"It looks perfectly good."

Tom jumped and spun to the male voice. "Huh?"

A man, a redhead dressed like him, stood looking down at a cluster of rocks ten feet away. Did . . . did he know this man?

"The water looks clean to me," the man said.

Tom swallowed. "What's . . . what happened?"

He followed the man's eyes and saw that he was staring at a small puddle of water nestled in a boulder at the edge of the clearing. There was something strange about the water, but he couldn't put his finger on it.

"I think we should try it. Looks good," the man said.

"Where are we?" Tom asked.

"Good question." The man looked at him, then tilted his head and grinned. "You really don't remember? What, you get knocked in the head or something?"

"I guess I must have. I honestly can't remember a thing."

"What's your name?"

"Tom. I think."

"Well, you know that much. Now all we have to do is find a way out of here."

"And what's your name?" Tom asked.

"Seriously? You don't remember?" The man was staring at the water again.

"No."

"Bill," the man said absently. He reached down and touched the water. Brought it to his nose and sniffed. His eyes closed as he savored the scent.

Tom glanced around the clearing, willing his mind to remember. Odd how he could remember some things but not others. He knew that these tall black things were called trees, that the material on his body was called clothing, that the organ pumping in his chest was a heart. He even knew that this kind of selective memory loss was consistent with amnesia. But he couldn't remember any history. Couldn't remember how he got here. Didn't know why Bill was so mesmerized by the water. Didn't even know who Bill was.

"I had a dream about being chased down an alley," Tom said. "Is that how we got here?"

"If only it were that simple. I dreamed of Lucy Lane last night-if only she really did have an obsession over me." He grinned.

Tom closed his eyes, rubbed his temples, paced, and then faced Bill again, desperate for some sense of familiarity. "So where are we?"

"This water smells absolutely delicious. We need to drink, Tom. How long has it been since we had water?" Bill was looking at the liquid on his finger. That was another thing Tom knew: They shouldn't drink the water. But Bill seemed to be considering it very seriously.

"I don't think-"

A snicker sounded in the night. Tom scanned the trees.

"You hear that?"

"Are we hearing things now?" Bill asked.

"No. Yes! That was a snicker. Something's out there!"

"Nope. You're hearing things."

Bill dipped three fingers into the water. This time he lifted them above his mouth and let a drop fall on his tongue.

The effects were immediate. He gasped and stared at his wet finger with a look of horror. Slowly his mouth twisted into a smile. He stuffed his fingers into his mouth and sucked with such relief, such rapture, that Tom thought he'd lost his mind on the spot.

Bill suddenly dropped to his knees and plopped his face into the small pool of water. He drank, like a horse from a trough, sucking down the water in long, noisy pulls.

Then he stood, trembling, licking his lips.

"Bill?"

"What?"

"What are you doing?"

"I'm drinking the water, you idiot. What does it look like I'm doing, backflips? Are you that-" He caught himself midsentence and turned away. His fingers crept across the rock into the water, and he sampled the liquid again in a way that made Tom think he was intentionally being sneaky. This man named Bill, whom he supposedly knew, had flipped his lid completely.

"You have to try the water, Tom. You absolutely have to try the water."

Then, without another word, Bill hopped over the rock, walked into the black forest, and was gone.

"Bill?" Tom peered into the night where Bill had disappeared. Should he follow? He ran forward and pulled up by the boulder.

"Bill!"

Nothing.

Tom took three long steps forward, planted his left hand on the rock, and vaulted in pursuit. A chill flashed up his arm. He glanced down, midvault, and saw that his index finger rested in the puddle of water.

The world slowed.

Something like an electrical current ran up his arm, over his shoulder, straight to his spine. The base of his skull buzzed with intense pleasure, pulling him to the water, begging him to plunge his head into this pool.

Then his foot landed beyond the rock and another reality jerked him from the water. Pain. The intense searing pain of a blade slicing through his leather moccasins and into his heel.

Tom gasped and dived headlong into the field past the boulder. The instant his outstretched hands made contact with the ground, pain shot up his arms and he knew he had made a dreadful mistake. Nausea swept through his body. Razor-sharp shale sliced through his flesh as though it were butter. He recoiled, shuddering as the shale pulled free from deep cuts in his forearms.

Tom groaned and fought to retain consciousness. Pinpricks of light swam in his clenched eyes. High above, a million leaves rustled in the night breeze. The snickers of a thousand-

Tom's eyes snapped open. Snickers? His mind wrestled between throbbing pain and the terrible fear that he wasn't alone.

From a branch not five feet above him hung a large, lumpy growth the length of his arm. Next to the growth hung another, like a cluster of black grapes. If he hadn't fallen, he might have hit his head on the clumps.

The growth nearest him suddenly moved.

Tom blinked. Two wings unfolded from the growth. A triangular face tilted toward him, exposing pupil-less eyes. Large, red, pupil-less eyes. A thin pink tongue snaked out of black lips and tested the air.

Tom's heart crashed into his throat. He jerked his eyes to the other growths. A thousand black creatures clung to the branches surrounding him, peering at him with red eyes too large for their angular faces.

The bat closest to him curled its lips to expose dirty yellow fangs.

Tom screamed. His world washed with blackness.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 158 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(117)

4 Star

(24)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(4)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 158 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 13, 2011

    TERRIBLE

    Save yourself the trouble. Interesting premise ruined by lousy writing and poor character development.

    The fate of the world in the balance and the main character, supposedly trained in the martial art keeps saying "I don't want to hurt anyone"?!

    No ending just "BUY MY NEXT BOOK"

    Never reading anything else by this guy.

    9 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Keep-You-Up-All-Night-Reading Kind Of Book!!!

    To say I loved this book is a huge understatement. I devoured the whole series! The suspense and intrigue flow flawlessly throughout the entire book and continue in each book of the series (Red, White, and Green). the story begins with Thomas falling asleep in our world and waking in another. Thomas begins to switch between worlds. In his dream world, Thomas must fight against the growing darkness that wants to devour him. In our world, Thomas use the knowledge he gained from his other world to stop the release of a deadly virus. The lines between reality and fantasy begin to blur and Thomas must decide which world is true. Dekker's style of writing is amazing and unlike any other author I've read. In addition to this series, I loved how Dekker intertwined the Paradise series and the Lost Books of History series, as well as minor relations in Skin and House, with this Circle series. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick-paced, keep-you-up-all-night-reading, suspenseful book.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 31, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A great action and adventure book

    This book is an awesome book of action and adventure.Great characters, great plot, great symbols. I love seeing how the symbols are like the real world. I also like how it shows the truth about how good will always win the war, but not always the battle. This book is more real than any other book I've ever read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2008

    Christian thriller!

    This book is soo great! It has action, romance, and is a thriller. Similar to the Narnia series in showing biblical scenes in a different world, but I loved it much more because of its connection to our world, and shows how frightening and powerful sin can be. First chapter was a bit confusing to me at first, but moving on I quickly was engulfed in this novel and joined the Circle!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2008

    Brilliant!

    This trilogy, which begins with Black, is ...just sooo amazing!!! And I know that's such a cheesy generic review, but I really don't know how else to describe it! It not only keeps you reading at a breakneck pace, saturated with intense themes, mind-boggling premises, and clever twists, it will keep you guessing the whole way through. This book is not only a superb piece of fiction, I can honestly say it's changed my life like no other story has. It's that powerful. And the other amazing thing about these books is people from so many different background and ages love them, even if they began skeptical. Men, women, teens, kids, even some older people. This trilogy has mass appeal, and could very well be the next big thing, like Lord of the Rings, Matrix, or Bourne movies. Bound to go down as a classic. Read. These. Books.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2012

    NOOK REVIVAL

    Please help spread the Word of God to nook users! If you are interested, please go to "revival for God" result 1! Thanks and God bless! †††

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2010

    I recommend this to people that can handle to get far into a book before it gets good.

    The plot together is a twisted theme as good and evil. Try to find a balance within each other and never happens. The plot can be confusing all together. When finally you gegt to the middle it starts to come all together and wonder this is good. You finally see nope twisted. The plot also involves alot of medaphores for God as Ted Dekker always does.
    The characters within the two dimmensions have somewhat similarities with each other. Tomas is the compelling hero in this trilogy has he is daring and very intelligent in whatever situation he is put through. As for Rachelle the beautiful mistress that is very entergentic in a form thats not to strong. But is also a very mysterious in the book. As you find out more about her. As for Tanis the very Strong and also very curious of what is happening that is out of his control. Yet also very wise in some of his ideas. Kara the loving sister of Tomas, she is very high strong and is capable of doing anything that she sets her mind to.
    The Setting is in modern Denver then into Modern Bankok. As for the colored forest a very perfect place for anyone also on the other side is a very dark world of evil. The Black froest where pure evil is held within the mystic world Tomas is in.
    Ted Dekker as in many books of his are suspense is very well written. It also has very many things withing this book that will mess with the mind at what will happen as it take a turn for the worst.

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2009

    This book is completely amazing

    I really like the fact that Ted Dekker can twist reality with his writing. He creates two worlds that are so intricate that you can't tell which is real. It really sucks you into the world and mind of Dekker. Its full of twists and turns and unexpected events. I reccomend this book for anyone who likes action and a very enexpected plot.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2006

    WONDERFUL!

    This is a great thriller for anyone. If u don't like this book u must be crazy. I strongly recomend this book. Gives you so many thoughts about the really world. This book will open your eyes. I couldn't get my nose out of it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2014

    Amazing!

    I'm only halfway through it, and i dont like reading much, but so far, i've barely put it down! I've beed captivated through the entire thing! I would definitly recommend it to anyone!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2014

    Continued in Chapter 12: Jerid

    Flames licked upon the oak trees near Wenalt as he fearfully climbed down the tree. Brianna was gone. "BRIANNA! BRIANNA!" Suddenly, the dream ended and Wenalt woke up in a prison cart full of people...where was he? Wenalt remembered back to the time when he was wrestling with the axe-raiders in that weird town and had managed to steal one of the horses by beating the black-eyed axe-raider, earning him another black eye. Wenalt smiled at the thought. He had rode until he suddenly saw Mantala wandering through the lone woods, all beat up. Wenalt had carried Mantala and found a shack. He had thought it may be abandoned, so he came in there and suddenly, BOOM! Everything went black. He also had woke up drowsily in the shack, seeing Brianna...no...that was impossible. How could she get to the SAME place she had? Then he dreamed this dream...what did it mean? Wenalt shrugged to himself. Maybe it was like...some kind of prophecy. No, there was no kind of prophecies in the world of Arkin. Never. But...how about...the elf village will burn and the rest shall learn? Wenalt had a black eye too and whenever he rubbed it, it stung painfully like a bee would do. "Welcome, fellow prisoners," a voice said outside the carriage. An axe raider opened the door and the prisoners hesitantly came out. One moment Wenalt was free...the next... Wenalt couldn't word it. "The Dark Lord wants to see you," the axe-raider seperated Wenalt from the others as he tried to go with them. Wenalt rubbed the black eye and flinched. "I can see that black eye is bothering you," the axe raider notice him flinching. Wenalt didn't answer. He didn't like axe-raiders at all...not after what they did. They BURNED down his home. They PERSECUTED Wenalt's relatives...maybe even his father and mother. Wenalt shook the thoughts out of his head...but couldn't keep them out. How could he? He remembered when he had carried baby Brianna and found another indian by the stream named Manula. Manula probably died because it seemed like Brianna was taking care of herself now. Wenalt had lived in the trees with his little brother Mantala ever since. He had saved Mantala, but actually he meant to take him as a little baby to Manula, but he hadn't had enough time. He missed his home. He shouldn't have followed his little sister with Ezumalid, whoever that wizard boy was. That had made the Xchevings, thought creatures come and take Ezumalid and Brianna away. Wenalt had found Rushai and other people from this man Holik's house and decided to follow them. Next thing you know, Brianna and Ezumalid come zooming back to Holik's house, sick from this sickness called giant's bane. He had looked at Brianna and Ezumalid all day long. Ezumalid, sometimes, would've jumped... "SNAP OUT OF DREAM WORLD, BUDDY! ANSWER THE DARK LORD'S QUESTION!" Wenalt looked up. There was the Dark Lord. The Dark Lord had asked him a question.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 20, 2013

    Awesome!

    OK, so I'll be honest. It took me 8 or 9 chapters to get into the book. I had to get over some OCD issues of mine. There was a part in the book that had a geographically incorrect location in the streets of Denver, CO. Being from Denver and knowing the streets very well, it was an annoying mistake that could have been avoided by looking at a basic map of Denver. I was overly critical of the error and luckily I did not quit reading like I did with the Hunger Games when she put her boots on and then her pants. That was a deal breaker for me. Against my eye twitching a little at first, I stuck it out and it was fantastic!

    Like I said, it took me 8 or so chapters to get into it but once I was in, I was completely hooked and can't wait to read the next one.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2013

    Love

    Absolutly loved this book loved his descriptions of the people. I very much enjoyed the visuals i got from the description of elyons lake and the black forest. It was very good but i do agree there really was no real ending it was like you said basically buy my next book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2013

    E.R.c

    It seems like a very good book i have decided to go back to the beginning because i discovered his book chosen first. Also i have just finished renegade and was about to start chaos. I suggest you go from beginning to end very good books.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2013

    Amazing!

    Awesome!!!!!!!! A great thinking book. It keeps you guessing.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2012

    Should never have bothered with this.

    I devoted entirely too much time to this book. The story drug on for a while but I decided I would finish it. Despite some poor writing i figured that I might enjoy the ending. However, there was no ending. The last page was insulting as the writer seemed to care less about the time invested in his book and there was a ridiculous invitation to move on to the next book in the series.
    I will cut my losses and be grateful that i have not bought all three books in the series.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2012

    Black first in series

    A little farfetched at first, but is successfull at being successful


    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2012

    AWESOME

    BREATHTAKING

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2012

    great read

    You had to keep reminding yourself when he was in reality and when he was dreaming but a great mystery indeed

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 1, 2012

    A very good book

    As being a fan of Ted Dekker, I was able to get this book for $3.40. I thought this was book was really good. It had a good plot and a good story line. I can not wait to red book two of the sereis.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 158 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)