THE FUTURE IS HERE AND IT DOESN'T NEED YOU
In Nate Kenyon's Day One, scandal-plagued hacker journalist John Hawke is hot on the trail of the explosive story that might save his career. James Weller, the former CEO of giant technology company Eclipse, has founded a new start-up, and he's agreed to let Hawke do a profile on him. Hawke knows something very big is in the works at Eclipse---and he wants to use the profile as a foot in the door to find out more.
After he arrives in Weller's office in New York City, a seemingly normal day quickly turns into a nightmare as anything with an Internet connection begins to malfunction. Hawke receives a call from his frantic wife just before the phones go dead. Soon he and a small band of survivors are struggling for their very lives as they find themselves thrust into the middle of a war zone---with no obvious enemy in sight.
The bridges and tunnels have been destroyed. New York City is under attack from a deadly and brilliant enemy that can be anywhere and can occupy anything with a computer chip. Somehow Hawke must find a way back to his pregnant wife and young son. Their lives depend upon it . . . and so does the rest of the human race.
|Publisher:||St. Martin''s Publishing Group|
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About the Author
NATE KENYON is the author of Bloodstone, a Bram Stoker Award finalist and winner of the P&E Horror Novel of the Year, The Reach, also a Stoker Award Finalist, The Bone Factory, Sparrow Rock, StarCraft: Ghost Spectres, and Diablo: The Order. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers. He lives in the Boston area.
Read an Excerpt
By Nate Kenyon
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2013 Macmillan Films
All rights reserved.
WHEN HE OPENED HIS EYES, John Hawke was immediately aware of two things: His alarm hadn't gone off. And there was something in the room with him.
Remnants of the dream still clung like shedding skin; something multi-tentacled and metallic wrapped around his son, slipping across his chest and slithering around his throat. It left Hawke shaky and tight, a knot in his neck and an ache near the base of his skull.
The sound came again, a click and hiss like the warning of an animal crouched in the dark.
The sense of danger faded with the dream, and he sat up, rubbing at his neck. An alien creature had not invaded after all. The radiators in the building were part of a forced hot-water, gravity-fed system, ancient and very noisy. They had come on for the first time last night with the cooler fall temperatures, moving trapped air pockets from one place to another. The maintenance company would have to bleed them, but he knew from experience that a system that old would let the air back in again, one bubble at a time.
The feeling that something was wrong remained with him.
Hawke stood and went to the window, cracking the heavy drapes. Early morning sunlight sliced directly through swirling dust motes, burying itself like shards of glass in his skull. A muttered curse came from the bed as his wife turned over within the tangled sheets, away from him, and he closed the drapes again, making his way through the dark to where she lay. The air felt thick enough to push through as he relived every word they had said to each other the night before, every expression on her face. He'd said things he shouldn't have. It was part of this unsettled feeling, most likely. Part of a much larger, much more terrifying feeling of emptiness, uncertainty and shame.
A fresh pang of regret washed over him. He'd always been too focused, too fanatical in his passion for uncovering secrets. It had gotten him into trouble ever since he was a boy. He could see a vision of the truth so clearly, it tended to cloud over everything else. But the vision of his own success, the other thing he'd cultivated, had veered off track. And he didn't know exactly how to fix it.
He smelled the musk and sweat of sleep, reached out to touch his wife and hesitated, hand above her hip. Touching her would lead to a rekindling of emotions, both good and bad. He would have to make a choice between apology and furthering the argument. But he was going to be late. He'd never been one to keep traditional hours, but his most recent project was different, and included rising at 6:00 A.M. like any of the other countless thousands who commuted into New York City every day. He'd been going in faithfully for a week now. It was his chance to make things right again and put his life back on track, and he couldn't screw it up.
He thought of the slight swell of Robin's belly under the sheet. Almost three months gone. She had another ultrasound scheduled in a few days to update them on the bleeding. They would find out the sex before long, assuming everything went well. She thought it was a girl. As hard as he tried, he couldn't picture a face.
It was cold in the room, and he pulled the blanket up over Robin's shoulders, then stood again and walked through the gloom to the bathroom, passing Thomas's room where the boy still lay sleeping.
* * *
The shower was ice-cold. Hawke gasped through it like a man doing penance, fingers splayed across grout between tiles that had yellowed with age, the stinging spray needling his skin as he cursed the old building and its useless super who was probably still sleeping one off. They had moved into the apartment shortly after Thomas was born. The place reminded Hawke of the ancient, peeling Victorian he'd lived in with his parents until he was fourteen and they'd been forced to move to a smaller place, when his father's latest book had failed and the man had started drinking more heavily. The Victorian contained some of Hawke's better memories of childhood, tainted as they were by what followed.
Robin had loved this place at first; she talked about the charm and ambiance and history. But that was before they met Lowry. Their neighbor across the hall was a huge problem. It was like saying, Other than the toxic mold, the place is great. You couldn't separate the two.
The thought made Hawke's mood grow even darker. He emerged from the shower pink and shivering. At the sink, his electric razor nicked his chin enough to bleed. By the time he emerged from the bathroom in boxer shorts and T-shirt, wide-awake and buzzing like an angry hornet, he could hear the muted sounds of a nature program from the living room. He took a few deep breaths, caught a glimpse of his son's head over the top of the couch, reached over and tousled it gently. No good to let the day get to him like this. Thomas glanced up, mouth full of waffle, and returned to the TV program where an African leopard stalked a young antelope through thick stalks of dead grass. In some ways, Thomas seemed younger than his years; in other ways, far older. He didn't like regular kid shows, insisted on Discovery or National Geographic. He had a stuffed toy lion with a wild mane of fur that he carried everywhere, and it was propped next to Lego big blocks lined up on the coffee table in neat rows, exactly four of the same color to each tower, identically spaced. But he'd rather be playing with his father's iPad, Hawke thought. Thomas was already a tech guru. He was curious in a detached, slightly clinical way; he seemed to interact better with machines than people.
Robin was in the kitchen in her robe, her dark curls cascading around a pretty face puffy with sleep, a cup of decaf in her hand. She hadn't made anything for him, a definite sign that she was still angry.
"The coffeemaker's not working right," she said. "It's too bitter."
The kitchen was nothing more than a narrow aisle, open to the living room and separated by a bar-height counter with stools. "I'll take a look when I get home," Hawke said. His bottle and glass from the night before were still sitting out. He slipped past her, took the glass and rinsed it in the sink, then put the empty bottle in the recycling bin and grabbed an energy bar from the cabinet.
"We can't afford a new one —"
"I know we can't afford it," he said. "I said I'll figure it out."
Silence hung between them. The overhead lights flickered as if in response. His wife glanced up at them and put her cup on the counter, tightened the belt on her robe and hugged her belly.
"Lowry yelled at Thomas again yesterday in the hallway, when we went to the store," she said. "He was complaining about something, I don't know, the TV up too loud, whatever. He's like one of those little nippy dogs."
"I'll talk to him."
"You know how sensitive Thomas is, John. It hurts him, even if he won't talk about it."
Hawke nodded. Thomas rarely spoke at all anymore. Robin had started worrying about an autism spectrum disorder. Give him more time, he'll be fine, Hawke had kept insisting. But Thomas was almost three, and that argument wasn't working as well now. Hawke hadn't said anything to Robin, but lately he had started wondering whether his own father had had a touch of whatever genetic mutation would lead to something like this. It made some sense. The code of who you would become was imprinted in your DNA, the building blocks of life. You couldn't escape it, no matter how hard you tried.
Hawke's head was pounding. Parts of the dream came back to him, and he remembered metallic tentacles snaking down from the sky.
He gave Robin a kiss on the cheek, but she remained cool, her muscles tense. He let his lips linger just a moment, breathing her in, a scent of coffee and skin lotion and hair conditioner.
"I'm late. Gotta run. We'll talk later, okay?"
She nodded, and the look on her face softened for a moment. She was giving him an opening, letting him back in, and the entire world seemed to cave in on him. He was no good at this, never had been. I'm sorry, he thought, but didn't say it.
It was one of the many things he would regret.CHAPTER 2
AS HE PASSED Randall Lowry's door, Hawke paused for a moment, imagining his neighbor huddled there like a troll, eye against the peephole. Hawke had walked into a restroom of a Walmart once when he was about nine years old, his mother waiting impatiently outside, and had seen a man masturbating furiously against a urinal. Although Hawke had barely been old enough to understand, he remembered the feeling he'd had, a mixture of disgust and shame for having viewed it at all, as if he were somehow culpable. He'd turned and walked out and never told a soul, but he had felt tainted from seeing it, his world altered forever in some fundamental way.
Being in Lowry's presence was like that, as if whatever sickness the man suffered could be transferred through proximity alone. Hawke clutched his laptop bag close to his side like a protective parent and moved on down the hall. The son of a bitch. Lowry had been complaining about their son's noise since they moved into this place. Twice now he'd shouted at the boy, and they'd had other run-ins that made Hawke feel like he had to scrub the filth off himself. Thomas was confused by Lowry; Robin was terrified. He was definitely unbalanced, far more than just creepy, and he'd clearly lusted after Robin since they moved in, looking her up and down, standing too close on those rare occasions when they were in the same space. Men often stared at Robin, but not like this. Lowry was like a hyena evaluating whether to dart in and snatch away his prize.
Hawke had never seen the inside of the man's apartment, but he imagined a dimly lit, musty place with piles of old newspapers and boxes in crooked, leaning towers. When he found out Hawke had once worked at the New York Times, Lowry tried to get him to write a story about government conspiracies. Hawke told him to call his congressman. There was the incident in the laundry room, among others, things Hawke didn't like to think about for too long. Everything he and Robin had tried to do, including a conversation with the useless super, had achieved nothing, and the tension between the two men had grown into something close to viciousness. It was causing more stress between Hawke and his wife, which was one thing they didn't need. She'd had trouble getting pregnant the second time, and then she'd been bleeding off and on as the pregnancy had progressed, and her doctor had told her she had a subchorionic hematoma and she had to take it easy.
That prick Lowry was only making things worse. Enough was enough; Hawke would talk to the man again tonight, and if that didn't work he would have to go to the police.
The thought made Hawke's stomach churn. His own personal history with the authorities usually made him avoid them like the plague, but this had to be settled, once and for all.
* * *
Hoboken was just beginning to stir this early in the morning. In the street, the September air was crisp, the sky a flawless steel blue. Hawke smelled the river, heard the calls of geese flying overhead. He started thinking about other ways to make things right with Robin. Maybe another trip to Cuttyhunk Island, near Martha's Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast. It would be good to get away, have a little quiet time. Hawke used to go to a cottage his aunt owned there when he was a boy, and it had a special meaning for him and his wife: It was where they had gotten married.
Still thinking about how to make the trip work, he put his sunglasses on and chewed an aspirin and then the energy bar, chocolate grit in his teeth as he made his way to the PATH, joining a growing flood of people. It felt good to stretch his legs. He was no gym rat, but he was wiry strong and genetics had been good to him. He kept in shape by walking.
A cabdriver honked at him as he crossed the street, flashing him the finger. Someone cursed next to him and Hawke said, "Excuse me?" before realizing the man had a Bluetooth in his ear and smartphone in hand. The man wore a hand-tailored suit and shoes polished to a sleek shine. He shot Hawke a withering look, as if he were observing the biggest idiot on the planet, and continued his loud conversation.
Once underground, Hawke stuck his sunglasses up on his head and joined the slowly shuffling line to buy a coffee. He and Robin couldn't afford any extra costs on their stretched-tight budget, but he needed it badly and he had a few minutes before the PATH arrived. Train service had finally been fully restored after Hurricane Sandy, and it was good to see the crowds returning, although he could do without the lines.
When he made it to the front, the waif-thin girl behind the counter didn't even look at him, her gaze locked on her iPhone screen. Three piercings glittered, one through each eyebrow and a stud through her lip, and her hair was cut short and streaked with red. She was frowning and jumpy, like she'd had too much caffeine or something stronger.
Thomas would have been intrigued by the piercings. He pointed out things that were different, seemed to want to understand them, even if he didn't say much. This girl wasn't saying much, either. Something was annoying her about the iPhone; she sighed, poking at the screen in frustration with a tip of pink tongue poking between her lips. In his earlier life, Hawke would have struck up a conversation with her, maybe helped her fix the problem. But he was a married man now, going on thirty, with a young son and another child on the way. He wasn't running around New York City hacking into big-business networks and chasing stories the way he had been only a few years ago, feeling like a rogue reporter and Internet cowboy. And let's face it, you got sloppy and made mistakes. Big ones. His hacker skills used to give him an edge in the reporter rat race, allowed him to see stories in ways others did not. But things changed. Maybe he'd lost that edge, the killer instinct all the best journalists needed to get to the truth.
The coffee was scalding hot, and he burned the roof of his mouth on the first sip. He settled into a window seat on the train, watching people situate themselves, many of them on their smartphones or tablets, maneuvering through the aisles with quick glances and shuffling feet. Hawke liked to watch people; he learned a lot. Maybe Thomas was like him that way. The same man was still talking on his Bluetooth, muttering something about derivatives and foreign exchange rates, and he jostled a young woman on his way past hard enough for her to stumble. He moved down the aisle until he was lost in the crowd.
A man across from Hawke had been watching, too. He clutched a rolled-up sign and had a large duffel bag tucked between his feet, and his clothes were nice but faded and slightly wrinkled, as if he'd worn them once or twice already between washings. There was a shadow of stubble across the man's cheeks, and his jaw muscles twitched.
"What a prick," Hawke said, motioning toward where Bluetooth had disappeared. He nodded at the duffel. Something about the shape of it, bulky, with angles and points, made him uneasy. "You going to a rally or something?"
The man stared at him, openly hostile. The Occupy Wall Street movement had evolved recently. Now they were focused on high-frequency computer trading and credit swaps, which had bloomed once again with the market recovery. The 1 percent were richer than ever.
But if this man was going to a rally on Wall Street, he was on the wrong train. Maybe it was somewhere uptown. Hawke looked around, spotting several others with packs and signs, and suddenly remembered he was wearing a tie and suit jacket, the nicer of the two he owned. "I'm not a broker," he said. "I'm a journalist." It sounded stupid and insincere: I'm with you, buddy. He had no idea what this man's life was like.
The man kept staring, then shook his head in disgust and touched his jaw. Hawke reached up to his own face and felt the speck of tissue still clinging to him from when he'd nicked himself shaving. He picked it off and stared at the small circular brown stain on his palm. Great. One hell of a start to the day. "Thanks," he said, but the man just pulled the duffel bag closer and looked back toward the spot where Bluetooth had disappeared.
Excerpted from Day One by Nate Kenyon. Copyright © 2013 Macmillan Films. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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