This is the way the world ends…not with a bang but a scream in the dark.
It begins at dawn, when the sun rises late. Then the holes appear. The first forms in Central Park, in sight of an apartment where Repairman Jack and a man as old as time watch with growing dread. Gaping holes, bottomless and empty…until sundown, when the first unearthly, hungry creatures appear.
Nightworld brings F. Paul Wilson's Adversary Cycle and Repairman Jack saga to an apocalyptic finale as Jack and Glaeken search the Secret History to gather a ragtag army for a last stand against the Otherness and a hideously transformed Rasalom.
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By F. Paul Wilson
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2012 F. Paul Wilson
All rights reserved.
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."
"Atomic clocks, Nick?"
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 A.M., 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 is 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 —"
"But it didn't slow. Not the slightest variation in axial rotation or 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!"
"Atomic clocks? All 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 impossible!"
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.
It will begin in the heavens ...
After years of hiding in the South, Father Bill Ryan had returned to the city, but was still lying low. Only a handful of people knew he was back. After all, he was still wanted by the police.
Poor Father Bill. The years of seclusion had not been kind to him. He looked so much older, and he acted strange. Simultaneously jumpy, irritable, frightened, and angry. And he talked of strange things. No specifics, just cryptic warnings of some sort of approaching Armageddon. Nothing involving Islamic crazies. Something else ...
One thing Father Bill had been fairly positive about was where it all would start.
It will begin in the heavens.
He'd told Nick to keep his ears open and to let him know if he heard of anything strange happening in the skies, no matter how insignificant.
Well, something more than strange had happened. Something far from insignificant. Something impossible.
It will begin in the heavens.
The unease in Nick's spine stopped crawling and sprinted up to the back of his neck, spreading across his shoulders. He excused himself from the table and pulled out his cell phone as he headed for the hallway.
* * *
William Ryan, S.J.
"Ask him about tonight," Glaeken said, close by Bill's side. "Do they think the sun will set ahead of schedule tonight?"
Bill turned back to the phone and repeated the question. Nick's reply was agitated. Bill detected a tremor weaving through the younger man's voice.
"I don't know, and I'm sure Harv and Cynthia don't know, either. This is terra incognita, Bill. Nothing like this has ever happened before. All bets are off."
"Okay, Nick. Thanks for calling. Keep me posted, will you? Let me know about sunset."
"That's it?" Nick said. "Keep you posted? What's this all about? How did you know something was going to happen? What's it all mean?"
Bill sensed the fear, the uncharacteristic uncertainty in Nick, and wished he could say something to comfort him. But Bill had nothing comforting to say.
"You'll know as soon as I know. I promise you. Get back to me here tonight. I'll be waiting for you. Good-bye."
Bill hung up and turned to Glaeken, but the old man was over by the picture window, staring down at the park. He did that a lot.
Glaeken looked eighty-something, maybe ninety, with white hair and wrinkled olive skin; blue eyes shone above high cheekbones. Though slightly stooped, he was still a big man, and his frame blocked a good portion of the window. Bill had been living here in Glaeken's apartment building for the past couple of months, helping him with his ailing wife, driving him around town while he did his "research," but mostly waiting.
A huge apartment, occupying the entire top floor of the building, filled with strange curios and even stranger paintings. The wall to Bill's left was mirrored and he started at the stranger facing him in the glass, then realized he was looking at himself. He'd shaved his beard and cut his hair. He missed his ponytail and still wasn't used to seeing himself with bare cheeks. Or looking so old. The hair had been gray for years, but the beard had hidden all the lines in his face.
He moved up to the window and stood beside Glaeken.
The months of waiting since March were apparently over. In a way he was glad for that. But an icy tendril of dread slithered through his gut as he realized he had traded one uncertainty for another. The apprehension of wondering when it would start had been replaced now by a greater worry of what was starting.
"You didn't seem too surprised," Bill said.
"I sensed the difference this morning. Your friend confirmed it. The Change has begun its march."
"You wouldn't know it from the looks of things down there."
Across the street and a dozen stories below, the high spring sun spread a palette of greens across Central Park as the various species of trees sprouted this year's leaf crop.
"No. And you won't for a while. But now we must lower our watch. The next manifestation will occur in the earth."
"I don't know. But if he follows his pattern, that is where he'll make his next move. And when he has reached his full powers —"
"You mean he hasn't?"
"He must go through a process before his power is complete. Plus, there's a purpose to playing with the length of our days. It's all part of his method."
"Not at full power," Bill said softly, his mind balking. "My God, if he's able to alter the time the sun rises when he's not up to speed, what'll he be able to do when he is?"
Glaeken turned and pinned him with his deep blue gaze.
"Anything he wants, Bill. Anything."
"Nick says it's impossible for the sun to rise late." Bill knew he was grasping at straws. "It breaks too many physical laws."
"We'll have to learn to forget about physical laws — or any laws, for that matter. The 'laws' we have created to explain our existence and make sense of the universe around us are about to be repealed. Physics, chemistry, gravity, time itself will be reduced to futile, meaningless formulae. The first laws were broken at sunrise. Many more will follow until they all lie scattered about in ruins. As of this morning, we begin a trek toward a world and a time without laws."
An old woman's voice quavered from the master bedroom.
"Glenn? Glenn, where are you?"
"Coming, Magda." Glaeken gripped Bill's upper arm and lowered his voice. "I don't think we can stop him, but we may have a chance to impede him."
Bill urged his spirits to respond, to lift, to cast off the pall of gloom that enveloped him. But his mood remained black.
"How? How can we hope to stand against a power that can alter the path of the sun?"
The old man's expression turned stern. "We can't. Not with that attitude. And that's just the way he wants us to react — with despair and hopelessness. 'He's too powerful. Why even try to resist?'"
"No." Glaeken tightened his grip. "Bad question. That way, he's already won, without a fight. He may win. In fact, I'm pretty sure we haven't got a chance. But I've fought him too long to sit around and simply wait for the end. I thought I could. I wanted to sit this out, sit everything out. That was why I took the name Veilleur. For once I'd be involved in nothing; I'd simply sit back and watch. And I have watched."
He released Bill's arm and turned back to the window.
"And all that time I've waited for someone to come along and be given the power to stand in Rasalom's way. I found that someone, but he hasn't the power. And he'll not be endowed with that power because Rasalom has succeeded in convincing the Ally that this world is non-sentient — dead. And the Ally has no interest in dead worlds." He looked at Bill again. "We're on our own here."
If he was trying to bolster Bill's spirits, he'd failed.
"So we're screwed."
"So it would seem. But despite my vow, I find I can't sit by and let everything fall into Rasalom's lap. I want that bastard to have to work for it. If he wants this world, he's going to have to earn it!"
Something in Glaeken's words, his manner, his flashing eyes offered a hint of hope.
"I'm all for that, but can we do enough to let him know he's even been in a fight?"
"Oh, yes. I'll see to it."
Magda's voice intruded again, trailing in from the bedroom.
"Doesn't anybody hear me? Isn't anybody there? Have I been left here alone to die?"
"I'd better go to her," Glaeken said.
"Can I help?"
"Thanks, no. She simply needs a little reassurance. But I'd appreciate it if you could be around tonight while I go out. I've got a little errand I must run."
"If you need anything, I can —"
"No. I have to meet with Jack."
Jack ... they'd met a few times. Bill had even patched up a wound on the younger man. He and Glaeken had some sort of bond Bill couldn't fathom. He called Jack his "heir," but to what?
"Okay. I think I'll stop in on Carol. To tell her it's started."
"Good. Do that. And keep emphasizing to her that none of what has happened or is about to happen is her fault."
"Will do." Bill started to turn away, then stopped. "Can we really give Rasalom a fight?"
"If I can gather together the proper elements, we may have ourselves a weapon."
"Really?" Bill was almost afraid to yield to the hope growing within him. "When do we start this gathering?"
"Tomorrow. Will you drive me out to Long Island? And would you wear your cassock?"
What a strange request. Why did Glaeken want him to look like a priest?
"I don't have one. I ... I don't believe in any of that anymore."
"I know. But I must be at my most persuasive. And the presence of a Jesuit at my side might lend some weight to my arguments. We'll fit you for a new cassock."
Bill shrugged. "Anything for the cause. Where on Long Island?"
"The North Shore."
A familiar pang stirred within Bill.
"I grew up in that area."
"Yes. In the village of Monroe."
"How did you know?"
Glaeken shrugged. "That is where we're going."
"Monroe? My hometown? Why?"
"Part of the weapon is there."
Bill was baffled. In Monroe?
"It's just a little harbor town. What kind of weapon can you hope to find out there?"
Glaeken turned and walked down the hall to attend to his wife. He cast the reply over his shoulder.
"A small boy."
* * *
In the East Eighties, Bill knocked on an eighth-floor apartment door. It opened and a slender woman with ash blond hair, fine features, and a pert, upturned nose stared at him. Carol. Their decades apart had been kinder to her than to him. But now her face was tight, her eyes haunted, her usual high coloring blanched. She knew.
"It's begun, hasn't it?"
The afternoon sun filled the room behind her with golden light, lending her an almost ethereal quality. The sight of her disturbed once again the old feelings he tried to keep tucked away.
Bill stepped across the threshold and closed the door behind him.
"How did you know?"
"I heard about the late sunrise on the radio." Tears filled her eyes as her lips began to tremble. "I knew right away it was Jimmy's doing."
Bill reached out and folded her in an embrace. She trembled as she leaned against him. Her arms locked around his back and she clung as if he were a tree in a flood. Bill closed his eyes and let the good feelings wash through him. Good feelings were so hard to come by these days.
He'd been moving through a black fog since the deadly events in North Carolina.
Three times his world had been all but torn apart.
First, the violent death of his old friend and Carol's first husband, Jim Stevens, followed by the bizarre murders in the Hanley mansion and Carol's flight to parts unknown; he'd recovered from that.
Then, years later, his parents' death in a fire, Danny Gordon's mutilation and all the horrors that followed, capped by his own flight and years of hiding.
He'd dragged himself from that well of despair and was just settling into a different sort of life when he'd had to face Renny Augustino's brutal murder, Lisl's suicide, and the exhumation of Danny Gordon's living corpse.
Bill wasn't bouncing back this time. He wasn't sure he had any bounce left. He'd dragged himself back to New York but it was no longer home. No place was home. In this entire teeming city, Nick Quinn and Carol Treece were the only people left alive from his past that he dared approach.
"You've got to call him Rasalom and stop calling him Jimmy. Got to stop thinking of him as your son. He's not. There's nothing of you and Jim in him. He's someone else."
"I know that," she said, holding him tighter. "In my mind I know that. But in my heart is this feeling that if I'd loved him more, if I'd been a better mother, he'd have turned out differently. It's crazy, but I can't get away from it."
"Nothing anyone could have done in his childhood would have made the slightest bit of difference. Except maybe strangling him as an infant."
He felt Carol stiffen against him and was sorry he'd said it. But it was true.
Excerpted from Nightworld by F. Paul Wilson. Copyright © 2012 F. Paul Wilson. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Rasalom went ...,
Part I: Sunset,
Part II: Twilight,
Part III: Night,
Part IV: Dawn,
The Secret History of the World,
Also by F. Paul Wilson,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Make sure you read the previous 5 books in the Adversary Cycle/Repairman Jack Series. You don't want to deny yourself the best horror series EVER!!!!!!! The first book "The Keep" is better than sex!.........................................well almost.
I am an avid reader. The Adversary Cycle and The Repairman Jack combination series is one of the best I have ever read. All of the books were very good but Night World is excellent. The only problem I have is it is all over when I came to the end of Night World. I plan to wait a year or so and go back and read it all again. Yeah, it's that good.
Correction on earlier post, the Borderlands edition was published in 2006 or so!
Though it says a Repairman Jack book it's really a book that includes all characters in The Adversary Cycle. DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU'VE READ EACH BOOK IN THE ADVERSARY CYCLE!!
Nightworld, though primarily a Repairman Jack novel, provides a good ending to both the Adversary and Repairman Jack sub-series and to the Secret World super-series.
The revision is out. All told the series is great. Need to chew over this one a bit but the series as a whole is a great read.