Authors: Justin Somper
Tags: #Action & Adventure - General, #Vampires, #Action & Adventure, #Children's 9-12 - Fiction - Horror, #Juvenile Fiction, #Family - Siblings, #Fantasy & Magic, #Fiction, #Horror & Ghost Stories, #Twins, #Children: Grades 4-6, #General, #Children's Books - Young Adult Fiction, #Pirates
Vampirates: Tide of Terror
Fiction, General, Action & Adventure - General, Action & Adventure, Juvenile Fiction, Fantasy & Magic, Vampires, Pirates, Horror & Ghost Stories, Children's Books - Young Adult Fiction, Children: Grades 4-6, Twins, Family - Siblings, Children's 9-12 - Fiction - Horror
Things are not as they seem aboard the Diablo! There's a traitor aboard the ship and the Pirate Federation has been alerted of Captain Molucco Wrathe's law-breaking ways. Will the Captain be punished, and, more importantly, what will happen to twins Connor and Grace? Connor loves the life at sea, but Grace can't stop thinking of Lorcan and the friends she made aboard the Vampirates ship. To make matters worse, she also worries that with all of the risks Connor is taking, she may one day lose him. As Grace discovers, there is a place where Connor could learn more about the pirate way without risking his life: The Pirate Academy. And, as it happens, a good friend of theirs has connections at the selective school. In the end, Connor must choose between an education by sea or by school, and Grace has to decide if she's willing to follow.
Text copyright © 2006 by Justin Somper
Cover logo design by www.blacksheep-uk.com
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976,no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Little, Brown and Company
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First eBook Edition: June 2007
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
The text was set in ITC Charter, and the display type is Exlibris.
Also by Justin Somper
Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean
For my mum, Thelma Somper,
who is always in search of a good read.
I hope this makes the grade!
With love and thanks for all your support.
unset. A deserted cove. The waves reach out hungrily for the sand, which changes hue from white to honey gold to fiery amber as the sun grows weary and dips down into the inky waters. The hungry waves soon swallow the ball of light.
Now it is a world of shadow upon shadow. No human eyes could discern the border between land and water or between water and sky. No human eyes could make out the insistent rush and tumble of the ocean. For this isn’t the lackluster darkness of towns and cities. This is
darkness — deep and strong and velvet black.
Where is the moon? It’s as if she chose not to come out tonight, reluctant to witness the happenings of the coming hours. Where are the stars? They, too, seem to have elected to keep a quiet distance. On a night like this, you could be forgiven for thinking that the world was about to end. And, for one of you, that might be true.
For the dark waves protect a secret. A man — at least, the
of a man — riding a surfboard. It’s no free ride. The black waves are as tall as they are fierce, testing the surfer to the very limits of his strength and endurance. He never loses his footing, in spite of the swell, in spite of the lack of light to guide his way. His muscle-bound body twists and turns, locked to that board. It’s a battle for respect that he fights with the waves. And he’s holding his own out there.
At last, the waves seem to grow tired of their sport and reward the surfer’s determination by easing him into the shallows. Still, he moves at high speed, the knife-edged surfboard skimming the thin sheet of water.
He jumps from the board, his feet touching the sandy floor. The waters make a final teasing grab for the board but the surfer reaches into the foam and lifts it out of their clutches. Board under his arm, he strides across the dry sand.
He does not pause for an instant, in spite of the weight of the board. Nor does the night air chill him. And, strangely, though he has come from the depths of the water, his skin and hair are already dry. His clothes too are dry as bone. He isn’t wearing a wet suit, just regular clothes — trousers and a shirt, the sleeves ripped off at the shoulder to allow his arms maximum motion. His feet are bare.
He comes to the foot of a cliff and props the board against the rock, leaving it behind as he begins his ascent. At first there’s a path for him to follow but, as the rock climbs higher, so must he reach out with his hands to haul himself up, using his feet, too, with equal dexterity. Now he seems less like a man, more like a wild animal. In truth, he’s a little of each. And a little more besides.
He reaches the top of the cliff and pauses for an instant, looking back with satisfaction down the sheer rock he has climbed, looking out across the sand to the rough sea by which he arrived here. No human eyes could make out the border between land and water. But his eyes drink it all in.
eyes are at ease with darkness.
He wastes no more time on self-congratulation but turns forward instead. There’s a high fence but, after all the other hurdles he’s jumped, this one is easy. His feet land on soft grass. He looks ahead, far ahead, to the house in the distance — its windows lit up, even at this late hour. It’s almost on fire with so much light. It brings a lightning crack of pain to his eyes but he bites it down and keeps on walking.
His long strides make short work of these grounds, as sizeable as they are. He passes a field where horses are running. For a moment, he pauses to watch them. They do not see him but sense him, freezing still for a moment. They are frightened by the stranger, as well they might be. But tonight, they need have no fear. He moves on.
There’s a vast swimming pool and, ever the showman, he can’t resist diving into it and swimming a powerful crawl from one end to the other. He hauls himself back out, and again his clothes are bone-dry.
Up ahead is a tangle of trees, a fruit orchard. As he walks through it, brushing against the branches, ripe fruit falls to the ground. Carelessly, he crushes peaches and pomegranates under his thick feet.
Beyond the orchard is another stretch of lawn, this one even softer than the last. He smears the fruit off his soles as he continues on. He’s almost at the house now. All that stands between it and him is a garden of roses — a profusion of twining stems; sharp thorns; and thick, velvet blooms. And, in the center of the flowers, is a woman. He knew she was here. Now he stands still to view the curious sight.
She’s a middle-aged woman, round in the figure from a life of too much ease. Dressed in a pink silk kimono, she has a basket looped over one arm and, clasped in her plump fingers, a pair of pruning shears. On her head is a band with a small flashlight at the front. She looks utterly ridiculous but is smiling happily to herself as she reaches out to the roses and snips at their stems, before sniffing at the blooms and laying them tenderly in the basket.
For a time she is oblivious. Then his foot, half unintentionally, crushes a fallen branch.
“What was that? Who’s there?”
She spins around, the light on her head darting about like a firefly.
Still she does not see him. After a moment’s pause, she returns to her sweet labors, humming to herself. She sounds like a demented bumblebee. He decides to have some fun and breaks another twig underfoot. It works. She jumps into the air — well, as high as her plump body will propel her.
He steps out of the shadows, directly across the pool of light.
Now she sees him. She looks up to take in the vast measure of him. Still, to give her credit, she’s not as scared as he might have expected. Instead, she bristles with anger.
“Who are you?” she asks. “What are you doing here?”
He stares at her.
“Who are you?” she repeats.
?” he asks.
“I’m Loretta Busby, of course. And this is my rose garden. And you have no business being here.”
He smiles at her, reaching into her basket and grabbing one of the roses. He lifts it to his nose. It smells sickly, overpoweringly sweet. He crushes the bloom in one hand and tosses it away.
“How dare you, you monster!” she cries. “Do you know who I am? Do you know who my husband is?”
“Busby,” he says. Does she think he’s stupid? He isn’t stupid.
“That’s right,” she says. “Lachlan Busby — Director of the Crescent Moon Bay Cooperative Bank, President of the North East Region Board of Trade, Elder of the Crescent Moon Bay Progressive Church, and the most powerful man for miles around.” She fixes him with a glare, literally, as her flashlight catches him in the eyes. “You’ve walked into the wrong rose garden tonight, you half-wit.”
He’s insulted now. Insulted and irritated. The light is boring into his eyes and the smell of the roses is thick and syrupy. He looks down at the woman, who continues yapping at him like an annoying little puppy. Finally, he can take no more.
He reaches out his muscular arms and lifts her up, until her face is level with his. Shocked, her legs paddle through the air, as if she still thinks she might run away from him. She stares at him indignantly but now, for the first time, she sees his eyes properly. Or rather, the holes where the eyes should be. For now, they are merely pools of fire — deep pools of spitting flame. There are no more words for her voice has gone. Her legs cease their useless motion. Her flashlight slips lower and she sees his teeth. Twin gold teeth, like daggers, bearing down toward her.
Just then, the clouds shift above them and a shaft of moonlight beams down into the rose garden. Light showers Loretta Busby as she hangs suspended in the air. Light bathes the man — the thing — who holds her there.
And, somehow, the light changes him. The fire is drawn out from his eyes. Now they are just empty pools of unfathomable darkness. She watches, not daring to breathe, as he closes his eyelids. He frowns and she can see he is in excruciating pain.
His hands grow limp and he drops her. She tumbles down onto the grass, bouncing lightly before coming to a rest. For a moment, she lies there, thinking this is the end. But suddenly her nostrils fill with the sweet scent of the blooms she has nurtured. It’s her favorite rose —
. She knows, deep inside, she is going to be okay.
The creature turns away, oblivious of her now. He strides across the manicured lawn, breaking into a run as he reaches the pool, sprints back through the field of horses, until once more he stands at the edge of the dark rock.
Here, the moon is high. Her golden light showers down over his vast body. There’s a searing pain in his head, like an electric current from the top of his head to the back of his eyes. He does not care. No longer will he cower under the light. As he opens his eyes, the clouds close across the moon. The world is pitch-dark once more.
, he laughs.
That’s it. Run and hide! You’d all better hide!
He is bigger than this. Bigger than all his enemies. They do not know it yet, but he is going to show them. He smiles, feeling reborn. Then, he jumps from the edge of the cliff, somersaulting down through the soft night air.
The adrenaline rush is enormous. This is what it means to be free, he thinks. How he endured so long aboard that ship is a mystery to him. How he ever put up with that captain — with his rules and regulations . . . No more of that for me, he thinks, as his feet thud back onto the sand. No more rules for Sidorio. From now on, I make my own way through this world. No limits.