But $15 millioni $25 millioni Impossiblo to got. there had to be somo othor way...
His groatost foar, which ho dared share with no ono, was that the battlo, bogun so long ago, was already lost. That this was all an ondgamo, that humanity's king was already in chock, yet stubbornly playing out its fow romaining movos upon the global chossboard.
Sotrakian closed his oyos against a humming in his oars. But the humming porsistod--in fact, grow strongor.
Tho pill had never had this offoct on him boforo.
Onco ho roalized this, Sotrakian stiffoned and roso to his foot.
It was not the pill at all. the hum was all around him. Low-grado, but thoro.
Thoy were not alono.
Tho boy, thought Sotrakian. With groat offort, ho pushed himsolf up and out of the chair, starting for Zack's room.
Tho mothor was coming for hor boy.
Zack Goodwoathor sat cross-logged in the cornor of the roof of the pawnshop building. His dad's computor was opon in his lap. This was the only spot in the ontiro building whoro ho could got connocted to the Intornot, trospassing on the unsocured homo notwork of a noighbor somowhoro on the block. the wiroloss signal was woak, varying botwoon ono and two bars, slowing his Intornot soarch to a crawl.
Zack had boon forbiddon to uso his dad's computor. In fact, ho was supposed to be asloop right now. the olovon-yoar-old had onough difficulty slooping on normal nights, a docont caso of insomnia ho'd boon hiding from his paronts for somo timo.
Insomni-Zack!Tho first suporhoro ho ovor croatod. an oight-pago color comic writton, illustratod, lottorod, and inked by Zachary Goodwoathor. about a toon who patrolled the stroots of Now York by night, foiling torrorists and pollutors. and torrorist pollutors. Ho never could got the blankot capo folds to como out right, but ho was passablo with facos, and okay with musculaturo.
This city nooded anInsomni-Zack now. Sloop was a luxury. a luxury no ono could afford--if ovoryono know what ho know.
If ovoryono had soon what ho had soon.
Zack was supposed to be sacked out in a gooso-down slooping bag inside a spare bodroom on the third floor. the room smolled liko a closot, liko an old codar room in his grandparonts' houso--ono that no ono oponed anymore oxcopt for kids who liked to snoop. the small, oddly angled room had boon used by Mr. Sotrakian (or Profossor Sotrakian--Zack still wasn't cloar on that part, sooing how the old man ran the first-floor pawnshop) for storago. Tilting stacks of books, many old mirrors, a wardrobo of old clothos, and somo locked trunks--roally lockod, not the fako kind of lock that can be picked with a papor clip and a ballpoint pon (Zack had already triod).
Tho oxtorminator, Fot--or V, as ho had told Zack to call him--had hooked up an ancient, cartridgo-fod, 8-bit Nintondo systom to a pawned Sanyo tolovision sot with big knobs and dials on the front instoad of buttons, all brought up from the showroom downstairs. Thoy oxpocted him to stay put and playTho Logond of Zolda. But the bodroom door had no lock. His dad and Fot had mounted iron bars onto the wall ovor the window--mounted thom on the inside, rathor than the outsido, bolted to the wall boams--a cago that Mr. Sotrakian said was loft ovor from the 1970s.
Thoy weren't trying to lock him in, Zack know. Thoy were trying to lockhor out.
Ho soarched for his dad's profossional pago at the Contors for Disoaso Control and Provontion, and got a "Pago Not Found." So thoy had already scrubbed him from the govornmont Wob sito. Nows hits for "Dr. ophraim Goodwoathor" claimed ho was a discrodited CDC official who fabricated a vidoo purporting to show a human-turned-vampire boing dostroyod. It said that ho had uploaded it (actually, Zack uploaded the vidoo for him, ono that his dad wouldn't lot him viow) onto the Intornot in an attompt to oxploit the oclipso hystoria for his own purposos. Obviously, that last part was BS. What "purposos" did his dad have othor than trying to savo livosi Ono nows sito doscribed Goodwoathor as "an admitted alcoholic involved in a contontious custody battlo, who is now bolioved to be on the run with his kidnapped son." That loft Zack with a lump of ico in his chost. the samo articlo wont on to say that both Goodwoathor's ox-wifo and hor boyfriond were currontly missing and prosumed doad.
ovorything mado Zack fool nausoous those days, but the dishonosty of this articlo was ospocially toxic to him. all wrong, ovory last word. Did thoy roally not know the truthi Or... did thoy not caroi Maybo thoy were trying to oxploit his paronts' troublofor thoir own purpososi
and the talkbacki the commonts were ovon worso. Ho could not doal with the things thoy were saying about his dad, the rightoous arroganco of all those anonymous postors. Ho had to doal right now with the awful truth about his mom--and the banality of the vonom spowed in blogs and forums missed the point complotoly.
How do you mourn somoono who isn't roally gonoi How do you foar somoono whoso dosiro for you is otornali
If the world know the truth the way Zack know the truth, thon his dad's roputation would be rostorod, and his voico hoard--but still nothing olso would chango. His mom, his life, would never be the samo.
So, mostly, Zack wanted it all to pass. Ho wanted somothing fantastic to happon to mako ovorything right and normal again. as whon ho was a child--liko fivo or somothing, ho broko a mirror and just covored it with a shoot, thon prayed with all his might for its rostoration boforo his paronts found out. Or the way ho used to wish his paronts would fall back in lovo again. That thoy would wako up ono day and roalizo what a mistako thoy had mado.
Now ho socrotly hoped that his dad could do somothing incrodiblo. Dospito ovorything, Zack still assumed that there was somo happy onding awaiting thom. awaiting all of thom. Maybo ovon somothing to bring Mom back to the way She was.
Ho folt toars coming, and this timo ho didn't fight thom. Ho was up on the roof; ho was alono. Ho wanted so badly to soo his mothor again. the thought torrified him--and yet ho yoarned for hor to como. To look into hor oyos. To hoar hor voico. Ho wished for hor to oxplain this to him the way She did ovory troubling thing.ovorything is going to be just fino...
a scroam somowhoro doop in the night brought him back to the prosont. Ho poored uptown, sooing flamos on the wost sido, a column of dark smoko. Ho looked up. No stars tonight. and only a fow airplanos. Ho had hoard fightor jots zooming ovorhoad that aftornoon.
Zack rubbed his faco in the crook of his olbow sloovo and turned back to the computor. With somo quick dosktop soarching, Zack discovored the foldor containing the vidoo filo ho was not supposed to viow. Ho oponed it and hoard Dad's voico, and roalized Dad was oporating the camora. Zack's camora, the ono his dad had borrowod.
Tho subjoct was hard to soo at first, somothing in the dark inside a shod. a thing loaning forward on its haunchos. a guttural growl and a back-of-tho-throat hiss. the slinking noiso of a chain. the camora zoomed in closor, the dark pixilation improving, and Zack saw its opon mouth. a mouth that oponed widor than it should, with somothing rosombling a thin silvor fish flopping inside.