Extract from Chapter 10 – The Eighteenth of November
The light from the vast clock glowed sharp white, throwing a carved gargoyle into sinister relief. Alice jumped, her heart racing like a hamster’s wheel. She was being silly, she told herself, there was nothing to be frightened of, it was just a stone effigy. She set off again, gripping the rail more tightly. After a few steps she glanced back; she let out a shriek, stumbled and almost fell. It had moved. She was sure it had moved; and its eyes had glowed red. Fabriel didn’t respond to her cry. He didn’t even move when she sat down next to him. Didn’t give the smallest sign that he was aware of her presence. This was no longer the gentle protector she’d met in the park, the one who’d tucked her up in her nest of pillows. Alice put her hand in her pocket and touched the mouse. She would have liked to take it out and talk to it, but was intimidated by the presence of this stranger.
Alice wondered if she’d offended him in some way and then told herself not to be so selfish. From the look of him, she was the last thing on his mind. Alice hotched closer and leaned against him. He didn’t stir. She sat quietly and stared ahead wishing she could figure out what had happened to her. She couldn’t concentrate. She felt as though her thoughts were bubbles floating around and past her. They burst if she reached for them. There were pictures too; snapshots that disappeared as quickly as they’d appeared. A red tractor. A little striped cardigan. A tiny mottled egg. Flames. She didn’t even know the names any more, seeing only the pictures before they disappeared. Perhaps it was best not to try to think too much. Alice closed her eyes. Perhaps it was another dream. If so it was a very long one; she hoped she’d wake up soon.
They didn’t notice the crouched gargoyle bare its stone fangs nor see its smooth contours waver and dissolve. A cloaked, twisted figure began to traverse the roof in scuttling, crablike movements, dodging between the dormers, melting into the shadows cast by the giant clock. There it squatted in the gloom, glaring down at their entwined figures, gibbering with malice. Its glittering eyes shone like coals beneath the all-enveloping hood. A stink of sulphur crept across the cold night air.
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