Extract from the chapter, The Feel Of Moonlight.
I woke up calling for Dom, and found his side of the bed empty and cold. Dee was crying in the room across the hall. No, she wasn’t just crying, she was bawling, screaming – as if she’d been stung by a wasp. I lurched for the side of the bed and scrambled for the centre of the room, looking around for my brother. Not here. Dom wasn’t here.
He’s in the bathroom, you dope. He’s taking a piss.
Yes, yes. Plausible. But no. I knew he wasn’t. He wasn’t in the bathroom. I backed to the window, my eyes on the empty bunk and I knew that wherever he was, Dom wasn’t in this house. Dee’s screams reached a desperate pitch across the hall. I heard Dad murmuring to her, the floorboards creaking as he walked up and down.
I flung myself out the door and into my parents’ bedroom. Dad swung around in surprise. Dee was in his arms, bawling hysterically. He was rubbing her back and, though she was obviously not quite awake, she had bunches of his tee-shirt clutched in her little fists, clinging to him in terror. Dad’s eyes were clouded with fatigue. In the adjoining room I could see Ma, a lumpy shape lying in their bed. She raised her head to look at me and then let it fall back in exhaustion and dropped her face in the crook of her arm.
‘Its alright, Dom,’ said Dad. ‘Deirdre’s just having a bad dream.’
That stung me, even then. ‘Dad! It’s me! Patrick!’
He looked at me blankly and shook his head a little. ‘Uh. Sorry. Sorry Bud. Look. Everything’s alright, okay? We’re looking after her. Go on back to bed now.’ He returned to wearily trudging the floor. I watched him a moment, ridiculously angry at him, then closed the door. Fine. I’d find Dom myself.
I ran to the bedroom with the intention of getting my jumper and runners, and paused at the window, looking down into the garden. I wasn’t at all surprised to see Dom down there, strolling along in his pyjamas, but the sight of his companion made my knees unhinge.
The little white goblin boy was prancing along beside my brother, his delighted grin a black half-moon in his chalky face. He was chatting away, obviously in the middle of a very animated and amusing conversation. Dom was smiling his lopsided smile and sauntering along, idly swinging a stick at the untidy bushes against the wall. He seemed perfectly comfortable in the company of this naked little creature. The boy said something and Dom laughed, glancing at it with the same affectionate amusement he usually reserved for me.
I flung myself at the window, fumbled the latch and shoved up the sash. Dom’s voice floated up to me on the cold air. ‘… really?’ he said. His stick swung, thwack thwack, against the bushes.
‘Oh, yes,’ said the creature. ‘Look. Put your arms out like this. Then put your head back…’
I stuck my head over the windowsill. The little creature flung his arms wide and put his head back. If he’d’ve looked a little to his left he’d have seen me peering down at him, but he only had eyes for my brother. And he was looking at Dom with a kind of tragic joy, a kind of heart-broken devotion that would have been moving had it not been on the face of such an awful creature.
‘Now close your eyes,’ he said. He watched my brother do as he was bid. ‘Do you feel it? Do you feel the moonlight?’
The tolerant smile that had been quirking Dom’s mouth got a bit more crooked and he shook his head. ‘Nope! I just feel cold.’
The little creature’s face dropped. He frowned at my brother for a moment, disappointed. And then he grabbed Dom’s hand. ‘Do you feel it now?’
Dom’s crooked smile fell away and, though he still stood with his head back and his arms out-stretched, his whole posture sagged. A low, amazed sound escaped him. The goblin boy smiled up at him and nodded. ‘You do, don’t you?’
Dom’s eyes opened slowly and he looked up at the stars in wonder.
‘Wow,’ he said, a long drawn out syllable of awe. ‘Wow.’
‘Dom!’ I cried. ‘ Let go!’
Dom flinched, then gaped up at me, his face a naked mask of confusion. The little creature tightened his grip on my brother’s hand and screeched in fear. Dom didn’t seem to hear him, he continued to stare up at me with utter disbelief. “ Wh… Pat? How the hell? What are you doing up there?”
I leaned far out the window. If it had been possible I would have flown out of the window, dived out and landed on that little creature and torn my brother from its grip.
‘Dom,’ I cried. ‘Let go of its hand! Let go!’
The words seemed to sink in, and Dom turned his puzzled face to the little creature who was tugging and hauling at him in an attempt to get him out of my sight. I saw Dom’s eyes open briefly in horror and then the goblin-boy’s own eyes welled up with tears. They ran as black as tar down its white face and my brother’s expression softened, and I saw him bend forward to hear the words the little creature was frantically gabbling.
‘He’ll hurt us, Lorry! He’ll take you away! You’ve got to come with me, you’ve got to be safe. You’ve got to be safe!’
Dom began to turn back to me, but as he was turning away, the little creature snatched at him, opened its mouth, threw back its head and screamed.
I clutched at my ears, the scream was awful; a horrible desolate cry. At its sound, Dom swayed, his knees buckling, his eyes rolling back to just the whites. He seemed to pass out on his feet, and as I watched, helplessly leaning out over the ledge, the white goblin child led my unresisting brother up the path and further into the tangled garden. Out of my sight.
END OF EXTRACT
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Into the Grey (AUS/NZ title ‘Taken Away’) is due for release September 2011.