Hellwalkers, p.27Alexander Gordon Smith
“Maybe it’s over,” he said.
A scream startled the quiet, demons still cleaving their way through New Jersey.
“Way to tempt fate,” answered Pan.
“Almost over,” said Marlow. Because they were just demons. Without their master, they’d drop like flies.
Marlow stood, Night offering him a hand and hauling him to his feet. He felt weak, and the pain was like a heavy blanket thrown over him, smothering him. Everything hurt, but that kind of made it feel like nothing hurt. He probed his chest, the wounds there sealed by what might have been Kevlar. When he rapped his knuckles against it, it sounded hollow. He wasn’t going to be running any marathons, that was for sure, but he didn’t think he was going to die, either.
Pan, though, was a different story. He crouched beside her, pulling up her shirt and examining the wound. Blood was pooling in the bowl of her stomach, and when he wiped it away he saw a wound there, two inches long and open like a mouth.
“How bad is it?” she asked.
“Not bad,” he said, and she grimaced.
“You always were a terrible liar.”
He wondered if he should squeeze some of the Devil’s blood on it. If it worked for him, then maybe it could heal her, too. But that nagging doubt was still there—what if the Devil had been right? What if he was the spawn of hell? The blood could kill her.
So instead he ripped a strip from what remained of his polo shirt, easing it under her and then knotting it across the wound. She swore at him, batting his hands away, managing to sit up.
“Where did you come from?” she said, squinting at Night.
“Found my way back,” the girl said, rubbing her face. There was a new scar there, Marlow saw, running from her forehead around to her chin. He didn’t need to ask what it was, he could still see Patrick’s immense jaw locked around her, biting. “Twice.”
“Twice?” Marlow asked.
She nodded. “First time a ghost got me. Didn’t see it coming.”
“Well, your timing was perfect,” Marlow said. Night smiled.
They rested there, the warmth of the sun creeping into them—tentatively, like it wanted to make sure they were real. The shrieks of the demons were being chased by sirens, a helicopter thudding its way through the sky. Pan flinched.
“Herc’s dead,” she said.
Marlow sighed, nodded his acceptance. The statement refused to sink in, but he knew it would soon, and it would hurt a hell of a lot more than any of his physical wounds. He swore, remembering Charlie, but Pan held up a hand to calm him.
“I saw Charlie,” she said. “He’s okay. Broken leg, you did it.”
“Oh,” said Marlow. “Whoops.”
And suddenly he was thinking of his house. The last few hours were choked with fog but he saw glimpses of the horror there, of what he’d done.
“I need to find my mom,” he said, trying not to imagine what it was he would actually find.
“We will,” said Pan. “I promise.”
Marlow brought his hand to his mouth, chewed on his knuckle for a second before spitting out the taste of the Devil’s blood. Pan groaned, Night helping her up.
“You shouldn’t move,” said Marlow. “You’ll bleed out.”
“If hell didn’t kill me,” she said, taking an unsteady step. “Then this little thing won’t.” She hawked up a ball of crimson spit, launching it at the Red Door. “Besides, we’ve got a job to do.”
“Seriously?” Marlow said. “We’ve done our part, Pan.”
“More than our part,” said Night. “Like, way more.”
“We need to go rest,” Marlow said. “We need to find Charlie, then a hospital.”
“Slacker,” Pan said. “So long as hell’s still out there, we’ve got work to do.”
“You sound like Herc,” muttered Marlow.
She looped her arm over his shoulders and he slung his around her waist, supporting her as she walked. He stumbled, nearly falling, until Night grabbed his free arm and held him steady.
“You do realize that a demon is going to wipe the floor with us,” said Marlow. “We look like we’ve escaped a geriatric facility.”
Pan almost managed a smile.
“We’re Hellraisers, Marlow,” she said. “We’ll always be Hellraisers.”
“No,” he said, shaking his head. It already felt like a dream, everything that had happened since stepping into that parking lot a million years ago. How could any of it have been real? But it had been, he knew. He only had to look at the metal ribs in his arm to know that he’d raised hell, he’d fought hell, and he’d walked in hell, too. It had been as real as anything else in his life, but maybe that was a good thing, because he knew now that the rest of his life had been real. Everything. He wasn’t sure if he would ever find out the truth of where he came from, of who he was. He wasn’t sure if he ever really wanted to. All that mattered was that he was himself, he was Marlow Green, and right now, right here, he was real.
“I think we need to change our name,” he said as they hobbled over a railway track. To the south the sky was still dark, but across the bay Manhattan shone, as defiant as it always was. “Raising hell was a bad idea.”
“Yeah,” said Pan and Night together.
“Hellputterbackerers?” Marlow suggested. Pan laughed.
“Yeah, I like it,” she said. “It’s catchy.”
“We should make T-shirts,” added Night.
They stopped, the three of them wheezing, trembling. If anything, Pan seemed even grayer than before.
“Okay,” she said, taking a shuddering breath. “Maybe we should leave the demons to the army.”
“Slacker,” said Marlow.
They stood there, breathing in the smell of the river, all of them watching the water as it flowed silently out to sea. It was oblivious, Marlow knew. It had no idea what had just happened. All that mattered to it was the journey. And maybe they’d all be the same, in time. Maybe one day they’d forget about all this—or maybe not forget, exactly, but learn to be okay with it—and pass peacefully through the rest of their lives.
It was a nice thought.
“Come on,” he said, steering them the other way. “Let’s get out of here.”
“Hellputterbackerers signing out,” said Pan.
And together they crossed the ruined street, the sun on their backs, the gulls serenading them. Marlow risked one look back, still expecting to see the Devil striding from the Red Door. And who knew, maybe one day it would—it or something just as foul, just as ancient. The world was a vulnerable place, after all, and the universes were vast and full of terrors.
That was the problem with being who he was and knowing what he knew, wasn’t it? That was the trouble with being a hellraiser.
Sometimes you got burned.
But not today, he thought. Not today.
Today they were going to be just fine.
ALEXANDER GORDON SMITH
ESCAPE FROM FURNACE
The Night Children
An Escape from Furnace Story
THE DEVIL’S ENGINE
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexander Gordon Smith lives in Norwich, England. “The Stephen King of YA horror,” he is the author of The Fury; The Inventors; the Escape from Furnace series, which has sold nearly half-a-million copies; and the Devil’s Engine series. You can sign up for email updates here.
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Part I: Wild Dreams Torment Me
Welcome to Hell
Here We Go Again
Put Some Damn Clothes On
Waking the Dead
Infinite Lives Activated
One Last Breath
Part II: Who Holds the Devil
The Fast Train Home
Back Through the Red Door
Hell on Earth
Be Who You Are
One Last Deal
Part III: The Devil’s in the House
Like Father, Like Son
The End of Everything
War of the Worlds
Just Don’t Look Back
Also by Alexander Gordon Smith
About the Author
Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers
An imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
Text copyright © 2017 Alexander Gordon Smith
All rights reserved
First hardcover edition, 2017
eBook edition, November 2017
The Library of Congress has cataloged the print edition as follows:
Names: Smith, Alexander Gordon, 1979– author.
Title: The devil’s engine: hellwalkers / Alexander Gordon Smith.
Description: First edition. | New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2017. | Series: The Devil’s Engine; 3 | Summary: After Marlow makes a deal with the Devil to get himself and Pan released from Hell, war breaks out and the friends have only each other, and hope, to combat demonic creatures and monsters.
Identifiers: LCCN 2017001322 (print) | LCCN 2017030098 (ebook) | ISBN 9780374301750 (Ebook) | ISBN 9780374301743 (hardcover)
Subjects: | CYAC: Science fiction. | Demonology—Fiction. | Monsters—Fiction. | Hell—Fiction. | Horror stories.
Classification: LCC PZ7.S6423 (ebook) | LCC PZ7.S6423 Hg 2017 (print) | DDC [Fic]—dc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017001322
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Alexander Gordon Smith, Hellwalkers
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