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Saul, John The Unwanted: A Novel ISBN 13: 9780553266573

The Unwanted: A Novel - Softcover

 
9780553266573: The Unwanted: A Novel
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Cassie Winslow is sixteen.  She has just lost her mother in a terrible accident.  Now, lonely and frightened, she has come to live with the father she barely knows and his new family in tiny False Harbor on Cape Cod.  For Cassie, the strange, unsettling dreams that come to her suddenly in the dead of night are merely the beginning.  Very soon, Cassie Winslow will come to know the terrifying powers that are her gift.  And in the village of False Harbor, nothing will ever be the same.

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About the Author:
John Saul’s first novel, Suffer the Children, was an immediate million-copy bestseller. His other bestselling suspense novels include Perfect Nightmare, Black Creek Crossing, and The Presence. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling serial thriller The Blackstone Chronicles, initially published in six installments but now available in one complete volume. Saul divides his time between Seattle and Hawaii.
Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Prologue
 
The sun was high in the cloudless blue sky, and had it not been for the faint trace of a breeze drifting in from the sea, the stiflingly humid heat of the August afternoon would have been unbearable. The beach was all but deserted. Only far away—much farther than she was allowed to go—could the little girl see the barely visible figures of the big children playing at the water’s edge. Once—and it didn’t matter how long ago it had been, for in her two-year-old world every day was forever and each week an eternity long forgotten—she had tottered toward the distant figures, her tiny hands reaching out as if she could touch them at any moment. But long before she had gotten close enough even to see them very well, she had felt the stinging slap of her mother’s hand and heard the horrible word.
 
“No!”
 
Even before the first scream of pain burst from her, she had felt herself being jerked around and dragged back in the direction from which she had come, the rough sand scraping the skin from her knees as a stream of unintelligible sound rained down on her from her mother’s looming face above. Though she didn’t know what all the words meant, the message was clear.
 
She had done something wrong. When they got back to the blanket, her mother would spank her, and then she would have to sit on the blanket even long after she had forgotten just why she was there or what she had done.
 
Today she watched the children playing in the distance for a while, but made no move to abandon her bucket and shovel and try to escape down the beach toward them. Though she no longer remembered exactly what would happen if she did, she knew going that way hurt, and she didn’t want to hurt.
 
She began digging in the sand with her shovel. In a little while there was a hole beside her, with water seeping into it as if by magic. She tried to splash the water out of the hole, but each time more water came in, and it always seemed to be just as deep.
 
She tried digging the hole deeper, but that didn’t work either. It kept filling up with water, and then the sides would cave in, and pretty soon the hole would be wider but almost all filled up again.
 
Then she noticed that if she dug into the sand at the bottom of the hole, and scooped up whole handfuls of the mixture of sand and water, she could dribble it out onto her legs in neat rounded drops that looked like tiny little gray pancakes.
 
And if she dribbled more on top of that, it looked like a whole stack of little pancakes.
 
Chuckling and clucking softly to herself, she began covering her legs with dribbles of sand, building towers of it on top of her knees and ankles, then covering her toes as well.
 
After a while she noticed that if she held very still, the gray sand would turn white. And if she waited for it to turn white, then wiggled her toes, it would crumble away into the beach again.
 
Over and over she repeated the game. Then another idea came into her head.
 
She packed her bucket full with wet sand from the bottom of the hole, then patted the sand next to the hole flat. Turning the bucket upside down on the flat space, she lifted the bucket away and found a neat round pile of sand with a flat top.
 
Scrunching around onto her knees, she began dribbling wet sand from the hole over the top of the mound, letting it run down over the edges like frosting on a cake. Then she began dribbling it into towers, turning it into a castle. When she was done, she picked up her shovel and began carefully digging a moat around the castle. But when the moat was about six inches deep, it began to fill up with water and its sides began to cave in.
 
The little girl watched in fascination as her sand castle crumbled away.
 
When it was gone, she started another one.
 
The sun drifted slowly across the sky, but the little girl didn’t notice.
 
She was surrounded now by the ruins of five sand castles, and was starting to build another one when she felt something brush against her.
 
It was a kitten, its tail sticking straight up in the air, its gray fur matted with sand.
 
It mewed softly, then sat down in the sand, staring up at her with large, curious yellow eyes.
 
The little girl reached out to touch the kitten, but it backed quickly away.
 
“Kitty,” the little girl said softly. Then, again: “Kitty.”
 
Her sand castles forgotten, she pulled herself to her feet and took an uncertain step toward the kitten.
 
It was then that she saw the little boy standing a few yards away, frowning deeply as he stared at her.
 
She looked back at him, then grinned and plumped back down onto the sand.
 
The little boy giggled and came closer.
 
The kitten, three feet away now, sat back down on the sand and wrapped its tail around its legs.
 
As the sun continued its slow course across the sky, the two children sat in the sand looking at each other, giggling happily as each of them mimicked the other’s movements, with the kitten sitting a few feet away, watching them both.
 
Then, mewing softly, the kitten stood up, stretched elaborately, and darted away across the beach.
 
“Kitty!” the little boy exclaimed. Pushing himself to his feet, he started after the tiny cat, the little girl apparently forgotten.
 
The girl sat where she was for a few seconds, then turned around and stared solemnly at the blanket on which her mother was sitting.
 
Her mother was looking the other way, talking to a man the little girl didn’t recognize.
 
The little girl scrambled to her feet and started after the boy and the kitten—her bucket and shovel, as well as her sand castles, completely forgotten.
 
She had to hurry to catch up with the little boy, but she knew that if she called to him, her mother might hear and stop her, so she stumbled along as fast as she could, tumbling down every few steps, then scrambling back to her feet and hurrying forward once again. Every few steps she felt her shorts slipping down over her bottom and reached down to pull them up again, but when the little boy kept getting farther and farther ahead, she finally abandoned the shorts altogether, leaving them in a heap on the sand.
 
The slope of the beach got steeper, and the little girl found her feet sliding out from under her with almost every step. But there was dune grass here, and she could use that to pull herself along. When she finally got to the top of the slope, the little boy was standing by himself, the thumb of his right hand poked securely into his mouth while his eyes—wide set and round—stared at the kitten. The kitten was sitting next to what the girl knew was the Bad Place.
 
She wasn’t sure why it was the Bad Place, but dimly she remembered her mother bringing her here once and pointing to the place, then spanking her while she repeated the Word.
 
“No! No, no, no! Do you understand?”
 
Between the Word and the angry sound of her mother’s voice and the stinging on her bottom, she understood.
 
She stopped uncertainly, and instinctively looked back. But all she could see was grass.
 
After a moment the little boy saw her, and his thumb suddenly popped out of his mouth. He pointed at the kitten and giggled happily. Then he started walking toward the Bad Place, holding his own shorts up with his left hand as his right thumb went back into his mouth.
 
The little girl hesitated, then followed.
 
The slope dropped away, and in a few seconds the little girl caught up with the little boy. He stopped walking and turned to stare at her, but didn’t say anything. Instead his eyes watched her gravely.
 
She reached out and put her hand in his. Then, following the skittering kitten, the two of them started toward the Bad Place.
 
Suddenly there was no more of the warm dry sand that felt so good between her toes.
 
Instead there was an icky sticky feeling, and she could feel something cold oozing around her feet. She stopped and looked down.
 
Mud.
 
Thick and black, it squished around her feet, and there was an odor about it that made her wrinkle her nose and make a face. But the kitten didn’t seem to notice it at all, and neither did the little boy.
 
The little girl took another step, pulling her foot loose from the muck and wiping it carefully on her other leg before putting it back down into the ooze.
 
But there was a path into the Bad Place, and if there was a path, it must be all right.
 
Now there was tall grass on both sides of her, and it almost felt as though she was in a jungle.
 
And there were sounds all around her, sounds she had never heard before.
 
At first she didn’t know whether she should be frightened or not.
 
Then she remembered the sounds she’d heard in her room on the nights when the “monsters” had come for her, and she’d started screaming until her daddy had come in and turned on the lights and told her that there weren’t any monsters.
 
But she knew there were monsters, and as she walked along in the Bad Place, holding on to the little boy’s hand, she knew that the monsters were all around her, even if she couldn’t see them.
 
It was the monsters that were making the sounds.
 

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  • PublisherBantam
  • Publication date1987
  • ISBN 10 0553266578
  • ISBN 13 9780553266573
  • BindingMass Market Paperback
  • Number of pages384
  • Rating

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9780553174625: The Unwanted

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ISBN 10:  0553174622 ISBN 13:  9780553174625
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    Arrow ..., 1988
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    Bantam..., 1987
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