Prologue: New York
The creature drove its body again and again into the glass, unable to understand why the air had suddenly become impossible to move through, desperately searching for some way out. The girl turned away from it and watched her mother opening and closing cupboards on the other side of the breakfast bar. She stared as her mother furiously polished the appliances, buffing up the surfaces of the kettle, the juicer, the coffee-maker that her father had bought the Christmas before.
Rachel opened her mouth to speak, but with a small wave of her hand, her mother silenced her. A gesture that said, "No, I'm busy and I can't think. No, I can't discuss it right now. No, please, I need to finish telling you these things before the tears come again."
Then, still talking, she was moving across the kitchen to start work on the stainless steel of the worktop, rubbing and rubbing at the metal until she could look down into it and see her own drawn and determined expression. As she worked, she continued to go through arrangements for the rest of the summer. Rachel stared across the table and tried to get the attention of the boy sitting opposite her. He glanced up, looked over at her with eyes that were the same as her own, then let his head drop again. Grunted to himself.
Adam. Forty-three minutes younger than she was. But he was a boy, right? So it felt like the age difference could have been a whole lot more.
Rachel hissed at her brother. His head stayed down. He shook it slowly and continued to push the cereal around in his bowl.
The two of them jumped simultaneously at the explosion of a door closing hard upstairs. The boy looked up at his sister, suddenly pale and afraid, and they turned together to watch their mother, her gaze fixed on the doorway, her arms stiff against the worktop. She stood frozen mid-sentence and mid-movement, wincing at the footsteps that thundered down the stairs like a series of rumbling aftershocks. Tensing for the noise that they all knew was coming.
The front door slammed shut, its echo died slowly, and there were just the three of them.
Rachel felt as if the seconds were thickening, as if time were slowing down, though it was probably no more than a few moments before she and Adam pushed their chairs away from the table.
The scrape of the metal legs against the floor was terrible, like a hundred pieces of chalk being dragged down a blackboard.
Rachel's mother rubbed at her eyes and did her best to smile as her children moved toward her. She opened her arms, and Adam walked into the embrace. He pressed his head against her chest, sobbing silently as she stroked his hair.
Hearing the buzz and the tap, Rachel glanced across the room again, oddly disturbed by the small drama at the window.
The bee was still flying headlong into the glass, though a little slower now, with much less enthusiasm as it tired.
Zzzzz . . . dnk. Zzzzz . . . dnk. Zzzzz . . .
She walked quickly across to the window just as the insect spun and dropped, exhausted, onto the sill.
The voice in her head was not her own. It was a male voice - a boy's voice, and it spoke in a strange accent she didn't recognize.
Open the window, the voice said. Rachel did as she was told and watched as the bee crawled slowly up onto the edge of the window, then waited for a few seconds before taking flight.
When the bee rose up fast and flew back toward her face, she remained completely still and unafraid of being stung, as though the voice in her head had calmed her. As the bee circled twice around her head, she followed its movements, seeing the gold-and-black fur on its back revealed in astonishing detail, clapping her hands across her ears at the deafening beat of its wings, and watching as it finally veered away out the window. Rachel Newman stared, almost hypnotized, as the bee zigzagged its way into the blue, dancing on the thermals - a whirling speck against the New York skyline.
Excerpted from Triskellion by Will Peterson. Copyright © 2009 by Will Peterson. Excerpted by permission of Candlewick, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.