Excerpt from Archvillain by Barry Lyga

Barry LygaYARN is very pleased to be able to publish this excerpt of Barry Lyga’s brand new novel, “Archvillain.”   If you want to know more about Barry and his novels–like “The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl,” “Hero Type,” and “Goth Girl Rising”–see our interview with him from earlier this year.   And enjoy the start of his latest book before you go click here to buy it!

From “Archvillain”:

from BouringRecord.com:

Where Were You When the Stars Fell Down?

In the days since a massive meteor shower lit up the night sky over Bouring, residents have been asking one another, “Where were you when the stars fell down?” It’s a question that has set abuzz a town whose motto is “Bouring — It’s not Boring!”

Lacey Clark, owner of Clark’s Bakery on Wayne Street, was closing up her shop that night. “I was just locking the door when I saw a bright flash of light to the east,” she told BouringRecord.com. “I sort of stood there in shock, watching.”

“It went yellow, then white, then yellow again,” said Paul West, who was working on a utility pole on Allen Road at the time of the meteor shower. “I was up pretty high, so I had a good view of the whole thing. I swear, it was like a curtain of light or like seeing the stars fall down.”

Best estimates place the meteor shower’s landing point at or near the Bouring Middle School athletic fields and the nearby Bouring Water Tower. The shower lit up the entire town for a period of two minutes, causing many to run or drive to the fields.

When they arrived, however, they did not find a smoking crater or other evidence of meteors. In fact, according to astronomers, the meteors all burned up in Earth’s atmosphere before hitting the ground. This burning, astronomers say, is what caused the bright flashes of light.

Of course, something else was found at the scene when all those people arrived: a young boy, approximately twelve years of age, who had apparently stumbled onto the scene. Suffering from amnesia, that boy — named Mike by the doctors who took care of him — is now in the care of a local foster couple.

It’s been four days and we want to know, Bouring: Where were you when the stars fell down? Tell us in the comments below!

Photo courtesy of Marina Cast (flickr.com).

from the top secret journal of Kyle Camden (deciphered):

“Where were you when the stars fell down?” Idiots!

The stars didn’t “fall down.” Stars can’t fall down! Stars aren’t little pinpoints of light up in the sky. They’re gigantic balls of superheated gases. They’re basically enormous nuclear bombs. If a star — any star – came within fifty million miles of the planet, the entire solar system would be realigned by tidal gravitational forces and all life on Earth would end. So nothing “fell down.”

These people should do their research.

Second of all, it wasn’t a meteor shower. It was a focused curtain of supercooled plasma. That’s why there was no physical evidence of a meteor shower.

How do I know this? I was there.

I was in the field that night. No one knows this. I watched the plasma storm as it fell; it was extraordinary.

I don’t remember much else. Certainly not this “Mike” the article mentions. I stumbled home, then collapsed into bed.

The next thing I knew, I woke up at home days later. . . .

Chapter One

Kyle Camden did not like his mother fussing over him, as she did now. “That was just the worst flu I’ve ever seen,” she told Kyle as she fluffed his pillow and urged him to eat the chicken soup she’d delivered on a tray.

Kyle did not like chicken soup.

Correction: Kyle did not like his mother’s chicken soup. The broth was watery and flavorless. Kyle could make better chicken soup without even using a chicken. That’s how bad a cook his mother was. At least she kept trying, though. He had to give her points for persistence. If she kept trying, maybe someday she would get it right. Kyle figured there was a fifty-fifty chance.

“I’m fine, Mother,” he told her. Kyle knew that he hadn’t had the flu: He had witnessed something amazing the other night, out in the field by the school. And even though the local newspapers and websites apparently had never heard of that exotic practice known as “fact-checking,” at least they allowed him to catch up with what had happened since that night he’d stumbled home, delirious.

The plasma curtain had done something to Kyle. He realized it as soon as he woke up and logged on to the London “Times” website for his morning ritual — solving the “Times” crossword puzzle. (American crosswords had long ago proven too easy for him — the British ones were tough.) Instead of taking ten minutes, like it used to, Kyle had solved the toughest crossword puzzle in all of two minutes.

Kyle had always been smart. Really smart. Much smarter than his parents, in fact. Sometimes he felt a little twinge of guilt about this. His parents were nice enough people, he supposed. A bit dull. But they were kindhearted and they tried hard, which counted for something, right? Still, it had always been frustrating to be a genius in a family of . . . non-geniuses.

Kyle didn’t mention his ramped-up brainpower to his parents. At twelve years old, he already knew how important it was to keep his own business secret. It would remain between him and Lefty, the fat New Zealand rabbit who lived in a cage in Kyle’s room. Lefty was snowy white all over except for a tiny patch of brown fur on his left front paw. The rabbit placidly observed everything with his pink-red eyes as though he knew a secret he would never, ever tell.

“I don’t want you on the Internet,” Kyle’s mother said, having finished fluffing the pillow and placing it behind Kyle’s head. “I want you to rest.”

Kyle rolled his eyes. “Mother, I need to catch up on what’s been happening while I was sick. And I need to catch up on my schoolwork.” That last part was a lie. Shortly after waking up, Kyle had sat up in bed with his laptop and done his missed schoolwork in an hour. Then, just to be safe, he’d also done the next two weeks’ worth of work. That had taken another hour. Superintelligence could be convenient.

Once his mother left, Kyle immediately slid his laptop out from under his bed. Then he opened the window. It was cool outside, but Mom had the heat cranked up to “Volcanic.” Kyle sighed with relief at the breeze.

Lefty started tugging on the bars of his cage, demanding a treat, so Kyle shook a couple of bits of dried papaya into the cage. Lefty scampered over and devoured them.

“It’s been a strange few days, hasn’t it, Lefty?”

The last thing he remembered after the plasma storm was stumbling home, his vision blurry, his head pounding as if someone had used it for a drum solo. His parents thought he had the flu and kept him in bed for days. Now he understood that his exposure to the plasma had changed his body and he’d needed all that rest to recover.

But recovery time was over.

His father poked his head into the room. “Hey, there, sport! Now that you’re feeling better, you can go to school in the morning!”


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One Comments Post a Comment
  1. Logan Rogers says:

    What I liked most about this excerpt is that it appealed to my senses very well. I knew exactly what he was talking about with the chicken noodle soup, but without the chicken. Also the description of Kyle’s rabbit’s physical appearance and behavior had me seeing the rabbit very clearly in my head. Finally I really enjoyed the strong language in here such as; delirious, devour, exotic, placidly, volcanic, and the list extends on and on. I enjoyed Barry Lyga’s unique style and personality throughout this short excerpt, and I will be looking for books of his in the future.

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