silver city by cliff mcnish (excerpt)
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DESCRIPTIONThe second installment of Cliff McNish's classic fantasy trilogy the Silver Sequence
Night, and I stood watching all the children in the
world leaving their homes. For a moment the drone of
an overhead surveillance plane drowned out their voices;
then the plane passed by and their eager conversations
and rushing footsteps could be heard again.
All those feet, running. Most children couldn’t help
themselves. Whatever place they came from, if they
had any energy left they always ran the last stretch into
Coldharbour ... From a side-street outside Coldharbour,
I saw a teenage girl accidentally clatter into a boy.
“Sorry” she said, steadying his arm. “Are
you OK?” She pointed towards the silver
light ahead. “Look, we’re nearly there!”
“I know” he said, grinning. “How do you feel?”
“Happy” the girl said. “Nervous,
as well. A bit anyway.”
“Me, too.” He laughed. “But we got
here, didn’t we? We made it.”
“Yes. We did.?The girl took his hand, and
together they sprinted down the final sloping
streets leading the way into Coldharbour.
Coldharbour. Until yesterday it had been little
more than a seven-mile expanse of mud and rubbish
dumps bordering the sea. Apart from myself and five
other special children, the only things living there
had been seagulls and a good supply of well-fed rats.
The only people who ever disturbed the rats were a
scattering of bored gang kids with nothing better to do.
Not any more. As I gazed out over the
mud, I couldn’t begin to count the numbers of
new children settling inside Coldharbour.
They’d been arriving all night. For hours I’d
watched them running here, leaving everything they
knew behind. Most weren’t even properly dressed.
They turned up in socks, slippers, pyjamas, vests,
night gowns, T-shirts or whatever else they’d been
wearing when they received the call. Some teenagers
had waited long enough to throw on coats or decent
footwear before leaving home, but not many.
Attempts were being made to stop them, of
course. No doubt some quick-acting parents managed
to haul their own kids back indoors if they caught
them in time. And as the night dragged on police
units also arrived, taking up positions all around
the area. In western Coldharbour army brigades
had even driven in, hurriedly erecting barricades to
prevent anyone crossing the roads over the river.
The barricades didn’t work. Children fought their
way past. Naturally a few got caught, but most
escaped and were soon trying to get inside again.
I knew what was happening. I knew because I’d
been just the same as these other children. A few
weeks earlier, I’d been determined to get here. I’d
even hid on the way, hid from my own Mum and Dad,
to make sure they wouldn’t force me back home.
But, if anything, these new children seemed
even more resourceful than I’d been. To get within
Coldharbour they were prepared to do anything:
argue, lie, join together, create a distraction
- whatever they had to. It was a kind of
madness, because there was nothing for us in
this place: no home, no food, no shelter.
So why were we all here?
Because Milo drew us. That’s all we knew.
Yesterday evening, shortly after sunset, a
child with a body over four miles long and
with wings five times that size had appeared
in the sky over Coldharbour. A vast silver-
glowing child, spanning towns and the sea.
And the moment he appeared, children
couldn’t help themselves: they were drawn
to him. It wasn’t a question of choice. There
was no choice; they had to reach him.