by Neil Gaiman. ·. ··19, Ratings. Told in the same fanciful, irreverent style as the Hitchhiker trilogy, with scraps of scripts, letters and comments from. If ever thou gavest hosen or shoon. Then every night and all. Sit thou down and put them on. And Christ receive thy soul. This aye night, this aye night. Every. Also by Neil Gaiman. Novels. Neverwhere Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett). For Children. The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish (illustrated by Dave.
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Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter, mingnoreftatan.tk htmlThis ebook is published by Fictionwise Pub. Neil Gaiman - Stardust · Read more · Neil Gaiman - Stardust. Read more · Gaiman, Neil & Vess, Charles - Stardust · Read more. ON THE ROAD TO AMERICAN GODS: SELECTED PASSAGES FROM NEIL. GAIMAN'S ONLINE JOURNAL. AMERICAN GODS. Part One.
Some people see things that others cannot. Tales of Mystery and Imagination. They slashed the train services to ribbons. This meant that there was nowhere to go but London, and the little town where I lived became the end of the line.
My earliest reliable memory: eighteen months old, my mother away in hospital having my sister, and my grandmother walking with me down to a bridge, and lifting me up to watch the train below, panting and steaming like a black iron dragon. Over the next few years they lost the last of the steam trains, and with them went the network of railways that joined village to village, town to town.
By the time I was seven they were a thing of the past. We lived in an old house on the outskirts of the town. The fields opposite were empty and fallow. It had a weed-clogged ornamental pond, with a low wooden bridge over it. I never saw any groundsmen or caretakers in my forays through the gardens and woods, and I never attempted to enter the manor.
That would have been courting disaster, and, besides, it was a matter of faith for me that all empty old houses were haunted. It is not that I was credulous, simply that I believed in all things dark and dangerous.
It was part of my young creed that the night was full of ghosts and witches, hungry and flapping and dressed completely in black. The converse held reassuringly true: daylight was safe. Daylight was always safe. A ritual: on the last day of the summer school term, walking home from school, I would remove my shoes and socks and, carrying them in my hands, walk down the stony flinty lane on pink and tender feet.
During the summer holiday I would put shoes on only under duress. I would revel in my freedom from footwear until school term began once more in September. When I was seven I discovered the path through the wood. It was summer, hot and bright, and I wandered a long way from home that day. I was exploring. I went past the manor, its windows boarded up and blind, across the grounds, and through some unfamiliar woods.
I scrambled down a steep bank, and I found myself on a shady path that was new to me and overgrown with trees; the light that penetrated the leaves was stained green and gold, and I thought I was in fairyland. A little stream trickled down the side of the path, teeming with tiny, transparent shrimps. I picked them up and watched them jerk and spin on my fingertips. Then I put them back. I wandered down the path. It was perfectly straight, and overgrown with short grass.
From time to time I would find these really terrific rocks: bubbly, melted things, brown and purple and black. If you held them up to the light you could see every color of the rainbow. I was convinced that they had to be extremely valuable, and stuffed my pockets with them. I walked and walked down the quiet golden-green corridor, and saw nobody. I just wondered where the path was going. It traveled in a straight line, and was perfectly flat.
The path never changed, but the countryside around it did. At first I was walking along the bottom of a ravine, grassy banks climbing steeply on each side of me. Later, the path was above everything, and as I walked I could look down at the treetops below me, and the roofs of the occasional distant houses.
My path was always flat and straight, and I walked along it through valleys and plateaus, valleys and plateaus. And eventually, in one of the valleys, I came to the bridge. It was built of clean red brick, a huge curving arch over the path. At the side of the bridge were stone steps cut into the embankment, and, at the top of the steps, a little wooden gate. I was surprised to see any token of the existence of humanity on my path, which I was by now convinced was a natural formation, like a volcano.
And, with a sense more of curiosity than anything else I had, after all, walked hundreds of miles, or so I was convinced, and might be anywhere , I climbed the stone steps, and went through the gate. I was nowhere. The top of the bridge was paved with mud. On each side of it was a meadow. The meadow on my side was a wheatfield; the other field was just grass.
There were the caked imprints of huge tractor wheels in the dried mud. I walked across the bridge to be sure: no trip-trap, my bare feet were soundless. Nothing for miles; just fields and wheat and trees. I picked a stalk of wheat, and pulled out the sweet grains, peeling them between my fingers, chewing them meditatively. I realized then that I was getting hungry, and went back down the stairs to the abandoned railway track.
It was time to go home. I was not lost; all I needed to do was follow my path home once more. There was a troll waiting for me, under the bridge. He was more or less translucent: I could see the bricks and trees behind him, dimmed but not lost.
He was all my nightmares given flesh. He had huge strong teeth, and rending claws, and strong, hairy hands. He was naked, and his penis hung from the bush of gonk hair between his legs.
It is good for children to find themselves facing the elements of a fairy tale—they are well-equipped to deal with these. I was wearing a stripy brown T-shirt and brown corduroy trousers.
My hair also was brown, and I was missing a front tooth. I stared the troll in the face. Eat her instead. Nothing at all. Then he snuffled his fingers, and shook his huge head. Of no value to me. Sharp teeth. Breath that smelled of leaf mold and the underneaths of things. I stared into his big eyes.
Not yet. Then it nodded. And it smiled. I turned around and walked back down the silent straight path where the railway lines had once been. After a while I began to run. I pounded down the track in the green light, puffing and blowing, until I felt a stabbing ache beneath my rib cage, the pain of stitch; and, clutching my side, I stumbled home.
The fields started to go, as I grew older. One by one, row by row, houses sprang up with roads named after wildflowers and respectable authors.
Our home—an aging, tattered Victorian house—was sold, and torn down; new houses covered the garden. They built houses everywhere. I once got lost in the new housing estate that covered two meadows I had once known every inch of.
The old manor house was bought by a multinational, and the grounds became more houses. It was eight years before I returned to the old railway line, and when I did, I was not alone. Her name was Louise, and she was my first love.
I loved her gray eyes, and her fine light brown hair, and her gawky way of walking like a fawn just learning to walk which sounds really dumb, for which I apologize : I saw her chewing gum, when I was thirteen, and I fell for her like a suicide from a bridge.
The main trouble with being in love with Louise was that we were best friends, and we were both going out with other people. We were buddies. It was the beginning of punk, and everything seemed so exciting: the possibilities, in music as in everything else, were endless.
Eventually it was time for me to go home, and she decided to accompany me. We held hands, innocently, just pals, and we strolled the ten-minute walk to my house. The moon was bright, and the world was visible and colorless, and the night was warm. We got to my house. Saw the lights inside, and stood in the driveway, and talked about the band I was starting. So we walked back to her house.
Instead they owned part of it. There were other people who lived in the old house. They were both old and round, and they lived in their flat with a number of aging Highland terriers who had names like Hamish and Andrew and Jock.
We trod the boards, luvvy. Oh, don't let Hamish eat the fruitcake, or he'll be up all night with his tummy. Not Caroline. In the flat above Coraline's, under the roof, was a crazy old man with a big mustache. He told Coraline that he was training a mouse circus. He wouldn't let anyone see it. You ask me why you cannot see it now. Is that what you asked me? It's Coraline. Also, they refuse to play the songs I have written for them. All the songs I have written for the mice to play gooompah oompah.
But the white mice will only playtoodle oodle , like that. I am thinking of trying them on different types of cheese. She thought the old man was probably making it up. The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring. She explored the garden. It was a big garden: at the very back was an old tennis court, but no one in the house played tennis and the fence around the court had holes in it and the net had mostly rotted away; there was an old rose garden, filled with stunted, flyblown rosebushes; there was a rockery that was all rocks; there was a fairy ring, made of squidgy brown toadstools which smelled dreadful if you accidentally trod on them.
There was also a well. On the first day Coraline's family moved in, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible made a point of telling Coraline how dangerous the well was, and they warned her to be sure she kept away from it. So Coraline set off to explore for it, so that she knew where it was, to keep away from it properly.
She found it on the third day, in an overgrown meadow beside the tennis court, behind a clump of trees—a low brick circle almost hidden in the high grass. The well had been covered up by wooden boards, to stop anyone falling in. There was a small knothole in one of the boards, and Coraline spent an afternoon dropping pebbles and acorns through the hole and waiting, and counting, until she heard the plop as they hit the water far below.
Coraline also explored for animals. She found a hedgehog, and a snakeskin but no snake , and a rock that looked just like a frog, and a toad that looked just like a rock. That was how she spent her first two weeks in the house—exploring the garden and the grounds. Her mother made her come back inside for dinner and for lunch. And Coraline had to make sure she dressed up warm before she went out, for it was a very cold summer that year; but go out she did, exploring, every day until the day it rained, when Coraline had to stay inside.
Play with your toys. Go and pester Miss Spink or Miss Forcible, or the crazy old man upstairs. I want to explore. It wasn't the kind of rain you could go out in—it was the other kind, the kind that threw itself down from the sky and splashed where it landed.
It was rain that meant business, and currently its business was turning the garden into a muddy, wet soup. Coraline had watched all the videos. She was bored with her toys, and she'd read all her books. She turned on the television. She went from channel to channel to channel, but there was nothing on but men in suits talking about the stock market, and talk shows.
Eventually, she found something to watch: it was the last half of a natural history program about something called protective coloration. She watched animals, birds, and insects which disguised themselves as leaves or twigs or other animals to escape from things that could hurt them. She enjoyed it, but it ended too soon and was followed by a program about a cake factory.
It was time to talk to her father. Coraline's father was home. Both of her parents worked, doing things on computers, which meant that they were home a lot of the time. Each of them had their own study.
Can I go outside? Count all the doors and windows. List everything blue. Mount an expedition to discover the hot water tank. And leave me alone to work. Coraline wasn't allowed in there. Nobody went in there.
It was only for best. And you don't touch anything. She discovered the hot water tank it was in a cupboard in the kitchen. She counted everything blue She counted the windows She counted the doors Of the doors that she found, thirteen opened and closed.
The other—the big, carved, brown wooden door at the far corner of the drawing room—was locked. She reached up and took a string of keys from the top of the kitchen doorframe. She sorted through them carefully, and selected the oldest, biggest, blackest, rustiest key.
They went into the drawing room. She unlocked the door with the key. The door swung open. Her mother was right. The door didn't go anywhere. It opened onto a brick wall. When they turned the house into flats, they simply bricked it up. The other side is the empty flat on the other side of the house, the one that's still for sale.
Her mother shrugged. It was nearly dark outside now, and the rain was still coming down, pattering against the windows and blurring the lights of the cars in the street outside.
Coraline's father stopped working and made them all dinner. Coraline was disgusted. Coraline sighed. Then she went to the freezer and got out some microwave chips and a microwave minipizza. That night, Coraline lay awake in her bed. The rain had stopped, and she was almost asleep when something wentt-t-t-t-t-t. She sat up in bed. Something went kreeee She walked down the hall.
Coraline wondered if she'd dreamed it, whatever it was. Something moved. It was little more than a shadow, and it scuttled down the darkened hall fast, like a little patch of night.
She hoped it wasn't a spider. Spiders made Coraline intensely uncomfortable. The black shape went into the drawing room, and Coraline followed it a little nervously. The room was dark. The only light came from the hall, and Coraline, who was standing in the doorway, cast a huge and distorted shadow onto the drawing room carpet—she looked like a thin giant woman.
Coraline was just wondering whether or not she ought to turn on the lights when she saw the black shape edge slowly out from beneath the sofa. It paused, and then dashed silently across the carpet toward the farthest corner of the room. There was no furniture in that corner of the room.
Coraline turned on the light. Nothing but the old door that opened onto the brick wall. She was sure that her mother had shut the door, but now it was ever so slightly open. Just a crack. Coraline went over to it and looked in. There was nothing there—just a wall, built of red bricks.
Coraline closed the old wooden door, turned out the light, and went to bed. She dreamed of black shapes that slid from place to place, avoiding the light, until they were all gathered together under the moon.
Little black shapes with little red eyes and sharp yellow teeth. They started to sing, We are small but we are many We are many we are small We were here before you rose We will be here when you fall. Their voices were high and whispering and slightly whiney. They made Coraline feel uncomfortable.
Then Coraline dreamed a few commercials, and after that she dreamed of nothing at all. The next day it had stopped raining, but a thick white fog had lowered over the house. She went out. Miss Spink was walking her dogs. When we trod the boards. She looked like a large, fluffy egg. She wore thick glasses that made her eyes seem huge. Then she tugged the dogs to heel and waddled off back toward the house.
Coraline continued her walk. She was three quarters of the way around the house when she saw Miss Forcible, standing at the door to the flat she shared with Miss Spink.
She always kept in sight of the house. After about ten minutes of walking she found herself back where she had started. The hair over her eyes was limp and wet, and her face felt damp. She could hardly see the old man through the mist.
He walked down the steps on the outside of the house that led up past Coraline's front door to the door of his flat. He walked down very slowly. Coraline waited at the bottom of the stairs. The old man leaned down, so close that the bottoms of his mustache tickled Coraline's ear.
Coraline didn't know what to say. Don't go through the door. The old man shrugged. They get things wrong. They got your name wrong, you know. They kept saying Coraline. Not Caroline at all. Coraline went indoors. Her mother was working in her study.
Her mother's study smelled of flowers. Coraline tried drawing the mist. After ten minutes of drawing she still had a white sheet of paper with MT S I —written on it in one corner in slightly wiggly letters. She grunted and passed it to her mother.
Coraline crept into the drawing room and tried to open the old door in the corner. It was locked once more. She supposed her mother must have locked it again. She shrugged. Coraline went to see her father. He had his back to the door as he typed. Coraline shook her head. He still hadn't turned around to look at her. She went downstairs. She rang the door of Miss Spink and Miss Forcible's flat.
Coraline could hear a frenzied woofing as the Scottie dogs ran out into the hall. After a while Miss Spink opened the door. It's only Caroline. Come in, dear. Would you like a cup of tea? Miss Spink led her into a dusty little room, which she called the parlor.
On the walls were black-and-white photographs of pretty women, and theater programs in frames. Miss Forcible was sitting in one of the armchairs, knitting hard. They poured Coraline a cup of tea in a little pink bone china cup, with a saucer.
They gave her a dry Garibaldi biscuit to go with it. Miss Forcible looked at Miss Spink, picked up her knitting, and took a deep breath.