Swan Song

Swan Song by Robert McCammon Read Free Book Online

Book: Swan Song by Robert McCammon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Robert McCammon
Tags: Fiction, Fantasy, Thrillers, Horror, Paranormal, supernatural, post apocalypse
realized. Hundreds of fireflies clinging to the screen. She had seen them on the window before, but never so many and never all blinking at the same time. They pulsed like stars trying to burn their way through the screen, and as she stared at them she no longer heard the awful voices of her mother and “Uncle” Tommy. The blinking fireflies commanded all her attention, their patterns of light mesmerizing her.
    The language of light changed, took on a different, faster rhythm. The little girl remembered a hall of mirrors at the state fair, and how the lights had reflected dazzlingly off the polished glass; now she felt as if she were standing at the center of a thousand lamps, and as the rhythm became faster and faster they seemed to whirl around her with dizzying speed.
    They’re talking, she thought. Talking in their own language. Talking about something very, very important…
    “Swan! Honey, wake up!”
    …talking about something about to happen…
    “Can’t you hear me?”
    …something bad about to happen… real soon…
    “SWAN!”
    Someone was shaking her. For a few seconds she was lost in the hall of mirrors and blinded by the flashing lights. Then she remembered where she was, and she saw the fireflies leaving the window screen, rising up into the night.
    “Goddamn bugs all over the winda,” she heard Tommy say.
    Swan pulled her gaze away from them with an effort that strained her neck. Her mother stood over her, and in the light from the open door Swan could see the purple swelling around her mother’s right eye. The woman was thin and haggard, with tangled blond hair showing dark brown roots; she glanced back and forth between her daughter’s face and the last of the insects flying off the screen. “What’s wrong with you?”
    “She’s spooky,” Tommy said, his thick-shouldered body blocking the doorway. He was stocky and unkempt, with a scraggly brown beard covering his angular jaw, his face thick-jowled and fleshy. He wore a red cap, a T-shirt and overalls. “She’s fucked up in the head,” he said, and he swigged from a bottle of Miller High Life.
    “Mama?” The child was still dazed, the lights blinking behind her eyes.
    “Honey, I want you to get up and put your clothes on. We’re leavin’ this damned dump right now, you hear me?”
    “Yes, ma’am.”
    “You ain’t goin’ nowhere,” Tommy sneered. “Where you gonna go?”
    “As far away as we can get! I was stupid to move in here with you in the first place! Get up now, honey. Put your clothes on. We want to be out of here as soon as we can.”
    “You gonna go back to Rick Dawson? Yeah, you go on! He kicked you out once before, and I picked you up! Go on and let him kick you again!”
    She turned toward him and said coldly, “Get out of my way or, so help me God, I’ll kill you.”
    Tommy’s eyes were hooded and dangerous. He drank from the bottle again, licked his lips and then laughed. “Sure!” He stepped back and made an exaggerated sweeping gesture with his arm. “Come on through! You think you’re a goddamned queen, come on through!” She looked at her child with a glance that urged her to hurry and walked past him out of the bedroom.
    Swan got out of bed and, clad in her nine-year-old-girl-sized Wichita State University nightshirt, hurried to the window and peered outside. The lights of Mrs. Yeager’s trailer next door were on, and Swan figured the noise had probably awakened her. Swan looked upward and stared open-mouthed with awe.
    The sky was filled with waves of moving, blinking stars. Wheels of light rolled across the darkness over the trailer court, and streaks of yellow fire zigzagged upward into the haze that obscured the moon. Thousands upon thousands of fireflies were passing overhead like galaxies in motion, their signals forming chains of light that stretched from west to east as far as Swan could see. From somewhere in the trailer park a dog began to howl; the noise was picked up by a second dog,

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