Reckless 1 - The Petrified Flesh

Reckless The Petrified Flesh

Young Jacob Reckless discovers a mysterious mirror in his father’s abandoned study and beyond that mirror a fairy tale world. In a moment of inattention, Jacob’s younger brother follows him and a fairy’s curse sows stone and death.

For the first time in his life, Jacob Reckless is afraid. For years he’s stolen across to another world. A dark enchanted place he’s loved for its treasure, secrets and dangers. Until now. Will, his younger brother, has followed him with terrible consequences: The boy will turn to beast; the girl he loves will break her heart and chaos will rule forever, unless Jacob can spin a fairytale to save them …

The night breathed through the apartment like a dark animal. The ticking of a clock. The groan of a ?oorboard as he slipped out of his room. All was drowned by its silence. But Jacob loved the night. He felt it on his skin like a promise. Like a cloak woven from freedom and danger. Outside the stars were paled by the glaring lights of the city, and the large apartment was stale with his mother’s sorrow.

She did not wake as Jacob stole into her room, even when he carefully opened the drawer of her bedside table.

The key lay right next to the pills that let her sleep.

Its cool metal nestled in his hand as he stepped back out into the dark corridor. There was still a light burning in his brother’s room – Will was afraid of the dark – and Jacob made sure he was fast asleep before unlocking the door to their father’s study. Their mother had not entered there since his disappearance,

but for Jacob this was not the first time he had sneaked into the empty room to search for the answers she did not want to give.

It still looked as if John Reckless had last sat in his desk chair less than an hour ago, instead of more than a year. The sweater he had worn so often hung over the chair, and a used tea bag was desiccating on a plate next to his calendar, which still showed the weeks of a previous year. Come back! Jacob wrote it with his finger on the fogged-up window, on the dusty desk, and on the glass panels of the cabinet that still held the old pistols his father had collected. But the room remained silent – and empty.

He was twelve and no longer had a father. Jacob kicked at the drawers he had searched in vain for so many nights. In a silent rage, he yanked the books and magazines from the shelves, tore down the model aeroplanes that hung above the desk, ashamed at how proud he had once been when his father had allowed him to paint one with red varnish. Come back!

He wanted to scream it through the streets that cut their gleaming paths through the city blocks seven storeys below, scream it at the thousand windows that punched squares of light into the night. The sheet of paper slipped out of a book on aircraft propulsion. Jacob only picked it up because he thought he recognised his father’s handwriting on it, though he quickly realised his error. Symbols and equations, a sketch of a peacock, a sun, two moons. None of it made any sense. Except for the one sentence he spotted on the reverse side: THE MIRROR WILL OPEN ONLY FOR HE WHO CANNOT SEE HIMSELF.

Jacob turned around – and his glance was met by his own reflection. The mirror. He still remembered very well the day his father had mounted it on the wall. It hung between the shelves like a shimmering eye, a glassy abyss that cast back a warped reflection of everything John Reckless had left behind: his desk, the old pistols, his books – and his elder son. The glass was so uneven one could barely recognise one’s own reflection, and it was darker than other mirrors, but the rose tendrils winding across the silver frame looked so real they seemed ready to wilt at any moment. THE MIRROR WILL OPEN ONLY FOR HE WHO CANNOT SEE HIMSELF.

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