Authors: A.Z.A; Clarke
Tags: #Young Adult Fiction
©Copyright AZA Clarke 2016
Cover Art by Posh Gosh ©Copyright April 2016
Edited by Jamie D. Rose
This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, Finch Books.
Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to Finch Books. Unauthorised or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.
The author and illustrator have asserted their respective rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book and illustrator of the artwork.
Published in 2016 by Finch Books,
Newland House, The Point, Weaver Road, Lincoln, LN6 3QN
Finch Books is a subsidiary of Totally Entwined Group Limited.
Battalions of Oblivion
Book one in the Battalions of Oblivion series
Every teen has dreams, but only Joe Knightley can make his dreams reality. Even the nightmares…
There can be only one Dream Master.
Joe has been falling asleep everywhere, and he has enough on his plate with wrangling his wayward best mate, suppressing the urge to murder his little sister and facing off with Charlie Meek, the knife-wielding bully who makes school a misery for so many.
Joe does not need the discovery that he can make his dreams come true. At first, turning a classroom into an aquarium and conjuring up a Lamborghini are amusing ways to use this new power. But Joe soon realizes he’s roused an enemy far deadlier than Charlie Meek.
Drawn into a duel with a being who has had centuries of experience, Joe must fight for everything he cares for. But deciding exactly what he holds dear is perhaps the biggest battle of all.
For Hugo who may read it,
Sebastian who suggested it
and Peter who has read it.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:
Radio Times: Immediate Media Company Ltd.
Olympics: United States Olympic Committee
MTV: Viacomm International Inc.
Tintin and Snowy: Hergé
Thompson and Tompson: Casterman
Dennis the Menace: North America Syndicate Inc.
Gnasher: Barrie Appleby
Desperate Dan: David Parkins
Batman: DC Comics General Partnership
Superman: DC Comics General Partnership
X-Men: Marvel Characters Inc.
Spider-man: Marvel Characters Inc.
Simpsons: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Abdullah: Matt Groening
Sandman: DC Comics General Partnership
Raw: Penguin Books
Tony Hawk: Hawk 900 Brands LLC
Godzilla: Toho Co. Ltd.
Murciélago: Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.
Lamborghini: Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.
Don’t Stop Me Now
: Freddy Mercury
The X-Factor: ITV PLC
McDonald’s: McDonald's Corporation
Tesco: Tesco PLC
Gallardo: Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.
Volkswagen: Volkswagen Aktiengsellschaft Corporation
Golf: Volkswagen Aktiengsellschaft Corporation
War and Peace
: Leo Tolstoy
Maybelline: L’Oreal USA Creative Inc.
Google: Google Inc.
To Kill a Mockingbird
: Harper Lee
Nurofen: RB UK Commercial Ltd.
Concorde: EADS and BAE Systems
Fiat: Fiat Group Marketing & Corporate Communications S.p.A.
Maglite: Mag Instrument Inc.
Armani: Georgio Armani S.p.A.
Disney: Disney Enterprises Inc.
Red Bull: Red Bull GMBH Corporation
iPod: Apple Inc.
Learjet: Learjet Inc.
: Advance Magazine Publishers Inc.
Velux: VKR Holding
Scrabble: Hasbro Inc.
Coke: Coca-Cola Company
Levi’s: Levi Strauss and Company
Titan: Titan Comics
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: 20
Century Fox Television
Camper: Camper SL Corporation
Maltesers: Mars Inc.
Clark’s: C&J Clark International Ltd.
Blake and Mortimer: Edgar Jacobs
Sprite: Coca-Cola Company
De Beers: De Beers Diamond Jewellers Inc.
Princess Leia: Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd.
Timberland: TBL Licensing LLC
Monopoly: Hasbro Inc.
Sainsbury’s: J Sainsbury PLC
Radio Four: BBC
Central Southern: Reading Community Radio Ltd.
Forbidden Planet: Forbidden Planet LLC
Nike: Nike Inc.
Nokia: Nokia Corporation
Bailey’s: R & A Bailey and Company Ltd.
Billy Elliott: Elton John & Lee Hall
A late lesson on a damp November afternoon… Joe had already had sports and maths, psychology, English and French. He was shattered, especially after having walked away from so much aggro from bloody Charlie Meek during break and lunch. His classroom was dark and sweaty. There was no need for blinds—none of which worked anyway—but the windows were moist with condensation, and the room was quiet, apart from the hum of the projector and numerous teenage jaws masticating chunks of gum.
Joe was trying to stay awake. He liked looking at Mr. Crosbie’s pictures, and these were strange—full of intense, somber colors. There were snowy scenes marred by the blood of children being killed against sunsets gleaming through bare branches, crucifixions with crowds of blokes looking as though they’d come from the pub after a heavy Saturday night then contorted bodies surrounded by flying fish and walking rats with hats and curled mustachios. That couldn’t be right. He squinted, but the familiar heaviness of his head and eyelids assailed him. He pinched himself to stay awake, but the heat was too much. Even the discomfort of the creaking plastic chair couldn’t stop him from drifting away from the classroom and into the deepest sleep.
Then he opened his eyes. Something had woken him. He looked around and recoiled. Every student in the class had a fish head—wispy catfish whiskers over suckery open mouths, barracuda jaws, weird mola mola fins where their hair ought to be, a couple of trout with delicate little teeth and tongues. They all had those glassy eyes, just like it said in recipe books—bright, moist, black eyes. They were breathing air. Then it seemed to occur to them that they were breathing air and that, technically, they couldn’t.
Their sucky mouths gaped, fishy lips opening and closing faster and faster. They began bumping into one another, blundering about, their bodies still human but their brains too small to govern those bodies. Then they revolved with the swirl and drive of a shoal of mackerel in the sea, no longer threshing, now turning on Joe with glazed stares—glares that turned from accusation into threat. They were an exact copy of the fish in that slide of Crosbie’s.
Joe scrambled out of his seat and stood by the door. One of the fish-people stepped forward, then another, and they came at him. He raised his hands to fend them off then the first one reached him. He felt its fishy lips puckering and flapping against his palm. It was real. He wrestled with the door handle then fell into the corridor, slamming the door as he left the room, only to hear the sodden thump of a fishy nose against the wood. He slumped against the wall. The fluorescent lights were bright, and there was a chilly draft from the fire escape that had been left open by someone making a break for freedom after period seven. An English teacher was approaching, but he took forever to reach Joe because with every step, the corridor got longer.
“Joe Knightley, isn’t it? What are you doing out here?” Mr. Tucker’s voice was distant. “You look as green as this wall. Hey, Joe, are you all right? Joe, grab my hand, quick.”
But Joe didn’t have time to take Mr. Tucker’s hand, because he’d been absorbed into the wall and was now trapped in the layer of mesh and plaster, gasping like the fish in Mr. Crosbie’s room. The teacher was running his hands over the wall, calling his name over and over. Then Joe disintegrated and melted right through it, back into the classroom that was full of water like the fish tank at the fishmongers where they kept lobsters. Now the classroom was awash and the fish people were swimming around and around and around, their bodies still in their school uniforms, all of them chasing after one another until they became a shoal like in a documentary—swooping, splitting, dipping and recombining. Joe swam to the window to check his reflection. He had a human head, which meant he would drown if he stayed in the fish tank.