Read Ghost of Doors (City of Doors) Online

Authors: Jennifer Paetsch

Tags: #urban, #Young Adult, #YA, #Horror, #Paranormal, #fantrasy, #paranormal urban fantasy

Ghost of Doors (City of Doors)

BOOK: Ghost of Doors (City of Doors)
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Ghost of Doors


Jennifer Paetsch


The moral right of the author has been asserted.

Copyright ©2012 by Jennifer Paetsch

All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of both the publisher and the copyright owner, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

Original Kindle Edition: October 24, 2012






Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7



Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15



Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24


For Torsten.



"Everyone you meet is fighting a great battle."

—John Watson

Chapter 1

hot, it could have easily been a mirage: The door to the squat, four-story apartment building across the street was burning a scintillating, hellfire red. Red. Wolfgang hated that color. He never wanted to see it on another door again, but there it was, a smoldering fire that wouldn't die. And its glow would spread down the street, claiming every door on every building, claiming the block for MOON.

But the color was not really fire. It was only an illusion, a "glamour," a way to claim the street, and was usually backed by enough muscle to make that claim. Wolfgang searched for a sign of MOON, but saw no one. The linden trees, their heart-shaped leaves frantic, rattled their branches high above him in a breeze that Wolfgang did not feel on the sweltering, stone-paved sidewalk far below. Out in the open, he felt watched and hunted and he did not like it. He slid a hand into one of the ragged pouches on his belt and a thumb across the silver and iron talisman he kept hidden there; it was a ritual that summoned his courage as much as it called to his mind the symbol worn almost completely away from the charm's face. He felt his mind steel itself against the magic around him, focusing instead on that door and on his family and the ones he loved.

Like the horse. He swung his leg to dismount and, holding away the sharp end of his halberd, slipped off of the horse's back and didn't get very far before catching the remark, "I hope you know what you're doing, Chief."

He searched around and behind the horse for a sign of danger, then looked to the lavender eyes made paler by a ring of flaking indigo paint and asked, "What's wrong?"

"You mean besides the door that turned all by itself to 'Property of MOON'?"

"We don't know it happened all by itself."

"So even you feel it."

A chill shriveled his stomach. Inside his grip, the smooth wood of
, his halberd--polished with sweat, notched carelessly from war--became hotter. "Feel..?"

The horse indicated the door by rocking his head forward. "There's something in there."

"Someone or something?"

"Does it matter?"

Wolfgang didn't know how to respond. The horse got his tongue. On his free hand, the fingerless glove, once a golden ochre but now browning like overripe fruit, provided brief entertainment for his thumb as it stroked the fraying edges. It helped him think. "Whatever it is joined MOON and possessed the door."

"Crazy talk." The horse blew hard out his nose. "How do you possess a door?"

"But that's the only thing that makes sense."

"MOON could just be here hiding. That makes more sense."

"If there were enough of them here to turn the door, I don't think they'd bother hiding. But okay." The deep breath he took did little to satisfy the sudden hunger in his lungs for air. The next breath failed to satisfy as well, and he took a step back, catching a glimpse of himself as he did so in the shimmering window inside the door. What he saw startled him. His glare was sinister, the face too sunken and wan. Fear kept him frozen, the warping of the reflection by the flickering red glow of the door kept him transfixed far longer than any glamour. Was that really his reflection? He turned around and saw no one, just the horse and the lonely sett stone street bordered on either side by linden trees.


"Nothing." The silence spoke to him then: The little brown birds who spent long days and nights all summer singing were hushed or perhaps gone. "Either way, we're in over our heads."

"If you think this is over our heads, wait till we get to the No Man's Land."

"Well I think it's pretty obvious we can't stay here. Unless you think we should join them." He put a hand up on the great dapple horse, the dark patch of hair warm like a nest under his fingers. Before the strength built up in his arms to pull, the smallest sound behind him caught his ear and stayed his hand.

"You're not coming back, are you?"

Startled by a voice as soft as his own thoughts, he didn't need to turn around though he did anyway. He knew whose voice it was; it came to him in his best dreams. "Of course I will, Marie," he said. "My father is here. I won't leave him."

She appeared then, spawning out of nothingness, splashing into the space in front of him just as he had imagined her: Blond hair shimmering in the filtered summer light, watery-blue cat suit poured on, leaving nothing to the imagination about what lay underneath. Anyone would think she was an angel. Wolfgang knew better. "I don't think you have a choice," she said, and turned her attention to the red door, for once allowing herself the luxury to appear sad.

"He would never leave me behind," Wolfgang argued. "He's here because of me."

"You say that like it's a bad thing." Looking back to him, she rolled her eyes as if bored. Marie put on her heavenly poker face, a perfect mask of beauty in flesh and bone. He was almost as familiar with her face as he was with his own, but he still couldn't be sure--not completely, anyway--what those ever-so-subtle changeling expressions meant. "You might want to watch what you say. The doors have ears."

He looked at the ground, then checked the red door again, disgusted. Thankfully, the ghost in it was gone. "I don't want to become a monster, Marie," he said, mostly to himself, though she heard every word, he knew.

"Everyone here becomes a monster," she said gently, insistently, while drawing close to him. If he had offended her, it didn't show--her aqua eyes were wide, full of longing, as if seeing a dream move upon his face, a dream meant especially for her. "That's kind of the point."

"She's got ya there, Chief."

"Not everyone," Wolfgang reminded them. Proof lay everywhere. Almost everything had a face if one knew where (or when) to look. The very stones were human once. Magic, the sister of Luck--just as life-changing, and just as fickle--was never kind to humans here, not when they needed her to be, anyway. The glamour on the door danced in his eyes, in his mind, taunting him, mocking him. It reflected the burning in his heart, the rage that never seemed to go away and could barely be contained; a wild animal, hungry and prowling, searching for that one weakness that would let it come out. He wondered how bad would it be, to plunge into the wrong door. Would it consume him like MOON and SUN used up everything in their struggle for the city, or would it reject him as all the monsters had because he refused to become one of them, leaving him to a cold and lonely fate? Would the world end in fire, or ice?

"If you would just accept your fate, you could come and go as you pleased."

"Not true." All the muscles in his neck tensed. He hated being fed lies about this place, especially when those lies came from Marie. The Fair Folk had so many reasons to want Doors, why couldn't they just admit that they wanted--no, needed--it? Would that make them too human? Was it that repulsive to feel? "Why are you here, then? If you can go anywhere, do anything. Why this city?"

The glamour of the door undulated behind her as if it were her own frustration coming and going in waves. "To help you. Even if you won't help yourself."

Marie's twisted idea of helping him--destroying who he was, destroying his soul, to become a monster, to take a bigger part in this war--only enraged him. He wanted her to understand him, but she couldn't--no monster could understand a human's heart. But perhaps this twisted place, this city, made her right: if he couldn't escape with his soul in tact, maybe destroying himself was his only choice, his only way of being saved. Maybe his sacrifice could save the neighborhood, as well. "I am helping myself. Today." He lunged past Marie for the angry red door. Opening easily at his touch, the door welcomed him by swinging wide, revealing a milky-pink wall. A dark circle swung across it, the center shrinking against the light. A giant eye. His heart struggling crazily in his chest, Wolfgang shut the door.

BOOK: Ghost of Doors (City of Doors)
4.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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