Final December, Polygon premiered the primary excerpt of Chuck Wendig’s new novel, The Book of Accidents. With the e-book now out on cabinets, we’re reupping the passage, together with Wendig’s personal introduction written for Polygon readers. Right here’s a style of what to anticipate from the author’s newest.
There are apocalypses, after which there are apocalypses.
Those that come to thoughts are huge ones — a meteor hits, a nuclear bomb goes off, or ahem ahem ahem, a pandemic throttles humanity and crushes civilization underneath its. That’s the sort of apocalypse I wrote with in my e-book Wanderers (2019), the place individuals start mysteriously sleepwalking towards an unknown vacation spot whereas a second illness, White Masks, rises like a specter throughout an America savaged by diseased politics and white supremacy. (Sound acquainted? Oops.)
However with this subsequent e-book, The E book of Accidents, it’s extra about these little apocalypses — these small however important occasions that roll up on us and rock us to our core, that threaten who we’re and what we’ve constructed, that characterize the ending of issues. Much less “fireplace within the sky” and extra “emotional cataclysm.” It’s about trauma circuits and abuse cycles, but in addition about how we finish these harmful loops — generally in methods which are releasing, and generally in methods which are terrifying.
On this excerpt, the daddy of a household of three — Nate, married to Maddie, the 2 of them dad and mom to teen boy Oliver — goes to the home he grew up in as a child, a home whose horrors he escaped from way back. He goes there to witness (and in a approach, confront) his useless father, who waits in repose. However what Nate meets there may be far stranger, and way more confounding, than he anticipated. It begins a kind of little apocalypses, the type that households undergo generally. However it’s price remembering: apocalypses are endings, however they’re additionally new beginnings. And so they’re revelations, too: generally releasing, generally terrifying.
Or possibly, simply possibly, each.
The One Situation
This was the home:
It was a stone colonial farmhouse, its previous bones courting again to the late 1700s. It was a tall home with slender shoulders, and it forged a deep shadow because the solar rose behind it. The door was pink. The gable roof above the door was teal. However the paint on each had lengthy light, peeling away in leprotic strips. The flagstone walkway was cracked and fractured, with weeds widening these gaps. Spiderwebs, some previous, some new, hung within the home windows. The slate roof was in grave disrepair, lots of the tiles damaged and shattered. Nature wished this home again. Wisteria hung from the ability strains, and ivy—poison ivy and five-finger ivy—crept up from the bottom, like fingers seeking to seize the home and pull it down into the grime.
Simply because the timber loomed over the home, the home appeared to loom over Nate. He had a vertiginous second the place it felt just like the pink entrance door would whip open, and the home would lean ahead and the doorway would turn into a mouth. Gobbling him up and swallowing him down. This was a home of foul breath and unhealthy desires.
As Nate regarded his childhood residence, not seen by his eyes for many years, he heard an engine, and the pop of stones underneath tires.
The lawyer, Rickert, drove up the lengthy cracked-asphalt driveway in a decades-old BMW—a welcome interruption. He parked the BMW subsequent to the little Honda Nate suspected belonged to the hospice nurse.
Rickert hopped out of his automobile and sauntered up, clutching a brown paper bag envelope with string-and-button enclosure.
“Mr. Graves,” he stated.
“Rickert,” Nate stated.
“Your one situation has been met.”
“He’s in there now?”
Rickert nodded, unfazed. He didn’t like Dad, both, Nate realized. Which was apropos; Dad hated legal professionals a lot as he hated something.
Nate dug into his pocket and pulled out a ratty, wrinkled greenback. The sort a snack machine would spit out.
The lawyer took it. Then he handed over the envelope. Nathan peeked inside, noticed a sheaf of papers—ones he’d already signed a couple of days in the past, the day after Oliver advised them he wished to maneuver—plus the deed and a key ring.
The door to the home opened, simply then, and the hospice nurse—a broad-shouldered girl with variety eyes, a helmet of brown hair, and a tragic look on her face—got here out. “Nathan Graves?” she stated.
Nate nodded, however sharply corrected: “Nate. By no means Nathan.”
“Hello, Nate, I’m Mary Bassett,” she stated, taking his hand and holding it. Had that Philly accent. Wooter. Fullelfya. Gow. “I’m the hospice nurse. I’m so sorry to your loss.”
“Don’t be. I’m right here to brag, not mourn.”
A flash in her eye advised him she understood. It made him marvel what sort of hell she’d needed to put up with from the previous man within the final week of his life.
The wreckage that previous creep left in his each wake . . .
“He inside?” Nate requested.
“He’s. Within the grasp on the second ground.”
“Then I’d wish to see him.”
This, then, was Nate’s one situation: He’d advised Rickert over the cellphone three days in the past that he would settle for the greenback supply if he have been allowed a small, personal “viewing” on the home, after his father had handed, however earlier than they got here to cart the physique away.
His father, by Rickert, had agreed to that stipulation.
And now, right here Nate was. his father’s corpse.
Nate had seen a handful of our bodies in his time as a Philly cop—one time, a warmth wave took an aged girl, leaving her a greasy and swollen mess, blistered and oozing. One other time, a tough winter robbed the life from a homeless man, froze him strong towards a dumpster. All of the deaths he’d seen have been unintentional—overdoses and automobile accidents and, the worst of the worst, three our bodies pulled out of a nightclub fireplace. What was true in these deaths was true right here: A useless physique had no soul. One thing essential had gone. A lacking piece had turned them from a residing factor to a waxen prop.
The previous man’s pores and skin lay unfastened on his bent skeleton, wrinkled and sallow, just like the pages of a Bible that had gotten moist. The eyes have been glassy, the mouth skinny, every lip a sickly earthworm spooning the opposite.
This wasn’t his father. Not anymore. It was only a model.
Nate had anticipated that when he noticed his father once more, he would really feel indignation that will give option to rage like some pyroclasm deep inside—an increase of lava in his throat, a magma roar of fireplace that will not, couldn’t, be contained.
He hoped he’d really feel pleasure, like a boy advised the monster within the closet was gone, that actually all the monsters had been beheaded, that all the things from right here on out was balloons and carousel rides.
He feared that he would really feel unhappy—that seeing his father this one final time would open up one thing he’d been hiding, a reservoir of unhappiness, at seeing the previous man like this. Unhappy at by no means attending to have the childhood he thought he’d have. Unhappy at questioning what made his father turn into the person that he had turn into.
As an alternative, he simply felt empty. A chalkboard, cleaned of all marks and left a gleaming, damp black.
One factor he did really feel: like he was intruding upon this room. His father had by no means let him in right here. It was off-limits. One time Nate snuck in and poked round and thought he wouldn’t get caught, however Dad knew one way or the other. He all the time knew. One thing about the best way the molecules within the room have been disturbed.
(That didn’t go nicely for Nate. He had bruises for weeks.)
It made him really feel queasy being in right here. Like he was gonna get caught once more. He didn’t give into that feeling, although. He didn’t run, although he wished to.
The room had modified. It was messier, a hoarder’s paradise: stacks of gun magazines on the dresser, piles of soiled garments, a pair defunct mousetraps within the nook (no mice), a stack of filthy plates on a nightstand subsequent to knockoff Rolex watch and an old-ass alarm clock, the type with the 2 steel bells on prime of it. It didn’t appear like this when Nate had lived right here—Mother stored the place immaculate. These molecules within the room have been hers to rearrange, and maintain organized, all for the pleasure of the previous sonofabitch.
Nate anticipated, too, that his father’s weapons have been nonetheless right here: a .45 ACP within the sock drawer, a pump-action shotgun underneath the mattress, a two-shot derringer in a shoebox within the closet. And in the event that they have been right here, they have been loaded. Dad was paranoid. Stated somebody would come sooner or later to steal his shit—the imagined array of racist fears, like a line of Black guys or Mexicans have been simply lining up in the dead of night forest exterior to rob him of his knockoff watches. King has to defend his fort, Dad all the time stated. However he was no king. And this was no fort.
However there was one factor that did shock Nate.
Dad hadn’t offed himself.
That was all the time his huge factor. I ever get sick, actual sick, I’ll put a gun underneath my chin. I’m going out on my phrases. That was one thing he advised his son when Nate was . . . what? Twelve years previous? Who tells a twelve-year-old that sort of factor?
“Coward,” Nate stated, not anticipating any response.
However his father responded anyway.
Dad’s physique stiffened on the mattress, life thrown instantly again into its bones. The corpse’s again arched, the eyes wrenched open, and the jaw opened large, wider, crackling because it did, the face turning quick right into a rictus of uncooked distress. Dad gasped like wind whistling by a damaged window—
“Jesus,” Nate stated, backpedaling up and about.
After which he noticed Dad, one other model of his father, standing within the nook of the room. Not possible, however there it was: one father mendacity on the mattress, one guarding the nook of the room. The one within the nook wore mud-caked denims, a grimy white T-shirt, carried a boxy military pistol in his left hand, his mistaken hand. He was staring proper at Nate—gazing him, or staring by him, Nate couldn’t inform, all whereas on the mattress his father’s precise corpse stretched and stiffened tighter and tighter, the high-pitched sucking breath occurring louder and longer than appeared potential.
“Nathan?” the model of his father within the nook requested, voice so hoarse it buzzed, buzzed like a wall stuffed with secret wasps.
The door to the bed room burst open, and the hospice nurse got here hurrying in. The physique on the mattress went slack and slumped. Nate blinked—the presence within the nook, the second Carl Graves, was gone.
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https://www.polygon.com/2020/12/2/21812821/the-book-of-accidents-chuck-wendig-excerpt-release | The E book of Accidents: Learn first excerpt from Chuck Wendig’s new novel