Today marks the release of Poet Anderson ...Of Nightmares, a new novel co-written by Angels and Airwaves leader, and former Blink-182 member, Tom DeLonge. The book is the first installment of a planned trilogy co-authored by young-adult-fiction writer Suzanne Young. Poet Anderson ...Of Nightmares tells the story of two teenage brothers whose parents have died in a plane crash, and according to DeLonge, the novel is set in "an unknown world where dreams meet reality and the chasm between the two sometimes disappears." In August, we premiered a song from an Angels and Airwaves EP based on the novel's themes, and here, we're presenting an exclusive excerpt from Chapter 14 of the book itself.
"You need to start remembering, Poet," Jarabec said. "Remembering your dreams."
"Well," Poet started. "This has been a pretty fucking traumatizing evening, so maybe this one will stick."
"I am sorry," Jarabec said. "I'm sorry for all of it. Since your mother never got the chance, I will train you how to be a proper Poet. We'll start tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" Poet scoffed, annoyed that the Dream Walker would even dangle the possibility of it in front of him, only to make him wait. "I'm ready now."
Jarabec held his eyes. "You're not. I can't bring you into the dreamscape when you're this emotional. That's not where you start."
"Look," Poet started. "I'm perfectly capable of—"
There was a loud smash of a dish hitting the floor and Poet jumped, dissolving the rest of his sentiment. A group of soldiers were stalking through the dining room in his direction, their heavy boots clanking and the dishware rattling as they bumped tables unapologetically. Poet jumped up from his seat, terrified, until he realized they were wearing red armor—not black. These were Dream Walkers.
"Christ," Jarabec muttered under his breath, without looking back at them. He drained the last of his wine and then wiped his hands on his napkin before standing. "Keep in mind what I've told you tonight, boy," he told Poet as he got to his feet. "Now there's something I must attend to."
Poet took a step back as the Dream Walkers arrived at his table. Two men and one woman stood in full armor, helmets in their hands. They looked battle-hardened and cruel. The woman had a scar on her upper lip, pulling it to the side in an eternal sneer. One of the men wore an eye-patch, and when he saw Poet looking at him, he smiled, flashing a gap of missing teeth.
A handsome, and intimidating, guy stepped forward and he and Jarabec exchanged a greeting. He turned to examine Poet. "This the boy?" he asked in a thick Australian accent.
"He's not ready, Flint," Jarabec replied curtly. Poet could tell he was annoyed to be wearing a suit and tie while his comrades were decked out in gear. Still, Jarabec gave little pause when stepping in front of him to block the other Dream Walkers' view.
"I say we take him into the woods," Eye-patch called out, "and beat it out of him." He smiled again and the woman next to him laughed.
"Don't look so scared, darling," she told Poet in a British accent. "We'd never hurt that pretty face."
He knew her, Poet realized suddenly, only she looked quite different in the Waking World. She was the woman who arrived the other night while he was working as a doorman. The red dress and the accent.
"Yes, I know," she said, reading his reaction. "I am much lovelier in person." She took a step forward, and Jarabec held out his hand to stop her from getting any closer to Poet. She sighed, and looked at him impatiently, reaching to adjust his tie. "Come now, Jarabec," she whispered. "Remember that I know where you sleep."
"And I, you, Camille," he said calmly. "Shall we take this to the Waking World?"
Camille continued adjusting his tie and then they stared intently at each other, as if waiting for the other to throw a punch.
"Enough you two," Flint said, grabbing Camille's arm to pull her back a step. "Jarabec," he continued, "we need him now. We lost two Dream Walkers tonight in the Dark End. REM's soldiers are laying waste to the city there. We think REM might be there. Poet is our only chance to surprise him."
Jarabec stiffened, but didn't move from his protective position. "I, of all people, understand what the Night Stalkers are capable of," he said in a low growl. "The boy is not ready. He doesn't have control. You will only send him to his doom. I suggest—"
"What the fuck is going on here?" an angry voice called. Poet looked over to see Molly pushing her way past the tables toward them, the elegance of her dress doing little to disguise her fury. "Get out, now!"
Poet was kind of impressed that she didn't seem even the least bit intimidated. They, on the other hand, shifted and glanced at each other.
Molly continued towards them, apologizing to guests on her way, her expression flipping from professional to furious depending on whom she was looking at. When she got to their table, she marched directly up to Flint, even though he towered over her.
"Have you lost your mind?" she demanded. Flint smiled politely, but Molly slapped the armor on his chest, making him take a step back. "I swear to Christ," she growled, "I will put you down right now."
"Relax, Molly," he said. "We just wanted to see the boy."
"Well, that's wonderful," she mocked. "But wearing armor in the lobby? Do you want everyone to know that you're here, Flint?"
"They're just dreamers," Eye-patch said, pushing forward to stand in front of her, leaning against the table. "The Night Stalkers can't get here—we're not in the Dream World. Now, why so much anger?" he asked. "Sounds to me like Marshall isn't taking care of you like he should."
In a blur of movement, Molly grabbed a steak knife off the table and stabbed it through the Dream Walker's hand, securing him to the table. He screamed and Molly leaned in, pausing near his ear. "I suggest you rethink your tone, Skillet, before I poke out your other fucking eye."
Skillet began to wiggle the knife back and forth, hissing out his pain as it cut further into his hand. When he finally yanked the knife out with a sucking sound, he tossed it on the table, holding his arm close to his chest and backing away. Molly steadied her gaze on Flint.
"You know the rules," she told him. "I don't give a fuck what you do out there," she pointed in the direction of the front door. "But in here, we keep it calm. The Lucid Dreamers come in, have a drink, and go about their night elsewhere. This is a gateway, not a battleground. We don't frighten them here. We've already lost the subway to a new Night Terror." She glanced at Poet, reminding him that it was his Night Terror. "Let's not draw others here."
Flint tightened his jaw, but ultimately, he held up his hands in apology. "Next time I'll wear the tux," he said.
"Yes, you will," Molly said, smiling pleasantly. "Now take your friends and get out. Marshall will be informed."
Skillet sneered at the mention of Marshall's name and it was clear they were more afraid of Molly than him. With one more studying glance at Poet, the Dream Walkers began to leave the room. Flint stopped and turned to glance back at Jarabec. "You coming?" he asked him.
Jarabec opened his mouth to respond, but ended up looking to Molly for the answer.
"Go," she said, waving her hand. "Your suit looks like shit anyway. I'll watch the boy." Poet assumed she was talking about him, and he wasn't sure if he should be offended that she thought he needed a babysitter or grateful that she got the other Dream Walkers out of his face.
"Get some rest," Jarabec told Poet. "Because tomorrow, you're going to get your ass kicked." He offered him a crooked smile and then slipped his hands into the pockets of his suit pants and left the restaurant.