City of Bones Chapter 1

“YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME,” THE BOUNCER SAID, folding his arms across his massive chest. He stared down at the boy in the red zip-up jacket and shook his shaved head. “You can’t bring that thing in here.”

“We’ve got a strict no-armadillo policy! We’re still cleaning up after the LAST one!”

So as you’d guess, this bouncer is refusing to let somebody in a club. The club is called Pandemonium, and… oh man, it’s an ALL-AGES club. You know what that means: no beer, no drugs, and probably the music is only stuff approved at Wal-Mart.

I guess like Smeyer (whose heroine would NEVER be found somewhere like a CLUB! Where fun happens!), Clare isn’t comfortable with having her heroine use a fake ID, like real teens would. Moral ambiguity, be gone!

 
The bouncers were fierce and would come down instantly on anyone who looked like they were going to start trouble.

… isn’t that what bouncers are, you know, supposed to do?

And now it’s time to be introduced to our resident Mary Sue! Ooooh, I wonder what her name is! Whatever it is, it cannot possibly be as bad as Bella Swan.

 
Fifteen-year-old Clary Fray,

… her name is Clary Fray. CLARY FRAY. Okay, on first glance that name doesn’t sound too bad, especially after a heroine whose name means “Beautiful Swan” (BLEEEAAARGGGHHHH). It actually sounds sort of like a name that a real-life person might conceivably have.

But think about it: the author’s nom de plume is Cassandra Clare. Cassandra CLARE.

Clare. Clary.

As if that wasn’t bad enough… remember how dialogue from Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel were sort of prominent in the Draco trilogy? Usually the wittier stuff?

Well… the surname “Fray”…

Yes. It’s also the surname of a futuristic Slayer in Joss Whedon’s Buffy universe. I guess “Clary Summers” would have been a bit too obvious, wouldn’t it?

 
standing in line with her best friend, Simon, leaned forward along with everyone else, hoping for some excitement.

This… is awkward. It’s a very fanfic line, IMHO. It would be better if she didn’t clump together Clary’s name, age, position and current actions into one sentence. Behold: Fifteen-year-old Clary Fray leaned forward, hoping for some excitement. Her best friend Simon sat against the wall beside her, already bored. Okay, it’s not great, but it’s better.

Also, shouldn’t “everyone else” be a little more annoyed that the line is being held up? How boring is this club if people are more excited about some guy getting kicked out of line than about… I dunno, THE CLUB?

 
“Aw, come on.” The kid hoisted the thing up over his head. It looked like a wooden beam, pointed at one end. “It’s part of my costume.”

… I don’t go to clubs, but do people usually wear costumes?

And… he’s carrying a wooden BEAM?

What’s his costume, a carpenter?

 
He was normal-enough-looking, Clary thought, for Pandemonium.

Most of the people there had centipedes crawling out of their ears.

So what counts as “normal”? Well, he hasn’t got any tattoos or piercings (gasp!) and he has electric-blue dyed hair that stuck up around his head like the tendrils of a startled octopus. Um… what? This is the first page and already I’m being confronted with hentai hair!

I don’t think that was the image Clare was going for, but it’s what popped into my head. On the plus side, I’m now imagining Cthulhu wigs (but sadly googling “Cthulhu hair” didn’t get me much).

So Hentai Hair declares that he’s carrying around a giant beam because “I’m a vampire hunter.” Well, THAT isn’t the costume you need, dude. You need to wear unflattering leather bondage wear, lie on your back, and whine “I didn’t knoooooooowwwww!”

 
He pushed down on the wooden thing.

Whoa, dude! Not in public! You can get arrested for that!

Oh wait, they meant the “beam,” now rechristened a “wooden thing.” Oh Cassandra Clare, your prose dazzles me. Anyway, it waggles because it’s actually made out of foam, so the bouncer lets him in. Um, are you going to ever bother asking WHY he’s masquerading as a vampire hunter? Nothing? Nothing at all?

 
The boy’s wide eyes were way too bright a green, Clary noticed: the color of antifreeze, spring grass.

I sure hope his eyes are actually related to this sad little plot and not a random bit of filler!

Clary liked the lilt to his shoulders,

I hate admitting that ANY bad author did something right, but technically “lilt” can be used to describe movements.

  1. Of course, it’s not the sort of movement that shoulders can do, since shoulders do not really “swing.”
  2. I think she meant “lift.”
  3. And come on, use words in a way that people can easily understand. In the English language, the word “lilt” is almost always used to describe a SOUND, not a motion.

 
the way he tossed his hair as he went.

He was just that FAAAAABULOUS!

There was a word for him that her mother would have used—insouciant.

Her mother was also a random raper of dictionary words that hardly anybody uses. Seriously, I come from a pretty literate family who knows a lot of well-read people, and I have NEVER heard anyone use that word. I’m not even sure how you pronounce it.

 
“You thought he was cute,” said Simon, sounding resigned. “Didn’t you?”
Clary dug her elbow into his ribs, but didn’t answer.

Oh look, Simon is the dorky best friend who is totally in love with Clary but never actually tells her so, and she’s too clueless to realize LOLZ he’s got the hots for her even though it’s friggin obvious from his very first line! I have never seen THAT before. Maybe I should just refer to him as Duckie.

Then suddenly the perspective changes so abruptly that I almost got whiplash. We’ve barely even been introduced to our protagonist, and already we’re switching over to someone else. That person is “the boy in the red jacket” aka Hentai Hair, who turns out to have MAGIKAL POWAHZ like Jedi Mind Tricks and making glamours.

So he’s basically just hanging out in the club, which has lots of things that Cassandra Clare thinks clubs have – lots of bright colorful lights, smoke, and people in skimpy clothes dancing sexily. Without booze and/or drugs, those things tend to pall pretty quickly. Also, there’s no real mention of music.

 
Of course, he could probably have gotten by without all that trouble, but it was part of the fun—fooling the mundies, doing it all out in the open right in front of them, getting off on the blank looks on their sheeplike faces.

Did Edward Cullen sneak into another book? Because this seems oddly familiar.

Not that the humans didn’t have their uses.

Just ask the cats. SOMEBODY has to use the can opener!

 
slender limbs clad in scraps of silk and black leather appeared and disappeared inside the revolving columns of smoke as the mundies danced.

REVOLVING COLUMNS OF SMOKE?

  1. I’m pretty sure that having giant sight-obscuring smoke columns is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
  2. “Oh no, I fell down the stairs in my skimpy stiletto heels while deliberately dancing in a smoke column! CLEARLY THIS IS ALL THE CLUB’S FAULT!”
  3. Also, I don’t think the technology for “revolving columns of smoke” large enough to hide WHOLE PEOPLE exists. Smoke machines exist, sure, but not on that scale except on movie sets.
  4. It also seems kind of unsafe!

 
They didn’t know how lucky they were.

They didn’t have class in the morning!

 
They didn’t know what it was like to eke out life in a dead world, where the sun hung limp in the sky like a burned cinder.

I beg to differ, dude. I’ve been to Nevada!

So he’s planning to just… wander out on the dance floor and start killing people. Um… I’m pretty sure somebody might notice if you do that. Dubstep and bright lights are disorienting, but not THAT bad. Then a random girl comes out of nowhere and approaches him.

 
She was beautiful, for a human

To be REALLY hot, she’d need to be green and blobbular!

long hair nearly the precise color of black ink, charcoaled eyes.

Does Cassandra Clare realize that “charcoal makeup” is not really charcoal? This would be better if she just said “smoky.” The way she phrased it, I was imagining a girl who’s had charcoal briquettes rubbed on her eyes.

 
Floor-length white gown, the kind women used to wear when this world was younger.

SEXY! I can see why someone wearing a medieval white gown would totally blend in.

Oh, and big spoiler: this girl is actually undercover at this club, just for the purpose of luring this guy in. If she’s supposed to be doing that… why isn’t she dressed in appropriate club-wear, so she wouldn’t stick out so much?

Wait… we’re in the first chapter, and already we’ve encountered a lovingly-described girl… wearing a white dress. It can’t be… it can’t…

If anyone starts ranting about the evil of fire, I’m going to run for the hills.

 
Around her neck was a thick silver chain, on which hung a dark red pendant the size of a baby’s fist. He only had to narrow his eyes to know that it was real—real and precious.

  1. Yes, her pendant was a real…. pendant.
  2. Or does he mean the chain?
  3. WHY WAS THIS NEVER EDITED?

 So he’s hungry for… I think he wants to suck away her life energy, but it’s not very clear. What IS clear is that Clare’s writing sucks demon balls: tasting the phantom sizzle of her death on his lips. PHANTOM SIZZLE. I gotta say, Clare is not much better than Stephenie Meyer, but she makes up for it with how entertaining the badness is.

They threw away their lives for money, for packets of powder, for a stranger’s charming smile.

Not really. “Threw away” usually implies some sort of awareness, and most people wouldn’t volunteer to instantly die for drugs, implied nookie or money. It’s more like they can be lured.

So the girl does the sexy thing and beckons him into the back storage room, and he follows her because… well, he’s kinda stupid. Oh, I wonder if she’s luring him away! THE IRONY!

 
He slipped into the room after her, unaware that he was being followed.

“SURPRISE! Happy birthday toooo yooouuuu…”

Then we whiplash back to Clary and Simon, who are just sort of hanging out looking like dorks and staring at the people around them. Basically everybody just sort of jiggles in place or makes out.

A boy with a lip piercing and a teddy bear backpack was handing out free tablets of herbal ecstasy,

… HERBAL ECSTACY?

Okay, no way is that going to happen. We’ve already been told that this is an all-ages club. You know what “all-ages” means? It means eagle eyes making sure that no idiot teenager is going to start dealing drugs – yes, including “herbal” ones – in the club. If some underage idiot starts taking drugs in the middle of the club and dies or ends up hospitalized, you know who the parents are going to sue? THE CLUB.

I think Clare is trying to make this feel gritty and realistic, but… it would be grittier and more realistic if she just had Clary and Simon either sneak into the club, or use fake IDs. Then the drug dispensation on the dance floor would sort of make sense.

Anyway, Clary is horny for the blue-haired dude, possibly because of his hentai hair. Oh, the dirty filthy possibilities!

That said, I do like that unlike a certain other author, Clare is not ONLY having her heroine express physical attraction to the Designated Love Interest. That’s becoming creepily common, and so I feel the need to point out when the trope is averted. I know Hollywood and the mass media squirm at the idea that women lust after men (anything with attractive skimpily-clad men is described as a “gay” show/movie), but they do. Deal with it, world.

“I, for one,” Simon went on, “am enjoying myself immensely.”

“I say, Lady Fray, this is a smashing nightclub. What ho! Would you care for a cuppa, pip pip and cheerio?”

So yeah, Simon is clearly hating every minute of this, and Clary doesn’t really care. But even though she’s completely ignoring him, we still get a description of him because… Clare really likes describing men. Basically he’s Harry Potter minus the scar. And the importance to the plot.

His freshly scrubbed hair was dark brown instead of green or pink, and his glasses perched crookedly on the end of his nose.

  1. Who scrubs their hair?
  2. Washes it, yes. Shampoos, definitely. But you don’t SCRUB it unless it’s solid plastic like a Ken doll’s!
  3. Also, I wear glasses. I have done for almost as long as I can remember. When your glasses are sitting on the end of your nose, it means they are about to fall off and possibly break.
  4. I also don’t really know how your glasses can be “crooked” without making it hard to SEE THROUGH THEM.

 
He looked less as if he were contemplating the powers of darkness and more as if he were on his way to chess club.

… is contemplating the powers of darkness a normal thing to do?

I think she’s trying to imply that the other people at the club ARE the sort who would contemplate the powers of darkness… except they don’t seem to be. Mostly they seem to be dancing, doing drugs, and making out. And it’s not even the right KIND of club for “powers of darkness” contemplation. I could buy that in some sort of goth club, an occult club or something like that.

But with the smoke machines, psychedelic lights and stuff, this sounds more like a dance club or maybe a rave club. Most of the people there are not the sort to contemplate ANYTHING. Maybe it’s a line from her old Harry Potter fanfic that didn’t get edited out.

Also: Haha, Simon is a cliche neeeerrrrddd! He wears glasses! He looks like he’s in chess club! I bet he wears a pocket protector!

 
Clary knew perfectly well that he came to Pandemonium with her only because she liked it, that he thought it was boring.

… so why doesn’t she come there by herself?

 
She wasn’t even sure why it was that she liked it—the clothes, the music, made it like a dream, someone else’s life, not her boring real life at all. But she was always too shy to talk to anyone but Simon.

So our heroine is dragging her alleged best friend to a club where they dress like losers, don’t dance, don’t drink, don’t take drugs, and don’t interact with anybody. WHY?!

And PLEASE, for the love of Holly Black, can we stop with the awkward boring shy goody-two-shoes heroines who are incapable of actually having fun and never do anything their parents would disapprove of?

 
The blue-haired boy was making his way off the dance floor. He looked a little lost, as if he hadn’t found whom he was looking for.

“Clearly he wants to find true love in a dance club, and the person he’s looking for is a shy awkward plain girl with a bland personality!”
“Clary, you’re talking out loud again.”
“Silence, nerd!”

She considers going to talk to the guy, but just then he notices the girl in the Magical White Dress of Awesomeness. Since that girl is soooooo gorgeous, Clary feels that she can’t possibly compete. Well, that confirms it: White Dress Girl is a bitch, evil, or both. That’s what happens in Sue fiction when somebody is more attractive than the protagonist.

Simon keeps trying to talk to Clary, but Clary just rolls her eyes and ignores him. Wow, what a bitch. It’s been just a few pages, and already the Sue is demonstrating what a nasty person she is. I can see why Simon is her best friend – he’s probably her ONLY friend if that’s how she treats people who are doing stuff ENTIRELY FOR HER BENEFIT.

Her attention was on the girl in the white dress.

Someone help me! I’m having flashbacks to Terry Goodkind!

 
Through the darkness, smoke, and artificial fog, her pale dress shone out like a beacon.

See? Nothing about her, just about her dress. I’m starting to wonder if Clare and Goodkind are secretly the same person.

But then Clary notices that not only is the blue-haired boy following the dress with a girl in it, but two mysterious figures are following him too! They are two teenage boys (well, I assume they’re teenagers; Clare doesn’t really explain) dressed all in black.

 
She couldn’t have said how she knew that they were following the other boy, but she did.

Maybe it was the way they walked directly behind him, making creepy noises.

 
She could see it in the way they paced him, their careful watchfulness, the slinking grace of their movements.

So… they’re ninjas? Because so far this book has sucked, and ninjas could only improve it.

 
“Meanwhile,” Simon added, “I wanted to tell you that lately I’ve been cross-dressing. Also, I’m sleeping with your mom. I thought you should know.”

HA. Oh, funny funny funny. Cue the laugh track, just to emphasize how funny this is.

I’m going to warn you about soething now: Clare is one of those people who thinks she’s a lot funnier than she actually is. Which she isn’t. Yeah, there’s a funny line here or there, but not frequently. I think she’s trying to be like Joss Whedon, who writes a lot of pop-culture-saturated snarky dialogue.

The girl had reached the wall, and was opening a door marked NO ADMITTANCE. She beckoned the blue-haired boy after her, and they slipped through the door. It wasn’t anything Clary hadn’t seen before, a couple sneaking off to the dark corners of the club to make out—but that made it even weirder that they were being followed.

She raised herself up on tiptoe, trying to see over the crowd. The two guys had stopped at the door and seemed to be conferring with each other. One of them was blond, the other dark-haired. The blond one reached into his jacket and drew out something long and sharp that flashed under the strobing lights. A knife. “Simon!” Clary shouted, and seized his arm.

“What?” Simon looked alarmed. “I’m not really sleeping with your mom, you know. I was just trying to get your attention. Not that your mom isn’t a very attractive woman, for her age.”

“Do you see those guys?” She pointed wildly, almost hitting a curvy black girl who was dancing nearby. The girl shot her an evil look. “Sorry—sorry!” Clary turned back to Simon. “Do you see those two guys over there? By that door?”

Simon squinted, then shrugged. “I don’t see anything.”

“There are two of them. They were following the guy with the blue hair—”

“The one you thought was cute?”

“Yes, but that’s not the point. The blond one pulled a knife.”

“Are you sure?” Simon stared harder, shaking his head. “I still don’t see anyone.”

“I’m sure.”

Suddenly all business, Simon squared his shoulders. “I’ll get one of the security guards. You stay here.” He strode away, pushing through the crowd.

Clary turned just in time to see the blond boy slip through the NO ADMITTANCE door, his friend right on his heels. She looked around; Simon was still trying to shove his way across the dance floor, but he wasn’t making much progress. Even if she yelled now, no one would hear her, and by the time Simon got back, something terrible might already have happened. Biting hard on her lower lip, Clary started to wriggle through the crowd.

“What’s your name?”

She turned and smiled. What faint light there was in the storage room spilled down through high barred windows smeared with dirt. Piles of electrical cables, along with broken bits of mirrored disco balls and discarded paint cans, littered the floor.

“Isabelle.”

“That’s a nice name.” He walked toward her, stepping carefully among the wires in case any of them were live. In the faint light she looked half-transparent, bleached of color, wrapped in white like an angel. It would be a pleasure to make her fall … “I haven’t seen you here before.”

“You’re asking me if I come here often?” She giggled, covering her mouth with her hand. There was some sort of bracelet around her wrist, just under the cuff of her dress—then, as he neared her, he saw that it wasn’t a bracelet at all but a pattern inked into her skin, a matrix of swirling lines.

He froze. “You—”

He didn’t finish. She moved with lightning swiftness, striking out at him with her open hand, a blow to his chest that would have sent him down gasping if he’d been a human being. He staggered back, and now there was something in her hand, a coiling whip that glinted gold as she brought it down, curling around his ankles, jerking him off his feet. He hit the ground, writhing, the hated metal biting deep into his skin. She laughed, standing over him, and dizzily he thought that he should have known. No human girl would wear a dress like the one Isabelle wore. She’d worn it to cover her skin—all of her skin.

Isabelle yanked hard on the whip, securing it. Her smile glittered like poisonous water. “He’s all yours, boys.”

A low laugh sounded behind him, and now there were hands on him, hauling him upright, throwing him against one of the concrete pillars. He could feel the damp stone under his back. His hands were pulled behind him, his wrists bound with wire. As he struggled, someone walked around the side of the pillar into his view: a boy, as young as Isabelle and just as pretty. His tawny eyes glittered like chips of amber. “So,” the boy said. “Are there any more with you?”

The blue-haired boy could feel blood welling up under the too-tight metal, making his wrists slippery. “Any other what?”

“Come on now.” The tawny-eyed boy held up his hands, and his dark sleeves slipped down, showing the runes inked all over his wrists, the backs of his hands, his palms. “You know what I am.”

Far back inside his skull, the shackled boy’s second set of teeth began to grind.

“Shadowhunter,” he hissed.

The other boy grinned all over his face. “Got you,” he said.

Clary pushed the door to the storage room open, and stepped inside. For a moment she thought it was deserted. The only windows were high up and barred; faint street noise came through them, the sound of honking cars and squealing brakes. The room smelled like old paint, and a heavy layer of dust covered the floor, marked by smeared shoe prints.

There’s no one in here, she realized, looking around in bewilderment. It was cold in the room, despite the August heat outside. Her back was icy with sweat. She took a step forward, tangling her feet in electrical wires. She bent down to free her sneaker from the cables—and heard voices. A girl’s laugh, a boy answering sharply. When she straightened up, she saw them.

It was as if they had sprung into existence between one blink of her eyes and the next. There was the girl in her long white dress, her black hair hanging down her back like damp seaweed. The two boys were with her—the tall one with black hair like hers, and the smaller, fair one, whose hair gleamed like brass in the dim light coming through the windows high above. The fair boy was standing with his hands in his pockets, facing the punk kid, who was tied to a pillar with what looked like piano wire, his hands stretched behind him, his legs bound at the ankles. His face was pulled tight with pain and fear.

Heart hammering in her chest, Clary ducked behind the nearest concrete pillar and peered around it. She watched as the fair-haired boy paced back and forth, his arms now crossed over his chest. “So,” he said. “You still haven’t told me if there are any other of your kind with you.”

Your kind? Clary wondered what he was talking about. Maybe she’d stumbled into some kind of gang war.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” The blue-haired boy’s tone was pained but surly.

“He means other demons,” said the dark-haired boy, speaking for the first time. “You do know what a demon is, don’t you?”

The boy tied to the pillar turned his face away, his mouth working.

“Demons,” drawled the blond boy, tracing the word on the air with his finger. “Religiously defined as hell’s denizens, the servants of Satan, but understood here, for the purposes of the Clave, to be any malevolent spirit whose origin is outside our own home dimension—”

“That’s enough, Jace,” said the girl.

“Isabelle’s right,” agreed the taller boy. “Nobody here needs a lesson in semantics—or demonology.”

They’re crazy, Clary thought. Actually crazy.

Jace raised his head and smiled. There was something fierce about the gesture, something that reminded Clary of documentaries she’d watched about lions on the Discovery Channel, the way the big cats would raise their heads and sniff the air for prey. “Isabelle and Alec think I talk too much,” he said, confidingly. “Do you think I talk too much?”

The blue-haired boy didn’t reply. His mouth was still working. “I could give you information,” he said. “I know where Valentine is.”

Jace glanced back at Alec, who shrugged. “Valentine’s in the ground,” Jace said. “The thing’s just toying with us.”

Isabelle tossed her hair. “Kill it, Jace,” she said. “It’s not going to tell us anything.”

Jace raised his hand, and Clary saw dim light spark off the knife he was holding. It was oddly translucent, the blade clear as crystal, sharp as a shard of glass, the hilt set with red stones.

The bound boy gasped. “Valentine is back!” he protested, dragging at the bonds that held his hands behind his back. “All the Infernal Worlds know it—I know it—I can tell you where he is—”

Rage flared suddenly in Jace’s icy eyes. “By the Angel, every time we capture one of you bastards, you claim you know where Valentine is. Well, we know where he is too. He’s in hell. And you—” Jace turned the knife in his grasp, the edge sparking like a line of fire. “You can join him there.”

Clary could take no more. She stepped out from behind the pillar. “Stop!” she cried. “You can’t do this.”

Jace whirled, so startled that the knife flew from his hand and clattered against the concrete floor. Isabelle and Alec turned along with him, wearing identical expressions of astonishment. The blue-haired boy hung in his bonds, stunned and gaping.

It was Alec who spoke first. “What’s this?” he demanded, looking from Clary to his companions, as if they might know what she was doing there.

“It’s a girl,” Jace said, recovering his composure. “Surely you’ve seen girls before, Alec. Your sister Isabelle is one.” He took a step closer to Clary, squinting as if he couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing. “A mundie girl,” he said, half to himself. “And she can see us.”

“Of course I can see you,” Clary said. “I’m not blind, you know.”

“Oh, but you are,” said Jace, bending to pick up his knife. “You just don’t know it.” He straightened up. “You’d better get out of here, if you know what’s good for you.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Clary said. “If I do, you’ll kill him.” She pointed at the boy with the blue hair.

“That’s true,” admitted Jace, twirling the knife between his fingers. “What do you care if I kill him or not?”

“Be-because—” Clary spluttered. “You can’t just go around killing people.”

“You’re right,” said Jace. “You can’t go around killing people.” He pointed at the boy with blue hair, whose eyes were slitted. Clary wondered if he’d fainted. “That’s not a person, little girl. It may look like a person and talk like a person and maybe even bleed like a person. But it’s a monster.”

“Jace,” said Isabelle warningly. “That’s enough.”

“You’re crazy,” Clary said, backing away from him. “I’ve called the police, you know. They’ll be here any second.”

“She’s lying,” said Alec, but there was doubt on his face. “Jace, do you—”

He never got to finish his sentence. At that moment the blue-haired boy, with a high, yowling cry, tore free of the restraints binding him to the pillar, and flung himself on Jace.

They fell to the ground and rolled together, the blue-haired boy tearing at Jace with hands that glittered as if tipped with metal. Clary backed up, wanting to run, but her feet caught on a loop of wiring and she went down, knocking the breath out of her chest. She could hear Isabelle shrieking. Rolling over, Clary saw the blue-haired boy sitting on Jace’s chest. Blood gleamed at the tips of his razorlike claws.

Isabelle and Alec were running toward them, Isabelle brandishing the whip in her hand. The blue-haired boy slashed at Jace with claws extended. Jace threw an arm up to protect himself, and the claws raked it, splattering blood. The blue-haired boy lunged again—and Isabelle’s whip came down across his back. He shrieked and fell to the side.

Swift as a flick of Isabelle’s whip, Jace rolled over. There was a blade gleaming in his hand. He sank the knife into the blue-haired boy’s chest. Blackish liquid exploded around the hilt. The boy arched off the floor, gurgling and twisting. With a grimace Jace stood up. His black shirt was blacker now in some places, wet with blood. He looked down at the twitching form at his feet, reached down, and yanked out the knife. The hilt was slick with black fluid.

The blue-haired boy’s eyes flickered open. His eyes, fixed on Jace, seemed to burn. Between his teeth, he hissed, “So be it. The Forsaken will take you all.”

Jace seemed to snarl. The boy’s eyes rolled back. His body began to jerk and twitch as he crumpled, folding in on himself, growing smaller and smaller until he vanished entirely.

Clary scrambled to her feet, kicking free of the electrical wiring. She began to back away. None of them were paying attention to her. Alec had reached Jace and was holding his arm, pulling at the sleeve, probably trying to get a good look at the wound. Clary turned to run—and found her way blocked by Isabelle, whip in hand. The gold length of it was stained with dark fluid. She flicked it toward Clary, and the end wrapped itself around her wrist and jerked tight. Clary gasped with pain and surprise.

“Stupid little mundie,” Isabelle said between her teeth. “You could have gotten Jace killed.”

“He’s crazy,” Clary said, trying to pull her wrist back. The whip bit deeper into her skin. “You’re all crazy. What do you think you are, vigilante killers? The police—”

“The police aren’t usually interested unless you can produce a body,” said Jace. Cradling his arm, he picked his way across the cable-strewn floor toward Clary. Alec followed behind him, face screwed into a scowl.

Clary glanced at the spot where the boy had disappeared from, and said nothing. There wasn’t even a smear of blood there—nothing to show that the boy had ever existed.

“They return to their home dimensions when they die,” said Jace. “In case you were wondering.”

“Jace,” Alec hissed. “Be careful.”

Jace drew his arm away. A ghoulish freckling of blood marked his face. He still reminded her of a lion, with his wide-spaced, light-colored eyes, and that tawny gold hair. “She can see us, Alec,” he said. “She already knows too much.”

“So what do you want me to do with her?” Isabelle demanded.

“Let her go,” Jace said quietly. Isabelle shot him a surprised, almost angry look, but didn’t argue. The whip slithered away, freeing Clary’s arm. She rubbed her sore wrist and wondered how the hell she was going to get out of there.

“Maybe we should bring her back with us,” Alec said. “I bet Hodge would like to talk to her.”

“No way are we bringing her to the Institute,” said Isabelle. “She’s a mundie.”

“Or is she?” said Jace softly. His quiet tone was worse than Isabelle’s snapping or Alec’s anger. “Have you had dealings with demons, little girl? Walked with warlocks, talked with the Night Children? Have you—”

“My name is not ‘little girl,’” Clary interrupted. “And I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Don’t you? said a voice in the back of her head. You saw that boy vanish into thin air. Jace isn’t crazy—you just wish he was. “I don’t believe in—in demons, or whatever you—”

“Clary?” It was Simon’s voice. She whirled around. He was standing by the storage room door. One of the burly bouncers who’d been stamping hands at the front door was next to him. “Are you okay?” He peered at her through the gloom. “Why are you in here by yourself? What happened to the guys—you know, the ones with the knives?”

Clary stared at him, then looked behind her, where Jace, Isabelle, and Alec stood, Jace still in his bloody shirt with the knife in his hand. He grinned at her and dropped a half-apologetic, half-mocking shrug. Clearly he wasn’t surprised that neither Simon nor the bouncer could see them.

Somehow neither was Clary. Slowly she turned back to Simon, knowing how she must look to him, standing alone in a damp storage room, her feet tangled in bright plastic wiring cables. “I thought they went in here,” she said lamely. “But I guess they didn’t. I’m sorry.” She glanced from Simon, whose expression was changing from worried to embarrassed, to the bouncer, who just looked annoyed. “It was a mistake.”

Behind her, Isabelle giggled.

“I don’t believe it,” Simon said stubbornly as Clary, standing at the curb, tried desperately to hail a cab. Street cleaners had come down Orchard while they were inside the club, and the street was glossed black with oily water.

“I know,” she agreed. “You’d think there’d be some cabs. Where is everyone going at midnight on a Sunday?” She turned back to him, shrugging. “You think we’d have better luck on Houston?”

“Not the cabs,” Simon said. “You—I don’t believe you. I don’t believe those guys with the knives just disappeared.”

Clary sighed. “Maybe there weren’t any guys with knives, Simon. Maybe I just imagined the whole thing.”

“No way.” Simon raised his hand over his head, but the oncoming taxis whizzed by him, spraying dirty water. “I saw your face when I came into that storage room. You looked seriously freaked out, like you’d seen a ghost.”

Clary thought of Jace with his lion-cat eyes. She glanced down at her wrist, braceleted by a thin red line where Isabelle’s whip had curled. No, not a ghost, she thought. Something even weirder than that.

“It was just a mistake,” she said wearily. She wondered why she wasn’t telling him the truth. Except, of course, that he’d think she was crazy. And there was something about what had happened—something about the black blood bubbling up around Jace’s knife, something about his voice when he’d said Have you talked with the Night Children? that she wanted to keep to herself.

“Well, it was a hell of an embarrassing mistake,” Simon said. He glanced back at the club, where a thin line still snaked out the door and halfway down the block. “I doubt they’ll ever let us back into Pandemonium.”

“What do you care? You hate Pandemonium.” Clary raised her hand again as a yellow shape sped toward them through the fog. This time, though, the taxi screeched to a halt at their corner, the driver laying into his horn as if he needed to get their attention.

“Finally we get lucky.” Simon yanked the taxi door open and slid onto the plastic-covered backseat. Clary followed, inhaling the familiar New York cab smell of old cigarette smoke, leather, and hair spray. “We’re going to Brooklyn,” Simon said to the cabbie, and then he turned to Clary. “Look, you know you can tell me anything, right?”

Clary hesitated a moment, then nodded. “Sure, Simon,” she said. “I know I can.”

She slammed the cab door shut behind her, and the taxi took off into the night.

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