Simon Spotlight ~ June 2004
$5.99 US / $8.99 CAN
SYNOPSIS: When a gigantic stone monolith suddenly appears on Hollywood Boulevard, Angel and Connor must work together to avert a demonic apocalypse.
Read my Watcher's Web ARTICLE on writing Buffy/Angel books.
Angel: MONOLITH is an original novel based on the TV series Angel, created by Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt.
"MONOLITH takes you on a 24-hour whirlwind, demonic
adventure true to the spirit of ANGEL and its characters... packed with over
320-pages of non-stop action... culminating with an enthralling, nail-biting
ending... a rich story full of emotions and undercurrents that carry the
action past the drama and into the relationships of these characters. Even
when you think the battle has been won, hold on to your GTX seats because
the final 50-pages rival any episode of Angel you've even seen!"
—KRISTY BRATTON for CITYOFANGEL.COM
(Read the full review & interview.)
"[It’s as if John Passarella] were possessed by an Angel script
writer... one of the best script writers! Should you read this? Heck ya!
A solid, hands down, no ifs, ands, or apocalypses about it. If you enjoyed
the series you'll love this — and if you're new to or blind to the
series, you'll be just fine... there's enough short backstories and explanations
that even those who have never seen an episode can enjoy it!"
—HORROR-WEB.COM (Read the full review.)
"Reading this book is like seeing an episode in 4D. Not only can you
picture the action in your mind, but [you can] see inside the characters'
minds. The sardonic wit that is Whedon's hallmark is perfectly captured here,
along with all the angst and action."
—AMANDA KILLGORE, HUNTRESS REVIEWS
"John Passarella is a natural storyteller. [MONOLITH is]
an action story with moments of poignancy and depth.... One of this year's
best Angel books."
—MARC RUBY, Amazon.com TOP 10 REVIEWER
Both FOX and S&S have approved the Monolith manuscript with some minor line editing, which means we've passed the revision stage.
On Monday, February 9th, 2004 I delivered my corrections to the first pass loose galley. (A loose galley looks like a manuscript, but turned on its side, with two typeset pages per 8 1/2" by 11" page, with headers, page numbers, etc. This is how the actual pages in the book will look. Note: For a hardbound galley, only one typeset page would fit on a 8 1/2" by 11" sheet of paper.)
Next up will be the second pass loose galley. Same as above, but with the corrections applied. This is basically the last chance to fix that stray typo, grammatical flub, etc., before the book is bound.
My editor informs me the (second and ) third pass galley looked good.
April 19, 2004 - It's done, gang! The book that is. My editor sent me two sample copies of the finished MONOLITH. Curious little factoid: The book cover has some corroded pipes in the background (behind Angel & Connor), but if you check out the cover shown at Amazon, B&N.com, etc., they have a version of the cover where the background is solid black.
Back Cover Text
Father And Son
Like any parent, Angel really wants to understand his son, Connor, but it's hard when life keeps getting in the way. Angel's overworked, Connor's embarrassed by his dad's taste for blood, and there are Hyconian demons running rampant through the streets of L.A. That doesn't leave a lot of time for bonding, especially when a gigantic monolith suddenly appears on Hollywood Boulevard.
Nobody knows what to think of the massive rock with two demon faces carved on its exterior. The news stations think it's an elaborate publicity stunt for a recently released movie, and religious extremists call it a sign of impending apocalypse. As Angel Investigations struggles to understand what the rock's appearance means, it becomes clear that Connor and Angel will have to work together in order to survive.
by John Passarella
Excerpt Copyright © 2004 by
Twentieth Century Film Corporation, Inc. All rights reserved.
[Historian's Note: MONOLITH takes place between the episodes entitled
"Spin the Bottle" and "Apocalypse Nowish"
Angel: MONOLITH preview below. All rights reserved. You may not print (except for personal use), copy or distribute this text in any way. You are however encouraged to link to this preview page: http://www.passarella.com/monolith.htm Thank you!
Angel finally knew how to stop them. But first he had to catch them.
Leaving the GTX parked about a mile back, Angel had taken to the rooftops, his vampiric strength allowing him to leap across the gaps between buildings with relative ease. As he sprinted, his black leather duster whipped behind him, exposing the gleaming metal of the sword clutched upright in his hand. His heightened senses scanned for any telltale sign of an attack.
For several nights running, the demon-pack had been preying on solitary pedestrians, lone joggers, the homeless, and anyone else they caught outside alone after dusk. The pack would appear, strike with impunity, and vanish into the night—until the inevitable next attack, hours later and miles away. The few witness accounts available were contradictory. And, so far, none of the victims had survived.
Cordelia and Fred had been plotting the demon attacks on a map of Los Angeles. As the number of pushpins accumulated, so too did their frustration. Until yesterday, a predictable pattern to the location of the attacks—as well as the genus of this particular demon-pack—had eluded them. Until Fred, fresh from a mid-afternoon nap, looked at the map for the hundredth time and saw, instead of randomness, a clear pattern in the apparent chaos. Each attack cluster formed an expanding clockwise spiral. The first group of attacks was random, and the second group seemed random as well, but it was the key to how the spiral would form. If the second group was northwest of the first, the third group would be to the north, but if the second group was east of the first, then the third would be southeast. Angel’s best chance of intercepting the pack was at the third point in the spiral, but pinpointing that location was an inexact science. Within a half- to three-quarter mile radius, he had to scout likely ambush points and hope to intercept the pack before they pounced on their hapless victim and moved on.
According to a few reports, the attackers had dropped from a nearby rooftop to encircle their victim. Angel thought his best chance to stop them was to catch them before they pounced, so he’d taken the high ground to stalk the stalkers. Yesterday the strategy had proved successful…to a point. He intercepted the three pack members—lanky demons with matted black fur and yellow, ram-like horns—moments before they would have ambushed an unwary teenager cutting through a dark alley. A fierce battle ensued but Angel thought the stacked odds were manageable—until they became worse. When he thought he’d killed the first demon, it spilt hydra-like into two reanimated demons. Three to one odds became four to one. Maybe he was a glutton for punishment, but he had to be sure. He killed another demon, and soon faced five of them. Instead of eliminating the demon-pack problem, he had unwittingly made it worse.
He’d had no choice but to retreat from the battle and hope the gang at Angel Investigations could find an Achilles heel for the demonic hydra, mixed mythological metaphors aside. Fortunately, the puzzle pieces had begun to fall into place. Lorne took the additional information—physical description and splitting ability—back to the demonic grapevine and returned with the name Hyconus. Wesley had researched the name all day before uncovering in a moldy tome a sparse reference to the Order of Hyconus. The entry described the demons as marauding harbingers without explaining what particular type of nastiness their presence presaged. The reference did, however, provide a clue as to how one might dispatch them without triggering their full-body demonic mitosis.
But first he had to catch—
—a streak of movement as something predatory landed behind him.
Angel spun, wielding the sword in a two-handed grip, and braced for attack.
* * *
The old homeless man pushed his worldly belongings in a shopping cart as he walked behind the warehouse. Beneath the pile of bottles and aluminum cans, within a rolled and tattered blanket, he kept everything he possessed of any value. His meager net worth included several packages of peanut butter crackers, a twenty-four ounce water bottle, half a pack of Marlboro cigarettes along with a disposable lighter, an AM/FM radio with a crooked antenna and missing knobs, a sock filled with loose change, a King James Bible with a frayed cover and distressed binding, and a charred wooden picture frame holding the faded image of the woman he had loved and lost thirty years ago, though lately he had trouble recalling her name. As usual, the few bills he’d managed to panhandle that day, he kept on his person, tucked inside one of his worn sneakers. And because his trouser pockets were riddled with holes, he kept a pocket knife down in his sock.
He had no choice but to carry everything with him. When he couldn’t find a bed in a local shelter, he would camp out in one of several places he favored, relatively safe places, but he never left anything behind he would regret missing when he returned.
Steering the shopping cart down the alley that separated two warehouses, he paused at the first of two Dumpsters. He flipped up the lid on the side nearest him, disturbing a dozen foraging flies in the process. Too narrow for the eighteen-wheeled delivery trucks, the alley saw limited traffic, mostly employee cars during the day and trash removal service trucks at night. The old man made a point of hitting the alley before the trucks arrived to empty the Dumpsters. He tossed soda cans over his shoulder into his brimming shopping cart, but took more care with the empty juice and beer bottles he found.
It was while turning away from the Dumpster with a long-necked root beer bottle clutched between thumb and index finger that he saw them drop eerily from the sky, landing to form a rough circle around him. Five of them. His first thought was that they were hooligans or delinquent teenagers whose idea of an evening’s entertainment was to torment a helpless old homeless man, which turned his mind to the knife in his sock.
But as they crept closer in the gathering darkness, he saw that they were not teenagers. They weren’t human at all. Nor were they animals, despite animal characteristics, including fur, horns, and claws. They walked upright, these near-men, but otherwise they were creatures from nightmares… or hallucinations. The old man hadn’t had a drink in days. Wide awake and stone-cold sober, he had no excuse and no explanation for what he was seeing.
The fleeting thought of grabbing the rusty old pocket knife to defend himself from not one but five creatures vomited up from the bowels of hell seemed ludicrous. Terror paralyzed him. His arthritic legs trembled. His weak heart galloped dangerously. His throat was too dry to scream or even beg for mercy.
As they closed the circle around the old man, their finger-claws clicking and forked tongues flashing in wicked anticipation, the long-necked soda bottle slipped through his fingers.
* * *
Caught off-guard, Angel had assumed a defensive posture with the sword, ready to ward off the silent attacker who had landed behind him to his left.
"Gotcha," Connor said with a self-satisfied smirk.
Frowning, Angel lowered the weapon. "Did not."
Angel wasn’t about to admit any such thing. The last time Connor got the drop on him, the drop had been literal, with Connor chaining his vampire father in a makeshift glass coffin and dumping him in the Pacific Ocean, intending to let him waste away for eternity and slowly go insane in the bargain. Connor had acted out of revenge, because he wrongly believed Angel was responsible for the death of his adoptive father, Angel’s sworn enemy, Daniel Holtz.
Plenty of mitigating circumstances worked in the boy’s favor. Holtz had tricked Wesley into helping him kidnap the infant Connor, whereupon Holtz took the boy through a portal into a hell dimension known as Quor-Toth. There Holtz had honed Connor’s extraordinary physical prowess, creating an expert tracker and a feared demon killer known as "the Destroyer" while finding time for a little brainwashing on the side.
Time passed differently in Quor-Toth. Angel was still grieving over the recent loss of his infant son when the boy returned from Quor-Toth as a teenager, filled with Holtz’s venom, a pure hatred for Angel.
Making the best of a bad situation, Angel had worked to repair his damaged relationship with Connor. Angel had believed he was making headway. He had hoped his ongoing mission to ‘help the helpless’ would convince the boy that Angel was no longer the evil Angelus whom Holtz never forgave for destroying his own family. Despite outward appearances, Connor remained true to Holtz’s quest for revenge. The final straw came when Holtz orchestrated the manner of his own death, making it appear that he had been killed by a vampire, namely Angel. Connor was all too willing to believe Angel was still capable of cold blooded murder. Holtz had raised him to believe it. And so Connor had consigned his natural father to withering death and insanity in the depths of the ocean.
Fortunately for Angel, Wesley had discovered the plot and coerced Holtz’s fanatical assistant, Justine, into helping him locate what was to have been Angel’s final resting place. Instead of spending eternity imprisoned on the sea floor, Angel’s sentence had been commuted to three months. It had only seemed like eternity.
With that rescue, Angel believed that Wesley had redeemed himself for the well-intentioned but misguided abduction of Angel’s infant son. They were working together in an uneasy alliance, uneasy mostly because Wesley still had issues about his own gullibility in Holtz’s scheme. The situation with Connor was more complicated. Angel had forgiven Connor’s patricidal act of betrayal because, after three months of imprisonment, Angel knew he still loved his son. Learning to trust him again was another matter.
"I’m in the middle of something here, Connor."
"The sword was a dead giveaway," Connor said. "I might be heading that way." The impossible human son of two vampires, Connor had superhuman strength and heightened senses. Slighter in build than Angel, the teenager was nearly as quick and strong. Whereas Angel had had the benefit of a couple centuries in which to hone his fighting skills, Connor had survived childhood in a hell dimension. He would be a valuable ally in the upcoming demonic melee.
"Good," Angel said. He reached inside his duster and unsheathed a machete he’d kept hidden there as a backup weapon. "You’ll need this."
"Sweet," Connor said, admiring the blade. "What are we up against?"
"The Order of Hyconus," Angel said. "Five of them. Run in a pack. Attack and kill anyone they catch outside alone after dark."
"Until we kill them." In a blur of motion, Connor swept the machete back and forth, vicious practice strokes that made the gleaming blade whistle in the night.
"For decapitating," Angel said. "Unless we can persuade them to kill each other."
"Why let them have all the fun?"
"One minor detail," Angel said. "We have to kill them in order."
"What? Take turns?"
"No, it’s their—"
They both heard it. A sound far enough away to be beyond the range of normal human hearing. Not a problem for either of them.
"Breaking glass?" Connor asked.
Angel nodded. "Sounds like they found a victim. Connor—wait!"
Connor had already begun to sprint across the roof. He bounded onto an air conditioning unit and used that additional height as a makeshift springboard to launch himself to the next rooftop. "Why wait? They won’t."
In a heartbeat—assuming his vampire heart had been capable of beating—Angel took off after Connor’s already receding form. "Connor, it’s their horns!"
"What about them?"
"Size matters," Angel shouted, but he had the distinct feeling that Connor’s attention was on the upcoming fight. "The size of their horns!" Wesley had discovered that the ‘order’ in the Order of Hyconus name referred to the demons’ vulnerability. "Connor?" Angel called.
"Dead is dead," was Connor’s distant reply.
Not necessarily, Angel thought wryly. Three rooftops separated father from son and, although Angel wasn’t losing ground, neither was he gaining. Connor would engage the Hyconus demons first.
Connor stopped at the edge of a three story office building, then stepped off, dropping from sight. Angel charged ahead, hoping to catch Connor before he made the same mistake Angel had the previous night.
Ahead, Angel heard the sound of metal crashing, glass breaking, and a rush and rattle of spilled aluminum cans. Too late to stop their ambush, Angel knew. Maybe not too late to save their victim.
That’s when he heard a man scream in terror.
Without slowing, Angel launched himself head first off the office building, arcing upward until gravity overcame his considerable momentum and pulled him downward, like an inbound missile. Beneath him, Connor streaked across a warehouse roof, his legs a blur of scissoring motion. Angel tucked and rolled with the impact, startling Connor, who broke stride for a moment, even as Angel sprang to his feet and raced for the edge of the warehouse roof. "Gotcha," Angel called over his shoulder as he leapt to the alley below.
Instantly, he assessed the situation. Near a pair of Dumpsters and an overturned shopping cart, which had been filled with empty cans and bottles, five horned demons surrounded a frightened old man in threadbare clothing whose gray hair looked like an abandoned bird’s nest. The alpha demon, with five-swirled horns on either side of his wedge-shaped head, held the man aloft with one clawed hand clamped around his wrist. Judging by the position of the demon’s other hand, he’d been about to eviscerate the man when Angel dropped in on them.
"Demon bullies," Angel said derisively. "You guys are pathetic." He walked forward casually, his gaze flickering to the demon’s nasty claws, poised over the old man’s abdomen. "Ganging up on a frightened old man. Where’s your self-esteem?"
Connor landed with catlike grace beside Angel.
The demon shrugged and smiled, exposing a mouth lined with snarled and pointed teeth beneath flaring nostril holes and deep-set yellow eyes. "We’re thinning the human herd."
The smallest demon, with a single-swirl horn, smirked and said, "What’s it to you? You’re not human." Nodding toward Connor. "And neither is he."
Connor returned the smirk. "Shows how much you know."
"Enough!" the alpha demon bellowed. "We kill this one, then the meddlers!"
Angel sprang forward a moment before the demon’s claws flashed toward the old man’s exposed midsection. He swung his sword down as if it were a meat cleaver and lopped off the demon’s hand at the wrist. The demon roared in pain and rage, but released his hostage, dropping the old man onto the loose pile of cans and bottles.
The homeless man rolled onto hands and knees, scrabbled to his feet and lumbered down the alley, moaning with fear, certain he could never escape the monstrosities, but running nonetheless.
"Don’t worry," Angel said to the one-handed alpha demon. "I’m not going to kill you… yet."
Instead, Angel spun on his heel and swung his sword at the single-swirl-horned demon. The demon ducked and the blade struck the nearest Dumpster in a spray of sparks. Small, but quick, Angel thought. But he has to die first.
Still enraged, the alpha demon charged with his head bowed so that his pointed horns could impale Angel. "Always wanted to see the running of the bulls," Angel said, launching a spin kick that redirected the horns toward the Dumpster.
Dazed, the demon staggered sideways.
"Relax, Dad," Connor said. "I’ll take this one."
While Angel was distracted, two of the middle-horned demons caught him under his arms and slammed him against the Dumpster. He dodged their swiping claws, jammed his left elbow into the face of one then drove that fist into the nose-less face of the other one.
Connor’s sweep kick felled the third of three middle demons, freeing him to advance on the stunned alpha demon.
Angel rushed to intercept Connor, but single-swirl-horn jumped in front of him. "You I can kill now," Angel said, but knew he would be too late.
As the alpha demon straightened, Connor wielded his machete in a two-handed grip and swung it like a baseball bat toward the demon’s exposed throat.
"He’s last!" Angel yelled. The alpha demon’s head fell off his body a split second before Angel could decapitate single-swirl-horn. Wrong order!
Sensing movement behind him from the tripped demon’s position, Connor’s pivoted on his heel and lopped off the head with an efficient but pointless stroke. "Three down," he declared.
As three demon bodies hit the ground with successive dull thuds, they began to shimmer and separate. Seconds later, three headless bodies became six headless bodies. Then fresh heads emerged from all six neck stumps. It was like watching time lapsed photography of flower buds blooming… hideous flowers certainly, but that was the general visual impression.
Three down, Angel thought, then added in resignation, "And six up."
Where there had been five demons out for blood, there were now eight. The demons sprang to their feet and formed a semicircle around Angel and Connor, attempting to force them back against the Dumpsters where they would be unable to swing their weapons effectively. When the demons weren’t gnashing their pointed teeth or flicking forked tongues, they clicked their claws together in gleeful anticipation. And the accumulation of matted fur was becoming a bit ripe.
Connor shot Angel a confused look. "What just happened?"
"Would it kill you to follow directions once in a while?"
Angel: Monolith by John Passarella
Excerpt Copyright © 2004 Twentieth Century Film Corporation, Inc. All rights reserved.
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from Angel: Monolith. If you have and would like to read more, please ask your local bookseller to order a copy or visit one of the order links listed above.