‘They are hunting us, and they won’t stop until they’ve killed us all.’ Perfect for fans of The Hunger Games, I Am Number Four is the first book in Pittacus Lore's Lorien Legacies series. Read on for an extract.
The door starts shaking. It’s a ﬂimsy thing made of bamboo shoots held together with tattered lengths of twine. The shake is subtle and stops almost immediately. They lift their heads to listen, a fourteen-year-old boy and a ﬁfty-year-old man, who everyone thinks is his father but who was born near a different jungle on a different planet hundreds of lightyears away. They are lying shirtless on opposite sides of the hut, a mosquito net over each cot. They hear a distant crash, like the sound of an animal breaking the branch of a tree, but in this case, it sounds like the entire tree has been broken.
‘What was that?’ the boy asks.
‘Shh,’ the man replies.
They hear the chirp of insects, nothing more. The man brings his legs over the side of the cot when the shake starts again. A longer, ﬁrmer shake, and another crash, this time closer. The man gets to his feet and walks slowly to the door. Silence. The man takes a deep breath as he inches his hand to the latch. The boy sits up.
‘No,’ the man whispers, and in that instant the blade of a sword, long and gleaming, made of a shining white metal that is not found on Earth, comes through the door and sinks deeply into the man’s chest. It protrudes six inches out through his back, and is quickly pulled free. The man grunts. The boy gasps. The man takes a single breath, and utters one word: ‘Run.’ He falls lifeless to the ﬂoor.
The boy leaps from the cot, bursts through the rear wall. He doesn’t bother with the door or a window; he literally runs through the wall, which breaks apart as if it’s paper, though it’s made of strong, hard African mahogany. He tears into the Congo night, leaps over trees, sprints at a speed somewhere around sixty miles per hour. His sight and hearing are beyond human. He dodges trees, rips through snarled vines, leaps small streams with a single step. Heavy footsteps are close behind him, getting closer every second. His pursuers also have gifts. And they have something with them. Something he has only heard hints of, something he never believed he would see on Earth.
The crashing nears. The boy hears a low, intense roar. He knows whatever is behind him is picking up speed. He sees a break in the jungle up ahead. When he reaches it, he sees a huge ravine, three hundred feet across and three hundred feet down, with a river at the bottom. The river’s bank is covered with huge boulders. Boulders that would break him apart if he fell on them. His only chance is to get across the ravine. He’ll have a short running start, and one chance. One chance to save his own life. Even for him, or for any of the others on Earth like him, it’s a near impossible leap. Going back, or going down, or trying to ﬁght them means certain death. He has one shot.
There’s a deafening roar behind him. They’re twenty, thirty feet away. He takes ﬁve steps back and runs – and just before the ledge, he takes off and starts ﬂying across the ravine. He’s in the air three or four seconds. He screams, his arms outstretched in front of him, waiting for either safety or the end. He hits the ground and tumbles forward, stopping at the base of a mammoth tree. He smiles. He can’t believe he made it, that he’s going to survive. Not wanting them to see him, and knowing he needs to get farther away from them, he stands. He’ll have to keep running.
He turns towards the jungle. As he does, a huge hand wraps itself around his throat. He is lifted off the ground. He struggles, kicks, tries to pull away, but knows it’s futile, that it’s over. He should have expected that they’d be on both sides, that once they found him, there would be no escape. The Mogadorian lifts him so that he can see the boy’s chest, see the amulet that is hanging around his neck, the amulet that only he and his kind can wear. He tears it off and puts it somewhere inside the long black cloak he is wearing, and when his hand emerges it is holding the gleaming white metal sword. The boy looks into the Mogadorian’s deep, wide, emotionless black eyes, and he speaks.
‘The Legacies live. They will ﬁnd each other, and when they’re ready, they’re going to destroy you.’
The Mogadorian laughs, a nasty, mocking laugh. It raises the sword, the only weapon in the universe that can break the charm that until today protected the boy, and still protects the others. The blade ignites in a silver ﬂame as it points to the sky, as if it’s coming alive, sensing its mission and grimacing in anticipation. And as it falls, an arc of light speeding through the blackness of the jungle, the boy still believes that some part of him will survive, and some part of him will make it home. He closes his eyes just before the sword strikes. And then it is over.
‘The Legacies live. They will ﬁnd each other, and when they’re ready, they’re going to destroy you.’
In the beginning there were nine of us. We left when we were young, almost too young to remember.
I am told the ground shook, that the skies were full of light and explosions. We were in that two-week period of the year when both moons hang on opposite sides of the horizon. It was a time of celebration, and the explosions were at ﬁrst mistaken for ﬁreworks. They were not. It was warm, a soft wind blew in from off the water. I am always told the weather: it was warm. There was a soft wind. I’ve never understood why that matters.
What I remember most vividly is the way my grandmother looked that day. She was frantic, and sad. There were tears in her eyes. My grandfather stood just over her shoulder. I remember the way his glasses gathered the light from the sky. There were hugs. There were words said by each of them. I don’t remember what they were. Nothing haunts me more.
It took a year to get here. I was ﬁve when we arrived. We were to assimilate ourselves into the culture before returning to Lorien when it could again sustain life. The nine of us had to scatter, and go our own ways. For how long, nobody knew. We still don’t. None of them know where I am, and I don’t know where they are, or what they look like now. That is how we protect ourselves because of the charm that was placed upon us when we left, a charm guaranteeing that we can only be killed in the order of our numbers, so long as we stay apart. If we come together, then the charm is broken.
When one of us is found and killed, a circular scar wraps around the right ankle of those still alive. And residing on our left ankle, formed when the Loric charm was ﬁrst cast, is a small scar identical to the amulet each of us wears. The circular scars are another part of the charm. A warning system so that we know where we stand with each other, and so that we know when they’ll be coming for us next. The ﬁrst scar came when I was nine years old. It woke me from my sleep, burning itself into my ﬂesh. We were living in Arizona, in a small border town near Mexico. I woke screaming in the middle of the night, in agony, terriﬁed as the scar seared itself into my ﬂesh. It was the ﬁrst sign that the Mogadorians had ﬁnally found us on Earth, and the ﬁrst sign that we were in danger. Until the scar showed up, I had almost convinced myself that my memories were wrong, that what Henri told me was wrong. I wanted to be a normal kid living a normal life, but I knew then, beyond any doubt or discussion, that I wasn’t. We moved to Minnesota the next day.
The second scar came when I was twelve. I was in school, in Colorado, participating in a spelling bee. As soon as the pain started I knew what was happening, what had happened to Number Two. The pain was excruciating, but bearable this time. I would have stayed on the stage, but the heat lit my sock on ﬁre. The teacher who was conducting the bee sprayed me with a ﬁre extinguisher and rushed me to the hospital. The doctor in the ER found the ﬁrst scar and called the police. When Henri showed, they threatened to arrest him for child abuse. But because he hadn’t been anywhere near me when the second scar came, they had to let him go. We got in the car and drove away, this time to Maine. We left everything we had except for the Loric Chest that Henri brought along on every move. All twenty-one of them to date.
The third scar appeared an hour ago. I was sitting on a pontoon boat. The boat belonged to the parents of the most popular kid at my school, and unbeknownst to them, he was having a party on it. I had never been invited to any of the parties at my school before. I had always, because I knew we might leave at any minute, kept to myself. But it had been quiet for two years. Henri hadn’t seen anything in the news that might lead the Mogadorians to one of us, or might alert us to them. So I made a couple friends. And one of them introduced me to the kid who was having the party. Everyone met at a dock. There were three coolers, some music, girls I had admired from afar but never spoken to, even though I wanted to. We pulled out from the dock and went half a mile into the Gulf of Mexico. I was sitting on the edge of the pontoon with my feet in the water, talking to a cute, dark-haired, blue-eyed girl named Tara, when I felt it coming. The water around my leg started boiling, and my lower leg started glowing where the scar was imbedding itself. The third of the Lorien symbols, the third warning. Tara started screaming and people started crowding around me. I knew there was no way to explain it. And I knew we would have to leave immediately.
The stakes were higher now. They had found Number Three, wherever he or she was, and Number Three was dead. So I calmed Tara down and kissed her on the cheek and told her it was nice to meet her and that I hoped she had a long beautiful life. I dove off the side of the boat and started swimming, underwater the entire time, except for one breath about halfway there, as fast as I could until I reached the shore. I ran along the side of the highway, just inside of the tree line, moving at speeds as fast as any of the cars. When I got home, Henri was at the bank of scanners and monitors that he used to research news around the world, and police activity in our area. He knew without me saying a word, though he did lift my soaking pants to see the scars.
In the beginning we were a group of nine.
Three are gone, dead. There are six of us left.
They are hunting us, and they won’t stop until they’ve killed us all.
I am Number Four.
I know that I am next.
More about the book
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore - the film tie-in!
They killed Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
John Smith is not your average teenager.
He regularly moves from small town to small town. He changes his name and identity. He does not put down roots. He cannot tell anyone who or what he really is. If he stops moving those who hunt him will find and kill him.
But you can't run forever.
So when he stops in Paradise, Ohio, John decides to try and settle down. To fit in. And for the first time he makes some real friends. People he cares about - and who care about him. Never in John's short life has there been space for friendship, or even love.
But it's just a matter of time before John's secret is revealed.
He was once one of nine. Three of them have been killed.
John is Number Four. He knows that he is next . . .
Praise for Pittacus Lore:
'Tense, exciting, full of energy' Observer
'Relentlessly readable' The Times
'Set to eclipse Harry Potter and moody vampires. Pittacus Lore is about to become one of the hottest names on the planet' Big Issue
'Tense, keeps you wondering' Sunday Times
Perfect for fans of The Hunger Games - I Am Number Four is the first book in Pittacus Lore's Lorien Legacies series and is now a major Disney film. Look out for the next books in the Lorien Legacies, The Power of Six and The Rise of Nine.
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