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January 26, 2016 at 04:01 PM EST

The first book in 100 Cupboards author N.D. Wilson’s forthcoming Outlaws of Time series — Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle — will be released on April 19, but EW has two very exciting sneak peeks right here. The first is a gorgeously animated book trailer, with a style reminiscent of Miyazaki’s, and the second is an exclusive excerpt, where you’ll meet Sam, a foster kid with two bad arms who seeks refuge from his life in dreams, where he can be a hero:

EXCERPT FROM OUTLAWS OF TIME by N.D. WILSON

The air in the entryway was cool and lifeless. The light was dim, but Sam could see the dark thickly carpeted stairs rising up in front of him. He stepped forward while his eyes were still adjusting. Paper crunched under his shoe. There was a note on the stairs. He bent and picked it up with a rigid arm.

Heavy woven paper with rough edges. Sharp large handwriting and curly exclamation marks.

RETREAT! LIFE AND DEATH! BUNK HOUSE NOW! EXPLAIN LATER!

FT

Who the heck was FT and what was he talking about? Not that it mattered. The note couldn’t be for Sam. He straight-armed it into his pocket and hopped up the next two stairs. He could hear voices trickling down from the Spaldings’ living room. Mrs. Spalding was laughing uncomfortably.

Paper crunched, and Sam stopped again. Another note. How had he missed it? The light paper stood out on the dark carpet like snow on asphalt.

IDIOT! BACK DOWN SLOWLY, GET OUTSIDE, THEN RUN!

FT

Sam looked up the rest of the stairs. No more notes. He could see the old photos of frilly-dress Glory near the top. He could see the fuzzy rope dangling from the ceiling to hold Mrs. Spalding’s fake plants.

Sam took another step.

Crunch.

How was this possible? Was this a joke? Sam’s heart was pounding. He looked down the stairs behind him.

“Glory?” he whispered. “This isn’t funny.”

Nobody. He picked up the note.

I CAN’T KEEP CIRCLING BACK FOREVER WITHOUT GOING INSANE! NITWIT! LEAVE NOW!

Sam didn’t even move before the next note appeared. One second it was simply there and a small swirl of sand rustled off it onto the carpet. The handwriting had grown so large, Sam didn’t need to pick it up to read it.

IF HE GETS YOUR HEART, THERE’S NOTHING I CAN DO

The next second, in a gust of wind, multiple notes appeared clustered on every single step all the way up, sand hissing across the loose paper.

Sam ran. Up. Not down. Slipping on the notes, kicking them into a cloud behind him, he fell onto his stiff arms and scrambled on all fours. Heart drumming, adrenaline humming, he crashed into the Spaldings’ living room, kicked over a lamp, and rolled clear of the stairs.

Conversation stopped. Five eyes focused on him.

Mr. Spalding was standing in front of the window with his hands behind his back. He had a head like a speckled egg stuck in a small hair nest, his skin was loose and sun-flaked, and his forearms were bald from years of nervous picking. He didn’t seem at all surprised that Sam was sprawled on his floor beside a broken lamp. Sam had done far more surprising things than this.

Mrs. Spalding was squeezed into a plush recliner and her face needed extra skin just about everywhere. Her hair was big, her eyebrows were made of pencil, and she was wearing her best floral bathrobe. Even as a woman who survived exclusively on mail-order cookie dough and who never got dressed before dinner, she still managed to aggressively judge others. She was judging Sam right now.

“Samuel Miracle! You wouldn’t think it, but of all the boys we’ve ever found it in our hearts to foster, he’s the most trouble per inch.” She wasn’t looking at Sam. Her eyes were focused on someone behind him.

Sam jumped to his feet and spun around, nearly falling all over again.

“I don’t doubt.”

The man who spoke was thinner and taller than Mr. Spalding and bent like a fingernail moon. He was wearing a tweed three-piece suit much too small for his bony frame with the trousers tucked into high black motorcycle boots with big silver buckles. The sleeves of his jacket stopped inches short of his knobby wrists, revealing two thick tangles of string bracelets. His long-fingered hands were webbed together around a battered old coffee cup.

Sam stared. He’d seen this man before, or . . . some version of this man. A shorter and thicker and unbent version. And the experience hadn’t been pleasant. Sam might not be able to remember, but his body could. His already pounding heart was kicking harder. His throat was tightening.

The man’s eyes were hidden behind dark sunglasses, but a deep scar ran down his forehead and dove behind the glasses onto his cheekbone before veering sideways and almost completely halving his nose. His dark hair was parted hard and oiled back, and he was grinning above a small pointed beard much too delicate for his face.

“Sam,” said Mr. Spalding. “This is Professor Tiny. He’s from England.”

“Professor?” The man laughed. His voice was deep. “Naw. That was just a posh tone to shine you. Sam knows me. We’ve been mates for ages. We’ve bled together.” He took a long wobbly step forward. “You remember Tiny, don’t you Sam? Don’t hurt my feelings.”

Sam coughed and stepped back. “I . . . don’t remember.” He heard the door open downstairs. “Sorry. I don’t remember lots of things.”

“Oh, but I do,” Tiny said. “This flesh has stretched out a bit with all the laps I’ve run from then to now, but my mind’s as fit as fit gets. Not like yours.” He took another step forward, long fingers gripping his coffee cup. His smile grew and his voice hardened. “I remember your sweet mother. I remember her funeral and your pretty sis taking you on that slow train. Because I’ve seen it all over and over again searching for you. And I remember a boy named Sam Miracle carving my perfect face in two.”

 

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