When their mother is lost in a terrible car crash, two children set out to bring her back from the Underworld -- a nightmare place populated by remnants from old mythologies, defunct pantheons, and forgotten folklore. Along the way, the children discover that they cannot rescue their mother without rescuing themselves first.
Sometimes frightening, sometimes funny, and often heartbreaking, Assam & Darjeeling is the story of a brother and sister who have to go through hell together in order to learn the true meaning of family.
It was a terrible morning.
“Hurryupwe’rerunninglate...” Their mother snapped on the lights, roaring through their rooms like a whirlwind. She was all rushing words and short temper whenever her son and daughter groaned or paused for a moment to knuckle the grit from their eyes.
Sitting on the ﬂoor of his room, trying to pull his jeans on over his shoes, the boy felt a wave of frustration throb through the house. He closed his eyes, head cocked to one side, listening...
He didn’t give it a second thought, didn’t think it strange that he could hear his parents even though they were all the way over on the other side of the house, even though they weren’t actually saying anything out loud.
He was used to listening in, eavesdropping on people. He had a gift for it, picking up on little scraps of thought and feeling like he was doing now. His parents’ frustration with the morning and each other threw off little sparks that smoldered throughout the house. He sighed and went back to struggling with his jeans.
In her room across the hall, his little sister was already dressed even though the last thing she wanted to do was go to school. Standing at her window, she looked out at the dark sky ﬁlled with falling snow. It had been winter for weeks. There was snow on Halloween and by the end of the night everyone ended up miserable — going home early in their soggy costumes with their bags only half full. And with two feet of snow on the ground at Thanksgiving, it was too cold outside to play. A whole holiday, wasted. And now, not even Christmas yet, the snow was coming down every day, sweeping across their house on icy, bitter winds.
Downstairs, the front door slammed — their father heading out to dig out the cars and shovel the driveway. He was angry. Up in his room, the boy could feel it, could feel his dad out there: A bright blur of frustration glowing red in the bitter cold.
The boy sighed again and went to go brush his teeth.
A minor scufﬂe in the bathroom, he and his sister quarreling over who got to use the toothpaste ﬁrst. “You didn’t brush long enough,” he said to her.
She wiped her chin on his towel. “You have toothpaste on your nose.”
“I do not.”
She shoved past him. Her feet sounded on the stairs, irritation trailing after her like the train of a gown. After she was gone, he checked his nose in the mirror before following her down the stairs.
In the kitchen, they discovered that the cereal boxes were nearly empty. There was only enough left to ﬁll one bowl with the sugary kind and one bowl with the boring bran ﬂakes that their parents sometimes ate.