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Chapter 21: The Egg

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 21 | 0 comments

– 1 –

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 21 | 0 comments

Cheryl descends into the depths of the station. She holds two mugs of svart-drink in her hands.

She drops one of them.

It spills svart-drink. The svart-drink floats out gently into the infinitive splitter and splays across the buttered vulture’s corpse.

“Tom,” she says.

He doesn’t say anything. He’s dead. He’s scissored to pieces. Her mouth twitches and she stares. She looks at Saul like she wants to blame him, but he’s pretty dead too, so that doesn’t work.

She screams. She stuffs her fist in her mouth and she screams again. She turns and she pounds her bloody fist against the wall.

Then she leans there. She waves a hand at Tom. She folds him upright; sets him against the wall; stacks his pieces one atop another without touching them or even really looking before she dares to look at him again.

Softly, she says, “You broke your promise, Tom.”

She drinks her svart-drink. She tosses the mug aside. (You shouldn’t do this.)

“Fine,” she says.

She turns. She turns in circles. She surveys the vault of Forbidden Things.

A dream-wroth takes fire in her eyes.

And if you were watching from afar, if you were swirling in the maelstrom of the scissors-swarm, you would have seen her silhouette reach into its eye, and pull one eye out; take up the pointed shaft of an unfinished hammer, and thrust it into its side; and wire itself, in those two places, into the shadow of the boot.

And perhaps, if you were percipient, you would have felt that chill that scissors always feel when they are witness, suddenly, to rock.

She has laced herself into it.

She hangs upside-down there, in Tom’s upside-down Vault of Forbidden Things; and one wire goes into her brain, and one into the circuitry of the hammer, and both wires are connected to the boot.

Dream-wroth flows through the entirety of Vidar’s Boot.

The clicking component is clicking. The beacons of fire light themselves, two by two. Vidar’s Boot is waking; it is stirring, that boot which is born to smash the world into a desirable shape.

And the laces of the boot are lashing; and cold though space might be the scissors feel a chill;

Only, they needn’t have worried.

There is something very important about Cheryl that, in fairness, the scissors could never have known.

She extends a hand, as if in a dream, and a snake-severing hat flows to her. She flips it inside out. She stares down at it.

This is the wrong desire, she reminds herself.

Of all things in all the world, this is the one ending that will sorrow the scissors least.

Then she laughs. It hurts her side. She tries to adjust herself but there’s only so much adjustment you can do when you’re wired into a giant boot by your side and head.

Don’t do this.

“I am a prisoner of my dreams,” says Cheryl, and she unfurls them:

Takes the snake-severing hat, which she has inverted, and pulls it on over her hair and ears. Wakes inside her a snake-wroth that had been dead; a paper-wroth that had been lost; a folding-wroth that had been killed inside her, scrubbed free from her by Jeremiah Clean.

She binds together the loose circuits in her, where Jeremiah Clean had cut them.

She is heedless of the scissors-swarm that has come for humanity.

She is heedless of the wolf that will eat the world.

She doesn’t even really care about her own nascent divinity.

She says, instead,


– 2 –

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 21 | 0 comments

There is something in a boot that loves to stomp.

There is something in a boot’s nature that calls for it. That exerts a subtle, cumulative pressure upon the wearer.

If boots could wear boots, and those boots could wear the original boots —

If you’re a little confused by how that would work topologically, please remember Cheryl’s talent in folding —

Then they would fulfill one another in an endless stomping frenzy of orgiastic glee.

Even for a gigantic boot in space —

It is the same.

It longs to stomp the paper mountains down and turn the grape fields into wine. To crumble all the monuments and make all the towers flat. To crush the world into the shape of the stamp on the bottom side of it; and to make that stamp itself the shape of a perfect world for boots.

It is not science that fuels this, not really; rather, it is joy.

It is not mechanism that does this; rather, it is purpose.

Cheryl is wired into the boot and it is wired into she; it is flush with the dreams of her.

That there should be such a snake again —

Vidar’s Boot stomps itself.

– 3 –

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 21 | 0 comments

The wolf is coming to eat the world.

There are armies marshalling. There are missiles coming, bombs being loaded, hard men prepping their weaponry for a fight.

The wolf is coming to eat the world.

There are children being born. There are children playing. There are children who have grown old and grey.

The wolf is coming to eat the world.

Starlight falls on the world, from Sirius, from Barnard’s Star, from Wolf 359, and most certainly from the sun. Plants grow. The ocean surges, rises, falls. Birds sing. Animals rustle in the brush.

The wolf is coming to eat the world.

And because the wolf is coming; because the wolf is free —

Jeremiah Clean gets on a plane.

He obtains a passport. He buys a ticket. He attempts to board a flight to England. He is detained by the TSA. They wish to ask him certain questions. They wish to interfere in the matters of Jeremiah Clean.

After a while they cease to have such desires and Jeremiah flies.

Jeremiah Clean cannot help noticing, over the course of the flight, how very messy the process is. He wants to adjust the flow of air over the wings. He reminds himself, repeatedly, that by doing so he will cause the gigantic metal box he is contained in to plummet helplessly into the sea.

“I would survive, but —

“It would not be so very cleanly,” he explains.

There is a baby crying two seats behind him. He silences it.

There is a woman a couple rows ahead of him whom he thinks might be a Muslim terrorist. There is a man sitting next to her whom Jeremiah is pretty sure is a merman who, doubtless as the result of some tawdry affair with said Muslim terrorist, has been given legs.

He explains these matters to the stewardess, who is dismissive.

“That’s ridiculous,” she says. “Someone has mis-explained the plot of the movie to you, sir.”

He sighs.

Now there’s no point in even watching Citizen Kane.

He eats peanuts that have been made at a factory that also processes peanuts. He allows the clean redundancy of that to reassure him, even when it seems like the creature on the wing of the airplane might be considering tearing it apart.

He watches a movie. He watches another movie. He plays games. He watches the merman slip off to the bathroom to pour water over himself to keep from drying out on the long plane flight. It’ll probably serve the merman right, he thinks, vaguely, when he discovers just how haunted the airplane bathroom is.

Jeremiah Clean is not very good at traveling. It is unnerving him. He cannot properly balance the pressure in his ears, because his heart is pure.

Finally he lands. He steps down onto solid ground again. His gravitas returns to him.

He walks through the British Isles.

He reaches the ruined Gulley mansion.

He turns his eyes towards the horizon, where he expects he’ll see the wolf.

Instead there is an Ed.

Edmund is staggering across the ruins. Edmund stops in front of him. Edmund looks him up and down.

“Oh,” says Edmund.

“It is cleaner,” says Jeremiah Clean, “to say ‘hello.’”

“Hello,” says Edmund.

“I am looking,” says Jeremiah Clean, “for a wolf.”


“He is,” Jeremiah says, “Unclean.”

Edmund half-smiles. “He was always a very . . . furry . . . wolf. This one time, I went to put on shoes, you know, and they were completely full of loose Fenris fur.”

“Oh,” says Jeremiah Clean.

“It was exceedingly squishy.”

There is a pause. Jeremiah Clean starts to say something.

So. Squishy,” emphasizes Edmund Gulley. His eyes are white with horrified reminiscence: there is no pupil and no iris in them. Then after a while he comes back to himself, orients on Jeremiah Clean, and he shrugs.

Jeremiah Clean is looking at him.

“You have bits,” Jeremiah says, “of flesh and blood, a little.” He gestures towards his lip. “Here.”

“Lots of corpses,” says Edmund. “Seemed kind of, you know, a waste.”

Jeremiah Clean isn’t sure whether disposing of corpses by eating them is cleanly or uncleanly. So he starts to walk past Edmund. But Edmund takes his arm.

“You’re going to fight the wolf?” says Edmund.

“Such things as giant wolves,” says Jeremiah Clean, “they oughtn’t be. They make the world too brutal. Too messy. Too . . . wrong.”

“I see,” Edmund says, because he does.

And listen. Listen. This is important. He was free — ish. He’d turned his back, you know. He’d walked away. He’d abandoned Fenris Wolf. But he doesn’t let the janitor’s judgment stand.

Edmund attacks.

I don’t mean that it’s good to try to eat people just because they say mean things about your wolf. You shouldn’t do that. I don’t mean that he has a chance or anything. He doesn’t. It’s Jeremiah Clean.

I just kind of like that he did that anyway.

And Jeremiah Clean pulls it from him, dusts him off, and sets him down. He leaves Edmund there, fresh and clean and smelling vaguely of a pine tree; no cannibalism in this boy, no wolf-gold, not even the nithrid arts. Not even especially good or bad, not any longer: just Edmund Gulley, a British boy.

Edmund looks after him, dazed, as he walks away.

Edmund Gulley’s heart beats a few more times.

It’s in a box in his pocket.

Then it stops, pretty much for that reason, and so does he.

– 4 –

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 21 | 0 comments

A magnet is raging. A magnet is pulling. It is dragging Lucy Souvante towards the Lethal Magnet School.

Now and then she will stop. Now and then she will catch something on her umbrella.

She will hang in the air, pulled. She will consider.

There is something nagging at her mind. She cannot place it.

Ultimately she is in the air over Brentwood, and the boot is coming down, before she understands it. Memory trickles through her brain and the pieces come together.

She pulls out a snotty evil prophecy. She rubs it off on the hem of her flowing skirt.

It is the evil prophecy. It is her evil prophecy. It is the prophecy she was supposed to have —

“Yes!” she cheers, in the sky over Brentwood, and whips it around, and brandishes it at the wolf-magnet:

One. Two. Three.

And as the prophecy grinds down the magnet into nothing, as the ulfleiðarsteinn shudders, ceases spinning, and suddenly goes out; as she is falling towards the campus at an angle, not quite to intersect the boot, she spins in the air, and she hugs her evil prophecy, and then she holds it out at arms’-length and it unfurls —

She reads the golden letters of it.

She reads the golden letters of it, says the prophecy.

And, a little lower,


– 5 –

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 21 | 0 comments

Fenris snaps up a handful of students. It claws down a building. It is only a few blocks away from the magnet.

It can see the boot. It is descending, in flames.

Cheryl rips the hammer shaft out of her side. It squelches. It is a hammer as she pulls it around and grips it in two hands.

Her eyesocket burns with black fire. The hammer head does too.

She is floating free of the floor of Tom’s upside-down Vault of Forbidden Things. She is reorienting. She left the world as a girl who couldn’t even save a snake — er, kill. A girl who couldn’t even kill —

She isn’t sure what she left the world as a girl unable to do what to a paper snake is.

Tom’s infinitive splitter slams down on that sentence, once, twice, and then gives up.

She left the world as a human; she is coming down again as a god.

The sea shakes with the gravity of the boot. Waves of power are coming off of it; they stir up the sea, make it sea-wroth, and the foam of the sea is beginning to fold itself into a snake.

The wolf doesn’t want to be here.

The wolf whines, deep in its throat.

The scissors are focused on their enemy. They glide past Peter. They ignore him. They come down after the boot in a great and metal rain.

The magnet shudders under the burden of prophecy. It shatters. It denatures. It ceases, quite suddenly, to pull.

Fenris staggers.

The wolf lurches up to its feet. It glances skywards. It scrambles forward, but there is no scrambling forward.

It moves, but there is no time left for moving

Listen. You have to understand this.

If you’ve ever been a giant boot in space that’s got to stomp down onto a secondary school, and half a wolf, I’m sure you remember what it feels like. If you haven’t, well —

Vidar’s Boot slams down, hard, onto the school.

It’s the best.

– 6 –

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 21 | 0 comments

How many scissors? I cannot count them. Many are flattened under the boot or battered away by the wave of reality-alteration that spreads from it, but uncountable numbers remain. They pour themselves down in a single metal sheet, indivisible, like the horn of a narwhal spiraling down, ten miles around at its narrow tip.

And half a wolf.

That is a terrible thing. Half a wolf, its guts spilling out behind it, but the magnet’s breaking has done some good for it, and the way the boot had shifted, just a little, by the shaking and the cutting of its tether, before Cheryl brought it down.

Half a wolf, whining and struggling, sickening, its eyes rolling, its tongues lolling, but it is not dead; and that wolf, that particular wolf, well, if it is not dead, then it should not be possible for it to die.

And there is a snake, and oh, how ungodly is that snake. It is rising, and it is rising, and it is pierced through over and over again by the scissors but the will of Vidar’s Boot commands that it does not die.

Its teeth close on the side of the wolf. The wolf snaps at the scissors, gulps them down. And the boot is shattering, fraying, leaving only Cheryl, standing there, with the hammer of science —

I probably shouldn’t call it that.

With the hammer of deciding what shall live and what shall die held and coiling with lightning in her hand.

And in the corner of the scene, over there —

You have to look at it from the right angle. If you’re too close, you won’t see him, and if you’re too far away, well, I guess, you wouldn’t see him either.

In the corner of the scene, there’s a man with a janitor’s cart, who begins to clean it. He starts at the top right corner of it all and he scrubs a bit of the descending scissors-horde away.

There’s a gap there. There’s a hole in the storm.

He works his way downwards.

Fenris is gasping, great gasps. It is trying to eat faster than the poison of the snake can spread through it; trying to consume enough of the earth and the falling stream from the scissors-sky to heal.

The guts of the wolf are cleaned away.

Cheryl sees him. She opens her mouth in a moment of panic; she tries to lever the hammer to point at him; but to keep the paper serpent alive amidst the scissors-rain takes everything she has. She has nothing left to address towards the cleaning man.

Bit by bit, he scrubs away all of it. From right to left, from top to bottom, he cleans it all away.

At the last there are only the great jaws of the wolf, closed on the serpent’s neck; and the scissors pierced through the brainpan; and green they have become from the poison of the snake; and rubble.

“That is a perversion,” says Jeremiah Clean, and he shakes a finger at it warningly.

And then —


Of all that moved on the surface of the world, and met at the Lethal Magnet School for Wayward Youth that day —

Little remains to be said.

They came down from the sky, or up from the ground; from over the sea, or from space; and they met.

If you went there now —

Where those things met — you would find ground that is polished like glass; and a handful of stones where one may grieve, and the flowers that people may come and leave; and the shining blue crystal waters of an artificial bay.

That’s all.

There is nothing that may stand against Jeremiah Clean, you see, because his heart is pure.

Even Lucy Souvante —

Even the evil prophet herself — she did well simply to survive. To scramble away. To hide and to wait.

And she the evil prophet of space!

The wolf is gone. The snake is gone. The scissors no longer fall. And if there is anything in you which can sympathize with the Fan Hoeng — and I will admit, freely, that I have never given you any particular in-story reason to, except, they are people, they are people, they talk, they think, they reason, they feel, like you or me —

Well, that’s gone too.

The boot that fell from space, no more. No more the Lethal Magnet School.

It was all quite messy. It was terrible. It was not a merry Christmas at all.

So he cleaned away, and that’s it; it’s all over.

They’re all done.

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in Vidar's Boot: Chapter 21 | 0 comments