Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

Categories Navigation Menu

– 6 –

– 6 –

The nithrid is nervous about attending school. It is an inhuman creature. It is lightning bound down to form. It assumes that everybody will see it and recognize its nature — that their eyes will pierce straight through its human guise and down to its murderous soul. They will point at it and shriek: “There goes a deadly threat to the world! Stop her before she ravages everything, leaves it burnt and in ruins! Tackle her and tighten her chains until she pops!”

Events, to a certain extent, justify her fears.

The students at the Lethal Magnet School for Wayward Youth are percipient enough to spot her strangeness. They are alert to it: shadows of omen pass across their consciousness when they look at her. They recognize her, consciously or subconsciously, as nithrid.

They simply do not care.

She stands there, wringing her hands, in the quad of the school, and nobody attacks her. Nobody bothers to attack her. They are all too busy or — if not too busy — too distracted, too laid-back, or too lazy to do anything about the world-ending threat that has no idea where to go to schedule her classes or to arrange for a dormitory at her new school.

It is then that she meets Peter.

He is suddenly beside her. His eyes are hard like two bits of flint and his hair is dark but she finds the voice of him oddly warm.

“I don’t like you,” he says. “You’re not natural.”

“. . . no,” she concedes.

He looks her up and down. “You’re also obviously lost.”


“Come on, then,” he says.

She follows him, nervously. He leads her to the administration building. He asks her, as they go, “Do you like scissors?”


“I’m an enemy of scissors,” he says. “If I see scissors, I’ll stomp them! I’ll rip them apart. I’ll throw them in the fire. So if you like scissors, you’d better not mess with me.”

“I don’t really . . .”

He stops. He looks at her. He waits.

“I haven’t had anything to do with scissors,” she says. Then, apologetically, “I was bound in a hole with a duck.”

“How’d you cut your hair?” he asks.

“I don’t cut my hair,” she says. She wiggles a hank of her hair. It darts about like lightning, if lightning were a sandy brown and stuck at one end to a functionally human head.

“I use trissors,” says Peter proudly. “They’re a three-bladed trissoring device.”

“That’s just aces,” the nithrid says.

He takes her to the principal’s office. He pounds on the outside door with a palm. “You go in there. They’ll set you up. Get you classes and a room. I am going to go to class and not care about you.”

“OK,” she says, confused.

“My name is Peter,” he adds.

She opens her mouth. “A nithrid,” she starts to say, but that would be practically giving the game away. She stops herself at “A nuh.”


He stares at her for a moment. “Annie? Andrea? Anthology?”

Nobody is named Anthology. I mean, nobody except Anthology is named Anthology, and she is a special case. This book isn’t even about Anthology, so I don’t know why you are thinking about her. She is frozen under the ice! The problem is with Peter’s mind.

“Andrea,” she says.

“Okay,” he says. “I’ll see you around.”

He turns to go. He walks away.

“If I see any scissors,” she says, after him, “I’ll blast them!”

“That’s good thinking,” he says. “But don’t just blast them. Call me! They could have friends. They run in packs, you know. Swarms. Whole swarms of them.”

He’s gone. She blinks.

“Really,” she says. “Scissors.”

She squints a bit. It would never have occurred to that world-ending storm to concern herself about scissors, but now that she thinks about it it is possible that they, like Mr. Gulley, are capable of grounding her.

“Ha!” she says, in vague relief. “Just imagine how stupid that would have been! Burst out, storm across the world, and then get sucked down into the earth by billions of scissors stuck in it!”

This is actually pretty unlikely, but in all fairness, there are alternate timelines in which this was her fate. There are even alternate futures where that happens, although they’re comparatively pretty rare. The Norns weave carefully and cleverly, when they weave our fates, and even such as the lightning must have a care.

Then she goes in and she signs herself up for classes and a room.

She will study the literature of Earth, and citizenship, and basic math; an alien’s guide to study, school, and scholarship; Runes I, Physical Education, and Pre-Combat; and, being the lightning, of course, she takes electives in both electronics and in dance.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *