Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 9 –

– 9 –

Some people think the evil prophet of space is Christ reborn. Others want to measure her with scientific instruments. But Mrs. Brinkley, of the Admissions Board of the Lethal Magnet School for Wayward Youth, just wants to make sure that all of her paperwork is correct!

“I’ve received a transcript,” says Mrs. Brinkley, “from one ‘Evil Academy of Space.’ But they’re not responding to my communications.”

“Yes,” says Lucy. “The school is in ruins.”

“I’m not even sure,” says Mrs. Brinkley, “where exactly —”

“It is in space,” Lucy says. “Well, was. Are you familiar with the Fan Hoeng?”

Mrs. Brinkley calls up the information on her marvelous desktop computing device. She frowns. “This is extremely irregular,” she says. “We do not normally take space princess assassins from species sworn to destroy the Earth. But we also want to cultivate an atmosphere of inclusivity. Oh, dear, oh, dear.”

She ponders. She folds her hands. She stares at Lucy.

“What are your opinions on the killing of giant wolves?” she asks.

“Are you asking me to —” says Lucy.

Mrs. Brinkley holds up a hand to interrupt her. “Of course not. Of course not, child. We are strictly forbidden to contract the killing of gigantic chained-up wolves in England, and besides, you haven’t even had any of the relevant classes. I just mean, what are your general feelings on the matter?”

“I like killing giant wolves,” says Lucy. “But there is no challenge to it, unless they are also experts at the game of rock-paper-scissors.”


“Rock,” says Lucy. She shows Mrs. Brinkley her fist. “Paper.” She holds out a flat and open hand. It writhes with an aegis of evil prophecy. “Scissors.”

She looks around.

She points at a triad of trissors in a cup on Mrs. Brinkley’s desk. Then she frowns at them. She picks them up. She wriggles them. Finally she sets them back in the cup with a dissatisfied frown.

“It is clearly not as well-developed a game on your world,” she says, “as in the glorious space empire of the Fan Hoeng. We will redress the matter when we rain fiery devastation on your cities, crack open your planet, and sweep away a tiny handful of survivors to endure endless generations of mockery in our zoos.”

After a moment, realizing that this would redress nothing, she adds, “Also, we would teach them how to play rock-paper-scissors after the fashion of the Fan Hoeng.”

In a smaller voice: “Paper beats rock, rock beats scissors, et cetera.”

Mrs. Brinkley’s eyes light up. “You mean hobbit-Spock-spider!”

“I do no such thing!”

“Spock sings about hobbits,” Mrs. Brinkley explains, “Hobbits kill spiders, spiders spin devious webs of intrigue around Spock?”

“No!” says Lucy. “We haven’t even heard of the planet Vulcan, in space!”

“We can play a game or two if you like—”

Lucy squirms to the back of her seat in horror. “Please let’s not.”

Later she roams the campus of the Lethal Magnet School for Wayward Youth aimlessly.

The entire experience has unnerved her.

“‘Spock sings about hobbits?’” she asks the air. “ ‘Spock sings about hobbits?!’

And Emily is walking past just then, and Emily looks at her, and thinks about saying something, and if she had — if there’d been just a little bit less in Emily’s bladder, just a little bit less reason to hurry back to her dorm, if she’d stopped and spoken to Lucy then — then the two of them would probably have been friends.

But she gives her a Vulcan salute as she hurries past, instead, and Lucy shall scorn Emily thereafter.



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