Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

Categories Navigation Menu

– 3 –

– 3 –

Edmund’s stomach rumbles.

He wakes.

He stares at the ceiling as the hunger washes across him in great waves. In between the great waves are little trembling motions. His body vibrates with them. He thinks that he has them under control; but no sooner does he think that then he realizes that that is just the sinking before the swell. There is a great need rising in him.

He goes to the window. He stares out at the moon. He points at the moon.

“I have your number, moon,” he says, even though he doesn’t. “I’ll eat you too. One day. You’ll see.”

There are students — food —

There are foodents walking in the quad below. He realizes how easy it would be to eat them all. His heart pounds so vigorously that he feels like he has splinters.

He slips out the window onto the roof.

He isn’t really going to eat them, he tells himself. He’s not a cannibal. He’s not really hungry. Besides, if he eats them all, he’ll be too full for breakfast.

Don’t you want breakfast? he chides his stomach. Pop-tarts, oatmeal, cafeteria workers, mmm!

They are standing around him. They are staring at him. They have gathered on the roof, they in their yellow hats.

It distracts him.

He waves at them dismissively. “Go ‘way. Brooding.”

They do not dismiss.

He cannot remember why he was on the roof. Shouldn’t he be sleeping? He has examinations soon. It is bad for his health to be sitting out on the roof under the moon.

Why are they staring at me? It’s so creepy!

He waves them off again. Then he growls. He fixes Morgan with his wolf-glare and the boy almost falls off the roof.

He is on his feet then. He staggers towards them.

They dissipate. They slip backwards in great bounds, now on the ceiling tiles near him, now perched on a chimney and a TV antenna, now twisting under and in and through the windows onto the floor below. He looks around and they are fading almost faster than he can focus on them with his eyes. He cannot track them, save —

He slams the retreating Emily with the wolf-stare. His eyes are white as the moon. She falls on her butt, silently; her hand comes up to her mouth in an oh!

He lunges.

Her eyes are gold as he reaches her: they are like two rising suns. They transfix him. They melt him. They stun him. But he is already on top of her, and he is half again her weight.

He pins her to the roof.

“What’s this?” he asks her. “What’re you staring for, huh? Come to mock the wolf-boy, have you?”

She shakes her head.

Waves of confusion and weakness wash across him. He grits his teeth.

“You’re doing something to me,” he says. He has a knife in his hand now. He’d gotten it in his orientation packet. It’s a wooden-handled blade, suitable for killing wolves and men and teenaged girls. He holds it against her neck. “You’re doing something. Cut it out.”

She closes her eyes.

Slowly confidence returns to him. His heartbeat slows, and he stops hearing it. The fog seems to fade from his mind.

The others are staring at him, he can feel it, but they are too far away to daze him.

They are staying back.

She says something, very quietly. He can’t make it out.

He pulls the knife from her throat. He bends down to hear her.

She whispers a word: a name: a thing of jaguars, that are on fire, and love, and purpose, that no human could ever say. It burns and writhes in his head: he recoils from it, he screams, he bends his hands around his head and he tries to un-hear that name but he cannot. It winds through and around his brain like a length of razored thread.

She is on her feet again. She is staring at him and he cannot think; he is drowning in it; if there is any comfort to it, it is only that the name she has whispered seems to be fading away into the same static of confusion as is he.

When he wakes the real sun beats down upon the roof around him.

His stomach rumbles but it is a normal hunger; and he wipes tears he can’t remember shedding from his eyes and staggers off to get a tea or coffee and some bread.

“That’s Emily,” says Linus. “She studies bindings.”

“Witch,” mutters Edmund.

“What’re you gonna do?” says Linus. “You’ve got to have people to do the bindings for those things that you cannot kill.”

Rage whitens Edmund’s eyes. He hunches in on himself, lets it beat through him, and does not say anything that will hurt Linus Evans, whom he loves.

After a moment, Linus understands.

“Sorry, bro,” he says.

Even later, Edmund whispers, “I didn’t really want to be in chains.”



Leave a Comment

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