Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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You shouldn’t brandish an evil prophecy at all of your problems!

Here’s an example.

Jane is walking along. Suddenly, she is hit by a car!

“I’m OK!” she says. She scrabbles feebly. She pulls an evil prophecy out of her backpack. She brandishes it at the car accident. Bam! The car accident unravels and is unmade.

But it’s not that easy, Jane!

“My shoes!” she says.

That’s right, Jane! It didn’t fix the bloody mess that that car accident made out of your shoes!

“Lesson,” she says, “learned.”

The next time a car hits her she won’t use an evil prophecy!

She walks along her road. There’s a cat stuck on a low wall.

“Oh no!” she says. “Kitty!”

She reaches for the cat. The cat hisses at her.

“But you’re stuck!” she says.

The cat does not appear able to understand the reasonable nature of Jane’s assertion. It remains obdurate. Finally there’s nothing for it! Jane brandishes the evil prophecy at the cat’s being stuck up on the wall.

An evil feeling!

The cat finds itself no longer stuck up on that wall.

What a happy ending! Jane whistles cheerfully and walks along.

But not everything about brandishing evil prophecies at your problems is wine and roses!

Jane wakes up in the middle of the night.

She attempts to go to the bathroom. Result: failure!

There is a thing of brass and fire, faces and wings, opening and closing are they all, hovering in swirls of emptiness and somethingness in the middle of the, ah, “facilities.”

Jane closes the door again. She waits. It does not emerge.

She becomes impatient.

She brandishes the evil prophecy. Problem: solved!

The thing of brass and fire is verged suddenly out of the bathroom. It looms over her. It booms words that exceed her comprehension. Feathers swirl like clock hands before its faces.

“Agh!” she realizes. “That’s solving the wrong problem!”

She brandishes the evil prophecy again.

Now she understands the words of the creature! They make total sense! Angel-wroth verges in around the corners of her rationality. She shudders. She stumbles back. She brandishes the evil prophecy a third time!

The world cracks.

Fire and blood pours in around the edges. Strange flowers crawl along the walls. The thing, with its faces, wings, and booming, has receded into the absence of such things from which it came.

“Martin,” whimpers Jane.

Martin is sleeping. It is after two in the morning! Jane is scared of waking him but she is also scared of just leaving a giant hole with fire and blood pouring through it in the middle of the reality in front of the bathroom. She tries stuffing the crack with towels. They start to smolder. She pulls them out. Now she’s got bloody smoldering towels on the carpet. There’s fire everywhere.

“Damn it!” she says. But that just makes the hellfire burn higher!

She is panicking. What can she possibly do? She brandishes the evil prophecy at the problem. But you can’t solve hellfire and world-cracking with an evil prophecy! That’s like pasting shillings onto your pet iguana’s back!

Jane fills towels with water. She mushes them into the world-crack. It’s not enough! She adds some of the curtains. Finally she gums everything down with Jell-O and she jiggles it until it sets.

She looks fiercely at her iguana. “You could help,” she says, “you know.”

But it doesn’t help!

Once you make an iguana rich it’s pretty much good-bye to civility and hello to snootiness. That iguana is too good for Jane’s petty problems now.

Jane sits down in the hallway. Her face is covered with blood and soot and delicious lime gelatin. She can’t stop licking it.

She’d wash it off but there aren’t any towels!

“Jane,” Martin says, “I was using the facilities this morning and it occurred to me to wonder whether you might have been using my evil prophecy again?”


“I think I’m old enough to call it utilizing,” Jane proclaims.

Excessive austerity measures spike up local unemployment to record levels. Confidence in the government drops. Jane sniffles at the tragic story of Lois Aubergine, a local worker forced to work an actual negative number of jobs in order to resolve an error in the official unemployment figures.

“She actually has to stand at a grocery register and refuse service to customers,” Jane explains to Martin. “It’s just awful!”

Unexpected paper-serpent-caused tidal waves flood coastal Europe.

Global warming ignites the Iranian city Ahwaz in a sudden conflagration.

The government denies rumors of avian kissing sickness spreading across the great bird/human divide to Man.

“You could brandish the evil prophecy at some of this,” Martin hints. “Since you’re so, you know, old now.”

“Martin! That’s not a realistic solution to everyday economic problems!” lectures Jane.

I guess she’s learned her lesson after all!



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