Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

Categories Navigation Menu

– 8 –

– 8 –

Jane sits on the rooftop. Her legs are through two gaps in the metal safety railing. What with the continuous lightning sheeting down from the clouds it isn’t actually very safe.

It coils around her. It shocks her. Then it relents, and trickles and flows across her outstretched hand.

“You don’t have to be wicked,” Jane tells the nithrid, “just because the weather service tells you that you’re bad, you know.”

It’s a paraphrase of the Doom Team motto.

The nithrid skirls around the roof. It sears her a little. It fries her eyes. Then Jane heals up.

“You can just,” says Jane, “you can just be —”

She thinks about this for a while.


There’s a pause in the swirling storm. It conveys certain concepts and images. Jane laughs.

“Martin said that too?” she says, and then she laughs even more, because —

“Yeah,” she agrees. “He is an utterly terrible dancer. It’s because he has two left feet.”

The nithrid eddies. It expresses a concern. If you were to put it into words, it would go something like: but if I am not bad, if I am not wicked, then what am I? If I am not to slaughter through the world; to leave it burning and in ruins; if I am not to dance through the sky and lash among the streets and make an end to the blasphemies that are this world —

It trickles off. The nithrid does not know how to continue.

Eventually it attempts to end its thought with, then for what reason was I born?

Jane ponders this.

“They’d kill you,” she says, “in the end, you know. They beat the scissors. They can take you down.”

The nithrid is skeptical. Jane shakes her head.

“They’re a marvel,” she says. “They’re not moon-eating wolves or potato pancakes or giant world-killing storms or anything, but they’re a marvel.”

A wave of wind and water washes past.

They are quiet for a moment.

“I want to too,” Jane says, “You know. Sometimes. Sometimes I want to use my special powers as a . . . Taoist immortal, or whatever . . . to kill everybody. It would be so easy. I would rampage among them and leave them bloodied, broken, and savaged. I would tear the moon out of the sky and I would drink it down.”

Jane likes to drink the moon. Well, eat the moon. Well, moon-shaped cookies.

Well, the cute little moon-shaped cookies that she pretends are the actual moon.

She likes to wolf them down.

And such is the longing on her face, and then the wry humor of it, that the nithrid asks a question. It crawls along her skin. It writes little words in the hairs that stand up on her arm. But Jane doesn’t read them. She just shrugs.

“Because I don’t have to,” Jane explains.

The clouds boil. The nithrid seethes. There is flashing, distant, and thunder among the streets. Then all is still.

Jane pets the trails of lightning as they crawl along her arm.

“Well,” she concedes, softly, “Being a world-killing storm is probably OK, too.”

And after a while, the storm is gone.

Jane stares out at the lightening sky.

Martin, who is leaning against the fire door even though it’s not on fire, says, “‘You don’t have to be wicked just because the weather service tells you that you’re bad?’”

Jane startles extravagantly.

Martin lifts an eyebrow.

Jane leans her head against the rail.

“They’re awful influential,” she says, “You know.”

“I see,” says Martin.

“I just think,” she says, “that if you’re gonna be wicked, that you should decide that for yourself. You know? Not because of Hans or anybody else. That’s what I think. Not even you.”

“I don’t know,” says Martin. “I just don’t know. I really like that girl who does the weather.”

And summer ends.




Leave a Comment

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