Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 3 –

– 3 –

First there was Edmund, begging for his freedom.

Then there is Emily.

They pass in the halls. Tom sees her eyes. He shudders at what he sees in them.

“I can’t help you!” Tom snaps. He flails a hand in her direction. He dismisses her.

He is angry because he feels guilty.

He stalks away.

“All of them,” he mutters. “Everyone. Why? Why can’t people just be happy being what my hat turns them into? Why must everything be so complex?

Tom stalks into Saul.

“You!” he says.

St. Saul hangs his head.

“You want to be re-hatted,” he says, “Don’t you.”

“Um,” says Saul.

“You are not satisfied with being one thing,” says Tom. “You would rather be no things, maybe. Or 1*i things. You cannot appreciate what it is that you have.”

Cheryl stops in the halls. She looks at them.

“Stop it,” she says. “Tom, you are having a terrible idea.”

“Bah!” he says. “I can recognize my own bad ideas.”

“But you still do them —”

“I am a prisoner of my circumstances,” Tom concedes. He glares at Saul. “Am I correct? This is why you have come to me?”

“I bumped into you,” says Saul.

“I see,” says Tom. He turns away.

“But,” says Saul.

“Aha!” howls Tom. “It is everywhere! Insurgents! Traitors! Ingrates! I have given my soul for you and how do you repay me? By sacrificing your sainthood and groveling in the slime.”

“I don’t actually —” starts Saul.

“If you don’t like being a saint,” says Tom, gesturing to Saul and using his body language to drag Saul back towards his room with him, “then why were you such a person as to become a saint in the first place? Why am I surrounded by such fools? I had such hopes for you, Saul.”

“I was a druggie musician!”

“Exactly,” says Tom.

“Exactly?” says Saul.

“Ixnay on the arcasmsay,” whispers Cheryl.

“Exactly,” says Tom. “You were alive.”

“I didn’t mean to —” says Saul.

Tom has reached his room. He snaps his fingers. Thunder booms. The door creaks wide.

“What can you possibly hope to gain?” he says.

Saul hesitates.

“Your hat made me one thing, and one thing exactly,” he says.

“Yes,” Tom confirms.

“I want to become a different one thing,” proposes Saul, “exactly, with all of the advantages of sainthood, but none of its manifold flaws.”

“Hahaha!” laughs Cheryl.

Tom peers at them.

“Ixnay on the encouraging himay,” Tom says, revealing his poor grasp of the romance languages. Then he flings the door open — it’s designed so that it can be flung even when it is already open, and in fact this helps determine which version of his room one enters — and he leads them in. He gestures broadly at the giant robotic spear he is building in the back of his room.

“Behold!” he says. “The hammer of science!”

“It’s a robotic stick!” exclaims Saul, startled.

“Observe how pointless your archaic saint-hopes shall be in my glorious new age,” says Tom. “As you can see, while I have yet to construct a suitable head for it, I have already made great progress towards a hammer shaft to smash away your crazy world of saints and antichrists and beasts. I will smash this world flat, only, rounder, and make it a shining science-topia — of dreams!”



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