Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 6 –

– 6 –

Skip ahead a bit.

Edmund wakes up. Edmund yawns. Edmund stretches. Edmund wanders off to eat Sid, because he’s hungry.

The little wimp from the House of Torment, Edmund discovers, has got a gun.

It’s pretty amusing. Edmund stares at Sid’s face. He looks down at the gun’s barrel. He looks back up. He doesn’t laugh, because his heart is in a stone box in his pocket, but he can’t help giving the other boy a little smile.

He’s Edmund, of the House of Hunger. He isn’t frightened of a gun.

“It’s a death ray,” says Sid.

Edmund steps casually forward.

“Tom made it,” Sid explains.

Edmund stops. He hesitates. He squints.

“I’ve eaten death rays,” he says.

Tom made it,” Sid says again.

Edmund sighs. He leans against the doorframe of Sid’s room. He stretches up his arm. “You can’t possibly —”

He stops. He shudders all over. There is a spider crawling on his arm. Apparently it was living on the top of Sid’s doorframe. He tries not to freak out and wave his arm around. His heart is in a box of stone. He has eaten people. He is bound to a giant wolf.

Just barely, he manages not to freak.

He lowers his arm. He shakes the spider gently off onto the floor. He lifts his arm back up again, but not all the way.

“Mathilda,” says Sid sternly to the spider. He leans forward. He picks up the spider with his free hand. He shudders all over, twice. He closes his eyes. There’s a perfect moment there for Edmund to attack him, but when the moment ends, Edmund hasn’t, yet.

“I hate spiders so much,” confesses Sid.

There are little red marks all along his arm where he’s been pulling out his hairs. It’s like the spider is crawling up a stucco road.

“You can’t possibly want to stay like this,” says Edmund.

“No,” says Sid. “But I’ve got to, don’t I?”

“No,” says Edmund.

“It’s necessary that there be a sacrifice,” Sid says. “The hat said.”

“For what?”

Sid waves his gun around. “For the world.”

Edmund’s eyes narrow.

“See,” says Sid, “there’s a — there’s a weight, you know? Ever since God, or whomever, died. There’s all this chaos and strangeness pressing in on things. There’s all this madness. And if it doesn’t have a place to drain into, if it doesn’t have someone to hurt, then it pops through and breaks everything and it frees the wolf . . .”

He doesn’t make it through the last word. Right or wrong, he doesn’t make it.

That’s just the way the cookies crumble.

Edmund is moving. The death ray is firing. Edmund knocks the beam aside one-handed and he leaps on Sid.

This doesn’t actually work, by the way. This is actually called “being hit by a death ray, one-handed.”

Only: Death is small.

Death is small, and the wolf is large; and Death may not have Fenris’ Edmund Gulley.




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